[SATLUG] $200 Laptops Break a Business Model

Alan Lesmerises alesmerises at satx.rr.com
Mon Jan 26 20:36:05 CST 2009

Since everyone else has been commenting on the service and not really 
addressing one of your main questions below ;), I'll chime in here.

I recall a few e-mails being passed around the group (I think it was 
last year or maybe 2007) about very small computers along with a link of 
one someone had found and wanted opinions.  That prompted me to do a 
little looking around and I came across an ultra micro computer that 
looked to be barely big enough to plug in an RJ-45 jack at one end, and 
maybe about 2 to 2 1/2 inches long.  I don't recall if it had a USB port 
(I think it might have), but I can't believe it would draw more than a 
couple of Watts given it's size.  It supposedly ran a stripped-down 
version of Linux from a solid-state data storage chip, if I remember 
right.  Unfortunately, I don't seem to have kept a bookmark to where I 
found it, but I _can_ say it's out there.

Also, I came across some other very small computers that were just big 
enough to house a CD/DVD drive with a fairly full complement of I/O 
ports (ps2 for mouse & keyboard, DIN-15 for video, USB, etc.).  I would 
expect the power requirements to be pretty low here as well.

Al Lesmerises

Borries Demeler wrote:
> Just wanted to share a couple of items with this group:
> 1st item:
> I recently ordered a MagicJack - anyone knows about this? For $39.95 +
> s/h you get a little usb plugin device that at the other end allows you to
> plug in your home phone. If you run Windows or Mac OSX and have broadband,
> this allows you to make/get unlimited calling in the US, Canada and
> Puerto Rico.  There is a $19.95 yearly charge for this service (first
> year is included in the $39.95). It includes voicemail, a local number,
> and caller ID. I run the software on an XP image running under VMWare on
> my linux laptop. If you set up your network correctly, it works great,
> sound quality is very good, even on international calls (for which you
> have to pay, but only very little). You can also use a headset instead of the
> phone. They are working on a Linux driver, but no ETA yet. The concept and
> cost is the best VOIP solution I have found, so now I want to get rid of
> my landline and replace it with this MJ device. I did have several startup
> difficulties, which were all resolved with the help of their online chat
> help, but it was tedious and time consuming. The problem was the original
> number didn't work for incoming calls, they changed my number, now it works
> great. One word of caution: They chat help is pretty incompetent, until you
> get elevated high enough in their hirarchy.
> 2nd item:
> So, now I am thinking about getting a very low power consuming laptop
> that I can leave on all the time without a big draw of electricity. It
> only needs to run the MJ device. I was looking at the 8.9" intel Atom
> netbooks, and also was wondering if there is something very low power
> consuming but also very cheap, that may even come without a screen and
> runs off of a CF card that I could preload with WinXP until they come
> out with the Linux driver, so I don't need to have VMWare running all the
> time. My current Linux system is a Inspiron 9400 power hog with lots of
> memory, big screen and big harddrive, so I don't want to let it run 24/7.
> I'm hoping I can get something for less than $200 that draws maybe 8-10
> watts max.  Any suggestions?
> 3rd item:
> here is an interesting article in today's NYTimes:
> $200 Laptops Break a Business Model
> As consumers are finding ways to buy computers at a lower 
> cost, high-margin businesses are hurting.
> http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/26/technology/26spend.html?th&emc=th
> Some excerpts:
>    "...So who's up, who's down and who's out this time around? Microsoft's
>    valuable Windows franchise appears vulnerable after two decades of
>    dominance. Revenue for the company's Windows operating system fell for
>    the first time in history in the last quarter of 2008. The popularity
>    of Linux, a free operating system installed on many netbooks instead
>    of Windows, forced Microsoft to lower the prices on its operating
>    system to compete."
>    "...The makers of open-source software also continue to benefit from
>    the growing appeal of their often cheap, if not free, products. Sun
>    Microsystems distributes 65,000 downloads a day of its MySQL
>    database, which has turned into the favored business software of
>    new companies. The job search engine Indeed.com shows a thriving job
>    market for MySQL and Linux developers..."
> So maybe us Linux geeks and programmers are recession proof this time around?
> Let's hope so...
> -Borries

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