Comdex 'cheer', free beer - and GeForce FX is here

News Schmooze: Comdex came and went, Microsoft prospered and News Corp. exposed a sinister plot.

It was Comdex this week, and the theme seemed to be a kind of forced cheerfulness. We had, for example, Carly Fiorina and National Semiconductor's Brian Halla both resolutely talking about the future, and upturns and human beings' basic hard-wired need to buy products that will prop up the IT industry. This despite continuing layoffs all round. Fiorina looked far into the future to see a brighter, more technological world, while Halla stuck with the more immediate date of late June. This, he said, was the point at which sophisticated algorithms and clever economists predicted that the IT industry would be in full upswing mode.
Comdex Fall 2002 News Focus
National chief executive predicts date of tech upturn
Fiorina echoes Gates' optimism Meanwhile, the attendees competed to see who could get the best hotel room discounts in the half-empty hotels and struggled to find parties with free beer. Las Vegas in boom times is a depressing enough sight, but at the moment it must be like one of those post-apocalyptic Kurt Russell movies.
Cheap is in at Comdex The only ones with any real reason to feel confident about the future were Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. Fresh from finishing off that little court case, and with new documents showing exactly how much money the company makes from Windows, the dynamic duo were back to talking about cool, post-PC gadgets and hawking the tablet computer. They can feel more optimistic than ever that if those post-PC devices ever arrive, they will be sporting a the ubiquitous four-colour logo.
Office, Windows bring in the big bucks
Gates accentuates the positive with 'smart' gadgets
Ballmer: Tablets will displace laptops Nvidia finally revealed their next-generation graphics processor, although technically you won't be able to buy one until next spring -- well, at least it will give you something to look forward to over the long, miserable month of January. With the GeForce FX we get a peek at the kind of cooling systems that normal PCs may soon have to use to keep their Pentiums from burning through the desk. The 125-million-transistor GPU has a massive fan and duct system bolted onto the graphics card to cool it off, and this is in addition to whatever is keeping the motherboard's heat down.
Nvidia: GeForce FX cooler than ever Transmeta also announced a new chip, the Astro. This is supposed to replace the initial Crusoe line, which chief technology officer David Ditzel explained apologetically had been designed in his basement. While the Schmoozer is fully confident of the chip's improvements, he would like to question their naming tactics. The new name brings to mind either that oaf of a dog owned by the Jetsons or possibly some kind of 1980s Chevrolet gas-guzzler aimed at the third-world market.
Transmeta gears for comeback with Astro News Corp. is the latest media company to rail against the evils of file-traders, citing £5bn worth of losses to the "looting epidemic". While the Schmoozer continues to wonder how companies can estimate the value of non-existent sales, he does find catchy the notion that file-trading is the same as ram-raiding. News Corp. chief operating officer Peter Chernin might as well have been talking about home taping, or the impact of video recorders on cinema ticket sales, or perhaps about software piracy, when he said that businesses would be "crippled". In area of pirated software, at least, police now have the powers to shut down companies who have installed Windows on a few more machines than they should have. How's that for crippling a business?
News Corp. exec puts piracy in spotlight
UK firms face closure for software 'theft' The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to: mailroomuk@zdnet.com.


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