People’s Republic of California – redux

A few weeks ago on the eve of war in Iraq I was in San Francisco – protests were violent and frequent, making me wonder if California Republic was really People’s Republic of California. Socialist state in a not so socialist society?

Well last week’s events have made me even more convinced that world’s fifth largest economy is certainly a broken state. $38 billion in deficits and a recall of the governor Davis, and recent decision by a certain Viennese bodybuilder to throw his steroids in the ring have me convinced that California is on the verge of becoming a “Banana Republic” (Paul Krugman thinks so!)

bq. Arnold Seeks to Terminate Davis
No Gray Area: Terminator Is Running
Arnold Accuses Davis of True Lies
Can He Jingle All the Way to Sacramento?
Voters Pump Arnold Up
Terminator Terminated

For more headlines go to Brendan Loy

The dumbness of the new Republicans (can we please turn back the clock to 1950s please!) is going to cost California about $70 million in election related costs. Now this recall-shtick can be repeated any number of times. Reminds me of a state in India called Bihar – a disaster if there was any.

I wonder California is going that way as well.

AMD, with Opteron is finding its niche

For the longest time Advanced Micro Devices was relegated to the status of an also ran in the processor business, often losing out to Intel Corp, even though the company consistently brought to market some decent products. But hopefully the new Optreon will change that. The company is finding that customers are willing to use its 64-bit processors to power clusters and use them as a replacement for high-end super computers. CNet News.Com is reporting that IBM is launching a new Opteron powered server.

bq. Opteron-based eServer 325 on Wednesday, said it will deliver 1,058 copies of the rack-mounted machine to Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology for use in a computing cluster. The cluster will aid in research on subjects such as biology and materials sciences.

In a chat with AMD CEO Hector Ruiz, I had asked him if this was one way for the company to establish its street cred. He agreed and I think as the company shows that it can handle the toughest tasks, it will start to chip away at some of the so called brand advantages of Intel. I think the company needs to establish a marketing program which is akin to Apple’s G5 campaign. Humanize the amazing potential of its chips, and how they are serving the mankind. violins please!

bq. Dawning Information Industry Corp. plans to build a 2000 processor, 10 teraflop Opteron supercomputer. Also, Cray Computer will use 10,000 Opterons in a supercomputer, dubbed Red Storm, for the U.S. government’s Sandia National Laboratories. The computer is expected to yield 40 teraflops when it is completed next year, Cray has said.

This might be the catalyst that AMD needs in order to get its mojo back. Mr. Ruiz, we are all rooting for you

Apple-Roxio to merge? really?

Reliable sources have informed us that Apple Computer is negotiating to buy Roxio, reports Loop Rumors Recent erratic stock activity confirms this information with very high volume trading over the last few weeks. It’s no secret that Apple is trying to make inroads to the PC market, and buying Roxio, a company that caters predominantly to PCs will help them do just that.

Grid for MPEG-4 processing? Really

Sometimes the most obvious application can prove to be a killer application. While rest of the world searches for grid nirvana, analyst Ahmar Abbas suggests a very simple use of the grid computing resources. ‘So, after shooting the future Palme D’Or winning masterpiece with our digital camera there begins the painful process of encoding the video stream to compress the raw digital video data in order to make transmission and storage more practical. With 31 million homes having more than one PC and half of those homes having local area networks, it wouldn’t be too outrageous to want to distribute the encoding process to the other (presumably idle) PCs in our home,” he writes in an article for Grid Today magazine. GridIron Software of Ottawa, Canada has successfully encoded MPEG-4 video using multiple computers with its GridIron XLR8? software for distributed computing.

SEC, MCI to settle?

The Wall Street Journal reports that SEC and MCI are hammering out a “final agreement as early as Monday to settle charges that the telecommunications firm misled investors with more than $11 billion of accounting fraud, according to people familiar with the matter.The fine is expected to be “exponentially larger” than the $10 million fine Xerox Corp. paid to the SEC last year, which was the largest penalty to date.”

With friends like these…

From The New York Times:: “Turkey, which denied American access to its bases to open a northern front against Iraq, would receive $1 billion in economic aid under Mr. Bush’s plan, allowing it to get up to $8.5 billion loans or loan guarantees. Israel would also get $1 billion in direct military assistance and $9 billion in loan guarantees. Jordan would receive $700 million in economic aid, and Egypt $300 million in grants, allowing it to obtain up to $2 billion in loan guarantees.” So this is the price of friendship? Disgusting? What aboout doing the right thing?

Xingtone loads MP3s onto cell phones

]Finally someone has come-up with the technology I have been lusting for – loading Mp3 files into your cellphone and using it as a ringtone. Well there is no point giving the company any points for originality – the name of the company has been taken from one one of the first Mp3 start-ups, Xing Networks. I have a polyphonic Samsung Q105 and I have been wondering how to get the new MZ.Dynamite track onto my cellphone. Oh well, Xingtonecan do it. Reuters reports (via CNet) that Xingtone software converts MP3 files onto wireless phones, which would take the current ring-tone phenomenon one step beyond providing the robotic sounding renditions of tunes currently playing on phones. So far, the service is available only for Sprint PCS phones. Hey guys what about T-Mobile, which in opinion has the best phones on the market.

Essential Asian Flavas – Hits, Beats & New Grooves

With nothing exciting to show for quite a while, this “hot” new compilation from Outcaste may just be their saving grace. Keeping in mind that this compilation doesn’t solve the basic need for some originality from this label, it does manage to pack a decent-almost-solid (if not powerful) punch.

Attracting the casual listener are names like Panjabi MC, Rishi Rich, Punjabi Hit Squad and Kam Dhillon. However, to the more discerning and eclectic listener, names such as Nitin Sawhney, Partners in Rhyme, Jakatta and Badmarsh+Shri stand out from the attractive back cover. The album gets Badmarsh+the dance floor sweating with the hugely successful Panjabi MC hit “Mundian To Bach Ke” which has recently been creating major waves across Europe. Though, one must wonder what took the song this long to gather fame on the other side of the Atlantic. Rishi Rich is a good selection to this album with his remix of his own “Nahin Jeena”. A song that stands out is Kam Dhillon’s “Aaja Ni Aaja” with a simple yet effective mix of bhangra-plucks and carefully-manipulated vocals with some lite-danceability added. Afterlife’s remix of Jakatta deserves some mention as does the rare Bonobo remix of
Badmarsh+Shri’s “Signs” which pumps with hard-hitting snare beats and street-laced samples.

The low points of this album are the songs “Yaar Dha” and the definite odd-one-out “In the Garden” which almost seems to be an advert for Outcaste’s Bollywood Breaks Sampler. The only other thing that disappoints is the radio edit of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s “Tere Bin Nahi Lagda”. The original much-longer-intro-and-outro is featured on the “Bend it Like Beckham” OST.

Overall, this album is a good addition to those who’re looking to get the latest low-down into the nu-Bhangra/Hip Hop/DholnBass scene in the UK. It almost deserves a 4/5, but it was a let down with a couple of the songs being out of sync and my reason for buying the CD (“Tere Bin Nahi Lagda”) being a shorter version of the immensely captivating original. However, as an afternote, the collection is beautifully concluded with Craig Armstrong’s “Miracle” – a title which unfortunately cannot be bestowed on this compilation.

Rating: 3.5/5

Song Picks:
Kam Dhillon – Aaja Ni Aaja
Punjabi Hit Squad – Hasdi Hasdi (Hit Squad Mix)
Craig Armstrong featuring Swati Natekar – Miracle

Review by Dj Pras @ www.prasnation.com