Hard drive industry, storage functionality

First, an interesting article about profitability in the hard drive industry — classic commodity economics are at play, and as consumers we are all benefiting.

At the same time, enterprise storage functionality is transitioning down to consumers — external sata connectors allowing really high speed detached storage, lightweight nas solutions, a bunch of software raid solutions — but it is all way too hard to use for most people.

Seems to me like there is a path out of commodity pricing for the hard drive guys. The first player to bring enterprise storage functionality — replication, auto-backup, hot swapping, pooling, etc — to consumers and small businesses in a brainlessly easy to use package could be a big winner.

PC Hardware of note

* I like the thinking behind The Project PC: A New Windows Form Factor? — I’m not sure you need wholly different form factors for different tasks, but I suspect there are rich veins to mine here
* Matrix Raid explained up at Tom’s. I love this idea, what a great use of all the cheap mips and gigs i have.
* Silenx fans — 11 db fans — i need to move all my machines to these.
* Sonos digital music system — seems cool but I really want my ipod to be the controller…or I want the controller to work like an ipod when i am not at home.

It's an iPod world

* Photo iPod launched — my order is in
* The Bose Sounddock — cool looking.

It is fascinating to watch Apple and Microsoft hollow out the consumer electronics industry. Apple building from the iPod base, gradually wiping out all the other audio (and video) products in the home and car. Microsoft starting from the WinXP Media Center edition, wiping out all the other home video and audio products. Then you have the content owners using DRM to force their proprietary decoder hardware into the home. A fascinating collision of giants. As much as I love Apple’s products — how is their strategy any different than the Mac strategy vs PCs, and how did that work out for Apple?

PC Hardware happenings

* External audio solutions — the pc is electrically noisy and the amp circuits on sound cards are not that great — maybe we should be moving all this functionality out of the pc (or the electical/amp characteristics of a pc should be more like an audio amp)
* One man’s attempt at widescreen gaming. Salivate.
* Raid in a single drive bay. I guess this is the natural complement to a dual core processor — dual core hard drives!
* Jeff Ort on color management. Man this stuff is complicated.
* A PC PVR with 6 tuners.
* Saiteck PC Gamer keyboard. I totally need this.

So what is the theme to all this? Besides “stuff that I want to buy?” My observation is that the PC Hardware industry continues to innovate like mad, and is going to wipeout all the standalone media boxes, settop boxes, etc.

Cleaned out my cable drawer this weekend

Needed some space in my office this weekend so I dared to empty out my cable drawer and throw out the cruft that has aggregated over 5 years. Serial cables — db9, db25, every gendered alternative of these, serial switchers, gender converters — all gone, hopefully I will never need one of these again. Parallel cables — cables, gender converters, switchboxes — again i hope all gone for good. Wall warts — a huge variety of amperages and voltages — I’ll cannibalize some for halloween projects but most are gone. Midi cables and midi interface boxes for old pcs. All kinds of goofy crappy quality audio cables — rca jack, mini jack, some with video too, all kinds of converters — i could still justify keeping some of these, tho most of them came bundled with some device and are of crappy quality. Enough rj-11 cabling to circle the globe — cables, gender converters, splitters — all gone. Coax gear — cables, splitters, switchboxes — most of it 900Mhz gear and thus incompatible with HDTV — all gone. Some old ps2 port mouse and keyboard cables/converters/extenders — gone.

I ended up with a much smaller pile — cat5 cabling, usb cables and converters, high quality audio cables, and some truly oddball a/v cables that probably are required for the various cameras I own but I can’t remember what goes with what — I’ll keep them so that I won’t have a disaster some day when I really need them.

I wish I could say that I’ll never have to do this again, but with HDMI, optical and copper spdif, higher speed evolutions of usb and firewire, cat5e, and gosh knows what else — I’ll probably have to do this again in 5 years.