FXI Cotton Candy – Portable Linux ARM Device for under $200

I read about Cotton Candy from FXI Technologies a few months back, now it is an actual product.  I hate Android but I do like the idea of a computer on a stick.  If I buy this, I’ll remove Android and run only Ubuntu.

The Cotton Candy device allows any HDMI monitor to be turned into a Ubuntu Linux machine.  Bootable from microSD card which can be used as a removable storage device.

In comparison to the Raspberry Pi that I spoke about earlier, Cotton Candy has built in WiFi and Bluetooth, faster processsor, more memory and a sleeker form factor, it is however, more expensive than the Raspberry Pi.

Cotton Candy from FXI Technologies can be bought here.

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Where are Apple’s Competitors?

Ben Bajarin of Techpinions asked the question: Do Apple’s Competitors make bad products?

Steve Wildstrom, also of Techpinions, suggested in his post, that all the profit have gone to Apple.  Further, Apple is so large that it is a sector all by itself.

Which begs the question:  Where are Apple’s Competitors?

<insert sound of crickets chirping>

Of course, it hasn’t always been this way.  Do you remember Apple’s “I’m a PC, I’m a Mac” campaign?  Each ad was aimed at highlighting the advantages of Mac.  However, during the entire campaign, PC still dominated the industry (though not the profits, but that’s a different story entirely).

Apple has since move on from these ads and concentrated solely on the strengths of their own products and instead it is Apple that is on the receiving end of mocking:

I think Dilbert answers this one best:

But it’s not just Samsung playing this game, Microsoft, once the largest tech company in the world, now worried about the rise of Google, the response is not with a superior product offering, but these videos:


Gmail Man

The problem with an advertising strategy which focuses on mocking your opponent, is that your own product message becomes diluted.  Instead of being focused on promoting your own products, it descends into a juvenile exercise in name calling.

Which leads me to ask the rhetorical question: Is mockery the sincerest form of flattery?

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How should Apple use their record profit

Apple’s record profit continues to elicited varied responses:

  • The stock market reacted by increasing Apple’s share price, it is now worth more than Microsoft and Google combined, as noted by Appleinsider.
  • Egalitarians, driven by a sense that all things should be equal suggested that Apple should transfer $1 billion of profit to Foxconn employees.  Whilst this seems like a noble and charitable gesture, Apple exists to make great products, not to create jobs (or income equality) per se.
  • Dividend advocates like Adam Lashinsky, author of Inside Apple has hinted that Apple will pay a dividend, even though it hasn’t done so since returning to profitability.
  • Apple uses it cash to become a single buyer that controls key high-tech supply chains.  Tim Cook, whilst serving as COO noted it was a fantastic way of using the company’s cash reserves.  Horace Dediu of Asymco refers to this as being a “monopsonist“, as noted by Fortune Tech’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt.

Surely Apple’s enormous cash reserves affords it tremendous power to secure super competitive componentry for the successive waves of products it has planned and ensures it will be more profitable than it’s rivals for the foreseeable future.

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Memory Cards as Solid State Drives

Often when we think of memory cards, we think of cameras.  However, their utility extends beyond cameras.  Most memory cards are based on standard computer protocols meaning that they can be used to replace spinning hard disk drives in computing systems.  How?  With the addition of the appropriate adapter.  Let’s examine 4 different memory card types and weigh up the pros and cons of using them as Solid State Drives (SSDs).


A popular memory card format based on the IDE/ATA/PATA standard.

PRO: Great in older systems that require IDE protocol. Relatively cheap ($3.8/Gb)

CON: Limited to 133Mb/s


CFA’s first attempt at improving the CompactFlash standard, CFast has the same form factor as CF, but based on the SATA standard.

PRO: Faster than CompactFlash and SDHC (300Mb/s)

CON: Very Expensive ($16/Gb)


Perhaps the most ubiquitous of all memory card formats, small and found in almost all electronic store, they are cheap and readily available.

PRO: Cheap ($2/Gb) and readily available.

CON: Slow, small size, easy to lose. SD/SDHC was not originally intended to be used as ATA storage.


CFA’s latest creation, XQD is based on the PCI Express standard.  Sony are the first to announce the first commericially available XQD card and ExpressCard adapter.

PRO: Very fast (500 Mb/s)

CON: Expensive ($8/Gb), new and not yet reached critical mass.  Major memory card producers Sandisk, Lexar, and Kingston have no plans to produce XQD cards, leaving the future of the format in doubt.


I have used CompactFlash as a solid state drive in my Macintosh SE/30, with appropriate adapters, I have also used SD and SDHC cards successfully.  CFast and XQD are newer technologies that may supplant CF and SD in the future, but at the moment they are simply too expensive and too green to adopt at the moment, nobody wants to be stuck with with redundant technology (think Betamax and HD-DVD).

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Apple’s Only Competitor in Mobile Handset Industry

Much has already been written (and graphed) about Apple’s giant Q1 2012 profits, in particular the profits from iPhone.  Sometimes it helps to put these massive numbers into perspective:

(Image source: Business Insider)

Apple iPhone revenue is now larger than Microsoft.  That’s just the beginning.

Horace Dediu of Asymco has two relevant theories about the future of the mobile handset business:

  1.  Android is pursuing of the biggest losers in mobile
  2. The market never forgives a company that loses money in the mobile market.

So let’s consider Apple competition in Mobile Handset business, I use the term loosely since they are not much competition:

(Image source: Asymco)
  • HTC: 26% decrease in profits
  • RIM: Changing CEO, Decreasing profits, losing market and mind share
  • Sony Ericsson: Hasn’t made money since 2007
  • Motorola: Sold out to Google, they losing money
  • Nokia: Jumped from one dead platform to another, rapid loss of market and profit share

The only conclusion we can draw from this is simple, in the long term, only companies that make profit will continue in business.  By this measure and knowing that once a company starts losing in the mobile business they never recover, it would be safe to say that the only competitor to Apple in the mobile handset space will be Samsung, all others will die.

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Add up to 5Gb of free storage to your Dropbox


For users of Dropbox, there is a new build of Dropbox that allows you to automatically upload your photos or videos to your dropbox direct from your camera.

During the test period, you can add up to 5Gb of extra storage space when you use this new photo import feature.

Dropbox Experimental Build Thread 1.3.13

I tested it on my PPC iMac running Mac OS X 10.5 and it works!

Disclaimer: Please backup your valuable photos prior to using this beta software!

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Looking forward to Raspberry Pi

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a Raspberry Pi!  According to the latest update, it will be available for purchase at the end of February 2012.

I’ll be using it as:


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