10 January 2005South African rugby in 2003 and South African rugby in 2004 belonged not one year apart – there were light years between them. Thankfully for the game’s legions of fans, the shift in fortunes was in the right direction.The aftermath of the World Cup failure in 2003 and questions of racism in the sport led to a changing of the guard that runs the game, and a change of Springbok coach that most would surely agree has proved to be a great success.Brian van Rooyen took over from Rian Oberholzer as CEO of Sarfu. While his autocratic style and occasional about-faces on issues have not endeared him to all, it cannot be denied that the game is in a healthier state under Van Rooyen than it was before he took over at the top.The decision to appoint Jake White to coach the Springboks proved to be a masterstroke. From an atmosphere of distrust – an “us against them” laager mentality – and poor results on the field, the Boks have evolved into a united team that has produced the kind of results that the demanding South African rugby fan, justifiably or unjustifiably, demands.2004 brought with it South Africa’s second Tri-Nations title in the tightest-fought competition to date as each team won twice at home and lost twice away from home.The Springboks, though, came close away from home and, very encouragingly, found an attacking edge that saw them top the try-scoring charts and with that earn enough bonus points to sneak the win ahead of Australia, with New Zealand in third place.It was, indeed, a remarkable turnaround from the directionless, angry rugby of 2003.Let’s take a closer look at the stars of 2004.Player of the Year: Schalk BurgerThis choice is an easy one. It is hard to argue with the four major awards the all-action blond-haired flanker won. Burger was named South African Player of the Year, the International Rugby Players’ Association’s (IRPA) Player of the Year and the IRPA Best Newcomer, as well as – the cherry on the top – the IRB International Rugby Player of the Year.So, why did he win all those awards? Probably at the top of the list of reasons would be Burger’s performances in the Tri-Nations when, up against some of the finest loose forwards in the game, he dominated the competition with powerful, industrious and effective performances that many would have thought impossible for such a big man (1.93 metres tall and 106 kilograms).The man dubbed “the Incredible Schalk” added a new dimension to the play of loose-forwards just when it seemed the standard couldn’t really be improved on.After all, in the Tri-Nations alone, there were already recognised world-class players such as George Smith, Phil Waugh, Richie McCaw and Marty Holah. Yet Burger, at age 21, turned the Tri-Nations on its head.He also enjoyed a very good Super 12 competition, but his play suffered later in the year when the Springboks undertook yet another end-of-season tour – this time of the United Kingdom and Argentina – that drained the last bit of energy left in the tired bodies of players who had begun their competitive fixtures way back at the end of February.One must question, as has been done many times before, the wisdom of such tours.Special mention: Victor MatfieldVictor Matfield and Jake White got off to a shaky start – no doubt some of the problems were due to a contractual dispute the Blue Bulls’ lock had with SA Rugby – but White also believed Matfield was capable of better performances than he had delivered so far in his career.On that point it would appear that the Bok coach was right, because Matfield lifted his game to new heights in 2004.He is a remarkably gifted athlete for such a big man, and if there was one guarantee in the Springboks’ matches it was that Matfield would win his lineout ball, while giving the other teams fits when they had the put-in to the lineout. As the year wore on his command of the lineouts became more imperious.Where Matfield lifted his game considerably – and it helped that he was partnered by his very physical Blue Bulls teammate Bakkies Botha when playing for the Boks – was in the tight phases. In the past he had been accused of spending too much time away from the rucks and mauls, but in 2004, it seemed, Matfield found a good balance.He produced a very skilled game in all departments, all over the field, and his Tri-Nations winning try against Australia at the Absa Stadium in Durban provided possibly the biggest highlight of the year for South African fans.Most overlooked player: Ettienne BothaThe player who, in my book, deserves special mention wasn’t considered good enough to make the Springboks squad in either the Tri-Nations or the end-of-season tour.Blue Bulls’ centre Ettiene Botha set the domestic scene on fire with a string of electrifying performances that helped catapult the Pretoria-based team to a successful defence of their Currie Cup title.Give Springbok coach Jake White his due, he stuck by the players that served him well in the Tri-Nations when he selected the team to tour at the end of the year, but after Botha’s scintillating season, surely he could have won a place as one of the five centres in the team.The thing is, Botha’s sustained excellence was on display week after week against the very players that White selected ahead of him. It didn’t drop off when he was confronted by a “big gun”, and he regularly made game-changing breaks or scored game-changing tries.Botha’s 18 tries – one short of Carel du Plessis’ record of 19 – were something to behold, and it was somewhat disturbing that he wasn’t considered good enough to make the Springbok squad yet he was good enough to be named Currie Cup Player of the Year.There is something about that decision that doesn’t sit right. Either Botha didn’t deserve the award, or he deserved to be awarded his national colours; in my opinion, it’s clear he deserved the award. Enough said.Best Test performance: SA vs New Zealand (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)The Springboks’ best performance of the year came in front of the side’s talisman, Nelson Mandela, in front of a full house of expectant fans at Ellis Park. Their 40-26 victory over the All Blacks was their first over the Kiwis since 2000, and it also put the Boks in position to win the Tri-Nations title, which they went on to do with a good win over Australia in Durban the following week.It wasn’t just the fact that South Africa won that resonated with the fans, but the manner in which they achieved the victory. It is not every day that the All Blacks are beaten, and it is certainly a rare feat to score five tries against the New Zealand national team. Add to that the fact that Percy Montgomery had an off-day with the boot, and the Boks could have reached 50 points.Yet it wasn’t a runaway victory. Six minutes in, John Smit and co found themselves 10-nil behind after the visitors had scored a penalty and a brilliant try by Mil Muliaina, which Andrew Mehrtens converted.Marius Joubert, though, pulled the Springboks back into the contest with the first of his three tries, which equaled the record against the All Blacks, previously set by Ray Mordt back in 1981 in the infamous flour-bomb Test.South Africa managed to open up a six-point gap at 19-13 after further tries from Breyton Paulse and another from Joubert, but the Kiwis clawed their way back through a penalty by Andrew Mehrtens, who made it 19-16.Montgomery put South Africa 22-16 in front with a penalty, but the New Zealanders retook the lead when Joe Rokocoko sliced through SA’s defences for a try that Mehrtens goaled, to make it 23-22 New Zealand.Back came the Boks, with Montgomery nailing a penalty to give SA a 25-23 lead. Mehrtens made it a one-point game with another penalty that put the All Blacks 26-25 ahead, but then came a grandstand finish from South Africa.First, Joubert punched a huge hole in the Kiwi defences and then popped up a pass for Jean de Villiers to put South Africa back in front at 30-26. Importantly, it was the Springboks’ fourth try of the match, which secured for them a bonus point; at the conclusion of the competition it would be bonus points that secured the title for South Africa.Then Montgomery extended the South African lead to seven points with a long-range kick and then, with only four minutes left, Jacques Cronje, on as a substitute for Joe van Niekerk, set up Joubert for his third try, which he dotted down under the uprights.Montgomery’s conversion made it 40-26 to the Boks, and a whole nation once again believed that the Springboks could be world beaters.The victory over the All Blacks also meant South Africa became the first holders of the new Freedom Cup, which was introduced to celebrate 10 years of democracy in the rainbow nation.Worst Test performance: SA vs England (Twickenham)This was one of those games; it had barely started and one could see that England would win for the sixth successive time over South Africa.The Springboks could do little right, making rhythm-breaking error after error. And up front the big Bok pack was strangely incapable of dealing with the driving mauls of the English. Even in the tight phases, the Boks were on the back foot. Clearly, from the start of the game, this was a team that was out of sorts.England were without the commanding figure of Jonny Wilkinson at flyhalf, but his replacement, Charlie Hodgson, blossomed behind a dominant pack to contribute 27 points in a convincing 32-16 England victory.For the third match in succession on the end-of-season tour, South Africa looked tired but, worse than that, it appeared they had not yet adjusted to the conditions, and facing the world champions that sealed their fate.On a positive note, Bryan Habana came on late in the game and scored a try with his first touch of the ball. In the next game against Scotland, the flying newcomer would confirm his massive promise with a two-try effort.That ray of light at the end of the contest, though, couldn’t hide the fact that it was by far South Africa’s worst test performance of 2004.Newcomer of the year: Bryan HabanaBryan Habana began the season starring for the South African under-21 team at the World Cup. Although they were well beaten 49-27 by eventual winners New Zealand in pool play – the Kiwis would go on to crush Ireland 49-17 in the final – Habana showed his pace with a hat-trick of tries as NZ outscored SA seven tries to five.Habana didn’t play in the Super 12, but later in the season, when he cracked the nod for the Lions’ Currie Cup team, he excelled, crossing the tryline 10 times and showing a devastating burst of speed that left defenders floundering in his wake.The champions, the Blue Bulls, liked what they saw of him in the Currie Cup and moved to sign him for the 2005 season, where the potential of his pairing with Ettienne Botha is huge.Springbok coach Jake White recognised something special in Habana and pulled him into his Tri-Nations squad, where the versatile backline speedster had a chance to reap the benefits of the Springbok experience.He wasn’t a first choice option on the Boks’ end-of-season tour, but when he came on as a substitute against England he scored with his first touch of the ball. Against Scotland the following week he touched down twice.Not only that, Habana impressed with his very physical defence despite his being somewhat undersized by today’s standards of centres and wings.After a draining tour, far too late in an extended season in which many stalwarts struggled to find form, it was clear that the find of the tour was Bryan Habana. And when one considers that he started the season playing for SA under-21, and missed out on Super 12 action, it was definitely a case of a meteoric rise for him.Coach of the year: Jake WhiteHeyneke Meyer deserves mention for leading his Blue Bulls to a convincing defence of their Currie Cup title, but Jake White takes this honour because he brought back the world’s belief in Springbok rugby. It is hard to argue with his award as IRB International Coach of the Year. It was an one he richly deserved.The quick turnaround of people’s perception of the Boks – from the bad boys of world rugby to the exciting new talent – is down to White’s vision in identifying the right players, and his ability to communicate what he wants to those players. Some recent Springbok coaches failed miserably in that vital aspect of their job.By the end of the year, White had led the Springboks to nine wins and four defeats. The successes included victories over New Zealand for the first time since 2000, over Australia, Ireland (twice), the tough Pacific Islanders, Wales (twice), Argentina and Scotland.All the losses were away from home, to New Zealand by two points, to Australia by four points, to Ireland by five points, and in the sole really disappointing game of 2004, by 16 points to England.Obviously away form is something the Boks need to work at, but the signs are good that the team is moving in the right direction. Thanks, Jake.Provincial upset of the year: Griquas vs Sharks (Kimberley)Griquas are usually tough customers in Kimberley, but heading into their clash with the Sharks they had been thrashed 79-31 at home by Western Province and 63-6 by the same team in Cape Town. They had lost six of eight matches. The Sharks, meanwhile, had downed WP 29-18 in Durban.When the final whistle blew on the Griquas versus Sharks encounter, however, it was Griquas who came away with four points and a 33-24 win. And they were full value for their victory.Just how Griquas managed to pick themselves up and beat the most consistent team in the Currie Cup over the past decade is difficult to understand, but they clearly didn’t take a step back for the visitors.Both teams managed three tries apiece, but with the Griquas’ pack forcing the Sharks onto the back foot, the Natalians made plenty of errors for which they were made to pay by the accurate boot of Braam van Straaten.Even so, the home side’s win came after they fell 10-0 behind, which goes to show how much they eventually dominated the contest.Provincial game of the Year: Blue Bulls vs Western Province (Pretoria)The two teams met in the final round of the round robin competition in Pretoria and Western Province needed a positive result to clinch second spot on the log. It proved to be an epic encounter, with both teams scoring five tries in a 36-all draw as Province achieved their aim.Played in front of a packed stadium of 52 000, the match had it all, including Ettienne Botha scoring twice to show the Springbok selectors – to no avail – that he belonged in the green and gold.Early on the Blue Bulls led 14-0 thanks to those two Botha tries, but when Bulls’ hooker Danie Coetzee was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes the visitors made the champions pay in a big way.They ran in four tries while he was off, all just before half time, to take a good-looking 26-14 lead into the break. First it was Breyton Paulse going over, followed by De Wet Barry, Jean de Villiers, and Marius Joubert.The Bulls, however, who before the game had been accused of fielding a second-string line-up because they had rested some of their stars (they would qualify top of the table regardless of the outcome), had no plans to lie down and surrender.They came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, taking the fight to Western Province in the forwards. Pedrie Wannenberg and Warren Brosnihan pulled the Bulls back into the contest with tries for the Blue Bulls, and when Morne Steyn landed a penalty with four minutes left the scores were level at 29-all.Western Province, desperate for the points they needed for a home semi-final, hit back with a great try that was rounded off by De Villiers near the uprights. The successful conversion from Gaffie du Toit put WP 36-29 ahead, but the Blue Bulls were not done.They attacked mightily, forcing Province to concede penalty after penalty, which resulted in two yellow cards, for prop Pat Barnard and lock Johan van Zyl.The home team then made them pay, carrying the ball through 14 phases, prodding and prying left and right until Western Province finally ran out of defenders and Steyn flew over for the try. His conversion leveled the scores at 36-all and brought down the curtain on a great contest.Feel-good moment of the year: SA wins the Tri-NationsAfter the troubles of 2003 – Kamp Staaldraad and the World Cup wipeout – South Africa’s return to rugby respectability was confirmed when the Springboks clinched the Tri-Nations title in Durban in front of a deliriously happy crowd.I was lucky enough to be in the crowd that day. The energy of the expectations and hopes was electric, and when those dreams were realised with a 23-19 win over Australia the feel-good vibe that erupted was a joy to experience.The Tri-Nations title proved that the talent in South Africa that everyone knows exists can be moulded into a winning Springbok team, something that had become a little unclear in recent years.Optimism is now the key word for South African rugby fans as they cast their eyes to 2005.2004 Currie Cup Log 1. Blue Bulls 562. Western Province 463. Cheetahs 454. Lions 455. Sharks 336. Griquas 287. Pumas 238. Eagles 13 Currie Cup Top Scorers Willem de Waal (Cheetahs) 192Derick Hougaard (Blue Bulls) 188Braam van Straaten (Griquas) 143Nel Fourie (Lions) 138Conrad Barnard (Sharks) 137Gaffie du Toit (Western Province) 97 Currie Cup Top Try Scorers Ettienne Botha (Blue Bulls) 18Egon Seconds (Western Province) 13Giscard Pieters (Pumas) 12Bryan Habana (Lions) 10Breyton Paulse (Western Province) 10John Daniels (Lions) 9Frikkie Welsh (Blue Bulls) 9 Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo material
4 June 2010The Vodacom Bulls’ victory over the Stormers in the Super 14 final in Soweto last weekend not only broke boundaries as the biggest rugby game ever to take place in a township; it broke South African television records as well.Figures released on Thursday by BMI Sport Info, South Africa’s leading independent sport and sponsorship research company, showed that rugby made significant inroads into the country’s black population, with black viewers accounting for almost 30 percent of the total viewing audience.According to the viewership figures, a new record viewing audience of 2.9-million South Africans of 16 years and older watched the final between the Bulls and Stormers at Orlando Stadium on television.More than doubledThis more than doubled the 1.4-million viewers that watched the 2009 final between the Bulls and the Chiefs.The historical significance of the game prompted SABC to also broadcast the game live, and it had an immediate effect on viewership, tapping a new wealth of rugby fans.The total recorded audience was also considerably higher than the 950 000 adults who watched the Bulls’ semi-final clash the week before.Around 60 percent of fans watched the match on SABC2 and 40% on Supersport, allowing for a significant growth in black viewership, which increased by 127% compared to the 2009 Super 14 final.Significant boostThe total black viewership was over 840 000, almost 30 percent of the total audience and a significant boost to the sport in the country.“These amazing figures show there is a significant support base for rugby amongst black viewers and the historic move to use Orlando Stadium for the semi-finals and finals of the Vodacom Super 14 was a positive move,” BMI’s Johan Grobler said of the figures.“And the growth wasn’t only amongst black South Africans, as there was also a significant jump among female viewers – with figures increasing 140% from those in the 2009 finals.“For the first time, ladies outnumbered the men by accounting for 51 percent of the viewers.”Soweto’s influenceClearly, the success of the Bulls semi-final win over the Crusaders and the excitement and hype surrounding the final in Soweto, along with the mouth-watering clash between two of the oldest South African rivals, played a major part.Despite the record viewership represented by the TAMS rating, according to BMI’s James Monteith the actual audience figure is much higher, if you take into account the social aspect of watching a massive final together with friends.“Out of home viewing by people with no private access to a TV or purely because it’s more fun watching at a venue with friends, can add substantially to the total audience,” Monteith said.“This can add an additional 50% to the audience for events with no broadcast on free to air TV, and between 23% and 35% for events that are broadcast on free to air TV.“With out of home viewing added to the recorded television audiences, the total number that watched the final is likely closer to 3.7-million adults.Trend“An all-South African final with the added excitement of it being hosted in Soweto added to the interest in the match, but it only continued a trend we had seen all season,” said Oregan Hoskins, the president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU).“The audience was up 38% in February and continued to increase every week over the tournament – even before the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Stormers emerged as the tournament’s pace-setters.“We’re seeing sustained and unprecedented levels of interest in rugby. Our players and coaches have led the way with their performances on the field.“Supporters like to follow successful teams and associate with winners, and our teams have certainly been that.”Improved quality of rugbyHoskins added that the emphasis law makers had placed on interpretations to encourage ball-in-hand play and cut down on scrum resets, improving the quality of rugby had had an impact.The audience for the final was 55% higher than last year’s final and 28% higher than the Sharks and Vodacom Bulls final in 2007. Thirty-one matches had audiences of more than half-a-million viewers compared to only 13 in 2009.Hoskins added: “Congratulations to the Vodacom Bulls on winning the title and retaining it for South Africa – the trophy was one of the big attractions of the Champion Tour with which we began the year.“People flocked to share in the success of rugby at first hand and thanks to our Vodacom Super 14 teams we’ve had a marvellous start to the year.”SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Who is the most successful server manufacturer today? Viewed one way, the answer is “no one”. And that face is a dismal warning to traditional PC makers who are counting on servers to keep their businesses afloat as the PC market slowly disintegrates.Hewlett-Packard, Dell, IBM, Fujitsu and Cisco sold the most servers during the fourth quarter of 2012, according to data released by IDC. But it’s the “other” category that’s scaring the pants off the others. That’s a throng of second-tier and “white box” server vendors who collectively sold 879,711 servers during the quarter. Number one HP, by contrast, sold 663,598.Look no further than IBM’s reported plans to sell off its low-end serve business to Lenovo — likely Big Blue’s attempt to escape an increasingly commoditized market while it still can.True, IBM, HP, and Dell still each pull in more revenue than the the $1.86 billion amassed by the “others” horde. But that’s cold comfort, given that low-cost unbranded servers are quickly eating into their markets. The commoditization trend is getting a hard push from companies like Google, Facebook and Rackspace, who are busily designing and building their own servers to power their huge data centers.Server manufacturers are trying to shield themselves with software, services and support, three defenses against the Mongol horde of white boxes. Arguably, though, that hasn’t worked for Big Blue, at least at the low end of PC-based servers. And there’s no particular reason to think it will save HP or Dell over the long term, either.On the surface, none of this will really disadvantage consumers or developers. It really doesn’t matter to end users whose name is on the boxes that power Netflix, Evernote, Apple’s iCloud, or Amazon. And there will always be a need for some sort of server, from somebody. In fact, commodization is an indirect but very real plus for users, since it lowers costs for Web providers, making possible an increasing lineup of innovative, and often free, Web services.But it’s definitely bad news for the server makers themselves. This Has Been A Long Time ComingTraditional PC manufacturers like IBM, HP and Dell have taken one hit to their businesses after another over the past decade or so. Desktop PCs started declining in price with the rise of the Internet, reducing the need to upgrade PCs. Then laptops ate further into that market as they began to rival desktop power while offering mobility.Finally, tablets and smartphones tapped the cloud for computing and location, and far more cheaply, limiting the need for people to buy expensive laptops.That left PC-based servers — and that market is now under siege as well. The days of the mainframes came and went, and most server infrastructure now runs on the Xeon processor, Intel’s PC processor optimized for the enterprise. Traditional mainframe processors — IBM’s Power, Oracle’s Sparc — retreated to the ivory towers of research computing. Meanwhile, companies like former Taiwan motherboard makers Supermicro or Asus realized that they can assemble a notebook or server just as well as a Dell or HP, and for less.As prices of traditional PCs fell, hardware makers turned to new tactics, loading up new machines with “crapware” ranging from trial versions of AOL to antivirus programs to games. Consumers hated it, but the revenue crapware provided, directly or indirectly, helped keep hardware makers afloat.Unfortunately, there’s no way to duplicate that strategy in the server space. IT managers don’t want servers cluttered up with Adobe Flash, Cyberlink PowerDVD, Roxio Creator, or any of the other bloatware that Dell places on its PCs. They do, however, want some help just making sense of it all.Geek Squad On SteroidsEnter “solutions,” the jargon that dominates enterprise discussions. Suddenly, the PC turned server makers weren’t selling a PC, monitor and printer; they were packaging together a server, associated storage, a network switch, security, migration, and engineering services and support to tie it all together. Put extremely simplistically, an enterprise solution is everything that the Geek Squad offers, just scaled up by orders of magnitude.In 2012, for instance, Dell bought Clerity in order to help Dell Services “reduce the cost of transitioning business-critical applications and data from legacy computing systems and onto more modern architectures, including the cloud.” In the PC space, that’s called dumping the contents of Mom and Dad’s old PC onto a USB key and loading it into Google Drive.Then again, Dell’s enterprise “solutions” business climbed 4 percent last quarter, and pulled in $19.4 billion for its last fiscal year — about a third of its revenue. Cha-ching.The central idea of the enterprise solution isn’t the packaging. It’s the customization, and the investment. Hewlett-Packard, for example, offers a fairly substantive list of industry-specific solutions for aerospace, automotive, and media, among others, with each pitching an additional value-added service. This was a tactic the same companies never really deployed in the PC market, perhaps because they never saw the need — or couldn’t justify the investment — in designing PCs optimized for, say, tax professionals. Adding Value to a Commodity BusinessStill, the “other” category is compelling evidence that a sizeable portion of the market seems to be unwilling to pay hardware makers for their services. Instead, they’re pooling their resources. Massing and deploying large arrays of commodity hardware is the underlying principle behind everything from Hadoop — an open-source project for managing huge stores of data across distributed commodity servers — to the Open Compute Project. In that sense, the commodity server business is thriving.And the PC makers themselves are helping it along, believing they can surf the trend by offering software and services on top of commodity hardware.Dell’s Data Center Solutions business, for instance, is a small but growing custom solutions business within Dell’s larger server sales business. In January, Tracy Davis, the general manager of Dell DCS, attended the Open Compute Summit, whose principles include stripping the “vanity” logos from servers and replacing them with as much cost-optimized hardware as possible. Why would Dell participate in a forum seemingly designed to kill it off?Davis told me that Dell is able to engage — and sell — everything from engineering services to Dell’s ability to buy components all over the world. That’s a competitive offering, not necessarily reflected in the bottom line, that still adds value to Dell’s business versus a no-name, commodity server maker.The Writing Is On The WallIn some sense, things came to a head this week after CRN and other outlets reported that IBM was in talks with Lenovo to sell its low-end X86 server business for between $5 billion and $6 billion — an eerie parallel to the way Big Blue sold off its ThinkPad notebook business to Lenovo years ago. IBM hasn’t confirmed or denied the talks.“Assuming IBM divests [its] low end (low margin) x86 biz to Lenovo, HP and Dell should be concerned because Lenovo can make [money] and disrupt [the] space,” Matt Eastwood, an IDC server analyst, wrote on Twitter. The idea, Eastwood and others suggested, was that IBM couldn’t squeeze money from a commodity business. Lenovo can.But what’s the commodity? Generic servers? Not necessarily. Solutions Can Be Commodities, TooIBM’s highest-profile service is Watson, the natural-language technology that beat several past “Jeopardy” champions and is being used in financial services and to help treat cancer patients. Watson and other related services run on servers based on its Power chips, not x86. Yes, IBM deploys a whole slew of services on its line of x86 servers — but they’re awfully similar to what everyone else does, too.Eventually, companies like ARM say, we’ll all be running servers on the sort of low-power processors that power our cell phones, with the Web’s basic functions — serving up static Web pages, for example — running on cheap, purpose-built machines. These aren’t just commodity servers; these are commodity solutions. Meanwhile, companies like Google and Facebook are quietly building their own custom servers to fit their own, specialized needs.Here’s what IBM may be thinking. Since its highest-value, unique service offerings run on Power, they justify further investment. And if IBM can offer uniquely high-value services on top of the cheaper x86 boxes, then it should hold onto those, too. But if the company can’t see customers turning to IBM for those solutions — either now or in the future — then IBM’s justified for ditching them while the getting is good.IBM led the way in pulling away from the PC in 2004, a controversial move at the time that now seems more than justified. If IBM takes the same approach with its x86 server business, it may be a similar harbinger of doom for other makers of x86 servers.Image courtesy of Hewlett-Packard Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Tags:#servers Related Posts markhachman Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…
Google Jump and GoPro Spherical offer new options in the expanding world of VR content. Hear all about it and more in this collection of industry news.Following last week’s Code Conference and Google I/O gathering there’s been plenty of exciting news in the world of filmmaking and videography. Here are a few more recent announcements that you might have missed.Google JumpImage from Seattle TimesGoogle Photos wasn’t the only announcement at last week’s Google I/O gathering. The company also revealed that they’ve teamed up with GoPro to create Jump, a completely insane VR camera rig comprised of 16 GoPro HERO4 Blacks. Jump’s tagline is “Experiences like you’re actually there.” What does that mean? According to Google:The Jump rig consists of 16 camera modules in a circular array. The size of the rig and the arrangement of the cameras are optimized to work with the Jump Assembler software, which transform 16 pieces of video into stereoscopic VR video. Jump assembles 360 videos that allow you to experience a scene in every direction. Perfect stereo ensures that near things look near, far things look far. Our 3D alignment approach creates a beautiful, seamless panorama, so you you won’t see borders where cameras are spliced together. Assembled 3D videos are super high resolution – the equivalent of five 4k TVs playing at once.All of this 360 VR 3D action will work hand in hand with the Google Cardboard goggles as well as having a home on YouTube.GoPro Spherical SolutionsGoogle Jump isn’t GoPro’s only dip into the VR waters. Following the company’s April announcement of its acquisition of Kolor, CEO Nick Woodman revealed that his company was working on a rig that combines six GoPro Hero cameras to create spherical shots. According to Matthew Panzarino of Tech Crunch:CEO Nick Woodman says that when Facebook bought Oculus, the ‘gauntlet was dropped’ and GoPro started work on a spherical setup that could generate content for virtual reality and augmented reality systems. Woodman also said that the company has software in ‘alpha’ right now inside the company that allows users to auto-sync their GoPro cameras to the cloud so they can access their footage. This is still in the ‘early stages,’ Woodman said, but this would theoretically allow people to view and edit without ever “having to touch an SD card or touch a USB cord.”This news, plus Woodman’s announcement of the upcoming GoPro quadcopter and the recent news that the affordable Hero+ LCD will now come with a built-in touchscreen (delivering 1080p60 video and 8MP photos) means that the next year should be pretty exciting for GoPro fans. More information on GoPro’s spherical rig can be found on their website. For more about the Hero+ LCD, check out this great article from Gizmodo.Blackmagic FirmwareThe Blackmagic brand hasn’t always been synonymous with awesome firmware, but over the last year they have upped their game by releasing many updates to every one of their cameras. Just this week Blackmagic unveiled a new update for the Production Camera 4K that brings some welcome improvements in terms of usability. Notable additions include:Added support for more frame guidesUpdated camera utilitiesHolding down MENU will bypass the dashboardWhile these updates certainly aren’t earth-shattering, they are a friendly reminder that Blackmagic is taking usability very seriously now, which is great for the industry as a whole. To download the latest firmware update head on over to Blackmagic’s support page.Check back here on the PremiumBeat blog for all of the latest news about filmmaking, editing, and motion graphics. If you haven’t seen already there was also a few other big announcements from GoPro, AJA, and Google this last week.What’s your experience with 360 filmmaking? Have you run into any limitations? Share your insights in the comments below.
Shows That Use Vintage GlassImage via FX.Vintage lenses have made their way into everything from independent films to TV Shows to commercials to Hollywood blockbusters. Many of today’s best DPs are relying on the image qualities and characteristics that vintage glass creates for digital sensors. One of the most prominent and critically well-received shows using vintage glass is Atlanta, which combines an ARRI Amira with Kowa Cine Prominar lenses. Also, the FX show Baskets used vintage Cooke Speed Panchros to create a unique look, and Spike Jonze used vintage Canon K35s on HER.Manufacturer’s ApproachLens manufacturers have even been embracing this unique market shift toward vintage lenses. A notable example is the ARRI Alexa 65, which the company pairs with a set of vintage 765 lenses to complement the camera’s sensor.Image via ARRI.Further, due to a very sharp increase of demand, Cooke has recently started remanufacturing their well-known and well-respected Cooke Speed Panchro Lenses. These lenses first appeared in the 1920s, and at one point, were shooting 90 percent of all 16mm films.As images become increasingly sharper with ever-higher degrees of detail and resolution, vintage lenses will continue to lend more filmic and cinematic looks to digital images. So, if you need a unique look for your next project, vintage glass may be the perfect solution.Looking for more articles on lenses? Check these out.Hot Dog! You Can Now Make AR Lenses for Snapchat in Lens StudioGear Review: the Leica Summicron-C Series of LensesWorking with Vintage Lenses on Modern Cameras10 Things to Know About Shooting with Vintage LensesUsing Vintage Film Lenses on Micro 4/3 Cameras Considering a signature look for your next project? Let’s take a look at why the perfect set of vintage cinema lenses may be just the thing you need.Cover image via Shutterstock.Vintage Lenses are a hot ticket among cinematographers. The way these vintage lenses complement digital sensors has made them invaluable, and the characteristics behind these lenses — as well as how they resolve today’s digital images — means the resurgence in popularity won’t decline anytime soon.Digital camera sensors today are nearly flawless. They can capture immense detail at extremely high resolutions. However, this degree of detail and resolution can, in some cases, create less-than-flattering images. As a result, cinematographers have gone looking for ways to soften the edges of their digital images. Some, for example, rely on camera diffusion. (I’ve seen many cinematographers use ⅛ Blackmagic filtration to get the look they want out of digital equipment.)However, vintage lenses have risen to the surface as the best tool to complement digital sensors. The characteristics they bring to today’s digital sensors have been a perfect marriage of digital and analog technology. This lens test by The Vintage Cinema Camera Lens Library goes into detail about what you can expect from a vintage lens — and how they differ from each other.
Tata Motors-owned Jaguar said it has launched the XKR special edition luxury sedan in India, priced at Rs 1.27 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi).”New XKR special edition models are available to order now in both coupe and convertible form from July 2012… The special edition models introduce enhancements to the XK’s already luxurious hand-crafted cabin in addition to discreet exterior changes,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.The car is powered by a 5.0 litre direct-injection V8 petrol engine, it added.The company said the car is fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission that offers manual driver control via steering-wheel mounted paddles.In June, global sales of luxury brands from Jaguar Land Rover were at 28,215 units, up 39 per cent from the same month last year.While sales of luxury sedans of Jaguar brand decreased by 5 per cent last month at 3,829 units, Land Rover sales were up 49 per cent at 24,386 units. It may be noted here that Tata Motors-owned British luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR), which opened its 15th dealership and the first in Pune on Saturday in association with Ace Perkins, is planning to expand its dealership network from 15 to 20, targeting tier-II cities like Bangalore, Surat and Aurangabad.