Better is NOT Perfect

March 9, 2009

Addiction, Not Lock-In, is Apple’s Motive [UPDATED x3]

[NOTE: This article was originally posted on January 5, 2009 on my personal blog.]

Addiction, Not Lock-In, is Apple’s Motive

I was reading Sean Devine’s thoughts on the App Store. I believe he is correct in Apple, Inc.’s actions, but not the motive.

Apple clearly is giving no preferential treatment to “quality” apps, just making it easy to get at the quantity of them. Sean believes the purpose of this Large Selection focus is to lock people in via a large investment in native apps.

I disagree.

I think that as a hardware-sales-based-profit-model organization, every software related action Apple, Inc. takes is to increase the disability of the hardware it sells.

The KEY to maximizing iPhone profit is to create very high switching costs for users, just as they did for the iPod via the iTunes Music Store

The iTunes Store (both apps and music) run on the slimmest of margins, and (according to Apple) exists only as a perk for their hardware customers and a “value booster” of their hardware.

The fact that native apps (DRM’d or not) cannot be moved to another platform is a technical barrier and to blame it on an attempt at lock-in is assigning malice without cause. Yes, Apple benefits from this, but they benefit equally every time an iPhone specific web site shows up or an iPod user pirates a song off bittorrent.

DRM on music can go away tomorrow and while it would wreak havoc on AAPL’s stock price, it would have zero negative effect on Apple’s bottom line.

Likewise, if all iPhone developers pulled their App Store app and put it on their web site recompiled to run on Android – the iPhone 3G would STILL be more useful than the original iPhone, which people loved.

I’m not suggesting a mass developer exodus wouldn’t hurt Apple or the App Store, I’m just suggesting that Apps are not the gotcha in a customer snare-and-trap scenario.

I believe Apple is snaring customers, just not by locking them in. Apple is snaring customers with the out-of-the-box gadget itself and keeping them happy (and compliant) with apps.

It’s the apps, but then again it’s the object itself.

Unlike a game console, the outer shell of the hardware (and not technical specs or benchmarks) is more important to the vast majority of the people slapping down their cash (aka the non-geeky).

The non-geeky lust after the gadget itself first, THEN what apps you can get for it.

The only ones who are even aware that you can add features to phones is the 7% of the population that knows how to install hard drives in their PCs, the 2% of the population that have downloaded an app to their existing phone, and developers.

The iTunes Store purchases that “locked people in” to iPods never seemed to erupt into an issue, even after hundreds of millions of iPods and billions of DRMed songs. Why? People were addicted to the iPods, not the store purchases.

I doubt App Store purchases are tying people to their iPhone any more than iTunes purchases tied them to iPods.

Evil Apple, Inc.

All of the negative stereotypes (Selfish. Greedy. Smug. Control Freak. Superior. Arrogant. Secretive.) about Apple, Inc. as a company or Steve Jobs as a person can be boiled down to four basic corporate policies:

1. Apple writes their own machine-level code rather than outsourcing it.
2. Apple designs their own baseline hardware rather than using snap-together pieces.
3. Apple writes code that it doesn’t license to others.
4. Apple follows the model of Loose Lips Sink Ships.

These four policies put Apple at an advantage with all their partners, vendors, developers, and customers – and a lot of them complain loudly. Others carry it farther and assign dark motives for these policies and attempt to predict future actions based on those dark motives.

Lock-in is a dark motive, as it keeps you prisoner. With Apple products you aren’t a prisoner as much as you are an addict. (Getting people addicted is also a dark motive, but in manifests itself differently than a lock-in motive.)

Once they’ve locked users in, they’ll shift focus to mine as much profit as possible from each of those users each year.

Like how they’ve constantly raised prices on music in their 75+% marketshare music store, and pushed prices higher with their 90+% marketshare of a TV/Movie store? Like how they won’t allow any non-DRM’d material on their hardware? No, wait… they’ve never done any of those things.

What HAVE they done? They’ve fought with music studios against raising prices. They’ve waged a public war against DRM and used the RIAA’s instance on it as a bargaining chip to get the least restrictive copy protection in the industry.

They’ve prioritized HTML5 and h.264 over proprietary extensions and plug-ins.

Do you think they were doing it for the benefit of all mankind? No. Open file formats and communications protocols puts all platforms on a level playing field – and Apple believes that when all things are equal, their physical/tangible gear is more desirable than the gear sold by other hardware makers. (The arrogant bastards.)

Their existing customer base agrees. They become rabid at the release of any new hunk of plastic, glass, and metal that gets the Apple Seal of Approval.

What Addiction Looks Like
Jeremy Horwitz had to go 24 hours without his iPhone.

What hasn’t been publicized as much is the iPhone addiction factor—the “you couldn’t pry this thing out of my hands without a gun” survey question—which will be the key to understanding whether, as a key Palm investor claimed last week, the first wave of iPhone users are itching to be free of their two-year contracts come July and ready to won over to Sprint, or rather, that they’re just waiting for the next big iPhone release in order to make another Apple purchase.

My gut feeling is that, absent some really big screw-up by Apple come late June, there will be no tidal wave of departures from the iPhone’s existing userbase—at least, to smartphones at similar price points.

[…]

Yet from (a) my wedding day to (b) the birth of my daughter to (c) the day when I went from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G, an iPhone hasn’t left my side—or been out of use—for any significant length of time since the original day of release. It has become something close to indispensable for keeping in touch with people, pretty good for music and movies, and even more of a draw since the launch of the App Store.

I don’t think Jeremy is even considering getting a phone from a different maker any time soon, do you? I don’t think he’ll even be seriously looking at them.

Apple’s M.O. is simple:
Phase 1:
1. Build a Better Mousetrap, then make it gorgeous.
2. Let the world know about your better mousetrap in a Spectacular Fashion.
3. Remove all barriers to your door, then make more doors.
4. Profit!

Phase 2:
1. Addict them with something new and shiny.
2. Release something newer and shinier.
3. Repeat and Profit!

As long as you are hooked on their gear, you won’t even LOOK at anyone else’s. If you don’t look at anyone else’s, Apple can convince you they invented fire and the wheel.

And you’ll be happy to believe them.

February 15, 2009

Before Getting Into Retail, Someone Should tell Microsoft That They Don’t Make Computers.

Filed under: I have issues that you don't care about — Gerald @ 6:34 pm

Microsoft doesn’t make computers.
Microsoft makes its money selling OS licenses to computer builders (pro and hobbyist). They are in the license business.

Microsoft is under the mistaken belief that they make computers and sell them to customers.
Dell is a computer builder. Dell buys licenses from Microsoft. Dell is not Microsoft’s “partner”. Dell is Microsoft’s customer. Microsoft is a parts supplier.

By convincing Dell that they are “partners” they can insist that Dell shape their products according to Microsoft’s needs.

Unfortunately, while convincing Dell that they were together in bringing computers to market MS convinced itself that this means they make computers and sell them to end users.

This is based on two outmoded schools of thought:
1. The operating system IS the computer.
2. End users and customers are the same thing.

The operating system IS NOT the computer.
It’s a part. It’s an important part, but just a part. The Operating System the machine-level instruction set that makes the inside parts of your computer aware of each other and sets up the rules of how they interact. The operating system literally operates the system. Modern operating system packages also include application programming interfaces (APIs), kernel extensions (“Drivers”), user interfaces (both command line and graphical), and bundled applications (Programs and Utilities).

This has led many barely-technical types to think that these front-facing parts are the operating system, proving once again that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Forums all over the internet are filled with those who believe that a simple shell-appearance change or new versions of bundles apps is akin to a whole new OS, and a new OS is akin to a whole new computer.

The mindset is: The physical object is simply the “hardware” and the OS is the “computer”.

Microsoft should know better. An operating system is a set of instructions for a computer, not the computer itself.

End users and customers are NOT the same thing.
When you buy a tangible object, you buy that object and you use that object. Software is different. Software isn’t sold. It’s licensed. In this sales situation the item sold (the license) is separate from the item used (software).

In most sales situations, especially if it’s a tangible object, the person making the purchase will be the person using that object for it’s useful lifespan. This is not true of the licenses that make up the BULK of Microsoft’s sales figures.

The vast majority of Microsoft license sales are to computer builders* like Dell and Acer, not to end users.

Way, way back in the 1980s and 1990s the only people who bought computers were corporate IT departments and computer hobbyists (aka “nerds”). Nearly 100% of the people putting down cash for these machines opened them up and tinkered with the inside, either for business or pleasure. In other words, nearly all computer buyers were also computer builders – so OS License customers and OS users were the same people.

This is no longer true.

The computer has broken free from the cubicle and the computer club and has hit the mainstream as a tool and toy for the masses. Non-corporate sales of computers is the fastest growing segment of an otherwise shrinking market, and the bulk of the machines sold are tinker-unfriendly laptops. In the 21st century, most people who buy computers will never install an operating system, much less buy a license to one. They just agree to the end-user license that comes bundled with their computer**. Microsoft seems blind to this fact.

The percentage of buyers that are also builders has shrunk significantly. The percentage of builders that buy their OS license at retail is even smaller. Microsoft seems blind to these facts, too.

Getting Into Retail.
The news that Microsoft is planning on entering the retail game, coupled with this review of Microsoft’s business model, raises several questions. The most important is: WHY!??!

The only reason anyone can seem to come up with is: Because Apple did it.

Why Apple got into retail.
Apple got into retail because it couldn’t get it’s products into many stores, instead it had to depend on mail-order to survive. Not having a place for people to buy your product is a major sales obstacle. Microsoft does not have this problem.

The Side Benefit of Apple Retail.
Before the retail stores, the only way a non-geek could learn about Apple gear was either from their Apple-hating geek friend, or the Apple Zealot in the family… neither of which is a good source of accurate information.

Apple’s retail stores gave people who had never been exposed to their gear first-hand experience in low-pressure sales environments. This new familiarity with their products improved their reputation among the non-technical.

An unfamiliarity with your product is a major sales obstacle. Microsoft does not have this problem.

What problem DOES Microsoft have?
People who have used their new OS dislike it. The existence of a retail store will not make them like it more.

What will Microsoft sell in its stores?
We’ve established that only computer builders buy operating systems, and only hobbyists buy at retail. Unless Microsoft has a new product up it’s sleeve (XBOX 4?), I think that the stores will be filled with non-MS products and advertisements for Windows 7.

Keyboards and mice bear the Microsoft name; but like the Zune 1.0, those are just re-branded products made by other companies. It’s entirely possible that Microsoft can slap their name on a machine made by someone else, but I think they are too dependent on license sales to builders to make their own PC.

The last thing Microsoft needs is a replay of what the Zune did to PlaysForSure license sales: hardware makers and music stores (their only customers) stopped buying.

Can Microsoft succeed where Gateway and Dell have failed?
Who knows. Maybe the secret to PC Retail Sales is to sell someone else’s product. It worked for Circuit City Federated Sharper Image Sears Montgomery Wards Babbages Computer City Radio Shack Fry’s.

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*Dell doesn’t buy EULAs. They buy OS-Loader licenses.
Dell does not buy/resell end-user licenses. They PACKAGE end-user licenses. They buy OS-Loader licenses (known as “Original Equipment Manufacturer”, or “OEM” licenses). This buys the right from Microsoft to install Windows on the machines they sell and obligates them to package a non-transferrable end-user license with the installation. Dell then shifts the cost of the OS-Loader license fee to the customer. (Which is refundable if you choose not to use Windows).

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**The End-User License is a misnomer.
The bulk of the license is not about the USE of the software, but under what circumstances you are allowed to copy the software. The definition of “copying” is not limited to loading it onto your hard drive, or backing up the installation disc. Copying includes any duplication of the data, including such mundane details as reading the installation media and loading into your system’s memory.

In legalese, the act of booting your computer is making a copy. The End-User License grants you the right to make this copy.

All operating systems are computer programs and are the sole property of the individual or group that created it. (Yes, even open source operating systems, such as Linux.) That individual or group may grant a large or small amount of rights to those outside the group (including the right to modify the source code), but no transfer of ownership rights occur. If you want to own your operating system you will have to a) write one yourself, b) pay someone to write one for you, or c) buy the ownership rights to one that is for sale. If you copy someone else’s work, you may still have to pay a license fee if 1) they can prove you copied it, and 2) you are attempting to distribute said work.

January 31, 2009

Hello world! (Or, Version 1 of my “About Me” Page)

When you start a new WordPress Blog, by default it has one post. This post. Hello World!

Hello World!
Based on my blog’s title, who am I? . . . ? Your answer will determine how I’ll sound to you in all my posts.

I’m a Hater
I’m on the Microsoft payroll and am just pulling a Dvorak and trolling for page hits. I’m Dan Lyons. I’m Fake Dan Lyons, I’m Fake Fake Dan Lyons. I’m a Microsoft PR Move to deflect from [insert bad news here]. I’m a gamer and build-it-yourself type who thinks everyone should know how to upgrade their RAM and add a second hard drive. I think that Bill Gates was a visionary, but was taken down by jealous companies who couldn’t compete in the market and had to get Big Brother to fight for them. I’ve never touched a Mac, except in Middle school and it kept freezing up; they’re overpriced and under-specced and I won’t waste money on a fancy case with a logo on it.

I’m a Fanboi Apologist
I worship at the altar of Steve Jobs. I drank the Kool-Aid and only pretend to grumble so I can make excuses. I’ve never owned a PC because I’m rich. I have Apple stickers on my car, my bicycle, my skateboard, and my dorm-room door. I like to think I’m a rebel, and I’m Different, and therefore better and cooler than you. I have all my hair, and it hangs down to my ass. I believed in Apple II Forever. I bled in six colors. I believe that Jeff and Andy were creating two very different machines, and Steve made the Mac into neither and both. I think Apple is that iPod/iTunes company with the cool bus ads and has something to do with The Beetles.

Who am I really?
I’m a nobody. I’m your brother. I’m Steve Jobs. I’m Fake Steve Jobs Twice Removed. I’m a fourteen year old who just got his own room and a new Mac. I’m the original 40 Year Old Virgin.

OK, it’s not funny anymore.
Well, it was for me. Spoiled sport. Truth? I’m no one you’ve heard of. I write things that you don’t care about and definitely don’t agree with. You shouldn’t read this blog at all. Go away. You’ll thank me.

You think this is comedy gold, don’t you?
I think I’m kinda cute. Of course, that’s the crap they use to rake you over the coals later.

Cute, or Smug?
See! It’s happening already. You’ve put me in a box.

Who are you talking to?
Isn’t that.. me? I mean… you’re me, right? There’s no interviewer giving voice over. I mean, I’m not doing voices out loud or anything.

You want to do it out loud into the empty room, now. Don’t you?

Don’t you?

*sigh*
Yay!!

January 7, 2008

MWSF2008: What I want vs. What I expect

[NOTE: This post was originally published January 7, 2008 @ 7:35 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

We all know the format. Rock music is playing while the auditorium fills. Backstage Stephen Jobs, businessman, readies himself for his performance as The Steve. He’s in costume, he’s well rehearsed, and he has his water. The music stops and he walks onstage to a thunderous applause.

First he talks about Old News (existing products, sales reports), then New News (doling out the goodies).

New software first, then (if any) new hardware and hardware bumps. The earlier he reveals new hardware, the more new hardware we’ll get.

Then one more thing. Maybe. He doesn’t do them every time.

Sometimes a thank you and goodbye, sometimes a musical guest.

So what will be the specifics? Until next week, we can only guess.

He’s my two cents:

iPod:
What I expect: The lineup got a complete refresh in October, including a new model. I don’t expect hardware to change in capacity or price at all. I expect firmware 1.1.3 for the iPod Touch to come out with all the rumored features.

What I want: A video/voice VOIP handset. Call it the iPod Chat. or the iChat Mobile. Or the skunkcabbage vomit machine. Who cares what you call it? Just make it. Please.

iPhone:
What I expect: Firmware 1.1.3 and a loose date for the SDK.

What I want: Immediate release of the SDK and a developer’s preview of Firmware 1.2.0 which it will require.

Portable Macs:
What I expect: Processor and hard drive bumps on existing models.

What I want: Wide touchpads on all models, including a new Macbook Mini, and the functions in OSX to take advantage of it (like resolution independence, Ink, and gestures). Also: A mini tablet that you hold like a PSP.

Desktop Macs:
What I expect: Processor and hard drive bumps for the iMac and Mac mini. Nothing for the Mac Pro.

What I want: A whole new desktop machine. Shaped like a small drawing board, it does away with the pointer and introduces a different GUI paradigm.

AppleTV:
What I expect: After two years in the making, there will be movie rentals.

What I want: TV Show rentals at ridiculously low prices. Low enough to consider cutting out your cable bill and going all-internet.

Cinema Displays:
What I expect: Nothing.
What I want: New 24″, 26″ 42″ and 52″ models. Standard with iSight, BTO without.

Partnerships:
What I expect: Skip lines @ Starbuck’s. All Starbuck’s in airports are now wired for iPhone.

What I want: iPhone now works other places like it does at Starbucks. Music off the air, browse the iTunes Music Store, and order food if available. (Like the pizza/hotdogs at Costco)

Software:
What I expect: iTunes 8
What I want: OS X 10.5.2, and updates to iLife and iWork.

One More thing:
What I expect: He didn’t do a “one more thing” at all between September of 2004 (iPod nano) and October 2007 (iPod touch). I wouldn’t expect one this time.

What I want: I want it all. Duh.

Musical Guest: Nobody. Too much new hardware.

April 28, 2007

WWDC07 Rumor: VirtualBox + BootCamp = Migration Assistant 2

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 28, 2007 @ 10:00 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

Anyone who has set up a Mac is familiar with the Setup Assistant. It’s the first thing that runs when you turn on a New Mac. During this process, if you have an old Mac, you can connect it via firewire and it will tell your new Mac everything it needs to know. You can transfer your accounts, settings, preferences, applications, documents, and data. It gives you the option of not moving old applications if the new machine has a newer version so you never have to fear that you are “downgrading” your new machine.

Users of Mac OS X 10.4.0 or later got the sister application Migration Assistant in their Utilities folder. Migration Assistant works just like setup assistant. You hook the computer you want to grab an account from to your Mac, and it grabs it.

I hear switchers and potential switchers out there saying “What if your old computer is a PC? I’d love to Boot Camp into my old setup.” (I’ll forgive my imaginary readers for verbing the noun Boot Camp, if you’ll forgive me for verbing the noun verb.)

Current the answer is no, for two reasons.

First, Migration Assistant 1.0 depends on Macintosh’s Target Disk Mode. It’s a hardware thing, programmed into the EFI on new Macs (and the OpenFirmware of every Mac made for the last decade), but not into the BIOS of any PC. No manufacturer demanded it so it simply isn’t there. Sorry.

Second, Migration Assistant 1.0 officially supports only Firewire, which has been standard on Macs for a decade but is a relative latecomer to the PC world, and still doesn’t appear on most low end and mid-range PCs. MA1.0 unofficially supports external USB drives, which hints at the direction Apple is heading.

Solving both of those problems is a small application, let’s call it PC Helper, running on the PC. It takes control of 1 firewire (or USB) port and emulates a Firewire (or USB) drive.

Migration Assistant 2 will have Boot Camp built-in. If your old computer is a PC, instead of moving accounts and settings, it will fire up VirtualBox.

VirtualBox is an open source, cross platform VM. Thanks to PC Helper, VirtualBox can grab the contents of your PCs hard drive and Boot Camp can put it on your Mac.

As with all rumors, take with an appropriate amount of salt.

April 13, 2007

Switching From Mac to XP Home: Day 3 – Uncontrollable Mouse and an iTunes Dilemma

Filed under: I have issues that you don't care about — Gerald @ 4:52 pm

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 13, 2007 @ 16:52 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

After a three day hiatus from the switch to prepare for my big move, I was finally ready to get AVG installed.

Upon boot up, Windows reminds me that I do not have AV software and that five more updates were available for my computer. The updates took about 90 seconds to download and 30 to install. Reboot.

Windows reminds me once more that I do not have AV software. So I begin downloading AVG. While it downloads, I add a new tab button to Firefox and set the tab bar to always show.

Then the mouse drifting started. Remembering last time, I plugged in a USB Mouse. Everything returns to normal for about three clicks.

The pointer resumes drifting very hard to the top-right but the eraser can pull it down.

I struggle with the eraser to pull up Dell’s website and find the “Alps GlidePoint/StickPointer Driver”. I give up on the pointer and hit the tab 47 times to downloaded it.

For no reason, during the download, the external mouse gained control of the pointer so I opened a few tabs. I started downloading Adobe Reader, Flash Player, and iTunes before losing control of the pointer again. AVG was still downloading.

One by one they finished, except AVG. Pushing the eraser with all my strength, I ran the pointer driver installer. I switched over to keyboard to do the actual install.

It needs to reboot. AVG is still downloading. I hit Pause and start to close Firefox, which tells me if I close I’ll have to start my download over. I make a mental note to find a “resume download” plug-in, and quit.

Reboot. Before windows even finished loading the pointer was moving up and right.

Two more reboots to disable the trackpad in the BIOS (it was a cryptic choice and I guessed wrong on the first try) and the USB mouse was working like a champ, but the network went down leaving me without internet access.

This is not the fault of the laptop, but of my landlord. It’s still down as I write this.

When it comes back up, I still need to figure out what I’m going to do about iTunes. I have about 60GB of iTunes on my Mac. I backup the internal 160GB drive to an external 160GB Firewire/USB drive with SuperDuper on a pretty regular basis. The Inspiron 8200 has a firewire port. Is there a freeware way to use the Mac formated drive with this Dell? If so, is there a way to share the iTunes library? Can I sync my iPod to a shared library if they are on the same iTunes account?

I didn’t think setup would take this long. My Mac goes in a box in two weeks and the Dell isn’t even close to being ready to use. Will I be ready in time?

Leopard Delayed: A call for 10.4.10

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 13, 2007 @ 16:23 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

Apple announced yesterday that the next version of the Mac operating system, OS X 10.5 Leopard, is going to be delayed by 12 weeks.

Today, I’m answering with a request: Issue 10.4.10 to fix what 10.4.9 broke.

Specifically, dropped frames in Final Cut Pro 4.5 during capture, resulting in failed captures. Final Cut Express 3.0 users are suffering the same bug. I simply don’t have the money (or the RAM or Hard Drive space) to upgrade to Final Cut Pro 5.x to fix this problem. Using iMovie is not a suitable workaround.

If the politics of explaining that numbers do not have two decimal points is keeping you from releasing 10.4.10, I suggest calling it 10.4.9.1 or 10.4.9a.

April 9, 2007

Switching From Mac to XP Home: Day 2

Filed under: I have issues that you don't care about — Gerald @ 11:31 am

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 9, 2007 @ 11:31 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

After a nice Sunday Brunch at Ivar’s on Peir 54, I spent most of the afternoon window shopping with my lovely bride so I didn’t get around to the laptop until 8:00pm again.

I pressed the button and the Dell-Inspiron-8200-with-a-fresh-install-of-XP-Home-and-Firefox came to life. As soon as the cursor appeared on the screen, it began to drift. Very slowly it drifted up and to the right.

Windows finished loading, but it I had no control over the mouse… and then, I did. Weird.

I opened Firefox and typed Ad-Aware into the Google search box. There goes the cursor, again. Drifting very slowly up and to the right.

The touchpad got me nowhere. The “eraser” became a fight. As soon as I stopped pulling it down, it would drift. Every click was a click-drag. I kept moving icons and drawing squares.

After a two minute battle, trying to get to the Start Button, I shutdown and restart.

After Windows loaded the second time, the cursor was acting normal. I moved it over to Firefox, tapped the pad, and it loaded. I typed in http://www.neuroticnomad.com and tapped the pad again.

I enter my username and password, click the left mouse button – and the cursor ZOOMS down and to the left. Nothing I do will pull it more than an inch from the corner.

I attach an external mouse and have a battle royale with the Dell. Eventually, it relinquished control of the cursor, but not before I lost my patience with the whole thing.

Twenty-one days until my Mac goes in a box.

April 8, 2007

Switching From Mac to XP Home: Day 1

Filed under: I have issues that you don't care about — Gerald @ 12:07 am

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 8, 2007 @ 0:07 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

At 8:00pm, I started reformatting the 28GB hard drive on the Dell Inspiron 8200 that was given to me, figuring I’d be done by ten.

The XP Home installs, then reboots.

It recognizes everything except the modem and the wireless card. Not bad.

Then the Automatic Updates start. It downloads 29 updates, and reboots. It downloads 19 more updates, and reboots again.

At this point, it seem to be finished. It’s 10:15pm.

I downloaded Firefox 2.0.0.3, installed it, then Automatic Updates told me SP2 was ready to be installed.

Click… Microsoft Genuine Advantage. uhh, ok…. click.

I guess I pass because it then began downloading SP2. Downloading? I thought it was already downloaded, but that was just the downloader that downloaded. Now the downloader downloads and installs SP2, and reboots.

Windows tries again to find drivers for my hardware, and succeeds for my modem.

I shut down, flip the Dell over and unscrew the piece of plastic holding the wireless card, jot down the model number, replace the shield and reboot. A quick trip to Intel’s website and the wireless card woke up, found my network, and asked for my WEP.

Why didn’t Windows work this well when I was using it? I thought to myself. It would be the last time.

I decide to do a cold reboot. During the shut down process, I get the message: Windows is installing updates. Do not power off or unplug your computer. Computer will turn off automatically. Installing 1 of 19. Ten minutes later, the 8200 turned off.

I rebooted.

Then Windows Update starts downloading 51 more updates. At #51 it stops and asks for my Windows Genuine Advantage Executive Washroom Key again, then starts downloading and installing IE7.

Then it reboots again, then downloads two more updates, then reboots again.

It’s now after midnight and I still don’t have ad-aware or AVG Free installed, but it will have to wait. For now, I’m hugging my Mac and going to bed.

April 7, 2007

Switching Back to Windows After 2 Years on the Mac

Filed under: I have issues that you don't care about — Gerald @ 7:47 pm

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 7, 2007 @ 19:47 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

I will soon have to pack my Power Mac G5 away. For the first two weeks after we land, we’re staying in some kind strangers home until our cabin is ready.

The cabin is only accessible by golf cart.

…and by ready, I mean “has a toilet”. The bathtub is outside, which I guess is OK for spring and summer – but I will have to do something about it eventually, but I think a new fuse box is top priority.

It will be a while before I unbox the Mac.

A good friend was kind enough to give me an old Dell Inspiron 8200. The hard drive is blank, but it has a Windows XP Professional license and product key on a sticker on the back. How handy.

Unfortunately, when I tried any of the XP Pro installation disks we had laying around, it said that it was an invalid code, or a stolen code, and I should contact Microsoft immediately to buy another one.

No thank you.

I checked Dell’s website for disc image downloads. I figured it couldn’t hurt. No dice.

I have an old dusty copy of XP Home that was a gift from my mother-in-law in 2002. I was a beta tester for XP and had been running one version or another of Pro for two years by then, so I just smiled, said thank you, put it in the filing cabinet and forgot about it.

Feeling justified in my pack-rattery, I pulled it out tonight and my hard drive is reformatting now.

After five years, it’s about time I used that license.

In three weeks, this Dell becomes my only contact with the outside world for the foreseeable future. I hope I can get it ready in time.

WWDC07 Early Prediction: The Return of the Cube

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 7, 2007 @ 15:18 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

WWDC is still nine weeks away… which means Rumor Season starts soon! The oldest rumor of all, The Return of the Newton, came semi-true at Macworld this year with the introduction of the iPhone, and took the Apple-branded Cell Phone Rumor along with it.

I think the Apple-branded Plasma Rumor might return, in an iPod Hi-Fi kinda way. But the big one will be: The Return of the Cube.

Steve Jobs can’t build a 32′ glass cube and not resurrect this rumor.

Rumors have legs of their own, with specs showing up quickly. It’s mostly wishlists with a dash of pragmatism. Here’s my stab:

It will have 1 CPU (available in 2-core or 4-core) and have one of its two expansion slots filled with the video card. They will not be the latest bleeding-edge type slots, so the Slashdot crowd will poo-poo it, and it will cost more than a 17″ iMac, so the Digg crowd will poo-poo it.

It will also have some weird esoteric Macism that doesn’t affect 99% of users, but the tech press will echo it endlessly, like a 4200RPM hard drive or an under-clocked GPU. A thermal image of it will show up on Flikr within 48 hours.

Oh, and it will sell like hotcakes.

The name of this new cube? The Macintosh.

What’s your prediction for the Rumor Mill? Will it be outragous, like The Nike+ Bicycle or The iCar, or is this the year of The Touch Tablet Rumor?

Microsoft Dies, No One Cares.

Filed under: I have issues that you don't care about — Gerald @ 1:57 pm

[NOTE: This post was originally published April 7, 2007 @ 13:57 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

Paul Graham writes:

I’m glad Microsoft is dead. They were like Nero or Commodus—evil in the way only inherited power can make you. Because remember, the Microsoft monopoly didn’t begin with Microsoft. They got it from IBM. The software business was overhung by a monopoly from about the mid-1950s to about 2005. For practically its whole existence, that is. One of the reasons “Web 2.0” has such an air of euphoria about it is the feeling, conscious or not, that this era of monopoly may finally be over.

He asks for comment, but not before making this prediction:

I already know what the reaction to this essay will be. Half the readers will say that Microsoft is still an enormously profitable company, and that I should be more careful about drawing conclusions based on what a few people think in our insular little “Web 2.0” bubble. The other half, the younger half, will complain that this is old news.

March 26, 2007

The Cons of Switching from Windows to Mac. Ten Quick Ones.

[NOTE: This post was originally published March 26, 2007 @ 9:36 on my personal blog. It has been moved here to consolidate all my Apple-Related rants in one place.]

The Cons of Switching from Windows to Mac. Ten Quick Ones.

1. Everything has a learning curve. Remember learning to tie your shoes? It won’t be nearly that hard.

2. It’s different. Yes, I know this is a Pro, but it goes along with that learning curve thing.

3. Firewire and USB 2.0 only. Gotta dump that ancient printer, finally.

4. When you ask for help, people will try to “solve your problem” rather than answer your question. They will also question your motive for doing it YOUR way. It’s a right-brained/left-brained thing, I think.

5. You will become a magnet for every Apple hater around. You will be surprised how personally offended others are by your choice in electronics purchases. Heaven forbid you buy hardware from a manufacturer that writes its own OS rather than outsourcing it!

6. Mac Memory. When you switch from PC to Mac you will have to break the habit of buying the cheapest RAM you can buy and/or cannibalizing old/dead machines. You will have to buy quality pieces of hardware. Quality hardware is expensive when one is used to bottom of the barrel and freebies.

7. WMV files with one or more of the many types of Microsoft DRM on them go from being “confusing and overpriced” to “completely useless”.

8. Hardware Manufacturers who must sign away the rights to include Mac or Linux drivers with their products (or mention on the box that it works AT ALL) in order to get the “Designed for Windows” logo necessary to compete turns buying gear into Russian Roulette.

9. Software Companies who have to halt development of Mac versions in order to get those same logos. This is happening less and less. In fact, software that halted development of Mac versions in the 90s are returning to the Mac. *cough* Premiere *cough*.

10. Owning a Mac makes you want to own more Apple gear. It sounds like a joke. It isn’t.

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