The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Whoa Starts Now

Sorry, I… I gave Vista a real chance. I just can't use it as my primary OS anymore. It's NOT horrible at its core (by any stretch of the imagination). If all of your hardware and software are fully baked, you're good to go - but that's not the world I live in. I will continue to recommend Windows Vista for some users, mind you. I wish I could take
the best parts of Vista and bring them back with me to XP. I'm still more than willing to help Microsoft improve Windows and get the message out to users, but I simply can't sacrifice my own time and productivity without benefits in clear sight. I'm begging Microsoft and all of my hardware and software vendors to make Windows better for me. Until then…

The Whoa starts now.

This guy echoes many of the same kinds of problems I've had with Vista. He's had problems with webcams and Windows Movie Maker. Me, too. He's experienced weird quirks now and then. Me, too.

Unlike Chris Pirillo (a former TechTV host), I won't give up Vista just yet. But I understand his sentiments. Yes, the Whoa starts now...


On a related note, Dell is going to bring back Windows XP on some of its computer products. Why? Because of demand from the public. Apparently, so many people are disappointed with Vista and fearful of its compatibility problems that they're insisting on OS alternatives. Microsoft can't be happy about this.

This may also explain why Dell is going to start preloading Linux on some of its machines. My bet is that they will settle on Ubuntu Linux, because even Michael Dell is running Ubuntu at home:

Friday, April 20, 2007

Movie Review: Disturbia

I saw this film on a lark. What I found was that it’s pretty much a teenage flick, ie, it’s directed at teenagers. Quite formulaic and predictable. It has a few good moments, but on the whole it’s just an okay movie.

The story basically centres around a 17-year-old named Kale (played by Shia LaBeouf) who’s under house arrest for assaulting his Spanish teacher. He wears an electronic ankle bracelet that limits his freedom to within 100 feet of his house.

He learns that one of his neighbours (played by David Morse) may be a serial killer. He’s aided in his investigation by his friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) and a new neighbour named Ashley whom Kale has a crush on. Ashley is played by the very comely Sarah Roemer.

Performances are generally good. Carrie-Anne Moss (as Kale’s mother) has all-too-brief a role but it’s good to see her anyway. David Morse is especially creepy—he’s quite good in such roles (12 Monkeys; 16 Blocks; The Green Mile).

Shia LaBeouf is very good. And I think I shall fantasize about Sarah Roemer this evening.

I have to make a comment about product placement. Early in the movie, we see Kale using a MacBook Pro laptop. Okay, that’s fine. This family is obviously well-to-do, even though Carrie-Anne Moss balks at paying $12 a day for the incarceration fee (presumably for the ankle bracelet).

But later on, we see a Mac Pro workstation sitting underneath the desk in his bedroom. Shit, what 17-year-old kid has a Mac Pro??? Even I can’t afford one!

So Kale has both a MacBook Pro AND a Mac Pro? Why? Why does he need so much computing power? To do his book reports and algebra homework?

Apple and Dell Workstations

There is one area where Dell is particularly weak against Apple: business workstations. Let's take a look at the Precision 490, their less expensive, Quad-Core Xeon workstation. Configured to match Apple Mac Pro's specs, it costs $5,168 Canadian.

The Mac Pro goes for $4,391. Here are the specs:
  1. Two 2.66GHz Dual-Core Xeon processors
  2. 4GB 667MHz DDR2 memory
  3. 500GB 7200rpm hard drive
  4. 16X DVD burner
  5. 3 Year warranty
  6. 512MB ATI Radeon X1900 XT graphics
The Dell box has NVIDIA graphics (256MB Quadro FX 3450). Arguably, it's roughly equivalent to the Radeon.

Note the price difference in Apple's favour: $777. These two machines aren't even in the same ballpark! Dell is terribly overpriced in this instance. The Mac Pro turns out to be a genuine bargain!

And let's not overlook Mac Pro's gorgeous industrial design.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

HP is Numero Uno

Design-wise, you are quite right. At CNET, the Top Rated and Editor’s Choice for Thin-and-Light notebooks is the MacBook (black edition).

The 15” MacBook Pro is the third highest rated Mainstream laptop. And the 17” MacBook Pro is the seventh highest rated Desktop replacement/Gaming laptop. You don’t get scores like these for weak designs.

The Mac Pro is the fifth highest rated Performance desktop. The Mac mini is the Top Rated Media Center PC with the 24” iMac being the second highest rated. The 17” iMac is the second highest rated Mainstream desktop.

In short, Apple’s computer line-up is amazingly strong, design-wise. And, yes, Apple’s reasonable pricing should help.

But they still have to overcome the false public perception that the Mac is overpriced. AND they have to overcome the “Wow” factor of Vista—hence, the reason for the aggressive and clever Get a Mac advertising campaign.


On 4/19/07 3:21 PM, "E Eng" wrote:

Nah, it's their more reasonable pricing, along with design, and iPod sales that is helping Mac sales. As you've indicated in your comparisons, the price gap has narrowed between PCs and Macs.


On 4/19/07, Richard Eng wrote:,1895,2115576,00.asp

HP is #1 worldwide; Dell is #2. (Dell is still #1 in the US, but just barely.)

The most interesting thing, however, is that Apple had the best quarter of all the major PC vendors in the US. Their shipments grew an astonishing 30% in the first quarter of 2007 compared to the same quarter last year.

Methinks their Get a Mac advertising campaign is working...


Monday, April 16, 2007

Value Proposition

The 20” iMac costs $1,700 Canadian. The Dell Dimension 9200 with 20” display costs $1,560. But the extra $140 for the iMac buys you built-in webcam, wireless networking, and speakers. So this easily balances out.

There's one other thing about the iMac vis-à-vis Dell: the iMac is QUIET, whereas the Dell, being a conventional desktop PC, does emit an audible noise (though, to be sure, it’s low level). It’s hard to put a price on Quiet, but for me, I’d gladly pay a $200 premium.

I’ve demonstrated that, across the board, Apple is not actually “more expensive” than Dell. Whether you’re looking for a thin & light notebook, or an industrial-strength graphics workstation, or just a plain ol’ desktop workhorse, Apple has an answer for everyone. Seems to me, and you may correct me if I’m wrong, Apple is poised for a massive assault on the worldwide PC market.

Combined with their amazing marketing campaign ( ), it’s easy to predict major success in the coming years...

Why the Mac is so easy to use

The reason the Mac is so easy to use is because Apple tightly controls the hardware platform. This ensures that there are no driver compatibility problems. And that's why their business model is superior. When you have a wide open technological model (such as the IBM PC), you open yourself up to the same set of compatibility issues that plagues both Windows AND Linux.

Yes, Mac costs more for this very reason, as well. But isn’t it interesting that competition forces Apple to keep their prices within reason, compared to PCs? For example...

The MacBook costs about the same as the Dell XPS M1210 (~$1,650 Canadian). Both are thin and lightweight.

The Mac Pro costs about $3,460 and the Dell XPS 710 $3,170. Not a big price difference. Moreover, the Mac Pro has a pair of Dual-Core Xeon processors, which the XP 710 can't really match.

The 17” MacBook Pro goes for $3,100 Canadian. Dell has nothing comparable, but the Inspiron 9400 costs $2,380. The Dell has a slower processor, slower graphics, and at 1.6” thick and 7.9 pounds, it’s a frickin’ brick, as well!!! Plus, the MacBook Pro (1” thick, 6.8 pounds) has an aluminum shell. So, taken altogether, the MacBook Pro is worth the extra $700.

(Interestingly, Dell has nothing close or comparable to the 15” MacBook Pro.)

So it’s pretty clear that Apple’s products are quite competitive, if not by price alone then by value proposition.

In other words, and in short, Apple rocks!!!


I could’ve compared the 17” MacBook Pro to the Dell XPS M1710 ($3,180). But this seemed too unfair because, although the Dell has faster graphics (it’s a gaming laptop, after all), it’s even THICKER and HEAVIER than the Inspiron 9400...1.7” and 8.8 pounds. Cripes, why can’t Dell build thin and light notebooks???

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vista sales tank in 2007

Here’s the detailed Harris poll that sheds doubt on Microsoft’s claims of huge Vista sales:

The public is underwhelmed by Vista. And rightly so. Microsoft’s The “Wow” starts now campaign is a joke. People are not buying into the marketing hype. They realize that there is nothing revolutionary nor compelling about Vista compared to WinXP.

The first time I saw the The “Wow” starts now campaign, I laughed. They think they can tell YOU to be wowed by this operating system?! What an infantile marketing campaign!

Just who have Microsoft hired to do their marketing? I don’t get it—can’t they hire somebody better? They surely have the money.

And why is Apple’s marketing so superior? What accounts for their ingenuity?

Anyway, despite Microsoft’s ridiculous claim of 20 million Vista sales in February, I believe 2007 will prove to be a major disappointment for them, comparable to the Windows ME debacle of 2001.