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And to think I used to like Consumer Reports!
They keep writing me to "come back" and resubscribe, but I've told them that won't happen until they become objective and truly knowledgeable about the Mac... at least as knowledgeable as they are about Windows PCs.
And now, it turns out they're recommending that Mac users "dump Safari," which just happens to be the best web browser on the Mac platform. Oh, and since this article also appears on ZDNet, while other industry journals gave it little play, I begin to conclude that ZDNet is a rats nest of Microsoft zealots.
So, here's the little note I left them today about their latest phishing/Safari scare tactic:
There is nothing in common between phishing and viruses, adware, spyware, or other malware. Phishing is just an old-fashioned scam dressed up in new HTML clothing. Consumers need to be educated about it, and no anti-phishing technology is going to save them. For one thing, most phishing schemes come to consumers through their email client, not their browsers.
Oh, and 6 or 7 years ago, why didn't Consumer Reports advise Windows users to ditch IE? That would have been the single best way for them to avoid Internet malware, but I never heard them do such a thing. The phishing problem pales in comparison to the security nightmares we experienced after IE6 was released (and before SP2), and which millions of Windows users continue to experience today. Active/X is the most dangerous technology out there as far as security is concerned, but is MS being pressured to remove it from IE?
Unfortunately, I don't think we've heard the last of this... At least, until Apple goes ahead and joins the other browsers in adding "anti-phishing technology" to Safari. Like I noted above, it really makes a lot more sense to add this capability to users' mail clients, since phishing is just a form of junk mail in the end.
There has lately been a rash of articles about how "insecure" Safari is because it has no anti-phishing mechanism. Frankly, I think this is a bunch of hogwash. It's an attempt to show how lax Apple is about security, and, by implication, how great Microsoft is.
It's not that I don't think phishing is a serious problem... I do! It's just that phishing is not a security issue, which is how the anti-Apple, pro-Microsoft (and pro-Firefox) zealots are trying to portray it.
Here's the comment I left on ZDNet's site about this article, dated 7/23/08:
Phishing scams are very bad, but they are not the same as viruses or malware that gets installed on your operating system. Not even in the same category. They are simply a sophisticated con, and unfortunately there are a lot of naive, clueless web users who will click on any link they're offered. Then again, I know people who are so paranoid they won't click on any link in an email at all... even if it comes from a trusted source (like a friend). I'm not at all convinced that anti-phishing software will work any better than junk-mail filters have, though I understand the need to try.
All you guys who are so hot to jump on Apple need to at least know what you're talking about. Though the companies who make money on security vulnerabilities like to lump phishing in with "security" flaws, in my opinion they aren't. Why? Because they pose no threat to the integrity of your computer or to your network.
Later, in reply to a reader who thought I was kidding with this opinion, I wrote:
Of course it's bothersome... on the same plane as the scum who trick old ladies out of their social security checks by conning them into some phony investment.
Phishing is more insidious, but if you have an ounce of common sense, it's easily avoided.
Not so with viruses and spyware, which can invade your system without any action on your part... not even clicking on a link. If following a link loads a virus, that's not phishing, defined as [blockquote] the activity of defrauding an online account holder of financial information by posing as a legitimate company[/blockquote].
My point is, phishing is not so much a security liability as it is a privacy issue... Phishing amounts to identity theft.
I'm not arguing that phishing isn't a serious concern that needs to be addressed. But I'm saying it's not a security issues in that it doesn't install software on your system, invade your network, or propagate itself to others.
I am arguing that it's more like spam, which is likewise a serious problem that can lead individuals to dangerous websites or tempt them into bad decisions. Like spam, I'm doubtful that any software solution to eradicate phishing is possible.
In this light, the urgency to correct a phishing vulnerability is much lower than that to correct a security vulnerability, and the fact that such a vulnerability exists should not alarm users to the same degree.
Turns out this "phishing" scam isn't over with the iPhone or Safari. See more of my ranting in Part 2 of this topic.
I was so incensed by this posting at InfoWorld, which builds on an earlier one by respected InfoWorld Test Center lead Tom Yager, that I dashed off the following email to InfoWorld, canceling my print subscription and putting a stop to all of their RSS feeds. From what I can see through my 18-year-old son's eyes (we got him an iPhone as a high school graduation present), Apple has hit a bulls-eye with this gadget. Playing with it myself for a few minutes, this cellphone, Palm Pilot, and Blackberry resister suddenly understood the appeal of such devices. You really have to try the iPhone interface to appreciate how amazing and revolutionary it is. Clearly, this Oliver Rist creep is more interested in pushing Microsoft technology than in assessing the relative merits of whatever technologies exist. It's reminiscent of the way guys like this tried to talk the iPod into a hole 6 years ago, and given their dramatic failure at that attempt, this anti-iPhone talk would be sad if it weren't so creepy.
I've sadly watched InfoWorld go slowly downhill in the last year, as its IT coverage moved more and more mainstream and less honest. By "mainstream," I mean coverage that pays homage to where its advertising dollars come from rather than to integrity ("honest journalism") and the needs of its readership.
After having been mostly a fan of Tom Yager in recent years, I was appalled at the sensational slant of his article on the iPhone, "iPhone: The $1,975 iPod." That article was of course widely quoted and utilized by others at InfoWorld who it seems are determined to talk the device down. Apple has made clear that it isn't a business device (heck, it doesn't even offer business accounts!)... it's a consumer device. And a good many of Yager's "cons" are based on unreasonable assumptions of performance that neither Apple nor any other "smartphone" provider aim for.
All that has done is made idiots who think everything IT should be for business first and people later mad. Today I got this garbage in my inbox:
WHAT GIVES WINDOWS MOBILE EDGE OVER IPHONE
Columnist's corner: Even though Apple messed up the iPhone, Oliver Rist writes, "much of the device's problems aren't technical, but just bad business." Not so for Windows Mobile, which is plagued by troubled technology, including ActiveSync issues, Wi-Fi woes, application incompatibility, and worse, its very own Blue Screen of Death. "Microsoft has all the advantages that count in this space right now," Rist adds in Windows Mobile needs fixing fast. "The company really has the chance to win one based on functionality and capability rather than just marketing." The news beat: Sources say that a beta of Vista SP1 is... ...
The InfoWorld writer who wrote this also calls consumer who buy Apple products "iSheep," saying they're the type who "need an Apple logo tattooed on as many of their belongings as possible." This is a guy who probably never understood the appeal of the iPod, either. Heaven forbid that he'd see the virtue of a Mac. And he's determined to do Microsoft's bidding by spreading FUD about the iPhone while it's still in its infancy. This is honest journalism? He bases his lead premise that "Apple messed up the iPhone" on Tom Yager's own piece of crap.
I don't know if Yager chose his article's headline or not... oddly, it doesn't seem like his style to me. Because it's the headline that made me not want to read the rest of whatever garbage he was peddling in that article. My teenager has an iPhone (high school graduation gift), and I figure I'll form my own impression of it by hands-on use [Update: I've now done this... see intro]. I really don't know how anyone can form a valid impression of a device like the iPhone in the few days Yager had before spouting off. Yes, I was disappointed with the arrangement with AT&T, too, and the requirement to buy a plan will keep me from buying an iPhone--at least in the short-term. But I seriously doubt that this requirement defeats the obvious genius of the device itself, as the headline asserts. After all, in my opinion the whole cellular industry is built on greed... nothing comes for free in that market, that I can tell. Yet I'm sure the FCC required Apple to establish a relationship with one of the existing carriers if they wanted to offer such services in the iPhone.
Not only does Yager's headline make the deal sound outlandishly expensive, it also gives AT&T equal billing with Apple as the device's creator in the subtitle. I've never owned a cellular phone... I still don't see how it could possibly be worth spending so much a month in order to be constantly available... but my wife and son are heavy users. My wife's plan is paid for by her employer, or she wouldn't have one either. But we pay a monthly fee for my son's plan... which was a Cigna plan at about $30 a month. The plan had no data or SMTP and very limited call options. That would be $720 for 2 years. His phone has no web connectivity, no bluetooth, no video, no email, and no music options.
With the iPhone, he not only gets an incredibly cool device with a revolutionary interface, but he also gets web, bluetooth, video, music, email, and potentially much more over time. With a 2-year plan, this will cost $1,440, and he'll be getting unlimited data services, some limited text messaging, video email, and all the wireless capabilities as well. I mean, to me, this sounds like a great deal to anyone who can afford it, and you can't measure the value of actually being able to use the device for those functions rather than fiddling with unworkable wands or teeny thumbpads.
So at the most, Yager and other idiotic price critics who just don't get it could argue that the iPhone is $500 over 2 years. Given what it offers in terms of functionality and ease of use, I really doubt that your average consumer, who doesn't have Microsoft or its XMinions whispering in their ear, is going to think that's very expensive. After all, given what my son has said, he plans to replace his current 60GB iPod with this 8GB iPhone. I was surprised he could make do with such a small capacity, but he seems to think the device's other virtues make it well worthwhile.
And this is just the first model iPhone... remember what the previous such idiots said about the first iPod's price? Sheesh.
I wanted you to know that I'm canceling my RSS feeds and will not be renewing my print subscription.
Ars Technica had better can some of these guys who have become blatant cheerleaders for Microsoft, or they’re going to start losing readers. In response to this biased piece on Microsoft’s new Silverlight technology, which is specifically designed to compete with Flex, Apollo, and Flash, I left this little message as a comment:
Regardless of how good or bad Microsoft’s version of Flash (or Ajax, or JPEG, or MPEG, or PDF, or you name it) may be, the fact is that Microsoft has a monopoly on corporate desktops, one that it won illegally by the way but has never been brought to task for. Its technologies should be avoided entirely unless you really want to see Microsoft extend them to the entire range of computing environments eventually.
In other words, unless you really want competition and innovation in computing to grind to a halt, you should always look for alternatives to whatever Microsoft is selling. And please avoid playing Microsoft cheerleader in a serious technology journal like Ars Technica would like to be. The point is, new Microsoft standards aren’t necessary… we have plenty of good ones already. Every time Microsoft comes along with another of its proprietary versions of existing standards, it only serves to confuse the market and slow the adoption and use of web technologies. Look at what happened when they crushed Netscape in the late 1990’s… it’s taken 10 years to recover from that, so that we’re finally seeing the kinds of web interfaces I, for one, was ready to deliver in 1998.
Not only that, but each Microsoft technology takes up mindshare that squeezes out genuinely innovative ideas from much smaller, potential competitors. And small companies, as everybody who’s taken Econ 101 knows, is where innovation occurs in this economy. Every time Microsoft buys up a small company with a good idea (think: Vermeer and FrontPage), it ruins a tool that could be really useful (it didn’t take long for FrontPage to turn the web into a bunch of pages that didn’t work in non-IE browsers, or non-Windows platforms, for example, by injecting Active/X controls and proprietary IE tags into the pages it created… the same is true of every MS development tool, for that matter).
If you’re really in favor of open competition in our economy, you’d never select a Microsoft product as the basis for anything. If they didn’t already own the desktop, it would be different. Since they do, they need to be simply ignored in technologies they don’t already own. Remember, regardless of what their sometimes sympathetic spokespoeple may say, Microsoft’s entire product line is designed to extend the Windows platform as far as possible. That’s it.
I think a lot of people believe it’s extended far enough already, thanks. If you agree, just say no to Microsoft’s latest candy. That includes you, Microsoft apologists who write for Ars Technica.
Rob Pegoraro does a great job balancing coverage of the Mac with that of Windows in his Washington Post tech column. However, I think he missed a key selling point in the iTunes video store launch when he wrote in a recent column that Apple’s new offering was “worth skipping.” Pegoraro gave two main reasons why the iTunes video store is uncompelling at the moment:
- There aren’t enough titles (though he concedes the titles that Apple’s rounded up are top-notch), and
- You can’t burn your purchased movies to DVD.
Pegoraro’s right about the iTunes store’s movie selection, although I had no trouble finding several I’d like to buy. But his second criticism about DVD’s is way off the mark. That’s because I believe the iPod will eventually make DVD’s obsolete in the same way that it’s making audio CD’s obsolete today.
Since getting my “iPod with video” late last year, I’ve thoroughly enjoy the convenience of syncing TV shows to my iPod and popping the iPod into my TV set. On our very large HDTV set, “Desperate Housewives” looks great, and so do “Office,” “Lost,” and the rest. I bought my first movie from iTunes last week—Shakespeare in Love—and my wife and I both thought the new higher-resolution picture quality was excellent. But more important, we loved the convenience of not having to deal with DVD’s.
I’m sure we aren’t the only consumers who are fed up with the DVD format. In fact, judging from the burgeoning retail market for software that converts DVDs to the iPod, I’d say the movement to chuck DVD’s is well on its way.
In the beginning, DVDs were cool. They had those nifty menus that were… nifty… and it was nice that designers got to be creative in a new way. But DVD menus have gotten way out of hand. Like a bad website designer, DVD makers seem to think it’s OK to foist a brand new user interface on consumers with each new release. They also seem to think that the more complicated the user interface is, the more impressed consumers will be.
Wrong! I’m no longer impressed by nifty navigation menus on my DVD’s… I just wanna watch the damn movie!
But wait… nifty menus weren’t enough for Hollywood. It wasn’t long before they started to use DVD technology to make captive consumers watch ads and previews they didn’t want to see. At first, you could skip through the garbage, but lately, I’ve had more than my fill of DVD’s that put the fast forward button to sleep until they’re good and ready to show you what you paid to see.
By now, the movie companies have made DVD’s so difficult and painful to use that I think consumers will rush toward a decent iPod-capable solution with open arms. Who needs a piece of plastic with obtuse, difficult-to-navigate menus and introductory content that you can’t even skip through—every time you watch the movie!—when you can get the movie itself on your iPod and plug it right in?
The big increase in resolution with the latest iPods is crucial to this, of course. I checked the resolution of a DVD copy of “Clockwork Orange” that I bought some time ago, and its native resolution is only 720×480. This means that an iTunes version at 640×480 is indeed “almost DVD quality.” I’m sure more recent DVD’s are higher resolution than that… but the point is, the $30 DVD has picture quality no better than what I can download from iTunes for $10.
The use of iPods for portable video is still pretty rare, but I think it’s a mistake to judge the iTunes service by how well it interfaces with a DVD player. That’s just not how people are going to use the service. Why burn a DVD when you can just carry the iPod to the TV and plug it in?
Now, Apple just needs to convince the movie companies to fork over more titles, and tell Walmart to stop acting like a baby. If they don’t—mark my words—the word “torrent” is going to be as familiar in the next couple of years as “napster” was in the late 1990’s. And everybody with a computer and a fast internet connection will become a criminal in very short order.
- Macs are just as vulnerable to Viruses, Worms, and Trojans as Windows computers.
- Macs using Intel Processors are more vulnerable now because they use the same processors found in generic PCs.
- Mac vulnerabilities have increased 228% since 2003, but Windows vulnerabilities have increased a much smaller amount. That means the Mac is MORE vulnerable than Windows!
- Now that Macs are getting more popular, arenâ€™t virus writers going to start attacking the Mac more?
- Mac users now have to purchase and run Anti-virus software, install firewalls and scan their computers for spyware the same as Windows users.
in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.
I have felt for a long time now that Microsoft has, either consciously or unconsciously, adopted the Big Lie tactic as standard operating procedure in its business competition, and distressingly it seems to have paid off for them. Many Microsoft fans are fans merely by virtue of Microsoft's success rather than because of the value of Microsoft's contribution to computing, and they, like Hitler's masses, simply will not believe anyone who tells them that the company has lied about anything important.
This article pertains to Microsoft's latest series of Big Lies about the open source "movement," which the company rightly recognizes to be a major threat to its dominance. Microsoft is a company that will not hesitate to lie about anything in order to win a battle, and it seems that the bigger the lie, the better. This is nothing new, of course. Microsoft told so many lies just during its antitrust trial that it would be an interesting project to document them.
Perhaps if enough people like this blogger from Consortiuminfo.org take the time to call Microsoft on its lies, some Microsoft fans will start to think twice about their blind allegiance to the company and begin recognizing lies when they occur.
I have been among the developers and observers who have praised Yahoo for the technical strength of their recently launched User Interface Library. In my tests for the Ajax/DHTML Scorecard project in March, Yahoo’s library was a clear “A” in its cross-browser credentials, and I was very impressed with Yahoo’s development team, which published clear and exacting browser standards for their library.
According to Yahoo’s own Graded Browser Support table, Safari is an A-graded browser, meaning it achieves the highest level of support possible with the Yahoo interface library. Clearly, the thought that went into this table is impressive, and the authors conclude the explanation that precedes the table itself with an appropriate quote from Tim Berners-Lee on the importance of cross-browser support:
â€œAnyone who slaps a â€˜this page is best viewed with Browser Xâ€™ label on a Web page appears to be yearning for the bad old days, before the Web, when you had very little chance of reading a document written on another computer, another word processor, or another network.â€
It is therefore highly disappointing and disillusioning to discover tonight that Yahoo has released a preview of its new, Ajax-enabled home page with support only for Internet Explorer 6.0 and Firefox 1.5. The only logic one can use to justify such a move is based on a totally PC-centric viewpoint, which argues that only Windows users are worth troubling with, since they comprise the vast majority of potential viewers. But this is precisely the viewpoint that must cease if Web 2.0 is to become the fertile melting ground for truly cross-platform interdependence that it wants to be. It’s simply not the viewpoint of any company that really cares about Berners-Lee’s vision or about the millions of users on platforms other than the virus- and malware-riddled mess that is Microsoft Windows today.
Web 2.0 sites should be built to open standards, and any catering to specific browser extensions should be avoided. If proprietary extensions are utilized, they should have no effect on the site’s core functionality, and should not be even noticed by users of other browsers. For example, I’ve employed a harmless extension to the HTML text input field that Apple developed in order to beautify search forms in Safari. It’s nice for Safari users, but has no impact on IE users or on Firefox users on any platform.
Does this mean that the Yahoo Interface Library isn’t as truly cross-browser as Yahoo claims? Does it mean that Yahoo is blatantly disregarding its own graded browser support standards?
In answer to the second question, the answer is clearly, “Yes!” Yahoo has blatantly disregarded its own published standards for browser support in 2006.
Yahoo, I’m extremely disappointed, and I’m sure others will be, too. If nothing else, this will push back to a much lower priority my plan to rebuild a number of the Ajax/DHTML functions of Musings from Mars using Yahoo’s library… simply for comparison purposes. Now, I’m definitely going to make Dojo the next library on my list… especially now that they have that spiffy new home page design, which I can actually use in Safari. (Imagine that!)
While reading MacDailyNews this evening, I happened on a remarkable story entitled, “Another iPod+iTunes FUD article keeps the disinformation flowing.” With a sigh, I took a look to see what idiot could possibly not understand the iPod and/or iTunes after so many years and so many articles.
As it turned out, the depth of this writer’s ignorance is absolutely shocking. There’s no way he could honestly think this stuff is true. If he does, he has no business covering complicated (yeah, right!) technology topics like the iPod and iTunes, because clearly the product’s available options are far too difficult for him to grasp. Concluding instead that he’s probably a bright guy, I’m tempted to infer, as MacDailyNews did, that his piece in Reuters is a deliberate attempt to mislead consumers and smear Apple’s innovative and highly successful music service. The article appears as part of Yahoo’s Finance site with the innocuous-sounding title “Do you own songs bought online? Well, sort of“.
After reading just the first few paragraphs, I whipped out my fingers and dashed off a letter using the Yahoo site’s contact form, which says “Our editors are interested in your comments. Please send us your feedback on Reuters news or photos.” Not being a shy guy in a case like this, that was all the encouragement I needed.
A friend told me of an article on your website today… written by someone named Duncan Martell. This person should be fired for ignorant, irresponsible journalism. I didn’t bother to read the whole article, because there were so many patent untruths in the first few paragraphs.
To mention just two:
- “Apple’s FairPlay… prevents you from listening to those purchased songs on a music player from Dell, Creative, Sony, …” This is b*llsh*t. All you have to do is burn the songs to a CD, and you can then import them to whatever player you’d like to use them on. All the author of this article is doing is spreading malicious misinformation. Clearly, he has a beef of some kind against Apple or the iPod, and his bias is showing. By bias, I mean ignorant prejudice about something he doesn’t fully understand.
- “The same goes for songs you’ve imported to your computer from CDs you already own.” This is an absolute lie, no way to read it otherwise. You can import music from CDs into iTunes in a half a dozen different formats that are all industry standards with no Digital Rights Management attached to them at all. As I said, you should fire Mr. Martell, or make sure he never covers another technology topic, because this statement is outrageously false. When you put a CD into your computer, you can import into iTunes in the following totally open and freely transferrable formats: MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC (MP4). MP3 and AAC are industry standard, nonproprietary compressed audio formats, and you can freely convert back and forth between these in iTunes if you change your mind later. WAV and AIFF are industry standard non-compressed formats that are the formats used on CDs themselves.
The credibility of your organization’s news and technology coverage is severely compromised by writers like Duncan Martell, who, in trying to make a possibly legitimate point about DRM (which by the way applies to Microsoft’s DRM format as well), stretches the truth in one case and totally obliterates it in the other. Not bothering to read the rest of his “article,” I don’t know how many more factual errors he made.
I would also seriously recommend firing the editor in charge, who should have demanded fact checking before publishing this.
Will ignorant press about the iPod/iTunes never cease? Frankly, not until Microsoft gives up in its effort to break into that market with its inferior Windows Media Player-based solution.
It’s difficult to think of another industry where unethical tactics like this are regularly employed. Can you imagine the president of GM saying something like, “Did you know that Ford makes engines that can only be used in other Ford vehicles? It’s true… Buy a Ford, and you’re stuck with it for life.” I mean, huh?
Ever since Microsoft began its run at monopoly in the early 1980’s, the computer industry has become accustomed to truth being a shade of grey, and product announcements being considered an opportunity to tell Really Big Lies about possible future products. Look at Vista, for god’s sake. They’ve been talking that one up since June 2001! If you think I’m exaggerating, check out “Mr. Microsoft’s” (Paul Thurrott) website, the Win Supersite, to check.
You know, one of the reasons the good guys always lose the first battle or two in movies and books is that, unlike the bad guys, they aren’t willing to lie or cheat in fighting the war. The bad guy, of course–it’s part of what makes him so bad–will do anything to win, and hesitates not to pull a dirty trick or three in that effort. Tactics like what Microsoft has been doing for 15 years–lying about its adversaries, exaggerating features of its software products, announcing products that don’t exist in order to ward off competition, to name a few of the least serious ones–are clearly “bad guy” tactics.
And I think we all know what happens to the bad guys at the end of the picture, don’t we? As the end of the picture approaches, and as the good guys are finally making headway against all odds, don’t be at all surprised to see the intensity of nastiness in the PC industry ratchet up a notch or two.
MacDailyNews reports on yet another bull-headed article that appears in PC Magazine spreading anti-Mac propaganda to anyone who will listen. The equally bull-headed MacDailyNews reporter proceeds to begin tearing the author to little bits, as he had already done with a PC Mag story by the same author a few days earlier.
Sure enough, PC Mag’s Michael Miller has written what I’m sure he believes is a reasonable comparison of the state of things with Mac OS X versus Windows. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s full of B***hit, ensnared in a system he thinks he understands but is really merely apologizing for. In doing so, he adheres to old Mac myths that he’ll probably believe till he steps over that final cliff.
Miller tries once again to make the case that Macs are more expensive than PC’s and that they don’t have enough software. If I weren’t so irritated by this, I’d simply yawn. In one case, he writes of visiting the Dell store and buying an E1505 notebook for only about $1,300, while the entry-level MacBook Pro with roughly the same specs is $1,999.
I have no idea how he got to that price, because I just visited, and without loading the Dell up with enough software to even come close to what the Mac offers, and taking advantage of a time-limited $200-off coupon, that E1505 cost me $1700. That’s still less than the MacBook, but then it’s heavier, larger, has less software, has no webcam, has very little useful software, and only runs Windows XP media center (no TV tuner, folks). (See this PDF file to review my bill.)
To refute this guy’s argument point by point would take more time than I’ve got, but I do intend to write an article about the Mac software market soon and will invite him to read it. Mac software is so far ahead of Windows it’s not even funny. Ever heard of “quality, not quantity?” Mr. Miller? PC’s definitely have quantity, I’ll give them that if they really want it. But we’ve got the quality market all sewn up!
And, as I’ll report, there’s way too much great Mac software these days if you’re actually trying to follow the market and catch all the cool developments. Perhaps if Mr. Miller spent a few days on his Mac trying out all the new releases that come out for Mac OS X on MacUpdate and VersionTracker, as well as the Dashboard Widget market, he’d get a new perspective on that part of his argument.
Despite [its] enviable assets, Microsoft has made some mind-numbing mistakes. It (illegally, as it turns out) artificially bundled its immature Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser so deeply into Windows in order to harm Netscape that it's still paying the price for the decision--a full decade later--in the form of regular critical security flaws that have taken away time from developers that might have otherwise been spent innovating new features.
I always suspected these guys drank the same cool-aid, and just because they've finally realized the truth--which many of us realized back when it was happening--doesn't make them smart. It only reveals how bad they are at providing insight and understanding about the PC market and its players. Do they think this will make us trust their current prognostications? Hopefully, taking their blinders off will let more readers see them for what they really are: Microsoft apologists and cheerleaders, period.
Windows Blogger Gets Excited About A New, Innovative Windows Tool That… Is A 5-Year-Old Mac OS X Feature
It’s hard to imagine that this is actually a new thing in Windows. Gonda blogs about a new software package for Windows that lets you add URL’s to your system tray. Something called NetJaxer, “A Free Download!” Take a look at their website and see for yourself (Mac users only… Windows users obviously don’t know what they’re missing until it comes to Windows). This is nothing more than a software package that enables a standard feature of the Mac OS X dock… Something we take for granted here on Mars: The ability to drag URL’s into the dock, or even whole folders of URL’s and launch them from there.
Do Windows users really have no choice other than launching Explorer (or Firefox) in order to access their bookmarks? Geez… wait until they get a load of Quicksilver. Talk about innovative!
So, I couldn’t help myself but chuckle a little. Actually, I laughed fully out loud. I also left a brief note on Gonda’s website:
You Windows junkies really should get out more often. Mac OS X has had the ability to do this kind of thing in any of several different ways since it was born in 2001. It’s so easy and basic, I’m surprised it seems innovative on Windows XP. Here are a few options that replicate NetJaxer’s tricks, as part of the core OS:
- 1. You can drag URL’s into your Dock (the next generation “system tray” Mac users enjoy) and launch them directly if you want.
- You can fill a folder with URL’s, put the folder in the Dock, and have a set of your favorite web 2.0 sites readily at hand.
- Of course, you can put URL’s directly on your Desktop and launch them from there.
- Dashboard widgets are essentially little tiny Ajax/DHTML applications, many of which contain interfaces to the best websites (Backpack, Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Delicious, gMail, etc etc) Widgets are nothing more than little web pages running on the open-source Webkit rendering engine that fires Safari. I think Microsoft is going to try to copy this in Vista.
- In a real browser like Firefox or Safari, you can put a bookmark full of your favorite websites into your bookmark bar and then have all of the sites launch in separate tabs when you load your browser. Voila! Instant best web 2.0 apps.
- Heck, there are numerous hacks that let you run web pages directly on your desktop in Mac OS X if you want to.
Sorry to burst your bubble… I tell you what, though, if you think that’s cool, there’s a whole world of cool you can’t even imagine in Mac OS X. For starters, pay a visit to Apple’s excellent Grand Tour, Mac 101, a tutorial/overview that hits all the highlights pretty well.
Or, you could continue to wait for good ol’ Microsoft to try to hatch a creative idea… one that’s actually good. It’s a real problem for the company in its drugged-out-on-monopoly stupor.
Heck, just today, I read about the Microsoft employee’s blog that today reflects a morale problem that goes far beyond a month or two delay in releasing Vista. Interestingly, their opinion on Apple and Mac OS X doesn’t reflect envy at all… nor the maliciousness that so often characterizes Windows users in the real world when forced to think about the Mac. No, instead their comments about Apple reflect simply . . . admiration.
An expose such as this one about PC Magazine’s review of the Apple Power Macintosh G5 Quad system from late December, 2005, wouldn’t qualify as “news” in most media outlets. However, though I wasn’t able to just “jump on it” as a real journalist would have, a Martian never forgets! Besides, the story hasn’t changed, and PC Magazine still displays this outlandish information on its website as if it were fact, not fiction. After reading through the info I’ve gathered for this story, you can be the judge of the facts in this case.
The serious error here is that PC Magazine lists Apple’s Power Mac G5 Quad as costing . . . Guess! You’ll never guess how much they say it costs. Honestly.
OK, I gotta spill the beans at some point. PC Magazine says a Quad costs $7,023 to $9,522!
When I first read this in December, those numbers struck me as very odd, since I had just bought a new Quad for myself, and I didn’t pay anywhere near $7,000-$9,500 for it. The unit I bought was hardly the base model, either: I had paid an extra $350 for the Nvidia GeForce 7800 graphics card with 512MB of VRAM when it became available as an option, and also added $99 for Bluetooth and Airport wireless cards. And I got all this for only $3,448! How is this possible, you ask? Read on.
Let me start by asking a very basic question: “Who in their right mind would pay $7,000-$9,500 for a desktop computer?” And the answer?
Right! No one would. But guess how many PC users see the Quad listed on PC Magazine’s website as the most expensive system in PCdom and think,
â€œGee, Apple computers sure are expensive! Look at this! $9,500 for one computer? Why pay that much when I can get the top-of-the-line Dell for only $4,700, according to this magazine. I had heard that Apples were a lot more expensive than PCs, and this sure proves it! No wonder they don’t sell very many. . .â€
And thus the myth of the expensive Apple Macintosh is perpetuated, because there are millions of PC users who know nothing about the Macintosh but what they read in rags like PC Magazine. And besides those millions, there are the millions more who read the magazines that syndicate what PC Magazine says.
Very quickly today, I browsed through Google’s index for the last 3 months looking for articles on this topic. I found quite a few that simply parrot PC Magazine’s misleading price information (some of these sites are part of the same Ziff-Davis news conglomerate that owns PC Magazine):
Sadly, several Mac-oriented e-zines covered PC Magazine’s review as well, but the ones I know of focused on its praise for the machine’s speed and â€œblazing multimedia performance,â€ ignoring the major pricing gaffe. One of the reasons I didn’t rush to write this up 2 months ago is that I assumed some other blogger would take take PC Magazine to task by now on this, but the only protest I’ve seen of it is in the set of comments that follow the review, where a couple of readers make the same points I’m making here.
As one of the review’s Mac readers notes, PC Magazine makes at least one other error: It states that the two 500 GB hard drives in the test system don’t come as a RAID set. Bzzzzzt! If you knew Mac OS X, you’d know that its Disk Utility has capabilities far beyond anything you get with Windows. Disk Utility can not only set up various types of RAID arrays, it can also repartition your drives with an ease that would make PC geeks weep.
In addition, it’s hard to miss the reviewer’s snide swipes at Apple on pricing, which are peppered in among nicer comments:
Count on Apple not to let your money burn a hole in your pocket. …
For anyone other than graphics or video professionals, this system is probably overkillâ€”not to mention a bank-account obliterator.
But by far the worst offense is that price tag. Even though the review mentions in passing that the base price is $3,299 (without monitor), that’s not the number that skimmers will take with them. It’s also not the number that shows up in â€œmini reviewsâ€ that encapsulate the review for syndication, nor in the web site’s â€œCompareâ€ feature, which lets you pit one system’s specs against another. No, there, and everywhere else, PC Magazine still says the PowerMac G5 Quad costs $7,000-$9,500!
What gives? Isn’t there any integrity or intelligence left in technology journalism? Why didn’t an editor catch this outrageous statement? Oh sure, PC Magazine gives this incredibly expensive machine a 4-1/2 star rating and, despite the snide remarks, an overall highly favorable review. But you know that at least 1/2 star was lopped off because the machine doesn’t represent a good â€œvalueâ€ at that price, and it also didn’t garner the magazine’s â€œEditor’s Choiceâ€ star.
Now, there must be some truth behind PC Magazine’s price, right? They couldn’t have just made those numbers up! Well, I suppose there must be. However, to get to those kinds of numbers, here’s what you have to add to the base Quad:
- 8 GB of RAM, adding $2,300
- 1 Terabyte of storage, adding $875
- The Quadro FX 4500 video card, adding $1,350
- The 23â€œ Apple Cinema Display at $1299
With all of that, I was able to push the price up to $9,423.
So, is it possible to spend $9,500 on a Quad? Indubitably! But it’s hardly within the normal price range, which is how PC Magazine makes it appear. As a matter of fact, the magazine’s test system only had 4GB of RAM, but they added on the lust-worthy 30-inch Cinema Display as their test monitor! (How does the monitor help you test the PC, other than letting you see what’s going on…?) And when you substitute those choices for the ones above, you actually end up with the identical price: $9,423! So, where does the $7,000 come from in the magazine’s price range? Why, it’s the Quad without a 30-inch monitor, don’t you know.
Adding insult to injury, PC Magazine actually has the temerity to include this statement among the “cons” for this system: “The Nvidia Quadro graphics are overkill.”
Huh? You’re judging a system based on its most expensive graphics option, rather than the card that ships in the base model? I happen to agree that the Quadro is overkill, and I’m sure most other Mac users do, too. But I like knowing it’s an option, and I’m sure there are some high-end graphic designers–particularly those who work a lot in 3D–who might actually need that card. Hell, if you can afford it, it’s one of only a couple cards that can support two 30-inch Cinema Displays.
Grrrrr. See why I was pissed when I saw this review? A reasonable price range for the Quad in a magazine like this would be maybe $3,249 to $4,748. That starts with the very well-appointed base model and adds a 20-inch Cinema Display, an upgraded video card (to the Nvidia 7800), and an upgrade to 2GB of RAM. Without question, a Quad with those specs would compare favorably to the Dell X600, the most expensive Dell in the magazine and the one they compare the Quad to in their â€Compareâ€œ table. (Though PC Magazine lists the Dell as costing $4,700-$5,500, you can actually get one for somewhat less than that.)
So even though the Quad has four processors and is much more expandable than the Dell (which tops out at 2GB RAM, for example, while the Quad can go up to 16GB!), it’s quite comparable to the Dell X600 in performance and overall hardware specs. Yet PC Magazine says a Quad will cost you at least $7,000 without a monitor, whereas you can get the Dell for $5,500 including a huge 24-inch monitor! Now, which would you choose? If you’re a PC user, you would say â€this is a no-brainer.â€œ (You may have noticed that some PC users are very much into â€no-brainâ€œ thinking.)
One more note about this whole mess. I would personally never buy a Power Mac with 2GB of RAM from Apple (although I must say I’ve never seen Apple RAM prices as low as they are now). That upgrade cost me $300, but I can get 2GB of equivalent RAM from Other World Computing (for example) for $200.
Here’s a snapshot of what PC Magazine shows on their website today:
If anybody with influence in this industry reads this, please spread the word about the fraudulent data PC Magazine is publishing about Apple. It’s precisely errors like this that perpetuate the â€Apple is more expensiveâ€œ myth, which many of us “Macheads” are struggling to disprove. Indeed, the error is so egregious I can’t help but think that some of Microsoft’s FUD money may be involved, even though the magazine bills itself as â€The Independent Guide To Technology.â€œ Because of articles like this, people don’t just get the impression that Apple computers are â€a littleâ€œ more expensive. Rather, they seem to think that Macs cost â€a lotâ€œ more.
Now, I’m not putting all the blame for this myth on PC Magazine. They just happen to have provided a present-day example of how this myth stays alive. To my way of thinking, it’s inexcusable for a responsible technology journal to continue to feed that myth now that Apple computers are actually a little less expensive than comparable PC’s. (Computer hobbyists: Before you whip out your pen, let me remind you that I’m not interested in how much it costs you to build a computer with your bare hands, any more than I’m interested in how much you’d save by building your own car, refrigerator, TV set, or stereo. It’s irrelevant to the discussion.)
If you actually do a feature-by-feature comparison, as I did in my study of the market last year, making sure you configure today’s PC’s and Macs with equivalent hardware and software, you’ll find that Apples are now less expensive than PC’s such as Dell. (This analysis doesn’t even take ROI into account, as a more recent study–which concluded that PC’s are twice as expensive as Macs–has done.) As I said last year, including equivalent software in the PC-Mac comparison equation is not only a good idea, it’s absolutely necessary. After all, computers exist only as a mechanism for running software, and it’s the quality of the software that accounts for a large part of the computing experience. Without software, you’d have nothing more than an ugly, heavy, black plastic box (in Dell’s case) or a beautiful, heavy, aluminum-clad end table (in Apple’s case).
Neither of which would you shell out $3,000 or more for. Am I right?
So spread the word… PC Magazine is flat-out wrong in pricing the PowerMac G5 Quad, and they should correct the error. You can buy a PowerMac G5 Quad for less than half the price they list, which means: For about the same as an equivalent PC, or somewhat less.
Note: I tried to find some statement of methodology on PC Magazine’s website that explains how they come up with the configurations they use for their reviews. I couldn’t. Even if this is a system Apple configured and shipped to PC Magazine without their input (which I doubt), they have a responsibility to their readers to base their review on actual system prices rather than on the price of one very highfalutin configuration. After all, Macworld’s reviewers presumably got a test system as well, but they report the Quad’s price accurately: $3,299.