This qualifies for mockery from Gruber/Bright:
> "Everyday Computing"
But this is good understandable product description:
> "The ultimate everyday notebook"
(that second one is Apple's marketing copy for the Macbook Air).
The low-end Macbook Air is $999 in Canada. Let's compare. I just priced a Lenovo X220 with a 50% faster processor, twice the ram, twice the SSD size, larger, better screen - which are all minimum choices for this laptop, I can't choose any lower to match the Macbook - and I came out to $84 more than the Macbook. Let's see, if I look at the other versions... I'd say the Macbook has about a $200-$300 price premium compared to the Lenovo. The two laptops weigh almost exactly the same and are the same thickness at the thickest point, although the Lenovo doesn't have the pretty tapered edge.
The economy of scale advantage that he's talking about doesn't exist, or at least doesn't make it to the consumer (Apple may be keeping economy of scale profits, but that's not the point Gruber is trying to make).
Gruber is just utterly full of shit and I fail to see why his articles merit any discussion. "Apple is great because [make up bullshit reason of the week]". Isn't that boring? Even if you love Apple products, isn't it boring?
Let's go laptop shopping!
store.apple.com. Presented with pictures of things, with the name of the line under them. I can see (I don't even have to read or select a menu, I can just see!) two types of laptops: the Air and the Pro. One is little and the other is big. Do I want a little laptop or a big laptop? Little! Click on the little one, then click through "select a macbook air." Presented with two more pictures: 11" and 13", each with text underneath offering two options (more or less HDD space). At every point, the gist of what the difference is between the various selections is painfully clear to the shopper.
shop.lenovo.com. Presented with: promo for IdeaPad U300s. What if I want other laptops? Shop -> Laptops & Notebooks in the small text below the big promo. Now I'm presented with three lines of laptops. Aside from color, they look the same. How do I differentiate? One is for "basic everyday computing" the other for "dazzling multimedia experience" and the other for "tools to save time and money." Whereas I didn't even read the marketing copy on the Apple site, because I had pictures that got to the heart of the differences between the models, here I'm stuck reading marketing copy to make a decision. If I select "prices you'll love" does that mean the others will have "prices I'll hate"? Luckily Lenovo has given me a matrix to help me choose. The matrix has 38 rows... Say I blindly click on the ThinkPad. Now I'm presented with 6 series. The bold text to help me differentiate is more marketing copy: "environmentally friendly" versus "mobile freedom." Are some of these laptops not environmentally friendly? Do some lack mobile freedom? The information that is most pertinent to me as a laptop buyer (weight and screen size) is actually at the bottom of the lists in the same font size as the footnotes and legalese!
If you are not sure what you want, make a list of things you want to do with your laptop and ask someone who knows about computers to tell you what you would need for it (gaming -> number of decent chip names, writing and internet -> nothing matters, storing a lot of movies/games -> more than XX Gigabytes of harddisk space, video chatting -> webcam & microphone, etc)
Make a checklist of the things you want/need.
Browse for notebooks and write down those that fit all of your criteria.
Choose the one that has the shiniest finish or cutest name.
Click on the picture that looks like what you want, tweak a few straightforward options (or leave them to default, knowing they're probably fine), buy.
Once again Apple provides simplicity at the cost of freedom of choice.
EDIT: to the downvoters - your inability to acknowledge a simple truth astounds me.
As the "knowlegable friend" in my circles this just means that I get swamped with requests for assistance in selecting laptops which means I get the joys of navigating shitty PC websites for a machine that I will never use (until it breaks).
I made the decision a long time ago to tell folks asking for help "if you want a Mac, I'll give you all the assistance you want but if you want a PC, you're on your own."
Yes, simplicity by definition is something simple. But that's not the issue. I'm talking about the way that simplicity is offered at the expense of freedom of choice.
Freedom of choice by definition needs choices.
If you have twenty choices vs. two; by definition, the former offers more freedom of choice.
More seriously, you have all the choices you want - no one is forcing you to buy a Mac. For the 0.5% of the population who want that freedom, it's there, for a price (both financial and in terms of quality, hassle, ease of purchase, etc).
For the other 99.5%, who want the simplicity, it's there too.
There will always be a benefit to being able to choose. I'd rather have to acquire knowledge, and be able to make an informed choice - than have someone else make that decision for me. I know I'm not the only one.
EDIT: Okay - so why the down-vote? Commenting on any Apple-centric post, with any comment that can be considered even slightly disparaging towards Apple is hazardous.
When it comes to Apple, some people seem to end up exchanging their brains for shiny-hardware. Depressing.
Apple doesn’t ask you to decide based on non-sensical marketing blabber like that. They use it, sure, but it isn’t central in the decision process of the buyer.
Go to their store and check out how they do it: http://store.apple.com/us
If you want a laptop you are asked to make only one decision: Do you want a MacBook Pro or Air? Finding out what those two laptops are all about is easy, if only because it’s only two and not four or more. They are also clearly different from each other, in a way that’s obvious even to someone who doesn’t know anything or doesn’t want to know anything about technological details. Just looking at them is more or less enough to figure out what they are all about.
When you have made that decision, you more or less only have to decide on the screen size you would like: 11" or 13" if you want an Air, 13", 15" or 17" if you want a Pro.
I would love it if other manufacturers did the same. Shopping for PCs is just so damn frustrating. It’s no fun at all.
One other point: all three Macs I've owned were ready to use out of the box. No stickers, no crapware, no nothing. Contrast this with a recent Anandtech review of a recent Sony Vaio that, hardware-wise, is quite nice, but:
Because of that initial bloat I have a hard time recommending the VAIO S to any end user that can't fix it (including but not limited to just plain physically upgrading the hard drive) or doesn't know someone who can. This is an otherwise fantastic notebook with a lot of potential just looking for the right user, but if you're not comfortable getting elbow deep in cleaning it out (or preferably doing a clean Windows 7 installation), it's not going to be the notebook for you. For those of you who are willing and able to put in the time, though, you'll likely be very well served by the Sony VAIO S.
I read something like that and think, "Where's the MacBook Air link again..."
The guys at the Microsoft store I visited made clueless look bright. Apparently they keep getting new machines in with no training at all.
A clean install is really easy -- maybe one hour if you sit and watch it, fifteen minutes if you use your old laptop while it's going... why would you let a cost of <one hour drive your buying decision?
Setup time is part of the cost of a system. I'm sure that the apple machine isn't actually ready for you to use it out of the box -- if you're like most HN readers you'll have tons of tweaks you need to install before the computer actually works the way you want it to.
I'm writing this on a x220 with a 240GB Vertex3 under the hood, which is 4-10x faster than my coworker's13" 240GB macbook air for bioinformatics workloads. It cost about $100 more, and yes it required a clean install as part of setup.
The profit I've made on that $100 + 1 hour is insane... probably 100x return so far this year on decreased compile & run times (calculated as delta in experiments per day times my annual salary)
I don't believe you.
If it was major number crunching, you'd batch that crap on the fastest servers you could afford.
If it's interactive, the computer is waiting on you more than doing work.
Just admit it: you're a technophile that likes to fiddle with all the knobs. Fine. Whatever floats your boat.
But don't play stupid about the OP's article.
HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc. have TERRIBLE marketing communications supported by TERRIBLE product family line ups.
The OP's point (hello!) is Apple's simplified product family allows them to achieve better economies of scale then their competitors.
Secondly, the HN crowd doesn't seem to consider that when selling to large corporations the Dell, Lenovo, etc. "overly complex" approach makes sense -- that there might be a reason that apple isn't the #1 computer manufacturer, especially for institutional purchases.
Fourthly, before talking about "mostly waiting on user input" you should consider the research. ("1.0 second is about the limit for the user's flow of thought to stay uninterrupted") start with http://www.useit.com/papers/responsetime.html
Fifthly, you seem unfamiliar with how scientific computing works. Here's the process:
1. Hypothesis (usually but not always done by professor or adviser)
2. Find a dataset, or multiple datasets that should be able to falsify #1
3. Code up an initial test in R or Mathematica (or Matlab if you don't like FP) -- does the correlation even exist? How well do the off-the-shelf methods work?
4. If you think you can do better, write it up in C++/Java, testing as you go
5. If the process requires a lot of CPU time for near perfection (NN / RBM / GA / GP), run task on server for use in your publication (graphs / discrimination percentages)
Only #5 is really effective to put on the server... Working with Mathematica remotely is a PITA with non-university hardware (licences), and remote interfaces have annoyingly high latency IMHO.
Sixthly, I do like fiddling with knobs, but to use your own turn of phrase back at you... just admit it: you didn't think before writing what you wrote. You're not analyzing and trying to understand anything in your post, only stating an opinion backed up with no facts. Like a child wandering in to a university lecture and announcing that there are no negative numbers because your teacher told you so.
That you were not downvoted to oblivion before I saw this is merely symptomatic of HNs irrational love of apple products.
Do you buy a new refrigerator expecting to have to clean out the compressor the minute you take it home? I certainly hope not.
To put more forcefully: if I needed to maintain one of those room sized refrigerators, and could save $10,000 for a couple hours of messing with a compressor the decision is a no brainer.
I agree that mortals can't/won't do this -- doesn't mean the HN crowd is being intelligent when they say what the guy I replied to was saying :p
EDIT: Downvoters, please explain -- For people with high computing requirements who insist on the x220 / Macbook air form factor, this is an accurate picture of the ROI.
Look at the performance differences between the macbook air ssd (http://www.anandtech.com/show/3991/apples-2010-macbook-air-1...) and the vertex 3 (http://www.anandtech.com/show/4316/ocz-vertex-3-240gb-review...). If your job commonly has you IO bound you will see at least 100 hours of your life saved over the 2,000 hours of a year of 40 hour work weeks (a 5% savings -- not all your time will be spent IO bound). And that's not including the difference between a 2.7 Ghz and a 1.7 Ghz processor...
ps I did not downvote.
(for those curious here is the breakdown of why pbreit is wrong:
1. The guy I was replying to is by definition an HNer, and was talking about buying an air over a sony SB due to reinstall concerns. My "how odd" was in reply / directly to him.
2. Macs aren't ready to use out of the box. No computer is. You need to, at the very least, install all the apps you use and copy over your data. This takes considerable time. Did it come with Chrome? Did it come with Office? Did it come with (your editor of choice)? Did it come with Little Snitch? 1password? The caps-lock key switched to a control key? Inconsolata installed? No. And that's not a complete list by a long shot. Adding an hour long reinstall to this list isn't a big deal.
3. The x220 and Macbook air do have the same form factor from a functional perspective. They both are quite easy to keep with you at all times, hence both inhabiting the thin and light category used by most review sites. Yes the air is thinner, but it gives up being able to accept good hard drives to do so... making the x220 the smallest you can go and still get good performance.
4. I wasn't exaggerating the value of my work. I don't even think my numbers were above average for engineer pay...)
As for #3, only one of the laptops you listed fits comfortably in my girlfriend's purse. As for the Air's hard drive? She has zero complaints, and I doubt her (or many others) would notice tiny differences in sequential read times (which is, I think, a measure of app-opening performance).
re 2: It takes an hour to reinstall windows. If you swap out the hard drive (so a vertex 3 in a MBP), this is something you have to do with an apple anyway. One hour is not "much more work". Don't kid yourself.
re 3: If the MBA owner does anything CPU intensive they will likely profit by upgrading to the x220. Look at the real world numbers (http://www.anandtech.com/show/3991/apples-2010-macbook-air-1...) to get a better picture here. x220 numbers are harder to show, as no reviewers saw fit to review with a good hard drive in it -- just compare with the MBP in that review and know that the x220 with a vertex 3 is between 2 and 10x the 2010 15" MBP on those benchmarks (http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=6056&re...).
But really, I think you're probably right -- it sounds like a mac would be better for you
My girlfriend, and everyone else in the humongous non-power-user subset, does not care about how a Vertex 3 can bury an Air's SSD. She doesn't know the Vertex exists! If she did, she'd probably ask why she should spend $300 on it if her Air already works amazingly well.
We're talking about different groups here. You're talking about the type of people who read computer hardware blogs like Anandtech. I'm talking about everyone else in the world.
1.0 second is about the limit for the user's flow of thought to stay uninterrupted. This turns out to make a big difference in productivity. See http://www.useit.com/papers/responsetime.html
I'm talking about anyone who values their time. You're talking about secretaries looking at cat pictures. You're also doing that on a thread started when a HNer said he purchases laptops via the same method.
1. Read the whole thread to ensure your "points" weren't already made elsewhere
2. Consider not replying when you don't have any information not obviously inferable from your previous post.
Calm down there, Sparky. Are you really suggesting someone doesn't value their time because they bought an Air over an X220 with a SSD? You understand that such an assertion is ridiculous, right?
Here's a "point" for you: given the economic concept of utility, are you shocked that someone would pass on an X220 + Vertex in favor of an Air and a month of groceries? How about the idea that the marginal benefit of a Vertex 3 over an Air may be tiny enough to some that they'll pass?
We haven't even discussed failure rates, which are anecdotally bad on older Vertexes; can you blame someone for choosing an Air, along with 3 years of service at any Apple Store?
Also, another "point" for you: I sincerely doubt you would've responded like that in person, so you should probably re-read HN's commenting rules and think twice next time.
2. Diminishing marginal utility is not usually considered to apply to time -- are you saying that your girlfriend would rather use a mac than add an additional ~year of work/play time to her lifespan?
3. Note that the concept of diminishing marginal utility is different than the concept of utility.
4. I'm like this in person.
Now, there are reasons to get a strong laptop. A good one is if you need some serious power on the go. Are you running that bioinformatics software while on an airplane?
Rather than suggesting I google something (what, "windows backup software"? and spend several days becoming familiar with the myriad solutions?) since you seem to be so informed on similarly performing backup software as Time Machine and this is a site meant to have civil discussions, perhaps you can recommend a Windows backup solution that can restore all your apps as easily as Time Machine can. Or, for that matter, how I can network two Windows machines together and copy all the apps from one machine to the other like I can on a Mac by copying the contents of the Applications folder.
2. There are many many different backup solutions for windows -- many of which are far better than Time Machine for certain use cases (say, managing backups for several thousand machines). You probably want to look at http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2008/01/whats-your-backup-s... for a simple solution.
This comment continues in that line again and paints your absurd outlier case of 4-10x improvement as "an accurate picture of the return on investment" while again committing the error of thinking these 2 machines have the same form factor.
The EC2 option has always interested me, but short of EBS RAID its IO actually isn't better than a vertex 3 -- they're crazy fast; if you haven't tried them I highly recommend you do :)
But Aunt Tillie sure would.
When I buy a MacBook Pro I know that I get a computer that is powerful enough for me and just works. I am not going to spend a premium and computer that I hope I can get to work. If I spend that much on something I should not have to fiddle with doing reinstalls.
As a first-time Mac buyer last year I was certainly confused about the difference between the plastic MacBook and the MacBook Pro.
I find it hard to believe that simplicity of choice is a reason people buy Apple laptops.
If you're looking at the various MacBook models, you've pretty much already made a conscious decision to consider buying from Apple for reasons that had nothing to do with how many models were on display.
It was probably the reputation for good design, easy software, lack of shovelware, no viruses etc...
MacBook Air 11 inch:
MacBook Air 13 inch:
X220 12 inch:
I don't think it matters that you spec'ed it out to be slightly faster, I bet many of the people who want an Air-like notebook want the thinnest, cleanest, lightest notebook that can still perform very close to a traditional fat notebook, the X220 probably isn't what they're looking for.
I believe the 3.6 lbs you mentioned is with the 9 cell 15 hour battery.
For comparison the 11" and 13" Macbook Airs are rated 5 and 7 hours, respectively.
I'm guessing 2.9 pounds might be for the originally planned 3 cell battery version which may be offered somehow but is not configurable through the online order at lenovo.
I'd rather compare things like OS preference, battery life, performance needs and / or the quality of the keyboard.
EDIT: I misinterpreted the above comment. It's Friday and I'm sleepy.
The extra Mhz here is wasted because Apple intentionally values the heat/battery dynamics more in this product. That's how the whole 1.7 Ghz lines of the Core Duo (and now the Core i5/i7) chips came about: Apple worked with intel to make the chips and got a good deal of exclusivity. This was all made clear when the Macbook Air debuted with Paul Otellini and Jobs onstage together.
The Core Duo, in particular, was essentially _only_ found in Macs; it had very limited deployment elsewhere. It fits very well with the circumstances of the Intel switchover; Apple couldn't have used the P4M for its laptops (far too power-hungry vs the G4), or the PM (barely faster than the G4 at all, used somewhat more power).
(Not that most of what you've been saying is untrue, but this particular part is a bit dodgy.)
Incidentally, as I own a Thinkpad with a Core Duo CPU (July 2004 T60p, SL8VN), I think it might have been more accurate to emphasize "essentially" rather than "only."
While previously he would write much more in-depth articles (often of a technical nature relating to OS X or Cocoa/Obj-C) now I feel he is really just writing what his audience wants to hear and, what's more, 95% of the time simply linking with a sentence of commentary. Some of his links are interesting but for the most part they're either criticising one extreme or showering praise on the other.
I'm an Apple fan, but yes - it really is boring waking up every morning (I'm Australian) and reading the same thing day in, day out. He's just as guilty of shock-jockery as half the people he links to.
I tend to agree, but I don't think this particular piece is an example of that. It frustrates me that the HN crowd has such a hard time rationally discussing Apple (let alone something written by, gasp, GRUBER)
"and are the same thickness at the thickest point"
If by the same you mean the Mac Book Air is half the thickness of the Lenovo then yes.
It's really hard to take your comment as anything more then a troll when you call other people dim but make basic factual errors like this.[/edit]
This is where "configure your own Macbook Air" arguments always end up: some ugly as shit clunker with a couple +1 features that give you wiggle room to claim a "$200 Apple premium".
I think Lenovo machines in their matte black rubberized cases look gorgeous.
It's all about what you've been pre-conditioned to like. I will not buy a laptop with a glass-covered glossy screen. That screen would be useless to me. Also I will not own a laptop without a layout like this:
It's called attention to detail and immaculate ergonomics: you have a fully operational mouse without moving your fingers away from the FJ position. I can't imagine working on a laptop without it. Why bother suffering?
I understand that people like sparkly and shiny things. I understand clever marketing, sleek design and the adrenaline of being part of the crowd. Fine, have fun - it's very much like rooting for a football team.
But seeing Mac users trying to "cross swords" in a feature/function battle is simply ridiculous. Try this on your notebook: write a sentence, go and change the 3rd word in it. Time yourself. Divide that by 5 (to get my time) multiply the difference by 1923 (that's how much we do this while coding), add a few minutes on top to compensate for missed "Esc" and "Enter" hits and then throw your arms up, scream in pain and anger, and be enlightened. Free of charge, I do this for charity.
For the record I don't think the Lenovo is 'ugly as shit'. I used that phrase to drive home the disparity between the Macbook Air and any real world shipping product that people hold up as a price comparable alternative to the MBA.
The bottom line is they always take the bullshit route of comparing a much huskier machine. Why? Because the only machines that really compare in form factor can't compete on price (exactly the point of the linked articles!).
The X220 is not an alternative to the Macbook Air. It's an alternative to the Macbook Pro that weighs the same as a Macbook Air. Compare the specs of a 15" MBP to a 12" X220 and notice how they are the same (except that the X220 can take one of the larger-size Express Cards; the MBPs can only take the small ones).
I think it's more likely that Apple's choice of aesthetic just appeal to the majority.
The current Zeitgeist seems to favor classical designs. This is different to the 80's or the 70's where the intellectual and creative class were much more anti-capitalist. To me it feels like it's pre-68 again.
Current life models are schizophrenic. On the one hand people plaster their agency's rooms with aesthetically pleasing objects, Eames chairs, iMacs, Tizio Lamps to please themselves and their corporate clients. On the other they think they are enlightened rebels, aware of climate change, the 3rd world, and the dangers of nuclear energy.
I think there's no radicalism any more, no ideologies, no visions. In reality, I think this generation is full of conservative tagalongs, appeasers, yuppies in disguise.
It might not be as widespread as I thought, but it's good to know if you plan to make a browser.
So I don't think it's the looks. If a MacBook Air were priced at 2000 RMB, I bet they'd be really successful in the largest Asian market.
No worries, I use vim regardless of OS or hardware.
Who knows, maybe OS X will have better battery life, and cooler operation?
Then again, I'm a programmer, but still the type of guy who would get one of those new, overpriced, Commodores or VICs.
For example, I'm looking at the Lenovo site now: X220, i5 2.5GHz, 12.5", 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD = £1330
(including a £175 September discount)
And Apple: MacBook Air, i5 1.7GHz, 13", 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD = £1100
Gruber's arguments never make any sense. Historically, he changes his opinions more or less based on what Apple is currently doing. He adds little value, and it seems clear that he's making a lot of money as a pro-Apple cheerleader from his blog posts. (Which is fine, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't make him a good news source.)
However, I'm not sure how to get rid of Gruber posts. With certain types of posts, HN can feel like an Eternal September.
Certainly the first few times I read a Gruber post, I thought there was some legitimate content there. But now, his posts feel largely like regurgitated commentary on discussions had elsewhere, and his opinions feel utterly discredited by their uniformity.
Without downvotes, and without flags removing Gruber posts, I'm not sure what we can do. Could we possibly, as a community, just agree that a blacklist of Gruber posts is good for us? How would we begin such a discussion?
Granted there is a lot of valid Apple criticism that you won't get from Daring Fireball, but everyone has their viewpoint. Gruber is far from the worst stuff that shows up on HN.
No he doesn't. The majority of his posts are transparent fact twisting and fantastically uninteresting (as are the predictable comment threads surrounding most of his posts). On the rare occasion he's not outright fanboying for Apple, he can be a decent and breezy writer.
Unless he's actually providing some interesting commentary (and yes I do give his posts a read so I don't try and kill something that's genuinely useful) I'm resigned to just flagging his mindlessly biased nonsense.
In other words, I don't flag all of his stuff, but I did flag this.
But we can summarize the vast majority of Grubers posts thusly:
"Something about Apple = Great"
then generate a dozen or so threads of nothing but either fawning praise for Gruber or the same repeated complaints about his bias.
At this point Gruber posts and the follow up "conversation" (I'm using it charitably at this point) are something one could probably machine generate, then randomly insert the entire thing into HN's new queue and it would be virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
in other words, Gruber fails the Turing test and I for one (among apparently several HNers) are tired of having what are essentially Markov chains jamming up the front page.
I'm not trying to troll, it's clear that there is a minority here, including myself that can't find any possible information in them, but the HN majority clearly find his writing absolutely fascinating and full of all kinds of information nuggets that pass me and others right by.
I always propose banning Dvorak because he is actively corrosive to intelligent discourse
No argument from me at all.
If one isn't interested one can just move on just as I move on when I see a post about Java or politics.
1. Are you convinced that going forward, Apple's most "sustainable advantage" is economies of scale? Do you believe that consumers primarily buy Apple products based on price?
2. Do you believe that building up economies of scale would take Dell or Samsung a "decade"?
(These are the primary claims in the conclusion of Gruber's essay.)
If you sell a handphone cheaper than the iPhone, you make very little profit and if Apple ever feels threatened, they can just slash their own prices and still make more profit than you. Until then they charge what the market will bear and make huge profits that they reinvest into their business increasing their lead.
2. It's possible. In 2009 Apple purchased all of Samsung's NAND. At the time that was apparently over 40% of the world's NAND.
Discuss and vote on topics on individual merit is HN, the content-free Gruber/Apple hatefest some people systematically try to engage in every time the author/subject comes up is what devalues HN, not Gruber posts.
Maybe that is a good idea. Contentless comments that only attack and are always too lazy to actually argue make submissions like these so damn frustrating. If he is so wrong it should be simple to destroy his arguments.
Could we possibly, as a community, just agree that a blacklist of Gruber posts is good for us?
In fact, I think the community has already agreed that they like Daring Fireball posts, otherwise it wouldn't be on the front page.
We can agree, though, to spend more time in /newest and complain less about what makes to the front page.
This submittal is #1 on the front page with 110 net points. I think the community has spoken.
However, one possible solution would be to enable downvotes, but only on controversial posts such as Gruber's. That would enable both sides of the community to speak.
How would you feel about such a measure?
EDIT: Controversial might be defined objectively as the ratio of upvotes to flags, or similar. People regularly comment on the fact that they have flagged Gruber's posts, but I presume that moderators currently just ignore such flags because the content isn't offensive, against the rules, and so on. For that matter, it would be interesting to know how many flags are currently on this post.
I see hundreds of posts here every day that I don't click on, some in the top 5. I don't start campaigns to censor these posts, I assume people upvote them because they find value in them. Obviously people find value in Gruber's posts if they are being upvoted.
So here's the suggestion again: don't click on it bro. Problem solved.
It's funny how someone can hate a certain type of article so badly that they will read it and comment about how badly they hate it. I mean, why go to all the effort?
You do realize that, by definition, "controversial" is a subjective notion, right?
The blog post basically bashes NH, then accuses Apple of destroying Microsoft and says that Microsoft should team up with Android.
I've never seem such a huge chip on the shoulder...
(oh how I wish HN had a Meta section)
For the record, I'm all for blacklisting daringfireball.
> When in a meeting discussing a problem in China, Tim Cook noted that the problem was “really bad” and that someone should be in China fixing it. Thirty minutes later, Cook then famously looked over at Apple’s operations manager, Sabih Khan, and asked “Why are you still here?” Khan was on the next flight to China.
But what's most remarkable is that like Jobs, Tim has managed to infuse this attitude into the very fabric of Apple. Once, when I worked there, a friend called and asked if I had plans for lunch. I replied that I did not. "Good," he said, "Can you drive me to SFO?" So I picked him up. He had a seat on the 1:30 PM flight and we were barely going to make it. "Do you think we have time to stop by my place so I can grab a change of clothes?" he asked. I told him that we did not, and his reply was "Oh well, I guess I'll just have to find a store in Boston"...
I personally do my best work when I'm relaxed and un-stressed. The apple environment seems to be diametrically opposite to this. I can see that some people might thrive in this environment, but I always wonder at what cost to themselves.
First off, we're probably talking about a time when there were only a few direct flights a day from SFO to the relevant airport so if he didn't go that afternoon he'd have to wait until the next morning so instead of flying through the night he'd be flying through the day - flying RIGHT THEN means one less day in which your product slips its schedule.
Now recall that Apple used to have trouble getting enough media attention so they would schedule product announcements around, say, MacWorld or the Superbowl. Big events that cannot be moved. Every day the schedule slips makes it that much more likely you miss the intended product launch window. For Apple, if your product isn't ready to ship, it's not ready to show which means you've wasted a lot of money - your next suitable launch window might be months later by which time the product no longer has a compelling story to tell. Missing the intended launch date can mean the difference between a successful product and a failure.
Conference calls are expensive and tend to involve both high-level people and lower-level people. If the schedule is slipping, the chinese engineers won't necessarily tell you the truth about why it's slipping in that sort of forum - there's a face-saving issue. There are also communications difficulties when people who don't speak english well just nod and say "yes, we'll do that" without really understanding what they're agreeing to. Email can clarify and puts things in writing but the time difference means most exchanges lose at least a day.
Another factor is "the squeaky wheel gets the grease". The same factory is trying to build products for you and a variety of other companies. When some other company's product totally unrelated to yours has a crisis, they might choose to rationally pull engineering resources away from your product to serve somebody else...if you're not there to nag and check up on the schedule.
The bottom line is that if you don't have at least one person there most of the time, your product stands a very very low chance of meeting your schedule or your quality targets.
Hm. I guess the iPad that shipped a couple of months after being shown is the special butterfly exception that confirms your nice fluffy rule.
- products that depend on 3rd-party developer support. If the iPad 3 has a new form factor and new hardware such that developers will want to rewrite their apps to take best advantage, Apple might show it at the developer conference and tell everybody "you've got 3 months to get your apps ready"
- products that get accidentally leaked or need to be leaked early due to regulatory requirements such as filing for FCC approval.
What Apple doesn't do is float trial balloons just to have something to show. Lot of companies will mock up some design that is approximately similar to the expected final product and show/announce that, then finish figuring out how to build it. Apple's ideal is to make a big splash by showing something unexpected that you can buy in the very very near future so people run out and buy it, garnering additional publicity based on the big lines and big numbers of customers.
Which is great if you can pull it off, though it seems inevitable that one of these days they'll guess wrong. If and when they do blow it, it'll be at least a billion-dollar mistake to have built up so much inventory in advance of finding out whether people like the thing.
That said, last minute bugs do happen and cause delays. Apple will ship late before it ships a known defective product (yes, it has shipped defective products, but not any that were known defective), but it doesn't like to do either.
Why does this matter? Anecdotes like this are simply the tip of the iceberg. In my experience, it's also (counter-intuitively) good for morale. You feel good about the sacrifices you make, rather than stressed or bitter.
As for your second point, I think you make the mistake of assuming that there are only two states one can operate in: stressed or relaxed. In fact, there is a third...let's call it "flow", for lack of a better term. That's where you're up all night, running to the airport on a moments notice, pulling out all the stops to be absolutely perfect, but you don't feel stressed in the slightest.
...Apple runs on that flow.
Some thrive under such pressures, where most would soon crumble.
Heck, I'll bet it's not a lot better now. let's take a look! Suppose I want to fly on United to Hong Kong next Friday. Kayak tells me that if I miss the one that leaves at 1pm (direct flight - total time 14 hours 5 minutes), the next one available leaves at 10:51pm and has an 8-hour layover in Chicago. Total time-in-transit on that option: 27 hours 19 minutes. ("This flight leaves on Friday and arrives on Sunday.") Oof.
Sure, there are other airlines, but booking at the last minute, most of the best route options are likely to be sold out.
(I spent about half of 1999 in short trips to Hong Kong helping "PocketMail" devices ship)
You left off SJC and OAK. Not to mention Seattle, Beijing, and Tokyo... :-)
I don't mean this as a bad thing. It's like the myth of Stallman coding alone to write emacs. Maybe it is 100% true. Maybe it is 50% true. But it's part of the Hacker Mythology, and hackers take their cues from that mythology.
And Apple has the Apple Mythology.
Most manufacturers have vast and bewildering product lines. Treat yourself to the Asus line-up: http://www.asus.com/Notebooks/AllProducts/
Most manufacturers have half-hearted and short lived attempts at introducing premium lines or models (e.g. Dell's Adamo). Buying an expensive product only to have the manufacturer discontinue the line soon after destroys faith in consumers.
Most manufacturers have terribly designed products: hinges that wear out after a few months, useless trimmings that simply fall off, air vents that are blocked when the screen is open (yes, this actually was the case on my old Dell).
Buying something from Apple, you have a strong case that it'll be supported for at least a few years, the model likely won't go away entirely, and you'll be able to get good support from them via phone, mail or in-store. Other brands may offer some or all of those aspects, sometime, for some models, but few have a multi-year history of providing all of those consistently.
Apple's advantage is the decade of experience they have in building trust with consumers.
All three Macs I've owned were ready to use out of the box. No stickers, no crapware, no nothing. Contrast this with a recent Anandtech review of a recent Sony Vaio that, hardware-wise, is quite nice, but:
Thinkpads are (were) well known for their 4:3 screens. People are downright fanatical about them, and continue to buy old T60s off craigslist rather than buy new from Lenovo. Tall screens are better for documents and spreadsheets. 4:3 displays instantly differentiate business-machine Thinkpads from all other laptops.
But now Thinkpads are 16:9. They lost one of their defining features because "these manufacturers make more selling TV displays than laptop displays, and the PC vendors have almost zero say in this change. We simply have to adapt. As much as I would like it to be so, 4:3 is not coming back."
Meanwhile, Apple goes and sources millions of 4:3 iPad displays simply because that's the best resolution for the iPad.
PC makers' diverse offerings force them to buy components that are cheap while Apple buys whatever components they want but get them even cheaper due to scale.
The kicker is that at the same time Apple makes that component it's buying even more expensive for everyone else and they know everyone else is copying them.
That's the entire point of this article.
If you've ever eaten at Panera Bread, you'll usually see people staring at the menu on the wall for a few minutes. Their menu is huge and all over the place. Hot sandwiches, cold sandwiches, salads, specialty salads, bagels, breakfast items, pastries, plus much more including ingredients. What's inside a Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken salad? Read the fine print under it. Do you want apple, chips, or bread on the side? What type of bread do you want on your sandwich? We have 20 different types. Cheese OK? Mayo OK? Fountain drink, one of the 8 different bottled drinks in front of you you've never heard of, or freshly squeezed OJ? Complex, like Dell/HP/Lenovo.
What about McDonalds? You order by number associated with a picture. At 10:30, the breakfast pictures are replaced with the lunch/dinner pictures. Cheese or no cheese? Coke, diet coke, sprite? Large, medium, small? Quick, easy decisions. You know what a Big Mac is. And if you want to know what's in it, you're out of luck! There are 10 pictures; pick one of them. Simple, like Apple.
McDonalds is one hell of a highly optimized operation, and nobody in business would object to being compared to them. Meanwhile, Panera's food is probably less healthy if you actually look at the numbers.
That ties in pretty well to Tim Cook.
As a sidenote, I hear these types of statements a lot from those in the anti-Apple crowd, but I can't remember the last time I heard someone switch _away_ from Apple products say things like this.
Apple pundits seem to think that Apple's (undeniable) advantages are going to be permanent, just because they get a great deal on Flash memory or tied up the world's whole supply of 9.7" touch screens. It's a pretty ridiculous position.
 As an example of this, there's this great story about how in the late 90s there was a fire at a critical Philips chip factory, which they tried to cover up since it was expected to be a quick repair. Someone at Nokia noticed that there were irregularities in the shipments, investigated the matter, found out about the fire, and started talks with Philips. Nokia decided that Philips were talking bullshit about the repair schedules, and basically sucked up the whole world's supply of the alternative components to replace this lost capacity. Other phone manufacturers relying on this plant were left high and dry for months, pretty much.
If Apple stops innovating then those people suggesting Apple will no longer have an advantage are correct. So long as Apple is innovating and requires newer and more modern technology that is going to cost millions of not billions to get set up and running they can continue to have an advantage mainly because they have that intense buying power required.
So long as Apple's competitors are always a step behind in seeking to make their computers smallers/faster or inventing the next new gadget that consumers want they will always have the first mover advantage.
I wouldn't say _permanent_, but there are many companies who could make a transition to the same approach, but haven't yet. Dell, for instance, could scrap 90% of its models, and it's highly unlikely anyone would even _notice_. Presumably, they have some pressing internal reason (not necessarily a sensible one, but something they can't get around) not to do so; it's not like it's any great secret that a simple product line is cheaper to manager.
This is the crux of the problem with all of Apple's competitors, in the PC business and in mobile. Why choose when you can have everything? Apple's lineup is consistently decreasing the trade-offs between models, which reduces the number of reasons that exist for buyer's remorse.
Yes, us geeks may want the ability to choose between WiFi chipsets, but asking my mom to choose a WiFi chipset will just scare her away. She might want to make the best decision but she doesn't have the time to research it (or doesn't know where to look), so she closes her browser and decides not to by a Dell today. Tomorrow, she's at the mall and stops by the Apple Store, sees that the only decisions she has to make are pretty clear cut (as in, amounts of storage/RAM) and goes home with a new MacBook. She was never given the ability to make the wrong decision and any barriers keeping her from buying a computer disappeared.
Their desktops are worse. Here are the choices (http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/desktops-n-workstations.as...):
Business-class performance and control
Scalable and durable design
Designed specifically for networked environments
Power for today and scalability for tomorrow
Easy to configure
On-the-go or in-the office graphics & analysis powerhouse
Built on a scalable IT platform
Apple's categories are not just few, they are clear. They are specs. I choose between the 128GB model or the 256GB model, not between the "analysis powerhouse" and the model with "business-class performance."
I was shopping for a ThinkPad X220 for someone, and it had the option of the regular screen or the "premium" screen for $50 more. They don't tell you what the "premium" screen is or why you'd want it. I presume the regular screen is shitty. Can you even imagine Apple offering such an option? A $1000+ laptop with a shitty screen, with a $50 option to upgrade to a non-shitty screen?
But at least Apple makes it clear what you're getting:
> The 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with a 1440-by-900-pixel LED-backlit glossy display. You can also choose a high-resolution 1680-by-1050 glossy or antiglare display that gives you 36 percent more pixels.
I just took at the Lenovo page for the first time ever. Of all the PC manufacturers, I've probably spent the most time on Dell's, and Lenovo's site looks like a complete rip-off of theirs.
And that display choice is horrible. Like you said, the $50 gets you a "premium" screen, where the only discernible difference on the page is that it comes with a 3x3 antenna instead of a 2x2. I've never heard of YxY as a measurement for antennas, nor is it readily apparent what 3x3 gives me over 2x2 (speed? power?). Not only that, I have to decide whether a webcam is more important to me than a 3x3 antenna because I can only get the webcam (a $30 add-on, by the way) with the 2x2 antenna.
Whatever respect I had for Lenovo (which is more than any other PC manufacturer thanks to their apparently successful continuation of the ThinkPad) just went down the drain. Average people are supposed to get this stuff? Give me a break.
They do, actually. The 15" MBP has a "High-Res" option and most (all?) MBPs have a "matte" display option (~$50 on the base glossy glass screen).
Isn't this at the very heart of every "linux on laptop" screed out there - research your hardware before you buy! So... being able to know or choose what wifi chipset you get might appeal to many geeks. But... you have to assume what you order is what you actually get.
I got a laptop in 2003 for linux. I researched. And researched. I found the one laptop for sale at a local store had the graphics chip FOOXPJ59 in it, which worked with RH6 (or Mandrake, whatever I wanted to use). Plunk down my $1200. Get it home. No dice. Oh... they replaced it with a newer/better FOOXPJ59revC chipset, and there was a WinXP driver disk in the box. But the outside of the box indicated FOOXPJ59 as the chipset. I had to argue for about 20 minutes with 2 managers to get my money back on that after it was opened. They wanted to charge me 15% restocking fee, I was arguing it didn't contain what the box said it did - in their mind FOOXPJ59 and FOOXPJ59revC are the same thing.
The answer is pretty simple: the Powerful in "Thin & Powerful" is not as good as the "Performance" in "Design & Performance".
There are approximately three different categories for laptops: desktop replacements (powerful but very heavy, no battery life); netbooks (puny but very light, good battery life); and executive machines (a blend of power and weight with long battery life: Thinkpad, Portege). Before netbooks, there was another category: el-cheapo (weak and not very light, mediocre battery), but the hardware has advanced sufficiently that modern netbooks are viable web browser machines for many people who only use them for such, and it has mostly crowded out that segment. The PC laptop makers probably made most markup in the executive class segment.
Apple has similar categories, but it markets them better and even more precisely: the iPad is their netbook, the MBA their executive class, and the MBP their desktop replacement. But with the latest generations of the MBA, they've started to cut in towards the netbook market and eat into the margins PC laptop makers were getting in the executive segment.
But meanwhile, PC laptop makers were already getting burned by netbook-class machines getting more powerful. So what we're seeing is a slow disappearance of a segment of the market, and that's tripping up the marketing messages from the PC laptop manufacturers.
(FWIW, my relatively ancient Toshiba Portege is arguably a better machine than my fairly new MBA; it's considerably lighter, more fully featured, with Ethernet and DVD writer, and almost as fast. What it isn't is stylish: it compromises by being made of relatively flimsy plastic. If it were sold today, it could be made cheaply - a lot more cheaply than an MBA. But I don't think it's profitable for Toshiba to make and market it (and their later Porteges are much heavier as the market landscape shifts).
1. Steve Jobs, the only CEO to ever successfully lead Apple in the company's 25-year history, has resigned.
2. Because of the current popularity of the iPad, iPhone, and MacBooks, Apple has great economies of scale. (However, Gruber primarily gives us anecdotes to support this.)
3. These economies of scale are evidence that the new CEO, an operations guy, will be able to lead the company.
4. In fact, design is copy-able.
5. Therefore, because Apple's designs are copy-able, in terms of competitive advantage, the new CEO has always been more important than Steve Jobs.
Is that correct?
That pretty much could have been what was said about American car companies in the late '80s and most of the '90s, and it is why they got their asses handed to them on a plate by the Japanese car companies. If you wanted a Chevrolet, you probably had about 1000 choices (not to mention that GM had at least 5 companies that all made pretty much the same cars, but with different logos (Saturn not withstanding)). If you wanted a Honda, you had about 3 choices. I don't think I have to tell you which business model was more successful.
I think the glaring omission in Gruber's article, though, is Apple's lost advantage in Steve Jobs. It could be argued in the 11 years Steve Jobs was away from Apple that Mac hardware and software more or less coasted in terms of innovation.
The simple unibody design splintered into a dozen different beige boxes stacked on top of each other shortly after Job's departure in 1985. Mac OS gained color, cooperative threading, and a few peripheral updates until Steve Jobs came back in 1996. I'm not saying it was worse. I'm just saying it was uninspired incremental refinement. The design language at Apple didn't change from the day he left in 1985 until he finally came back in 1996.
And almost immediately after Steve comes back we've got OS 8 with its first UI facelift in years. System 9 quickly led into OS X. On the hardware front we got the bondi blue iMac. Then the iPod. Then the desk lamp-esque iMac G4. Not to mention the short lived G4 cube. Apple was alive again.
Now that Steve's involvement has once again diminished, what will Apple look like over the next decade? Will iOS 9 look that much different from iOS 5? Will the MacBook Pro evolve beyond a giant sized MacBook Air? Will Apple successfully branch out beyond phones, tablets and computers?
Tim Cook will keep Apple in fine shape. Apple will at worst be like Dell in its heyday. Delivering products people want at prices nobody could compete against, disrupting the traditional manufacturing process. But will Apple continue to successfully innovate? Companies tend to change to reflect the current leadership. HP was once a company that Steve Wozniak wanted to work at forever. In less than a decade after the founders were gone the the HP Way was gone and the company was never the same.
EDIT: I want to add this is mostly a counterpoint to Gruber who is clearly trying to diminish Jobs and glorify Cook. His brief treatment of the subject is to say Jobs brings "beautiful, elegant, innovative, and fun" before seemingly dismissing Jobs as merely a designer whose designs are something that get copied by other firms anyway therefore implying he is not a real competitive advantage unlike the "can't-be-copied" Cook operational competitive advantage.
Apple also tried a bunch of things in the OS space before NeXT and Jobs rode to the rescue. They just didn't succeed.
Which brings this right back to Tim Cook, and the unsung operational heroes that really built Apple: It isn't that Apple didn't try to innovate in the Jobs-free interregnum. They just didn't succeed. It takes more than just good intentions and "vision": It takes operational skill.
You could say the same about the car-driver relationship.
"The driver deservers a lot of credit but the car has hundreds (if not thousands) of parts doing the critical work of moving the car forward"
Or you could substitute parts with designers.
Keep in mind that Steve Jobs chose Tim Cook and Tim Cook worked only with the approval of Steve Jobs. Had Tim Cook not performed (just like the car) be assured that he would have been replaced by a better person (car)? This in no way diminishes the person (car) but notice that the main person doing the decisions is Steve Jobs (The driver).
Had Apple failed everybody would have blamed Steve Jobs not Tim Cook, so I don't understand the double standard.
All in all I just don't see the point of such an analogy. It sheds no insight. Racing cars and building tech companies are no more alike than skydiving and underwater basket weaving.
OK, lets look at it this way. I think Steve Jobs could have been successful without Tim Cook, but Tim Cook could not have been successful without Steve Jobs (In turning Apple around). The reason I say this is because Steve Jobs use to do Tim Cook's job when he first returned to Apple. He did it himself, along with his CEO job, until he found Cook. Had it not been Cook he would have found somebody else.
Lets not take credit away from Cook though. The guy is good, otherwise Jobs would not have given him the job. But I don't think that we can say that Apple would not be as successful without Cook. However, is almost universally accepted that Apple would not be here without Steve. Hence the Car-Driver analogy >:)
But, as dasil003 said, that's a pretty horrible analogy.
I believe Gruber's argument was not that Tim Cook has more influence than he did before, but that because Apple is much more mainstream today than it was a few years back, its operations are larger in scale and logistics become increasingly important as the company pushes millions of products. Better logistics pipeline allows Apple to compete on price, which is impressive considering that Apple has always been perceived as a premium brand.
"Indeed, the basic problem of U.S. competitive strength in the world economy today may well be product clutter." - Peter Drucker, Managing for Business Effectiveness, 1963
Sorry I don't have a link to the original article, I had to look it up in a book
Apple complained that Power Computing was marketing to existing mac owners, but the real problem was that Power Computing was marketing well to existing mac owners at a time when Apple was marketing badly to them.
No one thinks that. I, at least, have never read anyone who has made such claim. Where did you get the impression that that is a widely-held belief?
Perhaps I should have qualified that statement with "in terms of large american companies", which is what Drucker was talking about.... Companies whose product catalog became bloated over the years in an effort to serve every need of every customer and ended up doing nothing terribly well.
Maybe it's just computer companies? Toyota's website seemed easy enough to use, but then again it was nearly as easy to choose and configure a Ford.
My upvote does not extend to the last two sentences, however. This article is not merely about "have a good design and a low price". It's about focus: By building a smaller number of products with a much smaller variety of configurations and tightly controlled interfaces, Apple gets economies of scale that allow it to reach a previously unreachable plateau of quality-for-cost.
Hardware, software, development tools, operating system, mobile and desktop platforms, app stores, single sign-on, cloud services, music, movies, and tv delivery, voice and video communications...
Google, Apple, and Microsoft are all trying to build an entire computing stack, back to front, and leave the other guys out. Nokia, Motorola, and HP knew they weren't going to be able to compete in the new vertical world. Samsung is trying to get into the OS game with their Bada and maybe something after that.
Step into an Apple Store, and the product differentiation is clear and accessible. Step into a retailer of Windows computers (in the US), and it's just rows and rows of barely distinguishable machines. Yes, Apple does include a small display card of the basic specs near each machine, but their overall setup is one that encourages visitors to use the machines and evaluate them on-site to determine if a model is a fit. These design decisions extend to other aspects of the retail experiences, from the setting, the available staff, the sales experience, etc.
It's relatively easy to see how Apple uses vertical integration in things like its product lines and manufacturing. But they've managed to combine that with vertical design in nearly every place people interact with the company. That's hard to do but always impressive to experience.
They've replaced the cards with iPads. No joke.
The good news is that Lenovo got their act together and my X220 has a great display (and great everything; it's much better than anything Apple can sell you). But buying is still a shitty experience. The most popular blog post I ever wrote was called "Lenovo Shipping Sucks". After navigating through their detail-less website and 100 similar product lines ("it's a Thinkpad, but it has a shitty keyboard and a non-removable battery. also, it's red, doesn't have a roll cage or keyboard drainage holes, but it does have built in Dr. Dre speakers. but we're calling it a Thinkpad, so there."), the buying experience is horrible. They have a different sale every day, so every time you look at the website, the laptop differs in cost by $400 and random options ("free hard drive upgrade!"), so you always think "today's not the right day to buy, maybe tomorrow it will be cheaper". Sometimes you're right, sometimes you're not. Fuck your fucking sales. Set a price and let me pay it. Make it cost the same at Amazon.
But the story doesn't end there. You've decided to buy the laptop. Now you have to navigate through the configuration. Do you want a screen with a 3x3 wifi antenna, or one with a 2x2 wifi antenna with camera? Do you want a "super LCD" or just a regular one (both at the same resolution)? Do you want an i7 with a USB 3.0 port, or an i5 with an always-on USB 2.0 port? It's insane. I sort of know what these options mean after googling and reading forums and asking people I know... but there's no information on their website. Just give me the goddamn 3x3 antenna. How much does an extra fucking 2.4Ghz antenna in every laptop cost? 1 cent? I'll pay it for the convenience. (Yes, I know 3x3 MIMO is. But why is the number of 802.11n streams I can run dependent on the resolution of the screen I buy?) Anyway, you get the idea. I doubt even Lenovo's engineers can confidently purchase the laptop configuration they want.
So now you have a laptop configured and you want to pay for it. Type in your credit card number or use Amazon payments. OK, I'm lazy and my wallet is over on the kitchen table and I never remember my security code, for some reason. We'll use Amazon payments. Oh sorry, we can't use your Amazon information because you have dashes in the phone number you gave Amazon. What the fuck? Fine, I'll go over to Amazon and remove your motherfucking dashes. Oh nice, now all my subscribe-and-save orders are canceled because my address has changed. And all I wanted to do is buy a laptop.
Ok, fine, I've fixed my 30 subscribe-and-save orders, and I'm back to buying my laptop. Click "pay with Amazon payments" again. Session timeout. Reconfigure (and check the wrong i5 processor among the 5 they offer), buy successfully. Get order confirmation email. Estimated ship date: 6 weeks from today.
What!?!?!?! They said it would arrive in 5-7 business days. I didn't pick any configuration options that "may delay [my] order", and they've already charged my credit card. And now I have to loan them money for two months AND not have a Laptop!?
Long story short, I did get my laptop in 4 business days. (Order Tuesday, receive next Monday.) But the process was terrible. Just god fucking awful. I felt sad, confused, unhappy, and stressed throughout the entire process.
The good news is that the laptop is absolutely phenomenal. (except that I got the i5 without AES acceleration, and use an encrypted filesystem on an SSD. wrong fucking checkbox.) Thinkpads are the nicest laptop on the market that provide the best user experience for someone like me. (One screw to swap the hard drive out. No screws to swap the battery. 8 hours battery life. 2x2 MIMO out of the box with Debian. Even the Sprint WiMAX works!) But that's the best user experience you can have buying a laptop, and it was so unbelievably shitty that my description here isn't even close to doing it justice. How can any normal person buy a laptop!?
(Now, why don't I buy a Mac instead? That's easy. They're like those cars where opening the hood to change the oil voids the warranty. I had a PowerBook in college and was taking my first computer science class ever, MCS494 "UNIX Security Holes". One day, I decided to run iTunes under GDB to see what it was doing with my private information (and to look for buffer overflows in order to receive a passing grade in the class). GDB segfaults. I run GDB under GDB. I see that it is dying because the OS is intentionally refusing to let me run the debugger on iTunes. Mac OS X is hard-coded to not let you do that. So that was the end of OS X for me. If Apple wants to run code that looks at my data and sends information back to Apple over SSL, then I should at least be able to take a look at what it's up to. But Apple says no: it's their computer and you are lucky to have it, so fuck you. That was the end of Apple for me that night. I deleted OS X, installed Debian, and never looked back. I was going to burn down the Apple Store just to teach them a lesson, but I realized that due to Apple's architecture choices, Apple Stores are actually impossible to set fire to.)
Anyway, the world sucks. Especially if all you want is a computer that fits in your backpack, can run off a battery, and has a viewable screen.
(Yup, I had a few beers. If it works for Steve Yegge it can work for me too!)
So if I take your word on your story, that since that day in 2004 when you supposedly discovered you couldn't run iTunes under GDB and you vehemently swore off Apple, and it now being 2011 when you've finally found a good laptop, you've used shitty laptops for 7 years? All for something that 1. was easily skirted around, 2. Anyone could see Apple's motivation for doing so.
"UNIX with a GUI" at its best.
The fact most people don't really care about what they are using is sad, but it's a fact of life.
Why should a computer be different?
Why should my mum need to understand what an operating system is, let alone care about it?
While yes, no one should need to understand how a TV/Car/Computer/<insert everyday technology> works under the hood, how is that an argument to stop people who WANT to know?
Personally, I grew out of computers-as-ideology a long time ago. I'll trade the ability to run GDB on my media player the zero times I'll ever want to do it for a fantastic user experience for the other 100% of the time I'm using my computer. (Okay, 90% or so, but for that 10%, I have Windows.)
Again, why? It's still not an argument to hide what the program does on your computer. To put it bluntly, it's bullshit and you know it.
> I'll trade the ability to run GDB on my media player the zero times I'll ever want to do it for a fantastic user experience
That's completely besides the point - this has nothing to do with the "user experience" (which is quite the opposite of "fantastic", but that's my opinion), and everything to do with the fact that Apple restricts your freedom.
Nope. The argument is simple: I don't care. I really don't--I just fundamentally don't care that I cannot run GDB on the iTunes executable. I have much more important things to be annoyed at than that. If you do your research into issues that are important to you, then you know, going in, that Apple does this. (Also, as noted elsewhere in the thread, you can still use GDB to view the executable if you really want to. It's possible. Just not via the conventional method.) If that decision is unacceptable to you, don't buy their stuff. It is acceptable to me, so I will. This really isn't that difficult a concept.
I am not entirely unsympathetic to your viewpoint--a few years ago I went through a GNU-y phase of sorts. But from my perspective, there are things that matter, and this just isn't one. There are certainly things in technology to get all up in arms about. Things that the FSF and fellow travelers such as yourself think are important to get up in arms about are rarely, in my own estimation, in that set. This isn't, either. (This is not to say that the FSF does not sometimes have a valid point--even broken clocks are right twice a day.)
You are entirely free not to buy a computer with OS X if you find their terms unacceptable, just as I am free to buy one if they are. So do so, and enjoy it. And I'll enjoy mine, and we can get on with more important things in our lives. =)
That they don't know? A bit. That most don't want to know? Very, very sad.
> Why should my mum need to understand what an operating system is, let alone care about it?
To better be able to protect herself against malware, to be able to better understand a very important tool in our society, to be able to understand what your work is about when you tell her.
However, I see many people around me who just don't care to know. Some protect their ego and identity with the internal statement "I'm perfectly good enough! I don't need to know that stuff!" Some are lazy. Some were never shown the wonder of true learning, only stuffed with rote information in school ... So there is always some sadness in people not wanting to learn.
I'm quite sorry, but what? Spoiled by having the freedom we should have for every technology? It's kind of like saying that "Some people are spoiled by having civil liberties, but most people don't care about those".
That was the point ;-)
(gdb) fb ptrace
[ breaks at ptrace ]
[ type 'y' to return to the parent, skipping the call ]
pirate your music or whatever you wanted to do.
I'm not sure who this was supposed to prevent from doing what, although I'm sure that it wouldn't be in there if there wasn't a contractual obligation to do something for the people providing them with content.
Anyway, this is not true. 12" laptops are all 1366x768, but 15" laptops can have up to 1920x1200. I know for a fact that the T-series Thinkpads have better than 1366x768 resolution, for example.
I was thinking of more consumer brands such as Dell or Asus, dell only gives an option for higher resolutions in the expensive Latitude range, I believe. Many laptop ranges don't give the option of higher resolutions. You have to change to a premium range.
The "Thinkpad Edge" and the X120e and X1 actually have very nice keyboards, arguably nicer than the usual scissor switches. Except that the layout is messed up.
I agree that the 'return' on the British keyboard is very poorly designed (there's an screenshot the original review at ars, but apart from that, MacBook's keyboard is one of the reasons I would never buy a PC in the foreseeable future (other reasons: OS X and trackpad).
Thinkpad's keyboard is much better than that the average PC laptop keyboard, except for page up/down keys getting in the way all the time.
Oh and I absolutely hate the media keys on laptops...
So you have to use two hands instead of one, which is great, because two is better than one. Do you disable right clicking on the trackpad and use command+click for that, too?
> Thinkpad's keyboard is much better than that the average PC laptop keyboard, except for page up/down keys getting in the way all the time.
Yes, I often have that problem, where I'm in the middle of typing something, and suddenly I think, there's a Page Up key on this keyboard. Just knowing that the Page Up key is sitting there, all on its lonesome in the top right corner, waiting, such a naughty little key that wants to snuggle in the brief touch of scar tissue at the end of my pinky, distracted me for 15 minutes when typing this reply.
> Oh and I absolutely hate the media keys on laptops...
This is where you reveal yourself to be a crazy person.
You'd think I'd learn someday, but I never do.
(BTW, if you want "crazy person", I own two keyboards that don't even have arrow keys. I don't think I've ever had a use for them!)