iPad – An expensive fashion statement!

I’ll start this quick post by being completely honest. I don’t own an iPod, iPhone, Mac or iPad – and never will. Simply put, I don’t like Apple’s business model of controlling customers and am not persuaded by the hype and marketing.

The new iPad so many people are raving about is just one more gadget to draw in the fashion victims, rather than something to take us away from our beloved netbooks and laptops. Apple may wish you believed otherwise, so I thought I’d just comment on the things I’ve read about the iPad recently. If I were in the market for something like this, these are the cons that would have me looking elsewhere.

To add to their woes, it appears there may be issues with at least some iPads failing to connect to and keep a wifi connection…as reported by the BBC here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8606727.stm

Some of the following reasons I’ll spend my money elsewhere also apply to other Apple gadgets, such as the iPhone:

  1. Multi-tasking – What decade are we in again? I remember having a multi-tasking OS on my Commodore Amiga over 20yrs ago. Yet, Apple can’t manage to include something so fundamentally necessary in the year 2010. Seriously? This glaring omission alone is enough to stop me ever buying an iPad or iPhone. I’ll stick to Android on my mobile phone, thanks.
  2. Apple in control – Another huge deal breaker is the control Apple has over any of their products I might own. If I buy a netbook, I can expect to install any OS or software on it I wish. Not so with the iPad/iPhone. If Apple don’t approve of your choice, tough. Sorry, but if it’s my equipment, then I won’t be told what I can and can’t do with it.
  3. No Flash – WTF? Flash is used in a huge number of websites and seems to be one of the benchmarks for judging smartphones, yet the iPad doesn’t have it. Another nail in the coffin for me!
  4. No removable battery – The iPad is meant to be a portable device. For me, having the option of inserting a fully charged spare battery into my netbook/laptop is a must when I’m away from home. Yet, you cannot get to the battery in the iPad. FAIL!
  5. No camera – A normal camera is probably a silly idea on the iPad granted, but what about a webcam? Isn’t that another normal feature on most mobile devices these days? Oh dear.
  6. No standard USB port – Well, what can I say? Unforgivable. Not conforming to the industry standards is just stupid and arrogant.
  7. No external memory slot – Music, movies, ebooks etc. Was it so hard to add even something like a MicroSD slot? Another FAIL!

So, in addition to the pain of constantly quitting one app to allow you to open another,  and not being able to view a good percentage of modern websites properly, and not being allowed to run any software you like, or unable to plug in your own standard USB peripherals or SD memory card – it looks like a great bit of kit. Yes? No actually. It looks like a very expensive fashion statement to me, the same as many Apple products.

All in all, the iPad might be very desirable if you’re in the market for a portable device, no doubt because it’s got the Apple name engraved somewhere prominent. However, in practical terms, my Acer Aspire One wipes the floor with the iPad for all the reasons given above, and more besides. Granted, it’s not an Apple product, but that’s my point really. I wouldn’t swap my freedom for the shackles provided by Mr Jobs and co.

Let the fanboys come….!



CCLOnline – Caveat Emptor! (UPDATED 10/04/08)

I have shopped with the local PC and peripheral supplier CCL Computers for many years. Their service has generally been ok (not brilliant, but just ok). Until today.

I placed an order yesterday morning (Monday at 10:10am) for a new DVD writer. On the order page, I could go through the process of doing it through their website, or I could click a button and do it via the express method using my Google account. I decided that was the option for me. Rather than the normal delivery of several days for around £5, I chose next day delivery and paid £6.99.

I received an email confirming the order, with a note to say I’d get another when the item was shipped. After checking my (still empty) inbox this morning, I decided to ring CCL to check why there was no confirmation of shipping.

According to CCL, Google didn’t pass the order to them until after 5pm and I missed the cut off time for next day deliveries (bearing in mind I have an email with order confirmation time of 10:10am yesterday). I said that with all due respect, that was CCL’s problem. As I’d paid extra for next day delivery, I wanted the item today or a refund for postage. CCL refused.

They said their terms and conditions clearly say that delivery is NOT guaranteed, unless you go for the “guaranteed” delivery option. That’s just semantics and they were happy enough to take my extra payment!!! I pointed out that at no point in the ordering process was it mentioned that deliveries were not guaranteed and that it is therefore misleading. CCL weren’t interested.

So, in a nutshell, CCL can charge their customers whatever they like for express and next day delivery, keep the extra money and basically deliver it when they feel like it, quoting their lousy terms and conditions when customers get a bit miffed? As it’s in the “small print”, customers have no come back? I can’t believe that’s even legal! It’s a license to print money.

So, thank you very much CCL. Whatever happened to good customer relations and good will eh? That’s fine. Screw you in future!

I wonder what Trading Standards would have to say about this?

I have emailed Customer Service at CCL to request their comments on this blog post. I will publish their reply here.


Guitar Hero & Left Handed Players!!!

You know, this is one of those things that really, really pisses me off! Yes folks, I’m left handed. No, that’s not what makes me rant though. It’s the arsehole manufacturers who don’t cater for us!

I really want to buy a console (no names for free advertising!) just to play Guitar Hero (ok, so maybe this name, but I can’t omit it or the post would be nonsense!), but as the guitars are made for right handed people, it aint going to happen. I know there are menus for lefties in the game, but as the guitar manufacturers failed to make it physically cater for both, it’s a bit academic.

The strap is apparently a little too short if you try to use it left handed, not to mention the fact that it attaches on the wrong side of the guitar! The cable comes out the bottom of the guitar if you’re right handed, but the top if you are left. Yes, I know there’s a wireless version! One of the biggest issues of all is the whammy bar, which is above your hand and keeps dropping down if you play left. I think that’s enough reasons, apart from the main one for not buying this game: The fact that the manufacturers, who are making a mint from sales of this game anyway, couldn’t make a generic enough guitar model to allow us to play their game.

I really don’t want to shell out almost £300 on a console and game that I would have to “make do” with. Why should I? I don’t want to play it that badly and there’s a serious principle involved here.

How many sales have been lost over this, I wonder? I’ve seen dozens of posts from frustrated and irate lefties online, so there are probably quite a few of us. That makes me feel a little better!

There’s an interesting post in a “console” forum, featuring the associate producer of the game. The interview was conducted in April 2007. He was specifically asked about a left handed guitar due to the “tremolo arm” being in the way whilst playing. Here’s his response:

We’ve thought about it and it may happen sooner or later.

Well, careful there mate, you might commit yourself to something good for customers!

Nah, I’ll save my money and wait and see.


DirectX 10 for Vista only? Ooops!

Here we go again. More scorn is being poured on the idiots at Redmond and justly deserved it is too! Microsoft have decided in their infinite wisdom that DirectX version 10 will not be compatible with WindowsXP. Now, which cretin thought of that one?!?

Vista is still beta (and will be for some time yet!), is a crap OS anyway (in my opinion!) and is only owned by a small fraction of Windows users. Most people are still sticking with XP until they really need to upgrade. Think about it…the average home PC will run Vista, but the OS will automatically turn off all the fancy pants graphics nonsense and skin itself back to WindowsXP unless your computer is beefy enough! Doh! Not to mention the abysmal driver support for hardware or the amount of time and effort it would take to choose between the 20 odd versions. So, why bother? Don’t ask me, I’m baffled.

Yeah, Vista will eventually catch on, when it gets to SP4+ and out of beta, but it will still be one big mess. People will have to spend a stupid amount of money on hardware in order to run the OS, never mind play the latest games. The average gamer wants an OS that takes up as few CPU, GPU & RAM resources as possible to leave the highest percentage for the games themselves. Vista hogs everything, so you need a ridiculously highly specced PC to run the OS before you start thinking about running a game that needs support for pixel shader v4. It’s crazy.

To exclude XP from DX10 is a joke and just goes to show how little Microsoft care about customers. They have just put people in a position where they have no choice but to upgrade or walk away. I dread to think how much money the PC games industry is going to lose because of this narrow minded and cynical decision.

What will I do? Well, I swore some time ago never to buy another Microsoft operating system after reading about Vista. Once XP goes the way of the dodo, I will switch 100% to Linux and buy myself a console for games. I think the PC games industry has been hurt badly by Microsoft with this decision. Time will tell just how badly.


Linux, Speedtouch USB modem and ADSL = major headache!

I’m a fairly experienced Linux user these days. Not an expert, mind you, just experienced. I can find my way around the OS pretty well as an average Joe user, am comfortable using the shell and generally am no longer intimidated by the differences between Linux and Windows. However…

After I managed to hose my XP install on Thursday last week (it was due for a reinstall anyway), I put in a new 80Gb drive as the primary, split it in half and installed XP on one partition. My intention was to install Linux on the other. Now, I’ve been using Linux for years on my laptop and other desktop PC. They both connect to the Internet via a LAN and proxy setup on the main PC (the one I’ve just reinstalled). Easy.

My Internet connection here in the UK is fairly standard I suppose: ADSL, Speedtouch USB modem etc. Nothing fancy. You can imagine my surprise when I tried and failed to get Linux running on the main PC and dialling into my ISP via the USB modem. What a bloody farce! No wonder so many people won’t entertain the idea of using Linux! If I as an experienced IT professional with some knowledge of Linux had so much trouble, what the hell is the novice ex-Windows user going to do?!

I read through the instructions and forum posts (for ADSL setups) for both Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS, my two distros of choice. Both distros ran perfectly and connected online through my LAN using the Live CD’s, so I would have been happy to install either. However, after reading the ridiculous instructions on how to get a Speedtouch working, I didn’t bother. I don’t have time or energy to fight with Linux in order to get a simple USB peripheral working.

As the Speedtouch is such a common ADSL modem, you’d think it would be very easy to get it working in Linux, wouldn’t you? Well, it is easy. Providing you have the time and patience to start editing config files and installing packages manually. I honestly cannot be bothered. As much as I detest Windows, it took me less than a minute to get the Speedtouch installed and dialling when I reinstalled XP last week. Why can’t Linux do that?!?!? Before you reply, that was a rhetorical question!

I don’t care that much about the reasons generally given. I’m well aware of issues surrounding closed and proprietary drivers, multiple versions of firmware (as in the case of the Speedtouch), bundling problems, licensing drivers etc. It doesn’t matter to the average user who just wants a working OS…If Linux wants to be taken seriously, then the noobs need to be catered for. Full stop, end of story. Expecting people to have to search forum posts and follow complex, archaic instructions (which may or may not work!!!) in order to get a common USB modem working is just crazy. People won’t do it. I know, I know…Linux is leet and shouldn’t be touched by Windoze users etc. etc. I’ve actually heard this drivel from one or two Linux “gurus” over the years and it’s rubbish. Linux is desperate to be taken seriously as a desktop OS, and quite rightly so. It’s got a hell of a reputation for being elitist, complex and a real pain to get working for someone without a doctorate in IT. Maybe that reputation is largely unfounded these days, but things are not as simple as they could or should be….yet. It’s coming, but we aren’t there yet.

Ubuntu is probably the biggest distro. It’s arguably the most well known. Yet, I still have to jump through hoops to get online with it. Stop shouting from the rooftops how much better Linux is than Windoze. Stop yelling about how good an OS it is on its own merits. If common hardware doesn’t work out of the box or is a royal pain in the rear to set up, then Linux will continue failing to gain credibility or momentum. When attempting to make inroads into the OS of choice for most people, Linux needs to be a bit smarter. Windows isn’t perfect with drivers, but it’s a lot better than Linux.

Who’s at fault? Nobody really. I’m not ranting at the Linux community. I’m just generally frustrated that my favourite operating system is still lagging far behind the amateurish offering from those folk at Redmond. Vista is a dreadful excuse for an OS. Yet, people are still persevering with it because they think they have to or they don’t know any better! Vista is even more of a beta release than WindowsME was. Who remembers Windows 98 first edition?

I’m hoping the fantastic move by Dell to sell Linux PC’s will be the tipping point. Surely this will spur the larger hardware manufacturers to start thinking seriously about releasing Linux drivers? It would be nice to think so. Rumour has it that HP/Compaq may be looking to follow Dell. I’d be surprised if they didn’t. But, is it enough? Is there a big enough market of brave people out there, willing to take the plunge and sack Windows for something a bit more adventurous and worthwhile? Perhaps. Only time will tell.


iPhone madness (as in, crazy) part II

Oh dear, oh dear. It’s getting very silly now isn’t it? Apple restrict purchases of their new gadget to two per person. Why? Ok, so who uses two phones at the same time? Also, why would anyone want one of them, never mind two? Hmmm.

I think it’s all just marketing nonsense (you think?!?!). Keep the stocks limited (or pretend to?), hype it all up to a frenzy. Get the fanboys to post snippets of rumours on all the most popular websites to get everyone talking and off you go. As I’ve said before, I take my hat off to Apple for their skillful marketing. If only their products were as good. Oh well, you can’t have everything I suppose.

Oh, before you start ranting at me because you got yourself a couple of tats (or was that the Zune?) of the beautiful iPhone that you’re about to marry or some such crap, please read the hilarious news item on the page linked below. Ok, if you can’t be bothered reading it all, just the last sentence of the last paragraph got me rolling around laughing. Genius. It’s probably ironic that this bit is actually true. The last thing people will buy this gadget for is the mobile phone feature hehe! “Woah, you mean it actually makes calls too????? I’ll have two of them!” 😉