DRM is also the reason why I won’t buy Apple products.

And here I bet you Macintosh owners thought you were going to be able to get away with shouting “just buy a Mac” in my last entry about Vista’s new DRM model.

Compared to Apple good old Microsoft is just starting to catch up on the whole issue of oppressive DRM schemes with the upcoming release of Vista. Apple has been perfecting DRM on its hardware for years now. I do own an iPod, but that’s only because it was given to me for free by a company I was working for. I have purchased exactly one album from iTunes (Dan Reeder’s CD because it was cheap) and was quite annoyed when it turned out I couldn’t play it outside of iTunes without burning it to a CD first. Which I did, and then promptly ripped the CD into MP3 files so I could listen to it on my PC using WinAMP.

Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing refers to Apple’s love of DRM as the “roach motel of business models.” 

Randall Stross has a great op-ed in today’s New York Times about how Apple’s iPhone comes chock-full of DRM that will restrict your freedom and your consumer choice. He makes the great point that although Apple claims it adds its DRM (which locks you into buying Apple products) at the behest of the music industry, that many of the copyright holders whose work Apple sells in the music store have asked it to switch off the DRM. An Apple lawyer has gone on record saying that Apple would use DRM even if the music industry didn’t want it.

It’s ironic that a company whose name is synonymous with “Switch” has built its entire product strategy around lock-in. The iTunes/iPhone/iPod combo is a roach-motel: customers check in, but they can’t check out.

And it doesn’t stop with the iTunes DRM. Apple and Cingular have been trumpeting the technical prowess they’ve deployed in locking iPhone to the Cingular network, to be sure that no one can switch carriers with their iPhones. Even the Copyright Office has recognized that locking handsets to carriers is bad for competition and bad for the public.

There’s another thing you can’t switch with the iPhone: the software it runs. You can’t install third-party apps on handset. Steve Jobs claims that this is because running your own code on a phone could crash the phone network, which must be news to all those Treo owners running around on Cingular’s own network without causing a telecoms meltdown.

Here’s a snippet from Randall Stross’s op-ed:

Apple pretends that the decision to use copy protection is out of its hands. In defending itself against Ms. Tucker’s lawsuit, Apple’s lawyers noted in passing that digital-rights-management software is required by the major record companies as a condition of permitting their music to be sold online: “Without D.R.M., legal online music stores would not exist.”

In other words, however irksome customers may find the limitations imposed by copy protection, the fault is the music companies’, not Apple’s.

This claim requires willful blindness to the presence of online music stores that eschew copy protection. For example, one online store, eMusic, offers two million tracks from independent labels that represent about 30 percent of worldwide music sales.

Unlike the four major labels — Universal, Warner Music Group, EMI and Sony BMG — the independents provide eMusic with permission to distribute the music in plain MP3 format. There is no copy protection, no customer lock-in, no restrictions on what kind of music player or media center a customer chooses to use — the MP3 standard is accommodated by all players.

EMusic recently celebrated the sale of its 100 millionth download; it trails only iTunes as the largest online seller of digital music. (Of course, iTunes, with 2 billion downloads, has a substantial lead.)

Josh Bernoff, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, agreed, saying copy protection “just locks people into Apple.” He said he had recently asked Apple when the company would remove copy protection and was told, “We see no need to do so.”

There’s been a number of predictions around the web over the last few weeks that DRM is slowly dying a painful death and that 2007 may very well be the year it finally kicks the bucket such as in this article by Antony Bruno:

In 2007, the majors will get the message, and the DRM wall will begin to crumble. Why? Because they’ll no longer be able to point to a growing digital marketplace as justification that DRM works. Revenue from digital downloads and mobile content is expected to be flat or, in some cases, decline next year. If the digital market does in fact stall, alternatives to DRM will look much more attractive.

Revenue from digital music has yet to offset losses from still-declining CD sales, and digital track sales remain a cause for concern. Month-over-month download figures were largely flat through 2006, even in the face of year-over-year gains. If the expected post-holiday spike in download numbers that has occurred in the past two years is weak, look for the glass on the panic button to break.

“People in the industry will have a very different conversation in January when the dust clears and they realize just how bad this year really was,” says Eric Garland, CEO of peer-to-peer (P2P) tracking firm BigChampagne.

But before you start celebrating the death of DRM there is one company that may yet be its savior: Apple, Inc. Here’s why from an article on ArsTechnica.com:

Content owners may not like this, but it’s the situation that they are faced with in 2007. With iPods commanding such a large part of the player market, and iTunes integration so complete that it’s the easiest option for new iPod owners in search of more music, Apple can present the best case for DRM to the industry: the success of the iTunes Store. Given that iTunes is now the #5 music retailer in the US and rising, the Apple mantra isn’t pro-DRM or anti-DRM, but that “the experience is king.” If Apple opens its DRM, that walled-garden experience could be degraded as customers migrate to other stores with lower prices but more technical problems. This creates a scenario in which we think Apple can work its influence to keep DRM alive and well in the face of labels showing doubts—and we’re not at all sure that the labels’ doubts are that strong.

Apart from independent labels, no serious, sustained experiment in offering unprotected files has been made by any of the major players in the film, television, or movie businesses. In fact, Hollywood has spent the last several years drawing up two new draconian forms of DRM (AACS and BD+) to protect next-generation video content. They have also been lobbying like mad for Congressional action on broadcast flags, and they’ve gone paranoid about putting CableCARDs in home-built Vista PCs (it won’t be possible). The content owners want to be in control.

No, what the content industry and the consumer electronics industry alike want is not the end of DRM, but a truly interoperable, robust DRM that puts them in control of their content without ceding too much power to one player (Apple). But now that PlaysForSure has gone bust in all but name and Apple steadfastly refuses to license Fairplay, that’s not going to happen in the music industry. And Apple’s toehold in the movie and TV business is rapidly becoming a beachhead. The only way to bypass Apple and still reach the massive iPod demographic is to throw open the digital gates and begin offering content in open MP3 and MPEG-4 formats that can still be played on Apple’s devices—but losing control this way is just as scary to content owners as losing control to Apple.

DRM is dying? Not while Apple lives.

All of this is a shame because Apple really does make some pretty cool products. The iPod is surprisingly easy to use and it works well, though the standard earbuds that it ships with suck balls. The Mac is a very easy to use computer and OS X is damned nifty in many ways. And I have to admit that the new iPhone they just announced makes all other cell phones look like pocket calculators. I was unconvinced that watching movies/TV on a cellphone could ever possibly catch on until I saw the iPhone in action. For that matter, my current cellphone has a calendar and alarm clock in it that I never use because it’s just too much of a pain to drill down through the menu system to get to them, but the iPhone looks like it’d be an excellent PDA as well as phone—but I still won’t buy one. Not so long as it contains the crippleware Apple has put into it.

43 thoughts on “DRM is also the reason why I won’t buy Apple products.

  1. You know it’s interesting that there is all this bruhaha over DRM. The iPod, Zune (well, maybe not the Zune since it adds DRM to files it sends to other Zunes), just about every MP3 player out there, AppleTV, the iPhone. They all “support” DRM, but no one is twisting your arm to purchase content that contains DRM. You can simply rip your CD’s and DVD’s to these devices. Well, again, I don’t know about the Zune, I have heard stories, and the PSP, if you use the firmware that you are supposed to use will not allow ripped movies to be put on the device. However, the iPod doesn’t have any restrictions like that. Make sure the movie is encoded in the correct format and you can put what ever you want on it. That will include the iPhone too.

    Sure, if you want to buy music or movies from the iTunes Store, then you will have DRM in it, but that isn’t mandatory. The same goes for all the MP3/Video players out there now.

    I just finished ripping 8 DVD’s and encoded them to be played on an iPod. They work fine.

    So what is this crippleware you speak of? I don’t see it myself. Is there content that is only available for the iPod and nothing else? I don’t think so.

  2. I think I have an understanding of the problems with DRM.  I’m interested in hearing from Elwed and Les what type of model currently exists, other than DRM, that would at least thwart to some degree intellectual piracy?  If there isn’t another model, then it would seem to me that DRM must be implemented and refined until there is a different model simply because there is no other model to protect intellectual property.

    Elwed?  Les?  Your thoughts?

  3. What is this crippleware of which you speak? No one is forcing you to buy music on the iTS. Why not just rip CDs?

  4. The crippleware is the DRM. Yes the iPod and other music players will play MP3s and that’s the only reason my iPod gets any use at all. That doesn’t change the fact that the devices do have DRM built-in that will lock you into the device if you purchase music from Apple. Apple also is fond of forcing firmware updates on people that will remove features. There’s nothing stopping them from simply removing the ability to play MP3s in the future if they should happen to decide they have enough of an installed base of iTunes users to justify it. Not everyone who owns an iPod is technically savvy enough to rip their own CDs or even aware that their iPod will play MP3s from sources such as eMusic.

    As for the iPhone, not only does it have DRM, but it also has locks to limit what service provider you can use it with and what software you can run on it. OS X has locks on what hardware you can run it on insuring that you have to purchase your hardware from Apple at whatever they feel is an appropriate markup.

    Consi, if you’re asking about technological solutions to the issue of intellectual piracy then the answer is there’s nothing current or in the near future that’s likely to make a dent in it. The DRM on Apple’s products and in the upcoming Windows Vista will not slow down piracy in the slightest. If anything they may actually contribute to it in the long run simply because the only people they actually affect are the people trying to play by the rules. The hard core pirates certainly aren’t being affected by it so why punish the legitimate users?

    Because the media companies want total control over the content so they can charge you multiple times for the same thing.

  5. Looks like the site ate two of my comments.

    Consi, what was wrong with the copyright, trademark, and patent laws that predate DRM and supporting actor, the DMCA?

    I’m willing to pay for content, but not if any restrictions apply to my personal use of said content. I specifically want to be able to convert it into any arbitrary format and copy it to any and as many devices that tickle my fancy. DRM is profoundly incompatible with my personal expectations as a consumer/customers, therefore no amount of DRM refinement will make it acceptable to me.

    Further, while DRM purports to protect intellectual property, it pursues a more encompassing objective: to protect a business model that’s a transparent wedge strategy. It’s not about protection, but about control. Sites like emusic.com with their unencumbered mp3 downloads falsify the “must” bit about content protection.

    I think that was the gist of my missing post…

  6. Consi, what was wrong with the copyright, trademark, and patent laws that predate DRM and supporting actor, the DMCA?

    In the U.S. there is nothing wrong with them, except for bad publicity when they are enforced ala Napster.  Overseas, especially in the Far East, there is a real problem with the black market usurping billions in sales. 

    The sense that I get from the little reading I’ve done is that root of the problem is the lack of protection for intellectual property for U.S. producers of intellectual property outside the U.S. The industry seems to be attempting to address that issue with the protections.  Given that there is no other system in place other than a generally ineffective WTO to help them, seems to me that like any other technology it will take time to perfect.

  7. Look, this whole DRM thing started thanks to Napster, then all the other P2P technologies that followed. It allowed folks that might not have bothered to try to figure out how to use IRC or Usenet Newsgroups to transfer files. They made transferring files much easier.

    I don’t blame the artists their desire to protect their hard earned work, but I do have a problem with the RIAA suing every Tom, Dick, and Harry that they can find. That doesn’t prove that DRM is bad, it proves that the RIAA/MPAA is bad and that the artists need to form a new group that protects their rights without having to sign their lives away.

    Apple also is fond of forcing firmware updates on people that will remove features. There’s nothing stopping them from simply removing the ability to play MP3s in the future if they should happen to decide they have enough of an installed base of iTunes users to justify it.

    That’s just not going to happen. There are way to many players out there that support MP3. If Apple removes MP3’s from the iPod, then all the other players would have to do the same or iPod owners will simply jump ship and go to a different player. Not to mention a huge class action lawsuit that would ensue.

    As for the iPhone, not only does it have DRM, but it also has locks to limit what service provider you can use it with and what software you can run on it.

    I don’t know how much you know about the cell phone industry, but pretty much all new cell phones are given exclusive deals with individual providers to start with. After the initial deals have been fulfilled, then the manufacturers are free to go with whom ever they want. Look a the RAZR, for instance. That phone was limited to a single provider to start with. It was then opened to a couple more, and now is available from just about every carrier out there.

    This is just a deal with Cingular and once the two years are up, they will be able to spread out.

    As to the software you can run on it. I suspect that was also a deal with Cingular, but I don’t know much about that part.

    OS X has locks on what hardware you can run it on insuring that you have to purchase your hardware from Apple at whatever they feel is an appropriate markup.

    I fully understand why Apple doesn’t want to deal with the billions of configurations they would have to if they opened up OS X to the WinTel world. The way it stands now, they only have to deal with a couple of video cards and that’s about it. It’s why stuff on the computer “Just works”.

    As to the “markup” you are referring to, if you mean the price of the OS, that’s a joke right? The OS is a mere fraction of what it costs to get Windows. Don’t even look at what it would cost to upgrade multiple computers with Vista. Apple understands that there are multiple computers in a household and offers a family plan of 5 licenses for just $200.

    Now, if you are referring to the hardware, I still don’t see what you are referring to. I just saw an ad for a Dell 710 Core 2 Exreme Quad for $3,600! That’s $100 more than I paid for my Mac Pro and that’s a “base” price! I can only assume that the Core 2 Extreme Quad is a Xeon processor, but can’t tell for sure. So I went to their site, and low and behold, a system configured as close to my Mac Pro as I can get it costs $4,401! That’s just under a $1000 more expensive.

    So, sure, if you are looking for a “low” end system, then fine, stick with the usual suspects, but if you are setting up a gaming rig, you might want to consider a Mac and buying an OEM copy of WinXP. You’ll still be saving $800.

  8. In the U.S. there is nothing wrong with them, except for bad publicity when they are enforced ala Napster.  Overseas, especially in the Far East, there is a real problem with the black market usurping billions in sales.

    To state the obvious, not every illicit copy is a lost sale. RIAA, MPAA, BSA, and their foreign national equivalents would like you to believe that, but it’s transparently untrue. Beyond a doubt, the content and software vendors significantly overstate their potential losses.

    Be that as it may, I am not aware that DRM does anything to slow down commercial pirates and simply annoys retail customers (or worse, as witnessed e.g. by the Sony rootkit). The only effective measure (up to a point) against commercial pirates abroad is for local governments to crack down.

    The sense that I get from the little reading I’ve done is that root of the problem is the lack of protection for intellectual property for U.S. producers of intellectual property outside the U.S.

    Indeed. Now, there are several ways to tackle this problem. The big-name content industry (and software vendors like Microsoft) focus on control, but these measures punish the honest Joes and Janes in the U.S., all the while they remain ineffective abroad. I don’t believe the RIAA and MPAA is all that stupid to be oblivious to this, which leads me to believe that piracy is the bogeyman used to desensitize the consumers against fair-use rights taken away from them. I would argue that the content industry would like nothing more than to force honest consumers to offset real or imaginary losses elsewhere. No, thanks.

    Another option is to adjust your business models to tolerate piracy. Windows and Office are widely pirated, but if Microsoft is in trouble, then that trouble is of their own making. Microsoft was probably quite happy to have their stuff pirated, up until the point they reached market saturation and the resulting stagnating sales (or perhaps sales that lost acceleration). If you have a company that fails to provide compelling upgrades in a timely manner, what’s left for them to do but to squeeze all of their customers?

    The WTO is quite effective in what somebody called a primary objective – protect the interests of the pharma industry and keep cheap drugs out of the hands of poor nations. Technology will never “solve” human nature; some people don’t want to pay for services and products received and they’ll always find ways to do just that.

    My basic take is that DRM is a technology arms race and the honest consumer is a non-combatant who gets it up the a**. If it weren’t for the pervasive and invasive nature of DRM implementation and legislation, I couldn’t care less about the alleged plight of the IP monetizers. As it stands, they leave me no choice but to oppose them to the best of my abilities, starting with my wallet.

    In terms of solutions, the War!Against!Piracy! is not it. If you can’t sway foreign governments to crack down on commercial piracy, you might do better by figuring out a business model that is resilient in the face of piracy. Oh, and crank out a product that people are willing to pay money for wink

  9. Blaming Apple for it’s DRM is like blaming the TV manufacturers for commercials during your favorite TV show. Well, not exactly, but you get my point. If there were no restrictions on music sold at the iTunes store, then their would be NO music to sell. It seems like a pretty good compromise to me.

  10. If there were no restrictions on music sold at the iTunes store, then their would be NO music to sell.

    Emusic.com sells mp3’s without restrictions. Would you care to rephrase the above statement? Something like “If there were no restrictions on music sold at the iTunes store, then there might be a lower profit margin and no lock-in of customers.” sounds more accurate to me.

    I’m not blaming Apple for DRM, but I’m blaming them for using it to lock you in.

  11. Actually, after listening to Leo Laporte and friends including Cory Doctorow on TWiT, they were talking about Apple’s DRM. Basically, they were saying that if for some reason, the RIAA decided to drop DRM, Apple would still keep theirs. The reason is to lock it’s users into the iPod.

    I wonder if that is why DVD-Jon is working on a FairPlay clone that can be sold to other MP3 makers. Can you imagine buying a song off of the iTunes Store and putting it on a Zune? smile

    That’s great for the iTunes Store, but for folks that use MP3’s, I don’t really see the issue. There is no DRM in MP3’s and if encoded with the right setting, MP3’s sound just fine.

  12. Now, if you are referring to the hardware, I still don’t see what you are referring to. I just saw an ad for a Dell 710 Core 2 Exreme Quad for $3,600! That’s $100 more than I paid for my Mac Pro and that’s a “base” price! I can only assume that the Core 2 Extreme Quad is a Xeon processor, but can’t tell for sure. So I went to their site, and low and behold, a system configured as close to my Mac Pro as I can get it costs $4,401! That’s just under a $1000 more expensive.

    Dave: how much would the Dell system you spec’d out cost if you built it from scratch from Newegg? 

    I am not sure, but I believe Les’ point is that he cannot buy his own parts that he wants to buy and install Mac OS on it.  That is what pushes many of us geeks away from Mac.  They use their own proprietary parts and geeks don’t like that.

    DRM is bullshit and so is the RIAA and MPAA.  They can blame Napster and Piracy all they like, but they had their chance to work with customers and failed.  If when Napster came out the RIAA came out with their own online service that sold MP3 files, Napster would have had a run for their money.  I would download MP3’s for $0.99 a pop if it doesn’t mean I am doing anything illegal.

    Just like Elwed said, they failed to change their business model, got their asses kicked by P2P’s and cried and filed lawsuits.

    What they still don’t realize is no one wants to pay $15 for a CD that has 2 good songs on it ($5 a song).

  13. Another option is to adjust your business models to tolerate piracy.

    I’m thinking more about Hollywood than I am Microsoft.  As much as I giggle over whiny lefty artists bitching about their inability to fully capitalize on the fruit of their labor, I am sympathetic.

    I’m not aware of any business models that exist for films and music that can “tolerate piracy.”  What does that model look like?  You and I aren’t nitwits.  Okay, you are not a nitwit anyway.  Surely if there was a business model that functioned well for the film and music industry with respect to piracy, other than protecting the work product, or sticking it to someone like myself on the price, I suspect that you would have said so by now. 

    Sure there are independents that benefit from giving the goods away, but that doesn’t help the established artists or the studios that finance their work.  I’m interested in hearing what the solution is.

  14. Dave: how much would the Dell system you spec’d out cost if you built it from scratch from Newegg?

    I have no idea. I don’t build systems, and it wouldn’t be a fair comparison anyway since you can’t put together an Apple system from parts purchased at NewEgg.com or any other store.

    That said, when I compared purchasing a system from Dell vrs. building a system (about 7 years ago), the cost was only $300 less to build than to buy from Dell, so we just bought from Dell. I would assume that the same would be true with building a system now.

  15. Consi, remember the VCR? And cassette tape recorders? What happened after the studios got over their Chicken Little mentality? There is precedent for business models that thrived and continue to thrive in the face of piracy.

    The fundamental problem here is that the big labels and studios have become used to thinking of their customers as rate payers, but between piracy, a crappy work product, adverse general economic conditions, and perhaps some measure of backlash, the entertainment industry hasn’t quite figured out that they’re not an essential utility.

    I don’t give a hoot about established artists. All too frequently, this refers to so-called artists who lack in talent and that only sell because of an expensive marketing campaign, the cost of which – with plenty of interests – the big labels want to recoup.

    What you seem to asking for is not if there is a profitable business model, but if there is a business model that meets or exceeds the profit margins the big ones have become accustomed to. The way I see it, the big labels and studios were blindsided by a disruptive technology and too inflexible and greedy to react while the window was wide open. Now they’re trying to put the genie back in the bottle.

    Apple doesn’t have a problem selling DRMd stuff for a buck or so; emusic sells unrestricted stuff at $0.33 or so. I’d say that the big labels have little chance of displacing Apple as the market leader of the online market. To add insult to injury, Webs is right – why spend $15 or whatever on a CD if all you’ll ever listen to is a single track or two? I don’t know enough about the music industry and market research to know for a fact where their losses actually come from, as opposed to conjecture and their own war cries, so I can’t really comment further. As a consumer, $1 is about the maximum of what I’d be willing to pay for a track, so whoever sells me the tracks I want at that price will get what little business I have. That willingness is more than offset by strictures imposed by DRM. I don’t particularly want to patronize iTunes, but as Les suggested I could always burn a CD and rip it into unrestricted mp3…

    A similar argument applies to the big studios. I was given to understand that Apple has entered the video market, too, but I don’t know what they charge. I’m willing to spend a buck per half hour of video, but not if I’m locked in to proprietary formats and players.

    Consi, there may not be a solution that doesn’t include some tightening of content owner’s belts.

  16. Yeah, this is the biggest reason for wanting to force buyers to purchase whole albums on sites like iTunes. Records are not making the kind of money they made when CD’s were being purchased.

    The funny thing is that downloading purchased music is still way down in the numbers game from CD sales. I can’t remember the site or what the actual numbers were , but I’m thinking 13 billion CD’s vrs 100 million downloaded tracks last year. Which also begs the question: Why does the RIAA think that sales are so bad when they sell 13 billion CD’s! That’s $195 billion is sales for CD’s alone.

  17. I haven’t found iTunes Store to be useless. I have purchased over 2000 tracks from them so far. I was able to get a bunch of single tracks from my youth. I would have had to buy bunches of CD’s that would have cost way more than what I paid for the individual tracks. Now, the thing is, that back before DVD-Jon moved to the states, he had a program that would rip out the DRM from the tracks I bought. So about 80% of my purchased tracks are DRM free and MP3 files. I don’t have a solution that works now. Hopefully, someone will come up with something that works.

  18. Emusic.com sells mp3’s without restrictions. Would you care to rephrase the above statement? Something like “If there were no restrictions on music sold at the iTunes store, then there might be a lower profit margin and no lock-in of customers.” sounds more accurate to me.

    I read their Terms of Use and it’s full of restrictions. Am I missing something? They contain one of my favorite things to hate. Automatic Renewal (Not that that’s a restriction, I’m just sayin’). grin I guess if they have all the same music and are blessed by the companies that own the rights too that content, then they should take over the world soon.

    I use the iTunes store a lot and I haven’t felt restricted yet. I play the songs on all of my computers and in my car through my iPod or sometimes on MP3 discs that I have made conversions for. I burn a CD here and there for friends to listen to and all is well.

    I guess that’s worthless to some people.

    Remember, you’re talking to someone who feeds his kids by licensing intellectual property, so I may be a little biased.

    I think it’s funny that the same geeks around here that brag about building their own computers are telling us they are LOCKED IN to anything.

  19. I read their Terms of Use and it’s full of restrictions. Am I missing something?

    Yes – I was referring to the mp3 files you download from their site. Unrestricted as in no DRM. I’ve never used the service, so I wouldn’t know about other gotchas.

    I burn a CD here and there for friends to listen to and all is well.

    Pirate!

  20. I don’t use the iTunes store for anything but podcasts. I get all my music from CDs, Limewire, and friends collections. 4795tracks and 23.04GB to date.

  21. This is going to be a lengthy reply as I’ll be addressing several commenters at once. You’ve been warned.

    Consi writes…

    Overseas, especially in the Far East, there is a real problem with the black market usurping billions in sales.

    Overseas piracy will in no way be affected by DRM in Apple or Microsoft products. In Taiwan and China bootleg CDs and DVDs is an industry unto itself and the means they use to create their bootlegs involve professional grade equipment, not a bunch of guys sitting around with PCs. DRM was not developed in response to overseas pirates.

    The sense that I get from the little reading I’ve done is that root of the problem is the lack of protection for intellectual property for U.S. producers of intellectual property outside the U.S. The industry seems to be attempting to address that issue with the protections.  Given that there is no other system in place other than a generally ineffective WTO to help them, seems to me that like any other technology it will take time to perfect.

    Not sure what you’ve been reading so I’m not sure why you’d think DRM was developed to address piracy outside of the U.S.. I suggest starting out with the Wikipedia entry on DRM as a good introduction. DRM completely fails to put so much as a dent in overseas piracy of IP and wasn’t developed with the expectation that it would. It’s goal was simply to make casual piracy (letting your friend borrow a CD that he burns a copy of) difficult enough for Joe User that he’d be less inclined to try as well as to permit copyright holders new levels of control over how Joe User makes use of said media.

    Dave M. writes…

    Look, this whole DRM thing started thanks to Napster, then all the other P2P technologies that followed. It allowed folks that might not have bothered to try to figure out how to use IRC or Usenet Newsgroups to transfer files. They made transferring files much easier.

    Napster and the other P2P programs aren’t entirely to blame for DRM. Content producers had been worrying about digital copying long before Napster arrived on the scene. Napster did prompt a lot of bad legislation with its massive popularity, but it’s not entirely to blame for the rise of DRM.

    I don’t blame the artists their desire to protect their hard earned work, but I do have a problem with the RIAA suing every Tom, Dick, and Harry that they can find. That doesn’t prove that DRM is bad, it proves that the RIAA/MPAA is bad and that the artists need to form a new group that protects their rights without having to sign their lives away.

    DRM as it’s currently implemented by most companies is bad preciously because it’s less about protecting artists rights than it is about removing control from the consumer. Music purchased through Apple’s iTunes store is only playable on PCs with iTunes installed and on iPods. You can not load an iTunes music file onto a SanDisk media player or Microsoft Zune and have it work because Apple refuses to license their FairPlay DRM system to anyone else. Apple refuses to license it because it ensures that anyone who buys music from iTunes will have to have an iPod if they want a portable media player.

    Yes, you can burn a CD and then rip the CD into MP3 files, but that is technically a violation of the DMCA and thusly illegal to do so.

    Could a DRM system be developed that would respect both the rights of copyright holders and consumers? That is, one that would be time limited to unlock the media once the copyright expired and the work became part of the Public Domain as well as respected a user’s Fair Use rights? Perhaps, but it would be difficult and no one has much incentive to develop such a system. And it wouldn’t stop the hardcore pirates anyway so you’d still be punishing the legit users.

    That’s just not going to happen. There are way to many players out there that support MP3. If Apple removes MP3’s from the iPod, then all the other players would have to do the same or iPod owners will simply jump ship and go to a different player. Not to mention a huge class action lawsuit that would ensue.

    I’m not sure how you can conclusively say that Apple would never consider it. Do you have any figures detailing how many iPod owners use MP3s in addition to FairPlay media files on their iPods versus users who only use FairPlay alone? I don’t have any such figures, but I do know of several people who have $500 to $2000 worth of iTunes songs on their iPods without nary a single MP3 file to be found.

    It’s not like Apple hasn’t forcibly removed functionality from its products in the past:

    Apple’s iTunes DRM has a lot to hate, but first and foremost is that Apple can cheat you by taking away rights that you had when you bought your music. If you bought music from Apple a month ago, you got the right to stream it to anyone on your local network. If you had the hot track that your whole dorm coveted, they could all stream the music from your computer to theirs and give a listen.

    But once you install the new iTunes 4.7.1 “update” (more accurate to call it a “downgrade”) you lose that ability. Without telling anyone, Apple has stolen some of the rights you paid for when you bought your iTunes music, by adding limits to the number of people you can stream your music to in a 24 hour period. Imagine if your boom-box refused to switch itself on if too many people were in the room—the 21st Century equivalent of gathering in one room to listen to music is gathering on one network to do so, and Apple has just appointed itself the absolute, tyrannical ruler of the size of the social group that you’re allowed to stream iTunes music to.

    Other updates removed the ability to stream music over the Internet (downgraded to just a LAN and then downgraded again as above), they’ve put in blocks to folks making use of RealNetwork’s downloads and the iPod Download software, both of which were legal offerings that Apple wasn’t happy about.

    On September 12th of 2006, Steve Jobs announced in a keynote address that Apple now had 88% of the legal U.S. music download market, 1.5 billion songs downloaded and 45 million videos. On January 10th of 2007—just 6 days ago—Steve Jobs announced that the iTunes Store had sold more than 2 billion songs, 50 million television episodes and over 1.3 million feature-length films. All of that, incidentally, is wrapped in his FairPlay DRM which only works on iPods or on computers with iTunes installed.

    Given all of that I doubt the removal of the ability for the iPod to play standard MP3s would result in the mass exodus to other players you think it would. Less important that what I think, however, is what Apple thinks the impact would be. Regardless of whether they’re right or wrong, the point remains they could remove the ability to play MP3 files on your iPod at any time they felt like it.

    I don’t know how much you know about the cell phone industry, but pretty much all new cell phones are given exclusive deals with individual providers to start with. After the initial deals have been fulfilled, then the manufacturers are free to go with whom ever they want. Look a the RAZR, for instance. That phone was limited to a single provider to start with. It was then opened to a couple more, and now is available from just about every carrier out there.

    This is just a deal with Cingular and once the two years are up, they will be able to spread out.

    I know a fair amount about how the cellphone industry works, but I’m no expert. I am aware of the exclusivity deals that take place and I’m also aware of the fact that it’s quite possible to unlock your cellphone if you wish to switch carriers. In fact, with the latest update on DMCA exemptions, unlocking your cellphone is even legal:

    The provision likely to be of most interest to consumers is the one allowing cell phones to be unlocked and used on other networks. The Copyright Office allowed this exception because the software that prohibits users from accessing their phone’s firmware has little to do with copyright and much to do with a business model. “The underlying activity sought to be performed by the owner of the handset is to allow the handset to do what it was manufactured to do—lawfully connect to any carrier,” writes the government in explanation. “This is a noninfringing activity by the user… The purpose of the software lock appears to be limited to restricting the owner’s use of the mobile handset to support a business model, rather than to protect access to a copyrighted work itself.”

    You’re assuming that in two years time Apple will allow the iPhone to be used on other providers, but do you really have any reason to think that will actually happen? Apple and Cingular are claiming they’ve managed to come up with a lock for the iPhone that people won’t be able to open. What happens if you end up moving to an area that has shitty Cingular coverage before the two years is up? You going to just toss that iPhone in a drawer until T-Mobile is allowed to provide service to it? The damned thing costs $500 – $600. Seems to me that for that much money I should be allowed to use whatever damned service provider I want with it.

    As to the software you can run on it. I suspect that was also a deal with Cingular, but I don’t know much about that part.

    As was pointed out in my original entry: Steve Jobs claimed the restriction on third-party apps was so Cingular wouldn’t have to worry about some rogue application crashing their network:

    “You don’t want your phone to be an open platform,” meaning that anyone can write applications for it and potentially gum up the provider’s network, says Jobs. “You need it to work when you need it to work. Cingular doesn’t want to see their West Coast network go down because some application messed up.”

    Perhaps Mr. Jobs, as has been pointed out, can explain why Cingular’s network isn’t crashing repeatedly due to all the Treo users out there running third party apps on their phones? Treos allow you to do that.

    I fully understand why Apple doesn’t want to deal with the billions of configurations they would have to if they opened up OS X to the WinTel world. The way it stands now, they only have to deal with a couple of video cards and that’s about it. It’s why stuff on the computer “Just works”.

    That sounds reasonable, until I stop to consider that Linux seems to be able to handle all the possible billions of configurations without too much issue and Windows, even with it’s problems, generally works just fine no matter what you throw at it so long as the driver developers have done their job correctly.

    It seems to me to be more an issue of their desire for control than any real issues with the hardware. They could easily set standards just as they could easily license out FairPlay, but they don’t want to. More profit in forcing you to purchase what they want to offer.

    As to the “markup” you are referring to, if you mean the price of the OS, that’s a joke right? The OS is a mere fraction of what it costs to get Windows. Don’t even look at what it would cost to upgrade multiple computers with Vista. Apple understands that there are multiple computers in a household and offers a family plan of 5 licenses for just $200.

    No I’m talking about the markup on hardware. I admit the cost of OS X is remarkably reasonable. Apple has always had an impressive markup on hardware it seems. At one point in the past I recall it being on the order of 300%, though it’s not that bad these days.

    Now, if you are referring to the hardware, I still don’t see what you are referring to. I just saw an ad for a Dell 710 Core 2 Exreme Quad for $3,600! That’s $100 more than I paid for my Mac Pro and that’s a “base” price! I can only assume that the Core 2 Extreme Quad is a Xeon processor, but can’t tell for sure. So I went to their site, and low and behold, a system configured as close to my Mac Pro as I can get it costs $4,401! That’s just under a $1000 more expensive.

    The cheapest Mac you can purchase is the Mac Mini and that’ll set you back $599—that is unless you want a keyboard and mouse ($78!) and a display ($699 for a 20” flat panel, smallest offering!) and then it’ll set you back $1,376.00 for a 1.66Ghz Intel Core Duo with 512MB of RAM and a 60GB hard drive. Over at Dell you can get a Dimension E521 for $739 which has a 2.0Ghz AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Dual Core processor with 1GB of RAM, 320GB SATA drive, and a 17” Flat Panel display. Even if we upgrade to a 20” flat panel display to match the Mac offering we’d only add $90 to the cost bringing us up to a total of $829 which is still $547 less than the Mac Mini. Nether offering includes speakers so on that aspect their equal.

    Now tell me again about how Apple doesn’t have a markup on their hardware??

    So, sure, if you are looking for a “low” end system, then fine, stick with the usual suspects, but if you are setting up a gaming rig, you might want to consider a Mac and buying an OEM copy of WinXP. You’ll still be saving $800.

    I’m pretty sure I could put together a gaming rig that would outperform anything the Mac has to offer for far less than what the Mac costs. I’ve been building them for a very long time. But let’s take a look at the Mac Pro versus a top of the line Dell gaming rig anyway.

    The base Quad Core gaming rig from Dell is the XPS 710 Black and it retails for $4,054. That includes an Intel Core2 Extreme QX6700 true quad-core processor (1 chip with two dual-core processors in it) running at 2.66GHz, 2GB of dual channel DDR2 RAM running at 667MHz, 500GB SATA HD, 1GB NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2 Dual-GPU Graphics Card, 20 inch UltraSharp Widescreen Digital Flat Panel, Dual Optical Drives: 16x DVD-ROM Drive + 16x DVD+/-RW, Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers.

    The base Mac Pro Quad Core costs $2,499 which is a very impressive $1,555 cheaper than the Dell offering. The Mac Pro “Quad Core” consists of two 2.66GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeons (that’s two separate dual core processors as opposed to a single true quad core processor on one chip), 1GB of 667MHz DDR2 RAM, a 250GB SATA HD, an NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB video card, no monitor, one 16x SuperDrive optical drive, Apple Keyboard and Mighty Mouse, and no speakers. So it has half the RAM, half the HD space, half the optical drives, a much weaker video card with one quarter of the RAM and half the processors, and no display of any kind. Let’s see if we can’t bump it up a little close to the Dell offering. Taking it to 2GB of RAM adds $299, bumping the HD to 500GB adds $199, adding a 20” Apple Cinema Display puts on another $699 to the tally, adding a second SuperDrive Optical disc is another $99 and I have no way of knowing if either one is a burner of any kind, and then we get to the video card and run into a major problem.

    The Mac Pro doesn’t offer anything comparable to what the dell gaming rig has as standard. The Mac Pro does offer to let us add up to four GeForce 7300 GT cards or a single ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB, but it’s hard to judge what would be closest to the NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2. First let’s compare the two GeForce cards against each other: The 7300GT has 256MB of RAM with a 128bit memory interface, 10.7GB/s memory bandwidth, and a fill rate of 2.8 Billion pixels/sec. The 7950 GX2 has a 512-bit memory interface, 76.8 GB/s memory bandwidth, and a fill rate of 24 Billion pixels/sec. Having a dual core GPU does speed things up a bit. Now let’s look at the Radeon X1900 XT: It has 256MB of GDDR3 RAM on a 256-bit memory interface, 49.6 GB/s memory bandwidth, and a fill rate of 10 billion pixels/sec.

    I suppose we could simplify things and say that four 7300GT’s might be comparable to one 7950GX2, but not only is that entirely not true but it’s also the most expensive option on the Mac Pro at $449, so we’ll just go with the Radeon 1900XT which adds a mere $249 to the cost. Tally it up and that Mac Pro now comes out to $4,044 which is a whole $10 savings over the Dell offering while still managing to be inferior in a major respect (the video card) and minus any kind of speakers.

    Again I ask, how is it you claim Apple isn’t marking up their hardware?

    OK, I’ve spent entirely more time on my response to Dave M. than I had planned to and there are a number of additional comments I meant to address. Still, I’m going to end this here for now and try to pick up on the rest tomorrow.

  22. I’m glad I don’t get shit for marking up EVERY expense that goes through my business.

    Oh, and Les, you can still use those cheap Dell monitors with your Mini Mac, or any other Mac for that matter. Or, a myriad of other third party keyboards or mice. I have Apple monitors because color management professionals know that they are more accurate out of the box than the cheaper monitors.

    You could go out and build your own car from scratch, but I don’t hear any complaining that car manufacturers charge so much for an assembled one. Sorry, not the best analogy. grin

  23. I’m glad you did spend the time Les, cause I don’t have the time right now to do it.

    I have no idea. I don’t build systems, and it wouldn’t be a fair comparison anyway since you can’t put together an Apple system from parts purchased at NewEgg.com or any other store.

    This is actually part of the point I was making.  You can’t build your own system with Mac, cause the have a huge markup on the hardware that is locked in.  This is bullshit, and is a great reason why I choose not to

    build

    buy Mac systems.  They, like M$ and Linux should allow me to choose my hardware and software I put on the system.

    That said, when I compared purchasing a system from Dell vrs. building a system (about 7 years ago), the cost was only $300 less to build than to buy from Dell, so we just bought from Dell. I would assume that the same would be true with building a system now.

    I’m really not sure how you come up with this figure cause I have always been able to build cheaper systems than Dell for the last 7 years.

    If the Dell system was under $900 your savings would be about $200.  If the Dell system was $900-1300, you savings would be in the $300 range, and climb up steady and fast from there.  Now remeber, Dell only uses Intel parts, and if you use comparable AMD processors, you save more money and, depending on the system from Dell spec’d out, can get a better CPU.  With the Intel Core Duo, this becomes harder.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that Dell uses a lot of proprietary parts, so you can’t always upgrade to a better MOBO or PSU or even the heatsink.  Whereas if you build your own, you always have the option to upgrade whatever you want down the road.  Dell also uses pretty crappy MOBOs and since it’s Dell you really have no option of using a high end MOBO if you prefer.

    These last few items, IMO, lead to a greater increase in savings, so my numbers I gave previously are on the low side.  But when I build my first system I spend $1400 and looked up a comparable system on Dell and found I had saved over $400, and back in the day it was even easier to save more money than it is now.

    So to get back on topic…
    Fuck DRM…

  24. Les, I missed some of the spec’s on the Dell when I was trying to do that comparison. Let me do it again being careful this time.

    The Dell 710 came out to $3754 (no monitor, I don’t know about you, but I have way too many monitors here as it is. It’s why I don’t want an iMac. I don’t need a 3rd LCD monitor), and the Mac came out to $3354. I don’t price speakers as well because I have a crap load of those too.

    The video card is a bit of an issue. Apple doesn’t have that many it supports, so finding a card is limiting. However, I suspect that the Radeon X1900 is somewhat comparable to the Dell offering except for the onboard RAM.

    On the other side, the FSB for the Mac is 1.333GHz. They use fully buffered RAM and a 256bit wide memory architecture. I can’t find much info about the RAM on the Dell, so I can only assume that they have a FSB of 667MHz. Unless you can find something that I couldn’t, I’m giving this one to the Mac.

    The CD offerings for the Mac, the SuperDrives, if you would have clicked on the “learn more” link, you would have seen:
    * Read: DVD up to 16x and CD up to 32x
    * Write: DVD±R up to 16x, double-layer DVD+R up to 8x, CD-R up to 32x and CD-RW up to 24x

    I’m pretty sure that covers just about anything Dell offers.

    So, OK, the savings isn’t what I originally found, but the system isn’t priced at a “premium”.

    One thing I really like about the Mac is that when I “look under the hood” and open up the side to get to the innerds, I don’t see a tangle of wires hanging around. The only wires are in a box that holds the optical drive. The HD’s are slid into a bay that has all the connectors waiting for it on a circuit board. That may explain why there is a limited amount of video cards since some video cards require power from the power supply. There would be no way to set that up on a Mac.

    One thing that isn’t mentioned in the prices here is users time. I have had a Mac for just over 6 months now and my Mac Pro 5 months. I have only had to deal with one issue that was a problem with a piece of software from Cisco. My parents still call me with issues and I can get them back up and running in less than 5 minutes usually. The last call was about the fact that a window had become so big that it went off the screen. Not really sure how they got it that way. So I told them how to use the little buttons on the top left of the window and they were back in business.

    I can’t count on any number of extremities I have had to go over to their house and clean up this virus or attempt to remove that spyware. I had them running Firefox, but Windows software doesn’t always honor the “default browser” setting and launches IE anyway. My parents don’t really know the difference and presto, more crap on their system.

    The Mac Mini runs rings around the 2 year old $500 Dell they bought and best of all, they can have separate accounts and something my dad does will not affect my mothers account.

    Maybe Vista would clear that up, but from what I have seen from the Beta and RC’s, I would have to spend some serious time changing default settings so that they would not be overwhelmed by screens and panes they don’t need to see.

    Getting back to the “premium” label that Apple has acquired. Yes, not long ago, Apple sold their equipment at a premium. I can’t deny that at all. It’s what kept me away from them for so long. When they switched to Intel, the prices came down as well. I don’t know if this was due to the Intel switch or sales of the Mac Mini telling them that lower cost systems would sell better, but they have priced their newer systems way better than they ever have.

    Let me address some of the other points you mentioned:

    Content producers had been worrying about digital copying long before Napster arrived on the scene.

    I did forget about the optical cable issues that were scaring the music industry long before Napster hit the scene. There were attempts to disable the optical connections when connecting to a recording device so that a digital copy couldn’t be made, but back then, it wasn’t convenient to do so.

    You can not load an iTunes music file onto a SanDisk media player or Microsoft Zune and have it work because Apple refuses to license their FairPlay DRM system to anyone else.

    This is true for now. There are two things happening right not that might change that. One is that Apple is being looked at by legal folks to determine if they have a monopoly on music. If they go to court and lose, then Apple will have to either sell or give out FairPlay to others.

    The other “thing” is that DVD-Jon is working on a FairPlay clone that he would license to others. If he get’s away with that, then other players would be capable of playing iTunes stuff. This one would be harder to keep up with since, as you said, Apple changes their FairPlay with every update to Quicktime.

    Also, just about every DRM has been hacked to remove the DRM. It’s putting Apple and Microsoft to work to stay one step ahead of the hackers. Sooner or later, they might figure it’s not worth it. I can’t speak for them, but it must be taking quite a few full time people to stay on top of it.

    I’m not sure how you can conclusively say that Apple would never consider it. Do you have any figures detailing how many iPod owners use MP3s in addition to FairPlay media files on their iPods versus users who only use FairPlay alone?

    Well, I have figures based on figures that came out claiming that the iTunes Store was not doing as well as before. They claim that there are only about 10 iTunes Store purchases per iPod. I can’t believe that there are that many iPods out there with only 10 songs on them. We all have CD libraries. Some more than others. My library is over 300 CD’s. I know folks that have 10,000 CD. Really, I have seen them and they are real. We all know that if they have an MP3 player, that they are ripping their CD’s to their players. So, yes, I believe that everyone has MP3’s on their players. Apple, and only Apple, removing the ability to play MP3’s would be the biggest business blunder of the century. iPod owners would flock to the Zune and Creative’s offerings in seconds. I know I would. I would probably jump to Creative since Microsoft could do the same thing. Creative seems a safer company in that reguard. However, which ever device then becomes the market leader would have incentive to put together a similar system to lock folks in. It’s the way business works. Or at least seems the way business works. Just look at Microsoft locking the Zune to a specific store and dropping all the other stores that popped up with “Plays For Sure”.

    I know a fair amount about how the cellphone industry works, but I’m no expert. I am aware of the exclusivity deals that take place and I’m also aware of the fact that it’s quite possible to unlock your cellphone if you wish to switch carriers. In fact, with the latest update on DMCA exemptions, unlocking your cellphone is even legal.

    I wasn’t aware that this was the case. It’s good to know.

    As far as Apple staying with Cingular/ATT exclusively, that would not be in the best interest of Apple. They want to get the iPhone into as many hands as possible. That’s why they went with Cingular/ATT in the first place. They wanted to have access to the biggest customer base. They will spread to other carriers. Will I buy one when it comes out? Most definitely not! I’m not about to pay $600 for a phone and then have to pay data charges on top of that. I’ll be happy to wait for the price to come down to something more reasonable. If it doesn’t, then I suspect that they won’t see their “1%” of the cell phone industry.

    “You don’t want your phone to be an open platform,” meaning that anyone can write applications for it and potentially gum up the provider’s network, says Jobs. “You need it to work when you need it to work. Cingular doesn’t want to see their West Coast network go down because some application messed up.”

    Yeah, I’m not sure where that came from. Job’s isn’t really a techy. So I suspect that the Cingular folks told him a load of bullshit. Microsoft based cell phones probably crash all the time. A simple reboot and your back in business. Hell, the iPod locks up several times a year. I have had to reboot my iPod at least 3-5 times a year myself. I did a reboot just recently. So, I’m sure the iPhone will lock up or crash a bunch of times, and it will be rebooted and nothing bad will come of it.

    That sounds reasonable, until I stop to consider that Linux seems to be able to handle all the possible billions of configurations without too much issue and Windows, even with it’s problems, generally works just fine no matter what you throw at it so long as the driver developers have done their job correctly.

    Look, you have heard it a million times before. Apple is not a software company. It’s true. Apple wasn’t able to create an OS that was multi-tasking, so they went out and bought NeXTstep. If they can’t come up with a decent OS on their own, I can’t imaging them trying to keep up with the industry when it comes to graphics cards, sound cards, and the billions of other peripherals that are out there and are coming.

    Web:

    I’m really not sure how you come up with this figure cause I have always been able to build cheaper systems than Dell for the last 7 years.

    It came from pricing out parts vrs. the price of a Dell system a the time I was looking to get a new system. That’s it. I don’t know hardware well enough to go out and build a system.

    Plus, I don’t want a Windows system anymore. I’m sick of dealing with all the crap that Windows users have to deal with. The day Apple and OS X start having the same problem, then I’ll switch to Linux (heaven forbid!). I don’t see that day coming during my lifetime. Which is getting to be less and less years. smile

  25. Brooks writes…

    Oh, and Les, you can still use those cheap Dell monitors with your Mini Mac, or any other Mac for that matter. Or, a myriad of other third party keyboards or mice. I have Apple monitors because color management professionals know that they are more accurate out of the box than the cheaper monitors.

    Of course you can use other monitors, keyboards and mice with the Mini Mac, that doesn’t disprove my assertion that Apple has a considerable markup on their hardware. If you buy it from Apple you will pay more. Period.

    I will concede that the Mac monitors are of good quality and that can be important if you have need of highly accurate color reproduction, but I’d love to hear you justify $78 for a standard keyboard and mouse. Especially one what’s supposedly their “budget” Mac.

    How about the nVidia GeForce 7300GT graphics card upgrade? The Apple store wants $149 for it. I paid $149 for the nVidia GeForce 7600GT I have in my current box last year and it kicks the shit out of the 7300GT.  Today that same 7600GT is going for $124.99, almost $40 cheaper than the 7300GT Apple is selling. Can’t put a 7600GT in a Mac, though, because Apple doesn’t allow it.

    Your choices for video cards on a Mac Pro are limited to the nVidia 7300GT, Radeon X1900 XT —Apple wants $399.00 for it while NewEgg sells the PC version for $164.99!!!—or the NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 512MB (which isn’t even a gaming card even though they advertise it as being great for gaming) which tacks another $1649 onto the price of your Mac Pro setting it well above Dell’s top of the line gaming PC. For some reason Apple doesn’t list it as a separate card for purchase later if you want to upgrade so it’s hard to judge just how much they’re marking it up over the PC version. I could go on to show how Apple charges more for just about every other hardware component as well.

    Note that I’m not saying Macs are bad PCs. I believe I’ve said on more than one occasion that I think they’re quite good, but there is a markup on the hardware and often a considerable one combined with a lack of choice.

    You could go out and build your own car from scratch, but I don’t hear any complaining that car manufacturers charge so much for an assembled one.

    I’ve already said the fact that I can’t assemble my own Mac using whatever parts I wanted to use was strictly a personal issue I have with Apple and not really a mark against them for the average user. Most folks don’t build their own PCs which is why when I did my price comparison earlier I went to Dell’s site and selected pre-built PCs from them to compare against the pre-built Macs and I made my point.

    Apple is less choice for higher prices. So long as you can be happy with what they’re offering and don’t mind the markup then there’s no reason to be upset about that.

    Webs writes…

    If the Dell system was under $900 your savings would be about $200.  If the Dell system was $900-1300, you savings would be in the $300 range, and climb up steady and fast from there.

    As you get into the higher-end Dells and Macs the price differences actually narrows a bit, but that’s a bit of an illusion because you can’t really build a high end Mac Pro that will match the hardware specs of a high end PC as I showed previously. They just don’t offer the same parts on the Mac and what they do offer is marked up compared to what it would cost on a PC.

    Now remeber, Dell only uses Intel parts, and if you use comparable AMD processors, you save more money and, depending on the system from Dell spec’d out, can get a better CPU.

    It’s not true that Dell is an Intel-only company anymore. You’ll note in my comparison a couple of comments back that the Dell I cited was an AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual core processor based PC. We just bought my mother-in-law a new AMD Semperon based Dell for Christmas and it’s running great. Dell started embracing AMD processors last year for the first time.

    I’m going to backup a bit now to address some earlier comments I didn’t get a chance to last night.

    Dave M. writes…

    The funny thing is that downloading purchased music is still way down in the numbers game from CD sales. I can’t remember the site or what the actual numbers were , but I’m thinking 13 billion CD’s vrs 100 million downloaded tracks last year.

    Actually iTunes has been outselling traditional CDs for some time now. From a November 22nd, 2005 BBC news item:

      The Apple-owned computer store made the top 10 US record sales list for the first time, said NPD, which tracks downloads and people’s buying habits.

      NPD compared 12 iTunes separate song downloads to one album purchase at an ordinary retail store.

      iTunes beat Tower Records, Borders, and Sam Goody, the survey said.

      But it was beaten by others, including Wal-Mart and Amazon.com, NPD found.

      Music and movies industry analyst Russ Crupnick of NPD said he believed it was “not inconceivable” to see iTunes taking a greater lead over retailers in the future.

    Remember that keynote address on January 10th of this year I mentioned previously? That’s when Steve Jobs announced iTunes was outselling Amazon.com:

      Apple CEO Steve Jobs today announced during his keynote speech at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco that the Cupertino-based company is the fifth largest music reseller in the U.S., selling more music than Amazon.com. The company has sold more than 2 billion songs through its iTunes Music Store, with iTunes sales still rising this year. Apple sold the second billion songs in 10 months, and Jobs “couldn’t be happier” with the growth rate of iTunes. The store is selling 5 million songs per day, or 58 songs per second.

    Emphasis added. They sold a billion songs in 10 months. As for your 19 billion CDs versus 100 million digital tracks claim, um, not sure where you got that. According to this MSNBC.com/AP news item:

      NASHVILLE, Tenn. – U.S. album sales continued to decline in 2006, down nearly 5 percent from the previous year, but total music sales were up thanks to a huge increase in digital downloads.

      About 588.2 million albums [CDs] were sold in 2006 — a 4.9 percent decline from 2005, according to year-end sales figures released Thursday by Nielsen SoundScan.

      But digital sales increased by 65 percent over the previous year, with 582 million tracks sold, and digital album sales more than doubled, with nearly 33 million sold.

    Digital track sales still has a ways to go before it overtakes CD sales, but it’s growing rapidly while CDs continue to slump.

    Later Dave M. writes…

    I have purchased over 2000 tracks from them so far. I was able to get a bunch of single tracks from my youth. I would have had to buy bunches of CD’s that would have cost way more than what I paid for the individual tracks.

    That’s a $2000 investment in digital audio tracks you’ve got there. Imagine if you owned $2000 worth of CDs that would only play in one particular brand of CD player. That’s in essence what you own now.

    Unless you’re willing to violate the DMCA that is…

    Now, the thing is, that back before DVD-Jon moved to the states, he had a program that would rip out the DRM from the tracks I bought. So about 80% of my purchased tracks are DRM free and MP3 files. I don’t have a solution that works now. Hopefully, someone will come up with something that works.

    … which it appears you are.

    There’s a penalty of up to $250,000 per violation of the DMCA. Let’s see, 80% of 2000 tracks is around 1600 or so violations at a possible maximum of $250,000 per violation that comes out to a hefty $400,000,000 in fines not to mention jail time (up to 10 years per violation, do the math). All so you could listen to your collection on something other than an iPod.

    Granted it’s probably unlikely you’ll be prosecuted for your crime, but it shouldn’t be a crime in the first place and the files shouldn’t be locked using DRM. Personally it bothers me greatly that I’d have to commit a crime with such hefty potential costs just so I can use the media I’ve purchased in the way I want to.

    Brooks writes in regards to eMusic.com…

    I read their Terms of Use and it’s full of restrictions. Am I missing something?

    It would appear that you are. I’ve read through the eMusic.com terms of use and the restrictions listed are pretty standard copyright boilerplate; you won’t let anyone else use your account, you won’t give away the files you downloaded to anyone else, you won’t use them for commercial purposes, etcetera. If you do the folks at eMusic have the right to terminate your account without refund.

    There’s nothing in the terms of use that says you are limited to using the files you downloaded to only five computers or to a single brand of MP3 player or to 7 burns of a playlist. You know, like iTunes does. That’s what you’re missing.

    I use the iTunes store a lot and I haven’t felt restricted yet. I play the songs on all of my computers and in my car through my iPod or sometimes on MP3 discs that I have made conversions for. I burn a CD here and there for friends to listen to and all is well.

    I guess that’s worthless to some people.

    Try buying a Zune or a SanDisk Sansa e200 MP3 player and then load your iTunes files onto them and see how well they work.

    Of course, by burning CDs for your friends you’re guilty of copyright infringement unless you didn’t let them keep the CDs. You didn’t, did you? Apple won’t be very happy if they find out.

    Remember, you’re talking to someone who feeds his kids by licensing intellectual property, so I may be a little biased.

    Which would make your sharing of music CDs with your friends all the more surprising…

    I think it’s funny that the same geeks around here that brag about building their own computers are telling us they are LOCKED IN to anything.

    Of course we can break the locks, but we shouldn’t have to. We shouldn’t have to resort to criminal actions with potentially long jail times and stiff penalties just to be able to use the media we purchased the way we want to. That’s my whole point. Apple’s DRM—or any DRM for that matter—makes legitimate users like you and Dave M. and myself into criminals and it does nothing to stop the actual pirates.

  26. Which would make your sharing of music CDs with your friends all the more surprising…

    All fine points Les. You are a master.

    As far as the above quote goes though. It’s not a apples to apples comparison, which is probably why I shouldn’t have brought it up. If you take a photo off of my web site and email it to all of your friends, I wouldn’t mind. As long as you don’t try to license it to a third party, or tell then they can use it for commercial purposes.

    Try buying a Zune or a SanDisk Sansa e200 MP3 player and then load your iTunes files onto them and see how well they work.

    Why would I want to buy a shitty music player? grin

    It would appear that you are. I’ve read through the eMusic.com terms of use and the restrictions listed are pretty standard copyright boilerplate;

    Like I said. They should take over the world then. If all the same major labels that are sold on iTunes will allow them to sell the music cheap with no restrictions, then they WILL win the online music wars.

  27. I don’t really think ripping a CD is a particularly difficult opperation. Put CD in computer. Open iTunes. Press import CD. Done! I know many, many people with iPod and very few of them buy much music at all on the iTS. All the music I have on iTunes right now is off of CDs.

  28. Les: As you get into the higher-end Dells and Macs the price differences
    actually narrows a bit, but that’s a bit of an illusion because you can’t
    really build a high end Mac Pro that will match the hardware specs of a high
    end PC as I showed previously. They just don’t offer the same parts on the
    Mac and what they do offer is marked up compared to what it would cost on a
    PC.

    Sorry for the mis-communication, I was comparing Dell to systems that were built from scratch from parts.  I wasn’t comparing Dell to Mac.

  29. Looks like Dave M. snuck in a reply while I was typing up my last one so I’m double dipping…

    The Dell 710 came out to $3754 (no monitor, I don’t know about you, but I have way too many monitors here as it is. It’s why I don’t want an iMac. I don’t need a 3rd LCD monitor), and the Mac came out to $3354. I don’t price speakers as well because I have a crap load of those too.

    I’m still trying to figure out where you’re getting the $3754 for the Dell XPS 710 from. OK, I see it now. You’re dropping the monitor and the speakers. Actually, you missed dropping the speakers as that takes it down to $3744.

    Not sure about the price you listed for the Mac either as I’m getting a total of $3,345 from the Apple store. Close enough, though, we’ll move on.

    The video card is a bit of an issue. Apple doesn’t have that many it supports, so finding a card is limiting. However, I suspect that the Radeon X1900 is somewhat comparable to the Dell offering except for the onboard RAM.

    As a gamer who pays attention to these things I can tell you with confidence that the nVidia GeForce 7950 GX2 is considerably better than the Radeon X1900 XT in the Mac Pro. To begin with the nVidia is a Dual GPU card—effectively a SLI configuration in a single slot. The Radeon X1900 XTX comes close in some tests, but you can’t buy that for a Mac, just the lesser X1900 XT. You can check out TechReport’s testing of the 7950 GX2 if you want the details, but here’s the summary:

    Somehow, I didn’t really expect a “single” GeForce 7950 GX2 card to be a compelling product outside of a Quad SLI configuration. This puppy does have its warts, including the need for mobo BIOS updates and the SLI-like limitations for multi-monitor use that may turn some power users away. Still, the GX2 is remarkably tame overall. This card takes up no more space, draws no more power, and generates no more heat or noise than a Radeon X1900 XTX, but its performance is in another class altogether. The multi-GPU mojo generally happens transparently, too, thanks to a healthy collection of SLI profiles already established in NVIDIA’s drivers. Putting two GPUs on a card has allowed NVIDIA to overcome the limitations of its present GPU designs and of current fab process tech to achieve new performance heights in a single PCI Express slot.

    ATI’s current top of the line graphics card is the Radeon X1950 XTX, which you can’t buy for a Mac Pro, making the Radeon X1900 XT a good 4 steps behind the top of the line cards right now.

    That said, the Radeon X1900 XT is not a bad video card and is considered a good mid-range card on the PC at around $164, but it’s not a match for what’s in the Dell XPS 710. It also shouldn’t cost $399 which is what Apple is asking for it. The Radeon X1950 XTX on the PC is $369.99 and that’s the best Radeon available currently.

    On the other side, the FSB for the Mac is 1.333GHz. They use fully buffered RAM and a 256bit wide memory architecture. I can’t find much info about the RAM on the Dell, so I can only assume that they have a FSB of 667MHz. Unless you can find something that I couldn’t, I’m giving this one to the Mac.

    You shouldn’t. The memory on the Mac Pro and the Dell box are both rated at 667MHz. Both the Mac Pro and the Dell XPS 710 use Dual-Channel architecture which effectively doubles the FSB to 1334 MHz also known as 1.333GHz as you cited above. The Mac’s FSB speed is no better than the Dell’s, which shouldn’t be surprising at all because the Mac Pro is just PC hardware running OS X.

    The CD offerings for the Mac, the SuperDrives, if you would have clicked on the “learn more” link, you would have seen:
    * Read: DVD up to 16x and CD up to 32x
    * Write: DVD±R up to 16x, double-layer DVD+R up to 8x, CD-R up to 32x and CD-RW up to 24x

    I’m pretty sure that covers just about anything Dell offers.

    Yep, that’s comparable to the XPS 710.

    So, OK, the savings isn’t what I originally found, but the system isn’t priced at a “premium”.

    When you consider the fact that they’re charging you $399 for a $164 video card that’s 4 steps below the top-of-the-line offered from ATI, well, I’d disagree. You’re also overlooking the fact that the Dell XPS 710 is a true Quad-Core processor whereas the Mac Pro isn’t. This is the only real reason Mac Pro comes out at a lesser cost as the motherboard and processor in the Dell box is the absolute cutting edge.

    One thing I really like about the Mac is that when I “look under the hood” and open up the side to get to the innerds, I don’t see a tangle of wires hanging around. The only wires are in a box that holds the optical drive. The HD’s are slid into a bay that has all the connectors waiting for it on a circuit board. That may explain why there is a limited amount of video cards since some video cards require power from the power supply. There would be no way to set that up on a Mac.

    Fewer choices for more cost.

    I’ve seen the insides of both a Mac Pro and a Dell XPS 710 and you can see them for yourself by clicking on those links. Biggest difference? The Dell isn’t trying to hide everything behind big blocks that prevent you from accessing the internals of your machine, but even with everything exposed the Dell’s wires are neatly wrapped and out of the way for maximum air flow.

    Once again Apple demonstrates how they want to control what you do with your PC by slapping big obstacles in their cases. You no touch! You not know what you doing!

    One thing that isn’t mentioned in the prices here is users time. I have had a Mac for just over 6 months now and my Mac Pro 5 months. I have only had to deal with one issue that was a problem with a piece of software from Cisco. My parents still call me with issues and I can get them back up and running in less than 5 minutes usually. The last call was about the fact that a window had become so big that it went off the screen. Not really sure how they got it that way. So I told them how to use the little buttons on the top left of the window and they were back in business.

    That’s great and all, but I fail to see how charging a markup on a limited selection of hardware is justified by the stability of the OS. If anything it justifies raising the cost of the OS.

    By and large my parents PC works just fine for them as well. Most of the calls I get from them are instructional in nature (e.g. How do I do this?) rather than technical problems.

    I can’t count on any number of extremities I have had to go over to their house and clean up this virus or attempt to remove that spyware. I had them running Firefox, but Windows software doesn’t always honor the “default browser” setting and launches IE anyway. My parents don’t really know the difference and presto, more crap on their system.

    Viruses have never been an issue on my parent’s PC. A properly configured virus scanner is all it’s taken to ensure that. They’ve had one or two bits of spyware over the years, but nothing serious. Most of the time when they all I don’t need to go over to their house. I just connect remotely with Remote Assistance and take control of their PC to show them how to do what they need done.

    Getting back to the “premium” label that Apple has acquired. Yes, not long ago, Apple sold their equipment at a premium. I can’t deny that at all. It’s what kept me away from them for so long. When they switched to Intel, the prices came down as well. I don’t know if this was due to the Intel switch or sales of the Mac Mini telling them that lower cost systems would sell better, but they have priced their newer systems way better than they ever have.

    I agree Apple’s prices have gotten much better, but they’re still marked up despite being the same damn components in any other Windows PC. Again I ask you to explain to me why a $164 Radeon X1900 XT is selling for $399.99 in Apple’s online store?  How can you say that that isn’t a markup?

    The RAM used in the Dell XPS 710 and the Mac Pro are exactly the same so explain to me why you can buy 2GBs (2x1GB sticks) of RAM for the Dell for $369.99 and the same thing for the Mac Pro costs $700.00?? Not to mention that you could, if you wanted, go to DDR2-800Mhz on the Dell box for another $30 and push that FSB up to 1.6GHz.

    Incidentally, you could knock about $200 off the cost of that RAM for the Apple by buying it from someplace like Crucial as they’re only asking $499.99 for that same amount of RAM for your Mac Pro.

    If you buy it from Apple you will pay more and have fewer choices. Period.

    This is true for now. There are two things happening right not that might change that. One is that Apple is being looked at by legal folks to determine if they have a monopoly on music. If they go to court and lose, then Apple will have to either sell or give out FairPlay to others.

    Perhaps, but France has already tried that:

    MARCH 21, 2006 – The French have done it again. In an attempt to update copyright laws for the 21st century, lawmakers in France have thrown a giant spanner in the works of the nascent online digital music business. Late on Mar. 21, the lower house of the legislature, the Assemblé National, passed a law that will require sellers of digital-music players and online music services in France to open up their technical standards and become entirely interoperable.

    The law, passed by the National Assembly by a vote of 296 to 193, requires companies that sell digital-music files in France to open up their digital rights management systems so that the files can be played on any device. The law, if ultimately enacted, may set the stage for Apple to shut down its digital-music sales operations in the country, though Apple hasn’t said one way or the other if that is the case.

    Apple didn’t take kindly to this idea:

    Apple said the draft law would result in “state-sponsored piracy,” according to a statement obtained by Reuters: “The French implementation of the EU Copyright Directive will result in state-sponsored piracy,” Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris told the publication. “If this happens, legal music sales will plummet just when legitimate alternatives to piracy are winning over customers.” Although it opposes the law, Apple said the proposed law, which passed in the French National Assembly on Tuesday, would likely increase iPod sales: “iPod sales will likely increase as users freely upload their iPods with ‘interoperable’ music which cannot be adequately protected,” Kerris said. “Free movies for iPods should not be far behind.” Analysts have said that Apple will likely pull out of France before it opens up its FairPlay DRM to other companies.

    Granted it’s unlikely Apple would threaten to shut down it’s U.S. sales of music if they’re forced to open up FairPlay to other hardware makers, but if they’re willing to threaten to pull out of France over it then it’s not entirely beyond the realm of possibility either.

    Unfortunately for French consumers, Apple appears to be winning the battle:

    July 31, 2006 – The Dadvsi law, which had initially been intended to free digital music lovers from proprietary DRM, now could be doing the opposite.

    Changes to the law, proposed by France’s Conseil Constitutionnel, now mean that those found reverse-engineering DRM to aid interoperability between two DRM-incompatible systems—Apple’s and Microsoft’s, for example—can be fined. The law had previously allowed individuals to circumvent DRM if doing so to enable interoperability. The Conseil removed the provision, saying the definition of interoperability was too vague.

    The law will also now introduce a DRM licensing authority for companies using rights protection, which will have the power to order companies such as Apple to provide information to competitors to enable interoperability.

    The Conseil has now amended the law to order that, in such cases, those being forced to open their DRM should receive compensation. Apple’s dominance in the online music world has been fostered by its FairPlay DRM, which permits songs bought from its iTunes Music Store to be played only with its iPod MP3 players.

    That’s one foreign law successfully gutted by Apple, do you really think a mere court case will be able to force Apple to start licensing it’s FairPlay DRM anytime soon? Especially when the U.S. Government actually backed Apple up in it’s protest of the French law?

    The other “thing” is that DVD-Jon is working on a FairPlay clone that he would license to others. If he get’s away with that, then other players would be capable of playing iTunes stuff. This one would be harder to keep up with since, as you said, Apple changes their FairPlay with every update to Quicktime.

    I’d be very surprised if DVD-Jon’s FairPlay clone isn’t a violation of the DMCA and, thusly, illegal and I’m willing to bet that Apple will do everything in their power to make sure it is.

    I’m going to skip over quite a bit of the rest of your reply as it’s largely speculation on both our parts, but I did want to address this:

    Look, you have heard it a million times before. Apple is not a software company. It’s true. Apple wasn’t able to create an OS that was multi-tasking, so they went out and bought NeXTstep. If they can’t come up with a decent OS on their own, I can’t imaging them trying to keep up with the industry when it comes to graphics cards, sound cards, and the billions of other peripherals that are out there and are coming.

    They wouldn’t have to keep up with it, the hardware producers would. You think Microsoft writes every single driver that ends up in Windows XP? Apple doesn’t write the display driver for the Radeon video cards in the Mac, ATI does. So why not set some standards for device drivers and open it up?

    Brooks writes…

    All fine points Les. You are a master.

    It probably goes without saying that I’ve studied up a bit on this topic…

    Matt J. writes…

    I don’t really think ripping a CD is a particularly difficult opperation. Put CD in computer. Open iTunes. Press import CD. Done! I know many, many people with iPod and very few of them buy much music at all on the iTS. All the music I have on iTunes right now is off of CDs.

    How easy it is to rip a CD is irrelevant. Someone out there is obviously buying stuff from iTunes if they managed to sell 1 billion tracks in 10 months time this past year. Simply because no one you know is doing it doesn’t mean that it’s not happening.

  30. Wow, it’s really hard to keep up with all this.

    OK, I can’t find the place that quoted the sales of CD’s vrs. downloaded music. For all I know, they were trying to prove that Apple’s sales were slowing down. No matter. 1 billion tracks in 10 months is an amazing feet. To out do Amazon.com in music sales is also amazing. So I’ll leave it at that.

    Trust me when I say that I am no advocate for DRM. I hate it with a passion. It’s why I converted most of my purchased tracks to MP3’s. I agree that there needs to be a way that entertainment can be sold in the free and clear, yet laws be enforced when someone breaks it.

    I have no problem buying a movie or an album once. I do have a problem buying them several times so that I can watch it hear or play it there.

    As to the Apple premium thing. As I said, I’m not hardware expert. I currently have the GeForce 7300 card now. It may be a really low end card, but it runs just as fast as my ATI 800XT on my Windows box. Well, pretty darn close. Maybe the Mac doesn’t need higher end cards because OpenGL makes better use of them than DirectX. OK, maybe I’m fetching at straws.

    Now, as far as the RAM goes, everything I read about the fully buffered RAM says that it should be faster than standard DDR2 RAM. The Mac Pro uses DDR2 fully buffered RAM by the way. I would like to see Dell claim that the FSB for the 710 is 1.333GHz. I don’t like not seeing it. It makes me think that the 710 doesn’t have that fast of an FSB.

    The Dell isn’t trying to hide everything behind big blocks that prevent you from accessing the internals of your machine, but even with everything exposed the Dell’s wires are neatly wrapped and out of the way for maximum air flow.

    What wires would be needed that are being “hidden” behind big blocks? Lets see, there’s the power cable that would go from the power supply to the mother board. I can’t see a need to touch that. The power that goes to the HD’s, as I said, they are all on a board behind the drive bays, and the optical drives. That “block” is easily removable and is the only exposed wires on the system. As I said, there might be need to pull a power line into an expansion card, but I suspect Apple wouldn’t support that card anyway.

    Once again Apple demonstrates how they want to control what you do with your PC by slapping big obstacles in their cases. You no touch! You not know what you doing!

    Oh please. Just like with their OS, they are trying to make computers that don’t scare the crap out of someone when they go in to add a card or HD.

    Just looking at the Dell internals gives me the shivers. Sure, the wires are “neatly” out of the way when you first buy it. That’s true with all WinTel systems. Add an HD or expansion card and so much for the wires being neat. There are few users who go to the trouble to putting the wires back in a neat fashion. I’m sure there are some, probably the ones who make case mods.

    Now we get into the real fun. Viruses and Spyware. I know my way around a Windows box and set them up with everything I could to protect their system. I didn’t get them a router and I think that was how some of the junk got in. I had my father running spyware scanners and virus scanners galore, didn’t stop a really nasty set of malware programs from getting installed and pretty much killing their system. That was thanks to some program launching IE instead of the default browser.

    Remote Assistance, so you had them running XP Pro then. My parents didn’t spend a lot of money on their system, so they just had XP Home. I had to use VNC, but that works just fine too.

    I guess as to the prices of Apple hardware, it’s best to look at it like Apple is the BMW or any other luxury car of computers. I don’t really have a problem with that.

    My problem with WinTel has always been fighting spyware/adware/malware and paying way too much money for OS upgrades. Yes, Apple has come out with 5 upgrades to OS X since it’s initial inception. Each costing $130. Microsoft has only had the one, Vista. However, if we turn back the pages a bit, we will see Microsoft putting out many updates including WinME in a short span of time. Plus, we all know that WinME was an upgrade specifically to infuse Microsoft with cash. They were even talking about putting out an update to XP before Vista. For, one can only assume, the same reason, to generate cash.

    You keep saying that the RAM in both systems are exactly the same. I don’t agree.
    Mac: 667MHz DDR2 fully-buffered DIMM ECC
    Dell: 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz

    They look different to me. One is fully-buffered ECC and the other is not.

    I always by RAM and HD’s from other folks. Other World Computing has Mac Pro RAM. It’s still pretty costly, but much cheaper than Apple. My MacBook came with 512MB’s of RAM, I purchased 2GB’s from NewEgg for way less than Apple was selling the upgrade. I would do the same for any other system.

    Oh, I forgot to mention earlier. The dual core Xeon’s I have now, they are compatable with the quad core Xeon’s that are in the Dell. In fact, someone put two quad core processors in the Mac Pro and got an 8 core system out of it. I’m surprised that an 8 core Mac Pro wasn’t announced at MacWorld, but Jobs must have wanted to keep attention on that silly iPhone. I would have preferred to see Leopard and the Octocore Mac Pro. Ah well.

    I’d be very surprised if DVD-Jon’s FairPlay clone isn’t a violation of the DMCA and, thusly, illegal and I’m willing to bet that Apple will do everything in their power to make sure it is.

    One thing is for sure when it comes to DVD-Jon, he makes sure that he isn’t going to get put in jail. He got out of the DeCSS problems because he didn’t live here in the states as well as other reasons I’m sure. This FairPlay clone will probably be safe for him as well. DMCA or not. Though, I haven’t heard much about it since it was first publicized. It’s possible he was told that he would get into serious trouble if he pursued it.

    I know this is going to sound like a copout, but according to the book Mac OS X Bible, the reason there are so few graphics cards that support the Mac is that the video card needs to support Core Image hardware acceleration. It would be nice if there were more graphics cards to choose from, but I’m still not complaining.

    As far as Apple locking a user in, just wait till Vista gets into homes. The things that Microsoft did to make the MPAA and RIAA happy is astounding.

    Quite a thread we have going here. It’s been quite informative.

  31. Now, as far as the RAM goes, everything I read about the fully buffered RAM says that it should be faster than standard DDR2 RAM. The Mac Pro uses DDR2 fully buffered RAM by the way. I would like to see Dell claim that the FSB for the 710 is 1.333GHz. I don’t like not seeing it. It makes me think that the 710 doesn’t have that fast of an FSB.

    Take a look here: Fully Buffered DIMM.  It actually appears to be faster, but only when the memory is doing a lot of processing, because fully buffered DIMMs create higher latency (latency = bad… unless you like slow speeds).  Which is why Intel has adopted this type of memory for their Xeon CPUs.  AMD allows for the support in their CPUs so it can be used “When appropriate”

    I am assuming dave, that the computer you have that memory in is not a server, and probably doesn’t do constant processing of network profiles and file server information.  Which probably means the memory is just slowing you down.

    Just looking at the Dell internals gives me the shivers. Sure, the wires are “neatly” out of the way when you first buy it. That’s true with all WinTel systems.

    This is probably the only thing that has ever impressed me with Dell.  The actually do a standup job with cable management.  I can’t speak for the home system line, but I have worked with a plethora of the business line systems with my current and past jobs.

    Add an HD or expansion card and so much for the wires being neat. There are few users who go to the trouble to putting the wires back in a neat fashion. I’m sure there are some, probably the ones who make case mods.

    You’re probably right here Dave, but this point doesn’t add to your argument since it is not up to Dell to keep the wires nice once you buy the system.  That is the buyers job.  And I can tell you for a fact that Dell has little nooks throughout their cases so wires added in the future can be kept in check.

    I guess as to the prices of Apple hardware, it’s best to look at it like Apple is the BMW

    You couldn’t be more right here… Apple, just like BMW sells overpriced parts in their systems and uses their name to justify the price increase.

    I don’t hate Apple, I am actually a huge fan, especially of their OS.  I just want to be able to use their software on an open architecture.  When Apple does that the will actually make a butt load of money, cause for years techs have been asking for this.

  32. I am assuming dave, that the computer you have that memory in is not a server, and probably doesn’t do constant processing of network profiles and file server information.  Which probably means the memory is just slowing you down.

    The Mac Pro could be considered a server, but that’s what Xserve’s are for. I purchased the machine as a replacement for an older Dell for gaming and just general computer use.

    Every system I have ever looked into at work, has wires strewn all over the place. They may have been all nice and neat to start with, but wow, not after a few months of use. I’m not saying that the cables shake loose, just that when you open up the box to add change a video card, or add an HD, the cables don’t get put back the way they were or can’t be put back the way they were.

    Yes, it’s not Dell’s responsibility to keep the wires clean, my point is that with the Mac Pro, you don’t have to worry about wires at all. None to be dealt with except for the optical drives which are nicely hidden in a box that is easily removed and replaced.

    I would absolutely love to see OS X on WinTel systems! I think Apple would make a killing in sales and it’s possible that they could unseat Microsoft as an OS. However, as I stated earlier, Apple isn’t a software company. They don’t have the engineering talent to deal with all the millions of configurations that are out there with WinTel systems. Les claims that Apple wouldn’t have to deal with the drivers. I don’t agree. Apple’s biggest “claim to fame” is “It just works”. Getting any USB device to work on a Windows system requires installing a driver or something on a CD. This isn’t the case with the Mac. I was able to plug in my RAZR phone to my Mac and sync it without any added software at all. I am able to plug in my Canon Powershot G3 into my Mac and it is able to pull images off the camera without extra software. I’m able to pull the CompactFlash card out of my camera, plug it into my CF reader and pull files off the card without any added drivers. Not true with my Windows box. I had to install something for each of those devices.

  33. I drew up a little illustration that hints to an alternative meaning behind Jobs’ comment about the iPhone being “literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone”:

    http://www.autodogmatic.com/index.php/a/2007/01/17/steve_jobs_introduces_iphone

    Perhaps he was hinting at how well the iPhone cripples useability via DRM, Cingular-only service, Apple-only software, etc.  When I look to the future, I see a lot less freedom with IP.  Not a pretty sight.

  34. The Mac Pro could be considered a server, but that’s what Xserve’s are for. I purchased the machine as a replacement for an older Dell for gaming and just general computer use.

    Right!  This is exactly my point.  That memory you are using is actually slowing you down, more so than dual channel DDR2 would.  Why, look at what I bolded in the above statement.  Couple that with what I previously showed from Wikipedia, your memory is made for servers.  You are most likely not running any server processes.  DDR2 dual channel memory would run faster on your system.

    Every system I have ever looked into at work, has wires strewn all over the place. They may have been all nice and neat to start with, but wow, not after a few months of use. I’m not saying that the cables shake loose, just that when you open up the box to add change a video card, or add an HD, the cables don’t get put back the way they were or can’t be put back the way they were.

    This is not the case with Dell.  As I have already stated, they have built in measures to keep cables looking all nice and neat.  Doesn’t matter how many things you remove, add, open up, whatever, the cables will stay in the same place.  I could send you a picture if you would like, showing what I am referring to.

    They don’t have the engineering talent to deal with all the millions of configurations that are out there with WinTel systems. Les claims that Apple wouldn’t have to deal with the drivers. I don’t agree.

    Doesn’t matter what you agree with or disagree with, Les is correct.  Drivers are written by companies that put out hardware devices they want to interface with a certain OS.  Those drivers are usually OS specific, but not always.  This is one reason why Linux has a lot of compatibility issues with hardware.  Most companies only write drivers for the popular OS’s.

    In other words Apple don’t do no driver writing, unless they want to do something specific with some device or it is their own device (iPod, iPhone, etc).  This is why when you need to get the newest drivers for an Nvidia card in M$, you go to Nvidia’s website and download them.  And even if you went to Windows Update to get those drivers, guess what, those drivers on the Windows Update website were given to M$ for use of their Update website.

    But really there is no point in continuing on this conversation with you.  Les has already shown you why you are wrong about your statements on several occasions, as others have, yet you insist you know what you are talking about and that you are correct. 

    Not to sound like an ass or anything, but I get the feeling you assume too much and use a lot of outdated information for computers in general.  This won’t get you far when debating tech issues with techies.

  35. You know, I just give up. We all have our weaknesses when it comes just about everything. I’m not about to debate latency times that can’t possibly be an issue, so I won’t.

    I hear over and over again, that I couldn’t tear my way out of a wet paper linux bag, so I am not about to debate the issue. “MY” experience with Linux is that it still isn’t ready for prime time and that is my opinion. I’m entitled to it and that’s that.

    I have fought with Windows for so many years, that I decided that it was time for a change and so far, I haven’t been the least bit disappointed. My MacBook is lightening fast for a sub-notebook, and my Mac Pro runs rings around any Windows system I have ever owned. It’s plays games both in OS X and Windows which is more than I can say for other WinTel systems, and I am thrilled with the price I paid for both of them.

    I hate DRM as most people do, but fully understand why the industry wants it. I am doing my best to support the independent producers of entertainment, and am still buying stuff that has DRM because it’s convenient and I’m not likely to switch to a different MP3 player any time in the near and distant future.

    I have done as much research as a normal human being can on things like the memory used on the Mac Pro and from what I have found, it’s better than standard DDR2 memory. I haven’t found any benchmarks for the RAM types yet, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still looking. If someone finds some, I’ll be glad to check it out. Until then, my understanding is, is that DDR2 RAM running at 667MHz can only be run on MB’s with a 667MHz FSB. If I’m wrong on that, please point me to a site that shows I’m wrong. I’ll will be glad to learn the new info.

    Thanks and good night. (OK, good day)

  36. I’ve been enjoying this thread quite a bit. I don’t often get a chance to demonstrate my hardware knowledge. Continuing…

    Dave M. writes…

    As to the Apple premium thing. As I said, I’m not hardware expert. I currently have the GeForce 7300 card now. It may be a really low end card, but it runs just as fast as my ATI 800XT on my Windows box. Well, pretty darn close. Maybe the Mac doesn’t need higher end cards because OpenGL makes better use of them than DirectX. OK, maybe I’m fetching at straws.

    The GeForce 7300 should be faster than your ATI 800XT as the ATI card is comparable to the older GeForce 6800 Ultra series.

    Again I’m not saying it’s a bad card, but it shouldn’t cost you $149 from Apple when the PC version sells for $69.99 at NewEgg.com. You don’t have to be a hardware expect to see the difference between paying $149 and paying $70 and to continue to deny that Apple is marking up hardware is willful blindness to the obvious.

    Sure you can buy the Apple version from NewEgg at a cost more in line with what it should be, but that doesn’t disprove my contention that Apple marks up their hardware and the proof of that is right on the Apple store website.

    At one time OpenGL was the preferred method among gamers on the PC, but I have to give Microsoft credit in that they’ve really improved DirectX to the point where it’s now superior. Most games these days on the PC are developed using DirectX as a result.

    Now, as far as the RAM goes, everything I read about the fully buffered RAM says that it should be faster than standard DDR2 RAM. The Mac Pro uses DDR2 fully buffered RAM by the way.

    Bzzzt. Fully buffered RAM (ECC) is slower than unbuffered and it’s really only necessary if you’re running a server or need huge amounts of RAM. Unbuffered RAM puts more of a strain on the memory controller and thusly limits a PC to around four sticks of RAM whereas buffered RAM is easier on a memory controller and so more sticks can be used. However unbuffered RAM is always faster than buffered RAM.

    Now the reason the Mac Pro uses ECC RAM is so it can hold up to 16GB of RAM which would be mighty handy if you’re using Photoshop or similar applications, but doesn’t do much for the average game. The maximum amount of RAM the Dell XPS 710 will take is 4GB which is overkill for the average game, but about the minimum many Photoshop professionals would accept. Which makes sense as the Mac Pro is aimed more at graphics professionals and the Dell XPS 710 is aimed directly at gamers.

    The CAS Latency on the Mac Pro RAM is 5 and the memory shipped with the Dell XPS 710 is rated the same, but unlike the Mac Pro the Dell can take CL 4 and CL 3 RAM for a bit more of a speed boost if you need it.

    ECC is the only difference between the RAM in the Mac Pro and the RAM in the Dell XPS 710 and adding ECC means the RAM in the Mac Pro is slower than the RAM in the Dell XPS 710 though The difference in speed between the two RAMs probably isn’t enough to make a huge difference in the performance of the two PCs on the average. It’d only really show up during extreme usage.

    I would like to see Dell claim that the FSB for the 710 is 1.333GHz. I don’t like not seeing it. It makes me think that the 710 doesn’t have that fast of an FSB.

    I went back and took a second look at the Dell XPS 710 webpage and it turns out they do list the FSB for the system next to the processor. The Intel Core2 Extreme QX6700 processor has the following stats: 8MB L2 Cache, 2.66GHz, 1066 FSB. That’s slightly lower than the Mac Pro’s claimed FSB, but like the differences in speed between ECC and non-ECC RAM it’s unlikely to make that much of a difference. As it stands the Mac Pro has slightly slower RAM and the Dell XPS 710 has a slightly slower FSB.

    Incidentally, it is possible to get a Mac Pro that can outperform the Dell XPS 710 in some tests if you’re willing to plunk down an additional $799 for the 3.0 GHz Dual-Core Xenons. The extra raw processing power allows the Mac Pro to pull ahead in some areas over the 2.66GHz XPS 710. Of course that drives the cost of your Mac Pro up to $4,144 (minus monitor and speakers) compared to the $3754 you quoted for the Dell XPS 710.

    What wires would be needed that are being “hidden” behind big blocks? Lets see, there’s the power cable that would go from the power supply to the mother board. I can’t see a need to touch that.

    You’ve never had a power supply die on you? Lucky you.

    As I said, there might be need to pull a power line into an expansion card, but I suspect Apple wouldn’t support that card anyway.

    Which, honestly, actually bolsters my point about less choices for more money.

    Oh please. Just like with their OS, they are trying to make computers that don’t scare the crap out of someone when they go in to add a card or HD.

    That’s one way to look at it I suppose, but I disagree.

    Just looking at the Dell internals gives me the shivers. Sure, the wires are “neatly” out of the way when you first buy it. That’s true with all WinTel systems. Add an HD or expansion card and so much for the wires being neat. There are few users who go to the trouble to putting the wires back in a neat fashion. I’m sure there are some, probably the ones who make case mods.

    That’s a user problem, not a problem with the design of the system. Very few expansion cards have any wires of their own or need external power supplies so simply adding the average card shouldn’t change the wiring layout in the least. These days with so much stuff being built into the motherboard already the only extra card in most of these systems is the video card(s) and possibly a sound card (though those are often built-in as well). The cables for the HDs are already near the drive bays making plugging them in simple and hassle free.

    Now we get into the real fun. Viruses and Spyware. I know my way around a Windows box and set them up with everything I could to protect their system. I didn’t get them a router and I think that was how some of the junk got in. I had my father running spyware scanners and virus scanners galore, didn’t stop a really nasty set of malware programs from getting installed and pretty much killing their system. That was thanks to some program launching IE instead of the default browser.

    Again that’s all fine and good, but it doesn’t impact my assertion that Apple charges more for fewer choices in hardware. My contention all along has been that Apple marks up their hardware and I think I’ve proven my point quite well. I’ve said nothing about the quality of the OSes on the two systems and I believe I’ve said in the past that I think OS X is a better OS in most respects. In fact I believe I’ve said in the past that if Apple were to unlock OS X so it would run on whatever hardware you want to throw at it then I’d happily snap up a copy to try out on my PC, but Apple refuses to allow it’s customers to choose beyond what limited offerings Apple makes available at the prices Apple thinks you should pay.

    Whatever hardships Windows XP brings with it aren’t anything that causes me enough trouble to make it worth the extra money Apple wants. Vista may be a different story, but there’s always Linux to consider then.

    Remote Assistance, so you had them running XP Pro then. My parents didn’t spend a lot of money on their system, so they just had XP Home. I had to use VNC, but that works just fine too.

    Uh, Dave, Remote Assistance is available on all versions of Windows XP including Home Edition. It can be launched either by Windows Messenger or via email message. You can get the full details on it by clicking here. No need to install VNC.

    You’re thinking Remote Access, formerly known as Windows Terminal Services, which is only available in XP Pro.

    I guess as to the prices of Apple hardware, it’s best to look at it like Apple is the BMW or any other luxury car of computers. I don’t really have a problem with that.

    Again, that’s one way to look at it. I see it more as a Chevrolet gussied up to try and look like a BMW. Sure you can put a really nice interior into a Chevy and make it look kinda like a BMW, but it’s still using the same old Chevy parts.

    The point being that the hardware in any Intel Mac is the same as the hardware in any Intel PC so why the higher prices? Especially when what’s being offered in some cases is a couple of generations behind what’s available in the Wintel world? Yes, the OS is better in some respects so charge accordingly, but don’t overcharge on the hardware just because you’ve decided to let your OS run on it.

    My problem with WinTel has always been fighting spyware/adware/malware and paying way too much money for OS upgrades. Yes, Apple has come out with 5 upgrades to OS X since it’s initial inception. Each costing $130. Microsoft has only had the one, Vista.

    So if you bought all those upgrades you’ve spent around $650, yes? If you purchase the Ultimate Edition of Windows Vista (non-upgrade) it’ll cost $399. If you have a legit Windows XP or 2000 license then it’ll cost $259. Not sure I see the issue here.

    Again I will give Apple kudos for their generous multiple license offerings for single households which makes OS X a very good deal for folks with more than one PC to work with, but beyond that.

    However, if we turn back the pages a bit, we will see Microsoft putting out many updates including WinME in a short span of time.

    There was two years between the release of Windows 1.0 (1985) and 2.0 (1987), which is understandable considering the lack of acceptance 1.0 received. It was another three years before the release of Windows 3.0 (1990) which was the first truly successful version of Windows, but it would be another two years before Microsoft would release Windows 3.1 (1992) which was also the year they released Windows NT. Microsoft announced that same year that they had plans to eventually unify Windows 3.1 and Windows NT into a single product, but it wouldn’t actually happen until Windows XP.

    Three years later saw the release of Windows 95 (1995). There would be four updates to Windows 95 in its lifespan—Windows 95 OSR1 (a.k.a Windows 95 A), Windows 95 OSR2 (a.k.a. Windows 95 B), Windows 95 OSR2.1 (a.k.a Windows 95 B USB), and Windows 95 OSR2.5 (a.k.a Windows 95 C) none of which they charged for—three years after Windows 95 came Windows 98 (1998). Two years after that brought us Windows 2000 (2000) and Windows ME (2000). Then in 2001 Windows XP arrive on the scene. Microsoft has tried to maintain a three-year schedule for new operating systems and they largely managed to do that.

    Apple released OS X 10.0 in March 2001 followed by 10.1 in September of the same year. OS X 10.2 came in August 2002, 10.3 in October 2003, 10.4 in April 2005. OS X 10.5 is expected sometime this spring.

    Comparatively speaking, Apple’s the one cranking out new versions of their OS in a short period of time and they’ve charged for every single one.

    Plus, we all know that WinME was an upgrade specifically to infuse Microsoft with cash.

    Windows ME was a quick one-year stopgap meant as a bridge from the Windows 9.X series into Windows XP. It was more or less a minor upgrade of Windows 98 and a lot of it’s features could be downloaded for Windows 98 via Windows Updates. A lot of folks don’t even consider it a truly separate OS release.

    Cash wasn’t a problem for Microsoft at the time, however, and ME wasn’t just a means to make a few bucks. Microsoft hasn’t had a cash problem for over a decade.

    They were even talking about putting out an update to XP before Vista. For, one can only assume, the same reason, to generate cash.

    Not sure what you’re going on about here. Microsoft put out two updates to Windows XP before Vista: Service Pack 1 and Service Pack 2. They didn’t charge for either update. There’s likely to be a Service Pack 3 within the year as well.

    You keep saying that the RAM in both systems are exactly the same. I don’t agree.
    Mac: 667MHz DDR2 fully-buffered DIMM ECC
    Dell: 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz

    They look different to me. One is fully-buffered ECC and the other is not.

    I addressed that above. You’re right though. The Mac Memory is slower.

    I always by RAM and HD’s from other folks. Other World Computing has Mac Pro RAM. It’s still pretty costly, but much cheaper than Apple. My MacBook came with 512MB’s of RAM, I purchased 2GB’s from NewEgg for way less than Apple was selling the upgrade. I would do the same for any other system.

    Which just proves my point that Apple marks up their hardware considerably. I’m not sure why you’re even still arguing the point when you’ve just admitted as much yourself.

    Oh, I forgot to mention earlier. The dual core Xeon’s I have now, they are compatable with the quad core Xeon’s that are in the Dell. In fact, someone put two quad core processors in the Mac Pro and got an 8 core system out of it.

    I’d be surprised if it weren’t doable, but that doesn’t really impact my argument at all.

    I’m surprised that an 8 core Mac Pro wasn’t announced at MacWorld, but Jobs must have wanted to keep attention on that silly iPhone. I would have preferred to see Leopard and the Octocore Mac Pro. Ah well.

    Considering the markup they tend to put on things can you imagine how much such a beast would cost? That makes me shiver.

    One thing is for sure when it comes to DVD-Jon, he makes sure that he isn’t going to get put in jail. He got out of the DeCSS problems because he didn’t live here in the states as well as other reasons I’m sure. This FairPlay clone will probably be safe for him as well. DMCA or not. Though, I haven’t heard much about it since it was first publicized. It’s possible he was told that he would get into serious trouble if he pursued it.

    As I understand it he’s developing the clone in hopes that other hardware makers will use it to allow FairPlay files to be played on their hardware. Regardless of whether or not DVD-Jon is arrested for it, if the clone is illegal then how many hardware makers do you think are going to put that into their devices? If no one makes use of it in their hardware then what good is it?

    Again, do you really think Apple is going to sit by and let a FairPlay clone exist without one helluva fight?

    I know this is going to sound like a copout, but according to the book Mac OS X Bible, the reason there are so few graphics cards that support the Mac is that the video card needs to support Core Image hardware acceleration. It would be nice if there were more graphics cards to choose from, but I’m still not complaining.

    Yeah, that’s a cop out. I just spent a few moments reading up on what Core Image is and it’s basically Shader driven image filters. It basically requires a video card with programmable Shader units. The more Shader units the better the performance, but Apple even says that on machines without a programmable GPU it’ll just make use of the CPU to do the same thing:

    For computers without a programmable GPU, Core Image dynamically optimizes for the CPU, automatically tuning for Velocity Engine and multiple processors as appropriate.

    It only applies to 2D images and it’s support by a particular card is entirely an issue of having programmable Shaders and writing a driver that works with Core Image.

    In other words, any current video card with programmable Shaders should be acceptable with just a properly written driver.

    As far as Apple locking a user in, just wait till Vista gets into homes. The things that Microsoft did to make the MPAA and RIAA happy is astounding.

    I don’t disagree and that’s part of why I’m writing about Vista and these issues. Like I said in the original entry: Microsoft is playing catchup in this regard.

    Every system I have ever looked into at work, has wires strewn all over the place. They may have been all nice and neat to start with, but wow, not after a few months of use. I’m not saying that the cables shake loose, just that when you open up the box to add change a video card, or add an HD, the cables don’t get put back the way they were or can’t be put back the way they were.

    Again this isn’t a failing of the system design so much as the technicians making use of it.

    I would absolutely love to see OS X on WinTel systems! I think Apple would make a killing in sales and it’s possible that they could unseat Microsoft as an OS. However, as I stated earlier, Apple isn’t a software company. They don’t have the engineering talent to deal with all the millions of configurations that are out there with WinTel systems. Les claims that Apple wouldn’t have to deal with the drivers. I don’t agree. Apple’s biggest “claim to fame” is “It just works”.

    Again I ask: Do you really think Apple writes the drivers for your nVidia 7300GS? nVidia let’s Apple distribute their drivers, but ATI lists it’s Mac drivers right on their website.

    By and large the vast majority of hardware drivers on the PC work just fine and a lot of that has to do with Microsoft’s Certified Driver program.

    Getting any USB device to work on a Windows system requires installing a driver or something on a CD.

    Unless you’re running Windows 98 or older then this is patently not true. Since the release of Windows 2000 some USB devices require installing a driver, but certainly not ANY USB device. More often than not the installation CD contains software for use with the device as opposed to an actual driver, software that is often optional.

    I was able to plug in my RAZR phone to my Mac and sync it without any added software at all. I am able to plug in my Canon Powershot G3 into my Mac and it is able to pull images off the camera without extra software. I’m able to pull the CompactFlash card out of my camera, plug it into my CF reader and pull files off the card without any added drivers.

    Of the three items you list only the Razr is likely to need any additional software on PC and that’s for syncing.

    I pull images from my Canon Powershot A80 by plugging it in and using Windows XP’s Camera and Scanner Wizard, no extra software necessary. So too am I able to plug in my Compact Flash card into a reader and pull files off of it without any extra software. The three different USB Flash Drives I use have never required a driver to be installed before I could use them.

    Not true with my Windows box. I had to install something for each of those devices.

    I can only assume you must be running an older version of Windows as you shouldn’t have needed anything extra for two of those three devices.

  37. Ack, once again several more replies sneak in while I was writing mine. The tone is getting a bit hostile and I’d like to avoid that so I suppose we should just drop it at this point.

    Again let me say that I’m not claiming Macs are poor PCs or that people are silly for buying one. I like Macs overall and it’s not like I’ve not done my fair share of bitching about Wintel boxes and Microsoft in my time. A high end Mac is comparable in most ways to a high end PC, but both have their failings and weaknesses.

  38. As I’ve said in the past, I’m a luddite, but what I don’t understand is why computers need to have high spec and advanced features – my old 286 was the most reliable machine I ever had, sure it was less functional but it did the jobs I mostly use my computer for now and we had alternatives to multimedia and the internet.

    In some ways the simpler something is the less can go wrong, so maybe having separate machines for gaming, internet and whatnot isn’t so bad if it means the wordprocessor will work when you need it to. Using another device for internet may mean there is less spyware and virus’s designed for me.

  39. Thanks for all the hard work Les. It’s a good thing that games are a waste of time in my eyes, or all that stuff you’re talking about might effect me. grin

    Around here I’m a newbie when it comes to computers. I started on a Mac back in about 1989, but have only been using them seriously for my work for about ten years. Although I care about good color management, a solid OS and access to all the software I need, I’m also a HUGE fan of industrial design. My AIM name is ChairGeek and that’s not because I like to sit down. I often joked that a G5 could be empty and I’d still pay full pop to see it sitting on my desk. grin If it were empty I would really miss out on how beautiful it is on the inside too though, which would be a bummer.

  40. You’ll get no argument from me on Apple’s design skills. They make some cool looking shit that you want on your desk.

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