Monday, December 23, 2013

Breaking my silence with a rant.

About 15 years ago, I got a call from my Uncle asking if I could build a PC for my cousin.
This was a bit surprising because I’d built him a PC about a year earlier and I’d made everything absolutely top of the line. He had a PC that was still fairly high end...and I knew for a fact he’d barely touched it in the entire time he had it.

So I asked my Uncle why he needed a new PC.

“Well, his friend has got one of those with the fancy case with all the lights and stuff, so he wants one like that. Can you do it?”

My answer was simple. 

No. Not just no, but fuck no.

First of all was the small matter that this was a family member who decided because I ‘liked computers’, I just fucking loved doing completely free tech support. (I’d spent entire days in the past scrubbing viruses off their family machine because the virus scanner I installed “wouldn’t let him go to this music site he liked” and didn’t get so much as a fucking coffee while I was working)... and I was fucked if I was going to spend a few hours modding a case for a PC he never fucking used.

Sadly, I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was the beginning of a trend.

You see, in those days, PC’s were big beige boxes. My main machine was a big beige box. I didn’t (and still don’t) give a fuck how ‘cool’ a machine looks as long the hardware is good. I’d rather have a V8 than a 2-stroke no matter how crappy the bodywork looks.

Then Steve fucking Jobs came along.

Prepare the nerd-rage because I’m going to say something controversial:

Steve Jobs was not an innovator. He wasn’t a visionary. What he was, was a marketing genius.

MP3 players existed long before the iPod, touch screens existed before the iPhone. In his entire career, he didn’t invent anything new...he just repackaged existing technology and made it ‘cool’
You know what his best idea was? Making iPod headphones white.

You see, all headphones before that tended to be black... so you put on a set of white headphones and your music player stops being a music becomes a fashion accessory. You no longer have an mp3 player, you have an iPod, and that’s what all the cool kids have.

His next best idea? Bringing out a new version every 3 months.

It used to be pretty simple. You bought your gadget and used it until you needed to upgrade. I bought a new mp3 player when my music collection outgrew my storage space. I upgraded my PC when it couldn’t run new games any more.

Now? You buy the next iPhone because, despite the fact there’s almost no actual improvement in the new one, and your current one works just fine, being seen with last month’s iPhone is like being seen in last season’s fashions.

Of course, there’s always some new buzz-word. For example, a friend of mine gushed for an hour because his new macbook had a ‘Retina’ display.

Let me let you in on a little secret. There is no such thing as a ‘Retina’ display. It’s a fucking marketing term. Sorry to bore you with technical details (why would you be interested in technical details when buying a fucking computer), but your fancy ‘retina display’ means you macbook pro has a standard monitor that has 2800x1800 resolution.

You know what else has that? My fucking laptop...that cost about $500 less than your macbook, and has more memory, more hard drive space, a faster processor and a better graphics chipset.

Saying your Macbook is awesome because it has a Retina display is like me saying my toaster is better than yours because it has new Electromax Plasma Transmission Exothermic Technology (tm). That means electricity runs along wires that heat up. Does your toaster use Electromax technology? Fuck you.

Now don’t get me wrong, Macs are pretty slick machines. I actually like them... but I’m an IT guy and I know what’s inside the fucking things, and what it boils down to is that 40% of what you’re paying for is that big glowing apple on the back.

The saddest part? Apple have convinced you that you need this shit.

For example, A Nexus 10 tablet will cost you around £250 versus $300-£400 for the Apple tablet, and they’re almost identical in terms of specs...but  to take the piss even more, you can pay just double the amount and now you can buy the ‘iPad Air’ for over £500.

It’s got to be worth it, right? I mean, it so much thinner and lighter that the iPad 4!

Wrong. It’s a whole 180 grams lighter (about the weight of a large bag of potato chips), and it’s a massive 1.9mm thinner! That’s almost 7 one hundredths of an inch! That’s worth the extra £150, right?

Of course, the point is, when was the last time you were holding your iPad and thought “Wow, this thing is much too thick... and that extra 0.3 of a pound is really making my arms hurt.” 

I’ll tell you when...never...but they’re flying off the shelves and they’re selling for one reason. So you can pull it out of your bag, look down your nose at someone and say “Oh, you’ve only got the iPad 4, huh? I’ve got the iPad Air, it’s sooo much better.”

People are idiots. You know fuck all about technology, you don’t even know what a gigabyte is, but you’ll still spend ridiculous amounts of money because the man on TV told you to...and you’d rather have a shitty piece of technology with a glowing fruit on the back that a good bit of tech that doesn’t.

The funny thing is, I recently upgraded my phone, and I looked around for the best phone, not the most fashionable. I settled on the Sony Xperia Z1, and had a co-worker look at it, smirk and ask why I couldn’t afford an iPhone.

Actually, I could afford an iPhone.

Instead I got the phone with the better screen (441 pixels per inch vs the326), twice as much RAM, a far better processor (2.2ghz quad core versus 1.3ghz dual core), far better camera (20MP f2.0 vs 8MP f2.3) and far better battery (standby time of 35 days vs 10). Oh, and the Android OS that lets me put whatever the fuck I want onto my phone without having to invalidate my warranty by rooting it.

Both of these phones cost roughly the same price, but the Z1 is objectively better. In fact it’s twice as good as the iPhone 5 in almost every respect... but I have to put up with fucking idiots calling it the ‘poor man’s iphone’ because it doesn’t have a picture of a piece of fucking fruit on it.

Apple is not a ‘movement’, it’s not a community. It’s a company selling you goods. Reward the company that gives you the best product for the cheapest price, not because everyone else is wearing white headphones.