Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
User Journal

Journal Journal: Why Apple Won't Sell OS X for Generic PCs 1

Okay, I'm getting tired of explaining this over and over in every discussion where someone whines that Apple could take over the world if only they'd sell OS X for generic PCs. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I found another blog that mentions this. Having nothing better to do, I responded to that posting and decided to really flesh out my argument and put it here (slightly edited from the version posted there) so I can just link to it in the future. So, without further ado, here it is:

"Release OS X for beige boxes... Your company could be the next Microsoft."

Uh huh. And look at Microsoft now: They may be a huge, rich company with tremendous marketshare, but it was proven in a court of law that they achieved those things through no small use of illegal means. Currently, they're the laughing stock of the industry, struggling to get Vista out the door (years-late and gutted of all its compelling features), and with their employees burned out, demoralized, updating their resumes and one step shy of open revolt (if you believe what you read on minimsft). I much prefer Apple just the way it is, thanks.

Have you even considered what would go into selling OS X for generic PCs? Everyone who advocates this seems to harbor the illusion that they could cobble together a PC from any old spare parts they had lying around, and by putting OS X on it magically end up with something that works as well as a real Mac. Not bloody likely.

First, tight integration of the hardware and software is what makes a Mac a Mac. The OS X developers know exactly what hardware they're writing for, and can take full advantage of its capabilities. The limited pool of hardware also makes testing a much less onerous proposition. The Windows developers have to code to "lowest common denominator,"-- the alphabet soup of acronyms and abbreviations representing the hardware standards Windows supports. All they can do is hope that all the commodity hardware implements those standards correctly, because they have no hope of testing all the possible hardware combinations that can be (and probably have been, somewhere in the world) assembled into a functioning PC. Microsoft has spent twenty years and untold billions trying to approximate the "It just works" aspect of the Mac, and the best they've been able to come up with is "It usually works, but quite often it doesn't and we don't know why. Maybe if you reboot..." I'm a field tech, and the most common Windows problem I hear is "[Feature/application] worked fine all day yesterday, but when I came in this morning it didn't."

Second, where would all the Mac drivers come from for all those commodity components? Jobs can't snap his fingers and suddenly have driver support in OS X for all the cheap, generic hardware pouring out of the factories in Asia. Even when NeXTStep was available for x86, it only came with a short list of supported generic hardware. If you wanted to install and run NeXTStep on something that wasn't on that list, you were SOL. So then the drivers would have to be produced by the companies making the hardware. Crappy hardware drivers are a big part of what makes the Windows experience miserable, and those companies have been putting out Windows drivers for years. What makes you think they'd do a better job of producing Mac drivers without any prior experience at it? Furthermore, multiple components from multiple vendors mean support becomes a nightmare. Right now if you have a Mac problem, it falls to Apple to solve it because they make the hardware and software. I don't know how many times I've heard of and experienced finger pointing matches between Microsoft support people and the hardware vendor support people, each blaming the other for some random problem instead of trying to address it. I've even had that happen with Dell, and they make the whole damn box! It's not a problem for techies who are able to troubleshoot their own problems, but OS X is supposed to be the savior from that sort of thing. It won't be if it runs on generics.

Third, it would not be profitable for Apple to sell OS X for generics because they'd have to price it to make up for at least some of the revenue loss due to the resulting lost Mac sales. The people who currently bitch about the price of a Mac will not buy an OS from Apple that costs as much as their cheap PC did (if not more). And don't even tell me Apple could price it lower and make it up in volume, because a stroll through the dot-com boneyard proves that the "we'll make it up in volume" business model flat out doesn't work. Most of Apple's revenue comes from their computer sales, not iPods. They have to maintain that revenue somehow to fund R&D, or you'll see OS X stagnate like Netscape Navigator did when Microsoft killed Netscape's revenue by making IE free.

Fourth, even if Apple did sell it for generic PCs, many, many, many people would still download it illegally, anyway-- particularly if Apple priced it to try to compensate for lost hardware sales. That means more lost revenue, because now people stealing the OS haven't even purchased a Mac on which to run it. So sooner or later Apple would be adding activation to OS X out of necessity. Honestly, considering how hard the "we want everything for nothing" crowd has already worked to crack the developer copies of OS X Intel and subsequent updates, I wouldn't be surprised to see OS X 10.5 ship with installation keys and/or activation.

Finally, do you think Microsoft would stand idly by while Apple made this incursion into "their" turf? Look what happened to Be, Inc. Hell, look what happened to Netscape and Go Corp, for that matter. The only thing that saved NeXT from the same fate was Apple purchasing them. No, Microsoft would quickly retaliate if Apple started selling OS X for any old PC. They'd probably discontinue Office for OS X, and lean on Dell and the other big-name PC makers to ensure they didn't ink any deals to sell PCs preloaded with OS X. In other words, Microsoft would just go back to their old, anticompetitive ways to the degree they could get away with it.


Reasoned replies and/or constructive comments are appreciated.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Judged by an Anonymous Coward 4

So I'm working late tonight, testing out some backup software. While I'm waiting for an OS update to download and install on my company's labserver before I install the backup software, I decide to hop onto /. to pass the time. I see this:

You have 1 new message waiting for you.

I click the link, and see that someone has replied to my post under "New iPod Firmware Locks Out RealNetworks' Music" article. Instead of an on-topic reply, I was greeted by this:

Just noticed your sig and read your journal entry on the junk faxes. Glad you nailed the jackass, but what you did with the "winnings" makes me sick. Did those junk faxes + your time fighting the case actually cost you $6,000?? I'd be willing to bet that hell no, they didn't. Then why the fuck did you get all greedy and spend that money, not rightfully yours, on yourself? Asshole.

You may have had a legitimate case, but these sorts of damages are exactly what's wrong with the legal system. They encourage frivolous bullshit lawsuits that tie up the system because people are looking for a big fat payday. Punitive damages should be kept to punish the wrongdoer, but the plaintiff should not get one red cent beyond reasonable, itemized compensation for actual damages. No emotional distress bullshit (you CAN NOT put a price on that, any attempt to do so is pointless - life sucks sometimes, deal with it; therapy is another story, and should be included in itemized damages), no $500 a freaking fax ($1000 actually with your lawyer). That probably cost you, what, 20 cents max? Probably much less?

Instead, punitive damages should go to a charity of the court's choosing. Preferably related in some way to the case. Or to some government fund to help reduce overall taxes. The bad guys get punished but the lameass "good" guys don't get all greedy and clog things up with bullshit.

I understand you settled out of court so in effect it was a private transaction, not subject to any hypothetical laws or judicial conventions I propose. But I still maintain that it was unethical for you to spend that money as you did, because it was not rightfully yours. The faxer did not do $6,000 worth of damage to YOU, so you are not morally entitled to $6,000 in compensation. The faxer did deserve the $12,000 penalty because he was surely doing it to others, plus it would deter him from doing it again.

You should have given that money to charity - maybe bought a few iMacs for an underfunded school computer class.

First of all, Mr. Anonymous Coward, you can kiss my ass. If you want to judge me and/or lecture me on what is and is not moral, at least have the balls to post using your /. nick.

Secondly, the money was and is rightfully mine because the law says so, period. Tell you what, Sparky-- if you don't like the law, then bitch to your elected representatives or run for office yourself to try to get it changed. Don't tear into me because I acted in accordance with it to claim what it says I can claim.

User Journal

Journal Journal: My Victory over a Junk Faxer 6

The Short Version
I fought back against a junk faxer and reached an out-of-court settlement in the neighborhood of $12,000, half of which went in my pocket. If you'd like some more detail, read on.

January - December, 2003
Through the course of the year I get about one junk fax per month, advertising services I don't need, from a company I never heard of. I don't know where or how they got my fax number, because I certainly didn't give it to them. This annoys me, and I know it's a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. I hang on to the faxes, since I may later decide to pursue the matter. I read of other people's victories suing junk faxers in small claims court. Toward the end of the year, with a decent pile of junk faxes, I start to seriously consider taking the TCPA for a spin, for fun and profit.

First week of January, 2004
After reading up still more on the TCPA and deciding I have a fairly airtight case, I find and contact a local attorney who handles junk fax cases. After brief consultation, I decide to pursue the matter. The case is taken on contingency, and I agree to a 50-50 split (after costs) of any recovery.

January 8, 2004
I formally retain the attorney, who begins to draft the lawsuit against the owner of the domain referenced in URLs on the junk faxes. I send her copies of the twelve junk faxes I received from them, and the signed retainer letter.

January 13, 2004
I receive a draft copy of the lawsuit and verify all the facts within it as correct. I sign a document to that effect and send it off in the mail.

January 15, 2004
I receive a copy of the demand letter going to the defendant. I've got more than ten faxes, each worth $1,500 in damages. The standard damages amount per fax is $500, but the TCPA allows for treble damages if the junk faxing is willfully done. Since the defendant repeatedly faxed me over the period of a year, that meets the "willful" criterion. That means almost $20,000 in potential damages, should the case go to court. The defendant is given until close of business on January 30 to settle out of court for 75% of the amount for which they are liable. They receive copies of all the faxes, and a copy of the unfiled lawsuit.

January 22, 2004
I receive a call from my attorney, who has heard from a staff attorney of the defendant. He wants proof that I own the phone number to which the junk faxes were sent. I fax my attorney pages from my phone bill showing my address and fax number, and she forwards them on to the other side. I don't ask my attorney what she thinks, but I regard the defendant's sniffing for a loophole in the case as a good sign that they realize they're nailed. The TCPA is a pretty straightforward law.

January 29, 2004
I receive a call from my attorney, who reports that the defendant is offering $10,000 to settle. Before I can say anything through my smile, she suggests a counteroffer that effectively splits the difference between what we demanded and what they have offered so far. I agree.

January 30, 2004
Just before 4PM, I receive the phone call I've been waiting for all day: the defendant has agreed to our compromise, which means about $6,000 of free money in my bank account.

February 4, 2004
The draft settlement agreement is ready. The defendant has tacked on a very restrictive confidentiality clause which bars me from telling anyone about the suit or the agreement. Unacceptable. I counter with an offer that both parties agree to not reveal each other's identity, any clues to the other's identity, and/or the total amount of the settlement (which is why I haven't named them or been specific about the monetary amounts involved in this tale).

February 5, 2004
My attorney drafts a revised confidentiality clause and sends it off to the defendant's attorney, after I approve her revisions.

February 11, 2004
I receive word that the defendant has signed off on the revised settlement agreement. I receive the final copy, review it, sign two copies of it, and send it off to my attorney, who will relay them to the defendant for the additional necessary signatures. The check is not far away now!

February 20, 2004
My attorney notifies me that she has received the check. After just under $20 in postage and photocopy expenses, we split about $12,000.

February 25, 2004
I receive and deposit The Check. All that's left to do now is to wait for Apple to announce the updated Power Mac G5s!

June 9, 2004
Apple announces the new Power Macs. I spec out a dual 2.5GHz machine with all the bells & whistles, and place my order.

August 10, 2004
Obsessively checking the order status finally pays off... my G5 has shipped from China!

August 13, 2004
FedEx has delivered my new toy. Thank you, junk faxer!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Identd must die. 7

So anyway, I was on IRC the other day (as I am often wont to do), and, as I was being banned from the network for not running "identd", I thought to myself: "Why do we still use this???"

Can anyone come up with a valid reason why, in 2002, ident is still considered by some people to be a necessary and valuable component of the Internet? Most people use Windows for everything, and Windows has no identity service. Most UNIX folks I know disable it for security reasons. I've disabled ident lookup on the IRC servers I admin, and have encouraged others on my network to do the same. Why on earth do people still insist we all run it in order to connect to and utilize their network services? Is it still 1993 in some part of the world?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Simpsons Deja Vu, Anyone? 1

Simpsons Deja Vu is something that has happened to me all too often over the years, and I finally decided to record it here and see if anyone else is stricken by this affliction.

Basically, SDV is when you think of a Simpsons episode or particular scene therein during the course of your day, and within 24 hours after that thought, that particular Simpsons episode is broadcast (SDV assumes no foreknowledge of what episodes are scheduled to be shown, i.e., you haven't read the TV listings and had them affect which episode you're thinking about).

The most recent time this occurred to me was Wednesday, when while driving to work Wednesday morning, a Moody Blues song came on the radio. For some reason, I thought of the Simpsons episode guest starring the Moody Blues, where Homer dragged Flanders to Vegas and they ended up going on a bender and marrying two cocktail waitresses.

I got home that night, sat down to watch the two episodes my trusty TiVo picked up shortly before, and damned if one of them wasn't Viva Ned Flanders, guest starring the Moody Blues.

Are there any Slashgeeks out there reading this right now who are similarly afflicted?

User Journal

Journal Journal: $COMPANY does $ACTION! (A Slashdot News Template) 7

$LUSER writes: "$RANDOM-SHADY-INTERNET-SOURCE tells me that $COMPANY is doing $ACTION to its users ! This does not bode well for the future of the Internet!" CmdrTaco: $DRAMATIC_FORESHADOWING $TYPOGRAPHICAL_ERROR.

Slashdot Top Deals

Your good nature will bring unbounded happiness.