Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

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Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by fastturtle » Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:42 am

I bought a Nexus 7 Tablet just a couple of weeks ago and although the unit is pretty nice (does what it's supposed to and performs it's designed tasks) it got me thinking. Google, Apple and the latest from MS indicates that everyone is attempting to kill the PC market as quickly as they can.

Just look at all of these new completely closed tablets from Google and Apple. They have no memory expansion at all through SD or USB cards and you still need a blasted computer at this time for them to be fully useful but it's getting to the point that they meet most needs. Even these so called interent TV's are pushing against the PC - anyone remember WebTV? That's what they're pushing towards with the cloud and these closed units and I for one am not happy about it.

I'd actually been looking at the possibility of dropping my desktop in favor of a tablet but it has to be better then this "Closed System - Black Box" effort I'm seeing and the only one that even comes close to the PC experience is the Acer Iconia W500 model (that's the Windows version). It's priced comparably with the iPad and includes the needed SD Card and USB Stick support. Hell the USB Ports support Keyboards, Mice, Printers and anything else the plugs into them such as TV Tuners, Optical and Floppy Drives. Makes it the most flexible unit on the market though I've not found any running Win8 (decent on tablets while useless on desk/lap tops).

Getting back to the WebTV issue, that's exactly what Google, Apple and now MS wants you to use. Have you looked at the latest License agreement for Office 2013? Single Computer though you can reinstall as often as needed but you can't transfer it to a new system and no, I've not looked into the licensing terms of the latest since the only part of Office I use is OneNote and I tend to buy the Home/Student 3pk version.

If anyone is using the latest version of Skydrive from MS you'd better check that it's not sharing all of your drives. I'd upgraded and discovered that files I had marked as private to the homegroup were being shared. Hell I could even see the root of my drives ( / ) of all of them. That's a security hole large enough to drive an Aircaft carrier through. Not good. It makes more sense to stay like dropbox as the default and only share what's in the skydrive folder. If you want to share additional files, then use the Homegroup settings so nobody is suprised. Instead, MS Screws up again and decide to dump security in favor of knowing everything you do and from what I see, Google and Apple aren't any better.

Because of the sharing of the drive roots by default, I've been forced to install Truecrypt to ensure private files remain private and no, I do not trust the MS EFS (encrypted file system) as they've got the master key for windows. Another reason is that Truecrypt, even though not a F/OSS app based on the license, is at least open source (source code is available and can be audited) while the Windows EFS along with PGP are both closed. Apple may be a slightly better choice as they are based on FreeBSD, thus most of the BSD encryption source code that's used is available - but do you trust Apple's implementation of the binaries not to have any backdoors? I can't due to financial considerations as a Small Business owner, meaning it's got to be Open Source or built on my system from vetted source code - doesn't matter if it's Windows/Apple or Linux/*BSD it has to be open source and built from the source code. Yes it seems I'm a bit paranoid but when you're talking possible fines/prison due to data breaches, you damn well better be paranoid. It then comes down to "but am I paranoid enough?"

Back to these WebTV's. Have you noticed how many of these new tv's include camera's and that they're being pushed as a feature? Now the Gubbermint has a Camera and Mic right in your house that can be monitored silently at any time. Do they? I don't know but with the school district in PA that did the same on issued laptops to students. That's what we're giving the feds and anyone else who's got the key's to those many TV camera's. The same thing has happened to most of the IP enabled Security Camera's and they don't even have any security on the admin pages. Think about that. How many people even think about net security other then for their PC? Antivirus and such sure but my TV? What about that cheap router you use to connect all of your stuff to the net?
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by Vicotnik » Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:06 am

Yes, it's all going to hell.

But there are spots of lights here and there in the massive darkness. The free software movement. Stuff like the Raspberry Pi. And the information for people who want to tweak stuff, rip the systems apart and reconfigure the parts, is out there and more available than ever before.

What you can do about it is spread the ideas I guess. Explain why you see these things as problematic and suggest alternatives to people around you. But my own experience tells me that this is very ineffective; most people don't give a shit.

This is just another symptom of a larger problem, and it's damn interesting to observe it.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by edh » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:21 pm

You could always continue using the same technology that works perfectly well for you now. This is what they really don't want you to do as computers are far too reliable to need frequent replacement, that's why there is always a need for hyped new stuff.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by xan_user » Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:07 pm

I welcome the demise of retail computer's. gateway, hp or dell never did anything for me....and with windows new nontransferable licensing model for software they can go with them.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by Cistron » Sun Feb 17, 2013 2:39 am

xan_user wrote:I welcome the demise of retail computer's. gateway, hp or dell never did anything for me....and with windows new nontransferable licensing model for software they can go with them.
As long as components producers survive, I'll be happy.

My personal pet peeve at the moment is the whole planned obsolescence. Batteries cannot be exchanged by the user (some are even glued in) and the stupidly fast progression of (phone) operating systems make perfectly functional hardware worthless.

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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by aristide1 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:13 pm

The problem lies solely with the consumer. Anyone who was into high-end audio would be the first to tell you the average consumer puts convenience and instant gratification above all else. Sound quality is a secondary issue, if at all. More like if it passes the "good enough" test then the people are satisfied.

Look at cameras, sure not everyone had a DSLR, they had pocket models, but people started becoming satisfied with the awful in phone cameras, instant access all the time, nothing extra to carry. Quality? Good enough.

Why would web browsing and reading take a different path? They don't.

I recently built a quad core Win 7 pc. It's probably the last pc I will ever build, but I also expect it to last a while. I'm also still using a Core 2 dual processor, with Vista, minus some useless services that were defaulted on and have since been turned off. It runs fine, and I picked up a used quad core for that thing on the cheap as well.

Even the Blu-ray players are feeling the pinch. With hand held devices doing downloading and streaming (The Kindle has a mini-video port) the BD players now are offering built in download and streaming capabilities as well.

Overall what's happening in the selling of anything is to get as close as legally allowed to addict customers to a product. An ex head of the FDA called food product makers exactly that. Nutrition and "healthy" products are just buzzwords to get the cautious ones onboard, and with price premiums to boot. Gadget buyers apparently are also always looking for a new fix.

While I believe I would prefer a Nexus 7 over a Kindle, I will probably get a Kindle. The 8.9" model adds a small price premium, and the 7 is made by Asus, not exactly the role model of customer service, and frankly just way too many people complaining about spontaneous screen breakage and no warranty at all for this. Yeah, I could get some kind of warranty for breakage, but now we've reached Kindle 8.9 prices. The Nexus 10? Now we're well into price creep. A Microsoft Surface (comes with Office, that's worth $100 right there)?
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by Vicotnik » Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:25 am

aristide1 wrote:The problem lies solely with the consumer.
To be fair the consumer/citizen is the target of massive propaganda.

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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by Cistron » Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:39 am

Vicotnik wrote:
aristide1 wrote:The problem lies solely with the consumer.
To be fair the consumer/citizen is the target of massive propaganda.
And not just on the gadget market. Have a look at things like bottled water, corn flakes and yoghurt. Products with a neat 15%+ profit margin, whereby the market was created over the last century by various forms of propaganda.

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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by edh » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:42 am

If however people actually made sensible purchasing decisions rather than going allong with marketing then there would be no requirement for over hyped marketing.

You can't blame the marketeers solely either. They're only doing it because there is a market to be filled. Plus marketing does fill some good holes as there are many good products which people don't know about and they deliver a service to tell people about those good products too.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by aristide1 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:39 am

edh wrote:If however people actually made sensible purchasing decisions rather than going allong with marketing then there would be no requirement for over hyped marketing.
Capitalism is based on the belief that consumers make decisions on the margin. From this I gather the definition of capitalism is flawed, and it's existence in its purest form is a myth.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by aristide1 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:45 am

Vicotnik wrote:To be fair the consumer/citizen is the target of massive propaganda.
Propaganda is lifelong and people should develope the skills to identify it, else they are no different than deer stuck in headlights.

Perhaps we can call what's happening financial Darwanism?


By the way, what you state is the sole reason I never buy magazines anymore. If you can't spot it there then you're oblivious.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by aristide1 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:52 am

Cistron wrote:
xan_user wrote:My personal pet peeve at the moment is the whole planned obsolescence. Batteries cannot be exchanged by the user (some are even glued in) and the stupidly fast progression of (phone) operating systems make perfectly functional hardware worthless.
This is small scale. On the latest Hyundais there is no dip stick on automatic transmissions. The part count has been reduced by 20%, the trans is sealed, and sold as "no serviceable parts inside." Something goes wrong you are suppose to buy a new trans. No fluid replacement is possible. Trans life is severly limited, by design. (I hope Aamco transmissions has a field day with this nonsense.)

Throw away stuff is kinda understandable at the $29 DVD player range. One can service it if they wish, it's just not cost feasible. I fault them less here, Hyundai is another matter.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by Vicotnik » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:04 am

aristide1 wrote:Propaganda is lifelong and people should develope the skills to identify it, else they are no different than deer stuck in headlights.

Perhaps we can call what's happening financial Darwanism?
It's damn hard for the fish to notice the water though. We need this awareness early, as children or adolescents.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by Cistron » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:17 am

edh wrote:If however people actually made sensible purchasing decisions rather than going allong with marketing then there would be no requirement for over hyped marketing.
This is based on the belief that everybody is a skeptic, but they are not and they cannot be, as it requires a certain level of insight. The majority is plainly not educated enough or stupid. And to round the whole issue off, high level corruption makes it very hard for "the people" to shape the market.

@aristide1: yes, planned obsolescence is becoming ubiquitous.

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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by aristide1 » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:41 am

Cistron wrote:@aristide1: yes, planned obsolescence is becoming ubiquitous.
It's just the way things happen to be working these days. We exploit the huge labor cost differences from one nation to the next to make money. Some companies seem like they have great service, in reality the stuff they sell is so low cost/high profit margin that offering a new replacement is their cheapest way out. If there was real competition and real pricing then the broken item would have tangible value and would be repaired. Witness that cars are never tossed so easily by manufacturers. I find terrible that huge quantities of fuel are expended just to exploit labor cost differences, as opposed to performing actual important and/or dangerous work. If we ever do reach the point where labor costs are the same globally then this nonsense would cease, but either that won't happen in my lifetime or worse, it will mean all the middle class of first world countries will have the same standard of living as the poor do in 3rd world countries.

I laugh at the notion that $250 tablets are sold for a loss or break even. That's total b/s. A micro motherboard with a VIA processor installed costs $50 retail, it's build cost is more like $10, throw in a couple of Gig of flash memory and a screem there's absolutely no way the build cost of a 7 inch tablet exceeds $75. Now granted Amazon and Google would love to sell their devices for a $1000 each because lots of dumb a$$e$ would still buy them, but they would either lose the shrewed market share or popularity growth would be too slow for them, they want instant gratification like most childish humans.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by Das_Saunamies » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:53 am

Anyone who has come to realise this or is interested should watch/hear the speech Cory Doctorow gave, "The Coming War on General Computation". It's long, but worth it.

I believe someone here must've linked it before, but as my memory does not serve, I can't give them credit right this moment.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by aristide1 » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:10 pm

This made sound silly, but I'm fascinated by the white Kindle with an actual keyboard. The larger unit is $250, frankly in spitting distance of the full fledged Kindle HD 8.9.

I am annoyed the 7 inch Kindle gets a 16GB flash upgrade for $50, while the 8.9 inch model the same upgrade is $70. On the Nexus 10 it's a full $100. What a rip, I feel like I'm standing next to a gas pump.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by xan_user » Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:33 am

time to go into business selling ram to tablet makers. its got a higher markup than diamonds or a new mattress set.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by Scrooge » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:53 pm

What makes you think it's the RAM makers making the killing? The markup is at the final stage. What you want to do is get into the business of selling overpriced memory upgrades to consumers who just click the "upgrade" checkbox when ordering.

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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by tim851 » Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:01 am

xan_user wrote:time to go into business selling ram to tablet makers. its got a higher markup than diamonds or a new mattress set.
Marketing 101: Large corporations are not buying goods (e.g. RAM) at higher prices than you.

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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by Das_Saunamies » Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:32 am

Scrooge wrote:What makes you think it's the RAM makers making the killing? The markup is at the final stage. What you want to do is get into the business of selling overpriced memory upgrades to consumers who just click the "upgrade" checkbox when ordering.
This. Just look at the profits made by the different stages of the operation. Start with Apple.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by xan_user » Sun Feb 24, 2013 9:47 am

tim851 wrote:
xan_user wrote:time to go into business selling ram to tablet makers. its got a higher markup than diamonds or a new mattress set.
Marketing 101: Large corporations are not buying goods (e.g. RAM) at higher prices than you.
Marketing 102: buy ram at pennies over the manufacturing cost, resell to the consumers, in a tablet/phone/media player, at double the normal retail.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by aristide1 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:58 am

This is why I don't believe the "work ethic" even exists. Most companies today simply want to rebrand (or initially brand) something cheap with a huge profit margin. A glorified get rich quick scheme.

Of course the lower wage workers need a work ethic, to be profitable for their bosses.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by Das_Saunamies » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:28 pm

aristide1 wrote:Most companies today simply want to rebrand (or initially brand) something cheap with a huge profit margin. A glorified get rich quick scheme.
That's how I've been feeling about a lot of products. I think one of the most outrageous examples I've seen so far was pre-peeled bananas: http://www.austriantimes.at/news/Genera ... upermarket.

I can only imagine what the $/kg was on that - "that" being one of the cheapest goods on the market, just repackaged.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by aristide1 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 4:55 pm

Look at those individual coffee containers you put in the machine. The at home price is $1+ per cup, the grocery store shows prices exceeding $30/pound. For a trivial amount of convenience, jeez I am part of one dumb species. No thanks by the way.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by edh » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:48 am

aristide1 wrote:Look at those individual coffee containers you put in the machine. The at home price is $1+ per cup, the grocery store shows prices exceeding $30/pound. For a trivial amount of convenience, jeez I am part of one dumb species. No thanks by the way.
Convenience can be everything for some people. Let's consider an elderly person living alone and struggling with household appliances. An easy to use machine that means they don't have to totter around their kitchen for 10 minutes everytime they want a drink could literally be a lifesaver.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by Das_Saunamies » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:07 am

edh wrote:
aristide1 wrote:Look at those individual coffee containers you put in the machine. The at home price is $1+ per cup, the grocery store shows prices exceeding $30/pound. For a trivial amount of convenience, jeez I am part of one dumb species. No thanks by the way.
Convenience can be everything for some people. Let's consider an elderly person living alone and struggling with household appliances. An easy to use machine that means they don't have to totter around their kitchen for 10 minutes everytime they want a drink could literally be a lifesaver.
I agree with your argument in principle. Not to underestimate old people completely, but a heavy kettle to pour from, or a slow, exposed hot plate or more than one switch may sometimes be too much.

I do not, however, think this is a case of that. The coffee capsules I see as more of a symptom of having to go faster, be more efficient, and consume better. Also: massive profits.

An electric kettle is lightweight (the plastic ones can be anyway) when loaded for a couple of cups, lightning fast and only has one button. It is also fully thermally insulated and has timer and emergency automation for safe use. You can see your measurements clearly from the side, in case you forget how many cups you've put in, and you can use it for more than just making coffee. Hell, it could even be a lifesaver if the water supply gets contaminated - not all coffeemakers boil water to a 100 °C, nor can they all be used to prepare food (I'm looking at you, single-serving pod bastards).

I've done the same thing my grandmother did until her death - I put the old-fashion kettle on, then drop in instant coffee or tea in the cup as I like. Was also great for noodles when still a student.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by aristide1 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:44 am

Everyone I know who uses K-cups is young and upwardly mobile, to coin a dinosaur phrase.
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by colm » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:50 pm

edh wrote:You could always continue using the same technology that works perfectly well for you now. This is what they really don't want you to do as computers are far too reliable to need frequent replacement, that's why there is always a need for hyped new stuff.
I decided on that some time ago, and agree.
if to really learn what you need, stuff goes quite far.

of course, I'd still rather listen to a formula 1 v12 than what they got going today. :wink:
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Re: Death of The PC or You're Just a Consumer

Post by Scrooge » Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:06 am

colm wrote:of course, I'd still rather listen to a formula 1 v12 than what they got going today. :wink:
I'd rather listen to the old F1 V10s of a few years ago, especially at low revs.

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