PsyStar: Attention-seeking whore of the tech world
Oct 26th, 2009 by scaredpoet


You know, there’s a part of me that really wants to like Psystar. On the face of it, their motives seem nice enough: allow anyone with a commodity PC to run Mac OS X, without having to buy the pricey Mac hardware currently required to run it. Legal? The jury appears to still be out on that. Moral? Well, you’d certainly think that’s an awfully nice thing to do, right?

Unfortunately, I keep having to question Psystar’s motives, and logic. And the answers don’t seem very comforting.

For the past year or two they’ve been selling the Open Computer, a line of desktops and servers that will run OS X…. or Windows or linux, if that’s what you really want [wink wink]. Problem is, for all their touting of how they’ve broken the Mac closed-hardware model wide open, there’s still a lot of hassle involved in getting a Psystar machine to work. They send you a real, genuine OS X install disc, but you don’t actually use it on your Open Computer. Instead, you have to rely on Psystar – who’s already declared bankruptcy once as a legal tactic to try and dodge Apple’s lawsuits – to provide you with hacked-up, patched up versions of OS X for updates and upgrades.

But it gets better! Psystar isn’t really doing the grunt work here… they’re actually borrowing a LOT of code and development effort from the OSx86 project, which offers solutions for booting OS X on home built PCs. With a little customization and having to put up with the inconveniences of waiting for hacked-up version of OS X updates, you can do the same thing that PsyStar gives you, for less.

The OSx86 developers, by the way, have said that PsyStar hasn’t gotten permission to use their code, and reworked their license to prohibit commercial use.

Okay, well… stealing from Apple might be seen as a good, noble, Robin-hood kinda thing in some circles. But pissing off open source developers and stealing off their efforts is a third-rate, asshole move right there, regardless of how you look at it. Even so, PsyStar still sorta made sense in a way. There’s a segment of folks out there who would like to use a Mac, aren’t able or are perhaps unwilling to spend the premium to buy mac hardware, but lack the time, motivation or skill level to assemble their own kit. if they’re willing to put up with the Hackintosh annoyances, they might just flock to PsyStar.

But you see, PsyStar just isn’t done being an asshole yet!

Just this past Friday, they released Rebel EFI, a program that permits – wait for it – anyone to use a home built PC to boot OS X. Sound familiar? Rebel EFI doesn’t really provide anything different from the OSx86 solutions. You still have to deal with wonky updating issues. Various PC configurations still aren’t supported or tested, so there’s really no guarantee that the hardware you have will truly work. But, there are some important “enhancements” though:

  • Rebel EFI is free to try and download, though it will have limited hardware functionality and a run-time of two hours. So your hardware will only run for two hours at a time, and you can’t really test out if your machine will truly work thanks to the “limitations.”

  • To get a fully unlimited version, you have to pay PsyStar $49.99 for them to send you an “Activation key.”

A little irony here: To get OS X Snow Leopard, you pay only $29, and it’s not locked by a key. Don’t have Apple hardware? Well, OSx86 will do the same thing, no charge. And, it’s probably the same thing you’re getting from PsyStar at a premium, anyway.

So uhhh, what exactly is the benefit here to buying Rebel EFI?

A blast from the past: the original iPod goes on sale again
Aug 20th, 2009 by scaredpoet

UPDATE: Looks like Apple either sold out of these iPods, or the page was a fluke. Either way, the page has been removed from the site, but the screenshot below remains…

iPod 1st Gen

Not seen on sale since 2002, Apple is bringing back refurbs of the very first iPod music player and is selling them in their online store for $129 apiece. Not really ure how they ended up back on sale after so long, but there they are, for the taking.

Note that these are the very first iPods ever released, back in the fall of 2001. That means these guys are sporting black & white passive-matrix LCD displays, mechanical buttons and scroll wheels, and a now laughably-small (by today’s standards) 5GB hard drives. There’s no video playback capability, or even photo display capability for that matter. The only color they come in is white. No capacitive touch interfaces, or compasses, or a Genius Playlist. And these guys were out there way before the notion of a music player showing cover art even existed, let alone have features like CoverFlow or VoiceOver.

Windows users also need not attempt to purchase: the original iPod was Mac-Only, and uses a firewire interface. No dock, no USB.

From a features-only standpoint, this isn’t a very good deal considering that for only $20 more you can get a brand new current-generation iPod that’s lighter, more rugged, has more storage space and can just plain do more. But then, there is a certain kitsch to having in your hands a near-mint original version of the greatest digital media player out there. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Apple’s remaining supply of them sold out quickly.

Holy hell, MobileMe works!
Jun 22nd, 2009 by scaredpoet

Find My iPhone

So, it’s only been about a week and a half since the Find My iPhone feature of Apple’s MobileMe service was unveiled, and already it’s been credited with the successful rescue of an expensive iPhone from a would-be iPhone thief. While most iPhone geeks (myself included) have only played around with it for the sake of lulz, this guy found that in a real life iPhone emergency, it works pretty well, actually.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of the iPhone thiever who will momentarily be entering the story. You might have told yourself, “Hey, free iPhone!” the night before. You might have seen the gently-threatening messages and ignored them, maybe even scoffed. Then the phone told you it was on Medill St. It talked to you in Spanish. And you saw three skinny white guys prowling in the street with a laptop computer open.

So you take off down the road, and to your shock and horror, the honkeys follow you. You stand at your local bus stop, expecting to lose them. And they converge on your location from across the intersection, the bald one with the laptop yelling and pointing at you. You probably think the angels of death have found you.

Being skinny white geeks, it is kinda lucky that the alleged thief demurred and wasn’t some kind of bruiser, or they would’ve had their asses kicked. Certainly not worth an iPhone. But, the incident ended well, thanks do modern GPS technology. Finally, when your gadgets get stolen, they can fight back!

Antivirus: Coming to a De’wI’ near you!
May 18th, 2009 by scaredpoet

Klingon Antivirus

Capitalizing on the reboot/sequel of Star Trek now in theaters, computer security company Sophos has launched Klingon Antivirus. Now, as if cryptic error messages weren’t enough for the uninitiated, you can have your computer warn you about latest virus threats in Klingon.

To be sure, this product is real, purports to scan and protect against virus threats just like Sophos’ more humanoid-compatible products, and will be supported with antivirus updates for 30 days. According to the release notes however, there are some caveats including this tidbit:

* (CL 43125.8) Klingon Anti-Virus is unable to remove Rogue Nanites from the central core. To remove establish negotiation using Android or system running OS X 10.6 and deposit on nearest uninhabited moon

Nice to know even in the age of interplanetary computer security, Macs still have an advantage.

25 years of being Insanely Great
Jan 24th, 2009 by scaredpoet

Wow, the Mac is 25 years old today. The above video is of an event that arguably set the tone for computer going forward.

Two things strike me as I watch this:

1. Holy hell, computer graphics SUCKED back then!

2. Holy hell, Steve Jobs looks insanely different!

For those who want to reminisce, there’s a whole website dedicated to the personal accounts of the Apple design team. From the feature inclusions, to the story behind the Mac, to the Drama and Jerkdom that can be His Steveness.

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