A computer conversation

There was a tweet from @findchaos that made me remember a conversation I had with a coworker at my kitchen job a few days ago.

The gist of it was “I’m looking for a new computer that’s good for everything and has lots of gigs to do what I want because I don’t want to spend a grand on an apple laptop“. Cue the questions regarding use (“Are you going to use for facebook? Youtube? Are you going to play on it?”) and connectivity (“Do you have WiFi at home? No? Are you going to use a hotspot from your phone then? No? So how are you going to get online???”)

This guy is from a poor part of Mexico. Whenever I ask specifics I just get grunts or non-answers, because he gets embarrassed. He knows he’s in over his head on these matters and I am understanding, but there’s so much I can do without kissing his ass which I will not do.

So with that said, I recommended a few models from the Dell XPS line, the Lenovo Thinkpad line and a couple of Samsung laptops I saw for cheap on Amazon. The guy was quite insistent that he wanted a “Sony laptop” if he couldn’t get a cheap Apple laptop. It didn’t matter what the sub-brand was since Sony has a few, most of them with the esoteric model names so favored by this manufacturer. I kept asking if he wanted a Vaio, but he just answered “I want a Sony laptop if I can’t get a cheap Apple laptop”.

After a while of circular arguments on his part I eventually ended the conversation with “If you don’t want to pay over a grand for a computer from Apple and you don’t like what Sony or Dell or Lenovo or Samsung or anyone else has to offer then I can’t help you. You have to decide what you want and all of it costs over 500 dollars from what you say you want.”

That shut him up.

From this I get a few things:

  • Apple is quite uncaring of people like my fellow cook. I’ve seen their support and as they’ll help you as long as you give them money, which most in his position don’t have, otherwise you’re on your own. For them, an Apple device is a status symbol.
  • Other computer manufacturers should try to fill in this gap. Even though these people are mostly illiterate they are already online through facebook and whatsapp. They are quite willing to spend the funds, it’s just that they don’t even have brand awareness of others because no one has even tried beyond a few ads in the most popular telenovela.
  • I think more efforts to promote Chromebooks would help as these people pretty much only use facebook, youtube, whatsapp and a few others. Particularly now that Google is working on having chromebooks have the capacity to run Android apps and even use the Google Play Store itself.
  • People like him want to know more but the classes available are designed for people with 9 to 5 schedules. The vast majority of Hispanic immigrants do not have that schedule and if governments want to better integrate them into US society at large more efforts should be made to allow for schedules where people have free time in the morning and work in the evenings.
  • I should probably start a side business giving people like him advice on what to buy and for a commission, buy it for them through Amazon. Offer training for an additional charge.

In writing this I forgot the original point of the post, but that’s okay. At least this is now out there since it happens somewhat often. People ask me something, I try to obtain more information to provide better advice, then they clam up because they realize they don’t even know what they want or what the person that wants the thing wants.

I’ll just go along with it.

There are a few things that I have to make clear, though, as the entire conversation was conducted in Spanish:

  1. “Lots of gigs” is a valid unit of measure for people like him. I don’t know whether they refer to RAM or to storage capacity, but I go along since they usually mean a bit of both. The actual phrase was “hartos gigas”.
  2. Apple is the same whether they are talking about an iPhone (“Un telefono Apple”) or a computer (“una laptop Apple”) regardless of whether the computer is a desktop or a laptop. The only difference is whether it is a mobile device or not.

ignore the code: Crappy Computers

So the sentiment that «entry-level» computers are good enough for casual users is exactly backwards: casual users are the ones that need high-end computers, while proficient users are the ones who can work around the limitations of low-end computers.

ignore the code: Crappy Computers. via Daring Fireball.

The man puts into words something I’ve attempted to explain, unsuccessfully, to anyone who asks me for recommendations regarding computers.

The question usually goes “What computer should I buy?”. When I answer they should buy a MacBook, they say I’m an idiot for suggesting they buy something that expensive. Then I tell them to buy a Thinkpad, and they think it’s ugly. Then they go out and get a cheap Dell, them come to me complaining it’s slow.

I’ll just give this argument, and hope the person is intelligent enough to catch the argument.

Sonido en Linux, o la falta de

Tons esta este articulo en el sitio del New York Times acerca del enfoque de Ubuntu en lo Mainstream. Es un buen articulo. Pero nunca va a pasar.

Preguntas por que? Por el sonido. Ya sabes, la cosa que tu cerebro procesa como entrada auditiva.

No voy a decir mucho al respecto, ya que otros lo han dicho mejor de lo que yo lo podría decir:

Yo solamente he tratado de hacer funcionar una diadema con Skype en mi computadora. Tuve que molerle a las cosas durante una hora antes de que Skype funcionara como se supone debe hacerlo. Esto con una diadema barata de 50 pesos sin control alguno; nada de esas chidas diademas USB para mi por que ya se que no funcionan con el sistema operativo de mi elección.

Todos esos APIs, servidores de sonido, sistemas y demonios…. son ganado Augeo cagándose en el establo; necesitan ser llevados al rastro y el establo ser limpiado. Quiza el Sr. Shuttleworth lo pueda hacer.

Sonido en Linux? Esta completamente roto; cada vez que veas artículos anunciando “Este es el año de Linux en el escritorio” por favor procede a abusar del autor hasta que te canses.

Digo esto como un usuario de Linux — tanto en casa como en el trabajo — y como alguien que empuja software libre encima de todo mundo. Supongo tendré que dejar de empujar la gente hacia Apple ahora.

Linux Sound, or lack thereof

So there’s this article on the NYTimes about Ubuntu’s focus on reaching the Mainstream. It’s a pretty good read. But it won’t happen.

Why, you ask? Because of sound. You know, the thing that your brain processes as auditory input.

I won’t say much about it, since others have already said it far better than I could:

I’ve only tried to get a headset to work on my computer with Skype. Had to fiddle with settings for an hour before Skype worked the way it was supposed to. Mind you, this is a cheap-ass run-of-the-mill headphones-and-microphone headset without any controls; none of those nifty USB headsets for me because I know they do not work with my choice of operating system.

All of those APIs, sound servers, systems and daemons… they’re Augean cattle mucking up the stable, and they need to be slaughtered and the stable cleaned out. Perhaps Mr. Shuttleworth is up to the job.

Sound on Linux? It is completely broken; whenever you see articles announcing “This is the year of Linux on the desktop”, please proceed to abuse the author to no end.

I say this all as a Linux user — both at home and at work — and as someone who pushes open source software on everyone. Guess I’ll have to stop doing that and push people towards Apple instead.

Sin computadora

Tons mi pinche computadora decidió matarse. Ya me estaba dando problemas previamente, donde no quería encender después de estar apagada unos minutos. Pasaran por lo menos dos semanas antes de que pueda armar una maquina nueva y no estoy seguro de que hacer durante ese tiempo.

La ultima vez que estuve sin computadora fue hace algunos años. Gente como yo se siente… rara… sin computadora. Supongo dependo mas de lo necesario en ellas.

No estoy seguro de que hacer. Debería comprar un radio o algo.

No computer

So my damn computer decided to die. It had been giving me some issues before, where it wouldn’t power on after being shut down for more than a few minutes. It’ll be at least two weeks until I’m able to put a new system together and I’m not sure what I’m going to do during that time.

The last time I was without a computer was a few years ago. People like me feel… strange… without a computer. Guess I depend on them a bit too much.

Not quite sure what to do. I should get a radio or something.

Mrs. Laptop

Mrs. Laptop

From left to right we’ve got

  • An HP Tablet PC
  • A Sony Vaio
  • A pair of MacBooks. Can’t decide if they’re MacBook Pros or not.

We’ve got the obligatory hotmail email address. Inspires terror… but on the computers to be torn apart for parts.

Now… would you trust your MacBook to a 5up4|-| 1337 |-|4x0r technician at a swapmeet might might not even know what a blog is?