Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ars Technica on Review Units

Articles like this are the reason why Ars Technica is on my reading list.

These lines from the article are especially revealing:

First, the essential details: Microsoft directly contacted a number of bloggers to offer them loaded laptops as "review units" (their language) which bloggers could chose to review, or not. Microsoft said that bloggers had the option of returning the laptop, giving it away as a prize, or just flat out keeping it. Many bloggers jumped at it, because a) Vista has not been released at the retail level yet, and b) having a laptop all ready to go means you don't have to futz with installing it on your own machine (and many of the bloggers were Mac users, to boot). The rest, as they say, is drama history.


Do you really think Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal goes to some secret underground Apple Store to buy his hot new iPod to review a month before it's even announced? Do you think hardware review sites sneak into processor fabs late at night to gain access to hardware samples that won't be on retail shelves for months? Do you really think they're sending all of that stuff back? Some are, some aren't, and to be honest, I have no idea if Mossberg keeps the top-secret stuff he's sent or not. For someone like Mossberg or someone like me, keeping the stuff isn't one-fifth as important as just having access to it in a timely fashion. That whole angle has been largely lost in this discussion, and it's a shame.


In fact, let me suggest where the real concern should be directed: at publications that aren't giving full disclosure when relying completely on PR-provided goods. In this situation with Microsoft, the only faux pas I see would be one wherein a hypothetical author wrote a glowing review without admitting that their access was completely provided by Microsoft. But I ask you, when's the last time you've seen a WSJ or CNET review prefaced with: "this review unit was accompanied by an NDA from Company X"? An editor at a big publication might roll their eyes at the idea of disclosing such things, but I can tell you as someone who has done the "tiny site with no recognition" thing, access can make or break you in a way that any benefits from keeping a review unit simply cannot.


The conclusion is particularly telling, isn't it?

Now you know why you should bookmark Ars Technica.

My absolute final on the subject. Earlier posts here, here and here.
Copyright © 2006, John Obeto II for®

Review Unit Envy II

I had said I wasn’t going to say any more on this subject here, but a comment by Dan Warne on my previous post leave me no choice but to pen this post.

In his reply to my post, Dan comments (my replies in blue ink):

Err, you accuse me of being tilted in my (obviously rhetorical) question at the end of my post, and you find it necessary to dot dictionary definitions for 'invidious' and 'spiteful' through your post?

In order to help you better understand what I see as the backgrounder.

Anyway, to answer your question: if you'd read my post thoroughly you'd have seen that there's a whole section dedicated to the fact that of course we get freebies. However, in the case of material things, they're usually reasonably low value, such as components that have been sent directly from Taiwan, where the manufacturer doesn't consider the cost of a return international courier justified against the wholesale cost of an item.

In the case of material things? Does software count? Do you do the same with software? What kinds of things are immaterial? Or ethereal?

Who determines what the maximum customary price point for giveaways is? Should giveaways be tchotchkes or of real value? Is there a rulebook somewhere bloggers should swear by?

Sometimes companies leave products with us on long term review -- with a clear-cut loan agreement that they will pick up the product at a later date.

Do you explicitly state that fact to your readers? With every review? Do you also state the fact that the cost mentioned in the review is a SWAG? As in Stupid Wild-A$$ed Guess, a version of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price which has no bearing in the Real World!

And yes, we give products away to readers (though this rarely has anything to do with the journos -- these sorts of offers are usually sorted out by the advertising or marketing departments.)

You guys answer to a higher moral authority?

The whole point of my post is not that having access to technology is bad: it's obviously not. In fact, it's essential to being able to do the job of a technology reviewer.

What -does- muddy the waters, though, is Microsoft's offer to let bloggers -keep- the units. It's totally unnecessary: a three or six month loan would have totally done the job of allowing a thorough review of Vista to be done, without the ethical ambiguity of allowing a blogger to keep it.

Microsoft has, of course, now remedied the situation somewhat by asking bloggers to either return the units or give them away to readers, but at the time my original story was written, Microsoft hadn't yet made that offer.

It is only an ethical ambiguity if it influences the result of the bloggers’ review. Has it?

  • · The principle that there is a presumption of innocence in favor of the accused is the undoubted law, axiomatic and elementary, and its enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law. [156 U.S. 432, 454]
    COFFIN v. U.S., 156 U.S. 432 (1895)

In United States jurisprudence, the presumption of innocence is sacrosanct. That presumption of innocence also permeates all forms of society in the civilized world. Supposedly!

Copyright © 2006, John Obeto II for®

Commenting is closed for this thread.

My dad is 80 today!

By the Glory of God to whom I eternally give thanks.

Happy Birthday to you, Dad, and congratulations on reaching this milestone.

Praise God for your continued good health.
© 2006, John Obeto II for®

Saturday, December 30, 2006

HTPC Review unit envy?

This is my last post on this topic!

In an article here, Dan Warne of APC Magazine, after a rant on the Microsoft/AMD review units sent to certain bloggers, asks the following question, "Is it a bribe, or is Microsoft buying good reviews?"

How tilted is that question?

A fairer question would have also asked readers if it was no big deal.

I wasted no time in commenting:


Buddy, get real!

Your premise is somewhere between ridiculous and ludicrous.

Moreover, the two choices you present to your readership is insulting to all bloggers.

In the computing business, we receive review units all the time. Most of the time, these units are then given to charity.

Virtually all of the recipients of the review units, myself included, already have Windows Vista and Office 2007. Most also got a free copy as members of the Vista beta process.

Personally, there must be at least four (4) free licenses floating about at my home, not to mention the ten (10) that we at receive as part of the Microsoft Partner program.

If that takes care of the monetary issues, what else is left?

Do you think any blogger would risk their credibility for the Velocity Micro Media Center unit or a Ferrari 1000/5000?

Do you think any self-respecting blogger would descend into irrelevance for a PC – of any kind – when our homes, and indeed our workspaces are filled with computers of all sorts?

Could *you* be bought with such a trifle trinket?

Look inwards.

Search yourself.

Is it sour grapes? So you weren’t on *The List*. C’est la vie. It is OK. Maybe next time?

Turn the page.

Then redo this column.

His comeback:

No, I'm not pissed off

:-) No, I'm not pissed off that I didn't get one. As the longest running PC magazine in Australia, we can always get a loan of any hardware we'd like to review. The difference is, though, they're loans, not gifts.

The cost of a computer might be minimal to you in "the computing business", but I'd say that for many bloggers who earn money on the side from their blog only in the form of Google Adsense revenue (perhaps $100/mth at most) a free, high-spec laptop turning up on their doorstep would be a considerable bonus.

To which I now reply here:

Dan, longest running PC magazine in Australia or not, you didn't get one.


Have you ever had a review piece of anything? Ever?

1. unjust: making or implying an unfair distinction an invidious comparison
2. unpleasant: unpleasant because producing or likely to produce jealousy, resentment, or hatred in other people placed in the invidious position of appearing to criticize from the sidelines

As to review units, it would be hard to imagine that your magazine has never had any vendor hardware or software gifted to the magazine for raffling to your readers.

If you have ever done so, what is your point right now?

What you glaringly forgot to note in your rant is that the review units were sent to influential Microsoft bloggers and evangelists.

Operative words being Microsoft bloggers and evangelists.

In other words, to those who dissect and use Microsoft products and technologies on a daily basis. Not to fence-straddlers or onlookers, but to those who had displayed some dexterity with Microsoft-based software.

BTW, how many in the media got an iPod? Or a MacBook? Or a Zune?

Did you?

vindictive in petty way: full of or showing petty maliciousness

Where's the outcry?

If you didn't get a review unit as well, maybe, just maybe it is time to reconsider the credibility provenance of your magazine. As seen by OEMs and vendors, not log-rolling, a$$-kissing commenters on your website.

Have a Happy New Year.

Well, now back to reviewing the Velocity Micro HTPC!

EDIT: Dan Warne was kind enough to comment further on this topic. While our views differ, his opinion is very well laid out and I fully respect it.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Christmas 2006 Gifts

The very good thing about a Christmas Day birthday is that the gifts keep getting better as your family and friends become, more, well, well-off!

It was a very, very profitable haul this Christmas for yours truly, even by Ferengi standards!

Check this out:

  1. Canon Digital Rebel XTi
  2. Zune in Black: Wifey, retro payment for my Zune
  3. 3 mugs for my collection
  4. (Really Big) Shirt
  5. Paciotti Shoes
  6. Toshiba Tecra M7 Core 2 Duo, 2GB Tablet PC
  7. Velocity Micro Media Center box: Microsoft, AMD, Aaron Coldiron, Nick White, The Hive
  8. Sony PSP and 2 games
  9. Fashion shirt
  10. Several sugar-free cakes
  11. Flat-panel sound-sensitive light
  12. Jamaican Rum cake: really alcoholy!
  13. Buzz Lightyear soft shell car for ages 2+
  14. Ca$h

Thanks be to God for his kindness and for allowing peace to rein during this Christmas season.

Props to all who gave, and also offered felicitations, including, but not limited to:

  • Wifey, I love you always and forever
  • My kids, John & Trevor
  • My parents
  • My big bro', Chris and his wife Janet
  • My siblings, Gracie, Mary, Greg, Lucille, and their families
  • The next generation: Chris II, Senami, Brennen, Sessi, Emmanuel.
  • Taiwo and her family; Dippy, my godson Jack, Jennifer, and Amanda
  • Isi and her family
  • 'Sosa and my goddaughter, Karyn
  • Abbey Babayemi and his family
  • Chuk Ndulue
  • Mike Reyes and family
  • Kabyr and his family
  • Fredricka Sule
  • Mummy G. O. Inneh

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dream system to review!

Select community leaders were given either a Ferrari 1000/5000 notebook computer, or a Velocity Micro MCE system for a long-term review.

Velocity Micro MCE or Ferrari?

The choice was hard but...

Velocity Micro MCE Box (picture below) with the following drool-ian specs:

  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+
  • Dual 400GB SATA RAID-1 Hard Drives
  • 2GB DDR2
  • Lightscribe DVD RW
  • AMD Radeon 1950XT 256MB
  • AMD TV Wonder 650 HD Tuner
  • Microsoft Wireless Media Center Keyboard
  • Microsoft Media Center Remote
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
  • 2007 Microsoft Office Professional System

Sweet, eh?

And this is before I even turn it on!

As they say in the 'hood,


Thanks to Microsoft, AMD, Aaron Coldiron of Microsoft, Nick White of the Windows Team Blog, The Hive and the Microsoft Communities.

A search online reveals that I am in pretty exalted company.


But.... not all is well.

As usual, the haters are out with their flensing knives.

Totally discounting the tossers who got squat, some site owners who received review units are concerned about the perception that they (the site owners) were for sale, or could be bought.


A cursory review of the terms of the units is that the computers were for a long-term review of AMD's processors in conjunction with Windows Vista. It is also my understanding that the it is also the site-owners prerogative to give away the system after conclusion of the review.

So what is all the noise about?

The fact that it is from Microsoft?

A community leader who received a Ferrari unit had this very astute observation, "The fact that they can be given away by the site is overlooked since no one wants to give them away".

How true is that?

They would rather bemoan the fact that a unit is given, while daring all to attempt to pry it from their clutching fingers.

Go figure!

Edit: Michael J Reyes, CEO of The Hardware Geeks has just informed me that his review system has a Windows (Vista) Experience Index of 5.1
Edit: Dana Epps has a thought on this issue here.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What is a zoo-nie?

At Costco the yesterday, I heard a droid try to help a customer looking at MP3 players.

This is a Zoo-Nie (Zoo-ney?)

I totally cracked up!

Funny enough, the droid steered the customer away from an iPod to the Zune but ran out of good things to say about Zune other than it was the new thing this Christmas.

I proceeded to help out, starting with the name.

BTW, customer bought the Zune in black.

Friday, December 22, 2006

They are back!

Space Shuttle Discovery landed safely today at the Johnson Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida after a 13-day, 5.3-million mile journey.

During this trip, which incidentally features two African Americans astronauts, Captain Robert Curbeam, USN, and Joan Higginbotham, the International Space Station was repaired, and also upgraded with new functionality.

In fact, Captain Curbeam performed a NASA single-mission four (4) extra-vehicular activity (EVA, or in popular parlance, spacewalks) tasks.

Welcome back.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Joe Wilcox on Vista being 'Last Windows'

Joe Wilcox, who in my mind will always be The Microsoft Monitor, has, as he is always wont to, a very to-the-point article on those SWAG-sters/soothsayers* analysts(?) at Gartner.

In his piece Vista Isn't Windows' Last Destination, he correctly asks the question that most of those supposed 'pundits' should have asked before spewing forth their bloggorhea about the Gartner declaration as if it came down on a tablet with our Patriarch, Moses.

The question?

"Who spiked the eggnog at Gartner?"

Unfortunately, his good manners do not allow him to be more condescending and/or downright insulting to those Madamme Cleo-wanna bes!

Not hobbled by that admirable limitation despite a classical British upbringing, I can definitely say that the tossers at Gartner are a bunch of headline-grabbing morons.

Remember my earlier posts about those yum-yums here and here.

Joe has thankfully taken over the reins of Microsoft Watch, which after the exit of that estimable lady, Mary Jo Foley, had gone to the dogs. Literally!

It took three articles by the placeholder for Joe for me to thoroughly discount MS-Watch and delete it from my feedlist. Since Joe's arrival there, the quality shot back up.

Thanks Joe.

* SWAG: Stupid Wild-A$$ed Guess. The algorithm used to derive their declarations.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Lakers 112, Houston 101

Your 16-7 Los Angeles Lakers did it again yesterday.

Until the 4th quarter, we sorely missed Lamar Odom. can't keep a good man down!

Especially, the Magnificient KB24.

Scoring 53 points with 10 rebounds and 8 assists.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Microsoft NoCal QPB

I attended Microsoft’s Northern California Quarterly Partner Briefing on Wednesday, December 13, and, it was Vista™, Office 2007, and Exchange 2007 everywhere.

While I like Microsoft and all the partner resources they provide, and believe me, they do have a lot, I really do not appreciate the pressure the breadth of those resources places on me!


With such a definitive and highly useful set of tools, there isn’t any reason for any partner not to be successful; we just have to produce.

Forget about all those dreams of goofing off; during this initial intro period of ViOfEx, your customers and clients will be bombarded with ads, news, and info about ViOfEx.

Every day and everywhere.

Get ready

My thanks to everyone at Microsoft that worked on the event and also everyone working to keep us partners singularly focused on the task at hand: helping our clients move to a more secure and productive form of computing and messaging.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Lakers 102, Houston 94

It would have been the Mother of All Tank Jobs if we had lost this game, which at one time we were leading by a margin of 90-64.

We pulled it out thanks to KB24.

Lakers (15-6)
Season Stats | Roster
Name Reb Ast PF Pts
K Bryant, G 8 7 3 23
L Walton, F 5 8 0 18
S Parker, G 1 2 0 14
K Brown, C 4 4 3 12
L Odom, F 1 0 0 0

V Radmanovic 3 0 2 10
B Cook 6 3 6 8
M Evans 3 1 1 6
A Bynum 5 0 4 5
R Turiaf 2 1 0 4
J Farmar 0 0 1 2

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Los Angeles Lakers 106, Spurs 99

With KB24's 34-point, 8-rebound evening coupled with Lamar Odom's near triple-double (18 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists), the Los Angeles Lakers defeated their first respected opponent of the season, the San Antonio Spurs.

Hopefully, this keeps up as we now go on the road.

The line:

Lakers (14-6)
Season Stats | Roster
Name Min Reb Ast PF Pts
K Bryant, G 39 8 1 2 34
L Odom, F 39 11 9 3 18
L Walton, F 34 3 2 1 17
K Brown, C 30 5 3 4 11
S Parker, G 29 3 2 5 10

A Bynum 18 8 1 2 6
M Evans 17 1 3 2 4
B Cook 14 2 0 0 4
J Farmar 19 1 4 0 2

BTW, I like the fact the I now have two ways to replay the games: my T-Mobile Dash, and Zune! If only the Zune had a flash card slot!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bon Voyage, STS-116

Space Shuttle Discovery, on mission STS-116 blasted off a few minutes ago at approximately 5.47 pm Pacific.

They will make space-worthiness checks to Discovery, and then mosey on to dock with the International Space Station, where several EVAs will be made in the process of modifying and upgrading the space station. Docking at the space station is scheduled for 2.07 pm Pacific on Monday, December 11.

Among the crew are two people of African descent, Captain Robert L. Curbeam, Jr., USN, and Joan E. Higginbotham, both of whom are Mission Specialists.

Bon Voyage.

All pictures are and remain the property of NASA

Networks discuss YouTube rival

Don't look now, but the networks are looking to create a rival to YouTube.

Suits, don't waste time, money, and talent on this any further.

There is a viable alternative available right now:

MSN Soapbox.

Though it is still in beta, it has a lot going for it: better UI, easier uploading experience, and the backing of Microsoft, a company that knows how to play nice with you.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Lakers 106, Georgia 95

Even without the Incredible KB24, the Los Angeles Lakers made short work of the Peachtree team, with Luke Walton and Lamar Odom providing sparks.

L Walton, F3446325
M Evans, G4012422
K Brown, C3077513
S Parker, G2511011
L Odom, F4115716

J Farmar2324015
V Radmanovic114005
A Bynum163204
S Vujacic120003
B Cook21002
R Turiaf54040

Coke's (Coca-Cola's) effect on your body.

This post in The Consumerist just serves to bring the effects of highly-sugared drinks on the human body to fore.

At the end of the day, the effect of Coke is actually, Just Like The Real Thing, Baby!

Of particular importance is this line from the article: Everything in moderation, otherwise diabetes goes better with coke!

As a recently-diagnosed insulin-dependent diabetic, it resonates.


Open XML, your new document standard

Despite the best wishes of IBM, the ECMA today approved Microsoft's Open XML specification as a new document standard.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Some malware with that Vista warez?

I guess it is true: there is always a catch!

Some idiots downloaded a warez version of Vista only to find that it was a doctored version with a nasty payload.

In how many languages can I say serves them right?

Unfortunately, not enough.



Classmate PC

This very welcome bit of news hit today.

After the rants commentary of this weekend about the WankerPC, I just love this new development.

Hopefully, enough orders will pour in bringing down the cost of the devices.

My rejoinder to the comment on my post here:
I don't waste my time on anyone who reduces meaningful discourse on computing to a referendum on Microsoft and Intel.

This time though, since the whole idea of 3rd World education is important to me, listen up.

Thank you for your comment.

However, I think you have missed the boat entirely.

In your comment, you mention the number of systems I have with respect to their power consumption. Not a problem for me, thank you. The systems’ power requirements are directly proportional to my computing needs.

Nevertheless, let us get to the nitty-gritty.

To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a branded WinTel system, so I’m assuming you mean Windows-based PCs which use a varied number of processors, so what do you pejoratively call them: WinAMD? WinVia? WinMeta?

If that is the case, the solar panel and hand-crank, in your view, represent the state-of-the-art in technology? Are you kiddin’? This view totally invalidates any credibility you have with respect to this matter.

Believe it or not, people in Africa use computers, even mainframes and supercomputers. With available power when it is required; emphasis on required.

Your snide comments about the length of time I have been in America are totally infra-dig. I would not even begin to give it any mind since I have spent over 78% of a more than 4-decade life (so far) abroad.

A different view from mine regarding a pressing need for any laptop of any kind for inpoverished kids in 3rd World nations is eloquently expressed in this article for Marketwatch by John C. Dvorak.

Wifey, do you really, truly, love me?

If my wife ever wants to remove any doubts in my mind that she loves me, then this is what I want for Christmas:

I'll wait while you all wipe the drool offa your keyboards.

K, are you listening?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Lakers 101, Indianapolis 87

We're on a roll, folks.
Lakers (12-5) Season Stats | Roster
Name Reb Ast PF Pts
K Bryant, G 3 2 1 21
K Brown, C 4 2 5 17
L Odom, F 13 4 6 15
L Walton, F 6 7 2 10
S Parker, G 1 4 4 8
Name Reb Ast PF Pts
J Farmar 4 1 2 9
A Bynum 2 0 3 8
M Evans 3 1 4 4
V Radmanovic 1 2 4 4
S Vujacic 1 2 0 3
R Turiaf 3 0 0 2

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Lakers 97, LA Pretenders 88

It is niiice to see that racist owner's pretend LA NBA basketball team revert to form after the fluke that was the 2005-2006 NBA season.

This is the way it used to be. This is the way it should be. In Los Angeles. It just feels right!

....the Lakers winning...selling out Staples Center...the Pretenders losing....not able to sell out their home games until their betters come to town..

To quote Phil Jackson, "And then, looking at the fans, there's a lot of difference looking at the fans. The Clippers' aren't quite as attractive fans as the Lakers' are."

'Nuff said.

Lakers (11-5)
Season Stats | Roster
Name Min Reb Ast PF Pts
K Bryant, G 40 5 3 3 29
L Odom, F 31 8 2 6 18
S Parker, G 34 6 4 2 11
K Brown, C 34 8 1 3 7
L Walton, F 31 5 2 0 5

V Radmanovic 11 3 0 1 10
A Bynum 12 1 2 3 4
J Farmar 13 1 1 2 4
M Evans 16 0 1 2 4
S Vujacic 9 0 1 1 3
R Turiaf 8 0 0 0 2

No Cheapo OLPC for Nigeria & Africa II

Wayan at commented on my earlier rant post about the WankerPC OLPC.

I wanted to reply to his comment, but it grew into this post.


Be for real!

The OLPC OS is better than whatever Microsoft has today?

Child, puhleese! Toss the crack pipe away!

Right there and then, you totally lose credibility.

Moreover, the technology, Linux, is at best suspect, and unproven as a teaching tool for students. Anywhere.

A form, actually any form, of Windows would not only be better than that crap, but also allow the students to become familiar with what 90 to 95% of the rest of the world uses.

That, not the Flava’ of the Day should be the goal of any such program.

On your webpage, which I had never heard of before today, you commented on a review of the OLPC UI by saying that the developers were being 'brave', and that they had problems learning the Windows UI.

That also is a huge crock!

Everyone has problems with anything new, since it requires a learning curve. Your statement is insulting to all kids in developing countries since it propagates the belief that these kids are somewhat stupid, or slow learners, or worse: that they are somewhat intellectually inferior, a very insidious inference that can be made from the purposely simplistic interface of the wanker PC.

The kids are poor, not imbeciles, OK?

Thought like that is very colonial, and totally counterproductive.

With adequate training, anyone can do anything, from computing on a PDP-8, MicroVAX, VAX, Intergraph Clipper workstation, to whatever I want to use today.

I did it, and straight from Nigeria too!

So please stop that kaka about ‘brave new UI’. Use a UI and operating system consistent with what the rest of the world uses and they have some of my support.

My total support would be given if there is a clearly-defined plan to integrate the OLPC into curricula of the countries that have purchased it, a point noticeably absent in all the flack releases and ink from the OLPC gang, as your website very accurately notes. I guess possession of the OLPC by the kids creates a Vulcan-style mind-meld with all knowledge (T’Pau?), whereby the kids become instant geniuses.

Go figure!

Looking over the biographies of the principals of your site, I see a dedication to the advancement of knowledge and in helping through your various associations with help foundations, and I am impressed. Very impressed!

Your mission in trying to expose the chimera that is the educational integration goal of the OLPC in the syllabuses of the receiving countries is more than commendable, it is truly inspired. Please keep it up.

However, my position does not waver regarding this issue as it stands today.

FYI, I am a first-generation American of Nigerian origin.

NOTE: At my home, Windows Vista, OS X, a VM of Kubuntu Linux, and Open Solaris are installed for whatever environment I need to compute in.