7 Tech Rip-offs To Avoid

I came upon an article by Kim Komando on FoxNews. It’s reasonable enough but omits pointing out two huge rip-offs.
“The tech retail jungle is filled with booby traps that can snare even savvy consumers. Steer clear of these bad deals and save more of your hard-earned cash.”
see 5 tech rip-offs to avoid | Fox News.

  1. Microsoft Windows OS – A reasonable price to use a modern operating system on a personal computer is ~$20. With M$, you pay the retailer ~$100 for the privilege. The retailer takes a markup and the OEM (Original Equiment Manufacturer) gets about half what’s left and M$ gets the rest, so two organizations are being paid about twice the going rate for an OS. You can have Debian GNU/Linux, for instance for about 30 minutes’ work.
  2. Apple’s hardware – The same people make your PC whether it’s from Apple or Acer or HP or Dell, the Chinese. They use the same suppliers of chips, hard drives, circuit boards and plastic… If you compare Apple’s hardware with corresponding hardware from other manufacturers, you will pay a huge markup from $200 to $500. Apple recently cut $300 off the price of their MacBook Pro to compete with Google’s Chromebook Pixel. That $300 was purely a rip-off until Google’s product came along. Apple’s operating system is better than M$’s but so is GNU/Linux, so buy your hardware without an OS and install GNU/Linux. It’s easy, but, if you are timid, just hire a teenager.

See how easy it is to install Debian GNU/Linux:

So, if you want to pay a lot of money for a personal computer and you want real value for that money, buy top of the line hardware with GNU/Linux or install GNU/Linux yourself. I’ve been doing that for more than a decade and the result is very satisfactory whereas I have never seen a computer running M$’s OS that was satisfactory and I have never seen one of Apple’s computers do any more than mine yet mine are half the cost.

I just costed out a MacPro v a home-build and the home-build is $2200/$3800, 58% of the cost even though the home-build has more cores, more RAM, more NICs and more storage…

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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20 Responses to 7 Tech Rip-offs To Avoid

  1. Mats Hagglund says:

    My HP-desktop computer is now 8 years old. Only investments i’ve done have been

    -new graphic card (price 48 €)
    – 1 GB more RAM (price 16 € and not even necessary)

    Using Linux on it it won’t surprise me at all if i am using this old one even after 2015.

    Moving from Windows to Linux is saving lots of money. Exchange is even better because i’ve had (since 2008) real decent system for me and my wife.

  2. oiaohm says:

    DrLoser please lead to read what I said.

    Bell curve over time. I should have been more exact to allow for idiots. The bottom line of the graph time this is what the “over time” means.

    A bell curve over time is a particulars thing and it not described in the book “the bell curve” or on the wikipage about Bell curve. Bell curve over time was a latter discovery. That natural effects that are kinda expected to be random can generate nice curves that just happen to have 1 axis time. This is where this term comes from. Most likely should have said a exact form of bell curve.

    The closest would be a Rogers’s Bell Curve. You basically swap profit opportunity for easy of attackers finding flaws and making profit hacking computers. And mass market for when auditing tools become common place in code development. The number of exploits found so far per year seam to follow making that curve.

    The flaw numbers so far are fairly much following that.

    DrLoser “bell curve over time” is not “the bell curve” or a bell curve. Bell cure over time is a class of other things where the base line is time. Could be overlapping or non over lapping. So when people turn up to work each day you could over lap the time each day everyone turns up. So like 9 am turn up each day added up and totalled into the 9 am value. This will generate a bell curve like shape in a large enough company. This is a bell curve over time.

    You claim I don’t know mathematics you don’t know graphing of information and how to describe the results.

    Note I also said “a bit of a bell curve over time.” So it may be distorted.

  3. DrLoser says:

    Really I am expecting a bit of a bell curve over time.

    Are you, Hamster? How fascinating.

    Would you mind explaining, no doubt with copious help from links to Wikipedia, precisely how a normal distribution fits into your pathetic paranoid view of life?

    Because for the rest of us, y’know, it … ahem … doesn’t.

    Warning: bell curves may go up or down. Watch for nasty sigmas. Your mileage may vary, and your dreams may slide down the razor-blade of life.

  4. oiaohm says:

    eug look at the charts closely.

    http://scan.coverity.com/faq.html note the date of public-ally scanning open source. 2006

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sparse yes starts in 2003 but only gets really good by 2005.

    Those years are when the found bugs change completely.

    Really I am expecting a bit of a bell curve over time.

    If you notice 2006 a huge stack of code injection faults found. Most of those track back to defects coverity found.

    2005-2006 a static analysis scanners for php and java was released as well.

    Linux kernel is not the only the bit counted on cvd or nvd. Its every bit of software that runs under the OS.

    You can fairly much draw a line. 2005 from then on bugs are webserver/webserver….. Linux runs the most different forms of web software. XSS bugs don’t happen in anything other than a web server related application. Same with sql injection for most cases.

    More and more of the open source projects are using build test at the git server before commit will be accepted. This is following the very old test.winehq.org model.

    The one thing that cvd or nvd are telling us introduce tools to find particular classes of bugs and you can make them disappear. Just there is no perfect tool for nixing all buffer flow errors yet.

  5. Der Balrog says:

    Before someone comes nitpicking:

    A ram is certainly more intelligent then than you are, there can be no doubt about that[.]

  6. Der Balrog says:

    Wrong! There are plenty of Linux systems sold at retail — they are mostly labeled Android.

    That’s not what Pogson was talking about in #2.

    But you know, I’m in the market for a new rig to run Maya and Nuke on. Which Android device can you recommend? Wait, what? Nuke and Maya don’t exist for Android? Insanity!

    A ram is certainly more intelligent then you are, there can be no doubt about that

  7. ram says:

    Der Balrog said:

    “That’s why there are no Linux systems on the shelves of retailers.”

    Wrong! There are plenty of Linux systems sold at retail — they are mostly labeled Android.

    Of course, the numerous “white box” computer shops (usually owned by Asians) have various flavors of Linux, besides Android, on the shelves.

  8. oiaohm says:

    –Why do you complain? The oceans of hardware purchased by the Windows and even Macintosh world keep the prices low for you techies who want to fool around on your own. You are getting the benefits from this mass market, too, so why be so grumpy about it?–
    Because large percentages of that hardware is crap. In a lot of bad and scary ways.

    Chrome Embedded Controller has come into existence as Google decided to security audit.

    Yes you know your keyboard/mouse it connects to a device called embedded controller. This controller also controls how you system suspend and many other nice management things. What protection is there against someone changing that firmware to something hostile. Only protection is that the firmware programming interface is undocumented that you in most cases can call from a userspace program in Windows or a root program in Linux(different locked off memory zones). If you find the interface you can change it no passwords no checksums in 90 percent+ of x86 motherboards.

    –I doubt that they get very much money from the techies doing their own work.–
    True. Go to server farms and you do find a lot of techs doing there own work. Microsoft does not do as well there.

    Really its more good luck than good management that computers don’t get completely owned at hardware level more often.

    bw scary part is Apple does not use one of the secure embedded controllers either.

    Mass market benefit has been crap gets to sell. Comes very clear when you look at hardware security.

    Think how many years secure booting was not worried about.

    Just to top things off the embedded controller is what does ACPI that is some of the most buggy areas of hardware interfacing. EFI motherboards still have ACPI.

    bw basically if what Windows and OS X was running on was pure quality we would be less upset.

    Quality of motherboard chipset is higher from tyan than what Apple uses. Ok might need to pay a custorm builder to assemble it in I don’t have time but it still comes in cheeper than a Mac Pro. Main reason Mac Pro are expensive is the fact you cannot buy OS X for other hardware.

    Yes Apple arguement is we use the best quality hardware. The correct is Apple use as good quality hardware as we can make you believe is the best. Then bill you a good percentage above the cost of the true best.

    Little things like the embeded controller not being secure normal users will not ask about.

  9. bw says:

    “sadly Microsoft thinks everyone can do plug and build assembly”

    It would seem to me that Microsoft’s revenues stem either from OEMs who preload Windows or corporate IT departments that buy Windows server and Office products. I doubt that they get very much money from the techies doing their own work. Fortunately for Microsoft, there are so many more non-technical individuals and corporate IT departments than anything else.

    Why do you complain? The oceans of hardware purchased by the Windows and even Macintosh world keep the prices low for you techies who want to fool around on your own. You are getting the benefits from this mass market, too, so why be so grumpy about it?

    And what does any of that have to do with MacPro?

  10. oiaohm says:

    bw even adding assembly charges to those parts it still comes in cheaper than Mac Pro.

    bw yes sadly Microsoft thinks everyone can do plug and build assembly. This will give you a better laugh.

  11. bw says:

    “homebuilt example is plug together form factor…Software configuration tyan board is zero other than general.”

    Pardon me for laughing out loud.

    So Apple must concede all of its market, where it previously sold MacPro computers, to Linux and the parts vendors for anyone who is willing to buy a few thousand bucks worth of parts and scavenge around for OS software and ideas on how to put it all together. That is a sad day for Apple, but I wonder how much business they will actually miss on account of this sort of competition.

    My instincts tell me that this will be only an inconsequential amount of lost business, but I might be wrong.

  12. oiaohm says:

    bw home-build tyan motherboard in that is Linux certified.

    –I saw no suggestion in that list or on the vendor website that Linux could be used with these parts either.–
    This is not required. The real maker of the motherboard states it will run Linux this is tyan. Everything else in order is to tyan spec for that board. So as long at it lands in working order you are a go.

    –TYAN makes no warranties to the usability of a BIOS on our website and are made available to the public on an “as-is” basis. Upgrading a BIOS without knowing the implications may cause serious adverse affects. Please do not upgrade a BIOS unless directed to do so by a qualified support technician. TYAN is not able to replace mis-used or damaged BIOS chips in the event of a BIOS flash failure. Please contact your dealer for replacements or warranty service.–

    Yes fun right. Tyan only certifies all their board to run Linux. They provide instruction to Linux uses to avoid having to flash bios. Poor Windows server users don’t touch home-build unless you can get vendor to tell you the firmware version and you hope no bug appears or have the right tools to repair a tyan in case of bios death (ie a Linux machine with correct software and a little bit of hardware to interface). Flash failure tyan is bricked unless you have the tools from corebios project to fix it. Tyan will not replace a board just because you brick a flashing you are expected to fix it.

    Tyan is different to most vendors the fix machine is Linux and directly supported by them.

    bw tyan boards are not cheep. Construction wise the exceed apple boards. Firmware upgrade wise Apple can be worse. Bricked firmware on apple is not under warranty either. But at least Tyan provides all the instructions to jack another computer into the motherboard and write a new flash in. Apple does not.

    bw “one has to be considerably adept at both electronics construction” homebuilt example is plug together form factor. This is not electronics construction.

    Software configuration tyan board is zero other than general. There is no extra drivers for Linux required on a tyan board or extra settings. Kernel default work. Ok I cannot say that about installing windows on tyan board there is a bit more knowledge so you install drivers in the right order.

    bw other things you raised have some base. That hardware mix is Linux supporting no question.

  13. Der Balrog says:

    Once again the Trollrog has designated himself as the mouthpiece for the general public.

    No, I haven’t. That would be Pogson who believes he knows best what people want and need.

    The general public can speak for itself. And it has spoken loud and clear for many years now. That’s why there are no Linux systems on the shelves of retailers.

    Get over it.

  14. bw says:

    “MacPro v a home-build”

    It is interesting that you consider these two items to be somehow equivalents. The Mac is a known quantity, of course, although it is not clear as to how you configured the MacPro to arrive at the $3800 figure.

    The “home-build” is not a computer at all, but just a list of parts that have no guarantee of compatibility or even any assurance that they will compute at all. You leave out the add-on pricing for ongoing warranty exchange and for unit assembly. In order to avail oneself of these potential savings, one has to be considerably adept at both electronics construction and software configuration as well. It seems that your assigning these functions a zero cost base is rather disrespectful of those who might do this for a living, even yourself.

    I saw no suggestion in that list or on the vendor website that Linux could be used with these parts either. Is there any assurance that it will work at all? The parts are sold with the admonition that you cannot get your money back once purchased and goods can only be exchanged with identical items if defective.

  15. kozmcrae says:

    Trollrog wrote:

    “And do people feel like they’re being ripped off?”

    Once again the Trollrog has designated himself as the mouthpiece for the general public. He’s a piece of work and a mouth but not a mouthpiece.

  16. bw says:

    “That’s why people prefer Macs even if they are more expensive”

    Macs are seen as more elegant and hence worth the extra cost. The affluent people who can buy BMW, Gucci, Louis-Vuitton, and other prominent name brand merchandise buy Macs without batting an eye. They would never turn an eye to the plebeian sort of stuff that you are advocating.

    The only problem with Macs is that they are not really compatible with decades of personal data files and experience using Windows applications. That keeps a huge number of people buying replacement Windows computers even while they are buying iPhones and iPads for mobile use where that data and experience are not so critically in need of preserving.

    In that world may be the opportunity for Google to take control of these technologies with Android devices although they are not addressing the basic brand building functions needed to overcome Apple’s image.

    Beautiful people, and those who would want to be, are not going to go with Linux computers whether they settle some day for Samsung or some similar phone.

    How many years now has Linux been a completely viable and capable OS for personal use? Yet the shelves are empty of such product. On-line and in far away lands these devices are offered to those who cannot afford the mainstream, but that is not building any sort of pride.

  17. Der Balrog wrote, “do people feel like they’re being ripped off?”

    Yes, they do. That’s why people prefer Macs even if they are more expensive. That’s why people are amazed how fast GNU/Linux is when they see it. The last place I worked I had students read the damned EULA and they hated it. They also said at the unboxing of brand new dual core AMD64 PCs running that other OS, “It’s so slow!”. I also showed them the price of noOS compared to bundled with that other OS. Yes, they feel ripped off when they realize the junk they get with the PC is not inevitable.

    I know a young person looking at getting a Mac. Why would a young person do that when Wintel is everywhere at much lower prices?

  18. Der Balrog says:

    And do people feel like they’re being ripped off? You’re once again guilty of elevating personal opinion to absolute fact.

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