Linked by Kroc Camen on Tue 15th Jun 2010 10:03 UTC
Apple Apple have updated the Mac Mini. It now sports an aluminium (no, I am not going to spell it "aluminum") enclosure, an HDMI port, an internal PSU (no power-brick!) and oddly, an SD card slot in the back. There's also an access hole on the bottom to change the RAM easily.
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RE[6]: UK Price
by Neolander on Tue 15th Jun 2010 20:00 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: UK Price"
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Ah, finally some explanation above the "interesting" level ;)

The Techie Apple Conundrum (TAC)

The TAC arises often on sites such as OSNews because the attraction of Apple products, and hence Apple's huge success as a company, is dependent on features and aspects of product design invisible to almost all Techies. Thus Apples success is mysterious, vexing and ultimately challenging.

Well, there seem to be written in the Universal [Mac|Linux|Windows|Nintendo|Xbox|Playstation|Nokia|Whatever] Fanboy Manual that it's always a right thing to do to start by explaining to the reader that he's an idiot. Go and figure out why so much Apple topics end by flamewar... Well, let's ignore it and read what's next.

Techies for example often focus on feature lists and technical specifications and compare one such list to another and look at comparative prices and cannot understand that someone would pay more for an "inferior" spec.

Continue insulting behavior while explaining that objectivity (ie using real and non-obfuscated data about a product) is a wrong method. Start to get tired. When does some non-laughable stuff begin ?

This of course misses a critical aspect of Apple product design, one of the keys to the success of Apple in the consumer market, which is that for many (perhaps most) consumers having fewer technical features is a positive thing.

Okay, less is good. Life is short, pay more. And then ?

This seems paradoxical to Techies but this is because they fail to comprehend what the actual experience for the vast majority of consumers of hi-tech products actually is - which is bad.

Ah, finally ! Let the show begin. So for you, user experience is not a feature ?
Let's see...
feature (plural features)

2. An important or main item.
5. (computing) A beneficial capability of a piece of software.
6. The cast or structure of anything, or of any part of a thing, as of a landscape, a picture, a treaty, or an essay; any marked peculiarity or characteristic; as, one of the features of the landscape.
* 1911, 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica:

The most prominent feature of the New England land system was the town grant, which in every case became the territorial basis of a group settlement.
8. (engineering) Characteristic forms or shapes of a part. For example, a hole, boss, slot, cut, chamfer, or fillet.

Ease of use and good user experience totally is a feature, and the beginning of your post hence is crap. Just a little precision.

Consumers constantly encounter products that don't work as advertised, products that squeeze so many functions into an item that using it for its main purposes is dreadfully complex, products that even when their function should be simple (i.e. to play music, to play a DVD, to surf the web, to write emails) require a thick user manual (many of which which are often written by engineers and are thus unhelpful).

I agree that feature overflow is a horrible and alas very common defect in the industrial world. However, I'm eagerly waiting to read how you're going to demonstrate that Apple, inventors of iTunes and the iPhone/iPod Touch, are insensitive to that defect...

Most hi-tec products are user-unfriendly for most consumers. But not to Techies because they have technical knowledge and so can cope with poor/arcane design. In fact Techies like such products because they find technical challenges fun and because it makes them useful (they are always helping people solve their technical problems) and thus boosts their self esteem.

Again, push forward sentiment of personal superiority to ensure that you get grilled and can then tell that you're being persecuted because you're telling the truth (or because the reader is too near-sighted). Your "techie" stereotype gets more and more unlikely as you give him the superpower to master poor design so much that it doesn't matter to him and that it's even close to a child's play. But it doesn't matter as long as you're deeply convinced that such people DO exist.

To get a better picture of real-world techies, you'd have to meet the SLR (Single Lens Reflex). Photographs buy one because they want to go at a picture quality level that the average compact camera can not reach. Weight, volume, and complexity are drawbacks of SLRs, not advantages nor a necessity. As compact cameras get more and more powerful and start to do better and better pictures, more and more people who would have bought a SLR some years ago will buy one now.

Everyone wants to get things done as good as possible. But we do not do things the same way, because we make different compromises. Those who are ready to overcome a higher learning cost for the final benefit of higher-quality photographs go dSLRs. Those who are more in the mind of grabbing their camera and shooting pictures without caring about how it works prefer compact/phone cameras. I'm an advocate of the latter myself, but my mother is a heavy argentic SLR user. There's room for every compromise in the market.

Some kit, almost all non-Apple desktop computers for example, are not just difficult and poorly designed but are positively scary for almost all consumers. Many non-Apple desktop computers seem very complex to operate, go wrong for no clearly understood reasons and worst of all seem to be under constant attack. Watching someone move from a non-Apple desktop computer to a Mac you can often see them slowly losing their awful, and most of the times paralysing, fear of infection and attack. As the fear fades the pleasure of using their computer increases dramatically and people start to love their computers rather than secretly hating them. Thus another mac-head is born.

Who's wearing a blindfold here ? I give macs the benefit of still being extremely bug-free compared to competitors, but in the area of the simplicity, I'm afraid to tell that the simpler mac desktop has become more and more of a myth lately.

Here's some real-world data :
1/I've seen one of the worst computer users I know using Windows 7 without a single issue. I hate its messy UI myself, but one has to admit that it's sufficiently good for everyday computer use by a non-technical people. Really. No blue screen of deaths everywhere, no crashes, no random behaviors, and even popup emission has been reduced. It's perfectible, sure, but it's not the nightmare you're describing at all. Have a better look around you.
2/Due to my generally bad experience of Windows, and due to her talent at finding bugs in software, when my girlfriend's parents offered to buy her a laptop for her 18th birthday, I suggested her to get a MacBook. I supposed, after hearing the daily praise of Apple computers as better tools by my parents, that it would somehow magically improve her computing experience, in a way like the one you're describing. Well, you know what ? Miracles don't exist. She first endured pain due to the stupid over-sensitive multitouch trackpad which mistakes "scroll" for "zoom" in word processors. Then due to the difficulty to manage several windows which look pretty much the same when you don't have very good eyes. Then due to the low quality of freeware on the mac platform. Then due to the lack of usual media files support. Overall, she got used to it, like anyone finally gets used to a product given sufficient motivation. But you must agree that this is not impressive. Mac OS is not so bad that it's hardly usable on a daily basis by people who have a good knowledge of it or who get helped by someone who has such knowledge. But it's nowhere exceptional. Linux is not that much of a nightmare either in such conditions. Nor is Windows 7.

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