Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Failure of World Trade Talks

After what seemed like a promising announcement a few days ago, yesterday we learned that the WTO talks had once again failed to reach agreement, after 7 years of negotiations, no less. The implications of this failure are huge, and will lead no doubt to worsening poverty in many parts of the developing world, while the rich west protects its own short term interests once again. If our leaders are incapable of reaching agreement on such important issues, perhaps we should get rid of them and appoint representatives that are better able to do their jobs?

Who said Macbooks weren't robust?

Despite my efforts at looking after my Macbook its once pristine white casing has steadily become increasingly marked and scratched. I'd also read reports that it was not as a robust as many Windows laptops. Well, yesterday afternoon - due to my own failure to zip up my rucksack - my Macbook fell from it to the hard wooden floor (a drop of over 1m) and then proceeded to slide out of its little protective bag and fall, banging and crashing, down a steep and uncarpeted wooden staircase, to finally come to rest on a quarry tiled floor at the bottom of the stairs.

I thought that this would very probably spell the end for my machine, but as I picked it up I noted that the little LED on the front edge was doing its thing, which offered some hope. I rushed off, late to get home, and did not look at the machine until several hours later. On opening the lid I was amazed and relieved to the Macbook come to life. The optical drive made some funny noises (and still does every time the machine wakes) but other than this it appears to be unharmed.

And cosmetically I'm also impressed. No cracks, splits or major damage other than a "bruise" mark indicating a major point of impact on the front right corner. Not bad. Congratulations Apple for for a machine which is not only a joy to use, but which is capable of withstanding some pretty rough handling.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The cost of buying a Mac

Don't get me wrong, I am a dyed in the wool Mac user, and have been since around 1986 when I first got my hands on one of those little compact SE20s. Today I use a G5 iMac and a Macbook, and OS X is clearly the best operating system on the planet for humans. But you increasingly have to look at the price of Apple kit. I paid just shy of £1000 inc. VAT for my Macbook a couple of years a go (the mid-range option with max RAM).

Today you can get a well specced Windows laptop for around £300 (of course you have to suffer Vista or XP unless you go Linux), while the current equivalent of my Macbook currently retails for £829 inc VAT. That is a big differential. Apple has never sought to play in the budget space, but all the same, computing in these cost conscious credit crunchy times is becoming a commodity item, and surely Apple has to respond with a lower cost mobile offering. Remember the hugely well-liked 12" pro laptop of a few years ago? With the phenomenal rise of the Asus EeePC thingy, perhaps its time for Apple to launch a small - say 11" screen super-mini. With a price point of say £399 it would compete effectively with the top end eePC and provide a competitive OS X platform in the mainstream laptop market. Just a thought...