Saturday, December 29, 2007

Aftermath of an online 'opportunity ' experiment (Affiliate Junktion, one month later).

I recently found myself interested in an online affiliate marketing opportunity called Affiliate Junktion.

<<<<< EDIT: my latest blog on Affiliate Junktion is here - You can find more up to date inforamtion on Affiliate Junktion here.>>>>>>

Deciding I should at least once in my life take the chance to see if they work, (and after confirming to the best of my ability that it was no scam) I decided to give it a go.

What convinced me were two factors:
1) An immediate $75 signing bonus
2) A guarantee (something like, if your not earning $150 a day, in three weeks, they would pay the $150 per day until you were)

So finally I gave in and decided to give it a whirl (feel free to read my previous blog entries on this topic after finishing this one)

The first thing worth noting at this stage is that all Affiliate Junktion payouts are in New Zealand Dollars (where Affiliate Junktion operates). So while you pay US$90+ to get you web hosting, Affiliate Junktion will theoretically refund you only US$57.95 (todays rate). After over a month, my NZ$75 signing refund is still showing in my Affiliate Junktion control panel as "pending".

The second thing is the NZ$150 per day guarantee. Over one month later, where is that? I new at sign up that Affiliate Junction's terms and conditions have provision to deny anyone this guarantee and make it impossible for people to take legal action against Affiliate Junktion regarding this, so I'm not that surprised. Maybe they bank on people apathy.

After signing up I followed their instructions and advertised the site they had given me. What I learnt over this time was:
1) Costs of getting traffic to Affiliate Junktion are far higher than Affiliate Junktion states. This is mainly because people followed the links to my site and never clicked through to Affiliate Junktion. Probably combine with increased competition for clicks which affiliat programs like theirs help fuel.
2) Conversion rate (when customers take action and become buyers) is not as high as Affiliat Junktion promised.
3) The commission is also in New Zealand dollars.

But I, persevered, Affiliate Junktion emailed me and did help with setting up my google adwords campaign, helping me to lower the click cost and get more traffic. I also realised I could send customers directly to Affiliate Junktion through adwords using my affiliate ID. This is a common practice, it solved the problem of people only clicking on my advertising and not getting through to Affiliate Junktion, so I immediately started to see clicks registering in the Affiliate Junkion control panel. The trouble was customers had not been warmed up (a process copywriters use, using persuasive, emotive language to improve the chances of making a sale) and so conversion rates weren't good.

So what was the end result? I spent €35 (NZ$66.65) to get NZ$16.00 in commission. It was a no brainer, I pulled the plug. ((EDIT, luckily I tried three time and on the last try nailed it. I now make €100 per day with Affiliate Junktion, the most important lesson learned is "if at first you don't succeed...")

I'm sure some people who find thier way to this page still want to believe, as I do, that is is possible, that I could have done something to improve things. Actually I'm sure I could have done better, but how long would it have taken? How much better could I have done? To make a profit I would have needed a conversion more than twenty time higher than I got.

Worth noting, Affiliate Junktion made 8 new sign ups from me. If they only duplicate my experience, then that will become 64 and so on... So its clear then even if their affiliates aren't successfully, than Affiliate Junktion (and google advertising) will be.

I hope this helps people make an informed decision regarding Affiliate Junktion. Maybe some day I workout how to promote the program cheap enough, at the moment, it's beyond me.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

What makes Affiliate Junktion (and others like it) tick?

Ever wondered exactly how Affiliate marking programs work? Especially the ones without a product?

In response to reader comments I wanted to continue the theme of affiliate marketing and this time look at how such schemes are constructed.

As an example, it was pretty easy to find out how Affiliate Junktion makes most of its money, by getting a commission from the web hosting company either omnis or ipower. when people sign up to host the web site that the Affiliate company supplies their members. Many of the more techno savvy (my name ain't tekno_boy for nothing) can see that it wouldn't be too hard to construct such a scheme yourself.

Lets take a look at the pieces of the puzzle shall we?

First, any successful Affiliate program will need to get your email address to send you their "important" information. They present you with an 'opt in' form which is attached to an autoresponder (like the one from aweber). In layman's terms they get you to choose to subscribe to emails which they periodically and automatically send. The first of these simply confirms you were the one asking for the information (in case someone else put your email in without your consent).

After you've confirmed that, your affiliate program will send you further instructions.

This is all done automatically through services like (and this is the service Affiliate Junktion uses) aweber's autoresponder service.

After you've joined the Affiliate marketing service's subscription. They will entice you to take some kind of action that generates income for them.

In the case of Affiliate Junktion, they offer a free web site and require you to join a hosting service (ipower) for which they will get a commission. Once you've signed up (and they've confirmed this) they send you a website with an affiliate link which allows Affiliate Junktion (or you Affiliate marketing program of choice) to recognize when visitors arrive at their site through your links. If these visitors sign up, you get a commission.

The system many use (like Affiliate Junktion) is Post Affiliate Pro. Post Affiliate Pro is a php driven affiliate marketing system, allowing your affiliates to track commission sales manage their affiliate accounts. Post Affiliate Pro is not just for money making affiliate schemes like Affiliate Junktion, its also a useful tool for promotion of all sorts of products online.

Those are the basic three ingredients of money making Affiliate programs. Again here is a summary:

  • An autoresonder for aweber allows people to “opt-in” to your subscriptions service.

  • The first email to all subscribers tells them to sign up at either omnis or ipower and forward thet welcome email for confirmation (the commission rate -at time of writing- at ipower is US$100 per signup).

  • Post Affiliate Pro, allows the affiliate web site to track its customer commissions and lets affiliates manage their accounts.

With a little knowledge it seems reasonable that one could use these tools to build a site and “own” the Affiliate program not just join it.

Unfortunately It's not all that easy to do in reality, but for those who are willing to take the time to learn it's definitely not a rocket science.

One such example of this is which uses those elements to offer people instructions on how to do it themselves. The difference is, they show people how to get the full commission from omnis/ipower and not just a couple of dollars (please also note that Affiliate Junktion advertises all payouts in NZ$ which makes it appear more attractive than it really is). The trade off for them (, is they can't offer any guarantees or cash back, as they make no further income from those who sign up under their affiliates, nor will they get more money from future customers who sign up from an affiliate. Also because the instructions they offer 'give the game away' they are also a little more complicated and require a bit more time to complete. Affiliate Junktion has a simple system but the payouts are much much smaller.

The people at Affiliate Junktion and the like aren't silly. If you discovery the parts that make up their system and follow their links in order to make such a scheme yourself, they will get a commission on that as well.

Hope that help your understanding of how Affiliate schemes work. I certainly am enjoying the learning exercise and (although I have yet to break even) expect that this knowledge will ultimately serve me well.

The best advice I can offer people is to be very careful, take a look at affiliate marketing's programs, but don't be too quick to sign on the dotted line. Always be skeptical an do your research, only join when your sure you've gotten good independent advice and understand not only how you will make money, but also how the Affiliate marketing program makes money from you.

Friday, November 30, 2007

More on Affiliate Junktion...

<<<<< EDIT: my latest blog on Affiliate Junktion is here - You can find more up to date information on Affiliate Junktion here.>>>>>>

One of the things to watch, is that because they are in New Zealand, all payouts are in NZ$. If you check out you will see they are making $100US per sign up. Not only that but a recent email to me suggested their lowest payout rate is NZ$1.50 (US$1.15). (At time of writing, I thought Affiliate Junktion paid per conversion, they don't, Affiliate Junktion pays per lead. Only Affiliate Junktion themselves know how many leads end up signing up)

If you put that together with the increase in people using keywords like "make money" through Yahoo or Google adwords resulting in a hight cost per click, its easy to see there is plenty of money for them, hardly any for you. (since writing that I have got my cost per click down to €0.03 for Affiliate Junktion ads)

Really the only ones making the money are
Affiliate Junktion (maybe Affiliate Junktion isn't making money, see my latest Affiliate Junktion blog here) .

Maybe the occasional member who's experienced with online advertising is lucky enough to target his/her Affiliate Junktion ads effectively and cheaply, but for every member who does, there are no doubt plenty who signup and go nowhere. (that may still be true, but I suggest you get the free information here and then decide for yourself if Affiliate Junktion will work for you)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Day three. Affiliate Junkion, scam or truth a real test.

<<<<< EDIT: my latest blog on Affiliate Junktion is here - You can find more up to date information on Affiliate Junktion here.>>>>>>

After finding out that Affiliate Junction was a legitimate endeavor (see my other posts) I evaluated it as A kind of multilevel marketing program with relatively low payouts (mainly benefiting those running the affiliate program).

I the past day I have considered what it would take to run such a program oneself and its a bit more involved than you think. Maybe the fact that this is a real program, well thought out and simply executed (with importantly easy to follow step) could be of use to some.

To be fair, I decided to say that if your not really comfortable with making your own affiliate related site with content and advertising (possibly including customer log ins, keeping track of income and providing members with reports) than maybe I shouldn't be so harsh.

While I openly admit I personally am exploring other avenues, if your not so web savvy and want to give it a go (knowing that although you might get money from it, the person really makes the mega bucks is the one who brought the program to fruition), then I can say, at the very least you will end up with some very good web hosting for your money.

A comment made on one of my posts made me think that some people just want to make sure its not scam and are keen to give it a go. I can vouch for that at least. Maybe you'll get something more than you pay back, only time will tell. I genuinely think that the system is well executed and if you can't do it yourself, then Affiliate Junktion might be as good as any you'll come across.

Ironicaly I must be making some admission that the Affiliate Junction program has some merit because I'm about to post the link.

If you don't feel you've got what it takes to do better and were just looking make sure you wouldn't be scammed so you can go ahead, then here's the link. Please remember just one thing, most multilevel marketing programs (which parallel Affiliate Junktion) are not much more then pyramid schemes using products to stop the pyramid from collapsing. When the market gets saturated, then it might be hard to get the returns advertised.

Be informed and then make your own decision.
Affiliate Junktion

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Day two. Affiliate Junkion, scam or truth a real test.

<<<<< EDIT: my latest blog on Affiliate Junktion is here - You can find more up to date information on Affiliate Junktion here.>>>>>>

This morning (about 12 hours after signing up) I received a conformation email from Affiliate Junktion saying my membership had been approved and to login to the control panel at Affiliate Junktion, a link was provided.

As yet, I have been unable to view this page. I simply get the error:
The server at is taking too long to respond.
Could it be that the Affiliate Junction program is really popular, or something more sinister? We shall see.

I have been trying now for about half an hour, I'll keep you posted.

After another hour the page came up, must just have been some kind of server problems (maybe unexpectedly large traffic).

Heres a screen shot of the control panel ((Edit Affiliate Junktion now uses a slightly different system)):

The getting started page in the Affiliate Junktion control panel tells you to download and install winzip (for those who don't have it), download you free websites a search and replace tool and free ftp software. Pretty obvious stuff. You meant to upload the site you received to you new domain (which you paid for) after replacing the appropriate referral links with your own.

It then simply goes on to explain how to market your new affiliate website using Yahoo and Google Adwords. Nothing here alot of us don't already know.

If you going to advertise a site, then why not make a nice site with information and some good affiliate links (perhaps including the joining the ipower affiliate scheme that Affiliate Junktion uses), this way you'd make a higher return on your investment ((Edit: Boy was I wrong)).

Athough Affiliate Junktion is not a scam, don't expect to make any money from it ((Edit: Did I say that??? I'm now making over €100 per day!)). (read my post about my personal Affiliate Junktion experience) Affiliate Junktion is more or less a web base multi level marketing system using web hosting membership to give the bottom level something for the money they lose.

Also although you can join Affiliate Junction for free you are going to have to spend real money (first with web hosting and then with advertising through Yahoo and Google) and at $2,00 per sign up the only one who is going to make real money is the owner of Affiliate Junktion. ((Edit: again, boy was I WRONG!))

For a complete novice who can't get it together themselves I guess some money is better than none and you may be assured to know that Affiliate Junktion is not going to rip you off. You may just end up spending quite a bit for uncertain returns.

I for one will spend my advertising dollars on bringing people to more lucrative (for me) Affiliate programs than the one offered by Affiliate Junktion. I'm no longer just weary of scams, now I'll watch out for scam-like schemes similar to Affiliate Junktion.

I'll keep you posted to see if I get my $75 back!! -[edit] as of almost three months later, the $75 is still "pending" (not yet "approved"). ((EDIT: Yes, I got it back, here's my Affiliate Junktion payment proof)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Affiliate Junkion, scam or truth. A real test - day one.

<<<<< EDIT: my latest blog on Affiliate Junktion is here - You can find more up to date information on Affiliate Junktion here.>>>>>>

There are allot of Affiliate programs these days, and most good bloggers are affiliate savvy as are readers. I decide to take the plunge and check out one thats surfaced recently.

The site is Affiliate Junktion. Affiliate Junktion reads too good to be true. It guarantees to make you $150 a day, free to join and free website. We all know that affiliate plans can never 'guarantee' anything. In an effort to find out if Affiliate Junktion is a fraud, I did a bit of research:

I found (from forums/blogs) that after you join with Affiliate Junktion, sure you might get a free website (more on that later), but you have to host it with the service provider in their scheme. For that you have to pay for a years hosting, anything from US$5 to $10 a month (depending on time of year specials - currently only $4.95). Thats US$60-$100. So much for free (although the do promise to re-reimburse you $75 to cover that)

Looking at the site it appears to be New Zealand based. A quick whois check show Affiliate Junktion is hosted by in the US but (care of their domain privacy). OK so its hosted in the US that doesn't tell us anything. I had a look at the affiliate program at and they pay out $65.00 per signup to affiliates. That looks like where Affiliate Junktion is making their money.

So I thought lets see what happen when I sign up and registered my details. I immediately received an instruction email showing that I would have to sign up at Something smelt rather fishy. Why host with and direct people to to sign up? So I check out their site, seams legit and a quick look at their affiliate program might hold a clue as to how Affiliate Junktion makes money. pays out US$100 per sign up, enough to cover the promised $75 reimbursement and $2 sign up fee Affiliate Junktion pays its members (as I understand it).

About the guarantee to make $150 a day, we'll I check out Affiliate Junktions terms and conditions and it has a waiver that basically says that Affiliate Junktion is not liable for the validity or truth in the content of its site. That way Affiliate Junktion can guarantee and promise all they like it doesn't mean anything. You should know that.

I decided to carry on with the sign up. Hey I could use a years hosting even if the Affiliate Junktion turned out to be a scheme.

Therein I think lies the secret. Affiliate Junktion gets you to sign up for web hosting. This is how it avoids being a pyramid scheme, because at the bottom level there is someone getting a product, and one that most people who are likely to come across Affiliate Junktion (those searching for affiliate schemes) can use.

There are other schemes like that. They are called multi-level marketing. Basically a pyramid scheme which make sure the bottom level never 'breaks down' leaving people with nothing to show for thier money, by providing a product or service. They then encourage their members to duplicate the process and find more members. They even have a name for it, it's called "the cycle of duplication".

Whatever the outcome, I've paid my money to Affiliate Junktion so time will tell if they suckered me. If it is real, ones things for sure, Affiliate Junktion is set to make a bundle and at some stage there will be allot of people saying "I've got my hosting, now what?"

The last thing I did today ways to send my sign up proof to Affiliate Junktion. They are supposed to respond and upload the 'magical' website which will make me $150 per day to my host account. In any case I'll post tomorrow with more... if your thinking about joining Affiliate Junktion, maybe hold off a few days, we'll soon see if Affiliate Junktion is truth or fraud.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Don't cry for Microsoft (the truth is, it never loved you)

Microsoft's history can be simply summarised. It made billions on the back of software that was in fact years behind the competition. What it did right, was to license the software for anyone who used a standard Intel architecture. This made it instantly poplar and useful for a lot of people. Others simply followed suit.

But Microsoft either always failed to make a great product for its time or never bothered. My money is on the latter. So many unpaid programmers making Linux the great operating system it is today must testify to that end.

It's easy to think that if Microsoft really wanted to, it has the resources to make the mother of all operating systems: small (comparatively), fast, stable, secure, bug free, easy to use, good to look at and pack full of useful features. Instead they came up with Vista.

It seams like Microsoft never really cared about its users more than it cared about planned obsolescence. I mean, making a product thats just good enough to keep your customer using it and still in need of the next upgrade may be Microsoft's only true skill.

But theres hope. You've heard of Linux. Maybe you've tried it, maybe you haven't. Linux is a derivative of Unix one of the oldest operating systems there is. But being old doesn't make Unix bad (unlike windows). Unix and Linux just keep getting more and more stable and nicer to use.

Unix based OS's like Linux (and Mac OS X and FreeBSD) are set to steal market share from windows. I foresee a future when only a few scared people won't move away from windows. This is because windows isn't getting really any better, but the others are. Even Mac OS actually seems to be getting better (arguably the best OS for those who want to use programs, rather than play with the OS) despite already being better than windows.

This is the catch up age. Making revolutionary improvements may now be relegated to changes in hardware not software (new touch screen input devices for example). Both Windows Vista and Mac OS 10.5 (leopard) have been called “evolutionary not revolutionary” and Linux is catching up fast.

I would say it's already there. Regarding Linux I have only one niggle left, which is not so much about Linux,more about the community for Unix derivatives. Those **nix (Unix type operating system) experts need to give help advice in both terminal commands AND gui (graphic user interface). Many new comers to Linux, don't ever want to open a terminal window. I have used terminal and know its nothing to be afraid of, but we the masses (and I include myself in the group) only want to use the user interface, we don't want to use terminal.

Linux will beat Windows only when community starts embracing the 'gui only' newbies. Better interest in Linux is good for all parties. What I couldn't say, is how long this will take.

Meantime those who want an alternative operating system to windows now, here imho (in my humble opinion) are the ones to choose. Mac OS, if you can afford it, Linux.

Quite simply, if your about to buy a new computer, or just have a little more then there is no question that Apple Mac OS X Leopard is the best OS at time of writing (and considering all the free, full version, easy to use professionally programmed software, they're better value than PC's).

If an Apple Mac is not viable, and you want to start (or take another look) at Linux these are my favorite distributions:

Ubuntu is the world leader Linux distro (distribution) because its backed by people with money and a large community. It's slick and nice to use.

Download the CD image, burn it and boot from it, your computer will not be change in anyway and you can try it out, all free, all legal:

If you want nicer still, very fast and well optimised, try the latest version PCLinuxOS its achieved what Ubuntu has without the cash backing (kudos). If you want the 'up and coming” distro, try it, it recently shot to #1 at

Download the CD image, burn it and boot from it, your computer will not be changed in anyway and you can try it out, all free, all legal:

Maybe you'd prefer a Linux distro with a long history of great accomplishments and a large professional user base. In that case Fedora, Red Hat or Open Suse might be for you. I would say, if they were the right ones for you, chances are you'd probably know that already. New to Linux users would be better to try Ubuntu or PClinuxOS.

Last but not least an option close to Linux but not. Pure Unix, the mother of all these advancements has (as I crudely understand it) one cool advantage over Linux. It truly separates the OS from the program layer, offering improved protection against the all too common 'shelf life' which makes the system suffer (most notably speed and stability) after too many programs have been installed and uninstalled. We'll now there's a rather windows like, user friendly version of Unix (FreeBSD) it's called PCBSD and its really worth a look:

Once again you can download the CD free and legal here:

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I’ve invented a new MAC (Apple take note). I call it the iMtiny.

Take one standard Mac mini. Change out the power supply with that of a laptop (power and battery). Connect it to a LCD digital photo frame and add a compact usb keyboard.

It’s tiny. Shouldn’t weigh more than your average laptop and may even be cheaper than an entry level Macbook.

I got the idea when I saw some LCD digital photo frames in Media Markt the other day. They looked really stylish. Then in the MAC section I saw a MAC mini for the first time ever. I thought, gee they’re really tiny.

Let me know if you have a better name or anyone actually builds one….. (Could happen).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Play on the go, but not on a MAC.

Too say the least, after waiting (and checking apples website every day), I’m very disappointed in the new line up of Macbooks.

You can’t really call them new because all they’ve done is used a slightly faster processor and added more RAM and larger hard drives. That's hardly revolutionary.

Nowadays all computers are what I would call “capable enough” for most people, even the entry level ones. But that's where my problem is.

I want to buy/I’m ready to buy an entry level Macbook. The problem is a simple one. Crap graphics on the Macbooks. The Macbooks ship with Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 (integrated graphics). Which is fine for most business use and even graphics editing or Photoshop work (2D), but quite frankly it’s not good enough for games, and I play games (I plan to dual boot into XP, it’s a shame but at the moment the only decent way).

With games the single most important (more important even than processor speed) is your graphics card. The better your graphics card, the less work your processor will have to do, and with multiple pipelines and heaps of very fast ram on the card even the mobile graphics are now great for games. Except on entry level Macbooks.

You can get a Macbook with a decent graphics card, but they have a US$1999.00 starting price (because there are many other better specifications).

On a PC you can get a laptop with a bigger screen, good processor and reasonable graphic for less around $600.00.

I’ve always been an advocate that Macs don’t cost more because of all the useful software included and the better more efficient and more productive OS (MAC OS X), but come on Apple, when are you going to update the graphics on your entry level laptops?

The truth is, if you want to play games, you can get a better entry level games laptop by buying a PC.

But I want to play games, and I want a MAC, and I’m still waiting…….

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

You can't download condoms. Low tech, often means safe.

I want to talk about security, but not about the type of security where you download some kind of program to protect you. No, this time let’s talk about low tech.

There are so many simply ways you can protect yourself from electronic thievery and the like that don’t involve special hardware or software.

Take for example using your credit card over the internet. By now you should know that if a padlock appears on a site it means you have a secure connection and that information passed between yourself and the web site cannot be read by others.

Actually that doesn’t mean your safe, because even unscrupulous people can make a secure connection. You also need to know who your dealing with and decide weather you trust them or not.

But that’s for another post. I’m going to talk about a low tech solutions to protect yourself.

Have you heard of a think called a Trojan? It’s a program that infiltrates your computer allowing its owner control. Control can mean running programs like keyboard loggers that record your every keystroke (in the hope of finding you credit card number etc). So when you enter you credit card number why not start notepad and click back and forth between the web page and notepad, occasionally typing some random numbers into notepad. Then you wont have to worry about a keyboard logger that slipped through your high tech securty suite.

My brother suggested another cool low tech solution. Save a text file with the middle six digits of your credit card and then copy and paste it. Don’t use the whole number because that might be able to be found. Also don’t be stupid and call it “credit card number.txt”, give something memorable like “are you sure you can afford it.txt” this will also help you control spending habits!

I’m always surprised how terrible people are with the saving their files. That’s why Microsoft saw fit to make a folder called “My Documents” for us to store everything in.

This makes an easy place for virus writers to tell their programs to search for useful information. I personally use a folder called “My files” on a separate Hard Drive. This has the added advantage of making my C: (Window Hard Disk) free to format and re-install Windows from time to time (it needs it).

When it comes to email security, tell your friends that all future emails coming from you will have a subject that starts with something personal. E.g. “Today’s topic:” or “Newz:” and then ad whatever you need specific to each email. If you’re email gets hijacked by a virus, your friends will always know if you authorized the mail they received from you or not.

Never under any circumstance store passwords on you computer unless they are in a specific encrypted program. Why not write them on a piece of paper and store it safely.

You see we have high tech lives and are under high tech dangers.

Don’t be afraid to come up with a new low tech way of keeping safe. If you think you have a good one, add it as a comment here.

Keep safe.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Leopard, fast land animal, slow arriving operating system.

One sometimes has to wonder how Apple made it this far.

When Microsoft licensed it's DOS (disk operating system), the Apple equivalent was leagues ahead.

But Microsoft licensed its product and Apple didn't, and the rest is history (O.k. Thats a simplified version, but Apple has been trying hard to gain OS market share ever since).

Apples Macintosh range of computers survived only because of the MAC OS. It was quickly adopted by people in the businesses of design, publishing, audio and video. These people just wanted to get on with the job and/or weren't always technically minded. Lets face it being creative and being technical can sometimes be polar opposites. The MAC became the standard in creative businesses and those who used MAC, loved MAC and stayed MAC.

Notice how I said MAC people stayed MAC? There are allot of MAC owners who have iPods, but not all Macintosh owners love everything Apple. .

The Windows operating system however did the opposite to what Apple did. Windows captured 95% of the world operating system market and then started making a good product. Microsoft didn't worry itself in the early days about silly little things like quality, ease of use or stability. It set it sights on market dominance then used its power, position and profits to slowly improve the product.

At the same time Apple used the “if you build it they will come” marketing strategy. Making a great product (albeit a more expensive one) in the hopes that people would buy it. Not as many of them did.

But MAC OS has been holding on against Windows. Apple It's has been profitable all these years because it sells hardware as well (more computers than any other single manufacturer).

Today,Apple is really sitting in a pretty interesting position.

Millions of iPods sold, #1 music and movie downloading site, about to break into the telephone market with the iphone. Not to mention that the MAC OS has transitioned to the Intel platform allowing MAC users more speed, power and flexibility.

Whats more here comes the “leap frog effect”. Apple is soon to release its newest OS offering (we'll, by soon I mean October) which should be better than Windows Vista. Vista should have jumped ahead with all that money and time spent on it, but some annoying features (can you say “user account control”) have meant its come up a little short (at least in my book).

With many cool new feature's like “time machine” which lets you simply wind back the clock to recover deleted (or even saved-over files) and some feature still secret Leopard has a real chance to triumph over Vista.

To my surprise Apple is taking advantage of its loyal Macintosh users and delaying Leopard (until October 2007). It's has sifted some of its development resources away from Leopard and onto the iPhone, Apples new foray into the mobile telephone market.

But it's forgetting one of the major reasons people have MACs. The MAC OS has always been ahead of Windows. Macintosh users have always been safe in the knowledge that they were using the best there is to offer. What happens when you take away that advantage?

Are MACs just going to end up like PC's? Similar price, same components, same OS just with a different skin?

MACs are finally a similar price to PC's. Finally they have the speed, power and flexibly. Finally you don't have to commit to the MAC OS without good backup alternatives.

And Apple is throwing away the great advantage it could have if Leopard was here now.

Who knows? With Vista not quite the legendary OS the PC world was waiting for, Apple might have been getting more 'switchers' right about now.

I'm sure they are not going to loose customers. Are they? Maybe they want to sell mobiles instead? Time will tell.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

MAC vs PC (Conclusion)

If you've read my other posts, you know the answer already. I recommended you look at the other post for more detail.

Now that Apple MACs are Intel based they have the power for the price. MACs are either a fraction more expensive than PC's or the same price (occasionally cheaper). As I explained, if you compare directly the specifications of an iMAC or MAC mini, and adjust PC prices for miniaturisation , the MAC clearly come out on top.

But hardware maketh not the computer. Software is everything, because without software computers are nothing.

A beautiful collection of easy to use, fully integrated prosumer applications combined with the ability to run Windows as well (if you want it). Makes the MAC easily better value for money all round.

Turning to the easy of use are of the OS itself, it's not that MAC OS X shines, its more that Vista is a big leap backwards when it comes to making the computer more intuitive for all of us.

Perhaps Microsoft has just decided the masses are finally getting to grips with Windows and has made Vista harder to use to keep technicians in a job.

The bottom line is MACs are still easier to use.

I gave software availability to the PC. If your a true gamer, you need Windows installed with the best and latest support, updates and drivers. Because Apple doesn't support Vista (or Xp for that matter) on its machines and Windows is the gaming platform, the PC wins (all other windows software works in MAC OS X, with parallels or crossover - or you can dual boot into Windows)

As far as looks go, you can't argue taste. While the MACs have always looked good, were now starting to see genuinely pleasing PC designs and Vista doesn't look bad either. I would like to see PC makers get it together and bring more design innovation to their cases but there are at least enough now to make this one a dead heat.

I didn't even talk about security in fairness to PC's. The only reason Windows is so vulnerable to attack is that everyone is trying to attack it. I just didn't want to make the match too one sided.

The whole argument fails to point out that computers are better the ever before and no mather wich platform you choose you'll be using a great Computer. Me? I'm going MAC. Too many pros to ignore.

Also remember I didn't include Linux in this squabble. Linux is fast becoming of age. It's getting too powerful and usable to ignore. If you must stay PC, think about saving the cost of a Windows license and go to for a great version of Linux with a whole heap of great applications all free and legal. Look out for posts on that to come.

What I still like about PC's and don't like about MACs:

Unnecessarily high entry level.

Paying for a Monitor (mid range models) even if you already have one. Or if you prefer, not being able to buy a reasonably powerful MAC without monitor.

Bigger screens on entry level laptops.

Monday, April 30, 2007

MAC vs PC: Aesthetics

Which hardware/software combination pleases the eye most.

That's a matter of taste. But the great thing is, this is my post, so it's my taste!

Its going to be very difficult to say MAC or PC is better because there are an infinite number of makes and models.

The release of Vista hast started a new era for PC's. The new operating system looks good. I won't please everyone, but its a great jump forward as far as I'm concerned.

I wouldn't say its better than MAC OS X, just different and I wouldn't call MAC OS X superior to Vista on looks either (in fact I feel it is starting to look a bit dated). That said the 'shiny' look of Vista can get a bit too much (especially with everyone adopting it)

All in all I'd say that for the OS, it's a 50/50 for MAC and PC.

Now lets get down to the hardware. Apple make slick looking machines, heck they make slick looking cardboard boxes that the machines come in. So what's going on in the PC world?

Other than a shift away from beige a number of years ago to grey/silver/black not much. The bulk of PCs come in various modern flavours along the same lines. They are cleaner, sleeker and smarter looking but still lack something that MACs have.

How do they manage it? Apple doesn't employ all the designers in the world so how is it that they are the only ones who constantly come up with a top class look.

One can't deny there is a great amount of innovation in PC's. Alienware PC's have a distinct look and there are thousand of modified cases made by enthusiast with one thing in common. They all look like shit.

There are some bright lights on the horizon in the PC world, and I would go as far as to say just as many funky looking PC as MACs (considering the amount of manufacturers there should be).

Noteworthy is the new Sony Vaio VGC-LS1 (though the name doesn't quite have the same ring to it that iMAC does). It's a desktop computer with a real Vista look (on the outside). It houses the computer in the monitor (much like an i- uh... never mind). The attached keyboard flips up to cover half the screen and when this happens a screen saver type thing displays date, time, weather and music now playing. One has to wonder it doesn't just have a normal screen saver (and use the whole screen to add other items of interest: new items, rss feeds etc.).

But in any case it's looks great (I'd go as far as to say it's a contender).

But where are the rest? Couldn't a couple more PC makers sit down and say “rather than adding a coupe dozen more processor cores and ramping it up to 10 zillion squizahertz, let make this one look good.

All in all, the OS is too close to call and what the PC world lacks in style it makes up for in shear numbers to suit everyone's taste. Compare that with Apples consistent and industry leading computer case design and I'm giving this one (boring though it is) a tie.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

MAC vs PC: Software Availability

There is only one consideration to make as far a software availability goes.

Do you count the fact that due to their Intel architecture, you can install Windows Vista on an Apple MAC?

If you do, then obviously a MAC has more software available to it.

In fact the MAC has three ways you can run windows software on it.

  1. With a dual boot, so you can shutdown the MAC OS and boot into windows.

  2. Parallels visualisation software allows you to create a virtual machine into which you can install windows and it will run within a window not 'knowing' it's not the only operating system running. This gives one near equivalent speed (theoretically) but without the need to reboot and with some MAC OS integration.

  3. Crossover is a program by codeweavers which allows one to install a Windows program directly 'onto' the MAC OS, allowing the program to execute as though it were running in Windows. The advantage is that you don't need a Windows license to run it. It also mean tighter MAC OS integration, but at the expense of speed and stability. Only a certain number (growing all the time) of Windows programs have been tested and are know to work with Crossover.

With all of these options the MAC does windows software well, and would be the clear winner if not for one thing. Games.

In my post I'm going out on a limb.Although Apple provides drivers for Window XP, I am generally talking about Vista here because its the latest release. Further more, Apple states that it does not support Windows on it machines (fair enough since Windows is more or less the competition). This means that none of the three options could be said to run Windows Vista optimally. That my friends, means everything to gamers.

The only way to get you OS at peak performance is to have the latest high performance support files (drivers for PC's, kext for MAC OS) and to have the OS unhindered (by running in a virtual machine – Parallels, or with api emulation - the way Crossover fools widows programs and the MAC OS into thinking they were made for each other).

With Apple not supporting Windows on a MAC we have to say that for most people its not going to run as well for games.

There is also the confusion that if you install Windows on a MAC, you'll need one copy (license) for that machine. Forgive me for the blatantly obvious but that makes it a MAC that is also a PC. The argument here is MAC or PC. Incidentally the term P.C. Originally meant 'Personal Computer', now it generally describes (as in these posts) 'machines which run Windows or Linux'.

So if we talk about an Apple MAC of the current line up, it can run windows programs and run them well, but I say it's still not the platform most used, and most trusted for games. And the are thousands of games out there.

There have been good speed tests of MAC's running Windows Vista but those normally have Vista installed and tweaked by experts.

Gamers need Windows unhindered, therefore software availability still goes to PC's.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

MAC vs PC: Ease of use (or; Along came Vista)

The MAC OS ease of use is legendary. If you’ve ever used one for any length of time you’ll know what I mean.

In my experience, the only people who have ever argued the point are those who have actually never used it or are the type of person my friend Jesus is. He is a “computer guy” (FYI so am I). He claims to be able to fix any and all PC problems (FYI so can I). If you visit his house you would see the panels of every PC and when you ask him, all his computers have some kind of problem that he's “working on”. You see that’s what he want his computer for, to fix/upgrade/tweak. He doesn’t want to run programs or actually do things, he wants to fix his computer and is perpetually doing so. Defrag this, re-install windows that. Thats why the MAC OS doesn't suit him less thing that need attention (FYI my PC works just dandy, and I spend time doing stuff rater than tweaking).

I not really his fault, Windows has always been famous for having to be re-installed after some months the keep it running smoothly (because it simply becoms slugish and problimatic over time). Not to mention unstable. Can you say “blue screen of death”? The problem was then, that you have to be the type of user who can deal with that. Most users aren't.

However with the introduction of Wndows XP, the Microsoft OS offering was finally becoming acceptably stable with a longer install life span.

Theres no question that the Windows family was heading towards user friendliness. On the other hand, MAC OS X has gotten a bit more complicated. No real fault of Apples though, MAC OS has been getting more complicated just as the computing world itself has been getting more complicated. The better the processors become,the more we can do with out computers.

Was it now too complicated? I once wanted to change my OS X so it would auto log on, allowing it to boot without user intervention. So I asked my brother to do it. He had hardly ever used a MAC before and had never used OS X. It only took him about 4 minutes (we timed it) to find the setting and change it (and two of those were me just showing him some non task related MAC things). Yes it would seem that the learning curve on an Apple MAC is still palpable for noobs.

What about Vista, can it claim the same? When I installed Vista I was immediately impressed with its sleek new look. After about five minutes I was shocked to discover the looks are about the only things that have changed for the better. So much had changed that one had to reacquaint oneself with where to do common tasks. Had this been an improvement I would have had no gripe, but burying programs under new topic names is not intuitive. After playing for 10 minutes I was even less impressed, these changes where going to make things harder for a lot of people.

One of the big problems with Windows is that it gives one the impression it was designed for geeks, by geeks. Vista I'm sad to say is not an exception. If anything it the OS that proves the rule. I shuddered to think of all the 'non computer' people who in this world will have to use Vista because they don't know any better.

One of the arguments people like this have always used is that they don't want a MAC because they don't want to have to learn a new OS. “Learning 'computer stuff' was already harder than it should be” (I agree). It always stuck my as a funny kind of argument “I'm not moving to something easy to use and learn because I've gotten used to something difficult”.

For anyone with XP thinking of going to Vista, Believe me, going from Windows XP to MAC OS X would be easier than moving to Vista.

MAC OS X is definitely easier to use.

Friday, April 27, 2007

MAC vs PC Part one: Value for money.

Value for money in my opinion is just about the only consideration PC owner’s appear to have and the area that MAC owners seem less concerned with. Indeed the PC I am using now I built for €400 and at the time price was my only concern.

When comparing the cost of both machines I’m going to take into account software (some comparisons are hardware only). Oddly enough some people just don’t seem to think this is important when buying a new computer. I see huge amounts of friends who buy a new PC and then don’t really get much use out of it because it doesn’t have much software. They buy Microsoft Office, use Internet Explorer to connect to the net, and of course play solitaire. That’s about it. Happens all the time.

But without software, the computer is nothing. Just a big bunch of components. Both MAC and Vista PC’s come with bundled software and are usable right out of the box, but MAC shines in this area for having the superior quantity and quality software.

MAC’s come preinstalled with a suit of lifestyle programs (for photos/videos music etc) that are integrated with each other and the OS. The PC has some of these built in. Vista is better than any of its predecessors for allowing you to edit and keep track of photos for example and Windows Movie Maker is not bad. For other things, most PC’s simply come with bundled demo programs which lack the complete feature set or are crippled in some way.

One of the things that annoys me on the internet with these type of comparisons is that nobody seems to take into account software piracy when comparing machines. I see post and comments on forums about people who obviously don’t give any value the software that comes with a MAC. That’s because a lot of them simply get their software without paying for it (i.e. they pirate it). For the sake of those legitimate software users its worth pointing out the added value given to the MAC OS because of it great bundled software. The MAC is plainly better value software-wise ‘out of the box’.

As far as valuation purposes go, the actual operating systems MAC OS X and Windows Vista are no longer far enough apart to warrant any difference in value (bundled applications aside). I actually think that the MAC OS is still somehow better. I say somehow because it’s hard to put your finger on it. It’s just a better ‘user’ experience that you’d never understand until you used one (for a reasonable enough time to get to know it). This to me actually holds almost all the value because it is the software we all use everyday and I would end the argument right there except this ‘magical’ ease of use is difficult to quantify or appraise. For the sake of this blog, the operating systems of MAC OS X and Windows Vista have a similar enough feature set (something measurable enough) to give them more or less the same ‘on paper’ value (imho).

So, I’ll move right on to the hardware:

People are always comparing MACs to Dell. I think it’s really only fair to do this with the MAC Pro line and the Macbooks. Unless you intentionally want to give more points to MACs. You see the iMAC’s and the MAC mini’s don’t have many PC equivalents. Recently I read a brochure from Media Markt a Europe wide computer/homeware/cd-dvd superstore which advertised a PC the same size as a MAC mini. It had pretty much the same specs except it was black and had Windows XP installed (this was six months ago. It cost about €100 more than the MAC mini). Likewise I’m still looking for a real competitor to the iMAC in terms of miniaturisation. The only one that comes close it the Sony Vaio VGC-LS1. ( I found the Sony at a web discounter for $1695, when configured with the same RAM, the closest iMAC has a 1” bigger monitor (20” unlike 19” for the Sony) and a far superior graphics card. It sells for $1674 from Apple).

I had an argument once with my brother about the iMAC coming with a corded mouse and how that takes up desktop space. Somewhere in amongst our debate, I asked him where is computer was. As it turned out he had the standard PC mini-tower sitting on top of his desk. Enough said. Credit must be given to the Macs in this are if you want to make a direct comparison.

If your were to compare computers of the same spec then adjust their prices based on miniaturisation then the iMAC and MAC mini come out clear winners.

By now (if you’re still with me) you probably think I’m a bit MAC biased and are screeming for the notebook and MAC Pro comparisons. I’m getting to those….

In my opinion the MAC line of notebooks is a bit lacking. They are great machines (as are many branded PC laptops HP, Dell, Sony Vaio for example), but I agree with my brother in that the MAC laptop entry level is not low enough.

My sister in law recently bought a laptop PC and I’m sure she would have bought a MAC if it was for those two factors: Cheap entry level (at the expense of processor power, but it is more than fast enough for her) and a big screen.

One thing is funny though; many people criticise the MACbooks for having smaller screens, but in case you haven’t noticed, laptop sizes are dictated by their screens. Give a laptop a bigger screen and the whole thing gets bigger. Sometimes a smaller screen (and therefore a smaller computer) is what you want, especially in a Laptop.

I personally prefer laptop with as large a screen as practical and therefore side with the PC’s on this.

One other thing common to laptops, is that Apple includes components into every machine that not everybody needs. Wifi, Webcame, Firewire etc. While I agree it would be nice to be able to buy the same machine for less without components that you deem unnecessary, because they’re already installed and the hardware is supplied by the operating system manufacturer, components tend to work better and require less user intervention.

Basically with MAC’s and good brand name PC’s, when the specs are similar you pay about the same, but the bottom line is, you can buy lower spec PC’s (or ‘no name’ PC’s with good specs) at far more affordable prices. Kudos PC’s.

My same criticism for MAC’s go to the MAC Pro line. I would like to see a far better entry level here. Instead Apple concentrated on other end of the market. 8 core machines. These computers have 4 processors with 2 processor cores in each. It’s pretty much 8 processors. But how many people are going to be able to use them? Most our processors are idle most of the time. As I type this, my AMD 64 3000 is hardly working above ‘idle’. To make use of 8 processors you need to have software that was written to utilise them, running on an operating system that was designed for them. Your computer will benefit from having a couple of processors running (dual core). It will mean you can run multiple apps and those in the background won’t have to take away power from you foreground applications. Unless your using specialist software (eg 3D rendering) you not really going to benefit that much. One would do better to buy more RAM (you can never get enough).

MAC pros have therefore the same problem that MACbooks have. No cheaper entry level. Some argue that if you want a cheaper machine, go for an iMAC or a MAC mini. But what if you want as much power as you can afford and I already have a screen? This is very common and it’s no less than shocking that there isn’t a better MAC Pro entry level.

I generally buy my screen at a different time to my computer. At the moment I’m ready to upgrade my machine so what MAC do I buy? A mini? No, too underpowered. An iMAC, and throw away my good monitor? A MAC Pro and pay more for power I don’t need and can’t really afford? There is a product missing from apples lineup. An entry level power machine (yes does sound a bit like a contradiction in terms) for those who already have a monitor.

For Laptops and Towers, I’m going to hand it to the PC’s for making things affordable to those who need it.

One last thing which affects the value is that Apple MAC’s are now Intel based. This means that a MAC can run Windows too. Apple also makes it easy to do so, with “boot camp” which automatically sets up a dual boot for Windows XP and writes Windows XP drivers for the MAC machine. There are other options too. “Parallels” is a virtualisation program which allows you to make a virtual machine in the MAC OS and run windows inside it. Or one could adopt “Crossover”, a product which emulates the Windows api inside the MAC OS (or if you prefer, tricks programs into thinking they are running in Windows allowing them to be installed on the MAC).

This is a versatility the PC doesn’t (barring running a hacked version of MAC OS X on a normal PC).

When it comes down to overall value. The MAC’s have it. No question. Why?:

1) Great bundled software.

2) Miniaturisation on the desktop for a better price.

3) Versatility (MAC’s run windows too – if you want)

Where the PC’s shine:

1) Lower entry level (all platforms).

2) Bigger laptop screens.

The only reason you might have to disagree was if either copy software (or already have a lot invest in PC software) or have never used a MAC for long enough (or both).

Coming up next: Ease of use…….

MAC vs PC (Introduction)

Hi all, I've decided to get down to one of my favorite subjects. The Mac vs PC debate. I can’t actually think of one good reason to exclude Linux (it is a modern feature rich operating system) other than complicating the argument further.

If you haven’t already tried it check out one of the best linux distributions here: , but that's another post all together...

I guess I’m going to focus on Mac vs PC because they are what most of us are using and most profession programs are available for at least one Mac or PC.

So which one is better?

We first let’s put the past behind us. History has no place in computing. When I did computing at school we studied early code breaking machines and the history of computers. What a waste of time! It may be interesting enough trivia to some, but the technology world moves far too quickly for that knowledge to be of practical use now. Same goes for anything that’s not still being commonly used right now.

So I’m not going to talk about Mac OS 9 vs Windows 98. Some Mac users could be accused of living a little in the past because Mac OS has always been ahead of Windows. PC owners either didn’t like to admit it (normally because they couldn’t afford a MAC) or genuinely didn’t realise that the Mac OS was better (because they had never used it).

Today it’s a different story. I’m a PC user and I am typing this using windows XP. With XP and Vista Microsoft Windows has caught up on many things and even surpassed the Mac on some features. This makes things more than just a little blurry.

So let’s get down to it. Which one is better and how do you quantify it. Giving the PC a slight advantage, I’m going to compare a PC running Vista, Microsoft latest OS with a MAC running OS X (10.4.9). My reasoning is that these are the operating systems that ship with current models. It gives Microsoft an advantage because Vista has just been released after five years and billions of dollars of development, while the MAC OS X is just about to be replaced with the new MAC OS X Leopard (coming out in October: -look for ‘Apple Statement’). The leopard released date has been delayed due to development of the iPhone.

The things I will consider in this argument are:

Value for money

Ease of use

Software availability

Aesthetics (both software and hardware)

I’ll put each one in a separate post (because I ramble a lot and if I don’t the information will be out of date before I post it).

Enjoy ;)