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Last post Author Topic: Why do we always wait for apple's stuff before making a i[blank]-killer??  (Read 14972 times)

zridling

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Renegade and mouser have noted it well, but another element in Apple's continued success is that their entire fanbase consists of early adopters. In their string of gadget wonders, every one of them fell from the tree pre-sold to the salivating masses.

And never underestimate the allure of the user interface. You feel "cool" using it, being in the presence of their icons and dialogs. I don't get it because I've always seen the computer as a tool, not a toy, for utility, not play. But Apple focuses on the playful aspect of computer. I urge every one of you to go into one of the Apple stores the next time you're in a city that has one. It's an "experience" all right, a cult one. But it's entirely built -- in my opinion -- to separate upper middle class 40-somethings from their credit cards. If you buy into the "experience," you will want to spend $4,700 before you walk out.

If you're like me, however, you can think of a million better ways to spend $4,700, and pride yourself on using Linux and not wasting it on an underpowered, locked-down machine or device.

cmpm

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well. people are  free to waste their money
i hope it's not money needed for something else

for some it's other things that are addicting
if it's not hurting anyone, including themselves,
who cares?

alcohol and drugs would be far worse

Renegade

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Renegade and mouser have noted it well, but another element in Apple's continued success is that their entire fanbase consists of early adopters. In their string of gadget wonders, every one of them fell from the tree pre-sold to the salivating masses.

And never underestimate the allure of the user interface. You feel "cool" using it, being in the presence of their icons and dialogs. I don't get it because I've always seen the computer as a tool, not a toy, for utility, not play. But Apple focuses on the playful aspect of computer. I urge every one of you to go into one of the Apple stores the next time you're in a city that has one. It's an "experience" all right, a cult one. But it's entirely built -- in my opinion -- to separate upper middle class 40-somethings from their credit cards. If you buy into the "experience," you will want to spend $4,700 before you walk out.

If you're like me, however, you can think of a million better ways to spend $4,700, and pride yourself on using Linux and not wasting it on an underpowered, locked-down machine or device.

I think that you're pointing out something interesting here.

I find that Ubuntu and Suse are nicer to use than OS X, so in some ways, I think that coolness factor could rub off there. It seems to me that there's a lack of ability for Linux distros to communicate that coolness though. I suppose that is Apple's magic where they make themselves cool.

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superboyac

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I think mouser said it the best, and in the most rational way so far.  We powerusers scoff at the importance of UI.  I mean, we know it's important, but we're so good with computers that it's easy for us to latch on to just about any interface.  We almost take it for granted.  So when we see something like a ipad, we don't really care about the interface, we just want to know what it can DO.  But like many others pointed out (Zaine) most people don't think that way.  It really is about the presentation for them.  And it's not a bad thing for them.  Some of us are computer geeks, some of us are not.  One is not better than the other.

Now, let's say apple foucses a lot on marketing, user interface, etc. and it is working brilliantly for them.  My question still stands: if other companies see this, why don't they give it a good effort to do that also?!  So what if apple already did it?  So what if it's nothing new?  Apple doesn't care.  Why should they?

You KNOW most people care about the UI, so put some effort into it!  Geez, I mean seriously.  Even if I were SOny's CEO and I was a poweruser, it would stupid of me to keep seeing apple succeed because of UI, and Sony keep failing because of UI (or other similar issues).  if there's a problem, fix it!  If you can improve yourself, then do so!

it doesn't have to be either/or with UI vs. solid functionality.  You can have both, they are not exclusive.  The whole PC vs. Mac thing assumes that you can't have both, but you can very easily!  UI is a very easy thing to fix.  You have to get some people together who understand what normal people want, and give their input on the UI.  Look at all the amateur reviewers that intelligently and very quickly can analyze and criticize all the gadgets that come out!  It's not hard!  It's very obvious when you use an iphone, ipad, etc. that it is a nice, pleasant, fun experience.  Don't say it isn't.  You may not care for it in the long run, but don't deny that it's fun and nice.  Now, go to some other device (like the older tablets) and you don't get the same thing at all.  It basically feels like Windows Xp running on a monitor without a keyboard.

I mean, same thing with the new touchpad on Mac laptops now.  PC companies spent over a decade without even attempting to do anything innovative with the touchpad.  And it sucked to use.  That's why everyone attaches a regular mouse to a laptop.  But here comes Apple 10 years later and adds some really amazing and wonderful features to the basic touchpad.  Why?  Because they know what people want.  Did the PC companies ever sit in a room and ask, "Why does everyone feel like attaching a mouse to the laptop?"  No.  Maybe they did, and they didn't care.

I'm not saying apple doesn't do things that pisses me off.  I'm saying, why don't other companies try to ramp up their effort in providing a pleasant customer experience?  I still hate that Apple has dictator control on all their stuff, so that's why I'll never willingly get one, but I'm not going to deny that their UI is brilliant.

Even things that don't seem to matter.  Like Zaine pointed out, if you go into their store, it's REALLy nice.  It's a hell of a lot nicer than walking into a shitty Fry's store.  Now, I never go into Apple stores, and I go to Fry's a lot more.  but I'm not normal, and I know what I'm doing.  I walk into Fry's, I walk to my aisle, I pick up my product, and walk out...bam, 15 minutes.  I'm not there for the experience.  But, there are tons more people who walk into Fry's and are intimated and confused.  But if you go into an Apple store, you'll feel very comfy and excited.  Don't lie.  Even all you haters...I know you've walked into an Apple store and had fun trying out the gadgets.  Don't lie!!

Renegade

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...But if you go into an Apple store, you'll feel very comfy and excited.  Don't lie.  Even all you haters...I know you've walked into an Apple store and had fun trying out the gadgets.  Don't lie!!

Hahahaha~!

I was quite happy when I got my first iPod. Then I was a bit miffed when it wouldn't play WAV files properly. No matter. I chalked it up to typical CE laziness.

My bad attitude towards Apple comes not from their products, and not from their "experience", but from their abusive business practices and malicious licensing agreements.

If they ran their business in a fair and ethical manner, I would really have no objections to them. Of course I would still LOATHE the fanboys! :P

In all fairness, my perceptions of Apple products are coloured by my mostly irrational hatred of them.

But you're absolutely right about UIs and functionality.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

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app103

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Even all you haters...I know you've walked into an Apple store and had fun trying out the gadgets.  Don't lie!!

I have never been in an Apple store. I have never even seen one in the real world. I have seen photos of them and they don't look like some place my sensible frugal self belongs.

You KNOW most people care about the UI, so put some effort into it!  Geez, I mean seriously.  Even if I were SOny's CEO and I was a poweruser, it would stupid of me to keep seeing apple succeed because of UI, and Sony keep failing because of UI (or other similar issues).  if there's a problem, fix it!  If you can improve yourself, then do so!

My daughter replaced her iPod with a Sony MP3 player and now she is a very happy girl.

She hated iTunes so much that she loaded all her favorite music onto her iPod and uninstalled iTunes (and all the other useless crap it came bundled with), and never changed the music on the iPod for about 3 years.

She isn't a computer geek. She gets easily frustrated when software goes and makes changes on her system without asking, that she doesn't know how to undo. That's what iTunes did to her PC. It forced her to install Quicktime which hijacked her preferences for handling certain media file types in her browser. It made it rather difficult for her to download music because Quicktime would end up playing it in her browser instead of letting her save the file.

I walked her through fixing the issue not once, not twice, but at least 3 times, because various updates from Apple would just end up messing up her settings again.

Now I didn't know she went and uninstalled all of that stuff after the last time I helped her, so when I set up her laptop for her again after she kept getting hit with malware and it trashed her system (Thank you, Sun!), I installed iTunes along with all her other software. She completely freaked out when she saw the iTunes icon on her taskbar and demanded I get that malware off her laptop.

When she went shopping for a replacement for her iPod, she had 2 requirements:

  • long battery life
  • no crazy software needed to put music onto it

The Sony she bought fit both of those and had a decent amount of storage space too.

Renegade

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app103, I only understood 2 words in your post...

...iTunes... malware...

And I agree 110%~! :D
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superboyac

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My bad attitude towards Apple comes not from their products, and not from their "experience", but from their abusive business practices and malicious licensing agreements.
Well, yeah, of course.  In no way am I defending all things Apple.  I'm quietly asking other companies to start taking UI seriously so that I can have my cake and eat it to!

Renegade

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My bad attitude towards Apple comes not from their products, and not from their "experience", but from their abusive business practices and malicious licensing agreements.
Well, yeah, of course.  In no way am I defending all things Apple.  I'm quietly asking other companies to start taking UI seriously so that I can have my cake and eat it to!

YUM YUM~! :P

When you start looking at things, the lack of attention to UI is simply astounding.

Take for example any ecommerce web site or site that you must provide personal details when you sign up. How many can actually process a phone number properly? Or a postal code? Like, if I enter "+61-123-456-789", and I get an error telling me that I can only use numbers, i.e. the expected input is "61123456789", just how pathetic is that?

The same goes for credit card numbers. If you input "4567 8901 2345 6789" and you get an error telling you spaces aren't allowed... Wow. To me that is just the height of incompetence. Why not just remove the spaces and make the user's life easy? Like, on the credit card, it has a space, right? So entering the space makes sense... or is at least plausible enough to warrant attention by the developer.

Lack of attention to UI is epidemic. On the web, that lack of attention (to my eye) is overwhelmingly in web developers not doing basic error checking in a sensible way.

I want Star Trek replicators (not Stargate replicators) and I want them now~! :D
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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Paul Keith

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Even all you haters...I know you've walked into an Apple store and had fun trying out the gadgets.  Don't lie!!

I have never been in an Apple store. I have never even seen one in the real world. I have seen photos of them and they don't look like some place my sensible frugal self belongs.

You KNOW most people care about the UI, so put some effort into it!  Geez, I mean seriously.  Even if I were SOny's CEO and I was a poweruser, it would stupid of me to keep seeing apple succeed because of UI, and Sony keep failing because of UI (or other similar issues).  if there's a problem, fix it!  If you can improve yourself, then do so!

My daughter replaced her iPod with a Sony MP3 player and now she is a very happy girl.

She hated iTunes so much that she loaded all her favorite music onto her iPod and uninstalled iTunes (and all the other useless crap it came bundled with), and never changed the music on the iPod for about 3 years.

She isn't a computer geek. She gets easily frustrated when software goes and makes changes on her system without asking, that she doesn't know how to undo. That's what iTunes did to her PC. It forced her to install Quicktime which hijacked her preferences for handling certain media file types in her browser. It made it rather difficult for her to download music because Quicktime would end up playing it in her browser instead of letting her save the file.

I walked her through fixing the issue not once, not twice, but at least 3 times, because various updates from Apple would just end up messing up her settings again.

Now I didn't know she went and uninstalled all of that stuff after the last time I helped her, so when I set up her laptop for her again after she kept getting hit with malware and it trashed her system (Thank you, Sun!), I installed iTunes along with all her other software. She completely freaked out when she saw the iTunes icon on her taskbar and demanded I get that malware off her laptop.

When she went shopping for a replacement for her iPod, she had 2 requirements:

  • long battery life
  • no crazy software needed to put music onto it

The Sony she bought fit both of those and had a decent amount of storage space too.

Thanks for providing the opposite perspective.

I don't mean this as offense towards superboyac's post but sometimes I feel a criticism goes the opposite way in that I am left scratching where the "extreme" perspective comes from.

Maybe it's because of the lack of details but whenever I hear of the opposite application criticism, it makes me scratch my head where it is primarily coming from.

The Apple Store is alright and even good at being one of the components that makes some people want to be part of the Apple culture but from the screenshots I've seen (I haven't been inside one either) it makes me wonder if these people (not specifically targetting superboyac) have even gone inside an internet cafe before since the effect isn't really that far off.

It's a pedicure'd store but come on, some of the hyperbole makes it sound like it's Disneyland for casual consumers when it's not.

Similarly, I'm left wondering if superboyac is referring to a specific model of Sony product when he is talking of user interface design. I know it's important and Sony is not as well respected as Apple in that department but if you take away the shinier control extensions of Apple and the black and white, Sony is up there with developing one of the prettier interfaces out there especially when compared to other lesser known companies like Cowon.

I'm not claiming all Sony products are perfect but neither are Apple products. If they were truly that high ranking in the category of user interfaces, Apple would have beaten out Windows a long time ago or eat a bigger portion of the marketshare especially internationally.

I know we're not really trying to narrow down and do a side by side detailed comparison of each companies but we can't go overboard and say it is just user interface or it is just "bad" rather than "mediocre" quality especially if the end conclusion is that "Apple can do no wrong in the non-techie department when the reality is FAR FAR not even close."

The appeal of the I-Pad is primarily in the concept. The user interface helps but it is hardly made up for by what the I-Pad actually is to consumers. Something new. Something cool. Something revolutionary.

Similarly, the I-Pod is not heralded as a popular mp3 player because people primarily oogled at the interface. They oogled at the scroll wheel more. They oogled at the culture who is so in love with the I-Pod.

Even the Iphone if you took away the availability of the app store, it was oogled not because of it's interface which isn't really that perfect but because of it's touch screen capability mixed with a modern look that many phone companies at the time just weren't focusing on.

It's just head scratching to read a conclusion like this:

Quote
You KNOW most people care about the UI, so put some effort into it!  Geez, I mean seriously.  Even if I were SOny's CEO and I was a poweruser, it would stupid of me to keep seeing apple succeed because of UI, and Sony keep failing because of UI (or other similar issues).  if there's a problem, fix it!  If you can improve yourself, then do so!

only to be mixed with this:

Quote
Take for example any ecommerce web site or site that you must provide personal details when you sign up. How many can actually process a phone number properly? Or a postal code? Like, if I enter "+61-123-456-789", and I get an error telling me that I can only use numbers, i.e. the expected input is "61123456789", just how pathetic is that?

The same goes for credit card numbers. If you input "4567 8901 2345 6789" and you get an error telling you spaces aren't allowed... Wow. To me that is just the height of incompetence. Why not just remove the spaces and make the user's life easy? Like, on the credit card, it has a space, right? So entering the space makes sense... or is at least plausible enough to warrant attention by the developer.

I'm no website designer although I understand the severity of this issue and I can see why the analogy works BUT!...at the same time, if I'm an ignorant user, I'm given the wrong impression with this post.

I'm given the impression that Sony doesn't put effort on their user interface but when I open something like the PSP, I don't see a perfect user interface but I certainly see a pretty enough one in enough areas that such posts leave me with the impression that the posters, while possessing knowledge of user interfaces, are vastly informed by their biases too much to the point that they come off more like they don't understand the perspective of a consumer as far as gadget interfaces go or they have gone too far with their hyperbole.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2010, 12:28:00 PM by Paul Keith »

jojo99

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My question still stands: if other companies see this, why don't they give it a good effort to do that also?!  So what if apple already did it?  So what if it's nothing new?  Apple doesn't care.  Why should they?

I'll tell you a secret.  In marketing/sales there is a concept called "validation". 

You see, it costs a great deal of money to put together a team, to allocate resources, to create something totally new.  Companies (and particularly their shareholders) don't want to find out that they went off on some tangent that proves to be a dead end, throwing good money out of the window. 

So big companies with resources play follow-the-leader, waiting until someone else proves that a market exists, that there will be buyers willing to pay for a product in some specific area.  This is called validation.  Once validation has been proven, it is then presumed safe to follow that leader.

steeladept

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...I'm saying, why don't other companies try to ramp up their effort in providing a pleasant customer experience?  I still hate that Apple has dictator control on all their stuff, so that's why I'll never willingly get one, but I'm not going to deny that their UI is brilliant.
Wow.  That sums up my feelings about Apple (as well as their competitors) exactly!  Nice SB.

steeladept

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The appeal of the I-Pad is primarily in the concept. The user interface helps but it is hardly made up for by what the I-Pad actually is to consumers. Something new. Something cool. Something revolutionary.

Similarly, the I-Pod is not heralded as a popular mp3 player because people primarily oogled at the interface. They oogled at the scroll wheel more. They oogled at the culture who is so in love with the I-Pod.

Even the Iphone if you took away the availability of the app store, it was oogled not because of it's interface which isn't really that perfect but because of it's touch screen capability mixed with a modern look that many phone companies at the time just weren't focusing on.
I find it interesting that you don't consider the scroll wheel or the touch-screen interfaces.  These are, indeed, a significant - perhaps the single most significant - factors that made these devices so popular as you pointed out, but if you note, these are the "User Interface", aka. UI, elements that SB was talking about for their respective devices.  You can say it is a concept if you like, but the concept is that of a better UI, not of some amorphic "feeling" you get because you have this feature.

40hz

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For me, the hardest pill to swallow is just how good Apple is at those things they're good at - despite an utter lack of graciousness - and their generally shabby treatment of friend and foe alike.


wraith808

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For me, the hardest pill to swallow is just how good Apple is at those things they're good at - despite an utter lack of graciousness - and their generally shabby treatment of friend and foe alike.



+1

You can say what you want, but it's more than fanboyism, and it's more than a finger on the cultural pulse.  Both of these only get you so far, and Apple has gone further than that.

zridling

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I find that Ubuntu and Suse are nicer to use than OS X, so in some ways, I think that coolness factor could rub off there. It seems to me that there's a lack of ability for Linux distros to communicate that coolness though. I suppose that is Apple's magic where they make themselves cool.

Well, short of a $150mn worth of marketing here, $80mn there, and the entire US media absolutely gaga over everything Apple, why would they bother to notice? I can make my KDE (on openSUSE) mimic either Win7 or OSX with themes, but I don't. As you say, I think the defaults are even better. But after you've paid all that money, you better like what you bought from Apple! (Or you're going to feel mighty stupid.)

Eóin

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And whats the best way to convince yourself you like something? Get other people to want it!

Renegade

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And whats the best way to convince yourself you like something? Get other people to want it!

Good point.

The greater the investment, the stronger the attraction, and the more vehement the resistance.

When people spend a large amount on something, they want their expenditure to be valuable, and they resist any notion that they've been bamboozled or that a smaller expenditure could be equivalent (in results) or better. Who wants to be taken in? It's voluntary blindness for the sake of preserving the ego.
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superboyac

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I find that Ubuntu and Suse are nicer to use than OS X, so in some ways, I think that coolness factor could rub off there. It seems to me that there's a lack of ability for Linux distros to communicate that coolness though. I suppose that is Apple's magic where they make themselves cool.

Well, short of a $150mn worth of marketing here, $80mn there, and the entire US media absolutely gaga over everything Apple, why would they bother to notice? I can make my KDE (on openSUSE) mimic either Win7 or OSX with themes, but I don't. As you say, I think the defaults are even better. But after you've paid all that money, you better like what you bought from Apple! (Or you're going to feel mighty stupid.)
Z, I guess my point is that YOU are the one doing the work to get the interface you want.  And that makes you a rare kind of person.  You know how to tweak it, where to find it.  Just the knowledge that opensuse exists makes you different vs the general public.

My real real point is...other companies should put more effort or thought into that shiny, slick UI for their products.  Don't make the user figure it out on their own.  Not everyone is like Z, or me, or most of the people here.  Most people are going to judge the product int he first 30 seconds of holding it.  That's how people are.  i'm not saying it's right or wrong.  Heck, I'm trying to help apple's competitors!

Renegade

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Quote
Most people are going to judge the product int he first 30 seconds of holding it.

This is what I mean about Ubuntu and Suse. If you had a blind taste test, you'd find that Ubuntu is nicer than OS X.

The thing is they aren't judging the PRODUCT. They are judging the product image, and how they fit in with it. Linux has a crap image. It's for "geeks and weirdos". OS X is for "cool, savvy, rich and fashionable people that are tuned in and in-the-know". There's a distinct break between the reality there. Ubuntu is simply easier to use and friendlier. They've done a spectacular job. (Linux today is nothing like it was 10 years ago -- it really is excellent now.)

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superboyac

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Quote
Most people are going to judge the product int he first 30 seconds of holding it.

This is what I mean about Ubuntu and Suse. If you had a blind taste test, you'd find that Ubuntu is nicer than OS X.

The thing is they aren't judging the PRODUCT. They are judging the product image, and how they fit in with it. Linux has a crap image. It's for "geeks and weirdos". OS X is for "cool, savvy, rich and fashionable people that are tuned in and in-the-know". There's a distinct break between the reality there. Ubuntu is simply easier to use and friendlier. They've done a spectacular job. (Linux today is nothing like it was 10 years ago -- it really is excellent now.)
Well, yes and no.  Let me explain.  Most people don't even know about opensuse or the other distros.  They don't know about Ubuntu.  if you say "Linux" they are probably thinking a screen with a command prompt and weird commands that only their IT geeks know.  Now, even though they are incorrect, this is the common perception.

So that's good that the Linux distros are paying attention to UI.  Now their challenge to is to get people to notice.  I suggest other companies who people are already noticing (Sony, etc.) do what Linux is doing and give users a nice interface.  All these companies have different problems.  Sony is popular, but it's a crappy user experience.  Linux is a nice experience, but nobody knows about it.  Two different challenges.  Apple:  everyone knows about it, and it's a nice experience (for most).

Renegade

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That's what I mean. Linux just has a miserable image that they can't seem to fix. Zane pointed it out that they need a massive marketing campaign to actually get people to see it for what it is and change that image.
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That's what I mean. Linux just has a miserable image that they can't seem to fix. Zane pointed it out that they need a massive marketing campaign to actually get people to see it for what it is and change that image.

All the money in the world isn't going to help change that image when someone installs Linux and tries to get their wireless to work and there is no phone number for them to call and cry about it, with someone on the other end whose job it is to listen to them cry and then easily make it all better for them, even dispatching someone to go to their home and do it for them, if necessary...or a shop full of friendly understanding faces they can bring the computer to and they will fix it for them and make that wireless work.

And it isn't going to help when computer manufacturers void the warranty if you tell them you wiped out the OS it came with and installed Linux and can't get it to work right. They don't want to hear from you unless it is the OS they shipped it with that you are having an issue with.

That's right...it's support I am talking about.

Linux comes with "google it and hope you find an answer you can understand". That's what makes it not ready for the masses. That's the real image problem it has.

Renegade

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That's right...it's support I am talking about.

Linux comes with "google it and hope you find an answer you can understand". That's what makes it not ready for the masses. That's the real image problem it has.

Very true. That's a massive part of the problem.

On the flip side though, some companies like Novell have support available. That's for their enterprise version though. For normal users, unfortunately... support is, well... would "poor" be an overstatement?
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superboyac

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That's right...it's support I am talking about.

Linux comes with "google it and hope you find an answer you can understand". That's what makes it not ready for the masses. That's the real image problem it has.

Very true. That's a massive part of the problem.

On the flip side though, some companies like Novell have support available. That's for their enterprise version though. For normal users, unfortunately... support is, well... would "poor" be an overstatement?
Ah!  Didn't even think about that.  See!  I'm so used to finding this stuff out through forums, google, etc. that i take it for granted that most people don't even know to do that!