What's davintosh? Mostly just the random ramblings of a hopelessly distractible… Hey, what's that?

Psystar — On Its Way!

Filed under: Computers,Psystar Open — Tags: , , — dave @ 12:14 am 2008/05/04

Yes indeed, it’s really happening. On Wednesday I got a confirmation email from Psystar with a valid UPS tracking number. It’ll be delivered by May 5 (feliz Cinco de Mayo!)

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Huzzah!

As cool as that is, I’m certainly not the first to get one; several people have already received the machines they ordered, and one guy sent video and photos to Gizmodo. It’s been a bit funny — yet sobering — reading through posts and comments on Gizmodo; the initial posts were pretty skeptical in nature, and only fueled my own skepticism, but now the tone has changed to disdain for those silly enough to actually purchase one of the machines. Many of the comments are tainted with a base hatred of anything Mac, which is to be expected from that crowd.

I knew up front that buying this machine would be a shot in the dark, and bought it with a Plan B that would put the purchased OS and hardware to work in different roles in the event that they couldn’t be effectively used together. Another article at Gizmodo has a good list of reasons to avoid buying a Mac OS machine from Psystar, and although many of their reasons are very valid, I had considered most of them before buying. The one that will keep this machine out of graphics production is the inability to use Software Update, and the inability to do a reinstall. Oh well. On to Plan B.

But then the reported noise level issue may make even Plan B unworkable, so a Plan C may be needed — putting the hardware into a server role of some sort, or swapping out fans or power supply. But then again, it seems that Psystar is reacting fairly rapidly to customer concerns, so it may well be that this won’t be an issue with mine.

We’ll see.

Psystar — Almost There…

Filed under: Computers,Psystar Open — dave @ 8:49 am 2008/04/28

Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor and bring my lower jaw back in line with the rest of my teeth…

I just got a phone call from a polite young man by the name of Jose from Psystar to let me know about the delay with the white cases, which would delay my order unless I switched to a black case. I confirmed that switching to the black case was fine with me, and he let me know that the machine would ship within a day or so. From the voice on the line, my guess is that Jose is the same guy who did the speaking part for the a href=”http://www.psystar.com/a_peek_at_the_open_computers.html”>video posted on their website last week.

Granted, there still is no outside confirmation that anything has or will ship, but I’ve got to tell you that if the whole Psystar thing is a scam, these guys are running the con far beyond what you’d expect. If it were a con and I was running it, a phone call to the customers definitely wouldn’t be part of the plan.

“Get ‘em While They’re Hot”

Filed under: Psystar Open — Tags: , , , — dave @ 9:08 am 2008/04/24

There’s a new post on Psystar’s website this morning, which includes a video of their “triplets”; three of their Open Computers, each running a different OS. One running Windows XP, another running Ubuntu, and a third running Leopard. This marks the first time the Psystar geeks have actually given us a peek at OS X running on one of their machines, albeit way too brief to draw any conclusions about how well it works.

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News flash: I emailed Rudy yesterday asking for an update on the ship date for the machine I ordered, and got two responses back. The first was time stamped 1:13PM yesterday, but didn’t show in my inbox until this morning:

We would like to inform you that due to the high demand for Open Computing Products, our White Cases are currently out of stock. We can equip your Open Computer with a black case with no delay, or you can keep your order for a White Case, however there will be a delay of at least 15 days.

We apologize for the inconvenience. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at Support@psystar.com

Sincerely,

The PSYSTAR Support Team
www.Psystar.com
888-456-7801

Of course I ordered the white box; I don’t know why. It used to be that most all PC’s were in boring beige boxes; these days beige has been supplanted by black, so white is a good alternative to set it apart. I guess. Or maybe it had something to do with the time Toby W. gave me a hard time about that BEST ColorStation we had at CCL that was running on a funky looking black Proliant box, and he thought it was an Apple machine… Whatever.

But then the second message, time stamped 8:21AM, gave a little more encouragement:

We are pleased to inform you that your open computer is currently in the build stage, and is scheduled to be shipped out on monday. You will receive a tracking number with your shipment. Thank you for your patience.
Thank you,
PSYSTAR Support Team
www.psystar.com 305-356-6666

Woohoo! That is most definitely good news!

The email messages and the video give me great hope today that I might actually get my hands on one of these machines, and soon. Here’s hopin’!

And still, there has not been word one from Apple about the whole situation. That is what is truly weird about all of this.

Psystar — Still Hopeful

Filed under: Computers,Cool Technology,Gadgets,Geek,Psystar Open — dave @ 11:08 pm 2008/04/20

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Earlier today I checked the Psystar website, and they must’ve been doing some maintenance on the server or changing something with the configuration; got nothing but errors. And the pit in my stomach came back.

It was Sunday, so it wasn’t difficult to put it out of my mind for most of the day. When I checked it again just now; the site is back, with a new post on the front page saying they’ve contracted with a new payment processor with more capacity (… we challenge you, let’s see if we can max this one out.) Last I heard they had switched to PayPal when the original processor dumped them. I went through the order process just for fun, and no sign of PayPal anywhere, just the standard Visa, MasterCard & American Express.

The post also says that they’ve started shipping orders that were placed the week of April 7; that’s funny, I thought they hadn’t started selling until April 14, which is the first day they showed up on the Internet radar and announced that they were building a Mac clone. They say, “We will be shipping units out of our new facility starting Monday, April 21st, including those orders placed the week of April 14th.” I wonder who the lucky recipients of those early shipped machines are. I keep hoping to see something on the net from one of these people, reporting their experience with the machines.

Forbes Magazine has an article containing an interview with Rudy Pedraza. There, he’s being as evasive as usual, but insistent that Psystar is legitimate, and people who have ordered will receive the goods they’ve ordered. The facts of the matter — that the website is still up, still being updated, and orders can be placed — is all a bit reassuring. I’m still a little nervous, but still holding out hope.

And Apple continues to be silent on the whole matter. Hmmm.

The Psystar Saga — Riding It Out

Filed under: Computers,Cool Technology,Gadgets,Geek,Psystar Open — dave @ 6:33 am 2008/04/18

crabapple.jpgAll the hysteria on Gizmodo and elsewhere over the Psystar saga had me all weirded out yesterday. I was ready to call them up to cancel my order, then take it to the credit card company if they balked.

But then I had a decent night’s sleep, and woke up to see this insightful comment on the Gizmodo thread from commenter AJcorex:

Meh, sounds like it’s just a few guys who’ve tried to make it in the world of sales with little success, found somethin that the world wants, and don’t know how to cope with the demand.

all these blunders could be due to the mass hysteria this has all caused.

I’m waitin it out to see what happens. But this is clearly not the work of any con artists, it’s just too full of doofy errors.

So, so very true. If they were con artists they would’ve,

  1. known that marketing a Mac-compatible clone would generate the attention — & scrutiny — they’re now receiving;
  2. made themselves conveniently unavailable for comment,
  3. been long gone with the money and credit card numbers after only a day or so of business.

So, I think I’ll give Psystar the benefit of the doubt and assume that the business is run by a handful of doofuses who are now struggling with the demand and attention they’ve generated, and the with some of the stupid but well-intentioned blunders they’ve made along the way.

Here’s hoping. Still!

Open Computer Update — The Screenshot

Filed under: Computers,Cool Technology,Psystar Open — dave @ 2:51 pm 2008/04/17

Not much new about the Psystar machine I ordered on Monday… But when I logged onto their website this morning, they had a blog entry with a screenshot from System Profiler running on the machine. At least that’s what they claim. (Click on the image below to see the full-size version.)

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Of course, something like this is pretty easy to mock up & fake, but…

The question of Psystar’s legitimacy is still open. Engadget has had a few articles on Psystar, and has spoken at length with owner Rudy Pedraza, who supposedly promised to send a machine to them for testing. It was Tuesday when that was mentioned, and as of today, Engadget has not posted anything on that at all. Hmmm.

Just now I opened Psystar’s home page and found an interesting note:

We’re in the process of moving to a new location which is now listed on our contact page. The first new address posted (10481) was in error and our correct address is 10475 NW 28th Street. PSYSTAR was, prior to this past week, not ready to handle the enormous production capacity demanded by the online community. Due to the incredible response we have now expanded to a larger commercial unit to handle the supplies and assembly of Open Computers. THANK YOU for all of your orders.

Midday yesterday our store was not receiving any orders. This was due to the fact that our merchant gateway, Powerpay, dropped the ball on us and refused to process any more transactions from our company. We have reverted to Paypal until we can find a high-volume merchant. Apparently Powerpay was not ready to handle the community’s demand for Open Computing.

Due to the wave of orders for Open Computers coming through there is currently a 10 to 12 day build time for all products.

The contact page says this new address is in Doral, FL. I popped that address into Google Maps, but it didn’t recognize the city Psystar lists — Doral, FL. Using the Zip Code 33172 brings you to Miami, and shows what looks like yet another residential neighborhood.

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That makes the second time they’ve changed their address. The first published address looked like a residential area. The second address was in a commercial area, but a manager at that building has never heard of Psystar. And now this? Dang. What are they trying to pull?

And the thing with their merchant gateway, Powerpay… If this cnet article is true, it turns out that they didn’t exactly “drop the ball”; more like they tossed the hot potato as far as they could when they found out exactly what Psystar was selling.

Another interesting thing I bumped into yesterday was a Google Ad at the OSX86 Project Wiki page:

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That’s pretty bold, having a Google Ad on that site, especially considering that the guy who developed the EFI emulator, the gadget at the core of the OSX86 project, claims that Psystar ripped it off without giving him credit.

I’m getting a little nervous. Maybe I should talk with the bean counters & let them know what I’ve done in case they need to undo it with the credit card folks. Gulp.

Psystar — The CrabApple That Could

Filed under: Computers,Cool Technology,Gadgets,Geek,Psystar Open — dave @ 2:20 pm 2008/04/15

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Psystar made a huge splash on the interwebs yesterday by introducing the OpenMac (later renamed “Open Computer” when they realized how badly that would piss off Apple.) The Open is essentially a white box Intel-based computer that can run unmodified OS X Leopard kernels, and can even be ordered with Leopard preinstalled. The computer’s specs match a high-end MacPro pretty closely, but with a base price of $399 (sans OS). Wow! Even with the OS installed (another $155) it’s cheaper than the base Mac mini.

They also sell a higher end machine, the OpenPro, which can be configured with up to 8GB of RAM and 2.6GHz Core2 Quad processors. That one starts at $999, but can go all the way to $2,169 if you check all the boxes. That’s still a far cry from a similarly equipped MacPro.

I think this is a great idea; Apple has a huge untapped market that will not buy or even try the Mac OS because it’s always tied to Apple’s hardware, which in some comparisons appears overpriced. Actually, if you compare apples to apples (pun intended) Apple hardware isn’t that much more expensive than comparable high-end WinTel gear. But the problem is that Apple’s hardware lineup has a huge hole in it that Apple should’ve filled long ago; there is a staggering price difference between the iMac and the MacPro that could be filled with a mid-priced machine with no monitor and a wider range of upgrade options. As it is you’ve got the iMac — which is a great machine, don’t get me wrong — but many PC heads bristle at the thought of an integrated monitor, and they bristle at the thought of the limited upgrade options of the mini. The next option would naturally be the MacPro, but the base price for one is a staggering $2,799. You would think a natural middle ground would be to build a mini-tower, powered like the iMac but sporting three or four PCI slots for upgrades, and room for two or three hard drives and maybe a couple of optical drives. It really wouldn’t be that difficult to pull off, but it would definitely cut into the MacPro sales figures. And the iMac. And the mini. But who cares? They’d be selling computers to people who would otherwise not even consider a Mac.

So, the natural progression here is for a third party to step in and build what Apple will not. That’s where Psystar comes in. And it looks like they have what could be a winner, but their entry starts the race with a huge millstone around it’s neck; Apple’s end user licensing agreement (EULA). Apple’s EULA specifically prohibits running Apple’s OS on anything but Apple’s hardware; you must agree to the EULA before the OS can be installed. That’s a big catch, and considering Steve Jobs’ view on Mac clones, not one that will change anytime soon. So I’m absolutely certain that Psystar has been kept busy with Apple’s legal team for the last 24 hours. Very busy.

I tried to find out what I could about the company, and there really isn’t much out there via a Google search other than what has been published after their Open Computer announcement. Not sure if it’s a new outfit or what. Yesterday the company listed their address as 10645 SW 112th St, Miami, FL, which looks an awful lot like a residential area in Google Maps. But today there is a new address; 10481 NW 28th St, Miami, FL; if you look up that address up in Google Maps, it looks more like light industrial/office. Not sure if that change is comforting or not.

Today’s news says that indeed, Psystar has been dealing with Apple Legal, and they intend to fight. Not sure how far that will go, but it sounds like they are going to proceed with selling computers and the OS package. And they’re being feisty about the upcoming legal battle, citing antitrust violations built into that EULA and charging that Apple marks up their hardware 80 percent. I don’t know how far they’ll get with arguments like that, but I do know they’ve got one heck of an uphill battle ahead of them.

I’m not sure if it was a good idea or not, but last night I went ahead & ordered an Open Computer for work — base machine with Leopard installed for $588 (of the boss’ money!) shipped. We’re in need of updating a few Macs in Prepress anyway, and I figure even if this doesn’t work out, we also need to replace some older PC’s, so I can install Windows on the box and use it elsewhere on the network. And the copy of Leopard won’t go to waste either; I can install that on one of the Macs. $155 is about $30 high for Leopard, but $399 is pretty cheap for a WinTel box spec’d like the Open. So if nothing else, it ought to prove to be a fun experiment.

Now the big question is, will my machine ever ship. And if it ships, how long before I hear from Apple Legal. Time will tell, and I’ll keep posting updates.