Public Response to Haxial’s SPL G5 Benchmark Challenge Posting

SPL has posted a Soapbox entry in his website in Haxial about the benchmarks Apple is using to tout the G5 as the “fastest desktop computer in the world” and this simple article has generated a flurry of messages and flames completely out of proportion. I post here the personal reply I sent to him on the article.

NOTE: Text has not been changed from original, so it’s addressed to him directly.

Hello.

I guess all the mail about this entry in the soapbox is actually being taken from the MacNN forums but, since I have no desire to participate in them I thought I could post a reply here. Probably one of hundreds and probably one that won’t be paid much attention.

Still, I thought I had to pitch in to try and balance the barrage of message from fanatic zealots out there.

First of all I’d like to know if you’ve received any “challenge mail” and if you were thinking of putting that up as well (as bigoted hate mail is an easy target to which you aren’t obliged to answer rationally). A serious and rational exchange may ensue with the “other” mails.

Second: Although I agree with your comments and think that you are correct in all that you wrote about the benchmarks I also have to mention that anyone that purchases solely based on benchmarks deserves to find unpleasant surprises. Benchmarks should only be an important factor when all other things in a comparison are equal (which clearly is not the case when pitting PC’s with either Windows or a flavor of Unix-type OSes like Linux against Macintosh computers with MacOS X, hence referred as “Macs”). I have seen benchmarks (specially those generated by private companies, even using third-party entities) to be always biased, and this applies to AMD, Intel, Motorola, IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Linux and even Google.

Third: I agree that Apple should either prove there is a stronger foundation behind their claims of benchmarks or their claim to the “title” of “the fastest computer in the world” (paraphrased, exact wording not important as we all know what was actually stated) or at least extend their explanation to “according to a private benchmark conducted under Apple Instructions by Veritest under special controlled circumstances” or something, which is common in the industry as a disclaimer against any complaints and would make the whole thing at least a little more true.

Fourth: Apple doesn’t have misleading prices. Misleading prices would mean that there were hidden costs or that the price is not accurate. It IS accurate, to all of our knowledge. If they say it’ll cost $2999 then it’ll cost as much. This is also not apple’s fault. Most sites when selling bundled equipment (doesn’t apply in BTO places, as it’s not controllable, depending on the options chosen) or single parts do this. It’s a common practice widely thought to give the impression of the price being cheaper. This is still not misleading pricing in the same way two identical machines in which one of them has a cool design and the other is a plain beige box is not a proof that the former has a misleading design. Also: I have yet to hear somebody mention a $2999 price as either “Two thousand dollars” or “two-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine dollars”. EVERYONE I know would say “three thousand dollars”, as the rounding has become commonplace everywhere in the world nowadays (and we tend to shorten prices to the closest number naturally).

Fifth: I personally find it in very poor taste (even as you mention in your soapbox index, you’re exercising your “freedom of speech”) that you attacked a Mac user for being happy or excited about a new machine. This user is not a company or testing entity that can be questioned on what he or she believes is a cool product. What makes a product excellent and what makes it crappy is, for the most part, a subjective concept and it may very well be that for him this G5 machine was “WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY” beyond expectations. That’s a subjective statement that, although can be questioned, substracts professionalism from your whole article (which, for the most part, was indeed rational and professional). The fact that this very same user would probably become afterwards a flamer and send hate mail written hastily and with poor grammar doesn’t deter that he shouldn’t be attacked for what he subjectively believes (answering to hate mail is OK, tho’, as it’s a directed attack to the “hated” and, thus, makes it deserving of an answer, hopefully with better arguments thant “you wrote ‘their’ incorrectly”, but I digress).

Sixth: I do recognize that you are indeed a Mac user (if not exclusively) and although I personally hate your interfaces for your programs (a direct result of the graphics kit you use) I do admit that your products are cool and useful, I just wish you’d use the native widgets and graphic elements of each platform, as the things currently stand out horribly against my other programs, in Windows and MacOS (I do acknowledge the standard widgets in both platforms may be lacking certain elements you do use frequently, like window-specific contextual menus). I just wanted to make it clear I don’t think you’re a PC bigot slandering Macs or antyhing. Anyone that browsed around your website (even if they had never even read the “haxial” name anywhere, which is difficult if you do move within the Mac world) could’ve found that, so the posts about you not even using a mac are kind of moot.

Seventh: The actual point of my post, which has been probably stated before either to you directly or through the posts in MacNN’s forum: Mac users have never used benchmarks as their reason for picking up macs. Macs have never been the fastest machines in the world and they probably won’t. Trying to make it, all of a sudden, a relevant factor is stupid and, to me, is actually detrimental to the true reasons any current Mac user has chosen a mac in the past. Truth is most mac users have different reasons for choosing a mac, not the least is “having something different to set myself apart from the rest” (which is probably a lame reason and the same most “out-of-the-norm” groups exist. The worst too) but a lot of them chose macs because they were either easier to use, prettier to look at or prone to be bragged about, friendlier, better integrated, more reliable hardware from a brand-name computer (opposed to a self-built computer), greater lifespan and less need to get “in the guts” of the computer, both in hardware and in the OS, as well as less prone to attacks of different kinds (virus, malicious users, etc.). All of these are valid reasons and, to me, way more important than Benchmarks. Apple may be at fault for bringin benchmarks, which have never been their forté, to the spotlight, but mac users (and all other users who should know better) wouldn’t be being smart if they also took it as the most important factor to consider (or not) macs. They have never been a reason, making them a reason now is completely pointless. Apple may be at fault here, but I do blame the users for letting themselves be carried by this (which is probably a byproduct of we mac users never having been able to brag about speed in the past and having “arguments” to do so now, forgetting we always said “speed isn’t everything”).

This is more a rant than a specific opinion on a specific point in your article. I think it could be summed up in:

1.-Don’t only show hate mail. You must SURELY be getting rational mail you can also answer with something other than a witty retort.

2.-Don’t attack personal subjective opiniones, attack objective/stated facts that could be practically challenged. (challenging Apple is OK, challenging a user who just happens to be too effussive or too sentimental is a cheap shot that indirectly is aimed at all the other users who may not share his/her opinion.

4.-Don’t manipulate concepts. “Misleading” is not the same as “Making something look more attractive”. The former is a step away from an (illegal, BTW) outright lie, while the latter is just simple (and legal) marketing.

3.-You attack Apple’s benchmarks (with facts, I also should mention) yet you’re a mac user. It would be interesting to see your perspective in this as a mac user. Why do you use Macs? Would you use something else if you could? What would you advocate in the platform you use? This is not directly related to your Benchmark article, but more related to the reason you still choose a Mac to work on (if not exclusively).

Eduo

Note: I use PC as a synonym for Intel-based or Intel-Compatible, IBM-Compatible Personal Computer based in the x86 chipset. As PC is shorter and widely used. A Mac is of course a PC, and is actually a PC from a company widely regarded as the creator of the PC concept with the Apple I (although this is debatable as well, still I’m using common concepts)

Eduo

PD: Please excuse my poor english. It’s not my native language and I sometimes make awful mistakes. Try and look past them if you do answer. I do appreciate corrections and welcome them, but not as the only possible reply to a message.