punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,
punkwalrus
punkwalrus

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Tech - Add-ons for the Comptuer Illiterate

I really have anger issues with most people's ignorance when it comes to their computers. Not that the people make me mad, no, but the companies that take advantage of this. There are a ton of really smart professionals out there who know as much about their computers as I do about quantum physics; we have a general idea on the outer workings, but no real applicable knowledge. But I never have to deal with quantum physics in real life (or at least, understanding it). Professionals have to deal with computers all the time. Computers are like voodoo for most people. How they work, what goes on inside, or even a hardware versus a software problem. So here comes companies like Alienware, and they try to sell them this kind of stuff:

The exclusive Alienware® ALX performance power cable offers superior conductivity for your system... Alienware® ALX System Power Cable [+59 or $2/mo.]

or:

The exclusive Alienware® ALX performance network cable insures the best possible connection to your network... Alienware® ALX Network Cable [+29 or $1/mo.]

A power and network cable combo that would set you back $88. Jesus, I have power an LAN cables and lying all over this office, and I know I could either get them free from a friend or at least buy them for a couple of bucks each (incl. shipping) online. What could possibly make these "performance" cables? These are just wires in a plastic housing. There's no rocket science here. Bits do not go through faster with better wire. Either they go through or they don't. I have rarely come across a "bad LAN cable," and I have never come across a bad power cable unless it was physically damaged or something, and then I just tossed it because I always had spares.

I always build my own computers. I only buy things like Dells for friends or companies where I don't want to be their tech support all the time. Our house has many old computers given to us for free, and I always take them apart, clean out the inside, and trick them out with the latest hardware the BIOS can handle (some Dells can't take double-sided RAM, for example). Warrantee? Pffh. If I can't fix it, nobody can.

However, prebuilt companies often save money by selling you cheap-ass parts and/or they buy in bulk. I can usually save by building it myself, but sometimes not as much because I don't want cheap-ass parts in my box. I want brand names with a phone number. After looking at the Alienware site, I decided to see if I would save money by buying their Area-51® Extreme model versus building my own machine with the same specs. I was surprised to find I'd only save about $100 or so. Of course, I wouldn't always get what they had (I'd save $500, for example, by going from a 400mhz fsb instead of 800), but they buy in bulk, so what's a $990 3.6ghz chip to me, they get for $400. And then you get a year's free service. And there's no putting it together and fussing with drivers; it works right out of the box. It all evened out in the end, because Alienware uses brand name parts and good ones, at that.

But they sure get you with those accessories... damn!
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