2016 Has Been Cancelled 16 July at 6:47 AM 0 comments

Yup, it's official. Apparently the rest of 2016 has been cancelled due to low approval ratings. Gutted quite frankly as I was looking forward to my summer holiday. 

Oh well

Apple Doesn't Care About Hackintoshes 16 July at 5:37 AM 0 comments

I believe that Apple doesn't care about hackintoshes. Well, what do I mean by that?

Essentially, I'm saying that Apple allows them to exist. They could stop them (or at least make running a hackintosh harder than it currently is), but instead choose not to because it doesn't suit their own interests. 

Rather than punish users for running a Hackintosh, Apple prefers to take no action for two reasons. 

Reason #1: Hackintosh users want hardware Apple doesn't sell

What do I mean by this? People running hackintoshes aren't Apple's typical market. They're enthusiasts. They're hackers. They're people who aren't interested in what Apple sells, be that because Apple don't offer significant enough graphical performance in their desktops or simply because they're a tinkerer who likes to have a machine that they can build, upgrade and customize themselves. 

Sure, Apple could offer a machine with a better graphics card or more SSD storage or whatever, but they don't. Why not? Because their target market doesn't care. The typical Apple user is someone buying it as a computer that 'just works'. They aren't interested in tinkering and they're happy to pay a price premium for a machine that works well.

Your average tinkerer however, doesn't. They're happy to play about for many hours because it's what they love doing. They want to save that extra penny but also (and perhaps more importantly) they're the kind of user who just loves their own hardware.

Apple could target these users but they don't. As I said, the first group is happy to pay a premium. Apple are happy to charge that premium. Apple as a company can be much more successful charging a premium to the customers who will pay it because the alternative is a race to the bottom on price to compete with a self-built PC or with the thousands of other PC manufacturers who will sell a computer as cheaply as humanly possible to those who want the best possible deal. 

Time for a story

Back in 2006 Apple had only just started to offer Intel-based Macs, opening the door to nervous converts who liked the potential of being able to run Windows natively and opening the door for cheaper hardware, with Intel processors and compatible chipsets being considerably more cost effective than much more specialised IBM Power architecture equivalents (see supply and demand or economics 101). 

Around this time Apple also offered the MacBook - a cheap plastic entry-level laptop to get people on to their platform. Starting at just £650 in the UK, well below the price of any other Mac and just barely in the reach of affordability for the average user. 

Perfect, you think. Surely Apple could sway may potential PC users with that. But instead, I think the MacBook may have actually been more damaging to Apple's brand. You see, the cheap plastic was notorious for cracking easily, for discolouration and for just generally being of low quality.

Sure, it was better than the average PC, but the difference here is that Apple is supposed to be a brand known for its quality. People expect better. Nobody expects quality from a £200 HP laptop (though there's certainly nothing wrong with them), but from a £600 laptop and especially one with an Apple logo they do. 

Now in 2016, the cheapest laptop that Apple sells in the MacBook Air (which I honestly suspect won't last long) which starts at £749 (though it can be found for less on Amazon). Not much more expensive than the MacBook, but the key is in how it's presented.

Sure, it has a TN panel - not great, but it does have a solid aluminium chassis and whilst the specifications are a bit low it does offer SSD storage (which is blazingly fast) and also dramatically increases the system's lifespan as there's a significantly less chance of mechanical failure (being that the only mechanical part is the fan).

Reason #2: Hackintosh users are potential customers

This is true for two reasons. First and foremost, people using hackintoshes are using Apple's platform, and therefore are immediately presented with the App Store, iTunes and the iBooks Store. They're being thrown straight into Apple's ecosystem, and they're immediately likely to start buying apps, music and books from Apple's own stores to use on their platform. Apple makes a cut from these sales and they also get to gradually lock the user in to their ecosystem. 

Which leads on to the second reason: Once a user is on their platform, they're likely to buy Apple hardware in the future. 

Yes, it's true that many people (myself included) are perfectly happy using hackintoshes, but it's also true that they're likely to gain an interest in Apple hardware as well. It's what lead me to buy a MacBook Pro and I'm sure the same is true for many others who since bought a real Mac. Whether it's because they've grown tired of tinkering with their own system or simply because they've gained an appreciation for Apple hardware, the fact remains that Apple has managed to sell to people that they otherwise wouldn't. 

People who otherwise would have continued building their own PCs and running Windows have started running OS X, paying for apps and in the future perhaps paying for Apple hardware. 

But finally

It's important to remember, we're talking about individual users here. Apple still aren't going to allow Dell to sell a Mac and they're certainly not going to allow Psystar to continue to exist either. They don't want your average Joe buying a PC with OS X pre-installed, because that does start to interfere with their business model. 

Sass, SCSS, Less 05 July at 8:19 AM 0 comments

CSS preprocessors are a requirement at this point. I still find it crazy to think that many still develop using 'straight' CSS. 

So with that in mind, I'd like this to be my reminder to you, dear reader, to consider using one. I personally use Sass' SCSS syntax. It retains the standard syntax of CSS and is fully compatible with it, whilst adding some massively useful functionality. 

See sass-lang.com.

I've used Less before and whilst Bootstrap uses it just about nothing else does, and for many reasons that have since escaped my mind, Sass is superior. It's no surprise that Bootstrap has since started offering an SCSS version of the framework. Which framework should you use (if any) though? Well, that's a story for another time.