The President's Message

January 2010

Rick Curry

Smart Shopping.

Happy 2010! Last month I mentioned a project I had undertaken to provide some product evaluation assistance. I started looking for a universal "GBU" list.

The term "Good, Bad, and Ugly" may have originated in the photography field. There is an enthusiast organization that published such a review as of 2008. Search online for the "CAC Good, Bad, and Ugly List." They defined these terms: Bad (avoid)
Ugly/Questionable (mixed reviews, disputed, unsure, or depends on the item)
Good (just about always worth consideration)
Beautiful/Highly Recommended (considered audiophile grade)

In the field of computers, I think we should expand the definition of "Ugly" to include systems that require significant maintenance from their inventor. Some of us don't mind constantly tinkering with our toys, and things that would be completely unacceptable to most might be considered a temporary challenge. Linux, for example, is migrating from Ugly to Good (and some would argue Beautiful). Most things will be a little bit ugly when they first enter a market, meaning you might have to call customer support to make it work.

I have not found one single list to point you to, but I can point you to a few sites that support lists with similar themes. You might want to remember the four categories I mentioned above when looking at evaluations provided at these sites. If a good solution will serve you, that is usually the safest best. Often we want some special feature or ability that forces us to choose between the cost of a beautiful solution and the maintenance of an ugly solution.

So here are some places I use and would recommend for advice.
For information on DSL service, there is a constantly supported GBU list at http://www.dslreports.com/gbu

(I really like this site. Did you know the FCC is looking into moving everyone to VOIP?)

Never rule these people out of the competition. The only organization I know of that does not accept any advertiser money: http://www.consumerreports.org.

A company that makes its money providing these sorts of evaluations online http://www.tomshardware.com/charts.

And of course our local experts, Rick, Toby, and Michael, can be found here: http://www.vccomputers.com.

My wife recommends always checking the Amazon Customer Reviews on the exact product ID you are thinking of buying before any significant purchase. I find similar reviews on eBay and tigerdirect. Check with your favorite store for customer feedback. If you’re lucky enough to know someone in the retail computer business, you have access to current information that is difficult to duplicate online. Happy computing!