Reading Between the Lines

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When In Doubt, Don’t

We follow the principle of prudence. We know that some people base their buying decisions on what we say. We also know that people often are concerned with whether or not anything they buy today can be upgraded tomorrow.

So we try our best to try to figure that out, and if we have any doubt that a product will be able to do something, now, or in the future, we’re going to express that doubt.

Probably the most recent example of that was our doubts about the A7V133 (or any other two-phase power solution) being able to handle the power requirements of a Palomino.

I got some letters saying that a properly constructed two-phase power solution with the proper components could handle Palominos just as well as any three-phrase solution.

But “Could it?” is not the question here. “Does it?” is the question. If you buy something, and six months later you’re crashing left and right and then you find out that you need a new mobo, you wouldn’t be too happy with someone who said that it “could” work, would you?

Then again, it may work fine. Right now, we don’t know. When you don’t know, it is more prudent to go with the answer that you know works than the answer you’re not too sure about.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

When I made the comments about the Asus, I hoped for people to ask Asus that question, and for Asus to come up with a definitive answer for it.

I’d be happy to say that there was no problem, right on the front page. I’m more than happy to correct a suspicion if the end result is accurate, correct information. Ideally, a place like Asus (and it’s not just them by any means) would simply answer those questions upfront, so there would be no reason to have any doubts in the first place.

But when they don’t, then you have to start reading between the lines.

Being able to run Palominos in the future is certainly an advantage; better than not being able to run them.

I have found that a very good rule of thumb in determining whether or not a piece of equipment can do something is, “If it can, they’ll brag about it. If it can’t, they’ll stay quiet about it.”

It doesn’t work all the time, but it does often enough to be useful when you have nothing better to go by.

Another rule of thumb is to look for “technical accuracy.” I call “technical accuracy” a statement that is technically accurate but potentially misleading.

Saying, for instance, that a motherboard can handle “1Ghz+” processors may be a technically accurate statement. The A7V133 can certainly handle current 1100Mhz and 1200Mhz TBirds, but please note that statement is true even if it can’t handle anything above it.

However, look at what that statement doesn’t say. It doesn’t say it can handle ALL “1Ghz+” processors. Doesn’t say it can handle Palominos. Maybe it can, maybe it can’t. You don’t know for sure, and that statement doesn’t tell you.

Before you find this nonsense, just remember the most famous technical accuracy statement of our time, “I did not have sex with that woman.” Since I knew the utterer was rather prone to such statements, I gave it the same kind of scrutiny I’m giving this, and it took a whole three seconds to figure out what had probably happened.

Also remember that Asus (or anybody else) can remove all doubt with a one-sentence official statement: “[This motherboard] will support Palominos.” That’s all I want to see for the benefit of all.

Are We Being Prudent Or Prissy?

Over the years, I’ve gotten comments decrying this approach as being somehow unmasculine. Better to just forge ahead, damn the torpedoes, that sort of thing.

There is a time and a place to be bold and decisive. That’s usually when you can’t get all the relevant facts together, or if you waited until you did, the opportunity to take advantage of them has passed.

There’s nothing wrong with that, provided 1) you know there’s a risk and 2) you reasonably determine the potential rewards outweigh the risks.

If those two steps aren’t taken, that’s not being bold and decisive, that’s being foolhardy.

This Isn’t Defusing a Nuke About To Go Off

Picking a motherboard is not like defending your loved ones and homeland in pitched battle against genocidal maniacs. It’s not a life-or-death decision. Really, it isn’t.

No one is going to die or nations be enslaved if you don’t immediately take action. 99% of the time, there is no emergency. Since you have the time to be careful, you should be.

If you don’t, don’t call it macho, call it lazy.

Lack of thought is never a merit. Overthought sometimes is bad, but no thought is not the cure.

A few years back, in another place, somebody wanted to buy a SCSI scanner. I suggested it would be a good idea to look into which SCSI connectors the scanner cable and SCSI controller used. Actually did a little research for the person.

All I got from him for my efforts was a feminization of my name, and more than a little color commentary about it.

He was bold and bought. Of course, the connectors were incompatible. He then spent about three days trying to figure out what to do next, which, given his reluctance to read up on it, was about 2.9 days longer than it should have taken.

Around this time, he also decided to repair his printer while heavily under the influence. He fixed that printer like cyanide-laced Tylenol fixed headaches.

To him, these were manly acts. To me, this was just stupidity. What do you think?
Which is a better approach?


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