The Public Opinion War

Bill Quick is taking the WaPo to task for trying to change the character of the debate over war:
…WaPo is still trying to shift the debate from one in which it is incumbent upon Saddam to prove he has no WMD and is not violating previous resolutions, to one in which it is incumbent upon the United States to prove that Saddam does have WMD, and is violating UN resolutions.
Bill has staked out a firm position on Bush’s wobbliness, and I’m glad he’s done so — while he hasn’t convinced me, I’m still listening, and I certainly have to admit unease at how long we’ve waited to begin the ‘real war’.
I think in this case he may be correct about the WaPo’s motivations, but that doesn’t necessarily invalidate their point. It is certainly right to say that, in moral and U.N.-legal terms (I know, that last bit is an oxymoron), the burden is on Saddam to prove himself in compliance.
But concluding that Saddam has failed to do so and that action against him is morally or legally justified is a very different thing than saying that the United States should send the men and women of its armed forces into harm’s way to stop him. For that, the American public must be convinced the cause is justified — the argument that Saddam has failed to prove his innocence is just not going to be sufficient.
I think we’ve already got plenty of evidence to justify action, and I also recognize that there’s a decent percentage of the population that will simply never be convinced that military force is justified. But what I expect to see is a variation on Bush’s stellar U.N. speech last year in his State of the Union address — a matter-of-fact litany of all the cease-fire violations Hussein has committed over the years, probably mixed in with some (hopefully dramatic) new evidence of his weapons programs. And of course: a reminder of the horrifying consequences that we now cannot avoid understanding can result when powerful madmen with a hatred of America are allowed to go unchecked.
And I’ll make a prediction: if he delivers that speech, or something like it, U.S. popular support for a war will skyrocket. Partly because war truly is the sensible option at this point — and partly because I think deep down, Americans know that this war is going to happen; that our President is firmly convinced it is necessary; that the troops are already in place, and that no protest on the Mall is going to stop it. And while the ANSWER crowd will continue to fight, most Americans will realize that the threshold has already been crossed: we’re already committed to this war.
And one last reason why the tide will turn: unless I’m misremembering, Bush has never made a direct appeal to the American people to support an attack on Iraq. This will be the first time, and I expect it will be a powerful statement. Because the American people want to be asked. Part of the reason why support has not been stellar is that many of those on the fence are waiting to hear it from Bush’s own lips. They want to hear him make his case, and they want to be asked by their President for support.
Once he does so, the public-support war will be all over — at least until the fighting starts — and the ANSWER crowd might as well go on vacation for a few weeks.
PS – Speaking of evidence, see today’s LA Times for yet another example. Courtesy o’ Slate’s Today’s Papers.

State of The Blog Update

While I’m waiting for responses to my modest proposal for a cross-blog Iraq debate, a few random thoughts/updates.
First, those of you who pay attention to such things around here have probably noticed that my blogging in general has been light, and in particular, the Weblog Action Center and the Weblog MetaData Initative have been languishing almost completely for the past month.
This is nobody’s fault but my own, of course: I have managed once again to overcommit myself across these various projects, the core of TTLB itself, and oh, yeah, little things in real life like, say, finding a job.
So, I’ve been re-evaluating priorities lately. No, I’m not giving up blogging, far from it. But I am trying to focus my blog-efforts more precisely in areas that interest me most, and where I feel I can make the most interesting contribution.
One part of that is that I’ll likely be giving up the Weblog Action Center to a new owner sometime in the near future. I’ve decided that it would be better served being hosted by someone with more time to dedicate to it, and that someone clearly isn’t me at the moment. So there’s a request out to the regular contributors to the Center for a volunteer to take ownership (and even if you haven’t contributed previously, if you’re interested in taking it on, drop me a line and we can talk).
Beyond that, I’m trying to focus my blogging on what I enjoy most, which generally comes down to decent think-pieces with a bit of humor tossed in now and again, with my non-writing efforts focused on WMDI (whose mission I remain passionately committed to). And oh yes: the blending of traditional fiction writing with blogging, which I find fascinating, not to mention quite a bit of fun.
And on that note, one bit of “good” news for the masochists who actually enjoy my more creative work around here: I have a major piece currently in progress, somewhat similar to my view of the future in 2014. This one, however, is significantly more ambitious, and will consist of multiple parts spanning from present-day to a decade or more into the future. No promises whatsoever on when it will be done, but I’m anxious to get Part I finished as soon as possible, so hopefully you’ll see something of it in the not-too-distant future.
This weblog is a hobby, of course, so I make no commitments other than to continue doing what I find enjoyable. But I am genuinely interested in feedback from the peanut gallery on what you find interesting around here (assuming there is anything). So feel free to drop your thoughts in the Comments; I’d love to hear what you’d like to see more (or less) of.
Thanks all…
-NZB

Proposal: A Cross-Blog Iraq Debate

I’ve been thinking about my musings below on fostering dialogue across the pro- and anti- sides of the Iraq debate. In the words of Xander Harris: “I think I’m having a thought. Yes, it’s definitely a thought… no, wait: now I’m having a plan!”
Here’s the idea:
– Have two blogs, one each for the pro- and anti- side, set up as points of coordination for planning a cross blog debate.
– On each coordination blog, solicit input from any & all who are interested to create a list of questions (let’s say, five of them) for the opposite side of the debate to answer. Example: the pro- side might pose the following question to the anti-side: “What, specifically, would U.N. inspectors need to find in Iraq for you to support military action against Saddam Hussein’s regime?”, while the anti-side might in turn ask “Is there any possible result of the current inspections that would convince you to oppose military action against Iraq?”
– Narrow down the list of submitted questions however you like; democratic vote or by fiat by the coordination blogger; whatever.
– Once the lists of questions are finalized, open season begins: anyone who is interested in joining the debate can simply go ahead and post their responses to the appropriate set of questions on their own blog.
– Finally, the coordination blogs can post a roundup of all the various responses to the debate so folks can browse through them all. From there, I think the process becomes natural: the responses will themselves breed counter-responses, and so on.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Interest? If you think this is a worthwhile endeavor, and would be willing to participate, please drop a “yeah” into the Comments section.

I hear this computer thing might be big…

Odd moment of the day: submitting a resume to IBM’s website (yes, still unemployed — yes, still looking for help with that) and being asked:
“How did you hear about us?”
Er, by not being asleep for the past thirty years?

Failure of Imagination

From a recent AP story on the inspections game, a choice quote from Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency:
War “is the worst case scenario,” ElBaradei said. “If we can avoid that, even spending a few more months to complete our job, that is time well spent.”
No, you jackass. War now is a far, far cry from the worst case scenario, and if you haven’t learned that in the past two years, then there’s just no helping you.
PS – You’re the head of the frickin’ IAEA, do I need to draw you a picture?

Not in Their Name – But in Ours

Jonah over at the Corner drew my attention to www.notinourname.net , which is exactly what it sounds like.
I share his general reaction (“I feel the need to smash their guitar against the wall of the Delta House.”) But I wonder if there isn’t more that could be done to counteract the drivel of half-witted slogans and rhymes that ooze out of the allegedly anti-war movement these days.
Any community of like-minded folks can become an echo-chamber, and that’s a danger which our part of the weblog world (call it the “anti-idiotarian side”; the “warbloggers”, whatever) certainly faces. One risk of this trap is that we fail to listen to arguments from outside the tribe that disagree with our generally held views. But another danger is that we fail to reach out beyond our traditional borders to audiences that don’t already agree with us.
I suppose what I’m saying is, perhaps we need a little less preaching to the choir, and a little more evangelizing.
So what can we do to better spread our gospel ?
First, didn’t somebody in the Blogosphere call for a “In Our Name” campaign a ways back to counteract the “Not in Our Name” crowd? It might be time to revive that idea. (And if anyone remembers who did it, please, speak up: I’d like to give credit where credit is due here). Personally, I’d like to see a nice web-button that could be placed on a weblog or other web page to show support for the war to liberate Iraq. (I generally have a rule on TTLB: no buttons. But I’d make an exception in this case).
Second, why not confront these folks head on? Challenge them to an online debate — they pick a few of their best essayists, we pick a few of ours. Figure out an appropriate format, and have at you! And of course, make sure that the results get prominent play across the Blogosphere and real media — and we know enough to know which folks in Big Media would listen without slanting the coverage.
Third, who is covering the rally in D.C. this weekend? I know what the the Stand Down contingent of the Blogosphere is up to. But what about coverage of the demonstrations from the more, shall we say, skeptical side? Volunteers? (I’m in California; don’t look at me.)
Other ideas for ways to reach out beyond our traditional audiences are welcome. You know where the comment button is…

Stumbling towards truth

Well, what have we here?
Bonus points to the first journalist who finds out if these warheads were included in the Iraqi weapons declaration, although it seems reasonably safe to assume at the moment that they were not.
Whoopsie…
Update: Ari Fleischer says they weren’t included in the declaration — and presumably wouldn’t say so if it weren’t true, given how many U.N. folks would be happy to contradict him where possible.

It’s Alive!

As threatened, I blog to you now from the new PC.
Picked it up with little trouble; setup has gone well and I’m now in the fun process of getting everything on Windows XP juuuuust the way I like it. So far, it’s performing beautifully, so thanks to ABS Computers.

The New Salon: Less Content, More Headlines That Make You Go “Ha-what?”

Salon.com : Devout and Defiled: “While male victims of predatory priests dominate the headlines, abused girls and women suffer in silence”
Memo to Salon editors: isn’t using the word “defiled” to describe victims of rape and sexual abuse a bit, well, medieval? Are we really trying to say these girls are now unclean, spoiled, and all that is implied by the term?
Yes, I know the alliteration was hard to resist, but work with me here…

Patio Bear Seeks Warmth

Boy, post a funny picture of Glenn, get 5000 visits. Post a serious analysis of possible racial profiling in Los Angeles, get squat. I should know better, I suppose.
But anyway. In theory, the new PC is ready for pickup today, so by this evening, my blogging might be coming from the spiffy new box. We shall see. I’m sure my prose will look all shiny and new and maybe will even be intelligible.
But while we all wait, yet another question for the peanut gallery: I need a space heater for my patio, because the existing crappy one isn’t cutting it. (Yes, I have a patio: what, you thought Martin was the only one?)
It’s about 20′ x 15′ of usable space, so I’m looking for a big one. But I really, really, don’t want to pay $500 for it, which is the price I’ve seen for some of the high end models. Since the quality seems to vary wildly, though, I figured I’d ask if anyone had one they were comfortable recommending. (Hey, I earned my keep in the last few days with Allegedly Interesting Content; I can throw in another begging-for-consumer-advice post).
Any thoughts/suggestions are welcome…
-NZB

Lies, Damned Lies, and Media Stories on LAPD Traffic Stop Data

The Los Angeles Police Department has released statistics which break down traffic stops — and how they are handled — by ethnic group.
You can take a look at the raw data in a nice big PDF file here, and if you’re even more ambitious, you can check out the consent decree the LAPD reached with the Justice Department which led to this data being produced.
The consensus among big media appears to be that the data shows evidence of racial bias:
LA Daily News: “Latino and African-American pedestrians and motorists are more likely to be stopped and searched by Los Angeles police officers than other population groups, according to data the city issued Monday.”
CNN: “The Los Angeles Police Department released raw data Monday that seem to show African-American and Hispanic drivers and pedestrians are stopped and searched more frequently than whites and Asians. ”
Reuters: “Black and Latino motorists are three times as likely to be asked to step out of their vehicles by Los Angeles police during traffic stops than other drivers, according to data made public on Monday.”
I approached these numbers — and the big media stories about them — with extreme caution.
First, it is important to remember the Golden Rule of ethnic statistics stories: Correlation Does Not Necessarily Imply Causation. If a greater percentage of ethnic group X is stopped for a certain type of violation than ethnic group Y, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the police are using ethnic group X as a determining factor on who to stop. It could mean something very different: like, for instance, the simple fact that perhaps the police are perfectly just, and ethnic group X actually is committing the crime in question more often.
So at any rate, I took a close look at the statistics directly, then checked out the media reporting on them. My conclusion: as I suspected, the media in some cases seem to be playing a bit fast and loose with the data. But that said, in at least one area, the LAPD has, as Ricky would say, got some ‘splaining to do.
I focused my analysis exclusively on Page 3 of the document, which provides data for the entire city based on the driver of the vehicle for the period of July 1 through November 30th 2002. The total number of traffic stops for drivers identified as White, Black, and Hispanic were as follows:
White: 68266
Black: 37081
Hispanic: 78687
Then, we have the statistics for how many drivers were asked to exit their vehicle. The absolute number is direct from the report; the percentage is my own math based on the total numbers above:
White: 4483 (6.6 %)
Black: 8175 (22.0 %)
Hispanic: 17688 (22.5 %)
Then, there is the data for whether a pat down / frisk search was conducted. Not suprisingly, this follows the trend above (obviously, if you’re not asked to exit the vehicle, then you are not going to be frisked):
White: 2227 (3.3 %)
Black: 5437 (14.7 %)
Hispanic: 9707 (12.3 %)
Doesn’t look so good, does it?
Now again, there could be other factors involved here. Were blacks and Hispanics stopped in disproportionate numbers for more “serious” offenses that might be more likely to prompt caution by the police? Based on the data provided by the LAPD, it doesn’t seem so: they break down stops by the initial reason for the stop, and I could see no big differences by ethnic group. The vast majority of stops are for “Vehicle Code Moving / Pedestrian Violation” (83.6% for whites, 77.3% for blacks, and 78.9% for Hispanics).
So, my conclusion: while this doesn’t prove racial bias on the part of the LAPD in how they treat drivers after they are stopped, it sure does provide a significant bit of evidence that points in that direction.
Now, with that said, some of the scaremongering on the part of Big Media does seem to oversell the story. Let’s go back to the leads of the LA Daily News and CNN:
LA Daily News: “Latino and African-American pedestrians and motorists are more likely to be stopped and searched by Los Angeles police officers than other population groups, according to data the city issued Monday.”
CNN: “The Los Angeles Police Department released raw data Monday that seem to show African-American and Hispanic drivers and pedestrians are stopped and searched more frequently than whites and Asians. ”
(Emphasis mine). The problem here is that the LAPD report doesn’t actually tell you anything at all about how likely a person of a certain ethnic group is to be stopped in the first place, because it doesn’t include any data about the composition of the LA population as a whole. Without that data, you can’t make any conclusions about how likely a person of a given ethnic group is to be stopped.
Now, if you match the LAPD survey data with census data, theoretically you can make this kind of conclusion (although you’d still be fudging to some degree, because census data doesn’t necessarily correspond to what percentage of the driving population is of a given ethnic group). It’s possible that CNN and the LA Daily News both did this analysis, and that’s what they based their leads on. But we don’t know that, because they don’t say. And it’s telling that while both stories include the “more likely to be stopped” claim in their leads, neither of them repeat that claim within the body of the story: they both focus on the asked-to-exit-the-vehicle statistics and other detailed numbers that are actually in the LAPD report. (For the record, Reuters doesn’t make the “more likely to be stopped” claim, to their credit).
This story certainly isn’t dead; there’s a lot of work that could be done here in crunching these numbers in far more sophisticated ways than I (or any big media folks I’ve seen thus far) have. In particular, that cross-referencing with census (or perhaps DMV? ) ethnic data sure would be nice. (And the LAPD survey does break down the data by sub-area of the city; I just focused on the high level for simplicity). The city itself is actually looking to hire a professional consultant to do their own analysis on the data, in fact, so we’ll certainly be hearing more about that in months to come.
Anyway, thus endeth my foray into the perilous world of ethnic statistics. Hopefully I haven’t screwed anything up too badly, and above all, my recommendation is to read the actual report itself if you want to really form your own opinion. Which, of course, is always the safest approach…
Additional Note: One other odd thing about the LAPD statistics: they don’t always add up. Literally. When you total up the subcategories for some subsections that you would think would add to the total number of stops, they don’t. For example, looking only at white drivers, the total number of stops listed is 68,266. But when I add up all the subcategories under “Initial Reason for Stop”, I get 70,797. I encountered similar discrepancies using other subcategories.
There’s not much in way of explanation of the numbers in the report, so perhaps I’m not understanding the categories correctly. But it does seem a bit weird….

DeLong on KQED’s Forum

Cool. Brad DeLong will be on KQED radio’s Forum tomorrow morning at 9am PST. And he’s even given us all a sneak peek at his talking points.
PS – KQED maintains audio archives, so if you miss the live stream, within a day or so they’ll have the broadcast up in the archives for play-on-demand. Or, you could check http://www.publicradiofan.com/ and find a broadcast time from another station tomorrow that’s more to your liking.
Ain’t the Internet grand?

Mozilla = Good Blogging

Lair is excited because he’s discovered the magic of Mozilla and how tabbed browsing can make your weblogging experience oh so much nicer.
Lair always was a bit slow to catch on, but we forgive him, because he amuses us.
Figured I’d chime in with my vote of approval: yes, Mozilla is cool for blogging. My standard setup is as follows:
Left Sidebar: Blo.gs panel
Tab 1: SiteMeter for Truth Laid Bear
Tab 2: MoveableType entry tab for posting to Truth Laid Bear
Tab 3: Truth Laid Bear Itself
Tabs 4-n: Browsing tabs for other weblogs
The real magic is the Blo.gs panel, which allows you to define a list of weblogs of interest, and then shows them in a nice, compact list sorted by their last update time. (Blo.gs accepts pings directly and also grabs from weblogs.com, so it’s about as accurate as can be). Click on one of ’em, and it opens in the current tab.
About the only wrinkle in this setup is that yes, MoveableType doesn’t quite work 100% perfectly with Mozilla — you’ll lose the font-buttons in the entry screen. But I’ve found I can live with that (and continue to hope that someday, Mena and Ben will get around to fixing it or working around whatever Mozilla problem causes it).
I continue my quest for spiffy blogging technology, so I ask: what are your favorite toys?

Captions, Captions, Everywhere…

Wow. 138 comments and rising — that’s probably about double I’ve ever received for anything, ever. Everybody really likes making fun of Glenn, don’t they?
Anyway, some great entries; I don’t think I’ll be able to pick just one winner, but I’ll certainly post something with a roundup of some of my favorites in the next day or so…
-NZB

InstaCaption Contest!

Well heck, somebody has to run a caption contest for this glorious image of our Dear Leader, and I guess it’s going to be me.
Submit entries here in comments; prize will most likely be absolutely nothing and the contest will run for an arbitrary and unpredictable time period to be determined by me. (The image is captured from a video clip of the PBS special A Visit To The Blogosphere, if you didn’t know).
I’ll start off with a simple, classic approach:
Glenn Reynolds: Law Professor. Blogger. Sith Lord.”

Update: Wow, the traffic counter sure is flying off the desk on this one. Even for an InstaBlast, this is a strong ‘un.
Anyway, I have to assume that many of you folks reading this might not be familiar with my little corner of the Blogosphere, and so I say to you: Welcome! I hope you’ll take a few minutes and browse around the rest of the site and my past postings. If you’d like more humor, try my Inactivist’s Guide, for an artsy-fartsy look back at the good old days of BBS’s, try my Salon piece here. We’ve got a New York photo essay; deep thoughts on what’s wrong with the U.N. — and what a truly just international body would look like — and my own views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And a personal favorite: if you want something really out there, try my glimpse into the future of blogging (and the world): June 28, 2014. Something for everyone!
And of course, I most certainly hope to see you here again sometime. Make yourself at home…

It’s hip to be square

Whoah.
So I finally got around to watching that video clip of the PBS special A Trip to the Blogosphere, and let me tell you: I had no idea we were that cool!
It’s funny, though: they captured the exact lighting and background sounds that I have in my office here… and here I thought I was the only one who wrote in a dark room with disco lighting and odd clanking noises in the background…
PS – Yes, I’ve been blogging-blocked lately. For those of you who notice and/or care: sorry.

A Virus of the Mind

Continuing my seemingly inexorable slide towards tech-blogging, I noticed an odd turn of the phrase on CNET’s News.com today:
Computer users continue to be duped by false virus alerts persuading them to delete harmless–but sometimes vital–files, and then forward the hoaxes to their friends.
Fueled by concern over genuine threats such as Klez, Bugbear and Magistr, computer users are continuing to fall for false warnings of nonexistent viruses.
Anti-virus firm Sophos released details of its latest top 10 virus hoaxes on Thursday. These hoaxes typically warn the reader not to open an e-mail with a certain subject line, or to immediately delete a particular file on their hard drive because they contain a virus. They will also tell the reader to forward the warning to their friends and colleagues.

CNET says they are “false warnings” — true enough — but also says they are “nonexistent viruses”, which I might take issue with.
The virus stated in the warning surely does not exist, of course, but it seems to me that these things (to use a neutral term) are indeed viruses (or to use the proper term, worms, if I remember correctly).
You’ve got a collection of information that is self-propogating, spreading multiple copies of itself as far and wide as possible against the wishes of the owners of the platforms on which it runs, and also doing damage along the way.
Seems to me the fact that the ‘platforms’ in question are human minds rather than silicon chips is a somewhat paltry distinction. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck….
PS – Now where did I put that Norton AntiVirus – WetWare Edition…?

A Hardware Bear: The Build-A-PC Plan

So the first fun-project of 2003 is to build a new PC, as I threatened to do late last year.
I’ve been hitting the research hard, and am now beginning to feel like I vaguely know what I’m up to, which is probably a bad sign. So, this seemed a reasonable juncture to give y’all an update on what I’m planning, and call for comments.
So here are the components I’ve selected, along with the best prices I’ve found and links to the retailers who are offering them. I’d welcome feedback of any kind, and have pointed out specific areas that I’m still scratching my head on.
Case: Antec Plus 1080AMG ($101.21 + shipping at Page Computers). Antec seems to be a default choice for a reasonably-priced quality case. I prefer a full tower configuration; I’ve got the space and for a neophyte like me having the extra room inside will probably make life easier. The Antec comes with a well-regarded power supply and fans are included, so that’s a good thing. My only quibble with the case itself is that it has front USB ports — a good thing — but I believe they are not USB2.0 ports. While I don’t have any 2.0-devices yet, this is an annoyance. And at $125 or so with shipping, I would have preferred to be able to bring the price down a bit, but oh well.
Processor: AMD Athlon 2400+ (about $165 + shipping according to Pricewatch; vendor suggestions welcome). All the build-it-yourself advice seems to say ditch Intel, and I’m now convinced. So off into the great unknown I go. The 2400 seemed to me at about the sweet spot of value-for-performance; AMD’s more powerful chips still command a steep price premium.
Motherboard: Asus A7N8X Deluxe ($145 + shipping at Page Computer, but as of this morning its backordered, so vendor suggestions welcome). This is probably more motherboard than I need, so to speak, but it has gotten consistently great reviews and has room for future expansion. It comes with on-board LAN and sound capabilities, which I’m hoping will save me from having to buy dedicated cards for those functions. I’ll certainly listen to arguments as to why I should downgrade to a cheaper board here, though.
Memory: 512MB of PC2100 RAM ($131 from Crucial). I want to go up to 512 MB; I’m running with 256 MB now and given my tendency to massively multitask apps, I suspect the increase will help. The Asus motherboard would support PC2700 RAM (and even one level above that in speed, I think…) but I decided to spend the money on more, not faster, memory. I’ve seen some lower prices on memory than from Crucial, but they seem well regarded quality-wise and I was reluctant to stray into generic territory.
Video Card: ATI Radeon 9500 Pro (about $190 according to PriceGrabber, vendor suggestions welcome). Yes, I want the 9700 Pro; no, I’m not going to spend the extra money for it. I’m a bit constrained here as I actually have a GeForce4 Ti4400 in the current ‘big’ machine, and I don’t want to downgrade (remember that one purpose here is to upgrade the home computer network so we have two fully functional and modern PCs). The 9500 Pro sounds to be about equal performance wise, with the future benefit of including DirectX 9.0 support (whatever the hell that’s going to mean). Yes, I play games, and while I try not to spend too much time doing so, when I do, I like them to look pretty, so high-end graphics is a must. (Besides all the digital photography stuff I do).
Hard Drive: I plan to shop around for the next week or so and see what I can find as a good deal; I saw a special for a Western Digital 60GB drive for about $60 at Best Buy, but it didn’t seem to actually exist. But that price point is in my head now, so that’s what I’m aiming for. Suggestions welcome.
Operating System: Windows XP Professional. I’ll probably end up buying the full version; the price tag definately irks me. Looks like I can get it for about $150 on eBay; better suggestions are welcome as that’s too damned much.
Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse, CD-RW Drive: All of these I’ll be re-using from one of my old systems, so no real need for new ones.
All told, I expect the full system to come in at about $1000, which is a bit more than I was hoping, but acceptable.
In my research, obviously PriceWatch and PriceGrabber have been useful. A site I continue to return to for a general guide is Rob Williams’ MySuperPC; he’s got a great overview of everything you need to know, and includes real helpful links to vendors as well.
So, where am I going wrong? Or even better, where can I get this stuff cheaper? Suggestions, thoughts, and alternatives are all very much welcome.
Update: OK, a new wrinkle. I walked into MicroCenter today, and they have this PowerSpec system for $750. It also includes a full 512MB RAM for now extra $$$$ after a rebate.
The specs are damned similar to what I’m pricing — the P4 2.4GHz is pretty comparable with the Athlon 2400, I think. And this rig includes keyboard, mouse, CD-RW drive, and a CD-ROM drive, which I wasn’t including.
I’m very, very tempted — especially given that my pricing for the custom setup has been, shall we say, aggressive, and I’m not truly sure I can get the components at those prices.
Anybody have any experience with PowerSpec? They’re clearly a budget vendor, but there’s a warranty, so I’m not sure why I care too much. Thoughts, oh great peanut gallery?
And oh yeah: I’d welcome suggestions for any local vendors who will build custom systems in the Los Angeles / Orange County area.
But wait! How much will I pay now?: Here’s an even more attractive option, from ABS Computers: their Bravado 2100 model can be configured/upgraded to basically exactly meet or exceed my proposed specs, for a total cost (after tax, but with no shipping — I can pick it up locally), of $1050. (Sorry, can’t link directly to the exact config, but play with it yourself).
This is extremely tempting, as it’s almost exactly the same system as I’d end up with myself, for pretty much the same price…. decisions, decisions…
Final Update For Now: Well, it’s done. I decided the ABS Computer deal was the best choice, and placed my order. So hopefully in a week or so, I’ll have a shiny new toy. No joy of learning how to assemble it myself, of course… but perhaps that’s a good thing…