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Tom's Hardware Investigates Michael's Computers

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  • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:05AM (#8588973) Journal
    it surprised me that after all the work they went through, the conclusion is simply "make your own mind up". Now *that*'s being cautious!

    Or maybe I'm just a cynic by nature....

    Simon
    • by _Sharp'r_ (649297) <sharper AT booksunderreview DOT com> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:16AM (#8589071) Homepage Journal
      Usually the weaker the evidence, the more someone tries to insist they ar right.

      If they actually have and present the evidence, there is no need to spell it out for you.
      • by Orgazmus (761208) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:20AM (#8589102)
        And the coolness factor is of course way higher when you say it like that.
        "And like everyone can see without us even telling you, the dudes are lame"
      • by Channard (693317) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:13PM (#8589655) Journal
        Or whatever investigative reports the US has - because clearly standards are slipping. Not with the investigators, but with the scamsters. It used to be you could tune into Roger Cook's Cook Report or Watchdog (UK shows, folks) and the scamster could be watched, on camera, doing a runner, slamming a door in someone's face, while the interviewer tried to get answers out of them. This 'video interview'.. it's just.. unnatural.
      • by smitty_one_each (243267) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:22PM (#8589759) Homepage Journal
        I've heard it is said among lawyers:
        If you've got the facts on your side, argue the facts,
        if you've got the law on your side, argue the law,
        and if you've neither, pound the table.
        Into which category to put Michael, or SCO, is unclear.
      • by Hiro Antagonist (310179) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:30PM (#8589853) Journal
        Indeed; those who lack evidence try and make up for it with panache. This is why none of the creationists, or the UFO-chasers, or the television psychics have ever managed to win the million-dollar challenge [randi.org] posted by the James Randi Educational Foundation. And before anyone screams 'conspiracy', remember that all one needs to do to win the prize, which is held in an escrow account, is present evidence of any paranormal phenomena which completely at odds with modern science. The procedures for doing so must be agreed upon by both parties, and the applicant is the one who designs the tests used to verify his-or-her claim, in order to prevent any steamrolling. All in all, a very fair prize. One which has been unclaimed for fourty years (IIRC).

        Maybe Michael's Computers should try to claim the prize, what with the supernatural performance of their systems. ;)

        As far as Michael's Hardware, just remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and at the very least, you should check first.

    • I half-way expected Michael to go Vice-City on the interviewers ass part way through the interview..... dot dot dot
    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:49AM (#8589385) Homepage Journal
      I wonder if it is because of the Hard OCP / "Phantom Console" issue.

      I'm not convinced that Infinium Labs has any leg to stand on on that one though, I'm not convinced there is any libel, but they can still try to sue and harass. The Tom's writer is possibly just being CYA about it.
    • by btwIANAL (763061) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @01:18PM (#8590355)
      On the other hand Michael can now add... "Featured on Tom's Hardware" ... to his credentials
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:07AM (#8588987) Homepage Journal
    Now I know where our friend Orlando Soto [slashdot.org] buys his computers.

    Hmmm... has anyone ever actually seen "Michael Gonzales" and "Orlando Soto" together? Put glasses on this guy [michaelscomputers.com], and he looks an awful lot like this guy [wsj.com]...
  • by musingmelpomene (703985) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:08AM (#8588999) Homepage
    Ok, kiddies, the important lesson of the day is: When you want to scam people into buying your product, try to advertise a product that exists. Then it'll always work. So...ummm...*shuffles feet*...who wants to buy the Brooklyn Bridge?
    • by frodo from middle ea (602941) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:21AM (#8589113) Homepage
      I do, as soon as I get my 10% cut of the 15 mil., from this really nice guy from nigeria whose uncle (the late military leader) who unfortunatey was killed.
    • by johnmig (638946) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:51PM (#8590097)
      My great-grandfater actually bought the Brooklyn Bridge (OK so he paid for it). This was about 1910 or there-abouts. He was living in Little Italy with his sons and daughter. They were out making a living, by being sand-hogs (digging the subways for those of you who don't know) or tailoring/seamstressing, but Great-Grandpa wasn't working, evidently he got out of practice while still in the Old Country and never really got back into the swing of it (that's a separate story). So while wandering about the town, he comes into the proverbial huckster selling the Brooklyn Bridge. As this is a limited-time offer, he has to put the money down right away, i.e. before talking to his sons who have a better command of the language and know about this particular con. So that night, over the family dinner table, he say to his brood that their money troubles are over, he's just bought the bridge outside the window for $500. All they have to do is put up toll booth and they are set. At this point the kids pick up their jaws from the table and figure out how they can get Pop out of the City pronto. The next morning, they go to the train station, go to the end of the line, and find a place to move the family. So that's why my relatives live where they do. i figure out that I can tell this story, any gullibiity genes involved have been diluted 8-fold by know, so I'm probably OK.
  • Hee hee (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:08AM (#8589007) Homepage Journal

    "Neighbors confirmed that Michael Gonzales used to live there, but moved out after a divorce."

    Maybe his ex-wife was an unsatisfied early user?
  • Sociopaths (Score:4, Informative)

    by DustMagnet (453493) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:10AM (#8589018) Journal
    Michael was very articulate and calm during the interview. He appears convinced of what he says and advertises.

    Sociopaths [datawest.net] are dangerous people. Tracking them down is fine, but be careful if you decide to tangle with one. Some will dedicate their life to revenge.

    • by Speare (84249) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:23AM (#8589138) Homepage Journal
      Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
    • by schon (31600)
      Great site...

      what struck me as particularly funny, is that with only one exception ("Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity"), every single one of those points describes behaviour exhibited by Darl McBride in public!

      Wow... it explains so much. :o)
    • Re:Sociopaths (Score:5, Insightful)

      by deacon (40533) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:40AM (#8589319) Journal
      Sheesh, talk about jumping the gun to get the noose and the tree ready!

      Did you (or the moderators) even read the article you linked to?

      To quote your article [datawest.net]

      " Although only a trained professional can make a diagnosis"

      Yes, it's clear from the TomsHardware article that you do not want to buy a computer from this guy. Just as obvious, penis enlargment products do not work.

      At the same time, Toms is slanting some of their article so the guy will seem even worse.

      Toms discovers that Mike does NOT need a business license, and then later in the article makes a big deal that the guy does not have one. Duh!

      Still, if you insist on labeling Mike with a psych. eval. based on inadequate data, perhaps you can identify with this one [borderlinepersonality.ca].

    • Re:Sociopaths (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Maestro4k (707634) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:01PM (#8589528) Journal
      • Sociopaths are dangerous people. Tracking them down is fine, but be careful if you decide to tangle with one. Some will dedicate their life to revenge.
      I know a lot of people are probably going to say "but he's not a sociopath, just some guy running a scam" or something like that about your Sociopath remark (even though you provided a quite informative link) because in so many people's minds sociopath = homicidal maniac. However I believe you may have hit the nail very firmly on the head in this case. I can't imagine anyone that wasn't a true sociopath being able to so calmly answer this unprompted interview, do so on video (without advance notice as well) and not even break a sweat. Heck, a lot of "normal people" can't pass a lie detector test even if they're telling the truth. (A dirty little secret about them is that concern about what led to the polygraph (such as being accused of murder, etc) is enough to trigger a noticeable reaction to any questions relating to that subject -- irregardless of the answer. Basically you can answer yes or no and it register as a lie either way.)

      I think the Tom's Hardware guys realized what you're saying as well, they had enough evidence to just really lay into this guy but if you read carefully you'll see an almost pained effort to stay unoffensive to Michael. Frankly I wouldn't be surprised if interviewing the guy wasn't terrifying for them. That said, I hope that if everything is as bogus as it seems that someone can get him stopped.

      There are some really strange things here though, Paypal is very sensitive to fraud, and even if they refused to allow chargebacks (they have been reported to just take the money out of your bank account if they get a chargeback), they more than likely would shut down a count that generated quite a few of them. However from the article and the screenshot it would appear his Paypal account is still quite valid. While his busines license isn't valid, it only expired in Januray IIRC, and it would be quite easy to overlook this, especially after having had a divorce and having to move (the notice might have missed him). I'm by no means defending Michael, from the info laid out I'd never buy a computer from the guy myself, but things like this always bug me. Perhaps I just have an inner preference to have things more black & white. :)

  • by Schlemphfer (556732) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:11AM (#8589026) Homepage
    Never buy a computer from some guy named Michael. You're better off buying a Dell. Oh, wait.
  • I know... (Score:5, Funny)

    by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:12AM (#8589033) Homepage Journal
    Michael must have come from the future, with his Windows XP 2004 and currently non-existant hardware! I bet you could haggle with him and get next year's Super Bowl winner, too.
    • Re:I know... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bobulusman (467474) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:37AM (#8589284)
      I liked this part of his FAQ:

      Q: When a client says "How can your systems be instant?"

      A: Simply, because most operations that occur on other systems take time to load or render. We eliminated the so called "wait-time" a few years ago with inventing our TXK modeling for our Hard Drive systems. Where many systems today are built with just the "fastest" processor, we dive deeper into incorporating the true components that allow every application you run, to run at the fastest speed possible.


      Bizarre.
    • by LilMikey (615759)
      I bet you could haggle with him and get next year's Super Bowl winner, too.

      Screw that... can he give us next year's halftime show?
  • by Enze6997 (741393) * on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:12AM (#8589035)
    I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:12AM (#8589036)
    Michael found that Tom's the stories are often riddled with errors and false claims that favour their advertisers.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Their current advertiser appears to be a certain '[an error occurred while processing this directive]' - any idea what they sell? Whatever it is, I want to buy!

      Nice one, Slashdot! Kill the adservers, so I can read the article without annoying interruptions! :-)
  • by pjt33 (739471) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:14AM (#8589047)
    0.19 dB? A ticking watch is about 20dB, and it's a log scale.
    • In the interview he claims to have worked for Cryotech and suggests that he uses cryogenics instead of air cooling. There are no fans in other words. I'm still calling shenanigins though.
    • by OgGreeb (35588) <og@digimark.net> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:41AM (#8589323) Homepage

      The sales blurb for the "Michaels MX8" says "Now with 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1 Surround sound at 180dB!"

      The circa 1950's Chrysler civil defense siren [victorysiren.com], the world's loudest, peaks at 138dB. It can be heard piercingly at five miles distance. 180dB would be on the order of a small earthquake.

      • by B5_geek (638928) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:12PM (#8589638)
        I think he used the same tool to measure that I did as a kid.

        I bought an SPL meter from Radio Shack so I could test how loud my car stereo got. The needle on the meter went to a max of 130Db. I was able to bury the needle on several occasions.

        Considering the evidence that you have quoted there is no doubt in my mind that the meter was worthless.

        My point: maybe he just has shitty testing equipment?
      • by black_widow (41044) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:15PM (#8589680) Homepage
        194 decibels, A-weighted, is equivalent to the saturn 5 rocket or 50lbs of TNT detonated 10 feet away.

        194 decibels (RMS) sound-pressure-level approaches the atmospheric pressure level.

        With an RMS value of 194 decibels, the peak SPL would modulate the atmospheric value entirely. That would make it the loudest possible...

        194 Maximum possible (from atmospheric 14.7psi down to 0psi)
        177 Record for car audio!
        170 Shotgun blast up close
        160 Perforation of eardrum
        140 Jet Aircraft Taking Off
        120 Human Threshold of Pain - 1 watt/sq. meter
        120 Loud Rock Concert
        110 Moderate rock concert, dance club
        100 Motorcycle
        -- extended listening above 85-90dB leads to hearing loss --
        90 Lawnmower, loud home stereo
        85 Jackhammer at 15 meters (50 feet)
        80 Moderate home stereo, ringing telephone
        75 Average City Street
        70 Freeway traffic, TV audio
        60 Normal Conversation
        50 Large office background noise
        40 Quiet office or residential area
        30 Whisper at 3 meters (10 feet), Very soft music
        20 "Silent" TV Studio, Whisper at 1 meter, Quiet living room
        10 Soft rustling of leaves
        0 Human threshold of hearing (youths)
        (table from http://www.geocities.com/rf-man/db.html )
  • by onyxruby (118189) * <onyxruby AT comcast DOT net> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:15AM (#8589057)
    Its amazing how far something has to go for a business to be considered fraudulent. Is it possible to get warnings like this before they end up in court or handcuffs? If all of this investigation only garners a buyer beware warning, what does it take to get a do not buy warning? I can understand the aversion to calling out fraud, but THG can only build the credibility by taking a stand and telling people don't buy from these guys.

    I'm not trying to be overly harsh on THG. I applaud them for being willing to investigate like they did, the industry can only benefit by removing fraudsters. A few bad mechanics have given most mechanics reputations that they don't deserve, and the computer industry needs to avoid this.

    Review sites, remember that your job is as much about telling people what they should not buy as it is about what they should. How many people stopped respecting PC World (once upon a time highly respected) after they endorsed Windows Me?
    • by Malc (1751) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:20AM (#8589105)
      Maybe THG is afraid of ending up in court themselves. Even if they are right, do they really want to spend their time and money when to most of us what they've stated is clear and good enough? This is really just a sad statement about the paranoid corporate climate and litigous nature of the modern American world.
      • by onyxruby (118189) * <onyxruby AT comcast DOT net> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:29AM (#8589213)
        Yes I was commenting on the sad state of affairs on such fear of lawsuits. This makes sense, I may not like it, but I understand it. My issue is that after everything their investigation turned up, they couldn't even say "don't buy here". I understand why they didn't claim the business practices fraud, they gave enough facts on that point for people to decide for themselves.

        The lack of an outright fraud claim wasn't my issue though. The investigation was good, the story fell short at the end though. Again I ask my valid question, what does it take to get a do not buy recommendation from THG?
        • by DarkBlackFox (643814) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:15PM (#8589675)
          Furthermore, I'd like to have seen THG actually buy one of these alleged machines. That was the intention of the article, right? See if the products match the descriptions. If the author was talking face to face with Michael, why couldn't he order one of these machines right from him, or at least ask to see a demo? Rather than just tell people to fend for themselves based on what the reviewer discovered, why not go the final step and actually try to look at the products they are investigating? If they did not perform up to snuff (which is most likely), at least then they would have some hard, tangible evidence to flat out say "avoid these guys."
        • by Tin Foil Hat (705308) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:40PM (#8589976)
          It would have been nice to see Tom's do some more follow-up. The article says that Gonzales claimed to have a store front just blocks away from the mail box location. I would have liked to see the author verify that claim, and if true, buy a computer and run benchmarks on it. At that point he would have all the information he needed to take a strong stand on whether or not this guy is a shyster. He might even have gathered enough information to present to a federal fraud investigator.

    • by TheRealFixer (552803) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:26AM (#8589180)
      It would be nice to see "businesses" like this shut down and the scam artist in handcuffs, but more often than not, people like him are VERY good at disappearing, relocating, and starting up the whole scam again.

      I had a run-in with a retailer at a computer show some years ago who was substituting sub-standard parts and pre-loading Windows 98 on his boxes, advertising them as having Windows 98 included, and then not including the Win98 CD. When I purchased a computer from him for someone else, and then came across a problem with that PC that required the CD, I called to get a copy sent to me, and the retailer refused, said I had to pay $50 to get the CD. I realized quickly that this was a scam he was running, and no matter what, he would not give me the CD. I actually called the Microsoft Piracy Hotline (I've never done that since, and normally I would have just dropped it, but he made me irritated enough with his attitude) and they thanked me, and promised to go after him.

      Next computer show a couple months later, same retailer is there, same scam, different "company" name and different location & phone number. These guys thrive on being mobile. They're like cockroaches. Shine the light on them, and they disappear for a little while, but they still come back.
      • There is a local store which has been here as long as I can remember. I went in there one day in my endevour to find gainful employment. I was first struck by the number of "certifications" on the wall, most of them looked like they had been printed out himself. The owner was yelling at the techs to "just make it work" when the tech said he had a failed HD, because he wasn't getting a new one, etc. I talked with him for a little while, wasn't impressed at all about this guy. I left, never to look back. Anyt
      • Interesting.
        1998: Computer doesn't come with a Windows 98 CD. Product is most likely counterfeit.
        Today: Computer doesn't come with a Windows XP CD. Product is most likely genuine-- but if you want the CD, you might have to swing by Kazaa and grab an ISO...
  • by gosand (234100) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:22AM (#8589128)
    Here is my review of Tom's Hardware. I think that they are extremely.... Next ... [doubleclick.com]

    First paragraph, first sentence

    First paragraph, second sentence

    First paragraph, third sentence

    First paragraph, fourth sentence

    Paragraph

    Second paragraph, first sentence

    Second paragraph, second sentence

    Second paragraph, third sentence

    Second paragraph, fourth sentence

    Second paragraph, fifth sentence

    Paragraph

    Third paragraph, first sentence

    Third paragraph, second sentence

    Third paragraph, third sentence

    Third paragraph, fourth sentence

    Third paragraph, fifth sentence

    Conclusion introduction

    Conclusion body

    Conclusion postscript

  • And now... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:23AM (#8589142)
    He'll add "As mentioned on Slashdot" to his page to add to the hype...
  • easy foolery (Score:5, Interesting)

    by British (51765) <british1500@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:25AM (#8589159) Homepage Journal
    Back in '96 I made a fake web page(on my university account) that sold hacker/phreaker gear. Red boxes, blue boxes etc. I did my best to make it look legit. I also had some more obscure items, like Game Boy cartridges that did red box tones, and other fun things I could think of.

    Mind you the product drawings were almost MS paint quality.

    One of the items I sold was a "katana" laptop computer, with CPU speeds about twice of the fastest CPUs of the day. Also, it said you could buy the laptop in person at our outlet store in New Tokyo.

    Needless to say regardless of how amateur the page looked, I got emails every day from people who believed it. Most of them wanted the price on the katana. To think if I was a shyster I could have been swimming in credit card numbers.
  • by BlackWire (746767) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:26AM (#8589175)
    This is the part cracking me up.

    I was wondering, since you are a well established and reputable hardware site

  • by Imperator (17614) <slashdot2@NosPAM.omershenker.net> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:30AM (#8589216)

    Why do sites insist on splitting articles into separate pages?

    [next page]

    It's even worse when the pages are short.

    Hell, they often have only a few paragraphs per page.

    [next page]

    Some sites are kind enough to at least offer a "print article" link.

    [next page]

    Others don't.

    [next page]

    It's obvious what they're trying to do.

    [next page]

    They want to generate ad revenue.

    [next page]

    [next page]

    But really, the joke's on them.

    [next page]

    Because I use Privoxy [privoxy.org].

    [next page]

    And so they don't get any ad money.

    [next page]

    But still have to spend money on the extra bandwidth it costs...

    [next page]

    ...to split up the article into separate pages.

  • by N8F8 (4562) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:31AM (#8589227)
    I sometimes wonder the reason I've been so lucky buying things online. I've gotten some pretty good deals from cheesy looking web storefronts. One thing to consider next time is to check out a store's ratings at http://www.resellerratings.com/ [resellerratings.com]
  • by ThePretender (180143) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:31AM (#8589234) Homepage
    At first I thought this was a story about an overagressive crafts store [michaels.com] looking for market share while Martha's Empire was on the decline!
  • Software? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ironclad2 (697456) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:31AM (#8589235)
    Do the computers come bundled with Duke Nukem Forever?
  • Pulled Punches (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Percy_Blakeney (542178) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:33AM (#8589247) Homepage
    Although the article was interesting, it didn't go all the way in exposing this guy. All they did was question his "benchmarks", track down where he lives, and then tell us, "Make up your own mind." I was expected them to get ahold of an actual computer and post their own benchmarks, but they never did. You can tell that they were completely pulling their punches in an effort to not get sued.

    Maybe Tom's Hardware should hire John Stossel if they are going to do these kinds of pieces.

    • Re:Pulled Punches (Score:5, Insightful)

      by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd.harrelsonfamily@org> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @01:01PM (#8590203) Homepage
      I am certain that if you were to purchase one of his computers and have it shipped to Tom's Hardware, that they would be more than happy to review and benchmark it in short order. I would even expect a new speed record for how fast they can get the benchmark up.

      Reputable companies often send hardware to web sites to review. If you have vaporware or "scamware", why would you voluntarily send it off for review?

      I read enough to realize that I would be a fool to even give him the first dime to see if his claims were even true. If I have the money (which I sadly don't), the burden of proof is on the vendor to convince me that I need to give it to him. I don't owe any vendor anything, even the benefit of the doubt. Trust is something that is earned, not given out freely.
  • 3DMark2001 and 2003 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pidder (736678) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:38AM (#8589300)
    15,000 is a very reasonable score for a decent system in the 2001 version where the world record is a few points over 30,000. It's very likely that the marketing guy just made a simple mistake.

    3dMark2003 is a whole different ball game however, and a score of 15,000 is clearly impossible. The world record is just over 10,000 points (trivia: made by finnish overclocker 'Macci' with a p4 3.2 EE clocked to 4.5 ghz and a Radeon 9800XT clocked extremely high).

    Extreme overclocking has gone a long way. Macci cools both his cpu and gpu with a cascade system which is two phase change coolers (like the Vapochill) connected together in some cool way I don't have the technical know-how to describe. It cools both his cpu and gpu to -100C.
    • by Pidder (736678) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:42AM (#8589332)
      Haha forget about what I said about "simple mistake". I have now RTFA. That guy is a just a massive tool.
    • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:18PM (#8589717)
      Right. He said 3dMark2003 instead of 3dMark2001.

      And he claimed it was the 'World's Fastest Tower' which it wouldn't be with the 3dMark2001 score.

      And he said .15 DB instead of 15 DB.

      And he said 500GB Hard drive instead of 250 GB Hard drive.

      And he said he was in business from 1996-2000 at one location instead of 2000-2004.

      And he calimed places had reviewed his machine that didn't.

      And he seemed to claim he had won awards that he hadn't.

      And he seemed to claim people were customers who weren't.

      And.... seeing a trend yet?

      Simple mistake??? right...
      Oh, I've got some loveley swampland in Florida that you might be interested in! I'll make you a great deal!

  • by Judg3 (88435) <jeremy@@@pavleck...com> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:39AM (#8589308) Homepage Journal
    Boening, US Marines, US Air Force, Coke, City of Orange, etc etc.

    How much do you want to bet that those 'clients' are his in only the loosest sense - someone that works for the USAF bought a PC, so now the whole USAF is a client. Someone from boeing bought a PC, and had it delivered to their work address - all of a sudden Boeing as a whole is now a client hehe.

    • by Dun Malg (230075) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:49PM (#8590080) Homepage
      How much do you want to bet that those 'clients' are his in only the loosest sense - someone that works for the USAF bought a PC, so now the whole USAF is a client.

      You're probably right. I was particularly amused by a quote in his FAQ praising his waranty service, attributed to the US Navy. Not a rep of the Navy, but the Navy itself. Must have been a good warranty for the whole Navy to say it liked it. Of course, even if we assume it was quote from a Navy person working in procurement, it's clearly bogus:

      "...I only choose Michael's Computers over any other company because it's far better to know the maker and someone you can trust and is a Christian."

      Someone representing the US Navy is about as likely to say they chose a vendor because he's christian as they are likely to say they chose a vendor because they're "trustworthy white folk, not scheming negroes or devious chinamen".

  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:42AM (#8589334) Homepage
    Jesus. It's just more snake oil, I'm not even sure how it constitutes "news". And as the claim of hitting 17,000+ in the 3DMark03 test, well, I think we all know about the validity of 3DMark03 (can you say NVIDIA???). I guess my point is, if Slashdot is going to run a story on every internet based scam-ola, they better lay on some staff. And if you are stupid enough to fall for the pie-in-the-sky computer deal, you deserve what you get.

    From the Tom's story: "I was thinking, WOW!!! I want this laptop!" Yeh baby! I want to fly the Space Shuttle too, think it's a possibility? And speaking of "Tom's Hardware", I thought it was the Slashdot consensus that ole' Tom was in it for the free toys. Ever consider that maybe, just maybe Michael's refused to spot Tommy a free laptop for a positive story?

  • by NickNiel (456061) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:47AM (#8589367)
    It has been up for like 3 minutes and is already slashdotted..... Unfortunately, the pictures are pretty integral to the article....

    Too Good to Be True: Michael's Computers

    Introduction

    "I don't care what kind of computer you have now, but it CAN'T be faster than one from Michael's Computers. You may think your PC is the best in the world, but you are wrong. With a boot time of 4 seconds, a 3dMark 2003 score of 17,000+, and a .19 decibel rating - a computer from Michael's Computers cannot be beat," or so Michael's Computers' claims.

    We usually don't do investigative articles, but the claims coming from Michael's Computers were too good to ignore. A deluge of discontent expressed in emails and discussion forums further prompted us to look into a deal that seemed to good to be true.

    Evidence was gathered from numerous phone interviews, countless emails and several visits to alleged Michael's Computers business locations. To top it all off, we tracked down Mr. Gonzales and interviewed him ON VIDEO, which can be viewed/downloaded at the end of this article.

    So, is Michael J. Gonzales, the owner of Michael's Computers, misleading consumers by posting false information? Is he using proprietary logos without permission, and operating without the necessary business permits? Read on and decide for yourself.

    The Buzz About Michael's Computers

    I first heard of Michael's Computers on Feb 25, 2004 when THG received this email from Ryan Sanders.

    I was wondering if your site has ever had any news on Michaels Computers (www.michaelscomputers.com). His site has been a swirl of controversy over the last week on many a message boards due to claims of hitting 17,000+ in 3DMark03 from their desktop, and 13-15,000 for their notebooks. On top of that, they claim to have a "AMD FX51 3400+ CPU". As most of us know their are 2 different CPU's that fit that description (The Athlon64 FX-51 and then there is the Athlon64 3400+), but when contacted about that, he claimed it was in fact the correct title for the CPU, and that it was some sort of specially optimized CPU.

    I was wondering, since you are a well established and reputable hardware site, if you could look into this, or request a sample product for Review? I, along with many others, believe this site to be a joke, or hoax, and don't want to see a bunch of people buy into the big numbers of the benchmark scores. Thank you for your time.

    Sincerely,
    Ryan Sanders.


    I was thinking, "WOW!!! I want this laptop!" so I searched for more information on discussion forums and Michael's website.

    Just before this article was submitted, I received this email from Chuck Davis:

    A year ago I called them on the phone and talked directly to Michael. He totally sold me on his stuff and therefore I continued to follow his site. I ordered an am MX51 back in Nov. and waited two weeks with no computer. We were emailing each other with ?s and responses during that two week period. On a Sun. he said the MX51 would be shipped that week and he would send me a tracking #. On Fri. still nothing and I emailed him and nothing so I cancelled. Luckily I was able to use my credit card and had no problem with a refund. Since that time he has stopped accepting emails.

    Truthfully, he is a complete liar. He told so many lies about the MX51, I am so glad I was able to get out of it. Almost every claim he made was false. If you need more detail I will give them to you later. Stay away from this company.


    Discussion Boards

    I browsed a few online discussion boards such as Futuremark, Sharky Extreme, and IGN. Each time Michael's Computers has been mentioned, the boards have been flooded with responses. Some of these discussions have generated HUNDREDs of posts, like this discussion from the Sharky Extreme Forums.

    I hope you have a lot of time available to read the 470+ posts on that particular discussion.
  • I Have One (Score:5, Informative)

    by O_D_Evans (763044) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:56AM (#8589471)
    The notebooks featured on Michael's site are actually Clevo (http://www.clevo.com.tw/) notebooks. They are sold in the US under the brand name Sager, available from (among others) pctorque.com. I have the 17" model (tricked out w/ P4 3.2, 1gig RAM, ATI 9600 128MB, DVD burner etc etc) and it *is* bloody quick, but not that quick (about 20 sec to boot XP to usable state). I got it to run 3D CAD/CAM, which it does, like a dream. The only downside of this is it also runs Q3A amazingly well too, so I never actually get any work done ;).
    • Re:I Have One (Score:3, Informative)

      Don't forget quite a few other companies seem to use Clevo too...or at least the same cases...
      If you remember Liebermann Computers [go-l.com] (a lot of people thought they might be a hoax with some of their products), even their laptops look the same.

      Alienware also looks the same.
  • by whyde (123448) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @11:57AM (#8589482)
    a guy in South Florida who used to sell (back in the day) PC clone computers where it was trendy to have a "turbo" button and an LED on the front panel showing the CPU clock speed.

    Some of the cases simply had three 7-segment LEDs with jumpers to select what was "displayed" when the "turbo" button was pressed.

    This guy was selling "100 MHz" 80486 computers back when the top speed available was still 33 MHz, and it took awhile before anybody called bullshit... the amazing thing is that people were willing to believe that their computers really were that much faster, just to stroke their own ego.
  • Whats Missing... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SomeOtherGuy (179082) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:05PM (#8589572) Journal
    Ok. Based on this article I am pretty sure this guy is shady and not very honest. Based on the website said article is hosted on "Toms Hardware", I am pretty sure reviews hardware (and pretty well at that).

    So what is missing from this story you ask? Well you have a company that claims to have the fastest Desktop and Laptop PC known to man. And a website that reviews PC's and Laptops. What you don't have is any review in the story.

    Not one piece of hardware was obtained and/or tested. I mean if you want to call the guy a fraud (which he most likely is) is not this story 90% incomplete without actually running any benchmarks on the hardware?

  • by Strange Ranger (454494) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:07PM (#8589591)

    A little background: About a year and half ago I found myself needing/wanting a monster PC, P4 2.8, 5 WD drives, 4 in a raid 10 array for photography, music, video, etc. Gotta protect all those thousands of pictures. For fun I also wanted a gaming config as well, Radeon 9700 Pro, DDR 400, etc. Long story short, I wanted a top of the line Voodoo PC or Alienware, or Hypersonic, custom built for me, not built by me. But in NO WAY did I want the silly paint job or the price that came with it.

    I also do enough hardware fiddling at work that I just didn't want to deal with it at home (busy + lazy). I wanted Uber Box to show up at my door. Go ahead poke fun, I wanted it, I could get it, so I got it.

    Back then his site was much less over-the-top, he had a 7 year warranty, etc. I dealt with Michael over the phone and we came to a price which was quite agreeable for the parts and labor. I knew the pricegrabber price for every part in there, MB, sticks of memory, etc. The spec sheet he sent was right on.

    The PC is great, nice build, no widgets, no crapware, XP Pro with all MS-Phone-Home-ware removed or disabled, all those services in XP that most of us know to turn off, he had them off, etc, etc. When I had trouble with the Firewire ports, he walked me through the pin-outs on the Audigy 2, when that didn't work due to meager support from Creative, he overnighted me a firewire card. He has been outstanding as far as customer service is concerned, I'm quite happy with the "uber-box", yes it's over the top, but i like it that way and in a few years I won't be aching for a complete replacement.

    I always ignored his marketing. He's a VERY exhuberant fellow in person, and it shows! HA. He's a one-man-show. He knows how to build a nice PC, and is willing to do it, where I am not. I disapprove of the direction his marketing has taken (who wouldn't). Because of it, I've taken to sending folks here [pugetsystems.com] and elsewhere who want a PC built for them.

    It's sad because if you remove the marketing aspect, and of course haggle on price, he DOES do just as good a job as the Alienware / Voodoo PC folks. Actually better because I hate that tricked out case stuff, and I have yet to hear of Alienware calling or emailing you back in 5 minutes with a fix or a tracking number to a free replacement part you haven't asked for yet.

    Just goes to show that running a [Widget] business takes a lot more than being a [Widget] expert. You've got to have your marketing, order processing, legal angles, etc., all figured out as well.

    Maybe this "expose" will help him improve. I wish him luck. He's a real nice guy.
  • by supergiovane (606385) <arturo@digioia.ing@unitn@it> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @12:18PM (#8589715)
    Not only it achieves a stunning 17108 in 3DMark '03, but it also came bundled with Duke Nukem Forever, running at 138fps at full details.
  • by Monokeros (200892) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @01:31PM (#8590497)
    If you go to www.michaelscomputers.com [michaelscomputers.com] they reveal that they have increased both the speed AND stability of Windows! They did it with their "years of experience". Michael's Computers are truly heroes.

    (The claim is in the translucent slideshow. Wait for it. . .)
  • Maybe it's me... (Score:3, Informative)

    by DarkHelmet (120004) * <.mark. .at. .seventhcycle.net.> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @02:10PM (#8590822) Homepage
    But even if I didn't know anything about computer hardware and such, here's the part that I noticed that would raise the red flag:

    There's no dynamic element to the webpage, whatsoever!!!

    There's no shoppping cart system, at all! All that's there is a "buy now" paypal link on each of the product pages.

    Maybe it's me, but using a third party processor like Paypal, Ibill, whatnot, holds against a company's legitimacy. Sadly, I'd be better off giving my credit card number over the net to another store because at least those who can process credit card orders through the web have a merchant account.

    Places that have merchant accounts are very picky about chargebacks. A company like Michael's Computers wouldn't be able to have one for very long.

Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson

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