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Analysis of Psystar’s Open Computer Video

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Editorial, Mac Pro, Random Thoughts

So over the last week Psystar has created a lot of buzz, controversy, and skepticism with their new Open Computer. They claim their system will run an unmodified retail version of OS X Leopard on non-Apple hardware. Now, EULA breaking legal issues aside, we know from the OS X86 Project, that it is possible to cobble together a beige box PC clone and make it run OS X. The thing is, to date no one has done it commercially and, as far as we know, Psystar has not shipped an Open Computer running OS X yet.

Today, Psystar tried to put all naysayers to rest by posting this video on their web site. They claim it shows their Open Computers running OS X Leopard, Ubuntu 8, and Windows Xp Professional. Now I am not refuting their claims, but as I watched the video I did notice some things that seem just too wonky not to point out. Besides I always love a good conspiracy theory.

psystar_video_1.jpg

As the video opens we see the alleged Open Computer running OS X on the far left. There is a bundle of small cables under the desk below the system and it looks like they are probably Ethernet cables. Nothing too unusual but, as you will see, they later seem to disappear. Even more unusual is the space below the desk on the right where there is an empty wire rack shelf system. Note that at this point in the video there seems to be nothing there. Also note that the area to the right of the display is empty. These two points will become significant later.

psystar_video_2.jpg psystar_video_3.jpg

As the camera pans right we see the Ubuntu machine and the Windows box. Both have several cables coming out the side of the computer and running to the right toward the monitor.

psystar_video_5.jpg

Now notice the Mac system… no cables coming off to the right like with the Ubuntu and PC systems. Also notice that the bundle of Ethernet-like cables pointed out in the opening scene no longer seem to be visible.

psystar_video_4.jpg psystar_video_6.jpg

Next the video transitions into showing the Open Computer supposedly running Leopard and the Mac version of Quake 4. What is interesting in this shot is there now seems to be an extra cable running from the right of the monitor toward the area of the desk where the empty wire shelf system sits. That shelf is also no longer empty as it looks like it now has a strange blue box sitting on it. At first I thought the cable near the monitor might be the mouse cable, but in the Quake demo scene you can clearly see the mouse cable moving with this mysterious second cable above it. The thicker cable does seem to be the monitor cable and it is going off to the right not the left. Remember, the Open Computer that is supposed to be running OS X Leopard is to the left of the monitor, not the right. Interesting.

psystar_video_7.jpg

Finally, the closing shot shows the exterior of the Psystar offices. When reports of Psystar and their Open Computer (initially called the Open Mac) first surfaced on the web, several reports noted that they changed their address as many as 3 times. Now that fact alone is strange enough, but throw in a phone number with an oddly high number of 6′s, plus the fact that they seem to want to keep things private and you have the makings of a full blown conspiracy.

Can someone ring up Fox and see if he is available to come down to Florida?

There are 18 comments on Analysis of Psystar’s Open Computer Video:

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  1. Rene | Apr 25 2008 - 09:52

    The video doesn’t tell us anything. Knowing that all things can be manipulated, it is no more reliable than words on a website.

    As long as Psystar doesn’t have formal approval from Apple, like the Axiontron ModBook, it remains a shady operation.

  2. memson | Apr 25 2008 - 09:40

    This is dumb.

    Okay, Mac OS X PC is not the same one as the Ubuntu one. The Monitor is different, different badge for a start.

    I’m not sure what planet you are from, but on my world Phones require wires to be connected to supply the phone line and power… the mysterious wire is the phone line.

    No offence, but this is 3 different PC’s and you are trying to make out it is something it’s not

  3. Ian Farrell | Apr 25 2008 - 12:57

    After seeing this video it only confirms my suspicions.
    Steer clear of these guys at all costs.
    Until a reputable person or company can show us real connections with a real demo (say like Engadget), I would not even remotely think of purchasing one.

  4. Katie | Apr 25 2008 - 12:17

    Yep, something still smells rotten here. :) Thanks for the analysis Adam, though we always new you had a thing about cables!

  5. Victor | Apr 25 2008 - 01:57

    Well the number on the door is not listed when I did a reverse directory assistance call and then called it. I’m not sure about the cords, tend to agree with the phone power cord explaining the one cord going off to the right.

    That being said, I would not personally buy a Cuban Sandwich from these guys.

  6. Adam Christianson | Apr 25 2008 - 02:25

    memson,
    I would agree with you on the phone power cord if it weren’t for a couple things…. 1) that cord is not there in the opening shot. Was the phone just not plugged in yet? 2) That is a pretty thick cord to be a power cable for a phone. 3) It very clearly runs off toward that blue box that shows up later in the video.

    That said, I see your points and will even offer you a more plausible explanation. Your comment made me look at this shot closer and my guess now is that it is the keyboard cable. The person demoing the game has to be off to the side so they can shoot the screen, so it makes the most logical sense.

    As I said at the beginning of the article, I am not refuting their claims. I just wanted to illustrate that making a video doesn’t necessarily prove anything. They need to get one of these to an independent party, like a member of the media, and allow them to review the system. So far, from what i have read, they seem to not be willing to do that. Until that happens I will tend to look at there claims with a lot of skepticism.

  7. r€nato | Apr 25 2008 - 03:45

    I’m a little leery of bloggers who base conspiracy theories upon their un-professional analysis of photos and videos; just look at what goes on regularly at right-wing blogs like Michelle Malkin’s “Hot Air”, where it seems just about every week some Cheeto-stained blogger ‘debunks’ some story coming out of Iraq which is inconvenient to their incessant war-cheerleading, based upon innuendo or their armchair-amateur analysis of some statement or some photo.

    Leaving aside whether or not Psystar engaged in some sort of flim-flammery here with the video – what is so ‘suspicious’ about having several 6′s in their phone number???? – , they sure could have shot it in a more convincing manner. Were it me, I would have shot it in one continuous shot. Start with showing the box, open up the box and show the innards, show the monitor cable running from the box to the monitor, then show the start-up and run some typical Mac apps on it. That way nobody could claim you edited it.

    If this video were too long, you could edit it to something more manageable (under 5:00) which people are more likely to watch, then provide a link to the full-length video for those who want to see the whole thing with their own eyes.

    The real proof of whether Psystar is for real offering this computer – has anybody ordered one, received it, and successfully run Leopard and Mac apps on it??? I haven’t heard of that yet.

  8. Adam Christianson | Apr 25 2008 - 05:25

    The ’6”s thing was just meant to add some humor to the situation.

  9. Craig | Apr 25 2008 - 05:33

    Hi Adam,

    I don’t think the mysterious second cable is the phone cord (I agree with you questioning why it wasn’t there in the first shot even though the phone was).

    I also don’t think this second cable is the keyboard cable either. First off, the keyboard is on the table at the beginning of the video…however no mysterious cable (just like with the phone). Then in the next shot, the mysterious cable shows up, with the keyboard still on the table. I’ll admit, maybe the mysterious cable was lying flat on the table in the first shot. However, notice the mysterious cable’s distinct upright bend in it. Later in the video, when the keyboard is removed from the table, the mysterious cable still has that distinct bend. Wouldn’t it seem like when moving a wired keyboard off the table, the cable would move and change shape?

    I think that mysterious cable is attached to something else besides a phone or a keyboard. That “blue box” beneath the table, which coincidentally showed up at the same time the mysterious cable showed up, sort of looks like a computer screen. Maybe it’s not, but why it’s showing up all of the sudden is interesting.

    If we are to believe these guys, they should take a basic lesson in creating documentary video as I think most of us aren’t convinced yet.

    What do you think?

    Craig

  10. delysid | Apr 25 2008 - 09:54

    FYI…being a South Floridian, I figured I’d give the number a try since it was just a local call.

    What I got on the other end was an answering machine with an outgoing message clearly created to imitate the phone company’s “your call could not be completed” message…but it was *obviously* not the actual phone company’s real message…

    The local phone company always has a voice on their message which sounds female, and there is always a series of tones before & after the voice speaks. The voice on the other end of the PsyStar number was male, and the tones were not present.

    Just another piece of evidence that PsyStar are Pshysters! Caveat emptor…

  11. John Sawyer | Apr 25 2008 - 09:47

    The 6′s may have been inspired by the original purchase price of the Apple 1, $666.66:

    http://myoldmac.net/FAQ/Apple1-priced$666.66-Why-WozAnswers.htm

    If so, then Psystar is making reference to having some big ambitions. Too bad it’s not backed up with big skills.

  12. Justin | May 01 2008 - 01:40

    I don’t work for these guys… and I don’t plan on buying one of their computers (yet)… however… what the hell is wrong with what they are doing? This is America for Christ’s sake!

    Do any of you know anyone that has bought one of these yet? I don’t run around acting pompous until I see proof of actual rip-offs. Wait until someone buys one of these things, and makes a negative review somewhere before you start cutting them up.

    Yeah, they aren’t a huge computer company like Dell or Apple… and yeah, they don’t have Apple’s blessing… but Apple started in a friggin garage and look where they got. They didn’t have the best of marketing in the beginning either… they only had a innovative idea (not even a product in the way beginning).

    I’m just saying whats wrong with the idea of a computer being able to run three operating systems? I personally run a Mac, Ubuntu dual-core server and have built a Hackintosh for development purposes. I’m open to the chance of having something I can put anything on… and I think it would be great for introducing even more of my friends to Apple products.

    Just as long as the thing is legit of course. We will see.

  13. Andrew | May 02 2008 - 04:15

    I have built a Hackentosh that runs Leopard – so I don’t see why people find it hard to believe that these guys have done it too. http://www.flickr.com/groups/hackentosh/

  14. Jason | May 07 2008 - 02:32

    Guys its not the fact that this company is shady or anything that seems to be upsetting folks. Im pretty sure that folks are reacting the way they are is due to the fact that its happening to their precious Apple computer.

    Personally I encourage this kind of activity. Im a Mac fanlike the rest of you and if this get more eyes looking at OSX then great. Its also good for the people that cant afford the over priced Mac hardware.

    As for the EULA forget it. Its not enforcable.

    If the Open Computer works with OSX ill get one instead of that new Mac Pro and spend the savings on my family. Everyones happy.

  15. finty | May 14 2008 - 05:26

    I’m just saying whats wrong with the idea of a computer being able to run three operating systems? I personally run a Mac, Ubuntu dual-core server and have built a Hackintosh for development purposes. I’m open to the chance of having something I can put anything on… and I think it would be great for introducing even more of my friends to Apple products.
    http://www.finty.sk

  16. cracow airport transfer | Jun 20 2008 - 11:57

    I think this video is fake, but it’s only my opinion. I love conspiracy theories too, so let’s say Psystar is cheating :D

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