This irks m'verygoodfriends, and sponsors, at the Australian online computer shop Aus PC Market. They seem to enjoy selling things, for some reason. My lack of review activity, along with the global economic slump, means AusPC haven't been selling as many things as they'd like.
So what I've decided to do is let Michael Vorstermans, who works at Aus PC Market, write some reviews for dansdata.com.
In this particular case, though, I think it'll probably work out well, for the following reasons:
1: I've known, and trusted, Michael for many years. He's been at AusPC for more than ten years, and we met a few years earlier still, because he worked at the hobby shop into which I poured barrow-loads of money on that monstrous old R/C car of mine.
(If I wanted to be weaselly about this, I'd just blink innocently and say that Michael is not an employee of Aus PC Market. The whole truth, though, is that he has been an employee of AusPC for the abovementioned more-than-ten-years, before moving to an Australian IT-product distributor for a while. Right now, for someone who I think still doesn't technically work for Aus PC Market, Michael spends a surprisingly large amount of time in the AusPC office... working.)
2: Michael is not a tiny cog in a vast corporation who doesn't suffer if his actions, like writing misleading advertorial "reviews" of products, lead to unhappy customers. Aus PC Market is a small company, and Michael's on the phone with customers for a large slice of every day. He's in this for the long haul, and does not subscribe to the zero-sum game theory of sales. Aus PC are not going to upsell you a pile of gear you don't need, or even want, just to crank up this week's profits.
A fool and his money are as welcome at Aus PC Market as they are anywhere else, of course. If some guy insists on buying a system with triple video cards and a six-drive RAID array to do word processing and Web browsing, AusPC will be pleased to sell it to him. (And, more realistically, they are also very happy to sell top-of-the-line graphics cards and CPUs, even if they're only 20% faster than the 60%-cheaper low-end products.)
AusPC also, by the way, won't give you the stink-eye if you admit you intend to overclock the balls off of the CPU you just bought. Their mood may, however, deteriorate if, two days later, you want a warranty replacement for your still-smoking processor.
3: Michael is not paid on commission. Obviously he'd like people to buy lots and lots of stuff from AusPC, but there's no direct pay-out for him even if he actually does talk someone who wants to play World of Warcraft on a 17-inch screen into buying a GeForce GTX 999 Ultra Hyper.
(Michael also, by the way, won't be getting paid when readers click through from his reviews to Aus PC Market. I will!)
4: We're going to be completely open about who Michael is and where he works. This blog post is not going to be the only hint you ever see that Michael sells the stuff he's writing about. I will link his name on every review to this post (or some equivalent page that I make on dansdata.com), but there'll be a clear declaration in every review, too. And the reviews will be written, where appropriate, from the point of view of someone whose business is selling computer gear.
I think that this may actually make some reviews better. Michael's at the sales-and-support coalface every day, and has way more experience of what normal people actually do with normal computers, and what products solve their problems (or create new problems...), than I do. He also knows more than me about things like weird software-license pricing, which product's currently hard to buy because a faster, cheaper version is coming out in two weeks and nobody wants to be stuck with the old model mouldering in their warehouse, and so on.
Oh, and one other one, I think possibly the most important:
0: If Michael BSes you about some product that actually isn't very good, then as soon as he's back in the AusPC building, the person who'll have to deal with grumpy customers, rude things written on forums, and justified-or-otherwise RMAs is... Michael.
So we're not exactly getting an oil billionaire to file reports on climate change, here.
Plus, if it doesn't work out, we can just give up on the idea. But I really do think it'll be fine, given the numerous extenuating circumstances.
Your comments, gentle readers, are of course welcome.
[UPDATE: Michael's first review, of a USB 3 upgrade kit, is here!]