Say hello to Michael

Regular readers of Dan's Data may have noticed I've been just a teensy bit burned out as regards reviews of computer hardware for, oh, the last few years.

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

It's generally a really bad idea to let people review stuff that they sell. Like the paid-review business, it presents an obvious moral hazard.

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, 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!]

25 Responses to “Say hello to Michael”

  1. Gomisan Says:

    All sounds good, and it will be nice to see some activity at DansData again. Since I write the occasional review myself and have tried numerous times to dedicate myself to my own review sites I know just how much of a pain and time drain these things are.

  2. Septictank1 Says:

    No hard feelings, I've been reading your sites for 9 years or so. I enjoy the way that you review things, and I'll miss that, but as long as you don't depart entirely, I won't be mad.

  3. creekin Says:

    Looking forward to some new reviews..FINALLY!!!
    but i'm a little apprehensive of it's success..

    the quality of your writing is not in the subject matter....

    It's like people who don't like cars but watch Top Gear...
    There is only one Jeremy Clarkson. So is Micheal a Steve Pizzati or a Charlie Cox?

    any links to articles he's written?

  4. OrgAdam Says:

    Hello Michael.

    So, Dan, are you suggesting that you have something more important than entertaining the masses? Feeding the local wildlife and taking photos of your cats must really be getting too much.

    Or do you have a full time job other than writing in Atomic? I'm an avid fan of your work, I'd like to see more of it! If Michael is Dan-Approved, and Dan-Proof-Read then I await his

    Just don't leave us Dan-Less.

  5. Bern Says:

    Along with OrgAdam and, I'm sure, many others, I too have wondered what has kept Mr Rutter away from the business of writing thoroughly entertaining reviews of all things gadgety.

    Whatever it is, I hope it's a good thing! At least we've had the blog posts to keep us going. Mind you, I think a fair chunk of the content on the blog could quite happily live on Dan's Data, too.

  6. nynexman4464 Says:

    I've been reading Dan's Data quite a while now too, since the 2000's anyhow, so it's not as if I'm going to stop now for something silly. When you had the other fellow (who's name escapes me) writing reviews for a while, that seemed fine. You do have a particular writing style I enjoy, however.
    As long as the reviews maintain somewhat a "practical" focus (rather than the typical OMG it's the fastest card on the planet!!! What do you mean you don't want to spend $800 on a video card?), and we still get to see what's inside some of the hardware, I think it'll be alright. Will Michael be doing gadget review as well, or PC hardware only? I would miss the gadget reviews...

  7. UnexpectedBill Says:

    I am pleased to hear that the Dan's Data site hasn't fallen off into oblivion. (After not having seen any updates since November, I was getting worried.)

    In fact, I even started to do some of my own reviewing, just to amuse myself while the Dan's Data site slumbered. (Okay, that's not really true. I was hoping someone might read them, but my own site has nearly no propagation and it is certainly NOT a household word...)

    I do look forward to hearing what Michael has to say in his reviews. (I am also hoping that Dan will continue to drop in from time to time.)

  8. Changes Says:

    All this sounds good, but the issue here is that the reviewed product is only part of the reason why I, and I'm sure many others, read Dan's Data. The other, very powerful reason, is that I enjoy your writing style immensely. We might in fact say you've been a bit of an unwitting mentor to me, as I seem to have assimilated a lot of your writing style without even trying.

    Nobody can force you to write if you don't feel like doing it, and I fully respect that you're keeping the site afloat this way, and then I believe that most people do in fact read the reviews for the product primarily. But, unless it turns out Michael is better at writing that you, I foresee reading a lot less Dan's Data in the near future. The blog and twitter accounts will still be in my daily list of visits, of course.

  9. Erik T Says:

    This is infinitely better than not having new reviews. It's not my preference, but I think I've tossed a grand total of like 10USD your way over the last half-decade of reading so I'm not really in any place to complain.

  10. Daniel Rutter Says:

    This is infinitely better than not having new reviews.

    Yeah, that's kind of my position too :-).

    I've got plenty of partially-written reviews in the in-progress folder (and letters... oh, God, the letters...), but apart from burnout, neurasthenia, native laziness and bad genes, I just have too much other non-writing stuff to do. Or, at least, I manage to come up with too much other non-writing stuff to do. (I should probably start taking at least some of those millions of "getting things done" guides a bit more seriously.)

    Regarding writing style, I'm specifically not sub-editing Michael's stuff so it sounds like my stuff. I will now make an effort to at least get some more letters columns up on the site, though.

  11. Chazzozz Says:

    I say: "Go ahead and take a break!"

    I've been reading your stuff since you first started writing for a certain national computer magazine, back when the 'cover CD' concept was fresh (and actually had relevant stuff). In most industries that would have qualified you for long-service leave years ago. Of course, when you're self-employed then the notion of 'leave' is somewhat ephemeral, but you get the general idea. I even recently donated to the Dan Rutter Vacation Fund, so maybe it will be useful to you.

    It sounds like you're suffering the same affliction that plagues many writers. You've been doing the same genre for so long that it's no longer as exciting as it once was, hence the reason you so easily find other things that capture your attention more readily. All the more reason to allow yourself a holiday from it all.

    Besides, I doubt you're the type who could ever stay away from writing for too long, so I have no worry that this foretells the end of Dan-isms. Between Atomic, Twitter, Flickr, and this blog I think there's enough to satisfy most people.

  12. Daniel Rutter Says:

    I should probably mention here in the comments, as well as at the end of the post, that Michael's first piece is now up!

  13. Bern Says:

    Just read Michael's first review. If that's the standard that we've got to look forward to, then bring it on! I thought it was very readable & useful.

  14. cageybee Says:

    Long time lurker and reader, have finally subscribed to post....
    It's a shame that you're not reviewing as much as you used to, but as other posters have said, if he has the Rutter stamp of approval, it's good enough for me.

    Have been waiting for an opportune to "Ask Dan" but haven't had a decent enough question up until now/had any money to make a suitable offering.
    Will you still be doing the "Ask Dan"s?

    DansData was one of the first tech-sites I read when I got into IT, and I've learnt more from it than just about anywhere (Slashdot and DailyWTF (!) excluded)
    If you can keep the writing as good and links as interesting it will be a success.

    Best of luck to you Michael, I really enjoyed your USB3 Drive Box review

  15. Stuart Says:

    Is this a little iffy? Yes.
    Do any of us really care that much? No.
    Take it for a spin, and we'll all see what happens - either it works or it doesn't.

  16. Red October Says:

    Just read the first review, and it's quite up to the standard of an "Average" DansData piece. I hope this frees up some time so that we might enjoy the occasional "Excellent" review from Dan himself, full of wit and insight and excellent humour. As it is, it's everything a review should be and if the standard of quality is maintained I will have no room to complain. HTSAP and Twitter should satisfy the craving for the funny stuff that I've become accustomed to.

  17. Malcolm Says:

    Good first effort from Michael... except that somehow it's "Mb" for megabytes throughout.

    Are you copping to sub'ing this one Dan?

  18. DavidRa Says:

    Liked the first Michael review, only one tiny technical error (sharing the PCI-e bus). Since it's a point to point link, and there's no funny stuff like PCI-Express bridges in the way, there's little chance of the USB3 traffic interfering with, having to wait for, or otherwise sharing bandwidth with other devices.

    I suppose the "lane" nomenclature was never more apt.

  19. Bob M Says:

    Not a bad first review. Although it isn't quite Dan calibre, it will do. :)

    When seeing the restriction on throughput I started mulling it over in my head... not a lot else in there lately.

    A single PCIe lane has a maximum theoretical throughput of 500MB/s. In the real world it never reaches that, so lets say 250MB/s if it is feeling tired today. Shouldn't be that then...

    Then I was reminded of another review/tech test I read two years or so ago: Battleship Mtron

    From what I understand most cards (or maybe all) use an NEC chip that may not be the fastest or able to supply full USB 3.0 speeds. It wouldn't surprise me as most new technologies start off without the highest quality parts just to get them rolling out the door.

    P.S. Having a comments area on the main site would be kinda cool.

    P.P.S. Thanks for the review Mr. Vostermans!

  20. OrgAdam Says:

    Panned by critics?

    Quantity and quality... then nothing... then quantity with some quality... Watch this space.

  21. Changes Says:

    If a comments area on DD can't be added, I humbly suggest opening a blog post for every new article published on the main site, so that we may comment here. :)

  22. FeRD Says:

    I, too, am warily in support of this addition. I have been eagerly anticipating Dan's (or Michael's, now?) thoughts on the Wattgate 381 (which I now see gizmodo took on briefly, back in October), and a thousand other such topics. Anything that increases the chances of this occurring can only be a positive move!

    Welcome, Michael, and try not to take our insular caution too personally. :)

  23. Daniel Rutter Says:

    I'm afraid that I cannot review the Wattgate 381, because there isn't a version of it for Australian power. Needless to say, they couldn't just change the panel holes and contacts - they'd have to regauss the whole diversion matricule to protect Southern Hemisphere users from anticlockwise detraction polemics. Do you have any idea how much reminative tetryliodohexamine that would take?

    Besides, those Amazon reviewers do seem to pretty much have it covered!

  24. OrgAdam Says:

    Doubling the staff at Dansdata hasn't doubled output, probably due to some law of diminishing returns or something.

    The people are hungry. You wouldn't like me when I'm hungry...

  25. Marcus Says:

    Did you know the Websense filter/proxy software catagorises your page as "Weapons"? Most of your site is fine, it seems to be just that page. I find that too funny to bother correcting the Websense clowns.

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