I've had a lot of luck selling people Apple machines lately, often putting my PowerBook G4 in a prominent location and letting the laptop sell itself. Today, I encountered two people I simply could not convince. I had previously given them a collection of Apple brochures: Everything is Easier on a Mac, iBook, and Instant Loan. They were looking for a laptop for their daughter, a new science student; looking for something that "just worked," that was under $1,200 and that would not need to be replaced within two years. Just two days ago, they had agreed to go to the Apple Store and see what I was recommending. I not only met the budget with the $1,200 iBook model, but also beat it with a student discount and the bundled software. Today, the mother came up to me and started asking me questions about which of the laptops advertised in the local paper I would recommend. She talked so fast, I couldn't catch all of what she was trying to say, but the encounter went something like this: Induhvidual: "What do you have?" Me: "Do you mean my PowerBook?" Induhvidual: "Yeah, I guess. What megahertz is it?" Me: "It runs at 550 MHz and it really flies." Induhvidual: "And the thing you showed me (the iBook) is 700 or 800, right?" Me: "Yes, it's an IBM G3 CPU. It's pretty good for basic work and then some. I have a Motorola G4 and I really like it! My PowerBook battery life is consistently in the 4.5 to 5 hour range while doing basic tasks. The iBook gets 5 to 6 hours of battery life. It's great for classwork." Induhvidual: "The megahertz means it's better, right?" Me: "Not quite. You have to look at the system architecture and the quality of the machine. The CPU speeds that you're looking at are cycles per second. You should be looking at operations per second versus battery life." Induhvidual: "What about the megabytes? Is more better?" Me: "Do you mean RAM? Yes." Induhvidual: "I see them with 1.67 (AMD 2000+) GHz and 2.0 (Intel) GHz. The bigger one is better, right?" By now I got the impression that trying to compare AMD to Intel and G3 to G4 was pointless, because she wanted an answer within 10 seconds and clearly had no idea what she was looking at. I asked her to at least read the reviews and shop around, but she had to have it right away. Apparently, she has a "friend" that she goes to for advice and wouldn't listen to any sort of reason. I said that I would not recommend any of the laptops she was looking at and that I couldn't help her if she wouldn't listen. I tried to show her the IBM and Alienware systems as well as the magazine reviews, but she would have none of it. Induhvidual: "We're not as technical as you." Me: "I believe that the iBook solution I recommended will be fine. Did you go to the Apple Store or look at the product offering at another retailer? Induhvidual: "Oh, no. I don't want Apple!" I figured that saying more was a waste of energy, so I just sat back and listened to the rest of the spew while someone else assisted me with the sale. She then claimed that she was going to install Word and Excel (Microsoft) and when asked if she factored in the cost of the software she had no response. "I wonder if she's pirating MS Office," I whispered. The assistance got no farther, and after about five minutes of the one-sided conversation, she thanked us and walked away. The father was apparently speechless. What did they end up spending? I gathered it was something between $1,600 and $2,000 on a Compaq (HP) or Toshiba, minus several questionable rebates. So, they went farther into debt and got a piece of junk with a battery life of less than the length of half a day of classes. Some people just can't be helped by any reasonable means. I'm at least going to forward a copy of OpenOffice to the student recipient with apologies for not being able to stop her parents from making a terrible investment decision. If I find out that there was pirating involved, her parents are going to discover the true meaning of a Microsoft audit. Did I just encounter the low end of the consumer market, or is this type of ignorant attitude commonplace?