Dave (daveofnewt) wrote,

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The iPocalypse Is Upon Us!

As some of you may know, I hate Macs. So let me start by saying that that hasn’t changed. Some of my reasons are rational, and some not so rational (most are a blend of the two). I’ll get to those reasons in a moment but first, let me start by uttering what was once unthinkable: I’m thinking about getting a Mac. Ugh, there, I said it. I’ve hated Macs for so long that that sentence just feels unnatural. But, before I get accused of irrational computer bias, here are the main reasons that I hate Macs:

1. Software – I’ll start with the most rational reason. PCs are so dominant on the market that almost every software developer makes sure that their programs are PC compatible. The same can’t be said for Macs. The Mac OS might be more stable than the PC’s, but what good is a stable OS if there aren’t any programs that can run in it? It’s the computer equivalent of choosing to live in either California or Nebraska. Sure, in Nebraska you don’t ever have to worry about earthquakes, but what the hell are you supposed to do with yourself in the meantime? Fucking Macs.

2. Ridiculous Marketing – Sometime in the late 90s there was a Mac commercial in which several of the most recent Macs were spinning around, each one a different color, while the Rolling Stones “Colors” was playing, and then ended by bragging that you could buy the new Macs in any assortment of different colors. That was it. No mention of hardware performance, software availability, stability, cost, etc. Their entire selling point was that they came in different colors. Fucking Macs.

3. Ridiculous Design – This one is closely related to the last point: far too often Macs place aesthetics ahead of user-friendliness. Allowing consumers to pick the color of their computer, while certainly a ridiculous feature to use as the central selling point of their product, is acceptable. A mouse that is a perfect circle is not. Yet, in the late nineties, early 2000s, that’s exactly what Mac introduced: a perfectly circular mouse. Of course, at a glance it was cool and unusual looking. But, frankly, I don’t really care what my mouse looks like, I just want it to work and be easy to use. These weren’t. Seriously, did anyone at the Mac testing lab even try to use one of these things before they gave it the okay, or did it just go straight to a market research group full of people who squealed with glee at the sight of a mouse that was a circle but were distracted by shiny objects before they ever put their hands on the stupid things? Fucking Macs.

4. The “Apple Key” – A key on a keyboard should not be named after a fruit, the name of a company, or both. I don’t mind when companies place their logos on their products, but when the basic functionality of the product is tied to its logo in this way I just get a little creeped out. This is why I no longer eat breakfast at McDonald’s (well, one of three reasons, the other two being I’m never awake in time and their food is disgusting): a few years ago they started branding the “Golden Arches” onto the buns of their breakfast sandwiches and pancakes. If they want to put their logo on the wrapper or the napkins or whatever, that’s fine, but I want the food that’s entering my body to be logo free. Likewise, when I’m typing away at my computer I don’t want to be subliminally bombarded with the phrase “Apple Key” every time I need to hit what should just be called the “Ctrl” button. Fucking Macs.

5. The “Eject” Software Command – Actually, this one extends beyond eject, but I’ll use that to explain myself. Once, when using a Mac at work, I needed to leave, but also needed to get the data-CD that I had been using out of the computer before I left. So, I went to eject it, but there was no “Eject” botton. WTF! So I asked someone what the hell was going on and she said that you have to open it through the OS. WTF! But I found the place to do it and told the OS to eject my CD. It told me it couldn’t because the CD was still in use. WTF! As far as I could tell I had closed all the programs and wasn’t using the CD at all – I just needed to get it out of the fucking machine so I could go home. The Mac never bothered to tell me WHICH program was using it, just that SOME program was using it. WTF! When I need to get a CD out of a computer, I want to press a button on the CD drive and have it pop out. I don’t want to have to meekly go to my computer and ask “Um, excuse me. Can I please have my CD back now, sir or ma’am?” only to have it tell me “NO!” I get enough of that kind of rejection in my sex life. Fucking Macs.

6. The Mac “Sheen” – Have you ever noticed how everything Mac makes is glossy and (other than the portions that come in custom colors – see reason #2) hospital white? There’s something that I find freakishly sterile and uniform to it all. Most sci-fi movies that want to depict a controlled, passionless, computerized, future world do so by placing the characters in clothes and buildings of that same sickly white. Just think of the walls and clothes in “The Island” or the Storm Troopers in “Star Wars.” That color of white connotes evil empires robbing humanity of its individuality and free will. When our government forces all of us to wear cybernetic implants so it can monitor our thoughts, those implants will be that same glossy white and, I fear, will have a Mac logo as well.

7. One Mouse Button – Seriously, this is absolutely the worst and most unforgivable thing about Macs. Never, ever, EVER trust a computer that only has one mouse button. I can understand that back in the 80s when the mouse was an innovative technology one mouse button might have been all that they could pull off. But come on, it’s the 21st century! While PCs were adding second buttons, scroll wheels, “back” buttons, etc. Macs were too busy making their mice into perfect circles to ever make them actually DO more than they had in the past. Mac users always ask me “What do you need a second button for anyway?” I asked the same thing of the scroll wheel the first time I saw one, but then I came to realize that it greatly enhanced the functionality of the mouse. Likewise, a second button means that the mouse can do twice as many things. Mac users don’t get it because they’ve never had more than the single mouse button, and thus are unable to conceive of anything beyond the double click. Fucking Macs.

So why am I considering a Mac? First, one of the points on my list has actually become less true: more and more software developers are making their products Mac compatible. Also, I don’t play computer games nearly as much as I used to (if you don’t count poker, I don’t really play computer games at all anymore), so I don’t need that many different programs.

Then, there is Microsoft Vista – a.k.a. one of the biggest disasters in computer history. I haven’t actually been stupid enough to put it on my computer, but I’ve heard nothing but horror stories. My brother installed it and found out that his printer wasn’t Vista compatible. He had to buy a whole new printer. As he pointed out, if his printer was old and getting a new one meant getting a serious upgrade then that would be borderline acceptable. But the new printer didn’t do anything that the old one didn’t do, except work with Vista. That’s absurd. It’s also supposed to take up huge amounts of memory, crash frequently, and ask a million stupid security questions every time you try to do anything. I’ve not heard one positive thing about it. PC users have always had to grudgingly admit that Macs were more stable and ultimately better computers from a purely technical standpoint, but the annoyances that came with them (see the list above) still made PCs a better choice. Due to Vista, that is no longer true.

Of course, Microsoft has since released an update to Windows XP, so it’s possible to just go that route but that worries me for the following reasons. First, this is Microsoft, and when Microsoft wants people to buy a new product like Vista they will generally use their market power to make sure it happens one way or another. Of course, Vista is so bad that this MIGHT not happen, but that leads to my second reason: if I buy a new computer I don’t want to have to gamble on which OS will be standard in a few years. I mean, sometimes these kinds of things come up: BETA vs. VHS, Nintendo vs. Sega, HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray. But in the computer world we already have a choice to make – PC vs. Mac – I don’t want to make that choice then have to make a second choice between operating systems, one of which might be obsolete in a year and both of which will crash far more than they should (a Microsoft trademark).

The final reason that I’m considering a Mac, though, is also the most distressing. The very marketing and design that I have always loathed has also made it increasingly difficult to live a Mac free life. This Christmas I got my first iPod. It suffers from many of the same things that bother me about Mac computers: the glossy design, the software controls (why not just have a volume control on the side like any other portable music device?), and the ridiculous commercials peddling absurd selling points (the nano is the worst in this regard – I mean, really, at what point did making an MP3 player too small to be observable by the human eye become a selling point?). However, Mac’s marketing has so flooded the market that when it came time to ask my parents for an MP3 player I didn’t know what else to ask for other than an iPod.

Little did I know that I was opening the gateway to a vast and disturbing world. Shortly after Christmas I went to the Mac store to get a case to protect my new iPod. Before I knew it I had spent $30 on a case, $40 on a new set of headphones, $80 on an iTrip so that I can play my music on my car’s radio, $100 on a docking station, and could have easily spent another $300 or so (or slightly more than the iPod itself) on other accessories.

And then, there is iTunes. Sure, it works on a PC, but everything from it’s interface to it’s aesthetic design to its terminology to the color and design of the cord that attached the computer to my iPod screams “This should be done on a Mac!”

This is the most compelling argument both for and against my getting a Mac. On the one hand, I envision a new hard drive full of weeks and weeks worth of music, arranged in playlists as far as the eye can see all ready to be put on or taken off my iPod at record speeds without the needless crashes and delays that come with a PC. But then I start thinking of the consequences. The iPod has already taken over my musical life. Whether at home or in my car, or sitting at Borders writing this senseless blog instead of writing my dissertation, my ears are filled with sounds provided by Mac products. If I get a Mac, then it will take over my computing life, including my e-mails, web browsing, writing, on-line poker playing, etc. Before I know it I’ll be downloading all of my favorite shows and Mac will have taken over a big portion of my entertainment. From there, it’s only a small step to an iPhone, thus taking over my conversations, my texts, my personal life.

And let’s face it, it won’t stop there either. It’s only a matter of time before Mac has some state of the art way to infiltrate even our most private moments. I mean, their products are already glossy white, so why not have some kind of state of the art toilet (they could call it the iTurd and instead of using a handle to flush you’d have to use a software command that half of the time would result in it saying “Unable to flush; colon still in use”). Then they’ll make the iCar, which will only have one pedal (pressing the pedal will accelerate, to break you’ll have to press the pedal and the “Apple Key” located on the dashboard right next to the CD player that only plays the same CD over and over because it’ll never let you have it back). After that it’ll be the iGasm, a sex toy that for aesthetic reasons will be in some ridiculous shape that makes it totally uncomfortable to use. Shortly thereafter we’ll all be getting the aforementioned cybernetic implants – they’ll call them the iMe, or, even better, the iI.

All of this is to say, then, that a lot is riding on my decision. Indeed, the continued existence of free will may hinge on whether or not I finally cave and get a Mac or continue to deal with the frustrating messes that Microsoft offers up every five years or so.

Or maybe I’ll look into Linux.
Tags: ridiculous

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