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A brief rant about Apple products.

James Lileks v. MacBook:

...and they wanted to play Sims 3 on the Windows side of the laptop, so could I fix the sound? Because there wasn’t any sound. I investigated, and sure enough: somehow the audio drivers had vanished. I tried to reinstall Windows while running Windows, which had the effect of rendering Windows inoperable. Tried to reinstall it via Boot Camp, only to find that the program had expired. Yes: expired. It was a beta with a self-destruct mechanism. Sigh. To the internet, Robin. The only way to reinstall Boot Camp to reinstall Windows was to upgrade the operating system. Spent half an hour backing up daughter’s files. Tried to install OS X10.5. “Not enough memory.”

Weep. Well, not Snow Leopard, but Plain Old Leopard, then.

Couldn’t find the install disk. Gave up. “Sorry hon, no Windows for a while.”

I don't do the whole Mac vs. PC argument, except occasionally as the vehicle for some ironic humor, because I've long had the conviction that people should use the tools they like best. Does a Mac work for you? Use it. You prefer a PC? Fine. You'd rather be a real individual who runs Solaris on a SPARCstation? No problemo. Different strokes for different folks.

This weekend, though, I was treated to some real Macsnobbery at the hands of friends and family, and it was pretty unpleasant. I have a real aversion to being looked down on, especially on the grounds of what I use. It smells just as bad from Mac users as it does from BMW drivers, and for the same reasons. To paraphrase Tyler Durden, "You are NOT your fucking MacBooks!" Choosing Macintoshes and iPhones over, say, Gateway laptops and Palm Pre smart phones expresses your brand preference, and nothing else. It does not mean you are smarter, hipper, cooler or better looking - except maybe to other Apple product users who also bought the bullshit from Cupertino. To me, it says you bought into a cult of personality that revolves around a misanthropic control-freak genius who really doesn't like most of the people who use his products. At a price premium. Pat yourself on the back. Me, I don't care. I don't buy the argument that the alleged technical superiority of Macintoshes is worth the bigger price tag, reduced number of software titles available, and limited hardware upgrade paths. The snobbery really doesn't have any factual basis, imo; it's just snobbery for the sake of having a cool designer logo on your stuff.

I also want to point out that for all that he's maligned by hipper-than-thou tech freaks, Bill Gates has spent a lot of his own money trying to relieve poverty, cure diseases, and fix the schools in this country. It says volumes to me that you never hear about Steve Jobs doing any kind of philanthropic activity whatsoever. It's not a very good reason to prefer Windows over Mountain Sloth (or whatever the current MacOS is called), but it beats walking around with my nose in the air because I paid too much for a laptop.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 24th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
Bill Gates's charity work is pretty astonishingly mind-boggling awesome.

He didn't have to do it, but he does.
May. 24th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
Exactly. This sort of philanthropy used to be expected of the wealthy, which I think is a good thing, but these days a lot of them seem to think their time and money are best spent telling the rest of us that we need to pay more taxes.
May. 25th, 2010 07:16 am (UTC)
Those who benefit from a community without providing some benefit to it in exchange are ultimately just parasites. A healthy and viable ecosystem -- and every human community is an ecosystem -- requires balanced give-and-take among its members. Without that, trends begin in the system that gradually -- or quickly -- so degrade it that if the process continues unchecked, that system will die, and its members must either find somewhere else to live and work, or they will die. So who provides the balanced give-and-take -- people like Gates, or those like George Soros and his buddy Obama?
May. 25th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
Do we have data on how much charity work they do?
May. 25th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
Bill and Melinda Gates's charities are easily checked out via the Web: use key-words "Bill Melinda Gates charities," etc.

I don't care how much charity George Soros does, it couldn't possibly make up for the evil he's done: see, e.g., http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread501668/pg1, http://atangledweb.squarespace.com/httpatangledwebsquarespace/dr-evil-george-soros.html, http://sweetness-light.com/archive/george-soros-on-helping-the-nazis-during-the-holocaust.

He is also the focus of way too many "anti-Zionist" (read: neo-Nazi) diatribes that believe he proves that all Jews are evil: see, e.g., http://www.realzionistnews.com/?p=201 Since the "anti-Zionists are themselves bone-evil, this isn't saying much, except that just by being what he is, Soros gives evil a platform to do its thing.

As for Obama, the same holds for him as for George Soros. The man is a tool of Communists, and clearly wants to destroy this country and everyone in it. Either that, or he's the most incompetent President on record. Or both. probably both. Anyway, again, he's already done too much harm to make up for it with a little charity, but look at it this way: Obama would, if he thought he could get away with it, take away 75% of the income of the poorest of the poor and . . . donate it to his buddies. If you don't believe me, check out all the links on him provided by LiveJournal bloggers like me -- links that include rants on MoveOn.org that praise him to the skies, as well as anything else.
May. 25th, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC)
*scratches head* Was it you who found the link about wealthy businessmen (many atheists) funding Catholic schools?
May. 25th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
Yup. :)
May. 24th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
agree in part
I can't agree with you more, that people who derive pride and identify from some gadget they bought are annoying.

Remember what the dad from "Shit my dad says" said: "Son, no one gives a shit about all the things your cell phone does. You didn't invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that."

I do have a mac though. But a) I have a specific reason (it is the platform on which the music program I like (Logic) runs), and b) I have a PC, too, and a blackberry not an iPhone, and I have no desire whatsoever to buy an iPad.

May. 24th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
Re: agree in part
And that's totally cool. I willingly admit that there are some things Macs do better in the video & music fields, but those things aren't relevant to my interests. Agree completely with the "stuff my dad says" quote. :)
May. 25th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
Re: agree in part
Your dad's quote is awesome. :)
May. 24th, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC)
Having ben a Mac user for 19 years now, and seated at a MacBook which has Parallels and Windows installed on it, I'm sorry that James Lileks had trouble with his MacBook, but whatever started the problem, the difficulties experienced after the problem was discovered boil down to: machine doesn't have enough memory (we don't know how much memory that MacBook has, so it's impossible to determine if that's reasonable (you'll get the same problem on a WinTel box if it is underpowered), and he lost his distribution disc - which has exactly the same result if Windows needs to be re-installed.

As for people who ponce around because their toy is "better" than the other toy, well, they're mostly johnny-come-lately posers.

As for philanthropy - well, we'll have to wait until they're both dead to be sure. You cannot say for certain that Jobs isn't a philanthropist - you can only say that he doesn't appear in the news or on any philanthropist watch lists to be a great philanthropist. He could be giving away substantial amounts of money anonymously, being a reputedly private person in his home life.

Is it fair that Gates is reviled even though he is known to be giving away some large chunks of money? Maybe not, but unlike plenary indulgence, changing public perception doesn't happen as soon as the check clears. He's reviled for having driven most of his competitors out of business, or has just bought them out, he's reviled because Microsoft is infamous for clinging to an operating system which had deep fundamental flaws, and their solution was to keep piling on layers of more and more complex code to make that operating system function long past it's stale-date, and he's reviled because Microsoft (to which he is inextricably tied) frequently updates their software with a wink and a nod at backwards compatibility - which they have gradually gotten better at in the last 20 years, I'll grant (also, by all reports Windows 7 is a marked improvement over the last steaming pile of OS from Redmond).

Bill may have to rely on posterity to remember him kindly for his philanthropy, and for technical historians to grant him absolution for the evil he may have done, because he never forced anyone to use his products - he just maximized the odds that they would have to go with the Microsoft option. Weighed against the fact that he was one of the key players in making home computers possible and practical, he'll end up with a Nixonesque posthumous reputation - i.e., a mixed bag.

So, like I said, I'm sorry about James Lileks' problem with his Mac, but if he expected it to magically never fail, he was listening to the shit=heads you were complaining about. I expect a Mac to work right all the time - until it doesn't. I don't then curse Steve Jobs and Apple because I forgot that it was just a goddamn machine.
May. 24th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
I was actually using that anecdote to illustrate the point that Macs are not some magical box that never crashes or fails to do what you want, which seems to be the smug attitude of a lot of folks who really ought to know better. You, on the other hand, have always been sensible in your attitude toward Macs and other boxes.

Gates will probably have a better reputation than Nixon, since he hasn't had all of the media on his case as Nixon did, and most of what the techies hate him for is pretty irrelevant to most computer users. Otherwise I suspect the Mac user base wouldn't be down around 10-20%.
May. 26th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
I should, incidentally, have said "... made home computing possible....", rather than "... made home computers possible...".
May. 27th, 2010 12:47 am (UTC)
I think we all knew what you meant. :)
(Deleted comment)
May. 25th, 2010 01:34 am (UTC)
(I use a Mac. Not that I'm thoroughly married to the platform. I use it, I like it.)

And that's cool. Everyone should use what works best for them, Windows machines, despite the recent run of ill luck with a barebones DIY system, have been pretty good to me for, oh, pretty much the whole time since Windows 3.11 for Workgroups. I'm just tired of the snobbery from some people I know and otherwise respect.
May. 25th, 2010 07:11 am (UTC)
Right on! In his defense, Bill Gates and Microsoft are the ones who put computers on the desks even of poor people like me -- not in a million years, through a million nervous breakdowns, would Steve Jobs have wanted to do that! A computer is a necessity in today's world. Most of us can't afford Macs and the bullshit that goes with them, but IBM clones with one or another version Windows aboard are accessible to just about every able-bodied individual in this country. Bill Gates made that possible, and in spite of all the jokes I tell about him, I bless him every day for that.
May. 25th, 2010 07:12 am (UTC)
And as for the charities of Bill and Melinda Gates, they've been angels to one hell of a lot of people the world over, bringing clinics and safe water into communities that would never otherwise have had them, providing our Seattle Public Library system with books and other materials it might never otherwise have had, and otherwise helping to lift countless people out of poverty and disease into health and a life with hope. Steve Jobs will never be able to say that of himself, either.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )



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