Friday, November 11, 2005
Friday Randomness

I'm about to say something controversial; I may terminally annoy a few readers with the following comment, but it just has to be said:

I think I'm beginning to hate Macs.

The obligatory background: I grew up with a Mac-centric sysadmin for a father; after our first computer (a Commodore 64), every computer we ever had in the house was a Mac. My father was hip-deep in the early Mac culture, and doubtless still is to some degree -- I wouldn't expect him to even consider changing after an emotional investment of that magnitude. So I grew up on Macs, never really using anything else until college (the first time, back when 1 GB hard drives were new). At some point during that time I flipped and haven't been a Mac user since. My affections have wavered back and forth -- I've been through periods when I too lusted after clear lucite boxes and the brushed-aluminum look. After that long night of Microsoft hell (I remember spending the best part of two years looking for a really good email client), Macs were looking pretty good.

But I've noticed a few things in the last year: in the college computer labs, in spite of the presence of equally as many Macs as PCs, and in spite of the crunchy, progressive atmosphere and the enlightened, tech-savvy nature of the student body (these aren't kids who've never used anything but Windows machines), the PCs get used a hell of a lot more than the Macs. I feel the same way: when I walk in, I scan the room first for vacant PCs; if they're all taken, then I settle for a Mac. Why? It's hard to explain -- I'm just happier getting around on a PC. And it's NOT because I love Windows; Windows continues to suck ass and almost certainly always will. Windows machines piss me off on a regular basis. Things have gotten a lot better since the appearance of Firefox, Thunderbird, and the new wave of other assorted open-source software, and Windows has gotten genuinely better (in the big, noticeable ways) over the last couple of years.

But the big thing, I think, is this: I resent Mac for being so fucking overhyped. Yes the fabled "Blue Screen of Death" will ruin your afternoon, but I personally find it somehow much less frustrating than the Mac equivalent, the "Interminably Spinning Beachball of Ennui." They both basically mean the same thing: you're probably going to have to forceably reboot your computer. But where Windows is clearly modelled on the Old Testament doom and gloom, Mac OS is all about Sartre. There's no exit, friend... the only consolation is that you'll look sophisticated and intellectual while you weep over lost work. Having come back into contact with Macs (mostly for film editing purposes) I've discovered that somewhere along the way, Macs became insufferably inscrutable: "I refuse to do what you ask me to do; you don't need to know why. Here, watch this spinning disk -- it's very colorful. Watch the pretty colors." Obviously the Macs think we're all idiots, and I don't know about you, but I resent any computer that thinks it's better than me.

Hardcore Mac users don't help any; it's like having a friend who's been born again who keeps trying to "save" you, or that vegan guy who clucks disapprovingly every time you order a cheeseburger. I'm all for good design and slightly-less-evil corporate hegemony, but it creeps me out that anyone would suggest that I buy a tool based on what it says about me as a person. It would be humiliating to have to bask in the reflected glory of my laptop, much less having to pay an extra $500 for the honor.

Again, none of this is intended to be a defense of Windows (like Bill Gates needs me to take up his cause); I'd be quite happy to leave both of 'em far behind. I'm gradually, cautiously beginning to consider my options -- Linux scares me, but I recognize that that's mostly because I've had so little contact with it. But maybe it's time to take a chance -- I don't think I'll be getting any better offers anytime soon.

PS: Blogger's buggered this afternoon -- took me over an hour two hours three fucking hours to get this damn thing to publish. I hate you, Blogger, I truly, truly do.

PPS: Yes, if I ever bought a computer for editing, I'd probably get a Mac and FCP. Granted, Mac is actually better with that kind of thing. But I'd be doing everything else on a PC. (All a moot point, since I can't afford any of it at present.)
3:23 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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