Yeah, you heard me right. I hate my Mac! No, not My Mac Magazine, just my Macintosh. It makes me angry. It makes me furious. I makes me wish I could do something about this sorry state. I have worked on the Mac since June 1992 and the longer I use it, the more I hate it.
So, you’re thinking, he’s finally lost it. Mr. “Mac OS is the best”, has finally gone off the deep end. The guy who looked down his nose at anything Windoze has flipped. He’s bonkers, drunk, on drugs–or worse. What could have happened to this once rabid believer to make him such an apostate?
Whoa! Hold on! Wait just one minute! Before I’m drummed out of the My Mac Forever Society and you think I’ll sell off my three Macintosh computers, let me explain.
I hate my Mac because it baffles me at my office. I use my own personal Mac at my workstation because (if you check my bio on the last page of this magazine) “productivity is important to me”. However, I am, on many occasions, obliged to work with that other OS. Part of my job as Operations Manager is to help keep the Windows system moving smoothly, (Now there’s a paradox!). Had I not been exposed to the Macintosh, I would blithely accept the quirkiness of word processing in Windows as “normal”. But the truth is that I have used the Mac, and in word processing, a decidedly non-graphic application, the disparity between the two OS’s is frustrating. The elegance of the Mac over Windows is displayed over and over again.
I hate my Mac because when I use a cross platform program such as ClarisWorks 5.0, one of our many office programs, it works differently on Windows. Take a simple operation like usage of the cursor in Windows. Move to a specific letter in a word and place the cursor in position to delete a letter. Most times you will miss the location you are aiming for, which results in trying again (and wasting time) or you will end up highlighting the word. A small but constantly annoying reminder of how inelegant, and poorly designed Windows is. If it were not for my Mac, I would accept this Windows glitch as the norm. Another annoying glitch occurs at random. Pages that have been formatted and used for months, suddenly and inexplicitly change format. Talk about having a mind of its own. I have a very capable assistant who is a wiz at typing, but she is not too computer oriented. A great deal of time is lost when she comes to me for help on why the computer won’t function like it did yesterday or ten minutes previously. My Macintosh is very smart, but it cannot think on its own like Windows seems to do. If I format the Mac a certain way, it stays that way until I reformat it. What a bummer! I think that Billie boy Gates should have called Windows “Hal 2001.”
I hate my Mac because the mouse action is so different when compared to Windows. When Windows creatively acquired (stole) the basic graphic user interface from the Macintosh, they copied many basic functions without including the fineness. Both systems use a control panel to adjust mouse operation. Mouse speed or tracking can be set from slow to fast. Many Windows folk believe that mouse speed is directly related to their computer’s performance. To have the cursor move with blinding erratic speed is thought to be the epitome of a fast system. However, the mouse control panel was meant not for speed but control. You want fast, set the control to fast. You want slow, set the speed for slow. All you Windows people go immediately to your control panel then to the mouse icon. The mouse window has four tabs. Click the motion tab and check the speed variations between slow and fast. You have 7 possible positions for speed, from slow to fast. Why is the speed at slow similar to the speed at fast? Where is the control? Speed you got, control you don’t. When you require the cursor arrow to point to a specific word, graphic or check box, you find yourself overshooting the desired location, wasting time. On the Mac, the control is precise with a definite speed variation for each of its six buttons. And there is a seventh button for very slow. Again if a user has only utilized Windows this function appears to perform well enough, but they don’t know how really exact it could be.
I hate my Mac because it rarely freezes or stops dead. It has made me accustomed to starting and finishing my work projects on schedule. When our office Windows machines go down, which is frequently, the minutes turn to hours and often days before we get back into an operating mode (see my reference to productivity mentioned above). However, my boss insists that the Mac is too expensive to buy and use. Besides, most of his business associates use Windows. There is a certain feeling of solace to be part of the pack. It is unfortunate that solace in this case can be very expensive and time consuming indeed. This scenario is common in many small businesses where cost is a major problem. But service and technical problems will soon surpass any initial purchase savings. Look back on your past service costs experience and make a decision to pay yourself rather than someone else.
I hate my Mac because it is so easy to use and network. Plug and play is a breeze. There is no challenge, no wondering what will go wrong. There is no adventure to the Mac, it just works. If you crave adventure, let me tell you about the saga at our office last February when we upgraded our office system from a mix of DOS and Windows 3.x to Windows 95. At last, we would be in the forefront of computing technology. Who cared if Windows 98 was almost out? After all it was not even an true upgrade but a cosmetic reassembly. Besides, wasn’t the Department of Justice making noises about monopolistic browser shenanigans?
My company office setup is rather small. We have only seven workstations which are networked to a server, plus my own personal Mac. But let’s forget my Mac for the moment. Our service contract with a nearby PC firm was set and we signed for our system upgrade. Not only were we upgrading to Win 95, but our Compaq 486s were to be changed to a no name Pentium with 166 MHz (remember my boss is thrifty). Be still my heart! The speed, the ease, the power. We could hardly wait. Upgrade Day was set for Feb 9, 1998. Sure enough, the technicians came in and began by taking one workstation away. They had to remove applications, etc., from the hard drive to transfer them to the new units/server. It was an excellent idea to take only one old unit at a time, since they seemed to be away for varying lengthy intervals. During these “waits” the workstation operators had to double up which of course did not mean double the work was completed, rather that only half the work of each was completed. Not the most productive way of doing things. Meanwhile, my hateful Mac was operative the whole time, never down, often taking up the slack with never a respite for its harried operator–me. This system upgrade adventure was finally completed on May 18, 1998. Not bad. Only 70 days or 14 weeks or 2 1/4 months to upgrade seven units. The fact that the work should have taken, at the very most, five working days seemed to have been forgotten in the euphoria of the job finally being completed.
I hate my Mac because it doesn’t have the schizophrenic ID of Windows. Windows has many human-like foibles. Sometimes it thinks it’s DOS, sometimes it thinks it’s Windows 3x, sometimes it thinks it’s Windows 95/98, sometimes it thinks it’s Windows NT, and soon it will think it’s Windows 2000, but that won’t be for another 5 years or so. When it can’t cope, like we all get sometimes, it has a kind of nervous breakdown, the blue screen of death. This phenomenon, although common, is particularly interesting when it occurs live on national TV during a major introduction of, say, something like Windows 98. It’s even more interesting when Bill Gates is onstage and acting the part of Dr. Frankenstein, tries to bring his creature to life and fails miserably.
I hate my Mac because it doesn’t have “Intel Inside”. I am strangely attracted to those funny looking bunny people who wear those iridescent baggy suits. You know the ones I’m referring to: the guys Apple roasted and toasted and humiliated in their G3 ads. They’re the guys with the black lens face mask. Black, so you can’t see inside. Black, like empty.
It gets mighty hot inside an Intel suit, just like an Intel chip. It must be all that dancing and jumping around they do in the pristine white lab in the background. If they had added breather holes to those suits, the bunny people would have been better off, but they had to jump and dance extra hard and fast to try to keep up to the PowerPC (PPC) G3 chip, so they got burned twice. Once, by the Apple G3 ads and, again, by the stupidity of the Intel engineers.
I hate my Mac because it doesn’t use a Pentium II processor. Have you seen a Pentium assembly up close? One is displayed in the Intel brochure (#243546-003). Why it’s almost small enough for the average-size adult male to hold in his hand. The black case with the Intel logo on the bottom left corner looks cool indeed. But, perhaps cool is not the right description. The heat problem that the Intel disco dancers experience is repeated in spades on this cleverly marketed chip. To offset the heat given off by the chip, the engineers at Intel have been forced to clamp on a large heat sink to help dissipate the heat build up. Caution must be exercised when handling this chip as it is possible to burn yourself on the heat sink. In comparison, handling the PPC G3 chip, even after it has been running for days, is pleasantly warm to the touch.
I hate my Mac because the Mac’s PPC chip is so small. It is a RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) chip, while the Pentium II and its cheapskate cousin, the Celeron, are CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computer) chips. So what does all this geek-speak mean to the average person? The average computer user thinks of computer chips in terms of miniaturization. As chips advance, they get smaller and faster. One of the main differences between the Pentium II and the PPC is size. The PPC assembly is only one quarter of the size of the Pentium II assembly. Why is size so important in chip manufacturer, and why is smaller better? Two reasons. The smaller the chip, the faster information is processed and the less heat generated. The more heat, the larger the heat sink required and the possibility that a larger fan will be needed to help dissipate the heat.
I hate my Mac because the PPC chip is cheap. While the PPC chips have been decreasing in size and cost and increasing in power and speed, Intel’s next generation chip, the Xeon, will be almost twice as big as the Pentium II package due to the larger heat sink it will require. The Merced chip, which has been delayed almost as many times as Windows 96, er… 96 1/2, uhm… 97, oh I mean Windows 98, may be larger still. Intel may be forced to supply a separate case to store this impressive chip. The case would be beige, naturally, and it could stand along side the main chassis, with an Intel Inside logo of course.
I hate my Mac because the PPC chips don’t have clever ads that end with musical notes like Intel. With more creative advertising, perhaps Intel should change the name of the Merced to Godzilla. But they had better beware; some of the other chip makers like AMD with their K6 3DNow are passing them in sales. Even Cyrix is flexing its processor muscle. So, look out folks. The next Intel musical chime commercial that now sounds like ding, ding, ding, DING may end up sounding more like ding, ding, ding, BOINGGG!
So, I love to hate my Mac. My Macintosh is always proving to me how far ahead of the competition it was, is, and will be.
Some items referred to in this article may seem small and insignificant. But time is money and time wasted repeatedly is counterproductive to the cost efficiency of an office environment. In fact, these small items are overshadowed by major problems of networking and inconsistencies within Windows and its various and incompatible variations.
I suggest, as a helpful hint to anyone seeking a new or future career, to take a course as a Microsoft Service Provider. You will have a solid, high paying, long lasting career, with many opportunities for advancement. And you can steer unknowing people to Windows. More Windows people means more money in the bank for you. And if you’re smart you will have your Mac at home to get the work done.
Ralph J. Luciani