All this sniveling about who manufactures the better computer has finally driven me to prove, once and for all, who builds the most reliable, innovative and user friendliest computer on the market today.
To accomplish this, I conducted my own scientifically controlled Benchmark tests on several of the leading personal computers being sold today.
I used my own funds to carry out these Benchmark test so I could maintain the highest level of credibility – even though thousands, and in one case, tens-of-thousands of dollars were offered to me if I would slant my findings favorably towards one computer manufacturer or another. In fact, as soon as one company heard that my findings would be printed in the highly regarded and esteemed My Mac Magazine, that manufacturer increased his bribe to $75,000. I, of course, refused these sorry attempts at bribery so that I could give you, Dear Constant Reader of mine, the true, scientific, unbiased, untainted and totally honest results that you deserve and have come to rely upon when reading Miner Thoughts. Besides, my honesty and credibility cannot be bought for a penny under $100,000.
I could have conducted these Benchmark tests at a lab just like the big boys do at Macworld, MacUser, and PC Magazine but I opted to go out in the real world to do my testing. Some of you may question my sanity for choosing the Gorilla exhibit at the Seattle Zoo to conduct these tests, but if you’ll please bear with me and trust me, I will, as always, prove to you that there is a method to my madness.
Ready? Let’s go Benchmarking!
Armed with the CPUs from the latest IBM, Compaq, Gateway, Packard Bell and Macintosh machines, I introduced myself to the head primate zoo keeper, Mark “The Ape Man” O’Brien. I explained to Mark what I wanted to do and got a less than favorable response until I told him his name would appear in print and be read by millions all over the world. “The Ape Man” liked the sound of that and readily agreed to help me with my testing.
I asked Mark to remove the two gorillas from their play area just long enough for me to insert the CPUs. “The Ape Man” coaxed the two gorillas into a steel cage and I placed the five computers randomly around the gorillas play area. When I finished I retreated to a park bench behind a 12 foot fence and prepared to observe and take notes. After “The Ape Man” released the gorillas from the cage, I called to him, “Come join me on the bench, Mark.” I chuckled at my own witty sense of humor. Mark didn’t get it!
The two gorillas, whose names are Fred and Wilma, cautiously eyeballed the funny looking boxes in their playground. Wilma’s curiosity got the best of her and she was the first to make physical contact with the machines, much to the chagrin of Fred. We could tell Fred was upset because he beat his chest louder and louder as Wilma got closer to the computers. Wilma gave Fred no mind as her maternal instincts took over and she lifted the Packard Bell CPU and cradled it in one arm while poking at it with her free hand. Getting no response from the Packard Bell, Wilma gently put it on the ground and began dragging it around in circles by the power cord looking back occasionally to see if her newfound baby would walk on its own. Realizing this was not going to happen, Wilma tried one more thing to wake her baby up. She tossed the CPU about 8 feet in the air and let it fall to the ground. When she still couldn’t get a reaction out of it she came to the only conclusion she could. Her baby was dead and she needed to get rid of it. Picking it up one last time, she cuddled the Packard Bell and looked around the play yard. Making her decision, Wilma licked off what insects had gathered on the CPU and then tossed it into the 3 foot deep stream that ran through their fake jungle. It quickly sank.
In my notes I excitedly wrote:
Packard Bell – Good for cuddling and dragging around in the dirt. A slight alteration such as the addition of a long chain would surely enhance the capability of the Packard Bell and maybe give it a fighting chance to compete in the small boat anchor market.
Fred, who had been watching Wilma and beating his chest in warning all this time, settled down when he realized these odd looking objects did not seem to pose any immediate threat to him. Catching Wilma’s eyes, he gave her a look that said, “You fool woman, these things are not baby gorillas!” Or something like that.
Turning from Fred, Wilma meandered down to the edge of the stream where she had tossed the Packard Bell, sat down and intently stared at the spot where the Packard Bell had sunk. “Just in case.”
Fred, feeling bold and fearless now that his mate had proven that these things were harmless, strutted over and sat down next to the Compaq CPU like it had been in the play area for years. Fred never even looked at it for the first few minutes but then curiosity took hold and he began sneaking quick glances down at the plastic box and beating his chest once or twice just to let the plastic box know who was king of this jungle. Getting no response from the box, Fred felt assured that he had everything under control and this thing next to him wasn’t about to fight him for that control. In fact, Fred felt certain that if he hauled off and struck this thing next to him it would just run away whimpering or lay down and die. So he did, he hit it with the back of his hand and sent it flying about 5 feet from where it had been. Immediately going into a defensive posture, “just in case,” Fred waited for any reaction from the box. When none came, he let out a disgusted growl showing his contempt for the cowardly box. He then walked over and picked the box up to examine it. Noticing the two slots on one side of the box Fred tried sticking his fingers into the floppy disk slot but his fingers were just too fat. He pushed harder and harder until two of his fingers slipped through the slot. But now they were stuck! Fred became enraged. He began poking at the other slot with his other hand and it didn’t take long for him to crush the delicate CD ROM tray inward causing the sharp broken edges of the plastic to cut at his fingers. Fred lost it at this point. In a maniacal fit of rage, Fred brought the Compaq CPU to his mouth and with jaws of steel bit into the front of the CPU crushing it into small pieces. This released the CPU’s grip on Fred’s fingers. Still mad, Fred lifted what was left of the Compaq and hurled it into the cement retaining wall breaking it into a thousand pieces.
Wow! I thought, as I wrote my notes:
Compaq – A whimpy, cowardly computer, poorly constructed to the point of being a safety hazard to all who use it. Anyone contemplating buying this computer should also lay in a large supply of Band-Aids.
As Fred was calming down and licking his bloodied fingers, Wilma was moving away from the stream, already having forgot why she was sitting at the stream to begin with. (Gorillas have very short memories.) She didn’t pay any attention to Fred’s whimpering, instead focusing on the gray box that was planted beneath her favorite shade tree. She approached the box and sat down with her back against the base of the tree using it as a back scratcher. Wilma watched the box waiting to see if it would do anything. After a short while Wilma reached out and grabbed hold of the IBM’s power cord. She tugged on the cord and the CPU tower tipped over. She tugged a little more and it slid across the dirt and gravel, getting closer to her. Wilma looked up into the branches of the tree and then back down at the IBM. An idea was slowly forming in her underdeveloped brain as she repeatedly looked up into the tree and then down at the box. Finally coming to some sort of decision, Wilma put the plug end of the power cord into her mouth and stood up. Acting like a gorilla, she commenced climbing her favorite tree, IBM in tow, not getting very far before the cord came loose from the back of the CPU, sending the IBM crashing to the ground, unbeknownst to Wilma. Reaching her favorite branch, Wilma sat down and reeled in the power cord only to find that the box had not followed her up the tree as she had hoped. Looking down Wilma saw the IBM laying on the ground and shot a look of disappointment at the box, as if to say, “You were suppose to follow me up here, dummy!” Or something like that.
Mark and I watched as Wilma climbed back down, picked up the IBM and began poking one end of the power cord at the machine. Amazingly Wilma managed to force the end of the cord into the floppy drive slot where a piece of the plastic had broken off when it fell from the tree. Wilma, delighted by her accomplishment, let out a shriek of joy. At least that’s what “The Ape Man” told me that noise meant.
Climbing the tree once again, the cord stayed solidly connected to the IBM . But Wilma’s problems were not over as the CPU kept getting tangled in the branches below. Most times, a hefty tug on the cord by Wilma would free the machine from its snag. But we could tell she was getting a little impatient and a little angry with the, “stupid box that couldn’t climb a tree even with the help of a leash.”
Just as she was about to reach her favorite spot in the tree, the CPU wedged itself between two fairly large branches that both “The Ape Man” and I knew would not dislodge easily. After two or three jerks on the cord, Wilma got impatient and tugged on the cord using all her strength. The cord slipped out of her hand and down came the IBM, cord and all, landing with a dull thud at the base of the tree. I thought Wilma was going to shake that tree until the roots came out of the ground, she was so mad! Racing down the tree faster than I would have thought possible for a gorilla, Wilma picked up the IBM in both hands and tossed it straight up into the air where it surprisingly lodged itself in the tree just above Wilma’s favorite branch.
I couldn’t write fast enough while all this was going on but I believe my notes say it all:
IBM : Lacking in connectability – CPU falls off power cord when dragging CPU up a tree. May be to IBM’s benefit to reposition power supply connection – suggest inside the floppy disk slot. Seems to stay connected well in this spot. I cannot recommend IBM computers for use outdoors, – not only are they unsuited for navigating up a tree but when tossed into the air they have an obvious flaw which prevents them from returning to the ground.
While Wilma was contemplating what happened to the box, Fred was causing quite a ruckus over in the corner where I had positioned the Gateway computer. There were three large boulders and one tree on that side of the play area and Fred was jumping from one boulder to the next, stopping only to beat his chest as he stood on top of each boulder. When Fred had enough of the rocks, he would climb to the highest point in the tree that would support him without breaking, and commence to shake the living bejeezus out of the tree. After which he would climb down and start all over on the rocks again. I had to admit this was quite a display of machismo as Fred didn’t seem to be angry at anything, just showing off I guessed. I asked Mark what Fred was doing and he sheepishly told me he thought that Fred was in love with the Gateway CPU that was sitting between the three rocks.
“Get outta here,” I chuckled, thinking Mark was pulling my leg.
“Well, he’s in love with something cause that’s exactly how male gorillas act just before mating and he keeps looking down at that machine you put over there,” said Mark.
“Get outta here,” I said again. Not chuckling this time.
Well, without getting into the gory details of what took place next, I’ll just say that it was not a pretty sight. Fred’s fingers getting stuck in the Compaq’s floppy disk drive was nothing in comparison to what took place with the Gateway . Fred’s bloodied fingers were the least of his problems by the time he finished ravaging the Gateway CPU.
I had a difficult time coming up with the proper words to write in my Benchmark comparison notes but finally jotted this down:
Gateway : – A fine looking computer with a nice shape and all the right curves. However, a bit too delicate to be used by the male population of any species. Unfortunately, I was unable to recover enough pieces of the Gateway to perform additional analysis on the unit but I feel I can safely say that this computer should not be used in any household containing pets as it seems to have a strange effect on animals.
Witnessing Fred’s latest episode left me feeling a little nauseated and we decided to break for lunch while the zoo keepers tended to Fred’s injuries.
Returning two hours later to the gorilla area, I resumed my observations from the park bench. Mark joined me on the bench and I asked him if Fred was all right.
“Yeah, Fred’s a tough gorilla, he’ll be okay. Although I don’t think he’ll be looking to get romantically involved with anyone or thing in the foreseeable future.”
“Sorry about that.” I told Mark.
“Yeah, well, who’da thought, huh?” Replied “The Ape Man.”
Looking around the play area for the one remaining CPU, I was not surprised that I didn’t see it, surely Mark had it removed after the Gateway fiasco.
Just as I was about to thank Mark for his help and declare my Benchmark tests a failure and leave the zoo, he started talking.
“Oh yeah, while you were gone Wilma approached that last computer thing you had in there and I’ll be damned if she didn’t find a couple uses for it.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Look over there,” Mark said, pointing towards Wilma who was laying on her back in the dirt next to the stream. “She’s using that computer for a pillow, see it under her head?”
“Well I’ll be da…..”, I started to say, but Mark kept talking.
“And that’s not all, watch this!” Mark told me as he began yelling down at Wilma.
“Wilma! Tree! Go Wilma! Tree!”
Wilma slowly stood up, not happy about her nap being interrupted but at the same time recognizing the voice of her keeper, the voice of the one who supplies her with food. Better humor him, I’m sure she was thinking.
Wilma picked up the Macintosh 9500/200 tower CPU and slowly ambled towards her favorite tree. When she arrived she started to sit down but Mark wasn’t finished with her. He barked another command at Wilma. “Go Up, Wilma! Up! Up!”
Mark turned to me and said, “See that first branch on the tree? Wilma has never been able to reach that branch standing on the ground although she keeps trying every now and then, but always ends up scaling the tree at its trunk. But watch this.”
Mark yelled again to Wilma. “Up Wilma! Go Up!
Wilma stood below the branch Mark had indicated, looked up and stretched one of her long arms skyward. No dice, the tips of her fingers were still a good 18 inches away from the branch. Then looking down at the Macintosh she had cradled in her other arm she let out a screech and a couple of WHOOO, WHOOO’s. Wilma then stood the CPU tower on the ground underneath the branch and holding the loose end of the power cord in her left hand she set one of her massive feet on top of the tower. Wilma gave herself a little boost and in one fluid motion her right hand wrapped around the branch and her legs swung up to also gain purchase. Still holding onto the power cord, Wilma situated herself on the branch and reeled in the Mac, holding it protectively against her bosom. Feeling content and maybe even proud Wilma glanced over in our direction looking for some kind of acknowledgment, I suppose.
Mark gave it to her with a hearty, Good Gorilla! Good Wilma!
I was speechless! All I could get out was a whispered, “wow!”
I began writing like a mad man.
“There’s more,” Mark informed me. “When you’re done writing, I’ll show you what else she does with that darn thing.”
I was excited and couldn’t wait to see what else Wilma had up her sleeve. I put my pen down, turned to Mark and said, “Okay, now what?”
Mark reached for the walkie-talkie he had strapped to his utility belt. He contacted one of his assistants inside the Gorilla house and told her to raise the gate on the special food bin.
“The Ape Man” explained to me that the special food bin was where they kept all the gorillas special food treats. Saying that he only allowed Fred and Wilma access to this special food bin once a week or when he wanted to reward them for their obedience or for not doing disgusting things in front of the paying customers. This would include, ahh, well…, never mind, I’m sure you’ve all been to a zoo and know what I’m talking about.
I asked what kind of food treats were in this bin and Mark told me it was an assortment of various exotic plant leaves, insects, roots, fruit and honey.
“What kind of insects,” I asked.
“Fire ants for one, that’s their favorite. Plus roaches, beetles, ticks and tree mites.” Mark told me.
“Mmmmmmm, Mmmmmm! No wonder you have to keep it under lock and key.” I said.
“Yep,” was all Mark had to say to that, obviously missing my attempt at humor once again.
“Anyway,” he went on, “the gorillas know that when we open this bin it only stays open for a very short time before we kick them out and close it, so naturally they try to gorge themselves with as much as possible in the short amount of time we give them. I opened the bin after you broke for lunch to try to get Fred to calm down a bit so we could see how badly he was hurt. Wilma was carrying that last computer thing of yours when the bin opened, and… well here, you just see for yourself.” Mark said.
He pointed over to a far wall that had what looked like a solid metal garage door built into it. The door began to open and in fact opened just like a garage door, lifting upwards and inward.
“Watch Wilma,” Mark said, pointing to the tree she was resting in.
When Wilma heard the sound of the food bin door opening, she let out a gleeful shriek and scurried (Do gorillas scurry?) down the tree carrying the Macintosh CPU and ran as fast as her chubby legs and one arm would take her. Her other arm of course carrying the Macintosh. She arrived at the door and stopped, she looked like she was thinking, thinking real hard actually. Scratching her head and looking at the thing in her arm, then looking up at the almost open door and back down at the Macintosh. Then it hit her, she took the Macintosh in both hands and jammed it up between the rising door and the front edge of the food bin wall. Satisfied, she raced inside the food bin and began eating bananas, banana leaves, bamboo shoots, fire ants and honey. Only she wasn’t eating like someone who only had a few minutes to devour everything in sight. Wilma was taking her time, acting like she had all day to enjoy her feast.
I turned to “The Ape Man” and said, “what the hell just happened!”
Mark just smiled and said, “you’ll see,” and picked up his walkie-talkie and spoke into it. “Lacey, would you please hit the button to close the special food bin door.”
“Okay Mark,” came the static reply. And then a few seconds later, “Mark, the damn thing is jammed again, it won’t close!”
Eyes and mouth wide open, I gawked at the food bin door and then started scribbling notes on my pad as I heard Mark tell his assistant, “Okay Lacey, I’ll take care of it from out here.”
As I wrote, Mark entered the gorilla exhibit and using a ladder removed the Macintosh CPU from the garage door where it had wedged itself between the door and the frame of the doorway preventing the door from closing. Mark then led Wilma out of the food locker and closed the door. He returned the Macintosh to Wilma and once again joined me on the bench.
We watched to see what Wilma would do next.
Her face and hands were all sticky with honey and banana goop. She wiped as much of the slime as she could onto the Mac CPU and then set the CPU down in the sun and waddled off to sit under her shade tree.
“Now what’s she doing?” I asked Mark.
“Not sure,” replied Mark, “but I think she’s using your computer to catch flies. Let’s wait and see what she does.”
Ten minutes later Wilma got up and nonchalantly approached the Mac. Sitting down next to it she began picking ants and flies – that had gotten themselves stuck in the drying goop – off the CPU and putting them into her mouth.
Mark and I were both flabbergasted.
All I could say to Mark was, “That’s one intelligent gorilla you’ve got there.”
Mark thought about this for a minute and then said, “No mister, that’s where you’re wrong. We’ve done studies on all our gorillas and as far as gorilla intelligence goes, Wilma consistently scores way down on the bottom. In fact, I’m quite sure that ole’ Wilma there couldn’t pour coconut juice out of a boot if the instructions were pasted on the heel.”
“Really.” I said, “than how do you explain everything we’ve been witnessing?”
“Not sure,” answered Mark. “Must have something to do with that computer thing.”
That’s all I needed to hear to complete my Benchmark testing. I started writing:
Macintosh: By far the better of the five machines tested. Performs many different tasks flawlessly.
Strong power cord stays connected to CPU even under brutal mistreatment.
As a pillow, one cannot find a better head supporter.
Indispensable when out tree climbing. Makes those hard-to-reach branches a cinch to get at. Suspect it could also be used as a handy dandy stepladder around the house.
Having trouble with your garage door closing on you too soon? The Macintosh solves this problem happily.
How about that favorite special food bin of yours closing on you before you’re ready to leave? The Macintosh can give you unlimited access to even the most difficult to get at food bin.
Need to catch some ants or flies? There is nothing more efficient than the Macintosh.
Of course the most attractive feature of the Mac is its ease of use. Far and away, the most user friendly computer out there today.
As one expert witness (“The Ape Man”) confided in me. “That Macintosh thing can turn the dumbest gorilla into a genius!”
Well, there you have it, my first annual Gorilla Benchmark Tests. I hope you all enjoyed my slightly unorthodox approach to Benchmark testing. I’m sure I could have reached the same conclusions inside a dull and dreary laboratory, but hey, wasn’t this more fun?
Pete Miner (firstname.lastname@example.org)