Mac Bashers

Mac Bashers, and Other Tales of Halloween Horror.

One of the things I promised myself, when I decided to start contributing to, was that I would not write about the technical side of Mac ownership and use. The reason? There are already plenty of help sites out there, and plenty of information, from people who know the platform to a much higher degree than I do. The fact that I have been using and loving the Mac since it was introduced in 1984 does not make me a “Mac Genius” by any means. Oh sure, I know some tricks, and I have yet to get into a situation that I couldn’t get out of by myself, but still, I don’t consider myself to be a Mac Genius. ( For example, I still don’t know what an “error of-47 has occurred” means, although I guess I could find out if I wanted to know badly enough. ) Oh, I help people out if I am able to do so, and if I can’t, I refer them to people who can and will.( And if any of you are using system 7.1, I cannot help you. You must get a more modern system, sorry. ) Oh yes, for some odd reason, younger users are fascinated by my tales of such arcane things as “teletype interfaces,” and “Paper punch tape readers,” from those dark days of the 1970’s. Some 20-somethings actually believe that there were dinosaurs roaming the planet back then. Oh well. But enough of that. Today, I have to break my own promise, sort of.

No doubt that as a Mac user, you have encountered that strange species known as the “Mac Basher”. You know them as the ones who say things such as “Ugh! I hate Macs, they’re so stupid!”. Or maybe something more personal, such as “You’re a fool for using a Mac!”. Or the now classic one, “Apple’s going out of business any minute.” Then, there’s this: “I feel sorry for anyone using a Mac. They should get themselves a real computer!” (Actually, we feel sorry, for you) The list goes on and on, but you know exactly what I am talking about. An associate of mine had a story involving a “consumer electronics chain store.” You know the chain, it’s the one where the teenaged employees wear blue shirts, instead of red ones. He went in to check out the iMacs which had been advertised in the chain’s Sunday circular. In the store, he found two iMacs, one of which was totally frozen, and the other had hard drive icons all over the screen, many with obscene names. Apparently, some savvy youngster had learned how to make aliases, and had himself a grand old time. Anyway, after finally getting the attention of one of the “blue shirts,” he mentioned he was interested in an iMac. The response from Mr. Blue Shirt? “We don’t really recommend Macs, what you really want is a PC, with Windows”. Understand this now, this is a teenager, telling a man in his early thirties, with a degree in engineering, what he really wants. Now, what’s wrong with this picture? I have heard of similar tales from such intellectually driven stores as Sears, and everyone’s favorite whipping boy, Comp USA. No doubt, many of you have heard these stories as well, enough to know that it does indeed happen.

No sale was made that day, needless to say, and it was the constant, very repeatable stories such as this one which finally made Apple take the step of opening their own retail stores. ( C’mon Cambridge! ) But I have finally realized something: After experiencing Mac Bashers for so long, I have realized two facts undeniable, about them: Fact number 1: Mac Bashers have either never used a Mac at all, or 2: If they have used a Mac, it has been at least ten years since. There is a third item, not a fact, but a belief: They don’t know what they are talking about at all. There is “One more thing”: Most Mac Users, myself included, have, and do, use other platforms, including Windows NT, with very little trouble.

Now there are those among us who avoid Windows NT, and all things Microsoft, as they would avoid the “high risk” area of the Center for Disease Control. ( But you just gotta love that neat “Bio Hazard” symbol. It has definite “Klingnon appeal.”) But for some of us, using NT on the job is a sort of painful, but necessary, evil. I set up an NT box myself recently, and much to the chagrin of a few PC zealots in the area, I had no trouble at all with the installation. This was on a fresh hard drive, and I was quite pleased to learn that one could indeed boot from the CD, by giving the classic “control-alt-delete” command. Of course, it took about forty five minutes to format the drive for the NT file system, and to install the OS took me to over an hour. I then had to go on a quest through various panels to type in the IP address and gateway numbers. (Heh, on the Mac, it is all done on one control panel, and “poof!” you’re surfing away. Oh yes, installing OS 10.1 on my iMac took about 20 minutes, upgrading from 10.0.4) So anyway, after installing the necessary apps on this NT box, one of the PC zealots of my workplace happens by. He spots the beige, generic-brand box on a work table, then glances over to my happily running iMac. His comment: “So, you’re finally growing up!”. He then walked away, in the classic, “I sure told him!” style, as so many Mac Bashers do.

No, I’m grown up, thank you. Grown up enough to know what a better operating system and computer is, and grown up enough not to make infantile comments about someone elses choice. I’m grown up enough to weigh the pro’s and cons of both major systems with objectivity. I’m able to use NT, ( Win 2K, if you must ) but it is not, nor will it ever be, my system of choice. Nor will Linux, despite recent advances from such companies as Red Hat, and Yellow Dog, which have made it much more “accessible” to people outside the secretive, “long haired geek” circles. ( I use Linux on the job as well. It’s fun to experiment with, but no thanks, not for a main system And has anyone noticed that you just don’t hear as much about Linux as you did a year and a half ago?)

There is some good news about NT 2000: It does seem to be very stable, as promised, and it does run well on this generic PC, despite the machines only having a 400 MHz PII processor and 128 megs of installed ram. ( Another PC zealot, who has some people believing every word he utters, told me “It will never run on anything less than a PIII!” Wonder how he likes the taste of his own foot? ) The other good thing is that the multi-user feature is nice, especially when a computer is going to have more than one user, as this one will. And of course, “big time” science applications, such as the much ballyhooed Matlab, run well on it. Mathworks, the company which makes Matlab, is “standing by their decision” and refusing to resume development on Matlab for the Mac. Apparently, that old bugaboo, “market share” is the reason. Interesting, considering they develop it for Linux, which has a market share number almost too small to be measured. ( That’s only if you believe market share numbers at all, and I don’t. It’s too easy for someone in an expensive suit to manipulate them for his own ends. ) Gee, one might be tempted to think there were other reasons, such as an executive with an ego problem, involved. But that couldn’t be, could it?

So, with all this, I have to wonder precisely why PC zealots bash the Mac so much. And why won’t they even sit down and try one out? ( And I mean a new one, not a ten year old Mac IIFX which has been sitting in someones damp garage for years. I’m also not suggesting that Mac users are totally innocent of this behavior. Mac users, if you are going around slamming Windows users, stop it. You are not helping. ) I must ask this question of the bashers: What are you afraid of? Could it be that maybe, just maybe, you might (choke!) enjoy using a Mac? Now, before you PC zealots crank up your ßame machines, consider this: I’ve already told you that I use NT, with no major difficulty, and that it has it’s uses. I’ve already told you that a lot of Mac users are perfectly fine using NT, and other operating systems. I even like being able to move the task bar to any side of the screen, even to the top. ( But I don’t see anyone doing this. ) Heck, I have learned that inside Apple’s corporate labs, you will find NT machines being used for a lot of things, just as you will find Macs in use at Microsoft. ( And you knew that Microsoft is one of the largest developers of applications for the Macintosh, right? ) So, the point is that we, the Mac users you accuse of “not being grown up,” are not afraid of using your platform, should the given situation call for us to do so. Now, why are you afraid of ours?

Maybe it’s best to leave that question for a dark Halloween night.

Bruce Black

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