Monday, November 5, 2007

Macs V PCs: Round II

I've been doing some freelance writing and musing about using those profits to get a laptop. It's hard to write from home, as the computer is in the office (originally designed as a tiny dining room) and there's always commotion during the weekends...although a lot of that is an excuse to get a new toy to carry around and use wirelessly and all that. I admit it. There's a reason my wife calls me "Gadget Boy," though I'd prefer Gadget Man.

So while thinking about new computers, the big question remains: which platform? I've used PCs my whole life (well, since about age 9), but am no fan of Microsoft. They've been doing better, but I'm enough of a rebel to want something different than what everybody else uses. Thus, I fall perfectly into the Apple demographic model. And there's a certain attraction. They are pretty sleek, pretty smooth.

But there's the learning curve. There's the "tinkering" factor, which I actually like. There's the upgrading issues, which I also like to do.

However, as for the "alternative" computer label, the different ethos of Apple and all that, it's really as The Who says, "Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss." How is using iTunes, the free bundled software that comes from Apple any different than using Windows Media Player, besides the snappy, trendier name? Fundamentally, buying Apple is buying from the Company Store. It may give a better consuming/computing experience, but it is just that: an experience engineered by a large corporation. There is nothing "alternative" or "independent" about that.

No, the true independent computing experience is Linux and the OpenSource movement, where nobody really makes a buck but the products are good, and anyone can tinker with them and improve them. But that carries such a "geek" factor, I'm not sure I'm willing to go that route.


  1. Christopher D. Hall said...

    Looking through the archives for Round I, I was surprised that I couldn't find it. When I moved the site I apparently didn't feel the Mac Vs. PC thing merited republishing here. I found it in my archives and realized that this post says much of the same thing, so it will remain lost in the ether...

  2. William Weedon said...

    I'm really in no position to judge, Christopher, since I've been using Macs all along (yes, I stayed with them through the awful years too). But there are those who've gone back and forth. Asburry for one recently went back to Mac for his laptop. I think he's been pretty happy with it. McCain also went back and forth and landed with the Mac in the last several years. If you have an Apple Store nearby and an hour or two of time, just go and play with one. Check it out and see how well it works. Because the Mac is an unix machine, the whole geek thing is open to you if you dare. You can bring up the console and punch in line code to your heart's content. Scares the dickens out of me, though! I'm happy to stick with the software that the big companies make. It does what I need it to do.

  3. Christopher Orr said...

    The new Mac OS has a built-in function to run Microsoft programs on your Mac. They have a Beta version of a program that allows one to do this, but the new one is built into Leopard (I think that's what it's called).

    I find both PCs and Macs to be perfectly useful, though I do tend to do more artsy stuff on the Mac. The visual interface and prettiness of the the Mac is a plus and easy to use, but it isn't liek using DOS if one is on a PC, so... It really just comes down to user-friendliness and whether you like one 'style' or not: there's no accounting for taste and love is blind.

  4. Chris Jones said...

    Pr Hall,

    I think I probably made this comment during Round I, but here goes:

    I write software for Windows machines for a living; I've used Macs occasionally over the years, and developed software for the Mac as well (Mac Classic and OS X both); and all the machines on my home network are Linux. All three are good, solid choices. As a Windows software engineer, I have more cause than anyone else to curse Microsoft; but I have to admit that the quality of their software has greatly improved over the years.

    My advice for what it's worth is to go with Linux -- because it's the most fun, at least for anybody who likes software and likes to tinker a bit. The nice thing about the newer Linux distributions is that you can tinker, but you don't have to tinker with it anymore, just to make it work. Unlike the early days, now you just put the install CD in the drive, answer a few prompts, wait about 20 minutes for it to install everything, and it just works.

    You can't go wrong with Windows or Mac; but it's just not as much fun. Linux rocks.

  5. Dixie said...

    Funny, just today I worked with my son reviewing a paper for his English class and the topic...? Getting hoodwinked by the Apple fan boys. Bottom line for me, since tinkering was something I never feared, has been cost. I bought a sweet little (tiny, lightweight for travel) laptop from the Dell Outlet a couple of years ago for just under half of what my son's Mac desktop cost me and he is telling advantages to having bit the Apple.

    From his paper:

    They [Apple fan boys] will drink the juice, smile, and then convince you to drink the better than average concoction. Once you drink the juice, you are a couple thousand dollars in the hole and once the effects of the juice wear off, you realize you paid far too much for Tang.

    It's only money but it's a shame for someone of near-geek caliber like you to succumb to laziness and buy a Mac!

    In my day it was the "not so computer literate" teachers who needed Macs. The rest of us learned to modify the script in our .ini files!

    In all seriousness, I remember when one person used Word, another Wordstar, another...hmmm...forget all the different word processing names we had back then and opening a document forwarded from elsewhere was impossible 50% of the time. I am actually grateful there is virtually one standard I don't hate Microsoft. They made my life easier. And frankly...I have a well cultivated rebellious nature but generally not to my disadvantage!