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The love/hate relationship with Apple

love hate appleYou probably wouldn't be reading this if you did't enjoy working on your Apple computer. Now ask yourself, "why?"

The answers are as varied as the users. Now ask yourself what really irks you about working on your Mac, or Apple as a company... Again, we've all got something that grinds our gears,for insntace,  AppleMatters just put up a list of best and worst Macs. Think you'll see that for Gateway, Dell, or even Sony, with their computers named after robotic serial numbers? As Apple's market share and brand name expand we're seeing an increase in Apple haters, and they are becoming more vocal. Mac zealots, while becoming slightly less shrill, are also in the mix helping put nothing in perspective. So what's to make of all this? As a user of Apple products for almost 30 years I wanted to take a look at the love/hate relationship between Apple, its fans, and detractors.

In the iPod space people love to hate Apple for the reasons Microsoft tells them to: your choice is limited. You can only use the iPod with iTunes. This is seen as the Mac OS "problem" all over again by people like Dvorak. Personally, part of the reason the iPod sells so well, in my opinion, is that for the average consumer there may be too much choice. The average person doesn't want to search all over creation for the latest brain-dead beats. They want to plug in their doohickey and have it automagically do things (like think) for them. This isn't Think Differently, it's just brilliant execution of the idea that consumers want stuff, and they want to get it easily. Plays for Sure? Whatever. People know if they can't put diesel in their car, and they know the iPod works with iTunes. So far, that's been a winning combo.

The Mac platform become a hot topic again way back in the go-go 90's (remember that decade?) after Master and Commander of the Far Side of the Computer World, Mr. Steve Jobs, introduced the iMac . We're beyond all the translucent plastic knockoff items you used to find in Target, and we're down to this: it's easier to make things on a Mac and it's safer to use a Mac. At least one of these is easily arguable. Granted, if I want to make Machinima, the PC is a better platform. In fact, there is way more software for PC's than Mac's, but how much of it is easy to use? It might sound like a Yogi Bearism, but everything's easy when you know how. Obviously someone who can sit at home in grandma's basement and figure out every little button in WinAmp is going to have an advantage over an iTunes noob. But again, the average consumer can't be bothered with registry hacks and driver issues. At the end of every day a person likes to put their machine to sleep, secure in the knowledge that all their hard work will be there another day. And that they'll be able to do something about it. Which brings me to the safety issue...
computer protectionAre Macs safer than PC's? Well, for now that's true. But don't get lulled into a false sense of security. All it takes is one "freeware makerz" app to filter down the pipe, and get a few hundred Macs "infected" with what amounts to nothing more than a proof-of-concept Trojan horse, and the news will warn us all that Apple's claims of safety are invalid. The myth will be busted. In truth, Apple made it a little harder for hackers to get in, however, goading would-be hackers into a staring contest with the built-in security of OS X is tempting fate. A security breach will happen, it's only a matter of time.

Going back to the question of why we hold Apple in such high regard; what is that all about anyway? Do we really think this publicly traded US corporation wants to change the world for the better by overcharging for RAM? I see why a lot of younger folks, those without the benefit of the true history of the desktop computer, think Apple is "evil." Evil, after all, is a matter of perpective. For that matter, why do we see Microsoft as evil when they have twice made Apple stronger? For the record, that's once with Mac apps and once with an infusion of cash. Some might say they're still doing us a favor by continuing Office development for another five years.

Obviously this is just one of those weird things in life. People feeling so strongly about a company? Well where I live people feel strongly about their Ford, or GM, or whatever car company, to the point of deriding another car company's product. Who cares? I always tell my students it's not the tool, but what you make with that tool that matters. But here's where the morons start filing past. The ones who can't shake the whole idea that a company might be innovating, that there might be reasons behind what they see as dumb mistakes or lost opportunities. Who are these people? Let's call them out, shall we? Please note I'm not bashing them out of blind Mac zealotry (I have a lot of respect for Windows and Linux, not to mention the zillions of other technologies out there not created by Apple). I'm bashing these guys because the things they say are based in fantasy, circumspect reasoning, and outright illogical assumptions or blatant falsehoods.

  1. dvorakJohn C. Dvorak. He must be so glad it's a free country. And even happier he's got a job. In any other industry he'd have been committed. Imagine an industry pundit claiming "Ford will switch to the hemi in a year." Or "Honda is ditching hybrid vehicles for muffler-free, high-octane SUV's with fins." Anyway, Rob Hyndman does a great job of parrying Dvorak's claims about Apple. John's an easy target.
  2. Jim Louderback decided to crank up the flames with his article calling Boot Camp "Boot Chump." Well that's very cute, but I'm afraid Jim misses the point. Read the article and see how many logical fallacies you can find! It's like a drinking game. Don't try it with anything stronger than beer though, I don't want to put anyone in a coma. What grinds my gears about Louderback is how he paints the "Mac faithful." And his claim that a Mac running Windows can't possibly be faster than a "real" Windows machine? He can ask C.K. about that one. Facts, schmacts. Those of you working on Macs for the last year or so will also love the assertion that you've become a total idiot as a result. Yay, name calling!
  3. Now the sad tale of a reverse switcher: alcibiades over at OSNews. His or her poor pathetic tale, "Why I Will Probably Never Buy Another Mac" will have you weeping in your Apple logo coffee mug. Alcibiades (who would likely label me as a zealot for even writing this) is quick to harsh on the hardcore Mac fanatics out there, likening them to racists and fascists. Of course, the Windows fanatics being paragons of "fair and balanced" commentary, I guess that's a fair criticism, n'est pas?

Yes, there are lots of reasons to love or hate Apple. I love them when they use open source, and not so much when they don't give back. I love the dropping prices, but not really the lowering of quality that comes with it. OS X was a revelation, but also a curse of many UI's and moving targets for developers. And don't get me started on that iBook of mine... So, we've asked this question before in smaller doses, but what do you love or hate about Apple?

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