i <3 apple
October 1, 2003 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Lick Me, I'm A Mackintosh. One columnist's ode/rant re: Apple's design ethos.
posted by serafinapekkala (122 comments total)

 
I like the photos of the iPod packaging...it's like a stop-action animation of a futuristic robot striptease. or something.
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:56 AM on October 1, 2003


Function and form can coexist. PC manufacturers don't care. That's why I use a Mac. You only live once, so why not do it in style.
posted by sharksandwich at 9:03 AM on October 1, 2003


The 'lickable' descriptor went out the window when the fruity-coloured iMacs gave way to the titanium PB, which looks like you might freeze your tongue to it if you tried. And now with the G5's cheese-grater front the idea becomes downright dangerous.

But Apple computers are the only technology-related object to make my militantly technophobic sister say "wow, look at that mouse!" as she held up and inspected each of the pieces of her new iMac. And with OS X she actually takes the initiative herself to figure out how things work, where on Windows she just clicks around until someone comes along whom she can rope into doing it for her.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:07 AM on October 1, 2003


I'm just waiting for Sandbenders, myself.

Meanwhile, my computer case sits on the floor, under a desk. Fugly but functional is pretty much where my life is right now. ;)
posted by Foosnark at 9:13 AM on October 1, 2003


obligatory PA comic

apple's packaging really is impressive and worth noting... on the flip side though, i messed around with my windows machine for 20 minutes and got it to look as pretty as i wanted to, without having to drop $2,000+.
posted by lotsofno at 9:14 AM on October 1, 2003


I work on PCs all day. Have for years. And the latest flavors of windows are by far the most stable and best they have ever done. But when it was time to get a new laptop (here next week!!!) I ordered a tricked out iBook. OSX's latest flavors make my life easy, ease of use and elegance of interface wise. And if I have to network troubleshoot, I have more powerful and free tools than I would ever need. Now if the SoulSeek port would just be stable, i would be set. Apple has lured me in with its elegance and attention to detail that this article details.

Now on with the ProductFilter accusations.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 9:14 AM on October 1, 2003


Metafilter: Combining commodity fetishism and Mac partisanship since 1999.
posted by monkey.pie.baker at 9:17 AM on October 1, 2003


Damn. Somebody get that boy an editor. Now.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:17 AM on October 1, 2003


I gotta tell ya... I'm not given to ranting or raving about OS'es and the corporations that sell them, but I'm using a pre-release version of Panther (OS 10.3) right now, and it is just the slickest piece of engineering I've ever touched. It has this feature called Expose (say it with a French accent) - let's say you have five emails, three Word documents and two spreadhseets on your desktop, and you want to find one window. Move your cursor to the edge of the screen, and all the windows snap into miniature, tiled versions of themselves, neatly organized (and updated in realtime) on the desktop. Useful, graphically stunning, and fast as blazes. Forgive the gack-inducing hyperbole, but it really does feel like the future. 10.3 has made my machine feel twice as fast - the accusations that OS X is processor-cycle-munching eye candy are now moot. It's this sort of thing that makes people look forward to Apple updates, while they dread ones from MS.
posted by stonerose at 9:18 AM on October 1, 2003


I'm using a pre-release version of Panther (OS 10.3) right now

I know if you have to ask you're not cool enough to have it, but I still have to ask: How do you get your hands on that?
posted by timeistight at 9:23 AM on October 1, 2003


care about the fit and finish of the products they decide to allow into their lives

Above can describe German products & their owners.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:23 AM on October 1, 2003


Is it me, or do Mac-lovers and PC-lovers seem like two obsessive nerd stereotypes that are more similar than not, and maybe this familiarity is what drives them to mock the other? Left-handed, right-handed, what's the real difference? Oh yeah, being able to use 90% of the software out there (which costs less) and waiting for someone to code it for you. (Granted, this is getting better for Mac in recent years, but it was a HUGE factor in my choosing PC as a platform...)
posted by Busithoth at 9:26 AM on October 1, 2003


I know if you have to ask you're not cool enough to have it, but I still have to ask: How do you get your hands on that?

Umm...uhhh... well... I'm writing from the future, where it's already been released and it's legal to have it?

[alt.binaries.mac.osx.apps please mr. Apple lawyer don't hurt me, I'll buy it when it's released...]
posted by stonerose at 9:31 AM on October 1, 2003


as pretty as i wanted to

Sure, any Windows desktop can look good when all you have running is an MP3 player.
posted by jjg at 9:40 AM on October 1, 2003


My TiBook is two years past new, and strangers don't come up to pet it when I sit in a cafe typing anymore, but it's still a beautiful, comfortable, elegant piece of machinery. The electronic registration scheme on first startup annoyed me, because I really did *not* want my computer phoning home and telling Apple all about me, but aside from that the installation experience was just like the column said: clean, simple, and thoughtfully designed for my convenience and comfort.

Busithoth, why wait? Code it yourself... and hopefully the rest of Metafilter will forgive the semi-self-promotion.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:40 AM on October 1, 2003


Oh yeah, being able to use 90% of the software out there (which costs less) and waiting for someone to code it for you.

Having used a good chunk of that 80% of software that isn't made for Mac I can assure the dear reader that they're not missing anything by not being able to sample the wonders of the Staples bargain software bin or the treasure trove of limited time shareware at download.com. But Apple is all about quality over quantity, hence we get software companies like the Omni Group who put the same care and effort into their software as Apple itself puts into its hardware and OS.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:46 AM on October 1, 2003


With OS X & my (fairly) new 12" iBook, computing is finally living up to what I wanted c. 1980. And Mrs i_cola always points out how ugly the other laptops are when we're on the train with the li'l pup.

I find that a lot of the design is quite useful too. The little sleeves that fit onto the end of a USB plug stop the metal scraping against things, the tiny clip attached to the end of the AC adaptor lead stops it from unravelling when it's wrapped around the main part of the adaptor, and so on. (I've not worked out what the little feet that fold out of the adaptor a for tho'.)

lotsofno: I'd weep for you but my tear ducts were burned out in a bizarre childhood game involving red-hot paperclips...
posted by i_cola at 9:47 AM on October 1, 2003


are for tho'
posted by i_cola at 9:48 AM on October 1, 2003


spartacusroosevelt: mlMac does soulseek, kazaa, eDonkey, and gnutella in one interface. It's beta, but on track to be nice. Acquisition does gnutella really well. It's nice.


I was really impressed by the box my imac came in.

Lick me, I'm a Mackerel.
posted by putzface_dickman at 9:50 AM on October 1, 2003


Oh yeah, being able to use 90% of the software out there (which costs less)

Add the word "quality" before "software" and you're now describing the advantages of Macs.
posted by oaf at 9:54 AM on October 1, 2003


(I've not worked out what the little feet that fold out of the adaptor a for tho'.)

You wrap the power adapter wire around them. More of Apple's attention to detail.
posted by scalz at 9:56 AM on October 1, 2003


I bought a camisole (read: tank top) at a local downtown shop, the fit was perfect, the quality very high and the fabric was quite sexy: the cost $42. Now, I'm not normally someone who will even spend $42 on dress pants not to mention a tank top, but since it had everything I wanted, I went ahead and bought it. Post purchase the normal tissue paper wrapping went on, but then the woman helping me actually went further--the tissue wrapped bundle was placed in a simple, elegant blue bag, a fortune cookie was added and she topped it off by cutting & tying a ribbon to the bag's handle. It was an event, and somehow gave me more confidence in the purchase I had just made. The next time I experienced such wonder post major purchase, was when I opened my iPod. Now, I didn't buy either product with any expectations, but I can tell you, they both were nice surprises.

ps. i_cola the feet are to wrap the cord around.
posted by Ms.JaneDoe at 9:57 AM on October 1, 2003


Anyone got a cloth? I need to wipe all this fanboy spooge off my monitor.
posted by Hogshead at 9:59 AM on October 1, 2003


D'oh! I've just been wrapping it where the mains lead pops out...
posted by i_cola at 10:01 AM on October 1, 2003


(I've not worked out what the little feet that fold out of the adaptor a for tho'.)


I use it to wrap my power adaptor cable around it. I think that's actually what it's for. A really nifty touch.
posted by gyc at 10:01 AM on October 1, 2003


I'd rather save money, thanks. All that packaging is so wasteful.
posted by quibx at 10:12 AM on October 1, 2003


sharksandwich: Function and form can coexist. PC manufacturers don't care. That's why I use a Mac. You only live once, so why not do it in style.

Isn't this ignoring the exstence of a huge casemodding community and a growing number of manufacturers offering highly stylized systems such as alienware? A new job has forced back into using both old-style MacOS and OS X which I'm finding to be an exercise in frustration as I try to hack my way through the cruft to get to the applications I need. OS X is growing on me, but I suspect that many people confuse entertainment with usability.

space coyote Having used a good chunk of that 80% of software that isn't made for Mac I can assure the dear reader that they're not missing anything by not being able to sample the wonders of the Staples bargain software bin or the treasure trove of limited time shareware at download.com. But Apple is all about quality over quantity, hence we get software companies like the Omni Group who put the same care and effort into their software as Apple itself puts into its hardware and OS.

Well, that's all well and good. But what if what you need is the latest version of Nu*dist or NVIVO for qualitative research? Granted OS X expands the software realm quite a bit, but there are a suprising number of niche applications where the best software is only available for Windows. Saying "well software availabilty is not a problem, because we have the BEST software" is one of those things that drive me up the wall within the free Unix communities. It does not matter if you have the BEST titles on your platform if the SINGLE title that you need to make a living is not available.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:14 AM on October 1, 2003


Maybe it's a sign of shallowness, to be as preoccupied with things like packaging/presentation as I am. But I am. And I really don't care about platform wars and software availability - I use Macs and PCs interchangeably (even built the Athlon box I have at home myself).

But almost 2 years after its purchase, I still find myself caressing the case of my TiBook. And while I value and need all the computer gear I have at home and work, the TiBook is the only one I love, the only one that I have any sort of visceral, emotional attachment to. And as silly as that may be, I'm not ashamed. He hit the nail on the head.
posted by jalexei at 10:17 AM on October 1, 2003


> care about the fit and finish of the products they decide to allow into their lives
>
> Above can describe German products & their owners.

Roll in the Benz with me, you could watch some TV
From the backseat of my V, I'm a P-I-M-P

posted by jfuller at 10:20 AM on October 1, 2003


This is just my opinion but for the most part I find casemodders are to Apple's computers what riced-up, sticker-laden Honda Civics are to a Mercedes. Granted there are excpetions to both, but the comparison does seem to ring true.

The software availability problem is very much overstated that I've found, especially since OS X has sparked developer interest. It's simply not as big an issue as it was 10 years ago, but unfortuantely Apple is finding it hard to shake old stereotypes.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:20 AM on October 1, 2003


I stumbled onto this link while rendering a comp in After Effects for a project of mine due today. I'm doing the opening credits for a video game TV show called Gamer Nation, which will begin broadcast on KRON in the San Francisco Bay Area this Saturday. I haven't slept all night, I've been totally reworking a classmates file, since his work is quite .... shall we say .... substandard.

But reading this column reminded me why I do what I do. I love creating amazing work, and as frustrated as I am than I'm taking on all this extra load that should have been shared, and that I doubt I'll get much recognition for fixing my classmate's work, I can say that I'm proud of my work.
posted by ookamaka at 10:23 AM on October 1, 2003


I'd rather save money, thanks. All that packaging is so wasteful.

Well, you'd think so, wouldn't you? Until it comes time to sell the thing on eBay because you're upgrading, and lo and behold, you get better resale value than you would on a PC, and... believe it or not... a lot of folks are interested in whether the item you're selling comes with the original packaging.

As far as price goes - you won't find a Mac that matches a WalMart special with Lindows, but according to PC Magazine, After testing a loaded ... dual 2.0-GHz Power Mac G5 ... and comparing the results with a similarly configured (and priced) Dell Precision 650 Workstation... we see that indeed the G5 is generally as fast as the best Intel-based workstations currently available. Of course, the Mac fanboys quickly pointed out that the Mac was actually around $1400 cheaper, but let's not even go there.
posted by stonerose at 10:27 AM on October 1, 2003


I got my first Mac last November--I love my iBook with a passion I have never felt for another computer, and I've been using computers since I was 5 (over 20 years, in other words). I still have the original box. (On preview, I see that'll come in handy when I upgrade in a couple of years. Cool.)
posted by eilatan at 10:31 AM on October 1, 2003


I'm a little too busy doing stuff with my computer to care how pretty it is, how elegantly its OS blends fashion and function. The best thing you could say about a computer is nothing at all. It's a tool. Not an object d'art. It's something you shouldn't have to think about at all. I used to sit around contemplating my Mac a lot. Since I discovered Windows, I've lost fascination with the computers themselves. And that's not a bad thing, in my experience.
posted by scarabic at 10:38 AM on October 1, 2003


having said his piece, scarabic walks home to his pod, which is roughly the same size as his body. He catheterizes himself, inserts his nasogastric feeding tube, and injects himself with the tranquillizer which will allow him precisely the amount of regenerative, dreamless sleep that is necessary to maximize his productivity the following day.
posted by stonerose at 10:43 AM on October 1, 2003


Henry Ford's assembly line may have done much to lift many out of poverty, but at the same time it sounded a death knell for pride in craftsmanship, and for the art of doing things in a beautiful way.

That was from the last post's re: Japanese Tea Ceremonies. I think it's quite refreshing to finally see quality in design and craftsmanship returning to popularity, at the expense of, well, expense.
posted by danbeckmann at 10:46 AM on October 1, 2003


Ceramic pots were just a tool for the ancients, but they still painted designs on them.
posted by Ms.JaneDoe at 10:50 AM on October 1, 2003


stonerose: at least it's not an iPod ;)

I'm not knocking the Mac per se. I have an iBook and have been an Apple computer user since the IIe. I'm just pointing out that while you're standing around admiring your luscious hardware, somewhere, someone is writing a novel, producing a movie, drawing up a business plan on a beige computer. Someday you will meet her in an editor's office, a film festival awards ceremony, or a shareholder's meeting, and she will kick your lickable ass all over the room. In other words: it's what you do with it that counts.

Ooooh, be careful with comparing Apple computers to fossils, Ms.JaneDoe. That might rankle some nerves ;)

Okay, that's two winkies too many. I'm out!
posted by scarabic at 10:57 AM on October 1, 2003


Tyler: Do you know what a "Macintosh" is?
Narrator: It's a slick piece of engineering...
Tyler: It's a computer. Just a computer.
posted by angry modem at 11:00 AM on October 1, 2003


I bought my first Mac (12" PB) three months ago and love it. I've owned upwards of 12 PCs (including two laptops) in the past 20 years and had always said "Apple's too expensive, there's no good software/shareware," etc. However, when the Canadian dollar bounced back a bit this year, the prices of the Macs fell, so I said what the hell. It is the best computing $ I've ever spent. The machine is fantastic. The OS is far and away better than 95, 98, 2000, NT, XP (had them all at one point or another). There really is no comparison. And yes, I used to be one of those people who said they were comparable.

One of the software needs I had was for a small app that I could easily drop snippets of text into that would be quickly searchable. I never found it on a PC, though many people told me there MUST be such an app--if not, I could always make one myself with Filemaker or Access or whatever. A week into owning the Powerbook, I found Notational Velocity which is exactly the thing I needed and looked for for years for Windows. No bells and whistles. No bullshit. It was made for keeping snippets. Best of all, it's free. (See KirkJobSluber, the "single" app thing works both ways.)

My one and only complaint about Apple is their stubborness with staying with a one-button mouse, which seems so bizarre to me. Especially now that they've released a bluetooth mouse. WTF? I may be 20 feet from my keyboard. How am I going to option or command click?
posted by dobbs at 11:04 AM on October 1, 2003


I have come to believe that I could appreciate a Mac if given the chance to own one. My fine piece of machinery just doesn't have that neatness-gadget appeal (i.e. I have to apply twist-ties and wire stabilizers just to get a semblance of order).

Won't somebody please buy me one?
posted by Quixoticlife at 11:09 AM on October 1, 2003


Space Coyote: This is just my opinion but for the most part I find casemodders are to Apple's computers what riced-up, sticker-laden Honda Civics are to a Mercedes. Granted there are excpetions to both, but the comparison does seem to ring true.

On the other hand, I have relatives who are Mercedes lovers. One of the things they love about it (at least the classic versions) is the ability to get under the hood and fix it themselves. Apple still strikes me as a hermetically sealed system. If it was slightly less marginal, everyone would be griping about closed systems and monopolies.

Space Coyote: The software availability problem is very much overstated that I've found, especially since OS X has sparked developer interest. It's simply not as big an issue as it was 10 years ago, but unfortuantely Apple is finding it hard to shake old stereotypes.

Possibly true, but where is Nu*dist and NVIVO for OS X? What do you say to a person who needs that critical piece of software for the next six months when they need to fill out the purchase order by the end of the week. Do you continue to say, "Ohh, OSX is continuing to spark developer interest?" Do you continue to show lots of flash and stability which misses the point of what the user actually needs?

Of course things are better than they were 10 years ago. Macintosh OS development was dead in the water 10 years ago. After millions of dollars spent trying to develop the replacement to an aging operating system that wasn't that good under the hood to begin with, had multiple problems and design mistakes on just about every level except the user interface. (Mecedes in the cockpit, yugo under the hood.) Macintosh OS systems development finally gave up the ghost and went into an extended limbo of flirting with NeXT and Be. A large chunk of the failure of Apple to maintain market share is due to this rather pathetic sate.

The big problem with operating system advocacy (and Windows and Free Unix advocates are just as guilty) is that once you cross the threshold into advocacy, you have stepped into a delusional lalaland in which a careful evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses is replaced by ovehyping the strong points and blanket denial of the weak points.

Contrary to what Macintosh advocates claim, many people choose to run ms windows, not because they are a bunch of phillistines with no sense of aesthetics (although, I for one am not impressed with either the hardware or the OS aethetics), and contrary to what Free Unix advocates claim, not because they are a bunch of yahoos with no understanding of how computers work.

Ms. Jane Doe Ceramic pots were just a tool for the ancients, but they still painted designs on them.

True, on the other hand, I find the "Apple Aesthetic" to be, well, highly overrated. The multicolored iMAC was cool but the surrealist gumdrop iMac just looks stupid. The G4 and G5 cases really don't strike me as anything to be proud of, and are perhaps even more alienating than the wabisabi of my almost antique beige CDROM highlighting the matte black face of my mini-itx box. The OSX dock or panel, or whatever it is called just strikes me as a garish sideshow with it's zooming that makes the process of actually selecting an item unpredictable.

I think the key to Apple's cult following is the big lie that they are a company built on design and craftmanship when the Macintosh is just as much a pre-fab corporate product as any other computer device out there.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:15 AM on October 1, 2003


Ceramic pots were just a tool for the ancients, but they still painted designs on them.

True enough. It helped them sell, and while Etruscans could make them themselves, they found the Greeks' art better, and so imported them.

But as for what stonerose said,
better resale value than you would on a PC

I want some of whatever you're smoking.

they both lose value faster than anyone should be comfortable with. Maybe it's just my experience, but since I can upgrade my comp parts easily, and competition makes the parts incredibly cheaper than mac (and we're talking about innards here, design be damned), I can hold on to my box for a long while.

My brother works in motion graphics, and talks of how everyone in his advertising agency is forced to lease new equipment from mac with every release. Until they released 10.2, his old company lost weeks of man-hours while their machines crashed repeatedly. People were re-installing 9.2 for stability.

But Mac has great advertising. I mean I thought they never crashed, (and I mean 9x OS) and that it was just PC-users who had to deal with it. Huh. We're all really in the same boat.
posted by Busithoth at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2003


I think the look if the iBook is far superior than that of the PowerBook, but I needed the horsepower, and my 15" 1GHz PowerBook is the best computer, and I have been toying with them since my dad bought us a 8086 in 1987.

Windows is just a garish, uncomfortable beast now.

And I'm really hurting with the lack of available software. Why, if I only had all of those spyware programs, clipart programs, 3-D miniature golf freeware games then my life would just be perfect. Alas.
posted by xmutex at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2003


What do you say to a person who needs that critical piece of software for the next six months when they need to fill out the purchase order by the end of the week.

I say the same thing to them as I say to a person who needs to haul lumber but is looking at a sports car: it's not for you right now. Not sure where it was in this thread that anyone said "everybody should use x". Simply that everybody doesn't use y, windows in this case. I'm sorry if you feel left out, but we're doing just fine. We don't mind if you use windows, though, really we don't. Hell, I use Windows, Linux and Solaris in the lab, they all have their uses, though since OpenOffice has matured I'm finding I use the PC less adn less.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:23 AM on October 1, 2003


True beauties (warning-- PCs).
posted by G_Ask at 11:34 AM on October 1, 2003


The best thing you could say about a computer is nothing at all. It's a tool. Not an object d'art. It's something you shouldn't have to think about at all.

A chef might say the same thing about a knife, but he'd still appreciate the elegance of a well-balanced, solid and sharp knife over a dull piece of junk.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:44 AM on October 1, 2003


A chef might say the same thing about a knife, but he'd still appreciate the elegance of a well-balanced, solid and sharp knife over a dull piece of junk.

But would he appreciate if you drew flowers all over the handle? The rest of the stuff you mentioned is performance-based.
posted by The God Complex at 11:49 AM on October 1, 2003


lotsofno,

not sure if you caught this part but the column wasn't about screenshots. It was about the overall esthetics of the OS. Changing wallpaper does nothing to hide the fact that most PC boxes are just plain fugly.

And yes, I'm a Mac user, have been for years and wouldn't switch to anything else unless I had to. I use a PC at work because I have to. I use a Mac because I want to.

But hey, if you're happy then be happy.
posted by fenriq at 11:53 AM on October 1, 2003


KirkJobSluder- please put down that torch you're carrying and crawl out of the niche you're hiding in. No one will EVER EVER EVER confuse the handful of people who use those two packages with a statistically significant (irony intended) market segment. As Space Coyote pointed out, you can always find a way to make that argument from any vantage point. Hell, there's software that people rely on that doesn't run on EITHER Mac or Windows.

On the other hand, I have relatives who are Mercedes lovers. One of the things they love about it (at least the classic versions) is the ability to get under the hood and fix it themselves. Apple still strikes me as a hermetically sealed system. If it was slightly less marginal, everyone would be griping about closed systems and monopolies.

Actually, since OS X came out, Macs are WAY more amenable to "getting under the hood" than their Windows counterparts. You can manipulate almost the entire OS from the command line, and a significant chunk of it is open source. Windows (yes, I use both at work) now drives me nuts in comparison.
posted by mkultra at 11:53 AM on October 1, 2003


The rest of the stuff you mentioned is performance-based.

It's more than that, it's about the quality of construction and consistency, something that's hard to find in consumer PCs.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:53 AM on October 1, 2003


Love the Mac, hate the Mac advocate.
posted by gimonca at 12:06 PM on October 1, 2003


I just switched. To me it was the packaging of the iPod and elegance of its design that lured me. Then a visit to the Apple Store in Chicago showed how much better Mac OS X iTunes/iTMS was to the MusicMatch/Windows version. I bought a used iMac G3 on ebay with OS 10.2.6 on it and fell in love. So then I sold my perfectly good 3 month old Pentium M notebook and bought a new 15" powerbook. The elegence of the design, fit and finish and attention to detail is something to behold compared to the cheap feeling windows notebooks.

While waiting for the powerbook to arrive I had the excitement I had when I was a kid anticipating santa's arrival. I've never been excited about getting a new windows system.

I installed Virtual PC on it this morning as an insurance policy in hope I never have to use it to do stuff in Windows again.

I'm converted. I don't even mind the single mouse button. It has an elegance which makes using the ctrl key worth it. And I'm even OK with using the command key instead of the alt key.
posted by birdherder at 12:07 PM on October 1, 2003


But was it elegant?
posted by The God Complex at 12:09 PM on October 1, 2003


Love the Mac, hate the Mac advocate.

Before I'm accused of sounding a bit shrill, I agree 100%. That being said:

But as for what stonerose said, "better resale value than you would on a PC"; I want some of whatever you're smoking.

A coworker of mine just sold a 4-year-old first-generation G4 desktop for $650 on eBay - I'm not up on used PC prices, but I assume that's a pretty competitive amount.

Maybe it's just my experience, but since I can upgrade my comp parts easily, and competition makes the parts incredibly cheaper than mac (and we're talking about innards here, design be damned), I can hold on to my box for a long while.

Certainly the parts are cheaper, but my main desktop Mac at home is a 7-year old PowerMac 7600, currently sporting a G4 processor, a gig of RAM, an 80gig HDD, USB and Firewire ports via a PCI card, etc. etc.. It's certainly reaching the end of its useful life, as I don't feel like jumping the hoops required to run OSX on it, and the slow system bus is choking an otherwise medium-fast processor, but I defy you to run and upgrade a PC for 7 years with the same motherboard....
posted by jalexei at 12:11 PM on October 1, 2003


so why can't i play a CD full of MP3s on iTunes without copying the files to the hard disk? or is it just my girlfriend's iBook's crappy CD drive?

seriously. if anybody knows of a free Mac program that will play MP3s directly from a CD, i will bless you.

i agree about 98.8% with scarabic. commodity fetish = navel gazing. not a bad thing, just a little annoying to the people who don't "get it." i'm embarrassed to say i felt almost the same way when the first playstation came out. ha.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:11 PM on October 1, 2003


mrgrimm, is iTunes set to import files from CD automatically? (go to iTunes menu --> Preferences --> general and check the "on CD insert" item) because you should be able to play directly from CD with no problem. otherwise, try macamp, the mac port of winamp.
posted by stonerose at 12:17 PM on October 1, 2003


"not sure if you caught this part but the column wasn't about screenshots. It was about the overall esthetics of the OS. Changing wallpaper does nothing to hide the fact that most PC boxes are just plain fugly."

yes, i read the article, but i never cared much for how beautiful or ugly a tower looks—though i'm pleased with the appearance of my HP751n (if you didn't know, my favorite color is dark gray.). a tower has always just been something i've stuck underneath the desk by the toaster/printer, so i can rest my feet on'em. what i DO look at when i work on my machine is what's on the desktop. i do my work there, not on the "aluminum alloy enclosure."

i've used more Macs than i can even remember for as long as i can remember too, whether it be the high end graphics-design machine at work with OSx installed on it, or the small box at my grade school computer lab with the operating system that had the eyes at the top left corner that followed your mouse pointer. i just find myself more comfortable with, and preferring the PC environment. i'm happy watching all-day marathons of Aqua Team on winamp 2.95, wandering the internet painlessly with opera 7.20, etc., etc.. and i think my PC looks great while doing it.
posted by lotsofno at 12:33 PM on October 1, 2003


One good side-effect of well-designed Macs is that it forces people to surround the Mac with stylish, well-designed furnishings. That cinema display or flat-panel iMac just doesn't look as good if surround by decrepit furniture. So not only are Macs well-designed, it forces owners to live in a better-designed and more stylish surrounding.
posted by gyc at 12:43 PM on October 1, 2003


thanks for the tip, stonerose. i've been meaning to check out macamp? can you save streaming mp3s with it?

i haven't used Macs much since i graduated college. dunno why i'm opposite of all the elegant folks out there, but i find windows way more intuitive, customizable, and faster than the mac os. i like micromanaging my pc, which is something you can probably do with osx, but it's not worth it for me to learn. and i hate the dock.

i'm also a gamer. i've never really considered Macs serious for gaming. has anything changed in the past 7-8 years? i've heard it's getting better, but i'm skeptical.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:02 PM on October 1, 2003


Yes, consume, consume, consume! Mac begets, desk, desk begets chair, chair begets hardwood flooring (or laminate if you want durability) ad inifinitum, etc. ;)

Seriously, I use a Mac at home and a Windows machine at work. I love the Apple "attitude" and aesthetic, and there are some functions of the Windows OS that I like as well. But when it comes right down to it, they (Macs and Windows machines) are the same shit, different piles. I can waste a day trying to reconfigure or update something on either machine, all in the name of "trying to get my fucking work done."

Having said that, I certainly appreciated the author's point of view in the original article. Good industrial design (and expert packaging) can be a wonder to behold. My Mac purchases were "experiences" - I order my Windows machines form a strip mall smorgasboard vendor who builds machines from mix n' match parts for $650.
posted by sharpener at 1:11 PM on October 1, 2003


"i'm also a gamer. i've never really considered Macs serious for gaming. has anything changed in the past 7-8 years? i've heard it's getting better, but i'm skeptical."

i'm not sure if they'd made much progress... they've got warcraft 3 and neverwinter nights now, which are pretty good titles. that's a step forward at least.

power pete used to be shit, though.
posted by lotsofno at 1:14 PM on October 1, 2003


Hi mrgrimm. For saving mp3 streams, you want Streamripper.

I'm not much of a gamer, but I think Macgamer should give you a good idea of the state of...er...play.

I was a die-hard Wintel user (built my own systems, etc) until 2 years ago - when I moved to OS X, I searched out utilities that approximated the Windows start menu, etc., but I quickly became accustomed to the OSX way of doing things, and now it's second nature.
posted by stonerose at 1:19 PM on October 1, 2003


Scarabic and God complex make good points about the bottom line really being what is done with the tool, but I would argue that operating system elegance does impact that bottom line. This speaks to what shows on the screen more than the packaging, but both contribute to a sense of identity that the user develops in relation to his computing experience.

And before all y'all jump back with simplistic arguments like, "well, whoever is developing his identity around his computer is a dang fool," take into consideration how much time most of us spend thinking through our systems. The way we think about them makes a difference.

A computer's operating system is a space where its user's mind extends itself; the system can enable or inhibit the thinking of its user. Naturally different types of people respond to and interact better with different kinds of interfaces. I have use systems (such as Windows 95) that are so counter-intuitive and obtusely authoritarian that writing my Great American Novel on it would be like collaborating with, well, Bill Gates.
posted by squirrel at 1:19 PM on October 1, 2003


birdherder - welcome to the Mac universe. You can use most any kind of USB mouse now, featuring all the wheels and buttons in the world.
posted by squirrel at 1:27 PM on October 1, 2003


As yet another Windows user at work, Mac user at home, I must chime in with my fair and balanced opinion. My work computer was just upgraded to XP. Compared to OSX, XP is a pain in my ass, not just for the crappy interface, which I spent a good bit of time changing (only to have some of it changed back), but it also runs slow on a P3/867. Slower than OSX on a G3 iMac.

And while I finally have true dual monitor support on my PC, the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. Example: drop-down menu in dialogue box on right screen; click box; options show up in middle of left screen and often can't be selected. Nice. Given both the quirks and design of XP versus OS X, I'd take the latter any day.

For a recent video I produced for my company, I brought in my Powerbook and did it all in iMovie. Macs make it much easier for me to be productive out of the box. Great software, elegant hardware.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:42 PM on October 1, 2003


Space Coyote: Not sure where it was in this thread that anyone said "everybody should use x". Simply that everybody doesn't use y, windows in this case. I'm sorry if you feel left out, but we're doing just fine.

No, the argument was that application availability is not an issue because Macintosh is only missing spyware and the Staples Bargan Bin.

mkultra: Actually, since OS X came out, Macs are WAY more amenable to "getting under the hood" than their Windows counterparts. You can manipulate almost the entire OS from the command line, and a significant chunk of it is open source. Windows (yes, I use both at work) now drives me nuts in comparison.

Getting into the case is just as important. I look at iMacs as a nightmare. If my modem goes bad (as it did during one of the most important writing projects of my life) preventing the machine from posting, how the heck am I supposed to get into it? It has changed a bit but here is the key factor. Can you build your own from components?

No one will EVER EVER EVER confuse the handful of people who use those two packages with a statistically significant (irony intended) market segment.

But the problem is, there are a large number of fields where there is that single software dealbreaker. In quantitative research there is SPSS. Multiplying those one or two software choices by hundreds of different professions and you get a serious problem.

Space Coyote: It's more than that, it's about the quality of construction and consistency, something that's hard to find in consumer PCs.

Consistency is a given. It is impossible to not be consistent when you are growing your own closed system. You are comparing about a dozen models of Macintosh computers, all running the same OS, with perhaps thousands of models produced by OEMs (including white-box shops that will build on spec) running one of a half-dozen operating systems.

However, the big lie that Apple has managed to sell its self on in that its cookie cutter, prefab, assembly line computers are "different" in quality, design and elegance than the cookie cutter, prefab, assembly line computers of any other manufacturer. I mean, come on here. You buy an Apple, you are still buying a commercial market product, from a company that if it had the leverage would be just as nasty as Microsoft, that is still serving up a homogenized, bland, prepackaged and in some ways even coercive experience as MSWindows.

If someone prefers MacOS to MSWin, that's nice. But this elevation of the Macintosh above the level of a commercial packaged product to some sort of god-like level of quality, elegance and design just means that you've became yet another barking mindless marketing drone. It is an interesting phenomena that is worth studying. What is it about Microsoft that makes them so darn successful at training their users to spread the party line FUD, about Macintosh training their users to elevate their systems to a revolutionary statement about aesthetics? In both cases there seems to be an apalling tendency to check common sense at the door.

Squirrel: Scarabic and God complex make good points about the bottom line really being what is done with the tool, but I would argue that operating system elegance does impact that bottom line. This speaks to what shows on the screen more than the packaging, but both contribute to a sense of identity that the user develops in relation to his computing experience.

What the heck is ellegant about that stupid bouncing OSX toolbar? Gee, any illusions I had that Macintosh could never create anything just as annoying and baffling as Clippie vanished the moment I was forced to use that abomination.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:10 PM on October 1, 2003


Slower than OSX on a G3 iMac

Is that physically possible? I am XP at home (recently switched from Win98) & have now had to deal with OSX in the office. I am disappointed. Switching among programs and windows is inefficient on the Mac. Rapid access to everything on the computer is less efficient on the Mac. There may be better mice available, but why are the Macs out there years behind in swtiching to wheels?

But mainly, in my profession (dealing with ancient languages with funny diacritics), I am frustrated that Macs have won humanities scholars' loyalties for superficial reasons (supposedly "user friendly") while being manifestly unsuited for the task at hand. For example, I want a word processor that handles Unicode well. Mac? Forget it. Sure, this is MS's fault (e.g. Word for OSX), and thank heavens for the good people at Omni etc., but the fact remains that text-handling on Macs is lagging way too far behind recent standards. Compared to my old Win98 home computer with Office 97/2000, I am now supposed to sit down at an OSX machine and believe, "Forget Unicode, etc. That's cutting-edge 22nd-century technology my friends at Apple can't be expected to have figured out yet"...?

Fuck eye candy, give me an uggly $950 box I can plug a cheap 19" monitor into & that does everything fast. Does Apple make that?

P.S. It also irks me that OSX is based on Unix & doesn't come set up to run some basic Perl apps as well as ActivePerl for Windows!
posted by Zurishaddai at 2:20 PM on October 1, 2003


KJS is going to hate windows longhorn in that case, you can bet it's going to be taking a significant chunk of its innovations from good old OS X.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:20 PM on October 1, 2003


The OSX dock or panel, or whatever it is called just strikes me as a garish sideshow with it's zooming that makes the process of actually selecting an item unpredictable....

What the heck is ellegant about that stupid bouncing OSX toolbar?


Why don't you just shut off the bounce, zoom and hide options? (They're called "preferences" because you can change them to what you prefer.) Then it's just a toolbar. As for "unpredictable"... ? How is it at all unpredictable? The name of the selected app appears above the icon before you click it. Seems pretty intuitive to me.
posted by dobbs at 2:26 PM on October 1, 2003


Also, what KirkJobSluder said. Well & good to try to fix the dock with prefs., but it's in the way, since it responds to clicking near it, which I can't see helping any user.

windows longhorn...you can bet it's going to be taking a significant chunk of its innovations from good old OS X

Yech. WinXP is already so annoying you have to choose Win98 style in order to avoid the garish clutter MS wants us to experience. Both platforms should expand the interface choices (I'll never understand why Aqua is so widely embraced by OSX enthusiasts). Aqua took the goal of simplicity & bungled it through design-incompetence (this is the key to all Mac design: make it look like it works more elegantly). MS seems actually to believe that the wave of the future = less simple and transparent operating system, which could well turn out to be worse.
posted by Zurishaddai at 2:33 PM on October 1, 2003


While OSX is beautiful, never trust a company that thinks you're too dim to handle more than one mouse button. That interface decision is more ridiculous than the 640k memory barrier and the CGA color palette choice combined.
posted by bunnytricks at 2:42 PM on October 1, 2003


Getting into the case is just as important. I look at iMacs as a nightmare. If my modem goes bad (as it did during one of the most important writing projects of my life) preventing the machine from posting, how the heck am I supposed to get into it? It has changed a bit but here is the key factor. Can you build your own from components?

So, by that logic, you object to laptops, PCs with proprietary components, and cars built after 1980. But you don't object to G3/G4/G5 Powermacs with tower cases, latches on the side for easy access, and PCI slots. Gotcha.

In quantitative research there is SPSS
Not sure if you're implying that SPSS 11.0 for Mac OS X doesn't exist? As far as Nu*dist, etc., how about critiquing QSR for being so money-hungry that it won't bother developing for anything other than Windows?

How about professional audio/video production apps (e.g. Logic) that no longer exist for the PC because Mac gained an overwhelming market share and subsumed them? Are you going to piss on the PC platform because of that? Or are you going to recognize that, for 90+% of users, either platform carries what they need?

However, the big lie that Apple has managed to sell its self on in that its cookie cutter, prefab, assembly line computers are "different" in quality, design and elegance than the cookie cutter, prefab, assembly line computers of any other manufacturer. I mean, come on here. You buy an Apple, you are still buying a commercial market product, from a company that if it had the leverage would be just as nasty as Microsoft, that is still serving up a homogenized, bland, prepackaged and in some ways even coercive experience as MSWindows.

You're conflating lots of issues here. It's pretty much roundly acknowledged that Apple's design is superior - just google for "Jonathan Ive +awards". And that Apple's quality is top-notch (google Apple +"Consumer Reports"). But to critique Apple for not being big enough to be mean, while simultaneously critiquing it for marketing practices and efficient assembly-line methods that companies need to use to be competitive? Jeeze.

Yes, fanboys and people who mistake brand loyalty for meaningful identity are f'cked in the head. But your criticism is a little strident and unreasonable, apart from that.
posted by stonerose at 2:45 PM on October 1, 2003


While OSX is beautiful, never trust a company that thinks you're too dim to handle more than one mouse button. That interface decision is more ridiculous than the 640k memory barrier and the CGA color palette choice combined.

I call PC Red Herring BINGO!

But then you've answered your own question, the OS is designed for one mouse button, rather than relying on context menus. (the pull down menus at the top of the screen work just fine). Windows uses context menus as a crutch for lazy UI design, and anyone who ever had to explain over the phone what "right-click" means knows that it might not have been the most brilliant UI innovation.

And anyway, USB is great, you should read about it sometime.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:48 PM on October 1, 2003


KirkJobSluder, Zurishaddai, thanks for helping me make my point, which wasn't to escalate the Mac vs. Win yawn-riot, but to argue to Scarabic that interface have an impact on bottom-line productivity.
posted by squirrel at 2:49 PM on October 1, 2003


i'm not sure if they'd made much progress... they've got warcraft 3 and neverwinter nights now, which are pretty good titles. that's a step forward at least.

It's much better than it was 7 or 8 years ago - there wasn't much of anything besides shareware, and I should know, I was unemployed then. There's "enough" games on the Mac now, but if game lust is your thing you're gonna still be frustrated.

:: gnashing teeth at the non-editor-having Mac version of Neverwinter Nights, and my inability to at least give some of these mods some much-needed copy editing, though happily the PC version of the expansion set works ::

Also, more or less what stonerose said a couple comments up. The point of the article (the one I read anyway, with sentence structure like that I could see people reaching entirely different conclusions, like say the sky is now orange) is that Apple is presenting a prepackaged product that is part of mass consumer culture and yet does pay attention to issues of elegance and design. Is corporate product not supposed to address these issues just because it wouldn't be corporate enough?
posted by furiousthought at 3:00 PM on October 1, 2003


mrgrimm: Take a look at Audio Hijack. It intercepts the audio from any application and saves it. You can stream your mp3s through iTunes and capture them with AH.

kirkjobsluder: I look at iMacs as a nightmare.

You are using the consumer level Macintosh. It's designed for people who don't want to get under the hood. Complaining about it not being easy to open is like complaining about the wings on Maxipads because they chafe your testicles.

...computers are "different" in quality, design and elegance...

There used to be a story that the difference between a Mercedes and other cars is that the Mercedes engineers designed to 4 digits of precision whereas other engineers rounded off at 2. Mercedes just fit together better. That's pretty much how Apple seems -- more thought and effort goes into an Apple computer than something you buy from Abu's Fine Computers and Couscous Shoppe.

bunnytricks: I don't trust an OS that's too complex to control with more than one button. The main problem is consistency -- the apps writers all seem to take a different view of what that second button is for.

On preview, what Space Coyote said.
posted by joaquim at 3:07 PM on October 1, 2003


how long does a fella have to wait for somebody to post one of those calvin-peeing-on-a-mac/pc pics????
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 3:11 PM on October 1, 2003


Space Coyote: KJS is going to hate windows longhorn in that case, you can bet it's going to be taking a significant chunk of its innovations from good old OS X.

Which is missing the point in a big way. Nowhere in here have I claimed that MSWin is a "better" operating system or less annoying. Only that it seems to be a requirement of Operating Systems advocacy to check your brain at the door, ignore any reasonable criticism and ovehype perceived advantages (which in the case of elegance of interface design and elegance of hardware design are highly overrated.)

Certainly, there are a whole mess of Windows Annoyances that I could bend your ear about, I can even give you a long list of gripes about my OS of choice, FreeBSD. However, this is not a topic centered on either MSWindows or FreeBSD but MacIntosh advocacy, the supposed elegance of Apple products, and the ways in which people who use other operating systems are just phillistines lacking a sense of style for not becoming a voluntary Apple corporate tool.

dobbs: Why don't you just shut off the bounce, zoom and hide options? (They're called "preferences" because you can change them to what you prefer.) Then it's just a toolbar. As for "unpredictable"... ? How is it at all unpredictable? The name of the selected app appears above the icon before you click it. Seems pretty intuitive to me.

True. Having a refined sense of aesthetics I very much prefer that an operating system not confront me with annoying animations or unpredictability. One of the worst features of Microsoft office for example is the way in which it tries to helpfully hide the least used options. Because the menus change order from hour to hour, one is forced to actually read all of the menu options rather than just scan based on expected order. Among other things, this disrupts the development of muscle memory.

So for example, using OSX right now, I start a new program, mozilla. The dock expands to accomodate this new member bumping all of the other dock items on the screen. (Space Coyote, note that the dock is not an OS X innovation, it is something imported from NeXTStep and a primary reason why I don't use WindowMaker.) In MsWindows and in Fluxbox I find that I can use muscle memory to leverage my way through most menus. The behavior of the dock hinders this.

In addition another problem with the doc is the heavy use of icons. Where is photoshop? Well, on this computer I have to roll over each of the annoyingly similar folder icons until I find something that says Graphics/Publishing. This opens a folder, which contains a link to Photoshop. I can't just scan the dock for the item labeled photoshop. And there is an annoying inconsistency in that I have an Internet Explorer icon in the dock nestled against a bunch of icons indicating active windows. Why? I don't have IE open. Why should an application I have not opened be clustered with a list of windows?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:17 PM on October 1, 2003


I am finally ready to shell out for a laptop and have been seriously considering a Powerbook rather than a PC laptop. I'm still a bit nervous about coordinating between a Powerbook and my PCs, which I'll still be using. Can anyone give me a reason NOT to go this route?
posted by rushmc at 3:22 PM on October 1, 2003


Four things keep me from switching to an Apple laptop:

1. Having only one mouse button on the trackpad. Yeah it's fine that I can use a USB mouse with X number of buttons, but when that means that I have to drag around a mouse in addition to my laptop.

2. Having to click on the bottom right hand corner of a window if I want to resize it. With my PC I can grab whatever edge or corner is visible and resize to my heart's content.

3. Non standardized keyboard shortcuts across applications. Granted: I use emacs for all my text-editing needs, but sometimes I need to cut and paste (or drag and drop) across applications and OSX doesn't seem to support that as well as Windows. And if I hit Ctrl-Foo in an app it better be at least marginally consistent.

Also, OSX doesn't seem to have anything like Ctrl-ArrowKey to skip along to the next or previous word.

4. Locked-in look and feel. I feel that I should be able to customize my interface if I want to, regardless of Jobs' personal taste, after all, it's my computer, dammit. With Windows I can do that, even if I have to buy an additional program to do some particularly wacky things.
posted by bshort at 3:22 PM on October 1, 2003


Why should an application I have not opened be clustered with a list of windows?

I agree, it shouldn't. So get LaunchBar, which is the best application launcher I've used on any platform, and only use the Dock to display running applications.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 3:24 PM on October 1, 2003


Is it possible to turn off the Dock?
posted by bshort at 3:29 PM on October 1, 2003


KJS In addition another problem with the doc is the heavy use of icons. Where is photoshop? Well, on this computer I have to roll over each of the annoyingly similar folder icons until I find something that says Graphics/Publishing. This opens a folder, which contains a link to Photoshop. I can't just scan the dock for the item labeled photoshop. And there is an annoying inconsistency in that I have an Internet Explorer icon in the dock nestled against a bunch of icons indicating active windows. Why? I don't have IE open. Why should an application I have not opened be clustered with a list of windows?

Not that this should be a tech support thread but there are several solutions to the 'problem' you're having: If you want easy access to photoshop, you could 1. just drag it to the toolbar or 2. put an alias for it (and any other apps you use a lot) into a folder called "apps" (or whatever you wish) and then drag that folder to the right side of your dock. then, just click and hold on that folder (or right click) and they pop up, just like a windows start menu, or 3. you could assign a hot key to it (i think, though i've never done this).

as for your IE icon is on the doc when the program is inactive, it doesn't have to be. just drag it off and poof, it's gone and will only reappear there when you do have IE running. with the exception of running programs, your dock doesn't have to have any icons on it at all. just drag them off.

Rushmc you may find MacMentor helpful for questions like that. I did when I was switching.
posted by dobbs at 3:33 PM on October 1, 2003


bshort - I don't know of a single mac application in which Command-C (copy) Command-V (paste) and Command-X (cut) isn't standardized.

I dislike a lot of things Apple has done in X including the dock (no bshort - I don't think you can turn it off, but you can hide it and almost never have to see/deal with it).

I use a Mac primarily at home and at work. I also have PCs at work and at home that I can use if they offer an advantage (Excel for windows is way better than Excel for Mac).

I don't think there are too many people in this thread that are claiming (or that would claim) that the Mac is always better than a PC. Mac users do have a personal connection to their computers, and that seems to really bother PC users.

Use what you like. If you can afford it, then use them all. It doesn't matter, and worrying about or even mentioning the one or two business critical applications that force you to use one or the other just seems so 1986 to me.

None of them are as good as they could/should be. All of them are going to be better than all of the others for some tasks and some users.
posted by willnot at 3:49 PM on October 1, 2003


Is it possible to turn off the Dock?

The best way to "turn off" the Dock is to use a third-party utility like TinkerTool to move it to the top of the screen and set it to auto-hide. Then it's actually behind the menu bar. If an application needs your attention, you'll see it bounce down, and if you Cmd-Tab it will slide out so you can see what programs you're tabbing through, but the rest of the time it's nicely out of the way.

Myself, I keep the Dock on the left edge of my second monitor. That way it's there if I need it (it does come in handy sometimes) but isn't in my way.
posted by kindall at 3:49 PM on October 1, 2003


bshort, check out Duality to customize OS X. (The website is a little odd right now since they seem poised to launch a major upgrade next week).

option+arrowkey skips words, btw.

ctrl-X =cut
ctrl-C =copy
ctrl-V =paste
in every app I use that involves text (Word, Entourage, Safari, Stickies....)

The ctrl key serves me well as a right trackpad button on my Powerbook (but yes, I do use a Logitech 2-button mouse with my iMac).

Panther has a nice new task-switcher (not the dock: it's in the middle of the screen) and a finder that lets you put favorite places, drives, etc. on the left side. Much more logical (and, yes, Windows-like) than 10.2.
posted by stonerose at 3:54 PM on October 1, 2003


stonerose: Not sure if you're implying that SPSS 11.0 for Mac OS X doesn't exist? As far as Nu*dist, etc., how about critiquing QSR for being so money-hungry that it won't bother developing for anything other than Windows?

My mistake, I was looking at the system requirements for SPSS 12. But here you are like Space Coyote, missing the point in a big way which is not that the PC platform is "better" to the Macintosh platform. (Arguing about what is the better platform is a stupid game.) But about the tendency of operating system advocates to ignore serious and legitimate reasons why a person may not want to use that particular operating system. It's not just that the Macintosh has a problem with application availability, but that the cult status of Macintosh requires a blanket denial that application availability is ever an issue. (Linux advocates are EVEN WORSE.) In many cases, application availability is a big fat harry deal that prevents Macintosh adoption. Denial of this is not going to change this fact.

Likewise, the reason why I'm not complaining about QSR here is that this is not a discussion of QSR cultists.

How about professional audio/video production apps (e.g. Logic) that no longer exist for the PC because Mac gained an overwhelming market share and subsumed them? Are you going to piss on the PC platform because of that? Or are you going to recognize that, for 90+% of users, either platform carries what they need?

Well, yes. I do challenge PC cultists when they make similar claims about Macintosh systems. The issue, once again, is not PC vs. Macintosh, but about honesty vs. cultish advocacy.

You're conflating lots of issues here. It's pretty much roundly acknowledged that Apple's design is superior - just google for "Jonathan Ive +awards". And that Apple's quality is top-notch (google Apple +"Consumer Reports"). But to critique Apple for not being big enough to be mean, while simultaneously critiquing it for marketing practices and efficient assembly-line methods that companies need to use to be competitive? Jeeze.

Whoosh, right over your head. The basic problem here again is comparing a corporate monoculture to an ecology. It is rather like elevating people who buy mercedes to people who buy any other brand of car. Yeah, apple has good design (although their aesthetics fail to give me the warm fuzzy feeling being sterile and commercial), and good quality control, but that does not mean that one can generalize that all PC users lack a sense of design, and all PC users don't appreciate quality.

The point is that apple is big at promoting this big lie that they are different, when they are just another equipment manufacturer striving for a market niche. Apple has been extremely good at turning their users into voluntary market drones by creating a "counter culture" status for Macintosh. Both the aesthetics and production values of Macintosh scream "corporate culture" to me rather than one of design or craftmanship.

Armitage Shanks and dobbs: Thank you for demonstrating classic examples of Macintosh cultism. Armitage Shanks posts a link a utility ignoring the basic problem that the dock mixes two very different types of items (open windows vs. available software) into one list. dobbs completely misses the criticisms (impossible to tell what an icon stands for without rolling over it, and the mixing of different functions together) by pointing out yet more configurability.

1: The window list and the applications list SHOULD NEVER MIX. It should not even be possible for an unopened application to appear on the windows list, or an open window to appear on the applications list because these are two separate functions. Combining these two functions together into an interface with minimal visual distinctions is bad user interface design. Every windowing system since twm has understood this.

2: I should not have to add third-party utilities to fix the bad behavior of an interface. In fact, the default behavior should be to provide less annoyance to the user.

Of course, Windows has its annoyances, as does KDE, Gnome, XFde and Windowmaker, Fluxbox and every other interface in existence. But apparently, just as Windows does not have bugs, only features, Macintosh never has bad user interface elements, only charming idiosyncratic quirks that can be turned off or replaced with third party software.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:06 PM on October 1, 2003


Add me to the big list of people who just doesn't get this "mac" thing. Everything about MacOS, from the mouse controls to window management to the OSX "dock," just feels off to me. WinXPs not perfect, and it's not pretty, but I find it much more intuitive. OSX is prettier, but it slows me down (not to mention the incredible annoyance of having to sometimes switch into OS9 for certain applications).

Disclaimer: I've never actually owned a mac, although I've used practically every model since the IIe at one point or another, at school or at work.
posted by kickingtheground at 4:16 PM on October 1, 2003


There are some things I really like about OS X to be fair. Mostly involving terminal. And the fact that once I switch to dvorak I stay switched for all applications.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:25 PM on October 1, 2003


Thank you for demonstrating classic examples of Macintosh cultism.

You asked specific "how/why" questions. I answered. It seems now that your questions were rhetorical, meaning, "look how stupid this is..." I misunderstood. Sorry for being helpful.

The window list and the applications list SHOULD NEVER MIX.

Perhaps I'm misundertanding or we have different definitions for "windows"and "applications" but... on my mac, they don't mix. Apps are on the left side of the dock dividing line and windows are on the right.

It should not even be possible for an unopened application to appear on the windows list, or an open window to appear on the applications list because these are two separate functions.

Yes, that's why they're separated by the dividing line.

Combining these two functions together into an interface with minimal visual distinctions is bad user interface design.

Well, as I say, they're not combined. They work in a similar fashion, and are both attached to the dock, but they are very easily distinguishable. Once you know apps=left; windows=right, I don't see how you can mix them up.

As for minimal visual distinctions, I don't agree, I guess. On my dock (with no third party apps affecting it) icons for fave programs sit until I run them. Then, a black triangle appears underneath to say "I'm running". What more distinctioon do I need? I know it's photoshop because it's a Photoshop icon. I don't need to move my mouse over it to tell that it's Photoshop. (Perhaps you misunderstood up top when I said "the name of the app appears over the icon when you roll over it" to mean something other than what I meant (and it means), which is: the app with its name highlighted is the app that will launch when you click your mouse.

On the right side of the dock are my folders. They are not difficult to tell apart: the Applications folder has an A on it. The Documents folder has a document on it. The hard drive looks like a hard drive. What's the problem that I am so obviously missing?
posted by dobbs at 4:36 PM on October 1, 2003


so KirkJobSluder, what you're trying to say is PCs are better than Macs?

well they aren't...
posted by lotsofno at 4:38 PM on October 1, 2003


The point is that apple is big at promoting this big lie that they are different, when they are just another equipment manufacturer striving for a market niche. Apple has been extremely good at turning their users into voluntary market drones by creating a "counter culture" status for Macintosh.

Well said, KirkJobSluder. They've turned their puny market share into a marketing advantage, amazingly enough. The approach appeals to a certain post-modern sense of the absurd; obviously they've failed to win the market because their products are superior. IMO, if you have to spend millions just to identify yourself as the "alternative" I think you've pretty much admitted defeat.

The absence of labels in the dock is another great example of Apple's love of style over substance. Each minimized window appears in the dock as a scaled-down thumbnail of itself. Great in theory, but in practice they are all too small to distinguish from one another. The real kicker is how much more effort it takes to do it this way, compared to a simple text label, which offers more utility.
posted by scarabic at 5:29 PM on October 1, 2003


Dobbs: Perhaps I'm misundertanding or we have different definitions for "windows"and "applications" but... on my mac, they don't mix. Apps are on the left side of the dock dividing line and windows are on the right.

On the Mac I was using (which I have minimal control over) they do. But this is a classic sign of Macintosh cultdom. People who complain about the design of an interface must either be mistaken, or delusional. Here are some basic questions. How is a new user supposed to know what the photoshop icon looks like? How is a new user supposed to know what that little black triangle means? How is a person supposed to know what the folder with an A on it means? None of these are explicit, and as someone who has done more than a few tours of duty in tech support, if it is not screamingly obvious to a user, a cue might as well not exist. (And the black triangle is hardly screamingly obvious.)

And here is the point. I have about 20 years of computer experience under my belt with everything from C64 to VMS and yes, I was even a Macintosh owner for about three years before the hardware crapped out on me (so much for "craftmanship and quality"). I have used a half-dozen different windowing systems including the NeXT Wharf, the ancestor of the Macintosh Dock. And this is the first time I've come accross something so cryptic, so ambiguous, so annoying and inconsistent it its design and behavior that it took me more than a minute to figure out. Perhaps the problem is that the Macintosh is designed for idiots and I'm not an idiot. Or perhaps the dock is a seriously annoying and inelegant implementation of something other operating systems got right years ago.

(And then there were a few other annoyances. Why could I not save from photoshop to a mounted samba shared drive visible on my desktop? Why can't I "cd Desktop/Share" if the share is visible on the Desktop?" Why does scftp-carbon not understand symbolic links, but sftp in the terminal does?)

Which is aside from the point. Macintosh makes high-quality, crafted software and hardware so it absolutely cannot be the case that someone might find multiple features of OSX infuriating.

latsofno: so KirkJobSluder, what you're trying to say is PCs are better than Macs?

No, what I'm saying is that Macintosh advocates somehow manage to put their brains on hold to become voluntary corporate markiting drones incapable of discussing their choice in operating system in terms other than spin. And amazingly, they continue to do this on behalf of a company that really could care less if they lived or die as long as they keep buying products and continue to blindly evangilize.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:01 PM on October 1, 2003


bshort:

To move from word to word, hold option and hit your left and right arrows.

For anyone using OS X, I highly recommend using QuicKeys X, Default Folder X, LiteSwitch X and as Armitage Shanks recommended LaunchBar.
posted by the biscuit man at 6:27 PM on October 1, 2003


Apple still strikes me as a hermetically sealed system. If it was slightly less marginal, everyone would be griping about closed systems and monopolies.

I can see where you're coming from to some extent with their iMacs... I doubt I'd ever buy one for a similar reason. I think the assumption is that iMacs will be bought by people who will never touch computer guts.

But since 1995, every other Mac model that I've owned or looked at has been on par with PCs in terms of ability to tweak, futz, or frob with the insides. Some have been superior in terms of accesibility. But PCI/Graphics card slots, some sort of industry standard RAM, IDE/SCSI drives, and swapable processors... what more does one want? The floppy drive recently failed on a 1997 PPC G4 model I'd bought, and I went down to the thrift store and picked up three used ones and stuck them in and kept the first one that worked. CD-ROM drives (which I've had trouble with) I've found slightly more picky, but flexible. Things haven't seem really closed to me since pre-PCI days, and even then, until you get back to the compact models, routine maintenance/part swapping wasn't that hard.
posted by namespan at 6:49 PM on October 1, 2003


KirkJabSluder, i was just kidding with you...
posted by lotsofno at 7:25 PM on October 1, 2003


But Apple computers are the only technology-related object to make my militantly technophobic sister say "wow, look at that mouse!" as she held up and inspected each of the pieces of her new iMac.

Yes, and then she plugged it in and realized that radial symmetry is probably the stupidest possible design decision ever in a mouse.

This article would make more sense if Apple's design were actually good. I find it especially interesting that he contrasts Apple's design with IKEA's, since the aesthetic behind both is precisely the same: "we're going to fool people into thinking this is slick minimalism with lots of shiny surfaces and smooth curves when in fact it is a bunch of extraneous eye candy about as minimalist as the Taj Mahal." (Note to furniture and computer manufacturers: neither my furniture nor my computer are going to be moving through the air at high speeds. Aerodynamicism is not necessary. Fuel efficiency is not an issue.) I use aPC not because I don't care about design but because I do, and my last laptop, a 1998-vintage HP OmniBook, a matte black rectangular slab of thick, solid plastic, was far more attractive to me than any Mac I've ever seen. No bevels, no curves, no blinking lights, and solid enough to stand up to being dropped now and again until my then-fiance threw it at the floor.

But then, my tastes are odd; I use Linux for the interface and the application availability but miss the stability of Windows. And I once browsed happily for about two years with Lynx (it was around 1998; given the state of web design at the time I wasn't missing much).
posted by IshmaelGraves at 8:47 PM on October 1, 2003


until my then-fiance threw it at the floor.

But then, my tastes are odd;


Yes.
posted by stonerose at 9:01 PM on October 1, 2003


... the eyes at the top left corner that followed your mouse pointer.

Lotsofno, those eyes meant that the teacher had a copy of Apple Network Administrator's Toolkit, which allows net admins to be big brother. it's still around, now called remote desktop. :-)
posted by schlaager at 9:16 PM on October 1, 2003


My son started using a Mac computer about a year ago. Double clicking was tricky at first but he got the hang of it eventually. Thank Yahweh for that single button mouse! And although he's gotten the hang of using shortcut keys to quit programs, he hasn't quite grasped the whole arrow thing for opening folders.

Mind you, he's only three.
posted by sharpener at 9:52 PM on October 1, 2003


There are enough options in the PC market to fit anyone's sense of style.

That said, I like OS X.

Of course, knowing that OS X can actually run on an Intel machine given a short period of development, but never will because Apple wants to sell hardware, makes me sad.

I could do without the bouncing icons, though.
posted by linux at 10:11 PM on October 1, 2003


Note: OS X is a graphic user interface overlay on a UNIX-based system called Darwin, which runs perfectly fine on Intel machines since it was initially developed on Intel machines.

OS X on Intel
posted by linux at 10:15 PM on October 1, 2003


How is a new user supposed to know what that little black triangle means? How is a person supposed to know what the folder with an A on it means?

You learn what it means, KirkJobSluder. I really don't want to get into this tiresome dick-wag over which computer interface works better, but I will say generally that refusing to learn what you don't already know is an issue which transcends OS choice.

Trumpet your helpdesk creds all you like, I've manned those battle stations and haven't found Mac users confounded in the ways you suggest they should be, given the baffling array of perplexing hoops required to operate these machines. End-users are uniformly retarded on all platforms.

Windows users have to learn about that system's ins and outs, just like Mac users. Your complaints sound like refusal to adapt. But there's good news: you don't have to.
posted by squirrel at 11:20 PM on October 1, 2003


"those eyes meant that the teacher had a copy of Apple Network Administrator's Toolkit, which allows net admins to be big brother. it's still around, now called remote desktop. :-)"

no wonder my friends and i always got caught when we were playing a good LAN game of bolo...
posted by lotsofno at 6:11 AM on October 2, 2003


" I could do without the bouncing icons, though." (Linux)

Linux - I've developed a strange urge, towards those eager, cute little bouncing program icons in OSX, to smash them down with my thumb as if squashing a bug.

"...true PC/Windows geeks just scoff and snort and go back to trying to patch the latest of 13,876 "severe" or "drastic" security flaws in the nonintuitive bug-ridden hell that is Windows." - This was the most telling comment in the SFGate linked column/diatribe/rant. I can't recall EVER getting a Mac software security alert and so I wonder - do they not exist? No, I know they do: Apple has an Explorer 5.2 security patch on their OSX downloads site. But hey - that's a Microsoft product.

So what's up? - is Apple software security that bulletproof? Is it just a question of odds that malicious hackers and thieves target the milling herds of Microsoft users first because the payoff is better than bothering with Apple's smug little 5% ?

Or, does Apple somehow viciously suppress all news of security breaches in it's software? Maybe Apple secretly bribes folks who have suffered from Apple software security flaws by quietly bribing them with sleek new G5 laptops?

Meanwhile, I still use my Rev "A" iMac too ( though I'm plotting an upgrade to at least G4), and I still have my original iMac Rev "A" packing box - it still looks sexy and lickable.
posted by troutfishing at 6:27 AM on October 2, 2003


I've seen the odd security update in the Software Update panel from time to time.

Also, I think what makes the bouncing program icons extra exasperating for dock detractors is that it means your program hasn't started yet! It's like Pavlovian hate reinforcement. I've never heard of a bug where the program never launches, but the icon keeps bouncing, but if it did it would be just about the most obnoxious thing ever.
posted by furiousthought at 7:04 AM on October 2, 2003


squirrel: You learn what it means, KirkJobSluder. I really don't want to get into this tiresome dick-wag over which computer interface works better, but I will say generally that refusing to learn what you don't already know is an issue which transcends OS choice.

Which again is Whoosh, missing the point. As I've said many times in this thread. Every interface has its own set of annoyances. However the point is that this is one glaring example of the Macintosh design hype. After all, Macintosh interfaces are supposedly so well designed that "learning" and "adaptation" are unnecessary. It "just works" when you pick up the mouse. And of course, unlike the system that crashed last week taking with a fair chunk of work, the system is crashproof.

squirrel Your complaints sound like refusal to adapt.

lol. Which of course is why I've spent a large chunk of the work week learning OS X. If it was a refusal to adapt, I would simply refuse to use OS X altogether. Instead, I have been trying to offer substantive and informed criticisms of the ways in which the OS X dock sacrifices ease of use for glitz and flash. I'm more than happy to adapt to any interface(*). In fact, I really appreciate OS X as as an operating system and may, at some point in the future, even purchase a powerbook.

But my openess to adopt OS X does not mean that, like the Macintosh cultist and voluntary corporate shill, exercise a blanket denial of its multitude of annoyances. If we were talking about WindowsXP, I'd be griping about needing to choose between a deep menu structure that forces me to navigate through several submenus, or a shallow menu structure with too many options. If we were talking about Gnome and KDE I'd be griping about how they are pre-configured with menu items for software that does not currently exist. (I still don't know how to remove some items from Gnome menus, but honestly I have not tried very hard.) If we were talking about Blackbox/Fluxbox I'd be griping about needing to download a separate utility to edit the menus (**).

But instead, we are talking about Macintosh OS, which is claimed by cultists and voluntary corporate shills to be the pinacle of computer equipment and interface design. Since the design is held constant and above reproach, the fault can't be with the design, but with the under-impressed user who finds the visual language used baffling, inconsistencies in function between available interfaces frustrating (read above for two examples of how the command line and graphical tools conflict) and the aesthetics to be yet more souless plastic design.

The overhyped aesthetics perhaps bugs me more than anything else. Just as limmericks are constrained by the subject matter and form to be twaddle, industrial design is constrained by the realities of assembly line manufacturing, market acceptance and pricing to be insipid. It is ironic that so much of the gushing over Macintosh aesthetics and "craft" is done by people in professions that should know better.

troutfishing: So what's up? - is Apple software security that bulletproof? Is it just a question of odds that malicious hackers and thieves target the milling herds of Microsoft users first because the payoff is better than bothering with Apple's smug little 5% ?

I was wondering this myself. Given that the Mac relies on a BSD userland, I wonder how they dealt with the major security vunerabilites that were discovered last week in OpenSSH?


(*) Except for copy machines which are perhaps the best example of the failure of icons to communicate complex interface tasks. A very well known study of situated cognition found that even Xerox employees were forced to figure out the operation of their own copy machines through trial and error exploration.

(**) Of course the Unix cultist would argue that I can configure Blackbox/Fluxbox menus by editing a text file in vi in one xterm and having the man pages open in another window. But this is a classic Unix cultist response which is very analogous to the responses of Macintosh cultists to criticism.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:30 AM on October 2, 2003


All computers suck. Some computers suck less.

Disclaimer: I use linux, windows and os x at work and at home, but prefer os x over them all.
posted by Tacodog at 8:13 AM on October 2, 2003


I have been trying to offer substantive and informed criticisms

Oh, bullocks. You're behaving like a bombastic twit. You called people who use OS X "idiots" and shills and members of a cult. You think that's conducive to discussion?

I wrote a response to your previous post last night that was very much like squirrel's and then I didn't bother to post it because I knew you'd respond to it the same way you did squirrel's. And today you proved me right.

No one has claimed that OS X or Mac knowledge is innate. "You only have to open the box to understand everything about it!" What people are suggesting is that the OS is easy to LEARN. How do they know what the little black triangle means? Well, I, for one, ran an app and a triangle appeared. I said to myself "dobbsy, the little black triangle means the app is running!" and lo and behold, when I RTFM I saw that it explained this quite clearly. It was right next to the section about the dock dividing line that says "Applications go on this side of the line. Windows, files, and folders go on this side." (But, then, as you explained, your mac doesn't behave the way the manufacturer built it so maybe your manual says something else, huh?)

But in your opinion, you shouldn't have to click on something to know what it is. Let me guess, you prefer all links on the web to say "click here," right? (I mean, the first time you encountered an underlined word on the web you didn't know what it meant without someone telling you or clicking on it, did you? But, like the black triangle or the photoshop icon, you only had to do it once. You learned.)

blanket denial of its multitude of annoyances.

No. We are just annoyed by different things. You complained about bouncing icons or the shrinking dock. I suggest you turn those off. Then you said that windows and apps mix together. I explained that you are wrong. They don't mix together. You then came back and said I was in denial and that your mac doesn't work like everyone else's and that we're all missing your point. We're not missing your point, we just don't agree with it.

Here's my point: I used Windows for years and years. DOS for years before that. I recently bought my first mac. It's not perfect (no OS can be for--not for everyone), but it makes more sense to me after 3 months than PC machines did after 15 years. I know only one other person who uses a mac. I haven't talked to him in ages. Steve Jobs did not come to my house. I was not brainwashed. There is no cult. People are capable of different opinions than your own. Life is less stressful when you get used to that point. Try it some day. You'll live longer.

I'm gonna run along now. Enjoy the rest of your monologue.
posted by dobbs at 9:17 AM on October 2, 2003


Just as limmericks are constrained by the subject matter and form to be twaddle, industrial design is constrained by the realities of assembly line manufacturing, market acceptance and pricing to be insipid. It is ironic that so much of the gushing over Macintosh aesthetics and "craft" is done by people in professions that should know better.

Oh, for crying out loud, genius, it's possible to compare aesthetics and craft within a particular arena, such as industrial design, and since most of us don't get to spend our lives surrounded by fucking Brancusis it's more or less inevitable. Would the same thing happen if we were surrounded by limericks? You betcha. Or perhaps you want to keep going with that line of thought: all industrial design is inispid, all politicians are corrupt, all organizations are incompetent, why bother. Have fun there. And perhaps maybe you ought to consider that "people in professions that should know better" are familiar with the realities of marketing and so on and realize the anomaly of a company the size of Apple even paying attention to design. Now, is the aesthetic of Apple particularly individualistic and noncorporate? No. Neither was the '58 fucking Thunderbird in its era but that doesn't mean it's no different from a Ford Escort, assuming you care about the look of the thing. (And I don't think the "individualistic, noncorporate" image of Apple correlates much with Jobs-era visual design, so I don't think the look of Apple is a "lie" the way you do.) But, by all means, go on for another forty paragraphs about the neutrality of your stance; it's working for you.

"is Apple software security that bulletproof?" "I was wondering this myself."

What am I, chopped liver? Look, I've got a link this time: security updates.
posted by furiousthought at 9:26 AM on October 2, 2003


KJS: There is a really short, really simple little book that comes with the Mac that goes over the basics of the interface. Try RTFM like a non-stupid user should. Or maybe a peek in the Help menu. Maybe you're just too much of a badass for that kind of thing..?

I've had 24 years of computer use with 20 years of teaching others various aspects of a number of systems and altho' I'm quite happy to admit that the Mac OS can always improve, OS X has taken things to a new level.

I sat a sales guy down at his iMac the other day, showed him the basics for 5 minutes & apart from a couple of simple questions, he's just got on with it. He's in his 50s with zero Mac & very little PC experience. The best of it is that the other sales guys - all previously PC-types - are now helping each other with any queries. Zero bother for me who tech. supports the whole company as well as running all the design & production.

On preview: Well, in the hour since I started typing to actually posting, those above had said it better. Especially tacodog ;-)
posted by i_cola at 9:42 AM on October 2, 2003


I want a word processor that handles Unicode well. Mac? Forget it.

I'm not starting another war, but just what is the problem with Unicode on the Mac? I work with the IPA set, render pages in Cyrillic, Japanese, Hebrew and Greek, and get spam in Korean that all renders fine, using the Lucida Grande font (and a couple of others). For entering Unicode, I call up the character pallette in the International pref pane. It lets me choose from the Unicode table directly to insert the characters I need, or from various subsets, and tells me what the Uniode ID and name is.

Perhaps you're working in OS 9, in which case, you're probably right about Unicode sucking on Mac. Thing is, OS X has been available for more than three years now. It's time to upgrade...
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:30 AM on October 2, 2003


dobbs: Forcing a user to roll over to understand what an icon stands for is bad design for an interface that is intended to offer quick access to windows and applications. This could be solved by simply showing the text lables. For example. Here on Windows I know how many windows I have open, and what is showing in those windows without reaching for the mouse. (Microsoft did not invent the pager, only borrowed it from unix desktops.) Forcing a user to turn off the more annoying features that offer nothing more than glitz is also bad design.

The problem with icons is associating the icon to the function. For example, one the icons wrongly placed in the window list is a gold padlock. Does it lock the computer for when I use the restroom? Does it open PGP? It turns out that it logs a person out (and what is it doing on the same list as the icon for my open terminal window, my open safari window, and the shortcut to internet explorer that I have not touched?) The padlock has many different connotations and is ambiguous in this context. One can resolve the ambiguity by putting a text label on it, something which the designers at Apple chose not to do for reasons that are baffling to me.

But the short answer is yes. When I surf the web I expect that the link will tell me what kind of content I see. When I see "Home" at the bottom of the metafilter page, I expect that I will go to the homepage and "Archives" will take me to the archives. Bowsing the web becomes quite tedious when you have to roll over each and every link to find out what it links to, or worse, a bunch of unlabled icons that are meaningful to the designer but meaningless to his or her audience.

But gee, the hidden text icon was just one of multiple user interface snafus I have described. Why is it that when a mounted SAMBA share appears on my desktop that I can't cd into it from zsh? Why can't I get into said SAMBA share from Photoshop (which offers me a limited number of locations to save my files)? Why does the GUI sftp not undestand remote symbolic links? What about the fact that opening new programs in the dock causes everything to move slightly.

But, I suspect that it is much easier to play the cultist and blame me for wanting the things I take for granted like clearly labled icons, for consistent behavior between the GUI and CLI, (why does calling Photoshop from the CLI not work), for mounted network drives to actually be accesible from both the CLI and programs, and for my shortcuts to not move around the screen.

Granted, I will agree that the OS X interface does suck less than a lot of other interfaces. That does not mean that it is above criticism or reproach.


And perhaps maybe you ought to consider that "people in professions that should know better" are familiar with the realities of marketing and so on and realize the anomaly of a company the size of Apple even paying attention to design.

Um, every company that sells consumer products pays attention to design.

Now, is the aesthetic of Apple particularly individualistic and noncorporate? No. Neither was the '58 fucking Thunderbird in its era but that doesn't mean it's no different from a Ford Escort, assuming you care about the look of the thing.

True. It just seems to me that the iMac and the G4 remind me more of an Escort than a '58 Thunderbird. The G5 is the first harware design from Apple worth looking at since the original iMac. But there again, aluminum cases are nothing new. I guess I approach the issue of design and craft a bit differently. No matter how it is spun, the Mac still looks like a bloody appliance. A high end appliance, granted, but still an appliance.

I will grant you that the Macintosh does look better than most other computers off the shelf, but it still looks like a bloody appliance and there does not seem to be much that one can do to make it blend into the decoir of all but the most institutional of environments other than lock it in a cabinet.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:15 PM on October 2, 2003


For example, one the icons wrongly placed in the window list is a gold padlock.

Huh? I've never seen a gold padlock on my Mac, certainly not for logging out.

Why is it that when a mounted SAMBA share appears on my desktop that I can't cd into it from zsh? Why can't I get into said SAMBA share from Photoshop (which offers me a limited number of locations to save my files)?

Er, I dunno? I don't have any problem with either of those. (Well, I'm not mounting a SAMBA share but an actual SMB share from a Windows 2000 server, but it works fine in both the shell and in Photoshop. As an aside, it gives me hives to use the word "share" in this fashion.)
posted by kindall at 1:58 PM on October 2, 2003


Um, every company that sells consumer products pays attention to design.

I meant in the sense of "makes a priority out of it." Sorry if I was unclear.

As far as the design quality of Macs go, if you think they're more on the Ford Escort end of the scale that's up to you - if I were going to be derogatory I'd say Geo Prizm, but hey - but I don't see how any non-custom machine is going to avoid looking like an appliance. Is any computer decor-friendly? I guess I don't understand what a computer design would have to do for you to consider it "good", assuming of course the strictures of mass production. I think I've gotten you to admit that some industrial design can be better than the baseline, though, and that's what set me off.
posted by furiousthought at 3:08 PM on October 2, 2003


Hey KJS, when you say "Forcing a user to roll over to understand what an icon stands for is bad design for an interface that is intended to offer quick access to windows and applications." I want to ask "How do you know? Are you a interface designer?"

So perhaps you can enlighten us on the facts about interface design? Because *I* design interfaces and I've never come across this rule. Maybe I slept through class, so I'd appreciate the education. Please.
posted by Dantien at 7:33 PM on October 2, 2003


*crickets*
posted by squirrel at 10:33 AM on October 3, 2003


Dantien: Basically any beginning book on interface design will tell you that making the user look at the help to figure out what an on-screen widget is is a bad idea. It's why Word's toolbars are so widely criticized -- they're largely inscrutable until you look at the tooltips. (Making help easy to obtain, a la tooltips, is a kludge to cover up the fact that the UI is unclear.) An argument could be made that Word's toolbar icons are particularly badly designed, but looking at the Mac's dock, relying on application developers to supply meaningful icons for their applications doesn't seem to have produced anything less opaque. Too many icons look too similar (StuffIt Expander, DropStuff, and SpamSieve, for instance) and too many icons are just plain uncreative (Office v.X's icons are stylized versions of the initial letters for the application's name, except for Excel, which is an X).

The situation with the Mac OS X dock is better than it might have been, though. Presumably you saw the icon (identified by name) when you launched the application in the first place, or when you added it permanently to the dock; thus you have already had an opportunity to mentally link the icon with the application. Users will remember a UI they created better than one that was foisted upon them, a principle that sort of half applies to the dock. So it's not a complete disaster, but it's certainly not beyond criticism either.
posted by kindall at 11:58 AM on October 3, 2003


Mo Nickels: Just what is the problem with Unicode on the Mac?

No, I'm using OSX. You don't mention what word processor you use to create Unicode documents, but it sounds like a cumbersome method. My needs are for the Greek polytonic range, and, according to this page:
Although Microsoft Word has excellent support for Unicode on the Microsoft Windows platform, there is no support for Unicode in Microsoft Word v.X for OS X. This leaves users of Unicode looking elsewhere for Office suite applications. Unfortunately, Apple Works (formerly Claris Works) also lacks Unicode support. ... OpenOffice.org, the organization developing Open Office, is currently working on an Aqua version of OpenOffice which will have Unicode support.
See further, Which applications support Unicode? Is this inaccurate? (Note that in my original message, I did say, "Sure, this is MS's fault." I think the real suckers are the ones who think MS gives a crap about making its—like it or lump it—standard software work well on Macs.)

It also just so happens, that whereas in WinXP you can just grab a great free keyboard for Unicode Greek & start merrily tapping away, the best available (non-Unicode font) Greek keyboard for OSX has what seems to me a typically-Mac awkward style: you have to press OPTION+another key, and then the key for the letter to be modified, which in keystrokes & counterintuitiveness is just loco. I am sure this could be worked around better in OSX—I stipulate that this last point is just another case of, "There's more stuff that works for more people's needs in Windows." (But with so many academics in love with Macs, and no functional way to create ancient Greek documents in Unicode on a Mac, you have to wonder if Apple has done its job. It could have taken the initiative for better OS-wide support for Unicode.)
posted by Zurishaddai at 3:49 PM on October 3, 2003


Sorry, the first link discussing Unicode problems on the OSX platform should be to here.
posted by Zurishaddai at 3:54 PM on October 3, 2003


To add something to the aside about getting under the hood, I'd like to mention that I own a G4 Cube, which so far has been upgraded with 1.5GB of RAM, a 120GB hard drive, another 80GB in a compact Firewire enclosure, and the PC version of an Nvidia GeForce3 which I flashed (yes, FLASHED) with a Mac BIOS (it runs flawlessly, by the way. If anyone else out there is thinking of doing something similar, I'd be happy to help). Next on the list is a 1Ghz G4 card from a third party manufacturer (either Sonnet or Powerlogix). What else could I need? I don't even anticipate getting hungry for a G5 until they hit dual 3Ghz, at least. All this, in a computer that even Mac lovers complained had no room for expansion.

Anyone who says Macs are closed systems or completely untouchable is just afraid of getting his hands dirty. And yes, I do know where my modem is, and also what to do if it fails.

<proud parent>Also, my 23" ACD is truly king among monitors.</proud parent>
posted by alas at 4:17 AM on October 5, 2003


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