Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Setup
December 4, 2009 12:37 PM   Subscribe

You ever wonder what sorts of computers and software people use to get their job done? Yeah, me too.
posted by chunking express (196 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I thought it was funny that Sam Brown wishes he could draw his pictures at higher resolutions.
posted by chunking express at 12:40 PM on December 4, 2009


Where are the profiles of people that aren't designers, artists, and computer folks? Where's Larry Smith, cubicle farm resident?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:47 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does anyone really care what Larry Smith is forced to use? I wonder. You can write Waferbaby.
posted by chunking express at 12:50 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


This read to me like "I use [expensive], [expensive], [expensive], [expensive]."
posted by amethysts at 12:50 PM on December 4, 2009


This read to me like "I use [expensive], [expensive], [expensive], [expensive]."

I read it more as "I use [warez], [warez], [warez], [warez]."
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 12:53 PM on December 4, 2009 [9 favorites]


This read to me like "I use [expensive], [expensive], [expensive], [expensive]."

"I should point out that it's in the last year or two that I've indulged a desire to buy new and high-end equipment. I did most of the important work in my career to date using crappy old equipment. Unless you're editing high-def video or creating feature film animation, you don't need great hardware to do good work. You just need a passion for the work."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:53 PM on December 4, 2009


Interesting how most use Apple products... perhaps illustrating that Windows will one day actually be obsolete?

Well, actually it's what Pollomacho said. Not a very diverse sampling here, but still fun to read.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 12:54 PM on December 4, 2009


Who are you and what do you do? I'm kmz. I'm a code monkey.

What hardware are you using? Crap at work, crap at home. AKA 3 year old low-end-when-they-were-new Dell laptops.

And what software? Vim. Commandline shit.

What would be your dream setup? Lenovo awesomeness + Nokia awesomeness. Sharks with lasers. Doomsday devices.
posted by kmz at 12:57 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


This read to me like "I use [expensive], [expensive], [expensive], [expensive]."

These days for writing I use the cheapest possible netbook, Ubuntu and OpenOffice. It's portable to the extent that I can just take it anywhere, has long battery life, minimal start up time. No bells and whilstles, you cna also websurf with it but it's not set up for a lot else. It's great. Really not missing lugging the venerable old XP Vaio around.

So cheap is kind of awesome sometimes.

(Glancing at the link it looks like it's about 80% stereotypical mac-douche, so I'm guessing 80% macs of some flavour?)
posted by Artw at 12:58 PM on December 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


"stereotypical mac-douche"

please elaborate...
posted by gonna get a dog at 1:02 PM on December 4, 2009


please elaborate...

Artw's hate campaign is tiresome. We can do without it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:04 PM on December 4, 2009


Yeah, please don't elaborate. I'm sure if you search MetaFilter you can find out why owning a Mac makes you a douchebag.
posted by chunking express at 1:05 PM on December 4, 2009


Interesting how most use Apple products... perhaps illustrating that Windows will one day actually be obsolete?

or perhaps simply illustrating that the people selected use mostly Apple products (no "mac-douche" stereotyping intended, just not a very random crosssection of users).
posted by Pollomacho at 1:05 PM on December 4, 2009


OK, don't elaborate.
posted by gonna get a dog at 1:06 PM on December 4, 2009


huh, am I really the only one who still writes code in Emacs? That makes me sad...

M-x qq-mode
posted by vorfeed at 1:07 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


/waves in direction of the images on the linked page, also all the images on the hipster FPP.

Sort of like that.
posted by Artw at 1:07 PM on December 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Interesting how most use Apple products... perhaps illustrating that Windows will one day actually be obsolete?

I like Mac, that's what I use at home. But I think in 10 years, Mac will basically be the same thing it is now; well-designed computers that are a few years ahead and a few hundred dollars more expensive. These people will still have cooler computers than ours, and less fortunate/geeky/famous people will have approximately the same thing these people have now.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:08 PM on December 4, 2009


Oh, people who make things with computers use computers to do their jobs? How about something not obvious, like the milkman, or the mail sorter, or the UPS guy, or people who print the newspaper?
posted by mkb at 1:11 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I could never figure out how to quit Emacs. So I use VIM. At work anyway. I use TextMate at home. It's nice being able to type with out having to switch into typing mode first.
posted by chunking express at 1:12 PM on December 4, 2009


Also: I really like this idea from the Violet Blue interview.

I use Google Docs when I do onstage presentations so I never need to worry about having the right hardware -- all I need to give a talk is to show up

That's kind of awesome.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:12 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Debian stable on a dual core freakbox from freegeek portland (it was a dell once), debian stable on a asus eeepc.

No gnome or kde for me. evilwm window manager and rox pinboard and rox-filer for browsing directories and finding files. Everything I can possibly control or access from the command line I tend to do from the command line unless otherwise noted.

recent convert to google chrome (the latest unstable release of chrome for linux is very fast, and has worked with very few issues). pidgen for im, iceowl for email

ardour for multitrack editing, ardour outputs to jamin for mastering, gets inputs from puredata or supercollider for designing custom synths, some bottom-end cheap midi slider devices and a usb joystick and an oxygen8 keyboard to control the synths, ardour, and jamin and anything else I throw together to generate or process audio.

gimp to edit still images, cinelerra to edit video, blender to generate 3d images and animations, inkscape for vector drawings and diagrams (I like to draw out vector sketches of my ideas as part of the composition or design process).

emacs for programming, using the scel integrated supercollider mode and w3-el to read the supercollider docs within emacs, iswitchb mode turned on permanently for switching buffers intuitively (I use buffers as if they were tabs that you can pull up with an incremental search). Sometimes I use speedbar to navigate source directories / function definitions etc., sometimes I just drag and drop the files I want from the excellent rox-filer graphic directory browser.
posted by idiopath at 1:15 PM on December 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


Google Docs for presentations does have some per-platform oddness, mostly due to font differences. It's not great, but it's okay for giving a rough talk. It's still better to use Keynote or PowerPoint for more polished presentations.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:16 PM on December 4, 2009


YASS HALO I USE COMPUTER AND SOFTWARES FOR MY JOB.

anything else

NO NOT RALLY

thank you for your time

IS NO PORBLEM GOO-BYE!
posted by boo_radley at 1:18 PM on December 4, 2009 [24 favorites]


It's nice being able to type with out having to switch into typing mode first.

*resists proselytization urge*

(Man, this thread touches how many possible Holy War topics already? Too bad none of the linked people are homeopaths or Sarah Palin.)
posted by kmz at 1:21 PM on December 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I may not have made clear this bit of awesomeness: running evilwm+rox as a desktop on debian stable I am actually able to run ardour for multitracking audio or cinelerra for editing video or blender for 3d design / animation the eeepc (all three at once... kind of slow, granted).
posted by idiopath at 1:21 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Artw vs Blazecock aside, the Macbook Pro is a really great laptop. Once you get used to the slightly minimalist keyboard vs the more key-laden Lenovo Thinkpad which is my #2 choice. It's not that surprising that so many people use one.

Paul Graham's useage pattern is basically where it's at. vi all the way baby.
posted by GuyZero at 1:22 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


i
It's nice being able to type with out having to switch into typing mode first.;
What are you talking about?;
No extra keystrokes are required;
Certainly not conscious ones;
:wq
posted by GuyZero at 1:23 PM on December 4, 2009 [9 favorites]


That's a pretty awesome list, and I'm going to have fun reading it.... but the cherry-on-top would be if they included pictures of said workspaces. Sweet, delicious, hi-res pictures.
posted by jmnugent at 1:25 PM on December 4, 2009


Mac has.. 10% of the market? This site has.. 90% using Macs?
posted by stbalbach at 1:25 PM on December 4, 2009


PS BE SURE TO RAED MY BLOG
posted by boo_radley at 1:25 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


GuyZero, I was kind of making a joke. I love the fuck out of vim. I got through University using gvim on dumb terminals. I sometimes use gvim at home. It just seems a bit strange on my Mac. It's also strange how :wq and all these other commands are all burned in to my brain. I sometimes find myself typing them when sending emails in Outlook after programming for a while.
posted by chunking express at 1:26 PM on December 4, 2009


I have resolved that emacs and vi don't exist. Nope. No such thing. La La La LA.
posted by Babblesort at 1:28 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sweet Mac Setups has pictures of peoples total work space. If you haven't figure out, the people are using Macs. Try not to freak out. If you want to use a Toshiba Shitbook, that's cool too.
posted by chunking express at 1:28 PM on December 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Would be nice if they'd do one with a mohel. Then we could really get the flamewar going.
posted by BaxterG4 at 1:29 PM on December 4, 2009


BTW, if you're a heavy vim user like all right-minded individuals, here's a tip related to the keyboard: map caps-lock to control. Then you can exit insert mode without leaving the home row with Ctrl-[. You can also just remap caps-lock to Esc, but I find having Ctrl in easy distance helpful in a lot more contexts. (Ok, I literally just tried to hit Ctrl-[ to finish this comment, but I've already made that joke before.)
posted by kmz at 1:33 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


why didn't anyone ask me what i use? I'm cool too, you know.
well, my mom thinks I'm cool
posted by bitteroldman at 1:39 PM on December 4, 2009


Where's Larry Smith, cubicle farm resident?

Okay so I have a job that requires a computer but isn't very glamorous or arty or codey. I use some computer that the company gave me and pretty much all the same applications that the rest of the company uses because that's the only way I can do this job. Oh and one more machine I use is the Coke machine down the hall and sometimes the Pepsi machine when that's out. My dream setup would be a bed under my desk and a phone that dispenses margaritas and I guess I'd like one of those pneumatic tube things that went throughout the building so I could throw things in it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:44 PM on December 4, 2009 [10 favorites]


I like to use a pencil sometimes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:44 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic) without any of the desktop metapackages installed, with an environment dominated by ratpoison and rxvt-unicode built from source, firefox, and emacs 23.

I looked up my New Egg order history to describe my lovingly hand-built computer, but before I was finished describing the components I was boring even myself. The obvious external bits include a Kinesis contoured keyboard, a Kensington export mouse, a tilting keyboard platform, and a monitor rotated to profile mode (two of them, at home.)
posted by Zed at 1:44 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


well, my mom thinks I'm cool

Actually I was just reading your mom's interviews with Steve Wozniak, Seth Godin, Ze Frank, and The Rock about what they like to read in the bathroom. No one mentioned you.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:44 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey guys I use vim!^[:wq
posted by zsazsa at 1:46 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I could never figure out how to quit Emacs. So I use VIM.

Interesting, I could never figure out how to quit vi. pico all the way!

(Glancing at the link it looks like it's about 80% stereotypical mac-douche, so I'm guessing 80% macs of some flavour?)

Try 95%. Seriously I think I counted 2 or 3 PC users. One of whom was a PC game designer.

Honestly this was pretty dull. mac, mac, mac, mac. Does it really matter what kind of mac? Talk about a lack of variety. Oh, a mac laptop with a 15 inch screen and an apple cinema display. Ooooh a mac laptop with a newer body, a 15 inch screen and a cinema display!
posted by delmoi at 1:48 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mac has.. 10% of the market? This site has.. 90% using Macs?

And Porsche has 0.2% of the US market, but if you surveyed, say Hollywood or some other region with highly successful people with infinite money the stats may be different.
posted by shoebox at 1:48 PM on December 4, 2009


I've been a PC guy for a decade or so (no choice at work, no budget at home), but never a fan of the beast in Redmond (nor of the one on infinite loop, for that matter). I think Paul Graham has the way of the future really: nice, light hardware for an interface and the big brains in a closet at an undisclosed location.

I'm really interested in things like Chromium. It's really refreshing traveling with just a netbook, much easier than even a small laptop.
posted by bonehead at 1:50 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's enjoyable to read in small doses. After two, my eyes glaze over.

As for spendy hardware, well, if spending up for stuff I make money with and/ or spent most of my time using makes the work more pleasurable (and makes me more profitable), I'm all for it.

What's really interesting were the number of people who have one or two high-zoot items (brand-new computer, or hot-shit SLR) and compromise on the rest (years-old display, shareware UI hacks). When you have a limited budget, prioritize on buying what helps the most and base your work routines on the software that gets out of your way and lets you work.

It'd be interesting to know how many of these people have computers that are newer and worth more than their cars. I'm guessing pretty nearly all of them.
posted by ardgedee at 1:53 PM on December 4, 2009


Metroid Baby, this one's for you. Now every 2:34 PM can be margarita time!
posted by bonehead at 1:55 PM on December 4, 2009



Interesting how most use Apple products... perhaps illustrating that Windows will one day actually be obsolete?

Apple doesn't really compete with Microsoft. Sure, in some cases they are roughly interchangeable, but by and large Apple has no interest in servicing many of the markets that Microsoft does.

Apple's Open Directory cannot do what Active Directory does. Apple Remote Desktop cannot do what System Center does. Apple does not do Patch Tuesdays. Apple has not do groupware. Apple does not do Virtualization. Apple does not do Product Roadmaps. The list goes on.

Point is, Apple's enterprise support sucks; they'd rather sell toasters. (and it seems to be working for them, so... you know, good!)

MS, for all their faults, does an awesome job of supporting people who support networks for a living - which is why they get recommended to the CIO and which is why AD is the directory service GE uses and not OD.

So, this list is interesting to a point, but... It didn't have "Joe Blow - Network Engineeer at Cuna Mutual Group" or "Phil McCracken - Datacenter operations manager at XYZ corp", so it lacks a little depth. It was just a bunch of single user mac users doing single user mac stuff.

And I need to say, because this is metafilter and it will be read in if not explicitly pointed out - I don't really care for either company. Their products have their good points and their bad points, and frankly I'm agnostic on them. They are tools, first and foremost.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:56 PM on December 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


If you haven't figure out, the people are using Macs. Try not to freak out. If you want to use a Toshiba Shitbook, that's cool too.

Houston we have elaboration.
posted by MikeMc at 1:56 PM on December 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


> 1. What does your desk look like?

Mine's flat...
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:00 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


And I removed vim-tiny, a package that even the ubuntu-minimal metapackage depends on, to make sure that I could never, ever be thrown into vi.
posted by Zed at 2:00 PM on December 4, 2009


I think it's even easier Pogo_Fuzzybut: Apple targets people (with lots of disposable income) who own their machines, and who don't have access to a company helpdesk, hence the Applecare, while Windows, as you say, is geared toward large companies with dedicated IT departments. People with less disposable income buy E-machines and call their relatives who work at corporate IT for help after hours.
posted by bonehead at 2:04 PM on December 4, 2009


danah boyd uses a special order keyboard that lacks shift keys.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:06 PM on December 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


I want this woman to marry me and do all my systems administration.
posted by bastionofsanity at 2:06 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Apple does not do Patch Tuesdays.

Apple doesn't need Patch Tuesdays, for the most part. You won't find CIOs using or stooping to talk about Macs because there is no job security in doing so.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:07 PM on December 4, 2009


I got this really sweet Honda with all neons and spinners and shit. WTF is a Apple? Some kind of dumbass French car?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:10 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, I use a shitball Athlon I built in 2004 running an outdated shitball Debian Etch with a shitball CRT I got from freecycle whose vertical deflection circuit fails every few days and needs percussive maintenance. So yeah, a little bitter.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:12 PM on December 4, 2009


Previously, though now that the site has been renamed the link no longer works.
posted by jeffkramer at 2:12 PM on December 4, 2009


I use an Alphasmart Neo. Bring on yer laptops, microbooks and notebooks, nothing can beat my Neo's ability to run 700 hours on a set of AA batteries. Yeah, that's right - 700 hours, not 7 hours, not 70 hours. 700 freakin hours. Dudes, i'm in a battery universe that is two orders of magnitude of hawtness greater that yers!
posted by storybored at 2:14 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I could never figure out how to quit Emacs
So you saw Brokeback Mountain as a metaphor, too?
/me goes back to his fancy IDE, thinks longingly of his time with EMACS
posted by hattifattener at 2:14 PM on December 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


These people will still have cooler computers than ours

You know, not everyone thinks Macs are inherently "cooler". They're just computers. Jesus.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:19 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sweet Mac Setups has pictures of peoples total work space.

I'm surprised how many of those people are using those weird stands that let you use the opened macbook as a second display. It seems like it would be pretty distracting having a keyboard sticking out at you.
posted by smackfu at 2:28 PM on December 4, 2009


The best thing about using vi for all my work is that I never, ever need to worry about what kind of machine I'm sshing into to get work done. Oh, and it's free.
posted by davejay at 2:29 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, the Jonathan Coulton one is interesting.
posted by davejay at 2:30 PM on December 4, 2009


By the way, my name is pronounced "Maureen" - Máirín and Maureen are the same name, but I prefer the Irish (Gaeilge) spelling.

Out-fucking-standing. I'm not sure I've ever read a more affected piece of hipster nonsense in my life. This would be a prime example of what I think Artw is talking about, but this particular stereotypical mac douche happens to work at Red Hat.
posted by The Bellman at 2:31 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I use an Alphasmart Neo. Bring on yer laptops, microbooks and notebooks, nothing can beat my Neo's ability to run 700 hours on a set of AA batteries. Yeah, that's right - 700 hours, not 7 hours, not 70 hours. 700 freakin hours. Dudes, i'm in a battery universe that is two orders of magnitude of hawtness greater that yers!

I lHeard about the Neo when I was looking for a cheap, long batteried writing machine. And then when I'd seen one I clicked away as fast as I could. I mean, I'm not hung up on looks or anything, but, um, no.

(Also: At only $219, it is a fraction of the cost of a standard laptop. - erm, what? There are some advances in laptop pricing they might want to know about)
posted by Artw at 2:31 PM on December 4, 2009


The Bellman - possibly less irritating than danah boyd.

(And in case you are confused by danah working for Microsoft, don't worry! Someone that irritating could only ever own a mac!)
posted by Artw at 2:33 PM on December 4, 2009


The best thing about using vi for all my work is that I never, ever need to worry about what kind of machine I'm sshing into to get work done.

That was kind of a tragic discovery after I graduated from a school where emacs was part of the standard unix (Solaris) image. Log on to an AIX machine, run emacs:
bash: emacs: command not found

posted by smackfu at 2:34 PM on December 4, 2009


I feel kinda ashamed lately, because, though I'm a dedicated Ubuntu user at home (Ubuntu Karmic on my desktop, Kubuntu Karmic on my netbook), I'm forced to use Windows XP at work. And, when I sneak my real work (writing) while there, I use Word 2007 . . . and I've kind of come to prefer it over openoffice. Something about the UI makes it a pleasure to write on.

Forgive me, Mr. Shuttleworth.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:38 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Out-fucking-standing. I'm not sure I've ever read a more affected piece of hipster nonsense in my life.

Man, even I'm starting to feel overwhelmed by metafilter's hipster hate lately.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:39 PM on December 4, 2009


Man, even I'm starting to feel overwhelmed by metafilter's hipster hate lately.

I'm actually really curious how a UX engineer at Red Hat ends up being a hipster.
posted by chunking express at 2:43 PM on December 4, 2009


I'm actually really curious how a UX engineer at Red Hat ends up being a hipster.

Guilt by association. It's the kind of lazy thinking that makes Microsoft boosterism so widespread.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:45 PM on December 4, 2009


This piece is advertising is perfectly geared towards the metafilter demographic. Circumventing apparently all defense mechanisms.
posted by joost de vries at 2:46 PM on December 4, 2009


I like that Jakob Neilson has some kind of teenagers glow-in-the-dark games machine. Pew! Pew! (There is probably some very dorky reason why it was an eminantly reasonable choice that completely ignores the fact that it is a teenagers glow-in-the-dark games machine. )
posted by Artw at 2:48 PM on December 4, 2009


Guilty of hipster hate projection, chunking express. I'm an old fart living in NYC so the bitterness runs deep, but I have no way of knowing if Ms. Duffy is, in fact, a spectacularly annoying and affected hipster, or merely spectacularly annoying and affected.
posted by The Bellman at 2:49 PM on December 4, 2009


I use Word 2007 . . . and I've kind of come to prefer it over openoffice. Something about the UI makes it a pleasure to write on.

Open Office is alright, nad to a certain extent any Word Processor does the job if it has a few basic features, but let's face it, OO is still a clunky rip off of late 90s Word - it's never going to be that great.
posted by Artw at 2:50 PM on December 4, 2009


I know, I know--I'd just love at least a way to make the background look nice beyond changing the color. A gradient, or something. When you're staring at a document for hours, it just can't be that hard on the eyes. I actually feel palpable relief when I write on my work computer, similar to the feeling I get when going from Internet Explorer to, well, any other browser. I just hate that that feeling corresponds to a Microsoft product, and one that's as universally hated as Office2007, at that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:54 PM on December 4, 2009


Apple doesn't need Patch Tuesdays, for the most part. You won't find CIOs using or stooping to talk about Macs because there is no job security in doing so.

The real benefit that MS provides with respect to patch delivery is full notification of what gets fixed and why, with links to related KB articles.

Apple's patch notes are notoriously vague.

Apple's method makes life hard for good sysadmins who like to know ahead of time how much work and headache a given patch is likely to cause and plan accordingly.

But yeah, that's not quite as fun as M$ SUXX0RS NUB!! BS0D LULZ.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:56 PM on December 4, 2009


Dude, Blazecock, seriously. If you want to talk about computer manufacturer boosterism, then pot to kettle, you are black. :-)
posted by adamdschneider at 2:57 PM on December 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


one that's as universally hated as Office2007, at that.

Pff. Manufactured hate.
posted by Artw at 2:58 PM on December 4, 2009


I have a Mac. My daughter has a Dell. But we manage to spend time together without saying mean things to each other about what we use for fun, work, or chit chat. Do we need therapy so we can call each other names about what we happen to use?
posted by Postroad at 3:01 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like to use a pencil sometimes.

Seriously. PD345 til I die yo.
posted by Big_B at 3:04 PM on December 4, 2009


Allan Odgaard is still writing software? Who knew.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 3:06 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think highly of Jakob Neilsen's opinions on usability, so I was really surprised to find that he likes using the "ribbon" interface on Office 2007. Personally, I hated it as soon as I saw it, and I'm very very glad the IT department at work uses Office 2003 instead (I use OpenOffice at home, on the somewhat rare occasion I need office software, because I'm not going to spend anything on it if I can get something passably good for free).

Basically, it seems like it breaks the very basic rules that Microsoft have had since...well, forever, really. You want to be able to do something? There will definitely be an option for it in the menu, probably be an option for it on the toolbar, and there will almost certainly be an obscure keyboard shortcut which will make things a hell of a lot faster if you can work out what it is.

Oh, and there will ALWAYS be a File, Edit, View, Window and Help menu. It's been that way for literally decades, and throwing it away to make people use a completely new style of interface for no appreciable benefit seems...well, weird. I'd be interested to know if anyone else here likes it, though, and why.
posted by ZsigE at 3:07 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pff. Manufactured hate.

Yeah, I see all the ribbon hatred as coming from the same place that a lot of similar Microsoft love comes from--people learn programs and not universal computer skills, so they find new interfaces vexing. But still, I feel like a bit of a sell-out.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:08 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


You ever wonder what sorts of computers and software people use to get their job done?

No. I prefer to believe the red robot goes straight from Sam Brown's brain right into my happiest dreams.

Way to ruin the magic.
posted by birdie birdington at 3:09 PM on December 4, 2009


Don't like it, don't hate it. I agree that it's confusing for users of the old way, but I do think it looks nicer. I sometimes have to Google to find things, though.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:10 PM on December 4, 2009


All those Mac users claiming to be writers, and I only counted three of them that use Scrivener. For shame! If you're not using Scrivener, you ain't writin'.
posted by barnacles at 3:12 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


By the way, my name is pronounced "Maureen" - Máirín and Maureen are the same name, but I prefer the Irish (Gaeilge) spelling.

Out-fucking-standing. I'm not sure I've ever read a more affected piece of hipster nonsense in my life. This would be a prime example of what I think Artw is talking about, but this particular stereotypical mac douche happens to work at Red Hat.


Um, has it occurred to you that she might be Irish? That is how Irish people spell it.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 3:14 PM on December 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh, and there will ALWAYS be a File, Edit, View, Window and Help menu. It's been that way for literally decades, and throwing it away to make people use a completely new style of interface for no appreciable benefit seems...well, weird. I'd be interested to know if anyone else here likes it, though, and why.

As I said above, it's easier on the eyes, particularly if you use the non-default black theme. Once you get used to the UI, it's actually pretty easy to use and find things, and there are a few features--including the little active wordcount on the bottom bar--that are just really nice and useful.

After nanowrimo, I'm a particular fan of the active wordcount. The closest similar thing I could find for openoffice.org is a macro that runs an active wordcount in a separate window. Not as good, it's a start.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:17 PM on December 4, 2009


Apple's patch notes are notoriously vague.

I'm calling bullshit. You linked to an example of Apple's system patch notices, not the security patches which have as much detail as Microsoft KB articles.

Apple's method makes life hard for good sysadmins who like to know ahead of time how much work and headache a given patch is likely to cause and plan accordingly.

Experienced system administrators can tell the difference between general system patches and security patches. Experienced system administrators running open source services bundled with OS X are probably rolling their own, anyway. At least, I did when I administered OS X Server and Linux servers running critical services. Apple doesn't make anything "hard" for knowledgeable, capable people.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:18 PM on December 4, 2009


The Bellman: "Out-fucking-standing. I'm not sure I've ever read a more affected piece of hipster nonsense in my life. This would be a prime example of what I think Artw is talking about, but this particular stereotypical mac douche happens to work at Red Hat."

But... what if that's just her name? The one her parents gave her? Possibly even Irish parents? "It's a girl! We'll name her Máirín!" Kinda cruel, if she was born in the US, but parents give their kids weird names all the time.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:19 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I use a terminal emulator and a web browser. At the moment they happen to be Terminator and Chromium with an Arch laptop providing life support for them, but that's incidental.
posted by Skorgu at 3:19 PM on December 4, 2009


Yeah, I see all the ribbon hatred as coming from the same place that a lot of similar Microsoft love comes from--people learn programs and not universal computer skills, so they find new interfaces vexing. But still, I feel like a bit of a sell-out.

I hated it at first. Once I got more familiar with it, I liked it more than the old interface. I wouldn't say I'm in love with it, but... Office 2003 feels klunky to use now (and the equation editor is waaaaaaaaaaay better in 2007 than 2003).

Onenote 2007 was a VAST improvement however, and very underrated, IMO. It was completely indispensable to me when I was in college.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:19 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


No scientists. Which is too bad, because (academic) labs are incredible technology graveyards, and the bizarre hodgepodge of hardware used in most labs is way more entertaining than a bunch of programmers' various macbooks. I recently had to figure out how to use punchcard analogues (with light and dark patches instead of holes) to set up a counting program for scintillation counter that was probably 25+ years old. I still have floppy disks because some expensive equipment (or the software needed to run said equipment) isn't compatible with any computers that use newer hardware. DOS? Windows 3.1? Many varieties of dot matrix printer and black-and-gold monitors? An entire lab where Zip disks are the main method of transporting data between computers, because a big grant came through during the two or so years that Zip disks were in vogue? Yup! The ridiculously expensive equipment and the boom/bust nature of lab funding means we keep a lot of computers limping along a decade or more past the day they should have been retired.
posted by ubersturm at 3:20 PM on December 4, 2009 [10 favorites]


Office 2010 cleans up the ribbon thing a bit, and is kind of spiffy. Outlook craps out on some cross-domain security certificates, but still works fine otherwise.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:22 PM on December 4, 2009


I use an Ono-Sendai Cyberspace 7. When I'm sitting in a dark corner of a coffee shop "hacking" away at my visionary cyberpunk thriller in my mirrorshades, sometimes people will ask what the fuck an Ono-Sendai is. I don't hear them at first 'cause of the loud industrial-techno pumping into my aural canals. But it's real easy to get one. First you take your shitbox dell or whatever, right, then you spray paint it matte black and make up some logo that looks cool or whatever and call it an Ono-Sendai. I also reskinned my Windows with this sweet program I got online so that my desktop is like futuristic and stuff. I used to have those vertical green scrolling letters from the matrix as my screensaver, but I don't anymore 'cause after Revolutions I realized that shit is strictly for pussies and dilettantes.
posted by logicpunk at 3:23 PM on December 4, 2009 [10 favorites]


Violet Blue and danah boyd, nerds? Notify me when they have Guy Steele or Simon Peyton-Jones.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 3:29 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


(okay, they said nerdy)
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 3:30 PM on December 4, 2009


Violet Blue is an unperson, thats kind of like being a vampire, therefore quite nerdy.
posted by Artw at 3:32 PM on December 4, 2009



I'm calling bullshit. You linked to an example of Apple's system patch notices, not the security patches which have as much detail as Microsoft KB articles.

I made an apples to apples comparison - Apple's service pack notice, to MS's. Apple is renown for their secrecy and obscurity, and patch notices are no exception to that rule.

Experienced system administrators running open source services bundled with OS X are probably rolling their own, anyway. At least, I did when I administered OS X Server and Linux servers running critical services.

Well, that's what I've been saying. Apple doesn't want to compete in that space and doesn't put very much effort into it - and it shows.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:34 PM on December 4, 2009


Apple doesn't need Patch Tuesdays, for the most part.
Lol. OSX had more security vulnerabilities in 2007. In 2008 there was a live trojan in the wild that exploited an unpached vulnerability. And last month they released a patch to fix 58 known flaws.

The idea that Apple is more secure or has fewer flaws is just delusional fanboi speak. The only difference is that isn't targeted by spyware authors the same way (but it isn't completely untargeted)
You won't find CIOs using or stooping to talk about Macs because there is no job security in doing so.
This is just delusional, even if Macs "crashed less" (which hasn't even really been relevant since windows 2000) it would take far more time and effort to run a network of Macs, because they don't have the same kind of infrastructure for managing large deployments.

Also interesting you didn't even bother supporting your claims, you just spouted them.
I'm actually really curious how a UX engineer at Red Hat ends up being a hipster.
Being a UX anything makes you a hipster. The I just wasn't cool anymore. It sold out.
Guilt by association. It's the kind of lazy thinking that makes Microsoft boosterism so widespread.
No one in this thread is "boosting" Microsoft. They're just bashing apple, because it sucks. It's not liked the Republicans and Democrats, you know. It's actually possible to dislike Apple without loving MS.
I think highly of Jakob Neilsen's opinions on usability, so I was really surprised to find that he likes using the "ribbon" interface on Office 2007. Personally, I hated it as soon as I saw it, and I'm very very glad the IT department at work uses Office 2003 instead
First of all I'll never forget Neilson for saying everyone should break web pages up into sub pages because "users didn't know how to scroll". I just loved waiting several seconds for pages to load up on my 33.6k modem in the middle of reading something. Thanks dude!

Secondly, I understand why people didn't like the change to the ribbon, if you know how to use the old interface, but can be frustrating to relearn. It was kind of shocking that they would change everything around like that. But really, it wasn't that hard to use. I think the complainers mostly just resented needing to learn anything new.
posted by delmoi at 3:37 PM on December 4, 2009


I think the key part of my computer isn't directly attached. I run a server, and put all the files I really care about there. This means that my OS installation is separate from my data, and makes it very easy to move around between different machines and even different operating systems. If my main PC or my laptop blow up, it's just annoying. If the server blows up, it'll be more painful, but everything's backed up daily to a separate drive.

Nice thing about this is that it can be VERY cheap; you can do a decent file server with an old computer. All they really need is two big drives, one for data and one for backups, and a network card. If you like to work with video files, going gigabit barely costs more, as the switches are very cheap. But to take full advantage, you need network cards that are attached, internally, via PCIe. There are some old computers that hang gigabit networking off the PCI bus, which will usually limit your throughput to maybe 300 megabits.

Both my desktop and laptop are plenty fast, but I find that very little beats firing up SecureCRT or Terminal, sshing into the Linux server, and working from there. I love command-line vim.

If you like Unix command lines, by the way, be sure to look into the 'screen' utility. It lets you abstract your working sessions from your actual connection, so if you have a network interruption, you won't lose work. It also lets you detach a session from one remote terminal and attach to it on another. It's one of those utilities that you wonder how you lived without.
posted by Malor at 3:44 PM on December 4, 2009


I made an apples to apples comparison - Apple's service pack notice, to MS's.

When you were arguing about Patch Tuesdays as a security matter, a matter that system administrators (not help desk staff) worry about, I don't think you were making an equivalent comparison.

Anyway, you didn't read the link you posted, which links directly to their security patch section at the top of the page. Claiming that Apple isn't giving you the info you want because it's not bundled into one web page is a ridiculous stretch, sorry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:53 PM on December 4, 2009


delmoi said: The idea that Apple is more secure or has fewer flaws is just delusional fanboi speak. The only difference is that isn't targeted by spyware authors the same way (but it isn't completely untargeted)

This, by the way, is completely correct. Apple has not implemented many, many defensive strategies that Microsoft has in their software stack. Were the relative market positions reversed overnight, it would be a bonanza strike for the botnet makers. Things would get very bad, very quickly.

And keep in mind that I say this as the owner of a Macbook Pro. I like OS X, and use it almost every day, but security on that system is poorly-implemented. It most closely resembles Windows 2000 in terms of overall reliability and defense against external attack... ie, it's pretty darn reliable, but trivially compromised with targeted attacks against users. Safari, as an example, is just loaded with holes.

If anything, you should be more careful when browsing with a Mac; there aren't as many exploits targeting them, but should one be written, you're highly vulnerable.
posted by Malor at 3:54 PM on December 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Three words went through my mind endlessly. Repeating themselves like a broken record. You're so cool. You're so cool. You're so cool.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:02 PM on December 4, 2009


>My dream setup would be a bed under my desk and a phone that dispenses margaritas and I guess I'd like one of those pneumatic tube things that went throughout the building so I could throw things in it.

I work with a machine which dispenses Ativan and morphine on a nightly basis. Unfortunately, staff is greatly discouraged from using it for personal purposes.

The pneumatic tube system thingummy is a bit overrated, really. Ours seems to swoon and become non-op at least once a week, leaving a good many of us with entirely new sets of problems to solve. For example: how best to retrieve that stool sample for C-diff testing the lab has been waiting for patiently?

Yes indeed. Well. Carry on!
posted by arachnid at 4:07 PM on December 4, 2009


Malor: screen is unbelievably awesome. I had heard of it for a long time but setting it up seemed too complicated to be worth it. At my current job I finally sat down and did it (mainly because the S60 ssh client doesn't have a scrollback buffer), and it's been a lifesaver. Like vim, it has a bit of a learning curve, but it's so worth it. And I'm sure there's lots of stuff in both I could still learn.
posted by kmz at 4:15 PM on December 4, 2009


delmoi: "Lol. "

I don't know what weirds me out, the fact that you normal cased an abbreviation, or the punctuation.
posted by boo_radley at 4:16 PM on December 4, 2009


For example: how best to retrieve that stool sample for C-diff testing the lab has been waiting for patiently?

I was really expecting more from a post that contained problems, stool samples, and pneumatic tube system in the text.
posted by Avelwood at 4:47 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good to see what Allan freaking Odgaard uses to NEVER EVER update TextMate.
posted by xmutex at 4:53 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just throwing this out for my PC homies needing text godliness: Notepad++. For realsies. Incredible. Do yourself a favor and do the install thingy that replaces notepad.exe with a launcher for it, too.
posted by cavalier at 5:01 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Notepad++ is pretty awesome.

I still miss Homesite myself.
posted by Artw at 5:05 PM on December 4, 2009


Notepad++ is in my posse.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:14 PM on December 4, 2009


No one in this thread is "boosting" Microsoft. They're just bashing apple, because it sucks.
posted by delmoi


This shows how any fanatic ends up looking ridiculous. If a user prefers another platform, that's fine with me. I'm sure they have their reasons, just as I have my reasons for using a mac. The list of users that prefer macs in that list is pretty impressive, and sure, those are similar users, so it's not surprising. But they're not idiots. Most of them are very successful, very intelligent. Their reasons for using a mac are probably pretty concrete and valid. So to believe that they're choosing something that 'sucks' is funny in a way that the Onion is funny; not to be taken seriously.

Honestly this was pretty dull. mac, mac, mac, mac. Does it really matter what kind of mac? Talk about a lack of variety. Oh, a mac laptop with a 15 inch screen and an apple cinema display. Ooooh a mac laptop with a newer body, a 15 inch screen and a cinema display!
posted by delmoi


You're so over the top delmoi that I read your words in the voice of Homer Simpson. Look, jealousy ain't pretty. Do a write-up of your setup. I'm sure it's fascinating.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 5:16 PM on December 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Their reasons for using a mac are probably pretty concrete and valid.

Can't be. I have concrete and valid reasons for not using a Mac. Totally objective reasons. Therefore, whatever reasons people have for choosing something else other than what I use have to be based on subjective feel-good stuff (probably a reaction to something shiny), flawed logic, and/or some kind of unfounded trend.

Note: comment reflects the view of a putative speaker and may or may not coincide with my own or yours.
posted by weston at 5:57 PM on December 4, 2009


ardour for multitrack editing, ardour outputs to jamin for mastering, gets inputs from puredata or supercollider for designing custom synths

Are you doing your own effects in pd or sc, or is there a good Linux solution?
posted by weston at 5:58 PM on December 4, 2009


"Are you doing your own effects in pd or sc, or is there a good Linux solution?"

Yes on both counts.

I do my own effects in pd and sc, and also there are LADSPA and SLV2 plugins for ardour, and jamin has the full analysis, eq, compressing, limiting, gating etc. that you would expect from a mastering app built in. There are also real time guitar effects processors meant to replace a guitar multieffects pedal like creox and tuxguitar etc. (thanks to jack they can be used between any other two apps as an effects channel).

LADSPA has been around longer and there are a pretty big number of plugins available, SLV2 is newer and has the option of custom guis for the plugins (unlike ladspa effects), but fewer are availible. Also, it is possible to compile VSTs for Linux and use them in ardour if you have the source code and they don't use Microsoft dependent APIs.
posted by idiopath at 6:06 PM on December 4, 2009


(And in case you are confused by danah working for Microsoft, don't worry! Someone that irritating could only ever own a mac!)

I'm so confused.

Do you own a Mac or not?
posted by loquacious at 6:20 PM on December 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


That's pretty cool. Sometime soon I'm going to have to dedicate at least a VM instance to exploring options on that front.
posted by weston at 6:21 PM on December 4, 2009


I'd be interested to know if anyone else here likes it, though, and why.

Because I'm not brain-dead yet? I may make vi jokes way too often, but do you hear me complaining about how much GUIs have let morons use computers? Only sometimes.

I think the complainers mostly just resented needing to learn anything new.

This. I mean, geez ribbon-haters, are you really so proud of being too dumb to figure out the ribbon? I could never get the hate. It was like bragging about how thick you were.
posted by GuyZero at 6:55 PM on December 4, 2009


screen is awesome, but I have been warned not to ever, ever look at the source, which is rumored to have has pre-ANSI style C, lest I go insane.

There is an alternative named tmux.
posted by mkb at 6:55 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mac has.. 10% of the market? This site has.. 90% using Macs?

And Porsche has 0.2% of the US market, but if you surveyed, say Hollywood or some other region with highly successful people with infinite money the stats may be different.


Hollywood, yes. Any other region with highly successful people, not so much. See Porsche is an image car, in Hollywood it doesn't matter if you are actually successful, you have to appear successful. On Capitol Hill you have to appear to have a different kind of success, so you see all sorts of black, conservative luxury cars. The truth is though, if you go to say, the Eastern Shore of Maryland where the truly successful people in DC live, you don't see either Porches or E-class, you see grandpa land yachts, the same as you'd see in Boca or Palm Springs.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:15 PM on December 4, 2009


You're so over the top delmoi that I read your words in the voice of Homer Simpson. Look, jealousy ain't pretty. Do a write-up of your setup. I'm sure it's fascinating.
Well, I'm glad you've seemed to form an impression of me. It's not mutual.
Hollywood, yes. Any other region with highly successful people, not so much. See Porsche is an image car, in Hollywood it doesn't matter if you are actually successful, you have to appear successful. On Capitol Hill you have to appear to have a different kind of success, so you see all sorts of black, conservative luxury cars. The truth is though, if you go to say, the Eastern Shore of Maryland where the truly successful people in DC live, you don't see either Porches or E-class, you see grandpa land yachts, the same as you'd see in Boca or Palm Springs.
Of course, in the Huston are you can see people driving Bugatti Veyrons. Either that or climbing out of the window of one after driving it into a marsh.
posted by delmoi at 7:24 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh man, that is dumb and expensive.
posted by Artw at 7:26 PM on December 4, 2009


chunking express: Emacs, I wish I knew how to quit you.
posted by ooga_booga at 7:43 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Working for an un-named oil services company we used to use DOS programs to run gyro surveys that ran into the hundred of thousands of dollars. Turns out no one knew how to change the code to make it work in Windows systems.

We would be running a job were there was a danger of clipping another active well with a target ellipse of less than dime which they had drafted us in specially in order to stop that happening. It would be funny when the client came in a looked at the screen while we were working and would stutter.. Is that DOS? (this is on a rig where the seat the driller sits in costs more than most peoples houses)
posted by camerasforeyes at 8:02 PM on December 4, 2009


mkb: thanks for the pointer on tmux. I'll definitely check that out!
posted by Malor at 8:39 PM on December 4, 2009


Re: the Alphasmart Neo Also: At only $219, it is a fraction of the cost of a standard laptop. - erm, what? There are some advances in laptop pricing they might want to know about)

I agree. If they had brought it under the $150 point they would be able to sell a ton of them.
The other thing about the Neo which i love is this: Yesterday I dropped it onto the floor from a height of five feet. That sucker still runs fine. Don't know if i'd want to even think about doing that to a laptop.
posted by storybored at 8:52 PM on December 4, 2009


screen is awesome, but I have been warned not to ever, ever look at the source, which is rumored to have has pre-ANSI style C, lest I go insane.

It's really not that bad. A lot of ifdefs, but still perfectly readable.
posted by cmonkey at 9:08 PM on December 4, 2009


Dude, who puts their parameter types between the function declaration and the body anymore? Readable, yes, if you pretend that you were a C programmer in the 70's.
posted by GuyZero at 9:24 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dude, who puts their parameter types between the function declaration and the body anymore? Readable, yes, if you pretend that you were a C programmer in the 70's.

F'r serious. I haven't seen that in ages.
posted by amery at 9:30 PM on December 4, 2009


The only vi command I know is :q!
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:39 PM on December 4, 2009


Dude, who puts their parameter types between the function declaration and the body anymore?

People who follow GNU coding style guidelines, and who try to maintain portability of their application. Like I said, it doesn't make the codebase any less readable.
posted by cmonkey at 9:48 PM on December 4, 2009


I've got a couple of rocks that I'm banging together in the modest hope of getting a fire going to cook this big fucking mammoth that me and my homies brought down after a pretty intense hunt. Fucker stomped on Yar'gal. We're saving the liver for him, assuming he makes it to the morning.
posted by A dead Quaker at 9:51 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


IMO it verges on making the code slightly less readable because no one who learned to program C in the last 10 years will know what the heck is going on. C99 is only "not widespread yet" in the sense that there are a lot of functional systems out there whose C compilers are frozen in time from pre-99. I will concede that screen probably compiles on everything, ever and that it's not exactly like anyone who knows C couldn't guess what's going on, but still.

It's like the code is wearing a cravat. Who does that?
posted by GuyZero at 9:58 PM on December 4, 2009


I actually think the K&R function argument style is a lot more readable than the ANSI style. (But if I used it my coworkers would kill me.)
posted by hattifattener at 10:06 PM on December 4, 2009


It's like the code is wearing a cravat. Who does that?

Men going to weddings...
posted by cmonkey at 10:10 PM on December 4, 2009


But since the groom at the last wedding I attended both wore a cravat and understands pre-C99 C coding style, I see where you're going with this.
posted by cmonkey at 10:14 PM on December 4, 2009


Neat, but I agree they could have stopped after two or three Mac-using designer-types and looked for some more diversity. And I say that not because I hate Macs or anything (I'm writing this on a MBP, fer chrissakes), but just because those setups really aren't all that interesting. It's pretty much what I'd expect for reasonably successful independent or startuppy software people.

The setups that I found more interesting were some of the other people, the ones working on Linux or multiple platforms, and those who are obviously working in corporate environments at least some of the time.

But it would be cool to hear more from academia or industry. Even in cubeland I think there are people running setups that would be surprising — nursing along old hardware in order to run specific mission-critical software packages or old custom code, mainframes in closets, that sort of thing.

Manufacturing would turn up some really scary stuff I'm sure (if you're the sort of person who gets scared by DOS or CP/M). I heard that there was some textile manufacturing company in California that was using actual punchcards for piecework payroll management up until a few years ago — when folks have a system that works, they're (justifiably) loathe to change it.

And in government ... the end-user systems aren't that interesting, but on the large-system end of things I suspect some of the oldest stuff (both hardware and software) is in the public sector. (The oldest I'm aware of is MOCAS, which was brought online in 1958. How much of what's there today is original I'm not sure; I suspect the hardware is all new, and the code has been substantially rewritten, but it might contain some original bits and pieces.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:24 PM on December 4, 2009


some textile manufacturing company in California that was using actual punchcards...

For a second I thought you were going to tell me there was a functioning Jacquard Loom still cranking out fabric.
posted by GuyZero at 10:53 PM on December 4, 2009


And in government ... the end-user systems aren't that interesting... I suspect some of the oldest stuff

So I once taught a course in Java performance tuning to a state government agency somewhere out east - maybe MA, I forget. This would have been in, oh, '02 or so. Anyway, everything was great until we got to the part where we were going to use the network features of the product to connect to a remote JVM and collect profiling data. Turns out my classroom was a bunch of Win XP machines running on... token ring.

So I took the cable out of the back of one machine and man, those tokens are heavy when they fall out.

did I tell this story before? I only have the one token token ring story
posted by GuyZero at 10:58 PM on December 4, 2009


But where do you get replacement tokens? I used to get mine from the Boston MBTA, but they're not selling them anymore.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:58 PM on December 4, 2009


Neat, but I agree they could have stopped after two or three Mac-using designer-types and looked for some more diversity. And I say that not because I hate Macs or anything (I'm writing this on a MBP, fer chrissakes), but just because those setups really aren't all that interesting. It's pretty much what I'd expect for reasonably successful independent or startuppy software people.

I don't know, I think it's interesting that they're this common of a choice. The earlier observation about the 10% marketshare but 90% representation here means that the list has some heavily slanted selection process. Is this a deliberate effort, or does it mean that "succesful independent or startuppy software people" tend to select their machines using very different criteria than most of the population?

I mean, why in the world is a guy like Paul Graham using a MacBook Air for a terminal window and Firefox? If there were ever a case where it'd be clear all you need is Linux and some minimal window manager, that'd be it, and given that he wants something between the size of an Air and an iPhone, it sounds like he's a perfect candidate for one of the nicer netbooks.

My theory is that Apple Laptops provide two points of value. One, they're good hardware with generally reasonable if not always competitive prices. Two, is that the famed Apple ease of use doesn't boil down to UI or stability as is sometimes claimed. Rather, it's that by and large you spend less time doing system administration, leaving you with more time to focus on your actual work, and I wonder if that isn't a real contributor towards success if you're an independent.

I do agree it's interesting to hear how people use platforms off the beaten path -- I'm particularly interested in idiopath's description of what sounds like a very capable audio rig built on Debian, and I'm going to have to try that out. Linux is becoming generally quite surprisingly capable -- I put Ubuntu on my Dad's Dell after getting tired of hashing out various security and performance issues and I'm even surprised at how well it's worked out for him and how generally painless it's been. But there was some random futzing about to get Flash and Quicktime working. Yeah. Windows has been stable and a pretty good user experience since Win2k, and Linux has probably been pretty generally capable for a few years now. I just kindof feel like with Windows and Linux it's always something, whether it's getting Flash to work, or a fonky soundcard driver that leaks memory or increased entropy in the NTFS master file table.
posted by weston at 12:19 AM on December 5, 2009


There are now other notebooks that are about as compact as the air, but for a while it was really unique in providing something that thin, with somewhat reasonable computing power. If money isn't that much of an object, as I suspect is the case for Paul Graham, a MacBook Air is a pretty good choice.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:54 AM on December 5, 2009


mac-douche

For when your Mac just doesn't feel very fresh.
posted by bwg at 1:38 AM on December 5, 2009


hey dudes -

i know there's fairly heavy mac-users-omgs w/ the current interviews, but that wasn't ever my intentional - hell, please point me at other people to interview.

not sure if anyone else mentioned that there's also a lot of *dudes* on the site, and not many ladies. which is also a bit meh, and something i also want to change.

[that is all]
posted by waferbaby at 2:47 AM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I mean, why in the world is a guy like Paul Graham using a MacBook Air for a terminal window and Firefox? If there were ever a case where it'd be clear all you need is Linux and some minimal window manager, that'd be it, and given that he wants something between the size of an Air and an iPhone, it sounds like he's a perfect candidate for one of the nicer netbooks.

I fall into the same group of users as Graham -- I have a MacBook Pro and a Mac Pro desktop and the only two applications that are important to me are Terminal and Firefox (and occasionally Final Cut). For me it is nice to have a Unix workstation that just works after years of fighting with Thinkpads to get Linux to recognize all of the hardware peripherals and sleep modes without lots of hacking.

Netbooks are a total non-starter for me due to their tiny keyboards and low quality key-travel: I use my 1991 edition Model-M on my Mac Pro desktop and would carry another one around with my MacBook if it didn't weigh more than the laptop. Since I rarely use the mouse (hello to fellow vi users!), the quality of the keyboard matters far more than the latest Bluetooth Buttonless Capacitive Multi-touch Laser Scanning Mouse and Cappuccino Maker from Apple.
posted by autopilot at 3:42 AM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's so much 'Your favourite OS suxx0rs' in this thread I thought I'd accidentally stumbled upon a slashdot or digg comment thread.

Well, I didn't actually think I'd done that, I was exaggerating for effect (much like a lot of the anger being thrown about). That list isn't pretending to be at all definitive, and the gender imbalance is either a reflection of the site editor's personal friendship/professional networks or maybe just reflects the higher percentage of men working in technology and design (maybe there's a 50/50 split, but I somehow doubt that). I for one found it fairly interesting to see what some of the well known internet faces use personally — it puts a bit more of a personal spin on their work.

I mean, why in the world is a guy like Paul Graham using a MacBook Air for a terminal window and Firefox?

He sounds like he has enough money not to care about the relative cost-effectiveness of a MacBook Air to a netbook. Still, who cares if they all use Macs? If you don't, it's not a personal rebuke of your preferences, and nor is it a validation if you do. If you pass someone on the road driving a different make of car to you, you don't wind down the windows and start cursing and taunting them because your car was cheaper or has more buttons on the CD player, do you?

As for the more forthright stuff, I think a lot of this Mac/PC/Unix/abacus hostility is a holdover from when Apple's financial and market position was really suffering. A lot of Mac users adopted a siege mentality against the constant crowing from Windows users who revelled at having 'won', and though Apple since recovered in a hell of a big way people still feel they have to defend their choice of operating system. The war's over: Macs and PCs just coexist, like pens and pencils or cutting sandwiches horizontally or diagonally*.

* You cut your sandwiches horizontally? Seriously?
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 3:47 AM on December 5, 2009


It is true that they taste better when sliced into triangles. I have applied for an NSF grant to determine why this is.
posted by autopilot at 5:32 AM on December 5, 2009


You ever wonder what sorts of computers and software people use to get their job done?

No. It's the person doing the work and the end result that counts. Couldn't care less what they used to do it. It says little if anything about them or their work. I've watched documentaries on Anime production and saw a lot of After Effects on Windows. What does that mean? Nothing other than After Affects can be used on Windows. It could equally be used on the Mac, and if Adobe would port it, on Linux.

I work in a collaborative environment with Windows, Linux, and OS X and in no case does the the hardware or OS distinguish one person from another.

Where's the blog on who uses keyboard shortcuts and who doesn't?
posted by juiceCake at 7:27 AM on December 5, 2009


I should start a 'tricking out Vim' blog. Or does something like that already exist.
posted by chunking express at 7:30 AM on December 5, 2009


"I mean, why in the world is a guy like Paul Graham using a MacBook Air for a terminal window and Firefox?"

Because right now, Apple is the only serious UNIX workstation vendor in the market and some people -- I number myself among them -- strongly prefer UNIX workstations. You buy an Apple machine, you get a box that has a lovingly hand-crafted UNIX that Just Fucking Works. The however many hours of assing around trying to get xorg to work worth a crap, or having a distro update to the kernel blow up the ring0 chunk of your badly-layered video driver, or having PulseAudio shit the bed again, or all the other manual integration work of getting a commodity PC to Just Fucking Work; it's all done for you.

And the cost for that work is minimal at best. People whine and moan about the higher price of Apple hardware, but really it's just that Apple has about a 70% markup on RAM and a 50% markup on storage. If you buy gear with the minimums of both, and then call Jay down at memman, you're pretty damned close to commodity cost.

The amount of dicking around with the computer saved by just running OSX on supported hardware is difficult to quantify, but it's a lot. People who need to sit down and get shit done, they pay a UNIX vendor for some hardware and a mostly not braindamaged OS, and they get shit done.

As it stands, Apple is damned near the only player in that space. Everybody else sells hardware that is really only guaranteed to work when Windows drives, and even then it's an iffy proposition getting it to work at all (cf Toshiba, Dell, Hewlett-Compaquard). I want a tool for working, and Apple sells one. Nobody else does. They sell Windows hardware that kinda-sorta might run UNIX, if your time is zero cost.

So yeah, people who take what they do seriously -- like the folks getting profiled -- often wind up with Apple gear since in the absence of a corporate IT mechanism they can make a choice to buy tools for getting shit done. Corporate IT mechanisms are going to choose tools that are manageable, and the shit-done-getting is always going to come second (at best).
posted by majick at 7:42 AM on December 5, 2009 [13 favorites]


People who follow GNU coding style guidelines, and who try to maintain portability of their application.

I don't read the GNU coding style guidelines as requiring K&R prototypes, but only allowing it, and saying that you shouldn't strip them out of software that they're already in.

C99 is only "not widespread yet" in the sense that there are a lot of functional systems out there whose C compilers are frozen in time from pre-99.

Modern prototypes have been around since C89. There are some functional systems whose C compilers are frozen in time from 20 years ago, but not that many where people are still going to be interested in compiling the latest code anyway.
posted by grouse at 7:54 AM on December 5, 2009


What, am I the only person who thinks that K&R proto declarations look classier? I mean, I wouldn't use them anywhere I'd anticipate the tiniest chance of someone else having to deal with the code, ever, but I still think they're more aesthetically pleasing than ANSI protos.
posted by majick at 7:59 AM on December 5, 2009


hell, please point me at other people to interview.

In no particular order, Rob Pike, Brian Kernighan, Dennis Ritchie, Ken Thompson, Tim Berners-Lee, Linus Torvalds, RMS, Larry Wall, Guy Steele, Donald Knuth, Barbara Liskov, Len Adelman, Matz, Uriel, Marc Lehmann, Abigail, Randall Schwartz, Nat Torkington, Allison Randal, Audrey Tang, Liz Henry, Randall Munroe, Molly Lewis, Andrew Tanenbaum, Shawn Betts, Sacha Chua, Andrew Plotkin, Graham Nelson, Steve Wozniak, JWZ.

Is that so much to ask?

People got URLs if there was any doubt who the big geek was on the first page of Google results for their names. At least that was the idea.
posted by Zed at 8:00 AM on December 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't read the GNU coding style guidelines as requiring K&R prototypes, but only allowing it, and saying that you shouldn't strip them out of software that they're already in.

Right, and since screen was written in 1987 or so, it makes sense to follow the GNU guidelines and not break portability, especially since anyone who actually writes software in C can understand it.
posted by cmonkey at 9:43 AM on December 5, 2009


screen dates from '97? Wow. Who knew? (yes, you knew, obviously). And here I was struggling along with nohup and "foo > out &".

(you know what really rules? cut. cut fucking rocks the house. it's the awk you'll actually use.)
posted by GuyZero at 2:14 PM on December 5, 2009


Yeah, cut is awesome. For some reason it annoys me when I see people doing things like awk '{print $1}'. It should be a category like the Useless Use of Cat Award. Just use cut, dude.
posted by grouse at 2:20 PM on December 5, 2009


The problem with cut(1) is that it doesn't handle extra whitespace very well. awk(1) does "the right thing" by ignoring duplicate $IFS characters. I do find myself sometimes running commands like grep foo | awk '{print $7}' and later realizing that I have a useless use of grep. It's just that grep is the first tool in my mental tool box most of the time, so I reach for it before the others.
posted by autopilot at 3:05 PM on December 5, 2009


I usually solve the problem of multiple spaces by piping through tr -s ' ' $'\t' first.
posted by grouse at 3:11 PM on December 5, 2009


For text manipulation, I go straight to the Swiss Army chainsaw. The other tools are great and all, but I don't think I'd get a return on my investment in this lifetime to become practiced and fluent in them when I already know how to say it in Perl. (This is a pragmatism I cheerfully apply inconsistenly; elsewhere, I'll go to absurd lengths to learn how to shave a few keystrokes off of something.)

While we're sort of on the subject, ack has rocked my world and pretty much entirely replaced any any variants on find -exec grep in my life.
posted by Zed at 3:53 PM on December 5, 2009


Still, who cares if they all use Macs?

I care because I think it's really interesting that among a group of "reasonably successful independent or startuppy software people" the frequency of certain platforms and tools is very different than the general population I'm interested in why.

If you don't, it's not a personal rebuke of your preferences, and nor is it a validation if you do.

Well, it's certainly not going to convince me that my preferences aren't paramount -- when you're selecting a platform/machine, nothing else other than your own preferences really matter.

But I am seeing a bit of validation here on the "Macs let you spend less time doing system administration, leaving you with more time to focus on your actual work" front. Both magick and autopilot sound like guys who are perfectly capable of bending a given Windows or Linux setup to their will given time, as I suspect Paul Graham is, and probably most of the usethis.org list. I think it's interesting to hear why they choose Apple anyway.
posted by weston at 4:04 PM on December 5, 2009


_   /|
\'o.O'
=(___)=
   U    ack!
I have a shell script named fcg that looks for program files and greps them, very similar to what ack does.
PATTERN="$1"; shift
PATH="$@"
if [ -z "$PATH" ]; then PATH=.; fi

/usr/bin/find $PATH \
        \( \
                -name '*.[chSF]' -o \
                -name '*.cpp' \
                -name '[Mm]ake*' \
        \) \
        -print0 \
| /usr/bin/xargs -0 /usr/bin/grep "$PATTERN"

posted by autopilot at 4:45 PM on December 5, 2009


(Although ack has lots, lots more features!)
posted by autopilot at 4:46 PM on December 5, 2009


I do something similar, except mine is a shell function instead of a script and ends with

... | xargs -0 find | xargs -0 egrep -in -U5 "$1" | less "+/$1"

The -U5 gives five lines of surrounding context, and the "+/$1" causes less to open with the matching text already highlighted.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:48 PM on December 5, 2009


(Err, the "xargs -0 find" is because the find predicate is generated by the prior command. That's not clear at all from the example so pretend that the example starts with "xargs -0 egrep".)
posted by Rhomboid at 5:49 PM on December 5, 2009


I think majick wins the thread with this comment. I wish I could favorite it a hundred times.

(But then he has to go and mess it up by saying he likes K&R prototypes. Redundancy is bad. Redundancy is bad. Bad in code, anyway. And I was writing C code back when K&R was all there was.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:47 PM on December 5, 2009


I know everyone is oohing and aahing over the awesome capabilities of screen and believe me, I find the thing indispensable -- I had persistent multiple page screen sessions that ran for MONTHS at a time -- but for a large number of the use cases I would use it for dtach is simpler, more UNIX-Zen, and less Swiss Army.

Also, though we all know God wrote the universe in C (with some vax asm glue code) dtach isn't written as though it were originally carried on a stone tablet by Moses.

(I have rtorrent running dtached on the server, hooked up to rtgui, so I can whip out my iPhone anywhere in the country, VPN to the house, and manage my torrents. Because I'm a goddamned nerd, that's why.)
posted by majick at 8:11 PM on December 5, 2009


The problem with cut(1) is that it doesn't handle extra whitespace very well.

I find it tends to handle CSV files better than AWK a) because it's easier to use and b) is it just me or is it really fucking hard to convince awk to use a comma as a field separator?
posted by GuyZero at 10:06 PM on December 5, 2009


awk -F , '{print $2}' test.csv appears to do the right thing for me. This will fail, of course, on any CSV file that has quoted elements which contain embedded , characters. At that point, however, it is best to admit that a different tool is needed to deal with the full C S V format.

I've used dtach in the past for programs launched by cron that I wanted to be able to check up on later, but screen's flexibility in handling multiple sessions has made it my choice for years. It worked great on the vt220s in the lab and allowed me to have "windows" for editing, compiling, reading email and man pages. On my mail server I had one screen session that lasted for nearly 900 days until the machine had to be rebooted (to put it on a UPS!).
posted by autopilot at 12:21 AM on December 6, 2009


Call me a mac-douche if you will, but I freaking LOVE my iMac.

Know why?

Because my wife tried to use Windows Fax and Scan on her PC to scan a simple document and not only did the program fail to connect to the scanner, it locked up and crashed.

With the Mac, all I did was turn on the scanner, fire up VueScan and in about 30 seconds had a completed, perfect scan.

It's about productivity, and every single time I have to sit in front of her PC to perform maintenance or what should be simple, painless tasks, it takes forever to get it done. With the Mac I get many more things accomplished in far less time, leaving me more time to enjoy life.
posted by bwg at 4:01 AM on December 6, 2009


Great. Another voice added to the fallacious notion that creative people ought to use Macs. Remember kids if you make your website on PC it's 50% less creative!
posted by autodidact at 8:05 AM on December 6, 2009


It really isn't that creative people ought to use Macs. It's that people who don't want to expend time and effort on system administration tasks should use a workstation OS like OSX, and that OSX works best on Apple hardware because it lacks drivers for a lot of commodity components.

Remember, kids, if you make your website on a PC, it's takes 20% more assing around with circular RPM dependencies, broken xorg configs, chasing drivers, or scrubbing adware/malware/spyware, leaving you less creative time!

But yeah, feel free to intentionally misunderstand the argument against using tinkertoy operating systems for real work so you can bicker about a stereotype people stopped caring about 10 years ago!
posted by majick at 8:57 AM on December 6, 2009


I don't misunderstand anything (for fuck's sake). I'm not arguing that Mac doesn't make life slightly easier in some ways as a computer user (I don't see how it would make my life that much easier as I don't have driver issues, crashes, bugs, or infections, because I know how to setup and use my computer).

The people I deal with as customers (marketing VPs, entrepreneurs, and other such types who know little about being either creative or techncial) certainly care about the myth which you say they stopped caring about ten years ago. These people don't give a shit about anything technical. All they know is that Justin Long says creative people ought to use Macs, and when they find out I use PCs exclusively (at the moment, next notebook will be a Mac), they ascribe less creativity to me.

Trust me, I'm creative all day every day and I know my way around a computer. The perception that I'm complaining about (that I'm not as creative as someone else who uses a Mac) is still prevalent in certain circles, 100% untrue, and is a problem I deal with on a regular basis.

My next notebook will be Mac because I have some games to port from Flash to iPhone.
posted by autodidact at 9:50 AM on December 6, 2009


.. uh, I went a little nutty with the brackets there. I think Mark Twain said "if you feel the need to write it down it doesn't need to be in parentheses" or something like that.
posted by autodidact at 9:51 AM on December 6, 2009


"if you feel the need to write it down it doesn't need to be in parentheses" is damned fine advice. I hope I'll learn from it, as my parenthetical style runs far more amok than yours did.

"The perception that... I'm not as creative as someone else who uses a Mac... is still prevalent in certain circles, 100% untrue, and is a problem I deal with on a regular basis."

I'm sorry you face that problem. I haven't seen that kind of thinking put forth in seriousness since the early-mid 90s. Those people are ignorant assholes and should be ignored, but it differs from the "fallacious" notion that creative people ought to use Macs. People who want to spend less time screwing around with GNOME and picking apart why their application's lib dependencies aren't met so they can get some shit done should use OSX which mostly is on Macs. People who want an acceptably high quality UNIX qualified on bundled hardware, without having to wrestle with the configuration and integration process -- and this should probably be most computer users who are trying to do work that isn't "screw around with computers" -- should use Macs.

But not doing so doesn't make them "less creative." It makes them "less productive." I don't judge you as being less creative. You're probably a shitload more creative than I am, that's for sure. You're just using crappier tools for your work, which is a different matter.

It's just that the people who tend to deliver quality results are also more likely to use quality tools. It doesn't necessarily follow that someone who just happens to buy better tools is a better person or produces better work.
posted by majick at 10:09 AM on December 6, 2009


I wouldn't be any more productive on a Mac. I might save a few hours every 18 months when I get a new computer... but I'd also be paying more money and not getting the satisfaction of configuring and building my own system.

What does dealing with GNOME and lib dependencies, etc. have to do with typical "creative" work? Once Photoshop and Flash and your HTML editors are running, most web designers are set until they get their next computer. I do a little more than web design but still, same principle.

I use 3D Studio MAX 2010 every day. My productivity in that app on a Mac would be 0, since it only runs on Windows. And now (if the thread were not over) someone will tell me that all I need is a Mac, a copy of Windows, and Boot Camp.
posted by autodidact at 11:30 AM on December 6, 2009


... also, I can't ignore the ignorant assholes who are taken in by Apple's current marketing, because they're the ones who hire me or who I'm working with! And really it's not all that many people so much as a small number of especially vulnerable marketing victims who repeat the message over and over. I have one client who brings me a new project every six months or so and every time it starts with "you still on PC? Boy, you should get a Mac, you'd get so much more done!"
posted by autodidact at 11:34 AM on December 6, 2009


I don't get why non-Mac users get so bent out of shape about this. If someone told you you should be driving a Chevrolet or a Kia instead of whatever you drive, you'd dismiss them and move on. You probably wouldn't even notice it. Why bother caring what Mac bigots think?
posted by GuyZero at 12:25 PM on December 6, 2009


In my case specifically, it's because I feel like the computing equivalent of a victim of prejudice.

"the people who tend to deliver quality results are also more likely to use quality tools"

Obviously. But the fallacy is that Apple\Mac is a quality tool whereas PC is not. To me it's a lot like Pepsi vs. Coke. At the end of the day your work is still getting done, and no the PC user (if he knows what he's doing) has not spent all day dealing with driver issues, etc... Or to make a better analogy, it's like if I was an illustrator and people constantly impuned me for choosing to draw mainly in ballpoint pen. Obviously the work of someone using pencil should be expected to be better, right? Because nobody who knows how to draw should use a ballpoint pen.
posted by autodidact at 1:52 PM on December 6, 2009


OK that's not the greatest analogy. A better analogy would be cooking tools. Judging a cook by looking at a kitchen is pretty stupid when you could just taste the food.
posted by autodidact at 1:58 PM on December 6, 2009


"Because nobody who knows how to draw should use a ballpoint pen."

Here's the thing, because at the end of the day I agree with you: You're arguing against someone who was an asshole to you in some other discussion about how much better a person you'd be for choosing different tools. I'm not telling you anything would be better in your life if you used better tools, just that there are better tools in the world than what most IT departments pick on people's behalf

Hell, because you have some niche piece of software that runs on some specific OS, you aren't even able to make a platform decision for yourself even if you wanted to. If your work requires that you absolutely must use Product A on Platform Z, you're boxed in from go. It's a damned shame your choices are limited that way, but there's nothing to be done for it, it is what it is. You're stuck on a platform that isn't even a UNIX, let alone a crappily-integrated one.

"I don't get why non-Mac users get so bent out of shape about this."

Total stab in the dark on my part, but people who don't have UNIX tend to be angry about the problems that causes, and defensive about their unfortunate choices, I guess?
posted by majick at 3:08 PM on December 6, 2009


you guys are still at it? impressive.
posted by waferbaby at 4:55 PM on December 6, 2009


Yeah, imagine, having a conversation that spans multiple days. What a weird thing to do, eh?

I may not be posting much more in the thread, not really having anything to contribute, but I'm enjoying watching it.
posted by Malor at 7:48 PM on December 6, 2009


i *am* taking up the suggestions and emailing people with interview requests, fwiw. also worth noting: the ones on the site are the ones that actually said yes - often I get a no, and way too often nothing at all (gah).
posted by waferbaby at 8:11 PM on December 6, 2009


you guys are still at it? impressive.

People love being pedantic here. And getting in the last word. WORD.
posted by chunking express at 8:16 PM on December 6, 2009


People love being pedantic here. And getting in the last word.

That is so true.
posted by grouse at 8:28 PM on December 6, 2009


LAST POST!
posted by autopilot at 9:14 PM on December 6, 2009


Total stab in the dark on my part, but people who don't have UNIX tend to be angry about the problems that causes, and defensive about their unfortunate choices, I guess?

Either that or us Unix folks are just smug and condescending. I like Henry Spencers' formulation, "Those who don't understand UNIX are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.", but at the same time I fully understand that Unix and command lines are not for everyone.

Just because we've all learned grep, and awk, and cut, and wc and all of the other two letter commands doesn't mean that it makes sense to anyone who hasn't spent years learning to think the way Unix does.

In my mind there is a big difference between "easy to use" and "easy to learn". OS X and Windows are "easy to learn" in that you can pick it up very quickly and reach a peak efficiency in a matter of days of use, while Unix variants (and vi or emacs) reward study, practice and become very "easy to use" after you adjust to the new mindset. These tools, however, are very difficult to pick up and start using since they are so sharp, so flexible and so tailored to the power user. They are not complicated for the purpose of being difficult, instead they are difficult because they allow the user to solve complicated problems.
posted by autopilot at 9:34 PM on December 6, 2009


I'd be interested to see what percentage of people who said yes have Macs/PC, versus the percentage that say no. Maybe the people with PC are simply less proud of their hardware, less interested in showing it off?
posted by autodidact at 10:04 PM on December 6, 2009


actually thinking of putting together some stats for the hardware/software used on the site (it's all neatly cataloged, because i'm anal like that). soon. eventually. probably.
posted by waferbaby at 10:27 PM on December 6, 2009


Obviously. But the fallacy is that Apple\Mac is a quality tool whereas PC is not.

A well-selected and well-tuned PC can certainly be a quality tool. It's still my experience, though, that without a good deal of Windows system administration and hardware knowledge to get you there, you may not get there without a real hassle. As recently as this year I've sunk about a workweek of time into trying to rehabilitate an XP system that had ground to near halt for a family member... apparently a common problem. And my XP machine at my last office job, we had a hassle that took the IT guy two weeks before he figured out there were some issues with my video card and monitors, not to mention some adventures with the onboard usb and firewire, and an aforementioned pervasive memory leak requiring semi-frequent reboots that we finally tracked down to a sound card driver after a year or so.

I don't have driver issues, crashes, bugs, or infections, because I know how to setup and use my computer

Which is great if you enjoyed the time investment necessary to get to the point where this kind of system administration is a snap. A lot of other people don't like it, or have other things that are more important to them to figure out. Given that you've already made that investment and you're apparently happy enough about it that you're probably in the habit of keeping it up, if you were to buy a Mac, you might indeed not be more productive. That's fine. There's no reason for you to switch if you're content with how you spend your time with the tools you have.

That doesn't mean, though, that the equation doesn't look pretty different to other people, or that the merits of the Mac as a more-work less-fiddling platform are mere marketing illusions.
posted by weston at 11:06 PM on December 6, 2009


Yeah I would recmmend Mac to almost anyone but myself in my current situation. As mentioned the next computer I'm buying is a MacBookPro.
posted by autodidact at 11:13 PM on December 6, 2009


waferbaby, you should try to find someone to interview who makes maps for a living. They probably wouldn't have much of a web presence, however. Preferably an old guy who makes maps for a living, and then he could tell you about all of the old printers used for map printing.
posted by that girl at 4:17 PM on December 7, 2009


nice idea! know any? :p
posted by waferbaby at 6:09 PM on December 7, 2009


A well-selected and well-tuned PC can certainly be a quality tool. It's still my experience, though, that without a good deal of Windows system administration and hardware knowledge to get you there, you may not get there without a real hassle.

And that's fine. We all have our own experiences. Your experience with a Windows system doesn't mirror mine in the slightest. I spend no time and spent no time with Windows system administration and hardware knowledge to get it working and therefore experience no hassle. It just works, every day, every hour. Turn it on, install the Adobe Suite, install some other applications. Use them. I don't know what else I'm supposed to do or have problems with.

If people get annoyed by "Mac" or "PC" or "Linux" bigots it's because platformism is annoying. It's not as annoying as racism but it is similarly structured in that if you're not using Linux to do this, a Mac to do that, or if you use a Mac this means you're this, you are reduced in value. Utter bullshit of course. The systems the people I work with, and are friends with say nothing significant about them, other than it's what they prefer.
posted by juiceCake at 12:41 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


« Older Beer Calculus...  |  Portraits of Power... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments