Sunday, July 08, 2007

Windoze and iBorgs...

So Kim du Toit links to the post about Apple's iPhone battery goofiness, using it as the springboard for a rant against all things Apple. I don't see how anybody can get that worked up about them, but ranting is Kim's schtick, and he does it well. What followed is, however, pure comedy gold.

The iBorgs showed up in his comments section, sounding very Microsoftish with their "It's not a bug, it's a feature!" claims for the lack of battery swappage on the new iPhone, and pointing out that the iPod was this way, too. This ignores the fact that if your iPod batteries go dead, the worst that happens is you can't use your Super Walkman for a couple of days. The iPhone, on the other hand, is touted as a device to run your whole fricken' life; if it goes Tango Uniform, the consequences are much, much worse. There are plenty of people out there who don't even have land lines anymore; if they need to ship their iWidget off for battery replacement, they are well and truly screwed until it gets back: incommunicado, with their phone directory gone so they can't even call folks and tell them why they can't talk to them.

I really like Apple products for the most part. I collect old Macs. I paid over a grand for a TAM on ebay back in '03, coming out on top in a three-way bidding war. It was built in '97 and I still use it as a bookshelf stereo. I could probably get my money back out of it right now, too. By contrast, the Compaq Presario I owned back in '97 is probably in a landfill someplace. In 2001, I was looking to buy a portable DVD player. Most of them on the market back then were selling for about $1k. I bought a used iBook instead for about the same price; it's the computer I was posting on from Oleg's, having performed yeoman service for six years now far above and beyond its original duties as a gadget for watching movies on roadtrips.

Macs have always been solidly built, and their design has always inspired bizarrely cult-like loyalty. I mean, I love my Color Classic, but not like this guy does. However the iBattery thing is just the latest in a string of "WTF were they thinking?" moves that have been with us since the Mac debuted on my birthday in 1984. Take the Mac's mouse. Please. I know they claim they have reasons for it, and clinging to the archaic one-button setup is probably single-handedly responsible for the existence of Logitech, but have you ever seen anybody offer a one-button unit for Wintel machines? I rest my case.

Another annoyance is the Mac's keyboard. Every time I transition from my home machine, a Wintel P4 tower, to the iBook, I have to remember that I no longer have both "delete" and "backspace" keys, and that "delete" now means "backspace". Again, has anybody ever offered a simplified Mac-like keyboard for Wintel machines? No, but you can buy lots of zillion-key Wintel-type keyboards for your Mac.

The worst thing, though, is the fans. The iBorgs. I mean, does the bunker mentality come free in the box, or do they ship it to you after you've sent in the registration card? It's the same reason I have a cordial dislike for Glocks; the product may be adequate, but if you use it, people might think you're one of them, and I'm just not ready to join The Collective, thankyouverymuch.

(A PS: I would like to clear up one point, however. KdT got some digs in on TD's work in firing up his old NeXTstation, poking especial fun at this:
NEXSTEP, by the way, was the first operating system shipped on CD-ROM. NeXT computers, though, did not come with CD-ROM drives.
It should be pointed out here that the NeXT was not a home computer, but a business workstation intended to operate on a network. The reason it had no external media drives is so that Suzy Secretary or Joe Accountant or Eddie Engineer wouldn't go sticking floppies or CDs with virus-filled, buggy Mahjongg games and Star Trek screen savers into their work computer. If software needed to be loaded, it'd come from the server. If the OS needed to be re-installed, some guy from IT would trot down with an external CD-ROM drive and install it. In other words, it was designed to keep the end user from dicking around with things with which they had no business dicking around, something that every IT guy who supports an office full of Wintel machines would heartily applaud.)


Anonymous said...

You did an excellent job of taking the words directly out of my mouth. I'm going to have a follow-up post/rebuttal posted sometime tonight.

Right now, I'm off to the computer show! :-)

BobG said...

I worked with both, and prefer PC's, but for my own reasons. My feeling is that the PC vs Mac debate is like the one between .45 and 9mm; both work fine if applied properly by people who know both the advantages and limitations of their choice. This business of forming a geek-cult over the PC or the Mac strikes me as goofy and non-productive. A person should use what works best for them and quit running around like a (Jehovah Witness)/(Mormon missionary) trying to convert everyone.
Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

For years I was a Palm cult follower. I too also have my entire life bundled up in a Palm and the only reason I was willing to do so is that 1) I backed everything up on the PC every day 2) Palm had this fantastic customer service where if tech support could not get you up and running, then they sent you The Box.

Inside The Box was a refurb Palm that was just like yours. You just had to sync your PC's database with the new Palm, and when everything was working, you would mail back your broken Palm in The Box with the postage already picked up by Palm. Let me tell you, service like this totally made up for the fact that these thingys weren't exactly durable. In five years, I had to call for The Box about 8 times.

Palm made a number of gaffs, (I could list them, but that would be off-topic), but number one was killing this program. That meant that I would have to pay for two devices, just to have one on hand at all times.

To be fair, it seems that Apple has "loaner" iphones available for $29, which seems a fair price. I'm not 100% sure about the details. Palm sent The Box, with it's refurb Palm overnight, gratis.

Also, although your point about the ipod battery is valid, most of the ipods, the batteries were plug-ins. If you could assemble an AR lower, I'll bet you could swap out ipod batteries, given you bought a kit with the right tools.

The ipod nano has it's batteries soldered in.

Don said...

Oh no!

THEY'RE HERE . . . .

Anonymous said...

'So, all I need now is a computer. And a ten year old to show me how to use it.'

Anonymous said...

Well, to be fair to us Wintel IT guys, if the machines are joined to a network domain, we *can* set it up to where the Lusers can't just install crap or even play the existing windows games... just requires a simple policy change to the proper group.

Wintel boxs can run diskless as well, if needed. :)

Anonymous said...

Not that long ago, the organization for which I then slaved (a gummint agency) reached the altogether sensible conclusion that users were more trouble than they're worth, and we rigged policy editor in MS' OS to ignore the floppy and CD drives, along with denying access to anything in control panel that allowed any user-directed changes.

As admins, we could do anything we wanted, and we loaded everything from one of the servers, including a fresh standard drive image when needed. Those environment variables we couldn't lock out we just refreshed back to defaults from a server at each logon with a script. The users, predictably, whined incessantly about not being able to set Junior's photo as a screen saver. We had no trouble pointing out that they were quite welcome to anything they wished with Junior's picture on their computer, but this one belongs to the taxpayers, with Agency X charged with the responsibility of maintaining it.

Where I work now hasn't done that, and the techs run their asses off fixing stuff the users broke, corrupted or infected, either from their own media or from the intarw3b. So, yeah, I can see Apple's point about no CD drive. Smart move, in my book, one that outfits like Dell should emulate.

Anonymous said...

The NeXT, at least the NeXT cube, had a 100MB Magneto Optical drive (or was it 120MB? I don't remember). Considering 80MB was considered a big drive at the time, 120MB was cavernous, and you could rewrite it. The problem was that they were expensive and fragile, but NeXT was one of the first machines that featured them standard.

NeXTs were most definitely not intended for the home market. They were meant to be workstation, like the kind Sun, HP and a few others offered. It's a real shame that NeXT didn't adopt the SPARC, or they wouldn't have developed the reputation for being underpowered, which, quite honestly, was deserved. The 68040 just never quite cut it with an operating system with that much overhead, and when you considered the cost, if you're going to pay more than 10 grand for a workstation, you might as well get a Sun or HP that had a faster CPU.

Anonymous said...

It's a real shame that NeXT didn't adopt the SPARC, or they wouldn't have developed the reputation for being underpowered, which, quite honestly, was deserved.

Actually, they did offer NEXSTEP for the SPARC platform, but I don't think it was ever very popular.

NeXT was developing a next-generation machine with dual PowerPC processors when they decided to get out of the hardware business. That would have been quite a machine!

Anonymous said...

That's right, I forgot about that. If I recall they didn't start doing that until pretty late into their history, like very close to the point where Apple bought them. I think Apple was already using the PPC by the time NeXT was porting to other systems.

It's probably a big part of the reason why Apple went to NeXT instead of Be Inc.

Rob K said...

I remember when I was at Purdue, we had a lab full of NeXTs, maybe 30 of them, in the basement of the math building. I fiddled with them once or twice, but most of the time, that lab was empty. Nobody used them.

Billy Beck said...

By '91, I was producing large renderings of 3D geometry in Autodesk's 3D Studio and taking them over to the local print bureau for color hardcopy output.

Me: "No, it's not a photograph."

Them: "You did this on a PC??"

Me: "Yup."

Them: "That's amazing."

Me, to myself, with an indulgent smile on my face: "Well, that is what makes you a fucking idiot."

Kim du Toit said...

"The reason it had no external media drives is so that Suzy Secretary or Joe Accountant or Eddie Engineer wouldn't go sticking floppies or CDs with virus-filled, buggy Mahjongg games and Star Trek screen savers into their work computer."

Yeah... gawd forbid that the peasants ever load stuff onto their precious system which hadn't been blessed by the Pope/Jobs.

Pretty telling about how they feel about their customers, n'est-ce pas?

Tam said...

"Yeah... gawd forbid that the peasants ever load stuff onto their precious system"

Not that I expect you'll read this, Kim, but what the hell...

The NeXTstation was never marketed or advertised as a personal computer. It was a networked workstation for a business/science/educational environment where the end user had no goddam business installing software on the company's machines.

If you needed software on the machine, the IT department would by god put it there for you.