It’s just a computer, for fuck’s sake

23 March 2007

According to Angry Steve, there are ten reasons (via doctorvee) why you should not buy a Mac.

I disagree quite strongly. And I say this as someone who is not a Mac fetishist. I was brought up on a variety of platforms and most of my adult life I have worked on Windows-equipped PCs. My home computer (where I read blogs, play music, muck about with Photoshop etc.) is a WinXP-equipped laptop, and my work computer (on which I write reports, do market research, email strangers etc.) is an iMac. By rights I should hate the Mac (evil, slavedriving job machine) and love the PC (hurrah, I’m home and enjoying myself). And yet I don’t. I don’t love it to bits either, but I’ve come to appreciate its advantages and my overall opinion is favourable.

So, as someone who doesn’t own a Mac yet has to use one 8 hours a day, I’m perhaps best placed to defend it without being accused of being a slavish fanboy. So here goes, with the more pertinent and objectionable points Steve makes:

2. It’s a fashion accessory, not a computer

Yes, this is definitely true. No matter where I go, I am always dragging my 17″ iMac around with me to look cool. It sits next to me when I am in the pub. I take it clubbing with me. Never fails to wow the birds.

3. They look like a Fisher Price toy

Actually they look nothing like. Apples look white, minimalist and sterile. Fisher Price toys are all manner of bright colours – red, green, blue, yellow. The best computing counterpart to their gaudiness and simplicity is in fact the Windows XP theme, a visually jarring insult to the adult mind.

5. They don’t crash – my arse.

My Mac rarely crashes. The exception to this is when it runs Microsoft Office, but even then the crash is only at the application level, never the OS. In over six months of working on a Mac, I have never once had to perform a hard reboot or go through a blue screen of death, and then wait for the inevitable drive scan at the start to make sure nothing’s cunted up.

8. You can get “blah” for the mac – guess what, you can get it, and more, for other platforms too!

Debatable – and of course this depends on what you are doing with it. Particular with video & audio software – when doing quick & dirty movie editing, I have not found anything nearly as easy or powerful to use as iMovie on a PC. IM-wise Adium is more powerful than Gaim (on which it’s based), while the Mac Flickr Uploadr shits all over the PC version. All the crappy software on my Mac (Office, and especially Windows Media Player, and Real) are ported versions of the PC versions rather than native.

To be fair, he is spot-on with a couple of points (“Have you ever tried replacing the HDD on one of those clamshell ibooks?” and “Intel Inside – hang on, wasn’t Power Inside the reason you should buy one a year or two ago, and Intel was crap?). But most of the anti-Mac rants are fallacies, and are less about that the technology than the people who use it. Especially this one (let us call it The Brooker Doctrine):

10. Mac owners are insufferable bores…

Calling someone else a bore is always a curiously funny insult. For example, there is a pub in London where the landlady is a self-professed “character”, and as part of that “character” there is a notice on one wall with some rules, one of them being “no bores”. And yet, in (brief) conversation I found her to be one of the most vacuous and uninteresting people in the world.

Inevitably, by setting yourself as someone who dislikes “bores” you are setting yourself up as the diametric opposite: An Interesting Person. Here’s a tip: don’t. It doesn’t make you sound interesting, it makes you sound like a wanker. You may not be a wanker (I’m sure Angry Steve is a lovely guy, and I am not just saying that because he is always angry), but it makes you sound like one.

Macs are an easy target; they are the choice of much of the creative industry and that sector inevitably has a larger than normal share of knobjockeys within it. But I also know lots of well-adjusted and likeable Mac owners, and conversely lots of dickheads who use PCs.

Mac-hating is just inverse snobbery – all it does is display the exact same prejudices you’re desperately trying to attack. In this case, the archetypal “insufferable bore” is being decried as someone who regards a computer as a “fashion accessory” or “aspirational ornament” rather than judging it on its capabilities when choosing it; however in setting up this strawman, one has fallen victim to the exact same deterministic mentality – “the brand maketh the man” – that the person they despise so much is displaying.

So, please, all you Mac-haters (and PC-haters) there, just stop it. There are much easier and principled ways of judging a technology’s capabilities than making a cheap pop at the people who own it (though of course there are no absolutes, and all technological judgements are to a degree socially shaped). And there are also much easier showing that someone is loathsome, insufferable or in your mind boring, without having to obsess over their choice of computer. It’s just a computer, for fuck’s sake.


5 Responses

LilyW

I agree with you, Chris, about computers. It’s a phony war that Angry Steve is waging. But don’t say cunted. I wouldn’t doubt your feminist credentials, but there’s just no need for it in the context of a computer breaking down.

Knobjockey on the other hand is very amusing.

Windows sucks. I don’t know what exactly it sucks, but it does, hard enough to take the chrome off a ’57 chevy tail lamp cluster.

You should try linux and enjoy the lurrve…. Hey it’s free. What more do you want?

You forgot my Scary Devil Monastery sign off – which is all hardware sucks, all software sucks, and all users suck, although, it is clearly incontrovertible.

And lets’ not start on Linux. I haven’t felt the need to write my own operating system ever, so why start now?

I agree with your comment on Windows Teletubby edition. I might rant on Vista at some point too, but to do that, I’d need to get some software that actually works on it. Wankers.

Oh, for the record, the insufferable bore comment is mostly aimed at two of my colleagues who are semi-regular readers of my blog. Hah, the fools! Who sadly are insufferable. This may have something to do with why I am always angry.

M.D

Always avoid self professed ‘characters’, or self-professed ‘wacky’ people, they are almost certainly going to be the exact opposite, but cunningly they will wear novelty felt hats to try and prove otherwise. Like those jester hats with bells on the ends, they never fail to immediately negate humour.

I have seen nothing in Vista that makes me want to ditch my iBook. I’ll pick up an Intel MacBook when the Leopard OS is launched.

PC’s aren’t too bad if you keep it simple. I use a P4 Dell at work (I’m an accountant) and we stick to NT 5.0 (2000) – it’s much, much more stable than any other Windows platform. A very expensive Sophos contract helps too…