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Originally published at Crap and Garbage in Violent Opposition.  Adapted and edited for inclusion here.

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Recently, I implied in a review I wrote elsewhere, that Macintosh fans are crazy.

Well, I was recently told that this might have been an overstatement. (Understatement, more likely. Ow! Hey, I wrote it like you said!)

But let me tell you this. I've owned and used a lot of computers. DOS, CP/M, Windows, UNIX, Macintosh, EPOC, PowerPC, Linux, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and so on.

And every single one of them has let me down.

If you're a fan of the Macintosh, well, I'm sorry to hear that. Operating systems shouldn't have fans. That's putting your shoes on before you put on your pants.  Sure, you can do it if you keep at it, but what exactly have you accomplished that you couldn't do easier and faster the right way?

But let me say this, before you light your torches again. I don't have anything against the Mac. It's made by conscientious engineers for a conscientious group of consumers. Everyone talks about its high standards. Great. To me, it's no better or worse than any other computer.

Let me repeat that: it's no better or worse than any other computer.

I've owned lots of computers, as previously noted, and they've all let me down. They've locked up when I needed them to NOT lock up. They lost data. They refused to run programs. They betrayed me. My brilliance needed to be saved, and they said, "Ha ha ha, three hours of lost data is funny to us!"

(I learned the important lesson (early on) that you always save your data, and you always back it up. You should only learn this once, no matter what computer you prefer.)

Well, I'm sure you're saying, you probably didn't do it right. You did it wrong. And that's what you got, for doing it wrong.

Well, my answer is, I did it wrong?

I did it wrong?

Can you HEAR what you're SAYING? I did it wrong? I didn't fit in with the computer's idea of how I SHOULD be working?

I did it wrong?   

Oh....kay. I see. Me, the flawed flesh machine, didn't follow the instructions of the perfect brain.  What I wanted to accomplish was not what I was supposed to want to accomplish.

Does it sound silly yet?

Let me repeat this: the Macintosh is no better or worse than any other computer.

Before you start talking about icons or ease of use or fewer crashes, let me add these thoughts.

It's not the computer you use.

It's the use to which you put your computer.

NEVER forget that.

Hey, it's easier for you to manipulate graphics on the Mac? Go for it. It's easier to set up networking on Windows? Rock and roll. Linux gives you more control over device drivers? Keep on rocking.

There's no such thing as the perfect computer. In fact, these operating system wars are simply a distraction from the main issue: computers aren't good enough.

I'm going to say that again. Computers aren't good enough.

We spend way too much time doing what the computer wants, failing, and suffering for our failures. And the computers spend way too little time doing what WE want. We're slaves to their limitations. You thought Bender, from Futurama, was an aberration? Ha, ha, ha, we're all Bender's slaves now. He'd like that.

For those of you who are big Mac, Linux, Windows, DOS or UNIX fans--never mind. What you're reading--it's just bad wiring in the brain! I've been told what I want from computers, and why I should want it--obviously, if I can't see this, it's an INTERFACE problem! (In other words, humans are stupid.)

Some of the rest of you may be looking at your computers and, I hope, wondering. Don't we seem to be spending a lot of time working on our computers, and not doing our work, using computers? Why do we all look at a new piece of software, look at the system requirements, and wonder why our computers aren't good enough for it? We're being judged, now. We've been found wanting. We need more video ram and we need to patch everything too. We need to spend hours and hours trying to persuade our computers to cooperate.

Keep in mind that computers are machines, but they're not specific machines.   No one looks at a car and says it should be able to fly or make hamburgers.  Cars are designed for transportation, and while there are always improvements to be made, those improvements are to make the car a more efficient transporter.  And, note, these improvements are made for the operator of the car, not for the car in and of itself.   Computers, on the other hand, were built to do a number of different kinds of tasks.  They will add numbers, and they will print documents.  Sometimes they create animation or music, other times they Maybe someday they will fly and cook  hamburgers, but right now, at least in this reporter's opinion, they need to concentrate on being better at what they're supposed to do:  help us do our work.  

Those of you using Macs may go ahead and furl your cape imperiously around your shoulders, and mutter "Fools!" while looking pained. While you're at it, admit that you've lost data because your Mac thought (at some point) you looked silly and locked up on you.

If you've never had a computer problem, God bless you my son. I'm sure it happens. A good friend of mine had a Packard Bell PC, never gave a single iota of trouble for years. Not a bit until it was gracefully retired. The next computer had a few things to say about that.

We spend far too much time doing what computers want us to do. And, I think, computers spend far too little doing what we ask of them. They, in fact, have managed to change the ground rules. We want something and it doesn't happen--we're the idiots. We didn't patch our systems. We didn't upgrade our drivers. Oh, what fools we were, and now our saintly computers are offended! Woe unto us.

Run-time error, alas.

September 7, 2005

 

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