Charles Moore's Mailbag

Macs, Myths, Conformity, and Bible Software Feedback

Charles Moore - 2002.01.23 - Tip Jar

Mac Myths

From Matt Kuhns

Charles,

First of all, let me add my own compliments to those which you have already received regarding your Loewy-Jobs article [on Applelinks]. Wonderful reading.

The main reason I write, however, is to offer up a few comments on your Low End Mac article addressing Mac Myths.

I was really pleased to discover Apple's new "Special Message to Windows Users" page, and I hope it will be followed up with more efforts. In your discussion of Mac "Myths" which Apple left out, however, I think you were a bit quick to dismiss the significance of the Build-Your-Own computer potential on The Dark Side.

Many of my friends are computer engineers, and nearly all of them have built their own system. It isn't just because they're hardware enthusiasts, either. The Build-Your-Own factor also ties in with cost. For a consumer, I think the Macintosh is an excellent value, but for someone comparing the cost of off-the-shelf parts and their own (free) labor to Apple's premium-priced integrated systems, the price gap becomes much larger.

For their own part, I agree that such people aren't terrifically significant given Apple's position as a consumer/creative professional company. But Apple's standing with engineers has ripple effects beyond just engineers.

I believe that engineers and IT employees have a significant influence on consumer computer purchases. Not only by virtue of selecting what system consumers will encounter at work, but also through personal recommendation; many people seek out computer advice from their friends or relatives in IT/engineering, and they end up getting advice from people who have little interest in Apple.

With Mac OS X's BSD core, and the paternalistic "features" in Windows XP, right now seems like a better opportunity than ever for Apple to earn some respect among engineers. But the closed architecture is, I think, a real sticking point.

I recognize that "making the whole widget" is intrinsic to what Apple Computer is, though, and that it's unlikely anyone but Apple will be building Macs in the foreseeable future. But I believe Apple still needs to do something more to address their perception among the technical market if they want to win over the consumer market.

Matt Kuhns
http://edgeofspace.net/pages

Hi Matt,

Personally, I would love to be able to buy parts from Apple and build a custom system configuration. I even wrote a The Road Warrior column some time ago proposing a modular, upgradable PowerBook.

I agree with you that while the raw numbers of people who would actually custom build a Mac are minuscule, the influence of such folks in the IT world massively transcends their proportional demographic, and that Apple would do well to accommodate them. I'm not holding my breath, though.

Charles


Macs, Myths, and Conformity

From Andrew

You forgot what is probably the single most important reason why people buy Windows PCs, which is that they already own a vast software library. Having to buy MS Office again, Photoshop again, and whatever else they use regularly again simply adds too much to the price of a Mac to make most people other than new users make the switch.

Of course other reasons also exist. Many people (I am not one of them) want to play all of the latest games, and Windows still has the edge here. In my case, it's a matter of hardware availability. I use a 3.4 lb, under 1 inch thick laptop, something that after years of lugging 8 lb behemoths will never give up. Maybe Apple will offer an under 4 lb (much under) laptop, and hopefully at about the same time that my version of MS Office (2000 Pro) and Windows (also 2000 Pro) are getting too behind the times that I would be upgrading anyway, if that happens, I would look seriously at switching.

I think there are many with similar reasons for using Windows. Windows 2000 and XP (I agree, the activation sucks) are every bit as good as OS X, and much better than OS 9. They are different, and to someone who uses one, the other will seem cantankerous.

Otherwise, great article.

Andrew

Hi Andrew,

You have a good point about the cost of replacing software. It would be great if Microsoft and other makers of cross-platform applications would allow registered users of current versions of their software for one platform to swap for the equivalent software for the other platform for a reasonable service fee.

Can't agree about Windows XP being functionally as good as OS X. It's still Windows - better than previous versions perhaps, but with all that Microsoft angularity (and I'm not just talking about activation). I still think OS 9.x beats both XP and OS X from a user friendliness and slickness perspective, although not in raw power of course. However, OS X is Unix and XP isn't - a major shortcoming on XP's part. Also, I haven't installed XP, but reportedly it's the usual Windows install horror show. Somebody on The Register even said that the Mandrake Linux distro was easier to install. OS X is a piece of cake.

Charles


Fear of using a Mac

From Niels Ommering

Hi Charles,

I read your article, and I liked it, but there is more to the fear point, I think. There are a lot of people working on computers who don't really like working on them, mainly because they don't know their way around on a computer. Now, if you were such a person, would you rather

  1. work on a machine that functions as it should, and when you crash the machine hear from everybody "how did that happen?" or
  2. work on a machine that has apparent errors, and when it crashes you hear "just press reset, that's normal"

Now for a bit of paranoia, did Microsoft implement those bugs on purpose? Just to sell more licenses?

With regards,
Niels Ommering

Fascinating speculative theory, Niels. ;-)

If more people used Macs, there wouldn't be as many folks who don't like using computers. If I had to use a PC with Windows, *I* wouldn't like using computers.

Charles


Compatibility and the Mac

From Marion

I am a local rep at Circuit City for Apple (I think this has been mentioned in our previous correspondence). Yesterday I went there and discovered that the two mice that had been connected to the iMacs were gone (as in vanished into thin air). I asked the manager to borrow a mouse from another computer. He said "You need a USB, right?" Upon my affirmation he handed me an HP mouse. I had complete confidence that it would work without incident and hooked it up. It did work.

But even I was surprised that the right button brought up contextual menus and the scroll wheel worked as well.

How's that for compatibility?

Marion

Pretty good, I would say. Even in the pre-USB days, I always thought the "Macs aren't compatible" rhetoric from the dark side was ironically amusing. After all, Macs could read PC disks, operate on PC networks, and even run Windows in emulation or Linux natively. Macs - not PCs - are the "compatible computer!"

Charles


Thanks for Bible Software Review

From Andrew Zirschky

Charles:

Thanks for your review of Bible software for the Mac on the Low End Mac website. I'm a pastor and avid Mac user, and it's good to know about all the Mac Bible software available. Unfortunately, the selection still pales in comparison to that available on the Wintel platform, but it's growing. I was at Macworld Expo this past week and was excited to see the makers of Accordance proudly displaying their product.

Regards,
Andrew

Hi Andrew,

Glad you enjoyed the article.

Charles


More on Bible Software for the Mac

From Tony Petito

Missed it the first time. Thanks for the second. Emailed it to about four pastors who I am sure are going to be very grateful. Did not know there was an OS X one now available.

Delighted that it was helpful.

Charles

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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