Charles Moore's Mailbag

Mac vs. PC Metaphors, uControl for Trackpad Scrolling, Less Costly G4 for iMac A-D, SilverKeeper Feedback, and More

Charles Moore - 2005.05.16 - Tip Jar

Poor Choice of Metaphors

From Jim Loudon

Hi Charles.

The following comment concerns your article of 25 April, entitled "Always a Market for Excellence, Sick WallStreet, ATI VersaVision and New PowerBooks, and More."

Andrew Main is quoted thusly:

"What, after all, happened to Rolls Royce? BMW?"

Interesting question, and one which drips with irony (probably unintended).

The facilities formerly used to build the Rolls were purchased by Volkswagen. Rolls-Royce (the brand) is owned by BMW.

It gets better....

When word leaked that BMW was the leading candidate to purchase Rolls, Rolls-Royce owners groups around the UK protested loudly, complaining that BMW was nothing but a maker of "cheap, mass-produced cars" and that BMW didn't know anything about building automobiles.

Substitute "computer" for "car" and "Apple" for . . . no, I won't go there. :-)

Not necessarily the best choice of metaphors, Andrew.

Jim Loudon

Spirit and Material

William Heath Robinson artFrom John Davis

Dear Mr. Moore,

Your article [The Microsoft/Apple Religious Wars Revisited] interested me greatly. I've observed both platforms and their users, and I've come to the conclusion that the Mac is spiritual and Windows material. In other words, the Mac is about you yourself - the spirit and what you create - and Windows is a physical, clanking machine. The Mac OS is a thing of beauty, whereas Windows is a Heath Robinson style affair wondrously tied together with bits of string and chewing gum [example at right - ed]. Looking at the Mac OS is like looking at a great work of art. Looking at Windows, one is also awed, not with beauty, but by how on earth it works at all.

The Mac OS is the creation of a handful of geniuses, and Windows the product of a committee, the worst of corporate America. The Mac OS starts with the concept that you, the user, want to use it to create something, and Windows tries to be all things to all men. And so Mac appeals to those who just want to get a job done and Windows to the tinkerer.

Committees never create, they never innovate, their product is a mishmash of compromise and the lowest common denominator of agreement. Windows has never come out with anything really new, and as long as their SOP is the committee approach, it never will. Whatever is said about Mr. Jobs, he is an artist, a man with a dream, a leader. Microsoft doesn't have this. It's too busy trying to find a common point of agreement. No great work of art was ever created by a committee.

The comments I often hear from Windows users are: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," "good enough," "95% of computer users can't be wrong." In other words, their comments are defensive. They don't have the "Wow" factor. I've yet to find someone who is really enthusiastic about Windows; there's no love there. But then, love is a spiritual concept.

Just some thoughts.

Yours sincerely,
John Davis

Hi John,

Thanks for your interesting and insightful observations. This paragraph especially resonated: "The Mac OS is the creation of a handful of geniuses and Windows the product of a committee, the worst of corporate America. The Mac OS starts with the concept that you the user want to use it to create something and Windows tries to be all things to all men. And so Mac appeals to those who just want to get a job done and Windows to the tinkerer."

The camel is a "horse designed by a committee." :-)

Maybe that explains some of the dichotomy. For me the computer is a tool. I want it to "just work" as smoothly and slickly as possible without getting in the way of what I'm doing.

I'm reasonably technically handy, but I'm not a tech enthusiast per se. I dislike having to mess around with my machine - anything from rebooting on up. Tinkering is not recreational for me. I can do it when I have to, but not for pleasure. The impression I get from some of my PC friends is that the tinkering and messing about is the main point for them. They enjoy it.


Re: Spirit and Material

From John Davis

Dear Charles,

"The camel is a "horse designed by a committee." :-)"

Exactly. The Microsoft equivalent would be a camel with huge wings, fins, and the ability to dive to 1,000 feet. Only it will never leave the drawing board. Maybe the new version of Windows should be called "SuperCamel."

Another interesting analogy was "Barry Manilow, a singer designed by a committee."

"Maybe that explains some of the dichotomy. For me the computer is a tool. I want it to 'just work' as smoothly and slickly as possible without getting in the way of what I'm doing."

My reality too. Mac OS doesn't (mostly) get in the way. I can get on with my production with far less hassle and "futzing around." Prior to OS X, I loaded my system with all kinds of extensions and little hacks, but there is very little reason to do this now. It's just me and what I'm working on. The only thing I absolutely insist on adding to the system is Riccardo Ettore's excellent TypeIt4Me. Over the years I've developed my own shorthand system of abbreviations which enables me to type at pretty much the speed of speech.

Another good analogy is the difference between classical music and jazz, etc. A good musical performance gets audience participation, if only to the degree of tapping a foot, swaying, or the occasional yell. It makes communication two way, rather than one way. It allows the audience to add to it. A classical music concert generally doesn't have this. People just sit there listening or dozing off. Jazz and other forms of extempore music give the audience and the performer the license to add to or create with the composition. The Mac OS has an equivalent. With Dashboard, AppleScript, Automator, and other deeper application building thingies of which I wot not, the Mac OS makes it possible for others to contribute to the experience.

"I'm reasonably technically handy, but I'm not a tech enthusiast per se. I dislike having to mess around with my machine - anything from rebooting on up. Tinkering is not recreational for me. I can do it when I have to, but not for pleasure. The impression I get from some of my PC friends is that the tinkering and messing about is the main point for them. They enjoy it."

I used to ride an old British motorbike. As much as I loved it, I probably spent one-third of my time with my machine adjusting the tappets, cleaning spark plugs, or just sitting by the side of the road wondering what's wrong. Just getting it up and running was a kind of hobby in itself. Great for Sunday afternoons, but not much good for getting to work on.

Another word on committees. Committees have to have agreement. Each agreement is to greater or lesser degree a compromise. Individual ideas in committees are not welcome as they add time to meetings and make agreement more difficult. People want to get home early, and so they just agree rather than think. Therefore, as long as Microsoft retains its corporate structure, it will never innovate. I just hope that Apple doesn't go this route, too.

Yours sincerely,
John Davis

Hi John,

Thanks for the follow-up.

I'm a TypeIt4Me fan, too. Don't know what I would do without it.

I drove British cars for more than a decade, so I know what you're getting at. The tinkering is not always unpleasant, but you don't want to have to do it when you need to get on with something else.

I agree about committees. The lowest common denominator of mediocrity rules.


uControl for Trackpad Scrolling

From Andrew Main


I haven't tried iScroll2 [mentioned in The 'Book Review, 2005.04.29] (it doesn't work on "Pismo" PowerBooks), though it looks like a great idea; and Sidetrack is certainly a programming masterpiece, but a little expensive at $15 if you don't really need all its features.

However, there's another trackpad scrolling option that works on any Apple portable and costs nothing: uControl. I've been using it for a year or more and put it on all the PowerBooks and iBooks I set up.

uControl was originally developed to remap the Control and other keys on the keyboard, but somewhere along the line scrolling was added. It requires pressing a key while moving the fingertip on the trackpad; I have it mapped to the default "fn" key, which works fine. I believe it also allows similar scrolling emulation for a mouse without a scroll wheel, though I haven't tried that. uControl is basically maintained by one guy, so updating sometimes takes a little while; it doesn't work yet with Tiger, but that probably will be fixed soon.


Cool tip Andrew!

I haven't used any of them yet, but uControl especially definitely sounds worth checking out.


Lower Cost G4 for Rev. A-D iMac

From Ken Watanabe


I realize it was just the PR announcement from the company (TechnoWarehouse LLC) that you were repeating [in The Mac News Review, 2005.04.22], but FYI, there is an alternative G4 product from FastMac. The specs are the same with a price of $160. I bought one from their booth at Macworld San Francisco this year for somewhat less than that price, actually. It works quite well - my old blue "B" iMac is running quite nicely with Mac OS X now.

They seem to now have a similar product for the slower slot-loading iMacs, as does TechnoWarehouse. Perhaps all these upgrades come from the same source....

- Ken

Hi Ken,

Yes indeed. I'm well aware of FastMac and their products. I have a FastMac SuperDrive expansion bay module in my Pismo PowerBook. You can read my review at Mac Opinion.

There's still lots of healthy competition in the processor/optical drive upgrade business.


Sick WallStreet

From Julian O'Connor

Dear Mr. Moore

I recently read your article featuring the sick WallStreet owned by Adrian Carter who may require a new video ribbon cable. If there is one man in the UK who can supply this and any advice about the problem, it is Malcolm Cornelius, a.k.a. The PowerBook Fanatic. His site address is

Hope this helps Mr. Carter and possibly any future enquirers from this side of the pond

Julian O'Connor

Thanks, Julian.

I've forwarded your note to Adrian.


Re: Sick WallStreet

From Adrian Carter

Many thanks for passing this information on to me. I did obtain a ribbon cable, but I might be able to find out additional information on effecting a repair from this guy.



WallStreet Display

From David Grandpre

Just a suggestion for Adrian and his problem with his PowerBook. Have him boot to OS 9, shut down, and reboot in OS X.

- DG

Thanks for the tip, David.


Re: Best Mac Keyboard?

From Tom Dickson in response to Best Mac Keyboard?

Hello, Charles.

They got me a Unicomp Model M Customizer, and swapped the location of the ALT and Windows keys for me, and replaced the Windows key with a little key with the word Command on it, and on the other side it says "Open Apple"

Other than that, it is a perfect brand new Model M keyboard. It is a wonderful keyboard, and now I have all the keys I need for my PowerBook.

Unicomp is located at, and it was $67.25 shipped. If someone else wanted one, they can just ask for the same customization as order 8303.


Cool. Great-looking keyboards!

Thanks, Tom.


SilverKeeper Pros and Cons

From Jim Scolman

Good morning Charles, keep up the good work. The diversions into cars is great, too.

I use SilverKeeper [see SilverKeeper: The Quintessential Free Backup Utility?], but my thoughts are, as it provides no compression of the backups, and the "Restore" is drag and drop, how is it better than just doing a copy to the storage media? It has the same walk away feature. The advantage I see is after the first "backup" the sync feature comes into play and the process will go much faster. Does CarbonCopy work the same way ?

Thanks and good luck,

Hi Jim,

Thanks for the comments.

If the basic backup feature set of SilverKeeper isn't quite enough for your needs, You might find ChronoSync, Dobry Backuper, or Impression more appropriate.

You can read my reviews here:

 • Charles Moore Reviews Dobry Backuper 1.1 Backup Software
 • Charles Moore Checks Out Two Backup/Synchronization Utilities

There are quite a few other products as well.

CarbonCopy I'm not familiar with.


SilverKeeper Comment and Heads Up

From Elena-Beth Kaye

Thank you for the article [SilverKeeper: The Quintessential Free Backup Utility?]. I wonder if you could double-check something for me. I've been recommending SilverKeeper for the last year to some of my clients, with exactly the same setup as you recommend, and it's been working okay, but most of these people have internal hard disks less than half full.

You wrote:

"SilverKeeper can also make a bootable backup of your internal boot drive. Proceed as follows.
1. If your external drive is considerably larger than your internal boot drive, it would be best to partition your external drive:

  • make one partition on the external drive the same size as your internal drive
  • the remainder of the drive can be left as one additional large partition, or you can make several partitions. For example a second partition can be dedicated to your music files, and another partition can be dedicated to your video files.
  • the first partition that is the same size as your internal boot drive will be dedicated to a complete system backup

But in looking at the LaCie site the other day (to see if SK had been updated for Tiger), I read something disturbing (cuz I've perhaps been giving bad advice that will bite me later):

Q: How much free space do I need on the Destination when using SilverKeeper?

A: You should have at minimum at least 2x the size of your Source. This is because SilverKeeper makes a complete copy of the Source, before eliminating the previous Backup that was made.

If this is indeed important, then it would be good for you to write an addendum to your article.

If people really do have to use twice as much HD space, then SilverKeeper isn't really free, and it might be better to recommend something like SuperDuper [see SuperDuper: Quick, Easy, Efficient Backup for $20] for $19.95. (I've also liked the interface that Qdea's Backup Simplicity has, but sometimes the serial number needs to be typed in again, and it hasn't been updated for Tiger anyway.)

Please let me know if you get confirmation from LaCie on this issue.


Hi Elena,

I think it's essentially a straightforward matter of necessary disk space for the program to make a redundant backup before trashing the previous one.

I haven't experienced what would happen if one attempted to run a backup with insufficient free space, but I infer that data loss would be ensured against by the redundancy feature.


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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 and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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