Charles Moore's Mailbag

More Responses to Russell Beattie's 33 Criticisms of Mac OS X

Charles Moore - 2005.10.10 - Tip Jar

Last week's Flameless Response to Russell Beattie's 33 Criticisms of Mac OS X generated a fair bit of feedback. We're publishing six of them today, and we've got two more for tomorrow's mailbag - along with emails on several other topics. - Tip Jar

Your Low-key Response

From John Lee

Dear Mr Moore,

Enjoyed your low-key response to Russell Beattie. A couple of points about your and his first couple of points.

I, like Beattie, switched to a Mac (mini) about 6 months ago. Tiger, at first, was hopeless. Complete hangs. Felt like every day, every other day for about a month. 3 complete reinstalls, and then some stability, but lots of strange behaviour.

Appallingly slow, too. 13 seconds to open the options command in Microsoft Word (I cite this as I remember timing it). Apple Support said this was to be expected....

Then, about 2 months ago, everything got good. No complete hangs. No freezes. Stability. Speed - OS X booting in about 6-7 seconds (haven't timed that, but fast). Word options command more or less instant. Lovely computer, faster in use than my office PC.

What changed? Possibly updating the release did it. Possibly doing some of the directory housekeeping recommended in Low End Mac. But my memory suggests that one day it just suddenly got a lot, lot faster, which suggests that it (working server like?) tidied up something that had been causing a real problem. And it sounds to me like Beattie is having the exact same problem that I was having....

Oh, and about Spotlight. As a Windows user, Beattie will find he has to open each and every file he imports from Windows, make a change, and then save it, before Spotlight will search the files. Unless it has that 'second' Mac data file, Spotlight won't search. Doing that took me ages. Come to think of it, I may have finished resaving all the documents around the time the computer got faster. (Mind you, I still have some documents beginning with numbers - and thus unsearchable.)

OS X was a pretty buggy initial release, it seems to me. (Japanese language support was also problematic.) Like Beattie, I was driven to fury with what I thought was misleading Mac advertisements, and I questioned the sanity of my Mac-loving colleagues. OS X behaved, for me, like Windows 3.1 before Windows for Workgroups came along.

Now, though, I'm really enjoying the Mac experience....

Best wishes,
John Lee

Hi John,

Thanks for the comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

I've found Tiger very stable from the original version on. I'm still running 10.4.1 on my PowerBook because of a printer driver issue with 10.4.2.

There are maintenance scripts in OS X that are programmed to run in the middle of the night and thus usually don't run unless you leave your computer on overnight. There are a large variety of system maintenance utilities that can run the scripts at your convenience. You should also run Repair Permissions periodically with Disk Utility or one of the aforementioned system utilities.

Glad to hear that you are finally enjoying the more typical Mac experience.


Sadly Mistaken Criticisms of Mac OS X

From Christopher Laspa

Hello Charles,

I remember reading that long drawn out babble from Mr. Beattie and thinking to myself, "Gee, 7 months isn't a very long time to evaluate an operating system. He sure sounds like an ill-informed 'mouth-breather'".

He comes up with 33 near-lame reasons to switch back, many of them caused by his previous experience with the Windows world and it's necessity to overcomplicate matters. I've seen several like him in the OS 8/9 days, not realizing that you can 'just drag that darn folder or file over to where you want it.' Too often, ex-PC people are looking for that long kludgy Windows-way and are in awe when the straightforward is presented to them.

He is also sadly mistaken about software being released on the Wintel platform first. Often it is the other way around - specifically for professional apps. Maybe Mr. Beattie should step up to the plate and give his hand with the real Photoshop if he is looking for a 'bleeding-edge' experience instead of playing around with consumer fluff.

Having to work both sides of the fence myself, I had to recently buy a new PC laptop, so I got an IBM T42 - a reasonable, lightweight, business class laptop. About three months later my G3 Wallstreet gives out after 7+ years of daily use, so I'm in the Apple Store here in Toronto buying a new 12" G4 PowerBook. Trust me, there is no comparison. Win XP Pro is like Win 98 dipped in saccharin. Period. The speed difference that everyone speaks of is largely the twitchiness in the way Windows handles mouse movement. Other than that, programs, windows, etc. don't open any faster. At least in my world, anyhow, where everything is set to max speed.

It is a well-known fact in the upper echelons that computers has gotten too fast for most of us regular folks, so the only place the raw horsepower is best used is in the game world. Of course, one could just buy a Playstation and get the same results.

My big gripe is with file mapping. I have Photoshop on my PowerBook, so why do JPEGs, for example, that come in from the 'outside' appear generic? Yes, I know how to attempt to reset the preferences that keep defaulting to Preview, or Safari, or dmimageimporter or something other than Photoshop! This shouldn't have to be computer science - a straightforward preference control panel could solve all this. The only failure of Mac OS X in my eyes is the additional steps now needed. And we threw out a perfectly good OS for this? I will only agree with Mr. Beattie on a point he didn't make . . . set Photoshop to open JPEGs in Windows and it does it. Period.

I don't know what Mr. Beattie is using today, but boy, will he get a wake up call when Longho . . . I mean Vista is released!!! Ten to one we will see him back on the Mac and being thankful of it!!

Christopher M. Laspa

Thanks for the comments, Christopher. I agree with you that raw processing speed is a vastly overrated priority for most of us. That said, I wouldn't mind a little more power then this 700 MHz G3 iBook has, although it acquits itself astonishingly well in OS 10.4.2.

By the way, have you tried Photoshop Elements 3? It's a pretty impressive package considering the radical price difference between it and CS. The Windows folks did get an Elements version 4 last month, while Mac users are still left with version 3, But more than half of the changes and enhancements with 4 were with Windows only anyway.


Re: Sadly Mistaken Criticisms of Mac OS X

From Christopher Laspa

Hello Charles

Thanks for the response. Always a pleasure to swap email with my favourite authority on PowerBooks, as I read your columns routinely.

Yes, I have tried Photoshop Elements 3 on the Mac, as a supplier was trying to drum up some business. I installed it on my wife's PowerBook as she has discovered digital photography. Indeed it is an impressive little consumer package that certainly has it's place, as given enough RAM and horsepower, it is capable of a number of tasks/effects, etc. That said, though, I wouldn't trade it for Photoshop, nor would I consider it something anywhere near 'the bleeding edge' - the realm Mr. Beattie professes to live in. ; )

Personally, I wish Apple would sort out this file mapping thing and issue an update for that alone! All the little shareware/freeware solutions seem to fail or marginally make matters better. I have to keep a folder with one sample file per application and check 'Get Info' every now and again. (Tedious) When things get mucked up, the only solution is to run OnyX (Titanium Software) and "Reset Files to Applications" and head back to my folder to start the process of reassigning again. All this to double click with confidence . . . something I used to do since OS 7.01!!!!

Thanks again.

Christopher M. Laspa

Russell's 33 Reasons - C'mon!

From Mike

Hi Charles,

You certainly were diplomatic in response to Russell's article. My take on it is that Russell's article wasn't worth the hype in the first place. It's not as provocative as something well-written and coherent would have been. He gives whole list items to complaints about applications he doesn't even use. Other complaints are incredibly petty or silly, like not knowing what to do with compressed files after downloading and installing something. Just... "C'mon."

There's one thing I will disagree on rather than dismiss, and that's the widescreen format. Virtually every application I use has a ton of palettes wanting another piece of screen real estate; with a widescreen, you can have those palettes open, and still have a normally proportioned workspace in the middle of the screen. It's the next best thing to having a spanned monitor setup.

Take it easy,

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the comment.

As for screen orientation, I suppose that it depends a lot on one's tastes, needs, and work habits. I appreciate your point about palettes, although I personally seldom have more than two or three on the go, but as I mentioned in my comments I do find myself running out of vertical room more often than horizontal room. Because of the different strokes aspect of this issue, my suggestion was for a rotatable screen (easier said than engineered on a notebook computer).


Beattie Ignores Software Options

From Pete Ottman


While I too hope the fanatics didn't go to crazy on Russell Beattie, I have many problems with what is a pretty much an underhanded attack on Mac OS X. A fair [number] of his complaints seem to come down to his own preferences, which is in conflict with how OS X is designed. The issue of preference is a nonstarter, because if he isn't willing to adapt he never will adjust to the differences.

On the issue of programs he sounds not only foolish but mostly ignorant. One might say the exact same things about programs included by Microsoft in Windows XP or any other version of Windows. Essentially those programs are included to give users a head start on the computing game. Mail, Safari, etc. are nice and useful, but hardly selling features of the OS. I doubt many people buy Windows XP to use Outlook Express, Internet Explorer, or that terrible little built in fax manager, but having those makes Windows XP useful from day one. Other companies build better solutions so users can use those if they want.

If Beattie doesn't like a program, he should go download a free version of the same type of program or spend some cash to get one he does like. To say there aren't programs for Mac OS X is untrue and disingenuous, and to bash OS X for the weakness of its accompanying programs is the same thing. On my nearly two-year-old iBook (10.3.9 thank you), I use Thunderbird, Firefox, and Safari for the Internet. I've installed a number of shareware and freeware tools and programs to handle other things - Gimp for graphics, Skype for VOIP, MacJanitor for chron jobs, etc. My point is, Beattie has options, and he acts like there really are none, and that's just wrong.

Pete Ottman

Hi Pete,

Yes, he certainly hasn't been very adventurous in the software department. One of the greatest things about the Mac platform is all the superb quality inexpensive shareware and production - useful freeware that is available.


iPhoto Fine on Low-end Power Mac

From Scott Selby

Mr. Moore,

While I will not describe myself in any way as a power-user, I was interested in the comments:

5. I really dislike iPhoto. I much prefer the Windows thumbnails.

I have to say that I'm not a real big fan of iPhoto either.

I have started a company on Yahoo where I am running on a 450 MHz B&W. I have system 10.4 installed and only a half gig of memory. iPhoto, which is not my wife's favorite app, is working splendidly for my operation. I can easily crop and enhance photos, export them, and use them on the site as needed. So far I don't need Photoshop and only use Virtual PC to check if the site works under that OS.

Besides, I would rather spend $200 on a G4 than $300 on a Dell that might be four times faster.

Scott Selby

Hi Mr. Selby,

Thanks for the report. I'm delighted to hear that iPhoto is proving to be a helpful and satisfactory solution for your needs.

I agree with you until the G4 vs. the Dell


Oh Russ, You're Such a Weenie

From Ted Bragg

Gee, if Russ hates his Macs so much, tell him to send those two babies my way! I love my perfect-running, no-crash-or-forced-reboot Macs, quirks and all.

I don't understand him going back to Windows, tho. I thought a person used a computer to get work done, not to work on the computer?

Hi Ted,

One of the abiding conundrums for me is the relatively rare phenomenon of someone who has actually logged some serious hours on the Mac and still professes to prefer Windows.

I can understand certain practical reasons why someone would switch to Windows from the Mac, but they wouldn't include overall work efficiency.


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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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