Mac vs. Windows vs. The Other Guy: Think Prophylactics and Full Potential

So this mailing list I’m on is caught up in one of its repeating discussion-obsessions.

The Mac fanatics are arguing the points of the Mac. The Windows users are responding, mostly in terms of how much better Windows is for gaming. I am reading it on my little Linux machine.

Outside my window, I can hear one of those bloody trucks that drives around selling stuff. You don’t have these in most countries. I really wish someone would make it illegal to disturb the peace that way… driving around the back roads and side streets with a loudspeaker attached to your tape deck, a repeating tape saying, “Fresh vegetables! Fresh vegetables! Come and get them, fresh and delicious! Carrots, potatoes, celery, tomatoes! Why not get some… Fresh vegetables! Fresh vegetables! Come and get them, fresh and delicious! Carrots, potatoes, celery, tomatoes! Why not get some…”

(But I won’t get into the noise pollution problems of Korea for today.)

In a way, the discussion of platforms seems to me a bit like the trucks with the loudspeakers. It’s like arguing over which gun one should use when one goes rabbit hunting. In polite society, everyone recognizes that everyone else has a favorite make and model, and doesn’t tell them they should use another. Maybe Farmer Jed likes when his wabbit gets blasted to pieces with one shot.

(I won’t get into cruelty to animals today either.)

People were getting into price comparisons, and I was boggling at what people were willing to pay for PCs, or laptops. Me, I think I’ve said before, my computer cost $899 Canadian, before taxes, and the OS was free. And it mostly works just how I want it to, with only a modicum of tweaking. Certainly, this OS is working better for me than the (yes, early-ish) Mac OS I was using five years ago was. I know OS X is better than OS 7.5.3 (which I was using back then) was. I don’t care because I’m happy enough with what I have. So happy, in fact, with it that the last time I really used Windows XP was in the Japanese airport, because I’d happened to have configured the wireless on the Windows boot but not the Unix boot, and there was unanticipated free wireless in the airport lounge I wanted to use.

The thing is… it’s all about what you want to do with something. Don’t tell me Mac is better. (And it’s almost always Mac users who are trying to evangelise other OS/hardware users.) Mac is better for what? As pointed out, pretty convincingly to me in the discussion, the Mac OS is just not good for gaming. The Widows rules. Unix is pretty poor for gaming too. But I do almost no gaming anyway. Gaming? Nah, I’ll watch a movie, thanks.

(Oh, but Mac is better for movies, too!!!)

I almost wish one’s choice of OS, one’s choice of hardware, would attain the status of one’s choice in prophylactic. The kind of thing one never evangelizes about to others. It’s just so annoying to see these OS wars again and again, always so passionate, always so loud, and all for what?

If computers ever attain their true, full potential, the OSes will be so customized as to be almost beyond platform. People won’t know what you’re running, and won’t be able to tell you which is better, because what’s better is whatever is customized to you. If it’s adequately customized, it’s probably going to transcend its OSness, to the pont where discussions like this will look as dated as discussions over whether sweets and treats, or beatings, or application of ugly women to the genitals, are the best way to treat lovesickness.

(And, yes, back in the days when people in the Maghreb knew more about medicine than Europe, all three of those “treatments for lovesickness” topped the theoretical charts in terms of mainstream medical treatments. And yes, “lovesickness” was considered a medical disorder. And yes, I believe we will someday look that dated and hokey to our descendants, as well.)

7 thoughts on “Mac vs. Windows vs. The Other Guy: Think Prophylactics and Full Potential

  1. People in “The Cult of Mac” also annoy the hell out of me. Most of their arguements are just fallacies anyhow. I agree with you that debate about o/s is really a waste of time. Use what you like and is comfortable for you. Who cares if your dad can beat up my dad cause my uncle can kick your uncles ass.

    Anyhow for the record the veggie trucks are illegal, but so is running red lights, peeing on the street, and prostitution but that hasn’t stopped anyone from doing any of those activities in Korea either.

  2. The veggie trucks are illegal? Oh, well, then.

    Then again, the biggest noise pollution I’ve ever experienced here was during election time. Techno music and hand-love dancers on major street corners could be heard dozens of blocks away. If the legislators are using noise pollution, I suppose everyone will be getting away with it.

  3. I loooove my mac. I used to be a PC user, and I’ve used Linux too. I resisted teh move to Mac a few years ago and then afterwards I wondered WHY it took me so long.

    However, I think the whole “O/S war” is stupid–I like that there are multiple consumer operating systems but the war is stupid (as are most/all wars). Pick what you like and what works for you!

    FWiW, I love those veggie trucks. I freaking hate that they come by so early but it’s one of those things that characterize Korea to me. :)

  4. I’m pretty firmly of the opinion that:

    1) People who primarily want their computer to work and not bother them should use a Mac.

    2) People who primarily want their computer to be fiddle-able, customizable, and generally workable should use Linux.

    3) People who primarily want other things in a computer should use Windows.

    The three reasons I hear most often for using Windows are a) it’s cheaper, b) the games are better, and c) my workplace/”everyone” uses Windows. And these are perfectly valid reasons, every one. A lot of the people I know who finally got sick of Windows have moved to Linux because, hey, it’s also cheap, it’s stable once you get it working right, and they can jigger it to their heart’s content. And these are *also* valid reasons.

    A surprising number of working writers, though, are like me and use a Mac. Why? Because they work for themselves and don’t have to worry about compatability, and because it *stays out of their fucking way*. I use this machine; I don’t have time to babysit it, and I certainly don’t need an OS that requires constant maintenance and security updates. 99% of installs on a Mac are drag-and-drop. 99% of the peripherals I buy are plug-and-play. The OS does not bug me about do I want this or that feature, it doesn’t bring up weird, unreadable errors, it just ticks along in the background staying the *fuck* out of my way.

    Also, it’s pretty. I spend a lot of time staring at this machine, so, yeah. I’ll pay money for that.

    What annoys me about the Mac pundits (the Linux pundits are just as bad, and the Windows fanatics are *worse* — just rarer) is that they assume everyone else’s reasons are invalid. That’s just stupid. People have different needs for a computer, and that is why we *have* different OSes. I might argue with someone who was planning to buy their non-computer-savvy grandparents a Windows machine, because of spyware/virus issues and because trials have shown Macs are a bit more intuitive for new users. I *will* tell someone who condescendingly informs me “oh, you don’t need a Mac” to fuck off. But it’s not religion, people. It’s just a fucking computer.

  5. c(h)ristine,

    Or use more than one. I’m fully comfortable with both Windows and Linux, and while I prefer Linux for various reasons — mostly because crap doesn’t load under the hood and slow me down, and it’s more stable — I can switch back and forth. I’m sure I’d be comfortable on Macs, and I imagine they might open some of the doors on customizability I mentioned, the early stages anyway. But really, and OS is an OS. It’s like arguing about whether flint from this canyon or that canyon knaps better. It’s a freaking arrowhead. Users should shut up and hunt!

    And, oh, but I I hate the trucks… because it always sounds like a speech by the Fuhrer to me.

    Kat,

    Yeah, I mean, if I sell a novel, I may pick up a Mac just to fiddle with. I am curious what the fuss is about. But I doubt it’ll be a religious conversion. I regard PCs much more like, well… to use the metaphor above, like hunks of flint that I knap, use up, and replace. For me, they’re almost exclusively a combination of internet terminal, sound system, home TV/DVD player, and word processor. Linux totally serves my needs… well, since I found Abiword for writing RTF files, anyway.

    I actually told my Mom the mac that my sister and her husband are trying to set her up with is better for her than Windows, because it’s easier to use for someone not into computers. I’m not naturally against Macs despite my own bad experience with them, because I recognize where usability and user are, well, related.

  6. oh btw, I had similar arguments as you did–but then I got a Mac and fell in Love with my powerbook (and now my macbook). I still respect PCs, but I remember exclaiming, “Why did it take me so long to use a Mac!?”

    It is really a thing of wonder–the best of all worlds (UNIX OS, Mac aesthetics and graphics capability, and it has all the software I would need)

  7. Well, my main resistance is mainly price and taste. I actually prefer tinkering a little, and I really do like using Ubuntu Linux. It’s pleasurable to me, even when it requires a little work.

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