Miscellaneous Ramblings

What's So Great About a Mac? Plenty!

Charles Moore - 2008.09.25 -Tip Jar

In an editorial posted this week, the University of Denver Clarion'sAlex Gallegos asks rhetorically: "What's So Great About a Mac? Alex says he's becoming increasingly"annoyed at the number of people who seem to have become enamored withthe Macintosh operating system," further explaining that his annoyanceis kindled by most of the arguments he hears about why Macs aresuperior to Windows machine are, he alleges, "based on an almostcomplete lack of knowledge about how computers actually work."

Some of these ignorami, he concedes, are "former Windows users whoencountered one Blue Screen of Death too many," while others have beenconvinced into believing that Macs are the simpler yet more powerfulcousins to the Intel market," and others think having a Mac isdownright cool.

"I just don't buy this argument," he says.

Well fine, everyone is entitled to an opinion, but with due respectI just don't buy Gallegos' argument.

Real Men Don't Use GUIs

He starts off with a variation of a dismissive trope that reachesback to the "real men don't use mice" canard from the era when Macs hadmice and PCs didn't (and didn't have Windows either), calling the MacGUI a "Fischer (sic) Price" interface, while PC users "canindulge in customization, meddling and fiddling to an extent that wouldshock a Mac user's socks off."

Well, if "customization, meddling and fiddling" are what floats yourboat, they're abundantly available in OS X as close as starting upthe Terminal and interfacing with the OS's Unix underpinnings - and ona more sophisticated level than anything that's possible with Vista.Hold onto your socks!

But most non-geek real-world users would rather just get on withtheir day.

It's the Software, Stupid

As for Macs being "better artistic machines" - another timeworn(albeit true) rubric, Gallego says: "What people don't quite seem tounderstand is that these are questions of software, not the operatingsystem. Software is software."

Yes, and software has to operate in the context of an operatingsystem, and the context provided by OS X is far more satisfyingfor graphics work than Windows, not to mention that the software itselfis often better. Where are Windows versions of Pixelmator or ToyViewer or GraphicConverter?

Even cross-platform graphics apps look and work better on the Mac -just look at Photoshop Elements.

Malware Doesn't Matter

Gallegos dismisses the relentless malware siege Windows users haveto contend with by arguing: "Just because you don't get viruses,doesn't mean that nobody can write one. It's not an impossibility byany means."

No, it's not, but the operative reality is that no one has; there'snever been a destructive OS X virus in the wild. As onecommentator quipped: "Viruses: Mac OS X - three; Windows -eleventy-zillion."

I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but I've been working with Macson the Internet many hours a day for over a decade, and I've neverbothered with antivirus software, firewalls, or any of the anti-malwaretedium and ennui that is obligatory in the Windows orbit. I never feltthe need to.

It is difficult to persuade ordinary computer users who have onlyused Windows that - at least up to now - viruses have been a non-issuefor Mac users.

As Why Are There No Viruses for Mac OS X? on Switch to a Mac put itthis week:

With today's cyber-threats and focus on computersecurity, it's no surprise that many people are ditching their WindowsPCs for Macs running OS X . . . The requirement toprotect Windows installations from viruses, spyware and malware, haveprompted many to make the switch....

It's well known that there are no known viruses forthe Mac OS X operating system despite it being on the market forover seven years. As of this writing, Mac OS X is virus-free.There have been some attempted exploits in the past but those relied onsocial engineering....

If they had noticed it, Windows fanboys like Gallegos would have hadan "aha!" moment earlier this this year when an Apple Web pageencouraged Mac users to install virus and security software on Macs,but the page is no longer linked from Apple's Website (you can stillview it in the Internet Archive.

Macs Are For Lazy Folk

As the summary shot in his broadside of Windows-acolyte conventionalwisdom bromides, Gallegos casts Macs as having "a very specific set ofuses for a very specific niche of users - namely people who aren'treally comfortable with computers and want things to be as simple andeasy as possible without having to go find appropriate software forthemselves."

This guy really needs to get out more - perhaps to a softwaredevelopers' convention or other geek-fest venue where he could countthe high proportion of users running Macs these days.

Why I Use a Mac

Windows is one of the reasons I use a Mac: the clumsy and obtuseangularities, the general clunkiness of PC hardware, the malwareplague, and the irritation of having to deal with Microsoft DRMissues.

On top of that, a lot of the software I find "appropriate" to mywork as a professional tech journalist is not available on the PC, butthat's just poor ignorant "not really comfortable with computers" me. LEM

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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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