The Lite Side

Mac Myths and Urban Legends

- 2002.10.08

Here at the Lite Side we're really interested in facts. Some of the stuff you read on the Internet is bang on, and some of it is, shall we say, of questionable pedigree (like the majority of the stuff we write). If you're not sure something is true or not, you should do what we do - check out the urban legends zeitgeist.

But where are the legends related to Macs and computing?

We're so glad you asked that, because we're ready to clean out another filing cabinet of ideas by providing you with the Lite Side's

Mac Myths and Urban Legends

The Myth: Windows may have stolen its GUI from Macintosh, but Apple stole it first from Xerox.

Status: There's a germ of truth here, but the entire story has never been told.

The Truth: It's widely known that Apple paid Xerox for the privilege of examining its interface technology, while Gates paid diddly to Jobs. However, what isn't known is that the entire "Windows" concept was invented by Og FeatherWart, a Neolithic caveman who stumbled across a hole in a Canadian cave covered with a thin, transparent layer of ice. Soon, FeatherWart was pushing around little piles of bat guano and sticks on his "screen" to represent larger piles of guano and sticks in his cave. Like many of us, Og soon had his screen more organized than his cave. Through DNA-encoded species instinct, the concept was passed on through the generations, exhibiting itself in such places as stained glass windows and the whole "tele-vision" phenomenon, which led to TV typewriters. Finally, the concept was perfected by Apple - and later poorly copied by Microsoft.

The Myth: Files created on a Mac cannot be used on a PC.

Status: False.

The Truth: Files created on a Mac can be used on a PC - but the truth is that most of the time, they don't want to. It's a whole social ladder thing; if you're from Piedmont, you wouldn't buy your egg rolls in Emeryville, would ya? Californians are of two minds regarding socioeconomic stratification: They hate to see it in others, but it's just fine for themselves. It's the same thing with computer files. Think about it.

The Myth: Two mouse buttons are better than one.

Status: True.

The Truth: Two mouse buttons are your only defense as a user against poorly written software and sloppy interface guidelines. If you like two buttons, there's a reason for it, and the reason is Windows. You like two mouse buttons? How about two mice with four buttons total? If more is better, just use a mouse in your right hand, and a trackpad with your left. Just keep saying to yourself, "It works more efficiently when you get used to it."

The Myth: Myth is the greatest game ever created.

Status: True once upon a time.

The Truth: Like all Net games, Myth has descended into a tiny community of uber-players bent on the emotional subjugation of all they survey. By the time that interactive holographic Myth VII comes out in about twenty years, only three people on the planet will be able to play it, but we will all worship them like Eloi at the offering stone.

O Bungie, we remember the old days before you were assimilated, and it was good to play.

The Myth: HyperCard is dead.

Status: True.

The Truth: HyperCard is not even on life support, folks. It's stiffening, a little green, and just a little puffy now. It feels pain in its left arm although that was cut off long ago. However, computing is a lot like Star Trek. HyperCard could be brought back to life in Mac Trek IV, but only if the Captain really wants it to happen.

The Myth: Apple went out of business long ago.

Status: False.

The Truth: If Apple had gone out of business, I would have latched on to a spare cubicle letter-sorter or a water cooler bottle. I might have even found one of those wire-mesh milk-crate things you put files in, except that one of the wheels was missing so it was in the trash. Since I don't have any of those things, Apple must still be solvent.

The Myth: The iMac flat-panel computer is rugged enough to be carried by the neck.

Status: True.

The Truth: Apple computers are so rugged, you can eject the drive tray and use it for a stepladder. You can turn the flat-panel screen up flat, horizontally, and use it for one of those weird glowing tabletops like they use at Macworld. If you dip it in paint and drag it behind you with a rope, you can paint road stripes. It can survive reentry into the atmosphere from the Space Station, can be used to manipulate fusion reactors from the inside, and is impervious to all known forms of radiation except the flowing waves of heat from John Madden's head as he struggles to remember a really funny story from before that last head-shot on the field. With a record like that, a bendable handle-neck is small potatoes.

The Myth: Mac users are fanatics who are unable to hold a reasonable conversation.

Status: False.

The Truth: The truth? The truth? You can't handle the truth! The truth is, you're an ignorant Gates-loving, mindless drone of a Borg who can't stand to deviate from a stultified party line typified by decisions driven by corporate bean-counters and corporate IT heads who haven't laid hands on a Mac since the 1980s and whose concepts of innovation are stuck somewhere between Post-it notes and Mucilage!


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