Notes On Apple

I started getting involved with software about 12 or so years ago. My first job was with a company that ran Solaris machines. I got Linux installed on one of my machines, and since then I have always had a Linux computer as well as a Windows computer. I also drifted into the Java world. What the Linux and Java crowds had in common was a distrust of Microsoft.

A lot of people did not like Microsoft because they were too proprietary and controlling. A lot of people thought that open source was a better way of making software. People were afraid of Microsoft becoming too powerful. There were also security concerns: not only that Microsoft’s software itself had security issues, but there were concerns that software monocultures could increase risk. There were people who did not like the interface, but that always seemed like a secondary concern.

Anyway, I still believe a lot of the things that I believed back then: Open source is good, monocultures are bad. I run a Windows machine because whether I like it or not, some things are just easier on Windows (like DVDs). I do watch videos on my Windows machine. I do financial stuff on my Linux machine.

But I guess not everybody still supports open source they way they used to. Or at least not as consistently. I was at a Ruby meetup a while back, and the presenter was going on about how great Ruby was because it was open source and that meant no coproration could control it. And like most Ruby/Rails gatherings, I was the only one there that did not have an Apple laptop, or iPhone, or an iPad. Some people have all three. Call them iDrones.

Apple seems just as proprietary and controlling as Microsoft did. See http://www.defectivebydesign.org/apple (I thought I had bookmarked a page detailing all the anti-open source sins Apple committed, but now I can’t find it; this one will have to do for now). You cannot get an app on the iPhone without their permission. Their operating system may use open source software, but it is not open source. And if the phone drops calls, well, you’re holding it wrong. People don’t put up with this stuff from Microsoft. Why do they put up with it from Apple?

It just seems like people give Apple a pass over and over again. One reason may simply be that they are not Microsoft. If you don’t want to run Windows on your laptop, get a PC-based system and install Linux. Sure, you would have to pay for a Windows licence. But how much money does MS get when you buy a laptop with Windows installed? Maybe $50? I would rather not give them the $50, but if your answer is to give Apple $2000, you need to have your head examined.

Another answer people give is that Macs are easier to use. I have never found them easy to use. I like my mouse to have two buttons. Having some pompous ass in a turtle neck tell me I really like a one-button mouse (and I just don’t realize it yet) does not convince me.

It seems like a lot of developers who use Apple machines use them and do things that they could do on any computer.

One is that a lot of developers using Apple laptops are using vim. I think this contradicts the Apples-are-easy-to-use argument. Even people who like vim concede it is not easy to learn. If you are going to take the time to learn an editor as unintuitive as vim, then maybe you can say you care about productivity, but not ease of use.

I have also noticed that a lot of developers tend to use a lot of keyboard shortcuts and keyboard commands when they use Apple, both within apps and to go between them. Every OS and just about every app has keyboard commands and shortcuts. If you are willing to learn them on an Apple machine, why not learn them on a Linux machine?

Sidebar: I see a lot of devs sharing keyboard commands on mailing lists, Stack Overflow and blog posts, and then getting many people thanking them for the shortcuts. I get the impression that few people read any documentation for keyboard commands, they just stumble upon them in their journey.

So are Apples easier to use than other OSes that use keyboards? Even if you think they are, I still think there is a double standard. Ten years ago, people were not as concerned about the UI of Windows; the primary complaint was its proprietary nature and the character of the company behind it. Now we have another aggressive, controlling, bullying company pushing trying to get everyone to do things its way, and now all of a sudden the metric is how it looks. That is the definition of a double standard.

Plus we have seen Apple have a negative impact on companies in other industries due to the iPod, iTunes and the iPhone. If MS had this sort of influence in other industries, people would be horrified. Apple does it, and people just marvel at the convenience.

If you want to change your standards, that is your decision. But if the only reason you can give is “shiny object”, don’t expect me to change mine.

I have noticed that people are not as blindly following Apple now that Steve Jobs is dead. Perhaps the Reality Distortion Field was more powerful than I thought. But I never understood why people followed this guy the way they did. From what I have heard, he seemed like a real asshole. Some defend him because he saved Apple and made people a lot of money. Wall Street banks make a lot of money. So do oil companies. So does WalMart. Nobody defends them. Henry Ford changed an industry, but nobody gives him any slack for being an anti-semite. Why make excuses for Steve Jobs? If Steve Jobs were on Wall Street, he would fit right in. And most of the people who love him would hate him.

The guy seemed like a phony. He was mad because he thought that Android was a ripoff of iPhone, but Apple would be nothing if he had not ripped off Xerox. And I have to wonder how smart he really was. Oh, sure, he built a big company, but when he was diagnosed with cancer, does he go to the best doctors? No. He tries BS snake oil remedies. The guy was a billionaire. Why would he NOT go to the top doctors? People go to witch doctors when they have no other options. If you make a stupid decision when you really really really need to make the right one, you are an idiot. If anybody else had done that, people would say he was a moron. Why should Steve Jobs get a pass?

Does “shiny object” really trump everything? I guess for some people it does.

Post created on 2013-02-03_10:59:59, last modified on 2021-07-21_22:46:31

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