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Archive for February 5th, 2007

“I hate Macs”

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Charlie Brooker
Monday February 5, 2007

A plague on both your houses. I think any commercial that is endlessly repeated – just keeps saying the same thing, the same way with slight variations, is simply annoying.

If you are casually looking at computers in a shop, appearance is nearly everything. You are not going to spend much time working on the thing and anyway most shops do not have them set up to do the sort of things you do on a computer. I agree with Charlie that the Apple mouse is frustrating to someone who is used to right clicking. But then the PCs at the library still run on NT and do nearly everything that is needed but the scroll button doesn’t work. Is that a feature of NT? I dunno – and I can’t be arsed to find out.

A lot of what you do on a computer is based on habit – so switching is really hard. I have been trying to give up Windows for Linux for a long time. I really want to like Linux, but truth be told, you do have to get to know “how a computer works” in any system, if you are going to get it set up in a way that works like you do. And while I gave up on Knoppix – which is simply too experimental in every new version that gets released, intentionally – Ubuntu is proving easier, but by no means easy enough. You still have to use a “terminal window” – just like you have to open the cmd line in XP – to do anything administratively necessary. It took me quite a while to get the Windows partitions readable – something you can do in Knoppix straight away with a click on an icon. And some apps just don’t seem to work – Azureus (Bitstream) is a lot more finicky than Bit Torrent for instance.

But the big thing is proving to be the amount of stuff that doesn’t port easily. Email for instance. I now use web mail when in my Ubuntu environment. Posting a batch of pictures to a newsgroup – for which I currently use PowerPost. My edition of Pan doesn’t even seem to have an attachments tab, let alone deal with multi-part posts. Oh I am sure that after a few posts to support groups, or grinding through instruction manuals I will discover the secrets, but the nagging feeling I get is that I shouldn’t have to.

Consumers want products that work right out of the box. That are “intuitive” to understand. Macs seem to have always been built that way. I did once have an AppleII and it was anything but intuitive. PCs took a while to catch up – Windows 95 being the first breakthrough in that regard. But this comes at a huge price. XP is stable, but has to have masses of memory (RAM and HD) to achieve that.

Above all it still astonishes me that we put up with products that we are surprised and pleased about when they work as designed! In no other field of consumer sales would that be tolerated. And the planned obsolescence for computers is getting ridiculous. Why do I need a three dimensional, animated window just to look at a list of files? And why should I have to pay lots of money to upgrade my machine just to run your new operating system?

And why doesn’t the built in spell checker in WordPress pick up half the words I mistype, offer me bizarre alternatives and not the word I need, and not recognize that I have already corrected the words it still highlights (which includes the word WordPress)?

Written by Stephen Rees

February 5, 2007 at 6:46 am

Posted in computers