The Lava Trolley: September 2007

The Lava Trolley

Or is it the lavatory???

...Either case, this little nook on blogasphere is the natural dumping ground for the sort of crap that erupts
when you find a wee Chink in the Britworks...

But hey, I promise you this is steamingly hot shit...which is probably why it's all looking a bit brown!


09 September 2007

Oranges and Lemons


...Say the bells of St Clement's.

Although Mac-users are more likely to prefer Apples instead.

"The only way to have fun with a Mac is to
poke its insufferable owner in the eye."
Don't get me wrong...I'm no Mac-fanatic by any stretch of the imagination. Quite the contrary, if you must know...However, I have had experience operating both Macs and PCs. In fact, my first computer was a Mac, that being the era when almost everyone I knew had one.

I gave it a fair chance, but was so singularly UN-impressed by it that I was pretty much put off by the whole business of computing, and moved on to more riveting pursuits (such as Zero-Point and Five Stones, neither of which held my interest for very long either)...I couldn't even tell you which model that first Mac was, since my memory appears to have been sufficiently repulsed into blocking off the entire affair.

Then along came Mr Gates, and my silicon romance was rekindled (courtesy of a going-to-college present from daddy).

No doubt my humble opinion will set off quite a few cyber terrorists, but if Jeremy Clarkson can receive a pie in the face with equanimity, I'm pretty sure I'll survive whatever they have in store. Perhaps the knowledge that I'm not terribly interested in a Mac-bashing rant might pacify them...Descending into a 'Mac vs PC' slanging match is just too much of a cliché.

Can't understand where all this aggro comes from...Charlie's contribution to CIF is amusing enough, but judging from a number of the comments left, it's all being taken far too seriously...Some people just don't get irony.

What next? QuarkXpress against InDesign? Oops...too late...Missed that one while I was busy typing away.

The pedantic amongst us would point out that Macs are technically PCs, since the acronym merely stands for 'Personal Computer'. I won't argue with that description in terms of hardware, particularly these days. Some might even suggest that Apple sold out to Intel, but I'm more inclined to view it as healthy evolution within the industry. Besides, it was really Apple that set the standard to begin with...PCs just ran with it a little further.

At some point of time in history, it was perhaps true that Macs were better than PCs when it came to performing certain tasks, such as the handling of graphics. I've found that to be a bit of a myth these days, since PCs have essentially caught up with the times (and quite quickly too!). How else could Macs have gained a true rival otherwise?

Mitchell and Webb wouldn't find themselves on Apple's payroll if PCs weren't perceived to be a real threat which, in the wake of advertising lawsuits that saw the G5 emerging with a few smudges on its CV, is very serious indeed. This isn't even recent news...Aside from PCs having now invaded most homes, quite a few digital art production companies I've worked for now use them instead of the once industry-standard Macs. This shift might possibly see more adaptations in related mediums, such as printing etc.

As a freelancer, most of my best work was hammered out on a PC, and I encountered no problems whatsoever...not so much as a minor hiccup. I honestly cannot remember the last time that machine blue-screened (and we're talking about a decrepit 5-year-old piece of junk that won't even qualify at entry-level today).

I cannot say the same for the 1.2 GHz G4 I use where I am now employed...But I shan't bore you with tales of the number of times I've had to re-boot the bloody thing.

Benchmarks have shown that Macs and PCs have basically reached an impasse when it comes to computing superiority...But this isn't going to mean anything to average users. Trying to comprehend anything technical makes me cross-eyed, so I can understand where they're coming from. A first-time buyer isn't going to be interested in an analytical breakdown of RAM calculations, bottlenecks and whatnot...He's never even heard of Sandra, and will probably think she's some online manifestation of hentai.

It's the end-result that counts, and PCs have NEVER failed me in whatever I set out to do. All these apocalyptic crashes I keep hearing of have never happened to me (or to David, also a digital artist and avid gamer). Neither has my work suffered adversely...Power and speed vary, depending very much on make and model. Pit the best of Macs and PCs head-to-head and you'll find little difference in the technology.

At the end of the day, a computer's reliability is down to how it is treated by its owner, regardless of specs. The empty-glass theory is an apt analogy in this scenario. Fill your computer with crap and it will start behaving like shit.

I'll raise one point in favour of Macs, however...They aren't virus-prone. Full-stop.

Let's face it, when most people compare the two machines, it's really their operating systems that set them apart from one another. Windows uses more shared resources, which makes it more vulnerable to attacks. By its very nature, Mac OS is far more robust, and I've always thought it a shame that it's not become more mainstream (although the interface isn't the most straightforward, which may confuse novices). But perhaps that's why it's never been a target.

Still, as one helpful CIF reader has observed, it really will be a shock to the system when the first Mac virus is created. Then again, if their PC counterparts learnt to cope, I'm sure the geeks at Macdom would be resourceful enough to find a way round it. More tech support would be a start...

My main gripe with Macs is their complete lack of individuality...Macs certainly look pretty enough, and the trademark functional design is something Microsoft has picked up on as well. If you've had the dubious privilege of putting Vista through its paces, you'll notice its similarity to the sleek and elegant Panther. But that's it...You see one Mac, and you've seen them all...If you could slap a uniform on a machine, it would look like something just come out the end of Apple's conveyor belt.

The whole Mac set-up lacks the one factor that completes the PC enthusiast's wank fest - customability. You can't stick your hand in a Mac and wriggle its innards about because it means Apple has to relinquish control to the user...In other words, it's not terribly mod-friendly. You will not be able to take its components apart to build this or this...Not easily anyway.

"Macs are glorified Fisher-Price activity centres for adults;
computers for scaredy cats too nervous to learn how proper computers work;
computers for people who earnestly believe in feng shui.

PCs are the ramshackle computers of the people.
You can build your own from scratch, then customise it into oblivion.
Sometimes you have to slap it to make it work properly,
just like the Tardis."
I can't justify my love for PCs anymore than I can explain why Nutella is my idea of sex on a spoon...It just is. My first encounter with the G5 was when I was (briefly) a student at UEL, and it set my pulse a good way. Despite that, I couldn't wait to get home to a heap of shit that could barely run Windows ME. There's something about a PC that gives it character...

...And that's the reason Dr Who would have a PC instead of a Mac.

Related Material:
Complaint Against Apple's G5 Advertising Upheld
Power Mac G5 - The World's Fastest?

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