Sunday, November 2, 2008

Give Me Back My Frickin Delete Key

Came across an interesting post on Gizmodo the other day. The short of it for those who hate clicking through people's links to other stories (I include myself in this category most of the time); a Professor Semir Zeki of University College London (I have a hate on for the term University College by the way. Are they trying to that make it sound like a higher end College or a lower end University? But that’s a rant for another day), sought to explore the difference between love and hate in the human mind. The conclusion, hate tends to be more rational than love.

Dan Nosowitz at first appears to have had been on the ball by stating Fanboy Fever Explained Through Science. Had me intrigued and got my clicks. He makes some reasonable and believable comments supporting this. But then he says this study is an overgeneralization. C'mon Dan, you had me in your camp up to your wrap up. I think this Prof Semir is right on target and gives some credibility to something up sure many of us believes to be true. Let’s explore some facts.

Keyboards. Fanboys love the Mac keyboard. Irrational. Help me understand how one can be so enamoured with a keyboard? I love the "chiclet design" says one, referring to how the keys are spaced individually. Doesn't this look more like keys for an old calculator, not hardware you just paid a Mac premium for? And it infuriates me that Apple took away the backspace key. Or more accurately, they took away the delete key and renamed Backspace to Delete. So when using a Mac and you want to Backspace you Delete and when you want to Delete you need to go to the end of the text to be deleted and press delete so that it backspaces over your text. Why? What for? WTF does this do for us? What possible benefit for mankind does this represent? Does Apple provide a user manual to prepare you for this madness? I use both Backspace and Delete. Any Mac Fanboys out there want to answer this? At work I bet a lot of you use a Windows machine on a Windows keyboard. Don't you use both at work? C'mon, be honest. You know you do. I've used both Delete and Backspace several times just writing this. Want to know why "Once you go Mac you never go Back"? Once you're used to this insanity it's probably hard to come back to earth. That’s like saying once schizophrenia sets in, it’s in.

I can always boot into Windows when I need to. Is this really a sane argument for a Mac? A lot of what I love and use is in Windows. I'm not paying a Mac premium just to log into Windows all day long. I just paid a premium for a Mac, now I got to go out and buy a copy of Windows too? Don't get me fired up on the Backspace Delete tangent. Just did that last paragraph. I like Office. It syncs beautifully with my phone. I use it every day at work. I use it even more for personal contacts, appointments, tasks, etc. Games, I don't think I even need to elaborate on that one. The myriad of software made for Windows.

Mac software is so easy to use. Huh? Windows isn't? Let me tell you a story about my oldest son at the age of six. Fun day at the school. Wife volunteers as a helper. Brings along the camera. Boy comes home and wants to look at the pictures. Sure son, let me put them on the computer so you can see them better. People like viewing pictures on their cameras. I can't understand why but it’s so easy to offload onto your computer. The SD card just slides into the slot on all my notebooks. Unless you happen have a Mac ... then no SD slot for you. Guess they figured people didn't really need that. You could put a card reader into your Express Port though ... oh yeah, can't do that on a Mac either. But I'll rant on that later. Back to the boy. I had not used Windows movie maker. I had been using something else that I really love using that I won't name here since rather than buying it I ... uh ... acquired it through other means. Sitting by himself viewing the photos in an Explorer window he had fell upon Windows Movie Maker. By himself he was able to create a slideshow, add background music, create a title, and make comments on each picture. When did he need my help? "Daddy", he says, "do we have a blank DVD?" I needed to show him where I kept my blank disks. He was pretty proud about how he brought his movie to school and the class got to watch. I bet the teacher thought Daddy helped. My involvement was pretty little.

So, on to ports. People talk to the sleekness of case design on the Mac. Do you really want to get rid of ports? My Inspiron 9400 had six USB ports and I loved it. Never needed a hub until I got a XPS 1330. I like it but it really could have had more than two USB ports. No card reader on a MacBook? Take away the 3.5 floppy, yeah I saw some logic in that but they did it kind of soon. When they took that away I was still using floppies for a couple years. But an SD card reader? Any Mac fanboys out there want to explain to me why you wouldn't want this? This should be interesting. An express port. Sure, there are not a lot of peripherals out there but there are some. If wireless data ever gets cheaper here in Canada I wouldn't mind internet on my notebook anywhere I happen to be. If I had a Mac I'd definitely want an express port for an SD card reader. They're making SSD's that slide into Express Port. Once the prices come to a more sane level I really really want one. Right now my Express Port is used for storing the remote for my notebook. Not really a high tech use for this but it's handy. It clicks right in and I haven't lost that little remote yet.

I both love to hear about and have a raging hate on for the posts I've come across where people talk about how they switched to Mac and their last brand new Windows machine that took ten minutes to boot. Ten minutes to boot? WTF were you using. x86 running 3.11? I find this mind boggling as I've never run across this personally. It takes longer than a Mac. Sure hope that Microsoft works on that for Windows 7. But c'mon, enough with the over exaggeration. If not over exaggeration, then I guess all I can say is that you shouldn't put your faith in retail PC manufacturers installing software. I like to get a new laptop with a shiny new and blank hard drive so I know exactly what’s on it. If I can't get it empty, next best bet is format and install it all yourself. Here's where the benefits of the Mac for me shine. I give this advice on what to do with your computer. Somebody says I'm buying a new computer at Best Buy and don't know how to do that can you help? My advice? Buy a Mac. Benefit for them; no crapware loaded machine. Benefit for me; don't need to teach someone potentially unteachable. There's lots of how to's on the net. Extra benefit, same guy says I can't do this or that on my Mac. Sorry, can't help you, I don't use a Mac. Leaves more free time for me. Thanks Steve Jobs for the easy out.

I don't play games. I use my computer for surfing the net and viewing media. $1,300 Mac and $300 netbook both do this. I know this is oversimplification but it sounds both beautiful and concise. I think that for the average person who buys a Mac for what it can do is kind of overspending at $1,300 for a 13” machine. Since the G4 stopped rolling out it’s all PC hardware. The only thing that makes it a Mac is the keyboard, the OS and Apples crushing grip over what its customers can and can’t do with the hardware they bought.

I find this one incredibly mind boggling. $1,300 for a shiny new white Mac. For a couple hundred more you can get a black one. Doesn't this make you want to slap Steve Jobs in the face? My last white electronic device? The original Gameboy back in 199x. After my first Gameboy and bag of Cheetos I soon discovered the folly of buying a white anything that I actually want to touch and hold. I recall watching a Cnet review on a new phone (don't recall which one) and the young lady made a comment that it was only available in black. Oh to be that young and naive once more. Boy I feel old.

Vista doesn't work. From my experience it's more or less XP prettied up. Some navigation changed. Got used to it with 95 and XP, getting used to Vista. Having Vista problems? Should have done some research on what hardware works and what doesn't. I did. My Vista issues came at the beginning. Vista was two months new and I built a new machine with a mainboard that had a built in RAID controller. No Vista driver for this existed. Sucks for me but it was short term and I knew it was iffy when I put it together. My feelings were that I'd give it a shot and in the worst case scenario I can always download ... er ... purchase XP. This has since been resolved. Vista was recognizing the DVD drive in my Inspiron 9400 as a CD drive. Update the driver and I am told that the installed driver is current. My solution, manually grab the current driver and manually cram it through. Yeah, MS dropped the ball on that one but that's not exactly a tough fix. Don't have it in you to do this? What do you do when your car doesn't start? If I can't fix it I call a mechanic. I don't blame the manufacturer. Well, sometimes I do. But I still call the mechanic. That's life. I put the people who buy a preassembled machine with preinstalled OS and preinstalled software from Best Buy having Vista issues in the same boat as someone who buys a Chrysler and is shocked afterwards at what a crappy car they got. Probably won't ever get Best Buy or Chrysler as a sponsor now. That's OK; they're both in financial trouble right now. May not matter anyway.

This is post 2 for my blog and I hope this isn't coming across as an Apple Hater blog. I'm leaning toward news and technology that I have an opinion on. I just couldn't resist the rant. Apple doesn't put out a bad machine, pretty reliable, not bad looking, just doesn't work for me. I have pretty ingrained opinion on what hardware I want and what I want out of my computer and I really dislike the limitations that Apple itself sets on its own users. There are just not enough features or that killer Mac only app that makes me want to switch to a Mac. Just can't resist a dig at the fanatical side of Apple lovers. Positive that I'm not alone.

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