Mac vs. PC

This content is 17 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.


PC guy - Mac guy

A few months back, I commented that Apple’s Mac vs. PC ads were amusing but it still strikes me as odd that a company with a brand as strong as Apple’s would drop to what is effectively bragging. Anyway, despite the rumours of Mac guy Justin Long being replaced (which he appears to deny on his website), new ads are running and they are still amusing… even if they do sometimes sail a little close to the wind (more on that in a moment).

The ads have grabbed the public attention so much that there are even spoof ads:
Even Microsoft seem to be getting in on the act, and although the original source of the Zune vs. iPod clip below is unclear, it was reported to have been shown at a Microsoft event (I can believe that):

Meanwhile, the United States’ campaign has been so successful that it is now being rolled out in other parts of the world – David Mitchell and Robert Webb have been brought in as PC guy and Mac guy for the UK ads and it seems to work well (my favourites so far are definitely “Restarting” and “Virus“).

I said that Apple are sailing close to the wind here and this is why… I have to restart my Mac far more often than my Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 PCs – so that’s one of the UK ads that’s a blatant lie then. I’ll accept that view is a little subjective, so let’s objectively consider the new “Security” ad in the US which pokes fun at Windows Vista’s user access control:

…and here’s a screen shot from my Mac, after I change the default behaviour which allows me to run as an administrator although admittedly not as root (and with the client firewall turned off):

OS X authentication

I know the ads are largely about fun but isn’t this a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

Some more Microsoft videos

This content is 18 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

A few months back I blogged about the re-introducing the real Windows Vista videos that were doing the rounds and earlier today I blogged about a video of what could have happened if Microsoft had designed the packaging for the iPod. Here are a few more Microsoft videos that I found in a couple of misspent hours online this afternoon:

Enjoy!

What could have happened If Microsoft had designed the packaging for the iPod

This content is 18 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Late last night, Alex and I were (for once) agreeing on the success of an Apple product – the iPod – which may not be the best digital music player on the market (technically) but sure enough has the simplest “user experience” (the tight integration of the iPod with Apple’s iTunes music store may well be monopolistic but it is incredibly easy to use, especially when compared with equivalent offerings based Microsoft’s platform for digital rights management).

That’s the beauty of the iPod. Simplicity. From the packaging, to the hardware design, to the user interface.

I’m guessing that this has been around for a while now (with the 2005 product references) but I’ve just seen a short video of what could have happened if Microsoft had designed the iPod package:

Based on my professional relationship with Microsoft, this particular parody is uncannily close to the truth.

Forum evangelism

This content is 18 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

This example forum post history was stolen from James O’Neill. Given the comments I get whenever I write about Macs (like the prospect buying a Mac and installing an operating system that’s not OS X on it), it seemed kind of relevant:

A: I’m thinking of getting a new computer.
B: I’ve got a Mac, you should get one too.
C: Macs are pretty, but Windows is more flexible.
D: Windoze is evil man. Look at all the money M$ makes. You should get Linux [gives list of distributions].
B: Linux is hard. My granny can use a Mac, and she’s been dead for 10 years.
D: If she can’t build a kernel she shouldn’t have a computer, tree hugger.
C: Have you looked at Windows XP-Dead Grandparent Edition? It’s got lots of features [lists them. All of them].
E: Yeah, but that’s the problem XP DGE is so bloated. It’s been downhill since Windows 3.0, and we didn’t get viruses in those days.
D: And those features are just a cover for Micro$oft to steal your brain.
C: [Gives feature by feature justification, explains 15 years of changes in viruses. Denies brain stealing rumour. Misses meal].
A: None of you have given me a reason to choose one OS over another.
F-Z: WE DON’T CARE!
K: Why do you need a computer? In my day we did everything in the darkroom – computers are just cheating.
J: Hey, I’m new here and I’m not sure if this is the right place – does anyone have a recipe for pancakes?
L: Grab yourself a 3174 and run it green screen to an OS/390 host. If you’re short of cash then AS/400s are going for about £129 on eBay. Those fancy Mac things are really based on RS6000 technology anyway. Apple steal everything just like M$.
X: Nah – OS/390 hasn’t cut it since they renamed it Z/OS…

Sound familiar to anyone?

The IT Crowd

This content is 18 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

I was pleased to read in IT Week that a new sitcom was about to air in the UK, based around an IT department (I even heard about it on US-based podcasts – largely because Slashdot picked up on it). Surely, I thought, there’s plenty of scope there for something funny – maybe even a twist on “The Office” bringing in the idiosyncrasies of end-user support.

Well, the first two episodes of Channel 4’s “The IT Crowd” hit our screens last weekend (I finally watched it last night) and I was sorely disappointed. It scored 10 out of 10 for attention to detail (office in the basement of a tower block, RTFM t-shirt, rows of defunct CRT monitors on the shelf with Post-it notes attached, Commodore PET and ZX81 proudly on display, IT Manager who knows nothing about IT, etc.) but laughs were few and far between (not counting the dubbed-on sitcom laughter), despite depicting the two techies (to support 34 floors of staff… first response to all support calls “have you turned it off and on again”) as social misfits.

Maybe working in IT is just not that funny.

The price of free speech (does anyone in the UK Government have a sense of humour?)

This content is 18 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

I don’t normally engage in political comment on this site, but this is tech-related political comment…

Recently, there has been a lot of media coverage about how Google is allowing search results to be censored on it’s Chinese search portal and whether or not this co-operation with the Chinese authorities is the right thing to do – but did you know that the UK Government is engaging in a form of Internet censorship of its own (albeit on a much smaller scale)?

Late this afternoon, I needed a laugh, so I visited Ian Everleigh’s deeply satirical and very funny New Highway Code, only to find that he had been asked to take it down by the UK Government Cabinet Office (who were upset because it scored higher on search results than the real Highway Code). How pathetic, that the authorities feel so threatened by something that was obviously sarcastic (and extremely popular with 45,000 hits on the site in 12 months). In the author’s own words:

“Mimicking the familiar style of The Highway Code, its aim was to draw attention to the many appalling habits which cause inconvenience and even danger every day on the UK’s roads.”

I’d say that was a good thing. Clearly the people at the Cabinet Office don’t understand sarcasm. Thankfully, there is a copy of the site in the Internet wayback machine (sadly without the graphics), and Bruno Bozzetto’s yes and no dyseducational [sic] road movie is a very funny flash animation which examines driving habits in the same vein.

Back in 2004, Thomas Scott, the author of the HM Department of Vague Paranoia Preparing for Emergencies site (as well as lots of parodies that can be found via his site, some of which have even appeared on television), was asked to take the Preparing for Emergencies site down as people might confuse it with the real Cabinet Office Preparing for Emergencies site. Thankfully he refused and the BBC reported that the Government is unlikely to take further action (presumably because it could cost them a lot of money and make them look stupid in court) but I’m not sure that I would have the courage or conviction to stand up to them if they started pressuring me to remove a web site.

It only costs a few pounds to register similar domain names to official sites (and let’s face it, the government wastes enough of taxpayers’ money, a few quid on domain names won’t hurt much). It’s their own fault if the .co.uk version of a domain is available when the .gov.uk version is taken.

Thankfully, no one has yet taken down Ian Vince’s Department of Social Scrutiny site, although he does unfortunately have to provide a legal disclaimer to say that it’s a joke.

If you live in the UK (or even if you don’t and you check out the real UK Government sites), you’ll realise that these sites may be funny, but they are obviously uncomfortably close to the truth for the powers that be.

To the civil servants of the UK Government – especially the Cabinet Office, who claim to be “at the centre of Government, coordinating policy and strategy across government departments” – is your job really so dull that you’ve lost your sense of humour? It might be interesting to note that satire is defined in a glossary of literary terms as “a manner of writing that mixes a critical attitude with wit and humor [sic] in an effort to improve mankind…”.

Apple observations

This content is 19 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Although my day job involves a lot of work with Windows (often working closely with people at Microsoft), I also use a fair amount of open source software (e.g. Sun Solaris, Mozilla Firefox, FileZilla, etc.) so I’m not completely biased towards the company that everybody loves to hate. I’m also writing this post on a PC running Unix and like to think of myself as pretty operating system agnostic – it’s just that Windows is where I have the greatest knowledge and experience.

I think that Apple produce some great products – I love my iPod Mini and I’d seriously consider buying a Mac Mini should they ever go over to Intel and 64-bit – but I do find that people who use Macs tend to be… somewhat fanatical (maybe it’s something to do with being an oppressed minority). When I dared to suggest that OS X icons are big and a waste of space (not exclusively a Mac problem – I also slated the KDE and Vista desktop environments), it didn’t take long for someone with more Mac experience than me to slap me down and tell me to use CMD-J to alter the size and then “come back… and apologise”.

That was good advice, I’m sure, but my point was that the defaults are ugly (a personal view of course, which I’m entitled to). When I was writing about the OS X/Vista videos a few days back, I came across the following comment about Apple fans (it’s slightly out of date because of the Intel references, but I left them in anyway). I think it’s funny – I wish I’d written it myself, but I didn’t:

“I am an Apple user.I have no opinions, needs or desires that are in conflict with Apple. If it’s good for Apple it’s good for me. If it’s good for me, but bad for Apple, then I oppose it. If it’s good for me, but Apple doesn’t offer it yet, I oppose it. When Apple tells me that it is good for them, I will change my mind and support it. I need no choices because choices mean I can choose something other than Apple, which is bad. Therefore choice is bad. Unless Apple gives me a choice, then choice is good.

Apple’s success means I have been successful at making Apple successful. If Jobs is happy I am happy. If Jobs is angry I am angry. I have no opinions other than Jobs’. When something new comes out, Apple will tell me what it is and tell me how much I want it. I can tell if Apple wants me to have it because they will sell it to me if it is good, and not sell it to me if it is bad.

Apple gives me all the choices I need. I can load music on my iPod that I download from Apple, rip from my CDs or pirate. Piracy is good because Apple permits it. If it were bad they would prevent it. Pirated music helps sell more iPods, which is good for Apple. So pirated music is good.

As of today Intels are bad, feh, I hate them. IBM PowerPCs are good. As of whenever Apple switches, IBM PowerPCs will be bad. I will hate them. When Intel CPUs sit in a Mac they will be good. When they sit in a PC they will be bad, crappy Dells. I will hate them.

The Operating System. Ah-oom. The Operating System. Mac OS X version 4.1.2.3.4.5.6.7 Tigerrrrr. Ah-oom. Oooh, aaah, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, eeeeh, aaaaaaah. Oh Steve. zzzzzzzzzzz.”

[source: MacLive.net]

If you love everything Apple does, please don’t flame me – it’s a joke – and I just plagiarised someone else’s wit and humour, to share it with the world (well, the few people who read this blog anyway). I took a pop at Microsoft a few days back and now I’m redressing the balance! I’m sure someone could write something similar with the names Gates and Microsoft in it and if you still think I’m being unfair to Apple, there was another comment on the same post that made me laugh, pointing out that Vista could be an acronym for Viruses, Infections, Spyware, Trojans, Adware – make what you want of that (although I tend to agree that these are all caused by poor computer discipline).

Windows Vista – how original?

This content is 19 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

I know that imitation is reckoned to be the most sincere form of flattery, but this morning I was listening to episode 37 of the This Week in Tech podcast and my ears pricked up when the guys referred to a video doing the rounds on the ‘net with Bill Gates’ Windows Vista CES keynote over the top of some Mac OS X demonstrations.

I’ve tracked it down (on MacLive.net, although that’s not the original source of the video), and it appears that it was so popular the creator has made two follow-ups:

They’re very funny!

I’m not a Mac user, but I have previously expressed doubts about the Windows Vista interface (codenamed Aero). I also commented last month that the Aero interface seems to be a mix of the Windows XP Luna interface with hints of Apple OS X and KDE. It’s a fine line to tread between plagiarism and a familiar user interface but personally I don’t like any of those big icons.

Right now, my favourite interface is Sun Java Desktop (based on Gnome and borrowing heavily from Windows in its aesthetics and operation, but much “prettier”). I guess it’s all a trade off between user familiarly and innovation, but then Microsoft has always been good at buying other people’s ideas and then promoting them.