Pretentious, opinionated language

Games, technology, music, silliness. Oh and ninjas. Lots of ninjas.

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Location: Oslo, Norway

I am Andreas. Day time programmer and technical consultant. Night time musician and game developer.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Why Apple bugs me

This was originally a monster rant on the flashLounge list, but i just felt it was silly to throw so much text out there and not store it someplace, so i might as well drop it here ;)

I grew up with Apple. My family is all about the mac. My sister has an ibook, my parents share one of those new fancy iMacs. My first computer was an Apple IIsi (god bless crystal quest), and my second was a Performa 5320. I used to hike up to my dad's job at the university to steal Powermac time to play Marathon in high res. Throughout this, my buddies were on Amigas, 486DX2s, Pentiums. I'm a guy, i was into games, and the Mac just plain sucked at games for such a horribly long time. This was before i got serious about music and development. We had hardware that i thought was well capable of running great games, but while we were playing isometric tile based RPGs i can do in Flash now with better performance, PC users were hitting it up with System shock.

This was admittedly in the dark (or shall i say gray) ages, around MacOS 7 and 8, when nothing worked well and Apple was going nowhere.

When my Performa broke down and i needed something for music, my dad got me an *old used Pentium 2* that was dusting down in a storage room at his work.
It was technically poorer than my Performa had been, but you know what? When you start out with a PC, that ugly metal and plastic box that weighs more than it should and buzzes like a pack of bees as big as cats, you realise the difference between a mac and a pc very quickly. When you buy a mac, that product is like buying a sports car. You don't intend to improve on it, you don't intend to customize it beyond the surface aesthetics and some minor functionality. The hardware is what you'll wind up using until you sell and buy another one. A PC is like inheriting your parents' Civic and realising that the box is just the basis. As soon as you take a peek under the hood and figure out how it ticks, everything about it makes a mechanical sort of practical sense that inspires the same kind of creative tinkering that makes Lego such a kickass toy. When you realise that what you have now is potentially *far* beyond what that sportscar your neighbor is flaunting. You can outdo him in every possible way. With enough effort you can take that Civic and make as good a car at quite possibly a fraction of the cost.

The Apple usage cycle is as follows: Buy, use, sell. Buy, Use, Sell. Buy, Use, Sell. Get the latest, use it for a bit til it's not the latest. Sell it, buy the next new thing.
The PC usage cycle is as follows: Buy, use, replace component that isn't up to par until you need a mobo switch. Repeat. I got my first PC in 98, and it's sat right next to me right now, having been upgraded a multitude of times and is now doing server duty. I'm attached to this thing, i can't just throw it away.
It's even got that pokemon sticker i put on it in highschool on the front panel still. That thing i put time into, it's something i care about.

The Apple cycle demands grand transactions that can dent your budget something fierce. The PC cycle is infinitely more affordable in the long run.
There's all the reason i ever needed right there not to throw dough at an Apple product. Don't give me the Mac Mini crap, because it's just another Mac you can't do squat with in the long run. My IIsi lasted longer than the mini is going to do in the current market climate.

I'm not a fan of luxury for the sake of it being pricier, and i'm certainly no fan of buying fluff because it's got a shiny exterior and a pop brand name.
Pop open the hood of a Mac today and there is practically no reason other than OSX to be using one. The software is hilariously limited. There's a fantastic open source community that makes a crapload of great toys to tinker with, but to this day, working in an office with 6 other mac users who are deeply into their macs, i haven't seen a single thing on their macs that i missed on my Athlon64 aside from Quicksilver (which is fantabulous).
They lament their lack of music software, their lack of games, how buggy the finder is, how expensive the hardware is. But oh wait, then Apple drops some new fluff like that ridiculous dashboard thing, so they can go back to shouting about how fantastic Quartz and Core graphics is, even though the only god damn thing they have to show for it is a Mr Sparkle screen saver and a simple displacement map effect in Dashboard that Flash 8 can do today.

I'm not impressed. Apple drops the same functionality on the market over and over with shinier designs, bigger ad campaigns, more buzzwords.
And the same shitty hardware. You get the iPods that you can't swap batteries for, the Nanos that BREAK under normal usage (much like gen.1 PSPs, god bless their undying souls). The finder is the very basis of their OS, and they still havent fixed the damn thing, but wait, no big dilly, there's a watery splash effect in Dashboard we'd like you to look at.

Apple is smoke and mirrors. On their ads you get the shiny white iBooks that i'll expect is targeted quite precisely at the Young White Female demograph.
They look so cute and pristine, but have you guys seen one of those white fluffy iBooks after 3 months of normal, careful use by people who care about them?
White finish in normal household use looks like dry toilet paper if you don't dust the surface daily. They ship with a ridiculous amount of RAM, because you know those girls don't know how important RAM is, right? Do you trust Apple to cut them a break when they find out they need another 512 to have the least bit of functionality in Photoshop, or to get more than 4 frames per second in World of Warcraft? Oh wait, that's right. No 3d accelleration. It'll run like crap on your cute fluffy pristine laptop, which is ironic considering it probably looks like a diaper by now.

Apple's marketing of the iBook, VOMITING forth this venomous piece of shit product that's effectively little more than a typewriter, pisses me off in more ways than i can describe. My friend paid more for her iBook than i paid for my 1.8ghz 1gb ram laptop WITH win xp pro and a dvd burner, and i feel genuinely bad for her. She feels the limitations she wasn't made aware of every time she tries to do anything other than type words on a page with it, and i'm very happy i got to her before she spent three times the money she should have on apple-condoned RAM. She can't even run Fallout 2 properly on her iBook, a game that went gold in NINETEEN NINETY EIGHT.

Apple drops Da Bomb. A TWO BUTTON MOUSE. But wait, it's not two-button. It's touch sensitive and uses some kind of wackjob sensor technology for no reason at all other than to be cool. You have to take both fingers off the mouse to right click, but never mind that, SENSORS! TECHNOLOGY! Apple adds a SCROLL BALL to their mouse.

Surely this is revolutionary? Hardly. Old news Apple, yet you market it like you invented some kind of time warp laser array that can somehow end cancer.

Is there possibly a good reason why you would pay for this useless trinket? There is simply no good reason other than it matches your pristine fluffy iBook diaper, and that's the reason Apple counts on. They count on the user to want the product because it's an Apple product.

Apple's marketing targets "the individual" in a way that's almost frightening, because if a corporation preaches conformity, it's the house that Steve built. "Think different" is such
a maddeningly ironic slogan that serves to showcase how successful Apple's brand of brainwashing its customers has really been. On one hand you have the rag-tag hippie rebels
of the PC community, always striving to break rules and force the limit higher. Then you have the Apple community wearing matching white and silver suits, using identical computers
playing identical games, putting their hard earned money into their buddy Apple, who after all must be right: The iBook just looks so cute, and those Apple cinema displays sure are big.

Apple users today are the antithesis of thinking differently. They are merely another niche user.

For a community that praises itself for its attentiveness to quality, they sure put up with a lot of bullshit. Every technological advance Apple has dropped the last few years have been
OSX and Apple hardware specific. They give NOTHING to progression, other than perhaps a few new buzzwords to sell Tiger. Mac users are apparently overjoyed to be surfing websites with Safari and synching their iPods with iTunes (iRamHog) and watching the splashy effects, as long as Apple feeds them new glossy logos and buzzwords every now and then to reassure them that they are on top of the world technologically. Mac users hate on PC users for "conforming" to the Gates/MS paradigm, which is like preaching to the choir, because if anyone is aware of how crud MS is, it's PC users. We know we buy that Civic see, because we see what we can do with it. You're the ones lacking the balls to get hands-on.

Conformity never had a clearer face than the abiding fool of the Apple customer, staring wide-eyed at the iPod nano on the front page of the new york times, because damn it looks good,
and damn it looks small, and everyone has one, it's got to be right for me too. To buy into the Apple paradigm of subtraction, where you keep the surface as simple as humanly possible to make the interface as approachable to anyone, without at the same time considering that this paradigm may be the least bit restrictive and having a long look at the price tag of the
kajigger you're getting ready to throw your cash at, that speaks volumes of "thinking differently",don't it. "Think different" means "Think about Apple as an alternative to Microsoft". There is no political movement here, though Apple love portraying it as such. There is no resistance. You're merely buying into a sales pitch.

Apple is out for profit, don't you forget that one second. There is no niceness here. Ask any business that's tried to do business with Apple, and you'll be told of just how hard a bargaign
Apple runs. Apple offered *the* telecom operator in norway 800 iPod minis to give away as part of a marketing campaign. This campaign involved the Apple logo front and center.
Said Telecom was expected to pay full price for each iPod. Yeah, you just try running deals with the Jobs man, but you won't get any slack. You know why? Because A.p.p.l.e is about p.r.o.f.i.t.

There is no philanthropy here. Gates has donated more to charity than anyone here is likely to make in a good segment of their lifetime. Jobs gets on stage and sells a shiny new G5, while he's
gearing up to ditch Motorola completely.

It's distressing that some actually take Apple's recent marketing campaign as anything but a simple cynical attempt to gain on people's sympathy for Rosa Parks. By doing this, Apple has ensured that they have your support in the future, because you just know that multibilliondollar corporation is just so full of niceness and yummy goodness, which you'll keep in mind the next time you buy an Apple product, because obviously that philanthropy extends to their pricing and the customer-corporation relationship.

I'm not impressed. There is a huge number of reasons to get a Mac, but the heartwarming nature of the corporation is NOT one of them.
I heartily recommended an iMac for my parents, but i dearly wish friend had been given clearer indications from Apple as to what exactly she was getting into, and had saved up some more cash for a Powerbook,
which is actually a laptop and not some fisherprice push-toy. Apple prey on the ignorance of the average person, and i think it's utterly detestable.

If Mac users care about their computers and more importantly their computing, they'd be giving Apple a WAY harder time than they have been.

Instead the grand majority is plain lapdog material, and it's sad to watch.
Think different indeed.


Anonymous Jaysee said...

I found this interesting. I'm looking at getting an iBook soon but it's not because it's white and fluffy (although I will admit to being a white female) but because of OS X. And even then, not because it's pretty but because after using linux on an aging ThinkPad for four months and Windows XP before that (on a different computer my sister has now appropriated) I could never, ever go back to Windows and OS X is a nice middle ground between geek and mainstream.

So what I'm trying to say is I agree with you in almost everything but I think apple certainly has a place and it's a good one too - linux isn't for most normal users and windows is a trumped up POS.

And the thing about Rosa Parks got me too - I mean, what right/reason does Apple have for putting her on their front page apart from the 'warm fuzzy feeling' you talked about.

Anyway, I enjoyed your piece.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous PsychoFreud said...


And that's my mature comment.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Rolf Marvin Bøe Lindgren said...

well, either you get the point - what's important is how fast the user is, not necessarily how fast the computer is - or you don't.

I am more efficient on a Mac than on a PC, and that makes all the difference. The difference is in the software, and in understanding how to use it.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Rolf Marvin Bøe Lindgren said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Sunjammer said...

Rolf, pardon my french, but that's utter garbage talk.

What matters is how fast the computer allows the user to be, not vice versa.
Besides, speed was never disputed here. My argument is against Apple as a benefactor to the world, when they are just as if not more flawed than Microsoft ever were.

At the very least, Microsoft give something back to the community they exploit. Apple merely exploits.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Shawn T Lippert said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:15 PM  

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