Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Apple a Day...

I believe that the Macintosh is superior to the Microsoft PC in almost every aspect, but especially those of hardware and software. I have used Macintosh computers for almost three years, and have found them to be the best computer no matter the application. Although often portrayed as the underdog, the Macintosh has now become a leader in the computer industry, both in terms of technology and of innovation. No longer does one have to take a huge risk to switch to the Mac. Despite this, Industry and Academia are just starting to realize the potential of the Macintosh.
In addition to being superior in hardware and software, Macs are also highly rated in customer satisfaction. As John C. Wood observes, “Additionally, we note a finding that we did not encounter in this study. Namely, not one participant in our study was unhappy with their Macintosh computer. On the contrary, all of the individuals were enthusiastic – die-hard – users” (14).
There are many reasons to buy a Mac. First, there's usability and intuitiveness. The Macintosh is designed to be easy to use. In a perfect world, the easier to use system would win out over the competition, but this has not happened with the Macintosh. Instead, most users are stuck with  an operating system that forces them to hit a button labeled “Start” to turn off their computer. Most users have simply accepted this poor design over time, not knowing that there is a better alternative, or simply not willing to leave the comfortable confines of what they know.
Most of the power of the Macintosh lies in it's operating system. OS X (the operating system that Macintosh computers run) is based on a UNIX core. Technology reviewer Jan Ozer finds that, “OS X is equally impressive. Connecting to the Internet via Mindspring or an Ethernet connection was a breeze, and I was able to successfully load and run Microsoft's Office Suite, as well as Final Cut Express and the iLife suite...” In addition to being easy to use, OS X is also very stable. Because the OS is based on UNIX (which has been around since the dawn of the computing age) Macintosh users experience far fewer crashes or program freeze ups than their PC counterparts. The dreaded but often used “Ctrl+Alt+Delete” shortcut, so depended on in Windows, can be forgotten once one begins to use a Macintosh. OS X also offers the welcome advantage of being susceptible to far fewer viruses than the PC, making it a far more dependable and durable machine.
A Macintosh also makes it easier to be creative. Most high end professional video and  image editing software is available only for the Macintosh. The Macintosh has built in tools such as the Digital Color Meter and the system wide color profile settings that were designed specifically with artists in mind. Even the user interface is designed using neutral colors, so as not to affect color perception when an artist is editing images.
So, if the Macintosh offers all of these advantages, why is there not a massive rush to snatch up every Mac available? The PC crowd offers many reasons why the Macintosh is a second rate choice, and most of these arguments can be broken down into two categories: price and compatibility. We'll start with price.
In his buying guide entitled “How To Buy A Pc.”, Brian Kennedy points out, “Most of the world uses PCs, so they're cheaper, have more software and more plug-and-play peripherals.” and “PCs also tend to be less expensive than Macs that have the same features.” Macintosh computers can be expensive when compared to their PC counterparts, but I think a basic principle of economics holds true: “You get what you pay for.” This is the case with the Macintosh. Macintosh computers are known to last longer than their PC counterparts. There are two reasons for the Macintosh's unmatched longevity; the quality of the components and the fact that it contracts fewer viruses. There are ten year old Macintosh computers still selling for two to three hundred dollars, something you will not find in the realm of the PC.
Lastly, and most importantly, compatibility. According to Brian Kennedy “PCs account for more than 85% of the desktop computer world; Macs represent a mere 10%. That's why software developers (especially game companies) make a lot more programs for PCs.” For a long time, major software packages were available only for the PC.  This is one area where PC proponents held the upper hand for a long time, but this in no longer the case. Macintosh users now account for a large enough percentage of users that software developers are giving them quite a bit of consideration. As stated earlier, Microsoft's Office suite can be run natively on the Mac. Every day, more and more work is done through web browsers reducing the need for specialized software. And if that wasn't enough, the Macintosh can even run Microsoft Windows for the ultimate compatibility.
These are the two main reasons for not buying a Mac, and I believe that the other reasons are quickly becoming fewer and less relevant as time passes. David Beckman and David Hirsch also share this belief. They conclude that,
Every few years we nostalgically look at, and sometimes write about, the Macintosh. Invariably, we conclude that most of Macintosh's features are better than conventional Windows, but not so much better as to overcome Windows warts. Things are different now. It used to be difficult to mix a Macintosh into a Windows network. No longer. It is pretty much plug and play. There used to be many must-have programs that only ran on Windows. That is becoming less and less true now.
Keeping all of this in mind, I would recommend a Macintosh to any friend or family member without hesitation. It is the obvious choice for someone seeking an easy to use, yet powerful and stable machine.

Works Cited
Beckman, David, and David Hirsch. "Big Mac Attack." ABA Journal 90.12 (2004): 60-68. Academic     Search Complete. Web. 11 Nov. 2011.
Jordan C. Wood, et al. "Self-Admitted Pretensions Of Mac Users On A Predominantly PC University Campus." Educational Media International 47.1 (2010): 1-17. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.
Kennedy, Brian. "How To Buy A Pc." ON Magazine 6.7 (2001): 44. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 14 Nov. 2011.
Ozer, Jan. "ESCAPE From Freedom." Emedia -- The Digital Studio Magazine 16.8 (2003): 48. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Nov. 2011.

Monday, December 5, 2011

We See Genius

  When most people think of a “geek”, a stereotypical image will most likely pop into their head. A lanky, skinny guy, with buck teeth and glasses, walking awkwardly down the hall. He might be wearing plaid pants (held at an abnormal height by suspenders), a striped shirt, and tall socks escaping his tight fitting dress shoes. Geeks are commonly held to be losers with no life. Part of this is due to the way they act. They never go to dances, football games, or parties. Instead, they stay at home and do weird things, like read, study, and program computers. Therefore, the thinking goes, they must not be very interesting or have anything useful to contribute to society. Right?

This stereotypical view is one that is held by my friend Alton Wampler. He said that when he thinks of a geek, he sees someone who “is really obsessed with schoolwork and getting good grades, and doesn't take time to have fun.” He also says that a geek “does a lot of work with computers and stuff that no one really understands.” His description of a typical geek includes glasses, a graphing calculator, and flash drives.

The Wikipedia definition also does a lot to advance this commonly held view. Wikipedia defines a “geek” as “a person obsessed with intellectual pursuits for their own sake, who is also deficient in most other human attributes so as to impair the person's smooth operation within society.”

My view of a geek, however, is much different. Part of this has to do with the fact that I consider myself a geek. I don't wear tight fitting pants or walk around with a graphing calculator in my pocket (those belong in a backpack), but I am still often called a “geek” by my friends. This is mostly because of my interests in academics and computers. I read computer manuals for fun, thus making me very geeky; or so say the people around me. But, although my friends make fun of me, they're very happy they know me when their computer crashes. They know that I can help them, because this is my area of study and expertise.

So, instead of defining a geek as someone “with no life”, I would say that a geek is someone who is extremely dedicated to a particular subject matter that just happens to be perceived as abnormal by the large majority of people. I think geeks are able to separate those things that are important from the things that aren't, and will pursue those things that are most likely to benefit them in the future. A geek is willing to sacrifice his perception by society to do something great.

A good example of this would be Steve Jobs. Perceived by the rest of world as a loser, Jobs dropped out of Reed College during his first semester so that he could “stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting” (Stanford University). One of these was a calligraphy class that would later inspire the beautiful fonts on the Macintosh. Jobs' invention of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, have literally changed the world by making the internet more accessible to people no matter where in the world they are. Although most thought Jobs' obsession with technology was “weird”, he made an impact in the world through his dedication and commitment to something he was passionate about.

Essentially, I believe that being a geek is about being different, and I think that the following poem, entitled “Here's to the Crazy Ones”, sums it up very well.

Here's to the crazy ones
The misfits, the rebels, the trouble makers
the round pegs in the square holes
The ones who see things differently
They're not fond of rules,
and they have no respect for the status quo
You can quote them, disagree with them
glorify or vilify them
About the only thing you can't do
is ignore them
because they change things
They push the human race forward
While some may see them as the crazy ones
We see genius
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world
Are the ones who do

(Apple Inc.)

Works Cited
Apple Inc. Apple Steve Jobs The Crazy Ones – NEVER BEFORE AIRED 1997 YouTube, 01 Feb. 2009. Web. 24 Oct. 2011

Geek.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia. Web. 13 Oct. 2011

Stanford University. Steve Jobs' 2005 Commencement Address YouTube, 07 Mar. 2008. Web. 28 Oct. 2011

Wampler, Alton. Telephone Interview. 22 Oct. 2011