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August 1, 2010

Apple - It Just Works! (not)

So I have the pleasure of setting up a super-tricked-out new computer from the Apple store for someone. Opened it up out of the box and got to hook everything up. Wireless keyboard. Wireless touch-pad mouse. 27" screen. 4 Gigs of Ram. A smoking 3.2 GHz Mac with 4 Gigs of RAM running Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6.4).

This is the first Mac I've used that doesn't eject the CD ROM out the side of the monitor where you watch amazed as it rolls across the floor. PC's don't do that. They use something new called "gravity" to hold it in place.

The "Genius"es down at the Apple Store even copied over all of the data from the old computer.

So last night, we start uncrating the unholy thing and guess what? Setting up the free printer was no easier than setting up a printer on a WIndows PC. It was a total pain. Hooking up USB cables and power supply cables...installing ink cartridges...printing...scanning...you name it.

So, finally we get the printer working and get the computer connected to the internet only to discover that Mail won't work. Big nasty error message that says "You can't use this version of the application Mail.app with this version of Mac OS X. You have Mail.app 3.6"

And the computer can't open PDF files for some reason. Now, mind you...this is the first Mac I've used in my life that actually has a Left and Right Mouse button, something the PC had over 20 years ago.

Good job, Apple. Well played. Fortunately, the Apple "Just Works" while the PC's suck so bad. Not!

So I got Apple Tech Support on the phone today and the guy walked me through some arcane steps. We drug the Mail.app into the trash can. (Finder - Applications - Mail.app).

Then, we had to dig up the original install discs that came with the Mac (which had mysteriously disappeared during the night) and reinstalled the Mail app from the install discs.

Then, we had to go to the Apple web page and download some insanely large Mac OS X v.10.6.4 Combo Update. (Apple.com/downloads - click Support in upper right corner - View all support downloads - Mac OS X 10.6.4 Update Combo). This file is an 887 Meg monstrosity that currently indicates it will take roughly 4 hours to download (Most DVD movies will rip into less than 750 Megs of disk space).

So, here I sit...hovering...for 3 hours...without access to email...waiting for Apple to download some nightmarish file into the brand-spanking new Mac.

Apple. It Just Works! (not).

And what kills me is this. If you run into some Apple user, 99% of the time they'll sing the praises of Apple. "Oh my god it's the best computer ever made!!11!!11!!" And then they'll wave their arms for effect like Merlin the magician and wipe the drool from their chin with an almond encrusted scone while sipping a triple-venti half-caff Starbucks. You think I'm making this up, but this is how these people are. They're a cult. And they sing the praises of Apple because they're drinking the Kool-Aid.

The difference is that people that own PC's tend to be more objective. They don't foam at the mouth when talking about their computer experiences, and as a rule, are more capable of objectively recognizing and discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the multi-company battlefield that is the PC in general, and of the Windows O/S in particular.

Whereas most Apple owners talk about their computer like it's a magical flying unicorn.

The truth of the matter is that the Apple, in my experience, is no easier to own or operate than a regular PC.

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 1, 2010 at 9:35 AM


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