Diatribes - Computer, Economic & Political

This blog is really just for me. If you find something interesting on it, leave me a comment. If you disagree with something, let me know what and why. In this blog I am just putting some of my thoughts for computers, the economy, politics, and other topics in writing.

24 November 2005

I love Macs, but I am worried about them.

I know I'll get flamed for this, but I don't think macs are the pinnacle of userfriendliness everyone else thinks. I do love macs, they are generally much easier than Windows. At work I use a mac, at home I have linux, I prefer linux. Here is why:

The dock sucks. I don't care what anyone says, this guy is right. Bruce Tognazzini founded apple's human interface group that so many rave about. So he knows what he is talking about. I think the ejecting disks to the trash is idiotic. I tried to help one lady who insisted that if she dragged her flash disk to the trash it would delete it, we had to back everything up before she would even try it. I hate how you have to use a mouse for everything. I use a mouse as little as possible (I even usually browse the internet sans mouse), I find it quicker when I know hotkeys. Same for about any other program with a gui, if it is well designed there are keyboard shortcuts that are faster than the mouse.

I have other gripes too, but these are pretty good examples of why I don't think macs are the most user friendly things ever. There are way too many UI specialists telling us what our opinions on user-friendliness should be and what is user friendly. UI is often just opinion (though there are hard and fast rules such as information density and whatnot). Hence the flamewars between KDE & Gnome, M$ and Mac are mostly an issue of preference, not truth.

Currently macs are not affected by much of what plagues windows. But I fear that Apple is growing a group of computer idiots for users. I don't mean the guys on slashdot or those who have been using a mac forever; there are plenty of brilliant people who use macs because of the BSD underpinnings and ease of use. I mean the users who switch because they can't handle Windows maintenance so they are advised to use a mac. Most of the people capable of maintaining up-to-date security patches and whatnot with Windows stay with Windows, many of those who can't switch to Macs. Because of this growing trend I think there is going to be some major problems in a few years for them (once their market share hits critical mass).

What happens when someone releases a worm like the sasser on a mac? (If you think it can't happen, you really have the wool pulled over your eyes). All these macs aren't running firewalls, no one uses a virus scanner et cetera (yeah I know they come without any open ports by default, but all that means is that the virus writer will have to be very tricky).

Basically Apple (or people like myself encouraging others to switch to a mac) is encouraging bad behaviour. See what I mean? Safety comes from good computing practices regardless of what OS you run. I run a firewall and virus scanner, and I am on Debian.

On the positive side, future Mac malware can't get as bad as is in windows. I do tech support and as I am sure you know, it is a nightmare. The security is rediculous. Using IE, out of date virus scanners (or a lack thereof), no firewall, out of date security patches; any of these things and your computer could be owned. So for now, I still advise others, buy a mac.


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