Sunday, August 2, 2015

On Apple and the Macintosh (and why, despite the hate, I use a MacBook Pro)

This is (obviously) an off-topic post!

DISCLAIMER: I use OS X and my MacBook as my daily driver machine for getting some work done, but I also use a variety of other companies software, OS’s and hardware.

This is also a sort-of commentary on the sometimes hilarious and often heated social tension that occurs between people of different OS’s, because in the world of computer enthusiasts, its not our nationalities that define us… but our operating systems! 

Reasons I like Macs (and sometimes Apple in general):

1.) UNIX based OS.
  • Similar in many ways to Linux, but in my experience far more stable.
  • Just as solid as a programming platform as Linux (I am awaiting a flood of diehard Linux naysayers yelling at me after this one).
  • (Advantage over Windows) having a real package manager (home-brew) it’s not preinstalled, but easy to get and use (use the command-line Luke!) Note: Windows 10 may have remedied this situation, but I would still argue that OS X/ Linux is the goto for most programmers, unless you singularly use Visual Studio.
  • Having a REAL terminal with BASH! (or anything else that you choose, such as zsh for example) I am looking at you, Windows! (get iTerm 2 for Mac if you want an “even better than Linux’s built in terminal" terminal).  Command prompt kinda blows.
  • Automator enables easy automation of functions on Mac’s, plus allows you to do some “hacks” such as light menubar/ dark dock. Shameless plug: I made a YouTube video about that if you want to check that out.
2.) Similar UNIX-like foundation as Linux but with far more application support.
  • They don’t make Microsoft Office for Linux unfortunately :(
  • No Adobe Photoshop either (but there is always GIMP.  I love GIMP, and you can get that on everything!)
  • No Final Cut Pro, or Adobe Premiere...
  • Or Logic Pro...
  • Or Adobe Auditions...
  • Starting to see what I mean?  I mean, you could run some of this stuff in Linux under Wine, but thats a hassle, and who wants a hassle? (plus application performance and all kinds of nasty incompatibility stuff comes into play when you start running things in Wine)
  • Don’t get me wrong, I commend Linux’s open source model and I use Linux distro’s on occasion, but for video, music and writing work, you are far better off with a Mac or a Windows machine.
  • Linux people always give me recommendations for equivalent versions of software that can't be found for Linux, but it's never quite as good.
  • Want something where you can program with ease like in Linux, where you can edit video and create music with ease and can get work done with ease like you can in Windows? OS X does all this stuff pretty damn well!
3.) Mac functions, such as:
  • Spotlight. Command + Space opens search, start typing and next thing you know you’ve found the file, folder, or application you want, all in an instant.
  • Disk utility (not as good as Linux disk utilities, but far superior to Windows disk management, which has remained unchanged since the dawn of man).
  • Indexing file system for super fast file searches (you don’t have to watch a dog wag it’s tail for hours as you wait, twiddling your thumbs as your hard drive grinds away… ok, that was Windows XP and that might be a bit unfair) but still.  Searches in OS X seem to work faster overall than in Windows.
  • Ubuntu-like system preferences pane, which is a billion times easier to use than Window’s Control Panel (with Control Panel you dig, and you dig, and you dig, and you never find the setting you need changed until you consult the all powerful, all-knowing Google)
4.) Mac’s pre-packaged software.
"I am the findey finder, I can find anything, you can
run Windows but you cannot hide from the ghost
in the machine."
  • iMovie is far superior to Windows movie maker in every conceivable way (let’s be real, Windows Movie Maker kinda sucks)
  • iTunes (I happen to like it, although I know its a controversial application, the Mac version operates much better than the Windows version) if you don’t like it, get something else! VOX is pretty good.
  • GarageBand (who doesn’t like to have fun with music? Surprisingly versatile software for being free).
  • iWork suite, it's better than Libre office in my experience, and just as free!
  • Apple Maps.  It won’t get you lost in the middle of an Australian desert anymore like it used too!
  • If you hate QuickTime (which pretty much everyone on planet earth does) get the Mac version of VLC!
  • iCal is pretty fantastic, and will sync nicely with your Google calendar if you have one.
  • Apple’s App Store updating process for updating your applications is a billion times better than Windows update ("why the fuck did my machine restart for no reason? Ahhh… Windows update").
5.) OS X and iOS play very nicely together (Emperor Sideous’s voice: it’s all gone according to Tim Cooks design…)
  • Being able to now call and receive calls on your laptop from iPhone AND Android users (and “dumb phone” users)
  • Being able to get texts pushed to your computer and text people from your computer if you have an iPhone, to not only iPhones but Android users now as well (and once again, let us not forget our “dumb phone” brethren.  How do they survive without constant Facebook and Twitter access? and thousands of annoying notifications?)
  • Android phones are supported just fine on Macs.  Android file transfer is an OS X application that allows you to browse your Android phone/ tablets files on your Mac, just as you would in Linux/ Windows (this is just an irritating common misconception people have about the state of Google/ Apple relations, that you can’t access your Android phone on a Mac)
6.) MacBook trackpads are the best, bar-none.
  • Even my Apple hating friends say so!
  • For the last time, we DO have the ability to right click!
  • Also, you can change the reverse scrolling thing, by meandering into system preferences.  All my purely Windows users freak out when they try to scroll on my Mac.
  • They have glass on them. Who would have thought that would be much better than plastic?
  • Our trackpads are so good, we don’t need finger smudges all over our screens to use our computers! (enter angry Windows 8.1 touchscreen laptop users)
7.) If you want a powerful portable laptop that also gets best in class battery life, look no further.
  • What other machine do you know with a quad-core i7 that gets 10 hours of battery life in such a small package?
  • Ok, I am sure that there is another machine that someone can provide a link too somewhere.  Still, they are undoubtedly at the top of their class for battery longevity and performance.
8.) Macs look sexy.
  • Ok, this isn’t really a legitimate good point I guess.  It’s also extremely superficial.  But Sir Jony Ive has a penchant for using aluminum (or alu-min-ee-um) in the products he designs, and it does look damn good.  It has the added benefit of being awesome for heat dissipation as well, and its highly recyclable! (NOTE: this may or may not have been included to anger specific types of people)
  • You see, Mac’s are like the proud, blue-eyed, blonde haired, aryan race of comp… alright, maybe I shouldn’t keep going with that.
9.) They can be used by your arthritic grandma, or your Pizza Hut eating, Mountain Dew downing programmer or power user.
  • Macs are easier than other computers to use for the less computationally inclined.  Why? Because they have fewer issues overall.  No need to get your grandma to drink calming teas, such as “Missing Driver Mint,” “Crashytime Chamomile,” “Pomegranate Patience,” or “Raspberry Restart” when a Windows related problem crops up. (yeah, I stole that from an older Apple ad)
  • As far as programming and being a "power user" myself, I find that one can still accomplish great things through terminal in OS X.  Keyboard shortcuts still exist, so I still don’t get what people mean when they say “Macs aren’t designed for power users.”  Sometimes the phrase “power user” to me just sounds like “I want to make operating my computer needlessly complicated to impress other people who make operating their computer needlessly complicated as well.”
10.) Viruses, viruses, viruses, viruses. Oh, and toolbars. Everyone hates toolbars.
  • Mac’s don’t get nearly as many viruses as Windows.  You’ve all heard it a million times.  Neither does Linux.  The majority of viruses are simply designed to infiltrate Windows operating systems, and not less commonly used UNIX based OS’s such as Mac and Linux. Infiltration of Mac and Linux OS’s is still a problem, but just far less common.  Why? Because far less people use OS X and Linux than Windows.  Despite this, adoption of OS X and Linux is continuing to increase, making Mac and Linux machine’s an increasing target more and more every year.  No OS is infallible, but OS X does provide easy to use security options to help protect yourself, and yeah, it gets less viruses than Windows.  Also, I never have a problem with electronically inept people installing stupid toolbars in OS X, like what frequently happens in Windows.
11.) OS X doesn’t let you do something? You feel “locked in” by Apple?  You feel the oppressive hand of Steve Jobs and the monolithically evil corporate monstrosity that is Apple, forcing you to do things their way?
  • They may be “evil,” but at least they don’t sell as much of your information to the NSA that Google likely does.
  • There is likely an Automator hack or a third party application that will allow you to do what you want (you would be surprised how many workarounds people have found for things in OS X if you simply do a bit of Googling).
  • Us programmer types usually find workarounds anyway.
  • "This is how some people view Apple,
    and I always find it somewhat hilarious."
  • Yes, there are some things that you just simply can’t change, but we will get into that later, as we move into...

Reasons I don’t like Macs (and sometimes Apple in general):

1.) They are damned expensive.
  • It’s a fact of life, good things come at a price.  But Apple’s unwillingness to create even one “budget device” prevents many people from experiencing how great OS X is as an operating system.
  • You are paying an "Apple tax."  However, considering the customer service and the pre-packaged free applications, and if you look closely at the hardware, you will start to notice it’s not as much of a tax as you initially thought. Seriously guys, compare a Windows machine with the same spec CPU, battery life, backlit keyboard, high-res screen, graphics, form factor/ size etc. in the ultrabook segment, Its usually only marginally less expensive, if not the same price.  Obviously, some decked out, RGB colored MSI gaming laptop is going to have higher specs for around the same cost.  It’s also going to weigh close to a ton of bricks, and be about as thick as six MacBook’s stacked on top of each other with about two hours of battery life.  You have to compare within the same product segments. 
  • Never buy a brand new model Mac.  The price ALWAYS comes down in the second or third generation product, and there are usually substantial improvements in later generation models.
2.) You will get shit from everyone for using one.
  • Could the Windows PC gamers and Linux elitists please chill out about it? Please, for just two seconds!
  • You are being a true hipster, sitting in Starbucks with your MacBook Air, sipping a double Pumpkin Spice Latte crossed with a Carmel Machiatto with an extra shot, or some other ridiculous Starbucks nonsense, when I whiny neck-bearded Linux elitist enters.  What’s the first thing he is going to complain about? Likely your hipster clothes and lack of a neckbeard, and then, your MacBook.  He later goes home to his $400 dollar HP and opens a sub-reddit where he writes a five paragraph long dicertatcion on the finer points of why Mac’s suck, simultaneously rejecting any and all logical arguments for why people willingly pay more for something that suits their needs more than the $400 dollar HP he believes everyone should own.  Why? Because it works for him, and if he likes his $400 dollar HP, and he hates your MacBook, you should hate your MacBook and like his $400 HP.  Remember, if you have the MacBook, you are the elitist!
  • Ok, so I get it.  There are diehard Mac users out there. They are annoying, and I used to be one.  They are irritating, because they often give other non-Mac users crap.  It definitely gets old for both sides being perpetually told that what you bought sucks.  We have gay rights now in this country, now its as if we need to fight for computer brand rights as well.  Yeah guys, it’s gotten to that level.
  • When did Windows, Linux, and Apple become religions anyway?
3.) Apple can sometime be slow to implement new features.
  • They are often slow to bring features to OS X/ iOS that have been around for years on other systems.  Still no window snapping in OS X, Apple? Really? There are pretty good 3rd party window snap applications for Mac, but they come at a $2 to $8 dollar additional cost.
  • My belief is that they want to see if it works on other people’s stuff first, and THEN they implement it.  When they do implement these new features, it usually works out pretty well.  Like everything though, sometimes they totally screw it up at first (Apple Maps comes to mind)
  • Yep, Apple has copied Google and Microsoft.  Yep, Google and Microsoft have copied Apple.  Its a cyclical cycle of blatantly ripping each other off.  Thats how the industry works.
4.) Lack of I/O (or weird I/O choices)
13-inch MacBook Pro Retina I/O
  • We all know that the new MacBook only has one USB port for EVERYTHING, and honestly, it’s pretty stupid.  But I could also take more than two USB ports on my MacBook Pro, please Apple?
  • Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt thunderbolt thunderbolt.  Thunderbolt.  Apple really likes Thunderbolt.
  • I just thank the computer lords that they finally put a full size, no strings attached HDMI port on the Retina MacBook Pros.
5.) None of their laptops have numpads.
  • Or delete, home, end keys etc.
  • Us programmers just have to deal with it.  (Thats why I plug mine into my external mechanical keyboard when it’s at my desk)
  • Not having a number pad makes sense on the 13-inch laptops (with that small of a footprint, how would they fit it?) but on the 15-inch models (and when they were making 17-inch notebooks?) not so much.
6.) The battery situation.
  • Mac laptops get best in class battery life.  The problem is that in order to achieve this, Apple had to utilize every last millimeter of free internal space inside the laptop.  This means that after 1,000 to 1,500 battery cycles (however many years that takes) you will be presented with a choice (cough cough, Matrix reference, cough, cough).  Pay $300 dollars for a battery replacement, or get a new laptop.  The battery is simply not user serviceable, unless you are extremely confident with your battery removal and de-glueing and re-glueing skills.  Thankfully, 1,000 cycles should at least last you 5 to 6 years, and 1,000 cycles is only when the battery drops to less than 75% of it’s original capacity.  My old heavily 2009 MacBook Pro is under 1,000 battery cycles at 756 battery cycles and it's 6 years old (and still in use).
Apple wireless Magic Mouse which
"magically" destroys your hand.
7.) Form over function as well as some security flaws.
  • Their portable devices and laptops aren’t bad, but ever try to use an Apple magic mouse? If you like hand cramps, then this is the mouse for you.
  • Its slightly disappointing that the company that brought the mouse into the mainstream, makes some of the worst mice. And yes, I know they “stole” the original mouse idea from Xerox.
  • As far as security concerns, Google Super-User mode hack and then get back to me.
  • The Super-User exploit can be easily fixed by initiating an open firmware password however.
8.) Accessories are damned expensive.
  • You got your brand new MacBook Pro with Retina display.  You spent $1,300 dollars on it.  You want to use it at home and at work.  The unit came with one power brick and charging cord, but you want to buy another for work.  You just ponied up for the $1,300 dollar MacBook, now it’s time to pony up another $80 dollars for an additional power adapter.  Now you are giving more of your hard earned money to the Cookster.
  • A lightning to USB cable for your iPhone is $20 bucks… (not to mention, those cables totally suck)
  • A magic mouse will cost you $70…
  • Starting to see the picture?
  • Moral of the story: find highly rated non-Apple accessories, if it all possible.
9.) Multi-monitor support is not as good as Windows and Linux.
  • I don’t know what else to say about this one, other than I have weird bugs, glitches and issues occasionally with my Mac hooked up to two other monitors, that I don’t have with my Windows 8.1 PC that is also hooked up to the two same monitors.
10.) They used to be, and maybe still are kinda dickish.
  • Patent trolling come to mind?
  • We all now that they exploit Chinese workers.  So does Microsoft, Samsung and all the other ones (lets be real guys, lots of companies use Foxconn parts).  It is also a societal problem in China, and while Apple definitely participates in a large way, it is a problem with a HUGE portion of the manufacturing industry.
  • They have become less concerned with freaking out over rectangular shaped phones as of late, which is nice to see.
11.) Recent slight decline in software quality.
  • I have been using Mac’s since the 10.3 days (when cat names were still a thing and “El Capitan” wasn’t) and while OS X is still fantastic, it does have more bugs as of late, which annoys me.
  • I still find OS X to be more bug free and stable than Windows and even Linux, which makes total and complete sense when you look at how Apple has to design an OS that can run on a handful of devices, as opposed to Windows/ Linux which has to be designed for infinite variations of possible hardware.
12.) Did I mention that people will eternally hate you for using one?
  • Like seriously, ridiculously, completely and entirely want to murder you for using one?

I hope you enjoyed reading my off-topic non-headphone related article.  Be sure to leave a comment down below if you have one!

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