Apple (computers and such)

Back in March I praised Windows 8. I made a bit of a negative comment about Apple. In some ways that still stands. At the same time – and needing something to write about – I want to praise Apple.

The biggest complaint I have about Apple happens to be what I consider Apple’s greatest strength. That’s its walled garden.

See, I’m a computer nut. Despite losing a house and moving halfway across country and facing bankruptcy and long-time unemployment and a host of other issues, I still poke and prod in the electronics. I picked up an HP touchpad, that palm-based entry that got killed just as it was taking off by the incoming president (idiot), and I’ve dual booted it for android. Actually I triple-booted (added Ubuntu) so I could add Wine and run a couple of windows programs. (It worked, but I didn’t like it.)

The thing to take away from that is that I like to tweak my computer. And Apple’s walled garden doesn’t like tweaking and tinkering. (almost irrelevant caveat – for the most part).

My wife is almost a luddite. She DOES NOT WANT to tinker with a computer. She just wants it to work, to do what it’s expected to do so she can do the things she got the computer to do. And that’s exactly who Apple serves.

Oh, Microsoft does it too. You can get a Microsoft computer and it’ll ‘just work’ right out of the box. But the differences happen when you need to add a program or a capability. Because Microsoft is so wide open you can get stuff that conflicts with other stuff. You get something that needs /this/ graphics card or doesn’t like /that/ one.

Apple, because of the walled garden, pretty much doesn’t run into this. If you buy a program for your apple it works and plays with the other programs on your appple.

Now if I’m going to be fair I’ll admit that Microsoft mostly works and there have been Apple glitches. But conceptually and for the most part this is true. Microsoft requires you to do some work, and Apple assumes you don’t want to work on your computer.

Now back in the dawn of time I used to compare computers to cars. And what I always used to say was that the ultimate goal of computer/operating system/program designers was to become functionally invisible, just as cars have become. See, the only reason you need to tweak and tinker with your car is because you want or like to do that. Otherwise the only reason is for maintenance and repair, and you can hire specialists to do as much of that as you want to do. The car becomes what you use to get you and your stuff from A to B, except for those people for whom the drive itself is the reason for the drive.

Apples are there. Microsoft is almost there. Linux isn’t there. (Linux is the alternate fuel/race car/etc groups of the computer world. Yep, Linux is better, but you have to want to play with it to get the benefit.)

Let me put it this way. Again back in the dawn of time the way I used to help people select computers was to start by asking what they wanted the computer to do. Not (usually) what software they wanted to run, but what did they want the computer to do? Write emails? Draw pictures? Run smart-houses? Read them stories? Once they made a list of all the things they wanted the computer to do it was time to look at software. Then and only then would we go to the computer specs.

And if they didn’t need to share with others who used microsoft and didn’t want to keep tweaking the computer and it had the software they needed and they could afford it I would consistently recommend Apple. Yes that’s a lot of ifs, but they’re fairly specific.

You paid more for an Apple, but once you had it it not only ‘just worked’, but you didn’t have to become a computer wizard. Instead you could go on and do what you liked to do while the computer just helped you do it.

I won’t recommend Apple for large companies. I won’t usually recommend Apple for game players, not without talking to them about emulators and such. But for individuals who want what the computer does without having to learn a host of computer skills it’s my first recommendation.

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