I see WordPress has managed to introduce an inconvenient new feature in my absence.
I can just imagine the conversation at WP HQ.
‘Hey have you noticed that cranky roughseas isn’t around at the moment?’
‘Yeah, life’s a bit quiet without her complaining about something all the time.’
‘Well let’s introduce an ‘improvement’ that will annoy her to bits when she returns.’
‘Yeah, how about we mess around with the Reader on her blogs she follows? When she clicks on a blog post she wants to read, she will get a pop-up window. Then if she wants to look at the actual blog, she will have to click again. When she wants to close the blog, the pop-up window will still be there, so she will have to click again to get rid of that and go back to her Reader.’
‘Great idea. It will so annoy her, two unnecessary clicks. She hates that sort of thing, she is so impatient and doesn’t appreciate developmental design and clever features.’
‘I know, let’s get on with it so it’s all in place for when she returns to WP. She might even blog about it or moan on the forum.’
“I think she’s learned her lesson on the forum, we never pay attention to her silly complaints. But she might blog about how annoying it is.’
Annoyance Happiness Engineers collapse over their workbenches in hoots of laughter.
So having got that off my not very large chest, on with the rest of the post.
Is Apple just a must-have status symbol and fashion accessory or is it really better than PC and Windows?
When I first trained as a journalist we used tripewriters. The comps (compositors) in the setting department painstakingly put the pages together in the old-fashioned way for production. It was rumoured that management had secret plans to change everything and new machinery was stored in the basement waiting for the right moment, but it never happened while I was there.
However Eddie Shah, and the later Wapping Dispute, marked a milestone in journalism. Wapping in particular, was also a turning point for trade unions in the UK. Ah, the Thatcher years of course. Kill off the unions.
In the civil service, press officers also used tripewriters back in the 80s. Only the secretary was allowed the privilege of a computer, an HP. We dutifully typed up our press releases and she dutifully copied them to her computer and then they were printed off. Back then, the label distribution run took overnight for them all to be printed.
If we were in a rush with an urgent press release, all the press officers would join the clerical staff. Folding press releases, stashing them in envelopes, and sticking the address labels on. I quite enjoyed it. The nationals and Press Association would get a faxed copy.
Meanwhile, also in the late 80s, we bought our first home computer. An Amstrad. I was too tight to pay for hard drive so we loaded up with a floppy and then happily used it for writing and printing estimates.
We sold it a few years later (91, ie 1991, not 91 years later) when we moved to our third house. One of the removal men bought it for £50 so his daughter could use it for games. It was a good computer and was working perfectly when we flogged it.
Next up, the IBM. This was extremely good. Probably the best computer in terms of hardware that I have ever had. But by then, I’d returned to journalism for a few years – using apples of course. I went on design and sub-editing courses – using apples. Working in health service public relations, I contracted work from graphic designers and the local newspapers – again, all using apples. Obviously the health service didn’t use apple, but I’d used them enough by then to have been bitten by the apple.
But I couldn’t justify buying one for home when the IBM was so resilient and reliable. It had Windows 3 point something.
When Year 2000 arrived, I merrily went into DOS, switched the date and we were back up and running. This was in the days when computers came with huge printed manuals and you could sort any problem yourself by looking it up and fiddling with the OS. I still have the manuals. To die for.
One day in Spain, not having a surge protector, because we didn’t even know about them, the IBM crashed during a nasty storm. A Spaniard stuck a new box on the back (couldn’t get one inside because the model was now pretty old) and we were back up and running again.
A few years later, the printer stuffed up. HP Laserjet. This was a serious problem. The rest of the world had moved onto USB and we were still on parallel ports. No parallel port printers or adapters to be had in my part of the world. I’m sure they were available but I couldn’t find any, especially without internet.
As my main use for the computer is always printing documents, letters, etc, it meant not just a new printer, but a new computer. So in 2006, I finally got me a nice iMac. Big screen (largest one available at the time). Beautiful. The first thing to say about Apple is that the design is good. It is not an ugly set of boxes on your desk/table. It is an elegant piece of kit.
The following year in Gibflat, I bought a MacBook Pro. Again biggest screen and highest specification, because I like fast.
When I was looking around in Spain for a computer I went to an English shop where they would build a computer to your spec. I wanted to know what it would look like, as they had no models ready to go. Hmm. Not good. Then he asked what I wanted it for. ‘Oh, just to print out a few things, but I might want more – eg graphic design.’
Music – no
Games – no
Videos – no
I could see him looking at me as though I was an idiot grandma housewife who just wrote a short letter to her children/grandkids back in the UK.
‘I want it fast,’ I said firmly.
‘No, you don’t need a high specification.’
That was a big mistake. I had spent years in the health service printing out 40 page documents only for them to crash part way through – unsaved. This was because the IT manager gave the good new computers to accountants based on her flawed assumption that as they used spreadsheets they therefore needed more capacity than the rest of us who merely wrote lengthy documents, used graphs, and publishing programmes. Luckily she left. As soon as the new manager was in post, I got me a new computer.
Back to my two darling Hals. (For anyone who doesn’t know Hal is a reference to the computer in 2001 A Space Odyssey who takes control of the ship).
Not much after the year’s guarantee expired, Hal MacBook Pro went on strike. He needed a new logicboard (motherboard in PC speak). It cost a fortune. I could have bought two cheap PC laptops for the price of the repair. I lost most of my photos. Just as well for blogs, as at least some of my photos are happily preserved for posterity.
I read later that it was a well-known problem with my year and model of MBP and many computers in America had been repaired for free because of this, even when they were out of warranty. Shame it didn’t happen here.
Next the desktop iMac decided to strike. I revived him recently but he’s cleared off again.
So, to date, two PCs, no problems. Two Macs – two problems.
What about iPhone? Love it. Easy, fast and decent pix and vids. Of course you can’t use the iTunes store for Gib because we don’t yet exist on the list. So no extra apps. Some weeks ago, the charger failed, the shop tested it for free and, using our other charger, it’s back working again. Or at least it would be if I hadn’t left the second charger in Spain. Because … Partner told me we had a new charger for the iPhone 5 that I could use. Except they aren’t compatible. A bit like needing a new (tiny) Sim card for the iPhone 5.
Onto compatibility. Not only can I not charge the iPhone 3G (yes I know it’s old but it works) I can’t activate the iPhone 5 on Hal MBP because the OSX is obsolete. I am on 10.4, Tiger, and you need 10.5 to activate through iTunes these days. Oh, I don’t have WiFi either which is the other way to do it. This is just so wasteful and consumerist. Why should I have to buy WiFi or new software, or a new computer to activate my iPhone? Bad Apple. A Very Bad Apple in fact.
Although, it seems every Windows version under the sun is supported by Apple! Poaching customers from PC/Windows? It won’t work. An iPhone is not the same as a laptop or a desktop. iPhone buyers are not necessarily Apple computer buyers, although I suppose they may buy iPads – I don’t have one of those in case anyone was wondering whether or not I had the complete family.
Record so far with adorable Hals: faults with every product.
Summary of results:
Computer Apple PC
Design Excellent Normally crap tin box style
OS Superb Terrible, Windows should be nuked
Speed Very fast I’m surprised I have any hair left when I use a PC
Problems Too many None
The trouble is that 1,2 and 3 really do it for me. Even in spite of the problems. I can’t see me (or Partner) ever buying a PC again, although I might consider insurance for Hals next time around. Whereupon no doubt I will buy a perfect trouble-free Hal.
And, to return to the beginning – is Apple just a status symbol?
For some I think it is. A long-ago friend sent me a mail some years ago saying she wanted to send me some photos, but she had an APPLE and didn’t know if I would be able to receive them. I don’t think she was very savvy with computers, an Apple was probably wasted on her. So she is a good example of the snobbery brigade rather than the people who use it for the ease of the OS. For anyone of my age (more or less) however, who has worked in graphic design, journalism, photography, it is an automatic choice. A tool of the trade if you like. A bit like my partner not buying inferior paint or paint brushes.
For me it is Apple all the way – in spite of the faults. But one of the other downsides is compatibility. For example, my Canon laserjet printer/scanner will print from Hal MBP but won’t scan. Why can’t these companies provide full compatibility for both Apple OS and Windows? Apart from anything else, if people are going to buy Hals, they are probably going to buy decent quality ie expensive printers etc.
Or, even worse scenario. How soon before Apple and MS join forces and create a very nasty monopoly? Seems unlikely, but who knows?