Monthly Archives: September 2007

Microsoft Windows – whats good about it.

You might think that I must be crazy but i think that Windows indeed has some benefits. Its not the security – ok. And its also not the usability. But Windows has these benefits:

  • Its quite of a standard where many GUIs and operating systems orientated. Not all things are nice – but at least it helped other systems to make some kind of GUI cloning and start from there. I dont want to suggest that Windows in any way invented the GUIs, it was rather late. its more the popularity that helped spread the idea of GUIs.
  • You can install all kind of software on it. You now almost get as much free software on Windows as on Linux. So you get things like OpenOffice.org just like the Linux guys (see also my article about the Mac). I would say that the Windows platform in many sense is more open and more free as the Mac platform. So you can install a lot of the free software and then switch to Linux without really noticing as you already are used to OO.org, Thunderbird and OpenOffice.org.
  • You can also get a lot of support from friends while Mac support is not widely available.
  • Hard- and software is cheaper than Mac hard- and software – on Macs the Mac shops often whewre good in getting more money out of simple things than a general windows computer store.

So why am I saying that? Because I think it makes much more sense to be able to use a much wider spectrum of free software on Windows XP (I dont think Vista is an alternative) and get used to this free software – and then switch to a Linux based system when you feel good to go in that direction as if you would switch to a Mac and then realising that you cant use OO.org and other software in the same sense as on Windows or Linux. The difference between my position and many other Linux advocates might be that I am not so much a fan of Unix or think that security is everything – but I think choices are important.

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Apples latest tricks

I am not going to whine about Apples move to block iTunes alternatives to access the new iPods. I have never been a fan of iPod. I am a former Apple advocate (back in the 90s) when I had believed their marketing shit. But if you look more deeply many of their claims are not true. I would not be worried too much about a random company claiming this or that. What worries me is that Apples marketing seems to be working still in a geek/hacker user market also. So although the hardware is often broken people believe its high quality – and also even if they cant always do what they want to do they claim they are more productive with a Mac. I only admit the following: Apple was the first who saw that computer GUIs had a market and made that a commercial product. They created a market which then was also targeted by Microsoft. But Apples philosophy has some flaws: The core message is that the ultimate goal is to make all things as easy as it could be. Whats wrong with that? The problem is that our world is also ultimately complex. What Apple often is doing is that it tells users that only one cutlery is needed – like you only need a knife for everything: soups, pizzas, spaghetti,… – and the followers then shout “hail Steve you are a genious” – and then you see the Mac followers trying to eat everything with a knife and thinking how effective they are without spoons or forks. – Oh wow! Its not that I dont think that things cant be made simpler often – but Macs are not always easy. Just read these steps on how to add a windows printer if it cant be found:

1. Open Printer Setup Utility (located in /Applications/Utilities).
2. Mac OS X 10.4.x users: Choose Add Printer from the Printers menu, then hold the Option key while clicking the “More Printers” button.
Mac OS X 10.3.x users: Hold the Option key down while choosing Add Printer from the Printers menu.
3. Choose Advanced from the first pop-up menu.
4. Choose Windows Printer via SAMBA from the Device pop-up menu.
5. In the Device Name field, type the name you would like to use for this printer in Mac OS X.
6. In the Device URI field, use one of the following formats to link to the printer:

smb://user:password@workgroup/server/sharename
smb://user:password@server/sharename
smb://workgroup/server/sharename
smb://server/sharename

Notes: “user” is the name of a Windows user who has privileges to use the printer. “password” is the password of that Windows user. “workgroup” is the name of the Windows workgroup to which the computer sharing the printer belongs. “server” is the name of the computer sharing the printer or its IP address. “sharename” is the shared Windows printer’s share name.

Tip: You don’t need a “workgroup” when specifying the IP address of the computer (such as when the printer is on a different subnet), or if your Mac belongs to the same Windows (SMB) workgroup.

7. Choose the appropriate PPD or printer driver from the Printer Model pop-up menu.
8. Click Add.

Mac OS X: Cannot locate a shared Windows printer

Here are the steps for GNOME on Foresight Linux (most Linuxes will work similar)

  1. Open “Printer from “System->Administration”
  2. Double Click “New Printer”
  3. Select “Windows Printer” and add computer, printer, username and password. and click “forward”
  4. Select printer driver and click “forward”
  5. Enter optional description and click “Apply”

So Mac OS X needs three more steps to do the same thing. And also it requires the user to enter user and password inside an URL which I think is non-trivial for many simple users.

Another example: Lets assume you want to use OpenOffice.org as you dont want to use MS Office:

What do you do on a Mac?

  1. Search for “openoffice” and “mac” via Google maybe.
  2. Find the download link . What does it tell us? Oh, dont use the Aqua version use the X11 version. Oh you havent installed?
  3. The you need to read and understand this FAQ
  4. Go get the Mac OS X CD1 that was provided to you and insert in computer
  5. Look for the “Optional Installs” Installer on your install discs. You will need to scroll down to find it.
  6. Open “Optional Installs”
  7. Click continue in Installer
  8. Select your startup disk and “continue”
  9. In the installer, choose “X11”, as your “custom install”. (You may need to click the triangle to the left of “Applications” and/or scroll down to see it.)
  10. Complete the instructions given by the installer….
  11. But now you need to go back and download OpenOffice.org – be careful to select the right version for your processor type.
  12. Once you have downloaded OpenOffice.org for the Mac, you will have a disc image, which you will need to open.
  13. Drag and drop the application inside the disc image into the Applications folder (or anywhere else on your hard disk for that matter).
  14. As the same user that completed the previous step, run OpenOffice.org for the first time, you will be asked if you want to use your Mac OS X fonts. If you do a conversion process will occur. The time it takes depends on how many fonts you have installed, and how fast your machine is. Your original fonts will be left untouched.

Wow, 14 steps!

What steps do you need on Foresight Linux?

  • Nothing in fact because OpenOffice.org comes out of the box for your convenience. (Again this is true for many Linux systems.

And after all be aware that:

  1. OpenOffice.org on Mac Os will be much slower because you are using an X11 over the existent Aqua GUI
  2. If you need to update X11 and OpenOffice.org you will have to do the same very steps and I also think its recommended to deinstall existent applications like X11 before installing new versions. Not sure about that but at least its not that X11 on a Mac is the natural environment so being cautious is better.

On Linux making an update involves updating all kind of dependencies – so an X11 would be updates as well as an OpenOffice.org if an update is available. if you set your computer to be autoupdated you would not even be notified so zero user interaction would be needed. An update would once just be there.

The thing is its futile to even start to discuss this facts with Mac followers. No matter what statistic you could provide no matter if they need ages to get things working – once brainwashed they are immune against any qualified arguments. Because Mac is a religion. The thing is that this religion is so close in its wording to usability and computer engineering that it is hard to identify what is a good case and what is just a repetition of some marketing crap.

My argument is that the Macs are in no way more usable than a general Linux. The Mac philosophy not really makes things easy – its just that you do most things in small steps with a mouse (and then need to use the keyboard also because the mouse only has one button) – so the users are trained to follow some paths through which they can accomplish a specific goal. That does neither mean that the paths are short or simple. Its generally what many people like – people dont want to think about what they do – they rather want to act. Thats not bad – but for being productive you sometimes need to think before you do. Thats something that the vi/vim editor is focussing on. Its ugly – its the opposite of the Mac philosophy – but its extremely productive once you start learning and thinking before you act.

And here I think is the most important flaw in the Apple/Mac philosophy: Apple teaches its users not to think – it rather teaches them to trust Apple – it wants its users to concentrate on their tasks and just use a computing device like Apple tells them to do – you should NEVER leave the path that Apple has compiled for you. So they train their users to do what they want them to do – this includes buying new devices – and buying music, software, services over the paths that were predesigned. Apple does not want to have smart computer users who would be independent from Apple – they want dependent users – who depend on Apples decisions and are helpless without them.

Thats not my convinction on how to act with users. Teaching users is not bad – but it should be to teach people to be independent – let the users invent new uses that you (as a software/hardware vendor) have never thought of. This is not how you will make the most money out of the users – but its much better as to treat adults like childs. If you do not trust your users, why should they trust you?

So the Mac followers often say “Drag&Drop is so easy” – But i would counter in claiming that it is even easier to interact with a command line learning to type in something like “sudo conary updateall” or “yum update” or “aptitude update && aptitude upgrade” if you then can skip 14 steps

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