Tag Archives: Mac

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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Apples an Oranges

Ok Adam wanted to have some feedback about his latest post about Apples and Oranges. I will take on this task. Lets start with: I could not disagree more:

  1. Adam thinks that Microsoft is successful because its monolithic
    and that Linux should be, also. I don’t think that would be the right way. First of all Linux is so successful because it was not monolithic but was able to adapt in different environments. It gave people the freedom they did not get from Apple or Microsoft.
  2. Slow releases I think is the most problematic thing we still have. Release often and early is better for an increased development velocity. To be honest: Linux is still very much in the flow – that means changing APIs and backwards incompatibility. Is this bad? Yes. But this does not have to be this way forever. One way that often turned me away from distros like SuSE or Fedora was their lengthy update cycle – forget about Debian in this relation. This only results in totally boring distributions. The problem is that on Linux you get software via a distribution and on windows you download via web or buy in a store. So the only way in Linux to get updates is via distribution. Of this would be only every 1 1/2  years or more like Adam suggests Linux would always be more behind – more than it already is, often, due to distribution that are, due to their release management systems, not be able to release often (like RPM or DEB based systems). I think the way to go is rather to allow people to just install from every source and also let the users decide if they want this software – and not having only a few central repositorities
  3. Linux IS a platform? Hell yeah! Linux is available on a wider varity of architectures – more than any other OS. Adam seems to suggest that packages should have less dependency so every package should include all the libraries. That might make sense in some way if one looks at software a bit like appliances so to make a programs less dependent on the underlying infrastructure. This can be done today already. But we should also not forget that the FLOSS way is to cooperate. So if you take GNOME or KDE as a desktop environment they are set up in a way that let applications work together. and it makes no sense to put in redundant packages and dependencies. I think maybe its good to include more small libraries in an application statically because depending on it from the distribution would mean that it would have to be packaged already.
  4. Novell/SuSE/integration. i could hardly agree that this is agood example because I had a hard time to get everything to work there. And also they misuse GNOME and change things form upstream that should not be changed. So that results in a menu thats really not very usable and instead looks more like Windows XP (Is till do not believe that this really is the result of hard usability research!) and things like the font beeing too small for the panel clock (since many months now and the dont fix it). Foresight to me seems to be much more integrated in the sense that it uses the default web browser of GNOME: Epiphany which should be default on ever GNOME desktop because it is much more integrated.
  5. Hardware: Here I would partly agree: We should have a Linux hardware standard. Or better free and open hardware standards. Here are some initiatives on the way from manufacturers of printers and wireless nics in collaboration with Linux developers. We could even use some more – not have just Linux compatible or certified hardware but hardware that is made for Linux. This would mean to have a more long term plan so that we coudl tell hardware vendors what standards we like to see in two or three years.
  6. backwards comaptibility is not important really. Microsoft and Apple never had that, really. Its nice to have ok.
  7. What i think Linux needs is more of a vision. And that you can depend on some things. So it would be nice to have more stable APIs and a foreseeable future. So that users and developers know where they are heading. Right now this seems to be impossible for the big distros like SuSE,Fedora, Ubuntu. The only distro that seems to be able to release in time wioth GNOMEs 6 month cycle is Foresight and so its the only distro I ca depend on – although it might have some issues here and there – but this I had on all distros with the only difference that they rarely go fixed – and that fixing with a package of my own was never a way to go.

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Are Mac lovers dumb?

If you read the comments on “when the bough breaks” one might come to this conclusion. The think that formats like PSD an H.264 are free open file formats, which they are definitely not. They do not get the point and they insist that their Macs “just work”.

This is the result of an oversimplification in Apples marketing strategy. Although they sure have some fine people inventing new hardware Apple continuously betrayed users, locked them in and mistrusted them. And if Apple does not trust you, how come you trust Apple?

Some people coming from Windows may think switching to a Mac might be good idea – ans also some Unix geeks think that a Mac saves them time. Well: it is not. This is true if you are a real simple user that just needs a computer to tank your iPod – and it is only true if you are willing to pay a price. The price is the loss of your freedom and you can also count it by your expenses. Better have a credit card right by your side if you use a Mac. The Mac is just selling “it just works”. Why else did I have to help a Mac user hours and hours to get things working that I could do with my Linux box within a few minutes? Ah yes it is easy if your Mac dealer lives around the corner and you pay him for every help you get.

The truth is that there is no such computer that “just works”! Said but true. I am using GNOME on Linux. GNOME also has Human Interface Guidelines like Apple has and it also tries to make things simpler. But I would not say that it “just works” – but it often works much better than a Mac. The only argument pro Mac I accept is if you have an application you need and that only runs on a Mac. Than you HAVE to use it, poor guy/girl. 🙂

The concept of Linux and Free Software in general advocates the freedom instead of simplicity. It includes the possibility to develop applications that are easy to use, while Macs philosophy does not include freedom. So it might be easier at some points – but if it is more complicated you do not have the freedom to make it easier. Even if you could.

You might now say that the Mac also is able to use free software. True, but really a Mac that tries to use free software is much more complicated to use than a Linux that is build upon free software. I could not get Gimp-Print to work on a Mac, even though I use it for years on Linux. On a Mac many things are hidden because Apple thinks you are stupid. I admit GNOME is also hiding more things than KDE because it also thinks users are stupid. But in the end it is free! What is hidden is up for discussion. You can send in bug reports and it even might get changed in the next release or you can apply a patch and have what you want in only hours.

So Apple is only as far interested in its users as they are paying for their products. Apple really does not care about you! Apple wants your money, therefore it makes nice looking and working products. They don’t do it because they want to help you. In GNOME and KDE users and developers are one family that help each other and try to understand each others needs, even if they do not agree every time.

If you like freedom throw away your Mac-Os and install some decent and trustworthy OS. If you are rich and have people that help you in handling your Mac, keep using it you do not want or need freedom.

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