Sunday, August 07, 2005

Lots of interesting things today. For one, Carnival of the Godless is up again. Very nice this week.

For another, a birdwatcher posted some pictures of a praying mantis killling a hummingbird. I was impressed.

That was via I really can't say enough good things about that blog, people. It's written by PZ Mayers, a biology prof at Morris. He's an excellent writer, knows his biology (of course), and even knows his way around a computer quite well from what I can tell (he's an Apple man, which currently gets him some more points from me.)

On that note, I'd like to talk about OS X a little bit. I 'm a Linux user, as most of you know, and I have been for the last few months. I'm comfortably running Gentoo on my desktop right now, which is a mid-range computer that I recently built.

I've bearly touched it since I got the ibook I'm using right now.

It's a 500 MHz machine from a couple of years ago that I got on ebay. It actually takes time for text to come up on the screen after I type it. The screen is only 12". But given the choice between this, my desktop, and my old laptop (which hasn't gone to it's buyer quite yet) I've chosen this every time.

Part of it is size (I'm comfortably sitting on my bed right now, looking out the window) and part of it is certainly the joy of having a new OS to play with. And a good part of it is the beauty with which an ibook is made (more on that later.) But mostly, it's OS X. It's almost definately the best OS I've ever used. This is a particularly odd feeling because it's really FreeBSD, with the Apple window manager (Aqua) running on top of it.

When it comes to the distinction between capitolism and community driven projects (projects largly labled as communism) I usually come out more left of the line than most people. But I've had a revelation. The best projects are done by people who care and have some organization. One or the other doesn't cut it. The linux community is fragmented, their projects are freqently redundant, and they've never really sat down and fixed all of the usability issues systematically. I have yet to find a distro that does everything I want it to out of the box. Ubuntu comes close, but the wireless support isn't even close to working form me. (I know other people have had different experiences.) Furthermore, sound is imperfect, samba is fairly difficult to configure.... the list of petty annoyances goes on for a while.

On the other side of the coin is Windows. Everything works, but the lack of quality is readily apparent. Standards support is horrific, and the entire UI experience is shoddy. Further, seemingly common features are fairly well hidden. Everything is overly bloated, especially SP2 for windows XP (which takes as much space as the OS itself.) If you're going to increase the size of my OS, you'd better increase the functionality too. Security updates don't take that much space.

Add to that the list of dropped features in Longhorn (a much better name than Vista any day) and I really have no idea what the developers of Redmond do with their time. My bet is drink on the job. I know I would if I ended up working for M$.

Apple hits it right. The care that went into everything is apparent. Everything works properly, and well. Everything works the first time. I have yet to experience any frustration, except when trying to get it to interface with a different computer, which also went surprisingly well.

Thus Apple has joined the ranks of Google and The Daily Show in my books. They're groups that are in bussiness, it's true. But it's fairly easy to see that they actually care what kind of product they produce. It's a small group, but a good one.

On that note, I'd like to salute Google, the Daily Show, Apple, and any bussiness out there that actually takes pride in the products it produces, or the services it offers. You make the world better. Not many groups can honestly say that.

I think helios said it best. Brave soldiers all.

I'd like to talk about the ways in which linux could improve it's quality, ease of use, and hopefully market share as well. But for all of you out there who arn't geeks, I highly suggest that you consider Apple next time you purchase a computer. You deserve a change.


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