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A Mac's Life
tech failure
catvalente
Relishing our new living room arrangement (painted a wall, rearranged furniture, pics to come), I started knitting a new wrap last night, and put on MacHeads, a documentary that had been languishing on my instant queue and I was mildly interested in. I kind of love documentaries anyway. And today is new iPhone day, (we can't be sad today!) so it seemed apropos.

I expected a somewhat incisive look at either why people love Macs so much and so fanatically, or a critique of Apple and the way they manipulate their customer base (I almost typed "audience" there, which I think is probably more apt, since a lot of what Apple does is a kind of capitalist high performance art) via high prices, status items, and ad campaigns that appeal to the smugly superior in all of us. I'm interested in this sort of thing because I find myself, without setting out to, owning two Mac computers, an iPod and an iPhone. I'm not a MacHead by any means. Each of the Apple products I have I either purchased because it did something no other product did (hello, Scrivener, you enticing trollop) or I was gifted with it. I don't evangelize, or really care what other people use. My husband is an avowed PC user and I couldn't care less, much less, as the horrid Violet Blue says horridly in the film: I've never knowingly had sex with a PC user. Seriously? That's the stand you want to take in this fucked-up world? That's your third-wave feminism? That's your Waterloo? This far, no further? I cannot begin to express my disgust with that statement.

On the hand furthest away from Miss Blue, I will say I've had my laptop for a year and a half now and it has not crashed once or had any problems at all, contrasting the cavalcade of PC laptops I went through in the four years previous. But my iPhone was glitchy from Day One.

Anyway.

What I got was neither of those things. MacHeads is half Apple commercial and half LOLHIPPIES poking at the geeks who've been with Mac since the start and started usergroups and the like. The film has a deeply uncomfortable relationship with these people. On the one hand, it wants to highlight how wacky and obsessed they are, since that makes good movie, but on the other, there is a genuine mourning for the loss of those communities in the internet age where you can troubleshoot your machine on Google pretty easily. Having witnessed my own older friends eulogize their time on Usenet, I sympathize, and the film seems to as well, with their only genuinely insightful sequence, flashing back and forth between older users talking about building their lives around Mac, about it being a kind of home for them, and young people who admit to owning an iPod and no other Apple products. (The kids were interviewed waiting in the midnight lines for the 2007 iPhone launch. Now, what I really want is an examination of the ourobouros of those kinds of events and how they create each other: there are lines because people heard there would be lines and thought they couldn't get their phone any other way. They heard there were lines because of Apple's relationship with the media and media reporting on artificial product shortages, which create rumors of long lines, which mean people will start lining up out of fear of short supply. Around and around. Alas, no dice here.)

There are some half-hearted attempts to critique Apple, but they mostly come in the form of one unnamed guy bitching and a couple of ex-Apple employees saying George Bush Apple doesn't care about Apple customers. There is absolutely no commentary on the iconic series of commercials (only a brief flash of the famous 1984 ad) that did so much to bring Apple back into the public view and also polarized the PC vs Apple conversation. (I loathe the Justin Long/John Hodgman commercials so hard, one of which I recall implying strongly that PCs could not be used to get photos off of cameras. I may be a Mac user now, but COME ON. PCs are perfectly functional and usable machines, and for a user of my level--which is higher than most people, honestly--there is just not much of a difference between operating systems. I'm not looking to hack my box or whatever. And most users are not. Someone who is interested in such things I would imagine either uses Linux or can use either product just as easily. If anything, Macs these days are geared toward people who don't know how to mess with their computers on a deeper level than switching the desktop image. Frankly, for the longest time, those commercials made me say: fuck you, I'm not using a Mac, you smug fucks.)

Mostly, I kept waiting for them to ask the obvious question: why do you like Macs so much? Why is the operating system better? Why do creative people use Macs, or is that just an urban canard? In the age of photo manipulation programs and word processors being mostly the same across the board, are creative people still the majority of Mac users? Why?

But they never asked any of those questions. They had a wholly obnoxious scene of a Mac user aping a PC user and talking about how long it takes a PC to boot up and how often they crash. (Yes, I find this to be true. HOWEVER. I owned a Mac in 2002, and no laptop has ever given me more grief. There was an endemic issue with that year of iBooks, and mine had it. Let me tell you, Macs can and do crash, and take forever to boot up. that my current one is a loyal steed is mostly luck, I think.)

They never discussed what made these machines superior, or really got into it with any one user about why a machine should have such a high place in their lives. Or went into how Apple and hipster and geek culture collided in the early 2000s in part because of the high-price/status/self-image relationship, and how Apple has essentially positioned itself as a purveryor of luxury goods that say something about the owner. What they say depends on the observer, I suspect. I seriously doubt that the presence of an Apple logo says creative and fascinating loner who bucks the system these days. Yet that's all the documentary has to say on why Macs are awesome. It certainly skirts the issue of fashion. I mean, the single most instantly recognizable difference between a Mac and a PC is how they look. Apple has cared about fashion and aethetics in a way hardly anyone else has. But that's not what a bunch of greying silicon valley pioneers want to talk about, I expect. It doesn't fit with their self-image as hardcore technophiles. But to ignore that that attention to design is a huge part of why Apple is no longer in danger of going out of business is somewhat disingenuous.

In the end the film seems to uneasily settle on: "it's all about the people." And that's probably true--in any small fan community, the value ends up coming from the connections you make with other humans rather than the object of fan interest itself. But it's not only the people, because as the movie points out, those MUGs are not happening the way they used to, yet Apple products are more popular than they have ever been. There is something about the stuff itself that makes people love it--much like Volkswagen, and as an avowed Bug-lover (I've had three, old and new) I can tell you all about why I love Bugs and what is different about my life when I have one.

In fact, Bugs and Macs are quite similar. justbeast  used to call my new Bug the Mac of cars. They both have a dear and old incarnation adored by hippies and students and a shiny, expensive, new incarnation adored by hipsters and students. They are both smoothly designed status markers that are actually pretty great below the surface of their advertising, though probably not as great as their price tag. They both have a fanatical community, and a company who deeply misunderstands that community. I could go on. When I owned a Bug, I was never stuck on the side of the road (even though, like Macs, the much-vaunted durability of an old school Bug is mainly dependent on your ability to hack it yourself, and being on the side of the road, both literal and metaphorical, is an unavoidable side effect) because someone, either a young student or a grizzled old Berkeley poet, would always stop and help me, specifically because I had a Bug. It was the people, yes, who played SlugBug, and paid your parking, and left Tolkien quotes under your windshield wipers (yes, this actually happened more than once) and passed around tattered copies of How to Keep Your Bug Alive, but it was undoubtedly also the car itself, which looked friendly and kind and fun, which had a sort of face, with headlights and smiling curves, which had unusual features like a trunk in front, and which broke a lot. I think breaking a lot is a secret feature in this kind of subculture. If they never broke, you wouldn't need a club of people who knew how to fix it to keep functioning.

But MacHeads wasn't interested in any of that. To be honest, I'm at a loss to tell you what it is interested in, other than gawking at people who have the audacity to be dorkily passionate about something, and not hide it. Is it weird that it's a computer company? Yes. That's why it's interesting enough for a documentary. Too bad this one seemed bored with its own topic.
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Oh, I absolutely despise the sense of superiority that Mac users have. And the Mac vs. PC commercials just make me want a PC even more because I loves me some John Hodgman (I personally hate that sort of ad campaign. Pepsi does it as well with their product against Coke. How about standing on your own goddamn two feet rather than smearing your opponent, eh?) I can't tell you the number of times that I'll mention that something was wrong with my computer and someone shouts YOU'RE AN ARTIST. GET A MAC. Yeah, because I have thousands of dollars lying around.

What's even better is that my studio is replacing all the old Dells with brand new Macs because they're more powerful machines and we'll be able to scrub through our animation without delay. Which is true, yes, but I "loved" how a program like iChat froze my computer the second day I had it.

In the end, I still prefer my PC with all its faults.

I do prefer my Mac. But that may be because it runs a program (Scrivener) PCs don't, and because it has never died on me, which all my PC laptops did within the first 18 months. However, like I said, my first laptop was also a Mac and it was a horrible beast that chomped up the first chapter of my first novel (it was retrieved, garbled, from the Thing's rusty innards). Hell, the magnetized power cord port is worth it on its own--I never had a PC that didn't have issues with that.

But I don't like that there's no right click button and I have to use a combination of key strokes and mouse to get that functionality. I don't like that Apple seems to be the hipster gold standard. I don't like that getting it to display wma and wmv files is a battle, or that I'm locked into QuickTime, which I hate. I don't like Apple's corporate culture.

But I do like having a machine that more or less always does what I tell it to and has never yet caught a virus or fucked up for no reason. It's a trade off. It's not like I love PC culture either.

I actually find the Mac platform irritating and roundabout, myself. On a PC I just right click... on a Mac I feel like you have to sacrifice a chicken. (And yes, I used Macs exclusively at one of my last jobs and made many, many attempts to learn the system.)

That being said, I've owned a Sony Vaio running Vista for close to five years now. Never crashed, never blue-screened, never spontaneously shut-down, nothing. Granted, I'm not hacking the system and implementing CPU-devouring programs, but still.

And I had nothing but vile problems with the three Vaios I've owned or had a partner own. No computer is immune.

I do hate that there's no right click. But I got used to the command + click thing eventually.

That's a little disappointing, the documentary.

While not being a huge fan of Mac, I will say that my last Apple laptop treated me very well, and I have absolutely no complaints. When the poor thing went down, it went down hard, and I took it to a shop who would not give up on it, and I thought that was rather nice. And I wouldn't know what to do without my iPod. One of my students attempted the Mac vs. PC in a persuasive speech. It did not go well, but he attempted the Mac argument. Really, I'm kind of like whatever. I screw my face a bit more when someone tries to put forward the iPad argument. I don't get it.

Also, thank you, the 'breaking down' of Bugs must be in the fine print.

I want an iPad for the shiny, but I am well aware that I DO NOT need it at all. So I won't get it--which is not the way the mental process works for a lot of technogeeks.

Plus the first law of gadgetry: Never Buy a First Generation Apple Product.

My father drove an old-school VW bug in the 80s -- for a while there it looked like it would be my first car, but he sold it before I was driving age. He specifically mentioned liking it because he could keep it running himself, though he referenced Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to explain why he thought it was so essential to understand and be able to repair and maintain at least one machine in your life.

I bring that up mainly because I'm struck by the contrast of the Bug's appeal to a post a friend made a month or two back specifically about why she does not buy Mac products and is drooling in anticipation of Google Android's upcoming answer to the iPad: She and other technically-inclined friends in the comments really adore being able to crack open their desktop or laptop or even phone and be able to repair it, upgrade it, just look at the parts and figure out how it does what it does. And they dislike the policy Apple has of making it hard to get at your device's inner workings. (One quote batted around had to do with any piece of technology you can't upgrade and repair yourself is only rented, not actually owned.)

Well, I don't think it's much more admirable to give your love and loyalty to Google, which is just as much a monolithic corporation.

Now, I can't really mod my high tech devices like that. But I took so much pleasure in being able to do basic maintenance and repair on Emily, my 73 Super Beetle. That car was mine. I'd cut my fingers on her engine and gotten her grease under my nails. I knew all her weirdnesses and how to finesse her, how to zoom up CA Hwy 1 without power steering or brakes. Driving her was a participatory sport, fixing her was a fascinating puzzle. Especially as a woman, never raised to do much with a car but hire a man to fix it, it was a visceral joy to be so intimately involved with my machine.

So on some level, I do get that.

Or went into how Apple and hipster and geek culture collided in the early 2000s in part because of the high-price/status/self-image relationship, and how Apple has essentially positioned itself as a purveryor of luxury goods that say something about the owner.

As a new mom, I was surprised to learn that there is a stroller market that plays into this same dynamic. Post-exposure, I can't help but notice when someone is pushing a $700 buggy. (Which is frequently, as I work in Cambridge, MA.) While simultaneously wondering that someone paid that much for a chair with wheels, I am also aware that my new awareness is likely some of what added value to that purchase. My brain, it is infected.

I think this is the case with anything of that sort--I notice all of this kind of stuff once I actually have one of the products involved. It's like when I started glassblowing--I couldn't stop noticing how glass was made, in ever restaurant, evaluating how I would make that wine glass, etc.

I have distinct memories of Steve Jobs saying that he wanted his products to evoke emotions, but I can't point to a source. Whether he did or not, he has definitely succeeded, if not necessarily in the way he expected.

I don't particularly understand the polarization when they're so much alike. Maybe that's the problem. Macs and PCs work similarly but not identically. If you're used to one and find yourself using the other, you're suddenly in the uncanny valley. That may be far more annoying than if they worked completely differently from each other. That their user interfaces are so close but not exactly the same sets up expectations in you that are constantly thwarted.

I can't deny the polarization though. I mean, the very first comment to your blog post starts with "Oh, I absolutely despise the sense of superiority that Mac users have." I suppose both sides can point to the other side and say "Well, they started it." Whether that's true or not, we're obviously choosing to continue it. Even those of us who, honestly, never tell anyone what computer anyone should use get smeared with the so-called "sense of superiority" despite having nothing to deserve it besides buying the computer we happen to like. *sigh*

[BTW, OS X totally supports right-click. The mouse that Apple gave me with my Mac Pro does it out of the box. On a laptop, I believe a two finger tap on the trackpad does a right-click. Again, I can see how that can be incredibly annoying though. It falls into the uncanny valley. You're used to hitting the button on the right. Having to use a completely different action for the same function works against your muscle memory, causing you to do the wrong thing half the time. I run into this all the time because I switch among OS X, Windows and Linux over the course of any given day.]

Yeah, the tapping thing I just can't get used to.

But now I try to do the mac keystrokes on my husband's PC and the poor machine is like WHAT HAPPEN?! SOMEONE SET US UP THE BOMB.

Old memes yay.

There are two reasons I use a Mac:

1. Hardware.
2. The UI annoys me less than Windows.

Now, I'm actually an Ubuntu user (disclosure: I work for Canonical, the company that backs the Ubuntu distro. I run this on my MacBook Pro in a virtual machine because for day-to-day tasks I far prefer Ubuntu to OSX.

I agonised a lot about switching to Mac hardware (it was never about the software). In the end the only reason I bought a Mac rather than an equivalent spec PC laptop was that I could get equivalent hardware for slightly less if I bought from Apple.

Hardware wise I the Mac is the comfiest laptop I've used in a long time, as well as feeling extremely sturdy and looking great, too. Software wise, OSX is okay - as I said I spend 90% of my time in Ubuntu anyway. The only thing that it's got going for it is that unlike Ubuntu I can run Photoshop and Lightroom on it, which as a photographer is exactly what I need.

There are some nice creative apps for OSX - Scrivener for example - and I feel, from what little I've used it, that OSX gets in your way a lot less than Windows does, but that's about all I can say.

Hmm. Slightly more rambly than I intended, that. Never mind.

*sigh* I've got a dual boot set up on my computer for Vista and Ubuntu, but haven't bothered with Ubuntu because 1) I'm not sure how to import all my data over and 2) it looks so much like Mac's platform that I reflexively hate/avoid it.

Shame. Because I think the questions and issues you bring up are interesting ones that would be worth exploring in a documentary about hardcore Mac obsessives.

I began using Macs almost exclusively in college, because I went to an art school. I've owned a couple since graduating college, including a G4 that lasted a good 5 years and was still in workable condition when we gave it away. I agree with what prusik says about getting used to one operating system over another and have often said that my preference stems mostly from my familiarity and comfort with the OS.
Personally, I don't much care for the smug superiority of some Mac users, a couple of whom are friends. Mac/Windows debates are so tiresome.

I'd really like to see an examination of the Cult of Mac. The rabid fanboi nature of it just boggles me sometimes. I mean, I like Macs - I have one, I work on one at my day job, I do find them convenient for graphics/creative work - but the slavish devotion is boggling to me.

The fact that one of my graphic designers actually looks askance at me because I have a couple of Windows machines and a few Linux boxes at home, rather than running all Mac, just....whaaaaa?

My shiny new Win7 laptop can process graphics just as fast as a MacBook Pro, but for about $900 less...let's think about that, eh?

You should be the one making documentaries.

I'm an artist and a Mac user, and I'm fine with that. Pretty much all of my close friends (who are teachers and scientists) are PC users, and I'm fine with that too.
I've never tried to sass anyone with "smug superiority", and I resent how Mac users are lumped in an generalized as such. I mean, I'm not losing sleep over it. Taking sides is pretty lame, when they ARE just a preference. But the resentment people throw back and forth is really very silly.
My husband has a PC and I use Photoshop and Illustrator on his machine too. I find it much more comfortable and intuitive on my Mac, but it's just a preference.
shellefly recently put up the discussion about getting an iPhone vs. a Droid. I'm a happy iPhone user, and I suggested it's probably a better choice for her to get a Droid.

I have a friend who's intensely anti-Mac. He once picked a huge fight with me over it when I posted a simple "I'm thinking about getting an iPhone" post, getting personal and calling me a "Mac-Zombie" among other things. He said a lot of nasty things about Macs that made me think, "Has this computer kicked your puppy and called you a bitch?"

I just don't get that level of venom in a computer platform debate.
It was almost Jerry Springer worthy. Sheesh.



Yeah, I dislike the anti-Mac shit just as much. It's like a comedian said: not hating starbucks is the new hating starbucks. If you follow me.

*delurks*

I grew up with Macintoshes. My family has been using Macs since, er, since the 1980s I think. I had never used a Windows computer for anything significant (thanks to a school-district-wide Mac-buying policy) until I was 11 or so, when my family got a desktop PC.

Personally, I own a Macbook because I had these criteria for a school laptop:
1) Not running Vista
2) No heavier than five pounds
and there were no laptops that met this criteria and had equivalent specs to the 13" aluminum Macbook and cost less. So I got a refurbished Macbook, for less than $1000. And bonus: the touchpad lets you pick one bottom corner or the other as a right-click. (This is the wacky 'no-button' design)

I do like Mac OS X, but Windows 7 is okay too (I keep meaning to do a triple-boot with Ubuntu or other Linux, but it keeps not happening), and I'm happy that I can have both on one computer.

And it bothers me SO MUCH when people are Mac-bashing without justification. I have my reasons.

er. *relurks*

I grew up with a Mac. (My father jokes that he was bitten by a punch card when he was young and has a fear of IBM compatibles.) Which means that a lot of the things that people in the PC wars go on about are sort of alien to me: when I'm confronted with a multi-button mouse I push buttons randomly until I find the one that does what I want! This is not helpful!

Of course, I'm also the person who booted up my classic Mac, opened up a half-dozen programs and files, and finally rummaged under the bed to find the mouse which the cats had disconnected from the machine through vigorous playing so that I could plug it in to push one button that was badly designed. (At which point my houseguest, who had been, unbeknownst to me, watching me from the door, said, "I didn't know you could do that on a Mac!") (I can't do it anymore, OSX doesn't quite work the same.)

I think the graphic design bias in Mac is because the hardware was built to better accomodate graphical work than the equivalent-at-the-time compatibles. I actually used to know the technical stuff behidn this, but it's fallen out of my head in favor of something more useful like baseball scores or lyrics to pop songs, so I can't recall now.

But I don't get the vehemence of the proseltytisers on either "side". We have a Wintel box, though these days it mostly gets used to run computer games. (It is also, currently, broken.) One husband's computer is dual-boot Mac/Wintel, and I think he runs it more often in Windows side. It's just a thing.

Sure you can do that (open stuff w/no mouse)--it's not in the OS anymore :( but you should try Quicksilver.

Well, I figured I'd better stop just lurking around and raving about this blog to my family and friends and actually SAY something.
Firstly, I hate those ads. They just irk me. They seem so patronizing and too-good-for-you and gloating.
Secondly, I use Macs at school, and have found many things that I like about them. But I still prefer my PCs. Macs have too many add-on programs that seem to come with the computer. As a person with absolutely no computer skills, I just want good Internet, good iTunes, Microsoft Word and the ability to run demanding video games like Sims 2.
Also, I've used PCs for almost all of my (short) life, and I've used to them.
But hey, to each their own.

Wait, they made a documentary about Mac fans and didn't talk about design? Um, what?

My boyfriend and I talk about the Mac/PC-type vitriol a lot - it seems that, in a lot of instances, people get so fired up about why what they love is great, and why the opposite thing sucks, because they're insecure about their choices and they need to prove to themselves that they are right.

I've seen and used both, but the crux of the matter is, I don't think I'm one of those people who *gets* obsessive fandom over most things. Stories are different, stories can grab me, pull me in, throttle me, pick me up and bang me between the walls and cieling bugs-bunny style, and leave me BEGGING for more, but ... not much else.

It's just an OS. And despite their eternal claims of faster speeds, it's a pretty SLOW OS also. Less buggy? Not than Win7, that I can tell. Less Virusy? Sure. Ultimately, though, with Windows 7 out, it's 6 of one, half dozen of the other from what I can tell.

Yeah, I wish my work PC wasn't a dinosaur, I'd actually like a chance to get familiar with Windows 7. It looks pretty good.

And oi. Programs running ON a mac? at least on mine, yes, very fast. Getting the computer itself to do something? Ugh. I have time to take a shower while it's booting up.

I don't particularly like any of the major computer operating systems, and I think occupying your mind with this comparison - outside the context of a specific purpose or task, which will often force a choice - is the paradigm case of a waste of time. Around our house we have at least one of each of windows, mac, and ubuntu. They're all old hardware. They all piss me off in different ways. I do my best at least to try not to care too much. I intend next to think about this question when one of the machines breaks beyond repair and has to be replaced.

What truly puzzles me about the Mac thing is how Gens X and Y, which are supposed to be 'beyond marketing,' are so slavishly willing to be the suckers of a major multinational. Great, you like macs, they work for you - go buy one. But this cultish thing? A very fucked-up relationship to capitalism.

Edited at 2010-06-25 01:26 pm (UTC)

Eh, I occupy my mind thinking about subcultures. It's anthropology, and interesting.

I use a PC because Microsoft is my industry's standard and it's what I'm used to. I buy Dell because they don't play fast and loose with my warranty, and all the Apple products I own were free (gifted iPod, promotional iPod Touch from Westlaw.) Even though I own an iPod, I don't purchase content through iTunes. I don't want to give Apple my very own personal money because Steve Jobs did something with his wealth and power that I can't find it in my heart to forgive him for, and while it's largely illogical to be like that, well. So are most product decisions. These are mine.

What creeps me out in this entire cultural debate? Part of what advertising is for is to make us identify with the products we use like they define us as people, whch is bothersome enough. The "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" adverts strip away all the subterfuge about that intent. The idea that by using a product I *am* that product creeps the fuck out of me. I'm not Westlaw. I prefer Westlaw. I own a GMC Jimmy because when I needed a car someone had a gently used one to sell me: I love my Jimmeh but it's just a product. I'm not a PC, I'm a human being, and hearing people pick up and use the self-definition provided for them by those adverts bothers me deeply.
/shut up hippie

I thoroughly agree you need to make documentaries, Cat. :D

I got a MacBook two years ago after my old Dell started down the road of computer senility. Why Mac? They were supposed to be more stable, and all my friends kept telling me how much Vista sucked. I have found the stability thing to be largely true, lucky for me, but truthfully, I don't know jack about computers or their programming. I got an iPhone because I loved my computer so much, and I'm not unhappy with it, though I am a bit pissed at Apple's gouge-your-wallet approach to replacing the screen I broke about a month ago. I feel like Apple products are good, but the company kinda sucks.

I don't really get the whole iPad thing. What I want is a full on computer with a cool touch screen, not an expensive gadget that will die the first time this clumsy girl drops it on the floor.

My family has been a mac family since the other OS option was DOS, and my father always refers to the Mac/PC divide as a religious difference. I'm on my 5th mac laptop at this point, and my main complaint reliability-wise is that I want my computer to last about a decade, which they're not currently designed to do. (Although, only one of my old laptops is actually unusable; mainly it's just the pace of memory/processing speed increase that's the issue.)

However, I would say that my husband got a macbook the last time he needed a laptop, and as a programmer/hacker type whose last attempt at a mac was around OS7, he was really impressed with the functionality right out of the box.

(Also, not this post, but yay for more thoughtful entries! I don't comment much, but I have missed reading them.)

I hate those commercials, and generally Apple's marketing these days annoys me.

I'm one of those people who grew up on their computers (my first computer was an Apple ][GS) and I know that one of the main reasons I still prefer them is that I intuitively *get* how things are set up in the OS. I know I've seen a million Mac OSes by now and Unix-based 10.6 is sure a lot different than what ran on my Classic Mac, but there are assumptions and functionalities assumed in one place on a Mac that show up completely differently (if at all) on a PC. Jasper and I have arguments periodically when he uses an Apple product because he does not intuitively get them and will get annoyed that he can't figure out how to do something that is either obvious to me or seems like a pointless thing to want his iPod to do to me.

I also own an HP mini because Apple doesn't make a netbook and I don't need more in my laptop. I'm aware that there is a big hackintosh community out there running OSX on HP minis, but I'm too lazy to bother. For my travel-internet, a PC is fine. Firefox works fairly similarly on both.

Now, I will say that my dad is a programmer and has been since punchcard days. He claims that he won't use PCs because of work experience showing him how awful Windows is. He works with mainframes though so I doubt that whatever bit of code pissed him off has much relevance to us everyday users. ;)

I run OS X. Only the boot screen says 'Ubuntu'. The colonel's lady and Judy O'Grady, they're both Unix under the skin. I switched from Windows four years ago, after an unusually nasty vulnerability was revealed and MSFT was taking its sweet old time fixing it. Haven't looked back.

The most recent Ubuntu iteration, 10.04, actually boots noticeably *faster* than the previous one. Yes, this is possible. Its sweet.

Linux isn't perfect. It has glitches and places that trip you, like any machine more complicated than a pair of scissors. But it does what I need it to to, it runs briskly on 4-year-old hardware, and if it's good enough for 90% of the world's supercomputers (click the 'By OS' button), it's good enough for the little black box that hunkers beside my desk.