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The End Of Inelegance
The Detroit Free Press' Mike Wendland on why you should throw your PC in the garbage and buy a Mac:

Apple's new iMac running the new Intel Core Duo microprocessor is the finest, most reliable, stable, elegant and intuitive personal computer available anywhere.

There. I don't think I could say it any clearer.

The new MacBook Pro laptops, which are expected to start shipping Wednesday, will be four times as fast as Apple's previous PowerBook laptops, run cooler and have longer battery life.

This new iMac, which marks the first time Apple has used Intel chips to power its machines, is simply astounding. As multimedia and digital entertainment becomes more mainstream, you will find no other machines as well suited to create, edit and display audio and video materials.

I have been testing a new 20-inch iMac with the Intel chip right next to a G5 iMac that came out last fall with the older PowerPC chip.

I hit the start buttons on the two machines at the same time and ran a stopwatch three times. The Intel machine was up and running in an average of 24 seconds. The G5 version took 72 seconds.

Web pages loaded faster, pictures and video images appeared quicker, scrolling through documents and spreadsheets was smoother and the whole feel of the machine felt more nimble than the already impressive G5.

In appearance, it's impossible to see a difference between the two. Both come with the built-in high-resolution iSight Web camera. The thin white plastic case that contains the entire computer is supported on a brushed aluminum stand that makes it appear to be suspended in air. Both have standard Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections and all the ports and the CD/DVD slot are in the same places.

Even the cost is the same. Apple very wisely did not boost the price for these new Intel models. A 17-inch iMac with all the standard software and the iLife suite costs $1,299. The 20-inch version is $1,700.

Those thinking about replacing an older PC should look at these iMacs and consider dumping Windows, unless you are heavily invested because of work or special situations in PC games or proprietary programs for which there is no corresponding Apple version.

The Intel chips offer immediately noticeable improvements in speed on some applications, up to twice as fast.

But making a great machine even better is a suite of upgraded applications called iLife '06 that take advantage of these new Intel chips and deliver such vast improvements in digital imaging and multimedia programs that no programs on any other platform can even be called rivals.

Apple's switch to Intel microprocessors (think of the microprocessor as your computer's brain and the Core Duo works like two brains) opens up the very distinct possibility that you will also be able to run Windows programs on these Macs, as soon as Microsoft upgrades its Windows XP operating system to the new Vista system late next fall.

Posted by aalkon at February 18, 2006 8:30 AM

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For maybe the third or fifth time in 22 years, Apple has compelled users to install a completely new code base in order to use their computers. But these people can't get enough.

http://tinyurl.com/dbwgn

Imagine if Apple were in the airliner business, and announced a new airframe.

"Well," you would say, "That's a pretty airplane. I like that plastic bezel around the wing. But the airliners are mature market, and fuel costs are pretty high."

The Mac fiend would respond: "Steve Jobs has a new process! Lift has no penalty, because friction has been eliminated! Fuel prices are not a problem!"

You'd keep at it. "And of course, airliners need to observe the strictist possible maintenance regimens..."

"It's not an issue! The Apple guys are so smart, the Iflight airplanes need only one six-minute, five-point technical inspection per fifty thousand miles!"

You hang in for one more round. "A lot of times the food served on airplanes isn't very good..."

"With their new Imeal product, Apple has COMPLETELY REDEFINED the nature of inflight dining!"


Apple's not a computer, it's a FAITH. But it runs on Intel now. The towel has been thrown. It's arcing gently but falling quickly toward the center of the boxing ring.

Posted by: Crid at February 18, 2006 2:08 PM

And again a point is missed.

Anyway - you should know that the IBM chips' numerical processor as far faster than the Pentium M's on which Core Duo is based.

Have a look at http://n0cgi.distributed.net/speed/ .

My wife's G5 fashion statement, with the pretty bezel, is faster than every Pentium ever made. There are a couple of high-end AMD processors that match it in this application; please note their price as well.

But the point is the OS, not the chip, although I grant that much of the cachet revolves around that fundamental difference. I've been barefoot on the Web since 1993. Spyware and virus-free, I will sit back and watch the towel thrown be soiled as people insist that endless tinkering to get your machine to work is the point of personal computing.

Posted by: Radwaste at February 19, 2006 7:23 AM

It's Geek Day at Amy's! When a Paris-lovin' fashion plate like Alkon finally hosts a party like this, it's a shame to waste it on Apple wars. But these are my people, and this is my heritage.

> And again a point is missed.
>
> Anyway...

George Galloway used to do that, too. "For shame, for shame! You've missed the point!" Um, what point? You have to say which one, or it ain't argument, it's religion.

> the IBM chips' numerical processor
> as far faster than the Pentium M's

If any particular metric is so remarkably stronger, why is the platform being abandoned? Is it the sluggishness of the proc by other perspectives, including clock speeds or shipping dates?

> But the point is the OS,
> not the chip

Taste the moment! As Peggy Noonan might say, "Savor." Turns out it's all about their precious, oft-reconstructed OS! Vast reams of rhetoric about the superiority of Apple's hardware that we've been forcefed for the past quarter century are, as Ron Ziegler once put it for Nixon, "inoperative."

> endless tinkering to get
> your machine to work

My experiences with Apples have been uniformly mundane. They crash no less often than Windows products, control of their operations is no less arcane, and they often load web pages profoundly slower (not exactly an exotic app).

I think Apple folks are too quick to dismiss training and experience with their preferred platform in explaining the preference. Otherwise, this is the best explanation of why Apple people are such dicks about it:

http://tinyurl.com/8pqu6

It comports well with what I've seen in Hollywood's creative marketplaces.

Posted by: Crid at February 19, 2006 9:43 AM

Crid, what anti-spyware software do you use? (Me? None. Thanks for asking.)

As I have explained to "Richard" before, I use Windows all day at work, behind a DOD- and DOE- mandated professionally maintained interface I frankly don't know enough about to just call a "firewall" - they are much more active than that, serving ten thousand casual-to-expert users (note well that they cannot deploy Win2K or XP in "stock" form because of security risks, and they disable System Restore because its primary function in casual hands is to re-enable spyware). I don't have a PC at the house, for the simple-enough reason that a - one - spyware episode will negate any price difference in hardware. How much have you spent on PC maintenance? I've never called anyone.

By the way, there's a magnificently simple thing one can do to set aside objections over changing the code base: keep your old box. This might be an alien concept to people who buy $50 motherboards and call replacing everything but the power supply "an upgrade", but my oldest Mac still works; it will be 22 years old in June. It runs Excel v. 0.0B, all of 365K in size, just fine.

Do I use it? No, because the things it does are done more easily by newer hardware. The point is that newer applications and OS' bring their own baggage with them that is much bigger than whether you can run an old 16-bit gadget. Still using Quattro Pro, hm?

I find it ironic that someone who favors Windows will talk about "training and experience" causing people to favor their Mac. Hmm. Does that "x" in the top right of the window close the window, or exit the application...? What do you get when you brush the "Alt" key while typing? Why doesn't the system print the same way to different printers? People have been asking that question for 20 years now; oddly, Apple didn't have that problem until about 5 years ago, and now it does. This isn't progress.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I don't consider many of Apple's decisions to be good ones. They have built real crap over the years, and the reason Apple stock went crazy when Steve Jobs returned is that people knew that would be cut short with an actual user/designer at the helm (even if he does use NeXT on his personal notebook). As an example, I invite you to examine a Mac-centric publication today vs. their back issues; you will notice that the "modern" architecture of OS X has led to the odd necessity of doing the same thing that Windows magazines have always done: devoted most of their publication to getting the box to work right. That means progress has not turned the industry away from the necessity of guaranteeing itself a paycheck via the largely-fictional "upgrade" process.

As the Gartner Group has repeatedly shown, the primary attraction of Windows machinery not in thin-client service continues to be games and cheap hardware. Stick with that.

Posted by: Radwaste at February 19, 2006 11:44 PM

> Crid, what anti-spyware software
> do you use? (Me? None.

Likewise.

> Thanks for asking.

That's a loathsome blogbitch rhetorical technique. I use it all the time.

> spent on PC maintenance?

One power supply since 1982

> to set aside objections over
> changing the code base: keep
> your old box.

With wintel, YOU DON'T HAVE TO, that's the point. I actually still have the original Visicalc, Quickbasic, and all the other geek treats from Reagan's first term. Don't use 'em much, but when I want them, there they are.

> Does that "x" in the top
> right of the window close
> the window, or exit the
> application...?

This is the crux of the issue. People who use WHICHEVER platform know where the controls are. There's nothing preciously insightful about Apple's layout (beyond, PERHAPS, the issues described by Den Beste... And even there, it's a minority taste). Say what you want about the alt key, it has a name. They printed it there on the top. In english. And not that squiggly little clover-kinda freeway intersection thing that may or may not have anything to do with ctrl-functions in text, standards which have stood for forty years....

> cheap hardware.

Did I mention that those jetliners cost more than B-1 bombers?

Jeez, that feels cleansing. After all these years, it's still fun to get snotty about Apple.

Posted by: Crid at February 20, 2006 1:04 AM

My very first Mac is still working, too, in Rome. I guess I got it in 1984 when I was at the University of Michigan, as part of their Apples for college students discount program. I thought it was '82 or '83, but maybe it wasn't out then?

I have yet to read a direction book, or need one, although moving up to OS X was more challenging than changing computers in the past. But, not a huge deal, except for the fact that they'd gotten rid of those little Mac ? thingies.

I find my current Macs elegant, intuitive, gorgeous, and easy and fun to use. I'm writing this on my 20-inch iMac, and over to the left is my 14-inch iBook, and by the couch is my old 12-inch iBook, still going strong after being dragged around the universe and beaten silly in the writing of my column and thousands of blog items for five or six years.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 20, 2006 1:05 AM

Possibly the thing one gets to do most with Apple is insist that things work. Yes, there is notable backsliding in this area. Once upon a time, it was Apple who had just one location for fonts, now Windows does. Apple would print the same to any printer; now nobody does (I especially love it when I get an MS Word document from somebody at work - it must be accurate to the last character - and it doesn't even display the same on two different computers identical except for their software load).

When a software author must consider the end user first, last and always, things like this don't pop up. There is a c-o-lossal scam going on in the entire computing industry. How many versions of Java does one need (we have 4!), and why use it anyway if you're writing a PC-only application?

I am pleased with the capabilities of the IBM A50 Celeron D I was issued at work - after I spent no small amount of time stripping it of excess processes via uninstall utilities, Macecraft's registry editor and Microsoft's Baseline Security Analyzer (search them for it - nice scanner), it's not too slow, although it's a snooze for gamers, I'm sure. But see above again for why I think people are asleep when they talk about desktop publishing, which is what we do, in-house, while we refuse to recognize it or even send our people to training.

Umm - what makes you think I can't use my old Mac programs? So they don't run "native". This is offset by their truly tiny size; they are still very quick. They remind me that one of the great fallacies is to insist that because something is "new" it must be better; System 7.1 actually allowed routerless desktop-to-desktop encrypted messaging and file transfer; having no "console" or "RPC" routine, it and its box, usually a IIci with an enormous 1GB drive, was perfect for the first Web page privateers - and for Time magazine, which published everything on Macs.

No anti-spyware, huh? Let's surf on over to bfast.com. What's your secret?

Posted by: Radwaste at February 20, 2006 7:41 AM

> Let's surf on over to
> bfast.com.

What does this mean? No such website... Anyway, being careful with attachments is all that's necessary to keep out the viral cooties. Also, because my heart is pure, I have the strength of ten men.

Digg has a link today of a series of pictures of a guy opening the box to his new Apple laptop as if it were the Arc of the Covenant. (Blistering 2mhz proc! As if, in 2006, this were impressive.) This is not sane behavior.

Jobs has the power to warp minds.

Posted by: Crid at February 21, 2006 12:26 AM

Jobs' ability has its own moniker: the "Reality Distortion Field". It has some value, though. Please note that Intel now states that processor frequency is not an indicator of performance. Go to Tom's Hardware Guide and you'll see why - they built a Pentium M desktop faster than everything but the top-of-the-line AMD.

Bfast.com is a spyware "vendor" which doesn't show up as a Web presence, but as a conspicuous tag in anti-spyware programs. BTW, your assertion that avoiding attachments is all you need isn't true. Look up RPC vulnerabilities, etc., for which all you need to do is connect due to the PC's "console" legacy. Literally, there are Web sites at which all you need to do is surf. They'll take care of loading you up without your knowledge.

I think you're in for a shock the first time you run Spybot Search & Destroy or Spywareblaster.

Posted by: Radwaste at February 22, 2006 4:52 PM

"I think you're in for a shock the first time you run Spybot Search & Destroy or Spywareblaster."

Do you mean just for the PC people, Rad? Sorry for asking what's probably a doltish question!

I just have to say -- I'm on my 14-inch iBook now. This is one elegant machine. And I hear from MacSkinz that they'll be up and running again soon...so it'll soon be elegant and snappy, too.

Macskinz.com

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 22, 2006 5:28 PM

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