Apple Sucks, Part 1: Pretty Doesn’t Mean Better

In the Shield offices at college we use Macs exclusively. I recently asked Chris if we could get at least one Windows machine in the office, he said no because our industry uses Macs. So I am more or less forced to use it. Now as one would expect, I have standard user privileges, I am locked out of adjusting many features and the console. But even taking that into consideration I notice something. Despite Apple’s advertisements, despite the aesthetic appearances, and despite the word of my peers praising the platform, the Mac just plain sucks.

This is merely part one of my Apple bashing series focusing on why I dislike the company. I’d like to begin by stating that they are not a technology company, they are a design and marketing company. They seem to focus more on the product’s appearance then it’s functionality, and they spend a lot of time saying their products are the best, rather them actually making them the best. I shall begin with the iMac Personal Computer, and I don’t care what anyone says, the Mac is a PC, it’s not a server or mainframe, it’s a PC, but that is mere semantics.

There are two components to every personal computer, the hardware and the software. There are further subdivisions but we will stick with this for now. Let us begin with the hardware.

When one looks at the Mac one might notice its elegant simplicity. It’s all one system, so no ugly external CPU, and the front of the machine is simple, all you see is a screen and the Apple logo. When I first saw the Mac my first thought was, “How do I turn it on?” Well actually, that’s not true because it was already on, but the first time I had to turn it on that’s what I thought. You ever see that cartoon where the guy is under his computer desk looking for a way to turn on the computer…that was me with the Mac, and that was the first time in ever that I did that. They place the power button behind the system, where you can’t see, on the bottom left (when facing the screen) corner. Would it not make more sense to put it on the front? Oh, no, because that would ruin the pretty. Bill Maher said it best: “Right now that little button is harder to find then the g-spot.” He was referring to televisions but it’s the same idea.

Another problem with the Mac hardware is the lack of an important tool I use often on all other computer systems, the status indicators. That being the two lights on the front of the CPU, one indicating whether or not the system is on, the other indicating whether or not the hard drive is doing anything. Mac doesn’t have either of these, but it does have a stand-by indicator, when the screen is off due to a power saving time-out, you can tell the system is still on due to the slowly blinking white light in the bottom right corner. The light is located behind the frosted glass on the front of the system so it does not ruin the pretty, so the question remains: Why not do the same for power and disk activity?

One may say: “Why do you need them?” Well let’s begin with power indication. While it is true that the Mac already has a very large power indicator called an LCD screen, but what if the screen is busted? You power it on and nothing happens, you might hear something but you see nothing. How can you fix a problem if you can’t diagnose it? And how can you diagnose the problem if you don’t know the symptoms? A power indicator gives you that extra bit of information saying “power is getting to the motherboard” that will help you diagnose the problem. But this is a minor issue.

The bigger issue is disk activity. The purpose of this is so you know that the system is actually doing something and hasn’t locked up. The only indicator on the Mac is a spinning pinwheel on the screen and all that tells you is that you can’t do anything right now. You may wait for hours waiting for the system to free up only to realize: “…Hmmm…I think it’s dead,” aaaand reboot! Some may say this isn’t an issue because Macs don’t crash. That is a software issue, not a hardware issue, I will deal with that in my next entry, but I’ll give you a preview: They do crash.

One final note on this issue, the stand-by indicator I mentioned earlier was on the “Core Duo” models with a white polycarbonate casing. The newest “Core 2 Duo” model with an aluminum casing lacks the stand-by indicator. That means that the only indicator on the case has been dropped. They truly do think appearance is more important then functionality

Next is the CD-ROM drive. Now one might ask: “What do you have against the CD-ROM drives?” Only one thing: they are slot-loading. In 1998, the original iMac G3 had a tray loading drive but that was dropped a year later in favor of a slot loading drive. In the G4 model a few years later, the tray returned, but (as far as I can tell) it lacked a critical feature which I will talk about in a moment. In the G5 they returned to slot loading, which continued through the Intel line.

So what is the problem with slot-loading? Well it does work fine, until something goes wrong. Allow me to give an example: One day I had to burn a CD on a Mac for a final assignment, I thought, “piece of cake.” I placed all the files in a “burn folder” which is the way it’s done in OS X, then I inserted my blank CD and then I clicked the “burn” button, then it asked me to insert my blank CD… I thought, “Okay…how do I eject it so I can start over?” I couldn’t. The typical way to eject a CD in OS X in to drag the desktop icon into the trash, but there was no desktop icon. The CD was blank so OS X did not mount it, and the disk can only eject if it has been mounted. My next thought was “eject button.” But no, that would be easy. There is no eject button of any kind, not even an emergency eject button, which is typically accessed with a paper clip and is on every other CD-ROM drive in the world. This is the feature I mentioned earlier that the G4 lacked, eject buttons. So it was stuck, I could not eject.

I then went to an old stand-by…reboot. I didn’t actually think it would work but it did. When the system booted back up, OS X recognised the blank CD and asked if I wanted to eject it, so I did. So the problem being, why jump through hoops to eject a fucking disk? And what if I can’t reboot? What if there is suddenly a kernel panic or some other problem. My CD is stuck and the only way to recover it would be to completely reinstall OS X, except to do that I would need to insert the OS X DVD and there is already a disk in the drive, so I can’t.

Another problem is that these CD drives can break. Can this happen on a Windows machine? Yeah, but you can easily change it out.

Another extremely vital issue is that one cannot upgrade an iMac. The only way to upgrade a Macintosh is to spend over $2,000 on a Mac Pro. Both iMacs and Mac minis are built so that you are stuck with the factory settings, that may be fine for some but the truly 1337 would never waste their time. As for laptops, well Windows laptops are also non-upgradeable for the most part. The only thing you can upgrade is the RAM, the WiFi, the hard drive, the disc drive, and the battery. The most you can upgrade on Mac laptops is the battery, except on the MacBook air.

The point being that Apple cares more about appearance then functionality. They believe that it doesn’t matter if a product would work better if a particular feature was added, if it means that feature would make the product less pretty they won’t add it. The lack of a power button on the front, status indicators, eject buttons, and making it possible to upgrade just proves it. While these features would make the products better they are not added because the products would not be as pretty. I’m not saying that appearance is not important but it is not as important as functionality. A silver marble is pretty, but it doesn’t help me write a blog entry.

There is one more thing that I would like to mention and that is Apple’s business practices, this can be stated quite simply in a simple YouTube video I posted:

The Register is banned from all Apple events by the man himself, Steve Jobs. This is an arrogant move by the company that would declare itself God and the worst part is they are getting away with it.

I’ll bet any money that all The Register did was publish a negative review, and anyone who prints such blasphemy must be stopped. Apple is a cult.

This is only one of the reasons I will never buy an Apple product.

From CrankyGeeks Episode 116.


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