Back in 1994, Italian novelist Umberto Eco (writer of “Foucault’s Pendulum” and “The Name of The Rose”) published a now-legendary, whimsical piece in the Italian news weekly Espresso, contending that the Microsoft/Apple rivalry is “a religious war.” Eco was “firmly of the opinion” that the Macintosh is Catholic; “It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach — if not the kingdom of heaven — the moment in which their document is printed.” He pointed out that with a Mac you deal with simple formulae and sumptuous icons, and “everyone has a right to salvation.”
On the other hand, Eco contended, the (then mostly DOS-based) PC was Protestant, “or even Calvinistic,” demanding difficult decisions and interpretations, taking “for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation.” The PC user “is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.”
My computer history, briefly, has been Acorn Electron, Amiga 500, various PCs running Windows 95, then ME and finally XP, which brings me to the machines I use now. I have an Eee-PC netbook (which for a year was my only personal computer). I experimented with a few Linux distros and eventually settled on CrunchBang Linux.
I also bought an iPhone 3G in this period, which eventually helped me decide to buy a 27″ iMac, which I think is absolutely fantastic.
What is notable, is that despite years of using (and still using 8hrs a day) Windows, and after a year of persevering with Linux, as soon as I became a Mac user I have had the accusation leveled at me that I am just a mindless fanboy, been told that it’s a cult, and become more acutely aware of the criticisms generally levelled at Apple users.
To be blunt though, I’ve been using my Mac for about three months now, and it’s never crashed or done anything unpredictable. The worst experiences have been with open source applications (I installed GIMP and Inkscape to get started, but soon found nicer Mac native alternatives). Steam is also pretty crashy, but that software has a huge PC heritage. And Google Chrome has a habit of preventing shutdown. The machine also gets very warm if I do something a bit demanding, which is worrying but so far hasn’t caused any problems.
Overall, it’s like being in some kind of computing utopia. I can see why people get excited by Apple stuff. It’s not just hype, there’s some real satisfaction to be had from using their stuff. Even the iPhone 4, for all of ‘antennagate’, I still love using the thing. I know it’s just a phone, and there are perhaps others that can do more (and cost less), but the satisfaction is definitely very real. It’s the same with my Mac – I just love looking at the thing.
So yeah, I guess I’m a fanboy. That honestly wasn’t the conclusion I had in mind when I started writing this!