Technology

Deconstructing Larry

I can’t say I’ve ever felt the need to enter into the realm of blog rebuttal before, but this article absolutely takes the cake. In many cases, I don’t agree with anti-Mac articles, but I can, at least, see where the writer is coming from. In this case, Larry Bodine of Law.com writes an article that is so off-base and full of misinformation I just can’t resist.

In the first paragraph, he claims to have purchased a PowerMac G5 Dual 2.7 GHz model. Then he tells the world how terrible it was to use his Mac.

I was suckered in by the hype about freedom from viruses, simplicity of computing and versatility. Instead, I bought a boat anchor that can’t view Web sites properly, is not compatible with Microsoft Word and can run only dumbed-down versions of regular software.

Mr. Bodine makes four claims in this paragraph.

  • “I was suckered.” Twice in the article, Mr. Bodine talks about the enticement of a virus-free computer. However, nowhere does he clarify whether or not this is the case. The way he words his sentences makes it sound as if Macs are prone to viruses and spyware, which they are not. Intentionally or not, the author is being very misleading.
  • “[It] can’t view websites properly.” Mr. Bodine gives no examples to back this claim up. Currently, I have 65 websites bookmarked. Some examples are IGN, Ars Technica, Homestar Runner, Fifth Third Bank, IUPUI Angel, IUPUI Oncourse, IUPUI OneStart, Flickr, and many others. Every one of these sites functions perfectly well in Safari. Admitedly, eBible.com has crashed Safari a couple of times, and I use Camino for that site.
  • “[It] is not compatible with Microsoft Word.” I have Microsoft Word on my PowerMac. As a matter of fact, so does he as he writes about his frustrations with Word later on. I don’t know what he means with this claim.
  • “[It] can only run dumbed-down versions of regular software.” How do you define “regular” software, Mr. Bodine? Macs can run Adobe Creative Suite CS2, Final Cut Studio, Shake, Microsoft Office, Filemaker, Sibelius, Aperture, Dreamweaver, and many more. How are any of these “dumbed-down” products?

This article is shaky from the get-go, but it only gets worse the further you read:

“I’ll be lucky to get half of the $4,552.71 I paid for the Mac on May 21, 2006.”

You paid what? When? For which model? The lineup this Mac was a part of was replaced in October 2005. Granted, it remained purchasable on the Apple Store for some time after that due to the PCI-X compatibility issue, but the price is another problem. New, one of these retailed for $2,999 sans screen. I’ll grant, a monitor purchase might have been necessary, but how much did this guy splurge? Money management must not be a forte because in May 2006, he could have gotten a more powerful quad-core G5 for less.

Edit: Since his original article, Mr. Bodine has corrected himself and stated he bought the Mac in July of 2005. How you make a mistake like that is beyond me, but I’ll take his word for it.

“I was encouraged to make the switch by artists, ad agency employees and junior high school kids, even though I don’t really create graphics, listen to iTunes or make movies.”

So you bought a computer because it’s popular in a line of work you’re not involved in and because teenagers told you to. Tell me, do these teens speak to you often? Do you follow this rationale when buying things like cars? If I listened to my students’ advice, I would be wearing faux gold chains, collecting Bratz dolls, trading Yu-Gi-Oh cards, and avoiding showers for days at a time.

“The signs of doom were there on day one, but I ignored them. I pretended that I liked the one button mouse. I quickly started using click + command keys (and other keyboard shortcuts). I really missed the little scrolling wheel in the center of the mouse.”

Again with the dates. Yes, the one-button mouse was a hold-off for years, but it was dumped in October 2005. Apple now ships a four-button mouse that does have a scroll wheel with all of its desktops and workstations. Even if this Mr. Bodine did get the one-button Apple Mouse, he spent $4,500 on his rig and can’t go buy a $20 optical mouse to plug in. (Incidentally, my Kensington mouse has four buttons, a scroll wheel, cost $20, and “just works” when plugged in.)

“I noticed it was slow; I saw that stupid spinning colored wheel a lot. The Mac would hang up; the TV ads said Macs didn’t do that.”

I see the beach ball occasionally too, but not often. I can still count the number of “hang ups” my PowerMac has had on one hand (even after about three years), and most of them are iDVD-related. I’m sorry his exponentially more powerful machine was so much slower than mine is. I guess mileage may vary.

“What drove me nuts was that I would open Word for Mac and couldn’t delete files while I was in Word. There is no File | Delete option. So the documents took up space on my hard drive, until someone told me I had to find the document in Finder and then move it into the trash from there. This seemed stupid to me; I just wanted to highlight a file and tap ‘delete.'”

This is true. you cannot delete files from within a Mac OS X save dialog, and MS Word uses a standard Mac save dialog. This problem is just a fundamental difference in design. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that a few Windows users get frustrated on Macs because, on Windows, you can add and remove files and programs with absolutely no understanding of how your system is organized. The Mac Finder is organized very well, but too many people don’t even know to use it if they have grown used to Windows’ hand-holding.

“Word files transferred from the Mac were missing pictures. PowerPoint files transferred from the Mac would lose their formatting. PCs and Macs are not compatible, regardless of what they say.”

This also happens PC-to-PC if the machines are running different versions or editions of Office. Personally, this has never bitten me, but I use Office only minimally.

“Things I could do with a PC in two keystrokes took four or five clicks with the Mac. To do a “fast print” required clicking File, Print, find Copies & Pages, click Paper Type/Quality, click Normal and finally clicking Fast Draft.”

Like the Windows version of Office, there is an icon of a printer in the main toolbar. Click it, and the printer spits out your document – one click, not five.

“Doing a simple screen capture was an immense chore. On a PC you just press Alt and tap PrtScr. With the Mac I had to download and launch special programs to accomplish this simple task.”

Cmd-Shift-3 captures the entire screen. Cmd-Shift-4 allows you to select a certain area to be captured. Press the space bar, and you can highlight specific elements such as an active window, the dock, or the menu bar. No third-party utility is required.

“I didn’t even bother with the Mac’s iCal or Mail, which required me to buy an @mac.com address. Instead, I went straight to Outlook for Mac.”

Neither iCal nor Mail require .Mac accounts to function properly. It’s a shame he left these alone. They are nice applications. (Microsoft is even imitating iCal in Windows Vista.) Mail’s handling of junk mail is really quite good, and I like the option of bouncing messages I don’t want. I get almost no spam anymore.

“For me the killer was the Web browser. Safari simply cannot read Flash. It is, quite simply, a second-rate browser.”

Really? In the last 48-hours, I have visited Adobe.com, Ugo Player, Homestar Runner, and YouTube. All of these sites use Flash, and all of these sites look just fine in Safari. I wonder if Mr. Bodine checked to see if the Flash plug-in was installed. After all, even Internet Explorer won’t work with Flash sites if the plug-in is not there.

“I even called Apple headquarters and asked when a better version would be available and was told that Apple is in no hurry to improve it.”

I don’t believe this for a second. First, he may be misrepresenting Apple’s usual “we don’t comment on future products” reply. Second, there are various enhancements for Safari planned for Leopard. Third, this blog provides very open information about WebKit (Safari’s foundation) and it’s development.

“On the suggestions of friends, I downloaded Netscape and Firefox, which were no better.”

I have no comment on Netscape, but I’ll let the Open Source crowd address him in regards to Firefox.

There is more to the article, but this really gives a decent representation of his flawed reasoning. The fact is, Mr. Bodine makes some claims that are sometimes outright wrong and others with no corroborating evidence. Despite his law degree and position as a tech adviser he seems lacking in basic fact-checking and computing skills. I doubt he really is, but this article makes him seem that way. I’ve even read one blogger that feels Mr. Bodine just made up his whole experience for the sake of traffic. I don’t believe he’s outright lying, but his way of telling the truth is not terribly honest-sounding.

I’m very glad many Mac users have offered to help make Mr. Bodin’e life easier, but I wish he would correct his article for integrity’s sake. I don’t care if he likes his Mac, but if he is going to advise people to avoid Macs, he should do so for legitimate reasons.

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