Re: Freedom to choose
In an ideal world, I think we would have a fun face-to-face discussion of computer history over a couple beers. I assure you living in Jamaica wasn't an essential qualification to finding a Mac (or Apple) expensive. I wrote my first assembly routine for a ZX81 when I filled 16K and had to store a logical array in bits. :) -- Literally the first purchase I made with a credit card because I couldn't handle the up-front "expense" of a ZX81.
Harsh truth. The phrase I've always used for the Mac Fanatic is "yuppie twit". Five reasons:
1. Experience. I've worked in an educational environment where we always used PCs but the visiting instructors "needed" Macs because they were "creative talent". Of course, they brought virus-riddled floppies with them and within a couple days, _we_ were supposed to fix the Macs _for_ them even though we told them we never used them and had rented the machines especially for them.
2. If there is anything more irritating than Bill Gates talking about the "freedom to innovate" (as if Microsoft ever innovated ANYTHING except Microsoft Bob and Clippy), it is the Mac Fanatic claiming Apple innovated EVERYTHING.
True, Apple adopted some very good innovations:
a. Postscript allowed them to _own_ desktop publishing. The GUI? Forget it! I'm serious. Forget it!! Ventura publisher for the PC had a GUI. Like all pre-Windows DOS GUI PC programs of the time, the company that created the program included the video, mouse and printer drivers. And Ventura Publisher was big time with its own magazine. But Postscript was invaluable. The ability to see what the printed page would look like in 300 dpi before sending the file to the commercial publisher? Unbeatable! Seriously, PC app producers didn't begin to catch on to the crucial importance of Postscript drivers and printing Postscript to file until about 1988 and, by then, it was too late.
b. Desktop SCSI. Maybe not the biggest thing with today's CPU speeds, DMA, ATA100 and on-board cache, but it was cool then.
c. Currently, Firewire. Anyone prefer USB 2?
3. Like you, when I learned the Mac OS had cooperative multitasking until about (what?) '97 and Windows 95 was, at its foundation, the more advanced OS, I was ROTFL. Especially since I was dual-booting NT and OS/2 at the time. Explained why, when I applied for a help desk job around then and they noted my relative lack of Mac experience, one interviewer said, "You know, Macs crash a lot more than the advertising would lead you to believe." Also, the monitors were typically small and I remember a book explaining why the Mac resolution was rather poor. And I _really_ like TWO mouse buttons. All that _and_ an opportunity to pay Apple prices and service charges!
4. I would _want_ PCs to be expensive? The way a lot of people got PCs was building them with hand-me-downs and cheap boards out of Borneo. That's freedom to take a chance even if the hardware sometimes ran the risk of crashing more often than the matched and standardized components in a Mac. The original Mac "1984" ad was almost literally Orwellian propaganda ("Freedom is slavery") because it was the closed and dictatorial Apple system wagging a finger at the mongrel and chaotic PC industry that was nonetheless free to innovate.
5. The color-scheme and designer-box years have totally turned me off. I remember some worthless protoplasm of a TV fashion critic explaining once how we had thankfully "EVOLVED" beyond last year's fashion. PLEEAASSEE!! I get that same creepy and clammy feeling of a wasp walking on the back of my neck when Apple talks about how crucial fashion has become to the PC industry. If I _really_ feel the overwhelming need for a "blueberry" case, I'll make a trip to the auto parts store for some spray paint and gloss, thank you. Or buy a designer case? Apple has quit suing them now?
So a lot of karma Apple and the Mac users I have known need to live down before I will get excited about OS X.
There's a sixth reason that you allude to several times too, but is difficult to say simply. Basically, it is the two-pronged aspect of computer usage. If you need to write a memo, do a spreadsheet, visit a web site, then StarOffice, Office, WordPerfect Suite, WHATEVER work fine, right? And that's because SIMPLE WORK USES SIMPLE TOOLS. And that is where linux is rising. Why pay Microsoft Office prices to do the SIMPLE when Open Office is available? [Note: yes, I'm using "simple" in a psychological, human factors sense. I'm hardly implying that Open Office is a one-day, knock-off project.] You mention programming robotics. Well, obviously now a person has to understand programming and computer science and IT IS NO LONGER SIMPLE. Complex, creative computer work requires complex tools and a comprehensive understanding of whatever computer platform one is using -- AND ALWAYS WILL.
The point is that discussion of how "simple" a Mac makes work has an idiotic element to it because one is almost invariably discussing how much "simpl_er_" one is making the _already_ SIMPLE. Even that isn't black and white -- as an author like Neal Stephenson whom I understand writes his novels in emacs would probably be happy to argue. "Simple" can be in the eye of the particular user.
Now linux has come to the point of offering the SIMPLE nearly as well as it has always offered the COMPLEX and it does so OPENLY and FREELY. Not that profound, really, but a fantastic formula for an excellent environment. Apple? Man, I don't know. You might think oddly from my rant, I actually wish them well because I think diversity has intrinsic value. But now that I'm settling into what a couple recent surveys have said is the #2 OS world-wide, why would anyone want to invest effort in adopting a proprietary OS with limited software choices that is now #3?