One Advantage of Being Different
Monday, February 25, 2002 - It's been quite a while since I've foisted an editorial on all of you, my poor readers, not that I haven't had anything I wanted to comment on, but I've restrained myself simply to give everyone a break. I felt I might have started to beat a dead horse there.
Anyway, recent events have gotten me steamed again and I just have to comment on them. In this case though I'm not going to continue flogging the old Microsoft - Insecurity - Invasion of Privacy issues, but explain why I have suddenly learned to appreciate them!
Since visitors to this site range in computer expertise from neophyte to expert, I have to assume some of you have already heard, while others haven't, about the latest kettle of hot water Microsoft has gotten itself into. In this case it was the recent discovery by the Associated Press that Microsoft's latest Media Player, version 8, keeps a log of the files it has played (the music you listen to and the movies you watch) and Microsoft has access to this log. Even worse, when it was brought to their attention that this violated their stated privacy agreement, they simply changed the agreement to allow it (which shows you how much those things are really worth and just how far you can trust Microsoft).
You can read more about this by clicking here, and here, and here, and here. These links take you to just a few of the news articles on the mainstream internet news sites that are covering this issue and while I find this potential invasion of privacy extremely disturbing, it has brought about something good.
And what could that possibly be, you might be asking?
What this has done has been to make me once again appreciate being primarily a Macintosh user.
You see, this invasion of privacy isn't something unique to just Microsoft, it is a mindset that it rapidly becoming prevalent throughout the entire PC industry where they feel they have a right to place files on your computer and gather data about you from them. This trend has degenerated to the point where they now feel they even have a right to change privacy and security settings you've already made on your own machine. This is simply unconscionable criminal behavior no matter how I look at it, but these companies (AOL apparently in this case) seem to feel that once you've connected to the internet, you and your computer are fair game.
The Macintosh though is generally unaffected by most of this. Most software of this type only runs on Windows PCs. I expect this is due in large part to the fact Windows is the operating system running on the vast majority of desktop computers and these companies don't feel there are enough Macs and Linux machines out there to justify going to the bother of including them.
Or it might be that Macs are simply more resistant to this type of intrusion. Macs are definitely harder, if not nearly impossible, to infect with viruses. The only Mac viruses I can remember in recent years almost all did so through Microsoft software that is common between the Mac and PCs. In other words, the way viruses can effect Microsoft Word for the PC can also effect Microsoft Word for the Mac in the same way. Otherwise, if you exclude Microsoft-related viruses there have been almost NO Mac viruses for years. Being a prudent person though, I still maintain virus protection on my Macs but it's been so long since they've caught anything I can't remember the last time they did.
Also, as I understand it, due to the way the Mac system is written and operates, it is almost impervious to being hacked (although in keeping with my policy of prudence, I still sit behind a firewall). This virtual freedom from fear of being hacked into is the reason one branch of the US military dropped PCs a while back and switched to Macs.
There was a time years ago when I actively promoted the Macintosh platform, but in recent years I had quit doing that. This was due to the Macintosh looking like it was rapidly becoming a dead-end platform (like the Amiga, if you can remember that one), and because of Apple's lack of promoting itself intelligently, and because Windows had improved to the point where it was not only usable by the average person and was nearly as easy to use as a Macintosh on computer hardware that was significantly cheaper, but actually had some features that were missing entirely on the Mac, until the Mac started to include them, at which point the Mac was no longer the innovative trend-setting platform it had been in the beginning. The Mac looked like it was stagnating and floundering.
Well...that has all changed. Apple has been prospering recently while PC makers have been struggling. Windows now has XP which is nicer looking and more stable than previous versions of Windows but XP is rift with usability, security, and privacy issues and the Mac now has OS X which is nicer looking and more stable than previous versions but also has none of the negative issues of XP. Apple seems to have no interest in invading my computer or my privacy.
Apple is also finally promoting itself in ways I've long felt they should have been. Like, over the last year they've opened Apple retail outlets in most major U.S. cities (at the same time Gateway has had to be closing theirs) and Apple ads now actually say something that might encourage a potential computer buyer to at least give them a look before making a buying decision.
In some cases Macs still cost more initially, but the difference is considerably smaller than it used to be and in some cases they are even cheaper than equivalent PCs, like my Mac iBook laptop which cost less than an equivalent PC laptop would have. There are several myths that have arisen over the years when comparing PCs and Macs and most of them are unfounded. Click here to learn more about these myths.
The End Result
So, based on all the issues above, the Mac is once again my computer platform of choice even though that makes me different from most computer users (I've never claimed to be normal anyway, nor wanted to be) and I am once again recommending the Mac without hesitation to people looking to buy a new computer and who, once they do buy one want to feel like they are in control of it, not the PC industry at large. hmmmph!
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Copyright © 2001 by Gordon L Wolford.
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