Money People Technology

An Appleless future

It is time to buy new computers.

My desktop Windows computer is a 4+ year old Dell laptop with a burnt out LCD that I hook up to an external monitor. It’s running Windows XP, and could potentially be upgraded to Windows 7, but only with much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

My laptop is the last of the PowerPC PowerBooks running Leopard, since Snow Leopard only runs on the Intel machines. I’ve had to replace the Airport card, and the hard drive, but both were covered under warranty. The keyboard is starting to get mushy, but still works. The real problem is the growing lack of support for the old PowerPC architecture.

If July royalties go well, then I’ll look at replacing at least one, possibly both. When I do, though, I won’t be replacing either with an Apple computer.

Why an Apple-free future? One reason is cost: I can replace both my desktop and laptop with good, relatively powerful Windows machines for the cost of one 13 inch Macbook Pro. The days of having money to burn for “sexy” machines are over—now I want solid machines with good software support that are competitively priced.

Another reason to move from Mac back to Windows is I don’t need a Mac. All of the applications I use have a Windows-based version. I stopped using MacPorts a while back when I got tired of the continuous round of upgrades. I don’t run a web server on my home machines anymore, doing all my development out at my web site. Besides, you can run a web server on a Windows machine as easily as a Mac.

Ease of use isn’t an issue for me, as I’m comfortable with both environments. I haven’t tried Windows 7 but whatever quirks it has, I’ll learn and adapt. I used to be able to work with DOS and the old VAX/VMS—I can handle a new operating system.

Security used to be a big reason to stay with the Mac, but nowadays Apple is as much of a target as Windows. Besides, most security problems arise because of applications, and cross OS boundaries. Relying on using a lesser used OS to protect you from problems isn’t an effective approach: a secure system is 95% common sense, 5% other. So, save some money and use common sense.

My Photoshop installation is CS3 on the Mac, but supposedly I can cross-grade my license, and swap it for a Windows license. If I have spare change from buying a new machine (i.e., you all buy more of my books) I’ll upgrade to CS5, and cross-grade the license to Windows. If Adobe doesn’t let me port my license to Windows, well, then it’s time to move all of my graphics work to GIMP. Besides, I primarily like Photoshop because I like Adobe Bridge for editing metadata and viewing my images. There are alternatives.

A last reason for not staying with Apple is I’m tired of the company. I’m tired of hearing about it. I’m tired of seeing people in line, waiting for a phone. I’m weary of the Apple cult, Apple lawsuits, Apple prototypes, Apple mystic, and stark black and white.

I am no longer enamored of devices where form takes precedence over function. What other manufacturer could get away with providing devices where you can’t replace the batteries?

Worse is the lock-in. If you want to develop for the iPhone or iPad, you have to own a new Macbook Pro just to use the relevant SDK, and then you have to purchase the SDK. It also peeves me to see people buying into what is nothing more than a horrifically closed, obsessively controlled environment. You have to use the Apple code, develop to the Apple model, think the Apple mindset, which embraces puritanical censorship and nowadays lacks both perspective, and sense of humor.

The Steve Jobs of yesteryear was arrogant, but innovative. The Steve Jobs of today is just plain arrogant. I don’t want to give him my money.

People Specs

I lock my door at night

I’m not sure why the WhatWG folks thought that keeping an open door to the Twitter @whatwg account on the front page of their web site is a good idea, but it’s been interesting watching the *updates. Most are pretty juvenile, but there’s been some interesting snark along the way. Mostly, the posts have been by people asking why the WhatWG thought this was a good idea, as WhatWG followers are dropping like flies, tired of being spammed.

Interesting, too, that the WhatWG members are posting on the WhatWG IRC that the openness of the Twitter account was by decision, not by accident. Bragging about it, actually. After all, only a few spam messages will get through. Of course, that was before someone posted a note to the WhatWG IRC about the openness, making people aware of the capability. Once the open door was found, that’s all she wrote. The only thing keeping some control on the postings is the Twitter API limits.

To me, deciding to keep the door open to the WhatWG Twitter account highlights some of the problems we’ve had with the WhatWG folks in regards to HTML5: they see the world as this perfect utopia, where everyone follows the rules. If people don’t follow the rules, then the rules must be changed, because obviously, there’s something wrong with the rules.

Case in point: the table summary attribute isn’t being used correctly, not because people make mistakes, but because it’s bad and has to be removed, before someone gets hurt! Of course, those who advocate for its removal totally disregard that the bad summary attributes are attached to equally bad HTML table uses, too. But that’s not the point!

RDFa is too hard for people to use, and must be replaced by microdata. Why? Because Google make an RDFa error when it rolled out its support recently. But, it wasn’t a Google mistake, according to Ian Hickson, it was something inherently wrong with RDFa. Google quickly corrected its mistake error, but by that time, the damage was done: RDFa was shown to be a flawed system that needed to be replaced by something better. Why? Because people don’t make mistakes.

The same as people won’t spam an open Twitter account.

And now the folks on the WhatWG IRC are discussing the fact that those posting spammish messages to the WhatWG twitter account don’t understand the consequences of their actions. As jgraham wrote:

Lachy: I know that you can take some measures to cover your tracks, but in practice many people don’t bother and find that actions that they took believing that they would be free of consequences are not actually as anonymous and as free of consequences as they had assumed

In other words, never doubt your own judgment, when you can safely and easily find a way to dump any responsibility of your decisions on someone else.

The thing is, people learn from mistakes. A neighbor gets robbed, and we learn to lock our doors at night. People make mistakes with the summary attribute, or with RDFa, or any web technology, and we learn to provide better documentation. We are capable of learning from our past mistakes, learning, and doing a better job. We even learn to shut down that open door way to a Twitter account when it’s getting spammed.

There is no such thing as the perfect utopia where things can be made in such a way that no one is capable of making a mistake. All we can do is learn from the past, and do better in the future.

*Oh, and by the way? That “summary rules!” post was mine.


Evidently the WhatWG folks have finally realized that maybe an open door is a problem. Don’t expect an apology or acknowledgement, though:

factoryjoe: well, ok. some acknowledge might help people feel better that no more spam is forthcoming
Hixie: i expect that no more spam being forthcoming will make people feel better than spam telling them that no more spam is forthcoming


Missouri State Representative Cynthia Davis: Worst Person in the World

Anyone under 18 can be eligible? Can’t they get a job during the summer by the time they are 16? Hunger can be a positive motivator. What is wrong with the idea of getting a job so you can get better meals?

Tip: If you work for McDonald’s, they will feed you for free during your break.

Continue reading Offered with no Commentary at MissouriGreen to find out why Keith Olbermann has named Missouri State Representative Cynthia Davis, Worst Person in the World.