I often give Microsoft a hard time, and justifiably so, I think. But that doesn’t mean that everything is roses in Apple land. While Apple’s products are generally of the superior sort: my G5 tower is built like a tank and functioning perfectly 5+ years on, there are flaws that occasionally bite me in the ass.
The first problem is Apple’s obsession with being ultra cutting edge. This started with the elimination of the floppy drive in the iMac, which was controversial but turned out to be prescient. That didn’t cause me problems, but other changes have. My new Macbook Pro, for example, only has a Firewire 800 port. This causes problems when my audio interface only has a Firewire 400 port, and the book store is out of adapters. I end up instead recording on a more ancient Mac and then having to copy the audio over to my new one. Tedious.
Then there are the video outputs. I had just started to get used to DVI, and then Apple came out with these mini-DVI things, or whatever they are called. I’m not even sure. There are even a couple other standards that they supported that I skipped over because they seem to change every year. A couple of weeks ago in a meeting a professor was unable to project because her new Macbook adapter was DVI-D and didn’t have analog out that could feed the projector.
From a developer’s perspective there is Apple’s bizarre choice of going with Objective C as the language of choice. At the time of this decision I don’t think I had ever actually met anybody who knew Objective C. I think the choice had something to do with their purchase of Be and rolling BeOS into OS X, but still, weird.
I still think Apple makes some of the best hardware and software out there. It is just a pain sometimes when you are hauled kicking and screaming into the future, when you just want to sit back and enjoy your Firewire 400 device for a few more years.
Today, in a rather desperate attempt at improving the performance of my demo by running it on a different machine than usual, I went about installing MS Visual Studio on a machine that was otherwise Visual Studioless. Microsoft is nice enough to provide a free 90 day trial version, so I downloaded that and went about installing it. Except I couldn’t, because they distribute the installer as an .iso file. So what’s the problem? An .iso file is a disk image, which Windows is able to burn to a CD. That’s fine enough, except I didn’t have a CD handy, and even if I did I wouldn’t want to waste it on burning the .iso. After all, why do I have to move the bits from my computer to a CD just in order to get them back onto my computer? They are there to begin with!
And then I discover, shockingly, that Windows XP doesn’t know how to mount an .iso. I would think this was basic functionality, and it is functionality provided by a number of non-free third party software suites, but Windows doesn’t know about it. So, Microsoft is distributing a free trial version of its development software, trying to attract developers to its platform, and is distributing that software in a format that is nothing short of a gigantic pain in the butt.
Eventually I discovered that there is an unofficial, unsupported .iso mounter available from Microsoft. I imagine somebody internally sat there trying to install Visual Studio (or something similar) and thought “This is bullshit. Why the hell can’t Windows mount an .iso?” So they went and wrote a utility to do it.
And of course, on a totally different topic, Apple’s developer tools are entirely free.
Oh, and as I was writing this my Windows machine went to sleep, in the middle of importing a video from my video camera. Thanks Windows! I didn’t actually want that anyway! And the importing application crashed in the process (the second time in the last 1/2 hour). As Christian Bale would say: “you’re a fucking amateur, you know that?”