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Rafe Needleman

Techie writers come in but one shape, one size, and one level of incompetence?


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You don't have to be technologically competent to be a tech writer. On the contrary. All you have to do is study journalism. After that you get hired on and 'learn your trade' on the job - you mostly wing it.

Surfers are in general unaware of this. The great majority of them have no chops either and are attracted to the high volume sites and mostly believe what they read.

Rafe Needleman is a tech writer for CNET. His curriculum vitae includes authoring a book on Star Trek trivia. As a journalist he's previously worked for InfoWorld, Corporate Computing Magazine, ZD Labs, Red Herring, and Byte. There's no mention of any technological merits even on his own website.

Rafe Needleman belongs in the Hall of Monkeys.

Switcher's lament: The case against Mac

In an article from 5 January entitled 'Switcher's lament: The case against Mac' Needleman lets the hammer down on Apple's OS and non-Windows systems in general. It's quite the read.

Think moving from a Windows PC to a Mac is easy? My experience, and my wife's, may encourage you to think differently.

Indeed. But not so much about operating systems as about tech writers. In fact it's a wonder CNET even let this blooper of an article slip: Needleman is bringing disrepute on an already wobbly career group.

When my latest Thinkpad began to get unreasonably slow, as Windows laptops often do after a year or so of use, I thought it'd be a good time to jump to the Mac platform for a while to see what the fuss was about.

There's a wealth of amusement - yea an entire universe of it - even in that introductory graf. So Windows laptops get slow after a year or so of use? Oh really? AlphaMack has this to say.

Not to defend the shit that is Windows, but did Needleman ever try to maintain his OS? It's not clear whether he made any effort to do so. While OS X and Linux do not require as much work to maintain, at the end you can't just let the OS go and not expect any problems. You wouldn't drive a car without changing the oil, would you? His system being slow could be the result of one or more of three things:

  1. It's infected with malware.
  2. His HDD is full of crap.
  3. He hasn't tweaked jack, let alone given thought to some kind of maintenance.

Then there's that illustrative use of the word 'fuss'. 'Fuss' is hardly what non-Windows users would call their decision to abandon Windows and Microsoft software at all costs given the rampant and obscene proliferation of malware and the unlawful propensity of that system to propagate it. 'Fuss' is a deliberately negative word.

Worse still: this 'fuss' has been going on for at least seven years - and for some a lot longer. For a 'tech writer' to only now deign to investigate possibly leaving Windows behind says a lot for said writer's competence (or lack thereof). Reporters from El Reg, BBC News, and eWEEK have been toying around with non-Windows systems since the beginning of the new Millennium and sketching refugee roadmaps for their readers as well. Where has Needleman been?

But there are other things which spring to mind. AlphaMack:

He's ready to throw out perfectly good hardware because Windows slowed to a crawl? I'd have an easier time believing Needleman's a luser rather than a CNET writer.

And it gets worse still: for it turns out Needleman (and his wife) decided to buy their MacBooks for their ten day holiday away from home (presumably on CNET's expense account) and yet took no backup systems with them. This might not qualify as a 'techie' gaffe but it certainly falls into the category of 'blissfully lacking common sense'.

Outlook Exports

Needleman's also had issues trying to export from Outlook. Not the malware - Outlook is world champion at that - but the actual mail messages.

The real problem was importing messages from Outlook into a Mac Mail app. There's no graceful way. Neither Entourage nor Mac Mail read Outlook PST archive files.

AlphaMack again.

And whose fault is that? Welcome to the wonderful world of lock-in my friend - though I do find it ironic that Entourage won't import a file format made by its parent.

[Both Entourage and Outlook are Microsoft products. They're incompatible with each other. Ed.]

Skype Autostarts!!1!

And Skype auto-starts on a Mac, even if you ask it not to. In order to disable this I had to do a Google search to find the secret to disabling auto-start in an OS X dialog box. There's no way to correct this behaviour in Skype itself.

It's at this point you realise Needleman's not just slightly dumb (and arrogant). AlphaMack - who BTW is not even a 9-5 Mac user anymore:

System Preferences > Accounts > $LUSER > Login Items. Can you imagine how ridiculous this sounds?

And all of these icons start up in my system tray when I log on and I don't know how to make them stop. I had to do a Google search to figure out I had to go to the Start Menu, Run, and type in 'msconfig'! !!1! !!1!

Yes Alpha, we all can. We have a species of homo stupidiens who comes to a new platform, can't take time to learn it, literally gives up after two weeks, and assumes everything has to work the same way as Windows. Which coincidentally speaks volumes about how limited this person's horizons are and just how little technical competence is needed to author 'techie' articles online.

Yet Needleman seems to raise the bar. Needleman seems to be in a class of his own, a remnant of a species heretofore presumed extinct. AlphaMack again.

I don't think this has as much to do with ignorance of alternative platforms as it does with the attitude and approach after having switched to a new platform - after all, I didn't really try to immerse myself in the Linux world until January 2006 after having spent a month researching possible distros. Granted, when I tried Ubuntu on my PowerBook I certainly had a learning curve to contend with, much of it documented within this forum. But now here I am typing this from my Ubuntu system that I use full time.

Yet this mouth breather went back to Vista after two weeks? And he's still clinging onto his precious Outlook? Heaven help him the day Outlook gets shit-canned and he has nowhere to go with that PST.

Serious switchers take on the learning curve, have an open mind, and try not to swim against the tide. Yes some new homes will take more getting used to than others. But you can't go in with a one track mind. It's why pages like this exist whenever Win > Linux switchers whine about things not behaving like their Windows counterparts.

Unfortunately this guy gets paid to write unsubstantiated garbage and collects a paycheck at the end of Friday. He's already laughing all the way to the bank. And that's the real tragedy.

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