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Oh the Irony!

Oh the irony!
 - Alphasubzero949

Apple have launched a Get a Mac campaign. It features Justin Long and an unidentified IBM suit portraying the Mac and the PC respectively. Justin Long is best known for his work in Campus Ladies, The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang, and Herbie Fully Loaded. Some might even remember him from Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Jeepers Creepers, and Galaxy Quest for which he received MTV movie and Saturn award nominations. No one knows anything about the IBM suit playing the IBM suit yet. He's probably best known for playing IBM suits.

So what's an Intel doing in a Mac anyway? Good question. After all, PCs are boring and Macs are the ultimate cool - right?

Six television spots. Backdrop is pulled out of retirement from the switcher campaign. Chic minimalism is the name of the game. It's cheaper too. The first skit goes like this.

Mac: Hello. I'm a Mac.
PC: And I'm a PC.
Mac: Oh, hey. iPod, nice.
PC: Yeah. Just a little something to hold my slowjam.
Mac: Oh yeah?
PC: And it works so seamlessly with iTunes.
Mac: You should check out iMovie, iPhoto, iWeb 'cause they all work like iTunes. You know, iLife. It comes on every Mac.
PC: i-L-i-f-e. Well I - I have some very cool apps that are bundled with me.
Mac: Well like what?
PC: Calculator.
Mac: That's cool. Anything else?
PC: Clock.
Mac: Sounds like hours of fun - or at least minutes.

There is an issue here: Macs now run on Intel processors but most of the software available is written for the PowerPC processor. They're not compatible. To get around this Apple have something called 'Rosetta' which slows things down to a crawl. At least the Windows Clock is written for the right processor.

Another skit capitalises on Walt Mossberg's love for OS X.

Mac: Hello. I'm a Mac.
PC: And I'm a PC.
PC: What are you reading?
Mac: Just the Wall Street Journal. It's nothing. Oh no. No.
PC: Oh! It's a review of you!
Mac: Don't read it!
PC: Oh! It's from Walt Mossberg! One of the most respected technology experts on the planet! Apparently you are the finest desktop PC on the market at any price. Very nice!
Mac: It's just one man's opinion.
PC: I actually got a great review this morning too.
Mac: Good for you!
PC: So we are the same!
Mac: What was that in?
PC: The - um - Awesome Awesome Computer Review Weekly Journal.

So far we're treading on stable ice. But now things get dicier.

Mac: Hello. I'm a Mac.
PC: And I'm a PC. (Sneezes.)
Mac: Gesundheit! You OK?
PC: No I'm not OK! I have that virus that's going around.
Mac: Oh yeah.
PC: You better stay back! This one's a doozy!
Mac: That's OK! I'll be fine.
PC: No no! Do not be hero! Last year there were 114,000 known viruses for PCs!
Mac: PCs - not Macs!
PC: I think I gotta crash! (Falls over.)
Mac: If you think that'll help.

And even this is not stretching things. There were 114,000 'viruses' or somewhere in that neighbourhood for Windows by last year. So it's not stretching things. But if one wanders over to the Apple microsite to follow this up one finds something else entirely.

If you just go to the Apple portal to look for the juicy stuff, you'll be told not that you need JavaScript but plainly and simply you'll be commanded to use it. 'Enable Javascript.' Considering Apple are trying to get switchers from the Windows camp and considering JavaScript on Windows can be lethal and considering there are far better server side technologies today, you have to wonder what Apple are up to.

As JavaScript is a rich interpreted language running arbitrary server-provided code on a client computer, it has suffered its fair share of security issues. Many attempts at bypassing logical barriers to steal confidential information make use of JavaScript to perform their deeds behind the scenes, using techniques such as cross-site scripting. Non-expert users usually can't notice what is going on because the malicious code has no visible effect on their browsing experience. Besides, it is not obvious to people who are not programmers that their Web browser includes a full-blown programming language interpreter, with the power and risks implied.
 - Wikipedia

Of course if you do turn on JavaScript, then a whole shitload of other stuff gets loaded too and your fat pipe suddenly seems very thin indeed. Or you could just leave the misery turned off for now and click here.

And then you'll see the fourteen (14) reasons you should get a Mac (and a few other reasons you should no longer balk at it).

1. It just works. No argument there. Apple spend a lot of time on their OOTB experience. People fall in love with the suckers. Apple control both the hardware and the OS and don't have the hardware compatibility tests Microsoft have to go through for thousands upon thousands of OEM products. But things do not always just work: iTunes 2.0 hosed hard drives; the first Safari release hosed them as well; the first Panther release hosed FireWire drives; and so forth. With so relatively little to worry about, you'd presume Apple are always perfect, but they're not.

In fact, even though Apple take great care in letting things out of their Taiwan factories, mistakes do happen - and some of them are serious indeed. It's often said there is always one major design flaw with an Apple computer. With the G4 cube it was the finish which cracked; with the iBook G3 it was the screen; with the G4 PowerBooks it's been the graphite finish and various screen defects; all this happens because Apple, as opposed to other manufacturers, have essentially been servicing the same customer base all along.

They have to keep making older models obsolete and new ones attractive - in other words they have to keep changing their production design. And in any production design there are going to be flaws - kinks that hopefully get ironed out eventually.

The catch with Apple is that by the time they've ironed out the kinks they're ready to introduce new models again - and the cycle starts all over.

Which admittedly would stop at being an annoyance if it weren't for the fact that Apple have of late had to be literally sued in class action suits to make them pay for such deficiencies.

When you add the AppleCare Protection Plan, you extend your support options to include three full years of free telephone help and comprehensive repair coverage.

There's nothing 'free' about it. Apple marketing have deftly dodged the issue by using the word 'add' instead of 'purchase'. There's no 'add' to it - unless you consider forking out an additional US$350 [sic] a 'free add'. And before you do 'add' on something like AppleCare, you'd best wander over to Consumer Affairs Online to see how Apple treat customers who've paid for all that 'free' stuff.

For you'll find that customers who 'add' the 'free' $350 service are often abandoned with serious hardware issues trivialised and no remedy or compensation considered. Not surprisingly these people tire of the impersonal and nonexistent 'AppleCare'.

Most Fortune 500 companies, governments and universities rely on UNIX for their mission-critical applications.

Yes they do - but they rely on Unix, not OS X. OS X is not Unix. It's based on Unix, but this is not good enough for Fortune 500. Fortune 500 do not use OS X!

2. You can make amazing stuff. Wanna hurl? For this is precisely the type of 'lifestyle revolution' blurb Brian Meidell so hates so he won't ever been seen with an Apple product.

3. Design that turns heads. No argument there. Jonathan Ive was voted a bigger cultural icon in the UK than Harry Potter's creator JK Rowling. More than turn out good design, Apple define good design. What was ugly yesterday is class today if Apple say so. Credit Apple marketing with a good share of this.

4. 114,000 Viruses? Not on a Mac. Ah, now the ice is thinning out.

Mac OS X was designed with security in mind. Windows just wasn't built to bear the onslaught of attacks it suffers every day. A Mac offers a built-in firewall, doesn't advertise its existence on the Net, and isn't compromised within an hour of being turned on.

This is all actually true. Windows wasn't built for the Internet. Too many people don't realise this. And so they get suckered. And a Windows box will last about an hour without protection. This is true too. And OS X has a Unix firewall or two as well. True again.

But if you click the link to read more, you run into the following.

By the end of 2005, there were 114,000 known viruses for PCs. In March 2006 alone, there were 850 new threats detected against Windows. Zero for Mac.

Uh - OK, but Secunia register over 60 vulnerabilities for the Mac. So do Mitre. And there have been a slew of widespread stories about some of these. Such as the protocol hole, Opener, Inqtana, and Oompa Loompa.

On a Windows PC, software (both good and evil) can change the system without your even knowing about it.

No shit Sherlock, but it's happened on OS X too.

In order for software to significantly modify Mac OS X, you have to type in your password. You're the decider. You approve changes to your system.

Bullshit. And here's where it gets really worse, as if they're reading their own security advisories for the flaws they still can't fix.

People attempting to break into computers may disguise a malicious program as a picture, movie, or other seemingly harmless file. You might download such files from the Web, or get them via mail or chat. A PC just blindly downloads them without a peep. A Mac, however, will let you know that you may be getting a wolf in sheep's clothing. The Mac web browser, Safari, can tell the difference between a file and a program, and alerts you whenever you're downloading the latter.

Whoa. False advertising. And here is where people begin to feel the sting of irony. For those not in the know, these are exactly the issues that have plagued OS X for the past four months. For those just wandering over here after seeing an Apple blurb on the telly: caveat emptor! Most of the above is directly and deliberately misleading.

There are a lot of articles on this site about why the above is no way close to the truth (go through every article listed on the home page for February March and April) but the gist of it is the following: Apple still use a sucky file system dating back to the days of their 'beige box Mac' which was just as standalone as Windows and according to many security experts way more vulnerable. This file system - when married to the 'OS X' Apple bought in from another company - creates an unending list of clumsy errors and confusions. People literally think they're getting one thing and end up getting another - something really bad.

Apple have never fixed this. You can surf somewhat safer today only if you use Apple's own web applications. The flaw is in the system itself, not in the applications themselves. Apple have been incapable of fixing the flaw in the system. They've hot-wired code into their web applications so you get a 'warning' if anything bad is about to happen.

But this does not help if you use Firefox, Camino, Omniweb, Opera, or any other non-Apple browser. For if you do, you're wide open to a zero day exploit. It can't be stopped; no interaction is required on your part; it just happens, just like shit.

And just the other week security expert Tom Ferris, formerly of the US Department of Defense, found seven more holes in OS X. Have they been patched? No way. So do not take the Apple blurb literally. If you do you could be in as much danger as any Windows user.

Apple don't take security seriously. Their marketing department take the security sales pitch seriously, but Apple are not a corporation who do so on an engineering basis. Their 'rock solid foundation' of Unix is a joke; their being open source is a bigger joke - presently they have two major contributors and that's it - and those two are so frustrated they've threatened many times to quit.

What else do Apple say about their security?

A Mac gets much of this out-of-the-box protection from its open source UNIX heritage. The most critical components of Mac OS X are open for review by a worldwide community of security experts.

Total bollocks. Google the name Rob Braun and learn what the real score is. Apple have never let any of these 'security experts' (and right now there are two - a very reluctant two) do any actual work on the code itself. Apple have even gone so far as to avoid confrontations with developers who find security holes and want them patched. Talk about false advertising.

Their input helps Apple continually make Mac OS X ever more secure.

Again, what a laugh. The most recent exploit against OS X used a hole that was open for at least three and one half years - and this despite it being reported to Apple all over the place. They just didn't give a shit. They figured no one's going to attack them, so why bother? But if you come over to the platform, what with the way security is treated at Apple today, they will attack. Be so sure of it.

To get a sense of just how big the virus problem is, search for 'virus' at both Apple and Microsoft.

Sure. But now Google 'protocol hole Apple', 'Oompa Apple', 'Safari hole', 'Opener', 'Renepo' and see what you come up with. OS X could have been as tight as Unix but it's not. It's not because Apple are systematically ruining it.

One such brainiac idea is this new 'Boot Camp'. There are many solutions for how you run Windows software on a non-Windows computer. One is WINE - WINE lets you run Windows programs without even owning a Windows licence! Another method is that used by Virtual PC and Parallels - you set up a 'virtual computer' inside your own. In fact this is the only safe way to do it: if anything inside that virtual computer gets hit, gets infected, you simply wipe out that virtual disk space and you're clean as a whistle.

Now let's look at Apple's latest concoction, and maybe you'll realise why Apple are such a bunch of bungling idiots. For Boot Camp lets you boot both Windows - the real Windows - and OS X on the same computer! Nothing is virtual! Both really exist!

The first sucker punch is that you have to actually go out and buy a copy of Windows to do this. With the WINE method you don't need to.

The second sucker punch - the final coup de grace - is that this Windows cruft will remain on your computer and will be able to infect and corrupt your entire system! In fact, just wait for the clever black hats to figure out how to propagate malware from the one Intel platform (Windows) into the other (OS X). For they will! Be so sure they will!

And when Steve Wozniak was asked what he thought of Apple's Boot Camp, what did he say? 'Nothing.' Even he knows it's no good!

Apple's reason 6 to get a Mac is because Apple now use Intel's latest chips. You're forgiven if you don't realise what a bald faced lie this is. Yes, Apple use Intel's latest chips - there's no lie there - but the blurb is misleading because it implies Intel chips are something to have.

They're not. Intel chips suck. Today Intel are the big loser in the processor market. Everyone's gone past them. And IBM, Apple's old partner, are out in front with their 'Power' architecture. Which Microsoft are now using for their Xbox. They don't call the 'Power' 'Power' for nothing!

So if 'Power' are so much better and Intel are so much worse, why didn't Apple stick with IBM's Power chip? Answer: it wasn't Apple's doing - it was IBM's. IBM simply didn't have time with Apple anymore. The games market is so much bigger. Who are Apple to IBM? A very minor player with a really really limited narrow market share.

Apple used to have IBM's space age 64-bit processors. Apple's both 'desktop' computers had made the transition to these chips. A constellation of these computers at Virginia Tech was rated the fifth most powerful supercomputer in the world! So much for Intel being better - ha!

And what have we now? What's been happening is that Apple users were waiting for 64-bit laptops. They never came. They never came because wee little Apple couldn't market their iPod peripheral better and thus couldn't contract with IBM for more chips and so IBM said 'no way'. Everyone wanted - and even expected - 64-bit laptops from Apple. And they would have been a dream.

But they never came. Intel Macs are faster than the 32-bit PowerPC Macs but they're not 64-bit. 32-bit processors are always faster than 64-bit. But that's not the point: for mission critical applications you need 64-bit. And OS X is increasingly 64-bit. In fact, precisely because 64-bit is so important to science and research, Apple are still using non-Intel on their top of the line!

Apple are a very confused company. Are they marketing a Unix computer or a standalone beige box Mac? Are they IBM PowerPC or are they Intel? Are they 64-bit or are they 32-bit? They don't know themselves because they're so confused. Are you really sure you want one of these computers? From such a confused company? Linux is going 64-bit! They're using IBM processors too! Windows has long since gone 64-bit! Apple? Apple? Hello, Apple?

The Apple blurb also calls Intel 'the world's leading chip maker' but again this is misleading. Intel don't have anything in the neighbourhood of the crunch and chops IBM have! And when IBM make their chips, they work together with two other giants - Toshiba and Sony!

The very chips Steve Jobs of Apple said were too slow are today going at twice their former speed. The 64-bit IBM chips that Apple can no longer have are running faster than anything 32-bit Intel can make. And that's not even counting the Cell processor from IBM - which Apple could also have had - which blows everything, including the 64-bit IBM Power, away.

Linux will use the Cell; Apple cannot. Apple lost by farting around too long with dorky marketing campaigns and not getting enough market share so their business was important enough to IBM. IBM devote their time to professional research and games consoles. IBM don't have any time for Apple anymore.

And the final line?

What's an Intel chip doing inside a Mac? A lot more than it ever did inside a PC.

Yes that's true. It's doing a lot more. Because OS X needs a lot more CPU. And because Intel processors are so crippled in comparison to IBM processors. Think in terms of a one cylinder lawnmower trying to get airborne and out-fly a Lear Jet.

Everything else Apple say about the prospects of switching is true. More or less. If you or your boss consider it important. For example, your corporation is most likely not interested in GarageBand. They'd - inexplicably - prefer business software. They're not going to get that. They can't. No one takes the OS X platform seriously. They have such a thin demographic that even Adobe have repeatedly threatened to abandon Photoshop support for it. No one wants to make software for the Mac because there's just no money in it.

Bill Gates once respected Steve Jobs. Odds are he doesn't do that anymore. Bill Gates once thought Steve Jobs could rule the world. Bill Gates told Steve Jobs what he had to do.

He had to expand. He had to license his operating system. He had to stop acting like a twit and forcing a hardware and other lock-ins. If you don't let things go, warned Bill, you'll be doomed to the margins.

Look where Steve Jobs and Apple - and the Mac - are today.

Bottom line: is it a good idea to get Mac? It's a better - but simultaneously a much more expensive - idea than to get a PC.

But PCs can also run Linux and a PC with Ubuntu Linux beats them all. You are truly secure; you wait not years but minutes or hours for security fixes; and you have gobs more free (as in beer) software to choose from.

And you can use your current computer. No additional purchases. Ubuntu even ship the CDs to your home for free. It's free. It runs on your Windows computer. It runs WINE. You will never have a security issue again.

And you won't be giving more of your hard earned money to Winnie the Pooh. You'll be keeping it for yourself. It's wins all around with absolutely no losses, even on the horizon.

There's only one reason to chose something like Ubuntu, but it's the only reason you'll ever need.

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