Steve Jobs is dead, an unfortunate victim of cancer and quackery. I never paid him much attention while he lived. Nor did I ever care much about Apple’s products. “Aha”, I hear you say, “this is one of those ‘PC is better than Mac’ screeds”. Not so. Because I have been an off-and-on Mac user since the mid 80s. But I don’t care about Macs. Nor about PCs. I could go so far as to say that I’m a bit annoyed with recent versions of Windows. But it’s no big deal to me. These things all work well enough.

In ’84, my cousins’ first Mac introduced me to the mouse and the window environment. We drew in MacPaint and played Loderunner. They had a lot of gadgets, having turned me on to video gaming with their Atari console a few years previously. Then in the later 80s I played Uninvited and Dungeon of Doom with my friend Tor on his parents’ Mac+. My parents had a PC, and so do I still, running Win XP on the study machine and Ubuntu Linux on the home machine.

I did like the iPod when it came. I got the 2nd version of it in ’02 or ’03, 10 gigs with a Firewire interface, made after they got rid of the mechanical wheel but before they started making the miniature versions. Sure was a step up from MiniDisc! But getting music onto it demanded dedicated software, and you couldn’t get the files off it again. I never started using iTunes. Also, Firewire never really caught on and no later machines of mine have had it. So since I got my first smartphone in ’06, the iPod has been languishing in a drawer or Junior has been using it.

Also in ’06, I was issued a desktop Mac for my editor’s desk (yes, I have three desks; no, I do not have even one full-time salary). I still use it and it works fine. I’ve never been tempted to get an iPhone or an iPad, opting instead for Android handsets that are a bit cheaper and offer better integration with Google’s services. No, I don’t consider myself a Google fan either. If it works, who cares what brand it is?

Comments

  1. #1 Dunc
    October 13, 2011

    If it works, who cares what brand it is?

    But how can we define our identities, if not in terms of the brands we identify with!? ;)

  2. #2 Mumin
    October 13, 2011

    I sometimes get into an endless loop with friends about this when it transpires that I own an iPad.

    – Ah, so you finally saw the greatness of all things Apple!
    – No, I only bought an iPad.
    – Ah, but why didn’t you get an Android if you hate Apple?
    – I don’t care about Apple. The iPad was my choice of tablet , is all.
    – Ah, so you love Apple products!
    – No, the sheet music reader that made me want a tablet in the first place only exists for the iPad.
    – Ah, but if Android is so great, why doesn’t it have any cool apps? Is it because you and everyone else loves Apple, perhaps?
    – …

    You buy a gadget and get religion by association.

  3. #3 Thomas Ivarsson
    October 13, 2011

    When you drive on a highway you do not care bout the company that build it.

    Religious beliefs have been around in IT since I started in that business in 1995 and long before that. I bought a Mac in 1994 and realized that most apple software had a price tag 5-10 times higher than software for PC, even if the Mac had a great and simple user interface. I have never liked closed platforms with hardware and software coming from the same single company.

  4. #4 nick
    October 13, 2011

    My only strong opinions relating to Apple are from when my debit card was cloned in 2008 and the criminals bought some Macs at my expense. I had and still have a bog standard PC. It works fine for me …

  5. #5 DRK
    October 13, 2011

    Being as I am in a mixed marriage –I’m the one with the PC– I was surprised when my spouse went for the Android phone. He liked it so well, I ended up getting one, too. Great interface, syncs with all my google stuff. A year or so later, I got an iPad. There are things I really like it for, but frankly, I don’t like the interface; for one thing, I’ve always loathed iTunes. I dislike how the keyboard works, too. I would not care for an iPhone, based on my experience with the iPad.

    My next smartphone will be an Android. My spouse’s next phone will be an iPhone. Go figure. Guess it really is a cult.

  6. #6 Birger Johansson
    October 13, 2011

    (OT) Breaking news: “Oldest artist’s workshop in the world discovered” http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21046-oldest-artists-workshop-in-the-world-discovered.html

    100.000 years …that is some serious technology staying power. Of course, today we mix paint in plastic trays rather than abalone shells, but the basic idea is the same. IT industry, eat your heart out!

  7. #7 CCBC
    October 13, 2011

    It’s debatable how much “quackery” had to do with Jobs’ death. This site says Everything, this site says Not So Much. What it boils down to is that Jobs may have delayed treatment by about nine months early on when his cancer seemed like the innocuous kind that makes up 5% of pancreatic cancers. His treatment then became very aggressive including Whipple surgery that removes a large chunk of pancreas. The cancer moved to his liver. He had a liver transplant. In spite of everything, he died.

    Now that is not the medical history of someone who embraces quackery. And all this “nine months delay” business is based on a single story that appeared in Fortune magazine a while back. Was it accurate? It seems to me that Jobs is being turned into a whipping boy by both scientists and quacks on the basis of very little hard information.

  8. #8 John Massey
    October 16, 2011

    My assessment, from independent evaluations and playing with the stuff myself:

    Apple products are a lot more expensive.
    They have been the industry innovators, which in part explains the high prices. The other parts are the build quality, plus they have the highest profit margins in the business.
    Design is good.
    Build quality is a lot better that the competition.
    The graphics are excellent.
    Reliability is just average compared to the competition.
    After sales service is good.

    Cheaper stuff will do the same job. It just depends how much you value the build quality and the quality of the graphics, whether the substantial extra cost is worth it.

    I think the iPad is a toy. I simply don’t understand why people think they are so wonderful. But that goes for any tablet.

    Declaration – I currently use a Compaq laptop, which I wish would die because it is a cheap piece of junk and I hate it. It offends me. It does the job, which is why it is still here. When it dies, I will replace it with a MacBook Pro. I want the Apple graphics because I am into photography.

    I have previously been deterred by the idea of a closed environment, but find it actually doesn’t bother me.

    I am using an iPhone4. I can make no useful comparisons, because it is only the second smartphone I have used. But I have no complaints. It works. The battery life is adequate, but only barely, so I got a juice box to plug it into which doubles battery life.

    I have an iPad sitting in the cupboard belonging to my daughter, given to her as a gift by an over-zealous relative. Neither of us uses it because we both regard it as a useless piece of junk. If you have a smartphone and a laptop, what do you need a tablet for?

    I have an iPod which I inherited from my daughter which is also sitting in the cupboard because my iPhone serves as an iPod. My daughter is using a newer iPod which is permanently attached to her ears with super glue. That would be totally redundant if she had a smartphone, but she doesn’t want one.

  9. #9 dhogaza
    October 16, 2011

    Your fellow science blogs blogger, a practicing surgeon, disagrees with the claim that alternative medicine killed Steve Jobs.

    I note that you’re not a doctor/surgeon, and AFAICT have no relevant expertise in the treatment of cancer.

    Now our respectful insolence friend …

    1. Thinks that Job’s choice to pursue an alternative course of treatment was stupid (I agree).

    2. If the cancer had been aggressive and if he’d refused conventional treatment after dabbling with alternative approaches, the claims would probably be correct.

    3. However, there’s no indication that the neuroendocrine tumor (not pancreatic cancer) Jobs had was aggressive, and no indication that delaying surgery and follow-up treatment increased his risk, particularly since it was caught very early. Most people don’t detect it nearly as early as it was in his case, and still have an excellent prognosis.

    4. “His treatment then became very aggressive including Whipple surgery that removes a large chunk of pancreas.” The author of respectful insolence points out that the choice to do this surgery would have to do with the *location*, not extensiveness, of the tumor. Jobs was unfortunate that his tumor was at the head of pancreas rather than in a location more accessible to a surgeon. He also points out that the difficulty (mortality rate is relatively high for this surgery) and the implications for future quality of life are such that a responsible surgeon would probably not recommend doing it if the cancer had indeed spread rapidly and aggressively in the 9 months from detection to surgery.

    5. Finally, Jobs turned to conventional care relatively quickly (in relationship to how this particular kind of cancer tends to progress) and once having made that choice, stuck with it.

    Not necessarily definitive but I suggest folks read it through. He also castigates those who claim that Jobs would’ve survived if he had continued with alternative approaches – not only are some claiming that alternative medicine killed him, others claim that conventional medicine killed him.

    He thinks the real answer is one that is so often true with cancer: Jobs was unlucky in that he fell into that unlucky 10% or so of people with this kind of neuroendocrine tumor who are going to die from it rather than make it ten years cancer free …

  10. #10 Marc
    October 22, 2011

    I got a apple laptop a few years ago and got a lot of “you finally saw the light” comments. Not really. I had a string of PC laptops and was curious. Also most people I work with have Macs, so it make things a bit better at work. It works fine enough, and I have Parallels and Win7 on it anyway. I can’t say I feel strongly about it.

  11. #11 Kaleberg
    October 22, 2011

    The only reason to follow Steve Jobs and Apple is that they were responsible for rolling out an awful lot of technology starting with all in one, ready to use personal computers (the Apple II), the mouse, icon, windows interface (Lisa and Mac), and a lot of other stuff. They were rarely the first, but they managed to bring it to market and get people to buy it, usually because they did a better job of integrating the hardware and software. Most personal computer companies make the hardware and buy their software from outsiders. Apple does hardware and software, so they can usually make them work well together.

    Jobs always reminded me of Henry Ford, who brought the automobile, for better or worse, to the common man. He was always considered a market leader, aggressively brought down production costs, and was frequently at the brink of bankruptcy.

  12. #12 Joe Z
    October 25, 2011

    I always scoff at somebody who considers the Mac OS to be a “closed” system. As somebody who has a good bit of Linux experience, and a love for DIY computer science, I’ve found OSX to be almost as open in every way imaginable, aside from tinkering with the upper level API’s, but they work so well that I have never felt a need to touch them (and Apple leaves plenty of hooks in the API’s for future programmers to customize with). OSX is not iOS, no matter how much people from “the Windows side” naturally believe it is based on their limited background in Apple tech. A little time on Google goes a long way when it comes to opening up the Mac OS. The rock-solid UNIX foundation is still totally accessible to the end user.

    I’m a Mac user, but, I have my limits. iPods are nice, but iPads are useless. Given the choice between Windows and Linux, Linux all the way. Microsoft software is the stuff of my nightmares.

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