Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Computers are just machines...

Computers are just machines. No more, no less. And sometimes they don't work.

I'm realizing this, after going thru a "Windows are unstable, Macs are solid and easy, and Linux is amazing" phase -- most of it based on hearsay, rather than direct experience.

I've discovered that Macs are not necessarily stable, or easier to use than Win-PCs. They have some (IMO) design flaws. At least with an iMac running OS 9-point-somthing:

-the mouse doesn't have a right-click button, which limits the shortcutability [a new word?]

-the whole mouse acts as a "button," meaning it's too easy to accidently click on something without realizing

-if you accidentally click on the wrong part of the screen, the mouse goes into "scroll wheel" mode, and you have to find something solid to click on to get out of it

-NO FLOPPY DRIVE!!! What's up with that??? (Luckily, my parents bought a USB floppy drive; still, kinda silly if you ask me...)

-Only two USB ports -- one of which drives the keyboard -- so if you want to use the USB floppy drive, you have to unplug the printer (from the other USB port), and swap. Or buy a USB hub.

-The floppy drive has a button on it, but if you hit the eject button like one would expect, the Mac sends you an error message saying some of the data may've become corrupted. It took me a few warnings before I thought to drag the floppy's icon into the trash, to eject it. (Which then caused it to thank me for allowing it to un-mount the floppy disk.)

-Dangerously counter-intiutive way of ejecting media: drag a file to the trash to delete it -- yet drag the CD-ROM or floppy to the trash to eject it. Seems like that'd be how you would wipe it! Scary!!!

-No "taskbar" at the bottom (yeah, there's one at the top, kinda) with buttons for all the currently-open files and apps. Instead, gotta go to the top right area (forget what it looks like), or the "window" dropdown menu. Which means two clicks (and a minor time lag) instead of one. The Win98 method is more efficient.

-NO FILE EXTENSIONS!!! Too dumbed-down for my tastes -- I'd like to be able to see for myself -- at a glance -- whether it's a *.txt, *.rtf, or *.doc file, thank you. But I have the same issue with WinXP -- haven't figured out how to "un-dumb" that version's "hide file extensions" setting like I have with 98/Me/2000.

-And finally -- WHAT'S THE COUNTERPART TO Cntrl-Alt-Del? Netscape kept locking up the machine. Tried openapple-Q and openapple-W, to no avail. Had to hit the semi-hidden "reboot" button -- three times in an evening!!! At least in Win, you can access the process that's running and terminate the specific hang-up. Often. ;)

But, in balance, Win-Machines were out to get me today.

Finished my presentation this morning, here at school. Figured 20 minutes would be enough time to get my presentation onto the borrowed laptop. But! -- no floppy drive, not even a USB one. So, tried burning my powerpoint presentation onto a CD-RW. Wouldn't take; don't know why. So, borrowed a friend's USB flashdrive. No dice -- failed some sort of "cyclical check." At this point, it's time for my presentation to begin. Dash next door, apologize to my committee. Come back to the grad. student computer lab. Grab my floppy, go down the hall to the other computer lab I was at that morning, take a new copy of my presentation off the hard drive, run it back to the grad. student lab.

This version works, so the other version must've been corrupted. Had a very nice grad. student use their print quota to print it out as handouts. (I'd tried mapping the printer to my account the previous day, which supposedly had succeeded but still sent my print job into the ether; when you're out of town for a year, they apparently get new printers...) Get nextdoor, start my presentation twenty minutes late. Find out that one of my committee members had only about twenty minutes left, despite the fact that he had signed a form committing to the full three hour time period, and ended up only using maybe 10% of my prepared presentation.

So: went sub-optimally. Blech.

And, **that's** why I'm annoyed at computers. For they are... just machines.



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