{picture of 
Bryan Hance}
The Great Debate Rages On: My Computer is Better than Yours

 - As the Macintosh I was using today crashed for the ninth time I began to rethink one of the oldest-running debates in computer history. As I tried not to destroy a valuable machine that belonged to the university, I again went through all the high points of the most widely-argued question debated by run-of-the-mill computer users.
 - You know where this is leading. The Question approaches...

Which is better, IBM or Macintosh?

 - Yuck.
 - It's a cyclical debate. You can pursue an answer all you want, but you'll only end up back where you began with nothing to show for your efforts but frustration and confusion. When you're already frustrated, though, you don't care, and that's why I began thinking about this issue again.
 - Technology enthusiasts have an vicious response when it comes to defending their equipment choices. A scary mix of opinion, pride and ego fuels this reaction, but I'm willing to bet the largest reason is the fact that nobody likes to think they blew $3000 on machine that might possibly be inferior to someone else's. Hence, endless debates and screaming matches.
 - It would be easy to dismiss all of these debates as nonsense if it weren't so bloody easy to take sides. Personally, I like Macs for graphic work. I'd rather eat my own hand than be forced to work with one on a daily basis though, because I have y et to meet a Mac that runs faster than your average hamster. I also wonder why a $4000 factory-new Macs come equipped with what has to be the world's slowest hard drives, why Mac OS designers thought it would be cute to gi ve you a message showing you how to turn the machine off after it has crashed, and why educational institutions still think Macintosh computers make good investments when the grants come in, thus dooming their users to a lifetime of the smiley-face operating system from hell.
 - Yes, I am going to pay for this column. There are veterans of this argument out there who undoubtedly have all the statistics comparing Motorola and Intel chips, Mac computation speeds to IBM's, base costs and upgrade options, architecture specifics - the whole enchilada. So, to save me from enduring 3,000 emails and death threats from the "I love Mac" factions and to make things fair, I'll admit that IBM's have their share of flaws. They're about as user friendly as a road flare, their most popular operating system rips roughly 60% the Mac's user interface, you can't network a PC straight out of the box and all PC's are a royal pain to reconfigure. Yes, I've been on IBM's that bomb with reckless abandon as well, but not with the same frequency.

I still think they're still faster any day of the week, though.

 - If anything positive is actually produced from this ongoing debate, it's humor. There are s o many web pages, email threads, pamphl ets and probably some tattoos related to this very debate, so at least each faction can keep a smile on their faces while they try to win over a few more converts.
 - Can't we all just get along?
 - Ok, I'll shut up now. I suppose it boils down to a horribly democratic explanation, something about every person being different and a dualistic market variety arising to meet the key aspects of these differences, but comparing one system to another is st ill an unwise and potentially deadly undertaking. Let me pose to you the following questions, though, because now that I have calmed down there are still some issues that need to be addressed. Pacing the Void asks for your help.
  • 1) Why, among the billions of web pages pointing out the superiority and inferiority of each kind of computer known to man, are there no "Why Sun Microsystems should rule the earth" pages? I can't find any, and I've looked everywhere.

  • 2) If people get this worked up over their computer choices, why don't people get worked up over objects they use more often on a daily basis? Why aren't people rioting in the streets over the wheat bread/white bread debate?

  • 3) Did the first ten people who owned an abacus get together and discuss whose beads slid down the rails faster, or what size of bead made for really great calculations? Did adding machine operators form strange little subgroups devoted to tweaking their machines to optimum efficiency? (You know, filing down the crank-handles, adding custom keys, oiling the gears.) If they did, then did they sit around afterwards, making fun of everyone using a slower machine? What is it about computers that makes the si tuation any different?

  • 4) What are your thoughts on this, tuthfully? I know I'm asking for it, but I'm looking for hard, concrete comparisons between average systems. I know this column comes off sounding horribly anti-Mac, but perhaps I'm just limited by the fact that every lab on campus is stocked full of Macs - would I think differently if the labs were packed full of PCs?

 - Having said that, I'll leave the replies up to you, the public. Send them here . Let me know what you think about this.
 - Meanwhile, I think I'll hide from all computers for a day or so, if not just to avoid all the flack I'm going to catch over those Mac remarks.

Webmaster's Note:

 - For the record, I would like to inform our audience that Bryan is the only member of the Web staff to swear his allegiance to Bill Gate's Evil Empire. The rest of us are shocked and saddened by his betrayal. Maybe if Bryan stopped trying to run Netscape off the newsroom's crappy LC 475 with 4mb RAM he might regain his senses.

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