Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Digesting Bits of Apple. Thoughts On WWDC 06.

I have some friends who belong to the Cult of Apple. They love those new and highly inaccurate Mac commercials. And they often try to use these crass bits of flotsam to persuade me that all in life would be so much better if I would drink the Kool Aide that Steve Jobbs has poured for so many others. I tend to give these people “Friends don’t let Friends use Macs” yellow signs for Xmas. It’s a love to hate thing I guess. But the smugness of this small user base just erks me at times.

Recently at the Black Hat Convention hackers showed how they could break into a Mactel’s wireless drivers in less than a minute. Why a Mac? When asked that question the hackers said it was solely due to those insipid ads. No viruses? Then why release 29 security updates last month. Near as I can remember there hasn’t been one month in Windows history where 29 patches were needed. So take that you “I’m more secure” adverts!

Where this comes into as far as Assistive Technology goes is the *earth shattering* announcement that OSX 10.5 will support Braille. Wowie! Really? Braille? Oh man whatever was I missing with no Mac Braille.

Truth is that Mac Braille could have been on line with OSX years ago had Apple not cut out ALVA Access from development with Enlarge and Outspoken. Which happen to still run in 9x and lower products. But years ago a friend who used to work with ALVA, before VisionCue/Optelec came along, told me that they were barely selling enough of the Apple software to cover development costs. So to them it was no big loss that they didn’t have products to release for OSX 10.

And let’s also recap a bit more. Support for Apple products was next to none, except for community based products like Biggie, in 10.0 to 10.3. It wasn’t until Tiger, 10.4, did we see the revamped Universal Access. And that really came along because of Section 508 standards for Government and School purchases. The Borg comes to mind “Compliance is required” and “Aqua is irrelevant”.

Many like to say that Microsoft is this Evil Empire that must be stopped. I, however, take a different stance. I came from the days of DOS and I remember what it was like to have to remember each flavor of DOS’s commands. We had IBM DOS, MSDOS and about 16 other variants. And rarely did we have commands that would work universally in all of them. Then along came Windows and it’s market dominance. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not a socialist monopoly promoting kind of guy. But having one platform for all of us to learn or adapt with technology for employment makes life a tad easier. This philosophy of mine can easily be converted to figure out my feelings on Linux and Open Source if you hadn’t guessed.

There was a Wired article some years ago that said that Linux would never reach an acceptance point outside of it’s Uber Nerd status until a way could be found for low level tech support jockeys to walk an 84 year old Grandmother of 4 through an email setup the day after Xmas. I think that statement is still true and it’s one reason why none of my family will be running Open Source.. ever!

But back to Apple. There’s always been a friendly rivalry between Mac and Windows users. Now with the rise of the IPod Generation things seemed to have changed. Apple once the hippie free love company now holds the biggest lock on capitalism and fair use with their crappy ITMS DRM. Ads that once showed how things would be in 1984 have changed to base insults of both Windows users and Mac users as well. And then there was this year’s WWDC. When you have to mention the competitor often to distinguish yourself and your message.. then your message is you don’t believe your better than your competition. See the Vista Envy comment laden blog post below for more.


While I appreciate that Apple is moving forward with changes in Universal Access it’s not nearly enough to offer a serious challenge to the variety of AT products available to 700 million of us who for some reason stubbornly stay with that flawed Windows software.

And while I am at it let’s just clear up a few things.

Microsoft didn’t steal from Apple. Apple stole from Xerox Park.
Macs and Dell Laptops are unsafe for laps.
Computers are computers. Viruses, hijacks and crashes happen to all of us. But bragging that you don’t get them as often to the world at large only ensures that your batting average will be rising soon if some code monkey in the Netherlands decides differently.

Well I feel better. I knew I had an Anti Apple post in me brewing but it took Leopard to bring it out of me. I guess this won’t be the last rant on this subject for awhile. Or at least until 10.5 rolls around at least. Here’s hoping Windows Vista doesn’t slip back to Leopard release. Yikes!

No comments: