Why Apple Computer is not what people think it is.


The biggest problem with Mac’s “I’m a Mac” ad campagin with Justin Long and John Hodgman is that John Hodgman is so much more charismatic. I mean, is there anyone out there that likes Justin Long? Anyone that doesn’t think he’s a totally obnoxious ass?

They make a lot of claims in these ads about Mac’s superior security, stability, and performance. I’m sure there has been endless debate on all three counts, with PC users vehemently defending their machines, cobbled together from parts made by twenty or more different companies–reminiscent of the Road Warrior, the electronic version of a rat bike–while Mac users sit back with their user-friendly, cute-as-a-button, yuppie machines. The fact remains that a computer is only as useful as a user is able to make it.

There are a few things that I’d like to say that might level the playing field as far as Macs are concerned and the first involves a story about a virus. One of the Macintosh’s selling points is the fact that they never get viruses. The reason for this, of course, is not because they are more secure. It’s because they have a far smaller market share than Windows. About 90% to 10%. The danger is that as Apple’s market share grows (and it is currently doing just this) it will attract many more hackers.

Imagine you’re a hacker and you want to write a virus. Your primary goal is, of course, to infect as many computers as possible. The best way to do this, would be to write a virus for the most ubiquitous platform: Windows. That’s why PC-users get more viruses and why Mac-users suffering from malware are few and far between.

I suppose it’s interesting that this new Mac virus was found primarily to be haunting popular porn sites. Presumably the people suffering from attacks from this virus are Mac-users who happen to have a penchant for the naughty. And perhaps even more interesting is the fact that, Mac-users, inexperienced at dealing with viruses and with fewer bits of free software to rid themselves of these viruses, are having a much harder time cleaning their systems.

I really feel for them. It’s like forcing a five-year-old to oversee the merger of two large corporations. They are simply ill-equipped to deal with this.

I wonder if you are familiar with one Alan Turing. He was a cryptographer during World War II and his story is fascinating. Most importantly, he is considered by many to be the father of modern computing. His “Turing Machine” was a thought experiment that is the basis for modern file systems and, while modern computers aren’t directly based on it, the “Random Access Stored Program” machines that today’s computers evolved from Turing’s original ideas.

And this brings me to a point that has always struck me as bizarre about Apple Inc’s logo. You see, Alan Turing was a homosexual. This was illegal in England at the time and this was eventually discovered by the powers that be. He was stripped of his security clearance and convicted of the very same crime that Oscar Wilde was. He avoided jail time by submitting to chemical castration. A horrifying atrocity.

I’m not sure if this lead directly to his death or not, but the fact remains, he was found dead with a half-eaten apple next to him. The autopsy revealed that he died of cyanide poisoning and it was ruled a suicide. That’s right. The official theory is that he killed himself with a poisoned apple.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to draw a connection between Alan Turing’s death and the Apple logo, but that doesn’t make it any less odd, especially considering that the Apple logo has a single bite missing, implying that the apple is only partly eaten, just like the one that killed Alan Turing.

Is this deliberate? Apple Inc’s Wikipedia page says that the logo was inspired by Isaac Newton and the apple that inspired the theory of gravity, but that seems like a ludicrous idea with only a very tangential connection to a modern home computer, whereas the apple that killed the father of modern computing seems far closer.

It just strikes me as odd, that’s all.

Anyway, while the Macintosh is in many ways a superior machine to most PCs, it is definitely not what the ads sometimes make it out to be. They are just as prone to glitches (I’ve operated some seriously glitchy Macintoshes) and, as we shall see, just as prone to viral infection as their more versatile counterparts.