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But I Digress...
by Doc Hillman



The Platform Wars Are A Waste Of Time
August 18th, 2000

Each of us has, I imagine, a nemesis. A person that, for good reason (or so we think) draws our venom when we speak, and our disdain when we act. Lord knows that I've had more than one in my life. And frankly, I'm not really sure why some of them were my sworn enemies. I know that it probably had more to do with me than I believe, and that they also had their own private reasons for finding me despicable.

But I digress.

Here's the thing.....one of my current nemeses is naturally a PC user. It's about all we ever have to talk about, and there is nothing in the conversation between that ever really gets past the fact that we are not fond of each other because of platform choice. However, if Mary Matalin and James Carville can get along, then surely Bill and I could get past this computer thing. Ever think about Carville and Matalin? I do. I really wonder how it is that they can stay home night after night and NOT talk politics. After Carville defended Clinton's dignity and was then shown a fool for doing so, don't you think Mary took the chance to needle him at least once? How could she have avoided it? Anyone with a sense of humor would have killed him for it.

But I digress.

Just as Bill and I should get along, I'm here to say that we really ought to draw something of a truce in the relationship between computer users. I've seen so much thrown at each platform that you might think that this really mattered in the long run. What matters is not the OS, but the people implementing the OS. If they are so doggedly in love with an OS, then I suppose they deserve the derision of those who don't share the same opinion, particularly if they wear their Windows on their sleeve. However, my observations tell me to look past the craziness, and look for what's really inside. Why? Simple. I made three friends this past week, Joe, Eric, and Mike. Who are Joe, Eric, and Mike? The local PC guys that I talked about a couple of weeks ago that have a Color Classic sitting in the front window of Mike's store. They saved my butt big-time this week for the cost of a handshake, and nothing more. I don't know a lot of people that would have done the same from a business. In fact, I know of a bundle of businesses who seem to go out of their way to tick you off. Example?

Okay. Here's the example. My summer home is in an area so filled with carpenter ants that I feel like an invader. They've done more to make my life miserable than most any other bug. It's not a comfortable feeling to stand in your bathroom and hear a munching sound coming from the ceiling. So I called New England Pest Control (a bizarre company whose logo is a giant blue termite that looms over I-95 in Providence) to come and help. They never showed. We've got invasive, pervasive, and pretty damn hungry ants, and they don't meet their appointment. That's no way to run a business.

But, I digress.

I walked into Mike's Computer in Westerly, Rhode Island yesterday after the laptop I was using died. Tech support over the phone could not help, so I sent the chassis of the laptop off to Texas, and went to Mike's with a hard drive and a prayer. Here I was, walking into the PC store with a hard drive, a floppy, and no money, an lo and behold they went out of their way to help me rescue the file so I could transfer it over to my Pismo. I got their attention for about a half an hour, and not once did the question of money arise. The boss was there, and he could have insisted, but they simply helped me out of a jam.

So, I started to talk with them about their business. Eric and I laughed at just how ugly the boxes that Compaq builds are, and Joe went about his business, trying to find the right adapter to get my hard drive wired into his machine. I lusted after his empty pack of Marlboros, and he worked away. Oh by the way, the cigarette lust came because I'm a sort of ex-smoker who is still prone to grab one every once in a while. After I looked at the pack, and considered my hard drive situation, I figured it would be a good time to bum a cigarette. Empty pack though. Damn. I'm sure he had another (what smoker doesn't?) but I couldn't bring myself to ask him to open up a pack.

But, I digress....

So what's the lesson here? Before we start bashing each other about operating systems, let's remember that the machines are there to help people, and are run by people. Mike told me that he has lost customers because he can't provide adequate Mac support. And Joe? Joe told me that he had sworn he would never touch a Mac, but he's coming around a bit. Eric put it plainly. He thinks that the G-4s are about the best looking computer in existence. When I told him about the cube, he had the wide eyes of someone that understands the essence of Apple. All else aside, they make great looking stuff.

And as I walked around the shop, I opened my eyes and noticed that there was more than just a forlorn Color Classic (what the hell was Apple thinking on that one?) sitting around the shop. A little rooting (Aussies- no comments please) and I found a Performa 6360, and a PowerBook 520 (Mike called it a word processor- I think he's right.) A bit more digging would have turned up more I'm sure, but I had already gotten the clear message that Mac users were far from unwelcome at Mike's Computer.

When I go back to Tennessee, I'm going to talk to Bill and see if we can put our computer based enmity aside, and cease to argue the merits of one over the other. The companies that make the computers are going to take care of that for us of course, and we are just as well served by learning to work together. Apple isn't dying anytime soon, Windows isn't dying, and we might s well learn to coexist.

With that In mind, I think I'm going to call up my oldest nemesis, Chipper Mainelli, and bury the hatchet once and for all. (Pause)

On second thought, screw that. He was a jerk then and is probably a jerk now, just like that kid Robbie I went to boarding school with and that jerk Dave that they had to pull me off in college.

But I digress.

Your comments are welcomed.

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Dr. Tim Hillmanis a long time contributor to the Mac community through his work with MacCentral, MacOPINION, and most recently MacOS Daily.



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