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The Back Page
by Bryan Chaffin

OS X Is Coming: Watch Out, You May Be A Reactionary Luddite
November 17th, 2000

There are a few things in this world that I hate. Ok, let's be honest, there are lots of things that I hate. Found on that list of things I hate is the fear of change. I loathe the fear of change almost as much as I loathe the idea of having to work on a Windows box during an intense six month project designing a new section for ASP on Microsoft's Web site. Ugh!

For Instance, The Plant

You're at work and there is going to be an ownership change. The gods know that the new guys are going to make all kinds of changes and it's gonna suck. Everybody says so, so it must be true, right? Did you hear? You're gonna have to start putting the dohickey on before you even see the thingamajig and everyone knows that ain't gonna work; these new guys suck.

Never mind the fact that the company is currently losing money and getting product out the door late. Never mind that these people who are complaining about change have such a hate for their jobs that most don't even want to come to work. Change just sucks.

I have heard that kind of crap again and again and again. Change isn't so bad you know. Don't get me wrong, there are changes that are bad. Mistakes can be made, and sometimes the people making the change don't know what the heck they are doing. Most of the time, however, change ends up being pretty good. Or at least not horrific.

Here's how the above situation always plays itself out too. Everyone involved in the change says they are going to quit once the change takes place. Everyone says they are going to fight the changes, and sure enough there are some random passive-aggressive acts from some employees that last for a few weeks. No one quits though, and after about three months, everyone accepts the changes as the new standard. Better yet, they will now defend the old changes against any new changes just as religiously as they fought to keep them away before.

This sort of reactionary crap makes me embarrassed to be human sometimes, and I am being quite serious.

For those still not on the clue train, here's a free ticket. There is this great chorus of voices clamoring about the doom, death, chaos, and outright tyranny that is the black morass known as Mac OS X. There is a direct analogy between the folks working in "The Plant" above and those screaming, whining, and kicking about OS X. This includes a bunch of pissed off readers and forum posters as well as a number of my colleagues in the Mac press, many of whom I respect as individuals and authors, and a couple among our own excellent staff at The Mac Observer. When it comes to Mac OS X, however, I disagree with them.

Mac OS X is a good thing. It is different from the old Mac OS. It is a change from what we have known. Most of us will even have to learn a few new things. Get used to it. The current Mac OS is ancient and falling apart at the seams. I like it and I am happy to be using it, but I can't wait to have OS X as my full time OS. For the record, it is ONLY the lack of support for Voodoo cards and dual monitors that keeps me on OS 9. Our own Kyle D'Addario is among those that use OS X full time, and his experience has me drooling at the thought of making the Switch.

There is another point I want to make in order to forestall at least some of the hate mail I will get for this piece. If you have legitimate concerns about OS X, take the opportunity to let Apple know. Our own Rodney O. Lain wrote a great piece about this called "Have You 'Feedbacked' OS X Today?" His point was that Apple included a direct feedback link right in the Dock of OS X for letting them know your thoughts. Take the time and write them through this mechanism with good feedback, either positive or negative, but remember that if you have a complaint you will get farther by being nice.

Back to my rant...

I first pointed this out almost a year ago, but for those who miss the look and feel of the current Mac OS, there will be third party products galore to mimic everything from the Apple Menu to the Windows' task bar before you can say "GoMac" three times fast I personally expect some brilliant coder to produce something that emulates the Finder as a desktop. I certainly hope so, because I personally don't like the browser paradigm of file management. If someone doesn't, that's ok, because I will get used to the change. The benefits of Mac OS X far outweigh every single one of the petty comments I have heard about Mac OS X. It would be a tad different if most of the commentary on OS X I read was intelligent and rational, but the vast majority of simply isn't. Most of it is reactionary garbage. Seriously. Luddites all IMNSHO.

Mac OS X is a change that we need as Mac users, and Apple needs it as a company. It's even ok if Apple doesn't get everything right the first time out, because they can fix it. As it is, Beta 1 is already usable on most levels.

And this is how it is going to play out. Mac OS X is going to be released sometime in 2001. It will eventually be included on all new machines from Apple. There is going to be some user confusion, especially among the millions of Mac users who do not spend all their time on the Mac Web. There is going to be a calamitous uproar from thousands of Mac users demanding this and that, including a demand that Apple include the option of getting their new machines with OS 9 instead of OS X. There will be several Anti-OS X Web sites launched too, most of which will be feverishly updated for about three weeks. There may even be some petitions launched! That will be a hoot.

Anyway, within two months, Apple will release an update that fixes the most egregious of the problems with OS X and there will be much rejoicing. Over the next 6 months, a majority of the Mac user base that cares about this subject, including most of the hard core Macheads, will embrace OS X with open arms. Most will conveniently forget how much they howled when it was released and go about proselytizing for the Mac just like they always did. Within a year, those few hundred people still chanting "MAC OS 9 FOR LIFE!!!!" will be seen as those quaint folks everyone sort of nervously laughs at while pretending not to see them.

You know, kind of like we did when the Apple ][ contingent was bitching and moaning about the Mac back in the early 90's.

Your comments are welcomed.


began using Apple computers in 1983 in a high school BASIC programming class. He started using Macs in 1990 when the Kinko's guy taught him how to use Aldus PageMaker, finally buying a Power Computing Power 100 in 1995. Today, Bryan is the Editor of The Mac Observer, and has contributed to the print versions of MacAddict and MacFormat (UK).

You can send your comments directly to him, or you can also post your comments below.

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