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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Apotheosis of S. Jobs

Even long before his anticipated death a few days ago, at the hands of pancreatic cancer, Steve Jobs was so often mentioned and praised in the news for any number of reasons that I wonder if sheer embarrassment played a part in the escalation of his condition to that final state.   Every third or fourth news item seems to be about him and his demise, and about ways to set his memory into stone, and I am sure this deluge will go on for the next three or four weeks at least, no matter what happens in the rest of the world.  This universal outpouring of praise on him is so profuse that I am sure that if, instead of being one of the leading lights during a couple of periods of at the Apple computer company, he had instead done something really incredible, such as eliminating racism, genocide, religious intolerance, global overheating, warfare, African warlords, credit swap defaults, the theft of the West Bank, home foreclosures, evictions, pollution, overfishing, or any one of the million other ills of the world or of the Seven Deadly Sins, he would not be celebrated nearly as lavishly as he is now.

Who or what is responsible for all this cathedral-building in honor of Steve Jobs?   Can it be that the Mac and Apple users have finally taken over the world?   If so, how could that be?   How could I have missed that startling development?   For it seems to me that it was only a decade or so ago when the users of Apple machines were still a small minority -- about 10 percent or so -- of the total computer users in the world, with the PC users still in the great majority.

In trying to think of how I could've completely missed being affected by the wonders of what is clearly the Steve Jobs Golden Age of Computer Stuff, the cause must be that somehow I have managed to get along just fine without having bought one single Apple product of any kind, ever since things first heated up in the computer world, at least on the home machine front, dating from the moment that I first spotted that incredible miracle, the game of Pong on one of those little Atari 2600 consoles, probably in a Sears store, back in the mid-1970's.

I ignored the Apple machines on purpose, because I didn't like that company's way of doing business, though I believe Jobs and his buddy Wozniak were intimately connected with it even then.   I thought the early Apple computers and later the Macs were way too proprietary.   If you had one of their machines, whenever you needed a part to fix it or some peripheral, you couldn't buy one made by any company other than by Apple.   This struck me as being greedy, tyrannical, undemocratic, and un-American, compared to the way that IBM, with the introduction of their first basic home computer, the XT, threw open the architecture of their machine to the world at large, and that made it possible for hundreds of small companies to make and to supply stuff to go into those machines, and that made PC stuff not only less expensive but also easier to obtain, since one had so many choices.

Of course, I know that IBM, being a true part of Big Business, did not do this out of the goodness of their hearts.   But it also occurs to me that I don't know exactly how they came to this decision.   They either under-rated the importance of the home market, and simply let it go at that, or or they were so wedded to their bread and butter office machines that they weren't interested in the home market even when it became obvious that there were dollars to be made there, too.   For whatever reason their open architecture was a boon to many small businesses, software as well as hardware, and to the numerous little guys like myself, who could then repeat their Erector Set childhood days by buying empty computer cases of all descriptions and then happily filling them up with items also of every description, and without breaking the bank.

I also disliked the Apple community for another reason.   In the ensuing years, little wars of contention constantly broke out between PC and Mac users, and inevitably in these little spats the Mac users were the Republicans of the computer world, because they were always the more aggressive, argumentative, and nasty proponents of their machines.   Just as Republicans take so much exception to so many people who persist in voting Democratic, it galled the Apple users that so many people insisted on sticking to their PC's, despite all the claims that the Apple users made about the superiority of their machines.

Because I never had any reason to get any of that equipment, I've never been in a position to know whether their arguments had any merit.   The first argument that is always made is about how superior the graphics are on Apple machines, making them especially useful for artists.   But I've  never used computers for any of my painting or stained glass work.   Instead I use my battery of seven or eight PC's on probably a more primitive level -- namely for writing, listening to music, checking on the Internet, playing games, or just for the sheer joy of taking them apart and putting them together again,  and I have no idea what the sleek, miniaturized world of Iphones and Ipods is all about, except that they couldn't possibly fit my hands..

I can't help feeling that I'm not missing much, except strains from a constantly bent neck and on my eyes from punching the tiny keys on those little monstrosities that seem to be almost cemented to younger, sweatier hands.  And speaking of young, sweaty hands, I'm not in any social networks anyway, for obvious reasons.


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