Colour my World
... an article by Major Martin (Ret.)
I was there at the birth of computers. Over time I vacillated between the systems of the PC world and that little upstart company, Apple Computer. For those uninitiated in the computer worlds terminology, let me state for the record that PC initially stood for Personal Computer, but for most people today, it incorrectly stands for Microsoft-software enabled computers. These PC computers are not from one manufacturer, but from many different manufacturers, with different Processors at their core, some using Intel® Pentiums and others running AMD® processors.
To make things more confusing, Apple Computer switched over to the Intel G5 Processor and claims to be the fastest. But therein lies the rub, previously known as the Megahertz Myth, and now as the Gigahertz myth. What determines speed? What's the benchmark program that will determine the final outcome? In the PC world, there used to be one benchmark program. Unfortunately, that wasn't applicable to Macintosh computers. Therefore, it was Apples (sic) versus Oranges, or Pineapples. Today, now that the G5 is in the Intel world, might the standard be even closer? Can we even benchmark speed today, or is it even relevant?
If I may, let me revert to my earlier world of simple computing. When I was doing Word Processing 30 years ago on a KayPro Word Processor, it wasn't about keyboard speed, or how fast you can type, it was about data storage and where you stored it, how much you can store, etc. That was what took up your time. We still use keyboards, mice and viewing devices. Yes, they have changed from CRT's to LCD's and no longer need those wonderful little 'After Dark' Screen Savers created by Berkeley Systems. And, with all the power changes and added video cards and accessories in these nice large towers over the years, the need for multiple fans increase the noise generated.
If we only stayed with Word Processing and Spreadsheets, we could have stayed with simple Video Cards or on-board video chips. However, the dawn of entertainment started with the advent of 'Pong' for computers. With games, the need for faster and bigger video cards developed into a pixel race game with macho 'whose is bigger' mentalities. Of course, bigger meant more dollars spent, along with the egos and bragging rights. Eventually, video cards and Processor Megahertz speed reached the corporate levels and advertising wars ensued to this day.
As I vacillated between my purchases of Apple II, PC's and Macintoshes over the years, I have found that the difference wasn't so much as the hardware as it was the inherent approach to the software, or Operating Systems involved. More business systems gravitated toward the PC side, while the Graphics-oriented people and businesses sided with the Apple Computer-centric people. However, I used both, so I vacillated back and forth, using both systems almost equally.
Many people took on their Operating Systems and wore it on their bodies, almost as a mantra, chanting slogans of Apple and Microsoft, as a semi-religious culture expanded. Many of the Apple Computer people banded together into so-called User Groups, helping each other as self-IT Support groups, and it worked so well, that it almost approached zealotry in its use of selling Apple Computers. All of this never cost Apple Computer a nickel. And I was there!
Today I still use both systems, and for different reasons. However, the old reasons no longer hold water as they once did, for different reasons.
Apple has released the old entrenched 'Apple-only software will be used here' approach and now with the Intel G5 Processors, one can install Windows XP and the newer Vista Operating System on the newer computers and dual-boot the computer into which-ever Operating System they want to use for that application.
However, most corporate people might find that the Apple System fills most of their needs, what with Microsoft Office on both the Apple and the PC; Adobe Systems' software with all their Graphics solutions on both the Apple and PC, and other companies following suit. Mac Software is relatively easy to work on and fix. Most people can do it easily. If the same solutions are on both the PC and Apple, what determines what you buy? Price? Price is relative, and the sup-port structure of the IT Department working on your 'down-time' computers is important. And asking the IT which computers to buy is foolish, to say the least. I remember an old maxim I once read which states "Someone whose living depends on fighting alligators is, after all, more likely to breed them than to drain the swamp."
Apple now use the Video Cards 'Graphical Processor Units,' or GPUs,' to do the Graphics Processor calculations rather than having the main G5 Processor doing the work, freeing up the G5 Processors for other work. This is a major speed improvement over how the PC world works; but in time, the PC world will follow suit also. Remember the old 'Apple versus Oranges' speed myth. There's no way to compare speed, as the two Operating Systems work differently with different approaches to hardware and visuals.
Even the old noise levels are almost non-existent on the new Mac Towers. Even with many graphics-intensive operations taking place simultaneously with Dual-Quad processors running, there is no noise. Of course, one can buy a Falcon or Area-51 PC computer system with water-cooled systems to lower the noise level, but nothing I've heard to date is quieter that the new Quad Cores from Apple. However, all of that comes at a costly price. But, even the economical iMacs are almost deadly quiet. So, for comfortable hardware computing, I give my kudos to Apple Computers.
Also for their OS X Leopard software innovations, like automatic 'Time Machine' backups. If only the PC world could copy that, I'd be almost happy. That, and the constant fear of Virus infections, which have been almost non-existent on the Macintosh platform. Who knows what the future will bring?
So, I still compute in both worlds, but my vacillating days are near an end. I enjoy the Apple more and relish the Graphics of my Mac and do little Vista time on it. So, colour my world... Apple!
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