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The New Keyboard "W" Fiasco?

gqmartinez's picture

I was thinking about Lambert's post on old computers in the White House and it reminded me of the brouhaha over the keyboards and what not during the Clinton-Bush transition. Here's the Froomkin quote he uses:

One member of the White House new-media team came to work on Tuesday, right after the swearing-in ceremony, only to discover that it was impossible to know which programs could be updated, or even which computers could be used for which purposes. The team members, accustomed to working on Macintoshes, found computers outfitted with six-year-old versions of Microsoft software.

Seriously, Froomkin could get paid from Apple* for this story.

Call me crazy, but 6 year old Microsoft software is, what, Office 2003? Real bummer man, having to use Office 2003. Silly ol' me, I'm using Office 2003 (when I'm not using Open Office), I mustn't be capable of anything. And pardon me for not being moved by people in a new work environment not sitting down and not immediately knowing which computer is for what purpose. I had people who were in my lab who didn't know what my Linux computer in the back room was for even though they had been in the lab for a long time.

The only thing I get from these transition stories is another parallel to the way in which the Bush team transitioned into power. I hope the similarities end here.

* I'm happy if Mac users want to buy into that hip and trendy stuff, but please don't act like Apple is less evil. The originally closed nature of Apple hardware is more evil than Microsoft. At least with the latter you were able to buy your choice of mouse from any number of companies.

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TonyRz's picture
Submitted by TonyRz on

Microsoft has been happy to supply translation filters which allow you to exchange data with other Office users - with only minor hiccups along the way - until you get to Office 2007. With Office 2007, they introduced an allegedly "Open Document" format (an argument and history would make Caroline Schlossberg look like a walk in the park, so let me just emphasize "roughly" and "hiccups") which requires users of older versions of Office (2003 and earlier) to download a specific set of translators.

I don't recall right now whether you had to be at at least Office 2000 to use the new filters, but I will say from admin experience, that there's very little difference between Office97 and Office 2000 except the Access database format itself, and actually there's a performance improvement: Office2K is a lot faster than 97, and Microsoft still issues Security patches for it, so (conceptually) it can be made "secure" in ways that Office97 can't.

So troll ebay for old "academic license" media, maybe? Trash-pick at work for old discs?

But the whole idea of different computers for different tasks and jobs?

Makes perfect sense in the bizarro world MS has created and in which many of us live. Pisses off the creatives to no end, I imagine. If the original WashPost article is referring to operating systems, and not office suites, then maybe they mean they encountered Windows2000 in the White House. Well, that's still supported with security patches by Microsoft, too.

(But you can't load iTunes version 8, so maybe that's the problem?)

And I'm sure there's an army of vendors and contractors who have forbidden upgrades on certain software systems running applications they provide.

In general, yeah, I've found this whole story a little gratuitous and possibly uninformed.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

very few of us mac users are Steve Job worshippers. nor are there a lot of us crying, "the Apple corporation is Pure, Right, and Good to Puppies!" yes, we make a lot of jokes about the people at Redford, but christ- that's like taking candy from a baby. what you mac haters always seem to miss is the obvious:

macs are easier to use. and they generally last longer, and are of higher quality, than many pcs. the mac OS is relatively simple, intuitive, and even non-computer people can jump right in, turn on a mac, and do what they want to do quickly, and easily.

my standard response to mac hating from PC people is this: do you drive a car, or ride a bus or a train? likely, you do sometimes. one of those is probably pretty important in your life, to your livelihood and in terms of your ability to do what you want. given that fact: what do you know about cars/trains/buses? if one breaks down, can you fix it? could you drive a bus? a train? could you rebuild the engine on your car, all by yourself? do you think you should be responsible for the maintainence of a car or bus, just because you use it, and fix its problems in your own garage/backyard, with tools you buy, on your own time? do you think that it's "your problem" if a car you buy fails to start 1 out of 10 times or that the bus breaks down once a day? should the bus you take should require you to learn a new bus route every week? would you think it right and fair if your car stopped functioning unless you bought a new transmission every year, which at the same time was susceptible to breaking down, every time you parked it next to a stranger's car?

all that sounds pretty ridiculous. but when it comes to PCs, people are expected to do many of the equivalents. if your PC is "too old," fuck you- buy a new one. if your PC has a virus, buck up- buy a security program. if you don't have time to learn an operating system that makes you go thru countless menus and "wizards" in order to surf the internet and play music- eat it, what else are you here for except to waste your time making up for the laziness and lack of ergonomic creativity in the folks at Redford? if you want to do something "exotic" like watch movies or listen to music, it's "your responsibility" to by extra cards and boards and install complex programs to make them work, right? what a crazy idea, that a computer would do what you want when you want it, all for the initial purchase price and without hours of specialized learning. not.

everyone in my family has always used macs, except my mom. it's a funny story. when computers first came available to little people, Dad spent many years in the late 70s and 80s dicking around with them. i still remember some of the "amazing" grey boxes with green on black screens he built, and the "wonders" they could do. i was too young to really get the programming bug (although he tried to infect me and sent me to 'computer camp' four years running) but i've watched computers for home use evolve over the years, and i'm very firm in my opinions about consumer computer product as a result. in large part, this comes from sharp memory of the many, many, many hours Dad used to spend in front of his, dicking around with this or that chip or motherboard, trying to tweak some routine to get some function to function, blah. but as soon as he could buy one, he always kept one, pristine Mac for home use, untouched and un-fucked with. these are fond memories for me, but not for my Mom, who, while they were still married, came to really resent the whole "I'll be there in a minute, honey!" series of excuses late a night, that kept her from her husband more times than he wants to admit. anyway, they eventually divorced. this was right about the time that they started using the word "power" in mac products. when they split, dad kept all the computer stuff with him. mom needed a computer, and so she went to some corporate store and bought a PC. for 10 long years, she labored with PCs. she's really bad with math, technology, and that sort of thing, and i recall how much time, and frustration, they caused her, as she went about her relatively simple business of typing letters, and eventually checking email. but what was important to her was that she didn't have "what he had" and that she went her own way with computers, showing him that she didn't need him or his macs, which had contributed to their split because of his love for them. mom can be stubborn like that, yo.

after 10 years, they got back together. dad said to her, may i buy you a new computer, and she agreed. she got a nice mac tower, i forget which one. she was *shocked* to discover that it was easy, simple, straighforward, and just as fast as any PC she'd used. and also that she could do everything she really needed to do on a mac, despite endless PC propaganda that "nothing" is made for a mac, software-wise. she's never looked back, and bought a new Mac cube just a few months ago, just because she loves them so much now. she even apologized to him and admitted that her stubborness was a dumb reason to stick with PCs.

i grok that gamers, programmers, and computer specialists and people in very specialized fields may "need" to use PCs. but the mac people weren't stupid coming up with the "computers for the rest of us" ad series. what do *most* people need a personal computer for? word processing, spreadsheets, the internet, music, video, perhaps some educational games for children or adult hobbying. if i had to do that mac ad test, i promise you i could replicate the results. that is, i can very quickly and inutitively get a computer virgin up and running, and completing all the above tasks, on a mac, much more easily than a PC. i think it's a horrible shame that so many purchasing managers and executives have bought into the idea that businesses "need" PCs in the workplace, which is where i have the most experience with PC myself. it's a 'free market,' right? if enough businesses were to understand that macs can increase productivity and worker happiness, they'd stop buying those shitty clunkers and their problem-filled programs that are only made for PCs in the business environment. i was very sorry to see mac/apple lose that war, as i can't say that i am better at my job for having had to make the switch. PCs are slower (in real terms, not some silly "processer clock" way), more difficult to use, more prone to crashing, and more vulnerable, than the mac environment.

i like the idea of Linux. haven't really used it that often, but when i have, it seems pretty cool. still not as elegant as my mac, but you know, the open source stuff seems nifty and progressive. but i'm not a computer professional. i really don't care about bells, whistles and measures that don't relate to my life. like most people. my 5 year old mac upon which i'm communicating with you now has been dropped, splashed with liquid, abused by naughty cats, taken across the nation and back, filled with music and fluff and writing to bursting, and it keeps on ticking. like the mac i had before it, and before that one, and so on back to my first "Lisa." you PC people can enjoy your headaches and wasted time and geek dick measuring all you want. i know that, just like when i sleep with unsatisfied housewives for the first time, regular people will come to have the same opinions as i do, once they give macs a try. which is "why the fuck didn't i do that before? gosh, that was so satisfying and easy!"

bottom line: it's not about apple worship, or believing apple is politically progressive, or that jobs is a god. i don't care about any of that shit. i just like a sturdy computer that works when i want it to, and doesn't require me to conform to its idiosyncrasies. my computer works *for me* not the other way around. that, to me, is worth the higher price, and constant bullshit i take from mac-haters. and blah, blah, "higher prices." i'm sure at this point anyone can find a used mac for a decent price, and given that they last longer, the investment is as "smart" as investing in a new PC that will have to be replaced in 18mos.

yes, this is a rant. sorry. i don't have a religion, what else am i going to go all nukular about? ;-) gqm: i'm not specifically calling you a mac-hater, btw. you just used a talking point that made me Crazeee. i'm sure you're a decent person and just need a little nudge.