It’s Not the Platform, It’s the Data

I don’t normally blog about random things I see on the internet, but I ran across an article by John C. Dvorak today (The iPhone Is No
Desktop
) that really annoyed me enough that I have to do this. John is basically saying that it’s ridiculous that people are using the iPhone as a desktop computing platform and that drives him crazy in many ways (10 ways to be exact). I don’t disagree that the iPhone is not a “desktop replacement” in the typical sense, but what bothers me is the fact that he thinks this is important.

In the technical world, so many people still believe the “platform” is the key to everything. There are always discussions about which platform is the best – laptop vs desktop vs PDA, Windows vs OS X vs Linux, Nikon vs Canon, Ford vs Chevy – you get the point. That’s all fine and dandy and I don’t disagree that sometimes there are certain benefits to using a specific platform. But the kicker is that this is a stupid argument to begin with.

People don’t care about the platform. Even if you think you care, you probably don’t when you get right down to it. For example, when I’m using the Windows platform, I keep my current TODO list in Microsoft Outlook. Now that I also work on a Mac, I decided to move my TODO list to an online platform. Sure – I moved to a different “platform” because it made it easier to get to my TODO list from either OS, but it’s not the platform I really care about, it’s the data.

Whether my TODO list is on the web, on my desktop, on my iPhone, or on my physical notepad, the platform is of little importance to me as long as my list is there and it’s accessible when I need it. The platform only comes into the picture when it can better enable me to manipulate my data in ways that make me more efficient and effective. In reality, forget the platform and focus on the data (or on the actions driven by the data) and you’ll see that the platform being the key is a fallacy in this day and age.

New Addition to the Family – Bought a MacBook

Well, I finally decided it is time for me to give Apple’s OS X a try. I’ve been interested in seeing how things work on an Apple system, but I haven’t really had a reason to buy an Apple machine. I still don’t really have a reason, but I do want to play around with the iPhone SDK since I have some ideas I’d like to try out so I used that as an excuse to buy a MacBook.

I ended up going with a black 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo version. It came with 2GB of RAM, but that’s not really enough since I want to run VMWare Fusion so that I can have Visual Studio 2005/2008 running in unity mode as well as SQL Server 2005/2008. So I had the MacBook upgraded to 4GB DDR2 RAM. Apple wanted $400 extra to add 2GB, but I used Crucial memory and did the upgrade myself for a grand total of $111 including tax & shipping. Not a bad deal since I effectively saved nearly $300 by spending about 10 minutes swapping the RAM sticks out.

So far, my impression of OS X is favorable. I’ve found replacements for
everything I typically used on Windows (except development tools and Quicken) and I’m fairly happy with the way things work. For the first week or so, I wasn’t sure that I was ever going to like OS X, but it’s one of those things that grows on you. I wouldn’t make the claim that a lot of people when they say Macs are easier to use than Windows. I think usability (as a whole) is pretty similar between the two. OS X does have some standards that most applications seem to follow which is better than on Windows, but the big difference is that the “graphic arts” background of historical Mac users has resulted in software developers taking more time to refine the user experience to the point that things are a bit more logical than they are in Windows-based counterparts.

I’m really happy with the battery life on this thing. As long as I’m just surfing the net, typing up blog posts, reading e-mail, and other light tasks, I get fantastic battery life. I have a feeling even playing a DVD will still result in good battery life, but it may not be the 4 or so hours I get now. Time machine seems useful, although I keep forgetting to eject the disk before I unplug the backup drive – so I think I’m going to end up getting the Time Capsule before long, but I don’t really want to spend that money right now.

The one thing that is slightly disappointing thus far is that the MacBook gets a little choppy when playing World of Warcraft with everything maxed out. It’s not terrible and I do realize this machine has an integrated graphics card, but WoW isn’t that demanding…either way, it’s still plenty playable, but it’s just a little disappointing that it’s not as smooth as I’d like.

After I’ve used OS X for a few more weeks, I’ll post my updated impressions, but so far so good.