Regretably, I use each of the 3 major operating systems every day (Windows, Mac, Linux). As a result, I’m not particularly expert in any of them. However, I can tell you that they all suck. Each one of them has things that drive me crazy.
Today’s story is about my Mac. Although the Apple commercials would have us believe that Macs are “really good at video” they don’t come with a decent video player. Apple really pushes Quicktime, and Quicktime is awful. It doesn’t come with any of the codecs you’d actually need to play videos on the net, and it doesn’t even try to help you find the codecs for them, like Windows Media Player does. So, many people (like myself) use VLC – a popular media player for Linux, on the Mac. VLC’s UI is terrible, but it can play damn near anything you throw at it.
I downloaded a video that I wanted to play on my iPod. Of course, like all Apple products which are supposed to be “really good” at multimedia, you can’t just put any video on your iPod. Your videos need to be specifically encoded to use a format that the iPod can play. So… to get a randomly downloaded video to play on your iPod, you’ll have to transcode it. VLC has a transcoder, but it also has a terrible UI, which hides a lot of the essential options for transcoding, so you have to use the command line to use it effectively. I hopped online and found a quick script for transcoding video with VLC for the iPod.
“No problem” I say to myself. I just need to copy and paste this script into the Mac equivalent of Notepad, save it as “ipod_transcode.sh” and run it. Piece of cake. Well, here’s another dirty little secret of Macs. There is no standard Notepad equivalent. They give you a program called TextEdit which you’d think from it’s name is capable of saving text files. You’d be wrong though – because it doesn’t. It saves in RTF, HTML, and Word. Amazing. If you try to save a file with a file extension like “.txt” it throws an error and tells you you’re not allowed to save a file with that name.
That’s fine, I can just use Emacs like I do on Linux… who needs a fancy GUI anyhow. After all, it’s not like Macs are known for their UIs. Remember, I’m doing all of this just because I need to transcode a file, which I only need to do because Apple products support so few multimedia formats, and I have to use a non-Apple product to do it, and now I have to use a non-Apple text editor.
I know Apple loves to justify it’s higher prices by telling you about all of their “great” software, but that’s such a crock. Just in case you had bought into the hype:
- Mail.app is a mediocre, feature-poor, basic mail application with stone age spam filtering tools. The only mail program I’ve seen with worse spam filtering is Outlook.
- iPhoto is okay, until you actually start taking a lot of pictures and have to use it to manage them. From a speed standpoint, Picassa on Windows kicks the ass out of iPhoto. I only have about 8,000 pictures in it. Is that a lot? No, I don’t think so.
- The built-in chat application, iChat, is useless. Adium is one of the first things I think most people download for the Mac.
- You might think an easy-to-use OS built for the masses would have some easy way to share files between computers on a local network. You’d be wrong though. You can share a few, specific folders, but if you want to share any arbitrary folder (like, say your mp3s) you’ll actually need to download a program like SharePoints to help you do it.
I don’t really hate the Mac, but since it pissed me off this evening I decided I would itemize a few of the things that have been bothering me about it lately. Stay tuned for my next fit of computer rage when I talk about Linux’ power management and wireless utilities, and my thoughts on Windows’ helpful reminders to clean up my unused desktop icons.