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20 February 2005 @ 11:20 am
The Joy of Tech aka Apple propaganda  
The latest "The Joy of Tech" webcomic, once more trots out some of the "obvious" advantages of a Mac over a Windows PC.

It's lampooning this rather simplistic article, that is giving the advice that most people are better off with a Windows PC, but will run into security (virus/spyware) problems.

So, that's the one thing they agree on, that Windows is more susceptible to viruses and spyware than Mac, but The Joy of Tech takes it to the extreme by twisting the original author's words to say that most people would be better off with a Windows PC if they don't have any problems with viruses/spyware, chuckle chuckle, the punchline being that this is impossible, therefore everybody is better off with a Mac.

This is where the arguments on both sides actually fall into a logic trap.
Now, I know that I might be pulled up by people who think the issue is really based on Microsoft's poor code, but I'm going to go ahead and make this statement anyway:

Both system's problems are actually caused by their relative popularity, not because each system is inherently less secure/less able to be supported by certain software.

Windows is a security risk for the very reason that it is popular.
Likewise Outlook Express and other MIcrosoft applications.
Because most people use Windows, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Word, etc they become the targets of hackers and the creators of viruses and spyware.

Apple computers have fewer software options available (at least for the everyday user, so notwithstanding software for particular industries that favour Macs) for the very reason that they are unpopular.
Fewer people use Macs, so fewer units would be sold for that platform, so far fewer software developers bother to develop software for the Mac.

Therefore, if the public suddenly took notice of these people that sing the praises of Macs like it's some kind of religious faith, and Windows users trashed their PCs in favour of Macs, the problems of the two platforms would soon after reverse.
If most people used Macs, then the efforts of hackers and virus/spyware authors would turn to Macs, which would suddenly be fraught with "security issues".
If a minority of users were left using Windows PCs, then software manufacturers would abandon this platform in droves in favour of the newly popular Mac.

Anyway, one way or the other, it's a moot point.
Security issues can be managed, both by Microsoft and through third-party virus/spyware protection programs.
The lack of software options on a Mac is a much harder issue to work around.
kunoichi_chankunoichi_chan on February 20th, 2005 01:06 am (UTC)
And the moral of the story is this:


Jacobyak_boy on February 20th, 2005 01:12 am (UTC)
Sure, on a seperate hub computer between your Windows PC and the big bad internet, for all your firewall needs.
kunoichi_chankunoichi_chan on February 20th, 2005 01:15 am (UTC)
I love my UNIX shell account. ^_^

(I am such a geek girl...)
parakleta on February 22nd, 2005 12:02 pm (UTC)
Why not have it as your main OS?
Gregpeachofpain on February 20th, 2005 04:54 pm (UTC)
So, you're saying we should all use Mac OS X then... :D
Some guy called Lap?harkon on February 20th, 2005 04:14 am (UTC)
From what I know of OSX stuff though, I think it is actually harder to write malicious software, compared to Windows, since it very much a UNIX flavoured operating system.

I think a PC running UNIX and Mac running OSX, both will basic security measures will have equal chance of being affected by "hackers", that being very small (almost impossible?).

With virus/spyware stuff I think you are correct in saying that if it were say, a 50/50 split between WindowsXP and OSX, there would be more stuff written trying to try to affect OSX, though I doubt it would be 50%, simply because while you can write the code, the victim will be able to see what is happening much more easily and stop it much more quickly.
Gregpeachofpain on February 20th, 2005 05:02 pm (UTC)
The crux of the matter really isn't that there is more software available for windows. There is only really more software in areas such as games and specific technical areas.

Rather, there is far less widely pirated software that people are able get for 'free'.
Jacobyak_boy on February 20th, 2005 10:38 pm (UTC)
such as games

You say that as if games are some tiny little afterthought of most PC users.
When people say there isn't enough software available on the Mac, they are talking about games.
Once they've got the basics (web browser, email client, word processor, spreadsheet program and other work/study related software; then maybe add instant messenger, download manager, media player and burning utility) the only thing left that the average PC user is going to want software-wise is games.

Anyway, the point is that there's very little software you can get on Mac that you can't get on PC, except for a few industry-specific applications (Macs are favoured by the publishing industry, for instance, so I imagine some publishing software may not be available for Windows). However, there is a lot of software that you can't get for Mac, but only for Windows, and sure that mostly means games, but that matters to a lot of people.
Robet Éivaayvah on February 21st, 2005 02:56 am (UTC)
And because it's more popular, more people know how to use it, making it more "user-friendly". (even if it isn't truly more user friendly)
parakleta on February 22nd, 2005 11:21 am (UTC)
It also doesn't matter to a lot of people. Apple isn't targeting the people who care about games, because they don't make the kind of hardware those people will like anyway. You might be surprised how many computer users don't care that much about games anyway. In terms of the basic software, you seem to be underestimating the quality of the software you can get for mac in those areas that you can't get for PC.

There are plenty of games available for people that aren't serious about games for mac, some of them come out later, and due to poor distributors in Australia, they're usually more expensive, but I still have a fairly reasonable selection of FPS games (pretty much everything except Half-life and it's derivatives is available) I enjoy playing, and beyond that I find the older adventure and platform games which run under free emulation software pretty much has me covered.

There is a lot of software you can't get on a mac that you can get for windows... but a lot of that is pretty crap. You might actually be surprised how much software you can get for macs that you can't get for windows, and most of that is free (ever taken the time to have a look at exactly how many open source unix programs there are?). There are a lot of things I do with my mac every day that I simply could not do under windows, or could only do with a fair bit of effort.
Robet Éivaayvah on February 21st, 2005 03:27 am (UTC)
I think that the programming for Macs is a bit more secure. I might be thinking of the pre-XP era though.

You're definitely right abouit the popularity thing though. Things happen to Windows because things are made for Windows.

parakleta on February 22nd, 2005 12:00 pm (UTC)
The first thing I'm going to say, is maybe you should consider the idea that some of us mac users may actually know what we're talking about.

In terms of computer security, if mac and windows were to reverse popularity, the internet would be a wonderful place, there'd be much less spam, and quite likely myself and a whole lot of other techs would be out of a job. The fact is that macs are more secure than windows, not because they're less popular, but because they're properly designed to be secure. Computer security is not a trivial issue, it's actually tremendously complex, but having a good base framework is the most important step to realising it, and that's something that most of the unix variants have down pat, including Mac OS X. The definition of an OS is a little hazy, but it's not incorrect to say that Mac OS X is actually Unix, because the OS component of it is actually a slightly modified port of FreeBSD, called Darwin. The bit that makes OS X look pretty is called Aqua, and can be classed as being separate to the operating system, since it is merely a GUI, and the OS works fine without it.

The fact is, while Apple does release security updates, and there are security flaws in the OS, it's almost impossible to do anything with them. The reason for this is that even if someone does manage to use a hole in some piece of software to break into your computer, they'll be accessing your computer with greatly restricted permissions, and will have a lot of trouble actually doing anything harmful. Many of the holes that Apple patches are actually holes that have been discovered by code audits, rather than actual hack attempts, and these may not have even led to any kind of actual vulnerability.

There are a lot of issues here that can be difficult to explain the particulars of, but if this is an issue that you're actually interested in, I suggest you take the time to actually do some research, learn what's involved rather than reading random pop articles, and stop contributing to the wealth of FUD on the internet. As it is, you're coming across as an anti-mac zealot, and it's not a look that suits you.

Security issues shouldn't have to be managed by third party software, that's a bandaid solution and problems should never be managed that way. In terms of your claim about lack of software options, I could quite easily argue the same thing about windows. What windows software do you want that you can't get on the mac?
parakleta on February 22nd, 2005 12:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, one other thing. How many more windows systems do you think there are than BSD systems? And given that many of those BSD systems are running servers, how many people do you think would want to crack into them for the glory involved. Just because there's more windows machines it doesn't follow that they're attacked more. It probably is the case that they're attacked more, but that would have more to do with the fact that they can be easily broken into by script kiddies. If someone could write a virus to cripple all the BSD machines on the internet, that'd be really something.
Jacobyak_boy on February 23rd, 2005 07:27 am (UTC)
Okay, when I posted this little diatribe, I knew it was a load of crap, which I sort of alluded to:

"Now, I know that I might be pulled up by people who think the issue is really based on Microsoft's poor code, but I'm going to go ahead and make this statement anyway:"

So, I'll happily agree with the fact that Macs are based on a much more secure robust operating system framework, and inherently more secure, etcetera.

However, the real crux of the issue is this:
Telling me that I should use a Mac instead of a Windows PC because it is more secure is like telling a deer hunter that they should use a water pistol instead of a rifle because it is safer.

Yes, there is plenty of good Mac software, and, yes, in many areas Mac software is superior, and, yes, Mac is more secure than Windows, but in the end, the software that isn't available for Mac becomes the deciding factor in my particular case.

What I was really originally objecting to was the suggestion, by The Joy of Tech, that everybody would be better off using Macs because they are more secure, when for many, and I would even go as far as to suggest most, the limited software means that simply is not the case.
parakleta on February 23rd, 2005 12:13 pm (UTC)
If you accept that Macs are inherently more secure than Windows, you shouldn't continue to spread the FUD that Macs rely on "security through obscurity". I get frustrated with the fact that people continue to spread lies as if they were truth, because plenty of people don't know better than to believe them.

No one is telling you that you should get a Mac. The comment is making a joke about the number of people that could change without any negative side effects, who stupidly cling to their windows systems despite the mountains of evidence suggesting that switching would be in their best interest. The whole comic strip is aimed towards tech geeks, so if you don't like our sense of humour, maybe you shouldn't read it.

The fact of the matter is that there are an amazing number of people who don't need windows machines, who use them anyway because they don't realise that Macs are a viable option, and it's exactly because of the kind of FUD you're writing here yourself. I think you'd be surprised how few computers use any software that is windows only.

Hey, and maybe if the people who could swap to macs because they don't need any specific software then more games will be written for macs, and so people like you could swap over as well, and then the internet would be a much better place.

I'd like to know what software you use that you can't use on a mac?
Jacobyak_boy on February 24th, 2005 11:35 am (UTC)
I'd like to know what software you use that you can't use on a mac?

Well, to be honest, I'm not sure.
But, the thing is, I rotate through a lot of different games that I try out, use for a while and try something new.
My point is, as a Windows user, I don't have to worry about what I can and cannot get on my chosen platform, I can grab a game and play it.
My only compatibility concern is the system requirements.
parakleta on February 24th, 2005 11:49 am (UTC)
I rotate through a fair few different games too. I haven't yet had any trouble finding more than enough games to keep me busy. There are occasional issues where there are games that I can't play, but I don't think I could even name a dozen of them, and I could probably name a dozen games that I can play that you can't.