Mine’s Bigger Than Yours!

October 26th, 1997 at 11:58 pm by Mark
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     Is it just me, or are people ever-more infuriated by other peoples’ choices and opinions?

     I usually try to make light of things, but maybe sometimes even I go overboard to the point that I piss someone off. But all in all, I really do respect other peoples’ opinions… Moreso, if they’ve an inkling about “why” the feel the way they do, and can explain it.
     But as most everyone realises these days, you can’t even go into a Usenet group without seeing people up in arms over whatever subject, and getting pissed off about it. Dare I say, if you ever ask a question in a Newsgroup, you’ll get bombarded with badly formatted paragraphs full of spelling mistakes written by some weenie-head with nothing else better to do than tell you how stupid you are. And if you even make a statement in the newsgroups, it’s absolutely impossible not to piss someone off. Flame War
     Looks like the whiners are all grown up now (at least according to their birth certificates). And the arguments have only gotten sillier with time.

     Oh, I remember… Way back when… It all began with modems…

     …a 300 Baud acoustic-coupler modem, an Apple ][ and a Super Serial Card. “Gee, this is fun,” I used to think. I’d sit for hours on end calling up BBS’s and chatting with people, learning more as I went.
     Of course, it was slow. Not 14400 slow, or even 2400 slow. This was 300 bps slow. Not only were you connecting at 300 baud (remember that word?) to a few select places (usually long distance), but the phone lines back then were crap (uphill, both ways, through nine feet of snow!). We had to actually set the telephone handset down on the modem and be extremely quiet, or else all we’d see was

        [[[/!2|#-[[-
        ```NO CARRIER

     After a while, I got a 1200 baud modem. I was still using my Apple predominantly, although I had upgraded to a ][+ by that time. IBM’s were really starting to hit the scene in a big way.
     And the noise of the masses? Oh, it only got louder.

     I had my reasons for sticking with my Apple back then. There were Warez-a-plenty, and IBM programs were just too damn big to download, even at 1200 baud. At that time, I just didn’t care to run Lotus 1-2-3.
     Funny… that much hasn’t changed.

     I remember how arrogant the IBM users were, too. At the time, it was the machine of choice for professionals, and their particular sort of Classist mentality carried over. They were professional, and, by definition, anything else was a toy. They were absolutely relentless in their idea that the IBM was a better machine than the Apple ][+. It was ridiculous, the whole argument. After a while, I quit worrying about it and realised the argument for what it was.
     You see, when it came right down to it, I had a machine that was “fun,” and they didn’t. You have to admit, looking back, guys, that the machine I was using had games, and graphical ones at that, and in colour, even! The IBM had: Lode Runner. Little else, really.
     Then came the Apple //e and the 2400 baud modem and things got a bit better. So much better, in fact, that I plugged the 2400 baud modem up to my IBM. I still used my Apple, of course, and had even gone to the silly extreme of buying a Commodore 64 to play with.

     That’s when the shit really hit the fan. Apple released the Macintosh. I liked it. God, it was so simple… The first consumer GUI… A Paint programme that didn’t lock up!
     When it was first shown and later released in 1983 and 1984, it really sparked something in everyone. Many people loved it. Others who had never even used the machine simply despised it. Called it names… “Jackintosh!”
     Me, I did what I was supposed to do. It was new, and I embraced it as a wonderful innovation. And it didn’t take long to realise that Cut & Paste was a damn handy thing. I wrote HyperCard games for years, and loved it!
     But most of the IBM users were still aghast at the Mac. “There’s no colour!” they go on, knowing full well that most of the IBM’s were still using green screens. The tiny, grey-scale monitor on the Mac was so much easier on the eyes.
     “There’s no DOS prompt!” they would say.
     “I don’t need it,” I would tell them. They simply couldn’t understand that. I didn’t need all that crap — I just wanted to have fun with it.
     Those sorts of concepts flew over their heads like Mandelbrot’s “The Fractal Geometry of Nature.”

     But that’s beside the point.

     I still used my IBM. I used my Mac. I still used my Apple //e, the Commodore 64 and those damned Tandy Model-III’s in the labs. It was a computer, and it was, therefore, fun and exciting.

     Some time around 1985 or 1986, I started building PC’s and realised that I could make quite a bit of money doing something I really didn’t mind doing. I started fixing PC’s for people, and in doing so, noticed that the Macs never seem to break down.
     My mind was made up, for sure, at that point. I liked my Apple //e. I liked my Mac. But I wasn’t going to make any money with them. So I started fixing PC’s.

     Shit hit the fan again. The arguments became completely ludicrous. The Mac users’ groups hated me because I had “sold out.” The PC users’ groups hated me because I was a Mac person. And I wasn’t either… I was simply in it for the money.
     Computers were still relatively new to people. There weren’t a lot of us using them, and everyone became so cliquish that it became impossible to breathe around them for all their stuffiness.
     But I was doing something they weren’t … I was making money.

     The arguments have continued, and they’ve become much, much worse. They’ll threaten each other, call each other names, hate one another. As with any heated debate left in the care of the righteously indignant zealots, sooner or later, someone’s going to get physically attacked.

     The reason?

     Because someone had bought a Mac instead of an IBM… Because someone said their ISP was faster… Because someone’s Jewish instead of a Presbyterian… Because someone thought their Jaguar was better than a Mercedes… Because someone’s a Republican instead of a Democrat… Because someone’s from the US instead of New Zealand…

     Or someone thought they had a bigger wiener…


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