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Why Computer Suck I April 7, 2006

Posted by gordonwatts in computers.

We had a great talk this Monday from Packard at UC Berkeley on superfluids. A bunch of his work revolves around using the human ear as a detector. He had a few sound files embedded in his talk (PowerPoint) and would play them for the audience.

At one point, however, he hit some special button on his slide control and up popped Music Matchbox. It had never run before, so it started playing some intro song — very loud… while he scrambled to shut it off. This generated the usual set of jokes "Stupid Microsoft" and "You would have been better off with Apple/Linux." Packard handled it perfectly, made a joke that got everyone to laugh (I can't remember it) and moved on.

But, boy did that suck. Had that happened to me in the middle of a large talk I'd have been pretty pissed at my computer. And the problem he had was with crapware, as it is called. Many people (both inside and outside Microsoft) now recommend that you repave a computer you purchase from Dell (repave == reinstall the OS without all the Dell, etc., addons) or whomever. I can't agree more — my Toshiba has many many utilities that came with the system — 15-20 of them. Most of them I never use or care much about. And they are all there, slowing down my system. My sister's machine was a bit of a mess when she got it over Christmas for the same reason.

Unfortunately, I don't see any financial pressure that would push OEM's like Dell and others to stop this practice. Everyone purchases computers the same way they do airplane tickets. By cost. And if they can save a few bucks by selling space on your computer desktop…

Apple, by the way, totally avoids this problem by owning everything top-to-bottom: hardware and software. On one else ever gets a chance to mess with their machines between factory floor and user's hands. As a result they have a much better control over the user's first experience.



1. SmokeAndMirrors - April 7, 2006

So now the argument for Apple is the company’s total control?

How times change:


2. paula - April 7, 2006

I don’t believe you forgot the joke. It was “I hope the porn doesn’t show up next.”

3. gordonwatts - April 7, 2006

Sheesh. You are right. When the speaker pushed the button and the music thing came up — he made the comment “What if I hit another button and my porn comes up!?” or something similar. Thanks, Paula!

SmokeAndMirrors — there are advantages and disadvantages. I would say the # and configurations of computers availible for windows is much larger than a company the size of Apple could support. But for this particular thing I’m talking about, the total control means the problem is much better for Apple than it is for Windows.

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