Flowers for Algernon

Why am I seeing an Apple logo on Doris Day’s bathing cap? And what's it doing on my desktop?

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OPINION FEBRUARY 26 , 2001
Talkin' Smack: If You Buy the ‘Flower Power’ iMac, I Will Kill You

And other musings upon Apple and the Mac

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

I've been going pretty hard on Microsoft lately. That's just what I do when I'm in a hurry to crank out a column. Easy target, no argument from my readers. Well, except a few of the peecee users who creep in occasionally to spy on this Web-based stronghold of Mac psychofanaticism™. This week, however, I have the unpleasant task of levying chastisement against Jobs Almighty and his army of translucent angels, the iMacs.

I loved the idea of the iMac from day 1. I loved it because of its design, hearkening back to the good old days of the Macs Plus and SE, but with a new and innovative design, despite the rather poor choice of bondi blue. I loved it because it offered a processor comparable to the pro-level models but for literally thousands of dollars less. I loved it for its ad campaign, straight off the Stones' "His Satanic Majesty's Request" album. And I loved it because it represented the comeback of what was and is possibly the greatest company in American history, but a company that had been screwed nearly out of existence by the foul business practices of Microsoft and the business management 101 dropouts who took the company over after the ousting of Steve Jobs.

After a while, though, the iMac started losing relevance. I think the line topped out with the 333 MHz models, in terms of price and performance in relation to the professional models. Then, as the G4 desktops continued to proliferate through incarnation after incarnation, the G3-based iMacs began to seem little more than colorful paperweights. In fact, the G3 chip is a cell phone chip, which means either that Motorola's coming out with some mightily powerful cell phones or that the iMac brain is starting to look a bit senile—even at 600 MHz.

Of course, the processor issue is Motorola's fault. Maybe if that company weren't too busy worrying about its employees personal habits, it could find a little time to hire AMD to bring them up to speed on technology. I know, I know. Macs are faster than peecees ... but not if that Mac is an iMac.

But speed is not my latest concern. I'm fully confident that Apple has a back-up strategy should Motorola continue to stagnate in the megaHertz quagmire it is currently in. No, what concerns me more are the gimmicks Apple is having to pull to distract users from the technological facts of life. Colors are all right. This last generation of iMacs was actually pretty good looking. But the new generation: sweet, merciful crap!

Blue Dalmatian is just bad design. But Flower Power? Why am I seeing an Apple logo on Doris Day's bathing cap? And what's it doing on my desktop?

This Flower Power design is what we professionals refer to as "retarded." Art historians will refer to it as "hippy retarded." People spotting it in their local computer stores will say, "Hey, look at that retarded thing over in that section I'm not buying anything from so as to avoid looking retarded."

Now, I know my criticism sounds very highfalutin' and all, but, honestly, besides "retarded," are there any other words to describe it? Well, there are, but this is a family-oriented publication. Just kidding. But, seriously, it is retarded—as in "Flowers for Algernon"—and, as a registered Mac psychofanatic, it saddens me.

I don't begrudge Steve Jobs his hippy leanings. For all I care, he could put a hookah in every orifice of his body and trip out on iTunes for the rest of his life. The Mac and all of its creative faculties were the products of hippy thinking. But hippiness belongs inside the machine, not outside. This new design is painful. Physically painful. I just wish somebody would make it stop.

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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, Digital Media Designer, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Plug-in Central, Presentation Master, ProAudio.net and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.

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