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OPINION:
On the Internet in 30 Seconds or Less

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Contributed by Stanislav Kelman
osOpinion.com
February 16, 2001


I bought myself an Apple iBook, opened the lid, started up Internet Explorer and was happily surfing the Web in 30 seconds flat. No setup. No hassles.

In This Story:

Simplicity Counts

The Fast Internet

Takes a Village

Sleepless at Home

It's been almost three years since Steve Jobs unveiled the iMac, arguably the most innovative computer to hit the mainstream since the original Macintosh. Despite the initial skepticism in the press and especially among "hardcore" PC users, the iMac became an instant success and managed to hold on to the No. 1 spot in retail sales for many months.

From the outset, Apple's marketing department made an emphasis on how easy it was to connect an iMac to the Internet, claiming that it could be done "in just 10 minutes." At the time, this was an outrageous claim indeed. However, the ease of establishing an online account was rarely disputed.

In fact, I can personally testify that when I was first setting up a brand new bondi blue iMac for my cousin, I was really amazed at how little time it took to get an EarthLink connection up and running.

Simplicity Counts

Back then, broadband was still something reserved for big corporations, so using the just-adopted 56k V.90 modem standard was pretty much the fastest option for ordinary home users. Still, Apple had enough foresight to include a 10/100 base T Ethernet card with every iMac, just to make sure that it would be equally easy to set it up with a cable modem or DSL, once those became available.

Yet, for whatever reason, this is something that a lot of Internet appliances are unable to do.

It must be noted, however, that Apple wasn't the only company preaching the ease of Internet access to the masses. Another outfit by the name of America Online also made quite a fortune providing an online service that didn't require a networking guru to use.

No wonder it grew into a huge media empire.

The Fast Internet

Eventually, DSL became more widespread and a few months ago I happened to be one of the lucky people to get a high-speed account from Verizon. But that was only the beginning of my search for a fast connection. First of all, I had to install and configure a router in order to share access privileges among all the computers in the house, which included a couple of Macs and a Windows PC.

That was the easy part.

The Macs only needed to be told that there was a DHCP host somewhere nearby, and both of them were happily connected, cruising at speeds of around 500 kbps. Windows Me didn't have much of a problem detecting the connection either, but my PC never seemed to go beyond 140 kbps. Considering that it was the fastest computer in the house, that seemed rather odd.

As it turned out, I had to tweak the "MaxMTU" value and a bunch of other weird Registry stuff, just to match the download speeds that the Macs enjoyed from the get-go. All in all, the time needed to get Windows to perform on par with MacOS running on far slower machines was literally hundred-fold.

Takes a Village

Another interesting story occurred when a friend of mine came for a visit and brought his new Compaq laptop with him. Naturally, I offered him to hook it up to the DSL, which he reluctantly agreed to do. I figured that it should be pretty straight forward, since I would be able to just duplicate all the settings from my own PC.

Yet, two days later, both of us were still struggling to figure out why the laptop never seemed to even detect the very presence of a network. Believe me, we've tried everything, and we did it more than once. By the time we gave up, we even messed up the original configuration that he used back home.

Both of us have advanced technical degrees, but now I know that we should have left this kind of work to "real" professionals.

Sleepless at Home

About a month later I bought myself an Apple iBook. And, it just so happened that I had it in the "sleep" mode when I brought it home for the first time. So, I put on my bed and ran an Ethernet cable from my router to it. I then, opened the lid, started up Internet Explorer and I was happily surfing the Web.

From the moment I took it out of the bag, to the moment when I started rendering osOpinion.com, it literally took 30 seconds. No setup. No hassles. And there was absolutely no need to be more than five years old to figure it all out.

Anyway, if anything, these stories shed some light on the reasons behind the explosive need for tens of thousands of highly paid MSCE's who in theory do the things that should be as easy as hooking up the cables.

It also becomes crystal clear that these guys are so afraid of having Macs on their networks precisely because that would make their prestigious high-tech jobs virtually obsolete.

As for me, I cannot really afford to hire one of them to maintain my own LAN. So, I guess, I'll just have to stick with Macs for the time being.

Talkback Forum


Author's background:
Stanislav Kelman is an Operating Systems junkie. He has been using Windows and OS/2 for many years before he discovered the elegance of the Macintosh, the power of Linux, and the speed of BeOS. Stanislav would love to hear your reaction to his opinion columns, so feel free to drop him a line at osOpinion@LetItBe.org.

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