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
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
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.
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.
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.
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