I spent a few hours yesterday backing up some data from my notebook to an external hard-disk. Since I only have USB1.1, the transfer was painfully slow. So, I visited my local computer store and bought a USB2.0 PCMCIA (*see note below) card in hopes that the faster transfer rate will speed things up. After installing the card, things seemed to work out. But, once I started connecting devices to the card, my entire system started to go funky and crash (*see note below). After trying to get it to work for a few hours, I gave up and returned the card.
So, I’m thinking that I probably could have avoided this frustration if I owned Apple products. Actually, I’m pretty sure that my next computer purchases will be Apple products (Mac Mini, Powerbook 12″, and the iPod). I’ve been using iTunes for a while now and I have to admit that it’s pretty good (not great). The interface is pretty simple, but the software itself isn’t as comfortable to use as something like Winamp (maybe it’s just because I’m used to Winamp). From what I’ve seen of the Mac products, most of the stuff is extremely easy to learn and use. Another big plus is how the software and hardware are tightly integrated, providing a wonderful computer experience. I’m hoping that Apple will release a “digital hub” for home entertainment soon.
Okay, so what’s the problem with that? Well, my concern is that because everything essentially starts and ends with Apple, how much say is there to influence the direction of new products. I liken it to (but recognize that it’s not the same thing) as tying oneself to a single vendor. Hospitals in the past have gone the way of choosing a single vendor to provide the IT and have suffered from it. On the other hand, hospitals taking the “best of breed” approach (or the sort of like taking the Microsoft/IBM route) have other issues, namely interoperability and reliability. There are definitely advantages to taking either approach, but I wonder if we couldn’t take the advantages of both approaches. I suppose it’s the balancing act between saving time and effort by choosing a single vendor solution versus the (seeming) ability to customize by going the best of breed method. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to find time to sit down and set-up Linux boxes at home. I’ve been able to use other open source software like Mozilla/Firefox and Open Office, but I just don’t have the time to sit through hundreds of hours to learn how to configure a Linux box.
* Here’s my short rant about the USB2.0 card. This PCMCIA card was made by Belkin. I also own a Belkin USB-Serial port adaptor. In my experience, Belkin has horrible USB drivers and very bad driver support. For whatever reason, Belkin’s drivers do not conform to Windows certification. In any case, I will not be buying any more Belkin products in the future. I would advise against buying them.