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September 27, 2013

Invasion of the Design Snatchers (or Why Imitating Apple is Worst than Being Apple)

A strolled through MicroCenter last night to see what laptops were available. I felt motivated to stop by because everybody at the interview brought their own computer with them, namely Apple MacBooks.

Years ago, I though owning a Mac would be the bees knees as it was an alternative to computers that had Windows on them. But being a full-time Linux user, and seeing how I had the freedom to make my own programs without the data-bloat tacked on by using GNU programs on Windows or the Walled Garden empire that Apple has built, my interest still lies with using a PC, only swap out Windows for Linux.

One of the most important parts of any computer is the keyboard. While buttons like "Print Screen/SysRq", "Scroll Lock", "Pause/Break", the 12 F-Keys and the ever important "Insert" key (which if word processing is your forte, Insert toggles "overwriting" to over-type other text, a function that is indispensable to Vim users as well), these buttons despite being dismissed as "legacy buttons" are no more less important that the Arrow Keys on any standard keyboard. Sadly, many of the recent computers on the market seem to have forgotten their important purpose.

While many folks argue that anyone using Vim should remap these keys for this issue, it quite insulting considering that remapping keys should be reserved for frequent macros. They shouldn't be used to make up for the commands other keys that used to be part of the keyboard used to have.

This is generally the reaction I get from Mac users when criticizing their computer.

But I am not alone with my criticism of the new keyboard layout which has now spread to Windows users who are using Windows 8. I'm not alone with my criticism of imitation instead of innovation either. The PC industry is starting to take on the technology the mac books use including keys that won't work like they should. This layout is called the Island Keyboard or Chiclet Keyboard which to this day has a history of miscommunicating data with their host device because the membrane layers are still in contact. It's basically the same technology as a TV Remote, to which what happens when you hold down a button on a TV Remote? It keeps doing the same command until you release the button. This technology is great for video game consoles, but bad if you are typing a letter and suddenlyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy that happens.

PC makers may deny it all they want but attempting to imitate Apple hurts them more than it does Apple. When I go to MicroCenter, I expect to shop for a diverse array of products just as I would I were going to a Car Dealership. I don't want to go there and see a Ford Malibu, or a Chevy Viper, or a Dodge Mustang. Manufactures make different designs to appeal to different people. They all just can't make the same designs, accuse each other of infringement, sue the heck out of each other because someone used a type 10pt on their keyboard stickers and someone used a font size 8pt italic of the same font when the problem is much bigger than who used what fonts on the keyboard stickers.

Regardless, everybody else needs to stop trying to be Apple. They should just be themselves. I'm talking no "brushed metal" look. No Island Keyboards. No scrunching up the up and down arrow keys like a MacBook. No depreciation of important functions. Just be themselves.

I just hope I can find something on eBay before they're flooded with computers that have keyboards I can't use for actually typing.


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