Saturday, January 24, 2009

iScience?

fluorescence image of cells, processed on a Macintosh computer

I happen to use a Mac, because our academic institution gets special deals on them. And my home page in Safari happens to be Apple's home page. Lately I've been noticing a trend: Apple has been talking a lot about science.

Turns out this isn't just coincidence. Apple has set up a web page devoted to the glories of using a Mac to process scientific data. It includes a series of video diaries about Macs in scientific research environments, and a "productivity lab" with tips for users. It looks like the company is targeting this specific demographic - scientists. I suspect the initiative comes from the top, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who has already survived pancreatic cancer and now has a hormonal imbalance that might be cured by science.

Having used both Macs and PCs extensively, I can tell you there is simply no comparison. I have seen the light, and its name is Macintosh. The OS is more intuitive and more stable - it's just cleaner and sleeker than Windows. Also, we work with a lot of graphics, and everything just looks better on the Mac. To top it all off, the laptop I'm typing this on has a beautiful webcam seamlessly installed right into the top of the monitor. This webcam works perfectly with Skype or YouTube, and it never falls down.

The fact that Mac is targeting the traditionally unsexy scientist demographic is proof of the company's intellectual vision and values. I mean, this is iPod money that is flowing into education. Scientists, Mac just winked at us. Let's be smart enough to wink back.

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10 comments:

Mag said...

Yoni made the switch to Mac a month or two ago, got a great deal on a 15" pro, and he hasn't looked back since.

Of course, I've been saying this for years...

They've already cornered all of the artists and creative types out there, I guess they're targeting both sides of the brain now, huh?

Anonymous said...

"The OS is more intuitive and more stable - it's just cleaner and sleeker than Windows. Also, we work with a lot of graphics, and everything just looks better on the Mac. To top it all off, the laptop I'm typing this on has a beautiful webcam seamlessly installed right into the top of the monitor. This webcam works perfectly with Skype or YouTube, and it never falls down."

Funny. There's not a single techincal reason in there why it's "better for science." You're being marketed...and falling for it.

therapydoc said...

And I just bought an MSI Wind, another windows toy. But it was cheap, and it really is light as wind and FAST. Adjusting to that little keyboard is another story.

Samurai Scientist said...

@Mag,
They've already cornered all of the artists and creative types out there, I guess they're targeting both sides of the brain now, huh?

Apple is a pretty smart company. But I think what they are doing is not just business. They actually have an appreciation for art and science.

@Anon,
here's not a single techincal reason in there why it's "better for science." You're being marketed...and falling for it.

Well, the broader reasons are really Mac's scientific advantage. As a molecular biologist, I mainly use the computer for image and word processing. There are some disadvantages to Macs, though - a lot of microscope software is only available on the PC.

@TherapyDoc,
And I just bought an MSI Wind, another windows toy. But it was cheap, and it really is light as wind and FAST

I think the main advantage to those windows toys is the price. Apples are expensive.

YZF said...

I happen to use a Mac, because our academic institution gets special deals on them.

That statement was kinda telling. Macs are cool, but for regular folk, they cost the same as three PCs. So -- and I'm asking this seriously -- is it really worth it to buy one Mac every six years, or a PC every two?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't quite work like that. With PCs you have a much broader range of machine to gear towards your individual usage. Sure, Macs are cool, not always three times the price of PCs, and their display hardware is often first rate. If you bought a PC with the same level of hardward, you'd probably wind up spending the same.

The fault of the unstable operating system lies much with the software vendors who release shoddy software and poor device drivers for the instrumentation such as the microscopes you are referring to. Much of Window's reputed instability stems from the fact that it is such an open platform for interfacing.

Mac's market sector has just been so much more tightly controlled that they are able to keep the quality up in many respects, which, agreed, is a positive.

And, if you haven't guessed by now, Mr. Anonymous is none other than the Ben Simon of Fargo fame.

Anonymous said...

Here's some more reasoning from my more convincing coworker on the subject:

Windows simply has more features. Mac doesn't have COM/DCOM, Active Directory, storage management capabiltiies Windows has and a LOT of other things. Like clustering, for example. Plus Apple doesn't provide the same level of backward compatibility that Windows does.

if your software works with new Mac OS - you are lucky
if it doesn't - well, you're out of luck and you can't do anything about it. vive la apple

also, Macs do NOT have better graphics than windows PCs do
that's just a lie/misconception

if you are looking at the latest and coolest graphics adapters, macs lag well behind. plus I highly doubt Mac hardware has Direct X support. which in some ways is more of a PITA than OpenGL, but in the same time it is more advanced and it's developed/updated way more rapidly. game dev industry digs that

since they switched to intel, they use the same graphics adapters.

Anonymous said...

Although, I believe that scientific world probably leans more towards OpenGL. It's more academic than DirectX.

Samurai Scientist said...

And, if you haven't guessed by now, Mr. Anonymous is none other than the Ben Simon of Fargo fame.

HA HA HA! I was wondering who was getting so excited about this topic!

It is really the age old question.

Ari said...

You should have named your post iWantEveryTrollOnTheInternetLeavingCommentsOnMyBlog

Seriously though, I'm not going to rehash the arguments that have already happened eleventy zillion times, but if you're still interested in the world of Windows you should check out Windows 7. I haven't seen any negative reviews so far, even from rabidly pro-mac websites. Not that I'm biased or anything.

therepydoc - I didn't realize you got the Wind in the end. Glad you like it :)

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