Bike Friday was once called the “Macintosh of the bicycle industry.” It should come as no surprise, then, that I’m a Mac geek. I must admit, though, that like a lot of Bike Friday owners approaching purchase for the first time, my love for the Mac didn’t come quickly.
When I was in high school I played with machines running OS Classic. I have to admit that the simple intuitive user interface was highly offensive to someone who was used to using the DOS command line and who had a general disdain for Windows. I thought of them more as “Fisher Price” computers marketed to novices for multimedia processing and pretty much ignored them. I kind of got the same feeling when Windows 95 came out. I shelled out to DOS, typed some command and got “wrong version” back. It turns out the version of my new DOS was “Windows 95 DOS” and so the darn GUI had taken over my machine.
I had enough of Microsoft at that point. I acquired a hand-me-down IBM ThinkPad and installed it with Linux, though I kept Windows on, just in case. I used the Slackware distribution which was the favourite of our old IS guy, Michael Calabrese. In the end, I found it was a little too little user friendly given that I didn’t have the time to figure out how to do simple things like configure the modem (which I finally figured out) or the sound card (which I never figured out). I tried Red Hat which made life a lot easier. I liked it but eventually the ‘puter died.
So when it was time for a new machine, I decided I wanted to continue this trend and avoid Windows. I looked around at various pre-set-up Linux boxes. I eventually came under the influence of a few Mac geeks, and was really interested to see them being employed in the epigenetics lab I was working in. In fact, almost all the science guys used them. And supposedly these machines weren’t so good for computationally intensive tasks? So after liking playing around with it at the lab, I did some more research and found that Apple had really grown up since I had last experienced their products.
The fact that there is a highly tweaked *nix core to Mac OS X (which is also a standalone Open Source release from them called Darwin) was highly appealing. It was also appealing to discover that because of the *nix core, it could play well with any file system, including *nix and Windows (though it’s interesting to note that Windows does not reciprocate). This meant that I didn’t have to have Windows on the machine (though it is nice to know that Intel Macs can now run Windows if need be).
Though student discounts certainly weighed into my decision, the thing that really tipped me over the edge was the thing that is currently most controversial. This is another thing that makes us so consistent with Apple: a stated committment to the environment (if you’re not familiar with ours, look here). They approach this not only from a manufacturing and design (this is particularly cool in that they try to make everything replacable/rebuildable– if not by the user, then at least by Apple Support) standpoint, but also have a huge recycling program where they will, among other things, take back old machines– of any brand! When you recycle your iPod (which you don’t have to because they can replace the batteries for you), you recieve a 10% discount on a new one.
Furthermore, my iPod was the inspiration for me to get rid of my CD collection and never buy another CD again. iTunes really makes this a reality. A recent study suggests that this indeed is a more environmentally friendly way of collecting and enjoying music.
There are really so many things I love about my Mac, which I realize is not perfect. It can be very difficult to figure out where BSD stops and Darwin begins and vice versa, for example. But this is really no big deal.
For example, in my CIS class, I can highlight some code in Safari and go to the Services menu and pick jEdit and tell it to make a new buffer out of it and *poof* there it is. The whole iLife suite is dreamy, not to mention many of the other included apps– iCal in particular is a big favourite and much better than other solutions I’ve seen. Disk Image technology is super cool and Exposé is an often used feature. Spotlight finds anything quickly.
And then there’s the whole AppleScript technology. You can literally make AppleScript-able applications do whatever you want. How cool is that? Oh and don’t get me started on how easy they are in terms of connectivity. I have easily connected to our network printer, VNC’d to a local machine, connected to the WiFi, whatever. Never a problem. In fact, just about everything is easy to set up.
Heck, I could go on and on all day. This brings to me my point: this is what our customers do. There is indeed a parallel between us. In fact, quite a few times I have found myself entertaining a great discussion with our customers on both Bike Fridays and Macs. For example, Joel Young, owner of the first official production BFFG and I have been known to indulge discussions on Macs, Fridays, fixed gears, Critical Mass, music, etc. So just as I am proud to sport my Bike Friday headbadge on my bike, I happily display my affection for Apple as well.
Maybe this connection goes deeper than we think. Perhaps I should suggest an Apple-like marketing strategy:
The team-kit equipped couch potato roadie says “I’m a bike” and insists he can ride. In fact, he just did 30 miles. And man, is he pooped. On the other hand, the more-fun loving world-travelled Friday owner says “I’m a Bike Friday” and says he can ride, too. In fact, he just got done circling the globe. And he can’t wait to plan his next trip.
It might just work.