If computers were cars, which they are not


As a Mac user who started paying his OT levels because of precisely the sort of crap that goes with generic PCs (though if you think Windows is mechanic-land, you give Linux a try), this image amuses. Though I can imagine plenty of ways the exact same joke could be used to put the boot on the other foot.

Illo: Daniel Bozet

Source [Duo Dito Design via Ffffound]

Published by Rob Beschizza

Follow Rob @beschizza on Twitter.

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  1. There are four engineers traveling in a car. One is a mechanical engineer, one a chemical engineer, one an electrical engineer and the other one an engineer from Microsoft.
    The car breaks down.
    “Sounds to me as if the pistons have seized. We’ll have to strip down the engine before we can get the car working again,” says the mechanical engineer.
    “Well,” says the chemical engineer, “it sounded to me as if the fuel might be contaminated. I think we should clear out the fuel system.”
    “I thought it might be a grounding problem,” says the electrical engineer, “or maybe a faulty plug lead.”
    They all turn to the Microsoft engineer who has said nothing and say. They ask him, “What do you think?”

    “Well, I think we should close all the windows, get out, get back in, and open the windows again.”

  2. The Linux engineer says “I think we should ask a community of great guys around the world to build a bunch of parts from scratch, then send us the plans so we can build those parts ourselves, and put them together one-by-one until we get a car that sort of works, then hook the On-Star up to the RPM manager, get all the patches for the parts, weld those on; or in some cases take them apart and put them together again in new ways; until we get a car we can drive. Although sometimes rather than using the UI for the radio we have to drop to a command mode and say ‘radio –volume mediumloud –f 89.7 –callsign WVFS’ because the knobs just don’t work every time.

    Until someone builds the Knoppix car which we plug into the ignition slot when we start the car. Probably with a different radio.

    NB: Nothing against Linux; the humor was upon me, is all.

  3. The guy on the right, in the cartoon, will lose his smile when he finds that his car will refuse to let him drive on many otherwise common roads unless he actually does what the guy on the left was doing.

    In particular, most of the roads that are fun to drive on aren’t accessible to him without that extra bit of work.

    Oh, and his car cost him 1.5 times what the guy on the left paid. Yeah, it looks cooler, slicker, but there still isn’t much there to justify the extra expense from a pragmatic standpoint.

  4. I use Linux for the same reasons the cars I own are an Opel and a MG: I can tinker, and there is only effort between me and it happening. I don’t have to pay a mechanic or a vendor, it just takes a couple hours and some C/14mm socket.

    If I want my car reading out speed and RPM over BT serial, it can. (And does.) If I want my PC taking twelve different webcam pics and uploading them to the ‘net every half-second, it can. (And does.) If I want the music library in the car synched with the one on my PC every time I park at home, it does. (Work in progress, gimme a week.)

  5. i hate how many of the new cars you see come complete with excessive plastic and otherwise unneeded shrouds inside the engine bay. you open the hood and discover… fluid fill locations and an ambiguous yet stylish trim piece complete with logo.

    some folks know exactly what they want from a car and it’s not just transportation. i suppose it might be a similar situation with computers.

  6. This is pretty much the same analogy used by Neal Stephenson in In the Beginning was the Command Line way back in 1999 … in his words, Linux was a tank:

    These are not old-fashioned, cast-iron Soviet tanks; these are more like the M1 tanks of the U.S. Army, made of space-age materials and jammed with sophisticated technology from one end to the other. But they are better than Army tanks. They’ve been modified in such a way that they never, ever break down, are light and maneuverable enough to use on ordinary streets, and use no more fuel than a subcompact car. These tanks are being cranked out, on the spot, at a terrific pace, and a vast number of them are lined up along the edge of the road with keys in the ignition. Anyone who wants can simply climb into one and drive it away for free.

  7. @8, No, the linux car would be an older model sports car or muscle car. Poster 5 is right on about the tinkering. It feels much the same to work on either, and stuff is always breaking (often due to the constant tinkering) but when you do get it working, well, it’s marvelous… And in both cases you *could* get it working extremely reliably, but that might take some of the fun away.

  8. ALSA, wireless drivers, and laptop sleep support are still a royal bitch in Linux though. And I’ve never seen secondary display output for an arbitrary projector (e.g. when giving a presentation) work when you need it to.

    Conversely, it seems like everyone in the router / networking appliance market has appropriated Linux / BusyBox.

  9. In fact I always use this methafor when talking about OS… OSX is an automatic transmision car, very simple to use but not very potent… Windows is a manual transmision car: Harder to use, but more potent than OSX. And then you have linux. Linux is a formula 1 car: Once you know how to drive it, the other cars are like toys…

  10. More to the point, why the hell is his on/off switch under the hood? Wouldn’t it be more convenient if you could reach it from the driver’s seat?

  11. Unspoken is the fact that if and when something DOES go wrong with the Apple car, our smug looking owner is now locked out of an impenetrable and amorphous engine block, the inner workings of which are as mysterious as the stars to him (for he has never looked, that would be for dirty plebs). He is at the disposal of one vendor who has no compunctions about overcharging him for simple repairs.

  12. Every older model MacCar has a bomb in it that goes off when you do some random, but normal and necessary task.

  13. Unspoken is the fact that if and when something DOES go wrong with the Apple car, our smug looking owner is now locked out of an impenetrable and amorphous engine block, the inner workings of which are as mysterious as the stars to him (for he has never looked, that would be for dirty plebs). He is at the disposal of one vendor who has no compunctions about overcharging him for simple repairs.

    Actually with websites such as iFixIt or the illicitly shared Apple Repair Manuals circulating the tubes, Apple hardware is some of the best documented and relatively easiest to repair (generally sharing that honor with IBM / Lenovo — who openly publish all of their repair manuals themselves). Furthermore, they’re well designed for repairs, generally speaking.

    (Although I loathe Steve Jobs’s aversion to screws, such as with opening the Mac Mini and the iPod, yet conversely the 12″ PowerBook had far too many different kinds of screws to keep track of.)

  14. So, I love Macs. And I love OSX.

    The other day, I opened a .png file in Mac OSX’s preview application.

    I needed it to be a .jpg file.

    I went to “Save As”, and lo and behold, I was presented the option to save the .png file as a .gif , .tiff , .png , or .bmp format.

    No .jpg . … … Which ticked off my mental “WTF?!?” box. apple … doesn’t have a license to include a JPEG encoder?

    Saving it to .bmp format got me an entirely-black picture file. Excellent.

    Saving it to .gif format locked up Preview.

    And the COO of my company, who makes purchasing decisions, was just this weekend given an iPod Nano by my company president, who is going to China for six months. He’s never even touched an Apple product before.

    The firmware update – prompted to be installed /by iTunes/ – bricked it.

    It’s /hard/ to evangelise when my DNS query-reponse ports are still sequential and it doesn’t “Just Work”, guys.

  15. Oh boy, OS wars! I used Linux exclusively for a long time, until I needed a laptop. At the time, Linux on a laptop was a big pain in the rump. OS X is still Unix underneath, and I actually find it gets in the way much less than Windows does. It has yet to pop up a little speech balloon telling me about unused icons on my desktop. Also the command line isn’t completely awful, you don’t have to have admin privileges for every f@#$ing program, and the TeX distribution is quite nice.

  16. @19 I wonder if the impenetrable and amorphous engine block houses a rotary engine? That would be a metaphor for PPC, now wouldn’t it?

  17. I just saved a .png as a .jpg in OS X Preview. (I had the choice of JPEG and JPEG 2000 formats.) Is correct on an Ubuntu machine. Don’t have a Windows machine to check it on.

    Over the last five years, I have found Macs getting more command-line-manageable, and Windows machines getting less so; especially for the scientific software I mostly use (and will take back to Linux when the office document formats are portable enough).

  18. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Mac OS X a FreeBSD based OS with a GUI that is made with Java?

    So you have some great hardware, with an OS based on another great OS, then a GUI layer that is run in a virtual machine?

  19. @23: Both my Macs save as jpg just fine, including a quality setting. There’s a total of 12 different formats available. I think there’s something wrong with your box.

    @28: I don’t think the OS X GUI is made with Java.

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