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Part A: Appendixes > This Is a Mac—What Could Go Wrong?

Appendix. This Is a Mac—What Could Go Wrong?

Everyone likes to think that his or her favorite operating system is a flawless diamond, whereas other operating systems are lumps of coal. Because Mac OS is “the other” commercial operating system for personal computers, Mac lovers often have an inferiority complex of sorts. This often manifests itself in extreme advocacy for their favorite platform to the point where they’ll tend to gloss over problems, often even ignoring them in order to bang the drum for the Mac OS. A handy rule that I often apply when confronted by a zealot for any computer program or application is von Hagen’s first rule of computing, which says “Insert name here is a computer program. It has bugs.” This is true of word processors, system utilities, operating systems, and every other piece of software. The fact that there may be problems with a piece of software or even an operating system doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t use it—you often just have to be a bit more clever.

Bugs are simply flaws in the logic or implementation of a computer program. I have never seen a perfect computer system—there are always ways to break things or to make a program fail by asking it to perform some extreme task or accept input that the original author never thought of. This is even more true today than in the past because today’s applications depend on layers of infrastructure that most users are not aware of. Running a program under an operating system such as Mac OS X makes you the potential beneficiary of problems in the Unix kernel, the swapper, memory management routines, the Foundation and Application Kit frameworks, Cocoa, Objective-C, Aqua, the Finder, and a host of other pieces of operating system and GUI software. These are just possible software problems— you could also be the victim of a stuck bit in one of the memory chips inside your computer, a flaky component on your Mac’s motherboard, a failing disk drive, and countless other pieces of hardware.


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