Gorilla Ex Machina

I’m having a terrible time posting because when I write posts here at school, I don’t like them. The ones I write at home and bring in are better. The problem is that I don’t write at home. I have other things I want to do. So, well I try to find a good balance, enjoy someone else’s geek writing that fits in well with my theme:

Lifted from here (thanks to Eric for pointing it out).

This is a metaphor with legs. However, it has one flaw that needs addressing: Windows and Linux are software, and Apple is a hardware company. This problem can be solved like many other problems are solved in the computer industry: By adding monkeys.

No, seriously. It works like this. Computer hardware has changed immeasurably in the last 30 years, and nowadays everything we do must be guided by an operating system. To illustrate that situtation with cars, I could say that all modern cars are so fancy and complicated that each one sold comes with a chauffeur who will do the driving for you.

For example, if you buy an Apple sedan, you also receive a little monkey in a snappy blue suit. Your personal X-Monkey (as the company calls him) is the ideal driver of your Apple sedan. He knows where everything is, feeds and washes himself, drives defensively, and will even tune up the car for you. X-Monkey will accept precise instructions like, “forward 10 feet, right 20 degrees”, but he is smart enough to think on his own, so you can tell him “Drive me to a taco stand, then pick up Uncle Steve”. He will also keep you out of trouble, by politely ignoring instructions like, “Run over that jogger”, and “Floor it”, when you’re at a red light. Depending on your temperament, this could actually be a downside.

The X-Monkey comes from a line of monkeys originally bred by the military for the purpose of driving tanks. It’s a good fit, because the modern Apple sedan is actually a tank in a fancy shell. The X-Monkey’s only drawback is that he can only drive a car from Apple. Show him any other vehicle, and he won’t even know how to operate the door lock.

Meanwhile, the free-thinking Linux people, displeased with genetic engineering, have created their own smart monkey chauffeurs through a massive international breeding program. Unlike the X-Monkey, the Linux Monkey is capable of driving any car, including the Apple sedan. If you could install a steering wheel on a log splitter, the Linux Monkey could drive it for you. The catch is, you have to train the Linux Monkey yourself. Fortunately there are experts everywhere who will help you out, and the Linux Monkey trains easily.

The Microsoft Gorilla, on the other hand, cannot be trained. Instead, you must keep rephrasing your directions until the MS Gorilla can comprehend them. He consumes both front seats, lowering the mileage of your car, and blocking most of your view. Though he sounds like a bad deal, MS Gorilla is actually extremely popular, because he looks impressive, drives aggressively, and keeps his mouth shut. If you speak in his limited vocabulary, he will take you Where You Want To Go Today … especially if he can plow monkeys off the intervening road. However, if you touch anything on the dashboard, or try to haggle with him over the exact route, he may become irritated and casually drive your car into a telephone pole. People learn to not argue.

The point to this altered metaphor is that the Microsoft dealership, and the Linux collective, do not really make cars at all. All those shiny automobiles sitting on the lot and lined up on the street corner are re-branded vehicles, manufactured by other companies. However, their modern instrument panels are so confusing that they’d be useless without a chauffeur. … And the Microsoft dealership gets a cut from the price of every vehicle that leaves their lot, piloted by the Microsoft Gorilla.

If you were so inclined, you could purchase a car from them, drive to the sidewalk, and kick the gorilla out onto the curb. The Linux Monkey can hop right in and start driving for you. Of course, Microsoft already has your money, and what are you going to do with a spare gorilla?

Contrast this with the Apple dealership, that personally designs and assembles every Apple sedan. When a sedan leaves their lot, they pocket the whole amount. You could still kick out the X-Monkey any time, but why would you? The Linux Monkey is basically the same, without the training.

This post in no way indicates my feelings for any of the above companies–Roger

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