Post-Holiday Shopping Advice: Coke vs. Pepsi

 

Hi, I’m Coke. And I’m Pepsi.

Which do you prefer? Me? I like root beer; any kind will do. I am sure that someone can give you reasons why Coke is objectively better than Pepsi, but they won’t actual be objective. They will be observations the person uses to convince you that their choice is based in objective fact, but will actually be based in their own preferences and biases.

So it is with the Apple vs. Microsoft debate. Now, before I go in to this, let me lay out two groups of facts, and one opinion, so you will know where I’m coming from.

Fact Group A: I’ve worked in IT for 25 years and have done almost everything within it. I’ve done programming. I’ve been a database analyst. I “operated” a mini computer at a hospital. I’ve managed networks, big and small. I’ve also spent a lot of time evaluating computers for myself, my friends, and the companies I’ve worked for. I’ve built computers from scratch, and rebuilt ones from spare parts. I’ve worked with every version of Windows since dirt was new, and I’ve worked with Mac OS for a while, too. Bottom line: I know computers, not from a ones and zeroes perspective (though somewhat) but from the perspective of a knowledgeable, professional end-user. My biggest concern is that a computer do what it is supposed to do.

Fact Group B: As an end user, I use an iMac and a MacBook at home; at work, my primary computer is a Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10, but I’ve also got an older MacBook that I do MacBook stuff on. I use an iPhone as my primary mobile device. I’ve tried Windows Phone and Android, and don’t really care for either.

Opinion: My advice on whether you should buy a Mac or a PC is the best advice you’ll ever get. Some fans of Microsoft will tell you with great fervor that Apple is from the devil; Apple fans will tell you the same about Microsoft; some really nerdy people will tell you to dump both and go Linux. Their opinions are all junk. Mine is right, and you should listen to me. I’ll tell you why in a moment.

Now, I am not interested in engaging in the debate. I’ve had it, a million times and have argued both sides until I was blue in the face. It is pointless. As pointless as trying to tell you that Coke is better than Pepsi (it is). The fans of all sides will tell me that there are objective reasons why their choice is the right one. There aren’t. There are reasons why Mac is better than PC. There are reasons why PC is better than Mac. There are reasons you should buy an Android tablet instead of an iPad. There is no point in getting in to any of those — because in the end — it comes down to your individual preference. Neither is objectively better in some cosmic sense, though either may be objectively better to a particular person for a particular purpose.

I get asked a lot (and I do mean a lot): “Spin, what kind of computer should I get?” Often they add little bullet points for me like “I don’t like Dell,” or “My son-in-law says to get a Mac,” or “I don’t need anything fancy.” I don’t care who they are, nor what they say, I always begin by asking the question that drives the answer more than any other factor: how much money do you want to spend?

If they say “A few hundred dollars,” then the answer is “Go down to Best Buy, Office Depot, or Costco and find whatever suits your fancy and buy that. In the $300 range, all of the computers are more or less the same.” Often I get an incredulous look, as if too say “That doesn’t help!” It should: if $300 is your budget, you can feel safe in the knowledge that whatever you buy is going to be just as good as whatever you didn’t buy. And when I say “just as good,” I really mean “just as bad.”

And when I explain that, they ask “Well, what should I do?” At which point I say “You should spend between $1,200 and $1,500 on a computer that will last you several years.” They will then give me that look again “I can’t afford that!” But if you think about it, an expensive computer that lasts you last years costs you $300 to $375 per year. A $300 laptop from Costco has a life of 12-18 months if it is used regularly (cue the guy who tells me his bargain basement special lasted since Spock kissed Uhura). So, as a matter of annual cost, we’re likely arguing over chump change.

Notice, I have yet to discuss Mac versus PC. That is because it doesn’t matter! It really doesn’t. Some will say that Mac’s operating system is better because it runs on Unix. Some will say Windows is more widely used. Neither of these facts — nor the myriad others people use to convince you of rightness of their decision — mean anything, not in any real sense. Can I browse the web in Windows? Yep. Can I run Excel on a Mac? Yep. Can I edit a video on a Mac? Yep. PC? Yep. There is nothing the average person wants to do that you cannot do on each platform.

So the question remains: PC or Mac? Well, what do you like? What are you comfortable with? If you have used a PC for years and like it, get a PC. The Mac fanatics will tell you that if you buy a Mac, the instant you lay finger to keyboard your whole life will change.  Nonsense. The Windows people will tell you that if you get a Mac, there are a ton of things you won’t be able to do. Also nonsense. Get what you are comfortable with. You won’t go wrong with either choice.

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  1. Hank Rhody Contributor
    Hank Rhody
    @HankRhody

    Best Root Beer I’ve ever had comes from the Sprecher Brewery from Milwaukee Wisconsin.

    • #1
  2. Brian McMenomy Inactive
    Brian McMenomy
    @BrianMcMenomy

    Nice illustration of the glorious confusion and marvelous bewilderment of consumer choice.  We don’t need just 1 type of deodorant (thanks, Comrade Bernie); it’s not for some command-center bureaucrat to say which (insert product/service here) will work best for you.  That’s for a free market to sort out (and it will do it a lot cheaper than any other system).

    • #2
  3. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    I have both.

    They serve their purposes.

    What I’d really like to dump is Google, which actually is the devil.

    • #3
  4. Brian McMenomy Inactive
    Brian McMenomy
    @BrianMcMenomy

    Ryan M:I have both.

    They serve their purposes.

    What I’d really like to dump is Google, which actually is the devil.

    I thought Google was the guy the devil sent out to get him a pack of smokes.

    • #4
  5. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    Brian McMenomy:

    Ryan M:I have both.

    They serve their purposes.

    What I’d really like to dump is Google, which actually is the devil.

    I thought Google was the guy the devil sent out to get him a pack of smokes.

    Hear hear.

    • #5
  6. Brian McMenomy Inactive
    Brian McMenomy
    @BrianMcMenomy

    I would like to see Coke with lime make a comeback, that over ice on a hot day is fantastic.

    • #6
  7. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    I used to give advice based on my experience and what would be best for the person with the assumption they would actually take time to master the device.

    I now ask “Who will be the person you ask for help?” Then I say “Ask them.” and walk away as fast as I can.

    • #7
  8. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Brian McMenomy:I would like to see Coke with lime make a comeback, that over ice on a hot day is fantastic.

    They still sell it.   Diet Coke with Lime is a wonderful beverage, although coffee, tea, beer and wine are all healthier.   I take diet coke with lime only in moderation.

    • #8
  9. PsychLynne Inactive
    PsychLynne
    @PsychLynne

    You had me at “Coke is better than Pepsi (it is)”

    • #9
  10. John Hanson Thatcher
    John Hanson
    @JohnHanson

    I have had both PC and Mac, written a bit of software for both, I was an original Mac devotee, buying a Mac-II in 1984, and spending around $9,000 for it by the time I had bought a hard drive, modem (1200 baud) and software (Computers used to cost a lot!).  I used it until sometime in the 1990-1991 time frame when work changed from monitors connected to  department VAX 11-780 to individual PCs, and the applications they selected for engineering to use were all PC based, so I had to move to PC to support work, and most applications were on one or the other platform then.  So since I used a PC at work, wound up with PCs at home, mostly.   Have had an apple powerbook once since, and I had two daughters who both went through a Mac phase where only a Mac would do, both, again driven by what their work places use (One a chemist, the other an accountant) have since switched to PCs.

    I always preferred the Mac usability and user interface, but to be able to support work from home I had to at least have a PC at home, and buying both never was an option (for my wife :) ).

    M wife and I now have desktop systems, laptops, and iPads. I need the horsepower of a true workstation class computer with up to 3 24 inch or larger monitors for work, and use a laptop only to do business presentations, or temporary support while on business trips, or for internet surfing at home, it really lacks the power for serious engineering work on its own.   We use the iPads mostly for work or socializing on Facebook or other online web based stuff.

    I use whatever works for what I want to do.  I really don’t care what it is or what operating system it has, I have used most of them over the last 35+ years, and can adopt any new one when it becomes necessary.  My rule, If it can do the job you need, and you are comfortable with it, get it.  If not get something else.

    • #10
  11. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Diet Coke over diet Pepsi.  ;)

    I’ve always used PCs, so I don’t have any experience with Macs to have an informed opinion.

    That said, I just uploaded Windows 10 on my HP and love it.  I had Windows 8.1 and it took forever to get used to.  Just when I got used to it, my motherboard crashed and HP had to replace it.  When I got the computer back, HP gave me the option to upgrade to 10 and I took it.  It’s a sort of combination of Windows 7 and 8.  It seems like the best features of both.  My opinion: go with Windows 10 if you have a choice.

    • #11
  12. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Manny: It’s a sort of combination of Windows 7 and 8. It seems like the best features of both. My opinion: go with Windows 10 if you have a choice.

    From Dave Barry’s Year in Review:  Microsoft releases Windows 10 which, in a widely hailed breakthrough, turns Windows 8 back into Windows 7.

    • #12
  13. Belt Member
    Belt
    @Belt

    Yup!  My experience mirrors your’s, though I’m PC-centric myself.

    Also I prefer root beer too.  No ice.  If a restaurant doesn’t have it, I’ll go with lemonade.  If you have a chance, check out 1919 brand root beer.  They only sell it in kegs here in the heartland, but it’s good stuff.

    • #13
  14. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Neither. RC Cola rules.

    • #14
  15. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Miffed White Male:

    Manny: It’s a sort of combination of Windows 7 and 8. It seems like the best features of both. My opinion: go with Windows 10 if you have a choice.

    From Dave Barry’s Year in Review: Microsoft releases Windows 10 which, in a widely hailed breakthrough, turns Windows 8 back into Windows 7.

    I thought it would be a return to 7 myself, but I see it’s not exactly.  It does retain the Apps features of Windows 8.  Like I said above, I think it’s a combination of the best features of both.

    • #15
  16. JohnFromWV Member
    JohnFromWV
    @JohnFromWV

    Look, let’s be open about it: people who prefer Pepsi over Coke are morally bankrupt and probably closet Marxists.  I wouldn’t let Pepsi touch my body, even if it were to put out my on-fire feet.  Pepsi’s continued existence can only be attributed to either some type of mass hysteria or a subtle, yet ingenious plot by the government to control our minds through sub-par soft drinks.

    • #16
  17. jmelvin Member
    jmelvin
    @jmelvin

    I’m that guy that bought a $400 Dell back in 2003 and used it just fine as a home computer till 2014, although by that point it was incredibly slow compared to my work computers.  My $700 laptop replacement job does what I need just fine.

    As far as Coke or Pepsi, I can take both depending on my mood, but don’t take either often.  For my money the best stuff going was the house-made root beer at a little hot dog place in Portsmouth, OH called Little Nick’s.  Sadly it closed up more than 10 years ago and the proprietor has since passed.

    • #17
  18. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    I have 2 MacBooks at home.  My wife has iPhone and iWatch.  I really hate all of it.  Though not the products themselves.  It’s the Apple way that you have to take with it.

    The Apple way is artificial.  Like naming a coffee size Venti.

    Everyone else also has peculiarities but they try to line them up with normal humans.  Like McCafe.

    I know if I immersed myself in Apple culture it would go smoothly but by nature I cannot be moved by another.

    • #18
  19. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    JohnFromWV:Look, let’s be open about it: people who prefer Pepsi over Coke are morally bankrupt and probably closet Marxists. I wouldn’t let Pepsi touch my body, even if it were to put out my on-fire feet. Pepsi’s continued existence can only be attributed to either some type of mass hysteria or a subtle, yet ingenious plot by the government to control our minds through sub-par soft drinks.

    For instance, this makes me crave Pepsi.

    • #19
  20. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    My (20-something) kids were with my husband & me on Saturday to see a show in NYC, and we ate lunch at a diner near NYU where the waiter was a very efficient older gent – maybe Greek? Anyway, my son ordered a burger & Coke, and the waiter curtly replied “No Coke, Pepsi!” and when he left I quietly explained the SNL skit to the kids.

    • #20
  21. HalapenyoHarry Inactive
    HalapenyoHarry
    @HalapenyoHarry

    Well I’m in Texas, which makes this Dr. Pepper country.  And since I’m over 40 I drink too many Diet Dr. Peppers.

    • #21
  22. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    HalapenyoHarry: Well I’m in Texas, which makes this Dr. Pepper country. And since I’m over 40 I drink too many Diet Dr. Peppers.

    A man who has his priorities straight!

    • #22
  23. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    Lucy Pevensie
    @LucyPevensie

    So I need a new phone. What should I get: iPhone or Android?  I’ve always had Android, but have gradually switched to Mac from PC computers (because, and I know I’m weird, the reliability of the hardware makes up for the fact that I hate the interface).

    • #23
  24. jmelvin Member
    jmelvin
    @jmelvin

    Lucy Pevensie:So I need a new phone. What should I get: iPhone or Android? I’ve always had Android, but have gradually switched to Mac from PC computers (because, and I know I’m weird, the reliability of the hardware makes up for the fact that I hate the interface).

    Who are the people around you that are most likely to assist you with your phone, should you need it?  If you are one who is likely to need assistance, my advice is to get a phone with an operating system familiar to those you can rely on to help you out.

    I personally have used Blackberry and Android phones.  I now have parents with Windows phones and they were reasonably easy to figure out so I recommended them for their limited usage because I could reasonably figure out their workings.  I’d tend to think that Apple would be easy to figure out as well and there is certainly a high market penetration such that you should be able to reasonably find a helping hand.

    • #24
  25. Autistic License Thatcher
    Autistic License
    @AutisticLicense

    Moxie

    The time has come for Moxie.  It’s the original.  It’s grown-up.  Once you try it you’ll never really be satisfied with anything else.

    • #25
  26. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    Apple used to be a much more closed ecosystem, so I’d gravitate to PCs to ensure work/home compatibility. That’s changed over the years, and dramatically so with mobile. I’ll probably switch the family over once we get to end-of-life with our current batch of PCs.

    Gladwell had an interesting bit on the Coke v. Pepsi wars in Blink. It’s alluded to in this post.

    • #26
  27. Paul Erickson Inactive
    Paul Erickson
    @PaulErickson

    Casey: I have 2 MacBooks at home. My wife has iPhone and iWatch. I really hate all of it. Though not the products themselves. It’s the Apple way that you have to take with it. The Apple way is artificial. Like naming a coffee size Venti.

    Last evening I un-installed iTunes from my (5 yr old) Lenovo notebook.  Only reason I installed it was for podcasts (guess which ones?)  They gave me an iPhone at work which supposedly would stay in synch with iTunes on the notebook.  This worked for a few months but the incessant software upgrades seem to have killed it.  Gone.  Good riddance.

    BTW my first computer was an Apple iiC, back around 1984.

    • #27
  28. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Lucy Pevensie:So I need a new phone. What should I get: iPhone or Android? I’ve always had Android, but have gradually switched to Mac from PC computers (because, and I know I’m weird, the reliability of the hardware makes up for the fact that I hate the interface).

    Android is for people and Apple is for Apple people.

    My deciding factor was Swype.  I don’t how Apple people pick and peck like that.

    • #28
  29. 1967mustangman Inactive
    1967mustangman
    @1967mustangman

    Coke…if you say Pepsi we are no longer on speaking terms.

    • #29
  30. PsychLynne Inactive
    PsychLynne
    @PsychLynne

    Casey:

    I know if I immersed myself in Apple culture it would go smoothly but by nature I cannot be moved by another.

    Casey:

    JohnFromWV:Look, let’s be open about it: people who prefer Pepsi over Coke are morally bankrupt and probably closet Marxists. I wouldn’t let Pepsi touch my body, even if it were to put out my on-fire feet. Pepsi’s continued existence can only be attributed to either some type of mass hysteria or a subtle, yet ingenious plot by the government to control our minds through sub-par soft drinks.

    For instance, this makes me crave Pepsi.

    So then you can be moved by another, just in the opposite direction?

    • #30

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