Thursday, May 05, 2005

Small reminders of Mac vs. Wintel differences

Today J.D. Biersdorfer, in answering questions about flash key compatibility between Macs and PC's (aka. Wintel boxes) notes: how Macs allows typographical characters in file names while in Windows you can't.
Using certain typographical characters in file names, however, is one thing you can do on a Mac but not on Windows. You can't name files with slashes, brackets, colons, semicolons, asterisks, periods, commas and a few other characters on the FAT32 system.
You may get error messages if you try to copy files with such characters in the names from your Mac to the U.S.B. drive - or if you do successfully copy them, the file names may be changed on the U.S.B. drive.
This is one of those small differences in computing environments that are hard to value as you don't really think about why, you just accept... like when PC file names were limited to 12 characters or whatever. Occasionally something comes along and magnifies the difference. Case in point, the whole Y2K frenzy precipitated because PC programmers used 2-digit coding for years while Macs compute the number of seconds from 1904.

These differences don't show up in the sticker price, but they do become ingrained in how we use computers. But Plato reminds us that it's good to get a different a new perspective of how things are and what's reasonable to expect.


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