Wednesday, February 11, 1998

KTWV02-Issue 12: Macs vs PCs, ROI

Dear fellow Stephanians,

My sincere apologies for coming up late with this issue, but some grave problems confronted me in the form of influenza which knocked me cold - leaving me with no option but to delay my extra-ciricular activities. However, all is well that ends well, and your host is back on line - minus 10 kg of his 115 kg original flab.

New York seems to have been most active last month as they got our Indian Representative to the UN, none other than the tall and lanky (as I remember him), Kamlesh Sharma to attend the reunion.

I had a look at the New York list of Stephanians and I was most pleased to find the name of another good colleague, Alan Robertson, 65 History, listed. He too is at the United Nations.

Alan was the first non-Indian from the African continent that I ever met and got to know (Rathikant Basu - claimed Khartoum, Sudan, as his base while Niranjan Desai was my friend from Nairobi, Kenya).

Alan was a fine upstanding fellow during his college years. If I remember right, he used to be in training with the late Arjun Soni (Horse), about whom I wrote last week

Maybe the first person one meets from a new place can set your mind about a whole continent, and Alan was a true Ambassador in the sixties for the African continent.

New York's active Stephanian, Sreenath, is also responsible for this month's letter from our Principal - which is in a good cause to help develop our college. I hope all of you will act on this request - as every dollar contributed will be worth its weight in gold.

I hope Anil will tell us the bank account to which we should transfer whatever meager assistance we can steal and divert from the mouths of our starving babes.


5th Dec 1997.

Dear Sir,

St. Stephen's College is one of India's premier educational institutions. For over a century it has consistently maintained high and exacting standards in the field of liberal arts and sciences. Along the way, it has produced many of India's leaders in politics, business, administration and other professional streams.

At present the college offers Honors courses in Economics, Mathematics, Physics, History, English, Philosophy and Sanskrit along with a General course in Computers. The college plans to offer an Honors course in Computers from next year. It also plans to make access to the Internet and email available to every student. This requires an augmentation of the existing computer infrastructure in college.

The college plans to set up a modern computer centre and seeks the help of a corporate sponsor in this venture. We would be grateful if you either provide us financial support or contribute the equipment. Enclosed is our proposal for what such a venture would entail. We welcome any changes or additions that you might have to suggest.

The college would recognize your participation and the form and manner of that recognition could be discussed with the college later.

We look forward to a favorable response from you. All payments may be made to the Principal, St. Stephen's College. We would like to express our gratitude to you for your support of St. Stephen's College.

Thanking you,
Yours faithfully,
Principal, St. Stephen's College

President, Students Union Society

This is the proposal for a new computer centre for St. Stephen's College. We plan to offer each student access to the Internet and email. The centre will also have desktop publishing and multi-media capabilities.

Fixed Costs (all figures in Indian Rs.)
1. Three 2-tonne air conditioners 100,000
2. 1 UPS 20,000
3. 2 Laser Printers 80,000
4. 2 Color Inkjets 50,000
5. 2 Modems 20,000
6. 2 Phone Lines 6,000
7. 1 Server 100,000
8. 1 Scanner 25,000
Sub-Total 401,000

Infrastructural Costs 300,000

Variable Costs
20 Computers 100,000
Sub-Total 1,701,000

Annual Maintenance & Upgradation 2,500,000

Total Endowment Rs. 4,200,000
(roughly $100,000) The centre will also have desktop publishing and multi-media capabilities.

Although this is not the forum for debate about computer platforms, a couple of points may be worth making. Stephen's is the centre of forward thinking and learning. Second, there is an important phrase in the above:

" The centre will also have desktop publishing and multi-media capabilities."

This alone points to the choice being made to install Apple Macintosh computers rather than PC's at Stephen's.

The reasons for this are plentifold, but when over 80% of those in publishing use Macs, the argument would be compelling.

The recent GISTICs Executive Education Knowledge-Based Publication Series report, Volume II Issue 1 Number 1 Revision 4.8 dated Summer 1997 - I can submit a copy to whomsoever is interested - showed that the return on investment (ROI) in the publishing field of a Macintosh-using creative professional produced US$26441 more annual revenue and US$14488 more net profit than a Windows user of comparable skill engaged in similar work. This revenue differential enabled a PowerPC Macintosh-based studio to achieve payback on a new platform in 4.59 months, whereas in stark contrast, a WINDOWS NT-based form required 12.58 months to recoup its investment.

This is one of the primary reasons for the predominance of Macs in this area of technology.

Probably a more compelling reason would be the conclusion of this report published in the UK by the British software company SCO and Harris Research which found that most time was lost through PC malfunction or misuse. Seven out of 10 surveyed said they became frustrated when their PCs failed to work. On average, each employee surveyed wasted 100 minutes a week during the first month a new system is introduced. "Consequently, the latest software isn't empowering these users -- it is disrupting their working day," - Geoff Seabrook of SCO commented. The survey of 400 PC users in medium-sized and large companies in Europe found that personal computers caused stress, with employees feeling that they had to work harder than ever before. Such malfunctions are rare on a Mac. I have hardly lost a moment of my computing time in 14 odd years.

Further, I quote a couple of lines from the April 21st 1997 issue of TIME which had the special report on the wife and mom of Stephanians - none other than Booker Prize winner and world best-selling authoress - Arundhati Roy .

"All the more wondrous for a book that according to the author, came into being almost on its own. Once Small Things showed up on the screen of her Macintosh desktop, Roy virtually chained herself to the keyboard in the bedroom of her book-lined, one-bedroom New Delhi apartment, emerging for little besides aerobic classes."

My own experience (with 3 local best-sellers between my wife and myself , three webletters coming up for the last two years every fortnight, and over a 1000 articles published between us), with the Mac has been similar - and till today this old decrepit Stephanian who puts up this crazy webletter for equally gonky Stephanians world-wide, has no clue what his computer is doing - and I do not want to know as all I am interested in is productivity.

And as to productivity on the Mac - that I can swear by - as when I came to Finland in 1984 - I had never touched a computer before (barring my whopping big calculator) - and I was thrown into the highest tech lab in Oulu - Microelectronics (the heart of electronics) - where everyone swore by IBM and DOS.

I started by looking at a few manuals and playing around with a VAX machine, and I knew in my heart I was just wasting time.

A friend of mine and I chanced upon the Mac - and before you could say "Jacob the Finn" - we were the two most productve guys in the lab. Thereafter, virtually every high tech operation, including control of excimer and argon ion lasers, research on the high temperature superconductors, and research on a mass of new technologies was being done on Macs. The entire staff in the lab got themselves Macs, both for their office desktop as well as for their home computing.

What is even more interesting is that over the last 14 years, except for my earliest acquisition for the lab, none of the other Macs have been retired as they still perform in the high tech environment with all the efficiency required. (I bought my earliest Mac acquisition for the lab at an auction last year and I am still using this antique 14 years on with no loss in productivity!)

There are several even more compelling reasons for staying away from PCs - there are over 100000 bugs and viruses associated with PCs - which is chaotic in a public facility where students bring in their own discs. The total number of bugs and viruses on Macs is just 35 and the disinfectant and anti-virus programs are all free.

However, probably the most compelling reason is that you can run all the main operating systems on a Mac - Windows, MacLinux, and of course, the Mac operating system, which the rest of the computer world is trying to emulate - rather badly at that, whereas with a PC, you are stuck with just one operating system.

I could give you hundreds of other reasons why our college should use Macs - but probably the greatest is just productivity. If you want Stephanians to be productive in the wide world - then equip them with the real thing and not just a bad copy of what has set the world of computing alight 15 years ago. Face it - Windows is a copy and will always remain a copy of the real thing!!

Oh, by the way, the Marketing Manager of Apple Computers Inc. in the US is a good Mallu - Jacob Kandathil - and if the right approach is made to him, I am sure that Apple Computers Inc. should be able to make a substantial donation to the most prestigious college in India.

Moving on to other subjects, I promise you an exciting next issue of Kooler Talk Web version, with a most revealing photograph of four Stephanians. Three of them, plus a 4th who is the Chairman and Managing Director of one of India's most respected companies (but sadly not a Stephanian) in that photograph, will probably pay me good money to stop the picture coming online - but this old coot (the fourth figure) cannot be bribed - so watch out for the next episode of a new volume of Kooler Talk web version which should come online by the beginning of March 1998.

Till then "näkemiin (Finnish for - goodbye till we meet again)" from a frozen north where temperatures for the past week have been hovering around -39 Celsius.

Your Kooler Talk (Web Version) Editor