What's in a Mac?

David Heinemeier Hansson of Ruby on Rails fame has yet again stirred a hor€est by stating that he would “have a hard time imagining hiring a programmer who was still on Windows for 37signals.

While David’s tone is (more or less intentionally) pretty provocative, most of the angry commenters seem to have taken his thoughts totally backwards:

Great programmers are made by talent, not by the tools and platform they choose, damn it. Saying anything remotely otherwise is incredibly ignorant. … Like I said, talent. I really don’t see any link between the above and the choice of tools.

Well, David never said great programmers are made of the tools. But as anyone who’s read Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master knows, great hackers are passionate about the tools they use. That’s why David is concerned about the “covers both needs just fine” attitude a few of the commenters advocate.

I wouldn’t be as harsh as David. I can imagine there are reasons why people really want to have a Windows PC. But if a developer is not passionate about making herself more productive, how could she be passionate about the project I would be hiring her for?

What surprises me most, tho, is that still – in 2005 – the most common reason for avoiding a Mac seems to be the price. Well, let me tell you something. Powerbooks start at €1500 here in Finland, probably the most expensive corner of Europe. Believe me, you will have a hard time finding a comparative PC laptop at that price, let alone half of it.

And to Simen Brekken, who’s starting to love his 12" PowerBook but thinks it’s too slow: it doesn’t need a new CPU. It needs more RAM. Running Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator simultaneously is nothing spectacular for G4, as long as it has 1GB or more RAM.