Addicted to novelty since 2001

Someone Else is Irritated By All Those Cat Names

Anil writes about the arrogance of Apple, and makes specific reference to the feline monikers that they apply to each operating system upgrade:

Referring to versions of OS X by cat names, when those names appear nowhere in the operating system itself, seems astoundingly user-hostile. I have no idea what the cat name is for the operating system I’m running, and yet when I try to evaluate shareware, the authors are often asking me if I’m a panther or a tiger or something. Hasn’t anybody noticed how stupid that is over at Apple?

Since switching to Apple a couple of years ago, this practice has always been a minor irritant. However, I don’t agree that it’s stupid.

Apple are masters of the cool, and this big cat argot is another means of differentiating Mac users from the unwashed masses. It’s a bit of secret taxonomy slang that’s only known to those higher-level acolytes in the Order. In a way, it’s sort of a lexical equivalent of vendor lock-in: “Learn the language and stick with us.”

10 Responses to “Someone Else is Irritated By All Those Cat Names”

  1. Meg

    It’s no more irritating than the pantheon of weird names attached to Web 2.0 sites and software. Half of those aren’t even words and never will be, and yet we’re supposed to be using them to connect to the kinder, gentler internet?

    Yeah. I’ll take a nice kitty anyday.

  2. darren

    Meg: I agree, though what frustrates me about the cat names is that there’s already an established language for versioning (10.1, 10.2 and so on).

  3. Meg

    Well, fair enough, but user hostile? Astoundingly so? Nah. Maybe a little obscure, but as you say, that’s part of creating an “in group”.

    It’s not like Apple doesn’t make everything else pretty damn easy.

  4. Mike K.

    Looks like they caught you again Jon – on Macs, Alt is the “Option” key, not the Command key. :)

  5. Mike K.

    I don’t mind the cat names at all. Almost every computer company I’ve worked for has used internal code names – it’s just that Apple likes to keep using them once the product goes live.

    At least they didn’t tack “cute” adjectives onto the release names, like the Ubuntu Linux people do (eg: “Gutsy Gibbon” and “Feisty Fawn”) – BLEH!

  6. Kirsten

    I just wish they’d made the cats progressively larger… you know, work your way up from sand cat to ocelots to lions and tigers. I can never remember the order the way Apple does it.

  7. Anil

    You’ve definitely improved upon what I was trying to say, Darren — the problem is not that it’s stupid, it’s that it’s *insular*. Which is fine if you really do prioritize creating an “in crowd” over getting new people to see the potential of technology. I get just as frustrated by this kind of thing in the Web 2.0 world as I do with operating systems, but it seems worse here because Apple at least pays lip service to trying to attract “the rest of us”.

  8. darren

    Anil: Thanks for your comment. I see the blind, offensive Apple cultists have visited your site. They can be such zealots.

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