There’s a joke that says that it’s 99 percent of politicians who give the rest a bad name. Mac users may feel this way upon hearing that a
reveals that Macs are the ugly stepchildren in our nation’s capital.
The story reports that the Senate Office of the Sergeant at Arms (SAA), which makes technology recommendations to senators, is strongly anti-Mac. The SAA has eliminated almost all Macs on Capitol Hill with the exception of three offices: Kennedy’s, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) and the office of the Democratic Policy Committee.
“The SAA’s recommendations aren’t mandatory, but those that follow them are provided with follow-up hardware and software, and technical support,” the article said. “According to critics, those who decline the SAA’s advice are ostracized: Requests for support go unanswered, and suggestions for new technologies are ridiculed.”
“There aren’t many Mac users left,” Jeff Hecker, a systems administrator at the Democratic Policy Committee, which uses Macs to analyze data and create visual displays for Senate debates, told Wired. “The PC bigots (at the SAA) have, for the most part, driven them out of the Senate.”
However, the Mac has one major proponent who is doing his best to keep Macs on Capitol Hill: Ngozi Pole, the office and systems administer at Kennedy’s Boston and Washington offices. He helped staffers get iBooks to use when the recent anthrax scare chased them from their offices. For years, Pole has been locking horns with anti-Mac administrators at the Senate Office of the Sergeant at Arms.
“Instead of seriously considering my suggestions, (the SAA has) tried to ruin my reputation,” Pole told Wired.
The story said that Pole wants to replace the Senate’s current e-mail “dinosaur,” Lotus cc:Mail, with Web browser-based applications, and those using Java and Macromedia Flash. This would let users choose to work with a Mac, or virtually any other computer. (The SAA maintains the Senate’s e-mail and Web servers, and administrates the senate.gov domain.)
“The stuff we do is very basic,” Pole told Wired. “All we need is e-mail, the Internet, a word processor and the ability to create output. Why shouldn’t we be able to use Macs if we want to?”
However, he added that the SAA is reluctant to support the Mac OS or Flash or Java-based applications, instead pushing toward a Microsoft-only upper branch. The organization has few Mac support staff, and “crushes the hopes of Mac proponents each time it recommends technologies that are not cross-platform compatible in its requests for information and proposals,” Wired said.
That approach is costing the Senate money, according to Pole. By seeking a Windows-only workplace, the SAA is locking the Senate into expensive product development cycles precipitated by each new release of Microsoft’s Windows.