how to break a centurion

Let me begin this one by mentioning, once again, that I love Battlestar Galactica. For those of you who don’t know much about the show, mankind is making an intergalactic escape from the Cylons, a race of malevolent robots. Cylons come in two basic flavors: humanoid Cylons that look for all the world like normal people, and Terminator-esque Centurions. The Centurions are programmed to take orders from any humanoid Cylon, and notably, they can’t tell one humanoid from another.

I bring this up because a lot of people look at their computers the way Centurions look at humanoid Cylons. A laptop is a laptop. Whatever, as long as it lets me check Facebook and doesn’t explode, right?

Apple makes the best computers in the world. This is true beyond question, especially since the switch to Intel processors. The thing is, even if you can prove that Apple makes the best one, it’s just not going to matter to a Centurion. They simply don’t shop for computers that way.

In contrast, I don’t see how anyone could look at the iPhone and see anything but the best piece of electronics ever made. This latest iteration is just mind blowing. In no more than a year, Apple took what was already the best phone on the market and made it better–way, way better–in every measurable dimension. The difference between the iPhone and its competition is now so stark that even the Centurions should be able to tell the difference. Mike Davidson makes an excellent point. If I ever find myself in the position of needing to spend money to get a new phone, that phone is going to be an iPhone. Even if the iPhone were, say, four times as expensive as my other options, it’s still easily ten times the device of anything else out there.

Of course, need has always been the key for me. When it was time for me to get a portable music player, when I needed one for the purpose of staying sane on my commute, I got an iPod. When I needed a powerful laptop for grad school, I got a Macbook Pro. But I do not yet need a device like the iPhone. It’d be great to have, certainly, but I don’t need it yet. For now, I do just fine with a standard cellphone.

But it’s tempting.



  1. sociallytangent wrote:

    I justified my original purchase because I was still using a 3rd-gen iPod at the time. I don’t regret it at all; it’s so nice to have something that Just Works™ and performs cheap camera, music, phone, and calendar functions all in one small device.

    I’m not sure I want to upgrade, but I might have a buyer of my 1st-gen iPhone lined up, so we’ll see. $10 a month for slightly faster Internet, when combined with in-store activation and a contract date reset, isn’t exactly a big sell for me.

    Now, if they promised to fix the “Safari crashes for no good reason when you blink, sneeze, or breathe” bug, then I’ll be all over it. But they ought to fix it for the 1st-gen too. And let us customize SMS ringtones, dammit!

  2. Damian wrote:


    Who do you think is the 12th Cylon?

  3. GDeeeeZL wrote:

    Wait, so the new iPhone is how to break a Centurion? I thought you were going to post about how Gaius Baltar totally mind-fracked that Centurion during last week’s episode with his Godspeak.