Thursday, February 4, 2016

Taking a bite of the Apple (again)

This article is a first. The first written on our new computer. And the first I’ve ever written on an Apple system.

Our very first home computer – way back in 1988 – was an Apple II GS, supposedly ideal for our then-7-year-old. About three months after we bought it, Apple announced it was abandoning the Apple II and pursuing the Macintosh.

It was a good introduction to the tech world. As companies go on to pursue new products, they tend to abandon the products (and the customers) who made them successful in the first place.

Our next home computer was not an Apple product. It was Microsoft DOS-based. If I recall correctly, it was an HP. For more than 20 years after that, we stayed DOS-based, as did 90 percent of the rest of world. My company used DOS-based computers as well; every employer I’ve had since the advent of computers has used DOS-based systems.

Then came the iPad. I was one of three guinea pigs at work given one to try out. Other departments started buying them, over the objections of the IT department. Finally, IT capitulated and accepted the inevitable. People liked iPads. They were much easier to carry around than laptops. And more visual.

The next hurdle to fall was the Blackberry mobile phone. For years, we could have any phone we wanted, as long as it was a Blackberry. The civil disobedience that was the iPad in the office became the civil disobedience of the iPhone. My last phone before I retired was an iPhone. The phone I bought for post-retirement was an iPhone.

Then the time arrived for a new home computer. Actually, it arrived a couple of years ago, but we extended the life of our old Dell by getting it fixed and adding some capacity and speed. But the time had finally arrived, and our 8-year-old Dell needed to retire.

Based on our experience with the iPad and the iPhone, we decided to try Apple. Our new iMac All-in-One came home Monday (that’s a photo of it at the right).

I had talked with people who had owned both Macs and DOS-based computers, and they said the biggest difference was the commands. Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V don’t work on the Mac. I have used those two commands a lot. As in thousands of times. As in they are imprinted on my brain. It took me a while, by I finally figured out out to do it on the Mac. As in, I figured it out by accident. As in, I accidentally pushed the cursor to the top of the screen. I found the big stuff hidden up there. Like File, Edit, View, Format and Tools. It was a major discovery.

My second major discovery: how to save documents. The technicians at the store where we bought the computer saved all of our old Dell computer documents into a folder on the Mac desktop. And they saved it all – music, photographs, Word documents, Excel documents, PowerPoint presentations, email. Transferring the documents from that folder to the Mac applications should be simple. Except it’s slightly more complicated than a simple drag and drop. You also have to save it within the application (I used the “save as” process). And it doesn’t save by your old folders. I think what happens is that you drag the folder, like a group of Word documents, to Word on the Mac, and the Mac empties the folder so you can save it as a folder or album again.

Minimizing pages is also different. It’s fairly straightforward, but I drove myself crazy trying to do it from an expanded screen (the button to minimize goes away when you have an expanded page, and I had to jerry-rig the page to find it again). But I’ve now learned how to keep those pages open.

I did get the new printer operating almost immediately. Getting the Mac through set-up was also easy. But operating the Mac is not the same as operating a DOS-based system, especially when you have 20+ years of experience with DOS-based systems.

There are tutorials, and I did look at one for Word on the iMac. It looks like one of the PowerPoint slides that try to cram 50,000 ideas into one slide.

One big advantage is having the time to learn the iMac. Trial and error is actually a good way to learn. Trying to figure it out is also a good way. And I have the old Dell set up in another room as a backup.

Slowly, I’m getting there. We’ll see if this new bite of the Apple will take.

So far, the verdict is that it will. 

Top photograph by Petr Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


Marcus Goodyear said...

Man, I switched to Mac two years ago. It was a rough switch for me, but the whole ecosystem is definitely worth it. I'm not more comfortable on a mac than a PC. The best part of all is the way things move between my computer, my phone, my apple tv, and the family sharing account.

I still marvel when I get an app store purchase request from my kids while I'm at work.

Interestingly, my son is full on Windows fanboy for desktop. He is loyal to his ipod, but he hates the Mac. I think it is more Freudian than technical preference.

Anonymous said...

I made the switch earlier this year. One thing that really helped was keeping my old Dell keyboard. The Apple keyboard and mouse were not suited for my style of hammering out text. I was ecstatic when I simply plugged in the USB and everything worked well.
And some fool took out the mail merge function out of Pages, so there's a workaround for the printed page and nothing for sending email with a mail merge.
A friend said the iMac will outlive about three PCs, so we'll see if the investment brings a return.