Friday, July 15, 2011
Apple Just Smirks
Too precious by half.
LIES 2.17? This is less of a proper post with a grand point and more a collection of notes, experiences, and impressions about my experience with Apple and its products. Fair warning, since the Mac vs. PC debate has provoked thousands of internet flamewars over the years and for all I know, it could lead to one in the hardened halls of Instapunk comments.
I started out as one of those hardcore computer nerds who not only didn't use a Mac but scorned those who did. Even before the too-cool-for-the-room ads, I saw them as pretty little packages that couldn't be doing real computer work and the people who used them as n00bs who had their cute little computers but didn't know about anything under the hood. I found myself spouting all the common lies when friends and relatives questioned me about it: "They're great for design work and art stuff, but if you want a real computer, get a PC;" "They have no choices between programs, and there's a lot you can do on a PC that you can't do on a Mac;" "Macs are twice as expensive as PCs, and I could build a much better machine for under $500."
When I came to this teaching career, now ten years ago (my life is accelerating!), I found a campus evenly split between Mac and PC users. Our computer labs were Macs because they were used for design courses and managed by one of the top tech gurus on campus. But faculty were given PC laptops to use and that was perfect for me. I immediately customized mine and quickly gained a reputation for being a guy who can help you out with computer problems. A lot of colleagues had a lot of problems, and since the head tech guy was primarily an Apple acolyte, they came to me. This worked out well for me, and my disdain for students and teachers who were such rabid Apple 'fanboys' grew, despite the fact that some of the smartest people on campus used them.
Then it happened. The screen on my beautiful, light, and fast PC laptop got cracked. No big deal, all data was safe, but it was going to take a week to repair and I was about to take a trip to the southwest national parks. Tons of pictures and video would need to be processed, we'd need some entertainment for the slow parts of the trip, and I had to stay in contact with the wider world to keep up with my master's program work. So I was given a loaner: A Mac. An overly-designed little white clamshell with this foreign operating system. I did a whole grin-and-bear-it act with the tech guy, but I was secretly interested to see just what all the hype was about.
It only took a week. It was a fun challenge to switch mental models, figuring out how Mac used the centered 'dock' vs. the Start menu of the Windows world, why programs didn't seem to quit when you closed them, why a menu bar was ever present at the top of the screen. But by the end of the week, I was hooked. I had never been more efficient as a computer user, and as much as it irked me, they were right, it just worked. There was no threat of malware and viruses. I never had to install any drivers or spend hours on the internet trying to find someone who got that same cryptic error message. It was blazingly fast and had dozens of keyboard shortcuts that I thrived on. By the time my PC screen was fixed and I gave back the loaner, I was sold -- my next computer would be a Mac.
So here I am, five years later, typing away on a MacBook Pro, surrounded by Apple gear. My iPad sits next to me, already loading itself up with the day's news, weather info before we get on the road, and the books I'm going to read on vacation. The iPhone in my pocket just reminded me about my meeting with the new headmaster, and it occurs to me how organized it's made me. Did you read that? It made me. As ridiculous as it seems, these devices are literally transforming my life.
I know how that sounds, and I don't like it either. But I have to be honest with myself. Reading apps for kids on the iPad have truly helped my three year old son with a speech delay learn to verbalize. The phone's GPS maps have helped us get lost with style: instead of doggedly pursuing a set path, we took random exits off the Jersey Turnpike and found wonderful little towns to eat something other than fast food. The AppleTV has transformed our viewing habits, and commercials are a thing of the past. When my dad got a Mac at my suggestion, it rekindled his love of finding new music, and the two of us have communicated better and more frequently than ever.
Yes, these devices are more expensive than their non-Apple
counterparts. But they work beautifully, Apple continues to innovate,
and I'm left with a more efficient and enjoyable life, so the premium
has been worth it for me. Does that make me a snotty fanboy? Well, I
can still laugh at a good Mac-bashing...
So, Instapunk readers, Mac or Windows? Or are you one of those Linux guys?