Last time I told you that there were some awkward moments in making the switch from PC to Mac. But in spite of those, there are so many things I love about the Macintosh. Let’s start with the minor things.
I hope you’ve seen Pulp Fiction.
You know what the funniest thing about the Mac is? It’s the little differences. I mean, they got the same stuff over there that we got here, but it’s just, with a Mac, it’s a little different.
Well, the first time I started a program on the Mac, I couldn’t figure out where the menu was. There was a menu at the top of the screen called “Finder,” with the familiar file, edit, and view commands along with others, though clicking those wasn’t bringing up anything I understood. I saw a program called “TextEdit” on the dock, a shiny shelf at the bottom of the screen. I clicked it, and a text editing window came up. Cool. But it had no menu at all. I spent an hour opening programs with the finder window, but then having no idea how to run them. It was like there were no menus in this strange world.
“How the hell do these people open documents and save them and do all the stuff you have to do?”
I finally figured out that in the Mac world, the menu bar is always at the top of the screen, and it’s not connected to the program window. This single menu CHANGES depending on which program window is active. Mac people, who have never known anything different, don’t understand why this is hard for us. But I’m telling you it took me a solid hour to figure it out.
So the disembodied, disappearing and reappearing menus would be one of the little differences.
Last week I mentioned that I did not leave the world of PCs and Windows because I needed an easier interface. I’m a fairly serious computer user. I slogged my way through programs back in the early 90s, before Windows, when every program had a completely unique set of commands. F7 saved in Word Perfect. Why? Because that’s the way they designed it. Other programs had their own quirky commands. For me, Windows has always seemed incredibly easy and convenient, if only because of the universal command structure.
I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. Having lived through the Great Depression, my grandfather always thought an orange was a spanking good Christmas present.
You know what ultimately drove me away from Windows? I could never keep the blasted operating system clean. I would buy a new computer and delight at how Windows would jump onto the screen, wagging its tail like a puppy dog ready for a walk. “Where do you want to go today?” Six months later, booting was taking a little longer. After a year, I would pop into the kitchen for a snack while I waited for Windows to start. After 18 months I had a pattern pressed into my forehead from looking up to see if Windows had finally started and then lowering my face back down onto the keyboard.
A computer professional I know said, “You have to reinstall Windows every year or so if you want it to run well. I format the hard disk and start fresh. It takes me a day to reinstall software, update drivers, and all of that. But that’s just what you have to do.”
Yeah, well, I don’t have to do that anymore.
One man’s journey from the darkness, into the light, and then back to the darkness, which turned out to be not as dark as he remembered.
I wanted to buy a Macintosh back in 1991 when I sold a bunch of stuff and managed to scrape together $1200 for a computer. Sadly, that left me about $1200 short with nothing left to sell. So instead I bought a XT running DOS 3.1 with 256k of RAM, a 20 meg hard drive, floppy drives, and an amber monochrome monitor. I’ve been joined to my computer(s) at the hip ever since.
What tends to happen is you begin the journey with a Mac or a PC, and you stick with it. Mac people swear they would rather die than switch, and given how they line up like lemmings to buy whatever their Apple overlords tell them to buy, I tend to believe them. PC users, on the other hand, tend to be classic geeks and nerds, which is understandable because these are the sort of people who want to get into their computers - into both the hardware and the software. The Mac hardware and software are locked up tighter than an Amish maiden, while every PC I’ve ever owned had a case held together by its one remaining screw and 2 or 3 hard drives hanging out the side. The last PC I built had a spare CD drive in it, just so I could have somewhere to put my coffee cup.