Mac Advocacy in a Windows World

  Erik Kulvinskas       January 14, 2007      Tutorials Apple

This article is not a Windows Platform bashing arena. Nor is it an elitist meeting area to puff each other up and reassure one another. If you want affirmation, find a counseling group. This is a venue to examine how people do what they do on a daily basis. To have people think about how they accomplish their objectives and to lend insight to how they can do these tasks better and, dare I say, enjoy them. I think we all have much to say about Apple, the Macintosh computer, and the world in which Macintosh users are required to live. So I hope that enthusiasm comes across as we ‘Macify’ our lives.

What does it mean to Macify?

I would define Macify as: to transform one’s actions and life tasks into streamlined, efficient, and enjoyable processes augmented by the right tools and learned skills. Where’s the Macintosh reference, you ask? This type of transformation does not happen the instant you throw a Mac on your desk. It’s a radical shift in thinking. But the Macintosh does allow you to think differently about how you do things. The Mac platform does this by getting out of the way. So, instead of struggling with the operating system, software intricacies, instabilities and poor workflow, individuals can focus on tasks at hand, and thus become more productive.

First a bit of history; where I come from. Throughout my life I have touched, used, and/or taken apart just about every Macintosh model released and have loved every minute of it. Well, that’s not exactly accurate; I hated upgrading the memory in the PowerMac 8100. I was also chagrined when I found out that bumping the front bezel of the first revision xServe caused the hard drive to disconnect, spin down and crash the server. Then there were the Mac clones that had a shelf life of about 18 months. But, by and large, its been a pleasure to use and maintain Apple hardware. But enough about my past – what I am here to write about is the present and my passion for the Macintosh.

One of the impetuses driving me to write this column is the fact that I, for the first time since using computers, am being forced to use a Windows-based PC. Not that I have never used a PC. Truth be told, I have used Windows boxes for years in my various lines of work. However, I’ve recently acquired a position that has over 2,500 PCs and ONE Macintosh. Our printing department for video compression and editing uses that lone G5 tower. I myself am relegated to a generic HP business machine to do web design, development and web project management. Hardly the platform to execute the duties at which the Mac platform excels. I got this job as the result of a career change. Its been a culture shift and it is full of its bland vanilla flavor of the Microsoft sort. This position has given me a new appreciation for my Macintosh and a renewed concern for those folks that are stuck suffering in the Windows world.

I find myself to be one of the most eager evangelists in the Macintosh community. I’ve probably sold more Macintosh computers and gear to people I talk to than most sales people within Apple. Just about anyone and everyone I bump into uses a computer. Conversations about kids, youth sports, jobs, politics and the Denver Broncos turn to PC-talk, viruses and crashing home computers. These venues often provide a platform for me to add a glib comment like, “I know the solution to your problem.” And with the expectation of some profound knowledge that I picked up from some sort of jaunt through the high country of Nepal, the person I addressed says “Oh yeah? What’s that?” And I simply reply, “You need to buy a Macintosh.”

After yakking it up a bit and a rolling of the eyes from my acquaintance, we quickly get into a discussion about how a Mac would cure many of their ills. The ice has been broken and I have a platform to talk about the computer I love. For over a decade I have willingly discussed and argued the cause of Apple with the sole purpose of planting a seed. I hope that someday later that seed maybe be watered by a visit to an Apple store or the crashing of a virus-laden Windows desktop. My goal has never been to sell an Apple machine to anyone, but to let people know that there is a better way to experience technology. I don’t have converted Windows user ‘kills’ painted on my car, because that is not the focus of my cause. I simply want people to know that there is a better way to get the job done, whatever that job may be. If it results in an Apple sale, that’s gravy for Apple’s account. But, the goal is to get people to Think Different. (Yes, I know that’s not grammatically correct, but this is an Apple-centric site, so I get to use it!)

Making the Switch

Being in Information Technology for over 15 years means I love to serve people. I enjoy doing whatever is in my power to enable a person to do their job. I’ve used, built and supported PC servers and desktops, and have done the same with Linux-based distributions. Over many years in the IT field I have observed the pain and confusion of pure Windows environs. I hope that I can use these observations in this community to instruct those of us that find ourselves in the anti-Mac battle. I always tell people, “I use PCs because I have to and Macintoshes because I want to.” There’s no doubt that the Windows platform has helped put food on my table. However, I see the Mac platform and the products Apple makes to be beacons of creativity and a bright light in this Start-Menu world.

It’s not that I think Windows machines suck, because for what it’s worth, they work. I didn’t say work well. In Windows, the user spends too much time working within the constructs of how Microsoft feels the person should be working. The platform is intrusive upon a person’s productivity and the way they accomplish tasks. How people work is what really interests me. In my opinion, most people in the Windows world know less about a good computing experience and more about frustration and confusion. Amazingly, most people are resigned to the notion of “That’s just how it is,” and the dead-end conclusion that it can never get any better. I feel one of my jobs in this world is to quell that thought process by educating users and providing the right tools to make things easier.

I have introduced many of my PC friends and foes to the Macintosh and, by and large, they see the Mac as a toy not ready for prime time. With Apple’s multiple personalities over the years, I have felt the same way at times. But Apple is all grown up, and the people who done something differently have tested the Mac waters and have found the experience to be refreshing. Those who will not even look at a Mac fall into one of two camps. I will list these for you and some the words they use:

(1) They don’t want to know anything but the PC.

(2) They ignore the facts about Macintosh computers.

These types of folks are pretty closed minded when it comes to even talking about a Macintosh machine. Unfortunately, many of these people are in decision-making positions in many organizations around the world. So how is the Macintosh supposed to make inroads into these areas?

As I see it, it is not our place as the Macintosh community to scream and shout about how good Macs are. We don’t need to be crazy zealots touting how smug we are and how much better we are. (Although there are places for that.) This is how the Windows Administrator sees us, and to be honest, many of us need to grow up. We are not a bunch of blind lemmings.

We need to relate to people and their principles of thinking differently concerning what they do and how they use computers to attain their goals. These conversations inherently turn to what makes the ultimate user experience an attainable goal: The acquisition of an Apple computer. It starts with patience, continues with education and develops into community. The columns of Macify will shed light on how the Macintosh platform excels and what it does to make a person’s life easier and more enjoyable. That is what the Macintosh experience is about, and that is what makes the platform and its users great.

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