a new generation

While world stock markets slid into free-fall, I did my bit for the economy by buying a long awaited lap-top. And made the braver move of buying a Mac to run alongside my desktop PC.

And oh, how the Mac’s have changed.

I was a first generation Mac user — though in fact, I never liked them as much as I should have, given that the alternative was word-processing on a Unix based Vax.

But I distinctly remember the Apple representatives coming to my school in 1984 to convince our parents to buy the wonderful new machines. I don’t remember seeing the machines, mind — that didn’t come till a year or two later at high school. But I do remember being given a soft-film window decal of the rainbow striped apple, and thinking it was wonderful (be fair, now: I was 11). Already, Apple knew that the visual was all.

But that wasn’t their marketing game, then. No. This was an educational tool. Parents were urged to buy it for their child’s future. Intellectual growth was at stake.

Which was not the approach the salesman took today. He was both helpful and knowledgeable. Reassuringly geeky, in a post-modern sort of way.  He talked me through the various wireless options and how to try to trick horrid Orange (my internet provider) into shifting my contract to wireless without having to pay penalty fees. He showed me clever tricks and games. He didn’t push me to buy things I didn’t want. It all went beautifully until I asked about word processing.

We had already established that I could save files as .doc so that my PC could read them. He knew the speil about how well Mac runs Microsoft Office, and could rattle off the ways in which Mac runs circles round Vista. But he floundered when I asked about Apple’s own package.

‘I’ll just go on line and look that up,’ he said, frantically typing. And within seconds there were all the specs I needed for AppleWorks.

‘And how much is that?’ I asked, as I read the screen over his shoulder.

‘$79 plus shipping,’ he said. Now remember, dear reader: this was in Glasgow. In Glasgow, that’s the price of a decent cup of coffee.

We soon got it straight and decided that I would do best to order Apple Works from my desktop PC at home (since nasty Orange won’t play with the Mac till I change contracts).

But I was fascinated. Here was a clever man, who spends most of his life with computers, yet who knew nothing about word processing. Or indeed about any of the other ‘academic’ tools (apart from the built in camera for video conferencing). It seems computers are no longer educational tools at all — but rather extraordinary home entertainment centers.

So on the way home, I stopped to buy three DVDs — just in case my poor little lap-top went into graphics withdrawal with all those documents I’ll be typing.

Now, shall I save The Lion in Winter or A Chorus Line for Synod next week? Hmm…

4 thoughts on “a new generation”

  1. You’re right. Careless editing. I was guessing at age, then worked out exactly which year it was, then didn’t think to sort out my exact age. But you know I never know how old I am, don’t you? I tend to assume I’m the same age as whomever I’m with.

  2. There is more joy……

    Speaking as a “switcher” of two years standing (and one who prior to that was doing all sorts of networky things on PCs) the happiest day of my working life was when I discovered Macs – though my wife of course had always known about them….

    As for word processing – iWord is very good, and there are three or four other options too, some of which are entirely free. And for a writer, a Mac is just sublime (as they say in the Para Handy stories, but in a different accent, which just shows how I have been affected by the last 72 hours on the Island of North Uist)

    In fact , to return to the day job,.I have written two books on mine in the last 25 months, and edited another plus authored innumerable articles. Nothing even compares to how good they are for those tasks (and all others) Long gone (though not yet forgotten ) are the days of innumerable re-boots, and start up times that allowed me to go away and make a three course meal.

    So you will by now have guessed that I am a born again Mac bore, believe Apple can do no wrong, and am writing this on a Mac Intel laptop (a black one…)

    BTW your website will be easier to maintian too…..plus your photographs can be edited with ease..and as for music……

  3. But you know I never know how old I am, don’t you?

    This is a quirk you and I share, Kimberly. I spent two years being 35 and another two being 53. Hmm . . . wonder what problems there are with those two digits.

    I use Word mostly for WP on my Mac, mainly because most people have it so it’s better for sending files. The new Mac WP is called Pages and it’s got a few too many fancy features for me, although I do use it for the Cursillo magazine. However, I much prefer the old Appleworks which does everything I want and doesn’t try to tell me what to do!

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