“Tom the Learner” Catches The Solar Powered Ultralight

I see the rest of the world is getting ready for a seismic shift. What you say? For those of you reading this from a “windows” computer you know what I mean. On Tuesday of this week, Microsoft is releasing the “Vista” operating system. For windows users around the world it’s the start of a debate that will never end. Will I upgrade or will I not? Their systems will shudder in the background.

However, for the 6% of computer users who use a Mac, it means nothing. Some snooty Mac users might be snickering in the background, but not me. I learned on a PC 25 years ago. However, I learned to compute when I left that world. Let me share with you, my faithful readers, my advice to my father-in-law, Tom. And as you read consider it my advice to you too.

Dear Tom

It has come to my attention almost by osmosis that you must have hit your head. What you say? I’ve heard that you are standing on a cliff looking over the abyss toward the confused, babbling masses who own Windows computers with names like Dell, Hewlett Packard MDG and other assorted monikers. I thought I might write you a note to not only lend you support before you are tempted to join them, but also to make you think about computers in general. As your son-in-law I think I would fail you if I watched you throw yourself to the dogs, effectively selling your soul to the devil. I digress.

A few years ago you dipped your proverbial computer toe into the murky cloudy computer sea. I think it has tantalized you at times, frustrated you at others. However, from my vantage point I think you have enjoyed the experience. I hope you continue to.

I want you to step back from the abyss and consider a few things. Despite my recent problems with my Apple G4 iBook I think you should still consider an Apple product in any future computer purchase decision. As it is, I’ve had more problems with mine than I’ve had in 20 years of computing, but it still hasn’t cost me a dime. The final chapter hasn’t been written on it yet, but I don’t want it to skew your view of Apple products as you look over the abyss.

Consider buying a Windows Machine whether it is a Dell of anything else? What you will have is a machine that works but you will be constantly struggling with the inherent problems inside it. What you say? Well, consider the virus problems which are a constant headache for Windows users. The reason it is this way is because the Windows Operating System (OS), is inherently creaky, easy to crack by hackers and a security nightmare. Virus protection for these computers is at least $75 to $100 annually. It’s like a slow leak in a tire, eventually you are going to have to pay, essentially for a product that is flawed from the beginning.

Other than that, the Windows OS is competent, but it is better suited for “power users” who take the time to “figure it out.” For instance my father can’t figure his out. He relies on me and my brother (a windows user) to fix everyone of his problems. (which are constant and all related to the OS) You could surely do this too, but as I would say, why would you if you didn’t have to? However, not everybody agrees with me. There is a billion dollar industry around the world for “computer training” and “software IT training” to teach people how to use “Windows computers”. I believe the only thing you need to do is learn where the ON/OFF switch is on a computer. After that any “learning” should be intuitive or in other words, it should be extremely easy. A computer’s OS should be set up with the user in mind, not the opposite way where the user has to learn what some software geek thinks they “should know” to make it work. Essentially this is where the Mac has shined for the last twenty years and continues today.

For instance, you have enjoyed many DVD, video, picture slideshows over the years from me. I’ve never read a manual to do this. I’ve only worked at it from my intuitive feelings within me. I have no virus protection, never will. My whole family works on these computer and gets along swimmingly. I’ve never told them how to use them. I never will unless there is a specific issue that has to be addressed. As you know my kids work on Windows computers at school. I work on one at CFCO radio.

That doesn’t mean that there can be problems. However, if you buy a Mac you will enjoy computing much more than a Windows machine. All the things that I do with regard to pictures, video, family DVD’s are done within the Mac OS, software that is packaged with every Mac sold. The only application which is common with the Windows world is the widely popular iTunes. Apple made this available to go along with their widely popular iPod. They are making zillions of dollars.

Your grandaughter Shannon works consistently on a Mac. As you know Matt wants to buy a dual core Mac for video editing. These computers are very, very relevant in todays’ economy. However the greatest relevance to you would be how Janet would be empowered by a Mac.

A new Dell would be nice but Janet probably wouldn’t use it. The windows OS is just too frustrating. If she worked on a Mac, she would enjoy herself, communicating with her siblings, daughters and grandchildren with ease. She would be empowered.

Keep in mind there are issues with both platforms. Windows is releasing a new version of their OS this year. That will be a “ground breaking” event for computers. I don’t know what it will be like, but clearly it might be very, very good. It’ll be costly for users, but if you have a new computer, it will likely come with it. Apple on the other hand is moving away from IBM PowerPC chips to Intel chips inside every Mac. So far they have not been released. It surely will come in 2006. In my mind it is something worth waiting for. Apple will be releasing new products next week. That might include new iBooks, PowerBooks, Desktops…maybe with Intel inside. This will be big news.

Whatever way you go, the computer journey is expensive. Once again, it is like a slow leak in a tire. Macs will probably be cheaper, but that is always not so. Windows computers will have their issues with OS upgrades and the constant security issues. It is a long a winding road.

However, you are on it like many others. Staring over the computer abyss might feel a bit like you did when those guys challenged you to apply for a job with MTO way back in Cornwall. Maybe, maybe not. Remember, in a survey of 90 year olds one constant is they all wished they took more chances. Staring over the abyss looking at all the confused babbling windows users is easy. However, catching the solar powered ultralight to fly over the abyss might be the best choice.

I’ll leave you these things to consider.