Jumping Ship

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Gordon Atkinson's picture

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.

Honestly though, I could have lived with the inevitable slowdown and reinstalls if malware hadn’t gotten so terrible. Getting rid of spyware and adware is like getting rid of roaches. You think they’re gone, and then you turn on the kitchen light and see a couple of them dart under the refrigerator. Once I ran Spybot Search and Destroy and found 115 malicious programs running on MY COMPUTER. Cursing, I waited for the program to clean them all out. As soon as it was done, on a whim, I ran it again. 9 were still there. A week later that number had quadrupled.

I started plotting my escape from the PC world in 2007. That fall I saw a demonstration of Apple’s new operating system, Leopard. How beautiful. How clean and simple. But still, the money, right? I’ve never had much money for computers. Partly because I spent it all on virus protection, software upgrades, and RAM, which I would cram into my case, hoping to salvage my latest Windows installation.

And then, like a Christmas miracle, a bunch of bloggers bought copies of my remaindered book. The publisher gave up on it, and it was turned down by all the discount book houses, apparently even those that grind up books for pulp. I bought the remaining copies for 25 cents each and wrote a sorrowful post on my blog. There was a flurry of purchases, and suddenly I was sitting on $2500.

So I did it. I bought a MacBook Pro online. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive. I wondered if the legends could be true. Will it really work perfectly, right out of the box? Is it true that no spyware can infect it? Will it really boot as well the thousandth time as it did the first? Because that’s all I wanted. All I wanted was to be left alone. I wanted to turn on my computer and have it actually, you know, come on so I could use it.

I cautiously opened my gleaming, smooth MacBook and hit the power button. A glimmering field of stars shone in my eyes, and a voice like an angel said, “Hi there. I’m your new Mac. Do you mind if I take a quick picture for your profile? Say ‘cheese!’” *

I turned to my wife who was looking over my shoulder at this wonder, as if someone had given birth to Mozart right on our kitchen counter.

I grinned and said, “I think I’m going to like this computer!”

Next week: I discover the truth about the Mac. The rumors are true and they aren’t true. And the transition pain is in direct proportion to how good you were with your PC.

*A paraphrase, but I got the attitude right.


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brother terry's picture

Oooooh, this is good. I

Oooooh, this is good. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Keith's picture

> I’ve never had much money

> I’ve never had much money for computers. Partly because I spent it all on
> virus protection, software upgrades, and RAM

And anger management. You forgot that.

Sister Marie's picture

I bought my first Mac almost

I bought my first Mac almost two years ago because friends told me how easy it is to use. They might be right, but if you become accustomed to one type of computer/software, then it is very hard to learn another system. Things that I easily accomplished on my old computer became exceedingly difficult and the help menu did not seem to help very much. When you consider the price differential, I'm not sure it was worth it.

Anonymous's picture

Your argument doesn't make

Your argument doesn't make sense. If you're a "fairly serious computer user," then you should know how to keep your OS clean.

Windows is an amazingly flexible operating system, that will run thousands and thousands of programs that won't run on a Mac. The downside of the flexibility is that Windows requires regular maintenance. And whatever "expert" told you that Windows has to be re-installed once a year is talking about Win95; not XP or Vista.

Gordon Atkinson's picture

This isn't an argument. It's

This isn't an argument. It's a story. About things that happened to me. So no, my story makes absolute sense, being a story.

Lots of people had problems with malicious software in 2007 with XP. That's just a fact. Maybe you're a genius who never did, but this "story" isn't about you. Plenty of us "fairly" serious users were indeed struggling with it.

And in this story, the professional - Microsoft certified IT guy - told me that he reinstalled XP regularly and recommended it. You might not agree with him - clearly you do not - but that doesn't have any relevancy in my recounting of a conversation I had.

jethro's picture

There are two different types

There are two different types of fairly serious users as well - those who use a computer - as in the applications - hard. they work it a lot, know shortcuts and how to do things - people ask them how to do things - that sort of user - thats gordon. Then there are the fiddlers - those who open every system setting and tweak it - just to see what it does.

if you have an XP installation and dont touch - it - eg don't install every little application and widget that comes across your desk - including shareware from computer magazine distros and tool bars and little icon buddy things then no you wont need to re install xp every year - or more frequently.
if you do then every 6 months is a more accurate estimate!

Loquacity's picture

I've heard this story so many

I've heard this story so many times, although generally the ending is Linux rather than Mac. Something I say regularly when I speak to people who are considering changing their operating systems is "Linux is not harder to use than Windows, it's just different." This holds true for Mac too. The fact is, any new product is going to have a learning curve - it's the steepness of that curve that throws people off.

I gave a talk yesterday and in the question and answer session afterwards, one particular gentleman asked me a number of times: "I have a Windows computer, it does everything I need. What's so good about Linux that I should be using it instead?". My answer shocked a few people who had just sat through half an hour of me telling them why they should switch. I said, "If your Windows machine does everything you need it to do, then you stick with it. If you're unhappy with your current machine, then come and talk to me."

I was a dedicated Windows user until such a time as I couldn't get it to do what I wanted ... like you, it started slow, it ran like a wet week, my antivirus was a constant problem, I couldn't get it to partition my hard drive correctly, it kept moving things, or dismissing my settings, I couldn't set up my network they way I wanted it. Simply put, it didn't suit my needs any more. So I found a system that did.

I hope that your new Mac works out well, that you get through that initial pain of the learning curve, and that you discover that you can do the things that you couldn't do before.