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ATPM 15.12
December 2009


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by Mark Tennent,

Relevant Eloquent Pleading

A few weeks ago, I took over the control of an ancient Dell running Windows XP. For a Mac user from the days when PCs were still using the command line, this was a severe shock. Learning that 63% of the world’s computers are running XP made me almost cry in despair.

Nevertheless, after a month the Dell is more to my liking, or more correctly, less to my disliking. Just updating the operating system and software took days because everything was stuck in 2004. The ugly user interface has been tweaked until its appearance doesn’t offend as much, dark blue has been banished, along with Times New Roman, a particularly unappealing typeface. It is all far less in-your-face except for adjusting the point size of lettering in folder names and such like. It is either too small or enormously too large.

I’ve reversed the mouse buttons so that right-clicking means left-clicking, but how can I swap the Control key with the third one along (whatever it’s called)? My right hand’s fingers can stretch to type Command-P to set things printing on a Mac, but a PC’s Control-P needs the reach of an orangutang. So that’s where Steve Ballmer got his famous monkey dance from.

Even though it is only a tiny 15-inch monitor, the essential programs now open in windows small enough to fit a couple on screen but large enough to be usable. Control panels have been scoured for ways to make things more user-friendly, more efficient. Dare I say it, more Mac-like, or does that describe Windows 7?

But the final and most painful thing is be recognised as the office computer nerd even though I know nothing about computers running Windows. Aren’t British kids taught elementary computer skills at school? Yet they still ask me how to create a folder, how to drag and drop, how to automatically check for new mail every ten minutes, how to get the printer to duplex.

Don’t get me started on some of the end results. When I am asked whether the latest Microsoft Publisher–produced newsletter is any good, what am I expected to say?

I see you used 15 typefaces, and it looks like the Times Extra Bold centred headlines have been stretched (to gross distortion). How original to see subheads run as semicircles in outlined fonts with a drop shadow. And pink clip-art fairies are such a good idea.

Meanwhile, I send pleading e-mails to the IT department asking for a Mac. I’ll support it myself, supply all the software I need, and never ask them for anything, ever again.

I’ll even pay for it.

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Reader Comments (2)

Dave Thompson · December 2, 2009 - 20:48 EST #1
I'm the sole Mac user (some say McUser) in my office. Support is provided by me. I bought my Mac (MBP) so I'd have access to the tools (mostly writing tools) that I can't bear to be without.

I catch grief because problems must be a "Mac Thing." I still can't get Mail working with Exchange (not that I really want to, but the support person doesn't want IMAP enabled)...

You catch my drift...
Mark Tennent · December 3, 2009 - 08:21 EST #2
I thought Snow Leopard was 100% compatible with Exchange.

In my office they use Lotus Notes for just about everything.

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