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ATPM 2.11
November 1996






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Segments: Slices From the Macintosh Life

by Heather Isaacson,

Notes From the Frontier

I live in a very small hamlet in the backwoods of Southern Alberta, Canada. It has a few houses surrounding a general store, gas station and a fire hall just across the road. It also has an ice cream and craft shop that is only open in the summer months when our town is “invaded” by campers from the city.

My first introduction to computers was when I took a course at the local high school during the 1992-1993 school year. I took the course to qualify for admission to the Business and Industry, Communication Arts Program at my local college. My dream was to be a journalist and writer.

I enrolled in a computer programming class at the high school and learned early that IBM users have an attitude of superiority. This bothered me right away. I was impressed with an advertisement that I saw on TV which featured people on a job site all waiting to use a Macintosh. The Mac was user friendly. In the commercial the bosses were impressed with how many people wanted to use the Mac. The people in the commercial were diplomatic in not putting down the competition, yet the words “user friendly” stuck in my mind.

The class required that I learn about both Apple and IBM, but we were expected to do our assignments on the IBM. To discourage us from being converted to the Mac, the IBM lab had shiny, new IBM-compatibles with the latest version of MS-DOS along with an instructor from the USA. he was an expert on computers and delivered a continuous, high-pressure sales pitch during each class. In the Apple lab, however, we were using ancient, dirty and second-hand computers. I was confused by all this and so I refused to learn all the computer language that you had to learn just to run the IBM. I chose to do all my assignments on the old Apple and thus learned the wonder of computers without having to go through a maze of codes and computer language just to find my stuff. Of course, a mouse was not supplied in either lab.

Using the Apple I learned how I could correct all my work and move things around and edit stuff and all without the need to retype. I could add, subtract, save and delete with ease. The most wonderful thing was spell check. I could also save all my stuff on disc without using up a tree. This was in sharp contrast to using my old typewriter. I used to retype and retype until everything was perfect without using “white out” because my typing instructor in high school called it “bird poop” and refused to accept any paper that contained it. My only complaint was that things were not compatible between the Apple and IBM which would have allowed a person to go from IBM to Apple without the need to retype. While at the high school I used all my spare lab time in the Apple Lab. My grade was reduced because I didn’t learn the IBM well enough, but I passed the class because I could prove that I new the basics. This allowed me to move on to the college program.

I arrived at Lethbridge Community College to find out that the whole Communication Arts Program was exclusively Macintosh. Oh, was I relieved! They started us working on LCII’s with PageMaker, Word Perfect, Click Art, Super Paint, Excel and MacWrite. I was in heaven. During my second year, I was involved in the production of a newspaper and magazine using the same programs on a Macintosh SE.

When I was close to graduation, the computer people at the college (all IBM people) allowed us to try out the internet on an IBM-compatible for approximately 15 minutes per person. No pictures, just white words on a black screen. We were allowed to try a scanner for about half an hour. Fortunately, The local daily newspaper (“The Lethbridge Herald”), is an all Macintosh environment and it filled in the gaps in our education. We were able to learn about scanners and wonderful gadgets for photography that eliminate the use of the “wet” darkroom.

On a field trip, the graduating class toured the much larger daily newspaper, “The Calgary Herald”. The place is “user friendly” and everything is Macintosh. It seemed like science fiction. For the first time I saw large monitors that showed the entire newspaper page that was being worked on and the computer had a “garage” to plug in a power book, like it was a car (a PowerBook Duo Dock). There was no retyping or having to wait until your disc is translated. Awesome! I also saw digital cameras that went straight into the computer without manipulating the photo first. I graduated in May of 1995 with high grades and was complimented for having learned more about computers than they had to teach me.

When I’m not at work I’m now at home with my Macintosh Performa 5200CD. It is my first personal computer which I bought in April 1996. “Me and my Mac” are working on a steady stream of writing assignments, complete with deadlines. I used my Mac to do a column last winter for a smaller local paper, “The Quarter Section.” The newspaper was comprised of one editor, one advertising manager, one distributor and one Macintosh Performa that was hooked up to a scanner and printer. My Column was called “Backwoods Observations” and it was about local birding, how to build bird houses and bird feeders and the habits of birds in the wild.

This past summer I did mountain hiking and used my Mac to write reviews on hikes in the area for the “Waterton/Glacier Views”. This is a seasonal paper that runs as long as the park is open. It’s also another paper that is completely Macintosh equipped. It is so pleasant to be able to hand a disc to the editor and not have any hassles. I have also used my Mac to write for an environmental newsletter published in Lethbridge.

“Me and my Mac” have been traveling on the internet, too. However, I am new to the internet and I have a lot to learn. But learning I am! So far I have learned how to travel on the internet anywhere I want to go. I have joined a discussion group and I’m an “aunt on-line” with 6 nieces and nephews who write regularly from their home school in Utah, USA.

I have tried Turbo Gopher twice, I find it slower than Netscape and it does the same thing. I have learned how to use Netscape (I think). I also have more questions than knowledge these days about the internet but I am interested in learning more.

As I mentioned, I live in the backwoods of Southern Alberta, Canada. I work during the day as a housekeeper for a company located in the Waterton International Peace Park and in the summer I also do gardening. They are not converted to the Macintosh. When I was asked to do the inventory sheets for the housekeeping, I was so happy to come home to my Mac and use the spreadsheet component of Claris Works. The boss was impressed. This is the first step to conversion.

Last year I worked for a ski resort and I had to do some inventory sheets on a long, drawn out program while using an old IBM-compatible. All the while I was wishing that I had a Mac with a quicker and more efficient spread sheet program.

My current job helps me to pay off my student loan a little faster. If I need to work out side of my home it might as well be a pleasant place to work no matter what I have to do. As the saying goes “Do what you have to do until you arrive at doing what it is you want to do”. I don’t know who said it first. So, I do what I want to, while working at what I have to, just to pay the bills.

I love my Mac, and we are going places.

”Me and my Mac” is © 1996 Heather Isaacson, This article was proudly prepared using my copy of Claris Works. [apple graphic]

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