Is it possible to switch teams?

Wednesday, 13 May 2009 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I'm 39 years old and I'm a PC. Well, I used to be a PC, and not for lack of trying to be different. After spending all of my computer life owning a PC, when it was time to upgrade last year I decided to switch teams. To a Mac, that is. And so far, I'm not sure my decision to switch was a good one...

Flipping the switch

My rationale for switching was pretty simple. First of all, Macs look cooler. Plus I was tired of hearing how far superior they were; how they’re more user-friendly, intuitive. I was curious. If all that was true, it MUST be worth the higher price tag, right?


Woe is Mac (and me)

After 12 months with my Macbook Pro, I can tell you that I am still mildly exasperated trying to figure this thing out. And sometimes the mild exasperation turns to absolute frustration.

Perhaps I’m not as cool or intuitive as my Mac. Maybe I’m not that into making movies and graphic design enough for it to be worth my while.

For me, I need simple word processing, a few excel spread sheets, a way to get through mountains of email, and a way to manage my collection of photographs.

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

“It’s a cinch to switch.” Really?

When I purchased my Mac I was told — by the guy at the Mac store — that switching from a PC would be cinch. Not so much. My files and files of emails wouldn’t transfer unless I purchased an extra program, Entourage, which I did. If I may say, it is a crappy program. And worst of all, I cannot figure out how to get my signature to be automatic when I send emails.

And why is the font so small? When I increase the size, it barely changes on my screen, but then people write back asking why I’m yelling at them (font size 16). And unlike my Blackberry, addresses don’t automatically get added to the address book.

Speaking of my Blackberry, which I consider to be an essential food group in my technology diet, Mac and Blackberry are not compatible! Shocking. Yet again I had to purchase another program, which does a really lame job of syncing information. So most of the time now I just retype information on my Mac when I get home from work. I’m practically living in the dark ages!!

Then there are the word processing problems. Can someone please explain how to change from double to single space?

And every once in awhile an icon on my dashboard (is that what it’s called?) disappears for no apparent reason. Poof. Gone. Where did it go and how can I get it back?

Helpless helpline

I called the store where I bought my Mac and the sales guy gave me an Apple 1-800 number. Guess what? They couldn’t help unless I paid $450 to join their help program! So I did.

And then guess what? They told me they couldn’t help with the Entourage (email) program because “it’s not a Mac product”. Sigh. Now I’m so mad at them I don’t want their help.

It’s not all bad…

There are a couple of things I like about my Mac: when I turned it on for the first time, it was all set up and ready to go (apart from my email woes). That’s a far cry from my PCs of the past. Also, the trash can makes a cool sound when I put stuff in it. And like I said, it looks cool.

Just born with it?

But while there are usually one or two things to envy about the other team, I feel that whichever computer team one is born into, it is where she must stay. I thought I had a choice, but perhaps I shouldn’t fight the laws of technology nature.

So, turns out I’m a PC after all. But since I must live this Mac charade for awhile longer, any tips you may have on how to make this easier would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!


Join the conversation: 

On 05 13, 2009 at 01:19:14 PM, Tim E. said:

Hi Anna, It’s too bad your experience hasn’t been very good. I’ve been a so called Mac guy for a long time and I would never tell anybody to switch just because I think Macs are any better then PCs. To me a computer is just a tool and you should use whatever works best for you. And yes Entourage is a crappy program but maybe I could help you on a one of your problems. Now to fix your signature is to go to accounts and then click on your account and go to options and you can select your signature as default and that should fix it. Unless your signature is HTML then you need to make sure that is selected. I’m not sure why your increase font size doesn’t work because it works fine for me. I do agreed with you on the missing icons it’s too easy to grab one by mistake and delete it. Hope this helps. Tim

On 05 13, 2009 at 03:36:09 PM, Laura A. said:

It’s true I think you are born a PC/Blackberry or a Mac/iPhone kinda person. Emails. Where are all your files stored? You should be able to create a pop3. account to redirect them to your Entourage account. Have you tried Mail ? Free, installed already on the Mac, much better than Entourage and way easier to use. Disappearing icons. Go to your Macintosh HD icon, double click Open the Applications Folder Select the missing icon from your dock (dashboard is an application) Drag the icon on to your dock and it will create a shortcut instantly (Any icons that you have dragged off the dock already are just deleted shortcuts, you don’t lose anything.) Double space in Word. Go to Format, Paragraph Spacing, select single space from the drop down bar. Laura – 10 year Mac veteran

On 05 13, 2009 at 10:32:14 PM, Eugen B. said:

To me, computers are all the same. Then again, I’m a computer scientist so I use the stupid things all the time. But I do know the frustration.

A few years ago I switched the whole family over to Macs. The reason was simple: I tired of being IT support. Of course, no switch goes smoothly — no matter what ads or “geniuses” might claim. The biggest change for my wife and kids was getting used to the interface. It’s sort-of like Windows, but not quite. But you’ve already discovered this fact — and made me laugh in the recounting.

But there are solutions, or at least solutions that I utilized. First off, Entourage is horrid. I don’t use it. I use Apple Mail.app program. It works fine. You can get your Entourage/Outlook mail over to Mail.app, though it is a pain to do and not something a normal user can accomplish easily, unfortunately. The threading of email messages in Mail.app is well worth it, and the tight integration with Spotlight (the search program) makes things easy — esp, if like me, you have to search through tens of thousands of emails. It’s also more robust.

I’ve not had to deal with the harrowing experience of rebuilding my email after Outlook (or Entourage) decides a certain number of gigabytes of mail is just too much. If you would like to sort out how to do that switch over to Mail.app I’ll provide details, but it’ll have to be via email as there may be a lot of back and forth.

As to the RIM-Mac thing, I know it’s a pain — and rather stupid since RIM should realize that Mac owners probably own Blackberrys, too. Anyway, I do know of one way to sync Blackberrys and Macs: PocketMac: http://www.pocketmac.net/product.php?id=1 It’s also linked from the Blackberry site: http://na.blackberry.com/eng/services/desktop/mac.jsp Note, I can’t vouch for the product since I don’t use a Blackberry — which is extremely funny if you knew where I worked :-). To ensure icons remain in your Dock, simply drag them to the left and they’ll stick or right click on the icon you want to stay in your Dock and click “Keep in Dock”.

I see Laura A answered your Word question. You can also manipulate spacing by going through the “Format” menu item, click on “Normal” and then “Paragraph” and select the spacing in the dialog box that pops up. There are a lot of other things you can fiddle with there, too. Not sure if you use it or not, but Spotlight is very handy for finding things, especially applications. You can have Spotlight launch the app, which is quite handy and then make it stay in the Dock once you’ve launched it.

The final thing you could do if totally exasperated is simply run Windows on the Mac. There are two ways of doing this: one with a virtualization product like VMware; the other by using Boot Camp. VMware Fusion will allow you to run Windows in a window as if it were no more than a Mac application. Boot Camp requires you to boot over to Windows making the Mac effectively a Windows machine. Of course, either way will cost you money. You have to buy a copy of Windows in either case and in the case of VMware, a license for that. Again, if you want info on this let me know via email and I’ll provide details.

On 05 15, 2009 at 06:27:04 AM, Eugen B. said:

One thing I forgot to mention is that you can change a given paragraph (or selection) from single to double spacing via the “command-1” and “command-2” keystrokes. (Command being the “command” key on the keyboard). Command-1 makes things single spaced, Command-2 double. Obviously for whole documents it’s easier to use on of the aforementioned modifications via the Format menu.

On 05 18, 2009 at 10:13:35 AM, judy r. said:

I’m 39 and I’m a PC too, and I’m not ashamed of it! I recently upgraded my PC laptop (my old one was 3+ years and very sluggish), and I too contemplated switching to a Mac. I’ve used Macs before and, though it takes a little brain-twisting to get used to the interface differences, I can’t really tell whether one is more superior. But I’m like you, Anna, I use a computer for pretty basics things (as I’m sure most regular consumers do): word processing, spreadsheets, internet, a little bit of graphics (fixing photos and such), music and that’s about it. The other HUGE reason I didn’t switch to a Mac is because I’ve purchased a lot of PC programs that I’d have to either switch over to Mac versions and basically pay for them all again, or go without them completely in some cases where a Mac version doesn’t exist. That seemed like a HUGE extra cost and sacrifice, not to mention the $1000+ difference in price between comparable PCs and Macs (I got a 17″ with no major bells or whistles for $1300. A comparable Mac would run me double or more). I understand about buying quality — it usually costs more — but the alleged superior quality of Macs isn’t immediately evident to me, so I’m not going to let myself buy into the hype (I admit I’ve been strongly tempted). That is, until Macs can teleport you or help you time travel or something like that!

On 06 7, 2009 at 08:23:12 PM, First N. said:

Anna, It is possible to change from PC to Mac, even at the advanced age <grin> of 39 – but you need to be open to changing how you approach things. For example a manual transmission makes a sports car fun to drive, but if you approach it as you do an automatic transmission, you’ll end up driving your sports car in 1st!                                  

Back to using your new Macbook. Simple word processing and a few [exel] spreadsheets are best done using the excellent $79 iWork package from Apple, not by using Microsoft Office, costing several hundred dollars or more. And as you found out Microsoft Office is supported (or as you found out, not) by Microsoft, not by Apple – hence the name: Microsoft Office.                                                                                                                                            And email is best handled using the included Mail program which came free with your MacBook – not by using Microsoft Entourage, part of the many hundred dollar copy of Microsoft Office, discussed above.                                                                                                                                           

As far as using a Blackberry, you are absolutely right. The Blackberry is designed by RIM to work first and foremost with corporate PCs, using Microsoft Exchange email systems. If you want a smart phone that’s designed instead to work well with your MacBook, buy an iPhone. Your iPhone and your MacBook can seamlessly share your mail and your calendar if you also buy an Apple MobileMe Account.                                                                                                                                    

You don’t mention how you made out with managing your collection of photos. The latest version of iPhoto not only manages your photos, automatically grouping them into those taken at the same event, but has face-recognition so you can find all the photos with say ‘Mary’ in them.                                                                                                                                     Nor

do you mention if you have an iPod? Your MacBook and the included iTunes program make transferring your CD collection into your laptop and from there onto your iPod (or iPhone) a snap. iTunes also makes it easy to buy music singles (or rent videos).                                                                                                                                    

Are you taking advantage of the Apple Genius bar? As a Vancouverite you’re fortunate to have an Apple Retail store with Genius bar on West Georgia Street. And you can phone ahead to book an appointment so you won’t have to wait.                                                                                                                                     Finally if you are still convinced that you are and always will be a PC person, your MacBook still has considerable resell value. By all means sell it, and buy a new PC laptop. You may want to set aside some time to clear off all the demo programs it will come with, as well to ensure you install an anti-virus program.                                                                                                                                    

Good luck!

On 06 20, 2009 at 08:26:16 AM, Karen H. said:

It’s too bad you aren’t as enamoured with your MacBook as I am with mine. I started out going to buy a PC laptop, and a friend casually showed me his iMac. I fell in love. PCs have their uses and it is true, as a general rule, they are more compatible with other programs and devices. Personally, I find that my Mac just makes life easier with all of it’s different uses. There are things on here I am sure I haven’t even found yet! Also, my Mac has never, not once, had an error message, crashed, or needed to be restarted except for the occasional update. My PC at work however, freezes, crashes, or needs so many updates that once a week I am forced to dedicate an hour to dealing with the updates because it slows everything to a snail’s pace. But you should like whatever system it is that you use. So if a Mac isn’t for you, sell it to someone who would love to be able to have a MacBook Pro and go back to a PC. It’s more about being comfortable than “cool”. And who is it that decides what’s cool anyway?

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