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Mac Planet: The Great Switcheroo

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Apple was for so long the little outsider, we referred to people who came over to the Mac platform as 'switchers'. Six years ago, when I started training for myself, most clients were long-term and/or professional Mac users who wanted to get more out of their machines, and I'd show them ways to work more efficiently, throw in some handy tips and tricks and solve a few problems.

These days, I hardly ever see such users. The last three years in particular, I have been mostly training switchers, which has meant I've even had to learn a few features of Windows simply so I can explain how they are different on a Mac. (Notice I said 'different', not 'better'. Of course, I mean 'better', I'm just trying to be diplomatic. It's the New Me.)

Mind you, six years ago, Macs were at about three per cent of the New Zealand PC market. Now they are at nearly 12 per cent, going by last year's IDC figures, anyway. Those new users had to come from somewhere.

Many like me to set their Macs up - I make them do it themselves. Not because I'm lazy, but because it's so easy and it's a good first point of contact with the new platform, and to save them paying me.

Some people just like the reassurance of having someone alongside them, I guess. Note there are plenty of sites for the Mac basics, starting with Apple's.

For those with more comprehensive PC experience, there are sites like lifehacker's guide.

(Near the bottom of this page there are further posts expanding the theme: '10 things every new Mac owner should know' and 'Common new Mac user mistakes', but some of this advice is pretty dated - for example, you now resize a Mac window from any edge.)
There's a kind of expanding guide compendium at Switching2Mac.

By the way, this is how your defragment your Mac: leave it on. Tough, huh?
Another change is that I am training more and more people on iDevices - as an older Apple user (perhaps I should use 'experienced' in place of 'older') an iPad looks so simple to me, I didn't expect to be training anyone on it, but there are three compelling reasons I do:
1/ There are people so inexperienced it really is completely new to them, including many older users who get iPads as communication devices to stay in touch with distant kids and grandkids.

2/ There are people who want a lot from an iPad, far more than casual use dictates, and they need to hit the ground running.

3/ Finally, there are people who switch from a PC to an iPad as their primary computing platform, or in the case of some institutions, from existing mobile devices like the once all-conquering Blackberry. They don't have time to work things out themselves, they're on the company clock and their time is oh-so-precious.

Mind you, with the competition between Apple and Google, it's hardly one-way traffic. Veteran Mac user and commentator Andy Ihnatko (the surname may be Hungarian, but he's a North American) recently shocked the Mac faithful by declaring he is ditching iPhone for Android. This followed Ima Genius, I mean Steve Wozniak, declaring his love for Android, although he still uses both platforms.

The be-stetsoned, be-sideburned Ihnatko wrote, in a series on TechHive explaining his defection, "I made a slow, cautious and careful examination of what I want and need from my phone, and at the end of this mobile warrior's pilgrimage, I couldn't escape the conclusion that the best phone for me is no longer an iPhone."

Ihnatko lost an unlimited data plan to do it, so it's a major switch. Partly he didd so for better data speeds available for a Galaxy S III in the US, but there were other reasons, compelling to him, and perhaps they are also compelling for you. At the least Ihnatko might furnish you with some anti-iPhone ammo.

For me, it's all still missing the point, though. An Android would have to get a lot better than Ihnatko's finer points for me to drop my Apple phone since it fits so seamlessly and functionally into my entire Apple world - my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro all supporting and syncing with each other. I don't do heavy lifting on my iPhone. My MacBook is for that. The iPhone is perfectly sufficient for me.

But hey, Ihnatko has four posts of carefully constructed points, so make up your own mind.

Meanwhile, a dyed-in-the-wool Linux guy has dropped that developer's dream platform for Mac OS.

Miguel de Icaza has been a life-long Linux user - in fact, he's the creator of Gnome, a free desktop environment for Linux and other Unix operating systems.

After taking a Mac on a trip to Brazil as his sole machine in 2008, de Icasa found while he missed the comprehensive Linux toolchain and 'userland' ... "I did not miss having to chase the proper package for my current version of Linux, or beg someone to package something. Binaries just worked."

In a blog post, he gradually explains that Linux's fragmentation was the final straw. Can you see the bow I'm trying to draw here? De Icaza's comments about Linux fragmentation mirror what's going on in the Android ecosystem.

In fact, though, it's not as compelling as Ihnatko's switch - de Icaza admits he has always recommended Macs to other people. Still, he has switched his daily and professional platform.

Would I switch from Apple? Of course. If hell froze over. Or if Apple sued me. Or sold. Or maybe if things truly got crappy in the Apple world like they did before Steve Jobs rode back in on his charger in the 1990s (but I didn't, back then).

The Walled Garden is exactly what I like about Apple. Apps and the devices (pretty much) 'just work'. I do appreciate.

- NZ Herald

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