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Evangelists, zealots and cult leaders


Many people don't understand Mac zealotry, and as a Mac zealot myself, I must admit I also find it a bit odd. But only when I'm at my rationalist best.

The thing is, Macintosh computers have always allowed me to do really interesting things without having a computer degree. I wasn't exactly a high achiever at school and I only did a year of university - back in the good old days when it was free - to fill in the time while my clever, academic girlfriend finished her degree.

And even then, I was doing English, Ancient History and Linguistics, not maths, science, business or computing. Since then I have designed and published magazines, created and edited movies, written books, created and mixed music, all using Macs.

Sure, you may be able to do all of those things with your PC, and that's great. But I can almost guarantee that I, for one, would not have been able to do all of those things with a PC. I just don't have the patience or the desire to be a tinkering computer scientist hot-rodding problem solver. Not to the extent I would have needed, anyway.

Right from the word go, groups of Mac users have got together both socially and to discuss Mac issues and exchange information. Of course, this is not exclusive to the Mac world either, but the Mac movements have lasted decades.

There are 'MUGs' (that should get some PC laughs) all over New Zealand, composed of people who love their Macs. They like to share that affection. 'MUG' stands for Mac User Group.

There's the Auckland Macintosh Society, the Blenheim Mac User Group, and even a Mac based branch of Senior Net. Mac Senior Net. This is a fascinating assortment of people who regularly meet in Howick, Auckland plus a sub group meeting on the North Shore.

There are Mac-related groups all over the country; you can check if there's a User Group near you at this site provided by Apple. If you find yourself at a MUG meeting, you will find yourself with Mac-fascinated people who can help you through issues, give you advice and more. Even recounting how someone else approached, say, making a slideshow to export to a CD might turn out to save you some unnecessary work, or offer you some great tips or alternative working practices.

They have these Mac enthusiast groups all over the world - they have names like the Huntsville Macintosh Users Group and the Northeast Ohio Apple Corps. Many of the groups, like the Huntsville one, run video conferences for their users, teeing their members up with interesting Mac notables like Tidbits/Take Control gurus Adam and Tonya Engst. Experts like these often live hundreds of kilometres away from interested groups, so the video conferences avoid costly travel.

But why, you may ask? Why do Macs inspire such zealotry? I and many like me still get accused of being paid by Apple to do what we do. I am not, and I have never been, paid by Apple.

To help explain this Mac zealotry, 'Welcome to Macintosh: the documentary for the rest of us' could help a lot. Shipping from the 15th December, it features interviews with the original Mac evangelist Guy Kawasaki and with the writer Leander Kahney.

Even their backgrounds are part of the Mac zealotry phenomenon. Guy Kawasaki was so enthusiastic about Macs he ended up being employed by Apple to spread his enthusiasm. Kahney wrote 'Cult of Mac' and 'Cult of iPod'... suffice to say I don't think his future book plans include 'Cult of Dell' or 'Cult of Zune'. I don't think anyone would ever plan to write books like that.

In the trailer for the documentary, Kawasaki says the allure of the Mac is those people who love engineering, design and being different.

In the trailer, Steve Jobs is mentioned as the best possible person to work with - and also the worst; as being fundamentally intertwined with Apple and as the person who defines the company.

The other founder, Steve Wozniak, is called 'the Geek Hero'.

Other interesting people interviewed include the Macintosh co-creator Andy Hertzfeld, engineer and Mac start-up sound creator Jim Reekes, filmmaker Simon Tarr, Academy Award winning editor Richard Halsey, Mac consultant Wayne Wenzlaff, writer and satirist John Moltz.

There's the Apple I replica engineer Vince Briel, Professor of Music Drew Hudgins, collector Wayne Bibbens (who has a model of pretty much every Mac ever made) and Charles DeVore of the Portland Macintosh User Group. They even spoke to Ron Wayne, the often overlooked third founder of the original Apple Computer Company along with Wozniak and Jobs.

Kawasaki - who hasn't worked for Apple for a long time, by the way - comes back on in the trailer and points out that the Apple 1 changed the world, the Apple II changed the world, the Macintosh changed the world and the iPod changed the world. He says the iPhone is probably changing the world. "That's five things. You can't call that luck." No, you can't.

Sounds awful, doesn't it? All these boring Mac zealots sitting around talking about Apple? I can hardly wait to see it.



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