"Switcher's Remorse"

By Astrid Storm

By Salon Staff
Published August 26, 2002 7:30PM (EDT)

[Read the story.]

Let us read from the book of Jobs, chapter 1984, verse 1-4:

1. Thou shalt love the Dock and store thy programs there.
2. Thou shalt use one-button mice, lest thy forefingers become restless and jittery.
3. Thou shalt always choose the default options when saving AppleWorks documents.
4. And most of all, thou shalt upgrade to Mac OS 10.2 when it comes out.

Best of luck with your switch. Given a little more time to work out the kinks, I think you'll not regret it. Buy yourself a two-button mouse if you're really feeling homesick, and let the undulations wash your doubts away. But you put your PC on eBay as soon as you got the Mac? You really wanted a trial by fire. There's such a thing as giving yourself time to transition and learn the ropes (and identify problem spots) before your sermons depend on it. That said, I hated those gosh darn printer errors myself, until they went away. See verse 4 above.

-- Dan Mason

My name is Matt, I am a computer salesperson for a chain of retailers in western Canada. I am the Macintosh specialist for my store.

I feel your pain. I am curious though: Did anyone ever mention to you that the switch (while ultimately probably a good choice on your part) would be a little bit of a bumpy ride?

Here's the thing: Mac OS is completely different from Windows. Yes, it can do anything that Windows can (with a few exceptions, most of which will be added this Saturday), but it does them in a completely different way.

Why are you afraid to show your machine in public? Most people want to have a look at my iBook when I have it out in public. Only the most closed minded of individuals shoot off comments such as "You bought a what?"

What was the problem you were having with your Mac that required a call to tech support? E-mail me back and I will see what I can do to help with the problem. Alternatively there are numerous forums and Web sites available for you to discuss your problems and get free support. Heck, if you called your salesperson at the Apple store you bought it from, I am sure that he would help you out, and you can probably take it in to him, point to the problem spot and say, "This is where it hurts! Help me fix it, please?"

Mac OS isn't for everyone. There are some people who for no real reason at all do not seem to jibe well with Mac OS. This is not a bad thing; these people can find fully satisfying experiences with other platforms. You may well be one of these people, but I hope that you are not, because in the end I think you could be, will be, very happy with Mac OS and all of its features.

-- Matt Simpson

Well, I just read Astrid Storm's article about switching to the Mac and wanting to switch back, and it really seems as though she didn't even try to use her computer properly. The entire article seemed a rather pointless exercise in fear, uncertainty and doubt.

She rambles on about "Error -NNNN"... These don't exist in OS X, which she purports to use. They're a part of OS 9, which indicates she's been rummaging around in Classic, which to be honest is something a new Mac user need never do -- all the main apps are now OS X friendly anyway.

She goes on about floppy disks ... Why? Macs haven't had them since '97; I can't think of any software that comes on floppies anymore; and most files are too big to fit on them anyway. Hasn't she heard of Zip disks, or e-mail? As for the "newfangled" CD-RWs -- it's not that complicated, they've been around for ages, and it's not any different using them on the PC platform.

She complains about lack of printer driver support ... So, when I get the options to do USB printer sharing, Rendezvous printing, CUPS printing over IP, and a choice of hundreds of built-in drivers from HP, Lexmark, Epson and Canon -- am I using another operating system? Is it part of my fevered imagination? Or is it more simply that she did not even try to print?

The entire article is just an exercise in complaining for the sake of it. If she stopped for one moment and actually sat down and attempted to use her computer she might discover that it does all work -- she just wasn't paying attention.

Before I am accused of being a Mac advocate, I'd like to point out that for 10 years I was a Microsoft code tester for the Windows platforms, and before that a Unix systems administrator. I've also dabbled in VMS, CP/M, OS/2 and countless other operating systems. I don't think I'm biased when I say that in my opinion OS X is the best OS to hit any computing platform in a very long time. The power of Unix and the simplicity of the Apple human interface. Wonderful -- I am glad I switched.

-- Ian Abbott

Your cry scrawled out in a moment of frustration is a symptom of buyer's remorse, not switcher's remorse. Buyer's remorse is a form of insecurity in which you fear scorn for having made the wrong decision. Ten minutes after you wrote it, I'm sure you found the keys you asked God to help you find: Control (Ctrl), Page Up (Pg Up) and Page Down (Pg Dn) on the bottom row of your iBook keyboard.

Lament the death of the floppy, but don't blame Apple. Learn to e-mail and Ethernet your files. And here's a tip: Use that "cryptic little Apple key" on an Apple the way you would use "Control" on a PC. Does it feel better now?

-- John M. Glenn

Astrid, the writer of "Switcher's Remorse," asked where she could find a Switcher's Support Group. The answer is quite easy: Apple has a long history of supporting its User Groups, which in America number over a thousand. Visiting www.apple.com/usergroups and entering "Columbus, OH" into the search field yielded seven in the Columbus area alone. All U.G.'s are dedicated to helping people like Astrid with her various problems, and all do it for no charge. User Groups are mentioned both in every Mac owner's manual and also in the ReadMe files found on the hard disk after initial setup.

Speaking of her problems, I would have to say that Astrid's biggest problem is her persistent desire to live in the past. Her remarks about her "beloved floppy disks" are a dead giveaway. This woman obviously took no time whatsoever to learn about her shiny new Mac but rather assumed it worked just like the old ones she knew so many years ago. This is as absurd a notion as a Windows 3.1 user thinking he or she could start using XP and have no problem adjusting.

I'm the program coordinator for the MacValley Users Group in Northridge -- the largest active Mac User Group in Southern California, and we deal with "newbies" all the time. None of them have been as whiny as Ms. Astrid in her wailing confessional. What's the Command (Apple) key for? The same one that's been on every Mac since 1984? If she really wanted to know, a quick look in the Help menu would have revealed all. She can't communicate with her Euro boyfriend? What does that have to do with a Mac? "Gobbledygook" file attachments? I'm not sure what e-mail program she's using, but no Mac user I know has this problem when using up-to-date software -- not to mention it can happen to PC users as well.

I'm not trying to be unsympathetic to Astrid's plight, but I cannot buy in to it. The issue isn't whether "switching" was the right thing to do, but whether Astrid bothered to take the time -- either on her own, or by joining a user group, calling Apple tech support, buying an O'Reilly "Missing Manual" book, or consulting the Genius Bar at a local Apple store -- to learn how to use a most powerful and wondrous device.

Whether PC or Mac, this problem seems to be an endemically American one. (The Japanese still complain about why we won't read our A/V equipment manuals, but "Japlish" is another story and I digress.) I wish I knew why this was so.

-- Ken Gruberman

I am willing to offer free online e-mail support for Astrid.

It will be in the evenings after work, but I am more than willing to help.

Mac users support each other.

-- Doug Wray

Jesus said, "To thine own self be true." It was a little troubling to read a self-described Episcopal priest going on and on about how "the devil of an Apple salesperson" made her do it -- switch, that is. And even more troubling to hear a preacher-priest, a leader of the flock, with so little self-esteem and courage to "Think different." This entire mini-screed reads like a bald-faced attempt for attention and is filled with strange statements and metaphors like: "While I was off prostituting my teenage years and most of my twenties to Microsoft." This from a priest? Does she use this kind of imagery when at the pulpit? Further, making a decision on a technology purchase based on memories from your childhood is an oxymoron.

In my over 12 years as a Mac user and professional graphic designer I have shared my enthusiasm with scores of people (probably enough to be eligible for employee benefits from Apple). In that time I have only encountered one individual who felt she wanted to go back to the PC. She too thought the Mac was too hard to master and did not want to be the only one of her friends and colleagues who used a Mac -- she wanted to fit in and conform. It is an industry-accepted fact that Macs are easier to operate, are multiplatform compatible for networking and file exchange, and aesthetically, well, Macs and the Mac OS are in a different universe of elegance and quality from the pale Wintel world. My advice to Ms. Storm: Get thee to a nunnery -- and eschew technology altogether and meditate on why she chose to lead when it is clear Ms. Storm doesn't even have the courage of her own PC convictions.

-- Catherine Oller

Astrid Storm's article proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that some folks just shouldn't use computers, period.

She is traumatized by what people will think of her for using a Mac, she longs for useless antiquated technologies like a floppy disk (did she really say, "How I miss the speed of the floppy on my old PC"?), she evaluates mice by counting the buttons on it.

This is the type of person that drives people who staff help desks just plain loco. The type of person who would probably be better off with an electronic typewriter (they still make those, ya know) and a pocket calculator. She would probably still call somebody for help with the typewriter, though.

-- Dale McCrossen

Hello, my name is Jeff, and I am a Non-Switcher. I am a Mac user and always have been. Well, there were those dark days in grad school when I had to use my roommate's IBM, but I won't count that, as I didn't own it.

Anyway, after reading your article from Astrid, I had to write in. I really don't mind well-thought-out critiques of Apple and its products, but this article, while entertaining, is completely misinformed. She is leading people to believe that the Mac OS is not compatible with Windows. We all know that this used to be true, but not anymore. Not in any way. I am still trying to figure out her "left-clicking" feature. Right-clicking maybe? And the floppy? Even Intel and AMD are trying to get rid of that in future architecture. Her claim that she can no longer communicate with her boyfriend is confusing, because there is nothing stopping her from doing so. By the way, the Apple key is the Command key, and there is not one Apple-key function that does not have a mouse-click equivalent. And that's the rest of the story..

Basically, I only wanted to mention that I just wish that anti-Apple writing be at least informed. She, of course, is completely entitled to her opinion.

-- Jeff Campbell

Astrid: Ge at peace, my child.

Go back. Godspeed. Run, don't walk, back to the sanctuary of Gateshood. And don't let the big double oak doors hit your ass on the way out.

-- Levon River

In regard to Astrid Storm's "Switcher's Remorse" column, I'd like to ask her to switch back -- to pencil and paper. She's dragging the rest of us down with her computer "no-how."

She longs for floppy disks?
She can't print at Kinko's?
She can't figure out the Apple key?

She has no business being on any computer, let alone a Mac. Give her a spiral notebook and a box of No. 2s.She should leave the switching to those who know how to use electric appliances in the first place.

-- Brian Joco

I subscribe to Salon for intelligent, or at least witty, commentary. To be blunt, this ain't it. I, in fact, am a recent switcher after eight years in the PC world. I have to wonder if the writer (1) tried typing in the dark -- the Ctrl key is where it is on PCs or (2) just has no sense.

I now know why Mac users are always complaining about Microsoft's use of FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). This seemed an almost programmatic example of it, which is a bit surprising coming from Salon, which led the way in reporting on the antitrust proceedings and in featuring the growth of Linux before it was even all that cool to talk about "distros" and such.

Salon also has a reputation for, at least, assuming a certain level of technological competence among not only its writers but also its audience. (It's an online publication, after all.) I have to wonder if the author has ever read Salon, since she couldn't seem to figure out "left-click" on a mouse that only has one button. What'd she use her PC for, warming leftovers?

I've had my iBook for a month now, and I'm still tied, unfortunately, to my PC at work. My applications on both machines happily read what their cross-platform brethren have saved. In only one instance have I had a problem, and that was a lost font, which seems to have caused the author so much distress. If having to use one sans serif typeface over another is that big of a blow, maybe the author should stay away from computers and just use a typewriter instead.

-- John Laudun

O Astrid of little faith!

If Astrid is pining over the loss of her floppy-disk drive, then I throw up my hands. It seems to me she longs for what she was comfortable with, the PC world and its limitations. Like most people, she doesn't expect much from her computer and prefers to accept the inferior, known quantity. My advice is stop ranting and give a little effort to understand what an incredible computer the Mac is. And through away those crappy, antiquated floppy disks.

-- Christine Aliferis

Change is always unsettling. Astrid, give it another week, and you'll wonder why anyone still (tries) to use Windows.

-- Tom Barta

Don't look back: You'll turn into a pillar of silicon.

The road you've chosen is wise. Especially for your profession. In time, all will be revealed and you will see that the glowing Mac logo on your iBook illuminates many paths.

First things first, I've been a Mac user since 1992. Teaching myself both the Mac and the PC at the same time with equal access to both platforms gave me the needed experience before purchasing my own computer. It was a Mac. I've never looked back.

When I moved to a job as a subcontractor at Hewlett- Packard I bought myself a new Mac. When all around me had complaints about their systems, I'd come home to my Mac and pat it lovingly.

When I was hired as a minister, I purchased an iMac for the church. We did everything on Macs and we were rewarded with huge growth. 'Cause we got things done on our Macs.

Still working at HP, I moved onto a team that provided Unix services. Exposed to the power, the flexibility and the stability that is Unix, I realized Apple had made the right decision to base OS X on Unix.

Sometimes, my PowerBook equipped with OS X 10.1 would slip onto the network and it was the only way I could get all my work done.

Don't look back, Astrid. I make my living repairing PCs now but my personal life is enjoyed more with the use of my Macs.

Power, Beauty, Stability and a glowing Apple logo on my PowerBook to light my way home each night.

-- Rev. Bob McCormick

I just read the article entitled "Switcher's Remorse" and found it rather funny. I also wanted to offer my assistance to Astrid as it appears she has done what few dare to do and done so with no support. I do not advise those who are not technically inclined to make the switch to Macintosh unless they have a Mac person in their lives whom they can rely on for assistance. Basically, unless you are prepared to investigate solutions on your own you should stay in your support group.

I am Macintosh and PC technical support professional and have offered my services at a fee for the past four years. Please forward my e-mail to Astrid, and I would be more than happy to help her make the transition to the Macintosh with as few headaches as possible. At the least I can help make her experience tolerable until she is able to get a PC back into her life again. Please assure her that I do not intend to charge for the service; I just wish to help.

When I read her comments about losing all ability to communicate with her boyfriend I felt someone should step in and offer some assistance to the poor woman. There are many programs available to allow her to communicate with him via instant message, voice or video, and they are available for PC and Macintosh ranging from free to very low cost. If you will forward this to her I would be more than willing to do a follow-up with you a month from now to see where she is then compared to today.

-- Stephen J. Shepard

The problems she is encountering with her new iBook is not the Macintosh that is at fault, but rather the monopoly and the stranglehold the Windows world has. She has finally come to the realization that Windows forces people to use their systems by forcing other companies to only support Windows drivers.

Her lack of experience after two months is not surprising; however, I am certain she will be rewarded and not look back at the Wicked Windows World after six months of use. I would be interested to read another article from her in four months' time and see how far along she has gotten.

It is true that there is a learning curve to using a Macintosh; however, it is no way near as steep as it is for the Windows platform.

-- Ken Wright

I have to assume that the majority of your "Switcher's Remorse" letter was written in jest ... right? As a user of PCs at work and Macs at home, I find that there is simply no comparison between the two platforms when it comes to ease of use and performance ... Macs win hands down. If only I could convince my bosses that Macs really can operate perfectly in a PC environment, I'd never touch a PC again.

However, if you really are serious about wanting to go back to the mundane world of Windows, just install "Virtual PC" in your Mac, and voilà, GatesWorld appears on your Apple desktop. Virtual PC allows you to run all your old PC programs in your Mac. But once you do, you will quickly remember why you bought the Mac in the first place. Macs are simply easier to use. BTW ... you mentioned botched PowerPoint presentations. I actually develop all of my PP presentations in my Mac and then e-mail them to my work PC. I do this because my Mac actually handles graphics and animation development in PP much better than my PC does.

Oh, and if you really do miss the second button on your old PC mouse, just purchase one of a number of third-party two-button mice that are available for Macs. Apple doesn't include a two-button mouse with its Macs because you really don't need one. However, Macs do support right-click features if you are used to right-clicking to delete, copy, etc.

And finally ... Astrid, come on now, I don't buy for one minute your complaints about error messages in the Mac. At least with a Mac you can actually solve most of your problems without paying for a consultant to do it for you. Or, if you do have a problem you can't solve, you can actually take your iBook down to the Apple store and the friendly Apple experts there can and will help you. Try that with a PC salesman who probably doesn't even own a computer.

Bottom line ... I use both PCs and Macs on a daily basis, and believe me, Macs are much easier to deal with when a problem arises. If I never had to use a Windows clone again, I'd be a happy camper.

A Satisfied Mac User

-- Bill Reynolds

The Apple user-friendly high horse broke down a long time ago. Black munchkin keyboards. The joy buzzer mouse. No floppy drives. Tough-luck error messages. Cubes and half-spheres that dare you to find a port or on/off switch. Monopolistic pricing. Half-hearted third-party device support.

I operate both a Mac G4 (for print design) and Dell Dimension (for Web design) side-by-side. For those of us with a job to do, there's nothing like a dull, reliable, inexpensive PC. I'll take that, and a right-click button on my mouse, any day.

-- Lucius Michel

Regarding Astrid Storm and her switching experience:

I know that you wanted to your Apple experience to be smooth and without any worries. I'm afraid that the ads oversell the simplicity of Macs. The fact is, learning to use a new computer system, any computer system, is never exactly the slow donkey ride to heaven that we want it to be. That doesn't mean the Mac isn't the best personal computer you can buy. It is.

You've had a couple of snags. Do you really want to go back to the dark side, especially when you sit down and list all the problems you have ever had with Windows? Part of being an Apple person is being brave. Apple changes things overnight. Cold turkey. If your printer is older and doesn't connect with a USB cable you may have to buy a new one. Buy an excellent software called Toast Titanium for burning CDs; it's marvelous. And you're still using floppies? Santa Lucia! They have to go.

The Mac is such a better way to go. Please don't go back now.

-- Dan Norquist

I, like so many others, often wonder how Microsoft can maintain its monopoly. Astrid does a wonderful job explaining why. The simple truth is, no matter how much wonderful press Apple gets, Microsoft makes the best operating system, hands down.

Sorry, Apple, you're just outclassed.

-- C. Johnson

Salon Staff

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