In Come the Switchers, in Come the Serious Users

Giles Turnbull has written a highly amusing piece of advice aimed at Mac newbies. It’s a seriously funny look at a few of the things all those “Switchers” should expect once they start using their “insanely great” piece of Apple kit.

Especially, Giles’s “Scenario 1” does sound very familiar. To be frank, I have to admit that, yes, I am guilty of the Recognizing-Another-Apple-User Smirkâ„¢. Also, when I got my first Apple PowerBook — a 190CS way back when — I used to almost ceremoniously unpack it in airport lounges and airplanes, making sure that others noticed I did not have one of those crappy WinTel notebooks, but, no, I had a _Power_Book. Heck, I must have looked like Mr. Bean in his sketch of the written exam…

Let’s be really serious about this!

It doesn’t come as a surprise that some commentators accuse Giles of writing an article without much content, which, of course, is usually debatable for any kind of satire. But there were two comments that I found especially interesting:

I got over Mac infatuation about two years ago. Now I am more interested in how to get around some peculiarities of Macs to stay productive as a sofware developer.


I love my Mac, but I have a life. Yeah, I use my Mac alot, and it’s my main tool.

But it’s not a religion. It’s a computer.

These two comments did make me laugh hard, especially the first one. I don’t know the commentator in person, and in no way do I want to insult him, but, to me, this sounds a lot like: “Hey, I’m a grown-up computer user. I do serious work on my Mac. No time for playing around.” I just can’t help picturing a little kid who points out just how much of a grown-up he is now that he has his first day of school behind his back.

Just a computer — Or is it?

In a way, those two commentators are right: a Mac is just a computer. Then again, a Porsche is just a car, a Tivoli just a radio, the Savoy just a hotel, and a Steinway just a piano. Here’s what makes them stand out from the rest: they all have the basic “functionality” you’d expect from any product in their respective categories. But they all provide that “functionality” in superb quality and package it in unrivaled style.

Yes, the Mac does have its flaws; yes, there are some serious nutters among its users; yes, it has some catching up to do with the WinTel world in terms of raw performance. Still, I think that the Mac is the “primus inter pares” of the computer world — and the reason for this status goes deeper than its elegant shell.

The community of its users does add to its appeal, too, by the way. Although I have gotten rid of that embarrassing Mr. Bean’esk ritual described earlier, I still do smile when I see other Apple users, and I sometimes do get into an interesting chat with total strangers simply because they use a Mac somewhere in public.

And you know what? Enjoying this weird Apple in-crowd thing does not prevent me in the least from also getting serious work done on my Mac. Neither do any tongue-in-cheek discussions of why the Mac’s so special. So, let’s not be so uppity about that serious work bit, eh?

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  1. Giles

    Like I said in the comments over at O’Reilly, the post was only meant as a bit of fun (and it was just a post on a weblog – not an ‘article’ at all). I’d like to think that most Mac users, no matter how seriously they treat their computer, have the ability to laugh at themselves. My family tease me mercilessly about my Mac usage, and I tend to just join in…

    Thanks for the pseudo-trackback, Jochen. :)