I'm a computer guy. I've been programming since the early 80s, starting with BASIC on a Commodore Pet. I've worked on HPUX, BSD and various other *nix as well as Windows since 3.0. My new work provides Apple laptops, but I've never learned to use a Mac. How hard can it be?

Friday, August 16, 2013

It's Greek to Me

I've been using computers for at least 30 years.  I remember writing games in BASIC on a Commodore Pet at the Lawrence Hall of Science when I was about 12.  I've used various flavors of Unix including BSD and HP-UX.  I've been using Windows since 3.0 and before that DOS and CP/M.  Word-star, Word Perfect, Emacs, GNU Emacs.  Word, Excel, etc.

I've programmed in BASIC, Pascal (UCSD and Turbo), Scheme, C, C++ (again, a couple of different flavors, at least), a bit of Assembler and some Prolog.  Java, of course.  And those are just the ones I can remember at the moment. I've been a sysad, a software engineer, and 8 different kinds of consultant.  In my family, we have 3 iPhones and an iPad, so far.

For some reason, I have never been able to learn to use a Mac.  Ever.  Now, to be fair, I've never tried very hard.  I've always gotten disgusted with something and gone back to things I know.  Lately, I've been wanting to learn to use a Mac.  It can't be that hard, and I feel as if it's this hole that needs to be filled.  I figured if nothing else I'd know how to use it in case I came across one again, and in my copious spare time, which is to say none, perhaps I'd write some iPhone or iPad apps, just for the heck of it.  Hell, I almost bought a MacBook a few months ago, but decided to go with a couple of professional lenses for my Canon.  That should give away another of my favorite activities.

So, today was my last day at the company where I've been working for 7 years.  OK, OK, 12 days shy of 7 years.  6 years, 353 days.  That should clear up any questions as to whether I'm a numbers guy.  I'm going to go with 7 years, though... close enough.  And, don't get me wrong.  The fact that I know my exact start date and can quickly compute for how many days I worked there shouldn't be taken as an indication that it was a drag.  As I said, I'm a numbers guy.  No, it was a great experience, I learned a ton, met and worked with some great people and customers.  I even accomplished 3 of the 5 goals I had for the job when I took it.  The other 2 are more ephemeral and haven't yet come to pass, but there's still time.

I start at my new company on September 9th.  They use Macs.


OK, well, at least I already decided I want to learn to use them.  Once I actually start, I'll have 3 weeks before our user conference in San Francisco, where I suspect I'll either be introduced as the Director of Product Management for Analytics, or I'll give a presentation on something we're starting to put together.  Either way, I need to have some idea what I'm talking about by then, so I need to drink from the fire hose, not just sip.  I don't want to be fighting with the Mac.

I am going to pick up my new laptop from them about a week and a half before I start so that I can spend a little bit of my vacation getting used to the new (to me) OS.  Yeah, I know.  This is supposed to be a vacation.  Well, in addition to being a numbers guy, I'm obviously a computer guy, so I don't mind that much.  Besides, it was my lovely wife's idea.  Yes, you read that right.  LW actually suggested that I get the laptop early and spend some time getting used to it.  Wait.  What?

I created this blog because I thought it would be funny to write about the process of learning to use this thing.  I know it's not going to be all that hard, since I'm basically FORCED to do it so won't just give up and go back to the usual suspects, but I've definitely got a bit of a block there.  And, who knows?  Maybe this blog will be useful for some other poor soul who's sooooo used to DOS/*nix/Windows that they've never learned the first thing about a Mac.

I know there are resources on the 'Net that will help, and I'll be linking to those and commenting on them.

We'll see how it goes.


  1. Can't wait for your next post. I have used both Mac and PC. Used, I say, not programmed. I can do basic trouble-shooting on my PC. Work has Macs. If anything goes wrong on the Mac I am useless. To me it's like the design is made so "intuitive and user friendly" that you can't get a clue what's going on behind the interface. Let me know when I can direct my Mac troubleshooting questions to you. :-)

    1. Hi Amber,

      Thanks for reading; I put up a post about getting my contacts to iCloud yesterday, though Blogger claims it was Saturday since that's when I started it.

      I hear you on the Mac troubleshooting. At this point, I wouldn't even know where to start. I actually got my hands on a Mac for a few minutes yesterday and managed to do some very basic things. Perhaps I'll write about that next.


  2. At its heart, Mac is Mach and BSD; you'll find some familiar tools behind the pixel art. I come from a Mac background and love it. (Of course, I'm also a Nikon guy...) My last employer was Windows-centric, and I found VMware Fusion and Parallels indispensable when bridging the gap.

  3. On a photography note - checkout Aperture. I use Aperture, the Google Nik Collection, and Pixelmator for all of my photography post-production and management. If you're really geeky, there are plugins for automatically backing up libraries and vaults to Google Cloud Storage or AWS S3. :-)

    1. I'm probably going to leave the photography stuff on my home desktop. That's where I have Photoshop Elements, Photomatix, Panorama Factory, and some others that I use occasionally. Not to mention the CrashPlan backup to an external drive at home, the CrashPlan cloud, and (until last week) an external drive on my work laptop. Another thing I have to figure out...

  4. I have a copy of Windows 2.0 on 5 1/2 inch floppies if you'd like to beef up your résumé. ;)