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My World According to Apple January 4, 2012

Posted by markswill in Media, Navel Gazing, Uncategorized.

If you’re computer-phobic, abhor digi-jargon and have zero interest in the different declensions of Intel processors, then maybe stop reading here. Ditto if you’re a committed geek to whom over-clocking and CPU architecture are meat and drink. Because I fall somewhere in between… but nearer the former than the latter, obviously.

Unfortunately however, I rather urgently need a new computer. And my inadequate grasp of what’s new and necessary to maintain the minimum standards of technological capability that my life demands, means that I’m panicking. I know, I know, I know – given my regular tirades against the digital enslavement we’ve quietly acquiesced to this past decade, and especially my brief interlude bereft of both my internet connection and mobile phone, I should bravely respond to the fast dwindling efficiency of my battered old laptop by abandoning such devices for good. But no. I am instead grudgingly acknowledging that most people only want to communicate with me by email, and that some of them are actually essential to what I grandiosely call my employment… never mind my reliance on Google as the encyclopedia of the airwaves. So I am once again at the computer crossroads, wondering whether to continue down Macintosh Boulevard or turn left along PC Pathway.

It’s an intersection I’ve stood at every five years or so since I acquired my first computer – a Ferranti Advance 86 – in 1985. Having recently launched my own magazine outfit, Advanced Publishing, my choice seemed literally appropriate, if not willfully cute, but the Ferranti was a hopeless mistake to someone so utterly un-nerdy. After a month of mounting frustration, which occasionally included smacking it smartly on its casing, rather as my dad did our first t.v. set when it went on the blink, I got rid of it and bought a Macintosh Plus. Which I loved, and on which I literally ran the company for a few years. As such, it and I were even featured in MacUser magazine, both vindicating my choice and initiating an enduring smugness over my addiction to Apples.

Sure, everyone knows that Macs are more user-friendly than PCs, but watching the BBC’s morbidly fascinating Steve Jobs documentary recently I discovered that Bill Gates’ had actually beaten him to the punch with an icon-based design. Except that the Microsoft version is really just a memory-hungry lash-up that prods an antediluvian MS-DOS system, whereas Mac’s OS was designed to be seamlessly icon-driven from the get-go.

So far, so commonly known, but it wasn’t until 2003 when my iBook’s  broke down and had to be driven to the nearest dealer some 50 bloody miles away in Tewkesbury, that I learnt how clunky Windows really is. At the time I lived with a gal who very kindly let me use her PC for the ten days it took for the diffident-bordering-on-rude kids – and they were of course kids – to repair my Mac, and fortunately Karen was away most of that time running her company in London (exclusively on PCs, of course) so she couldn’t witness me swearing at, crashing and constantly re-booting her PC… I may’ve hit it a couple of times, too. The reason, obvious to die-hard Maccas, was that Windows isn’t intuitive in the way that the Mac OS is, and one has to go through various alien rigmaroles to get it to do anything. And of course having a crap short-term memory, I instantly fortgot those rigmaroles.

However, and it’s a big ‘however’, the price you pay for the superior and more stable Mac set-up is, well, over twice the price of a PC. No wonder Apple, at $346billion, has a value higher than the GDP of many developed countries, because a MacBook Pro with a 15” screen has an RRP of £1549, whilst a Dell Latitude PC laptop with, as far as I can work out, roughly the same stable of gee-gaws, costs £649. Go do the math.

My current machine is the Pro’s immediate predecessor, a PowerBook G4 which thanks to something called its PowerPC processor isn’t up to an increasing amount of software, in particular BBC’s iPlayer, which means I can no longer catch up with CBeebies, boo-hoo.  Being perennially budget-conscious, or skint if you want to put it that way, I’m therefore having to seriously consider a PC-based laptop and learning a whole new way of digital life. Or buying secondhand… just like my current machine, bought in 2006 from an Australian publishing company that was going bankrupt. Needless to say this involved many late night screaming contests with an IT manager in Sydney who couldn’t understand why its casing was damaged in transit and its screen bisected by a thin orange stripe. Secondhand? Never again, then.

As miserable fate would have it, I also need a new mobile phone if I’m going to keep up with the techno-groovers. Because after my last one cracked under the pressure (quite literally, screen-wise), I bought another by then obsolete Motorola Razr on eBay last year, and now that’s knackered, too. Yes, I’d like a nice, sprauncey iPhone like all my posh pals, thus making Apple richer still since they cost lots more than the Android-based smartphones that ape them, but I’m scared witless of trying to ‘migrate’ (see how hip I am to the jargon?) the vital address and diary data from my Palm Pilot digital organiser (circa 2003) which is also worn out… but long since obsolete.

Yes of course I’ve trawled the web forums trying to glean how to bung my Palm data onto an HTC Wildfire or Samsung Galaxy, but you’ve got to be an über-geek to understand the process, much less actually execute it, although it does seem to be rather easier with an iPhone. So it looks as if not only are we all prisoners of technology, but those of us who’re idiot technophobes are also in permanent hock to Apple.

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1. WTK - January 4, 2012

Words to the wizened: have a pleasant friend in the US buy the notebook for $1500 and sneak it across the water; and if you do, and also buy an iPhone 3s or 4 (quite cheap now), the Apple store migrates everything over to the phone and computer for free, and they do a nice job, too. I use Apple and Micro$oft as they are now interchangeable running Lion and native Intel. See, not a smidgen of vitriol…

markswill - January 4, 2012

Yes, that’s all very well Mr T, but you know I have no friends in America, at least not any who’re likely to fly this way anytime soon, if at all, unless of course you feel like popping over for a weekend of minature golf and gin-rummy at my old folks home… I also think if I went into my local Apple Store with a rickety old Palm Pilot I wanted them to extract the data from and a laptop bought three thousand miles away, they’d laugh at me… or possibly send me to the gulag.

WTK - January 4, 2012

I would love to deliver the contraband. Always was amused that the price point was identical, except of course that it was in Sterling, not Greenbacks. Now, that’s a kick in the pants. I wish I was coming over, Poo…

WTK - January 5, 2012

Per a comment to another: I distinctly remember you wearing a black polo every Thursday evening with your cling-wrap briefs, while skulking around the back of the Strand near the bar. Unfortunately, I have a photographic pornographic memory.

2. Neil Murray - January 4, 2012

As a dedicated Mac owner and user, I feel your pain. And my employer recently withdrew all of the Macs “because IT say they keep having trouble with them”. Never mind that everybody else does just fine.

So last year, I had a PC thrown at me for the first time and utterly hated it. Just simple things like trying to have windows from two or more different apps open on the screen at the same time seemed impossible. And simple stuff took three or four non-intuitive steps. And I note that one of the IT droids has jealously kept his own Mac, while participating in the Herodian cull of all the others, Bah.

markswill - January 4, 2012

IT droids, as you so waspishly (if accurately) refer to them are notoriously hypocritical. And in your sorry case it seems, deceitful too.

markswill - January 5, 2012

Oh the shame of it… But of course I was only there because you insisted on me accompanying you in your pink Chevrolet convertible….

3. jan buxton - January 4, 2012

well, Mark, you old fraud, you did know the jargon and how to use it all along !

PS I was working for Ferranti in 1985 and we wanted an Advance 86 for our team so ordered one from the Department (I think it was the Hollingwood site in North Manchester which had them) but they told us it would be several months, because external customers, like yourself, had priority. So instead we bought it from WH Smith for significantly less than our colleagues in Hollingwood quoted. Thereafter we got much of our kit that way – Ferranti sold it to Smiths who sold it back to Ferranti; that way the manufacturing Dept got their sales figures, we got our PCs, Smiths got their profit and everyone was happy.


markswill - January 4, 2012

Everyone except me! As for my knowledge of “the jargon”, well I remembered it was a Ferranti, and then Googled the rest! Bought mine from WHS, too.

4. Jules Bywater-lees - January 4, 2012

First was a very second hand PC in the 80s, this was good as I could spend as much time tinkering as actually working. PCs came and went until the early 00s when I was introduced to G3 and G4 and the joy of video editing. I could become a true mac-snob and abandon the serfdom of the Gates Empire, the rebels could return. But so did Steve Jobs, far from being some-kind of saint he simply made Apple fashionable and sadly unreliable. Battery failures, iPhone glitches and poor customer service has replaced my snobbery with contempt. My 2 year old Macbook has suffered a battery failure [£100!!!], a charger failure and the constant irritation of a keyboard being designed to look cool rather than to function in low light.

As for Bill, he at least has spent his fortunes on making the world a better place where as Jobs cancelled Apple’s charity donations and went to his grave with billions.

My Mac can crash as frequently as my old PC so given a choice I would buy a decent [£800] PC with the best battery life, good virus protection software, use firefox and never use outlook.

markswill - January 4, 2012

I genuinely think you’ve been unlucky with your MacBook, Jules. I know tons of folk who own/owned them and do/did so without any of the traumas you’ve experienced. However slowing down and freezing seems to be a problem with aging ‘pooters of any stripe, which is the case with my PowerBook… that and a keyboard worn down by six years of relentless scribbling with a heavy hand.

Jules Bywater-lees - January 5, 2012

Actually I have been motivated to fix my mac seeing that even a pc replacement would be more costly but doing the research leads me to the conclusion that Apple is not a very nice company. It is also irritating, my mp3 player is not supported by itunes so it has to be loaded manually, to get apps I have been notified that I have to upgrade to lion [just one up] for $30. A friends posh pro had a battery failure [oh and if anyone but a iGenius installs it then its against the rules], my jack plays up giving no volume and if you check the forums you will find the products are less than perfect.
In reality Mac [all China built!] are good for low techy people/kids, great for the rest of the family of ipod/phone/pad etc, film editing / graphics. But for the dull stuff word-publishing-web browsing [but not editing] they are over kill. Do some research and don’t buy into the iDream.

5. rjjw - January 4, 2012

I always wanted an apple product – sleek, stylish, different….but recently had the smug thought that I got away with never having contributed to making a “billionaire hippy”…. now if there ever was an oxymoron…

Thanks Mark – amusing and provoking as ever..


6. markswill - January 4, 2012

Did you watch that BBC doc too, Jonti? I was quite surprised what a mass of contradictions Jobsworth was… but then so are most of my (mostly dead) heroes: Lowell George, Ayrton Senna, Lennon etc., etc.

rjjw - January 4, 2012

Yes I did Mark, with increasing uneasiness….as I suspect it is a characteristic we all harbour but only a few bring it to the view of others.

Go on…buy a new Mac 😉

7. hed - January 4, 2012

Similar diffs years ago. I had to get stuff down to Dublin by a more reliable method than the train or speaking slowly on a phone in a bar. No problem said their people we’ll get you a modem and stuff, what have you got?
Mac Classic
Balls: so they roadtripped a PC, all the bits and a laptop (which weighed a ton) worked a treat for the next lot of years. The stuff needed replaced so I rang a well known crowd, four letters starts with D and when I told them what I needed. They gave me a price and when I stopped crying I told them I was going to look at a local crowds custom build. Friendly engineering type (and killer of 380 GTs) did the negotiating. I wrote everything down and they got into a pissing competition over the price of RAM or something. I get hauled out but the price was affordable, the falling out was over about £15.00. Big computer co rings back and asked what I’ve decided I read them off the prices quoted in custom build place. They ask if they can ring me back and do with a £30 quid price difference mouse, keyboard and delivery to the dames front door within a week. Of course I took it. This stuff works. The travel bag gets a Toshiba netbook shoved into it. and that’s going to be replaced by a 7″ Galaxy Tab. The Blackberrys going into the stupid things I should never have bothered my arse with bin and getting replaced with a samsung note or SII..As for Apples I love itunes and children point at my bricklike ipod….but Carruthers there’s Spotify and shuffle and mini sd cards crammed with music.,(mini headphone amp and jerry rig it into a sound system, or the car)
I know none of this stuff is going to work when the power goes off but the only thing that’ll play on the windup gramophone is Andy fucking Stewart which will never happen while I can reach the tequila…..happy new year or as Enver Hoxha used to say ‘This year will be worse than last year, but not as bad as next year’
All the best

markswill - January 4, 2012

I never said PC’s don’t work, Hed, just that I have the devil’s own job working ’em. Your tale made me laugh though, at did Hoxha’s post-Xmas salutation. My guess is that next year the Boy Cameron will be using it, too.

8. Martin Craig - January 4, 2012

I thought you were going to finish on “Martin, This is Your Life” just then. In 2007 I bought a Sony Vaio (my first non-Mac since the Sinclair Spectrum) and for the same reason: price. And amazingly, it’s done fine, even with the hated Vista.

Then the gift of an iPod Touch lured me in the iOS direction & now I’ve gone for the iPhone 4 (cheaper now the 4S is here) – it keeps amazing me every day & since getting ‘Pages’, music, movie & photo editing apps I rarely go near my PC for anything.

Just before SJ croaked he announced that the PC era was over; that the iCloud took care of sync/backup duties (assuming you have decent broadband speeds & no data limit) and that we could rely on the iOS devices for almost all our needs. It may be worth listing your IT needs, taking the list into an Apple Store & seeing how far a £400 iPad2 (more if you want extra onboard memory) will go in addressing them. All your photos & iTunes tracks will back up to iCloud at no cost, leaving an FOC 5gb for other files, or more storage as needed for an annual fee.

And a happy noo-yr to you sir!

markswill - January 4, 2012

I’ve thought about the iPad route Martin, but the screen’s too small for any InDesign files I might have to correct (one lives in hope) and Pages is a really limited WP prog , even if you plug in a keyboard. I’ll just have to sell my unborn children into slavery and bite the bullet.

Hope the storms haven’t taken your roof off up there!

Martin Craig - January 4, 2012

Hi Mark,
R’spec due if you can use InDesign; I loved PageMaker but InDesign hurt my brain. Point taken re. iPad screen size, ‘though one family member gets his iPad onto an obscenely large LCD tv via Apple TV – but that’s more expense, of course.

If this is for your clever publishing stuff & if I had to rely on it for my living (sorry for that pre-Cameronian expression) a Mac would have to be my choice – if it brought £ in, it would be a legit business expense, etc.

Wind’s still trying to rip the roof off, still intact so far, thanks. Ever read ‘Days Between Stations’? I think that’s the era we’re entering..

9. markswill - January 5, 2012

Actually Martin, I can’t set up templates in InDesign, though god knows I’ve tried, but I can sub-edit direct onto the pages, which is the source of (very) occasional income.

Hope you can keep your roof on and no, I haven’t read ‘Days Between Stations’… Should I? What’s it about?

Martin Craig - January 5, 2012

‘Days Between Stations’ – well there’s this bloke, right, and this woman and…

For some reason the synopses I’ve seen focus on the human aspects, but what made it memorable to me was that it was ordinary relationship stuff set in a post-climate change world; huge gales (like now) seas retreated & sand covering homes up to the first floor windows. But the reviews tend to ignore all that & say, “There was this bloke, right, and…”

10. andie - January 5, 2012

srsly – i bought an android sgs2 rather than an iphone as i really didn’t fancy spending £1200 over 2 years just for a mobile phone. but it really is the most unintuitive piece of shit ever; every time i run the satnav it asks me “do you you want to enable GPS?”. do i want to use GPS?! of course i want to use GPS, if i say no what are you gonna do – whip out a sextant and navigate by fucking starlight? you’re a SATNAV, navigate by satellite!

oh yeah – you can’t say no, well you can but it’ll then ask you the same question 10 seconds later. and again. and again. and again. until you cave and say yes. finally defeated that extra £600 and 6months of contract morph from being abstract concepts and take on a more tangible form, and then they mock you silently from bustops as you drive past furiously jabbing away at some foul menu hidden away in the depths of its democratically lashed together os

11. Frank W - January 5, 2012

As you know, Mr Mark, I have never understood the appeal of the Apple; look what it did to Eve and learn. Have run several publishing businesses on a succession of PCs (only changed as processors and memory upgrades got too clunky to endlessly add them to old boxes), very reliable.
Dell by choice; only had one failure (a modem) and their engineer was down here in Cornwall and fixed it inside 12 hours. Buy the support package; you won’t need it but will sleep better.
I run InDesign and the entire Adobe Creative Suite on it with no glitches, invisible (if endless) automatic upgrades. When it starts to slow (that’s piles of old deleted files clogging the FAT) it takes < 5 minutes to set up a clean-up and a defrag. Then it runs PFQ again. Come and play with it any time. InDesign templates? Easy.
Also run a Dell Inspiron netbook. Three years old and has been round the world. Dropped it hard in Istanbul and again in Customs at JFK; left it behind in Slovenia, and it was happy to be repatriated by post (all on its own); it's just got back from Israel and ther … careful … security. No probs, although MS Office is a not great and the next won't run it (it's obsolete anyway).
Phone? Still using a RazR. It's a phone. I use a camera as a camera and play soothing music on the stereo (yep; RealCDs). RazR cost about £20 from Morrisons several years ago.
Computers — all computers — are just tools, like a spade. It's what you do with them that matters. Mine are just machines to help me do my thing; they are not my thing. A Mac is not a Stratocaster, despite what MacUsers think…

markswill - January 5, 2012

Everything else he and others have said in praise of ’em is I’m sure true, but all I can say to Frank is what I’ve already said to Frank (and repeated in precis form above), which is that me and PCs don’t get along and I’ve tried, lord knows I’ve tried.

12. Benzina Moto - January 5, 2012

Like Frank I publish a magazine using a Dell PC. My fashion conscious daughter was happy to pay the 100% premium for a Mac, I’m (hopefully) beyond all that. Plus I hate the no-right click and the geeky shortcuts. And the more you learn about Jobs and Gates, the more I like Gates…
My Indesign course featured much sniggering at the “Windows” bloke (ie me) as the other attendees snapped open their Macs. At coffee they compared their iphones and laughed openly at my old pay-as-you-go. And at lunchtime these black-polo-necked “individuals” compared Audis in the car park, ignoring my little Italian hatchback. But like my Dell, it does the same job, and with the money I save I can buy decent cameras and yet more old motorbikes…

markswill - January 5, 2012

Bemused by what you mean as ‘geeky shortcuts’ ? One of the joys of a Mac is that to get things done you just point and click on one any of the many documents and programmes you have running simultaneously. If those are shortcuts, then I’m Elvis Presley.

As for the Audi drivers in black polo necks, well pish to the lot of ’em: I’ve never owned either, and never will. And despite the efforts of kind if impatient friends, I’ve never been able to properly learn InDesign, and I’m too mean to go on a college course (which would in any case mean a 35 miles round trip to six weeks of evening courses).

I fear I shall remain an Apple suckered luddite ’til my dying day… although current finances may force me to buy a Dell laptop anyway before chucking it out of the window (sic) after a week or two of abject frustration.

13. Mark - January 5, 2012

Dig Deep – flog something if need be – and replace the Mac with a new one, the new iMacs are a joy and the Macbooks are lovely bits of kit

You know in your heart its the only way to go

markswill - January 5, 2012

I guess by ‘flog something’ you mean my Lancia Glumma or Citruin XM ? Wise words perhaps, but falling on deaf ears.

14. rik - January 5, 2012

Get a new Mac, get an iPhone, whatever else you have to go without in life. There is no alternative.

15. markswill - January 5, 2012

Well Rik, Mr Frank and Mr Benzina (above) would seem to disagree with you (and me). But I remain angry about Apple’s shameless profiteering: it surely can’t cost twice as much to manufacture a Mac in the same sweatshops that manufacture PC’s, so how can they get away with charging us punters such a premium? Wouldn’t happen in virtually any other field I can think of.

Mark - January 5, 2012

Its far more than just the actual machine

its the bundled software, which actually makes it useable straight out of the box

Its the materials used

its the cost of R & D

Its about a decent OS

Its about healthy profits and not going bust – like most other PC makers

Its about decent support

Its about paying employees a decent wage

If Marks G4 is a 2006 model, that makes it 5 going on 6 years old which is par for the course, most Windows Laptops are fit for the bin after 2 years.

Flame On 🙂

16. andie - January 5, 2012

…and it’s also about perceived quality

17. Benzina Moto - January 5, 2012

By geeky short-cuts, I could have said cliquey…the Mac crowd feel they’re part of something special and as an obsessive about ancient Italian motorcycles I accept and respect that. But the premium you pay is objectively of doubtful intrinsic value, and anyone who thinks the price charged for a product is related to the cost of bringing it to the market has clearly never studied economics or run a business: it’s about marginal propensities and demand curves. My ancient in-laws were happily dragged to an Apple store by my Mac-fan daughter and were almost seduced – they could easily afford the premium but couldn’t see the logic in spending it. And my Dell PC and laptops have outlasted many a friend’s Mac because they changed them every time Steve Job’s told them something was “better”. Which sort of makes the point of many of Mark’s other posts – giving money we can’t really spare to big business for stuff we don’t actually need (cf want) is how folk got into the current financial mess

18. Martin Craig - January 5, 2012

What a cleverly selected Hot Topic with which to kick off 2012; the PC/Mac battle replaces Class War. And now the black polo neck comes in for a shoeing. I always thought that SJ actually wore a black cashmere crew neck, but I would say that, I live in Scotland.

Those of us of a certain age should own up to the fact that we all see ourselves as Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner. Once we acknowledge that, we can enjoy all the cars, bikes, techie gadgets and black polo neck sweaters we bloody well like. Now where did I park the Lotus?

markswill - January 5, 2012

Oooh yes Martin, my choice of topics is finely attuned to the issues of the day… or do I mean randomly dreamt up? You decide. Mind you, didn’t our mutual hero Mr McGoohan wear a white Bri-nylon polo neck? Very uncool, really.

Martin Craig - January 5, 2012

McGoohan wore a black one too. I blotted out the white one years ago, along with his Butlins blazer. But you just had to drag that up, didn’t you?

Sent from my iPhone 7 (beta)

19. Paul N. Blezard - January 5, 2012

Fascinating reading, Mark. Not just your own piece but all the Mac vs PC thrust ‘n’ parry that has followed. Briefly, I started with an Amstrad in 1986, which I used to carry around all over the country in the back of my van for several years. Upgraded to PC lap top in ’93 which I took to Lanzarote brand new for the launch of the R1100RS. Got given my first Mac (2nd hand) in ’97 and kept it till I was given a brand new iMac for the launch of Twist&Go in 2000. A joy. Splashed out on a G4 in 2003 via which I am typing these words (albeit on a later keyboard). Splashed out on a MacBookPro lap top in 2010 which has been absolutely brilliant and survived all sorts of motorcycle and bicycle journeys worldwide. Highly recommended.
As for mobiles, I stuck to waterproof ones for over a decade, and avoided all smartphones until last summer, when I was seduced by the HiDef video capability of the iPhone 4, along with Vodaphone’s offer of a ‘free’ upgrade. The iPhone is astonishing, although lots of things about it still infuriate me; its synchronise-ability with the MacBook is wonderful – all those notes and numbers in both computers and my phone with no pain at all! All those vids and pix easily transferred too.
However, iTunes has led me close to insanity with its insistence on playing voice recordings all jumbled up with choons and I’m not prepared to waste any more time trying to sort them out without having a proper lesson from a real human being!
One other thing, which I’ve only really come to appreciate this year with the help of Craig Vetter’s Mac Expert son Zac, is the importance of regular backing up. I confess I was very slack about it in the past. Now I do it often via a blue slab gizmo thang that I bought with Zac’s help.
I say bite the bullet Mark, sell your arse if you have to, but go the Mac route. You know it makes sense! Those pesky PCs would drive you wild with annoyance and frustration!

markswill - January 5, 2012

Sadly Paul my arse is no longer the pert young object of desire (to drunken gays) that it might’ve been for about two seconds in 1973, so I may have to sell my collection of rare vinyl or rare if virtually worthless aulde Lancias if I’m to stay in the orchard.

But the back-up thang is important even if you DO own a Mac, and I do it with a LaCie portable hard drive, er, whenever I can remember.

You had am Amstrad? Really? Go wash your mouth out young man.

20. Tom Stewart - January 5, 2012

Mark, I don’t suppose Presteigne has a PC World, but this time last year I went to PC World (Fulham) and bought m’self an ex display, fully refurbed and guaranteed as-new tho’ not-the-very-latest iMac for £300 less than retail in the January clearance sale. Sorted. (IIR, there were similar discounts on Mac laptops too.)

markswill - January 5, 2012

Oooooh, that’s fascinating. Sadly my nearest PC Whirled is 25 miles hence in Hereford, but I shall phone and speak to one of their 12 year-old ‘sales consultants’ in the morning. Thanks Tom.

21. Paul N. Blezard - January 5, 2012

MW: “You had am Amstrad? Really? Go wash your mouth out young man”
I will remain forever grateful to the Amstrad for saving me from enslavement to the dreaded Tippex of all kinds; for enabling me to cut and paste whole paragraphs; and so on and so forth. For me, it was as mighty a step forward as the Gutenberg Press was from hand-scripted books. I shall also never forget the ludicrous waste of time and labour during my brief sojourn at Link House whereby I typed a story on the Amstrad, printed it out on a piece of paper, which got got driven 20 miles in a van, where someone else re-inputted all my words, printed them out again with some added mistakes, and then sent them back for correction. Then I’d have to correct the galleys by hand, send them back, more typing…..more mistakes, And on and on before the bloody mag finally went to bed.
I also happen to know that Mr Tribble of this parish, remained a devoted Amstrad worshipper for many many years after the rest of us had plighted our troths with either Bill’s PCs or Steve’s Big Macs.

markswill - January 6, 2012

Those were they daze, eh, Mr Blez?! Actually you’re right, given its limitations – and there were many – the ‘strad was a fairly robust machine. And cheap. Wonder if anyone still uses them now? Certainly there are musicians who still somehow manage to use 30 year-old Amigas to make music.

Mark - January 6, 2012

I used one of the early Amstrad PeeCee’s – Cheap and cheerful but more interestingly it used the GEM desktop which I really liked.

It was at about the same time as the first versions of Windows were arriving – Windows 286 / Windows 386 – and for those of us who could not afford a Mac, it seemed the future really had arrived.

22. davidcharleslancaster - January 8, 2012

Blez: ‘Briefly… I started with an Amstrad in 1986…’
NooooooooOOOO! No more.
Frank W: Maybe. But, most publishing companies work with Macs, or versions of; design software was developed for Macs, or versions of; and I do recall our erstwhile employers, in the North West (post Mark W) developing their own ‘bespoke’ (the word of the talented or scoundrel, but never both) which basically screwed MCi’s production for many, many months. PC based, of course.
Interesting, though, how this MAC/PC thing has elevated itself to the divide of the levels of what was once the Christian Church:
Protestant – Rome.
Modern Times.
MacBook Pro, film, pix, words, browsers, all working good here… DL

23. markswill - January 8, 2012

Good analogy Dave, but what else did you expect from those penny-pinching shysters in Cheshire?! Frank still, indeed particularly, won’t agree with you, but I do.

Frank W - January 24, 2012

The farcical sitch in Grunting Mancunia was down to the incompetence of those who specified the system. I advised completely differently, as the set-up I ran at home was better … but would they listen? Nope. And neither will Mark! Life is good. Belle Afrique in a fortnight, PC netbook in the luggage; camera in pocket, phone switched off…

24. rjjw - January 9, 2012

Amazing…give or take a few headings 978 words of blog turns into 4,734 words of follow up comment…Wasn’t it Jesus who did something similary with a few loves and fishes? 🙂 BTW good to see you writing for a bike mag again…(MC mech) – sad news about Tony Lommi of Black Sabbath…though

markswill - January 11, 2012

Yeah, this ‘un certainly generated mucho response… and thanks for the kind words re. M/cycle Maniacs

25. rjjw - January 9, 2012

Oops how do you fix typos.. Tony Iommi

26. Prosper Keating - January 10, 2012

Hello Mark, Dave and Blez!

Mark: Regarding the transfer of Palm Pilot data to an iPhone, plug your Palm into the Mac and enable “Palm iSynch Conduit”. The contacts and calendar data will be transferred into your Mac’s Address Book and iCal. This data is then available the next time you synch your iPhone using iTunes. You may have to go through your Address Book deleting redundant stuff manually but duplicates might merge. Here’s a useful article on the subject: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2576?viewlocale=en_US

You can buy a secondhand 3G iPhone quite cheaply. The latest operating system runs well on it and the 3G remains more stable than the 4G. But if you opt for a ‘Droid, here’s how to do it, according to my 12-year old nephew:

Open Palm Desktop

Go to File > Export to vCard

Save the file in a known location (like your Mac desktop)

Log Into your Gmail account

Click Contacts in the left menu

Click Import in the top right

Choose file and select the vCard file you made.

Click Import

Your contacts will be imported into your Gmail account

On your Droid make sure you have connected your Gmail account

Go to contacts > Menu > Accounts

Select your Gmail account > Menu > Sync Now

Your new contacts will be imported – Any duplicates should be merged.

Hope this is useful. BTW, there is a very handy App for saving a copy of all iPhone contacts – hopefully synched with your computer! – as an Excel document. Not only can you print them out as a hard copy but you can enter them into iPhones should you need a new one.


Finally, a word from someone whose writers on various projects spend more time fixing their bloody PCs than generating copy, PC laptops are half the price of a Macbook Pro but Windows crashes a lot.

It all depends on the value one places on time. Half a day or more can vanish each time your PC decides to sabotage you. I’ve had every type of Mac laptop since 1993. The best were the first G4 Titanium, which fell off motorcycles a couple of times – attached to me – and kept working, and the 13″ Macbook Pro I just got, which is faster than I need it to be and lighter than all the 15″ and 17″ laptops I have been using. The 13″ is light, fast and perfectly suitable for my needs, which include checking and editing images. You can always plug it into a large monitor if needs be.

Blez: savais-tu que j’habite Paris depuis une quinzaine d’années? Est-ce que tu viens ici parfois?

Prosper Keating

Happy 2012!

markswill - January 10, 2012

Wow Prosper, that’s great and very helpful. Oddly, one of the forums I trawled explained any of this, so hat’s off to the 12 year-old nephews! Am also thinking of the 13″ MacBook which, as you say, is bloody fast, plus a bigger monitor. Cheers.

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