Mac Attack!

 Posted by at 12:34 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 052011

After reading everybody’s positive comments about Mac computers, you all convinced me that it was time to take the plunge. So yesterday we took ourselves off to the Apple store at University Park Mall in Mishawaka to go computer shopping. I had already done a lot of research, and decided that the iMac was the right machine for me. It was just a matter of pulling my credit card out of my wallet, wiping the dust off of it, and cringing as they rang up the sale.

But then I got to thinking (which is never a good idea). If one iMac is a good thing, two must be great, right? Ever since we started the Gypsy Journal, we have been buying computers as we needed them, when their predecessors bit the dust, and Terry and I never had computers that were compatible. I have been using a four or five year old Dell desktop running Window XP Pro, and Terry has a Toshiba Satellite laptop with Windows 7. While they were both Windows based computers, my older version of Microsoft Office was not completely compatible with her newer version, so we had to convert her recipe column to the older format when putting a new issue of the paper together, for example. There were several irritating little things like that.

So we decided, in the spirit of American consumerism, to just max out the damn credit card and buy two identical machines. And here they are!

Nick Mac

Terry Mac 2

They are 21 inch iMacs, with 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processors, 4 GB of RAM (we’ll be upgrading these to 8 GB) and 1T hard drives. Now if we can just learn how to run the darn things! 🙂

We signed up for a program called One To One, which gives us each a year of online and in person training at Apple stores across the country. We also bought a couple of good books on the iMac and the new Lion operating system, with lots of color pictures so our foggy old brains can understand them.

For the time being, as we transition from our old Windows computers to the iMacs, I am keeping my Dell plugged in and running, too. This way, if I need to get some work done and get bogged down, I can switch back. Of course, I caught myself using the wrong keyboard more than once and wondering why nothing showed up as I typed! 🙂

Mac and Dell

I guess the best way to explain the difference in the two type of computers, would be like comparing driving a standard shift car to one with an automatic transmission. Both will get you where you’re going, but you use different controls to get there. When we got rid of our Toyota pickup and moved to the Ford van with an automatic transmission, for weeks afterward we found ourselves reaching for the clutch pedal or gear shift occasionally. Or, to put it in terms all RVers can understand, how many times have you caught yourself trying to flush the toilet with your foot when visiting someone’s home or using a public restroom? 🙂

It took about three hours at the Apple store to purchase the computers and get a quick introduction to them from one of the young ladies there, who explained a few basic functions, and by then, it was after their 6 p.m. closing time. Greg and Jan White had ridden to the mall with us, and all this time, Jan enjoyed browsing a few shops and people watching from a bench in the mall near the store. Greg divided his time between keeping Jan company and popping back into the store to see how we were progressing, and so I could pick his brain about technical questions as they came up.

When we were finished at the Apple store, we stopped at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the mall to buy the computer books mentioned above, and then had dinner at Five Guys, one of our favorite fast food chains in the country.

Back at Elkhart Campground, we set the computers up on our desks and spent the rest of the evening getting familiar with the basics of how they work. And I won’t lie to you, there were the occasional frustrations and maybe a threat to grab the nearest chainsaw or sledgehammer may have been uttered. It’s going to be interesting! 🙂

Thought For The Day – I have learned more from my mistakes than from my successes.

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Nick Russell

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  24 Responses to “Mac Attack!”

  1. Tip of the day: Figure out how to enable right-mouse clicking on that trackpad (I don’t have a trackpad yet, so I can’t tell you the specific steps, but it’s somewhere in the System Preferences tool) because without it, you won’t be able to access contextual menus, which are *very* handy. To see what I mean about contextual menus, just hook up that mouse from your PC to the Mac and then click around on different things (icons, menus, windows, title bars, etc) with the right mouse button to see what the contextual menus offer you in those different situations. Then configure the trackpad to provide that capability.

  2. Congratulations! Have a great time with your new Apple computer. Yes, it will be challenging but very rewarding in the long run. Now, you are fully prepared for iCloud which will change the way we all do our daily computing. Hang on to your Windows based computers.

  3. Ok, one more Tip of the Day:Check out Dropbox. Get yourself a free account that offers you up to 2Gig of storage space in the cloud. Then get the Dropbox client for your Mac, iPad, iPhone, and PC. Now you can easily share files between all those devices with drag-n-drop ease. Terry can either get her own account and you guys can use a ‘shared’ folder to share files, or she can piggy-back off of your account and see all your Dropbox files. Your call. Enjoy.

  4. Try to remember the computer is just another tool. And we all know how dangerous you are with tools. 🙂
    You’ll both do fine. We always say, “computers and teenagers are here to teach us patience.”
    Soon you will be extolling the virtues of Macs like any fan-boy. Do take advantage of the excellent classes at the Apple stores. It will make the transition easier.

  5. Hey Nick,

    You will grow to love the Mac. Now that you are Terry have new computers isn’t this a time when 2 or 3 cranky readers tell you that you have too much money?

  6. Ahh Credit…just another word for free. Enjoy the new imacs Nick. Does this mean Bad Nick is going to start spouting liberal claptrap.

  7. Recently upgraded both my Macs to 8gb each. It was so simple, unscrew one screw, pop out 2 cards, insert 2 cards. I bought my Ram through “Crucial”, an online store that sells memory specific for Mac. It only cost me $50 per Mac vs. hundreds from the apple store. As fast as the computers are, they do work better with more Ram…especially when running Parallels. I often run multiple programs all at once with no hiccups.

    The hardest thing for me to get used to when I switched to Mac is how everything is done through the menu bar. When looking for a function always look up there at the top. I bought the “One to One” also, never used it. The Mac is so intuitive you will probably learn it faster than you think. Good luck.

  8. Chris, Bad Nick spews neither right-wing nor left-wing ‘claptrap’. He seems to me to be an independent voice that pisses off both sides on a regular basis. 8^)

    Besides, why would owning a Mac push him to the left? Owning a Mac should have no influence over one’s politics. Rush Limbaugh, right-wing demagogue , is one of the biggest Mac fans on the planet.

  9. Congratulations Nick, I too was frustrated when I first switched after years of being anti-Mac. Now I love it, it just works. The web site and Apple forums always have the answer for me. Learn the gestures for the trackpad. Two finger tap is like a right mouse click and three finger swipe opens Mission Control which shows everything that is open. Wouldn’t it be great if the Geeks on Tour switched to Macs.
    I ran bootcamp with Windows 7 for a while but then took it off. I switched to Mac to get away from all the viruses and stuff. The only thing I miss is a good map program when I am not connected to the internet. Good luck and enjoy–Bob

  10. @ J.C., Ugh, thanks a lot, now I may just have to throw out my Mac!

  11. I am jealous. I have wanted a Mac for years but cringed at the cost and always wound up with a PC. You have me convinced. After this latest PC goes I will get that Mac!

  12. @Jim Melvin – Jim, take a look at the Mac mini. It’s what I use as my main Mac desktop. Can be had for around $800. You just have to provide your own monitor, keyboard and mouse (but I recommend you get the Mac trackpad with it). It’s a complete and fully functional desktop computer in a tiny package.

  13. Hey Nick!
    Please remember me a Christmas time! I need a new ‘puter too and you probably have some extra room on your card. Please, please. LOL!!!

  14. Congratulation on your new twins, Hope you have fun getting to know them. I am happy that Terry got a new computer to.May your have many hours of joy using them. see you soon.

  15. Awful small keyboard on that Mac. Not sure my ham-hands could restrict themselves to such a tiny space.

  16. You will love have matching systems with the ease of porting documents back and forth. I am so happy for you. Dave says you can ask him when you have Mac specific questions since Greg and the Geeks may not know all the answers now.

  17. I SO need to hear every step of your learning process! I have wanted a Mac badly for the last 2 years. My Toshiba Satellite is almost 7 years old and on it’s last legs. I have promised myself a Mac when it dies. Following your journey closely!!

  18. What can I add to what’s already been said? Because the computer is a primary tool for your business, you are fully justified purchasing what is generally perceived as the best for your job. Would you try to build houses with Wal Mart power tools? And, I am soooo pleased that you saw fit to buy the best for your partner. Best of luck with your new tools.

  19. One more suggestion if I may. If you find it a little frustrating, as I did, that the behavior of the round Green button found in the top left corner of every window doesn’t have the same behavior as on the PC, then check out the app called “Moom” on the Mac App Store…works great!

    It will also automatically resize the window to exactly half of your screen in the event you want to run two windows side by side. My two cents.

  20. I appreciate all of the tips, folks! Please keep them coming.

  21. As JC said . . .you’ll love the trackpad once you get the right click configured correctly (it’s a 2 finger click as I recall) but it’s in System Preferences -> Trackpad. The DropBox suggestion is also good . . .although you can enable file sharing on both machines and connect pretty easily to the other one when needed. One thing to do . . .the first account you create on each machine will be an admin account . . .for day to day use you probably shouldn’t login with admin rights; so create another account for daily use in System Preferences -> Users and Groups and use that account for email/browsing/etc. Whenever you want/try to do something that needs admin rights it will pop up an authentication dialog. The dialog will be filled in with your current userid (which isn’t admin and won’t authorize anything) but you can substitute admin user name and password in the dialog and things will proceed as needed. Rename the hard drive to something besides Macintosh HD, use non obvious userid’s and passwords (i.e., instead of Nick Russell use Bigbear or whatever Terry calls you assuming it’s clean). The most important password ideas are obviously don’t write it down and use a long one . . .while numbers and symbols and mixed upper/lower case is fine if you have a choice between UxpWT8&^9 and Iliketodrinkcoldbeer! . . .the latter will take far longer to break because of it’s length. If you’re keyboard centric in your operations instead of mouse centric . . there are a myriad of program launchers that you do almost everything without the mouse/trackpad. I prefer LaunchBar but Alfred and Butler are similar in features. If you have questions . . .just append them in one of your posts and I’m sure you’ll get lots of suggestions.

    Since you’re new to the Mac . . .a primer might be in order. David Pogue’s MacOS X Lion for Dummies is pretty good (at least his others are, don’t know if he’s got a Lion one out yet) and there are a great series of ebooks at as well as an outstanding site at for general Mac stuff.

  22. Thank -you for mentioning the toilet…….Here I was thinking I was the only one who came home from the road…and tried to flush my home one with my foot..the other problem I have is where the light switch is at 2-4-6 am…..I’ve learned to keep my flashlight handy…at home or on the road…

  23. Okay, bookmarked this page since we already planned to get a Mac notebook when the next laptop goes.

    Nick, wondering how you will adapt to the small keyboard compared to the ergonomic one. After too many years on the computer, I switched to the ergo keyboard and never looked back…really helped the pain in my wrists and elbows.

    You’ll need to start a new blog….transitioning from PC to Mac!

  24. @Donna – You can attach any keyboard you wish to the Mac. They all work fine, including the ergo keyboards. You can use any mouse you wish also, btw.

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