New computers – Mac (learning curve)

I’m working through a book to learn about my new Mac.  (You’ll see the review eventually, and probably recongize some of this text when you do.)  It provides the information necessary to begin to operate the computer, but it also gives the lie to the statement that the Mac is easy to use.  There are a huge number of options for different functions, so many that it is impossible to remember them all.  The material is generally organized by topic, but there are notes, tips, and mentions buried in the text, and it is almost impossible to find these again, when you go back to look for them.  (The “delete” key definitely needs to be listed in either the index or the key shortcuts appendix.)

One of the appendices is a Windows-to-Mac dictionary, which can be quite handy for those who are used to Microsoft systems.  It could use work in many areas: the entry for “Copy, Cut, Paste” says they work “exactly” as they do in Windows, but does not give the key equivalent of “Command” (the “clover” symbol) -C rather than Ctrl-C.  (It was also only in working through some practice that I discovered that what the book describes as the “option” key is portrayed, in Mac menus, with a kind of bashed “T.”  Yes, I suppose that, once you know this, it does look kind of like a railroad switchpoint, but it’s hardly intuitively obvious.)

There is a style issue in the written material of the book: the constant assertions that the Mac is better than everything, for anything.  The first sentence of chapter one says “When you first turn on a Mac running OS X 10.6, an Apple logo greets you, soon followed by an animated, rotating `Please wait’ gear cursor–and then you’re in.  No progress bar, no red tape.”  Well, if the gear cursor isn’t an analogue of a progress bar, I don’t know what it’s supposed to be.  Also, this statement is false: when you first turn on a Snow Leopard Mac, you have to go through some red tape and questions.  This is only one example of many.  This style may have some validity.  After all, anyone who does not use a Mac comes across the same attitude in any Mac fanatic, and, even without the system chauvinism, a positive approach to teaching about the computer system is likely helpful to the novice user.  However, the style should not get in the way of factual information.

I’m used to UNIX, and I’m already into Terminal, but it’s annoying to have that be the only way to access some of the material, given the repeated assertion that the Mac is so easy to use.  Another little quirk today: yes, you can access Windows servers, but you can’t save anything to them.  (I did find a way around that: create the file in Windows, open it on the Mac, copy information into it, and then save.  Easy, right?)

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