First: I LOVE my Mac. It's my wife that hates it. I say that in
the hopes of heading off a flood of defensive email. Don't bother
to write me telling me how wrong this article is: you would be
preaching to the converted. I already know that she's wrong, that's
she is just hopelessly corrupted by the Microsoft way. I also know
that I'm guilty of not training her in the basics of using this
iBook, so yes, it's partly my fault. Or all my fault if you
You might wonder why I inflict my poor wife with something she
hates. The answer is that I don't. Well, not exactly. The problem
is this: at home, we each have our own computers. Well, technically
she has one computer and I have a varying number, but the important
point is that she has a Windows machine and I prefer my Mac. So
while we are at home, she can use Windows and remain happy.
Unfortunately (in this regard only of course), we go away for
long weekends most of the summer. We have a "park model" trailer
out in the Berkshires and from May to early October we spend three
to four days a week there. Naturally, I can't neglect my business
that much, so I have a DSL connection there and I bring my iBook
from home. While our trailer is spacious as trailers go (37 feet,
two slideouts), there really isn't room to have a desktop computer
and her 17 inch monitor. Besides, as everyone who goes away on
weekends knows, the car is always jam packed full, so we wouldn't
have room for it anyway.
Yes, I have offered to get her a Windows laptop. We even have a
Windows laptop because now and then I need one in the field. But
she doesn't like the one I already own because it is Windows 2000
(she still uses Windows 98 and doesn't want me to change anything)
and because she doesn't like laptop keyboards or laptop screens. I
could, of course, hook up a regular keyboard, but that still leaves
the monitor problem unresolved.
At this point it's important to understand that my wife doesn't
really need a computer very much while we are here. Once in a while
she wants to look something up on the web or send an email to our
daughters or one of her doctors. But many a weekend she never
touches the keyboard at all. Even most of the web browsing she
delegates to me: "What's the weather forecast?" or "How much
vitamin C in a Kiwi?" are requests I can mix in with my normal
But sometimes she does want to check email or do some web
surfing herself. So I set up her own account on the iBook and now
and then she'll be expecting something or want to do some on-line
shopping or research and she'll use it. Though "use it" is a poor
choice of words: "endures it" or "suffers it" are more
Let me say again, yes, I KNOW I SHOULD TRAIN HER. There are two
reasons why I haven't. First, one of the secrets of a 36 year
marriage is that I am fully aware that I have no patience for
teaching anything to my spouse. I learned years ago that any such
efforts only lead to frustration and unhappiness. Secondly, IT'S
TOO LATE. She already hates the Mac. She already thinks it's badly
designed, horribly complicated, and if she ever got an Apple
software engineer cornered, well, it wouldn't be pretty. I think at
this point it is better to just leave things as they are: her
softly cursing as she types, and me at the other end of the trailer
rolling my eyes and biting my tongue.
Here are her major gripes, presented with editorial comment:
"Why doesn't the Pageup key work?"
I explained that it does, you just need to use the "fn"
key with it.
I muttered something about not using ad hominem arguments, but
added that it's more of a limitation of the iBook keyboard than the
"I hate the keyboard" was all I got for that.
I did mention that we've been married for thirty six years,
right? Really, we get along great. She doesn't hate me, she's just
"Why doesn't Control End work?"
Well, because it's Control E.
"Why isn't it Fn-END?".
Fair question, I guess, but I thought you were asking why it
"Never mind, I hate this keyboard"
OK, I know that. She's been using keyboards a lot longer than I
have, and types a heck of a lot faster too.
"How do I close this stupid Window?"
Click on the little red circle. Yes, I know you were looking for
an X in the opposite corner but that's not where it is.
"It should have an X."
Well, it does have an X once your cursor moves over it.
"Oh, THAT'S helpful! What am I supposed to do, move the
cursor everywhere until I find what I want? Do these people EVER
think about making things easy?"
Tempted as I was to refer her to Apple's human interface design
pages, I didn't bother.
It's not her fault: she's used to an X.
"There's no backspace!"
Sure there is, right there.
Yes, but it works like backspace, doesn't it?
"I hate this keyboard."
"How do I send a new email?"
Huh? Use Compose.
"How am I supposed to know that?"
Well, you do know what "Compose" means, right?
Withering look: "Is there something so horrible about NEW
"How do I know whether or not I've read this message?"
The blue circle to the left.
"What blue circle?"
I came back from the bedroom where I was softly banging my head
into a pillow.
Well, you've read that one so of course there is no blue
"So how do I know I've read it?"
Because there isn't a blue circle.
"Oh, yes, little invisible blue circle: the international
symbol for Already Read It. How COULD I forget that? The problem
was, I was looking for an invisible RED circle. How silly of
No sarcasm there, of course.
"I'm done, how do I get out?"
The blue apple up in the left hand corner, choose Logout.
"A Blue Apple? Oh, of course: the international symbol for
Start Menu! Why didn't they make THAT invisible too?"
OK, OK. Invisible symbol, I get it, very funny. Can I have my
computer back now so we can pay the mortgage?
I think at some level she doesn't really understand that this is
not just another computer, but is completely different. I think
maybe she has the idea that Apple has failed miserably at making a
Windows computer - which of course they have, but because they
didn't WANT to make a Windows computer.
We've had similar results every time she's used it; her fuming
and me begging that she not pound so hard on my keyboard. I don't
blame her: Macs are no more intuitive than any other OS, and if you
are only accustomed to Microsoft, you expect most things to work
the same way. There's also the laptop keyboard issue, and the fact
that she is used to a larger screen. Maybe I should get that 17
inch Powerbook.. no, probably not.
I just now realized that all of this was completely unnecessary:
I have Virtual
PC on this machine: I could have just popped her into that and
she would have been relatively at home in Windows XP. Duh! That is
definitely what I will do the next time she wants to use the
(Later). She's gotten a bit less caustic. There are times now
when she browses for an hour or more and the only time I hear from
her is if she wants to show me something. But she'd still rather
have her Windows.