Since I was about 4 years old, I have worked with and owned computers. I've always been wowed by the nifty things these devices can do, the games they play, and - even at a young age - the potential they had to change your life. In other words, computers have always been important to me, and something I try not to take for granted.
Normally when I write these articles and reviews for The Inner Dorkdom, I do so using Microsoft Word 2010, then I import them into the ID blog. I know the program fairly well, have used it in its various incarnations since 1988 or so (even though I had no idea what I was typing back then), and I have a brand new copy of Office 2014 on my shelf that I've yet to use. For anyone who knows me, I've been a Microsoft Office (or equivalent) and Windows user for my entire life.
This article was not typed using Microsoft Word 2010; this article was not typed using a Windows application, and this article was not typed on my Kindle Fire HD.
This document was typed in Pages - the Apple iPad Air's primary word processor. Why is this a big deal for me? Find out after the jump!
While using an iPad may not seem like a big deal to most folks at this stage in the game, it's a pretty big deal to me. I've been a DOS and Windows user - pretty much - my entire life. From the PC side of things, I've always enjoyed the freedom that the platform offered in terms of upgradability. Plus, it's just the platform I've always used, so therefore it's the one I know how to use. Working on, repairing, and maintaining Windows PCs is also part of what I do for a living.
I've been an "Apple-hater" for just as long as I've been a Microsoft user. My first experiences with the company that Steve Jobs built were way back when I was in the first grade, using Apple IIs and Macintoshes to play educational games at school.
I was immediately unimpressed.
At home, I had a Tandy running DOS Shell, and I felt that it had far superior games. Sure, I had a few educational games, but I also had stuff like Megaman and other, what would now be considered, "core" games. To my young, pea-sized brain, the PC had cooler gaming options, and that was all I cared about at the time. I thought all Apple had were educational games.
This mentality continued well on into my adulthood as Apple resurged with the advent of the iPod. I didn't adopt the platform until the iPod Classic was available, but I did like the product. It was fast, could hold a lot of music, and it was ultimately easy to use - that is, until it died on me.
I had the iPod Classic for nearly two years when it decided to give up the techno-ghost. Needless to say, I was furious. I had my entire music collection on there! "Stupid Apple," I would proclaim. Shortly after, however, I bought an iPod Touch from a guy I knew who was selling one for a measly $20. Since the retail price was out of my range, I jumped on the deal. The Touch was a decent device, but it had very little storage space, and I constantly had to reset it to factory defaults in order to keep it running, losing all my data in the process. This could have been mainly because I bought it used, but I didn't care; it sealed the deal for my Apple-hatred.
When I finally decided to adopt the smartphone format, I naturally opted for the Android operating system. Since the iPod Touch was basically an iPhone without the phone functionality, I knew that I didn't want one of those. From the way I saw it, the Android OS would do everything the iPhone would do, but because of my aforementioned Apple-hatred, I deemed that it would "do it better." Though, I must say, the last two Android phones I've had have been privy to their fair share of problems.
In the tablet realm, the only device I've ever had is the Android-based Kindle Fire HD. It's a great tablet, and nothing will ever take the place of it as the thing that I read books on. But since I'm an amateur writer, I want to have something that is capable of that functionality. The Kindle just isn't great for that. But then again, it's not designed for it.
So that brings me to laptops. So far, I've owned three laptops over the last several years: an old Dell, an HP, and my current, an ASUS ROG gaming laptop. My problem, when it comes to writing, is that these laptops haven't been very portable. That's my fault, though; I tend to go with the largest screen I can get, since I want to be able to get the most out of a laptop possible. Unfortunately, this means that I have to deal with lugging around several pounds of computer everywhere I go. For writing on the go, I needed something smaller.
It just so happened that during my research for something smaller, I had watched the film "Jobs," starring Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, one of the original co-founders of Apple. I really didn't know all that much about the guy, other than a very basic idea of who he was. As I watched the movie, I became fascinated by him. Sure, the guy had problems, but as far as being a visionary and seeing the way technology was going before it got there, he was unmatched. Plus, he was a darn good salesman.
The movie led to me watching some interviews of the man on YouTube; that led to purchasing his biography; and that led to watching some of his keynotes in which he debuted new Apple devices. Steve Jobs was trying to sell me products from beyond the grave.
I had previously been researching the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 to fill my portable word processing needs. It came with Microsoft Office, so that was a plus, and it ran an actual version of Windows, rather than the mobile RT version, meaning that anything one could install on a desktop could be installed on the Surface. However, the ridiculously high price, as well as having to spend an additional $100+ on the keyboard kept me at bay.
To hold me over until I could actually afford a Surface Pro 3, I decided to take ol' Uncle Steve's advice and look into the iPad. While I can't say that I was blown away by what I found on the device, it looked like a lot of the problems I used to have with the old iPod Touch version of iOS were gone and it was a bit more stable. I found that the iPad was fully capable of word processing and, as an added bonus, the iPad was - of course - much smaller and lighter than the Surface Pro. I decided to give Apple another shot and buy the iPad Air, along with a Bluetooth keyboard cover.
Sitting here typing in Pages with the keyboard works great. Again, I'm still not totally blown away, but it meets my needs when it comes to word processing on the go. Here's the kicker, though: it does interest me in other Apple products.
Based on my experiences with my last two Android phones, I was thinking about getting an iPhone in March when my provider's contract is up, anyway. Now I'm pretty much sold on the idea of giving Apple a shot on that front as well.
But there's actually one more thing...
About four years ago, I was working a dead-end job as a warehouse clerk. Not surprisingly, my knowledge of computers got around to those in the warehouse and office, and I was asked by a coworker if I would work on his laptop. He brought it in, plugged it up, and called me over to take a look at it. I really didn't pay any attention to the laptop's casing, and just sat down as he turned it on. When it booted up to the OS, I noticed that it looked, for lack of a better word, "funky." In the top-left corner, there was what looked like a traffic light and there were four or five icons at the bottom of the screen.
"What is this?" I asked my coworker.
He replied, "It's a Macbook."
I promptly closed the laptop's lid and handed it back to him. To a certain degree, this kind of concerned me. Here was a computer that I could do absolutely nothing with. I didn't know how to run programs, I didn't know how to turn it off, and more importantly, I didn't know how to fix it. Most businesses use Windows, and so does the company I currently work for, but what if that wasn't the case? What if we changed to iMacs and Mac OS X? I would be completely in the dark. I'm sure I could fumble my way through, given enough time, but problem solving is something that you sometimes have to do very quickly within an IT field. At some point, I would like to buy a Macbook Air or something to familiarize myself with the Mac OS. Unfortunately, given the pricey nature of Apple's desktop and laptop lines, that probably won't be for quite a while.
I write all of this to basically say that I've decided to give Apple a shot. Would Apple be the place I would go for all my computing needs? Probably not. There are a lot of things that an Apple can't do: It can't be upgraded without buying an entirely new machine; it can't play a lot of high-end games; it can't be bargained with; it can't be reasoned with; and it absolutely will not stop until you are dead. However, judging from the little I know of Mac OS X and what I've experienced first-hand with iOS, it looks like it's fairly user-friendly and efficient for doing work-based computing.
At the beginning of next year, I still plan to purchase a Surface Pro 3 and see how that works for me. I still can't help but feel like a stranger in a strange land with Apple products. But I've got to admit, they're intriguing. I love computers, and this is another half of the computer world I don't know a whole lot about. Discovering it might be fun!