Parallel Desktops

My wife and her iPhone

I’ve mentioned before that my lovely wife of 22 years is both brilliant and technically challenged. Whenever there is the slightest problem with technology—whether it’s switching the inputs on our TV or dealing with the smallest of issues on her Windows XP machine—I hear the "David…!" yell. This has led me to consider getting my wife a Mac to replace the HP laptop she has used for a couple of years now.

I would love to get her on the same platform that I’m on and get her to enjoy the Mac experience I have had so much fun with. I’m also a realist and came to the conclusion months ago that she will simply not enjoy the switch to a Mac unless it was something she really wanted. It’s not that she’s anti-Apple; she has been an iPod user for years and loves them. It’s just that unlike me her computer is purely a utility, something that is used to accomplish her goals. Given that, a Mac would likely be a challenge for her because it is just different enough that she would struggle with it. In light of all this I have let things run the way they have for many years.

I simply have to play technical support for her Windows issues and grudgingly patch the machine up as best I can.

Her new iPhone

When our Sprint service died and I picked up an iPhone I also bought one for my wife. At first she was a bit reluctant but after seeing a good friend use hers my wife warmed up to the idea. I was shocked by how quickly she took to it. I did of course have to provide some initial technical support but she mastered the basics much faster than I expected. This from a person that has never sent a text message in her life. The biggest issue she had was typing in the letter P. The Incipio dermaSHOT cover I placed on her iPhone has a slight lip that was blocking her from easily hitting it.The only other issue is eyesight related. We’re at the age where reading glasses are required and I noticed that she was often stretching the iPhone away from her in order to see details.

Solving the Gmail Contacts problem She’s a Gmail user so I set up her account for her and the iPhone quickly pulled down her e-mail. The only thing she had left to do was get her contacts into the iPhone. Since she runs iTunes on her Windows XP laptop I fired that up and specified that it should pull the contacts from Gmail. Well, that sucked down several hundred people that she did not know since Gmail still adds every person that is on any e-mail you send to your contacts. Every person from my son’s lacrosse team or our community activities list was automatically included, making her phone list far too large.

I pulled up a web browser and went into her Gmail Contacts List and noticed that there was now a Suggested Contacts list. I figured I’d live life on the edge and try something so I selected them all and deleted them. Sure enough the people that were left in the Contact List were the people she actually wanted in there (about 50). When we synced up to iTunes the next time she had her 50 contacts and everything was great. I had her update her contact information through Gmail since it was a little easier than typing everything in on her iPhone, then she re-synced and all was good.

A Mac is in her future She has been so happy with the iPhone experience that she’s actually reconsidering her position on switching to a Mac. Her Windows XP laptop is painfully slow right now, has trouble shutting down and the anti-virus software on it needs to be renewed. I am just tired of dealing with it all. Instead, she has a birthday coming up next month and I’m thinking a nice MacBook would be the perfect gift for her. If this goes according to plan I’ll set up an account for myself on her machine and the next time I hear "David…!" coming from her I’ll just SSH into her machine and use Alex to say "What?!?"

By David Alison

I bought my first Mac almost 24 years ago when DOS ruled the world. I didn't keep it too long though. I was just kicking off my career as a software engineer and needed to go with PCs. I bought my 2nd Mac in February of 2008. I didn't expect that I would find myself using the machine as much as I have. It's not that I hate Windows (well, I pretty much hate Vista but XP is a fine OS), it's just that I find myself constantly playing with this machine.

I'll share with you here my experiences of making the move from Windows to Macintosh. I still have a foot in both worlds, hence the name of my section.