My Dad + Macintosh = Ahhh…

Much to my surprise and delight, about five years ago my Dad started taking computer classes at a senior center. My sister’s and I bought my (then) 76 year old Dad an inexpensive eMachines PC running Windows XP for Christmas. The computer, 17″ monitor and cheap inkjet printer was less than $600 so we got him setup quickly and easily without breaking our holiday budgets.

Since I’m the family propellerhead, all tech support was my responsibility (I support both Mac’s and PC’s). Though Dad is only about 20 minutes from my house, I set him up with a VNC server that I could get into securely so I could perform remote tech support for him. Every time I touched his system, there was an incredible amount of spyware and adware on it or something had gotten hosed up somehow.

Dad is now 81 years old. Since he loves his computer, broadband connection and uses them often, I wanted to upgrade the memory and get it to run faster. But it was worse than just a slow machine. When I was at his house fixing something there were dancing naked ladies on his taskbar since he’d inadvertently clicked on a spam email attachment and this garbage was loaded. It was sort of funny if you knew my Dad…but also I was just tearing my hair out over the constant tweaking necessary to keep the system running. After looking into the cost of upgrading this ancient computer, I decided to make HIS life and MY life alot easier: I bought him a Mac mini, an LCD monitor and my sister got him a new printer.

If you’re a PC user that helps out family and friends or is incredibly frustrated as you spend hours futzing with your Windows PC…listen up. If you’re a Mac user, this is old news so feel free to take a quick nap.

My Dad loves the new Mac. I made the icons huge so he can see everything, it’s easier to navigate, and the spyware and adware are now a complete non-issue. There’s nothing that he cannot do on this computer and I *rarely* have to do any remote logging in to fix something. I’ve now discovered that one of my favorite utilities (Onyx) can “lock” the icons in the dock so the last little problem of him inadvertently dragging an application icon from the dock and having it disappear is soon to be another non-issue.

You’re undoubtedly well aware of the religious wars between Mac and PC users and it’s not my intention to fan the flames since I really don’t care what anyone else is using. I just quietly revel in my delight with my own machines and choices. But damn…this one decision has saved me HOURS of time and his machine just runs…and runs….and runs.

I’m not alone in this position. All around geek and multi-platform media god, Leo Laporte, is a TV, radio and netcasting master at helping people with computer issues and routinely recommends that neophytes or modestly techno-futzing people buy a Mac vs. wrestling with a PC.

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  1. Lenny on March 8, 2007 at 11:21 am

    I had a similar experience with my parents. They had an old eMachine that was constantly infected with viruses and spyware. So, a few years ago, I bought them an eMac and installed VNC Server. Now they wonder how people function without Macs! ;)

    Then my father-in-law decided to take the plunge. After probing my brain a while, he bought himself a Mac Mini. The “support calls” from both sides of the family are few and far between now.

    One thing I made sure to do when setting up my mothers Mac. I did NOT give her admin priviliges. I did give my step father admin priviliges, because he has more knowledge. It’s good to know that Mac software will work for non-admin users, unlike some OSes.

  2. Technology Evangelist on March 10, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Mac vs. Vista: Who Treats Novices AND Techies with Respect?

    Steve Borsch over at Connecting the Dots has a great article on switching his father over to a Mac from a PC after growing tired of removing spyware and adware from his father’s computer. My Dad + Macintosh = Ahhh……

  3. PXLated on March 10, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Like you, I was the family/friends tech support on both platforms until I got rid of my last PC. So far all my relatives (and most friends) have switched to Macs. I absolutely refuse to support PCs anymore.
    Life is just so much easier.

  4. Nick Young on March 11, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Nice to hear that your Dad is getting along nicely with his Mac. After showing people around OS X and giving them some time to use it most people really enjoy Macs. There is just the initial resistance because of their familiarity with Windows.

    I recently got my Aunt to switch for almost the same reason. She really enjoys her new MacBook and I’m slowly teaching her how to use it. She love how easy and simple OS X is and I love how easily I can teach her about it :) I’m writing a series of articles about my little help sessions with her that may help others who are also teaching their family/friends how to use a Mac. You can read it here:

  5. BooRadley on March 12, 2007 at 4:56 am

    My mom used Windows at work and had an old, tired PC at home that needed replacing. I got her an iBook for Xmas, and set her up. (I don’t give anyone an admin account.) Then I travelled thousands of miles home and waited for a call. It never came. (Actually, I’d set up a blog as a personal tech support page for her. It had little purpose.) After several months, I checked to see if she was using it. We videochat with iChat. She was. She says she uses it every day. Eventually I got used to not getting any tech calls.

    Granted, she needed to be prodded into using anything beyond web and email. I personally ripped all her CDs and showed her how easy it was. I showed her the advantages of WiFi streaming her music from the laptop to the stereo. I showed her iPhoto. And it seems to be working. She does use her laptop as her stereo, she just went out and bought herself a digital camera, and she goes to her local Mac User Group regularly. Apparently there are a lot of seniors. She’s in her 70s.

    So now she’s a real computer user, and she’s actually turning into a bit of a geek. (I try to carry on a conversation with the woman and she’s half paying attention, half staring at the iTunes visualizer muttering “amazing’ to herself.) Mom! Are you on drugs?! Mom!

  6. Em todos os sentidos… on March 15, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    Será que eu deveria fazer isso?

    É comum pessoas que conheço me perguntarem que computador devem comprar. Afinal, eu sou, aos olhos dos meus amigos e parentes, um verdadeiro geek, que conhece “tudo” de computador. O que é simplesmente impossível. Mas isso é outro papo. Já…

  7. ...from every angle on October 3, 2007 at 9:37 am

    Será que eu deveria fazer isso?

    É comum pessoas que conheço me perguntarem que computador devem comprar. Afinal, eu sou, aos olhos dos meus amigos e parentes, um verdadeiro geek, que conhece “tudo” de computador. O que é simplesmente impossível. Mas isso é outro papo. Já…

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.