On the 20th year of using a Mac

Dilly emailed me last night to ask how to put the dots on my name. I replied that, on a Mac, it’s alt+u, then the letter – e for a diaeresis or u for an umlaut, but I didn’t know for a PC. I googled to find out. For a ë, one way of doing it is Alt + 137. But each letter has a different combination of three numbers and, capitalised, another set again. Unless you use them all, all the time, you couldn’t possibly remember them. But the Mac makes sense – it’s the option key and c for a cedilla, because you’re most likely to want one under a c and Alt+e for an acute accent, and so on.

I wonder, if Macs hadn’t been there, whether PCs would be so easy to use now as they are?

24 comments on “On the 20th year of using a Mac

  1. Monozygote

    Well, this is the first and only thing I’ve ever heard of that a Mac can possibly do better (and I’m not convinced). In Word of course, you can make your own shortcuts for whatever you want.

    What I tend to find is that people who use Macs are constantly amazed and boasting at the things they can do, without realising that PC users simply take such things for granted and don’t feel the need to be amazed by.

    I avoid Macs like the plague because being a PC user, I find them counter-intuitive. I know Mac users feel the same way about PCs, but that doesn’t make either party right. It’s a matter of preference, that’s all.

    I would also add that it seems to me that it’s Macs that have got easier over time, not PCs. Especially if you are a pre-windows user. Not that it matters to we non-competitive PC users. 🙂

    The iPod and the iPhone on the other hand are in my view unbeatable.

  2. Z

    I’m not amazed or boasting, or even competitive – I don’t think I regularly bang on about the superiority of Macs over PCs. I’m on my 3rd Mac in 19 1/2 years of using a computer; I can use a PC but I’ve no reason to want to change, why should I, any more than you would? I have to be adaptable however, as I often have to use PCs away from home.

    My observation was only because I was quite surprised how absurdly over-elaborate the built-in ‘shortcut’ codes were, when on my machine it’s very simple. Of course, I could make my own shortcuts too, but I don’t need to in this instance.

    The thing is, I’m always using ë, but I rarely use, for example, ø, so I wouldn’t think to set up a shortcut – but I didn’t need to. I knew, never having done it before, that I could press Alt+o, because it was obvious.

  3. Dave

    I realise you don’t fall into this category, Z, but I must admit that every (other) Mac user I’ve come across has been positively evangelical in explaining how much better their machine is than a PC.

    They fail to recall what happened to the first person trying to force an apple onto someone else.

  4. badgerdaddy

    Oh mono, you joker, you. First and only thing indeed.

    S’funny, I’m a long-time Mac user too, and don’t ever go on to peoplee about their superiority (or otherwise) in relation to PCs. They’re both very good at different jobs. I am surprised that Danozygote has never heard of anything a Macintosh can do better than a PC, as there are quite a few things. The reverse is also true.

    Swings, roundabouts.

  5. The Boy

    Actually if Xerox hadn’t been there, Macs wouldn’t have been so easy to use! It is generally accepted that they stole the concept of a Mac from Xerox, the Xerox labs had even invented the mouse…

  6. PI

    I was told how to do it and I couldn’t get it to work so now I just leave it to the clever ones. My progress is slow – barely noticeable.
    Just read Mono’s and most Mac owners reckon they never go wrong. Just sayin’!

  7. Z

    Pat, the Sage can’t manage to use the computer at all. I’m trying to encourage him, as he is always peering over my shoulder and I’d love it if he would at least learn to go online and read his own emails, but I don’t think he’ll ever learn.

  8. Monozygote


    Was just saying my experience, that’s all. And also, if you’ve seen those Mitchell & Webb type Mac adverts, you’ll get the gist of what PC users have to put up with…

    badge, actually, the thing is, what I was saying was, that this point of z’s actually IS the first thing a Mac user has told me a Mac can do better and been right about. I’m sure there are plenty of others, swings and roundabouts like you say, but I so often hear evangelisms along the lines of “Macs are so great, you can type on them!!!” or “Macs are so amazing, they have a screen!!!”, that maybe you can see where I’m coming from…

  9. badgerdaddy

    I’ve found the people like that – and yes, I’ve heard them and wanted to punch them, too – are recent converts to Macs. Usually.

    Most of us are too cool for school. Obviously.

  10. Gordie

    I first bought a Mac in 19… don’t remember, but it was the year the World Series got interrupted by an earthquake. It was really easy to use and I thought it would wean me off my PC, especially for music. But it didn’t.

    I bought myself my second Mac in 2004. I use it to watch DVD’s and synch my iPod. It’s somewhat overpriced, but very pretty.

  11. Z

    Somewhat overpriced, pretty, considered by some to be a touch frivolous – so that’s why a Mac appeals to me, then…

  12. Monozygote

    Actually, badge, I don’t think that makes sense, because if they were recent converts, they’d know perfectly well that PCs have screens too (or whatever)…

  13. Z

    I nearly accidentally called the Headmaster ‘darling’ during the meeting – managed to change it to ‘dear’, and half-swallowed it at that.

    In short, I’m lamentably well-behaved. Sod it.

  14. Z

    No, come on, what I said (in the next post) was absolutely polite. Not my fault at all if minds strayed into naughtier territory.

  15. badgerdaddy

    Monodand, it does makes sense if I explain it fully. They’re justifying switching to something more expensive, despite not using any of the things that make a Mac more expensive. There’s plenty of good reasons that Macs are used throughout the movie and publishing industries, which the average Joe will never ever use, but they buy them because they’re supposed to be ‘cool’. Hence justifying, because when they get one they realise most of what they use it for happened just as well on a PC…

  16. Monozygote

    No, badge, this is just the thing. Quite a few people who’ve “boasted” to me about what their mac can do have seemed genuinely surprised (and a little deflated) when I point out that pcs can do the same thing.

    If they’d previously been a pc user, they would have known it perfectly well. That’s my point. Ex- and erstwhile pc users in my opinion tend to be a lot more sensible in the praises they sing of macs.


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