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Around The Sun: Chalk And Cheese

Steve Harrison falls in love with an Apple Mac.

There seem to be two types of car owner. One of them loves to tinker with engines, spending hours under the bonnet, fixing this, fine-tuning that, until the vehicle purrs like a cat. They don't drive much. The car must always look spick and span, immaculate though little used. The other kind quickly check the tyres, fill the car with petrol, and head for the hills.

My dad taught me to be the latter. If he saw me tinkering with my car he would demand "What are you doing?''

"Fine tuning,'' I replied.

“Does it start when you turn the key?”

“Yes.”

"Does it stop when you step on the brakes?”

“Yes”

“Does it get you to where you want to go?”

My answers were always "Yes''.

So what if the car pulled to the left or right when the brakes were applied? It could still get me from A to B and dad encouraged me to drive around in it.

Computer users also fall into two categories. There are those who love to tinker with their computers all day and all night, probably for the rest of their lives. Then there are those who enjoy using them, appreciating what they can do.

I was introduced to a PC in late 1985 while staying with Jim Robbins in Columbus Ohio. Jim would tinker for three hours at a time with cables and wires, eventually getting his machine to spit out a two-paragrpah letter. It took me days to create one flyer, and even after all that time the flyer looked as though it had been produced by a child using an etch-a-sketch. I was very disappointed. I concluded that computers were a waste of time.

Then I was introduced to an Apple Macintosh. I produced a two-paragraph letter in five minutes. Then I turned out a church flyer in an hour and it looked as though it had been done by a professional. I produced four-page church bulletins on a weekly basis.

I was excited by the possibilities offered by that computer. In 1985 there were no computer instruction books for dummies. However, I found the Mac's software was perfectly straightforward and intuitive. I learned all I could about getting work out of that little box of tricks. I learned PageMaker, for building publications, Macpaint and Macdraw for doing illustration. And I got a package called Imagestudio for scanning pictures in.

The local Apple Macintosh dealer was, as far as I knew, the only place in town where there was a scanner. Nobody there knew how to use it. I regularly went to the store to pick their brains on how I might get more from my Mac. I persuaded them to lock me in their store overnight. I had several pictures which I wanted to scan. If I was on my own I thought I would be able to figure things out. I worked all night. After a number of unsuccesful efforts I got those pictures scanned. When they opened up the store in the morning I was wide awake and keen to pass on my new-found knowledge.

I had found the perfect tool to obey my bidding. I was bursting with enthusiasm.

Computers, like cars, are there to be used, not worshipped.

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