I was going grocery shopping at a local supermarket with my daughter, Sarah. We chatted amiably about the lack of available jobs for college graduates (she recently completed her B.A. degree in Graphic Design and is looking for work) as we walked. Sarah became quiet as we approached and I noticed that she was looking up at the store's sign.
The sign was a huge affair that was mounted flat against the wall of the store, and was positioned such that the overhang of the roof provided a bit of shade from the hot Florida sun. It would have been an ideal nesting place for birds had the store not installed rows of spikes to discourage such behavior. What caught Sarah's attention was a lone pigeon that was delicately negotiating the spikes, to what end only the pigeon knew. Being the anarchist/artist that she is, Sarah said to me, "I think I have found new respect for pigeons, Dad. Look at him; he knows the spikes were put there to keep him off but he doesn't care, he's strutting through there like he owns them. It's like he's saying, 'Damn the Man! I do want I want!'"
Now, Hold That Thought
There are many of you who work in an environment that are, at times, actually hostile to Mac users. Yes, I've said it and truly believe that things are changing for us, but change, while inexorable as a glacier's march towards the sea, can be equally as slow. Macs still have a long way to go before they are fully accepted in IT server rooms and corporate board rooms.
Yet there are those of you who find ways to hold on to your Macs at work, some even find ways to purchase new ones, while everywhere around you PCs are being mandated by the powers-that-be. We don't hear about it quite as much as we did a few years back, but it still is happening; PCs are being pushed into areas where Macs were once found in large numbers.
This became apparent to me about a week ago when my daughter interviewed for a job at a local newspaper. She told me that as she was being shown around she noticed that many desks had PCs on them. She asked if they used Macs at all and she was told that they did until recently when they moved all but a few departments onto PCs.
It's a New World
While the story is anecdotal, to be sure, but I have to believe that this isn't an isolated incident. While OS X, iLife, and other technologies have made Apple a darling in the media, those technologies can only carry Apple so far as it tries to diversify its markets and attempt to sell to corporate IT shops and small businesses. In those markets, the strategy of 'if we build it right they will come' may not be enough. It's more about who you know and Microsoft and Dell are old hands at schmoozing CIOs and other IT decision makers. Apple has to learn to schmooze too if it wants to occupy more than an niche in the server market.
On the home front, Apple has some work to do to regain market share and the respect of the power hungry public. I believe that dumping the G4 and picking up IBM's 970 processor for the Pro systems would go a long way towards shining up Apple's image in the public eye. Not only would Apple have a butt-kickin' OS but it would run on butt-kickin hardware to boot. The consumer models can stay on the G4 for a while, they are plenty fast enough for home use, and there's probably still some tweaking Apple and Motorola could do to pump up the speed in the G4.
Be that as it may, for many of you who have somehow managed to keep a PowerBook in your briefcase or a Pro system under your desk, there are striking similarities to you and that lone pigeon my daughter admires. You endure isolation, the lack of knowledgeable support, and the constant threat that somehow that conniving Systems Support guy will find a reason to take to trusty Mac away. You pick your way through the spiky obstacle course that is your place of business, Mac clutched close to your chest and defy convention.
Damn the Man!
You could conform. You could settle for a Dell or HP to get your work done. Doing so would be as safe as a broad flat ledge is to our pigeon hero's compatriots, who huddle and plot out in the heat. His pigeon pals must bake in the brutal rooftop heat, get soaked in the rain, or get picked off by the occasional falcon. Your PC using friend must put up with viruses, hijacking, and hardware that approach but never quite equal Macs in reliability and style.
You choose not to. Like our fine-feathered friend, you've picked a path that allows you to express yourself, one that lets you be you and, in the end, get noticed and appreciated.
So, to those of you who, in the face of adversity, proudly strut your Mac-loving stuff, those of you who stare down that systems guy daily, daring him to even look at your Mac, those of you who have survived the corporate 'standardizations' by doing what you want, we salute you.
Damn the Man! Do what you want!
is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.