Me + Mac = TMO

| Computing with Bifocals

September is usually a milestone month in my family. My twin and I celebrate our birthday as does our younger brother. It was also the month that our parents, who were married for 69 years, were married. But this particular September is causing a bit of reflective time.

First of all it is a milestone birthday for me, 70, and second, I am beginning my 13th year of writing a column that I never wanted to write.    

I still remember the conversation that took place in the parking lot of a popular restaurant here in Austin, TX. Bryan Chaffin was trying to talk me into starting a column for Mac users who were older and new to computers. I said “my degrees are in education and management, I don’t know how to write a column and I’m just learning to use a Mac myself.”  He said “I will help with the writing stuff, but we need someone who knows what it is like to be where you are.” “ No one is addressing this group and younger people don’t know how.”  I said “but.”  He said “Just give it a try.”  I said “but.” 

Bryan can be very persuasive.    

My first efforts were pretty lame, at least I thought so. I didn’t even know how to properly write a URL. But I started getting emails from readers so I got a bit more self confident. I made some technical mistakes, but fortunately Bryan caught them before the columns were published. 

In the beginning I would get emails from tekkies who criticized how I explained things and the steps I walked people through. They would say, “It’s much easier if you just do such and so.” I would politely reply that my readers could not do “such” because they had not learned to do “so” yet.

Sometimes I got letters that were doozies. Like the man who accused me of trying to destroy the American family as it currently exists because I suggested that Macs could help women get into the market place. And then there was the man who was furious with me because his mother had disregarded his direction that she purchase a PC because she heard me speak somewhere and now I had to tell him what software to buy her because he was much too busy to mess with it. 

I often tell people that a Mac can change their lives if they want to explore and learn. It has certainly done that for me. 

Through this column I have met some wonderful, fascinating people and learned things from every one of them that I have been able to pass on to others.

Through my Mac I have found the most fascinating software and through that learned to accomplish wonderful things. For someone who remembers when there was no TV, learning to make web pages is delightful.

Because of my Mac I have been able to use my teaching skills to share knowledge with others. Teaching gives me great pleasure and doing so has greatly enhanced my retirement years. 

Because of my Mac I found out about, and became a part of, a Mac user group. In my case it is Capital Macintosh Users Group. What a great group of friends I have developed through this environment. There is no way you can measure the value of friendship.

Because of my Mac skills I have been able to give back to my community, working with the school district to help train as needed. 

And, also because of my Mac, I have found ways to augment my retirement income.

An so I begin year number 13. I will keep going as long as TMO will have me. I have added product reviews to my work at TMO and most of the time they are really fun to do. I am very proud to tell people that I write a column for TMO.  For those of you who are kind enough to keep coming back to Computing With Bifocals, I thank you and always appreciate hearing from you.

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John Martellaro

That warmed my heart. And I hope you keep writing for TMO for a long time to come. Thanks Nancy.



I am only 47 (as of last month) and have worked with Macs professionally for just over 20 years now as I work in print and design. I could probably be considered a ‘power user’ and a ‘tech expert’ and I certainly seem to be unpaid tech support to a huge range of family, friends and acquaintances.

I am a member of a MUG, in fact I am on the committee of my local MUG, and I cannot recommend MUGs enough to anyone - most of our members are probably “silver surfers” many of whom have never had a computer before they retired… But we have a lively and helpful message board were everyone shares what help they can with anyone who asks a question.

However I always make a point of reading your column - because you are usually “bang on” - sometimes I think your suggestions are not the most “techie correct”, but they are perfect for the audience you aim to address (and the sort of members of my MUG have that need help).

So happy 70th birthday Nancy… and remember - there are plenty of non-techie “older” users out there who appreciate your comments… and I appreciate you for just reminding me that not everyone takes the mysteries of computing as a “given” and that sometimes I need to think back 20 years to when as a young person I had to wrestle with this stuff…

Keep it up - we all appreciate you!


Back before 2000 I was an offset printer luddite who realized I’d better learn computers or perish in a dark printshop somewhere.I bought a bondie blue imac. Your web articles really helped me learn. I lucked into a photoshop job that lasted 10 years at a Newspaper! I felt like I was on another planet at work! No more toxic chemical immersion ! Thank you for your articles they saved my life!  Jim (57years old)


Nancy barely scraped the surface when she listed her accomplishments.  She is not only a member of our user group (CapMac) but she has been our President for several years.  She works tirelessly promote our group.  As our Special Interest Group (SIG) coordinator, she helped set up the nine SIGs that meet monthly and she leads the New To Mac SIG.  I have been using computers for over 40 years and I still learn new things at her SIG meetings.  She attends Mac World each year mainly to recruit speakers and gather door prizes for our CapMac meetings.  She and Michael Sidoric were instrumental in setting up the Channel Austin Apple servers and training the staff of that non-profit organization.  She donates working equipment to at risk school children.  She serves as a role model for us all.  I am truly blessed to know her.  I have to leave now to attend her birthday party.  This is only her second birthday party (the other is when she was 7).  Happy Birthday Nancy.


I am 60+.  Love your column Nancy.


So when do you think Apple will release a 3D version of the iPad?

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