Pressing and stressin’, thinking and screaming, all of these have been the music of my household this past week. Why, you ask? Because I have chosen, I think I’ve about settled on it anyway, to leave the Windows computer environment and venture fully into the world of Apple. I have acquired a Mac.
As the dust settles, I can admit that if I’d known what I was getting into, I may have made a different choice. I got this thing last Sunday, and it is fair to say that I really didn’t get all the kinks worked out till this morning. I guess I hadn’t conceived that a system could be so fundamentally different, but why not?
Back in 1997, when I gained my first exposure to Windows so that I could complete a test in the university’s disability Services office, I remember being frustrated multiple times because I would press a button and my previous results would disappear. Definitely a harrowing way to learn a machine as one is also worried about surviving a difficult exam.
It took till 99 for the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation services to realize that the current blind and low vision college students could benefit from at least a crash course in Windows and the Internet, and so they shipped us off to Governor Moorehead in Raleigh where we stayed for a week to learn from their technology people. By the time I returned in the fall, and spent many an hour in the university’s lab ostensibly doing work but mostly firing off e-mail messages to women, I was becoming an expert.
Anyway, it is easy to forget the accompanying angst that initial computer exposure caused, until one’s basic structures are rattled again. So it has been with the Mac. First, there seem to be so many keystrokes to remember. But yes, I know I will become ever more fluent in them as I use in real time. Second, and the bigger problem, is the devil of security. Of course I’m not naive about that, I know it is very much needed. But two-factor authentication in particular is a bear to me. It usually requires me to quickly enter a code sent to my phone into the computer, and I just kept failing at that. Then attempting to turn it off proved difficult, because I was unable to verify the email address, answer three security questions, and sacrifice a lamb in time before the security timed out. (that last is an exaggeration, but only slightly). I give credit first to our local Apple tech support guy, a blind man who actually works at the store, for suggesting that I call the Apple Accessibility hotline to try and work it out, and then to Bonnie, the rep who spent nearly an hour trying this and that problem until we got it to work at least provisionally. Whew!
So now with that madness out of the way, I can get onto the fun part of really learning the ins and outs of this beast. I have already sent my first tweets, done a discussion board assignment for class, and completed an email message for someone from this surprisingly small console with keys that look like they should be hard to type with, but that I can actually bang with relatively little thought. Autocorrect is on, which helps of course, but also there just seems to be something more natural about the finger response. It’s kind of fun! And without doubt, the more I learn with this tech stuff, the deeper are my career and other such possibilities. So we’ll see how I feel as next Sunday, the last on which I can return this thing if I want a refund, approaches. Until then, VoiceOver On!