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That other Steve...
A Mixed Marriage
By Steve Wood,
Contributing Editor

January 15, 1999

This is a column I'd been promising my editor for some time. Somehow, it just never got finished. Maybe it's fitting to use it as my swan song from MacTimes.

The woman beside me in bed responded, "You say the most romantic things." I had just turned to her and said in my sleep, "The MacOS has several platforms." I think that's gibberish, but she handled it well with humor and understanding. The point is, I guess, I even talk Macintosh in my sleep!

Maybe that will help you understand why I've been sleeping and trading information with the enemy for years. You've got to understand how wonderful and appealing she is. She's attractive and intelligent. She stimulates me intellectually and otherwise. When I'm not thinking Macintosh, she's almost all I can think about.

Also, she's my wife!

But, it's still a mixed marriage. My wife is a Windows and Novell EXPERT. Sorry about that shout, but she is really, really good (yeah, at that, too!). She cut her computing teeth on DOS. Then she mastered Windows (the really ugly one) before moving on to 3.1.1 and Windows 95. When she changed jobs several years ago, she went to a small company that uses Novell for their networking and messaging. She then adjusted her major to include a CNE (Certified Novell Engineer).

She works for a firm where all but one or two of the employees think a Mac is a toy, incapable of running serious applications! The funny thing about that is when they hired their first graphic artist, who insisted she'd only work on a Mac, they agreed immediately without any of the usual WinTel bigotry. But before we all get our Mac egos too inflated, the company then hired a technical writer who does incredible work on a Windows box. They do tease me at her job and call me "MacSteve." But, when the lone Mac was ill, they called..."MacSteve!"

While I mumble Macintosh gibberish in my sleep, my wife comes home and talks about capturing ports. Since my original college degree is in secondary education in social studies, I start thinking of major land-sea battles for Norfolk or San Diego. If I start talking about remote access, she gets excited, thinking I'm going to call her on the phone at work and talk dirty.

Even a WinTel junkie like her can understand some of my computer weirdness. Many guys get in trouble when their wife finds dirty magazines they've hidden around the house. When my wife was going to recent conference, she grabbed my overnight bag and found it contained software boxes of programs she didn't know I'd purchased. (Maybe that's why I love shareware so much--little or no evidence of the "crime!")

One of her fondest computing moments with me is when our Acer Aspire went down with all of my IEP's just days before conferences were to start. She sat me down with a copy of the DOS for Dummies cheats card in my lap as we retrieved the critical files one-by-one. It was not a moment for any of my cocky "That doesn't happen with a Mac" comments that so often put me in the doghouse.

How will you raise the children?
The offspring of such a marriage are a mixed lot. All of our kids had started with some flavor of DOS. Of the six, four can work competently on either platform. I suspect that may be an advantage for them sometime in their lives. Two are pretty much lost forever to the dark side, with a third teetering on the edge before claiming the old PowerMac 575 as her own. Two are pretty solidly in the Mac camp.

Of the "lost," I actually helped one of my daughters select her WinTel box, when affordable Macs weren't very exciting. Just 18 months later, she could have an iMac for the same money! The other is totally beyond help as his mother is her school's computer lab person in a WinTel world.

One of the interesting insights I've gained from watching kids on computers is that those who start with a Mac seem to handle a switch to Windows without breaking their stride. Those that start with Windows find the MacOS an insolvable mystery! I suspect you could make an argument for either platform with that information, but I prefer to see it as an advantage to starting on a Mac.

Last week a ray of light shone on the situation. My 25-year-old son spoke words that were music to my ears. He said, "Dad, if you find a cheap Macintosh out there, keep me in mind." This is my kid who has sailed the world as an entertainer with Carnival Lines and now performs around central Indiana with a local country-crossover band (Morgan Hendricks). I raised him right with appropriate doses of Boston, Aerosmith, the Beatles, and even some Metallica and Guns and Roses. Sometimes kids just go their own way!

Buying him a brand-new Blue & White Mac would start a full scale revolt from his siblings. Even those who have "gone over" still eye my G3 with unabashed envy. But somehow, somewhere, there's a Mac out there with his name on it. I wonder if an SE/30 or even an iMac might fit in my overnight bag?

Send your feedback to Steve Wood, Contributing Editor

Swan Song

After a six month run on the MacTimes Network, this will be the final column of the "That Other Steve..." series. As many of you know, my first love (professionally:-) is education. I teach in a rigorous and sometimes unpredictable setting, which places wildly varying demands upon my time. Unfortunately, my case load and the individual needs of my students seem to be skyrocketing this school year. The obvious answer to this problem is to devote more of my time to this situation.

I offer my thanks to Publisher Jason Pierce for giving me, an unknown, the opportunity to express my views on an excellent forum. Kudos go to former news editor Jonah Jones and editor-in-chief Dan Knight, the two MacTimes personnel with whom I've worked most closely. I've appreciated their solid advice, criticism, and support.

All work and no play makes...well, you know. I do hope to occasionally contribute a piece to Dan Knight's Low-End Mac or MacInSchool. I'll probably continue to do a few private postings, as I was prone to do, even while under the employ of MacTimes. Who knows, maybe I'll be back around sooner than I think.

Most of all, thanks to you, the MacTimes readers. I've found the exchange of views and ideas most stimulating and enjoyable. MacTimes draws a most knowledgeable and thoughtful group of Macintosh users and proponents.

It's been a fun ride!

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