It’s time for me to eat my words. The words I posted a couple of years ago on this blog about Apple computers, that is. Back in 2010, I said that while I liked my iMac, I would never buy a MacBook.
Well, now I’m sporting a new 11-inch MacBook Air. Just got it over the summer. And it is sweet.
Let me back up here. I had previously written off Apple’s laptop computers because of the company’s steadfast refusal to put a forward delete key on its keyboard. You see, what PC users know as the “backspace” key is the only key that deletes characters on Apple’s laptops. Tap it, and it will delete characters to the left of the cursor. If you want to delete characters to the right of your cursor, you must use a two-fingered keystroke of “function-backspace.” Or maybe it’s “control-backspace.” Or maybe “option-backspace.” I can never remember.
Since I am a writer, this just would not do. I must have a one-touch forward delete key and a one-touch backward delete key. And up until this summer, I was not interested in downloading some third-party workaround software to make an Apple laptop perform this basic word processing function that in my mind should have been taken into account in the original design.
Mind you, none of this was ever an issue on my iMac. The 24-inch desk model came with an extended keyboard complete with a numeric keypad and the forward delete, home, end, page up, and page down keys. But the lack of a forward delete key built into Apple’s laptops was a deal breaker for me.
Then… my little $180 refurbished notebook computer that I’d been lugging around since I started law school began having problems. It had stuck by me from Torts to Civil Procedure, through Evidence and Constitutional Law. But it was becoming, shall we say, iffy. With two more semesters of law school and a bar exam in my future – a bar exam I will take on a computer – I needed to invest in a more reliable piece of hardware.
The MacBook Air was the answer for me. Switching between Apple’s “OS” at home (first “Leopard” and now “Lion”) and Microsoft’s Windows at school had provided a near side-by-side comparison of the two operating systems. And Windows was not looking so good.
The more I became accustomed to Apple’s way of doing things, the more frustrated I became with Windows. Enough already with those messages that I have unused icons on my desktop. I don’t care. So what that Java Script is now enabled? What does that even mean anyway? Why on earth must I go to a “start” menu when what I am trying to do is turn off my computer?
Such experiences leave relative novices like me with the impression that as tech-savvy as the folks at Microsoft may be, they don’t know how to design a simple, bare bones user interface for the rest of us. And each attempt at a revision makes things worse by confusing those of us who thought we’d finally figured out the last incarnation of their products.
Anyone else remember when they removed the “file” menu from Microsoft Word and replaced it with that disastrous pane? Or check out these critiques about their new operating system, with the headlines, "Windows users will hate the new Windows 8 experience" and "Windows 8: 7 Things You May Just Hate."
Well, I’m done trying to figure them out.
By the way, the workaround for the lack of a forward delete key on my MacBook Air wasn’t as complicated as I had dreaded, either. First, I downloaded KeyRemap4MacBook. The program’s icon then appeared under System Preferences. From there, it was an easy process to designate another key to perform the forward delete function. Problem solved.