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The Mac at 30: Tales from the Berkeley Mac Users Group

Dan Miller,Christopher Breen | Jan. 27, 2014
Before the Genius Bar and before Apple's own online forums, when the Mac was young and its users needed help, there were user groups

David Schwartz: And the MacBook Air continues to have this unique place — it's amazing to me. I go to these meetings full of Windows users, Windows support people — people whose lives revolve around Windows — and they all pull out their MacBook Air to take notes. It's nothing to them. They're not really Mac users per se, they just love that MacBook Air. It's a fantastic piece of hardware.

Is the Mac still special?

Duane Straub: I get home from work after working on computers, supporting Macintosh computers all day long, and the first thing I do is go to my Macintosh and do stuff that I wasn't doing at work. I continue to love it.

David Schwartz: Using Mac OS X on a Macintosh is joyful. I think I get a fantastic experience opening the machine almost everyday.

David Morgenstern: The Mac OS is more successful than it ever has been, but I don't know that it's as understandable as it once was back in the 1990s. OS X brought great stability but also complexity. And Apple in the past decade has been much readier to expand the boundaries of the Mac user interface guidelines than they were in the 1990s. Along with changes to reassure the influx of PC users into the base, I find some of its newer features un-classic-Mac-like. I know too much about the Mac for my own good.

Like a lot of power users, I'm concerned about the impact of sandboxing on professional workflows. I'm disturbed by the push toward single-window interfaces without options for multiple windows and palettes that we see with the large screens nowadays. Older users and their eyesight issues aren't being taken care of in the Mac and iOS interfaces. I can't tell you how many people are having problems with iOS 7, because the UI elements are often too small.

Raines Cohen: We've had a real generational shift, from when we were tinkering with it and making it do all these amazing things, hacking it, to now, when people just want to use it as a tool. They don't have to learn all the stuff we did. The essence is still there, but it's easier. We're saying now: Just get out of my way and let me do my job.

I remember talking to some very sad people when the Intel machines came out. Suddenly, all the lore of experience that people had learned was irrelevant. These people who had learned everything about the Macintosh that you could know, who knew all about PRAMs and things like that — they knew how to fix stuff. All of that was out the window. OS X, they couldn't figure it out. The new Intel machines and their requirements — they couldn't figure it out, so they were really grieving for a number of years until they figured out how to fix the new stuff.


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