Wearing apple in a windows world

Navigating a windows, white-collared world using Apple products is a very interesting experience, here’s my offer to take you by the hand and lead you to the promised land.

But I get ahead of myself there – let’s talk first about who I am not and what this article isn’t about (for 2 negatives make a positive!):

1. This is not a review of any apple product and I am not an expert on this topic by any length of imagination! If an in-depth-review is what you desire, please type “apple product review” in google and take your pick from the 10,000 search results google so obligingly throws up (p.s: I would go with “I am feeling lucky”)..

2. I am not an apple fanboy – at least not yet. I like some of the stuff and there are a few things I think they should do differently. Considering I am not an expert however, its likely my affinities result from me not understanding enough of these toys – so best to ignore me on this one.

Now with that out of the way, let’s move on with our story.

Like many (millions I suspect) others, I grew up on a staple diet of windows software – more specifically windows office software. By now, you may have decided on me being one of the many nameless, faceless millions working on spreadsheets during the mornings and then dutifully boxing them into ppts in the afternoon – only to repeat all of this the following day – albeit with an excursion detailing the charts out over 30 strips of “word” pages. You wouldn’t be far wrong – I am he! BTW, I also spend time on drafting meticulous, humongous mpp gnatt charts, much of which end up in a forgotten file in a lost folder on a terabyte directory powered by – you got it windows!

There was a day a year or two ago when all of this changed. That momentous day, I saw a colleague hunched over a very sleek looking tablet device, all too immersed in a game requiring him to chop fruits pushed by an unseen hand (from somewhere at the top of the screen) and collect points as his reward – 20 for chopping a watermelon cleanly, 50 for an apple – you get the idea. Pointless fun of course – unless you were planning to apply for the post of the fruit salad chef. I however, loved it – it felt just like one of my excel-based- astrology-sessions where I prophesize about revenues in remarkable detail three-five years into the future. To top it all, the brilliant colours, the smooth animation (and the inestinguishable fruit bowl which was now throwing kiwi fruits at him with reckless abandon) appealed to me like bingo! Long story short, I ended up buying one of those remarkable machines (it turned out to be the iPad) and taking the first steps to becoming an apple guy. Yes, the first program I loaded onto it was that fruit chopping game – a game I played for an exhaustive period of a day and a half before delegating it to our ever reliable lost folder (the apple one is called “purchased” and belongs to a fascinating-alienisque land called iTunes). More on iTunes later in part II.

A phone followed the tablet and more recently a mac air came into my life. I suspect, thats when “the endowment effect” started playing – i.e you value things in your life more (your car’s worth so much more than your neighbours’ – you get the idea)- and I started scanning the world for other comrades from Apple land.

Many of the Apple netizens I chanced first upon seemed to come fitted with vibrant hairstyles, sunglasses that were three times too big for them , clothes that would have made a peacock proud and generally looked liked folks who had walked out of a Speilberg ET set. These were pure apple folks – not “apple in windowed places” like the ones I was searching for. My kin I was more likely to find in the workplaces where meetings were meetings and managers were managers.

So I began to look around the workplace, and the travel places which conduit one (think trains, busses, cars, bullock carts….) to that remarkable place where remarkably, unremarkable work often happens! There behold, I began to see my fellow folks and the apple technology at work. The guy in the pinstriped suit and in the backseat of a small car had one, the important looking woman seated in one of the chennai-trademark “shared autorickshaw” had it too. So too did the benign grandfatherly-looking man who was playing a game (at least appeared to be) of “teen patti” on it. Just so you know, he also sported a single earring on his left ear.

As I looked closer, I discovered these apples weren’t all Cupertino natives. Some were from Steve Jobs’ hallowed land of course. Some others had those little white stickers of the now famous bitten-white-apple on decidedly un-apple products. There were even some real specimens (with stickers saying they were grown from Monsanto seeds in Nigeria) sitting on top of a Nokia feature phone from 1970 – which when you think about it is a jugaad-version of an iPhone (india phone). Of course it was functional – and did have the one most important feature that all indians crave – the missed call!

One fact struck me as ominous though; while the sticker and monsanto’ed folks sported a big smile on their faces , the cupertino-designed- apple-owners wore a big frown. They seemed worried that their precious “apple” was turning out to be a lemon in this pervasively “windowed” world. It’s for those friends that I write this piece. Be reassured my friends – I belong to your world too and have a few aces up my sleeves to reveal to you. These will transform your frowns into 32-tooth smiles I promise!

So let’s begin – tighten your seat belts and let the transformation begin already!

To start off, turn on your machine, whip out your credit cards and buy Microsoft office for Apple now. Right now! It’s available for the mac and its available for the iPad.

You may be tempted by the 100+ imposters on the iTunes store who promise equivalents that claim to be close to the real thing. Beware of them my friends – for they are telling the truth – they are close but not the real thing – a truth that is often realised (to our discomfiture) when the imposter software edits out the all-important punchline of your presentation and you and your client are left to launch an exploration together for the missing line during that super-critical presentation! Imposters build togetherness, they sharpen hunting skills – but they do little to build business credibility. The official software on the other hand handles everything you throw at it – macros, transitions and animation, pivot charts (yes that thing taken by all excel lovers with their morning tea!) and works like a charm. Be not penny wise, pound foolish comrade. Buy the software now (sure, the software costs a himalayan-volume of pennies, but in comparison to the cost of your Apple machine it will seem molehill-ish – so the proverb does hold good).

Second, buy the Microsoft communicator (or lync if you are on the iPad). Windows-nurtured office guys and girls (actually unix, linux and applefied unix all do, but let’s stay on topic shall we?) love to gossip, and this software will allow you to listen in all the water-cooler stuff. In case you are wondering – the gossip may not help you change the world, it will however make time go faster by – and that does make all the difference!

Dont stop with these buys – repeat the buy process for all microsoft office products you use a lot in your daily work life. The more, the merrier. So if you use share-point regularly, buy the share-point connector/ document connector software. Onenote – check. All of this look like a lot, but believe me – its stuff that will give you 8 hours of sound sleep.

At this point, your purse your lips and ask (sternly) – “You (fill in your favourite swear word here) ask me to binge on Microsoft stuff on my apple – if I do this, how can I go out and say i am the Big Kahuna? Sounds more like wolf in sheep clothing ( actually the other way around if you think about it) to me?”

Here’s where I get to smile and say “Don’t worry comrade, statistics prove 60% of the office folks actually use a mac for just the above. You are in good company. So crunch your *numbers*, draw your *keynotes* and author your *pages* happily – and if you haven’t yet realised, the ones in italics are apple’s super cool (and what’s more free!) alternatives to the Microsoft office ones. By by all means use them and enjoy life (and even believe in the religion of “compatibility” all you want) – only be warned that if your boss is going to present to a key audience using Microsoft armoury, you’ll want to check and make doubly sure that when he presents his signature slide, his Ferrari isn’t magically converted into a dogcart. Compatibility issues can do that to you – and more!

Now, that we are past that hurdle (And I can already see you smiling), will sign off and be back for part 2 of the apple story next week. Like I said, once we are done with this series you will be like a toyota camry hybrid – everyone will cheer for you. And we will help you fill your tank before venturing into an electric-outlet-less-land journey. Cheers.

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