Well, I guess this is now officially a series…
One of the first things you notice when you go into an Apple store is all of the cool stuff they have. It’s like Christmas almost. Then you notice how friendly everyone in the store is and finally it sinks (and that’s a good word here) in that they are all so young. Does any of them know what a big moment it was in the mini-computer era when vendors announced their first MIP? In English the first time a mini-computer processed a million instructions per second. Heavy duty stuff? I once had a job in which I used punch cards. When I started out the biggest hard drive formatted out to about 256 MB and was then eclipsed by a 456 MB monster, which can now be easily carried on a keychain — what’s next ear rings?
In addition to being very young (Ok, most of them can vote and probably will for Barak, not bad, in my view.) these people are all very smart and really knowledgeable. Somewhere in the first few conversational sentences something odd happens and you have a deja vu moment in which you have an inkling that you’ve been through this kind of conversation before. At first you can’t place it — though you are talking technology, you know the conversation is nothing like a long ago conversation with a DEC sales person. Then it hits you that it has been about that long since you went to a store and were waited on.
What a retro concept!
I had forgotten what it was like. If it’s never happened to you, here’s the way it works: A sales person comes over to you and says,
“Hi, can I help you?”
And you say,
“Yes, I need one of these but I don’t know anything about them. Let me tell you about what I use computers for.”
The sales person then politely stands there and listens to your self aggrandizement about how important your work is and nods politely. This can take several minutes — more if the sales person is cute and of the opposite gender.
Ok, it gets better.
The sales person doesn’t blink and doesn’t take notes like the wait staff at a high end restaurant. When you are done or exhausted, she says, “Sure we can do that,” and then proceeds to show you how things work and what needs to be done when you get your computer home. If you stop talking or emitting sounds like “Wow!” and “Really?” long enough she will also ask you questions about your computing life.
It was almost magical and I knew I was in trouble when I brought up the issue of my home network. “Will you send someone to my house to set up the network?” I asked expecting some kind of description of their services or perhaps introduction of a partner. Instead her look was blank as in “Why would we ever need to do that?” Sort of like that waiter in the high end restaurant not blinking when you ask for the steak sauce. But her answer was crisp — “No you just plug it in and it works.”
What do you mean, you plug it in and it works?! I wanted to scream. “Have you ever installed a network that just worked?! I have a Windows network at home right now that took days to install, a sleepless night and a six pack once it was all over. Nothing just works! This is technology! Eventually it works!”
That did it, I was going to buy this thing and prove it couldn’t be that easy.
I got everything home and promptly went on vacation for a few days to rest up for what I thought was ahead of me. After a few more days at home, I steeled myself for what was to come and one morning began plugging things together. A half hour later the network networked. Dam!
But wait there’s more.
There’s also this area in the store called the Genius Bar. It’s a place where you go when you have questions about your Mac. You usually need an appointment but that’s not hard to get, you can sign up for an appointment on-line from anywhere. As it turns out while I was paying for my purchase at the Genius Bar I thought about all the giga-bytes of data that I needed to transfer from my Windows PC to the Mac and about installing the software I bought.
I am a real do-it-yourselfer and I have no problem with what was ahead of me so I innocently asked if they had any software that might make the process go faster. Software no, service yes, I was told.
“Just bring in your PC and we’ll take care of it for you.”
“Yea, don’t worry about cables or keyboards we’ve got all that, just bring in the system unit and we’ll do it in 24 to 48 hours.”
I did. They did. It’s done.
I decided to buy a year membership at the Genius Bar and now I can go there whenever I want to ask dumb questions and sit in awe of these twenty-somethings.
I also bought some training because while the learning curve for a Mac is not steep, it appears to be long. I’ll tell you about training next.