Article: Dear Mom & Dad…

by on October 31, 2007

Many people my age playing IT person for their parents, whether it be just simple help here and there, or creating a system that is so mind-numbingly simple a computer isn’t used to its potential nearly at all. In most cases, everyone falls somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

With all the talk about Mac OS X Leopard, I thought to myself if it was worth loading on my parents’ Power Mac G4. For me, the upgrade was a no-brainer. I spend some of my time as a Mac writer, and therefore having the latest and greatest comes with the territory. However, they are happy with what they have, and it works. I could go on about new graphics technologies and how Mail is better and Spaces, but does that matter for the casual computer user who just wants to communicate with friends and family, use the iLife apps, and type out some documents here and there? It depends, and therefore, I decided to write a guide for the differences in Leopard that actually would matter to people like my parents.

Dear Mom and Dad,

As you may have heard, Apple has new software out for you computer. Next time I come home, I’ll load it on your computer, but before you start worrying about if you have to learn something new, I thought I’d share some thoughts on Leopard.

First, Leopard is not much different than Tiger in the looks department. Think of it as going from a ’05 Accord to an ’07. The car itself is pretty much the same, but the lights are slightly different and there are other cosmetic changes. In this case, the Dock is a bit flashier looking, that metal stuff is gone, and a lot of programs have just been cleaned up. However, everything is still pretty much where it belongs.

Two cool things that you might like is that everything is looks more like iTunes and that you can preview pictures and other files just by clicking on them and hitting the space bar. I know it might take some getting used to with both of these things.

iChat has some improvements with audio and video quality, so it’s even better for “bridging the gap”. Besides that, we can share photos over iChat like a slideshow and if your computer acts up, I don’t have to sit there for hours trying to walk you through how to fix it. As long as we can both message each other on iChat, you can let me take control of the computer from wherever I am and try to fix it. Don’t worry – the little speech bubbles are still there.

Also in terms of communications, Mail has been fixed up somewhat so that you can send me more photos about things going on and there’s this thing called stationery so you can make things like greeting cards or other special notes for people on emails.

You don’t back things up—I set up Carbon Copy Cloner, but you guys often forget about it—it’s okay, I often forget to back things up. There’s a program called Time Machine that does it automatically. That’s why we bought that second hard drive anyway. It does things on its own and if you want to bring a file back that you accidentally deleted, just click the icon and pick when you last saw it.

Ya know the little house in the Dock and how you can get to your documents and movies and things like that from it? Well, it will still be there, but Apple decided to redesign how that works. Now, the icons look like a pile of whatever is in that folder, so it’ll look ugly, but still work similarly. I guess not everything can be perfect.

Overall, everything is faster on my computer, so it should be on yours, too. For some reason Apple always makes each new version of the software faster and more efficient, so you guys should have fewer problems. Plus you get to feel like you got a new computer for a fraction of the cost.

Anyway, I will talk to you later, and hopefully this will make things seem a bit less scary. It’s not like Windows at all.


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