Swinging both ways

Years ago I dated this really kind of obnoxious fella (film industry; go figure), but he did, for some reason, offer me his old computer even after I dumped him we agreed we weren’t romantically compatible. That machine was a 486 PC with Windows 3.1.1.

I decided to install a 14.4 modem: I’d heard about this “Internet stuff”, and I was keen to check it out. After spending about 40 hours trying to get the modem to work, I should say. In short order I was on a local BBS, then Compuserve (yes I am teh old), then “AOL Canada”. Speaking of which, why on earth not “Canada On Line?” There’s an “Ireland On Line”?

But I digress.

I had been already using computers for over a decade at that point, beginning with TRaSh80s in high school, followed by Wang mainframe word processing, and CRT network workstations to conduct sales transactions. In 1996 I got a job in Mac environment: until then my impression of Mac users were they were wealthy, geeky or artistic, and tedious to spend much time around. However, the lack of issues, bugs, freezes, and virii sold me; so did the real plug-and-play aspect of hardware upgrading. So, even with a premium price tag, I bought myself PowerPC something and have been happy ever since.

But again, I digress.

Last year I took a job that–OMG Becky–was a PC only environment. Now, I’ve run Windows on many of my Macs, mostly because I use a qualitative data analysis software suite that’s PC only. So I know from Windows. But having to rely upon a PC for the first time in years was…all in all…ok.

I learnt a lot about about PCs, including:

  • Outlook (not Outlook Express, real Outlook) and its functionality in asset management, scheduling, resource allocation, etc  totally kicks Apple’s iCal application’s keester;
  • Multimedia applications are all too often slaves to Windows Media Player;
  • Any video streams using WMP work much better–often seamlessly–on a PC (surprise); and
  • Instructional designers have a whole range of software options Mac users don’t

The virus thing is still a nightmare, as are the “security issues” (we had all USB memory sticks and presentation pointers locked out of our machines, for example). But tools like Articulate allow savvy PowerPoint end users to create high quality Flash/html/xml based e-courses quickly and easily. They allow customization of output to self-runniing CDs, stand-alone web-based, or embedded in LMS options. The quiz tool is only acceptable if you don’t need to track students’ score–or have someone who can code things so your e-course talks to your server.  But for many uses, it’s a reliable easy-to-use tool.

For Windows users only, alas. Which is why I have Windows XP running on my machine, thanks to VMWare Fusion,

About John P Egan

Learning technology professional.
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