Mac: For the Middle Aged Librarian

Generally I take devout advocates of just about anything with a grain of salt, and in the tech world there are no more devout advocates for anything more than for Apple products. It’s not that I think Apple doesn’t make great products; it’s more that I don’t think their computers are three times better than some competitors, which they should be to justify being three times the price. Also, I object philosophically to worshiping commercial products, companies, or CEOs. It just seems wrong.

Over the years I’ve owned numerous Apple products as well, so I’m not an anti-Apple purist, although I have on occasion poked fun at Apple purists. I got my first computer 28 years ago for my 16th birthday. It was an Apple IIc, and it didn’t do a whole lot. Fortunately the only thing I needed it to do was process words, and I wrote like a demon on that thing for eight years, when I replaced it with a Mac Color Classic, which was a great computer. If the Internet hadn’t come along and ruined things for it, I’d probably still have that computer. That lasted four years and I only upgraded because I needed something Internet-capable. Ever since then I’ve had a series of Windows desktops and laptops, most of which I’ve been happy with. Being cool or having a computer with a slick chassis just didn’t seem worth the price. I’ve used enough devices over the years that I’m pretty OS-neutral at this point, so that’s not a factor either. I also had an iPhone, but I never liked it as much as I like my current Samsung GS4. And although I have a 7″ tablet computer, I use it almost exclusively to watch Netflix while on my treadmill, so I’ve had no desire for the much more expensive iPad.

Thus, I’ve been coasting along for years without any reason to love or praise Apple, but then something happened. I got old. Specifically, my eyes got old. After a five-year hiatus I had an eye exam a couple of months ago. I hadn’t even been having problems and only went because I was taking my daughter and thought what the heck. The heck was that my eyesight had deteriorated such that they prescribed me trifocal progressive lenses. When I put them on the first time and started looking around, I thought I was going to throw up. It’s made worse by the current vogue for glasses with short lenses. I wear a comfortable pair of plastic frames much of the time, and my optician could find only one pair with temples long enough for my large head, and they have a short span from top to bottom, meaning that each of the focal lengths has a really small vertical span.

Suddenly, I had trouble seeing lots of things, but especially my computers, which is a serious problem given how much time I spend every day interacting with one. The only screens I could see at all well were my 27″ iMac at work, my 1080p, 15.6″, 6-pound Asus laptop at home, and my phone, and with the computers my horizontal vision has narrowed enough that I can only really use part of the screen comfortably and just keep shifting windows into that portion. My lighter, smaller netbook that I like to carry around the house, travel with, etc.? Things were looking very dim, especially if I moved from a higher resolution device. The larger computers are both good machines and I’ve been happy with them, and I’ll be using both for serious work where I have a lot of windows open, but I needed something more portable for everything else, and something with a keyboard because of all the writing I do.

So, since I have another birthday this month and got a promotion I decided to splurge a bit and got a 13″ Macbook Pro with the Retina display. And I have to say, in all honesty, this is the best ultraportable laptop a middle-aged librarian with dodgy eyes and a weird eyeglass prescription could ask for. Apple is welcome to use that quote from me for advertising purposes. It’s an even higher resolution than my Asus laptop, plus a lot lighter and smaller. I wrapped it in one of these obsidian babies so that I don’t even have to pretend I’m trying to be a cool Mac owner (having avoided the covers where the ratings said things like “and the glowing apple still shows through!”). It also looks like the one the Winchesters have on their Macbook in Supernatural, and my daughter and I have been enjoying a Supernatural marathon on Netflix Instant (which is a show that could make for an interesting discussion of research methods, if you ask me). After so many years of gently mocking friends and family for their blind allegiance to Apple, I finally can wax enthusiastic about something from Apple that no one else I know of is offering. If your eyesight isn’t what it used to be, and you spend a lot of time reading and writing with computers like this middle-aged librarian does, and you want something very light and portable, you can’t go wrong with the 13″ Macbook Pro Retina. Praise doesn’t get any less qualified than that, at least from me.

4 thoughts on “Mac: For the Middle Aged Librarian

  1. I’m resisting identifying as middle aged until I’m at least 40, but really have to agree with what you’ve said here. My prescription isn’t as strong/complicated as yours, but staring at screens is really tiring. Some people would maybe lump me in with the apple fanatics because I have Macs at home and work and use an iPad and iPhone, but also love my old craptop with Ubunto installed and my Chromebook (too many devices?). Apple’s retina screens really do make a difference and I find myself with a ton less eyestrain and am even reading on my iPad, which I had previously vowed never to do. My e-ink e-reader is getting no love these days.

    • I only consider fanatics the people who start making claims like, “Apple is the best everything ever!” I have no problem with Macs as long as I’m not paying for them. I had no crisis of conscience buying this, only a crisis of bank account. It did hurt to have to replace a 3-year-old netbook I really like just because I couldn’t see it that well anymore. I’m only in my mid-40s. I was hoping to make it to 50 before I had old eye problems!

      As for too many devices, I’ve got a little bit of everything, so I’m probably right there with you.

  2. OK, I know this is a bit off-topic, but how long did it take you to adjust to tri-focals? The reason I ask, is I need to transition to bi-focals, and wonder how hard it will be and how long it will take. Especially in light of work, and I’ll be heading back to school (to continue my MLIS education) in early September. You can reach me on my personal email if this question is too much of a tangent.

    • It’s been a couple of months and some things I still haven’t adjusted to. However, for most things my eyes/mind adjusted in about 2 weeks. I think walking up and down stairs was the thing that took the longest.

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