My wife and her iPhone

I've mentioned before that my lovely wife of 22 years is both brilliant and technically challenged. Whenever there is the slightest problem with technology—whether it's switching the inputs on our TV or dealing with the smallest of issues on her Windows XP machine—I hear the "David...!" yell. This has led me to consider getting my wife a Mac to replace the HP laptop she has used for a couple of years now. I would love to get her on the same platform that I'm on and get her to enjoy the Mac experience I have had so much fun with.

I'm also a realist and came to the conclusion months ago that she will simply not enjoy the switch to a Mac unless it was something she really wanted. It's not that she's anti-Apple; she has been an iPod user for years and loves them. It's just that unlike me her computer is purely a utility, something that is used to accomplish her goals. Given that, a Mac would likely be a challenge for her because it is just different enough that she would struggle with it.

In light of all this I have let things run the way they have for many years. I simply have to play technical support for her Windows issues and grudgingly patch the machine up as best I can.

Her new iPhone
When our Sprint service died and I picked up an iPhone I also bought one for my wife. At first she was a bit reluctant but after seeing a good friend use hers my wife warmed up to the idea. I was shocked by how quickly she took to it. I did of course have to provide some initial technical support but she mastered the basics much faster than I expected. This from a person that has never sent a text message in her life.

The biggest issue she had was typing in the letter P. The Incipio dermaSHOT cover I placed on her iPhone has a slight lip that was blocking her from easily hitting it. The only other issue is eyesight related. We're at the age where reading glasses are required and I noticed that she was often stretching the iPhone away from her in order to see details.

Solving the Gmail Contacts problem
She's a Gmail user so I set up her account for her and the iPhone quickly pulled down her e-mail. The only thing she had left to do was get her contacts into the iPhone. Since she runs iTunes on her Windows XP laptop I fired that up and specified that it should pull the contacts from Gmail. Well, that sucked down several hundred people that she did not know since Gmail still adds every person that is on any e-mail you send to your contacts. Every person from my son's lacrosse team or our community activities list was automatically included, making her phone list far too large.

I pulled up a web browser and went into her Gmail Contacts List and noticed that there was now a Suggested Contacts list. I figured I'd live life on the edge and try something so I selected them all and deleted them.

Sure enough the people that were left in the Contact List were the people she actually wanted in there (about 50). When we synced up to iTunes the next time she had her 50 contacts and everything was great. I had her update her contact information through Gmail since it was a little easier than typing everything in on her iPhone, then she re-synced and all was good.

A Mac is in her future
She has been so happy with the iPhone experience that she's actually reconsidering her position on switching to a Mac. Her Windows XP laptop is painfully slow right now, has trouble shutting down and the anti-virus software on it needs to be renewed. I am just tired of dealing with it all.

Instead, she has a birthday coming up next month and I'm thinking a nice MacBook would be the perfect gift for her. If this goes according to plan I'll set up an account for myself on her machine and the next time I hear "David...!" coming from her I'll just SSH into her machine and use Alex to say "What?!?"


Buckley said...

David, you might want to see if she is willing to wait until mid-September when reliable rumors say that Apple will be releasing updated MacBooks. My best guess is that they will do so after the free iPod Touch deal runs out on September 15th.

David Alison said...

@Buckley: Thanks for the advice. I had read some of the rumors too. Her birthday isn't until the end of September so I can see how all this plays out.

SimpleLife said...

Get her a Mac. You're doing the Tech Support anyway.

That's how it was with me. Got my wife a MacBook Pro, and she LOVES the beautiful LED display and general quality.

She loves it. And I love it because I'm not constantly working around Windows nonsense.

Trust me, the transition is easy. The transition tends to be harder for power users as we do more and expect more.

In fact she hates it when I touch her notebook now.

Everyone's happy.

Pedro Alberto Vera said...

@SimpleLife is correct: the difficulty in switching to Mac is inversely proportional to your current skill level with Windows. People that I expect to have a little bit of trouble actually breeze through it, while people that I consider "power" users actually struggle because they think too hard about it. The best possible candidate for a switch to Mac is a person that sees the PC as a tool and nothing more.

As for your ssh remark, you won't even need to do that. Leopard allows desktop sharing and it is built into the OS. Your wife's machine will show up in your finder aavailable for sharing, click once and you'll see all available ahares, and a button to allow you to start desktop sharing. Once you are in, basically you have a window with her desktop and you can do anything you want. If you have ever used VNC or Windows Remote Desktop/Terminal Services it is almost identical.

Mark Morris said...

Pedro, click on the link on David's ssh comment, and you'll see the effect he is actually going for here. ;-)

MaxPug said...

I found it easy to switch but I am still looking for a good replacement for Microsoft Money. If anyone has any suggestions I would appreciate it. I have heard of a few but the reviews are always 50/50 and I am hesitant to switch from what I know and works for me. It is the last program I need to find a replacement for.

Thanks for any suggestions.

Jeff said...

Once she goes Mac, she'll never go back...

I have a nearly identical situation with my wife. She's not stupid or technically illiterate (she's a registered nurse in ICU), she just doesn't like to fool with computer problems.

I finally convinced her that the switch wouldn't be that bad and we got our iMac a year ago. She loves it; especially the fact that she doesn't have to yell for me as often (actually, almost never).

We also both have iPhones. She's officially hooked.

davistech said...

@maxpug: I had a similar problem when I switched, except that I am a Quicken user. I first kept using my existing Quicken running under XP on a Fusion virtual machine. Eventually I switched to Quicken running natively on the Mac. You may be able to import your MS Money files, but I'm not sure.

When I first switched I continued to run a number of favorite applications in the virtual XP environment. However I find that I use this less and less as I have found Mac apps that fill all (or most) of my needs.

MaxPug said...

@davistech; Thanks for the info. I took the plunge and downloaded Quicken and moved my accounts. I just started as a new user versus trying to move over the data. I did not have any historical data that was critical. It only took a couple of hours but I was able to get rid of my Windows XP Boot Camp partition. I now consider myself a full convert and not a partial one.

David keep posting I enjoy reading your blog....

RobInNZ said...

My better half is a bit of a techno-phobe (is also a RN / MidWife), and the computer is definitely a utility to her too (write in her blog, skype with sister in Oz, catchup with email, use the web for scrapbooking / card making ideas, doing DVD videos from the DV camera to send overseas)

She had always said that using the PowerMac G5 we have had at home for ~5 years was a breath of fresh air compared to the old XP machine and also her work computers.

For a while (ie about a year) we have been discussing getting a laptop and moving the computer desk out of the lounge. Anyway, I had suggested the option of getting a 'cheap' Windows laptop to experiment whether having a laptop as the 'main machine' would work.

I basically got a 'how precious are your various bodily attachments to you' type of response. Needless to say, we ended up going with a refurb Macbook Pro and TimeCapsule.

We had debated at length around the blackbook (white was NOT an option to her, too easy to get/look dirty) v's a MBP and FWIW, she definitely feels that the MBP was the right decision as opposed to the MB.

Anonymous said...

If eyestrain is an issue, think about the matte screen MacBook Pro. The extra screen real estate will make it more pleasurable to read anything, and the matte finish will keep reflections away. (Some people love the glossy screen, so it's just a matter of preference).

If the computer will mostly be on a desktop, a separate monitor (Apple Display or cheaper non-apple models) is a wonderful combo with a mac laptop. With the separate keyboard. Best of all worlds.

Nicholas Tolson said...

I think the computer-like, icon-based navigation and touchscreen usability make iPhones very easy to acclimate oneself to. I have thought of getting each of my parents one. I can't tell you how much time I've spent helping them navigate those arcane menu systems on standard cell phones.

Partners in Grime said...

Your wife will love a Mac. Might take her a month or two to get the hang of it but then it'll be off to the races. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

David, you're description of how your wife views technology: "as a utility... a means to accomplish a goal" is perfect. It describes my wife exactly. She is super smart, an analyst, works on PC's, huge db's, access, etc. but is clueless if computer malfunctions, or even how to turn on a stereo! How can she not appreciate and savor every detail and design feature of our new "family" 17" MacBook Pro! Slowly but surely I'll have here fluent in Mac, and thus worthy of touching the "family" computer....