Can an Apple a day keep the IT expert away?

I find the latest round of Apple Computer ads - the 'switch' campaign amusing - they are obviously targeted toward those who feel that 'PCs for Dummies' is too technical.

          Sometimes I watch television just to be entertained by a series of advertisements, those that are more enjoyable than the shows that interrupt them.

          For example, take the latest round of Apple Computer ads - the "switch" campaign. Each supposedly showcases a former Wintel PC user who finally "saw the light" and went over to Steve Jobs' side. I find them so amusing because they are obviously targeted toward those who feel that PCs for Dummies is too technical.

          There's Janie Porche, the young woman who saved Christmas. It seems her poor dad needed to spend hours downloading drivers for his new digital camera (evidently her dad is still connected to the 'Net at 300 baud). Porche just "put a cord" between the camera and her Powerbook, and it automatically downloaded all the pictures. Imagine that - I wonder which brand of camera THAT was!

          Of course, the big star is Ellen Feiss (the student many think was high on something during the shoot) - she even has a fan club and Web sites tracking her every move (

          These are enjoyable not because of any planned humor, but because it really shows the Macintosh mentality. Porche probably complained to her car dealer, "Who wants to spend time putting gas in the car?"

          But there's one that's actually scary.

          Theresa McPherson tells us she is a lawyer who started her own firm but didn't want the instability of PCs, so chose Macs for her office. She also didn't like the IT department at her old firm. They would talk to her in words that were "too technical" for her to understand. She just wanted to be able to run the computers by herself. She's proud that her Macs are networked and she doesn't need an IT department. I wonder what she'd say if I made an ad for the Nolo self-help law site ( saying that lawyers spoke in a jargon I couldn't understand, I just want to do it all myself?

          Macs do have a place in the world. So do people who work on their own cars, computers or lawsuits. But the people doing the work themselves better thoroughly understand what they're doing because something will go wrong. You will, eventually, need an expert. And I would love to be the consultant McPherson has to call in when her network has a problem!

          Kearns, a former network administrator, is a freelance writer and consultant in Silicon Valley. Send letters for publication in Computerworld to Computerworld Letters

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