Wednesday, November 3, 2010

An Apple a Day

The following is a copy of a document that I submitted to Apple.

To date, on this November 3rd 2010, I have had over one hundred One to One training sessions, learning to use a number of programs with my Mac Book Pro. These have all been at the Apple store on 67th Street and Broadway in New York City. Over one hundred One to One sessions in nine months, as well as training with Personal Project sessions coupled with Apple-Care Phone Support, makes it an apple a day.

This article is intended to share my experiences with those thinking of getting a Mac, as well as with those who may own a Mac and wonder how to make use of its features. The back story to my getting a Mac Book Pro and taking the One to One training is this: I had been using a Dell for my laptop. I needed the laptop to take with me to free-lance jobs because I am legally blind and it is preferable for me to work on my own computer when working for most employers. I was not pleased with my Dell, but it came from the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, so it had soft-ware programs that I needed.

Additionally, because I do a lot of art-work in relation to the collection of invitations, event program covers, and greeting cards that I design, someone gave me an i-Mac. This had a split hard-drive, which meant I could switch back and forth from a PC to a Mac. For the few years that I used the i-Mac, I used the Mac-side only to do a few tweaks in Photo-Shop, and put my work on a flash drive to “transfer” to the i-Macʼs PC side or to my Dell.

I have wanted to know more about Macs for years. However, being legally blind, I ran into an obstacle in finding ways to learn Macʼs programs. The tech-training services provided for the blind and visually impaired by various agencies do not include Macs. The excuse that support services give folks with visual challenges is that “Macs are not user friendly with adaptive software such as Zoom-Text and Jaws but PCʼs are.”

However, when my Dell laptop crashed, I replaced it with a Mac Book Pro. I split the hard-drive just as I had done with my i-Mac, and I asked my neighborhood “mom and pop” computer store to make a house call, as I do not have enough vision to hook up equipment to printers and scanners etc. Unfortunately, that house-call turned into a difficult experience, when the techie made personal advances towards me. Thankfully, he left without anything happening, but I realized then how vulnerable I would be if I relied on computer house-calls, and I felt powerless as to how I could learn my Mac Book Pro.

I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and had seen the Apple store in my neighborhood on many occasions, but had found the glass structured building intimidating. However, after my experience with the computer house-call, I wanderedinto Apple to ask about the training programs which someone had mentioned to me in a job search support program.

From the moment I walked through the glass doors, I felt welcome. A pony-tailed friendly greeter, Orlando, introduced me to Scott Gockermann, and I ultimately enrolled in the One to One program. It is said that as humans we have a variety of gifts but one spirit. This is surely the case with the trainers at the Apple Store on 67th and Broadway. The trainers have a variety of talents and knowledge, but with the common thread of a willingness to share their skills with others. I have experienced the training of over fifteen individuals since I began taking One to One sessions and what I will share in the remaining portion of this article is merely a taste of what I have experienced.

My first One to One session was on March 22, 2010 with Sam, and I soon realized that what support agencies for the visually challenged don't tell you is that Macs don't have to be compatible with Zoom-Text and Jaws, because the Mac (at least my Mac Book Pro) has already included their own features to accommodate the visually challenged. Sam showed me the options for customizing my computer to meet my needs. I felt like I'd been hoodwinked up until that day, and I hope others who are in the visually challenged community will be able to reap the perks Mac offers.

You may have noticed that not once in this text have I used the word “disabled”. Often computer techies and teaching programs (when providing technical support or program training) tell individuals to ʻdisable this or thatʼ on their computer. As a visually challenged person, the term “disabled” is very insulting and limiting. Folks with physical challenges are often deemed disabled when it is people's attitudes towards the affliction that are the "disability."

Without knowing any of my thoughts on this matter, Sam (the first trainer I had for my One to One sessions), when showing what features Macs are capable of offering, said "Enable this feature”, rather than the norm “Disable this”. This is remarkable, as much of todayʼs culture is not sensitive about language.

In one monthʼs time I had taken seventeen One to One sessions covering aspects of programs such as i-Work, i-Movie, and i-Photo and was being encouraged by various trainers to build a web-site in i-Web. At the time, I was not the prime candidate to build a web-site. I had vowed that the only web-designer I understood was Charlotte (from E.B. Whiteʼs Charlotte's Web).

My experiences with “professional” web-designers over the years had been frustrating. I will detail my experiences briefly, as others have probably had a similar experience, and they can be assured that there is a way out of being subject to the whims of a certain type of web-designer.

The first web-designer I hired worked for Channel Thirteen. He did a nice job, but, soon after, he left the web-industry to go to medical school; and I had to quickly find someone that he could give the codes to. The person I found did not live in NYC but was highly recommended. Unfortunately, he took the money but made many mistakes. As I stated, I am an artist - and what he did was to “pair” the wrong pictures with my titles, which he also misspelled. I had no access to it for making corrections, so I spent weeks trying to reach him by phone or via email before he changed it. There I was - with my work on a live site with gross errors - hardly a way I wanted to represent myself. Eventually that site was taken down.

My next experience with a web-designer was with a woman my neighbor had recommended. This designer took a very long time to do anything except request money. When she finally did the work, she put the wrong pictures up, in the wrong direction, misspelled titles and would not give me the server information. I nearly lost the site, and when she finally did give me the information, the server repeatedly made it inaccessible for me to edit my site.

Prior to my signing up for the One to One program, I had found a new web-designer, Chris. I had a good rapport with him, but it was going to take months for him to undo the mistakes the latest designer had made. Ultimately, after countless times of his being unable to have the access from the server to edit it (and the times he had access to it he saw the sloppy way she had built the site), the only option was for him was to rebuild it. However, at this point time was of the essence for me to get something live. Because of the nature of my small business, I truly needed to have it be accessible on the Internet.

I decided to build my own web-site to work in conjunction with the site Chris was building, and to build it with One to One trainers, then do homework at my apartment (as I had been doing with other Apple programs), knowing I could call Apple-Care (phone support) with questions.

At Appleʼs in-store One to One program, a client books a session on-line, and is paired with a trainer with expertise in the area the client requests (which is why I had many different trainers). The trainers who worked with me are as follows. They have been listed in the order in which I met them: Sam, Everett, Lee, Gene, Evan, Greg, Cat, Anthony, Clinton, John, Steve, Tim L, Drew, JD, Josh, Joe, David, Vladimir, Matt, Corinne, and Jason. Of these trainers, I had sessions with some many more times than others during the time I worked on my web-site. I will elaborate a bit on those four trainers.

Gene Klein was invaluable as I built a site in i-Web. Coming from a highly successful advertising/design background, Gene had a lot of talent and insight, coupled with an interest in sharing his gifts. I was sorry to see him relocate to Massachusetts, but blessed to have his influence. I had ten One to One sessions with Gene in total. We worked together in Key-note, I-Movie, i-Photo as those programs related to my i-Web web-site. I think of Gene often as I move forward in creating my projects on my Mac Book Pro, but especially when I copyright them, for it was Gene that pointed out the “Option-G” keys -- the keys needed to create the copyright symbol. Option G for Gene.

Tim Larsen is also very knowledgeable and willing to share his expertise. As of this date, I have had thirteen sessions with Tim but in terms of my i-Web sessions, he helped me with masking in i-Web. He showed me how to search for colors and "grab" them for the web-site I built in i-Web. With Tim I made the leap of cutting my umbilical cord: bootcamp (a “method” which allows both operating systems on one computer), and I eliminated the windows side of my Mac Book Pro. Tim suggested I up my RAM because while building my web-site, I had many programs open at the same time. I love the smoother sailing having more RAM provides.

To date I have had twenty-seven sessions with Cat Morris. Cat was the seventh trainer I had met upon beginning One to Ones at Apple, and because of the set-up of the tables and sessions, I'd overhear her from time to time, when she was working with others. This is not to say that she was speaking too loudly - its just that I hear very well. What I want to let you know is: long before I had Cat as a trainer, I realized what a gift she had. Like Gene, Cat had a successful career in advertising, and, like Gene, she gives so willingly of her time and talent, continuing to share information. Cat began sessions with, "Talk to me about what you want to do;” and she actually listened to my goals.

In terms of my i-Web project, Cat helped me tailor templates to meet my needs, and explained the process to me well enough so that I was able to move forward on my own. Among many other things, Cat helped me resolve Mobile-me issues when my site was ready to go live, and some “tricksʼ in Pages when I wanted to create materials to promote my site (business card, announcement cards, letter-head, and brochures). I spent a lot of time on "home-work" with all of these "tasks" as I had done with the "assignments" in Bento and i-Photo she had given me, and I was only able to do so because of the "tools" and "secrets" she shared.

Speaking of the trainers I spent the most time with on my i-Web site brings me to Lee. When I first met Lee in my third session at Apple, I was preparing for a presentation at The Actors Fund where I was going to be showing some art work. Specifically, I needed to show them my line of invitations, event program covers, and note-cards that I produce from my original artwork - much of which was created by using pin-hole cameras and adapting standard darkroom equipment to meet my visual needs. I knew nothing about i-Workʼs Key-Note function, nor did I own i-Work at that time. Lee (perhaps because he comes from a teaching and theatrical background), was very quick to find an alternative. He taught me how to put my “products” into a Slide-Show format and suggested my putting music “under” my slide-show to set the tone for what I wanted to accomplish. “Weʼve only just begun to fight,” became a quote Iʼd often hear Lee say in subsequent one-to-one sessions as I moved forward and created a web-site in i-Web, and ultimately created promotional materials in Pages to promote it.

Again, Clinton, JD, Drew, John, and Evan are some of the other One to One trainers that I worked with on my i-Web project. Each of them were very attentive, and I remember them with gratitude for that, but I did not meet with any one of them for many sessions during that time. However, as of this date, I have been very influenced (and have learned a lot) from each of them during Personal Projects.

Personal Projects gives One to One members up to two hours to work on any project. The participant works at a table with up to six registered participants, and each individual works on his/her given project while the One to One trainer remains close at hand for questions and concerns. Some trainers call it a study-hall. Whatever it is, the environment this method creates is stimulating.

The Apple 67 Trainers have empowered me and created a thirst to learn more. They have given me a joy in "mastering" aspects of the Mac Book Pro. Kudos to Apple 67th Street for what they are providing in hiring extraordinary trainers and giving others a chance to learn about Appleʼs great products.

Patricia Youngquist  © 2010

2 comments:

  1. Tim was one of the best there is, if NOT, THE BEST at Apple. His separation shocked me when I found out yesterday!

    PLEASE, Tim, contact me please.
    Thanks,
    Bill Karam
    336-543-3609-Mobile

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  2. Dear Bill, My heart is still sore from the news of Tim's having to leave, and I am sure the shock will be with many people at Apple 67UWS for quite sometime, although it now seems nothing regarding Apple should be shocking, after all they once fired Steve Jobs — the founder who still speaks about the fact that he was fired from a company he created. (See my post from January 23, 2011). What I've said in the post above that you have commented on is a "copy" of a letter I submitted after I gave a presentation @ Apple 67UWS in October. I have had many, many lessons with Tim since this posting and he is indeed a class act. Quite sometime ago, I was asked to review Tim for Apple and I ended my review with "He knows his products. He is willing to share "trade secrets" and "tricks of the trade" which make using the Mac Book Pro a rewarding experience. Apple surely knows what a great trainer he is and how passionate he is about sharing his knowledge. Thanks for the opportunity." I can see you appreciated Tim too and I'm sure others will feel the loss.

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