Recommending computers to people
#22 Henry, Wednesday, 09 December 2009 4:13 PM (Category: Apple)
(Tags: mac recommend)

I recently got asked by a rowing buddy what computer he should buy. I have written about this earlier. There have been more developments.

When asked this question, I asked him questions back. "What software do you use on your computer?" And I was told repeatedly that he only used a mailing list program to generate printing labels. After I had asked this question several times and quizzed him in different ways, and I always got the same answer, I recommended a Mac. He bought a Mac.

I have already described the saga of getting his mailing list moved to his Mac, and getting his email changed over to the Mac. I thought it was all over and he could get on with a new life in Mac-world. Then I got a phone call. He ordered the UPS program for his mailing that goes with the printed labels, and it's Windows only. And the UPS guy said that all businesses only use Windows and it's surprising to hear that he has a Mac and wants to do business stuff with it. In all his years, he's never heard of anyone who wants to do business on a Mac or wants the UPS software on a Mac. So now my friend asks how can he get the UPS software running on his Mac?

Now I have a lot of problems with this. After asking more questions, I discover that my friend installs the latest version of the UPS software on his computer each year about this time. He remembers every year to phone up and order the latest version. Yet when I asked repeatedly if he uses any other software on his computer, he couldn't remember the UPS software. If he had told me this when I asked, and I had found that it was Windows only, it would have been a no-brainer. I would have told him to buy a new Windows PC, and I would have whistled while I walked away from the mess because I don't do Windows. But no, he forget to mention it so I recommended Mac, and now, somehow, it's my responsibility to solve his problems.

Oh, and he's got a lot of names and addresses stored in the old UPS software, and he would like to NOT lose them.

I'm not going to fuss with dual boot and all the other crap you can do to get Windows running on Mac. My friend has enough trouble running one single computer, and I am not going to open up a can of worms that requires my lifetime support of his system. I suggested he keep his old Windows PC and install the UPS software on it. He agreed, sadly. But that involves me going round again and attempting to do the installation. So there goes another Saturday morning. I tried to install the UPS software on his old PC, but the installation refused to take place because something was wrong with the PC. It appeared to not be running Microsoft SQL Something. So I tried to run the older already-installed version of the UPS software and it very specifically told us that it could not find Microsoft SQL Something. I know nothing about this. I recommended he take the PC to a Microsoft specialist and get them to either fix the missing SQL Something, or do a reinstall in the hope that the SQL Something magically reappear.

My friend did this and the people at BestBuy said it would take 3 days and $200 and it wasn't worth doing. He would be better off buying a new PC. My friend did not want to spend that much money. The BestBuy geeks suggested he install the UPS software somewhere else, like his PC at work. My friend thought this was a great idea because it cost no money, and he did it, and it all worked fine and he was happy. Problem solved.

Here's my problem with this. Because I suggested a Mac, I have spent about 8 hours working on my friend's Mac and PC, finishing his upgrades and trying to get his data over. If I charged $50 an hour for this, my friend would not have gone down this route. He would have found someone else to do it for him for free, I would have had an extra eight hours of my life to spend on things that benefit me, and I would have had a lot less aggravation. There would have been one less Mac convert, but he's a reluctant Mac convert now because he's finding more stuff that is Windows only that he relies on. He should have remembered this when I asked him, many times, before I recommended a Mac.

So here's what is in my future. Anytime anyone asks me to recommend a computer, I am going to pretend I did not hear the question and I will walk away. If anyone asks if I can help with their installations or conversions, unless it involves only Slackware Linux, I will have to refuse because "that's all I know". I am not going to recommend anything or help with anything. I don't have many hours left to me, and I am not going to waste them dealing with Windows. Or Mac. And especially not for free.