Rasma Says

Musings, deliberations, flashes of unaccounted for brilliance…

PC or Mac? A rhetorical question…

I’ve been whining so much at home these past few days I have used up my quota of good listening and so I turn here to continue my ranting and raving… bear with me! Or don’t, but I shan’t be dissuaded, I just have to plant my feet, throw back my head and let out a honest to goodness Charlie Brown AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!! 

The situation is my attempt and re-attempt to create a website for a person who shall remain unnamed to protect her innocence because she has absolutely nothing to do with the problem. It all started when she asked some months ago if I could make her a simple webpage to promote her consulting business. Why did she ask me? I had just made a couple of webpages for myself, which she liked. Why had I done that? Because I had just bought a couple Mac computers with the hard earned proceeds of my textbook and discovered the standard software iWeb that comes on every Mac. It’s the kind of software that once you open it, out of simple curiousity to find out what it is, you cannot help but make yourself a webpage. It is all so beautiful and straightforward and appealing. Sort of like if you found yourself in front of one of those toddler toys with big plastic colorful shapes of stars and boxes and triangles and moons that fit into corresponding slots on a big plastic board. You’re just compelled to reach down, pick up that orange circle and push it into the right hole and hear that satisfying plunk as it falls into place. 

I got the webpage made and the domain name sorted out, then found out that my friend wanted to be able to update the webpage in a year’s time on her own. Since it was made on Mac software she wouldn’t be able to work on it. I told her no problem, I’d transfer it to PC software. We sorted out a web hotel and purchased the site generator program which, according to the support guy (with whom I have now had 5 correspondences), is (I quote): the most user-friendly on the market, with 500 templates to choose from so that anyone with no web design experience whatsoever can quickly and easily create and launch a personal webpage – (end quote). 

Excuse me? Is he talking about iWeb? I felt I was one of the Jetsons asking how to program my house to make dinner and he was Fred Flinstone telling me how wonderful stone wheels were compared to those made of wood.

I first wrote to him because I was unable to upload a photo from my machine onto the webpage. The software directed me to a photo gallery owned by the software company where I could purchase a photo! Say what? Can’t I upload my own frickin’ photo? Nope, he replied. You can choose from one of our 500 easy to use templates… Some dozen hours later I figured out how I COULD upload my own photo to the website. I have purposely chosen to not inform the support guy. Let HIM figure it out if he wants to. I doubt he does. 

Then I wrote asking him to explain the purpose of the “remove template design” button on the editing page. I see that it removes the template, but to what end? My guess was that I could then insert my own design, say a textbox or something brilliant like that. No, the template goes away and you can do nothing with the blank page (except purchase a photo from their photo gallery and upload that, with no background or formatting on the page, yeah right). His response was a remix of the same theme: There is very little freedom in the program to make it easier for someone to create their own website using one of our 500 templates… 

I didn’t tell him that I thought all his 500 templates look more or less alike. All the headers have either a smiling young business woman or a smiling young business man embedded in them. Can I embed my own image? No. Can I make my own header? Sure, but nowhere does it give you the specs it should be. It doesn’t take your banner photo and make it fit the template banner. Oh no. You have to, in the end, hold a ruler up to your computer screen and eyeball the banner measurements. Then eyeball the same thing in Adobe Illustrator. Real user friendly. 

Then I wrote asking about the flash intro, which has text rolling around in it that I couldn’t figure out how to edit. It was fairly minuscule, but I still wanted to ensure that my friend’s flash intro was going to say something relevant about her. Can I edit the flash intro? No, you can choose any one of the four flash intros that go with the 500 ready made templates…

This time he sent me the user manual as a pdf file. Brilliant. The software itself had no user guide, and the help button only got you to the manufacturer’s website where you could, (yes, all together now), purchase a photo from their photo gallery and insert it into one of the 500 templates…. 

I was glad to get the user manual. Found a few helpful things in the first pages, and decided I would print it out so I could have it on my desk for reference. Hit the print button and my computer went wacko preparing the document…. 171 pages… no, something was wrong with the printer. I hit cancel and tried again. Same thing. My jaw dropped as I paged through the user manual. Yep. 171 pages long. The most user-friendly-software-made-for-any-idiot-to-use has a 171 page user manual??!! In it are instructions like this:

All replies you create in the Wizard are authored by Administrator. If you wish to add a reply under a different author’s name, go to the site preview by clicking PREVIEW at the bottom of the page, navigate to the forum page in your site menu, and add a reply there. Having created a reply on the site, you can edit its main properties (see page 124) in the Wizard. If you are editing a form on a published site, republish the site (see page 164) so that your changes take effect.

Huh? Actually, I can understand that. Especially after reading it a few times and examining the accompanying diagrams (of which there are two, figure 74 and figure 75). Actually, I am pretty good at figuring this stuff out. Usually. I mean I’m a person (don’t tell anyone) who actually used to enjoy filling out  tax forms… you know, matching all the little codes and symbols with the corresponding instructions in the tax guide and getting it all to work out. It was satisfying to know they couldn’t throw me with their bureaucrateese. I mean I was the kid in fourth grade who thought grammar was fun. I loved the schwa! I have a head for boring details!! And still, this project has about done me in.

If I hadn’t promised my friend I would make her a website I would not have spent the last four days trying to remake it in PC format. If I hadn’t gotten a Mac I would never have attempted to make a website at all, for anyone, ever. Not if this is as easy-and-user-friendly as it gets on a PC. It occurs to me that this 171 page user manual is symbolic of the basic difference between a Mac and a PC. 

So, Mac or PC? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you deserve to get this 171 page user manual dropped on your head!

P.S. Just for a breather, when I needed a break yesterday from the grueling labor of making a PC friendly webpage using the any-idiot-can-make-a-webpage-software, I made a new webpage for myself. Using iWeb of course. Check it out at http://www.rasma.no. 

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This entry was posted on 12/10/2009 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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