You’re Mac

I’ve been doing some speaking over the past few months. They’ve been small corporate-type gigs about technology and productivity. Two events in particular, both at large law firms, are worthy of note.

1. The Vanishing Function Key

As you might guess, I’m pretty thorough in preparing for a presentation. I even have a TextExpander snippet that requests, among other things, a picture of the projector inputs. So I usually have everything sorted out before I arrive but in this one case, I could not get my Mac to output to the projector. Everything was plugged in. All systems were go. It just wouldn’t display and I was running out of time. 

So my host calls in the IT guy. He walked in, looked at my set up and said it:

“Oh. You’re Mac”

Those were his exact words. He delivered them dripping with judgment. He didn’t say I was using a Mac. He said I was Mac.

This irritated me and it probably showed. I didn’t need attitude. I had a room filling up with people and I needed my brilliant slides behind me. I explained how things weren’t working and he then shares another pearl of wisdom:

“You need to press Fn-F2. That always fixes it.”

I then explained that my Mac doesn’t have a Function + F2 key. My computer automatically detects when it is plugged into a projector and doesn’t require some silly keyboard incantation. Then he said it again:

“You’re Mac”

It was interesting because this time his inflection implied my situation was hopeless. It was like a Microsoft-approved version of “I am Groot.” One phrase. Infinite inflections. Clearly, he’d had a lot of practice at saying it.

While this conversation was ongoing I kept watching more people come in and sit down. I was seconds away from shutting down and going without slides. However, since this presentation was how to make better legal briefs with PDFs, I really had no clue how I would pull that off. Then I asked him for the projector remote. He got defensive.

“The projector’s fine. You’re Mac.”

Then I channelled my mother. I stuck my hand out and looked at the ceiling. I was surprised to feel the plastic slap into my palm. (My mom was smart!) I started futzing with the projector inputs and found one had been turned off. It happened to be the one connected to the cable sticking out of the wall that I was told to plug into. As soon as I flipped the switch, the screen lit up and I was off to the races.

He saw me connect and then said it again:

“You’re Mac?”

2. The Great Cable Caper

Less than a week later I was giving another talk in another big law firm and couldn’t connect. Again the IT guy showed up and again he said the exact thing.

“Oh. You’re Mac”

I blinked. I couldn’t believe I was taking the same guff less than a week after the last guy. Is this phrase now in the manual? This guy told me very patiently how Macs don’t work on “his” projector. They’ve never been able to get one to connect and it is because Apple uses “non-standard technologies.” This time I snorted and he declined to elaborate exactly what “non-standard technologies” he was referring to. Nevertheless, he said it with so much authority that several people in the room nodded their heads in agreement. 

Again I was contemplating dumping my slides but now I was convinced the problem was his projector and I wanted to prove a point. On a hunch, I pulled my own RGB cable out of my bag. (If you want to know how much gear I carry to presentations, there is a good book you should read.) When I swapped my cable for theirs … you guessed it … the screen lit up. The IT guy looks at the screen, then my Mac, then the screen again. Then he made his declaration:

“Must be a proprietary Mac cable, right?”

I don’t think either of these gents was actively trying to prevent me from connecting. I just think they have such deep seated prejudice against Apple that it would never occur to them that these problems were on their end, not mine.

Writing a post about how Mac users are persecuted in 2014 feels like it is about 15 years too late. Nevertheless, there is a slice of the Enterprise, particularly in industries resistant to change (like legal) where you still are looked at funny when you walk in with a Mac. 

Many (but hardly all) of the IT professionals serving these industries have been far too busy earning Microsoft certifications to pay any attention to Apple and they are not only unhelpful, they can actively lob hand grenades at your attempts to get any work done with your Mac.

If you are using a Mac in this environment, it’s up to you to know your stuff because you really can’t rely on any help from “the man”.

I am Mac.