Friday, 8 August 2014

Surviving July without a Mac

And so it happened that after seven years of faithful service, my old Mac Book Pro decided that the time had finally come to shuffle off this mortal coil. Never having had any problems with it in all the time I'd had it, it came as a shock when it  finally dawned on me that it had not only gone, but that it had gone forever. I have to hand it to Apple, because in the twenty-five years that I have used a Mac to do my job, this was the first time I have ever had a real problem.

Thankfully my broker Rupert from Huber Dixon Insurances, had – as always – made sure that I had the best business insurance he could get me, and Sterling replaced my Mac and all the software, new for old, without so much as a whimper. But still, due to the sheer logostics involved in bringing many individual components together, I was left without a computer for the best part of a month.

Now I could easily have hired a Mac with software at any time (£75 + VAT per day - rip-off or what?), but instead I made a deliberate decision to go without and have a computer-holiday. What happened because of that decision was truly enlightening.

I'm lucky that a greater part of my work involves creative thought processes and coming up with ideas, for which I have everything I need in my head. And because I am a product of an age where designers were trained to think for themselves, draw for themselves and visualise by hand, all I need to get an idea across to a client is belief, eloquence, a pencil and paper.

I'd forgotten how good it feels to draw, but I don't intend to forget again. Visualising by hand also re-kindled my passion for typography. The close attention you need to pay to letter forms in order to draw them accurately has made me fall in love with type for type's sake all over again.

When I did need to produce digital work of any kind I was able to use a spare Mac in another Studio. It was damn good fun. We laughed a lot and we all learnt from each other, but most importantly I was reminded that there are good people out there who will trust you and whom you can respect in return.

On the days when I didn't have a great deal on I made the effort to do something different. I went out. I met friends I hadn't seen for ages and others that I had. I took my camera to Stonehenge and my sketch book to The New Forest. I went to London, to Museums, Art Galleries and Concerts. I even went Bat spotting. And the consequence? I remembered that even the mundane moments of doing something different are a vast improvement on wasting your time in a semi-vegetative state on Google.

I have always been of the opinion that the worst thing about the internet is that it was somewhere for the people who had nothing to say, to say it. But I was wrong. The worst thing about the internet is not that those with nothing to say were saying it, but that I was listening.

During my time of Mac-lessness I wasn't completely out of reach. I can get everything and emails on my iPhone, but somehow looking at an email on a tiny screen makes it easier to see just how pointless the majority of them are.  Thankfully that also seems to make it easier to delete them - straightaway, without wasting time reading them. And because responding to emails on a tiny iPhone keypad takes longer, I re-discovered how easy it is to actually use the phone to phone someone. Remember that? Talking to people rather than hiding behind emails? It's a very warm and rewarding experience and I whole-heartedly recommend it.

I have changed the way I have worked for years because of my computer-holiday, and I have to say it is so much better and infinitely more rewarding. But with all my new knowledge, new discoveries and re-discoveries, re-kindled hobbies, passions and joys, new friends, new opportunities and the inner joy that comes from spending your time in a fulfiling and meaningful manner, where am I now?

Why, back on my Mac of course.

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