It’s Time to Join the 21st Century!

by Jeff Hixon
I’ve been using both Mac OS (27 years) and Windows (24 years) in my various professional capacities as a technologist, creative director, graphic designer, musician, and most recently educator/trainer.  I have also been fortunate enough to work with and for both Apple and Microsoft and have witnessed the approach and philosophy of both.  As such, sharing data (files) between the two platforms has been an everyday part of my working life.  So, I’d like to dispel the “Myth of Incompatibility” between these technology giants here and now.  Whether creating soundtracks, animations, interactive education materials, general ledgers or annual reports, I have yet to encounter a situation where I could not use the files from one platform on the other.  But there’s more to creating great marketing materials than just opening files.

It’s a Process (and then some)

Microsoft (which created Excel and Word for the Apple long before Windows existed) tends toward a more left-brain, utility-of-process approach.  They have loaded their applications with virtually every tool you’ll ever need to produce a slideshow, spreadsheet or document . . . the more-is-more approach.  Unfortunately, the tools – e.g. palettes, tool bars and inspectors – are all there, at the ready, all the time on screen but without much context.  Customizing is a whole other topic.

Apple takes a very different approach, not only to a process but to the outcome of that process, as well.  The tools you need appear as needed: drop in a chart and the chart tools appear.  Create a table, the table palette pops up.  Need to insert a graphic? You won’t have to spend time at the Insert menu, searching around in your My Pictures folder.  On a Mac, the data you need follows you where you are.  The Media Browser is available in all your production tools.  And when you drop in an image, you have tools for cropping and color correction where you are – no going back and forth to your graphics application.  The tools you need are pervasive, where you need them throughout the production process.

Where to Now?

As mentioned, it’s more than just about the process.  For Apple, it’s also about utilizing and re-purposing what you’ve created in as many ways as possible.  In every creative and production application on a Mac, there’s a ‘Share’ menu.

Have you created a great presentation for a seminar?  On a Mac, you can record it and send it directly to YouTube (it may even go viral)!  Want to make it even better?  Send it to one of Mac’s free iLife creative applications to add titles and a soundtrack then send it to iDVD to create The Ultimate Leave-behind: brochure, portfolio, services – you name it.

Now, take that same presentation and share it with Garageband (multi-track audio studio) to create a Podcast. Want to get that podcast published on the website you just created with iWeb? (Yes, you can build a website.)  It’s a Mac; it’s drag-and-drop easy.  From there you can submit your online podcast to iTunes for worldwide distribution . . . for FREE!

It’s All about Getting Out There!

Here’s the thing . . . Apple understands the production process.  They produce incredibly powerful tools with a sharp focus on ease-of-use.  The iWork suite, Pages, Keynote and Numbers are the most comprehensive production tools on any platform.  All come with professional templates for newsletters, brochures, letterhead, cinema-quality presentations and visually stunning charts and graphs.  But they don’t stop there.  Respectively, they can open and save in MS Word, Powerpoint and Excel formats.  The ‘Share’ menus ensure their Windows’ counterparts can easily open and edit your output.

The Bottom Line is the Bottom Line

For about the price of hiring a graphic designer for a single collateral marketing piece, you can purchase a Mac mini for about $700 and a copy of the iWork Productivity Suite ($80) – grab any LCD display, a USB keyboard and mouse – and your all set.  Remember, iLife (with iMovie, iPhoto, Garageband, iWeb and iDVD) is built into every Mac.

Now, go forth and market in the 21st Century!

Jeff Hixson is the Training Coordinator for Visual Dynamics, Inc. of Indian Harbour Beach.  For more information call (321) 773-7788 or visit www.visdyninc.com