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Chapter 4. My Official Guide to Switchin... > Switcher Diary: Fabiola Torres

Switcher Diary: Fabiola Torres

College professor Fabiola Torres says her lectures have to be exciting to keep student interest and contain current media content to be relevant. Her Mac makes it possible to achieve both those goals, but before finding the Macintosh she spent many years as a frustrated PC user.

Fabiola: I have been a PC user since 1989. Was it called Windows back then? I remember finally using the term Windows in 1995 (I think). I was going through college, and all I did was research, research, and more research. I didn’t even use PowerPoint. With this response you can see that my “Windows” world was reduced to Office. Now as for my skills using Windows, well, all I did was save in drive A and/or the desktop. If I had to install anything, I would just call my friend who worked for IT for Cal State Northridge. I didn’t even bother knowing how the system worked. I would just see the long list of directions for installation, refuse to do it—for fear of doing something wrong—and call up my IT friend. What I hated about Windows was I didn’t understand it. Any time something would go wrong—like an error message, safe mode, an invalid something or another, that blinking white cursor—I would freak out and once again call my friend. Luckily, he lived upstairs: Thanks, Will.

I still use Windows when I’m at work—again just for Office and Web work. It’s really frustrating because the computers available to part-time faculty are only PCs.

David: How did you become a Mac user?

Fabiola: There were many factors that made me switch. One commercial that attracted me to the Mac was that one of a kid asking his dad to download a new program on dinosaurs. Of course, the father is confused and is taking a long time to install it. Then the kid says, “I’m going next door. They have a Mac.” Right then and there, I realized there was a less complicated machine. But I was still seeing computers as a high-tech word processor. Then the magic moment came. I saw an iMovie on women in sweatshops done by a high school student that blew my mind. It was informative, visually descriptive, and empowering because it delivered new and clear information. Here I was ... a college professor ... and my students would have received more information about global economics and the feminization of labor through an 8-minute film. I was doing something wrong. This happened two years ago.

David: Is your Mac a good value? How do you feel about Mac pricing?

Fabiola: My Mac is an investment. I realized it was more expensive than a regular PC, but when you look at it, it’s actually worth it. First of all, most PCs do not have FireWire or applications like iMovie, iTunes, iPhoto, iCal, iChat, or iSync. You have to pay a lot more for such applications. These come standard.

A Mac is like buying a luxury car. You may be spending a lot of money, but once you have it, you get quality standard equipment and great customer service. If you get a low-cost car like a standard Toyota, you will have to pay extra to get good components like air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, nice rims, leather seats, remote access, or a better engine. Now, if you buy a standard Volvo or a BMW, you will get a great car with all the features needed to make your drive safe and comfortable.

David: What do you consider to be the most important differences between using a Mac and using a PC?

Fabiola: PCs are not creative machines. They are not geared toward creative expressions. Macs welcome creativity; they inspire creativity.

David: What do you consider to be the most important differences between Mac OS X and Windows?

Fabiola: Mac OS X is visually appealing. Your eyes flow with the click of the mouse. Also, the standard applications that come with Mac OS X are practical and inspirational—they make you want to be creative. For me, Windows hasn’t changed since 1996. It’s a great word processor.

David: What do you wish you had known before switching? And what were your biggest concerns?

Fabiola: I think the switching moment came at the right time. I was a graduate student required to write papers. There was no room for creativity—sad to say. When I began to teach, I realized that my teaching environment needed to be appealing. If I have to compete with MTV, quick sound bites, and entertainment that require a short attention span, I had to take my lectures beyond just lectures. They had to be exciting!!!

I use iMovie with my digital camera to make short films on a topic. Or I record commercials, TV shows, and movies into my camera and then I import them into iMovie, compress them through QuickTime, and then import them into PowerPoint. I take my presentation on a CD-ROM and then I show it in the class. I also use iPhoto the same way. I may take a picture of a billboard, a neighborhood, or a landmark, import it into PowerPoint, and then show it in class.

Sometimes I just make a slide show. I also use music lyrics in the class, so I have to use iTunes to then import them into PowerPoint. So in a way, I still use Office, but it’s the Mac applications that make my PowerPoint presentations exciting. Anyone can make concepts fly across the screen. My goal is to add value to the presentations.

David: Anything else I should have asked but didn’t? Anything you want to tell me?

Fabiola: I’m a college professor (going through finals right now) who teaches Chicano studies (Mexican-American studies), ethnic minorities in the U.S., and women’s studies. Pop culture is very important to my curriculum. That is why I need to be able to bring the world into my classroom. I want my students to understand their surroundings and not get fooled by what is being shown on TV (regarding minorities in the U.S. and women).

In this post 9/11 era, I need to provide a well-rounded classroom that includes images and sounds to empower my students to not misjudge others.

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