Brian McGuire of Ashland works on his PC at Noble Coffee in Ashland. Jim Craven - Jim Craven

Mac vs. PC

Mac or PC? Computer users worldwide are still going around on this one, 25 years after Apple Computer's first little Macintosh fundamentally altered the notion of personal computing.

Adherents on both sides can be seen at wi-fi coffee shops across the Rogue Valley, starting the day with a jolt of joe and their tool of choice. Many Mac users openly boast of the superiority of their more-expensive machines, but PC users can be just as adamant about the virtues of their low-cost workhorses, and the advantages of Microsoft's operating systems and software that's used around the world.

Apple's new Snow Leopard operating system went on sale Friday, giving the company an opportunity to brag once again about what it calls "brains and beauty."

Brian McGuire won't hear any of it. Over morning coffee at Ashland's Noble Coffee House, he says he's not persuaded by his many Mac-using friends.

"I just like the familiarity of PC, says McGuire, a teacher at Talent Middle School. "It's also a lot cheaper. Everyone tells me Mac is more intuitive, but I'm coltish about it. I'm just not trained to it. My PC does everything I want it to do and I got this one used for $300, way less than you can get a Mac."

McGuire says his school district is going to PCs because "it's cheaper and our servers are more aligned to PC. It's just more universal."

Claire MacLeod, a former Southern Oregon University student now at Portland State University, says her Mac cost $1,700 with insurance and extra memory, but she describes it as "a really good investment, and it's small, portable and easy to understand. My friends are envious. They want a Mac, but they don't want to spend the money."

One of those friends, Tess Golling, an Ashlander now living in Salt Lake City, says she works on both systems but prefers Mac for "the way the various windows open on F9 (a special key) and fan out on the screen."

"System stability," a computer's ability to avoid crashes and viruses, is an issue for all computer users. Weissler says that on a Mac, "you're not preoccupied by the fear of who's going to invade your system and how many times it's going to crash this week."

Another teacher, Lloyd Lasley of Ashland High School, describes himself as a Luddite (some of the original technology resisters). He reluctantly learned to use a PC, but he notes that Microsoft's PowerPoint software has done wonders for his students. He teaches a class for troubled youth, many of whom do better with a multi-sensory approach to learning.

Jeff Lawniczac of Ashland, who uses his PC machine for staffing work, says he likes the graphics in Macs, but a PC is a must for dealing with business people around the world.

"It's the only one used by the whole world. It's a monopoly. I can't send my apps to anyone unless I've got PC. I have no choice," says Lawniczac. "It's all Word and Excel spreadsheets (Microsoft programs). If someone sends me something in Mac, I send it back and say to send it in PC."

Lawniczac says he paid $1,200 for his high-end PC, but given his long hours at work, "that's only 10 cents an hour; golf is $30 an hour."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at

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