For starters, let me just admit that this is a blatant brag on the Macbook Pro and Apple’s OneToOne system of instruction. When tech gurus debate the pros and cons of Apple vs. Windows, rarely do I see it said that what you get with each Mac computer is about $3000 worth of free integrated, ready-to-use, and intuitive software. Since this blog post could quickly disintegrate into boring technominutae, let me just make the brag very easy to understand.
My vocalist, Heidi, and I have built a home recording studio and produced a demo CD using this Mac and the tools to do it cost less than $500. You can hear the quality of these recordings at our FaceBook page, Just in Time: Heidi and Jim.
I’m just going to comment on a few of these tools. Apple has developed a suite of software, iLife, that contains five applications for dealing with photos, movies, web publishing, music, and making DVDs. Apple offered the upgrade for less than $100, and it comes free with new Macs.
With Apple’s OneToOne system, you pay $99/per year for up to 52 one hour lessons with an expert. They offer an entire curriculum in several little booklets that teaches you not only how to use iLife, but the many other programs that come with a Mac for email, calendars, productivity, addresses, in addition to their powerful OS X.
When Heidi and I decided to make our CD demo, I paid the $99 and enrolled in the year of OneToOne. I went in with this specific goal. It only took me five sessions to get to the point of having a working home recording studio. One of the tech people recommended that I buy from Guitar Center a Tascam digital interface and two mikes, total cost $200. Oh, and to be fair, I bought a Yamaha P-70 keyboard for $500, although I could have done everything slower with the $49 keyboard I already had.
I had played with GarageBand before and produced music with it (see the blog post Greasy Lounge Lizard), and I knew Apple had a powerful, yet intuitive system for producing music. But it was the competent instruction and Apple’s OneToOne curriculum that let me release the power of the system and allowed me to achieve my goals.
I hadn’t been back to OneToOne for a couple of months, but tonight, I went back with a very specific purpose. My friend, Dee, had sent me a drum part he had written out for one of the pieces Heidi and I had recorded, and try as I might, I couldn’t set that drum track up. So I made my appointment through the OneToOne website, and at 8 pm tonight, I met with Steve with my specific problem. It just took him about 5 minutes to show me what I needed to know. Steve does this all the time; he has been in two working bands. But I spent another 20 minutes watching him and learning some great shortcuts.
I wish I had a snappy ending for this piece of Apple advocacy. Notice, I am not making the claim that you CAN’T do this with Windows. But I doubt very seriously that two things are true of Windows: 1) that there is a totally integrated curriculum and easily available and inexpensive instruction on the many programs involved and 2) that the many programs involved are truly integrated and work together seamlessly. I hope someone corrects me if I am in error.