Back to Mobile View

Skip to Content

TUAW Deals

Kevin Harter, Switcher

I'll bet you're just dying to know exactly who this "Kevin Harter" fella is that has tarnished the pages of your favorite blog lately. And just what in the heck does he know about Macs, anyway?! Well, let me fill you in.

Hailing from Fort Madison, a town of about 10,000 in rural Southeast Iowa, I'm the father of two, the husband of one, and the owner of Backslash Technologies, a local computer sales and service center. The funny thing is, we don't do much with Macs at all; it's almost entirely Windows-based.

My love affair with all things Apple began with some flirting about 14 years ago. I was hired to develop the Windows side of a primarily-Mac store. I performed my duty and PC sales grew, but I was soon was sucked in by the relatively slick interface of System 7. So my first Apple purchase, ever, was a PowerMac 7300/180 that I used as a second computer.

When I left that job over 11½ years ago to start my own business, I used the Mac to develop our first logo, first web site, and a series of forms and flyers to run and promote the business. Soon after opening the doors, the Mac found its home on a shelf in the back of the store, where it still sits to this day. I concentrated on solving my customers' Windows problems. And there were lots of them.

Years went by and I read a bit about Macs here and there, always with a lot of curiosity but never with enough guts to buy another. I was the guy that said "because it's a Mac, dummy" when asked why something didn't work on an Apple computer. I made fun of Mac owners as being snobby and slow. I couldn't believe people would spend so much money on a computer that could run so little software.

I had firmly closed my mind.


Then, about a month after it was released, I won an iPhone in a drawing at a computer conference. Since we offered cell service from Nextel and i wireless, a GSM-based regional carrier, I couldn't very well sign up with AT&T. Besides, remember the "rural Iowa" part? Yeah, they still don't offer AT&T contracts in Fort Madison.

So the iPhone sat on my desk, in the original shrink wrap, for several agonizing weeks. Curious what all the buzz was about, I didn't open it because there was a good chance I was going to just dump the thing on eBay if I couldn't SIM unlock it to replace my Nextel Blackberry 7510 (a fine piece of tech... for 2003). The day the first unlock was offered by the sketchy folks at iPhone SIM Free, I gleefully passed them my credit card digits to the tune of $50. It was a bargain in my particular situation... and a rip-off for nearly everyone else, as a free solution appeared just a few days later.

I soon fell in love with the simple yet powerful interface of the iPhone OS and started a new hobby of checking out all of the cool, unauthorized apps. Seven months later, I bought a Mac Mini, which was supposed to take its legendary place as "secondary computer" on my office desk. Two months later, I ditched my Windows PC and the Mini became my primary machine. And four months after that, in October of last year, I moved that Mac home and bought the MacBook Pro that I'm using to write this article.

Keep in mind that the company I built from the ground up still does very little with Macs, but my love for the platform continues to grow. I simply can't get enough of using my MBP and can't imagine going back to using Windows PCs exclusively.

So, among my blog posts for TUAW, expect a few tips on living in both worlds. Every other computer in our business is a Windows box, yet I am able to run it all from my Mac laptop. Sure, I still face challenges, yet I'm convinced that OS X is fundamentally better operating system than anything Microsoft has yet released (although, at the risk of feeling the commenters' wrath, I'll admit that Windows 7 does look promising).

Also, I have made it a personal goal to find high-quality free or low-cost software for everything I need to do. I am pleased to announce that the OS X Open-Source World is alive and thriving, and I will be bringing to you my thoughts on the programs I use most.

But don't worry, even though I'm from Iowa, I won't bore you with a ton of agriculture apps.

One last thought: I want to use this space to say a sincere "thanks" to all of the fantastic people with which I now have the good fortune to work. The bloggers at TUAW have taught me a tremendous amount about my new tech loves over the past couple of years. I am honored to be part of the TUAW team and hope that I will be able to contribute to the education of future switchers.

© 2014 AOL Inc. All Rights Reserved.