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McClatchy-Tribune  06/22/2014 7:04 PM ET
Apple experts offer product training for the less tech savvy [The Palm Beach Post, Fla. :: ]

June 22--As Apple continues to drop new products yearly, more people are searching for ways to learn how to use them.

Just days ago, iTunes chief Eddy Cue teased that Apple's product lineup this year is the best in many years. This fall Apple will release the latest version of their operating system called iOS 8.

While you can always enroll in a daily workshop at the Apple store, chances are there is already a waiting list. The workshops are held in the actual store and cover the basics of what you can do on your Apple device.

Local Apple experts like Palm Beach Mac Service, Cobalt Computer Consulting, The Tech Zen and Palm Beach Mac Help Mi Studio,are companies who sought a different route by offering private, virtual or group training for the average user.

These businesses dig deep into an Apple product's capabilities allowing you to feel comfortable navigating through a device.

Palm Beach Mac Service is an Apple Authorized repair and training center run by a guy who insists he has never owned a Microsoft machine in his life. It touts itself as offering the same services you can expect at an Apple store, meaning they will accept your product's warranty, repair it and throw in some tips and tricks.

The only thing you can't do at this Apple service provider is, well, buy a product.

Shane Bennett founded his company that operates on South Dixie Highway more than two years ago. He began repairing computers on the side as well as fixing his own products. Eventually he realized there weren't any Apple Authorized shops nearby and decided to open his own.

Palm Beach Mac Service focuses on just that: Macintoshes. He fixes Apple laptops and desktops and ultimately found himself teaching people about them.

"It was just kind of a natural thing," said Bennett. "If you can fix them you also know how to use them."

Palm Beach Mac Service only offers personalized one-on-one training, either at the shop or at the customer's home. Bennett said he likes to teach his customers tricks like how to print from an iPhone or an iPad using an outdated printer.

"If you call the Apple store they are going to tell you that you need a new printer," said Bennett. "Well I know how to make it work with older stuff. I'm a lot more flexible when it comes to making things work with older products."

Although their names are similar, Palm Beach Mac Help is different than the Palm Beach Mac Service. This company is a certified Apple Consultants Network that focuses on Macs as well but less on the repair aspect and more on training.

For those who would rather not have someone in your home, Palm Beach Mac Help offers training over the internet in addition to their one-on-one sessions.

Jonathan Horne, the founder of Palm Beach Mac Help that operates on Palm Beach, said he uses Apple Messages to communicate with clients.

Messages is a new version of Apple's instant messenger, iChat, that allows two individuals to share screens without installing any third party software. Horne would send an invitation over Messages prompting you to give him access to your computer screen.

"Once they allow me access I can control their mouse and keyboard," said Horne. "They can hear me and I can hear them as well through the computer speakers."

Cobalt Computer Consultant is another certified member of the Apple Consultants Network based out of Jupiter. The company recently opened a second location on Clematis in West Palm Beach.

During season, which is from Dec 1 to May 1, Cobalt will hold seminars in addition to their private lessons. The class sizes are usually 20 to 30 people and consist of everything from basic operation to synching with the cloud to managing calenders.

Boynton Beach-based company, The Tech Zen, offers training for both PC and Apple computers as well as troubleshooting and setting up home theaters.

"We tend to focus more on Apple because there's more of a learning curb when coming out of a PC world," said owner, Jeff Windle. "But there's still a lot of PC users out there."

While Mi Studio doesn't repair devices, it does offer in-depth training sessions for people who want to get the most out of their Apple products in an environment similar to a classroom.

Mi Studio offers group training lessons for both kids and adults. Ex-Apple employee, Robert Perez, founded his company after he said he was hearing complaints about the courses at Apple stores.

Margo Merkle, who has already attended two workshops at Mi Studio, had one of those complaints.

"There are too many people, and it's very loud in the [Apple] store. It's very distracting," said Merkle. "This one is very homelike and laid back."

Perez's beginner's classes can teach you everything from how to check your voicemail to how to organize your daily tasks using Siri and other apps. In his advanced workshops you can learn techniques for taking better photos, photo editing, movie making and word processing.

"I try to get them to understand that there's more to an application than what you just see right there," said Perez. "For instance while taking a photo, double tapping does one thing but tapping and holding does something else. No one really knows that they can do all that. I'm trying to open people's eyes."

 

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