The difference that 15 years makes

There are some great passages in this Salon article — written at Apple’s nadir — about ex-Apple programmers working for Microsoft. In those areas where a contrast is drawn, I think most would agree that Apple now bests Microsoft.

Some choice parts:

And of course Microsoft is determined to keep developing Mac versions of its Web browser to press its struggle for market share with Netscape.

I wonder how many members of the current youth could conceive of the browser situation in 1997, where Netscape was the incumbent.

How do these software artists feel about working for the company that the public and the media, if not they themselves, often picture as an all-devouring Evil Empire?

I wonder which company would today come to mind if you asked people to identify the “Evil Empire”?

“Working for Apple is a very frustrating experience because Apple is extraordinarily good at inventing things, but extremely bad at competing,” Eames explains.

Surely, the situation is diametrically opposite now. Continue Reading →

30 years of the Mac

The Mac was launched 30 years ago today. I don’t remember the launch, but I do remember (as a late primary school student) being taken by my mother to try one out in a computer store on Oxford Street, Bondi Junction, not long afterwards. It was immediately clear that the GUI was a far superior way of doing things, particularly for those who were not as techie as I (read:parents).

Some months later, when Apple released a mouse for our then-new Apple 2e, we grabbed one immediately. I still remember getting used to the way it worked as a user (mouse paint on such a dinky machine felt nearly as good as MacDraw), then jumping into BASIC to work out how to interface with it as a programmer. IN#4 and all that…

That was useful knowledge when we finally bought our first Mac, and retired the Apple 2e, about half a decade later. The superiority of the Mac to the Apple was clear as soon as I started learning to programme it: it did not have a closed apple key, but it could detect presses of just the shift key! And it could tell a press on the left shift key from one on the right!

Apple has set up a site for people to post reminiscences such as this. Clever marketing. But it also reveals some interesting things. Continue Reading →

Ordering a new Mac Pro: some thoughts on what to choose

Having done quite a bit of research, and having given some deep thought to the possible options, I ordered one of the new Mac Pros within 20 minutes of them becoming available. I expected they would sell out, and that was proved correct pretty quickly.

There were a few judgment calls and predictions, all of which turned out to be right. Given the large number of options available, here are my thoughts on choosing the best value machine from what is available (note – prices are in Australian dollars, and inc GST except where indicated).


There are 4 configurations:

Don’t be fooled by the on-paper clock speeds. So long as there is adequate cooling, turbo boost will let the “slower” (on paper) processors ramp up their speed when fewer cores are being used. See this great article from Marco.

The bottom line is that the 6 core will (if cooled properly) run at the same speed as the 4 core. with two more cores to boot. The 8 core is about a wash, but the 12 core is slower (by around 0.4-0.5GHz). The 6 core is the sweet spot for performance, unless you need more cores. The harder choice is between  4 and 6 cores; i.e. whether  the amount Apple is asking (~$590 ex GST) would go further on other components.

I bet that the CPU, being a Xeon LGA2011 socket, would be upgradable in future; this turns out to have been correct. Once the price drops, and if needed, I may upgrade the CPU.

Continue Reading →

It’s the content owners, stupid

More press surrounding the gouging of Australian customers. When will there be adequate realisation that Apple is in a different position from Microsoft and Adobe?

The price of music, movies, TV and apps on the App Store is set by the content owner, not Apple. Apple just takes a cut. Apple’s own software is priced effectively at parity given the exchange rate and GST (or free).

The origins of (some) Mac fanboyism

“Fanboi” is a fairly common insult used by non- / anti-Mac users against those whom they perceive as having blind devotion to the Mac.

Yes, fanboyism exists for Macs, just as it does for many other products/pastimes/theories.[1]

However, in a class of Mac users (namely, those who have been using Macs since at least the 90s) there is a sensible and defensible reason for why — if it exists — it does so. (Although, that said, in my experience the longer someone has been using Macs, the stronger the attachment but the less preachy the approach.)

Continue Reading →

The new Mac Pro

I’ve been waiting for the new Mac Pro for well over a year now. I need to replace a souped-up but aged 2006 pro, which is hands down the best computer I’ve ever owned but is showing its age: it won’t go above OS X Lion, and it is noticeably slow, despite having everything internal upgraded.

For a while, I was concerned that Apple might drop the Pro altogether. While that fear was put to rest by Phil Schiller’s announcement, the new Mac Pro (as announced) is a curious beast that raises as many questions as it answers. While it is great to see a new machine, it gets some things very, very wrong.

Continue Reading →