I deleted my twitter account this morning. I’ve been on Twitter long enough to remember when it was spelled twttr, and there was a SMS bridge to a specific number, 40404 if I remember correctly. For me, it’s always been a fun place to chat about Apple and technology. Twitter was a place to learn about new tech and be part of the community of developers, designers, and enthusiasts. Through Twitter I’ve found apps I use every day, books that I love, Authors to follow. We’ve chatted live through Apple keynotes, commiserated through hard times, and found common interests across the world. But… that’s just not what Twitter is anymore. At least not to me.
The September 2019 Apple Event
Several more professional sites have written longer and better articles about Apple’s recent event than I can do here. A few of my favorites in no particular order are John Gruber’s take, Ryan Christoffel and Alex Guyot cover the new iPhones and Apple Watch, respectively, at MacStories, Jason Snell’s take on hits and misses at SixColors, it’s always worth a click to read everyone’s pal Jim Dalrymple at The Loop’s thoughts on the event. And of course, the team at iMore has an entire section set aside for the many articles they’ve already written about what’s new.
Merging the Mac and the iPad
It seems undeniable that, given an infinite timescale, Apple will eventually simplify their two most popular systems into a single platform. Merging MacOS and iOS would, theoretically anyway, provide the users with the best of both worlds, and developers would finally have a single platform to target instead of two. This concept seems to run counter to what Apple executives have said in the past about the Mac, specifically that “the Mac keeps going forever”, but the interview that statement comes from is five years old now, which… in silicon valley terms, really is forever ago.
It's the Price
The recent hubbub about Apple’s earnings guidance has “analysts” and pundits talking a lot about China and the global economic situation. I’m sure there’s something to all that, but my take is simpler… the new iPhones are priced too high.
The 2018 iPad Pro
Sometimes even I get caught up in waves of pessimism, and the recent onslaught of negativity against smart phones, social media, and technology in general has been no exception. It was while I was mulling over the affect of technology on our society that I watched the most recent Apple event where they released an updated MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and a new line of iPad Pros. The Air and the Mini look great, although it’s too bad that they are more expensive than previous models. What really caught my attention though were the iPads.
A New macOS
I’ve heard several people on podcasts or blog posts claim that they’d like to see Apple hold off on new features that nobody wants and just fix the existing bugs in the Mac. This claim is normally followed up with a missive that they can’t imagine what Apple could add to the Mac at this point anyway, since macOS is a stable, mature operating system. Well, I can think of a few things.
What's a Computer?
I’ve been enjoying watching the new iPad commercial of a kid and her iPad roaming around the city. Two things come to mind. First, is this what it’s like for kids in the city? Having never lived in one myself I find it fascinating that she just roams around, takes the bus, hangs out in an alley, whatever. Second, and more important, is what she’s doing with that iPad.
Recommending a New Mac
I got an email from my mom the other day asking me for a recommendation on a new Mac. The first question I asked was what her budget was like. She said she’d like to keep it under a grand, which right away narrowed the field quite a bit. Next I asked what she would be using the machine for, to which she replied with the standard home use cases of “income taxes, email, scanning, internet, etc”, as well as printing to a Brother ink jet.
My Next Mac
So, yesterday I cleared off my desk and tried to work with nothing but my MacBook again. No standing desk, no external monitor. It looked great, but honestly, it felt terrible. I wound up hunched over the desk staring down at the screen. After an hour or so of this I decided, yet again, that this style of work is just not appropriate for me.
Daring Fireball - The Mac Pro Lives
Apple is currently hard at work on a “completely rethought” Mac Pro, with a modular design that can accommodate high-end CPUs and big honking hot-running GPUs, and which should make it easier for Apple to update with new components on a regular basis. They’re also working on Apple-branded pro displays to go with them.
Future Viability of the Mac
Despite aspirations of expanding my fields of interest and adopting new hobbies outside of technology, my day-to-day work gets done on a Mac. I’ve got a vested interest in the Macs continued survival, I’m one of those “truck drivers” that uses their machine for all it’s worth, and would have a difficult time transitioning to anything else. In my job I need to run shell scripts and build Docker containers, I need to ssh to Linux servers and RDP into Windows instances. I need to write, edit, and run Python code that connects to a database through a ssh tunnel. I need to do things that are either difficult or simply impossible with iOS, but are dead simple1 with a Mac.
Well, dead simple in the sense of “if you have nearly two decades of Unix experience under your belt”. ↩
From time to time I wonder if I could get by without any 3rd party software installed on my Mac. What would I have to do to adopt to not using the software I’ve become accustomed to? In no particular order, as of this moment I’ve got:
Ten Billion Reasons Why
What could an organization comprised of some of the smartest, most driven people on the planet do with ten billion dollars in a year? Apple increasing their R&D budget five-fold over the past decade is interesting, but the numbers they are talking about are not uncommon in the rest of the tech industry. What I find noteworthy is the comparison with NASA.
That’s Fine For Marco
Overcast is moving to an ad-supported business model.
The September Apple Event
Another keynote came and went yesterday, and there was nothing I could do after it was over. I couldn’t order the new iPhone 7, or upgrade my current iPhone to iOS 10. I couldn’t buy the new Apple Watch, and even the new iWork collaborative editing features are in new versions “coming soon”. When I tried to download the new Mario game, the App Store let me know I’d be notified when it was available. After everything was announced yesterday, today I’m wondering what the point of having the event when they did was.
I was listening to Core Intuition a few weeks back and Manton said that if anyone was interested in his project to let him know, and he would send a couple of stickers. I was interested, so I emailed him a quick note, and quickly forgot about it.
Sometimes I think I’d like a really great magazine, like The New Yorker, but for Mac geeks. A beautifully printed, monthly magazine with all the best news, tips, opinions, analysis, predictions, and howtos from the Mac community. I’m not looking for what Macworld used to be, I’m thinking more along the lines of The Atlantic. Something classy, something worthy of printing and keeping out in the living room under the coffee table. Something I’d look forward to reading cover to cover every month.
Smartphone Cost and Value
iPhones are expensive. Well, not just iPhones, all smart phones, Android, Windows, what have you. These little gadgets that we can walk out of a Verizon store with without paying a penny now wind up costing thousands later, once you consider the total cost of ownership. This is especially true if you are paying for an entire family, possibly one with two teenage daughters with phones of their own.
Goodbye to The Annual Review
John Siracusa hung up his cape today, announcing on his blog that he would no longer be reviewing OS X.
Research Kit and the GPL
Apple released ResearchKit as an open source project on GitHub today. The project is complete with pull requests, a wiki, and a few sample projects to get started. While the project is great in its own right, it was the context of this tweet by Daniel Jalkut that caught my eye:
The Invisible MacBook
A thread of minimalism weaves through Apple’s products, starting with the Bondi blue iMac and flowing to the Apple Watch. One could argue that the minimal thread weaves back to the original Macintosh, a single, all-in-one device that made computing accessible, but I think the theme is most visible when looking at the modern age of Apple. Jony Ive’s designs have consistently focused on aesthetically pleasing, usable design. A concept that simultaneously puts the device at the center of our day, and almost makes it disappear. Technology is best when it is nearly invisible. The Apple Watch may be the culmination of this invisible tech, but it’s the new MacBook that I believe embodies the design philosophy of Apple best. When the lid is closed on the new 12” Retina MacBook, it’s so small and light that you hardly know it’s there.
The Best of What's Around
Marco struck a nerve with his latest post lamenting the declining quality of Apple software. The post was picked up by “analysts” and debated on television by a panel of “experts”. While I understand the frustrations of those affected by more serious bugs than I’ve seen, I can’t help but wonder if they really understand what the alternatives are like.
The Apple I Knew
As usual, John Gruber has the best take on the Apple Watch that I’ve read, and one sentence in particular stood out.
Rather, I think Apple Watch is the first product from an Apple that has outgrown the computer industry.
What it Does
Our relationship with technology has become unexpectedly skewed. I was just reading through Sid O’Neill’s recent article, Losing Apple, and found myself nodding along on several points, particularly here:
Two Views Of The Cloud
A few years ago, there was a distinction between the “world wide web” and the Internet. The distinction has decreased, but in the wake of Apple’s landmark WWDC keynote, I think the technical distinction between the terms is an important point to make. The difference between the Internet and the web that rides on top of the Internet forms the basis for two very different points of view for the future of personal computing.
Apotheker Seeks to Save HPs Lost Soul With Software Growth - Businessweek
Starting next year, every one of the PCs shipped by HP will include the ability to run WebOS in addition to Microsoft Corp.’s Windows, Apotheker said.
Go2 and the Mac App Store
Yesterday, Go2 was one of approximately 1000 applications available on launch day of the Mac App Store. It’s been a nerve wracking experience, but overall I’m pretty happy so far with the way its gone. I’ve been able to identify a couple of last minute bugs and get their fixes incorporated into version 1.1, which I’ve had in beta testing for about a month now.
MobileMe Mail Revisited
Macs, Netbooks, and Education
What does it mean when an entire community springs up around hacking together a product that is not otherwise available? Apple has been adamant that it is not interested in the netbook market, but according to the many users who are breaking Apple’s EULA and installing OS X on Dell Minis, the market is there, and waiting.
Rumors have been circulating for some time now that Apple is working on a netbook. I wish I had some special insight or access to Apple’s inner-workings so I could confirm or deny those rumors, but all I can say is I hope so. To get everyone on the same page here, let me explain exactly what I mean when I say an Apple netbook. I’m talking about a small device with a ten inch (or smaller) screen, small physical keyboard, reduced hardware specs, running a legal, full copy of OS X. I’m not talking about an iPhone, or some kind of iPhone/MacBook hybrid. While its not clear if Apple would consider such a device or not, what is clear is that people would buy a $500 MacBook Nano (or NetMac?) in droves.
Adamo - Apple Pushes the Industry Forward
I almost feel sorry for the other hardware manufacturers. No matter what they do, no matter what they come out with, they seem to be forever following in Apple’s footsteps. Such is the case with Adamo from Dell, a clear shot at the MacBook Air.
MobileMe is not a Blogging Platform
I thought I’d try OSZen on MobileMe yesterday, to see if I could consolidate even more of my online accounts. Unfortunately, the limitations of both iWeb and RapidWeaver became quickly apparent. I pointed 1and1’s DNS servers at MobileMe, and uploaded an iWeb site. I liked the theme, but the first thing that struck me as odd was the URL. In iWeb I configured the site’s name to be OSZen, and to use the Blog page as the home page, but the URL turned out to be http://oszen.net/OSZen/blog/blog.html which for the home page was just ridiculous.
New Apple Hardware
There’s a lot to think about in the new MacBook line. The aluminum MacBooks are unquestionably what I wanted in the white MacBook that I have now: sturdy construction, fast graphics, and a sleek powerbook look to them. Apple has further blurred the line between their professional and consumer line, something they started with the aluminum iMac, continued with the MacBook Air, and now have completed with the MacBook.
Wow, nothing makes me want to max out my credit card like a Stevenote with some really great stuff.
Remember the early days of networking… before TCP/IP became the standard protocol? Well, neither do I, but I’ve read about it. That’s years ago now, but back then, each computer manufacturer developed their own method of networking their machines together, and each method, or protocol, was incompatible with the other. Apple had AppleTalk, Novell had IPX/SPX, Xerox had XNS, and on and on it went. TCP/IP was born out of the desire to create a vendor independent network, which became known as ARPAnet, and later, the Internet.
This little history lesson is meant to illustrate the tremendous advantages there are to open standards. Would the Internet exist if it belonged to a single corporation? Not as it is today, no. These same ideas can be applied to several other forms of data on the computer; images, documents, music, etc… We now have the capability to keep almost all of our data in a format that is guaranteed to provide greater flexibility, so why isn’t Apple taking advantage of it?
For example, Mail, the venerable email client that comes with the Mac, provides suitable email functionality for most Mac users. Now that I’ve got several years of email stored on my Mac, I’d like to be able to keep those files in a format that is not subject to any corporation’s whims. I’d also like to be able to drop my mail folder on another platform and be able to open it up in a different client… interoperability. Another example is iPhoto, one of my favorites. Would it really be that difficult for Apple to design iPhoto so it stores its database in a reliable, documented format that is readable (and writable) outside the application?
This goes back to a central belief I have about data, and applications. While the application may belong to its author, the data it processes belongs to me, and it should be available to me in a well documented, open format. Open formats make sharing files easier, as they are capable of being supported on more platforms
How about giving Quicktime the ability to natively export to Ogg-Theora? Or allowing iTunes to use Ogg-Vorbis as its default media format? (DRM not considered here…) Pages? Keynote? How about some Open Document Format support? I really don’t think the move to open formats would be that big of a leap. Apple already includes several open source applications inside its server offering, and has built its core data framework around XML and SQLite, so why not open the rest of it up?
The other note worth mentioning is the high profile “switch to linux” news that has been making the rounds lately. With several long time Mac supporters moving to Linux citing problems with formats and a lack of openness from Apple, it seems to me that this is a problem that could be easily fixed. I’m not calling on Apple to open source OS X, I’m not even implying that, although open sourcing a few of the bundled apps might be a good thing in the long term
The world is becoming more aware, and times they are a changin. The world is knocking, dear Apple, its time to open up.