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Entries in Macintosh (40)

Friday
Sep052003

Happy Mac OS X User

Mac OS XYou know, there are days when I come down to my Macintosh and I'm incredibly pleased to be a Mac user. I have very reliable a system -- Mac OS X -- that almost never crashes, and never really needs to be rebooted. I think the last time it crashed was... lets see... June I think. As for needing to reboot, I think that was... hmmm... early August.

Sure, apps in OS X crash now and then, but they generally don't take the entire system down with them the way Mac OS 7, 8 and 9 did. I think an app crash has taken the whole system down for me twice since January. So, I can just keep running the Powerbook G4 constantly, only sleeping on occasion if I want to work upstairs or at the cafe for a while.

I'm now growing fond of the OS X way of working, with the pop-up Dock at the base of my screen. All of my daily-use apps have been ported to OS X, like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Macromedia Fireworks. Further, I'm seeing a daily parade of new applications being developed, like NetNewsWire, an excellent RSS reader and weblog management tool. I've gotta say, it's a great time to be a Mac user running OS X.

Well, some days I'm even more appreciative of my Mac user status. Take for instance yesterday, when I read the New York Times story, The secret life of an infected PC in the International Herald Tribune.

I about spit coffee onto my screen, reading how Windows PC users have found all sorts of weird viri and unsolicited or unwanted software packages installed on their home machines! This quote was especially troubling:

Richard Smith, a computer security expert in Brookline, Massachusetts, estimated that one of every two computers using versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system has unsolicited software lurking within. "I'm the official computer maintainer in my extended family, and I have seven computers to keep up and running," Smith said. "With the exception of my computer, they've all been whacked." His machine was spared, he said, only because of his extreme vigilance.

Just imagine that: 1 in 2 Windows PCs are harboring unsolicited software within their hard drives. The realization that every other reader of this weblog post who's running a Windows PC is likely to have a nasty bit of software running without their knowledge. Yow. Don't know about you, but that just gives me the willies!

The article goes on to talk about sypware and the ad-app Gator and a security tool app called Ad-Aware that can remove unwanted software from a Windows PC. Good to hear someone is out there offering at least 3rd party protection, even if Microsoft seems a tad unconcerned about security.

After mentioning this story to Craig at GearBits, he added a helpful post about one Steve Gibson and Gibson Research Corporation. GRC produces tools and patches (many of the freeware) to help protect Windows users from all of the holes Microsoft has intentionally or inadvertently left open (sometimes by default) on their OSes. Thank goodness for GRC!

As for me, I'll just say "No thanks Microsoft." I'll stick with my OS X box that just keeps rolling day after day and week after week. In fact, see no real need to change, as I have access to MS Office for OS X (or OpenOSX Office if I so chose) along with many other important tools to stay compatible with my Windows-using pals. If I really need a Windows app, I can run MS Virtual PC or alternately, OpenOSX WinTel.

Sure, Macs have a miniscule part of the market share (about 5%) which makes them less interesting to viri writers, but OS X also has BSD (a form of Unix) underlying the pretty windows, which also contributes to it's high level of security. That, combined with a great looking and well-designed user interface, makes me a pretty happy OS X guy.

If you're unhappy with your Windows PC experience, maybe you should check out a Macintosh and consider Mac OS X? :-)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday
Jun262003

Jonathan Ive's PowerMac G5 Design

Powermac G5If you've followed this weeks announcement of the new Apple PowerMac G5, you're probably aware of its strange new minimalist Aluminum design, a signiicant shift away from Apple's recent plastic cases.

I really like the new PowerMac G5 design, including some of its controversial details, like its front and rear grilles being equated to cheese graters. The funny thing is, while everyone else in the PC world are trying to outdo each other with freakier or uglier looking plastic cases, Ive and his Apple design team just push the envelope and progress their designs to the next level. Just look at the simplicity and subtlety of the new G5: folded aluminum, and see-through grilles.

In my opinion, Jonathan Ive and his Apple design team are the design trendsetters of the computer industry. They set the trends everyone else tries to mimic and copy. Take for example the original iMac. Shortly after its release, other PC and peripheral makers were furiously copying Ive's design style. Funny thing is, by the time the competition was into copying the iMac look, Ive had long since moved to the next design.

Another good example was the PowerBook Titanium's design which was knocked off years later by Gateway... but by then Apple's PowerBook line had already shifted to a completely new design using an aluminum case.

And finally, I should mention the iPod. Many have tried to copy its style and simplicity but just can't seem to get it down. And again, by the time competitors have made their best effort at a bad copy that's been watered down by committee, Apple and their lead designer, Jonathan Ive have already moved on to the next thing. Buh and bye!

Wired posted a very interesting article this week, called Design According to Ive, in which the writer asks Ive about his design philosophy and the new G5 design. I especially love this quote:

"We wanted to get rid of anything other than what was absolutely essential, but you don't see that effort," he said. "We kept going back to the beginning again and again. Do we need that part? Can we get it to perform the function of the other four parts? It became an exercise to reduce and reduce, but it makes it easier to build and easier for people to work with."

Wow. Reducing and simplifying? This is something really unusual. Often there is this tendency by companies, particularly in the computing world, to keep adding and adding features rather than trimming and reducing things to reach a good design. The idea of reducing to achieve a great design is Design School 101, but I don't often see designers using this approach in the real world. It's very refreshing to see this principle adopted by Ive and Apple.

UPDATE: Andy, my Mac-using Austrian house-guest has supplied me with a nice link to 30-some shots of the new PowerMac G5 surrounded by a throng of German Mac fanboys from the Apple Germany press event in Köln. Check out image 400 -- is that Heidi there in the background? :-)

Wednesday
Jun182003

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Bytes

My Linux-using friend and colleague, Niall, sent along an image via email today that had me literally laughing out loud. I think it's the funniest image I've seen for a while now, since it so perfectly illustrates (and kinda exaggerates) the difference between Mac OS X (based on BSD Unix) and GNU/Linux.

Notice how simple the OS X box is; on or off... well maybe that's a bit of an overstatement. However, on the other hand, notice how you're not really sure which button or knob on the Linux box even turns the thing on or off. In fact, the button you're so sure powers down the box, might just reformat the hard drive! :-)

FYI, the original, larger image can be found at http://gniarf.net1.nerim.net/mindless2.jpg

Wednesday
May282003

Mac OS X vs. Linux Hotrodder Analogy

Mac OS XThis weekend an analogy came to me related to Mac OS X users and Linux users [1] that I wanted to mention here to see if I'm on the mark or way out there. Here is is:

I think Mac OS X and Linux users are kinda like two first cousins who happen to both love hot rod cars, but love them in slightly different ways.

A Mac OS X user is the cousin who loves to drive really cool cars; loves cruising and being seen in a really slick ride. This cousin may even enjoy tweaking the appearance of the car by adding a custom paint job, spoilers, ground effects, or other easy to moderately difficult mechanical additions. The Mac OS X user also uses the car in practical ways -- to pick up groceries, drive to work, take road trips and the like. Driving the car is the most important thing to the Mac OS X user.

A Linux user is the cousin who loves to tear apart and rebuld cars. Dropping in a new engines, grinding valves, adding high performance engine and transmission parts, tweaking the engine until it runs perfectly. Wanting to know every part intimately. This cousin is less concerned for the car's appearance -- primer, missing body parts, mismatched wheels or missing lights are not as important as having a perfectly running car. This cousin might also cruise the strip or run errands, but would much rather spend time working in the garage. Working on the car is the most important thing to the Linux user.

Now of course there are variations on this theme and some crossover. I'm sure that some OS X users lean more toward under-the-hood stuff and some Linux users are more interested in getting stuff done than making system modifications. I suppose there are even users from either side whom look down on the other. However, for the most part I think each side views the other in a positive light, since both share the a Unix kernel, which I think is kinda cool.

Any thoughts or comments?

UPDATE: After some refelction on the comments and my initial analogy, I've changed the word 'tinker' to 'tear apart and rebuld' and 'system modifications' to get across my real intent -- that Linux users want to know every part of their OS, inside and out. I felt 'tinker' may have been too casual of a term, when I really intended it to mean something more serious.

[1] Apple's latest operating system, Mac OS X, has Berkeley Systems Distribution (BSD) Unix, running underneath that 'lickable' Aqua Graphical User Interface. Linux is another Unix-like operating system created by Linus Torvalds and modified and tweaked by software engineers worldwide for years, following the open source development model.

Thursday
Apr172003

Microsoft Smart Display = Apple iScreen?

Smart ScreenI've just learned today (thanks to Craig!) that Microsoft has already created a spec for with a Wi-Fi wireless Smart Display very much like the rumored Apple iScreen I mentioned on Tuesday! These Smart Display products are already available from Philips, ViewSonic, Fujitsu, NEC and TG. Smart Screens start at around $1000 and are available in 10" and 15" screen sizes.

So, it should be interesting to see if Apple really does follow through with the iScreen idea or not. If so, they already have competition, though some of the other tidbits I've read at O'Grady's PowerPage and Mac Whispers since Tuesday seem to suggest an iScreen may be more like an iPod with color 8" screen than a larger 15" monitor. We shall see!