Mucho Macs 'n stuff

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Attack of the clones

Who remembers the Mac clones of the mid-90's? Oh those were the days. Here's a link to a history of one of the clone makers. Pretty interesting stuff. Apple begrudgingly make the call to license the OS as a last ditch effort to help save itself. It worked out OK as it gained them more market share but at the same time it diluted the brand (especially it's image) and confused consumers. What's interesting to note is Apple's market share in those days was about what it is today but it's coffers were nearly empty. The company nearly went under. The clone makers got the rug pulled out from under them as soon as Jobs returned as iCeo (that i is for interim) in '97. The first thing he did was pull the plug on the licensing deal. He was kind of sneaky about it, too. The clone makers were licensed only for System 7 versions of the OS. He used this loop hole to make the revised OS System 8 and that kind of took care of that. The licensing of the OS is always an issue with Apple fans. Some people believe that Apple did the right think by not licensing the OS early on, that it maintained the integrity of the brand and kept the quality of the products high. Others think it was a dumb mistake that let Windows come in and sweep up enough market share to become the standard. I go both ways on this. I do believe they kept product quality high by always being involved in the hardware step. That marriage of hardware and software makes sense and creates greater reliability. Apple's roots are in hardware so this all makes sense in terms of their philosophy.

However, the clone program was very successful. The clone mfrs. sold a lot of units and helped get more Macs, well Mac running computers, to the masses. Apple was careful to monitor the hardware end and everything seemed to work. Had Apple instigated a similar policy early on I think we would all be using Mac OS based computers instead of Windows. Microsoft saw the opportunity to make it big in software while Apple was stuck on hardware + software, thinking that's were the future would be. What Microsoft seized on, in a rather brilliant way in terms of marketing, was the need for unification and standards. This certainly led to some rather large compromises in the quality of the software and the PCs that it was married to. But Apple stuck to it's guns and continued making higher quality products that went against this grain. I think this was a great idea that resulted in fantastic products but the problem was they were charging way to much for them. Their profit margins hovered around 50% and that greed hurt when it came time to ship computers to the masses. Once Windows starting gaining huge volumes of market share with a Mac knockoff OS Apple sued declaring copyright infringement. A loophole in a contract made between John Sculley, Apples' early CEO, and Gates let Microsoft win that battle. What Apple should have done at that time was look at the reality of things. Microsoft is winning because they're using our ideas but putting them into cheaper machines. This is letting them become the standard as even the cheapest computer during this time is pretty expensive. So why not ramp up the same computers, or create a 'consumer computer' that is of the same quality as your lineup, and get millions out the door? Had Apple focused on this rather than being misguided on projects like the Newton and mismanaged by laurel resting attitudes we would all be using Macs and be far happier. And more productive.

Friday, August 24, 2007

YES!! I love Macs. I had to upgrade some software on our two G5's at work and after some initial problems (the company sent me the wrong FTP address) I got things all straightened out. I also needed to connect the two G5's so they could share files directly without a third computer (server) in the middle. Done and done. What a good feeling. Everything just worked. I think I'll go home and do the same so I can share my porn, I mean business files between my Macs. Maybe my server plan is closer than I thought.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Here's a very interesting take on Apple's new Numbers program. From someone at Microsoft of all places! I guess it's from the Microsoft Business unit, the folks that make Office for Mac, so it's kind of expected that they have a more open mind. Man, I really want to get iWork '08!! If I hadn't blown all my money at Ikea this weekend I would. Stupid Ikea.

The author really hits on something I've believed for a very long time: Compatibility is what makes great software. The more compatible, the more useful and versatile. I think this really extends into the Mac vs. PC debate. If you can use it on both platforms then the real issues, such as reliability and hardware preference, can come out and that's really where the Mac wins. The two chief complaints of PC users are not being able to use a program on the Mac platform and the high cost of Mac hardware. If you eliminate the lack of use issue then the price premium for the hardware might be more appealing to people because you're not paying the high price plus the 'handicap' of not having all the software you want. Apple's definitely on track with the Intel chips because that's a start to cross platform compatibility. I don't expect Apple to be licensing their OS in the near future but I imagine that there will be more programs that can go between Mac and Windows platforms.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

R.I.P AppleWorks

Appleworks has died. It's true. But with the new iWork offerings it's not surprising, especially with Numbers being added. I kind of like Appleworks still. It's something far different from Word but still does the same things. What I love most about it is the look. Since it hasn't been updated for like 10 years it feels like the old school Macs. Sweet. Even with all it's shortcomings it's better than it used to be. I remember the FIRST version. It fit on a 5.25" floppy. Oh those were the days. Godspeed AppleWorks. Enjoy your retirement in software heaven. You're still on my desktop.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Why is it that we set our standards so low for our computers? I was talking with a coworker and he just bought a laptop with Vista. He likes the laptop and the speed and went on about it. Then, almost as a side note, he tells me that Vista isn't so great, it randomly reboots once it's finished updating itself. Without warning. It just decides on it's own to close whatever you're working on and reboot. That's not a good feature. But it didn't seem to bother him. Or take the crazy errors we get from XP. I've been getting a VB script runtime error every time I log in for the last week. But we just go about our business, thinking it's normal. I tell you. But really we're kind of stuck because that's what the rest of the world uses. Kind of frustrating but what can you do? Oh I know, run a Mac! The only thing that prevents me from doing that at work is my need for Access. All of our research database stuff goes there and I can't get to it with a Mac. Otherwise I'd be all over it. I think Apple is needs to move towards more integration with Windows, only then will they gain more marketshare. They're on the right path with Boot Camp but I don't think running Windows on a Mac is the answer. Creating programs that are better than what Microsoft offers, that are 100% compatible will lead to greater sales. Only then will the common man see the premium price tag that Apple charges as worth it. In my opinion...

Hopefully the Free Software Foundation doesn't mind that I borrowed this pic from them. They want all digital things to be free, right? hehe. I guess that's why you can BUY their free software. Yes, you can BUY free software from them. Oh, I guess it's free in the open source sense, not price. But then why are they such proponents of 'free as in freedom'? Doesn't that mean without out price? Such contradictions. Check them out here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

iWork Upgrade is not happening

So I'm a little behind the times and just picked up a copy of iWork '06 2 weeks ago. Little did I know the new version was coming out!! Doh. I was at the university computer shop complaining about it to the guy who sold it to me and one of his cronies thought I could get a free upgrade if I purchased it in the last 30 days. Cool! I thought. So I called Apple and you can't get an upgrade from iWork '06 to '08. I have a feeling it's because it includes a new app, something they don't want to give away will nilly. But the good news is you CAN get an upgrade form iLife '06 to '08 if you bought it recently (2 weeks or 30 days depending on who you ask). So that's something you've got going for you.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Santa Claus is dead

Earlier this week the Fake Steve Jobs was unmasked as an editor at Forbes. This has completely ruined my enjoyment of the FSJ blog. It was funny thinking about some 30 something hipster impersonating Steve Jobs with his witty repertoire. Now we found out FSJ is some stuffy middle-aged fool. I've tried all week to enjoy the blog but now it's just not as fun. The writing doesn't seem as witty or free, especially now that the blog is published regularly in Forbes. That kills it right there. It's easy to fling insults and be funny when you're anonymous, there are no consequences. But now that he's outed and he has a 'sponsoring' publisher he needs to be more reserved. I can already see the change in the most recent posts. Above all I don't see why he had to admit who he was. Why not continue with the game? That would have been more fun. Oh well. I guess it is what it is. I just feel like someone pissed in my cheerios.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Dude, it's totally new and rad...Kind of

Well here it is in all it's glory. Not as substantial of a redesign as I expected but it's still pretty cool. Basically it's just a new skin, aluminum, instead of the clean room white plastic. There are technical improvements, faster processor, graphics card, more RAM capacity, but the look was what I expected to change the most. I have to say I'm slightly disappointed. It's more like a modification rather than a redesign. Oh well. The keyboard is way sweet! I can't wait to find out how much that costs. Hopefully not more thanthe $30 they charge for the pretty white one. I think the keyboard design was more substantial than the computer redesign New iLife and iWork too? Looks like I'll be blowing my load on new software this fall. I just bought iWork '06!!! I tell you. Speaking of iWork '06 I'll be posting my thoughts on that a little later. For now enjoy the new iMac.

Monday, August 6, 2007

iMac dujour

Tomorrow we should be seeing the new imacs. I bet the mini gets axed. It's just like a good soap opera, who will live, who will die, and who will be reinvented? There's a lot of speculation that they'll look like this but I don' t think so. It doesn't look hip and stylized enough. I'm guessing they start departing from the refrigerator white. I doubt they'll put an aluminum shell on it like the mac pro. That seems to be they're big distinction across groups. Maybe back to colors again? As long as it's not Bondi Blue I think we'll be OK. We'll see.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Mac Village

Here you go, make your own origami Mac. A good weekend project for those with nothing better to do. Also good for a friday afternoon work project if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Helpful Tip

Everyone loves Macs but the problem is they're freakin' expensive. But if you're willing to live with a slightly older machine you can score one for fairly cheap at university/state surplus auctions. I went to one last weekend and I saw old graphite G4's going for less than $50. Granted, they were pretty stripped but that's still not a bad deal. I was able to score one (graphite G4) about 6 months ago and after putting a new hard drive in it, a video card, and some RAM I had lying around I was good to go. I think the machine was about $50, the hard drive $70 and the rest of the parts were free. So for $130 I've got a solid working Mac. Not bad at all. If you're into more vintage Apples you can go CRAZY. PowerPCs like the one pictured were flying out the door at the auction for $5-10. Old G3 Blue and Whites were going for like $20. I even saw an old Quadra server go for about the same. Also check out university computer shops. They typically sell Macs at the student discount price to the general public.