All Things Apple

I have been an Apple user since 1986, and hence an Apple fan boy. I once developed software for the Mac. Thus I have some thoughts about Apple and its technologies that have found their way into words here.

Apple desktop and mobile computing devices are products of a fast moving technology, so any discussion is out of date as soon as it is published. These analyses are thus of personal historical value, with only minimal potential of value to other readers.

I love OS X for its openness, Unix familiarity, and stability. iOS is another Apple marvel, a stripped-down OS X/Darwin core augmented by the Cocoa Touch abstraction layer that implements the multi-gesture, direct screen manipulation GUI that defines Apple’s mobile devices. One does not need to know anything about the internals of these systems or of the devices that run them. Use is entirely intuitive and truly plug and play (PnP).

I was initially turned off by iOS, for I sensed the initial iOS thrust was to limit hardware access (e.g. GPS, dock connector) to Apple-branded applications whose purpose was to generate usage-based revenue streams for Apple. This concern seems to have abated somewhat in the current maturity. Apple’s cut now seems to come mainly from hardware and App Store sales, and going forward, undoubtedly from ramping up sales of ads and content.

I have a 32GB iPod G1. I love it, but am still irritated at how insanely quickly Apple obsoleted it (~18 months). The G1 is the only 32GB Apple mobile device (iDude) with a Wolfram DAC (number me among the very few who care). I will hang on to it as my main mobile tunes platform for that reason.

I also have a hand-me-down iPhone 3GS (from Debby’s upgrade to the 4S). My first iPhone, until recently it still ran the latest iOS, provides GPS utility (TomTom app), renders speech to text for field notes (Dragon Dictation app), provides a birding field guide database (iBird app), supports my genealogy research database (Reunion app), and serves as a handy remote for my iTunes server (iPeng app). Then there are all the social living apps that attract most people to the platform, and a decent camera for when you need one and the SLR is not around. We also get use from FaceTime connectivity on our iPhones.

On my desktop sits a four year old iMac 27″ core i5, my main research and blogging platform. It is networked to a headless 10 year old G5 Xserve, which is my iTunes tunes server (via Logitech Media Server), my PPC application server (via VNC), and my TimeMachine backup server. The iMac further networks with a headless 15 year old Sawtooth G4 PowerMac, which serves up my older OS 9 applications (via VNC). Finally, my network contains a 10 year old G4 PowerBook, detachable for mobile computing, and used in studio to run specialized PPC apps. Debby runs an seven year old iMac 21″ on her desktop. Her computing mainly concerns email, photo library, social connectivity, information search, and online news.

Our most recent platform is an iPad Mini (thanks, Owen). It has taken over from my iPhone as my iPeng iTunes remote control and mobile web search engine. I use it daily over morning coffee to accompany me while reading the NYT, and to peruse the day’s market news. It has also become my eBook reader (for eBooks I check out of the library), and our FaceTime communication platform of choice. I bought an inexpensive BT keyboard for it, so it is now a poor man’s PowerBook as well.

From my desktop, I can run any software application I have acquired over the last 20 years. Such continuity is important to my psyche. I am more comfortable keeping my past near me, open and accessible. Unfortunately, people still drift away, but I have rounded up all my machines, put them back to work, and hope that they stick around.

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