Wow. This was news I was not expecting to hear last night. My son had just finished eating dinner and I sat down on the couch for a quick RSS read through on the iPhone. There it was on from the Mashable feed – Steve Jobs Has Died. Quickly I scroll down, this can’t be right. Steve is still going to lead technology design into the future. Mashable must have been hacked. Then I saw Tech Crunch announce it, then another, and another. It sunk in and I told Xie. It didn’t hit her at first either. We saw the news before it exploded online, and we didn’t know how to take it.
One of the best quotes I saw online was “This is must have felt for my parents when John Lennon died”. Some people in my generation would give the “rock star” death to Kurt Cobain. I didn’t even like Nirvana until years after his death. I did know when he died the world changed. Steve Jobs was also a rock star. He was a visionary and he changed technology forever. I had to deal with the extreme Apple haters yesterday (some friends, some just online) that made inappropriate comments. Within hours of the announcement, that’s just wrong. Regardless on where you stand on the Mac vs. PC legacy, this is a man who has touched you in so many ways that you are not aware of. His influence is extended into just about ever facet of the modern computer you own.
You like Windows and its graphical interface, you can thank Mr. Jobs. You needed to use floppies once upon a time, thank Mr. Jobs (for the 3.5″ inch design). You decided you are past floppies and don’t need them anymore, you can thank Mr. Jobs for leading the way of removing them from machines. I could wax on and on about Pixar, iPhones, and iPads – but you can get that coverage anywhere else and you should read it from people who write better than I do. I’m just going to give you a few personal Apple related stories.
My first experience with Apple may have been the computer lab at Open Door Christian School, unfortunately those days don’t stick with me. I don’t really remember using a computer in school until high school, and then that was a dos based system. The first experience I remember was my next door neighbor when I was between 4-6 grades had a Mac Plus. It was a sleek all in one box that put my Commodore Vic-20 to shame. We played a few games on it when his parents gave him permission. The most frequent one was one of the Ultima games. Those days were complete black and white glory and it was fantastic. In 1988 we moved to Vermilion, and I was stuck again with only having access to my Vic-20.
By senior year of high school we got a PC in the house and I was entrenched as a PC guy. I wouldn’t say at first I had any real feelings on the Mac vs. PC wars. They were the same right? At least that was what I thought at the time. Then moving forward I became a PC technician at a PC shop. Occasionally we got Macs that came in and fixing them between all the technicians was a hope and prayer. It was like the time I fixed a Novell file server at a doctor’s office, I still have no idea what I did beyond using the help file and typing random commands. One common problem was that the motherboard battery would die on the Mac and then the computer would refuse to boot. We fixed a few of these. This seemed ridiculous though. Why would a computer not boot if the CMOS battery died. PC’s would still boot. Mac’s suck. Apple limited you too much from tinkering beneath the hood. Being a DOS maven I hated that. I wanted to tinker, tweak, and hack my computer to do things it should have. You couldn’t do that with a Mac. There was also the Apple Tax issue. I was firm PC and all Mac’s sucked. I chose my place in the war.
Sometime in 97-98 I did some PC work for a sales rep at B&K Automotive in Vermilion on freelance time. What was my payment? 30-50 Apple II’s. I had to do two trips in my escort having it completely weighed down with every inch of available space that I didn’t need to drive to move them to storage at the Vermilion Haunted School House. I didn’t have room at home to store them (I had moved out of my apartment and was living with my mother or Xie’s parents at the time). A group of this hauled them all upstairs and put them into storage. We had extra parts and peripherals galore. There was a guy named Greg that also worked at the school-house that I would have my epic Apple Vs. Microsoft arguments with. He managed to put together a top of the line Apple II for himself and they played games on it in the basement of the school-house. I always meant to save one perfect one for myself, but I never did. They were all destroyed or removed from the building before I ever had a chance. They are gone like my TRS-80 and CoCo that I had received around that time period.
OSX then came out. There wasn’t the same reason to hate the Mac. I respected them and what they could then do. A few years later we purchased Xie the first Mac in the house, the original Mac Mini. Unfortunately the Mac Mini was the bastard child. We liked it. It looked beautiful. Unfortunately we were ingrained windows users and didn’t do much with it. It was always the question of what can we do with it. It didn’t help that each of us had at least two windows computers and the Mac was an add-on.
Sometime in there Xie received her first iPod. It was a 20 GB 2nd or 3rd generation. It actually is still in the house somewhere and works. She then upgraded to a first-gen nano and I received the original iPod. After we moved into the new house she lost the Nano for a span of two weeks. We found it on the upper patio sitting outside in the weather. It had rained a couple of times during the “we can’t find it stage”. It had been dry outside for 2-3 day before we found it, we took it in, charged it, and it worked like a champ. About after that incident Xie received an iPod Classic 120GB (having missed the window for the 200GB and being annoyed at that fact). I inherited the nano and loved it for months. One day while working on the car I hopped into the passenger seat, the nano was in my back pocket and cracked in half. It was a good little device that had a life that ended too soon. The last iPod in the house was purchased about 2 months ago, a shuffle for Xie to use during workouts. I still want one of those for the fashion style more than real use.
Two and a half years ago we started our move into the full Apple ecosystem by purchasing two iPhone 3GS’s. I thought the first gen iPhone was limited by not being able to install apps and very limited basis, by the time my contract was up and ready to get a new phone – we were eyeing the 3GS. Since then the iPhone has become part of our daily lives. I couldn’t live without my phone. I upgraded to the iPhone 4 last year, and plan on upgrading to the new 4S. I get so much out of the device that the cost is worth the upgrade. Like I did say in yesterday’s piece, Xie is receiving the first 4S, I get the second. Alexander is currently rocking my old de-activated 3GS. I’m sure he’ll be upgrading to the iPhone 4 once I get my new one.
Sometime two years ago the Mac Air was announced. I had to hear all the complaints about lack of power and lack of CD drive, but I so wanted the device. While I was at NASA I managed to beta test the Mac Air for use in the environment. While I still used a PC a bit this was my first regular usage of OSX. I loved it, but I also did love my PC. My work and play was becoming more and more browser-based. I could do 80% of whatever I needed to do on whatever platform I wanted. The remaining 20% I just jumped between machines. During that time it was my favorite laptop I had ever used. Eventually it was taken from me and repurposed to upper management. I was given a Mac Pro, but it wasn’t the same. I didn’t like quite as much, of course it was also a couple of years old. I stopped really using my Mac and went back to the PC.
As I was preparing to leave NASA for a new job, the iPad was announced. I wanted one. It was just like the phone that was joined at me hip, but I could do more on it. I unfortunately did not get one. Xie did (64GB WiFi). She loves it and uses it daily. She is a maverick switching between the iPhone, her computer, her iPad, and using the right device for the job. We have not yet purchased an iPad 2, but I’m sure when we do I’ll inherit the iPad 1.
Last year the Apple TV 2 was announced. This also has become a staple in our household. We don’t have cable or OTA signals that reach our house. All of our TV consumption is done via ripped DVD’s and Netflix. We are also watching something new all the time. I did get sick of transcoding everything to MP4 – so our Apple TV is now jailbroken and running XBMC. SO between XBMC and Netflix we can pretty much watch whatever we want. We use the iPad or the iPhones as a remote and everything works wonderfully (the user interface for XBMC is a wee bit laggy though).
Finally about 3 months ago we purchased two MacBook Pro’s. These are our new daily machines. We are using them almost exclusively. We still have Windows 7 desktops, but we don’t use them nearly as much. The usage model has definitely swapped on its head between PC and OSX. Mostly because running Windows in virtual box allows me to run whatever I need on a single machine. Modern technology is wonderful. I consider myself OS agnostic, but the hardware quality of this laptop is fantastic. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to go back to not owning a non-Apple laptop.
So to sum up, I’m still mostly a PC person (that uses OSX on his personal/work laptop). I have even given two Apple TV 2’s and 2 iPod Touch’s as gifts. My household has a history with Apple on our journey getting to where we are today.
Apple Products we have gone through:
- 30 – 50 Apple II’s of various flavors
- Mac Mini
- Mac LC and a Clone Mac (stories not worth mentioning, but they were owned and used somewhat on par with the Mac Mini in the house).
- 4 iPods
- 3 iPhones (so far)
- 1 iPad (so far)
- 1 Apple TV (so far)
- 2 MacBook Pros (so far)
For a PC person that is quite the list. I can defend Apple, and if I’m not careful I might one day become strictly an Apple Computer user. Until then, thank you Mr. Jobs for what you have given us. Thank you for pushing Apple, Microsoft, Google, and a myriad of other companies to improve and compete so that the consumer wins. Thank you.
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