Sold my bulletproof 15″ MacBook Pro

I just sold the best Mac I’ve ever had.

Hands down, it was the most trouble-free and reliable Mac I’ve ever owned.

The specs – 15″ 2.16Ghz C2D w/ 3GB RAM / 160 GB drive / 128MB GPU

This was before unibody, before the sealed battery, before super-gloss was the new black, and before FireWire 400 bit the dirt. It even included the e-SATA port that was removed thereafter.

It was my main machine for photo and video editing, effortlessly cranking out RAW images from my old Canon 5D. It even withstood movie editing with my Canon 5D mk II at 1080p HD. A feat my work computer – a 13″ MBP from August 2009 can’t handle without wheezing and sputtering like a smoker in a triathlon.

I can’t help but draw a few parallels between that MacBook Pro and my Canon 5D (original). Both were real workhorses that churned out work day in and day out. They might not have incorporated the latest processors, the most dazzling whiz-bang features, or the same sleek designs that their younger siblings flaunt, but they were solid, dependable tools that accomplished whatever was thrown their way.

I’ve had plenty of other Macs, but this one will stick out as the most bulletproof yet. Lesson being – don’t overlook used equipment just because it’s used. Some people (me included) take excellent care of our tools. With proper care, they’ll keep on keepin on.

Banaue Rice Terraces

“It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe”

I’m leaving at midnight tonight for a trip to the Banaue Rice Terraces; a 10 hour bus ride heading into the heart of Luzon. I’ll be there for four days, hiking around and working with students in the indigenous schools. Really looking forward to the trip, but wish I wasn’t sick with a bad “Man Cold“. I’m not great at sleeping in moving vehicles, much less a bus, so I’ve loaded up the Mac with a bunch of documentaries I’ve been meaning to watch.

I stocked up on a couple of dry sacks in the event of rainy weather (which I’ve heard is the norm up there). Will bring my camera gear and hope to have a chance to get some shots. I’m always hesitant to bring the gear with wet weather, but the reality is, why spend so much on equipment if you never use it?

Here’s an excerpt from an article on Wikipedia regarding Banaue:

“The Banaue Rice Terraces are 2000-year old terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the indigenous people. The Rice Terraces are commonly referred to by Filipinos as the “Eighth Wonder of the World“.[1][2][3] It is commonly thought that the terraces were built with minimal equipment, largely by hand. The terraces are located approximately 1500 meters (5000 ft) above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometers (about 4000 square miles) of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe.”

How to choose a MacBook Pro – which Mac should you buy?

The entire purpose of this post is to help share some of my thoughts and research with those of you wondering how to choose which Mac best suits your needs. Warning – it is long winded and demonstrates my own opinions, so it is biased in that fact. My demographics in a nutshell: 31, male, American, photographer, designer, educator, ADE, expat in Asia.

As you may know, I’m quite the Apple fan. Part of my job involves helping others learn how to best utilize Apple’s solutions within the educational world (I’m also an Apple Distinguished Educator).

Having said that, I’m currently in the market for a new Mac; and it’s gotta be a laptop this time around. My current machine is a 15″ MacBook Pro 2.16Ghz Core 2 Duo from Spring 2007. I installed 3GB of RAM, and the poor 160GB hard drive is full despite heavy culling. It’s been a real workhorse, and the most trouble-free Mac I’ve ever owned.

I’m currently bumping up against three main constraints: the battery life, the hard drive space, and the speed. I could easily shove a 500GB hard drive in there, perhaps pick up another battery, and it’d hum along nicely for quite some time. Unfortunately, the speed issue won’t remedy itself with any upgrade I can provide. It’s really only a problem with doing heavy photo work or video editing. Furthermore, the speed was never an issue until I started using my Canon 5D Mk II. With the massive RAW files and full HD video, it’s pushing the processor and RAM to the max.

The other major factor for upgrading is the fact that for the past couple of years I’ve had the pleasure of using an iMac with an external screen at work; with my shift to Manila, this will no longer be the case. My job will be different; much more mobile, and on the go vs desk work.

Fortunately, just a few weeks ago, Apple released updated versions of it’s portable Macs. So how does one go about choosing which MacBook Pro to buy?

Macbook Pro

Let’s weigh the options in Apple’s portable lineup:

MacBook Air: a glorious demonstration of the marriage of industrial design and engineering.

13″ MacBook Pro: Apple’s new answer to those who want power and portability, especially with the 4GB of RAM standard and Firewire 800. Fans of the 12″ PowerBook rejoice.

15″ MacBook Pro: In some ways, the perfect solution offering better resolution than the 13″ but with less weight than 17″. Also importantly offers the option for discrete GPU – not an option on the 13″ (I feel Apple is shafting pros who need a better GPU on the 13″ – especially with the ‘pro’ designation – perhaps they’ll include it in the next update – they have a habit of give/take/give/take.)

17″ MacBook Pro: The big guy, offering awesome resolution in the thinnest and lightest package on the planet. Also the only one that still has the Express-Card slot (Apple upset many pros by removing them from the 15″). Additionally, it’s the only model offering the ‘antiglare’ screen option for $50 more. (I find it funny that Apple calls it ‘antiglare’ – openly admitting the others have glare? – how about stick with good ‘ole ‘matte’ as the name?)

Most people will go for the 13″ or 15″ MacBook Pro. I’m leaning heavily towards the 17″. Why? I’ll break down some of the reasoning against the others – for my own needs – however, many people will have different requirements:


MacBook Air:


  • It’d be ideal for portability at only 3lbs.
  • It fits the needs of perhaps 70% of my workday requirements.


  • The RAM is not upgradeable at this time (soldered) and is maxed out at 2GB – so I’d be taking a step backwards in power – this alone is a deal-breaker for my needs.
  • Unfortunately the processor wouldn’t hold up to my heavy Lightroom, Photoshop, and HD editing with the 5D2.

Summary: I have a small netbook already. I also have another much much more portable netbook with me all the time; one that holds tremendous capabilities as a communication device, allows me to connect anytime, anywhere, and fits in my pocket – the iPhone. Overall, the Air really appeals to my design senses, and I think it’s perfect for many people, but simply isn’t an option for me at this time.


13″ Macbook Pro


  • Decent portability at 4.5lbs.
  • Great battery life with the newest version.
  • Includes Firewire 800 – I have many FW 800 drives and am happy to see this as an inclusion.


  • I personally find the 13″ 1280 x 800px resolution to be cramped for many apps that utilize palettes. (many will chime in that you simply could use an external monitor – more about that in a moment)
  • Lack of a discrete GPU.

Summary: I currently own (well Novita owns), the first generation 13″ MacBook. I find the screen size and resolution quite limiting for my uses beyond the basics. If you’re simply checking email and surfing the web, it’d be more than adequate, and likely is the most popular model of the MacBook Pro family. With the use of an external monitor, you’d have quite the mobile powerhouse. (as long as you’re not intogaming) However, for my own use, even with the option to plug into an external, I prefer a higher resolution screen when on the go.


15″ Macbook Pro


  • I’m used to this size and weight. At 5.5lbs, it doesn’t bother me.
  • Can be configured to match the performance of the 17″ MBP.
  • Resolution is more forgiving at 1440 x 900px.


  • Resolution: I mention this in the cons because I feel Apple should move the 15″ to 1680 x 1050px. That would be a good middle-ground between 13″ and 17″. It seems I’m not the only one wishing such a change.
  • Apple still doesn’t include the option to use ‘antiglare’ with the 15″ despite previously offering such an option. (give/take once again)
  • My current MBP includes the Express-Card port – I realize they probably removed it to make room for the new sealed battery, but for many professional photographers and videographers, this may be a huge negative.

Summary: I have found the 15″ form factor to strike an ideal balance between power, screen size, and portability. I really do wish the resolution was higher for design work and photography, but overall, this is quite a tempting and powerful laptop.


17″ Macbook Pro


  • The thinnest and lightest 17″ laptop in the world (according to Apple).
  • Resolution is a beautiful 1920 x 1200px.
  • Only model to include anti-glare (matte) option.
  • Still includes the Express-Card port.


  • Despite being the lightest 17″, it’s still not nearly as portable as the Air or 13″.
  • Footprint takes up a lot of space – may feel imposing to others nearby, and difficult to use on a flight (not a problem for me as I usually just watch movies on the iPhone or Touch or read a book)
  • The high resolution means small icons and occasionally small text – a problem for some.

Summary: This badboy may be the one for me. I’ll digress more in a moment. The PPI – pixels per inch – is higher than any other computer screen in Apple’s lineup (iPhone/Touch not included – but even higher at 160ppi) This takes some adjustment surely, as things like icons and text within applications may not be adjustable (Aperture?). However, this can also be a benefit – the higher the pixel density, the smoother text and lines will appear to the eye – making strain less of a problem.

This resolution matches Apple’s 23″ and 24″ displays – enticing for applications like Lightroom and Photoshop where pallettes can take up quite a lot of space, and matching resolution is perhaps helpful when working with an external monitor.

As far as the larger size is concerned, I’m over 200lbs and regularly hit the gym. If I can’t handle 6.6lbs, perhaps I better reconsider my workout. Also, think about it this way – with the 5-8 hour battery life, it’s feasible you could leave the charging cable at home at times – easily making up the difference in weight from 15″ to 17″ (ok, now I’m reaching). However, understandably, this will prove to be much more of a beast to carry around than many are willing to put up with. It’s definitely not for everyone.


There are some additional concerns when contemplating dropping such serious coin on a laptop. One of my biggest questions is when we’ll see quadcore processors hit these MBPs. From what I’ve come across in heavy research is that most likely the first half of 2010 will see the introduction of the first quadcores, with some speculating Q4 of 2009 following Snow Leopard’s release. If I had to gamble on timeframes, I’d say the earliest would be Q1 of 2010, not this year.

This leads into my next contemplation: for serious photo editing, most people would not recommend doing any color critical work on a laptop screen as they’re generally inferior to external monitors – I have yet to hear how much better the new screens are with the new, “60 percent greater color gamut than previous generations”. So, although I’d still be hesitiant to do serious editing on the MacBook Pro, it’d be nice to have the option to do editing on the go – I travel quite often – usually for a total of three months per year. Those three months would be much more enjoyable if I didn’t have to sacrifice screen resolution. The glossy vs matte screen debate is alive and well, but if I’m not planning to do color critical work, it may be less of a factor. I’m still undecided on that matter, and no stores around here have them in stock to compare.

Furthermore, as powerful as these Macbook Pros are, they’re still no match for the Mac Pro or even the iMac. So it seems there are two main options if you crave a larger screen for editing:

  1. Purchase an external monitor for use with a MBP
  2. Consider a desktop for home

Breaking this down, obviously the cheaper route is the use of an external monitor. There are some great options for 22-27″ monitors, as well as Apple’s own 24″ LED display. However, not everyone is a fan of connecting cables, setting things up, and using their laptop as a desktop, just as others find it terribly inefficient to balance more than one machine with syncing issues and maintaining updated files. Personally, I’m used to using two or more computers on a daily basis, but can’t say I’ve not desired the simplicity that comes with one machine.

The iMac is a beautiful machine – I’ve been using them since 2005 in various forms. I think the new 24″ are stunning. My hesitation with the iMacs are that, A) It’s a pain to continually sync two or more computers, and B) They’ll most likely adapt quadcore processors soon (perhaps sooner than the MBP). I believe it’s best to hold off on purchasing the iMac until they do so, as the benefits will be quite impressive, and they’re due for a refresh within the next 7 months or so.

The Mac Pro is another story. It’s a glorious demonstration of power, but at a significantly higher initial purchase point. However, when you really evaluate things, it’s not such a bad idea.

In fact, Lloyd Chambers states, Dead-end Macs are anything except a Mac Pro; all other models have extremely limited options for enhancing performance. A dead-end Mac is the most expensive one, because you’ll have to buy another Mac to get the performance, storage, or expansion you need.”

In reality, after you swallow the initial purchase price and throw some RAM and hard drives in there, you have a Mac that will churn out work for many years of service. The expandability helps to offset the processor’s aging, and will help maintain decent resale. Surely if time is money, and you need this kind of power and flexibility, the Mac Pro is probably the best investment (if you can call a computer that).

The iMacs are becoming increasingly difficult to upgrade, can only support one internal HDD, are limited to 8GB of RAM, video cards cannot be upgraded, and if the screen goes bad, the computer is unuseable.

That being said, I still think the iMacs are perfect for the vast majority of users who don’t require portability. You can easily get a few years out of the current model without needing to worry about bumping up against the constraints – unless you’re a very heavy user or are running specific apps that require such power. Knowing all of the limitations, I’d still seriously consider an iMac once again.

To wrap up this massive missive that’s become long winded, the current Mac lineup is looking quite promising, with the laptops sporting a truly marvelous design and the power to please most users.

For some, including myself, the 17″ Macbook Pro may be the perfect choice if the weight and size are not concerns. I’ll definitely need some option for working at home on a larger screen, but that’s something I can hold off on deciding for at least a couple of months. I’ll be carefully watching the iMac updates, and depending on how things go with work and photography, may even consider a Mac Pro at some point – but most likely not this year. I feel at this point and time, even the 17″ MacBook Pro will be sufficiently powerful while still being portable.

I hope, if nothing else, you’ve gathered a glimpse of how choosing the right Mac is a choice that’s best done only after serious consideration. Strolling into the Apple Store may gain you buyer’s remorse and provide you with possible overkill, or worse, an underpowered Mac for your particular useage. You have to carefully evaluate your needs, and match that with the amount you’re willing to spend. Lastly, don’t fear refurbished or second hand items. On that note, I personally always purchase Apple Care for portables.

In closing, there will always be “one more thing” on the horizon. A good rule is to wait as long as you can for a new machine, research carefully, and then use the hell out of it without worrying about the next update.

On netbooks, TouchBook, Mac tablet, Macbook Mini, and a Mac user switching to Windows (for the netbook only)

Apple has a large gap in their hardware line-up. Between the iPhone and Macbook is a massive hole that they may or may not decide to fill with a tablet/netbook/ultra-portable. There are many reasons, theories, and opinions on whether they should or shouldn’t attempt to fill the void. More on this later.

With today’s economy, more and more people are turning toward the use of ‘netbooks’ – ultra-portable, generally slower, more economical laptops. Even without the economy in shambles, many people (myself included) are interested in using them simply for battery life and portability.

And coincidentally, for work-related reasons, I’ve found myself needing to gain more experience in the Windows world once again. From 1994-2004 I primarily was a Windows user. However, as I’ve mentioned in many posts, I’ve grown much more fond of the Mac platform for a variety of reasons that I won’t ramble on about in this post. I realize BootCamp and Parallels are two excellent options for using Windows on a Mac, but that still doesn’t resolve the portability and battery life factor.

I use MacBook Pro as my primary home computer, Novita has a MacBook, and I use an iMac at work. Obviously, it’s a tough transition to move back to Windows, even for only a portion of my work life. I’m seeking as many open-source, multi-platform apps as possible to make this less painful and to maintain productivity.

After thorough research into netbooks/ultra-portable notebooks, I settled on the 10″ screen form factor. 7″-8.9″ seemed just too small, if not for the screen, then because of the keyboard. I have larger hands and the smaller netbooks that I tried were just too cramped. I found 10″ to be portable and with great battery life in general. The 12″ were still quite nice, but were already moving up into the realm of Macbook territory in regard to less portability. I did, however, settle on a few 10″ netbooks.

My initial choices (in order of interest):

Some of the other netbooks had only 3 cell batteries – 2 or 3 hour battery life isn’t acceptable for a netbook’s purpose in my opinion. I was shooting for 4 hours minimum under reasonable usage. These four all had decent reviews, all were acceptable in design, weight, and features. In fact, at this level, there’s not really many striking differences amongst them. Most have:

  • 10″ LCD
  • 6-9 cell battery
  • 1.6GHz Atom processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 160GB hard drive
  • Windows XP

There are some slight differences, including a claimed 9 hours battery life with the Asus!? I toyed with the idea of throwing OSX on one of these little guys, and tinkered with thoughts of the Dell Mini 9 for that purpose. However, at the end of the day, it’s not a priority at this time. I’m still waiting (hoping!) to see what Apple comes out with before the end of the year.

Once I started playing with these models hands-on, I was drawn much more to a model not on my list – the ASUS N10J. It has similar specs to the others, and yet manages to trump them with a 256MB nVidia discrete graphics chip, an express card, and HDMI. A surprising feature is the onboard integrated graphics that allows you to switch between the GPU or integrated graphics for extra battery life. Gaming on a netbook? Impressive!

While not as sleek as a MacBook Air, I found the design to be less toy-like compared to some of the others I checked out. It’s definitely not as slim or lightweight as some, but the overall design is still quite compact and lightweight. I immediately threw in another gig of RAM to bring the total to a more comfortable 2GB. With Xp already locked and loaded, it was ready to go after slapping down my credit card to the tune of $650.

Now, I won’t lie – I love OSX and it’s not easy to pick up a netbook with XP and get to work like I can with my Mac. However, I’ve found that for basic tasks, email, web, and movies, it fits the bill quite well. The 5-7 hour battery life certainly doesn’t hurt either. It picks up wireless signals stronger than my MBP, and with the express card slot – can be mobile with 3G in no time. All in all, it’s proving to quite the little machine.


Jumping back to the Mac side of the conversation. I love my iPhone 3G. It’s far and away the best phone I’ve owned. All the hype is real – I don’t care about any of the elitist, status, etc side of things one bit – it’s about the actual usage and productivity that the iPhone allows. If I could get by with just that as a netbook, I would. Unfortunately, as it stands, I can’t fully get by without a proper keyboard and the memory limitations for work purposes – need to output to a projector, etc. It’s perfect for 60% of what I need to do on the go, and yet, I’d gladly shell out $799 for something that bridges that gap and allows me to be completely mobile, productive, and get through the day without a charge.

Hence the rant on Apple’s netbook gap. There exists a large hole for users (such as myself) that need the portability and lightweight practicality of the iPhone, and yet don’t wish to carry around a Macbook – or perhaps don’t need the power and cost of one for something on the go. I don’t enjoy carrying around a $2000+ Macbook Pro when all I need to do is some light work, emailing, and document creation. I want something I can toss in a bag and forget; something that will get 6+ hours of battery life, and yet will come in at under a grand. Taking the computer with you all the time dramatically increases the risk of damage and theft. I’d rather lose $800 than $2300.

Coincidentally, as I was creating this post, news broke of “Apple orders 10-inch touchscreens for mystery product” Apple has notoriously denied the netbook form factor as being of interest.

From AppleInsider:

“Asked about the sub-$500 netbook market, Cook answered, “We’re watching that space, but right now from our point of view, the products in there are principally based on hardware that’s much less powerful than we think customers want, software technology that is not good, cramped keyboards, small displays.”

Cook added, “We don’t think people will be pleased with those products. It’s a category we watch, we’ve got some ideas here, but right now we think the products are inferior and will not provide an experience to customers they’re happy with.”

However, historically, they did the same thing with the iPhone and iPod Touch, and look where we are today. “Steve Jobs says it again: no video iPod”

My guess?

I think they’ll do some sort of tablet design that will completely turn the industry on its head.  Think of something blurring the lines between an iPhone and Macbook. Something that may not use the traditional dock like OSX, but rather a combination of the iPhone navigation and Leopard (or Snow Leopard).  A device that does not cannibalize sales of either the iPhone nor the Macbook. Something that will interact with the hugely popular App Store. Something that may give the Kindle a run for its money.

One of the main problems with netbooks is the very small profit margin companies receive. Apple surely won’t try to compete with the $350-500 price range. They’ll offer something that is quite different from the rest, and the price will reflect that. I wouldn’t expect it to come in at under $600. I’d assume it would come in at around $799, give or take $100.

While people may think, “Why would Apple attempt to charge such prices in a category that offers products for half that cost – especially in a recession!?” Have you seen Apple stores recently? Most that I’ve frequented are constantly brimming with customers.

So, are we finally seeing the development of some sort of tablet, netbook, ‘Touchbook’, ‘Macbook Mini’…. or is it yet another round of speculation by Apple fanboys? Time will tell…

Until then, I’ll be dancing on both sides of the line.

The Twitter Post

A phenomenon has swept across the internet. Twitter.

No, it’s not new, in fact it was developed in March 2006 according to Wikipedia. I personally started using it in March of 2007, after reading Kottke proclaim:

“Twitter is the first thing on the web that I’ve been excited about in ages. Like years. The last thing was probably Flickr.”

I used it consistently since first joining, updating at a steady rate of about 1 ‘tweet’ per day. I approached it with the parallel mindset of posting a blog entry or a photo to Flickr. All was well in my slow and steady Twitter world, until the end of September 2008. My Twitter updates skyrocketed, and my network expanded. View the graph below. (only goes back one year)

Twitter posts by month:

This is due to two primary factors: my iPhone 3G and the discovery of ‘jtug’ – Jakarta Twitter Users Group. This has radically changed my Twitter experience, and completely enhanced the usage of Twitter for me. The iPhone enables me to use Twitter anywhere, and the Twitterific application is generally a pleasure to use, both on the iPhone and the desktop based version.

The Jakarta Twitter Users Group is a congregation of primarily Indonesian users based mostly in Jakarta. They’re a wonderful, vibrant, and positive conglomeration of Twitter users from diverse backgrounds, who often post in English (but the Bahasa Indonesia usage is helping me to learn more!). As an expat living in Jakarta, I find it refreshing to meet many new Indonesians that I most likely would not have had the chance to get to know. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet up with many of them in ‘real life’ offline as well, opening up a new world of friendships that otherwise would never have sprouted.

I pulled some data from TweetStats to view a breakdown of my own Twitter usage.

Here are the visual results.

By hour of the day:

As you can see, generally I peak first thing in the morning, usually in reply to the messages sent overnight, or to those people I follow in the States, Europe, etc.

Around 3-4pm it picks up again, as I’m leaving work or arriving at home.

And finally around 9pm is the third peak of the day, generally after the gym and dinner in the couple of hours before I sleep.

Conversations trends:

  • The first conversations of the day tend to be more tech based, news related, tips for working, and replies to overnight tweets.
  • The afternoon conversations are often more casual, unwinding, reflections on the day, social tweets.
  • The evening conversations seem to snowball; sometimes totally quiet, but other times, this is when some of the Jakarta users go crazy and begin Twittering like crazy. Some of the oddest and most entertaining chats happen in the evening.

By day of the week:

Having spent so much time online during the week, I tend to break away from the internet on weekends. Monday through Wednesday, as with many online services (and hits to my blog), tend to be higher on these days than later in the week.

And finally, what Twitter client I prefer to use:

The client I’ve traditionally used is Twitterific, on both the Mac as well as the iPhone. Twitterific remains one of my favorite clients for its simplicity and small size. However, I’ve dabbled with a few others, and most recently found TweetDeck to be a nice option if you’re using a second monitor, or have a large screen. On a laptop I think it requires too much screen space. However, when using a second monitor, it’s great for organizing contacts by group, replies, and direct messages.

Some of you are thinking, “How do you find the time?”. Well, first off, I work in front of a computer most of the day. Secondly, I actually have quite a few professional contacts and coworkers that use Twitter to bounce ideas, share links, and communicate quickly with. I often work with many applications open at once, and can quickly glance over at Twitter without losing focus on my current task.

Ironically, very few of my family members are on Twitter (but Novita is!), and somehow it seems odd to know what my contacts are eating, reading, watching but yet, have no idea what my own family is ___, ___, ___,. Is this wrong? Well, perhaps not, as email is still my preferred way to keep in touch with them as it allows for more introspection than 140 characters provides (Twitter’s maximum message length). But it would be great to see more of my friends/family/Flickr/Facebook contacts join Twitter. If you wish to follow me, my username is (surprisingly) ‘javajive‘.

Many people recommend following each and every person that follows you. I do not share this opinion. I’d much rather follow 100 witty, intellectual, interesting people that I can keep track of, than hundreds of people that simply fill my account with static.

If you’re just getting started, it may help to have a purpose, to have an idea of why you’re going to create this network, and what kind of contacts you’d like to follow. A great site that offers many interesting articles, tips, and resources regarding Twitter is TwiTip. Here’s an article in Wired about its exploding popularity. Monitter is an awesome site for real-time keyword searches (just try it!) and gives an example of the potential for future news and information in streaming real-time.

What does the future hold for Twitter? Is this a fad that will die out? Will it morph over time? Will it become a Friendster-ish decay?

Surely Twitter will change dramatically for better or worse. But more importantly it represents the power of simplicity. People have video chat, podcasts, instant messengers, tumblr, blogs, facebook, myspace, flickr, etc, etc, etc. And yet, with the advent of services like Twitter, or another example, the mini-games that you can pick up and play on the iPhone/Touch, or the approach to blogging as Posterous presents (just need to know how to use email), the people have spoken. They appreciate quick, direct, and simple tools in this perpetually advancing landscape of technology and complexity.

The iMac celebrates 10 years, and a reflection on my own Mac experience

The iMac turns 10 years old today. Is it the product that saved Apple from failing, faltering, or becoming a radically different company than it is today (remember, this is pre iphone/ipod/mac-craze)? The late 90’s were dark days for Apple.

My family’s ‘first’ computer was an Apple IIe, (with a whopping 64KB of RAM) followed by my dad’s early 90’s, “Macintosh Classic II“, and ‘Color Classic‘.

In my elementary and middle school years, all of our school computers were Apple. Summer afternoons were spent with my siblings playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, some odd RPG, as well as some game where you manage a lemonade stand?!?. Things were about to change: In one swift blow, our high school converted to a lab of Windows machines (this is pre-internet by the way). It was awkward switching, but we didn’t have much choice.

Our home computers also migrated to Windows machines; both my parents still use Windows laptops, as does my brother (despite my nagging). My sister and I, being in the design world, had more exposure to Mac once we entered university. However, throughout that time, I continued to use Windows PCs while not in class. The Mac users were a select few with shiny toys but very little compatibility with the rest of us.

Before arriving in Indonesia, I blew $2400 on a top of the line Compaq laptop (which still survives, care of one of my coworkers). It was a great laptop, but I just didn’t find myself using it enough. My work computer was also a Windows machine up until only the spring of 2007 when I finally convinced the Powers-That-Be to allow an iMac into the system. (about a third of the staff has switched to Mac as well now).

As my passion for photography began taking root a few years ago, I felt a craving to return to Mac at home. I also was in need of a more professional monitor to edit my work. My first (modern) Mac was a 20″ iMac G5, purchased in 2005. Cost me over $2300 once I upgraded the RAM. It was a wonderful computer that solidified my belief in Mac once again. I never had a single problem with it. Realizing I needed a computer while on our travels, I picked up the first generation Macbook within weeks of its introduction in 2006 (which is now Novita’s). I sold the iMac in the name of portability, (with pings of regret) purchasing my current Macbook Pro in 2007. At work I use a 20″ iMac C2D (aluminum design); a truly beautiful machine. The Industrial Designer in me has nothing but praise for the current design. They’ve come a long way.

Having said this, I believe a bit of reflection is in order.

Macworld (current):

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that without the iMac, Apple would either be out of business or a vastly different company than the one we see today. And certainly the iMac was the first Apple product to truly bear the stamp of Steve Jobs, as well as designer Jonathan Ive, both of whom have spent the last decade driving Apple on to even more impressive creations.

Macworld May 7, 1998:

The Missing Links

Considering all these amenities, the most shocking part of the iMac isn’t what it offers, but what it lacks. The iMac has no floppy drive, which might be forgivable if there were a Zip drive or other removable-media option, but there isn’t.

And most dramatically, this new consumer offering has no SCSI port, no standard serial ports, and no ADB ports. Apple has opted to replace these familiar connections with USB, a high-speed serial architecture that has suffered from slow adoption on the Wintel platform despite its technical advantages (see the sidebar “USB: Ready for Prime Time?”). Currently, no USB devices exist for the Mac.

Will this latest chapter in the Macintosh saga be Apple’s success story at last? Only time will tell.

Am I Mac fanboy? Perhaps, but I’ve put in my time with Windows. But I also have a degree in design, so they speak to me more on that level than the sea of black and beige boxes, and have found that I’m much more creative and productive with the applications that are Mac specific.

Despite all this, ultimately, Macs are just another tool to wade through this Digital Dynasty; they just do it with a little more pizzazz.