FreakoutITGeek's Blog

Random IT postings from Freakz

Monthly Archives: June 2012

Why Apple?

One of the two questions I get asked, fairly regularly, is “why do you like Apple [XYZ product]” (The other one is why am I vegetarian, but that’s another issue for another day).

My journey started many decades back, as a kid I had an Acorn Electron home computer which I thought myself how to use and program. The Acorn Electron was sold as an education system so did not have all the games and fancy distractions that other home computers (such as the ZX Spectum, Atari and others) had. I learnt to search out joysticks and find the stores that stocked the parts I needed to do what I wanted ( even going so far as to type in code for a printer driver for the colour dot matrix printer we bought later as there were no drivers for it, only a printout of the code).

Later I progressed into a BBC B micro from the same company before I went to college to learn how to program in (the now dead) languages such as Turbo Pascal, C on Amstrad AT PCs and unix terminals.

I eventually managed to get my hands on one of the old PCs when the college eventually upgraded them and tried to teach myself machine code (with little success) and kearn more about DOS 5/6 and windows 3. My family had bought an IBM PC with IBM OS on it at the time so I knew the hardware could do more that Microsoft were doing with it, especially as games were coming out with colour graphics & decent sound.

I played about with PCs for many years and it became my career to build, upgrade and repair Windows PCs. But my sights were a bit wider than my colleagues and I also used an Amiga 1200, upgraded with internal HDD, external HD floppy, chip upgrades etc to run a small ‘off-line Bulletin board system (BBS) called Phoenix which had members on PC, Mac and Atari (I also had an Atari ST).

Every now and then I had a chance to try something new, I got my hands on an Apple PC in high school & had a chance of doing word processing on green screen Apple (probably a classic) which had a graphical desktop & mouse, when other computers were clunky with command line driven interfaces.
My dad decided to replace the IBM with an Apple clone (during Apple’s bad years) and I still kick myself to think we could have gone for an original iMac if only I hadn’t been so blind and realised Apple had seen the demise of the floppy disk, which back then were the only real option for saving data (CDs were too expensive).

At work I have always had the odd chance to get my hands on Apple hardware, from the odd OS 7 system that came in for repair, to working on upgrading OSX systems within schools.

So why Apple?

well after all these years of using different makes and models of computers, Apple is the only one that still makes me feel like a kid. They make the type of computer I wish I could build myself, they get it right first time, every time.

I remember back in the 90’s being at a Microsoft event and bring told how great Windows NT 5 was going to be and what it was capable of. I remember saying to customers it was going to be great. So what happened? NT 5 was delayed time and again and eventually came out as a cut down (my opinion) version under the name of Windows 2000. At that point I realised that Microsoft promised the future but delivered mediocrity.

Apple, on the other hand, do things differently. I attended an Apple event (hopefully the related Non Disclosure Agreement has expired) many years back. Their new OS was due for release or just released, but a feature which they were working on wasn’t ready on time so they were not happy to release a sub standard feature & didn’t release that feature in the initial product. Being the sort of company they are they proceeded to explain about the feature and how it could be used once they had resolved their issues. This meant that the community could get up to speed and develop their software so that it was ready for Apple to release the feature silently as part of a future update. So rather than promising and not delivering they delivered what was expected and were planning more improvements as that were sure they were happy with them. ie promise the possible, deliver the future when it arrives. (or ‘under promise, over deliver’ if you want the boring version)

Even Apple’s view on OS pricing appears to be so much fairer. Would Microsoft sell Windows 8 for the same price as Apple are due to release Mountain Lion? I can’t see it happening and I suspect that MS will force users to update their hardware ( remembering the ‘Vista Ready’ fiasco) when Windows 8 finally gets released.

So what I’m saying is Apple produce stunning technical and visually appealing products that go beyond the rest of the industry and bring back the fun and excitement into IT.

Side note: There are loads of IT people that try to guess what Apple will come up with next, but I don’t want to know. I’m that kid at Xmas, eager to rip into the presents, but knowing there’s no point in peeking as it spoils the excitement of opening them on the day. Sometimes things are more than the sum of their parts and Apple know this.

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Please Sir, can I have more

WWDC 2012 announcement was spoilt (in my opinion) because of the constant Apple rumour mill throwing up wild allegations about what could have been announced.

Having said that, I have always fancied buying a MacBook Pro 17″ near the end of this year to celebrate finishing my OU studies (6 years is a long time with your nose in academic books just to get a piece of paper with some letters on it).
Now Apple have thrown a curve ball and axed the 17″ and brought the retina display to the 15″ whilst improving the performance & making it slimmer. I suppose you could think of it as a pairing of an iPad 3rd gen and an MacBook Air, to form this magical creation that has everything that a modern laptop should have whilst being future proof enough to be considered a step ahead of the competition when it’s a few years old.

As yet I’ve still to see the new Retina display MacBook Pro 15″ in an Apple Store but as I still have months of studying left before I take the plunge so I guess waiting a while won’t be too much of a trauma.

As for the rest of the announcements, there was an upgrade to the rest of the MacBook range (inc the Air) and a few updates on what to expect in the upcoming iOS 6 and Mountain Lion releases later in the year.

If you want to see the video of the event you can always subscribe to the Apple Keynotes podcast on Apple’s site, however most of the product updates went live on each of Apple’s international sites after the announcements finished in the US.

Speculation mounts that a new iPhone will be announced the same time as the iOS 6 is finally released, which makes sense considering Apple’s schedule for hardware releases in the past, however Apple has changed since Steve Jobs passed and Apple has always been a forward looking company so maybe these events won’t happen as they have in the past.

I have noticed (in recent security emails and Apple updates) that the latest version of AirPort Utility for OS X has been released and there is mention of a updated model of Airport Express (Details from MacWorld) one of the changes has been the addition of dual band, allowing better integration as a repeater for an Airport Extreme. Apple have also released an updated version of iTunes for OS X and Windows to fix some issues and they have released a security update to fix some issues in Java on the latest versions of OS X ( as usual 10.5 and later don’t get the update, Apple stopped supporting the latest version of Java on these a long time ago )

So as usual Apple have been busy and they have not announced all the changes at WWDC, but held the small changes back for those of us who notice the small changes 😉