Posts tagged “computer”.

Think Different

August 24th, 2011

The New York Times:

Mr. Jobs founded Apple in 1976 with Steve Wozniak, and built the company’s reputation with the Apple II and Macintosh computers. He left Apple in 1985 after a conflict with John Sculley, then the chief executive. The following year, with a small group of Apple employees, he founded NeXt Computer, which ultimately focused on the corporate computing market, without notable success. In 1986, he bought the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm and re-established it as the independent animation studio Pixar.

A decade later he sold the NeXt operating system to Apple and returned to the company. In short order he was again at the helm and set out to modernize the company’s computers.

And so ends a helluva run.

Lots will be said about Steve Jobs resignation, but it’s the above story that always moved me about Apple. Here was a company that kicked out its founder, struggled, brought him back, and went on to achieve greater things. If that’s not a archetype of a story, I don’t know what is.

Newton quote of the week – status bars

May 20th, 2009

“I am discovering my job is less about helping people with their computer problems, and more about watching an endless parade of status bars.”

- Thomas Brand, from his amazingly-cool My Newton Blog (and Twitter).

Update: Brand has changed his blog name to, ahem, Egg Freckles. How Newton-riffic is that?

What comes after the Desktop metaphor?

April 29th, 2009

Steven Frank, at his blog, has been thinking about what could possible replace the desktop metaphor that XEROX and Apple helped to pioneer.

Besides the desktop paradigm, Frank describes the pros and cons of other computing models – like the Newton’s soup-based data model and the iPhone’s multi-touch platform.

The Newton’s model had benefits, Frank says, but crumbled under the weight of OS-to-OS translations:

The Newton’s object store was an engineering marvel that fell apart as soon as you needed to exchange data with the outside world. You couldn’t just take a text file and send it over to your Newton because the Newton didn’t understand the concept of “file”. Your text first had to go through a conversion (via Newton Connection Utility) into an object format that some Newton application (in this case, probably Notes) could handle. Then you’d have the reverse problem going the other way.

Because desktop apps and Newton apps would never offer exactly the same feature set, inevitably these conversions result in loss of some information. Nitty-gritty things like precise formatting, metadata, and so on are the first things out the window when you need to convert data between two formats. It leaves you with a “lowest common denominator” form of information exchange that’s more frustrating than just being able to send files around. But in order to “just send files around”, you’d have to jettison all your radical (and useful) innovations and go back to square one: the good old hierarchical file system.

It’s a heckuva read, even if Frank offers no clear solution to what will come (web apps? Spotlight?) after the desktop metaphor has outlived its usefulness.

John Gruber at Daring Fireball has mentioned this before, but what I like about the Newton OS is that everything is automatically saved for you. When you scribble out a new note, you never have to press a “save” button. The only action you take with a note, after you’ve finished it, is to move it into some sort of organizational file system. But that’s optional. If you don’t want to move it, you don’t have to; you can shut off your Newton and the note stays right where you left it.

It’s like the Notes app on the iPhone, or the Stickies app on the Mac. Everything is automatically saved to some arcane folder deep in the Mac Library system.

What do you think? What’s the best possible platform to inherit the desktop’s dominance in computing?

One Used Mac Per Child: join the cause

November 13th, 2008


Dan Knight over at Low End Mac took my little idea and ran with it. There’s now a Google Group you can join, and volunteers are lining up from all across the country.

My first contribution: a strawberry iMac G3 that I gave as a gift a few Christmases ago. Now that friend has upgraded to a MacBook Pro, and is giving back the G3. It’ll make a great word processing, Internet, and gaming machine for some kid who couldn’t otherwise afford a computer.

If you’d like to help, please join the Google Group and use it as a homebase of sorts. We can swap ideas, parts, software, and hardware, and get cranking on (a) saving the environment from e-waste and (b) getting Macs to kids who can use them.

A big thanks to Dan for jumping on this thing, and to all the folks who want to make a difference – even if it’s a small one.