January 11, 2004
Okay, before the grammar police come to get me...yes, I know..."Twenty-Plus't" isn't a word. It's a description.
I didn't first use the Mac until some time after it had come out. For me, the first machine was a Lisa. And I can say without a doubt that the staff of the Computer Land at the corner of Alhambra Circle and Ponce De Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables Fl. alternately hated and loved Apple for the Lisa.
Because it meant that there was this high school kid...about 16, short, overweight, and far to goddamned smart for his own good who would not get off that damned Lisa. But on the other hand, he seemed to have the ability to explain it to customers, and the sales staff better than anyone.
That was because I was riding an epiphany...and I still am.
The day the Lisa first showed up, I was walking by Computer Land on my way home from school, thinking about the things that kids that age think about...which for teenage geeks means electronics, airplanes, and women...usually in that order. (This is of course, discounting the hormonal re-ordering.) But lo...there's this box. It's different. It's kinda ugly.
I mean really, the Lisa was about as ugly as you could be without being the backside of a Mandrill. But, it was new hardware. Which meant I had to look at it. Because, even then, I really didn't care about what you did with the computer. Software, programming, other than games, and early modem applications left me cold. I couldn't get my head around even BASIC. But the wires coming out of hardware, and the hardware itself as a thing, now that was cool. My computer science teachers dispared that I would ever program a paper bag, much less my way out of it. But tell me to rebuild a serial cable, and I was in heaven.
So I figured, "Cool, Apple has the new toy out." We all knew they had some radical new thing, but it was so new, we didn't really care. So, I go in, ask the manager if I could see the new toy. He didn't get it at all, but he booted it up and let me play with the mouse tutorial. That was about 3pm.
The store closed at 8pm. They had to order me to leave.
Sometime in the first five minutes of dragging stuff around, it hit me. I mean...it HIT me. This is why you have hardware. To DO things. Not write code. Not type in bizarre codes, or learn commands. Damnit, computers are tools, and tools are for work, and here at last, was a computer you could just sit down and do work.
This is why we have computers.
I couldn't stay away. And while I may have been the most annoying twit in the store, I could also talk people into buying the things. I just knew why everyone should have one. Not compatible? So what, who needed it. I mean, just sit down and do work. Guess at what you want to do.
This was the first computer that I cared more about what I was doing on it than what was inside it.
For me, that's saying something. I'm an oddball in the Mac community. I didn't get into the Mac for graphics, or typography, etc., yadda. I just liked it. It worked like my brain. (That may be a very frightening realization for some.) I could get things done on a Mac with frightening speed and ease. I could just lay my hands on it, and they worked better.
It was witchy man, and it still is.
Ever since that day on the Lisa, the Lisa, and the Mac have really defined how I use computers. And why I'm such an insufferable snob about design, and UI, and how things should work. If there is a better way, then everyone should use it. When they don't, it's almost a physical annoyance. It makes my teeth hurt.
And I have so many firsts that wouldn't have happened without the Mac:
Realizing that the dude who ran MacKiDo was an arrogant sort too, but that he understood that arguing was not attacking, and that even a vociferous disagreement was a good thing, because you still learned. Learning that David K. Every had also worked on the software for some of the B-1B trainers, and that for whatever reason, he thought some of my writing was good enough to put on his site. The first time I read the words, "I read your article and...", I was literally bouncing in my chair. It was heady stuff, and it was the start of why I'm here now. So it's all Dave's fault ;-)
Talking to Sal Soghoian the first time, and realizing that my tendency to do demented stuff with AppleScript was not only shared, but appreciated. Seeing the look of amazement and fear on his face as I outlined how you could use AppleScript and netOctopus to wipe the Registry out of a Windows box, and hearing him say, "Dude, that's evil." Talk about a big hit from the pipe. Every project at Apple needs a Sal, because he's done more for budding AppleScripters than almost anyone else.
Seeing my article on 802.11b on the COVER of MacTech, and being told "Good work" by people like Tom Weyer, and others in the Networking dev team at Apple. That really meant something to me. It still does. Realizing that the people who create the tools I use respected my opinion was a humbling experience. I didn't do the "Wheaties" dance around the Mac-Mgrs party that night, but it was a near thing.
Discovering the Mac-Mgrs list, and realizing that there were a lot of networking geeks on the Mac. I had found my tribe.
Getting into a heated, and looking back on it, really stupid argument with Phil Schiller and Peter Lowe of Apple about OS X in the enterprise at the 1999 WWDC. It was a very close turn to being a MacMac.
Seeking Phil and Peter out at the 2001 WWDC and thanking them for the good work they, and Apple had done to make OS X better in the enterprise. Sometimes, even eating crow is a rewarding experience.
Being published in Macworld for the first time. (Okay, it was the Macworld Developer Journal, but it counts!)
Being published in the MDJ for the first time. This was probably the biggest one of all. That's like being a physicist and getting your first article in "Scientific American". I still get a rush from seeing my name on the masthead for the MDJ. It's the creme de la creme of the Mac web/news arena, and I get to help. It still feels like Matt's doing me a favor. It probably feels that way to Matt as well.
Being interviewed on The Mac Show, now Your Mac Life for the first time. That was a lot cooler than anyone may realize.
And finally, realizing that along the way, I did something I'd never have guessed I'd do...making friends because of that pug-ugly Lisa.
So, to: Iris, DKE, Ilene, Chuck, Shawn, Web, Sly, Connie, Laura, Schoun, Kevin, Jessica, Harv, Sam, Andy, Sarah, and so many other people whom I'm very sorry for not getting your name up on this list...
Sometimes, there IS a spoon.| Comments ()