Apple’s New MacPro- Probably Not Worth The Wait

The picture attached to the post was taken in September 2003 when Apple first shipped its G5 super computer for the desktop.

The picture is System X, the first first large cluster of Apple’s computers.

By the winter of 2003 it would be ranked near the  top of the world’s super computers for a  short time.  This was perhaps close to the high point for Apple’s involvement in super computers.

The G5 desktop version of System X became a bookend pretty quickly in the winter of 2003 because of non-ECC memory. I intervened at the behest of people from Va. Tech and Apple which had just prepared an on campus video of System X for Steve Jobs to use in the January 2004 MacWorld agreed to take back the G5s desktops and replace them with G5 powered Xserves later that year.

My efforts to help Va. Tech might have been the straw that cost me my job.

You can read more in an excerpt from my book, The Pomme Compay, at  Huffington Post.

My article on Apple’s New MacPro, Coming To A Theater Near You: Apple’s Last Gasp At A Pro Computer, is available at ReadWrite.

System X, Septemer 2003
System X, Septemer 2003

Mt. Lion & MacMini aren’t compatible?

I got a real surprise with my new Mac Mini.  It turns out there are are multiple versions of OS 10.8.2 floating around.  Only one of them will boot a new MacMini and if you try to download that version from the App Store for an external drive, it won’t let you even it you have already purchased Mountain Lion.


iPhone Dependence

Sail Boat Under Tow
ICW at Cedar Point, NC

We had our company holiday brunch today, and it came as no surprise that when the crowd was gathering, the talk turned to cell phones.

The conversation was very different from four years ago when I first became a Realtor®, but a little history is in order first

Back in that ancient time of 2006, there were phones and there Blackberries or Crackberries as we often called them in the Washington, DC area.   Being a long-time Apple employee, I had used AT&T for my cell phone service for a good part of my nearly twenty years with Apple.  Even when we lived in Roanoke, Virginia, and I worked in the Reston, VA area, I found AT&T service less than desirable.  I tried a number of phones, but none made a significant difference.

As a family we took care of the problem by having my wife carry a Verizon phone.  When we moved to the Southern Outer Banks, my wife’s Verizon phone hardly worked at all.  My AT&T phone worked from our front porch, but mostly it missed calls in our home in Bluewater Cove.   The real estate market was less than busy for those three years so we just lived with the missed calls and used the office voicemail.  We still had our home in Roanoke so keeping my wife on Verizon made sense for a while, but we eventually we got her a family plan line on my AT&T service.

Last spring I started to miss more and more calls with my AT&T flip phone.  I had long resisted the Blackberry or even the iPhone which Apple had introduced after I left the company.  Finally we got a mailer from AT&T about their 3G MicroCell™ which provides additional coverage for their phones in your home.  One rainy afternoon in March, we headed off to Morehead City to investigate the 3G MicroCell™.  It did not take me long to figure out that  by getting one those I was basically paying extra to fix AT&T’s terrible network coverage.

On a lark, we stopped in at the Verizon store to see if their service had improved any in the last three years.  They pointed out that they had bought the towers of a local cell phone company, and that they believed their coverage was now excellent on the Crystal Coast. They offered us a trial.  My son, who works for SAP in their division which moves text messages from one carrier to another, had gotten a Droid not long after they came out.  His experience seemed to be great, so I took the plunge and bought a Droid.  We got my wife a regular 3G phone since she only uses her phone occasionally.  Actually she claims the only reason she has one is so that I can find her when we go shopping.  My comment is we will get her a smartphone when GPS is more accurate, and I can really track her in SAMS Club.

Getting into the world of smartphones was probably a good thing.  I have run into more and more customers who are smartphone savvy which brings us back to our holiday party.  My Droid has a very useful tool in the world of real estate.

With that background we can get back to our holiday brunch phone conversations.  Some of our company’s original Blackberry users are now contemplating their next phones.  It seems most are looking at something besides Blackberries.

I listened with interest as a couple of iPhone users talked about how much they loved their phones. One even told me how great her phone service was in her home.  It did not take long for her husband to chime in that they had to buy one of AT&T’s 3G MicroCell™ towers to get that good service.  I related the story of a visiting friend from Canada with an iPhone. He had complained about getting no calls in our house, and I had suggested he take his calls on the porch which seemed to help.  However,  when we went for a walk in our subdivision the morning they were leaving, he did get a call on our walk, but he lost the signal three times.  I don’t think there is much of a case for iPhones in Bluewater Cove where we live.

Later at our brunch, I heard a couple of stories of people trying to call iPhone users who they could actually see in their cars.  The calls invariably went directly to voicemail.  Yet these folks who are missing their calls still love their iPhones.  As one person said, it seems that Apple could bundle up almost anything and add “i” to it and some people would buy it.  While I might agree to an extent, I do have a new I5 iMac on my desktop, and it is a very good though not perfect computer.

The iPhone is a great piece a technology, but if you need a cell phone along the Crystal Coast, your iPhone will be one useless bookend for much of the time.

My Droid has turned out to be a great phone.  Even if Verizon were selling the iPhone, I would stick with the Droid.  There are great choices on the Droid platform.  If you want an iPhone, you will get what Steve wants you to have.

I even have some complaints on iMac, but I have too many skills and years on a Mac to completely give it up.

Somehow the photo of the sailboat being towed down the Intracoastal Waterway reminds me of the iPhone and AT&T’s 3G MicroCell™.

On a closing note, my Droid works great from my skiff.

Some iPad feedback

Waves on the way
Waves on the way

Sometimes I feel the iPad is like a wave in the ocean.  It is inevitably going to hit me and get me wet even if I want to stay dry.

I am never surprised at the techno-lust that develops around new Apple products.  A couple of decades at the company gave me a chance to see almost every rationalization for buying a new Apple product.  I came up with a few myself.

While I have been gone from Apple for nearly six years, the problem has only gotten worse.  Now we have the spectacle of folks waiting in line to buy products that have not even been reviewed.  Steve says it is great, and there are hundreds of thousand of people who will buy whatever it is.

On top of that people will pay much more for an Apple product than they will for a product from Dell or HP.  The perceived value of an Apple product is much higher.

Having said that, there are some significant challenges for Apple in leveraging all this techno-lust.  While Apple’s commercials are very persuasive, the iPad  is a new category of product, and beyond the faithful, most people need to be convinced that they need it.

The iPod was a solution to problem that a lot of people had with their music.  The iPad is a solution looking for some problems.

I think the iPad is a good fit for some people and will solve a number of problems, but I also believe that a lot of people are going to have a hard time giving up their laptops.  Many of the people that I know are uninterested in having another gadget in their lives especially one which might require a whole new set of applications.

One friend was all set to buy an iPad until I told her that no Apple printing solution comes with the iPad.  Though I do not stay up on all things iPad, I believe this is still the case.  Apparently Steve Jobs when asked about printing recently said simply, “It will come.”  My friend decided to wait until printing was native from Apple.

Another friend wanted a device to read electronic books.  She evaluated the iPad and the Kindle.  She ended up with Kindle because she thought the iPad was too heavy for her old hands.

I know two ex-Apple employees who bought iPads in the first wave.  As far as I can tell, they both love them.  There is about a 90% chance of anyone who has worked at Apple is a hardware junkie so their motivations are not as interesting.  I would put myself in that category, but I am older and trying to spend less money so that curbs any appetite for new gadgets.  My gadgets end up being small and cheap.

The final person that I know who considered buying an iPad also bought one.  I thought his reasons were the most interesting of all. First of all he was an iPhone user except that the reception on his iPhone was so bad that he had to give it up for a Verizon phone.  Secondly he spends a tremendous amount of time on airplanes.

He told me that giving up his iPhone was a whole lot easier because he could use his iPhone apps on his iPad.  That actually makes sense to me.  He then said that he found the iPad much better for use on an airplane.  I can also see that.

I would have a hard time deciding to use an iPad because I would have to learn new ways of doing things which are already get done in very sensible way.   In spite of Apple telling me that I already know how to use it, likely getting my daily chores done would require some new software or new ways of doing things.  This is not change like when I went from a typewriter to a computer. That was change that saved me days of work.

Having an iPad with me is not that much different than having my smart phone except the screen is bigger.

I am actually really happy with my Droid, laptop, and desktop combination.  Things are working well, and I don’t see any reason to interject another device with yet again another series of tools.

I was around when we had to convince people that they needed computers.  Maybe it is easier to convince people that they need iPads, but I suspect it might be harder than Steve thinks to convert the world to iPads.

Anytime you ask people to do something different there is resistance.  Based on the number of commercials, Apple is going to give it a serious shot.  Apple never spends money on television commercials unless Steve is fully committed.

Actually if I am going to get wet, I would rather it be a real wave on a great beach day.