go ahead, mac my day

a Macintosh girl in a Microsoft world

April, 2006

  • go ahead, mac my day

    /. on Cringely's latest blatherings


    Sometimes, I think that the I, Cringely column is the National Enquirer of tech publications. I read whatever he's got to say this week. I laugh at how the guy is utterly incapable of stringing together a coherent argument. And then I move on.

    A commenter over at /. got it right about Cringely in the /. thread about Cringely's blatherings:

    "News of a potential merger between these two rumor-mongering blowhards has been bouncing around San Jose for some time," said a source close to the deal. "After exhausting the n(n-1) array of potential merger rumors between companies as diverse as Google, Microsoft, General Motors, and ElectroPeru, the state-owned energy monopoly of Peru, both realized the only remaining avenue for generating baseless headlines and crucial name recognition was to themselves merge." Industry analysts speculated the new entity would assume the name Jobert K. Cringvorak, and continue publishing factually-inaccurate, worthless gossip headlines twice weekly in IT trade magazines.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Steve Jobs isn't donning the mouse ears


    According to the AP, no Magic Kingdom for Steve Jobs. He's planning to spend more time on all things Apple.

    What I really like about that article is that they somehow dug up a llama farmer who owns Apple shares. Even better, they've got a quote from him: 'I'm issuing a buy order to my friends now'. Do you usually take tech stock advice from llama farmers?

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    Q&A - are you guys allowed to have iPods?


    I've lost count of how many times I've been asked this question. I've heard all sorts of apocrophyal stories about iPods on campus, somehow involving firings. That recent Ballmer interview didn’t help matters any. I even got this question last night while out at a local pub with friends.

    When you get hired into Microsoft, you get a couple of days of mandatory new hire training [1]. During one of the interactive periods in that training, the HR guy asked about rumours that we’d heard about Microsoft. Someone behind me whispered that we weren’t allowed to have iPods. He wasn’t going to say it out loud, so I did. The HR guy chuckled, and then said that it’s not true. He said he’s got one himself and that no-one’s ever told him not to use it on campus. I assume that if he’s telling a roomful of 200 new hires this, and if it weren’t true, someone would’ve delivered an electric shock to him.

    I see people with iPods pretty regularly. I see people listening to them in offices, I see people jogging past me with them. When I go up to Redmond to visit the mothership, I see them on the shuttles between our buildings. Here in MacBU, everyone got an iPod as a ship gift for Office:Mac 2004. I’ve heard of other groups getting them as ship gifts, too. Last month, MacBU folks got an iTunes Music Store gift certificate for rocking in various ways.

    So, MP3 player users: keep your MP3 player of choice, regardless of who makes it. And you can stop by my office in SVC5 to see my 2G iPod.

    [1] It’s all pretty standard HR stuff: get your badge, sit through some presentations on diversity and harassment and so on, get some questions answered by the HR guy running the show. As new hire trainings go, it’s pretty useful.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    50 acres and an iPod


    Apple's building a second campus. The second one is 50 acres of cobbled-together land in Cupertino. The San Jose Mercury-News has an article about the process.

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    NYT weighs in on France vs iTunes


    The New York Times has posted an interesting analysis of the France vs iTunes issue: In iTunes War, France Has Met the Enemy -- Perhaps It Is France.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Q&A - what's your educational background?


    I'm finally getting back to answering some of the questions I've received. I get this one pretty regularly, from students who want to know how to get into my field, from other software professionals who are curious what my background looks like, and from users who want to know what kind of education someone who works in MacBU has. I don't claim that what I say here is representative of anyone but me.

    I hold three degrees from Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia. It's a small public university in the Atlanta suburbs. I transferred there after spending a couple of years at Alma College, back when I was young and naive and thought that I would go to med school someday [1]. I ended up there when I went down to Atlanta to check out Georgia Tech and didn't find it to my liking. Southern Tech is a much smaller university with small classes and professors who care about teaching.

    I somehow convinced SPSU to give me the following degrees:

    Why computer science? I've had a computer since I was a small child, starting off with a Timex-Sinclair 1000 (which I still have, and it still functions). My father and I learned BASIC together on a Radio Shack Model 100 when I was in grade school (still got that one, too). Even with all that, I didn't even consider going into computer science when I went to university. With the aforementioned naive med school dreams [3], I started off as a biology major. I switched from biology to computer science when it became apparent that I could actually make a living doing stuff with computers. Who knew? That's also when I left Alma College: their CS programme wasn't very robust at the time, with just two full-time professors.

    Why mathematics? This has nothing to do with my current career, really. I'm just good at it. When I went back to SPSU for my graduate work, the head of the maths department cornered me one afternoon and asked why I didn't have a degree in maths yet. He sat me down, and we figured out that I was only a few classes away from it. I missed taking those classes, so I went for it. It added a couple of semesters to my graduate work, but I loved the classes. Plus having a mathematics degree is useful for bludgeoning people who talk down to me thinking that I have some kind of liberal arts degree [4].

    Why technical communications? At SPSU, there was more to do with usability in that programme than in the CS or software engineering curricula. I could take classes in other graduate programmes at the university, which I did when another class fit my needs. I didn't do any of the standard technical communications classes, other than the required editing class. I was a bit of an anomoly in the programme at the time, although I understand that there are more students who are doing what I did now.

    I sometimes think about going back and getting a PhD, although I'd be hard-pressed to choose between computer science and mathematics if I did it. I really like having a real-world salary, so I don't know if it's going to happen any time soon. Maybe after I win the lottery ...

    [1] It's not that organic chemistry kicked my butt, but rather rheumatoid arthritis. I've got enough manual control to type, but not enough to be a doctor.

    [2] I have to admit that their website is embarrassing. Didn't flashing text go out of style in 1994? And that scrolling text? Oh my.

    [3] It wasn't entirely naive. I was an EMT throughout high school, and kept that up through university (even after I knew I wasn't going to continue with a medical career).

    [4] Not to insult any readers who might have liberal arts degrees. Rick's got an economics degree, after all, and what's more liberal arts than that?

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Earth Day at Apple


    We here at SVC celebrated Earth Day by dedicating our newest crop of solar panels, making this campus the most solar-powered in Silicon Valley. Apple didn't ignore Earth Day, either. This year, they announced that they're starting a free computer take-back program. Buy a new Apple, and they'll take that old computer off of your hands and recycle it properly.

    Kudos to Apple for doing the right thing with respect to old hardware. I hope other computer manufacturers jump on this bandwagon. Dell offers recycling for a fee, and occasionally offers it for free as an incentive with a new computer purchase.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    keeping secrets


    Apple keeps its cards close to the chest. We all know this. It's the reason for the proliferation of Mac rumour sites. It's the reason that we all get excited about Steve's keynotes at MWSF and WWDC.

    Apple is suing over the publication of its trade secrets. Jason O'Grady, the editor of the Apple blog over at ZDNet, posted information about an upcoming product related to Apple's GarageBand. Apple says that O'Grady illegally published their trade secrets. Various geeks got up-in-arms because O'Grady's ISP was subpoenaed. Karl Kraft, the person who was subpoenaed, posted a comment at /. that disputes some of what the EFF has to say about this case. Interestingly, he points out that O'Grady used Kraft's address and telephone number in the domain registration for his website.

    The San Francisco Chronicle has an article today about the latest dvelopments from the court date yesterday. My crystal ball doesn't tell me how this one turns out, but my money's on Apple.

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    an interview with Rick Schaut


    I'm a couple of weeks behind in my podcasts, which is why I just noticed that the folks over at Your Mac Life have an interview up with MacBU's own Rick Schaut. Rick is a developer on the Word:Mac team, and has been doing it for more than fifteen years. A few weeks back, Rick posted a great article about why the switch to the Intel architecture isn't as easy as some folks seem to think it is, and he goes more in depth about that topic with John Welch.

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    lovin' the Bay


    Over at Scoble's blog, guest blogger Bubba has posted a love letter to living in the Bay and working at SVC. He forgot to mention that SVC has the largest solar power system in Silicon Valley. There were a bunch of Redmond MacBU folks down here yesterday, and I made sure to point out the newest batch of solar panels to taunt them about the difference in our weather. Mother Nature is punishing me for my caprice by making it cloudy today.

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