As the Y2K Millennium approached with fear and passed without universal apocalypse, so Apple Computer has introduced its third family of microprocessors for Macintosh Computers. First Motorola 68000 series, then Motorola-IBM reduced instruction set chip (RISC) 603 series, and now Intel DuoCore.
Zen evolution has taught that to remain the same one must change. New technology changes our expectations of what is possible. From telling time by sun up, high noon, and sun down, to listening to the town’s church bell toll the hour, to the affluent having a pocket watch, to most having a wristwatch, to needing no watch since one’s cell phone is always on and connected to an centralized timekeeper.
When the MITS Altair 8800 was introduced (1975) and Silicon Valley’s Homebrew Computer Club began (1975), followed by Radio Shack TRS-80 (1977, $600), Apple II (1977), IBM PC (1981), and Osborne portable (1981), computers became more affordable but not more accessible. The same command line user interface was required to operate computers, which were used largely to compute with electronic spreadsheets (VisiCalc by Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston, 1979), and code-confusing text editors.
The Macintosh changed everything. A few other technological innovations have also changed everything—including fire, wheel, written language, agriculture, moveable type for printing (Gutenberg, 1450), steam engine (James Watt, 1765), airplane (Wright Brothers, 1903), antibiotics (Penicillin, Alexander Fleming, 1928), DNA decoding (James Watson & Francis Crick, 1953), cell phones, hyper text markup language (HTML, Tim Berners-Lee, 1990), Internet Browser, Netscape browser (Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark, 1994). This story follows the Macintosh.
The Macintosh (January 1984, $2500, 128k RAM) popularly made computers accessible, useable “for the rest of us.” Spawned from Apple’s larger (in size and price Lisa computer) and research at Xerox’s PARC, Macintosh gestated in a revolutionary dedication to usability, within economic and then technical constraints and tradeoffs. Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines can still be used as the template evaluating computing experience,<http://developer.apple.com/documentation/UserExperience/Conceptual/OSXHIGuidelines/XHIGIntro/chapter_1_section_1.html>.
When one stops blaming the user (Donald Norman, The Design of Everyday Things) and develops an appreciation that things ought not, and need not be user unfriendly, revolutionary change is possible. (Network film, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”)
Switchers to Macintosh from Windows operating systems generally appreciate the humanistic orientation of the Macintosh computer more than those who have never experienced the manifold disintuitive operations of Windows, the security breaches, and the frustrating and time consuming purgatory of reinstalling windows (Les Barker, Reinstalling Windows).
Reports indicate at least a quarter of the Macintosh computer purchasers at Apple’s attractive retail stores are first time Mac users. Apple Stores are themselves another exemplar of good design: inviting, informative, fun to explore, and financially profitable. Opened in May 2001 there are at least 160 Apple Stores in the USA, with over 20 in the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, and other nations.
Good design—usability, aesthetics—have been hallmarks of Apple products since 1984. The iPod portable music player and its integrated iTunes Internet music service are crating a transformation akin to the popular dissemination of cell phones.
Increasingly pervasive communications converging with user generated entertainment appears to be the theme for the next few years. Cell phones are replacing personal landline wired residential phones, smart multifunction cell phones are replacing single purpose voice phones, while operating system neutral browser interfaces are replacing proprietary Windows-centric software.
Oh yes, one more thing. June 2007 Apple is targeted to introduce its iPhone. A smart phone, a widescreen iPod, and an Internet communicator with email, web browsing, maps, and searching.
One noticable feature of the iPhone is its soft, software iconic controls, rather than hard, fixed hardware phone buttons. Shrinking Mac iconic interface to a portable electronic device, the iPhone promises an interesting new chapter to AG Bell’s 1876 imperative, “Mr. Watson, come here, I need you.”
The availability of running Windows software on Intel Macs has encouraged non-Mac users to try and buy a Macintosh. Often thereafter finding the user-friendly integrated Mac applications are easier and more fun to use than the Windows programs they had been used to. The iLife suite—iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, GarageBand, and iWeb—make music, photos, video, and website creation and maintenance intuitively simple. Keynote, with Pages part of iWork, makes slide presentations likewise fast and easy, including photos, animations, video, and sound as simple as another bulletpoint.
With all the communication flexibility, your key data can be stored on an inexpensive 2 GB SD card or on a personal or family dotMac account: address book contacts, bookmarked websites, iCal dates, photos to share, and your web pages.
With the proliferation of digital data and browser-based online forms replacing government and business paper forms, basic electronic security becomes as essential a survival skill as looking both ways before crossing a street.
Generally, don’t provide your password in response to an email request. It’s easy to counterfeit the look of a legitimate business email and website. Don’t assume the email clickable link to a website takes you to the legitimate website.
Do keep an updated list of your web accounts in a secure paper-based location. You might want to keep one list of web accounts—URL address, account login (often but not always your email address), password—encrypted in your smart phone, but periodically print and securely store a paper version. Remember to include your electronic web account and password list as an integral part of your disability and will planning. With so much information, and financial assets, now managed and guarded electronically, ensuring your trusted partner knows where and how to retrieve your unencrypted accounts and passwords will avoid frustration, save time, and reduce expenses.
Apple’s tv ads of the Mac and Windows (PC) embodiments can be seen at
<Apple - Get a Mac>. Clean, concise, comic, yet contentful. The other two-thirds of the embodiments on page two are Apple’s foreign versions.
With the increase in communication accessibility comes increased need to attend to security. Set up a home or office wireless WiFi network, password protect it or neighbors can read your hard drives. In many office buildings, you can pick up several other wireless networks, often a few have no passwords and anyone can peek in.
First, make sure your computer’s firewall is on. The firewall prevents most unauthorized Internet traffic, except for email spam, from reaching your computer. Go to System Preferences> Internet & Network> Sharing> Firewall, and Click the Firewall Start button if the label says Firewall Off.
The Allow chart opens select ports to permit certain Internet traffic, such as for Network Time, iChat AV, local iPhoto Bonjour Sharing, local iTunes Music Sharing, local iChat Bonjour, Printer Sharing, and the like. Generally, if you don’t know the function of a preference, leave it in its default position. Better, check Help on your computer, or at the support pages on Apple’s website, and learn what the preference does.
There’s still a lot of jargon in many computer instructions. A well selected Google search often yields clear explanations. Some of the best are from university computing centers, written to help students but, on the Internet, available for anyone. The Wikipedia site has generally good explanations. For more details on firewalls and port assignments, see “firewall” and then “TCP_and_UDP_port” in Wikipedia.
Altering a few preferences will give you the convenience of remote access to your work computer. Remember to alter the associated security settings. In a physically secure office or home, you might not use more than a simple password for the computer. Laptops should have more security, since they often move and can be lost or stolen.
System Preferences> Personal> Security> √ Require password to wake this computer from sleep or screen saver. If your computer user(s) are used to leaving computers on and accessible (as seems to happen to students using school computer labs), √ Log out after 5 or 10 minutes of inactivity. You’ll likely also want to disable automatic login.
Set the screensaver to start at a reasonably short time, perhaps 5 to 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your work habit interruptions, and physical security. System Preferences> Personal> Desktop & Screen Saver. Set a Hot Corner so the screen saver can easily be quickly invoked.
For most computer users, our word processing, photos, and web music are not desired by computer thieves. The more common danger is entropy, friction, and wear. Hard drives break, often with little notice. Any computer information you care about, that would upset you if lost, should be stored on at least two separate physical media. Your computer hard drive and a USB keychain drive; your computer hard drive and your dotMac iDisk; your computer drive and an external hard drive, your computer and a burned CDRom or DVD.
For information and computer files that would really bother you if lost, maintain an offsite backup: office and home (assuming your employer permits such residential backups), your computer and iDisk on dotMac, your work computer and a colleague’s home.
Don’t assume your backups are ok; test them periodically. Mount the backup and see that you can read the data. Spot check that early and late data appear, that the file is about the correct size. When you upgrade an application, remember to upgraded the parallel offsite application, assuming the application license permits you to have an unused backup— many do.
The iPod digital portable media player was introduced October 2001, the iTune Store in April 2003, and since they have changed ears of millions, far beyond Macintosh users. As of April 2007, Apple had sold over 100 million iPods, the best selling music player in history. iTunes ignited the online sale of music, at about one dollar a song, began selling videos October 2005 and feature length movies September 2006. iPods and iTunes entertainment may be purchased by Windows users, an easy introduction to Macintosh design grace.
Three resources are readily available to aid Windows users who want to advance to Macs. First are the friendly folk at the hundreds of retail Apple Stores. <www.apple.com/retail>.
Second, Apple’s “Switch 101: Migrate to Mac,” the former Windows PC user’s guide to getting the most out of computing. Most common questions, and clear answers, including how to navigate the Mac OS X Aqua interface, migrate files from OC to Mac, connect peripherals, basic software, set up a Mac, troubleshooting, and a Mac Cheat Sheet for recording internet settings, account information, computer specifications. Not a bad idea for the confirmed Mac user to record. Find 101 at <www.apple.com/support/switch101>.
Several reviewers have found an Intel MacBook Pro runs Windows faster than a conventional PC does. If one needs to run Windows occasionally, Apple provides BootCamp for free. If one is saddled with the need to operate under the Windows operating system more often, Parallels permits that. However, remember, when operating Windows, your computer is subject to all the viruses and vices of other Windows machines, especially if connected to the Internet.
Experienced computer technicians recommend not connecting a Windows computer to the Internet during initial setup, before antivirus software and the firewall are set up, since contamination can occur so quickly.
Macs, and the Mac operating system base, Unix, do receive spam email and can have malevolnt software, but infrequently the ubiquitous destructions targeted at Windows. Firewall on and common sense currently protect Macs.
Google has transformed from an esoterically large number, 1 with one hundred zeros following) to the premier Internet search portal. Click on the More and Even More links at the top right of the standard Google home page and feast upon dozens of more specifically limited searches: Images, Maps, Book, Translate, and more.
Currently popular are social networking sites. Students, and others, have populated MySpace and FaceBook. But remember the cartoon, “On the Internet no one knows you’re a dog.”
Want to find others who bookmark websites similar to you? Try <http:..www.delicious.com>. Would you care if your neighbors, boss, or the local police had that same information? Read the legal terms and conditions of the websites you use, and see what the site says about privacy of your data. Of course, if you’re engaged in unlawful or what some consider suspicious activity, it’s more likely someone might want to see your keystrokes.
Do you still use a telephone party line (a shared phone number with another family)? Common in rural areas 50 years ago, but now most families have their own phone number. And cell phones are being marketed to middle-schoolers and younger.
Do you have your own Internet domain name for your email. Google’s gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft’s Hotmail provide free email accounts. Increasingly for business, such fee email address sometimes cast a pejorative pall. While there are some helpful uses for such free email accounts, getting your own Internet domain name is simple and inexpensive. Lots of registers and email hosts are eager to sell you basic service at around ten dollars a year, or additional services and capacity. GoDaddy, reportedly currently has good service and low prices, <http://www.godaddy.com>.
The Elizabethans around Shakespeare’s time were much concerned how they presented themselves to society. We seem to be in a similar time, with personal websites, blogs, and home videos posted to YouTube. With this torrent of user generated data, don’t forget that copyright laws discourage posting proprietary works you didn’t create. While there are technical fair use exceptions, if you’re posting content that detracts from its owner’s potential revenue, you might be infringing the owner’s rights. And some owners are suing posters.
Copyright © Élan Associates 2007. All rights reserved.