VisiCalc - Lessons from their rise and fall

My first experience with a computer, my literal FIRST MEMORY of using a computer was an Apple IIe and the program was VisiCalc. My Dad’s business had purchased a computer because someone on their board thought it might be a good idea but after they got it they weren’t sure what to do with it. My Dad brought it home for a time and I vividly remember using VisiCalc first and then a few others. Eleven-year-old me was blown away by pretty much anything on that machine, let alone a spreadsheet.

I had no understand of the market for these things and certainly wasn’t aware of what was happening in the industry for much of the 1980s. My next spreadsheet was Lotus, but that plays into the “rest of the story” which WSJ details quite well.

Hmmmm, I do still have my 5 1/4” disks and a working Apple IIe, maybe I should take a stroll down memory lane?!

WSJ post on VisiCalc

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Early in my childhood I became a fan of the Christian band “Petra”. I made friends from church camp and youth retreats who shared their music with me. I especially connected with the song “Computer Brains” (link below if you’re so inclined). This thought is similar to what Brian posts, follow along and be prepared for some sobering thoughts to consider.

Thoughts lead to beliefs, beliefs lead to…

Brian Roemmele’s Twitter

Petra - Computer Brains

Bill Gates discusses Paul Allen

The more that time rolls on the more respect I have for Bill Gates. The work that he has done, post direct day to day involvement at Microsoft will impact the lives of billions for many years. Such grace and maturity in all that he does while still doing it all with child-like wonder and enthusiasm.

This retelling of the story of Paul Allen and their history together truly inspires and is a must read.

Bil Gates on Paul Allen

Fascinating - NeXT 1989 Catalog

A treasured gem of a catalog. By 1989 NeXT had settled on both it’s image and the powerful combination of hardware and software. Amazing to see the threads here that are still influencing Apple and it’s platforms today. The former NeXT team eventually and not initially successfully brought the successor to NeXT’s OS forward as OS X in 2001.

My favorite sections are the third party portions of the catalog.

For further reading if you’re asking yourself “who was NeXT and why should I care?”. Also, it’s prerequisite to know who Avie Tevanian is.

NeXT 1989 Catalog

Ode to Sir Jony

The 90s were a dark time for relatively penniless Apple fans. I was young and the possibility of owning an Apple computer was an impossible dream. Each year that went by found me sliding deeper into a Microsoft Windows-induced technological depression. Oh hi there Windows 95 you look nice but why are you so mean to me? Oops, I made the mistake of buying version A. Curse you, oh failed SDLC dictated by delivering a product whether it’s ready to ship or not! Wait, where’s plug n’ play?

Steve comes back into the picture and randomly brings Microsoft’s money and a relatively unknown Jony Ive with him. My beloved delivery of the newest Mac Mall catalog would later tease me with this crazy computer called an iMac that I wouldn’t be able to afford for a decade. No PS/2 ports, all usb, no floppy drive, crazy cool colors…I wanted it all.

And now the news that Jony is moving on from Apple. Congrats to FT on an awesome, scoop-laden article.

While my head swirls with mixed feelings while I digest all of this I’ll simply leave with quotes from “A Day In the Life”:

“I read the news today, oh boy

About a lucky man who made the grade

And though the news was rather sad

Well, I just had to laugh”

FT Article

Doing something when you're not doing something a/k/a Sabbath

Intriguing to see a NYT on a topic that often swirls in my head. As a Sabbath-keeper many of the principles Ms. Tsui speaks to are well known to me. There is extensive research showing the positive impact on health, happiness, and even productivity when you take time to observe a rest of Sabbath.

In a recent post on LinkedIn that went viral, Ian Sohn, president of the digital advertising and marketing agency Wunderman Chicago, wrote in defense of his vision of a healthy and humanistic workplace: “I never need to know that you’re working from home today because you simply need the silence. I deeply resent how we’ve infantilized the workplace. How we feel we have to apologize for having lives. How constant connectivity/availability (or even the perception of it) has become a valued skill.””

Perhaps it’s worthy to think of our expectations of others, especially in off hours when rest should be valued.

NYT Article

Catalyst to the Rescue?

Watching from the sidelines the WWDC keynote was mind-glowingly awesome. I don’t have much time for development work in my day to day life but I did get that the biggest announcements were developer-oriented…Catalyst, SwiftUI, Combine, and more.

Still re-reading this article from MacStories’ John Voorhees, one specific sugget says it all, “So, if Catalyst isn't fully automatic and SwiftUI is the future of UI development across all Apple's platforms, why introduce Catalyst now? The answer lies in a product realignment of the Mac and iPad relative to each other and the rest of Apple's product line that's designed to address weaknesses in both platforms' software ecosystems.

Lots to unpack here but the future looks bright for both iOS and MacOS.

MacStories read

Google and OEM-based attack vectors

On paper, Android conceptually seems like a grand, world-bettering idea. Common OS shared by a world full of hardware manufacturers, self-monitoring through it all. In execution, however, it seems to have been a nightmare. From the horrible slowness of new OS adoption to malware to “XYZ” skins to maintaining security….a nightmare.

From the Ars article, “"One of these security tests scans for pre-installed PHAs [potentially harmful applications] included in the system image," Google officials wrote in their Android Security & Privacy 2018 Year In Review report. "If we find a PHA on the build, we work with the OEM partner to remediate and remove the PHA from the build before it can be offered to users."

This is indeed some complicated stuff but even a layman could see the challenge here.

Ars Technica Post

Tim Cook's Stanford Commencement Keynote

Tim Cook recently spoke at Stanford and it’s worth the time to watch. I wonder how often these graduates will go back and reconsider Tim’s comments. There’s some deep, tough talk here.

“Crisis has tempered optimism. Consequences have challenged idealism. And reality has shaken blind faith,” he said. “Our problems – in technology, in politics, wherever – are human problems. From the Garden of Eden to today, it’s our humanity that got us into this mess, and it’s our humanity that’s going to have to get us out.”

Direct link to Stanford’s story.

Silicon Valley's Unofficial Nerd Heritage Trail

Came across this article a while back and discovered again when I was clearing out some “saved for later reading”.

Rediscovering this article, I think about the risks and pure magic that you find on this trail. I long for the days where simple discovery was valued without immediately being squashed by VC-influenced metrics.

Maybe there is some glory is revisiting this trail and carving out some time in our lives to take chances!

Skift artcile

A taste of life with Google

Spending most of your life outside of Google’s reach tends to lessen ones perception of the horror that is being a product, rather than a consumer. The “Apple way” attracts me not only because they sell high quality products but also because they are crystal clear that they’re selling me a product, and I am the consumer.

Google intrigues me for many reasons, chief among them is their ability to convince millions of people that they should enjoy free services while blindly ignoring what happens with their information or why they would be allowed to use all of these products for free. Deep in my soul is a nostalgic longing for “Alta Vista” or maybe even “Dog Pile” on a crazy day.

Back in 2005-2006 personal email was quite the challenge for many. Google’s search engine had already become the defacto synonym for the phrase “internet search” but email remained a challenge. Friends would change their email address on a regular basis as they switched ISP’s and existing solutions like Yahoo and Hotmail were subpar at best. Storage became a problem as was the ability to scale and provide these services at levels of exponential growth. Queue Google….all hail Gmail. Gmail came with the promise of large amounts of storage and free email. As a 1990’s part-time PC user who rode the Netscape train all the way to H-E double hockey sticks and refused to use IE I knew what was going to happen next.

Speeding up the story…I couldn’t sign up for MobileMe fast enough and even tolerated it’s failures (my personal email still ends in @me.com). iCloud has grown to do a wonderful job for me but internet search is the wildcard, pun intended, with Duck Duck Go as my default for several years. It’s not Google, but it does the job.

A recent curioristy-induced purchase of a cheap Chromebook brought me to terms with he current reality of consuming Google’s services. I dove head first into the Chromebook and all associated services. The Dell hardware was underpowered but not horrible, especially considering the price point.

Rather than bore you with an in-depth analysis of Google’s services and what it’s like to use them I found it more humorous to share three screenshots of my first attempted creation of a new email message, my first attempt to watch a youtube video, and the resulting first seconds of viewing a youtube video. How do people deal with this?

WWDC - still reeling in the years

We used to complain that WWDC keynotes had become victims of a successful formula - Tim’s opening with a stock market inspiring message about innovation and retail sales, some new products, vast majority of time to iOS along with a light mention of OS X (I’m still challenged by calling it MacOS). Thankfully 2019 was vastly different than recent experience.

As an Apple fan from the midwest these keynotes were something of an event for us. We would gather together 10 or more of us at a local restaurant with wi-fi for lunch, order our food, and get ready for the 12 PM CT broadcast. We would have multiple tables full of people watching a live blog of the event, this was pre-live video stream by Apple. Some would read twitter feeds while others did both. Throughout it all was deep passion and excitement for what was shared.

When Steve’s journey ended I admit that these events felt different. I vividly remember the Fall 2011 event and Steve’s absence where we later found out that the team was well aware of Steve’s health status. Having visited Apple’s campus and heard of the depth of Steve’s impact on Apple’s spirit I believe there was a years-long impact that continues to ripple out on these events.

This past June 3, 2019 event felt different, more alive, more proud than any event in recent memory. I saw a team running at full speed, executing at a high level, and revealing a masive amount of transformational technology that I’m still trying to wrap my head around. Will hold off on commenting on the individual reveals and only say that I was very, very proud to watch the hard work of so many awesome people be received so positively and know that I’ll have lots of awesomeness coming my way.

More soon!

MacWorld did a great job of summarizing everything from the keynote as it was released.

Stops and Starts

Attempting to maintain a web presence with a family, church responsibilities and a stressful full-time job is intersting. Nevertheless I’ve excited about the possibilities to learn from others and grow both as a writer and fellow human on this brief journey from cradle to grave.

For those that come across the site and stay for a while, thank you! I hope to earn a return visit from time to time.

Cue Apple - please come home

Like Rene I continue to hope that Apple will step back in to the home wi-fi market to augment the strength of the HomeKit platform. I was a proud AirPort user for many users. While I’ve enjoyed my Eero it’s led to a crisis of sorts that I’m now using an Amazon product to connect and type this.

Check out Rene’s take on this, great as always!

Teaching Twitter to play nice

Nice read. I’ve long pondered the aging nature of Twitter and it’s continual lack of new feature innovation. The challenges with threads are one example. I opened my first twitter account in May 2008 with such joy and excitement for the platform. Looking back I can see the damage it has done.

While it’s good to see them consider options I wonder how close they’ll come to addressing the true “incentives” of the platform which encourage much of the bad behavior.

Buzzfeed article