Apple Cider: Random Squeezings From a Mac User
50 is Pretty Nifty
I can hardly believe it. This month’s column marks my 50th consecutive Apple Cider column. Can it be that I’ve written that many?
Way back in the late spring of 1997, my life was a little different. My wife and I had just bought our first home, we were childless, and I had yet to discover just how much fun turning lengths of beautifully grained lumber into piles of sawdust could be. My job at the time wasn’t particularly exciting, and I spent most of my time handling administrative matters—not exactly the path I wanted to be following for my career. I wanted to write instead.
So I was bored, looking for a creative writing outlet.
Fortunately, I was a subscriber of a DOCMaker e-zine called About This Particular Macintosh. The topics they covered were interesting, the writing style was snappy, and—hey—I was looking to make a name for myself when I started looking for a new job.
If it weren’t for the patience, guidance, and encouragement of Michael Tsai and Robert Paul Leitao, I probably wouldn’t have worked out at ATPM. My first column, Mac-In-Bash Attack, initially was a sarcastic put-down of all of the Mac-hating PC users who told me that I was crazy to stick with the Macintosh. Michael and Robert e-mailed me back to let me know what ATPM was really all about—celebrating, analyzing, and having fun with the Macintosh platform.
My motto isn’t writing is 10% creation and 90% revision for nothing. A quick rewrite later, and once the compliments and encouragement started kicking in, well, the rest is history.
And, what a history it has been! Under the direction of Michael and Robert—and later Daniel Chvatik—I have been allowed to run free and offer a unique and personal point of view about the Macintosh, computing, and technology in general.
One of the toughest things about writing Op/Ed pieces is that I have to read up on a single topic and formulate my own take on the situation. In doing so, I have had to project what could become of the situation as time goes by. Yeah, that’s called predicting, and it can get you into trouble from time to time.
For instance, back in October of 1998, when rumors began to swirl about a possible buyout of Adobe by much smaller Quark, I offered Mr. Manutius, I Presume, which took a look at how a Quark buyout of Adobe could affect desktop and Internet publishing.
As always seems to happen in a case like this, not five days after our edition hit the Web did Quark and Adobe both deny that the merger was going through. This prompted the Editor of another free Mac e-zine to write me, letting me know with no slight smugness that my predictions failed to materialize. But, hey, I’m still here, writing away. It’s hard to keep a good man down, right?
Who could ever forget my lambasting of the iMac before its rollout—Shore It’s a Good Idea…? I mean, hey, it looked like a toy when I saw the shots of the Bondi-blue bombshell. How was I supposed to know that the iMac was going to develop into one of the best selling computers of all time? Sheesh, cut a guy some slack!
Some of my predictions, however, were right on. Even as recently as last month, I hit the nail on the head with my prediction that Apple was about ready to axe the Cube. Of course, even when you flip a coin to come up with your prediction, you are bound to be right about half the time.
Throughout my writing tenure with ATPM, I haven’t been reluctant to share with you some of the most interesting and personal aspects of my life. You’ve been with me through the birth of my two sons—Dominic and Steven, shared some of the interactions that have taken place between my wife and me (Sometimes, she thinks I share way too much! Sorry, Rhonda.)—and how I’ve spent my free time away from the computer. I’m sure that just about everyone knows that I’m a woodworking University of Maryland grad who likes to read and go to the movies.
The easiest part of my writing is how I take these experiences and relate them to the state of computing. One of my favorite columns to re-read is Lights. Camera. Disaster? when I correlated the dropping of the Newton and palmtop computing to a potential loss of users for Apple. More than a few folks have complimented me on the last paragraph of the column:
Apple needs to step carefully. Scaring anyone else away from their products is a bad move. The danger is that the last scene of Apple: the Movie won’t be the triumphant hero’s welcome after a dramatic splashdown in the Pacific. Instead, it could very well be a slow pan of shivering Mac users, huddled in lifeboats, watching aghast as the company slips beneath the cold, dark North Atlantic waves.
Have I ever written anything that I believe was too far afield from computing? Sure, I have. The two most memorable columns where I strayed from a straight analysis of the industry were Getting it Off My Chest, where I talked about the tragic shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, and Tidings of Comfort and Joy?, where one of our readers decided to personally attack me for compiling a list of funny political quotes. By asking questions such as, “Why do we behave one way in public, but a completely different way on line?” I’m sure I started some of you thinking about how you treat your fellow Netizens. A few of the replies which came back from our readers were telling:
Amen brother! I work part time in the service industry and know that “over the line” feeling all too well. Unfortunately, it seems that rudeness and vulgarity have taken over our society. Don’t get me wrong, my vocabulary can be quite snappish at times. I also work in the harness racing business where the ability to swear well is almost a must. However this is usually directed at a large beast who doesn’t understand the meaning of the words.
I have been totally shocked by the personal attacks launched on some of the Internet forums. Fortunately, I also get a big laugh from the truly horrible spelling that goes with it.
I’m not sure what some of your favorite Ciders have been, but If I had to pick my favorite column out of the 50, I’d have to say it was back in April, 2000. Writing Deep Space Mac was a great experience in creative fictional writing, quite a change from the research-driven writing I typically handle. I even had a little fun with some word games in the article: taking the first letters of the first eighteen sentences yields “Happy April Fools Day.” Not a lot of readers caught on at first, but once they did, they got a kick out of it.
Hands down, the two things I have enjoyed the most about writing for ATPM have been the feedback from our readers and the camaraderie of the staff members. In early 2000, I was debating the merits of continuing to write Apple Cider. My life had changed so drastically since I approached Robert and Michael way back when—new job, new kids, new hobbies—and I wasn’t sure if Cider was hitting the mark with you anymore.
When I posed my concern to the staffers, the response was overwhelming: Cider stays. Ed Goss even went so far as to offer to take up full-contact bungee jumping if I pulled the plug on the column. Talk about a guy taking one for the team!
Please, everyone out there who has to wade through my convoluted stream-of-consciousness babbling and rambling, accept my thanks for taking your valuable time to let me share my thoughts—myself—with you every month. To my fellow staffers—thanks for dealing with all of my nonsense. And, to our copy editors—I pramys to werk on mi spilling nd grammer sew yew dosent have to werk so hard.
And, hey, if they’ll let me continue writing, I’ll be celebrating the 100th Cider in October of 2005! Until then, I wish you nothing but health, happiness and the best of luck in whatever you do.
Yes, Daniel, I’m starting work on my next column!
Also in This Series
- Look How Far We’ve Come · May 2012
- A Year Apart · March 2003
- And now, the end is near… · March 2002
- Spam I Am · February 2002
- The Year of Big Changes · December 2001
- Legends in Their Own Time · November 2001
- What’s in Store? · October 2001
- Hey, I Recognize You! · September 2001
- 50 is Pretty Nifty · August 2001
- Complete Archive