I’ve been dealing with Apple for so long now, that I can’t remember whether I was attracted to Apple because it is constantly changing, or if being involved in Apple has meant that I have become a fan of constant change. Whichever way around it was, I am a fan of the ever-evolving state of the company. Apple understands more than any other company I can think of, that to stand still is fatal.
When I first worked with Apple computers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, it was 1988 and just using a computer was a fairly big change. Where I worked, a simple database helped keep track of a company that offered singing telegrams. It was state of the art. The Mac Plus was a fascinating machine, but before I knew it the new Macs offered colour, System 6 became System 7, and I had to relearn most of what I thought I knew. It was my first experience of big changes, rapid changes, and exciting changes in the way I worked.
The next few years went by in a whirl – OS 8, OS 9, OS X, Sculley, Spindler, Amelio, Jobs, 68040, PowerPC, G3, 4, 5 and Intel. In 1996 I had the amazing good fortune to get a job as the IT guy for IDG Communications. I found the ad on the internet, which in itself was pretty cutting-edge at the time. After a month of fixing all the Macs here, I was offered the opportunity to write for Macworld as the Technical Editor. I progressed to Features Editor, Reviews Editor, Deputy Editor and eventually Editor of Macworld.
After ten years here, my change-junkie needs are back, and I’ve chosen to make a move. This will be my last Macworld, because next month I’ll be starting my own business (Tin Drum www.tin-drum.com). Life has become pretty settled here, so this is a big change for me. I’m sure it will be a little different without me in the driving seat, but fear not; it will be in good hands. Simon Jary will be at the helm for the next few issues, and he makes me look like the new boy!
One of the most exciting aspects of my new plan is the fact that I get to use some of the tools that we write about but don’t have the time to use. When I joined I was a pretty dab hand at Photoshop, but I can’t claim to have added to my talents in that area since then. As for Illustrator I doubt I could even use it I’m so rusty. My HTML skills would be good if there was still a need to use an adaptive colour palette to trim excess kilobytes from gifs, but alas those days are gone. While once I could make 3D models and animations using Swivel 3D, Infini-D and other relics, the prospect of getting my head around Maya is plain scary.
Mind you, ten years ago I wasn’t such a demon with an Excel spreadsheet, and my mail-merging capabilities were weak. I reckon I could muster some database-building skills, so long as FileMaker hasn’t got any harder to use since it turned Pro.
Being of a technical persuasion, and a Mac techie at that, I can’t help feeling that I’m going to have a bit of an unfair advantage over the competition. The amount of tools available to the tech savvy is incredible, even the Apple tools right out of the box are impressive. The ability to produce promotional materials, videos, DVDs, audio and print without spending a penny beyond the cost of a new Mac puts Mac users streets ahead of your average business person. If you were to really get to grips with the iLife suite you would be capable of things that were unthinkable for a whole studio of people ten years ago.
For example, ten years ago burning a CD was something of a dark art, requiring specialist software and very expensive hardware. In fact, not much more than ten years ago there were companies that made a living by visiting businesses with a CD burner and backing up their files. Now burning a CD is no more complicated than saving to a floppy disk used to be.
Fifteen years ago when I was involved in an animation project, ten seconds of flying logos took a week to render. When it was ready, each frame was played back to a tape and recorded individually, which took another day to do. Now knocking up a holiday video or birthday movie, then burning it to DVD with animated titles and menus, is just an afternoon’s work.
It’s only a matter of time before the kind of ability iLife and iWork give Mac users becomes the norm. But for now Keynote presentations, podcasting, DVDs, and movies are considered cutting edge for a small business to be able to deliver. This is in no small part due to the fact that those things are harder to do with a Windows machine. Sure you can do all that stuff, but making it look good is a different matter. Take a look at a slide on one of Bill Gates’ presentations, and compare it to one of Steve’s and you’ll see what I mean. Windows is still ugly, and the stuff it produces can only escape the suck of ugliness with a lot of talent.
So as I pack up my bundle and head down a new road of discovery, I’m happy that I have some pretty powerful tools to help me.
Of course, it’s with some regret that I’m leaving Macworld. But I’ve always subscribed to the view that it’s better to regret something you have done, than something you haven’t.
Without wanting my emotions to get the better of me, I would like to say that I’m grateful for the time I’ve spent here. It has provided me with such amazing experiences over the last decade, and I’ve met and worked with a lot of terrific people, especially the Macworld team. I’ve also had an opportunity to speak to, correspond with, and meet a lot of our readers. I know other editors that have suggested this was a reckless approach, but I’ve always been fascinated, and more than happy, to see what you all think of the magazine even when it is critical, though most was encouraging and positive.
The next ten years will no doubt be as full of change as the last ten. Apple in 1996 was usually described as beleaguered – now it’s more likely to be accused of being too successful. By 2016 it could even be in the same position Microsoft is in today. And there’s no bigger change than that. MW