Thursday, January 3, 2008

Some background

Since i'm often commenting on Macs and iPhones I figured it may be time for some background.

Beware that this plus the next are long reading. If anyone is watching, get yourself a drink and a snack before starting to read this one...

My first exposure to a computer was the original Apple back in the late 70's in England. From there I owned various models of Apple II computers in the 80s and did a lot of hacking on them with BIOS changes and some programming. At work I used the Apple Lisa computer which was a $10,000 machine at the time and the large company I worked for had a grand total of 2 and didn't know what to do with them. They weren't useful for much at the time. When the original Mac 128 came out, I bought it and still own it. It has the signatures on the inside of the case from all the original development team which is very cool to me. I made several hardware and software modifications to it over time. Through my early career I owned macs (as well as a few other things like the Amiga), the last of which was a decked out Power Machintosh 6100.

In the mid-90's I worked at a company that provided Wintel based machines for home use for free (early days of the work at home concept & they also included frame relay connections). By that time my Power Mac was aging fast and Apple had a poor roadmap for the future. I jumped ship, sold the Power Mac for $4,000 and spent the next decade on WinTel.

About 10 years later my wife wanted a web browser type notebook to use around the house. By that time i'd had my fill of WinTel world and Apple had some shiny new machines out and that included the new OSX. I bought her a PowerBook G4 12" which is a wonderful machine. She still uses it daily (it now has Leopard on it). Its been heavily abused and still runs strong with never a hardware failure. 

I spent most of my career in the SunOS/Solaris/Linux world and eventually ended up at a startup where I needed more than a Unix desktop as I was doing more managerial things but still hands on. So I needed Office apps, but I needed/wanted a Unix environment. I stole my wifes Powerbook and used it until work eventually bought me a 15" Powerbook G4 and then later a 15" MacBook Pro Core 2 which is what i'm currently using at the office.

Home has expanded beyond the PowerBook G4 12" (wife's portable) to include an iMac G5 17" (kids room), an iMac Core 2 Duo 20" (wife's office) and then my current pride-and-joy the dual processor, 8 core, Apple MacPro that I currently have 3.5TB of storage atttached to and 6GB of memory. Its the center of my "digital life."

Just about every machine i've ever owned has been taken apart in some way with non-supported memory upgrades, to disk upgrades (the 12" Powerbook was fun to take apart for a disk upgrade) to ROM upgrades. So far all i've done with the MacPro is add memory and disk but give it time...

Along the way I bought parts of old iPods off eBay and put one together (I wasn't sold enough on the need for music in my life to pay the current price of them) and eventually ended up buying several models, the last of which was the 5th generation iPod Video, 60GB.  I replaced various cards and drives in the iPods for myself and then later friends and family. 

I used various normal cell phones like the Razr and PDAs like the Sony Clie but always hated carrying multiple devices around. I hacked the Mac/Razr environment so I could bluetooth sync my contacts but could never get the calendar to go and managed to fry my Razr trying. I even resorted to trying the dreaded Blackberry 7000 series (aka Crack-berry) but I wasn't a huge fan of the interface and the thing that drove me away is that Blackberry has allowed companies to lock out features of the phone when you register the device with the company. Most companies i've worked for require me to buy the phone, so I think if I pay for the phone I should decide what can and cannot go on it (and yes, I get the security concerns driving the corporate behavior).

And then this year, the iPhone came out (waited in line for 2 hours for mine). So now I have my calendar, contacts and ipod and phone in one place. Then the mission became to have my whole life, work + home on the iPhone and thus the recent rash of blog entries (and frustration). And yes, like the other devices in my life, I hacked the iPhone with 3rd party apps, SSH access etc until Apple made that more painful and now with a SDK coming out and 1.1.3 coming out soon I'm trying to be patient.

So, with all that background you'll now know a bit of where i'm coming from on with my posts and focus on the Apple products. The last bit of the puzzle is that I work as an executive in the high tech industry with software and hardware (more software than hardware). Quality, performance, scalability, security and all those things are daily challenges that I think about at work and home. Having a horrible commute gives me lots of time to ponder content for these strange posts.

So if you're still with me, thanks for reading all this. If not, for some reason I felt I needed to brain dump (latent backup needs??) so there you go. Its way past my bed time, and perhaps yours too. 

'til next time.