Why Mac?

  • The most beautifully designed and intuitive GUI available. 
  • Solid UNIX foundation or core, with all the restricted and tiered permissions management that affords.
  • iOS.
  • Apple is an almost unrivaled world trend setter. USB, 802.11x, the app store. PC’s used to be grey or dirty beige boxes. 
  • Inexpensive upkeep. My family now has Macs and iPhones now and guess how much time and billable effort I spend fixing their computers. Guess how much time and billable effort I spent fixing their Windows computers. 
  • Fewer viruses and less risk. Still. 
  • AD integration. 
  • Mac can run Windows natively. 
  • OS X goes weeks without a reboot. Just close the lid. Or, for our iMac server, let the screen sleep. You can restart it once a month, ‘just to be safe’? 
  • Cross device integration. OS X, iOS, Apple TV, Airport Extreme, chargers, bluetooth keyboard and Magic mouse. 
  • Time Machine backups. 
  • Faster boot time.
  • Reliable sleep mode. 
  • Product design. No flashing lights. No ugly stickers. No ugly product. 
  • It’s easier to troubleshoot Macs. Repair permissions. 
  • No bloatware. 
  • Neat and well designed system preferences. 
  • File sharing is much easier. 
  • Cheaper in the long run. It’s going to cost more up front, very superficially. Calculate over a year or over the comparative life of the device and Macs win because of less repair costs and because they maintain more of their resale value. A lot more. 
  • Easier to buy a system. 
  • The major alternative is Windows software interface. 
  • Compare upgrading OS X to upgrading Windows, which of the 18 versions of Windows do you want? Reimage required. OS X though: purchase through the app store on the device and restart. 30 min later, it’s all set up. 
  • If you want to tinker, Linux. But if you want to tinker, why not Unix. But if you just want to get things done, OS X. 
  • Style. 
  • Windows systems make people feel stupid. Some geeky Windows users revel in this unnecessary complexity. Nearly everything is more difficult in Windows. 
  • The file storing layout is much easier and better laid out in OS X than in Windows. Libraries in W7 acknowledged the problem but it’s still confusing. OS X, not so much. 
  • You open the box on a new Mac and sign in: it just works. Windows…not so much. 
  • Easier to use. Would you prefer to get your aging family member Windows or Mac? OS X is much easier to use. 
  • Powerful tools under the hood: Disk Utility, Activity Monitor and Console. For power users, the tools are there to do what needs to be done.

Home Tech

I receive frequent questions about arranging a great home tech setup. It’s such great fun to map out a great setup and see it come together. A recent question provided a good opportunity to put down some thoughts. A good layout will need a few positions to fill.

  1. Each person in the home will have as a first device a mobile with data plan. 
  2. Each person in the home will have as a second device a laptop.
  3. Next, an excellent router (modem and internet provider assumed but not required). 
  4. Large screen, preferably an LED LCD. 
  5. Speakers. High quality computer speakers will work because the digital level (currently storage level) isn’t beyond them yet really. 
  6. The home setup will then include a living room device. Possible devices include the following: 
    1. Apple TV
    2. Roku box
    3. Boxee box
    4. WDTV
    5. Chromecast
    6. XBox
    7. Or a device running Plex or XBMC like Taffy Media Center (a jailbroken Apple TV will do this as well). Quickly followed by…
  7. …a home server. This should be a reliable and discreet desktop on which digital media, projects and photos can be stored to stream to the living room device, remove CDs and DVDs from the house and move content around to the other devices. The excellent home server also allows the laptops, mobile devices and tablet to be a lower size and less expensive. 
  8. The next device would then be a tablet of some kind. This is used as an ebook reader, a gaming device and for casual couch browsing. 
  9. This is followed by additional speakers for the house, lighting controls and thermostat. 
  10. Then security arrangements in future plans, such as cameras and locks. 

I think these are laid out in order of importance and value provided.

The Son of Man by Magritte

We have added “The Son of Man” by Magritte to our art wall. We received a damaged version initially; I have posted the damaged version in NOC. “The Son of Man” is a surrealist work painted by Rene Magritte in 1964. It portrays a faceless business man in a bowler hat; the face is obscured by a green apple, over which the man’s eyes are just barely glimpsed. 

In a radio interview in 1965, Magritte commented concerning the painting:

At least it hides the face partly. Well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It’s something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.

The painting is often remembered for its place in the 1999 “The Thomas Crown Affair” remake with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. 

The piece conveys for me the disparity between the professional and social elements of our lives and the genuine and authentic person behind the veneer. This veneer seems to be something we are unable to remove ourselves. C. S. Lewis wrote about this struggle poignantly in his novel Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold is the 1956 novel by C. S. Lewis that retells the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche. It culminates in the protagonist’s realization as she stands before the gods ready to bring her accusation against the gods: 

“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?” 

The green apple covering the face of the man in the bowler hat represents for me the fall and the resulting obfuscation of our true selves. Language itself was later muddled and what words can we find to clarify our own muddled thoughts about, not just the world around us, but about ourselves, especially if words themselves are muddled? It suggests to me the need for redemption from muddled language, from the distant social connections we smile and greet our way through, from our own disconnection with ourselves and our purpose, skills and gifts. We regain our faces through redemption. The apple is removed from before our faces, not just so that we may see but that we may be seen. By losing ourselves in the redemptive process, we find we have uncovered our faces and then have the opportunity to meet face to face. 

The Son of Man by Magritte

The fall is represented by the apple, obscuring our view of the person before us. Then taking our place as the son of man, trying to peer around the apple, our vision is obscured, however much we tire of it. 

Short Week

This “short” week is no short week. But I have good problems to have. 

NOC has seemed like 2 Mondays in a row this week, even though neither was a Monday. I checked and I’ve verified that the calendar had a Tuesday and a Wednesday. Huge projects, irate developers who’ve complicated their own job, new clueless people, full bins, a datacenter tour and problems to solve. But it’s an exciting place to be! If everyone in the world threw their problems out on the table, I’d reach for mine again. I have good problems to have. And I’m chasing my dreams. Grateful.