A Sleek iMac Concept Inspired by Early Macintosh Desktops Created Using Macbook Air Components

PEBKAC: Finales, Friendships, and the Future

This column originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of About This Particular Macintosh.

Thus, we arrive at the end of the road. Two constants in life are change and death, and this is a bit of both for the staff of About This Particular Macintosh. This is our final issue. As Michael stated in the publisher’s letter, the site will remain, offering a glimpse to future Mac users into what our computing world was like from 1995–2012, at least from the perspective of this handful of real-world users.

It is because of this handful of real-world users that this has been a difficult column to write. To be honest, this has been a difficult issue to edit. As noted elsewhere, for many of us, working on ATPM has been a lengthy relationship. For me, this is the second-longest relationship I’ve had, behind my marriage, which is only six years older than my time here on staff. The people here at ATPM are my friends, and while that aspect will not change for us in the foreseeable future, there is still a sadness about the end of the thing which brought us together in the first place.

Looking back on the 14 years I’ve been on staff, my colleagues and I have shared in marriages, deaths in families, children born and adopted, new jobs, new ventures, entirely new careers, moves, and even an appearance on a nationally televised prime-time game show. Despite most of us having never met in person, it’s been quite remarkable how much life we’ve done together.

Eric Blair holds the distinction as the first ATPM staffer I ever met in person. I was in New York for a Macworld Expo, and Eric took the train down from Boston for a day. Former managing editor Daniel Chvatik was the next staffer I met. I have long referred to Tom Iovino as my “birthday paisano.” For myriad Web-related questions, I’ve got a scrappy Tasmanian to call upon in Raena Armitage, on the other side of the world. More than one of our online chats has begun with my asking, “So how’s tomorrow going?” I’ve watched, virtually, of course, as Grant Osborne partnered with friends to launch a company and a Web site they were truly passionate about.

The first time I met our publisher and fearless leader, Michael was picking me up at the airport in Connecticut, so the two of us could attend Rob Leitao’s wedding. So many of Rob and Sandy’s families marveled at the two guys “Rob knew through the Internet” being at his wedding, but for us, it was a no-brainer. The three of us had grown close in the virtual world, and we wanted to celebrate this joyous occasion with our friend. I will never forget the arcade in Rob’s mom’s basement, or going through the Danbury Railway Museum with Michael. A couple of years later, when my family found itself vacationing in New England, Michael spent a day showing us around parts of New Hampshire and Vermont.

I’m sure if we pulled out 14-year-old e-mails and chat logs we could figure it out, but my own memory fails to reveal exactly how Lee Bennett and I began our road to friendship. But it’s through 14 years of e-mails and chats that Lee became my best friend in the online world. So much so that when a work convention brought him to the Dallas area, he carved out an evening to come visit us at our home. And there was the day spent with us at Disney World a couple of years after that. And when it came time to try out FaceTime, Lee was the first person I called. So when, two years ago, he told me he was getting married, my wife, after being informed, only asked “So what day do you think you’re going to fly out?”

And as if enough of the staff weren’t becoming friends over time, we imported our non-ATPM friends to contribute. Daniel’s friend Jens Grabenstein contributed reviews and desktop pictures in the early part of the 2000s, and “came back” last year with another desktop picture set. I once interviewed my font-creating friend Dan Bailey. I recruited my pal Tom Bridge to write for us, and local friend Kevin Rossen as well.

While I am proud of every issue I’ve worked on these past 14 years, what I take away from ATPM as we close the door on monthly publishing is so much greater than the sum of all of those. Five, ten years from now, I’m sure I won’t remember most of what we published. But I know the friendships I have made through being part of this amazing publication will endure, and flourish. And as we close this door on part of our past, that’s a future I look forward to.



Macs are so hard to use.

If you use a Mac (and iOS devices), you really should be using 1Password.



Via Unsplash

PEBKAC: Protecting the Memory Hub

This column originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of About This Particular Macintosh.

Beginning in 2004, I’ve made a calendar for the coming year featuring our children. For four years, it was just our oldest son. Then we adopted Boy #2, and for three years it was the two of them. The calendar for 2012 now features all three of our sons. I’ve always bought copies for our extended family: the boys’ grandparents, great-grandmothers, aunts and uncle. The calendars are given as gifts at Christmas time, and after the first three years, it became an expectation on the part of the extended family.

My habit has been to curate, throughout the year, an album in iPhoto of possible calendar photo candidates. Often, this is no small task, as we try to take many shots of our three sons. Just after Thanksgiving, I’ll sit down and start sifting through the curated folder. Once I’ve done the initial purge, my wife will sit in and we’ll go through it again, knocking out the ones she doesn’t care for. Then it’s calendar-creating time.

I’ve been pretty happy with the calendar layout and purchasing options Apple offers within iPhoto, and that’s what we’ve used each year.

The 2012 calendar was delayed, due to the nearly three weeks my wife and I spent in Africa at the end of November and beginning of December, as we adopted Boy #3. There were a few “But what about the calendars?” from the extended family at Christmas; like I said, it’s become a pleasant expectation. Rest assured, they arrived the second week of January and have been in full use at the respective households (and places of work) since.

Steve Jobs once famously held up the Mac as the “digital hub”. It was to be the machine you plugged your cameras, iPods, musical instruments, whatever, into so you could work with photos, videos, and music. iCloud seeks to replace the Mac as the hub, and I’m tentatively dipping my toe into using iCloud more, but for me, the Mac still remains my hub. For a Type-A control freak like myself, having something that’s under my control for keeping memories is key. I run my own backups on the Mac, even having backups of the backups. But I’m learning to let go a little more, for the convenience iCloud is supposed to offer.

Whether the Mac or iCloud, what has become apparent is that this simply isn’t a case of being one’s digital hub, it’s become our memory hub. Most everyone’s photos are digital now, and all of my digital photos, most of which never make it to my Flickr feed reside in Apple’s digital shoebox, iPhoto. All of my videos, most of which never end up on Vimeo are stored on there. There’s good reason for having backups of backups. My Mac is where all of my memories are, and I look to secure them as much as possible.

Like many, you’re probably in the same boat, and if you don’t have a comprehensive backup system in place, you need to get one going as soon as possible, lest you take a chance at losing precious memories. Here’s mine:

  • nightly backup of the entire Mac to an external hard drive via SuperDuper; after the initial full backup, the script “Smart Updates” the backup drive, only adding or subtracting what’s changed that particular day
  • ongoing backup of the entire Mac via Time Machine to a different external hard drive
  • weekly backup of SuperDuper-cloned drive to another hard drive
  • ongoing backup of the entire Mac via CrashPlan

The only thing I’m not doing that I should is rotating a backup drive off-site. (In case of a fire or some such event.) For now, my CrashPlan backup serves as my off-site protection for the memory hub.

We all have memories on our computers which are important to us: photos of our family; music from our formative years which defined us (child of the 1980s here); that e-mail from a world-famous author that was so encouraging. These things are worth protecting, and while companies like Apple, Shirt Pocket, and CrashPlan are doing what they can to make it as simple as possible, it’s up to us users to get it going in the first place.

My friends often get tired of hearing it from me, but the mantra won’t change: backup, backup, backup!

Post-publication addendum: Since this column was originally published, I have discontinued my use of Time Machine. I use CrashPlan to not only serve as my off-site backup, but now an external drive uses the CrashPlan software to back up a local copy as well.

PEBKAC: More Than Just the Mac

This column originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of About This Particular Macintosh.

Recently, a friend and I were chatting about how Apple’s non-Mac products have changed the way we work with our Macs. He remarked how he thought he may be “using the Mac for far too much of it”, under-utilizing the iPhone and iPad. This got me thinking about how these devices have changed how much time I spend in front of my Mac.


These days, I spend very little time on Twitter while sitting at my Mac. Nearly all of my Twitter interaction is done on my iPhone through Paul Haddad and Mark Jardine’s excellent Tweetbot. (There is an iPad version as well.) I also keep the venerable Twitterrific on hand. These days, the only time I hit the Twitter web site is to possibly check out a new follower’s profile and Twitter stream.


This is an area of usage where things likely work out 50-50. I do a lot of e-mail reading and processing on my iPhone. If there are web links to read later, or a message in need of a lengthy reply, I’ll leave those in my inbox to take care of later when I’m at my Mac. (And how nice would it be to have some sort of Instapaper or Read It Later functionality built into Apple Mail?) E-mail usage on my iPad is very similar to that on the iPhone, if I’m not using an external keyboard, though given the iPad’s larger screen, I certainly get more of the click-on-this-link messages out of the way.

Web surfing

I would say I do as little web surfing on the iPhone as possible, but that’s not entirely accurate. Several apps have built-in web services, and Tweetbot now includes Readability, which has made checking out links from the Twitter stream much more enjoyable. I still do the majority of my web surfing on my Macs, but the iOS devices have definitely cut in to that.


An area that remains Mac-centric for me is reading RSS feeds. I am a long-time user of NetNewsWire on the Mac, but haven’t made the transition to feed-reading on my iOS devices. This is mainly due to NetNewsWire using Google Reader for syncing, as do many other RSS apps which transcend both iOS and OS X. I’ve always been leery of Google, and see them less trustworthy as time goes on. So I’m holding out for a non-Google Reader solution, and carrying on with 100% of my feed reading through NetNewsWire on a Mac. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the first developer to offer a Mac-iPhone-iPad RSS reader that syncs without Google Reader earns my money. Any takers?


I’ve read a few books on my Mac over the past few years, in text or PDF form, but until the iOS devices (and Kindles) came along, most of my book reading was still done in the dead-tree editions. The past two years have seen my personal ebook reading skyrocket. I knew I had reached a personal milestone when I bought Lee Child’s latest Jack Reacher novel in Kindle format. Before, that had always been a hardcover purchase. Between Kindle apps on the iPhone and iPad, as well as iBooks, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook app, I always have a book at my disposal, if nothing else because my iPhone is always with me.


This one hasn’t really changed since the iPod was first introduced. When I’m at my iMac, I listen to music through iTunes on the Mac. If I’m not in my study, I have the iPhone docked to a stereo, or I’m carrying it around with headphones. Call this one a tie.

Movies, TV Shows

The iPad came in very handy for this during our trip to Africa for getting caught up on the first season of Hawaii Five-0. The cable service in our hotel room was nonexistent, so this was a boon for those evenings when we just needed to veg out. Our boys make good use of the PBS Kids app on the iPads, both around the house and while traveling. While I still may watch the odd item on my iMac, most of the time I’d rather stream it to our Apple TV and watch it on the 47-inch HDTV in the living room. Advantage: iOS devices.


This endeavor still finds me in front of a Mac. Maybe the 27-inch iMac entrenched in the study, maybe the 11-inch MacBook Air that can, and has, gone anywhere. But still a Mac. I have done some writing on the iPad, but thus far that seems to have been a one-time event, outside of e-mail. And I can’t say I’ve done very much writing at all on my iPhone, other than the odd note. Very much still a Mac-centric activity for me.

All in all, the iOS devices have me spending less time in front of a Mac’s screen, and this is not at all a bad thing. My iMac still acts as my digital hub, and despite iCloud’s promises, I don’t see that changing any time soon. Still, I’m thankful for my iPhone’s omnipresence, giving me music and books any time, anywhere I want, and the versatility the iPad offers for some things over even the MacBook Air.

How has having an iPhone or iPad changed the way you work with your Mac?

PEBKAC: Staying Connected in Africa

This column originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of About This Particular Macintosh.

Greetings from Rwanda! As this issue goes to press, my wife and I are in the African republic finalizing the adoption of our third child. We’ve been here for two weeks, and have up to another week in Kenya to look forward to. (Procedural muckety-muck with US Immigration; not everything can be processed in Rwanda.)

Staying connected with back home and the larger world has been a challenge. We each brought our iPhones, but they’ve been locked in airplane mode since we boarded our initial flight out of Dallas. We checked with AT&T about using them internationally, but the costs of doing so were just too great. Thanks to a Facebook group devoted to adoption in Rwanda, we learned it was relatively cheap to buy a simple phone for texting and local calls. So we set our sights on doing that.

Our first full day in-country we performed our first currency exchange and immediately sought out one of the myriad cell phone sellers. And when I say myriad, that’s not an exaggeration. Take those half dozen or so cell phone kiosks you see at an average American mall and multiply it by a few hundred. Thousand. A few hundred thousand. (Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but it seems that every where you look there are booths or larger stores devoted to selling mobile phones.

Mobile is huge here, as it is in much of the developing world. A mobile infrastructure is much easier to build out than a wired one. Everyone here has a mobile phone. Not many people have a land line. Heck, even the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Children (under the Office of the Prime Minister) has her mobile number on her business card. And that’s all. (And yes, this means that we do, in fact, have a business card from the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Children.)

So, mobile phone acquired, along with two SIM cards, each with about nine US dollars worth of time and texting, total cost: US$35. Why two SIM cards? Turns out this no-name phone from China or Korea or wherever has two SIM slots. There are two mobile providers in Rwanda, the original MTN, and the relative newcomer, Tigo. It’s cheaper to call internationally, especially to the United States, on Tigo. Most everyone we’d be in contact with in Rwanda is on MTN. So the dual-SIM card capability would benefit us greatly. (An eight-minute phone call at 4 in the afternoon, Kigali, back to Dallas cost about 300 Rwandan francs, or 50 cents US.)

On every street corner, in every other empty space of a strip mall or building, there are men and women selling cards for time and data on MTN and Tigo, usually under yellow umbrellas of the former and purple umbrellas of the latter. They are fairly aggressive, but not obnoxiously so. They won’t hesitate to come up to ask if you need to buy, but back off quickly if you decline. It’s very cutthroat, however, as the percentage they receive from each card sold is their livelihood. They won’t hesitate, once a buyer has been identified, to try to sell over one another to earn that percentage. While we haven’t had to engage in an on-the-street purchase, our local attorney has, and it was interesting to watch.

So far as Internet access is concerned, we brought my 11-inch MacBook Air, plus an iPad 2, which has proven handy for watching US TV episodes previously downloaded when your only choices in the hotel room are Al Jazeera English and a sports channel that shows nothing but football (soccer, fellow Americans). Our hotel has Internet access in the room, usually served via wifi from a router mounted out in the hallway. Unfortunately, that wifi hasn’t worked since the day we moved in. Enter a wired connection and Mac OS X’s Internet Sharing feature.

Though I always carry a 25-foot Ethernet cable in my pack, I heartily accepted the hotel staff’s offer of a cable to plug in with. I consider the Apple Ethernet-to-USB adapter for the Air to be one of those “better to have and not need, than need and not have” pieces of kit, and it indeed saved our bacon. With the MacBook Air plugged in, it was off to the Sharing pane in System Preferences, and after turning on Internet Sharing, our iPad and iPhones could access the outside world over wifi. Problem solved!

Well, kind of.

Two days prior to the writing of this piece, our hotel’s connection went down about 8:00 PM local time. And has yet to resurface in our room, despite the tech sitting at the front desk, plugged in, forty-eight hours later. So while we were happily checking in on Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail in the mornings and evenings, that was no longer possible, wired connection or not.

So lunches and dinners have been spent at places with known free wifi, and the staff of two institutions now recognize us on sight. Just this evening, while eating steak kebabs and sambusas (local version of the meat-filled, deep-friend pastry), the Air was on the dining table, purchasing tickets through KLM’s web site for our flight to Kenya. (And zapping some spam from my e-mail inbox.)

So while staying in contact with our family back home, and with our friends around the world, hasn’t been as easy as back in Dallas, it has not been an insurmountable challenge, either. The people of Rwanda have been very friendly and accommodating, and we have, to a degree, fallen a little in love with our newest child’s homeland. We will certainly return in the years to come.

PEBKAC: On the passing of Steve Jobs

This column originally appeared in the November 2011 issue of About This Particular Macintosh.

In 1996, I was working for The Computer Shoppe, in Metairie, Louisiana. The Computer Shoppe is distinctive in that it was one of the original Apple retailers signed up nearly twenty years before. That year Apple Computer, Inc. celebrated its twentieth anniversary, and there was much hullabaloo. One such bit of hullabaloo was the visit by Apple bigwigs and Steve Wozniak to our humble shop. Then-Apple CEO Gil Amelio had enlisted Woz, as one of the company’s original founders, to act as the face of the company for the anniversary goings-on.

Woz spent an entire day at the store, and the entire staff got to go to a dinner that night, where The Computer Shoppe’s owners were presented with a crystal apple as thanks from the company. Some time during that day, I got Woz’s signature on the mostly-blank side of one of The Computer Shoppe’s tri-fold flyers.

I’ve attended two Macworld Expo keynotes where Steve Jobs was presenting. The first time I was in the same (albeit very large) room as Jobs, I thought about that flyer with Woz’s signature, and how neat it would be to get both founders’ autographs together.

These were the heady days of two Macworld Expos a year, and I knew I’d be attending the very next Expo, so for that time, I dug through the box of momentos and found the flyer. It was with me in the keynote hall, and it was in my hand as I got within about fifteen feet of Jobs after the keynote had concluded and the hall had mostly emptied.

That flyer still bears only Woz’s signature.

I don’t remember who Jobs was talking to. It didn’t appear to me it was a media-related conversation, and my memory isn’t deep enough to recall whose badges said what, so it very well could have been a less-publicly known Apple executive. Or just a friend.

What I do recall is that Jobs appeared at ease. Comfortable. He wasn’t having to be “on” for the keynote presentation. He was more relaxed now. There were a few other people were milling about, waiting for a chance to talk to Steve, shake his hand, whatever. I looked around at them, and the thought occurred to me, This just doesn’t feel right. I cannot recall there being anything specific triggering that thought, but I do remember the thought. This just doesn’t feel right. So I stuck the flyer back in my laptop bag and headed out, no looking back, no regrets.

There may have been a time to ask Jobs to sign the flyer, to get his John Hancock next to his former partner’s. But that wasn’t it. Not when he was coming down from arguably some of the toughest in-the-public-eye work he did each year. It was time to let him bask in the finish, to relax, to enjoy.

Many words have been and will continue to be spilled about the life of Steve Jobs. He will be called many things: visionary, leader, driven, egotistical, asshole. He will be remembered fondly by many. He will be remembered foully by some. Love or hate, he will be remembered.

The first computer my family owned was a used Apple ][e, purchased from a teacher at my high school. I distinctly remember going with my dad to the teacher’s house to pick up the system, and I distinctly remember seeing my first Macintosh in person, for that was what had replaced the ][e for this particular teacher. I remember buying my first Mac in the Tulane University book store while my wife was in law school. And I remember going into the Dallas metroplex’s first Apple retail store to buy the first iPod.

Like many of my friends, I would not have had many of the experiences, the jobs, I have had were it not for two Steves getting together to build a personal computer. Which led to another. Which led to another. And another. And so on.

What we should remember most about Steve Jobs, for all that he accomplished, is that, in the end, he’s just a man. A man with family and friends who loved him deeply, and who will mourn his passing more deeply than any one of us outside that circle. For me, tomorrow is just another day in my life. For them, tomorrow is another day without the dear one they loved.

So I do not mourn Steve Jobs for myself, despite what his life’s work meant to mine. Instead I mourn for his family, who now face life without a husband and father.

And for the rest of us, tomorrow will be just another day. Tomorrow, there is no chance of Steve returning. Tomorrow, there is no amount of mourning and what-iffing that will bring him back.

Tomorrow is the time to turn to the ideals Steve believed in: striving for perfection, though it is never attained; demand the best in yourself, and strive to bring it out in others; and to live your life to the fullest in pursuit of your dreams.

The other option is to forget about creating rules and lists and instead get an effective anti-spam utility. And when I say effective I do mean C-Command Software’s $30 SpamSieve. We don’t dish out five-mouse ratings lightly, but in this case it’s completely deserved. I’ve relied on SpamSieve for years as have many of my colleagues. It really is the best way to deal with this crud.

Christopher Breen, Macworld

Admittedly, I’m biased, as Michael Tsai, the man behind C-Command, is a personal friend. I was on the original beta test team for SpamSieve, and have used every iteration since 1.0 hit the ether. If you’re a Mac user, this is the first app you should buy.

PEBKAC: Readers, Readers Everywhere, and Not A Library To Spare

This column originally appeared in the October issue of About This Particular Macintosh.

I have a problem.

I love to read. (No, that’s not the problem, but we’ll get there.) Last year, I read forty-three books and novellas, a personal best since I began tracking annually three years ago. Over the past couple of years, a steadily increasing amount of my reading has been done electronically. With iBooks, Kindle, and Nook apps on my iPhone, I could read pretty much anywhere, any time. My wife and I each have our own hardware Kindle now, too. And, of course, there are still the dead tree editions stacked about.

So what’s the problem? Sounds like maybe Erasmus’ quote writ large, perhaps, but no, not having money for food and clothes isn’t the problem.

The problem is that there’s no way to track my library across dead-tree, iBooks, Kindle, Nook, et al. And when I say track, I mean in a manner that doesn’t have me endlessly typing into some sort of database each and every title. Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble already have a database of what titles I’ve gotten from them, both free and purchased. If only that information could be harnessed.

And therein lies the rub: even if an enterprising developer rose to the challenge, he would have to have access to certain information which I’m pretty sure Amazon’s APIs do not allow access to, I don’t think B&N even has APIs for, and know for a fact that he wouldn’t be able to get it out of Apple.

Now, as a good capitalist, I do not begrudge Apple, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble from keeping this information proprietary. After all, they’ve spent considerable monies and man-hours on building these systems for their benefit. Yet as a consumer, it would be nice to be able to use my personal information from these companies for my benefit as well.

I know I’m not alone in this problem. Some may not have even realized yet they have the same problem, which only makes it more frustrating for those of us who are aware of it, as it means there’s little demand for the above companies to relinquish access to the information we’d so desperately like to house under one roof for our own benefit.

“But Chris,” you may say, “why not just buy from a single source, like say, Amazon. Then your problem’s solved.” Very true, but how often is that the case, that we’ll be able to have 100% of our electronic and dead-tree book purchases come from a single source? Sure, it’s easier than ever to make that happen, but personally, I like to spread the wealth around. For one, I actually prefer the iBooks interface to the Kindle app’s on my iPhone. Granted, owning a hardware Kindle means I’m more apt to purchase from Amazon moving forward, but that still doesn’t fix the problem of the myriad titles across different apps/sellers now.

Sadly, looking at the landscape, the only conclusion we can reach for those of us who really care about the one-roof concept is that we’ll be spending a lot of time in our database of choice entering it all manually.

PEBKAC: Never Forget

This column originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of About This Particular Macintosh.

September 11th this year marks a decade since the United States suffered the worst-ever attack on its own soil. Like my parents’ generation with the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I can vividly recall where I was and what I was doing when the news broke. I remember watching NBC’s live video as the second plane flew into the South Tower. That moment told us this was no accident. That moment, in hindsight, was when everything changed for America.

A familiar mantra rose up: “Never forget.” Such a simple phrase has obvious connotations, yet can carry different meanings for different people. For some, it denotes revenge, not only never forgetting, but never forgiving those who attacked our nation and killed our fellow citizens. For others, myself included, it means learning from the history that lead up to the attack so as to prevent another in the future.

Millions of bits and reams of paper have been published over whether the US should be in Afghanistan and Iraq. My personal position has shifted to one degree or another in the decade since 9/11, and we have yet to experience another successful attack. This appears to be a result of fighting terrorist groups who wish us ill over there not having sufficient resources for those same groups to attack us here. That’s a lesson best summarized by the military maxim, “Take the fight to the enemy,” and falls into the learning-from-history category.

Over the past decade, Apple has been doing quite a bit of learning from its own history. When Steve Jobs returned to the company he’d co-founded then summarily been driven out of, he certainly put his stamp on the organization moving forward, doing so with an eye on the corporation’s past. Model lines were streamlined, costs were slashed, and then new products began to emerge, with a new executive team to back it all up.

The debut of the iMac was the shot across the industry’s bow that this was no longer the old Apple. Building upon that success, ten years ago this past March, Apple debuted Mac OS X. While that initial release had its issues, the past decade has seen polish that indeed has made every successive version of the operating system, including today’s Lion, “the best yet.”

That same year, Apple began an industry disruption with the release of the iPod. Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player category, but the little white electronic box the size of a deck of cards would go on to dominate that same category. Apple under Jobs certainly did not forget lessons from the company’s past here, and did something so audacious, it’s still being talked about in MBA classes*. The iPod mini, the company’s most popular iPod model, was killed. Nuked. Replaced. And the iPod nano then shot to the stratosphere.

(* Totally made that up, but it sounds good, don’t it?)

When Apple killed the iPod mini, it was a signal that not only was this no longer the Apple of years past, but that Apple was, as many of us have long observed, very different from other tech companies. Would Michael Dell have killed his best-selling model of anything? Would HP? Toshiba? The old Apple would have continued to milk the iPod mini for all it was worth; while allowing innovation to stagnate. Not so with Jobs at the helm. How do you innovate your way away from a best-selling product? Make another best-selling product.

So you continue to polish the best operating system on the market, and you pretty much take over an entire market segment. What’s the encore? Another industry disruption: the iPhone.

Apple wasn’t going to just walk into the mobile phone industry and do well, remember? Now, for the non-tech crowd, “smartphone” has become synonymous with “iPhone”. Four years ago, in my little corner of Texas suburbia, I would never have envisioned the penetration amongst the soccer/band mom crowd that the iPhone has now seen. Every time I turn around, if a middle-aged, minivan-driving mom has a smartphone, it’s an iPhone. Sure, there are a few Android phones floating around, as well as the rare Windows 7 Mobile, but the iPhone remains dominant. And the industry has only begun scratching the surface with smartphone purchases among users.

Then there’s the iPad. Remember the tablet market before the iPad? On the Apple side of things, a third-party was taking PowerBooks, nee MacBooks and converted them to touchscreens, with swivel tops to cover up the keyboard. PC vendors, working closely with Microsoft or not, had developed similar models for one Windows flavor or another. A few were sold in niche areas, but never in significant volume to justify there being a “tablet market”. Then Apple released the iPad, and it was all over before the rest of the tech industry could even blink.

The iPad was derided as an oversized iPhone, without the phone. Consequently, this actually sounded like a feature to quite a few people, rather than a bug. Here was a tablet which shared the same ecosystem that allowed for vetted apps to be purchased, was isolated from the threat of viruses, and didn’t require a For Dummies book to get up to speed with.

When we first started going to our current pediatrician a few years ago, all of the doctors and nurse practicioners were using netbooks to track patient information during a visit. Now, they all have iPads, running in a ZAGG keyboard case. Here’s a niche where the Windows-based tablets of old would have been targeted, and have now been supplanted. As the industry has too-slowly come to grips with, there isn’t a tablet market, there’s pretty much only an iPad market.

How did it come to this? Learning from the past. Over the past decade, Apple has looked to its own past to see what worked and didn’t work. It has also looked to the past of the entire tech industry. With such knowledge in hand, Apple has charted its own course, marched to the beat of its own drum. Apple’s profits and highly valued stock are the result of Apple setting the trends, not following what others might have done. The rest of the industry has yet to grasp this important distinction, and thus continues to flail about, chasing the tail of Apple’s comet.

Now the man who energized and turned the company around with his vision is stepping down. Steve Jobs has turned the reins of Apple CEO over to the able Tim Cook, and I have no doubt in the Cook era that Apple will continue to remain the dominant player in the tech industry. (Yes, I said the dominant player. Who else has accomplished what Apple has in the past decade? Google? Microsoft? Please.) We imagine the current management team will remain relatively unchanged by Cook moving forward. When something’s not broke, why fix it?

Yet Tim Cook and the other Apple executives will be in a unique position to learn from their history. For while Jobs is no longer Apple’s CEO, he will remain on as the Chairman of the Board, and everyone knows he will continue to have some say in product development. Cook and Company have been living Apple’s history, and will continue to do so, and they must check future development against what has worked for the company in the past, so that it might continue to work in the future, making changes as needed. Be disruptive. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Go against the grain. Think different.

The actions taken in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past ten years have reverberated across the Middle East, even the entire globe. We are still learning valuable lessons which our leaders, current and future, need to take heed of and understand. Be disruptive. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Go against the grain. Think different.

For that’s how the world truly gets changed.

PEBKAC: Moving, and Moving On

This column originally appeared in the August issue of About This Particular Macintosh.

The past few weeks in our home have encapsulated the Great Room Reshuffle of 2011. My wife and I are in the process of adopting our third child (Boy2 is also adopted), and this is requiring some shuffling of resources. Our guest room will be no more so each boy may have his own room. New bedroom furniture has been ordered, and will be in place by the time, you, dear reader, are seeing these words.

Boy1 is remaining in the same room he’s been in since we got the original furniture, which is now in Boy2’s room. Boy1 is getting the aforementioned new furniture, including a desk, useful for doing homework and LEGO building. The new full bed ensures Boy2 or Boy3 can bunk with him when my parents come for a visit. (See above: guest room going away.) Boy3 will, at some point in the future, once we actually have Boy3, get new furniture, but for now his room remains semi-complete.

So now we’re at the third paragraph, you know way more about my home life than you ever wanted to, and you’re wondering what the heck this has to do with Macs, aren’t you?

Mac OS X Lion released a couple of weeks ago, and for a subset of users, shuffling installations was a concern. Just as we’re rearranging rooms, some found themselves moving to a clean drive partition to put the new operating system on. Most simply did an update install, which shuffles off the old Snow Leopard bits and moves the new Lion furniture in to the former’s place.

As of this writing, I’ve only installed Lion on one of our four Macs, my 11-inch MacBook Air. As more than one commentator has stated, Lion and the Air seem like a match made in heaven. Or Cupertino, as the case may be. I utilized the method most who upgraded to Lion have, the update-in-place. Snow Leopard is packed up, moved off the drive, and Lion is moved in and unpacked, everything put in its place.

It was time-consuming, but otherwise uneventful, much like the Great Room Reshuffle, which saw lots of sweating and grunting by yours truly as dressers and chests and beds were carried and slid about (yay for carpeting!), but no dented furniture, busted walls, or broken bones. Likewise, my moving on to Lion has only seen one hiccup, and that was the need for Java for Mac OS X 10.7 to be installed afterward so CrashPlan would work properly. Just a little sweating over my off-site, online backup, but no grunting this time.

Seasoned Mac veterans may take their time upgrading to Lion, and users of Quicken will most especially want to wait. (Though honestly, given Intuit’s lack of motivation thus far to update Quicken’s code, Quicken users may be better off looking for alternatives from committed developers.) Like many long-time Mac users, I’m not sure I’ll use the new Launchpad or Mission Control features, but I’m otherwise enjoying the many subtle changes Apple has made to OS X’s face. And as with previous Mac OS X updates on previous Macs, this latest operating system just feels faster on the same hardware.

Just as I’m glad we’re doing the Great Room Reshuffle of 2011, I’m happy so far with the Great Lion Upgrade of 2011. If you’ve been on the fence, and don’t have any application-compatibility issues, I encourage you to make the move to Mac OS X Lion. It’s the best Mac OS yet.

PEBKAC: Lions, and Airs, and iPads, oh my!

This column originally appeared in the July issue of About This Particular Macintosh.

In what may be a sign of an impending midlife crisis, I find myself, more and more, beginning sentences with the phrase, “When I was your age…” or some variation thereof. Maybe it’s because I’m the father of two young boys. Maybe it’s the past five years spent around high schoolers and college guys and gals through Bible studies I’ve led for a local church. Maybe it’s just that I’m forty and I’ve seen enough in my life now to see large distinctions.

In seventh grade, we spent about half a semester learning BASIC on the venerable TRS-80 computer. Then we switched to Turbo Pascal on Apple ][s. (See what I did there with the ASCII symbols in place of capitalized Is for the Roman numerals? That’s called “old school”.) When we finished our assignments, we could play Lemonade Stand or Oregon Trail. I died many a death of dysentery.

And if we weren’t playing games, we were taking what we’d learned and started working on our own text-based games.

The first computer to make its way into the household I grew up in was an Apple ][e, purchased used from one of my high school teachers. He’d bought a new computer from the same fruit company called a “Mac”. I still have a sharp memory of seeing the little all-in-one Mac running on the teacher’s desk at his home when we went to pick up the ][e.

That ][e was responsible for every essay paper my last year of high school and four years of college. Another vivid memory I have is printing out a paper on Salvadoran death squads for Dr. Mokeba’s poli sci class. (Dr. Mokeba was from Cameroon and immensely proud of their 1990 World Cup bid.)

I moved to a DOS-based machine, then Windows 3.1, then Windows 95, before coming back to the Apple fold in 1994 with the purchase of a Performa 6115CD. And I’ve never looked back.

What’s the point of this stroll down memory lane? So you have context for “When I was your age, we didn’t have touchscreen smartphones, iPads, or solid-state hard drives. We computed by swapping out floppy disks, and I mean floppy disks, not those hard, little three-and-half-inch jobs. And you could screw all your data by bending one of those big floppies between some textbooks in your backpack.”

In other words: the only constants in life are death and change. And if you keep your hand in the technology game, you know change happens quickly.

Arguably, the biggest news out of the tech sector last month [June 2011 –R] was what was revealed to developers at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). Mac OS X Lion and iOS 5 look to be the best versions yet of those respective operating systems. Apple’s iPad is the tablet computing market right now. No other company is even close, mainly because no other company gets it. (HP seems like they have taken a cue from Apple’s playbook; the new WebOS-based TouchPad is likely the best bet from any manufacturer to take on the iPad’s dominance. This is because HP, like Apple, is controlling both the hardware and software experience.)

It’s not just other companies that don’t get it. One thing that hasn’t changed since I got into the tech game is that Wall Street know-it-alls still don’t understand Apple.

“They’re making the same mistake with the iPod as they did with the Mac.”

“They’re making the same mistake with the iPhone as they did with the Mac.”

“They’re making the same mistake with the iPad as they did with the Mac.”

Look at how there are more Android phones out there than iPhones. Sure, but how many different versions of the Android OS are scattered about through those phones? How many of those Android phone users can update to the latest version of the OS? (Not many.) User experience matters, and the iPhone’s is the best because Apple controls the entire experience, not just part of it.

Look at how there are more Android tablets out there than…oh. Wait. That one’s not holding up so well at the moment, is it? No to mention that a tablet is a vastly different type of device than a smartphone. Apple gets this. Manufacturers relying on Android don’t.

And where are those Android or other OS MP3 players, dominating the iPod? Oh. Right.

Apple hasn’t blown by both Microsoft and Intel in the stock market by being dominated, by responding to the whims of stock analysts, or chasing other companies. Apple sets its own agenda, pursues it, and pursues it as close to the perfection of its vision as is humanly possible. And it reaps the rewards.

I look forward to the continued change our favorite fruit company offers users, and the day when I can say, “When I was your age, we had to use our fingers to control our iPhone. We didn’t have any of these fancy eye- or brain-controls you kids have now…”

ATPM 16.09

The September issue of About This Particular Macintosh is now available for your reading pleasure. Shhhhhhh. Be vewy, vewy quiet. Mark is hunting dwagons. He then ponders who's really using less paper, us or them. (Them being corporations, not dwagons. Er, dragons.) Yours truly had the pleasure of interviewing a friend: Heather Sitarzewski. Heather's a very creative gal; the things she comes up with never fails to surprise me. ATPM staffer Wes Meltzer has had to travel quite a bit of late for his other employer (the one that actually pays him). With finances being tight enough that a MacBook Air wasn't in the cards, and needing something lighter than a 13-inch MacBook, Wes decided to try living with an EeePC netbook running Ubuntu Linux on the road. Rob regales us with his tale of iPad purchasing, noting that our favorite fruit company's tablet is an earnings and revenue monster. If you like flowers, you'll love this month's desktop pictures selection. ATPM reader Sterling Garwood shares some photos he took in North Carolina. Calling out the hazmat team, too much caffeine, avoiding FBI warnings on DVDs, old-fashioned copy editing, menopause, multi-level marketing, outsourcing the boss, and recycling: all in the line of duty in Out at Five. Ed boldly goes where most of us fear to tread: into the realm of accounting. With his look at Acclivity's AccountEdge and FirstEdge, things appear to be heading into the black. Finally, Eric puts his baby in then hands of Griffin's Loop, a tabletop stand for the iPad. As always, this issue of About This Particular Macintosh is available in a wide variety of formats for your enjoyment:

Thanks for reading, ATPM!

ATPM 16.08

The August issue of About This Particular Macintosh is now available for your reading pleasure. Rob gets us going with a recap of Apple's latest earnings, as well as their new product introductions. Two lines in Rob's analysis really stood out to me:

At $65 billion in annual revenue, Apple's revenue take is greater than the GDP (gross domestic product) of most nations. And: It's interesting to note: In the June quarter close to 50% of Apple's revenue was generated by products that did not exist in the marketplace just over three years ago. It's no wonder how favorite fruit company continues to be the envy of the tech industry. While vacationing in Normandy, Mark discovers "wee-fee", a new French cuisine. Despite some, er, "digestive" problems with the "wee-fee", it was much preferable to the palate than his having to deal with refurbishing a Windows-running Dell. Ed not only returns to update the Next Actions GTD app list, but shares his workflow and tools for processing e-mail. This is a great resource for those of us floundering through e-mail inboxes full of stuff we know we should get to, but never seem to. Linus shares his experience going from 10 GB iPod to iPod touch to iPad, and learns some times the greener grass is hiding a few weeds. Sylvester shares his travails on maintaining the household network, noting that this sometimes unpleasant task has gotten easier over the years. The August edition of our desktop pictures is courtesy of ATPM reader Giuseppe Balacco, his daughter Maria Luisa, and his wife Cecilia. They feature the gorgeous Tremiti Islands. I've already downloaded the entire set. In this month's edition of Out at Five, we are treated to unqualified sales recruits who'll stab you in the back at the first opportunity, lightsaber confusion, why you should never finish every project you have at work, and finally those notes taped to the outside of the fridge should always be heeded. Yours truly reviews the OWC Express USB 2.5-inch hard drive enclosure, a welcome addition to my tech stable. Finally, Matthew puts Ambrosia's WireTap Anywhere through the wringer of digital recording. Our all-volunteer publication is always looking for talented writers, photographers, and graphic artists to contribute regularly. If you're interested, please contact the editors. As always, this month's edition of About This Particular Macintosh is available in a variety of flavors:

Thanks for reading ATPM!

ATPM 16.02

The February issue of About This Particular Macintosh is now available for your reading pleasure. Mark laments how the technology of his employer isn't quite there when it comes to telecommuting when the weather's bad. Then he laments how his home entertainment technology isn't quite where he'd like it to be, either. Mark also ponders if anyone still cares about the browser wars. Ed updates the Next Actions master list. If you can't find something on there to help you get things done, then I suppose you're content with pen and paper. (And there's nothing wrong with that.) ATPM reader Stanley Jayne was kind enough to share with us his first experience with the Mac, which began with, well, the first Mac. Yours truly is responsible for this month's desktop pictures, which come from our trip to New England in May of 2006. At Weiser Graphics, Chad deals with a finicky printer and the changes in technology, while there appears to be an irrepressible march toward "green products" no one's heard of. Or may need. Finally, Sky King Chris has a pair of iPhone-related reviews, checking if the Element iPhone Stand and i.Tech's SolarCharger 906 can measure up. As always, About This Particular Macintosh is available in a variety of formats for your enjoyment: + Offline Webzine + Print-optimized PDF + Screen-optimized PDF Thanks for reading ATPM!

ATPM 16.01

The January issue of About This Particular Macintosh is now available for your reading pleasure. The staff of ATPM is pleased to note with this issue we are entering our 16th year of publication! Mark kicks off the new year having some fun with a GPS iPhone app, comparing it to its hardware-based brethren and how they work in the United Kingdom. He then notes some consternation with the ability of a XP-based Dell to not multi-task while his equivalently-equipped Mac strolls along chewing bubble gum. Sylvester is kind enough to take us through building our own additions to the Services Menu. What's that? You've never heard of the Services Menu? Crikey. Sylvester's certainly got his work cut out for him then... ATPM friend Delwin Finch loves macro photography, and was kind enough to share some shots of water drops under low light conditions in this month's desktop pictures section. At Wieser Graphics, they're feeling the economic crunch. Todd runs headlong into the digital vs analog wall, but proves adept at translating marketing speak for his boss.His greatest achievement, however, may be...well. You'll see. If you haven't made a New Year's resolution yet, but would like to, Linus is ready with some suggestions. Ed takes a look at a device I'm beginning to pine after: the Harmony 510 Universal Remote. Why, pray tell, might a publication dedicated to things Mac review such an item? Because Ed's using it with an Apple TV, that's why. And a Sony DVD player. And a Dish Network DVR/receiver. And an Onkyo 5.1 AV unit. And...well, you get the picture. Or maybe just Ed does... Matthew drops his nets in the Craigslist ocean using Marketplace. It has a few limitations, sure, and some might find its price (there is a fully-featured trial period) off-putting. However, I recently used Marketplace to help my sister locate a used MacBook, and it was pure pleasure compared to searching Craigslist via its web site. Linus claims he used Ortelius to make a map for his son, who wanted to use his green and tan plastic army soldiers in a game of world domination. But we really know who was playing with the green and tan plastic army soldiers, don't we? Don't we, Linus? Chris gives Uniea's U-Motion, a workout sleeve for the iPhone, a, well, workout. Then he goes after the U-Motion's more formal sibling, the U-Suit Folio Premium. As always, About This Particular Macintosh is available in a variety of formats for your enjoyment: + Offline Webzine + Print-optimized PDF + Screen-optimized PDF Thanks for reading ATPM!

ATPM 15.09

After a couple-month hiatus from my usual blog posting announcing publication, I'm pleased to note the September issue of About This Particular Macintosh is now available for your reading pleasure. After more than twenty years of self-employment, Mark finds himself in the company of, well, a company, and is exasperated by the many instances of "anti-time" he is encountering. Oh, and he misses his Mac. (Who wouldn't?) Angus performs some fortune-telling as he gazes out over the technology sector. Back in July, Lee took a 10-day excursion to merry ol' England. (Technically it was the United Kingdom, as Wales and Scotland were visited too, but "merry ol' United Kingdom" just doesn't have the same ring to it.) While on his journey, he chose to forego taking along his trusted MacBook Pro, winging it solely with his jailbroken (ahem) iPhone. In addition to providing us with his Mac-less trip experience, Lee also shares with readers this month's desktop pictures. My favorites include Becky Falls, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey 1. Matt showers another array of his new cartoon, Out at Five upon us; I really like "Difficult Printer" and "Get to the point". Chris finds a simple and inexpensive iPhone stand, while Linus wonders if Cram is the learning tool it's cracked up to be. Chris also puts the In Your Face "flexible holder" for one's iPhone through its paces. It's always handy to be able to power up one's iPhone after a busy day of texting, mapping, web surfing, e-mailing, oh, and using that voice thingy that comes with it. No, not the Skype app. That thing that says Phone. Thus, Lee is pleased he can do so thanks to Griffin's PowerBlock Reserve. Finally, Ellyn takes control of Safari 4 thanks to, um, Take Control of Safari 4, one of the latest titles from TidBITS Publishing's Take Control e-book series. As always, About This Particular Macintosh is available in a variety of formats for your reading enjoyment: + Online + Offline Webzine + Print-optimized PDF + Screen-optimized PDF

ATPM 15.05

The May issue of About This Particular Macintosh is now available for your reading pleasure. Reading about Mark's travails in obtaining faster broadband across the Pond, I'm thankful our step up to fiber optic a couple of years ago was relatively painless. I'm also thankful we've never had the sort of printer troubles Mark's run in to, thought he does aptly highlight how inkjet printers are pretty much a commodity now. In some cases, it's to the point of, "We need more ink? The new ink costs how much?!? How much was that new printer at Costco?" Ed updates the master GTD app list for May, while Sylvester walks us through Front Row. Linus' attempt at making it through the Bible of GTD, David Allen's Getting Things Done, offered at least inspiration for this month's Qaptain Qwerty. I'm especially proud of this month's desktop pictures selection. Not only were they were shot by Jessica, the teenage daughter of my good friend Rob Leitao, but they were done so not with even a low-end digital SLR, but with a run-of-the-mill Canon PowerShot point-and-shoot. We hope you enjoy Jessica's stunning photos from Yosemite National Park. Lee works out the combo of Slappa's PTAC laptop sleeve and shoulder bag, while Chris crisscrosses the country with his iPhone in a Core Case. Rob puts iWeb '09 through the wringer as he creates from scratch a new web site. Chris puts two non-case iPhone accessories through their paces: the Pogo Sketch stylus, and the "tuned conical deflection chamber" of the SoundClip. Finally, Ed pours some audio through the interesting Transcriva: dump in the audio, out comes text transcripts. I may have to look into that one myself. As always, ATPM is available in a variety of formats for your enjoyment: + Offline Webzine + Print-optimized PDF + Screen-optimized PDF

ATPM 15.04

The April issue of About This Particular Macintosh is now available for your reading pleasure. Mark discovers an unexpected benefit of the iPod nano apparently having a mind of its own, while at the same time dealing with the beta of Safari 4 and problems with paperless billing. As usual, Ed updates the GTD App Master List, while exploring the automation of file management. Rob brings us photos of the Vasquez Rocks, part of the San Andreas Fault just north of Los Angeles, in this month's desktop pictures. (Be sure to tune in next month when Rob's teenage daughter's photos of Yosemite are featured, and we can all see how much better a photographer she is than dear ol' Dad. Love ya, Rob!) Linus shows us how Mac users really can be affected by Windows viruses. Ed expands the capabilities of Photoshop Elements with the extremely capable Elements+, which unlocks big-brother Photoshop features otherwise hidden in the application's source code. In the quest to protect sensitive data, Linus conducts a little Espionage, while Lee looks at the iPhone app for Facebook, a place where far too many people aren't sensitive enough with their data. Frank conducts the Mother of Current Big Three GTD Mac Apps Round-Up™, having a hard time choosing between OmniFocus, TaskPaper, and Things. (I use TaskPaper myself, though I admit I don't really use it every day, in the way I should be using it. I guess I have trust issues. Which is funny because many times, my brain itself can't be trusted, so... Oh. Right. This month's issue. Sorry.) Chris is a little disappointed with the iFlyz Personal Media Solution Stand, whereas Lee finds KavaServices rather useful. Finally, when he's not flying the friendly skies, Chris is trying out the Showcase with his iPhone 3G. As usual, ATPM is available in a variety of formats to suit your reading needs: + Offline Webzine + Print-optimized PDF + Screen-optimized PDF

ATPM 15.03

The March issue of About This Particular Macintosh is now available for your reading pleasure. Mike ponders a Jobs-less Apple future, especially in light of a certain comment made by a certain Apple fan-baiting hack. After a long hiatus, Mark re-enters the world of book design with a job hunt, and comes away pining for a twenty year-old Mac rather than suffer the slings and arrows of the Windows machines he encounters. Also in the employment hunt, Mark discovers the paperless office and instant communication are still a long way off, especially, and not surprisingly, in the bureaucratic wasteland of government offices. Sylvester has a wonderful introductory piece on Time Machine. Be sure to read the comments; after submitting the article for publication, Sylvester encountered an error with Time Machine backups, and his solution may prove valuable to some of you in the future. David Siebecker was kind enough to share some amazing photos from his 2006 safari to Tanzania for this month's desktop pictures. (Consequently, Tanzania is the home of Emmanuel, the boy our family sponsors through Compassion.) I especially like the shots of the rhino, elephant, and the two sunsets. In this month's Qaptain Qwerty, Linus shows us how backups have grown up. Speaking of Linus, he puts ChronoSync, an app I've long had on the Eventual To-Try list, through its paces, and finds it worthy. One booth we made sure to stop by at while at Macworld Expo was the Eye-Fi one, and Lee has given the namesake Explore wireless SD card a workout. Finally, Chris determines whether or not the PED3 iPhone Stand is a worthwhile replacement for Apple's iPhone dock. As usual, ATPM is available in a variety of formats for your convenience. Thanks for reading About This Particular Macintosh!

ATPM 15.02

The February issue is now available for your reading pleasure. If you've gotten over Wes' analogy to high-altitude, fiber-producing, spitting camelids in last month's Bloggable, you'll be pleased to know he's now moved on to the blogosphere discussion of appropriate iTunes App Store pricing. Oh, and Steve Jobs' health. Because the mainstream media will just not. Let. It. Go. Mark wanders down memory lane so far as Internet connections are concerned, and laments that some employment forms across the Pond are in non-editable PDF form. Why is this a problem? When one such form is 28 pages long, that's a lot of handwriting. There's also the testy problem of folks paying for a broadband connection half the speed of which they're paying for. For anyone looking to get things done, Ed has updated the master list of applications which might help you to do so. Yours truly, with much help from Lee and Eric, offers a report from our adventure in San Francisco, and Macworld Expo 2009. Speaking of memory lane, Linus takes a stroll about Removable Storage Avenue, with a column title that made me smile nostalgically. Speaking of San Francisco, one of the things the three ATPM musketeers did while we were there was take lots of photos, and the Bay Area offers lots of opportunities for great shots. Lee shares some of his favorites with us for this month's desktop pictures. Linus contributed a cartoon complimentary to his column, wherein an old maxim is shown to not be true. Some of you may think laptop stands are just not cricket, but Frank Wu is impressed with the Cricket Laptop Stand. (What? Too many Britishisms in this month's ATPM post?) Ed puts MacSpeech Dictate 2.1 through its paces, and the voice recognition tool emerges unscathed and highly recommended. As usual, ATPM is available in myriad formats for your enjoyment.

ATPM 15.01

About This Particular Macintosh enters its fifteenth year of publishing with the release of our January issue. Angus found himself doing some iPhone evangelism during the holiday season, even if it was completely unintentional on his part. Wes returns, after many months, with a look at the latest in the Mac blogosphere, notably the latest news regarding lawsuits between Apple and Mac-clone maker Psystar. Mike is very happy with his iPhone 3G, but is disappointed that it meant his having to leave Sprint. He wonders if we'll ever have mobile phones and mobile serviced unbundled from one another. As Mike notes, the cable companies don't tell us what TV to use, and thank Jobs and Woz we aren't required to use Windows to access content on the Internet. (Well, most content, anyway.) As his next action for 2009, Ed lays out where he's taking his column, and looks for feedback from the ATPM readership. Ken Aspeslagh was kind enough to share some photos from around the world for this month's desktop pictures. Locations include St. John, France, and New England. Linus entertains with this month's cartoon, related to a review in this same issue. Speaking of reviews, Ed gets on the, er, Freeway. No, not of love, but of web site design. If you've got a ton of URLs you'd like to store for later reference, Paul thinks you can do worse than ShoveBox. For those looking for a hands-free kit to use with their iPhone, Ed thinks highly of the Vizor SUN. (Yeah, I had a line there about shining brightly, or using your car's sun visor, but I couldn't make it work, and it's already past midnight, so this is getting posted on the 2d instead of the 1st. Maybe next year.) Finally, Linus wraps up our first issue of 2009 with a look at WordSoup, and if you're still trying to figure out the cartoon, hopefully it makes sense now. As always, this month's issue is available in multiple formats for your reading enjoyment. Thanks for reading ATPM!

Um, yeah

MacJournals News:

Expert Macintosh users who see "MacWorld" in an article know you don't know what you're talking about, just as most technology-literate readers would laugh at "MicroSoft," "QualComm," or "LexMark." Referring to a famous technology event without the correct name or spelling is a quick way to throw away your credibility. Saying "That's how I always thought it was spelled, and besides, everyone knew what I meant" is saying "I didn't bother to get the facts about my subject before I wrote my article." Don't be that writer.