A little prelude before we get to the “interview”. First, as David is a very busy person, and I work many hours for the Postal service each day, a live interview was simply not fesable. So this interview can be seen more as a
Q & A via email.
Second, I read many Mac related columns and articles each week, but only count a select few as “must reads” each and every month. The Desktop Critic is at the top of that list. It is the first page I turn to in Macworld when I open a new issue. And if I cannot, for some reason, wait until the new issue hits the stand, I will download it from AOL’s “Macworld online”. So it was great pleasure for me when David Pogue agreed to this “interview”.
Not being a celebrity myself, I can only guess what types of questions are asked the most. So I decided early on that I would try to get a little creative with my questions. Are they questions you would have asked? Perhaps not. But they were the best I could think of, while trying my best to be just a little different!
With that, let me thank David Pogue for the time he spent reading and answering these questions. He’s a great guy, and a great writer. On with the interview!
My Mac: Here’s the deal. You just found out Bill Gates is a distant relative, and he dies, leaving you everything! What would be the first thing you would do with Microsoft?
DP: I’d turn over the Macintosh division to Casady and Greene, and leave the Windows division just as it is. In 10 years, it would take care of itself …
My Mac: Apple is sold, and the new company hires you as the new company president. Where would you take Apple Computers?
DP: The first thing I’d do is help myself to the cool stuff in the Apple Store and the R&D departments. The second thing I’d do is find somebody qualified to run the thing. I’ve got no management interest whatsoever!
My Mac: If you had to pick the best Macintosh of all time, what would it be? Why?
DP: There’s something about the SE/30 that makes it stand out in my brain. It had the simplicity and stability of the old Macintosh line, but (at the time) the high horsepower of Macs to come. These days, you can’t even count on a brand-new, fresh-from-Apple Power Mac to be glitch-free; I’d prefer more stability to more bells and whistles.
My Mac: As many readers may know, you recently got married. How’s family life? And is she into Mac’s as well?
DP: If you can find your actual soulmate, there’s nothing like marriage!
Jennifer is a fantastic plastic surgeon, just setting up her office. Yes, she’s a Mac person, so we’re having a blast setting everything up: customized FileMaker databases to track her patients, a modem to transmit her billing information each day, a Mac-based pager system, and so on.
My Mac: What is it like working for Macworld?
DP: It’s like being a car nut, and being put in charge of testing new sports cars at Mazda. Or being crazy about Billy Joel, and being invited to be his songwriter. I guess what I’m saying is that it isn’t like a job at all! Free software arrives, you play with it, you write about it — and you actually get paid!
Furthermore, Macworld treats its writers like royalty. I wouldn’t trade this job for anything.
My Mac: What is your deadline like?
DP: Generally, whenever I turn in today will arrive in my mailbox copy of Macworld in about seven or eight weeks. Therefore, I’ll usually start working on an article about three months before it will be published, although the deadlines vary depending on the kind of article (column, review, or feature story).
My Mac: Any other projects in the works? A new “Mac Secrets” type book, perhaps?
DP: I just finished “Macworld Mac & Power Mac SECRETS,” third edition — 1200 pages, about 1000 of which required total rewriting! It took my coauthor, Joe Schorr, and me many, many months to complete — exhausting! It comes out at the end of January 1996. (This time around it comes with a CD-ROM, which made it an even bigger project.)
Of course, I’m also very proud of “Mac FAQs [Frequently Asked Questions],” which appeared in August.
Next up: new editions of “Macs for Dummies” and “More Macs for Dummies,” and then a new novel!
My Mac: Do you eat your pizza crust first? (Sorry, the TV is on close by!)
DP: Never. I also have this weird habit, left over from childhood, where I don’t actually eat the piece of crust where I’ve been holding it.
My Mac: Who is your favorite writer?
DP: He doesn’t really exist. But I love the storyline concepts of Michael Chrichton, the humor of Dave Barry, and the nonfiction intelligence of Andrew Tobias.
My Mac: If Guy Kawasaki and Andy Ihnatko got into a fight, who would win? (My money is on Andy! He looks bigger in his picture!)
DP: Andy’s bigger, but Guy’s in better shape!
My Mac: Have you ever done a interview before, and did you think the questions would be anything like this?
DP: I’ve done lots of interviews by telephone, radio, television, live online chat — but never a written interview like this one!
My Mac: How long did it take you and Joseph Schorr to write “Macworld Mac & Power Mac Secrets?”
DP: The first edition took two of us, full time, seven months. You’d think it would take dramatically less time with each new edition, since all you really have to do is update and expand, right?
Nope. The second and third editions took us about five months each!
My Mac: In your opinion, will the new CHRP computers signal an end to the Mac’s, like the Macintosh did to the Apple II?
DP: Well, what’s a Mac? The ones from Apple will BE Macs, except that they’ll be able to change personality (by running other operating systems). But since they’ll still run the Mac OS, and all our favorite programs, I don’t think they’ll qualify as non-Macs.
My Mac: What shareware/freeware programs do you think every Mac user should have on his/her hard drive?
DP: TypeIt4Me — by far the most labor-saving software ever written. SmartKeys — another huge time saver that makes you look a lot better in print. And a Launcher-type icon palette like The Tilery. Gotta have it.
My Mac: What commercial programs do you use the most, and why?
DP: QuickDex is my life — it’s incredibly fast, incapable of crashing or corrupting its data, and blasts through telephone voice-mail systems like a juggernaut. I use it for names, addresses, numbers, passwords, notes, to-do lists, everything.
I also use QuicKeys for macros; so much of life on the Mac is repetition that if you aren’t using a macro program to execute repeated stuff for you, you’re wasting your computer. And I use ClarisWorks for just about everything else in my daily work. Yes, ClarisWorks — its fast, fast word processor makes Word 6 look like a dead hippopotamus, and the other modules are great for everyday work.
I guess you can tell that I like speed and stability more than features.
My Mac: Don’t you like the music in the Aptiva commercial? The one that sounds like little girls singing some strange Indian song? I do, and I feel guilty about it! And don’t you just HATE the Intel jingle? I do! (Wish I could have my mac play that during a system crash! The horror!)
DP: Hmmmm … actually, I haven’t really had time to watch TV since about 1931.
My Mac: Last question: How does someone go about trying to write for Macworld?
DP: Actually, if you can write well, it’s amazingly easy. Macworld — actually, every magazine — is always scouting for good writers. (Unfortunately, judging from what I’ve seen online, not many people actually know how to write, but that’s another question.)
My suggestion would be to write a couple articles for an e-zine or a user-group newsletter. Then you’ll have something to send Macworld when you present yourself — you’ll already be a published author! That’s how I got started, anyway. It also helps to have a specialty; mine was music software.
Macworld will also send you, for free, their Writer’s Guidelines. Write to them at 501 Second St., San Francisco, California, 94107.
And with that, I now return you to your regularly scheduled ezine!