How will I measure my manhood in OS X?

This iBrotha article was originally published at by Rodney O. Lain. In honor of Rodney’s death, a good friend and contributor, we are reposting here with the permission of MacAddict. We would like to thank them for their generosity in allowing us to remember Rodney by keeping this archive of his work.


How will I measure my manhood in OS X?

fri aug.18.2000

Why should the masses bother with free software when stealing from Microsoft is practically patriotic?

from an AvantGo article describing blatant, “fashionable” Windows piracy in China

Since I spend much of my time in the car, I listen to a good deal of radio. Back in the early 1990s, I discovered talk radio. Since then, I’ve been an avid follower.

Since moving to “Minne-soh-tah,” I’ve been a fan of one particular talk show called “Garage Logic,” hosted by self-styled curmudgeon Joe Soucheray (pronounced Sue-shuh-ray).

Unabashedly conservative — not that there’s anything wrong with that — Soucheray’s show is premised on a fictional town called “Garage Logic,” of which he is the mayor. Broadcast on the heels of Republican cheerleader Rush Limbaugh, “Garage Logic” — or “GL” as the hosts refers to it — has garnered a strong following among those of us who love to poke fun at not just the inanity of the political world, but the cluelessness of people in general.

One of my favorite items out the plethora of GL parlance is the term “C. I.,” or “cylinder index.” It’s a blue-collar term coined by Soucheray in which a person’s self-worth is measured by the number of things a person owns that has an internal combustion engine. For example, if I have a car, a lawn mower and a boat, I could have a cylinder index of nine.

Well, we Mac users have a similar measurement that will go the way of the dodo with the advent of OS X…

Marching right along

I have this friend who is a fellow Mac fiend. From time to time, when he visits our meeting plays out like this:


I fire up my trusty “Wall street” PowerBook G3 or desktop Mac. The “Welcome to Mac OS” screen appears, followed by the familiar “icon march” — you know, the point where icon representations of control panels and extensions begin to line up across the screen in neat little rows.

In my case, they continue to line up for a while longer… and line up… and line up…

To which, my friend utters a few choice cuss words, telling me how much inefficient my System software setup is. On at least one occasion, he has trimmed down my System Folder by going into Conflict Catcher and getting rid of choice programming morsels like Menuette, After Dark, and Kaleidescope.

If feel guilty when I see how more efficient my system runs after separating the wheat from the chaff.

Of course, after he leaves, I’m back to running my bloated System Folder, watching wife shake her head as I peck away at the keyboard and my computer burps, coughs, laughs and guffaws. She really wonders about my sanity when Uli’s Moose pops up on the screen and asks me, “are you a nerd?”



And so it goes.

I’m a GUI fiend. Ditto for shareware, freeware and “pint ware” (Turlough O’Conner’s coined phrase for those who pay him to use FinderPop — it allows him to buy a pint of his favorite “adult beverage”). I’m always on the prowl for desktop pictures, Kaleidescope themes, OS 9 theme plug-ins, etc.

Which is why my heart is heavy about the forthcoming Mac OS X.

Where will a guy go to find all of those neat tweaks for the interface? Don’t give me that crap about it being UNIX and how we’ll be able to install of those thousands of programs out there. I don’t think of the UNIX community as a frolicking group of visually oriented GUI hacks.

Most importantly, how will a guy (or gal) measure his or her self-worth, if there aren’t any third-party hacks out there for us to attempt to bring the system down to a halt in order to have “cool, zooming rectangles,” to borrow a phrase the aforementioned moose?

Shareware authors to the rescue

I’m scared to even begin counting the number of software titles that began as shareware. Ditto for those that eventually were rolled into the Mac OS itself. There are a couple of beer games for you to play at the next Macworld.

I’m even too timid to count the number of shareware- and system-altering programs I’ve used over the years. I’m probably ashamed to list the ones I have installed on my computer right now. Aw, hell, here are some of them, in no certain order (and, yes, a few, just a few, of them ARE disabled :-):






Power On’s On Guard


RAM Doubler

Startup Doubler

Conflict Catcher

Drop Drawers

After Dark


Alias Menu

Apple Menu Control Strip


CM Tools

Default Folder

Desk Pix

Desktop Resetter




Matrix Code

Uli’s Moose

And those are just the ones I can see readily.

Maybe we should pay them?

One of the reasons why I’m not worried about what OS X will or won’t have is that there will always be some enterprising code jockeys out there who will be so frustrated at seeing something missing out of the Mac OS (or so willing to make a buck off of the same fact) that he or she will take the time to play with the APIs and come up with software that will fill in the gaps left by the fine folks in Cupertino.

Which is why I believe that shareware authors are more crucial to the success of the platform now than ever before.

OS X will be a transitional OS for the next few years. There will be many excuses given for not upgrading. Many of those excuses and reason can be taken away or lessened with good shareware (the big, commercial software makers can’t and won’t think of everything).

Which, in turn, is more reason to support them today.

I’m probably the last one to dig in my pocket to pay for something that I can download and use till my heart’s content, but I imagine that Mac users are more prone to download and install “strange” software to see if it will make our computers run smoother — or at least look better. So, we should be even more prone to support those guys who make it possible.

There is some damn good software out there that doesn’t come shrink-wrapped and boxed in a colorful packaging. In order to keep that stuff out there, we have to give up some money every now and then.

So, if you, like me, are running software that keeps beeping at you with those little warning messages, encouraging you to pay before you play, heed them. You could be helping along someone who could create the next killer app. And we need more of them on the Mac side of things.

Come to think of it, I think I’d better go and scrounge up $7 for my copy of A-Dock — and patiently hope that someone will port the talking moose to UNIX.


*Note: If you want to listen to “Garage Logic,” you can tune in via RealPlayer from somewhere on the page found at

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