As my wife and I sat there on Pacifica
State beach, to catch my very first Pacific Ocean
sunset, I couldn’t help but think the experience seemed
to encapsulate the whole MWSF Expo for me. The truth
dawned on me as the sun slowly hid itself behind the
horizon, sinking into the Ocean: “The Sun had set
on many things this week,” I thought, “especially
in the Macintosh Community.”
The Keynote – Remembrance of Things Past
It all started in the keynote. We were
in the press line at 7AM, and already there were many
there. We hooked up with the MacAddict guys. Nice
bunch. Of course the big talk was Time magazine giving
away Steve’s secret. But that talk soon stopped as
the security people at the top of the stairs began
the countdown to the mad rush into the hall. And so
we all charged…
Steve was at his best. He spoke in sentences
like Hemmingway wrote prose – in short and punctuated
verbal hits. “You wanted a G4. We said yes. You
wanted SuperDrive. We said yes.”
The keynote was poignant in several
respects. As Steve showed off iDVD and iPhoto capturing
the birthday party of someone’s daughter, and other
family matters, he turned to us and said, “This
is why we do what we do.” I later asked someone
from Apple “What did the “this” refer to when Steve
said “This is why we do what we do”?” He paused for
a moment, looking for words in his mind, and said
something about loved ones and heartfelt relationships.
“Interesting,” I replied, “I thought he was referring
to the memory of these things, not the things themselves.”
The point is of course that your daughter
has only one 3rd birthday, and once it’s over it’s
gone forever and memory is the only thing you have.
A first in your life can only come once, and then
it’s gone forever, the rest being mere memorial seconds.
Why do we do what we do then? Was Steve
pointing to the girl on the screen and the photo print
he made from iPhoto? No. He was talking about the
fleeting, vaporous nature of our existence, and our
desperate, and at times feeble, attempts to capture
it and make it solid in some way. Our daughters and
loved ones mean so much to us because each minute
that passes is not only one more minute we
had with them, but also one less minute that
he had with them as well. Things are meaningful to
us because we understand that we are losing them with
each passing instant. After all, even Homer has Zeus
say in The Iliad, “I love them [mortals] because
… think about it.
This is why we desire iPhoto. One person
said to me that he is going to capture his anniversary
with his wife and have it printed in a book. Hey,
you only have ONE tenth wedding anniversary, don’t
you? Might as well try and make it solid by printing
some momentary sensory images, call them “photos”
and printing them out, right?
Just before the Expo, New Year’s Eve
morning in fact, I lost my best friend of fifteen
years, Dr. Erwin Schrodinger. Dr. Schrodinger was
thrown out of his litter when he was small (seems
mom didn’t want him), and it made him very dependent
on me; he would rarely let me out of his sight for
some kind of abandonment anxiety, maybe. Even after
I got married Schrodinger was still “daddy’s kitty.”
If I would get up and walk across the room, he followed
me, making sure I wasn’t leaving for too long. It
was the best $10 I EVER spent.
tolerating his new friend, “Xaney”
just weeks prior to his passing away.
has taken over Schrodinger’s duties and is quickly
working her way into our hearts.
I loved Dr. Schrodinger. We went through college,
graduate school, marriage, three national championships,
four houses and two towns together. But he was ill,
and he was in pain. When he fell in his litter box
because he suddenly couldn’t lift his hip, he looked
up at me, laying in his box, as if to ask for help
out of his litter box and into some dignity. I picked
him up and placed him on couch, making sure every
need was met.
On Saturday before New Year’s Eve he
slipped out of it and lay motionless on the floor,
barely breathing. He would move his eyes, and at times
he would seem to come to and reach out with his paw
and grab my hand, letting out a sad little “meow.”
We had a vigil the whole week end, hoping he’d pass
quietly at home. I laid there on the floor, with him
wrapped in a blanket, all week end, assuring him of
my presence. Every once in a while he would come to,
look and make contact with me, and then seem to sink
again, with the comfort that I was there by him and
he knew I would do what had to be done.
It wasn’t to be. Monday, New Year’s Eve, we drove
to the vet early in the morning, after making sure
he did the one thing he loved to do for the last time,
namely, spending a night sleeping with his best friend,
me, in the big bed. The vet came in and administered
the barbiturate concoction. My dear Dr. Schrodinger
reached out toward us one last time as the needle
went in, took a deep breath, and it was over.
It was hard on me. I was devastated.
It was so quick. But after all, we had a long-standing
agreement that he would die of old-age and never of
want. So he died like he lived, with dignity, and
with me by his side. I miss him.
His image in my mind is fleeting and
its vividness is vanishing quickly. I recall the last
week end we had with him, how I sat there and looked
at him trying my hardest to, as it seemed, take a
photograph in my mind, to burn a memory into my brain
so deeply that nothing could erase it. I focused on
every detail so that I could remember everything about
him, for I knew that in two days he’d be gone. But
I couldn’t. He was slipping away in my hands and in
my mind. We took no pictures of my sick friend; those
aren’t the memories we wanted to preserve. I took
one last look as they wrapped his limp body in a towel
and took in away, after we had a few minutes with
him. Soon after, I began to forget.
The first thing I did when I came home,
and was alone, was to search the house for pictures
of him. I found some, gathered them, sat down on the
couch, and consciously began the mourning process,
tears falling over the captured impressions which
now represented the only thing I had left of my dear
friend – printed, objectified memories. I miss my
kitty and I am sad. That fifteen years was gone in
a second. I hang on to them tightly. I thrust and
push myself into the past, wanting to recapture moments
and days, trying to touch and feel my lost friend.
But memories make no sound, they don’t stink up the
house on occasion, they don’t feel furry, they are
not fat or thin, and they can’t reach out to me and
follow me everywhere as he always did. They are just,
as Plato would say, faint copies of originals, and
now the original is gone and I miss him, while the
copies become fainter and fainter.
This is why we do what we do. iDVD,
iMovie and iPhoto are testaments not only to innovation
but to the fragility and fleeting nature of our lives.
We don’t want to forget; we want to remember, and
all because we know the events captured will never,
ever present themselves to us again. They are gone
It was entirely appropriate that Steve
recapped the memories of the iMac with a look back
at old commercials to see how the iMac grew up, as
were, the same way that we looked back on that girl’s
birthday just moments before. It was twilight, the
twilight of the iMac as we know it, and we were all
saying good bye and ushering in a new era of Apple
computer. There was a strange isomorphism between
the demos of iDVD and iPhoto, and rerunning the old
commercials of the iMac. It was almost as if Steve
was trying to say the iMac was his child and he wanted
to share some memories with us (its high points and
milestones), the same way one might want to share
memories of his daughter’s 3rd birthday with iDVD,
iMovie or iPhoto. It just all seemed so connected
to me. Everything was passing away. Twilight had arrived.
That’s right Steve, “It’s time.” And
that’s the problem, isn’t it. That’s what makes our
world so fragile. Is it me, or do we seem to spend
our whole lives saying good bye to loved ones? And
as one writer here told me “Days are long. Years
are short.” Indeed.
Well, it’s time to say good bye not
only to the iMac but to the old Mac OS. As one Apple
employee I met with said, “The train has left the
station. The old OS will soon be a faint memory.”
Yes it has and yes it will. And it ain’t coming back,
just like time itself – it’s marching on.
There was Steve explaining that he
is moving up the pre-install of OS X on new machines
from March to, well… now. A clock. He uses a clock
as a metaphor for OS X’s growth and development. The
very thing that memory depends on. The clock is ticking,
my friends. It’s time to get on board.
What was Steve saying when he said
“It’s time”? To whom was he speaking? Clearly, he
was speaking to developers like Adobe and Macromedia
(who wasn’t even at the Expo), and others who should
have some builds of their premiere programs, Photoshop
and Dreamweaver, out by now. Steve even joked that
he could have Photoshop as his default app in iPhoto,
if it were out, that is! “What are you waiting for?
What’s taking so long people? We’re moving ahead.
Move it or lose it.” That was the message.
I am tired of all the Photoshop complainers out there.
They speak as though, somehow, as if by magic, a wave
of the wand, a downright miracle will happen when Photoshop
is released, namely, that OS X will be a real OS after
that. Absolute and utter nonsense. There are
programs that do what Photoshop can do for OS X
(we will be introducing them to you in reviews soon,
one of our favorites if TIFFany [see link above]). OS
X will be the very same OS it was before Photoshop is
introduced and after. Not a thing will change. And of
course there is the obvious distinction between an app
and an OS, which some amazingly ignore (one person actually
wrote that Photoshop is “missing from OS X”!!
Nonsense I tells ya.
No, it is the tyranny of a minority
that have the power to speak louder than others because
they have the web sites and technology. 90% could
care less about Photoshop and could use it full-time
right now and not miss a step. It is in a word elitist
and would make even John Stuart Mill roll in his grave.
Just because those who have the web sites and the
columns use Photoshop and endlessly complain about
it, it does not follow that OS X is not adoptable
RIGHT NOW by most everyone (hardware issues and finances
aside). It’s time… to stop complaining and start
using OS X.
“The train has left the station.”
This change (another temporal concept,
by the way), will have repercussions throughout the
industry and we will, I assure you, see it change
the Mac Web. Sites that refuse to hop on board will
lose readers. If the old Mac hippies keep hanging
on to the old OS they will be trampled by the new
kids on the block as they storm into the future. At
some point one has to stop complaining and start using
OS X because, simply put, it’s time. It is a beautiful,
powerful and wonderful OS, and will soon be the major
competitor to Windows in business. The open source
community is coming to apple’s aid. It’s going to
happen very quickly. The Unix core is a stroke of
genius because the material is already in place.
There is a thin line between having
a low end machine and an obsolete machine. And that
line will become clearer very quickly. In the blink
of an eye we will suddenly see that OS X is the default
system, that we are using it all the time, it will
be assumed that you’re using it, that all our
programs are carbonized, and that any task we want
to accomplish can be accomplished right now in OS
X. Whether a machine is low end or obsolete will no
longer be measured by its color or form factor, but
by its OS, and the support of the same, and that time
is coming quickly. The train has left the station
and it’s headed right for us.
It will be seen in reviews
soon. We have talked at Applelust about whether to downgrade
a review because it isn’t ported to OS X. Well, we really
can’t knock a product because of a nonexistent version,
can we? That’s not fair at all. But
the time is coming, and coming quickly, when NOT having
an OS X version will count in our review ratings, and
count in a negative way. That is, the time is
quickly coming when we will say “It would have four
bounces and not three if they had an OS X version.”
Up until 10.1.1 it wasn’t an issue really. Now, well,
as Steve said, “it’s time.” So at Applelust we have
made a decision: No product can get a perfect score
unless it has OS X drivers, is an OS X version, or has
OS X option, or whatever. We don’t care about the cost,
frankly. We just want those apps because “it’s time.”
So a quick word to developers – “If you want a high
rating here, anyway, you gotta give us carbon at least.”
In fact, other than reviews which are in progress, we
now plan to review OS X versions only.
The simple fact is that we are watching
a twilight, an ending, a death in the family, if you
will. What was this whole Expo about? Memories. The
memory of the old iMac; the memory of a daughter’s
birthday; the memories captured in iPhoto or iDVD;
the memories of the old OS. As we sat there in Pacifica
and watched the sun slowly sink into the Pacific,
I saw the old iMac, Classic, and my kitty, say good
Now a sunset is only
a prelude to a sunrise. Saying good bye to the old
iMac was a way to “Say Hello Again” to
the new iMac; saying good bye to the old OS was
a way of saying hello to the new one. But despite
our best efforts those sunsets and sun rises just
keep going and going, representing change and the
passage of time, reminding us that after a while
our memories are our lives and all we have left.
iPhoto, iDVD, and iMovie are just mere ways to capture
and preserve what is no longer real (namely the
past, which does not “exist” at all).
They have worth to us because our lives keep marching
forward toward our own, personal sunsets at which
we cross the bounds of the unknown, and we become
a mere memory too, in others’ minds. And this makes
each sun rise worthwhile â€” if we pay attention.
We do what we do because our children only have
one 3rd birthday, because there will always be that
one special pet, and because both of them at some
point will cease to exist except for a memory. It’s
sad and uplifting at the same time.
In one scene in “Hannibal”
Anthony Hopkins, as Hannibal the cannibal, is caught
on tape waving his hand. His one-time victim asks
his doctor, “Is that a wave good bye, or hello?”
You might also ask the same thing about the photos
in this essay, “Is that a sunrise or sunset?”
Only the order of the pictures gives it away, and
in a way it doesn’t matter – sunsets look like sunrises,
most of the time. We wave hello to a new day and
good bye to an old one. But in the end, East meets
We said good bye to many
things in this Expo, but the hand waves soon turned
to greeting gestures for the new iMac, a new OS,
and the sun is rising again on a new Apple.
Seize the day…