Video Presentation: A Software Platform History of Apple, NeXT, Microsoft, and into the Future.
March 11th, 2008
Daniel Eran Dilger
This weekend I was invited to Texas to attend the monthly meeting of Apple Corp Dallas, the oldest user group in existence devoted to Apple products. It was fun to travel and the prospect of speaking in front of a large group was exciting, but while the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak.
I’d spent the previous week staying up late every night to cover all the events at the Apple campus, from the shareholder meeting I attended to the iPhone SDK event that I watched at home. There was a lot to write about, and of course there’s even more now that the usual suspects have latched onto their chosen jingo talking point criticisms.
However, I’m discovering that this frail shell of a body that has worked so hard to keep my brain oxygenated over the years–despite some pretty rough and often self inflicted treatment–is not so resilient as it used to be. I’m getting old, a fact I try to ignore every time I get up and find a disheveled, aging guy with sprouts of grey in his beard and a fairly pained expression looking back at me from the other side of the mirror. The younger guy who used to be there wasn’t the most fetching devil, but he sure was more pleasant in the mornings.
In addition to the usual wear and tear, I’m also finding that I can’t stay up till 4 AM anymore, banging out a spirited opinion about some technology subject that has caught my fancy or ruffled my feathers enough to provoke a response. I apparently also can’t really handle five flight segments within the same weekend.
Getting There is Half the Fun.
Confused by a code sharing agreement between United and US Air, I managed to just miss my scheduled flight through Las Vegas, but not before waiting in SFO Terminal 1 forever only to be told I really needed to be at Terminal 3, and then subsequently informed that the checkin at Terminal 3 was no longer possible, and that I’d need to go back across the airport to try to find an alternative flight, of which there were none available.
I pulled out my iPhone to try to look up some options before committing to another long Friday rush line, only to find that AT&T WIFI isn’t offered at SFO, nor at the airport’s subsequently worthless McDonald’s kiosks. EDGE worked fairly well for a while, only to ease in and out like a Dish TV movie during a hurricane.
I somehow managed to find a last minute flight on Southwest, and crammed into a plane that bounced from LAX to Albuquerque before landing at Dallas Love, which is so very central to Dallas that it feels like you might be able to reach out and slap the downtown towers if only the windows could be rolled down.
By the time I got to Dallas, I was pretty exhausted, but decided to stay up on Pacific Time finishing my slides in Keynote. I then managed to wake up automatically well in advance, first in a nightmare where I awoke in a panic that I’d overslept, then for real, giving me a couple sleepless hours to contemplate why I was dreaming about waking up, how I’d do, and whether I should stop pretending to sleep and go jump in the pool. But I’m getting old, so I chose to lay there and worry.
Without giving myself much sleep I was already feeling pretty harsh. To really accelerate things, I brewed up two cups of coffee to whip my poor body into an improved morale, and then unloaded a Coke Zero down the hatch afterward just to make sure that I wasn’t being subtle about my productivity demands. Of course, how you treat your body is an engineering exercise; if you demand high speed at low cost, one can expect to find some serious compromises in terms of quality.
Caught on Tape.
Dru Richman of the Apple Corp group picked me up and took me to the venue in the morning, and I got to talk to a group of roughly 70 members. I could feel myself getting sicker with every slide, but pulled through with an occasional sniff or cough through my prepared ideas and into a great question and answer session which later reprised for a few more questions.
I hadn’t anticipated the session would be taped, but I decided it would be cool to see what I look like when I get part way between presenting from notes and extemporaneously running off on tangents. I get started at around two minutes into the video hosted on Google, and continue on for another hour talking about the history of Apple, its successes and failures with the Apple II, the Apple III, the Lisa, the Mac, the iPod, and the iPhone, and how critically important it turned out to be for hardware makers to manage their own destiny by ensuring software would exist for their platform.
Of course, I also wove in the history of Microsoft and NeXT, and ended up with what I though was a clever observation about the iPhone and Apple’s licensing of ActiveSync for use with Exchange Server. I also answered some questions about DRM, .Mac, WebObjects, and the differences between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
And Now a Warning.
Like all things dangerous, I feel like I should preface the video with a notice that I had about four hours of sleep, three hits of caffeine, two bumpy flights, and some jet lag from crossing the country.
Ed Waldrup, the photographer, also frequently zoomed in on my head to degrees that even a dermatologist probably wouldn’t need, but if there are any doctors in the house, please let me know if I have any visible skin cancer and I’ll get it checked out right away. Like most regular schlumps, I look much better from a distance or when beers are involved. And despite living in San Francisco, I have no particular expertise in either makeup or lighting.
The contrast between the projector screen and the room was also different enough to make it hard to see some of the slides, so I converted it into a silent QuickTime movie you can manually walk through if you are so inclined.
The Road Home.
After being treated to Texas BBQ and a whirlwind tour of Dallas from Dru, I caught my flight home, only making one stop in Las Vegas. By then, I was edging closer to the red zone. At one point, I though my left ear was going to explode, and the only solace I could draw came from having a rental movie on my iPhone and from observing my first Zune in the wild: a black brick from 2006. They do exist! It may have been the Zune Tattoo guy, but I didn’t get the chance to engage him in conversation, so I’ll never know for sure.
The second leg was nearly as arduous as the first. I was ecstatic to find myself on the ground again, but things were complicated slightly by the fact that my new bike has a special key mode where you can take the key out and leave your parking lights burning. This seems about as necessary as a self destruct button. An SFO parking garage is also not the most brilliant place to learn of this feature. I ended up having to stumble home on a combination of BART and Muni and a walk up the hill because I was too cheap to throw down $50 for a cab.
Over the last two days, I’ve been in racked with pain and alternatively burning up and freezing (sometimes both at once, which just seems unnecessary), with ears that have remained plugged for days and a sharp headache much wider than hand gesture in the old Excedrin commercials. If my brain pulls through, I have a gaggle of stories ready to get out about the iPhone SDK, Singularity, ActiveSync, Java on the iPhone, and various other subjects. For now, the best I can do is posting a sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, wish I could rest article with an embedded link to the http://www.ACD.us video.
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