Friday, June 29, 2007

The cow responds

I was going to do an update to my CC post but I think this is important enough to warrant it's own posting. The cow posted a response to the accusations of censorship:


Nuff said. Let's move on.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

OT: Apple - 10 years ago

Reading an article over at Yahoo on the history of Apple's past failures ( here ) I was reminded of my own history with this company. Let me start out by saying that I am not a fanboi of Apple or any other company or technology. I prefer a more pragmatic approach to technology. Whatever is the most appropriate tool for the job at hand is what I will select. Be it Apple or Microsoft or Sun or whatever...

1978: Apple's 6502 based Apple ][ product had been on the market for little over a year. It wasn't cheap either. But I lusted after it's capabilities especially it's color capabilities. At this point, I had built my own single board computer.

It was an 8080 based machine that had 4K of dynamic RAM and I built a little DMA front panel for it with the obligatory toggle switches. I used 7 segment hex displays instead of the more typical row of binary LEDs that were common on the Altair and IMSAI machines of the time.

I used this machine to learn machine language. Writing all of my code out in binary. I must have had the patience of a saint back then to do this because I cannot even conceive of it today. I saved my money and bought an Apple ][ in 1978.

Using this machine, I learned assembly language and got work as a programmer (previous to this I had been working on disk drive hardware for a living). I expanded the machine with floppy disk drives - 2 5.25" and 2 8" (the latter for CP/M development). I put a ton of memory into the machine and a Z-80 CP/M card, an 80 column card.

I learned a TON with this machine and I really loved using it - I spent many sessions well over 24 hours just hacking away software for the machine. I wrote a column in an Apple ][ magazine (called Hardcore Computing) and loved every minute of it. I was a member of the Call-APPLE user group and met both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak at some user's meeting at a Computerland.

Woz was great - a bit shy but a really nice guy ready to talk to anyone about the machine. Jobs was also very nice. But obviously a salesman. I remember coming away from that experience and thinking that Jobs would have made a great used car salesman.

I was a big fan of both the machine and the company. But things were changing at Apple. Apple was becoming increasingly arrogant. They released the Apple III in 1980 and it immediately flopped as it was MUCH too expensive and it had serious hardware failures. But I ignored this turn of events and kept plodding along on my Apple ][, happy as a clam.

And then, in August of 1981, IBM entered the PC market. I went down to the local Sears Business center to check the machine out on the day that they got the machines. Since the OS on the machine was fashioned after CP/M, I was immediately at home on the machine and blew away the sales people in the store because I could immediately be productive on a machine that had just come out that day.

The machine was "OK" in my opinion. No great shakes. I happily went back to my job programming the Apple ][. One day in early 1982 I get a call from an old boss asking if I know how to work on an IBM PC. I lie and say "Sure - it's no problem". They offer me a job writing software on the PC at 2X what I am making on the Apple.

The following weekend I call up a friend that I know might be in the market for a maxxed out Apple ][ and offer mine up for sale for the low low price of what it will cost me to get setup on an IBM rig (tax included). They jump at the chance to buy the machine and my life shifts away from Apple and into the world of the IBM PC.

Having cut my programming teeth on an Intel processor, the transition to the newer processor was a snap. And I was already familiar with the Microsoft Basic from the Apple as well as the OS since it was a mimic of CP/M.

1983: As was my habit, I went to the big computer show in Las Vegas that year known as ComDex. And as always, I went by the Apple booth. At the booth they were showing their new computer Lisa. It was demonstrated for myself and the other guys that I went to the show with. I thought it was very cool. Not $10,000 cool (that was the price of the machine), but cool nonetheless. I asked the marketing weasel who they thought would pay $10K for a little machine like this and they were convinced that businesses would just snap this thing right up.

Not having a crystal ball, I wished them luck with it and moved on. No way in hell was I going to spend 10K on ANY computer, never mind an unproven one with a radically new concept for the user's interface that might or might not fly. Add to this that I was making a great living with the IBM PC, the Lisa and it's advanced UI concepts were purely academic to me.

1984: Apple releases the Macintosh. I had been following all of the rumors and crap in the press leading up to this machine and I was very interested in seeing it.

So I went with the wife and stepson over to Computerland and we checked it out. It was very impressive. VERY unique. The screen was SO sharp and detailed. But it was black and white like the old Lisa. Noooo - not good....Then I saw how much memory it had and decided that it was best to wait until they stopped being retarded and put some decent memory into the machine. It reminded me of the time that Bill Gates said that no one would ever need more than 640K of RAM.

So, for me, the Mac was an interesting novelty - Nothing more. But my stepson was enraptured by it. He would go on to develop for the machine and make a decent living at it as well.

Once Apple started seeing a little success with the machine, the "Us vs. Them" mentality with Apple vs. IBM continued (it started with the 1984 Superbowl ad where Apple targeted IBM directly). I always felt that this polarization made Apple look bad and that there was really no need for it. Yet it persists to this day (See Jobs 2007 WWDC keynote if you want more examples).

1987: This was a pretty big year for the Mac - Apple made their one millionth machine and the very first Color Mac came out: The Macintosh II. Color was enough that I decided to get one to play with and I bought a Mac II in 87. I really liked the machine. It was pretty fast and it had a new technology called HyperCard that was a lot of fun to write simple applications with and supported Hypertext (sort of a predecessor to the web).

In 1988, I had a motherboard issue with the machine and I called Apple to see what I needed to do to get it resolved. The rudeness and overall poor treatment that I received at the hands of Apple's support organization once again soured me on the company. Once I jumped through all of the fiery hoops that Apple put before me and got the machine fixed, I promptly sold it.

After this, I did not pay a heck of a lot of attention to Apple for many years. By 1997, Jobs had been tossed out on his ass and Apple looked as though it was on the brink of extinction. The June cover of Wired magazine best reflected this:

From my perspective, if Apple failed, it was fine with me. I felt that their arrogance (which I believe was very much fostered into the company by Steve Jobs) led them to this position of failure and that it was well deserved.

Then Apple brought back Steve Jobs after buying his failing NeXt Computer company. This seemed to be a softer, gentler Jobs. And to a degree, it was. Now with Jobs at the helm combined with the changes that Gil Amelio made (whose effect would be attributed to Jobs), the company seemed on the road to recovery and appeared to be shedding it's holier than thou attitude.

From 97 through 2001, I watched as Apple re-invented itself. Providing trendy new designs and new approaches to their product lines as well as the implementation of OS X. For me, personally, the introduction of OS X was the most interesting change. This was, ostensibly, Unix with a true Mac style interface.

Now, during the intervening years here, I had been developing for Microsoft Windows. Starting with version 3.1. Prior to 3.1, Windows was truly a non-starter. With Windows 95, Microsoft finally got it right and the concept of a GUI for IBM style machines really took off. I was happy to make a living in this world.

Fast forward to 2005 and I buy my second Macintosh. This time around, it is purchased because the Final Cut Pro application is the platform that I intend to build our post business on. My reasons for this is that the number of potential clients out in the broadcast and film world that are using this product is immense. It's a no-brainer.

Having worked in the entertainment business at a major Hollywood studio and having been around this world for years, I wanted to get out of the grind of working for the man. Using the Mac again after having come from System 5 on the Mac II, it is very clear that Apple has made a TON of improvements. There are two areas of the UI that I always hated on the Mac, though, and still these have not been addressed. OK, to be fair, one of them is addressed in the next version of OS X.

The first one is the fact that I can ONLY use the lower right hand corner of a window to re-size the window. In the MS Windows world, you can grab any edge or corner that you want and re-size it as you like. The second thing is that the Mac uses VERY subtle indicators to show you what window has the focus. This one drives me nuts. They are supposed to have fixed that in the new OS Leopard.

My experience with Apple's support has actually been very positive. My hold time was 2 minutes on average, the help desk person was not from Bangalore with a thick accent and apathetic attitude. Additionally, when I ordered an iPod for a Christmas gift and FedEx delivered it to the wrong address, Apple promptly sent another unit out to me ASAP so that it would make the date for Christmas.

When I asked them if they wanted the other iPod back when FedEx got around to sending it to the right address, they said no - Keep it with their compliments.

Since this time, I have bought another Mac for the business, and overall I am very happy with the products. They are well engineered and very functional. Apple seems to have lost that arrogance that once turned me away from them.

Am I an Apple fanboi now? Not by any stretch of the imagination. I am a cautious consumer of their products. I still own and use Windows machines. If someone came to me and asked if they should buy Mac or Windows, I would do the same thing that I did 10 years ago. Determine budget and needs and decide on what meets their criteria.

While I am generally pleased with the Apple products that we own, I am also mindful of Apple's past mistakes. I hope that Apple does not regress back to their arrogant days of the past (and even today they are not totally divorced of this issue) and end up back where they were in 1997.

It was 10 years ago this month that the Wired cover appeared and Apple looked to be dead. I wish Apple every success in the future and I hope to never see them back where they were 10 years ago. Good luck with the iPhone, Steve. It's going to be an interesting journey.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Creative Cow censorship

It would seem that Creative Cow has decided to ban users that mention competing sites. Now, moderating posts is one thing. None of us wants to go to XYZ site to read about digital production techniques and read about Viagra.

However, the wholesale banning of users (2500 at current count) for mentioning competing sites is, IMHO, beneath contempt. To add insult to injury, the site apparently brings up a misleading error message to those banned users who attempt to post on the forums.

To be honest, I never used the forums except in about 2 instances of desperation. I always hated their forum software (vBulletin / PhPBB are MUCH better solutions). So for me, the impact is of no consequence. However, our collective communities need to foster the free exchange of information in order to carry forward the flag of democratization in this industry.

Jonas over at General Specialist has more details. I am not the type to call for a boycott or anything of that nature. You should use your own good judgment. CC is a business for profit. That's understood. But, I think that they have the potential to chase away customers with this practice.

Far from the madding rush.

We finished the rush job of the Hot Rod TV show late last night. It was an interesting experience. The existing log notes on the footage were less than useful. So after going through all of the footage and amending the log notes, Nancy started the edit and setting the timing while I culled footage for each section of the script and supplied her with reel numbers, media starts and in/out points.

This process worked well and we were able to move quickly and get the show completed. It was missing most of the footage for the 4th act and a number of the interviews that were referenced in the script were missing from the footage but we got creative and kept the show interesting.

A final rough cut should be done this week and go to the producers for approval at the end of the week.

Mem'ries, light the corners of my mind...

So the kernel panic saga of my Powerbook comes to a close. We bought the machine in May of 2005. Aparently, machines made between April and May of 2005 all have a design flaw with the lower memory slot. My machine's serial number falls into the range of the defective machines ( as can be verified HERE ).

After calling Apple, I verified that I missed the window for a free repair by about 3 weeks. According to the discussion groups over at Apple, I am not the only one that has had this failure outside of the time frame for the free repair. IMHO, Apple should still honor this failure with a free repair. But alas and alack, such is not the case.

Since I only need 1GB or RAM in the machine, I have ordered a 1GB memory module from Mac Sales and I will remove the existing pair of 512K modules and run the 1GB module in the upper (good) memory slot.

My alternative was to have the machine repaired at a cost of > $250.00. And, since this machine is not the last generation PowerBook, I had to buy the more expensive DDR PC2700 module for $99.97 instead of the DDR2 module that the last generation machines used for about $50.00.

So, not the best outcome, but if this is the worst thing I have to deal with, then I am doing OK :)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Apple Color tutorial

Over at Ken Stone's excellent FCP web site is a new tutorial on using Nodes in Apple's new Color application that was included in Final Cut Studio 2. Check it out:

iPhone madness

With the release of the iPhone just a week away (06/29/07 @ 6PM PDT), the flurry of articles on the iPhone has been pretty dense of late. Now, I must confess, I don't care a whit about cell phones, Treos, Pocket PCs or any of this other crap. The only reason I carry a cell phone is because Nancy got an extra cell phone free with her current plan with Sprint (she uses a Windows Mobile based Pocket PC / Cell phone).

Nancy has always been big on these things while I have always been apathetic. Now, all of that being said, Nancy wants an iPhone and we have an Apple store and an AT&T store not far from us. The anticipated madness at these places on release day should be reminiscent of the release of the PS3 and the Wii.

Since they are close, I thought I would take the Z1 over to the local mall that has both of these stores and just shoot some footage of the madness. Who knows, Nancy may be in one of the lines for this thing :)

Semi-OT: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Indy 4

I must confess...

I saw Raiders of the lost Ark when it came out in the theaters. I had NO idea what it was but a friend insisted that I go see it with him. I was just blown away. It has always been, since that day, in my top 5 personal favorite films. I think I have seen it about 50 times and it never gets old.

You can keep the Temple of Doom. Only Lost Crusade lives up to the original film. Someone e-mailed me this picture of Harrison Ford on the set of Indy 4 though and I thought I would share it:

Yeah, he is a little long in the tooth but he still looks up to the challenge. I can't wait for this film!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

DV Rebel's guide

Someone suggested that I point out my review on this over at Slashdot, so here ya go:

Monday, June 18, 2007

OS X Macinations

I recently started using our Powerbook G4 after we dumped it's contents onto the Mac Pro. After using it for a few days I started getting kernel panics. Pretty randomly. They look like this:
After talking to my buddy over at Apple, I decided to scratch the HD on the machine and re-install OS X.

When we bought the machine, OS X Tiger had JUST been released and the machine came with Panther installed and an upgrade DVD for the user to install to bring the system up to 10.4.0 Tiger. However, since the time that we bought the machine and now, we have moved (bought a house and such) and in the process, we could not find the Tiger upgrade DVD.

So, I figured OK, no biggie, I will just use the Panther DVD and get the machine back up and running and I will call Apple to get a replacement DVD. So, I install Panther and everything is fine until I attempt to install the current edition of Apple's Xcode development system. It says "no dice - must have Tiger". Just for grins I try Adobe CS3 and it makes the same complaint...

OK, no biggie, I will just call Apple and get a replacement DVD. So I call Apple Care and give them the serial number of the machine and explain my dilemma and let them know that I have a default installation of Panther on the machine at this point. So they put me on hold for 30 minutes while they "research" the issue after which, they agree that I need a replacement DVD.

They ask me if I care about the iLife applications and I let them know that I don't. So they assure me that all that I will need is disk 1 of the PPC version of Tiger. So I pay them $17 to shoot me out a new DVD (beats the hell out of buying a new copy).

So while I wait for this to arrive, I continue my research into kernel panic causes on the Mac Powerbook. Seems that there is a manufacturing defect in the Powerbooks that has been there for a LONG time. The lower memory slot will fail over time. So I rip open the battery port and pull out the DIMMs, blow it out with compressed air and re-install the DIMMs.

Prior to removing the DIMMs, the machine was registering 1GB RAM. After this it will only register 512MB and indeed only the upper memory slot is working. I have a message into my buddy at Apple to see if Apple will fix this out of warranty gratis. If not, I will just get a 1GB DIMM and just use the upper slot.

So the Tiger DVD arrives and I do a custom install and request that no printer drivers or iLife applications be installed and let it rip. It chugs for about 90 minutes and then asks for DVD 2. Hmmm... Maybe I missed something in the custom selection. So I go back and uncheck EVERYTHING in the custom install window and let it go again. Same deal. It wants DVD 2.

I call the two Apple stores that are local to us and beg them to let me come in with the machine and just have them stuff disk 2 into the machine and let it finish the install but neither of the stores have the PPC version of Tiger DVD 2.

So I start researching on the net to try to find a way to bypass this. I even hook the machine up to the Mac Pro in target disk mode and, with my trusty OS X Internals book in hand, attempt to see if there is any way to force the machine to load the OS and skip the installer.

After a number of hours trying different things, it becomes clear that there is no simple answer and I am tired of screwing around with this by this point. I just want the machine up and running. So I call Apple Care again and after about 20 minutes of arguing with the guy about why I need DVD 2 he finally acquiesces and sets up an order for the DVD.

He claims that there is some issue with their database and he will have to call me back when he gets it fixed. He never calls back. I call Apple Care AGAIN 2 days later and spend a good hour on the phone with them trying to convince them to send me this DVD. Finally I just say "Look - just send me the DVD. This way the problem will go away for me AND for you." The guy FINALLY relents and takes the order and $17 later DVD 2 is on it's way.

So on this past Friday I get the DVD. I fire up the laptop and stuff the DVD in when it asks for it. It then proceeds to install ALL of the iLife applications - Even thought I had told it NOT to.

BUT... I have a theory...

Since I just did a default install of Panther, it installed all of the older iLife applications. When the Tiger upgrade ran, it saw these and decided that they had to be upgraded, regardless of my request that it not do so. And I guess this makes sense. After all, there might be some incompatibility between iLife for Panther under the Tiger OS.

So by Saturday I had Xcode installed and cooking and Soundtrack pro cooking with all of my previous Soundtrack projects up and running intact. So I am, finally happy.

I will update this when I find out Apple's policy on the dead memory slot on the Powerbook. Hopefully, someone else out there will benefit from my experience here and minimize their frustration.

The end.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

WWDC keynote thoughts

Well I watched Engadget's blow by blow on the keynote, which focused mostly on Leopard. Jobs profiled 10 new features out of a total of 300 new features in Leopard. To be honest, I hope these are not the top 10.

New desktop - Not impressed. The dock looks a bit more 3d and the menu-bar has transparency. *yawn*.

Stacks - Allows you to quickly browse the contents of folders that you have on the dock. Not earth shattering, but mildly useful.

Consistent window appearance - This should have been taken care of long ago. But to their credit, I am very glad they cleaned this up.

Prominent active window - Again, this should have been dealt with LONG ago. But again, I am very glad that they have done this. It's nice to very quickly see which window has the focus.

Added a default download folder - Hmm - Jobs stated that the main reason that people's desktops are cluttered is because they download everything to it and this feature will eliminate that and make desktops clean the world over. Again, this is questionable at best.

New Finder - This one actually has a few items that might be of use...

Coverflow (a'la iTunes) added to the finder views - I will have to try this to really determine it's usefulness. I was not a fan of coverflow in iTunes, but who knows - maybe it's the file browsing nirvana that we have all needed but never understood how to implement... That's just my take - YMMV

Expanded search features - OK something that is VERY useful - Saved searches - Look at all files that were accessed today - yesterday etc. Very nice.

Spotlight searches across the network - VERY cool. Since we are migrating our Linux server shared storage over to a Mac Pro, this will be REALLY handy.

Back to my Mac - A feature that allows remote access to macs across your .mac account. Since I don't use .mac, this has no real impact for me.

Quicklook - If Jobs was using some supercharged OctoMac for his demo to get the performance that he was getting out of Quicklook, I won't care about this feature. If not, this looks VERY promising. VERY fast way to quickly preview files / documents / whatever. And it uses plug-ins to add support for new file types.

64 bit - Leopard is 64 bit - top to bottom. For me, this is THE biggest part of the announcement. I figured it was coming but it's nice to see it official. This should make a HUGE imprevement in performance on the 64 bit MacIntel machines out there - My quad Mac Pro included once apps start filtering out and getting updated to leverage this.

Core Animation - OK, this is slick stuff. The OS will handle some VERY nice animation on behalf of applications. And it's FAST. Full GPU leveraging. The demo used a wall of video clips. TONS of them all playing independently. When Motion gets updated - Hell when AE gets updated to leverage this we could see some really awesome stuff here.

Boot Camp - No more beta. Boot camp will be built in to Leopard. No impact for me as I do not use this. I prefer to use something like VMWare or Parallels Desktop so that I do not have to dual-boot.

Spaces - Basically virtual desktops. Set up multiple desktops with different applications and quickly switch between them. Gnome and KDE have had this for a long time as well as some add-ins for Windows. It's OK. Nothing major IMHO.

One new widget for Dashboard - A movie widget to look up movies and buy tickets. *yawn*. I don't use Dashboard anyway so I don't really care about this. Web Widgets - Allow users to select an area of a website to make as a widget. Jobs used Rotten Tomatoes and Yahoo to demo this. Again, see above for my take.

iChat improvements - I don't use iChat - I don't use a webcam. So this has zero impact on me. Mostly what I could see was a lot of gimicky stuff based on live keying. Check the apple website for details if this is up your alley.

Time Machine - Improved and built in back up. Simplified restore etc. Restore 1 file for 50 files from a week ago, blah blah blah. OK, it's a good thing to have a backup system. God knows I have been a victim of no back up a few times and yet here I am still not doing back ups. Part of that issue is convenience. Back in the day when storage was a lot smaller, it was not very expensive to get a backup tape system and use it. And I did. Colorado tape back up. Cheap and big enough to hold my entire hard drive on just a couple of tapes.

Today, you have cheap hard disks. And, seriously, there is no real reason not to be doing this. You can get a 750GB eSATA drive for $210. I should be backing up. Maybe Time Machine will induce me to do that.

So, there you have it - 10 improvements to Leopard. Nothing earth shattering. Just evolutionary or a gimmick. But, to be honest, I did not expect a revolution here. Just more evolution. And that's fine. xCode 3.0 should be interesting. I hope they improve the intelligence of the editing environment there.

Safari on Windows

Arthur C. Clarke once said "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Today with things like the WWDC, NAB, MacWorld etc. we should extend this sentiment to read "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo".

That being said, I always take Apple's (or any vendor's for that matter) demos with a grain of salt and the Safari one is no exception. I use Safari on the mac and it's "OK". I think Firefox is better but it has its issues as well. Clearly, the Safari that Apple released is an Alpha - Not a beta. I had continuous crashes with it on all kinds of sites (Apple's included) to the point that it is not really a viable browser alternative on Windows.

I would wait until they have a more stable release ready. IMO, this was a bad move for Apple. It will not engender Windows users to the Mac environment.

UPDATE: Aparently there were a number of security glitches in the Safari beta so Apple has updated it. You can re-download it here.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Everything you always wanted to know about codecs...

This is a site in Australia so be patient with its loading time:

UPDATE: 06/11/07 - The cow has a nice writeup on ProRes 4:2:2 HERE

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lumberjack - FCP Style

Well, through much experimentation and screwing around, Nancy has finally gotten the FCP sub-clipping process down to a fine art. Using this, she just takes her FW800 drive over to QM Films, gets the footage from them, brings it home and now does all of the logging on the home Mac.

This is very cool since it saves her from driving the 45 miles to QM films twice a day and hammering herself for 12 hours at a crack there. She has documented the process that she uses to do this sub-clipping and I will get that from her and post it here on the blog so that all of you FCPers out there can get a better handle on what FCP is capable of in this regard.

We are also testing out Parallels on the Mac. We got XP installed last night and the goal here is to really see if Nancy can use this and get rid of her Windows machine entirely. A couple of the challenges she faces are the ability to use her scanner and an older ink-jet printer that handles oddball media sizes really well. This combined with Faxing are the final tests for this.

Slackintosh PCIe Expansion Slot configuration epiphany

Just a quick blurb in case this might help someone else. On the MacPro, the PCI slots have different speed configurations and there is a utility to manage the configuration. My x1900 video card was in slot 2 running at X1 and the video playback was (of course) VERY choppy.

After seeing Mike Curtis's post about setting up an AJA Kona card as X4, I did a little research to find out where this configuration app was located (/System/Library/Core Services/Expansion Slot Utility).

Using this I was able to reconfigure the slot bandwidth and the performance went through the roof. Also, when we originally got the Mac, the x1900 was provided as an adjunct and we had to install it ourselves. Turns out that it REALLY belongs in slot one. This slot is designed to accommodate a double width card as can be seen here:

The only place I was able to find that diagram was on the Apple web site buried inside of some hardware developer notes ( HERE )

Well, I hope this helps some other folks out there who might not have been clear on how all of this works!

Friday, June 01, 2007

OT:The future of the man-machine interface

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were interviewed over at the Wallstreet Journals Digital conference. Up on a stage together, they had some interesting comments. You can see it here:

One of the more amusing points in the interview was the discussion of the Apple "I'm a Mac" commercials. You could tell that Jobs was slightly embarrased about it. To be honest, I never felt that directly bashing a competitor was a good idea. Just market your products and let them stand on their own merits. Sun's habbit of bashing Microsoft never did them any good and always made them look bad.

However, I am not a marketeer... It just always seemed petty to me. Be that as it may, it has nothing to do with the point I want to make here. And that point has to do with the man-machine interface. Before I get to the crux of this, I think a little background is in order.

From the dawn of interactive computing until the mid 1980s, a text based, command line interface was the defacto standard method for a person to interact with a computer. For about 25 years, this was the way that people interacted with computers. You typed commands in to the machine at a prompt.

This was the method that I used as well. My first "real" computer being an Apple ][. It ran DOS 3.3 and CP/M. Both command based UIs. I made a decent living writing software for this machine. Then IBM came out with the IBM PC running IBM DOS 1.1 which used the same command structure that CP/M used. I was instantly at home on the machine and I sold my Apple ][ and bought an IBM and started writing software for it.

In 1983, Apple came out with the Lisa and the dawn of the Graphical User Interface was upon us. I was at Comdex in 1983 and spent some time with the Lisa and thought that it was a really good idea and that it was worth nowhere near what they wanted for the machine.

Then the Mac came along. Black and white display. 128K of RAM. Over $2K for the machine. They were getting closer to a reasonable pricepoint. But the machine was crippled and it would not be until the Mac II running system 7 came along that I would dip my toe back into the Apple world. But I digress...

The initial torch would be carried forward by the Macintosh and the GUI would become the defacto standard in 10 years with the advent of Microsoft's Windows 95.

Before the GUI, Bill Gates had stated that he would never give his mother a computer because DOS was too hard to use and learn. After Windows 95 came out he mentioned that this was finally an OS that his mom could use. I think that speaks volumes about the issues that the command line represented over the GUI paradigm.

About this time I started to wonder where the next great UI paradigm was at. From Apple and Microsoft, all I was seeing was evolutionary steps that refined the original paradigm. The Mac and Windows represented a REVOLUTION in terms of the man machine interface.

In the interview referenced at the beginning of this article, the question of where the next great revolution would come from was posed to our two heros. Gates responded that it was going to be 3D. But I think the answer is this: Any great revolution in UI design is FAR off in the future. I think that the GUI for all of it's faults and it's benifits is here to stay for the foreseeable future. The GUI resolved a number of problems that were persistant in the character based command line UI. We don't need to re-resolve those issues any more.

Enjoy the evolution.