On Second Thought ...

Just a few days ago, Microsoft executive Simon Aldous was explaining why Windows 7 emulates OS X.

"One of the things that people say an awful lot about the Apple Mac is that the OS is fantastic, that it's very graphical and easy to use," Aldous said. "What we’ve tried to do with Windows 7 -- whether it's traditional format or in a touch format -- is create a Mac look and feel in terms of graphics..."
(as reported at Apple Insider)

What a difference a day makes. Today Microsoft denied Aldous's comments. What is missing from the retraction is an explanation of some remarkable new similarities like the task bar and dock.

I'm not sure why Microsoft is making such a big deal about this. The OS manufacturers have been boosting ideas from each other since the very first operating systems. People used to joke that Cupertino was Redmond's research and development office. Nevertheless, it is entertaining.

Happy Birthday to the Computer Mouse

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Today is the 40th birthday of the computer mouse. There is an excellent story (and video) on the first mouse right here.

So Happy Birthday to my mouse. Over the years I must admit I've taken you for granted. I've let your batteries run dry, I've dropped you on the floor, and I've watched you get abused with remarkably poor design (exhibit A below). I've even tried to banish you into obsolescence with a continuous onslaught of trackballs, trackpads, tablets, and even lowly keyboard shortcuts yet you continue to faithfully serve me as a master with an endless supply of cheese. Happy Birthday Friend!

The Ultimate Old School Apple Keyboard Hack

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I recently upgraded my MacBook Pro and I love it completely (almost). There is one problem. There is no Apple key. Now I know there was a lot of hubbub about Apple removing the Apple key from its keyboards last year. There were online petitions and a general nerd uproar. I have to admit the whole thing seemed silly to me until I got a Mac without the Apple key. Then I found I really missed it. I'm old enough to remember when the Apple key was everywhere in the Mac OS. It was not only on the keyboard but plastered all over the menus. Heck, I even remember when there were two different kinds of Apple keys. For me, the Apple key is an old friend down there on my keyboard and "part" of my computing experience.

So as I was using my shiny new Mac I found myself pining away for that Apple key. A good friend (who also happens to work for a certain fruit company) showed mercy and got me two slightly used Apple keys from an old MacBook Pro that just happen to be exactly the same size and design as the current "Command" key. It was sort of like receiving an organ donation, but for computers. With a little wiggling and a lot of help from said fruit-empoyed friend the command keys came off and the Apple keys found a new home. All is right in the universe once again.
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The now discarded "Command" keys sit in a drawer sadly like a discarded kidney, with full knowledge they will never get the geek affection bestowed upon my Apple keys.

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MacSparky on the Typical Mac User


I know things have been quiet here the last few days. The day job has been keeping me on my toes. I did appear, however, on this week's Typical Mac User podcast. I recorded a small bit for Victor following my attendance at a PC software seminar where I got swamped with questions about my shiny Mac. It is a funny couple of minutes (at least it tries to be). If you are interested, head over to the Typical Mac User podcast and check it out.

The Big Switch


Okay ... I've had it. It is driving me nuts that it is so easy for everyone to make presentations in Keynote. It just isn't right that I can run a home movie production house, photography lab, and music studio off one laptop. I've thought long and hard about it and decided the only answer is regression. I'm switching to Dell.

Oh .. and by the way ... Happy April Fool's Day.

40 Years Young


Recently I turned 40. I wasn't planning on posting about this but I decided whenever you add a zero to your age, it is probably noteworthy.

The funny thing is I remember when I thought 40 was ancient. Now I feel like I'm just getting started. I'm very fortunate however to be passionate about many things: my family, my clients, music, and (of course) my mac. With so many interests, I'm simply too busy to feel old. It doesn't prevent me, however, from being reflective about technology.

I am fortunate to be the first generation to grow up with computers. The first computer I worked on was a Radio Shack Color Computer.


It had 4k of Ram. Not 4 Megs. Not 4 Gigs. 4k. We used to program little basic programs in it and the save medium was a cassette player. When they came out with the 8k model we couldn't figure out for the life of us what you would ever need 8k for.

After that came some fun with the Atari series (first an Atari 400 and then an Atari ST)...

Hours upon hours in my college computer lab on Macs that I couldn't afford....


and then 20 years of forgettable PC's leading up to my late switch to OS X. Over the course of my life computers have changed our society in just about every way imaginable from curing disease to playing games (not to mention a little thing called the Interweb). So in addition to celebrating the fact that I have yet again cheated death for another year, I look forward as I get older (remember, only the good die young!) to see just how much better things get.

Santa Uses a Mac!

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So my wife took the girls to get their picture with Santa and, as she was going to pick their picture, she discovered Santa uses a Mac!

Why am I not surprised? I bet he also uses Quicksilver.

One for the Kids - Elf Yourself

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Someone told me about this really goofy website called It has four little elf bodies and you upload the faces of you and three pals and then you end up doing a very funny little elf dance. My kids love it and I must admit ... so do I.

How to geek up your Elf.

Use a screencasting capture program (I used iShowU) to capture the whole thing into a Quicktime movie. You can then drop it in iMove or FinalCut for some quick titles and you are off to the races. I did this and now our family elf dancing routine is going on the annual Christmas DVD.

Day of the Ninja


According to my Google Geek Holidays, December 5 is the official "Day of the Ninja". Indeed there appears to be a grass roots effort at making this official. Now I'm all about holidays but not sure exactly how much traction this effort is going to get. Nevertheless, if you are in the mood to wear all black to work, today is the day. I would, however, recommend leaving the ninja sword at home. Razor sharp swords at the workplace are usually a bad idea.

The Brotherhood of Mac


So tomorrow I'm starting a big case and I want to give a print out of my Keynote to the judge with space on the side for him to take notes. It is never a bad idea to have the guy wearing the black robe go home with my Keynote in his briefcase while the other guy creates funny adjectives for me like "slick" and "fancy".

Anyway, I put a PDF version of the Keynote on a thumb drive and cruised into the nearest Kinkos to have them run it on their gazillion dollar color machine. After all that work, it needs to look pretty. The only problem was the Kinkos guy could not get it to print. He was surrounded with customers and invited me "behind the counter" to try and figure it out myself. For some reason the Kinkos machine was hanging up in the middle of the print job. They poor guy was swamped and he really didn't have time to help me. It is early December at Kinkos and that means the "Christmas Letter Gang" is in full swing. You know those Christmas letters, right? The one that explains about Uncle Earl's Lumbago and how Linus finally won the cow chip throwing contest? (Yes, there is such a thing as cow chip throwing.)

Well, I really need to win tomorrow so I told him I'd grab my laptop out of the car and re-create the PDF to see if that was the issue. He then shrugged at me . . . probably secretly hoping I just wouldn't come back.

Anyway, I went to the car and returned with my trusty Mac. That was when things changed for the better.

The Kinko's guy, demonstrating an instinctual Mac geekiness, popped his head out of the crowd of irate Yuletiders like a lemur on the first night of mating season. Suddenly the Christmas letters weren't so important. Turns out the Kinkos guy was part of "The Brotherhood." He explained he is a proud owner of a G5 and card carrying member of the Brotherhood of Mac.

He brushed aside the Lumbago gang like so much rubbish and came straight over to bask in the glory that is my MacBook Pro. We reset the PDF and I gave him a quick spin on OmniFocus and then we went back to the big Kinkos machine. Suddenly he had all the time in the world for me.

Turns out the problem was Kinkos' monster printer but we figured it out and in no time I had some beautiful color copies of my Keynote and a new MacGeek friend.

Never underestimate the Power of the Brotherhood.

An Open Apology to My Side Dock

Side Doc

Hello Side Dock,

It is so nice to see you again on my vertically challenged MacBook Pro. I know what you are thinking. You are upset that I've ignored you since installing Leopard. Well, I must admit I was smitten with that fancy new lower dock. How could I help myself? It is shiny. And it reflects things! Well you knew all along you'd be coming back to my Mac and indeed here you are. I can only apologize publicly and hope you understand that us geeky types are always tempted by shiny, reflective things.