I have used and loved many computrons. When I was a child I began using the BBC micro computer and the Commodore Vic 20 at primary school in 1982. Then came the amazing Commodore 64, which I used at school and at home. When I was in high school I had a Commodore 128 at home, and I played games with friends on their Amstrads.
In my first year of uni (1990) I remember three significant computer related events. First, the card catalogue being replaced by the computer catalogue. Second, helping my girlfriend of the time with her stroppy Commodore Amiga. Third was starting to use Apple Classics in the student union computer lab to write assignments.
At home I replaced the Commodore 128 with a 286 PC running the MS-DOS version of Microsoft Word. It did footnotes properly and that got me through to Honours. But I liked those Apples on campus more and got rid of the PC. By now I’d had an email address for a while and was familiar with navigating the text only internet via the Lynx browser.
Newsgroups were hot. Alt fanfic, where weirdos wrote endless stories about Star Trek characters fucking each other, was hot. I downloaded many stories and printed them out for people to read. Some I republished in the student newspaper, which horrified and amused readers in equal numbers.
I may have also run tutorials about, ahem, downloading porn. Back in the day it was tricky. Your newsgroup reader had to talk to your binary decoder, and that had to talk to your image viewer. And you generally used a fake IP to bill it all to some professor in zoology. But I digress…
The faculty helpfully provided a postgrad only computer lab stocked with various models of Apple’s LCs, Quadras, Performas and Power Macintoshes. I wrote my PhD on these through the mid 1990s and didn’t have a computer at home during those years. I couldn’t afford the good stuff and wouldn’t compromise on having a slower machine at home than at work.
The WWW was growing. Internets with pictures! It was awesome. As was what came next. David Bowie was the first major musical act to release an internet only single in 1997. It was an .mp2, and decoding the file and finding audio players on different computers to listen to it was complicated. Again I ran tutorials, even for my physics geek friends, on how to listen to disco Dave’s drum-n-bass experiment ‘Telling Lies’. The future was now. Computers were now doors to information and media content, not just digital typewriters.
After graduation I celebrated by buying a lime green second generation G3 iMac for home and got online at home for the first time as well. It was the era of Limewire and Napster and everyone became a pirate. Then came the beautiful G4 Cube (with separate LCD screen), which my employer bought for me so I could work part-time at home. It was so amazing that my friends wanted to come over just to look at it. I wish I had bought it. It was so very cool and is now very collectable. Sigh.
I then got the 2002 first generation G4 iMac – the one with the flat LCD screen attached to a semi sphere dome base by a metal neck that holds the adjustable screen at any angle in perfect balance. It has a bigger hard drive now and continues to work perfectly as my music and bittorrent server. It’s possibly even more remarkable an example of industrial design and engineering than the Cube. I’m keeping it.
Finally, I got a first generation core duo MacBook Pro in 2006 and a top of the range i7 core MacBook Pro in 2010, which I’m writing on now. It won’t need replacing for a while, but when it does, I doubt I will be buying another Apple product. Twenty years of Apple loyalty is at an end. Apple has lost its way. The former provider of digital freedom and creativity has become a digital tyrant.
Based on having used an iPhone 4 for work for a while recently, I won’t be buying one of those or an iPad. It’s too locked down. The app economy offers a metered, filtered, censored narrow slice of the broader internet. I don’t want my experience of the internet mediated. I demand to choose what to see and how to see it.
I’d buy an iPad if it was a proper computer, but it’s not. It’s a device for passively consuming content on, not actively creating content with. It
can’t originally could not run multiple apps simultaneously (I have been corrected that this is now possible). Not being able to write and listen to music at the same time is unacceptable.
You can’t connect USB devices or memory cards (another correction – without buying another unnecessary peripheral). If I was travelling with an iPad as a computer I’d want to download photos from my camera to it every day to back them up in case I lose my camera. Not being able to do this is unacceptable. I need a proper computer to do that, hence my MacBook Pro is not in danger of being made redundant.
What device I use to view online content with is my business. I don’t want a publisher to be able to deny me access to otherwise free content because of my choice of device, as the New York Post recently did to iPad users to force them to buy the newspaper’s app instead of reading the same content via their website for free.
That’s unacceptable behaviour, and Apple is encouraging it because it gets a cut of app purchase and subscription fees. Apple has fallen into a fundamental conflict of interest of its own making. It is increasingly viewing its customers as passive consumers, not active creators or individuals who want to do things differently.
I also don’t want the manufacturer of my phone to decide when I can use the phone’s camera, as Apple is rumoured to be planning to do. They are developing technologies that would disable the camera in specific locations, such as concert venues.
The aim appears to be to support copyright and intellectual property owners (such as media, music and film corporations) and make it difficult for consumers to record and publish content via social media including Youtube.
The problem is that while publishing such content is sometimes illegal, even if it is done in a non-commercial manner, in most cases recording it is perfectly legal. In some circumstances citizens have rights to publish content in a non-commercial manner for the purposes of criticism, review and reporting news.
As I have demonstrated previously, corporations that exploit their intellectual property for commercial gain actively try to undermine and deny the fair dealings rights of consumers and citizens. They don’t understand that non-commercial media publishing or consumption can exist. When it does, they try to exterminate it. Sometimes they even want to exploit fair dealings for further gain. Hypocrites.
The implication is that Apple is striving to undermine the rights of citizens in Australia to legally record content for personal, non-commercial use, just in case they may publish it (legally or not). Never mind that no consumer makes a choice to consume a shaky Youtube clip OR a professionally produced concert DVD. We consume both. Commercial publishers lose nothing from the publication of amateur user generated content.
This kind of device control will likely be extended to the Apple OS and computers, as Apple has extended the iOS app store from iPhones and iPads to OS X already. Perfectly legal content recording could be banned. This is unacceptable. I will continue to use a separate ‘dumb’ camera with no wireless interfaces or GPS so it cannot be interfered with by other devices or systems.
The needs of expert pro level customers are being ignored or undermined. I recently learned about the controversy about the new version of Final Cut Pro – X. I’m a very basic video editor, but I understand enough to know the new version is deeply flawed. It can’t open project files from older versions! That’s insane and incompetent.
I trained using Final Cut Pro but in recent years I’ve used Final Cut Express, which was perfect for the complexity of what I needed to do and my level of skill. Express has been discontinued. My enthusiasm for using Final Cut has also been discontinued. I also learned audio editing using Soundtrack Pro, which has also been killed off. Now I make do with the open source Audacity. And the current version of Quicktime Player shits me with its missing features.
Apple is dumbing down and constraining all its applications and devices. It is demonstrating clearly that it is now prioritising the needs of dumb passive media consumers, not smart creative media creators. I know when I’m not wanted. Apple has made it very clear that it does not value my custom or my loyalty.
I may buy a Google Android smartphone. And my next computer may be an Intel laptop running Ubuntu. I’ll buy whatever devices are least limited by the blinkered vision of the hardware and software creators and commercial objectives of media corporations. My devices are mine. The media I create with them is mine. Interfering with my creativity is unacceptable.