Design is More Than Good Looks

Steve Jobs on design:

Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

When it comes to most products, it’s always been true that functionality is more important than appearance. But there are still plenty of people who believe the outward style of Apple’s devices is the primary reason why they have a loyal customer base, one that’s steadily growing.

If rumors are correct, at tomorrow’s keynote for their annual developer’s conference, Apple execs will present new models in the MacBook Pro line. Soon after, I’ll be replacing my nearly five year old MacBook Pro with one of them.

No computer is going to be perfect, and the Mac OS has it’s quirks. However, more than any other company I can think of, I’m very sure their engineers will have sweated the details on both hardware and software to assure that the device is far more than just good looks.

Now if they can just do something about updating Aperture. :-)

Work That Means Something

According to a post at, Apple gives this welcome note to all new employees at the company.

There’s work and there’s your life’s work.

The kind of work that has your fingerprints all over it. The kind of work that you’d never compromise on. That you’d sacrifice a weekend for. You can do that kind of work at Apple. People don’t come here to play it safe. They come here to swim in the deep end.

They want their work to add up to something.

Something big. Something that couldn’t happen anywhere else.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could swap out “Apple” and insert the name of our school or district? And mean it?

To Microsoft or Not to Microsoft

Continuing with the set up of my new MacBook Pro comes the question of whether or not I install Office.

It’s not a matter of cost since I have access to a copy (legally!) through our district’s license.

And I certainly have enough memory and hard drive space, even for a bloated, clunky package like this one.

But do I need it?

For the most part I don’t use Word, instead doing my writing in TextEdit, Apple’s excellent text editor, and increasingly in Evernote and Google Docs.

I already have an older copy of iWork which seems to open the fancier Word documents I receive just fine and it has an excellent spreadsheet program that handles Excel just fine.

iWork also includes Keynote which beats the hell out of PowerPoint for the few slide show presentations I give.

So, why do I need Microsoft?

I know that eventually I’ll set up a Windows partition on this machine, mainly so I can access those few features of Outlook I can’t get to with the outstanding Exchange support in Snow Leopard.

Plus web resources created by our IT department that only run in IE and those occasional files that come my way created with Publisher, the lame attempt at a page layout program that comes with our version of Office.

Ok, I guess I’ve talked myself out sullying the Mac side of this new machine with Office. :-)

But if anyone can think of a good reason to install that package, I may reconsider.

Starting From Scratch

I don’t get a new computer very often, but it’s time. And Friday my new laptop, a 15″ MacBook Pro, was delivered by FedEx.

Now comes the process of making it my new computing home and figuring out what I need off the old one (which will soon become a Boxee-driven media center – more about that later).

For a while now Apple has included their Migration Assistant on every Mac, software which is supposed to make it easy to move to a new machine by sucking everything (settings, preferences, files, even programs) off the old one and putting it in the right place.

By all reports it works very well, but I’m not using it.

As with moving to a new house or school (or office cubicle which I also did last week), setting up a new computer is an opportunity to clean out a bunch of old junk and start over.

I certainly have gigbytes of files that deserve to be trashed but there’s also a lot of programs I’ve downloaded over the years to try out and then never touched again. Plus their support materials and preferences.

So, it takes more time but I’m doing this setup process manually.

But, what software gets added back first? What’s the most important stuff?

Considering how important a reliable web browser has become, it’s no surprise that my first install was Firefox.

Safari, Apple’s own browser, is pretty good and is much improved with version 4 but I can’t do without the Delicious and 1Password plugins, two items that don’t work nearly as well with Safari.

Next comes ecto, the editor on which I wrote this post and almost all the others on this rantfest for at least the past four years. It’s new owners need to do some updating work on the program but it’s still better than anything else I’ve tried.

Then there’s Twitter. Lots of clients to choose from but Tweetie is the one I currently like. When the people at Nambu release version 2 of their software, however, I may consider switching back.

Although it has a web interface, the Evernote client has become essential and is certainly among the first installs. I admit it, I’m hooked on having my notes available everywhere I’m connected, including on the iPhone.

Finally for this initial round, there’s NetNewsWire, the RSS reader I’m coming back to now that it’s been rewritten as a front end client for Google Reader.

NNW is still in beta (with some bugs and missing features) and I know the developer is going to charge for the ad-free version of the final product but I’m liking it much better than the somewhat clunky web interface of Reader.

Well, that’s the essential stuff that didn’t arrive out of the box I added this weekend. There will be more to come. Any suggestions?

The 25th Anniversary Mac

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Macintosh, the day the first model in the line was released into the world.

As near as I can figure, we’ve had 15 different Macs around the house over the years, including a couple of Power Book models I used but which belonged to the school district.

For the sake of trivial completeness, here’s the complete list (* = machines we still have around the house).

  • Mac 512KE
  • Mac SE 30*
  • Power Mac 6100
  • Power Mac G3 (Desktop)
  • Power Mac G4 (Quicksilver)
  • iMac 17-inch Flat Panel
  • iMac 24-inch (Intel) plastic*
  • Mac Mini (Intel)*
  • Power Book 170
  • Power Book 520c (owned by school district)
  • Power Book G3 (owned by school district)
  • Power Book G4*
  • iBook G4*
  • Power Book 15-inch Titanium
  • MacBook Pro 15-inch Aluminum*

This roster, of course, will continue to grow. Very soon, I hope. :-)