Egg Freckles
Notes from my Newton

Thu 3/ 9 | Genius Training Leaves Cupertino

Genius Training Leaves Cupertino

Joe Rossignol writing for MacRumors:

For years, Apple has sent new Genius hires to its Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino, or sometimes an auxiliary campus in Austin or Atlanta, to receive hands-on training for up to three weeks. Recently, however, Apple appears to have stopped offering these group-oriented trips, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apple's off-site Genius Training program has been replaced by an in-store, self-guided experience using company-provided reference materials, according to a source. The training now involves watching web-based seminars through the Apple Technical Learning Administration System, or ATLAS, another source said.

I was a Mac Genius in 2003, before the iPhone, when Mac OS X was still new and exciting. Training was different then, all the emphasis was on the Mac.1

Customer interactions and role-playing took place during the two-weeks of "Core Training" before my store opened. My time in Cupertino was spent learning "wisdom;" how to quickly diagnose machines, order parts, and perform prompt repairs.

Like Stephen I discharged the CRT in a eMac, peeled back the white plastic layers of a iBook G3, and replaced the logic board on a Titanium PowerBook G4. I ate at Cafe Macs, attended a Beer Bash, and saw Steve Jobs speak in Town Hall. As a Mac Genius I got to experience a larger Apple than the confines of my 30-foot store back home. I am sad future Mac Genius won't have the same experiences as mine.

  1. I was expected to already know how the iPod worked. 

Wed 3/ 8 | The Back Looks Better Than the Front

The Back Looks Better Than the Front

It is almost Spring and Stephen Hackett is back with a new nerdy t-shirt to celebrate the iMac G3 and his 512 Pixels website

The original iMac brought Apple back from the brink with a lovable, colorful design.

The quote on the back of the shirt is from Steve Job’s introduction of the machine, and became a joke in Apple keynote for years to come.

The shirts will be on sale until March 16 over at TeeSpring. There are both men’s and women’s options, as well as an unisex long-sleeve because Myke asked for it.

You only have a few days left. I ordered mine this morning.

Wed 3/ 8 | Mac Pack

Mac Pack

When I was a Mac Genius in 2003, Apple retail charged $30 for the installation of extra RAM, Airport wireless networking, or software purchased in the store.. For most Mac models $30 was a silly expense. It didn't take much effort to install Microsoft Office on a iMac, an Airport Card in a iBook G3, or extra RAM in a Power Mac G4 tower.1 Thankfully Apple did away with this practice for the sale of new Macs. They called this free service a "Mac Pack."

One of the unique features of the free Mac Pack was the migration of files from a customer's home computer to their new Mac. This offer brought all kinds of computers into the Apple Store, and not all of them were Macs. Sure there were restrictions about how old the computer could be or what operating system they were running, but as Mac Genius we tried to help everyone. That included customers who brought in old PCs running Windows 98, or old Macs that barely turned on. Against Apple's best guidance we would sometimes take these old machines apart to extract their hard drives to transfer their data. We would always put them pack together again, and in the case of more than a few Macs fix them up so that they ran better than new.

A lot has changed about the Mac Pack from 2003, but I am not surprised to hear that when BritishTechLive brought a 30 year old prototype Macintosh SE into the Apple Store a Mac Genius was able to help him get it up and running. Thanks to Stephen Hackett from 512pixels for sharing this amazing story.

  1. Having a Mac Genius crack open an original Mac mini to install hardware upgrades was probably worth the $30 price tag. 

Tue 3/ 7 | iPad as a Platform

Dr. Drang makes the argument that software not hardware is holding the iPad back from becoming an independent platform. He compares the iPad's capabilities to features the Mac had during its first seven years of life.

What’s surprising to me is how slow iPad software has advanced in the seven years since its introduction. I’ve always thought of the iPad as the apotheosis of Steve Jobs’s conception of what a computer should be, what the Mac would have been in 1984 if the hardware were available. But think of what the Mac could do when it was seven years old:

  • You could write real Macintosh programs on it, both with third-party development software like THINK (née Lightspeed) C and Pascal and Apple’s Macintosh Programmer’s Workshop. You may not care about writing native apps, but the ability to do so brings with it a lot of other abilities you do care about, like the bringing together of documents from multiple sources.
  • You had a mature multi-tasking environment in the MultiFinder that worked with essentially every application that ran on the Mac.
  • You (and all your applications) had access to a real hierarchical file system.
  • You had what many people still consider the best personal software development kit in HyperCard.

The missing features Dr. Drang cites are reasons why I can't use an iPad as my primary computer. But these features alone are not keeping the iPad from becoming an independent platform. For some people the lack of these features and the complexity they eliminate are a feature in itself.

The iPad doesn't need to replace Mac OS to become an independent platform, it needs a killer feature to differentiate itself from other platforms.

  • The Mac's killer feature was its ease of use and graphical user interface.
  • The iPod's killer feature was its integration with iTunes and large capacity storage.
  • The iPhone's killer feature was its multitouch user interface and mobile Internet access.
  • The iPad is remains a large screen iPhone.

The Apple Pencil and Split View are good attempts, but until Apple finds the iPad's killer feature it will remain an also-ran.

Mon 3/ 6 | Swiss Army Knife

I agree with Rob Griffiths when he says: "limited ports limit my interest in new Mac laptops."

Apple’s pursuit of an insanely stupid “as thin as a knife edge at all costs” design goal has led to a new generation of machines that make them much less portable than they were before…despite being thinner and lighter.

Here’t the thing, Apple: Beyond a certain point, thinness is irrelevant. And honesty, you’ve more than reached that point with every laptop you make. You reached that point, in fact, a few years ago.

There are many things I love about my 2013 13″ rMBP, including the variety of ports it includes:

The Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C ports on modern MacBooks are extremely versatile, but I believe the best tool is the one you have with you. Carrying a bag full of dongles makes having the right tool less reliable.

The value of a PowerBook could once be measured against the value of good Swiss Army knife; how much can your accomplish with a single tool. The only thing stopping Apple from making the modern MacBook as trustworthy as a Swiss Army knife is their pursuit of thinness. There is no reason why our MacBooks can't have the versatility of Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C, while coming prepared with a selection of the standard ports we still use today.