Category Archives: technology

The Jobs of a Lifetime

Steve Jobs & the Mac Plus

So we went to Atari and said, `Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, `No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, `Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.’ Steve Jobs

My friend Pilch laid an original Macintosh on me in 1985. He had received the cube-shaped computer as a gift from his employer, Burroughs, taken it out of its box, played around with it, and then, upon giving it to me, pronounced it “a toy.”

I used my freebee Macintosh for seven years. In 1988 I met its designer, Jerry Manock. He was a customer of the high-end seating company I worked at. He tried to convince my boss to junk the office IBM PC. No dice. The only benefit from this episode was that I learned MS-DOS. I could always go home to my computer, the one you could just turn on and get to work/play.

Over the years I went back and forth this way, between the office PC and the home Mac. (Through the nineties I also kept up with Apple’s technology by using the computer center at Middlebury College stocked with up-to-date machines.) I cannot imagine anybody being in this situation and not favoring the easier-to-use Mac computer.

Still, ‘whatever floats your boat’ was my attitude. After returning to Cleveland, I used hand-me-down Macs supplied by mom, Macintosh Plus, LC, LC III; my partner’s PPC 638; a Powerbook 140 given to me by a friend. Finally, in 1998 I bought my first brand new Apple computer, a G3. My first recording was produced on it in 2000-2001. Next, in 2003, came a refurbished Mirrored Drawers dual-boot PPC. It was the platform for my second recording, and my first OSX machine. I used it until I bought my first Macbook in late 2009.

That Macbook died a horrid death last year when I plugged its charger into a shorted house circuit. Yet, I ran out and picked up a MacBook Pro laptop, upon which i am typing this recollection.

Except for the MacBook I slaughtered, and the G3 that I scavenged for drives, all my legacy computers remain in my personal Apple Museum, and, presumably each one of the six could be started up tomorrow.

I will always associate Steve Jobs with Apple Computers rather than with the revolutionary media appliances and vertical industries he helped bring forth. When he returned to Apple in 1997, he, soon enough, saved the company, and, in effect, saved it from itself. Given this personal association, the contemporary 12 core Mac Pro at $5,000, draws the line all the way back to the original Macintosh, with its 128k of memory, and 400k floppy discs.

Yet, revolutionizing computing while sitting won’t be the capstone on his legacy.

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The map of the network needs pluralizing

I’ve added networkweaver blog to the link sidebar under a new category, Smart Mobs. It’s not a very active blog, yet it has a lot of fascinating, thought-provoking content. (See The Power of Network Weaving Aug.30)

Here’s Part 1 of a youtube video posted there. Part 2 is on the networkweaver blog.

I did some data entry for a network map Valdis Krebs, a member of the blog’s team, created several years ago for E4S, the sustainability and entrepreneurship organization run by my friend Holly.

Off and on, Holly and me have discussed her vision about how she develops and nurtures her network. Coming at it from the perspective of adult transformative learning (and social psychology oriented to my constructivist prejudices,) I’ve entered into our dialog at times my sense of the place distinctive aspects of personality and relationship and group awareness occupy within a vibrant human network. Although, for me, I prefer to think of this kind of social activity as constituting webs/entanglements of dynamic group relations, rather than their constituting a network, or networks.

The reason for my bias is the map of a network doesn’t depict the “3D” dimensionality of human interaction and enactment. The network maps I’ve viewed tend to reify, reduce, and erase the complexities of the underlying human relationships the map depicts. As is often the case, such a picture tilts its emphasis in the direction of representing (a kind of) flattened relational instrumentality. This is fine as far as it goes; after all, the purpose of the map is different than the purposes I can conjure!

On the other hand, in their structure, the maps I’ve seen, are–necessarily–reifying devices. There may be ways to engineer a map to depict some of the deep features of the network.

The upshot of this is: engineering again needs to be vulnerable to the infection of deeper, interdisciplinary, and, (if you wll,) “multi-modal,” analysis.This could aim to realize a qualitative model of the interplay and contingent relations discoverable when the human system is examined more closely. The point would be to elicit different manifest levels underlying the depiction of connects. This richer territory could be mapped to a different variant of the conventional map.

For example, Krebs and June Holley wrote a paper, Building Smart Communities through Network Weaving (2002-2006).

In the introduction:

Communities are built on connections. [snip] Improved connectivity is created through an iterative process of knowing the network and knitting the network.M

How are communities actually built?


Network maps provide a revealing snapshot of a business ecosystem at a particular point in time.

These maps can help answer many key questions in the community building process.

• Are the right connections in place? Are any key connections missing?
• Who are playing leadership roles in the community? Who is not, but should be?
• Who are the experts in process, planning and practice?
• Who are the mentors that others seek out for advice?
• Who are the innovators? Are ideas shared and acted upon?
• Are collaborative alliances forming between local businesses?
• Which businesses will provide a better return on investment – both for themselves and the community they are embedded in?

These are important questions. But they seem to me to beg even more fundamental questions:

What are the qualities of a right connection, and, per force, relationship?

What is the nature of, or, what are the possible natures of, leadership?

What is the nature of expertise?

What are the qualities of an innovative idea? (I’ll return to this question.)

What are the social psychological dynamics of alliances and collaborations?

(Borrowing from James Hillman; |1|) What are additional kinds of profit found in businesses and communities? (Howabout Ivan Illich’s notion of conviviality?)

What are qualities of an innovative idea?

Ideas exist within contexts. Social action exists within contexts. Relationships exist within contexts. Analysis may be used to uncover the constructionist, sociological, ethnographical, phenomenological, and other threaded dependencies given by any rich human system.

The network map is not even about the true nature of the complex system.

The conception of the map of the network needs pluralizing.

(1) As the weaver connects to many groups, information is soon flowing into the weaver about each group’s skills, goals, successes and failures. An astute weaver can now start to introduce clusters that have common goals/interests or complementary skills/experiences to each other. As clusters connect, their spokes to the hub can weaken, freeing up the weaver to attach to new groups.

This is the most prominent exposure cognition receives in Krebs/Holley. Of course, their fine paper has different aims.

Still, from the perspective of adult learning, what flows in an idealized web of relations are learning contexts and potentials for learning experiences, and, concrete learning experiences. A weaver could employ additional tools, tools beyond those which support uniting “nodes” over mutual, complementary and sympathetic interests.

One goal of such learning within the network and via the web of relationships would be to deepen reflection, instantiate critical culture, and transform the inherent, (often overly-conventional) meaning schemes. This obviously starts to rub the network in tantalizing ways and evoke novel emergent learning.


So, too, business; just add an $ to profit–profit not only for partners and shareholders. The monotheism of the profit motive can be loosened so that it makes places for other kinds of profitability: profitable for the long term continuity of liffe and future generations, profitable to the pleasure and beauty of the common good, profitable to the spirit. The double bottom line of social and ecological responsibility extends profitability only part way. The idea of profit itself needs pluralizing. (James Jillman, Kinds of Power. A Guide to its Intelligent Uses, 1995) 

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Link: Nano Nets & Lucky Machines

Nano Nets and Lucky Machines, posted by me on Netdynam 2.0

Subject matter: intelligent agents, artificial intelligence, machine-based minds

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I had no problem with the mouse.

Although I had thousands of hours ‘in’ on this mechanical word processor called a typewriter, when I first started using a computer it was 1984.
I recall that it was in September of 1984 that my friend Pilch hauled The Macintosh out of a closet and gave it to me. At the time it was about a $2,400 gift, and, in 1984 those many hundreds of dollars was an unimaginable sum for mw, Pilch’s slack-to-a-fault long haired pal. But he had no use for it. He was a programmer doing project work for Burroughs and I have no idea what he was using for a computer. Still, his setting the Mac 128k given to him aside soon enough became my unbelievable gain.

It’s hard for me to relate to what the original Mac platform offered–me–even though I used it for eight years. As a user you would stick the system floppy into it, load in the system into temporary memory and follow on with the program disc, do the same, do your work, and save to a third floppy. The 128k ram is one eighth of a megabyte, and the Mac floppy had a capacity of 400k. On this machine you could process words, draw, paint, play the first version of Sim City, and, a few years later, desktop publish on Adobe Pagemaker and print to a laser printer. One would shuffle floppies in and out with a satisfying click and whir and sound of the drive stylus.
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…but little drama. I’ve been an Apple user ever since a fried hauled a six month old original Macintosh, (‘the Macintosh-128k, floppies only,) and gave the $4,000 computer to me in the fall of 1984. I used that machine until 1992, when I got a hand-me-down Macintosh HD30, and in short order had an LC, LCII, shared a Performa 638, was gifted with an old Mac laptop; always running several years behind the leading edge. In 1998 I bought my first new Apple, a G3, and used it for seven years. Then, in 2005 I bought a refurbished MDD, which remains my principle computer. I’m tied to the current PPC by virtue of the investment toward turning it into a digital recording platform.

It adds up to seven Apples over 24 years. Having to use godforsaken PC’s at work has only verified the superiority of my almost completely trouble-free experience. For example, my two year old HP tower at work crashes more in a week than my Macs due in a year. Actually, my five year old MDD running Tiger has crashed twice in the past year. I don’t have a big brief against the Wintel XP experience except for the crashing, almost all of which has to due with piss-poor memory management on the 2gb RAM HP hunk-o-junk.

Over the years I’ve experienced one hard drive failure! And, it was trivial since it was a font server. Although I’ve learned how to get into the box and done lots of upgrades, I’ve never had to deal with any kind of serious computer problem. I’ve helped lots of people to enter the Apple world. Over the past few years this has meant hipping people to the value proposition of refurbs from Apple.

But, when it became clear Apple was going to refresh the MacBook line, I set my eyes on a new one. My wife has a white refurbed MacBook, and I figured the new ones would be just the ticket. I started reading the forums and macrumors to learn what was to be in store for me. I dismissed what seemed to be preposterous ‘early’ intel on removal of Firewire.

Imagine my surprise when the new line was released and it turns out Apple has plucked the Firewire out, and, worse, has opted for the slightest uptick in speed in the new chipset. Although Firewire isn’t immediately necessary, my audio dreams prefer Firewire. The new graphics set-up held little appeal because I’m not a gamer. I waited to see what the speed boost would be in relation to a last generation plastic MacBook. It was about 15%.

I jumped on a black last generation MacBook. It cost $400 less than a new one, cost the same as a new white one, and so I accepted once again being behind the edge. Although I was surprised Apple didn’t release substantially faster machines, the fact is I simply opted for the best value proposition given my current and future (audio) requirements. No real knock on Apple, but the underwhelming new laptops won’t excite me until the next refresh spawns refurbs.

Except I won’t need a laptop. My attention will eventually turn to replacing the desktop and, even if the horizon is several years away, I assume I’ll be looking to build (what’s termed,) a Hackintosh–a DIY machine that leverages a plug-in BIOS advantaged by the open source underpinnings of OSX.

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Susan received her refurb MacBook today. She saved $200 on, literally, last week’s Core Duo lineup, now that Apple has bumped the nifty notebooks to Core Duo 2. Well, once again, she’s got the faster computer after 8 years in the bridesmaid spot. (She might add here, ‘You’re still married to your Mac.’) Me? My sound designing demands an OS9 machine so my Mirror Door dual 1.25ghz isn’t headed upstairs into the Apple Museum (5 oldies stored there including an original Macintosh,) yet it does seem a MacBook Pro would restore my honor.

The MacBook, as many who don’t know, need to know, is about the sleekest bundle of software and hardware integration ever achieved in its form factor at its price, ($1,099 for the new white ones). Still, I really have no reason to, say, borrow her machine, except for. . .

iBooth. There’s a camera embedded in the upper edge of the screen’s frame. Neat.

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I mostly use Google. MSN Search, despite my antipathy to most things Microsoft, brings up different results for the same search, so, it comes into play. VIVISIMO‘s CLUSTY is a crawler with a useful concept: it catalogues search returns by category. There are others like it of course.

However, even if it isn’t the first search box out of the toolbox, there is no cooler search interface than that of KARTOO, as far as I know. You need Flash; check it out.

When I googled “all known search engines” The JafSoft Search Engine page came up. It doesn’t seem quite up to date, but it is being updated, (an important distinction to make). …more reports to follow from ol’ Sherlock.

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The web site is an old school vertical sprawl, the subjects under consideration endless in number and magnitude, the format dialectical, yet, it’s the darn pragmatic mission I wish to highlight:

As you may realise from reading this website, my partner (philosopher Geoff Haselhurst) and I are building a large philosophy website which is the source (and inspiration) for most of the Philosophy, (and some Vintage Erotica and Fine Art) images and quotes in The Philosophy Shop.

For custom products and gifts that are a little different, we have a unique range of Philosophy Prints, Clothes and Apparel with quotes and portraits of Famous Philosophers (from Ancient Greek Philosophy and Metaphysics, Eastern Philosophy and Mysticism, to Modern Western Philosophy and Science).

SpaceAndMotion and erotica.

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