Touring by yourself

Dalton Caldwell after watching Phil Elvrum perform his solo act:

Going “indie” is clearly not for everyone, but I have the utmost respect for the people that are able and willing to do it.

Read the whole story of how Dalton arrived at that thought. It’s such a wonderful reminder of the courage people must summon to venture out on their own. I immediately sent this article to a friend who recently left Apple to start her own business. Just seemed an appropriate way to tell her how much I respect what she’s doing.

Power users vs. empowered users

Rene Ritchie on the tension between the traditional desktop and the new world of touch:

When the iPad was announced, a friend and former colleague of mine lamented it as the death-knell of powerful, open computing. I welcomed it as the death-knell of me providing tech support for every relative and neighbor who walked into a Best Buy and walked out with a beige box of mystery and pain. Turns out, we were both right.

And this:

And that was Apple’s plan. It’s always been their plan. From Apple II to Mac to iPad to Siri or whatever’s next, Apple has relentlessly pushed form factor and interface towards the mainstream.

Don’t know how I missed this article last week, especially with that perfectly catchy title. Rene totally gets it. That was our plan. And we came to terms with the bargain that made it.

They’ll pry the Mac from my cold, dead hands, but I’m a geek. The good news for me and other power users? That Mac is not going away anytime soon. Plus, now we have an even better solution to recommend to everyone else. Nothing but upside since we can enjoy it too.

By the way, the support war stories within the article are great — the anecdotes aren’t just anecdotal. As I mentioned to Rene earlier today, we’ve all been there with friends and relatives.

Why I retired from Apple

Today is the one year anniversary of my last day at Apple. It’s Sunday now but it was a Friday back then. And that evening I was given a very warm sendoff by my crew and many others at The Fruit Company.

Several folks on the Safari and WebKit teams produced a video in order to more thoroughly embarrass me. Which didn’t work because I’m beyond embarrassment. But the experience was great. I loved it.

My wife and son joined me for the going-away party. I think it was a shock to my son to see how I was regarded at work. Of course, that didn’t mean he started respecting me at home but, hey, a man can dream.

Seeing all those folks that night — that last week, really — was so bittersweet. I still don’t know how many I’ll ever see again. If there’s one thing I miss most about Apple, it’s the people. They were always the best thing about the place.

Not that Apple was some kind of gulag, mind you. You got the chance to change the world there. And you did. Your work mattered. It was interesting and, as they say, challenging. Certainly no shortage of it either.

It’s Sunday night as I publish this. That means it’s a working night for most managers at Apple. Even more so for Director-level personnel like I was.

Why? Our veeps had to be ready for the big status and planning meeting on Monday morning and we had to be available to help them. Steve always had the meeting then. I assume to set the tone and the pace for the week. Good idea, really. I doubt that’s changed now.

It’s not like other folks there weren’t working nights and weekends too. Many of my engineers worked longer and harder than I did. It was a busy place. By our choice.

But I don’t miss any of the work.

What surprised me after I retired was not missing the control and authority I had, such as it was. My ego remained intact. And I didn’t feel diminished. I woke up February 18 without any minions. Of course, I woke up that morning without any obligations either.

Why did I retire? People often ask me that. When I’m feeling boorish I just say, “Because I could.”

The truth is I was done.

I accomplished far more there than I expected. And I had no dreams of greater power and glory, if such a thing were available to me. When I looked inside myself, I didn’t see ambition or even drive to continue. I’m not sure how that happened. Maybe I was just tired.

And when you’re responsible for so many people, you owe them more than that. Better to step aside and let others have their turn. So I did.

It’s not like I wanted to leave and start my own software business. People always assume I have some massive entrepreneurial spirit. But I’m not like that at all. At my core, I’m just a tinkerer who got very lucky.

I refer to myself here as a “recovering programmer.” That simply means I no longer pursue engineering as a primary activity. And that I’m self aware enough to know that I’ll occasionally fall off the wagon and start coding again.

But if there’s anything I do aspire to, it’s being a writer. So far it’s been hit and miss with maintaining that activity. It turns out writing is even harder than engineering. Who knew?

Even though my first month of floundering around, thick-fingered on this blog got me over a half million page views, I’m not vain enough to think it’s my snappy prose that drew the visitors. It was the subject matter.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t ever really leave Apple.

It’s not a toomah

Some of you inquired online as to whether I continue to exist as a going concern. I can understand your curiosity since I’ve been absent here and mostly absent elsewhere for more than a week. Let me assure you that I do still live, albeit in a rather feverish and mucus-filled fashion.

As near as I can tell, I don’t have influenza. That’s a very serious disease. That last time I caught the flu — the real it-can-kill-your-ass flu — I went to the hospital for several days. Thankfully, I don’t remember much from the whole ordeal. That was back in the 90s.

What I possess now is an uncommon cold. I call it that because a more humble infection just annoys for two or three days. This one knocked me flat for more than twice that and won’t seem to let its foot up off my chest without draining me of strength and will first.

At least it started out as a cold. While not the flu and not life-threatening, it’s certainly moved on to more than just occupying my nasal cavities and now appears to building a summer home in the more southern parts of my body.

So it might as well be the flu. Even if it’s more prosaic.

The worse part of this experience is that not only am I not writing or programming, but I have little desire to even amuse myself with the vast library of movies, television programs and books I long ago prepared for just such a sickness.

So I sleep. And drink water. Lots and lots of water. Whole bottles of water. Which, besides the cold itself, is why I can’t remain sleeping for very long. Sooner, rather than later, I need to return the deposit on those beverages. Which means my record is about three hours of sleep at one time. And the average is half that.

My advice? Don’t get sick this winter. There are some annoying creatures out there besides the flu. One of those jerks is staying with me now.