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Mac on the mind…

A little over five years ago, back when Janet and I were living in Boston, I used to work for a Macintosh Hard Drive /CD-Rom drive OEM. We were the people who sold drives under the Mac Zone, Mac Connection and Mac Warehouse private label names. In reality, it was all our drives, placed in our cases with their logos silkscreened onto the front. The name of the company was Spirit Technologies. I say was because Spirit folded a few years after I moved to San Francisco under what some people in the industry say are unusual circumstances.

Back then, I was a real Macintosh Evangelist. I would preach about how the Mac was superior to all other systems aside from the NeXT (which I still have&#41 which was also the brainchild of Steve Jobs. Five years later, I still have my crappy old Macintosh Classic II taking up space in the closet next to the old winter clothing. You see, when I left Spirit, Apple was losing market share… all of the software was slow and clunky, and for the money, you could get a better machine if you went with a Microsoft machine.

Anyway, one of my last assignments at Spirit Technologies was to coordinate the beta testing of our new Hard Drive Driver Software (called RedLine&#41. We had contracted with a professional testing house called Turning Point Software, and I was the liaison between Spirit and Turning Point.

The lead technician on the Turning Point side was a young programmer named Rich Siegel. Rich was a great programmer, and ripped into RedLine like Paul Prudhomme rips into a bag off Ruffles. Within days, hundreds of "bugs" were found in the software. Within weeks, we knew that RedLine was about to get black listed.

Back then, Rich was working on a text editor for programmers to use. He gave me a copy… as I wasn't programming, it just sat there on my desktop… never to be run. However, all of the C programmers at the office loved it.

Fast Forward to December, 1998.

I was surfing the web and I happened to notice a logo that said "Created with BBEdit" and for some reason BBEdit sounded familiar. So, I clicked on the logo and it brought me to the home of Bare Bones Software. Hmm, still familiar but I couldn't figure out why. One click later, and I was reading the bio of the founder: Rich Siegel. A few minutes later, I sent an email to see if he remembered me… and about 10 minutes later he emailled me back to say that he did.

A few emails later, we decided that when he was in San Francisco for Mac World, that we would get together. Mac World started this Tuesday, so I decided that we would get together after the show closes on Wednesday. My plan was to meet him at the south entrance of Moscone Center after the show closed at 6:30ish.

However, yesterday I decided that I might as well go into the show and check it out. Heck, even if I'm not a Mac person anymore, computer shows are always fun. So, I brought up the Mac World website to see what the entry fee was. Ouch! I wasn't about to pay $45 just to go in for an hour to see products based on a computer that I didn't even believe in anymore. But, when I read on further, I noticed that the press can get in for free.

That's when I realized that writing for Cigar Lifestyles could really pay off for me. I grabbed a copy of the latest issue of the magazine, and called the publisher, asking her to fax me a letter stating that she wanted me to cover Mac World for a possible story. Fifteen minutes later, I had all of the documentation that I would need to get i, according to the website's instructions.

4:30 came and I was off to see if this would actually work. I mean, sure… I had all of the requirements for a press pass, but my press credentials for a computer show were based on me writing for a cigar magazine. I guess it didn't matter, because a few minutes later, I was walking through the exhibit hall… press badge in hand.

If you've never been to a computer show, imagine a convention space filled with every imaginable geek out there. There are people running around with oversized foam mouse hats and gaudy t-shirts advertising the latest release of some unknown product with fifty buttons advertising anything under the sun, as long as it had a bad marketing slogan on it.

I walked through the throngs of people milling around trying to fill up their bags with marketing slicks, buttons and free pens and ended up at the Bare Bones table. Rich recognized me immediately and we talked for a few seconds before he was pulled off to do more business.

Since I had made the effort to go to the show, I figured that I might as well check out the new iMacs. So I walked over to the immense Apple display and jumped on an iMac. Boy, the Macintosh has sure changed since I had last used one years ago. I actually (gulp&#41 kind of liked it. I played a little bit of Future Cop LAPD, and then posted a message to the Scowl Message Boards saying that I was on an iMac. Still, I want to see the new NeXT Step based Operating System for the Mac before I ever take the plunge into Apple again.

On my way out, I decided to stop by Bare Bones again to see if Rich was free. He was, so we talked for a good half hour before I needed to leave. We caught up on what was going on in the industry, and whatever happened to the old Spirit crew… and made arrangements to try and get together for a beer before he left for Boston on Sunday morning.

When I finally made it home, I told Janet about the show: how the new iMacs looked, what the crowd was like and how I thought that Apple finally had a shot at making it. Then I pulled out the gaudy tie-dyed t-shirt that Rich gave me. On the front, it had a small Bare Bones logo on it… and on the back, there was a large logo with a slogan that finally makes sense for the Mac…

… It Doesn't Suck.

Posted in Smirks.

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