The Secret Lives of Apple Products

Because the movie about dentists was such a gag fest, I am tweaking my post title to lob some rocks at Apple.

But before that, my long disclaimer.

I love Apple products. I am one who’s “stone cold death grip” would be clamped on a PowerBook. I’ve done programming, multimedia, CD-ROMs, internet-ing all in the Mac OS for almost 20 years. I run all of my web server apps on a humble Powerbook.

Back in 1987, I was hooked as a Geology grad student put in charge of a lab of new Mac Plus-es. I loved those little guys, even swapping floppies in and out, System 6, Word 3.0, a blazing fast 300 baud modem. Later, for some visualization research, I had primary access to the two color Mac IIs in the open lab- I could boot anyone off if I had some research to do. Then I moved up with some more research projects using a Mac IIci, with that fast 68030 chip.

Dropping the grad school game and coming to work for Maricopa in 1992, my lineage included a high end Quadra, then an PowerMac 8500, then a G3 Pismo laptop, and two more later G4 TiBooks. The first web server in Maricopa was a Mac SE/30 I plugged in the net in 1993 running MacHTTP. My home machines have been a Mac Classic, a Performa, an early G3 tower, and an iBook. And now, for my new gig at NMC, I am blessed with a MacBookPro (blessed so far, though it has not been stressed).

When my hand slips and slices across a keyboard, the blood is rainbow colored. I bleed those colors.

But as much as I love the Mac environment, I’ve never been all that enamored with the Apple ‘mystique’. No pilgrimages to MacWorld, no immersion in MacRumor forums, no turning old macs into gumball machines or aqauriums, no secret posters of “Steve” on the back of my door nor are there black turtlenecks in the closet.

I have to say, though, after getting a bit of a whiff of the hype over Apple’s iTunes U, trying almost in vain to summon collaboration and interest at Maricopa, and barking about it in this blog, I am completely lost on how their strategy of keeping the product a secret has a snowball’s chance on a Spring day on Phoenix asphalt.

Our local iTunesU rep is out of contact with the software engineers and as much in waiting to hear what iTunes will do as we are. We never got a response to the invited “application” submitted more than 4 weeks ago. All we heard is, “all will be revealed May 15”. And the only information left to share is the PR plaff that has not changed since it was hoisted in January. What can I tell our faculty? “Education beyond the classroom”? How about our technical folks? “Easy as pi”?

This might be a successful strategy for unveiling a new iPod or some sexy hardware, but in terms of a service to education, I cannot say enough wretched things about “The Secret Lives of Apple Products” approach of keeping educators in the dark. If that is the plan, then they should not have stirred up the hype machine with a veil of cliche phrases.

And to be honest, at this point, I don’t even care. Maybe iTunesU will be an uber cool technology, and will revolutionize education, and be a floor wax too. Frankly I feel like we are made to be fools stuck beyond the velvet ropes.

So the flick “The Secret Lives of Apple Products” may never leave the shelves at Blockbuster. I’d almost rather be forced to watch an endless loop of “Broken Flowers”.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Hardly seems fair to have to beg to drink the Kool-Aid. :-)

    Seriously, there’s a lot to love about Macs, iPods, and Apple software. I bought my mother a Classic in 1989. I’ve had my hands on most of the models you mention. Heck, I’m even a devotee of some minority platforms: I had a brief, intense romance with the Amiga in the late 80’s, and a longer romance with OS/2 in the early 90’s. I stuck with OS/2 up through Warp, with fond memories of swapping over 20 floppies in and out during the install.

    One of these days I’ll probably get a Mac. I think OSX is truly wonderful.

    It’s the cult that gets to me. I’ve met some arrogant Windows users, but there’s a certain edge to arrogant Mac users that’s particularly cutting, as if the rest of the world has somehow missed the crucial element that will lead to world peace, a stylin’ wardrobe, and a higher consciousness. Feh!

    And don’t get me started on Apple’s customer service (sic), and unremarked blunders like selling iMacs with iSight cameras that the iLife software can’t capture from. Oh, they fixed that a couple of months later. But we had to buy Quicktime Pro to get the functionality, because they wouldn’t give us the updated iLife.

    Good luck with the floor wax.

  2. Ahh Gardner, “there’s a certain edge to arrogant Mac users that’s particularly cutting, as if the rest of the world has somehow missed the crucial element that will lead to world peace, a stylin’ wardrobe, and a higher consciousness.”

    But that part is true, there is empirical evidence ;-)

  3. “I’d almost rather be forced to watch an endless loop of “Broken Flowers”.”

    Leave Jim Jarmusch and Bill Murray out of this. They’re business associates of mine.

    And worry no more, Mr. CogDogBlogger — when Lighips eLearning Supremacy Systems rools out the next phase it’s going to make iTunesU look like a kid’s lemonade stand.

  4. You would not know it from the public comments posted here, but word has reached me that my “venomous post” has been circulated among the Apple Tree, where the 16th Commandment is Thou Shalt Not Write Anything Slightly Negative About Apple.

    I’ve been told that my post is a personal attack.

    What has been missed that (a) this is MY blog space, not Apple love-ware; (b) I proclaimed here, there, and everywhere my 20 year loyalty and use of Apple Stuff; and (c) if you disagree with things I write (and I write this way to spurn disagreement), then BARK back via this comment space.

    I enjoy being told off, that I am wrong. I live for the debate, the exchange. But don;t go sulking into a corner claiming I am making personal attacks. I don’t like Apple’s Secret Strategy Started With 4 Monthd Old Hype, and that is my opinion. How is that an attack? Where did I call someone names, insult their mother’s clothing, or mock their choice of music? Huh?

    And so it seems, the mumbles under the Apple Tree are feverish, yet incapable of coming out into the open space and saying so.


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