I’m a Happier Person, Thanks to My Mac

mac-pcNo, seriously. I can honestly say that I’m a happier human being because of my MacBook Pro. My entire life I’ve been very into art, music, and especially the digital forms of those things. So I guess in some respects I’ve always been somewhat of a closet artist, but hadn’t really found my medium yet. With a knack for computers and technology those two things (computers and art) never converged for me. Why? Now I know. Because I was stuck in Microsoft land. And let’s face itĀ  – there’s nothing artistic or creative about being a Windows user. Being a Windows user does not inspire creativity. And lets face something elseĀ  – something that took me years to admit – doing visual arts or music on a Windows computer is extremely difficult.

Case and point: A good friend of mine, Aaron, is a brilliant musician. He’s not only multi-instrumental, but he’s a brilliant song writer. In the 1990s he and I used to dabble with MIDI instruments, synths and a variety of other music technologies, all at his house or in one of his studios. All the while he had a Windows computer. Yet he’d always complain about how difficult Windows made things for him. He’d frequently ponder getting a Mac, and for some ignorant reason I’d convince him not to bother with a Mac. I look back now and I regret being so stinking ignorant!

There’s so many other stories I could tell similar to that one. One about a friend Liz who was a talented graphic designer. She used a Mac and I used to pick on her for it. Why? Cuz I was an ignorant Windows guy.

For enterprise purposes, a Windows machine is a great machine, always has been. But once Apple stopped building their own processors and finally started using Intel processors, all that changed. That’s when I got myself a Mac, well, a little later.

I got my MacBook Pro after having a fit of rage (a silent one) on a train to/from NY in March of ’08 years ago (read this for the story). I’ve never looked back! I feel like some once-pious Christian missionary who’d preach all about the ways of Christianity, to only find himself miserable and converting to, I don’t know, Buddhism. What I mean by that is, I regret being so ignorant for so long. I’m sorry to all those Mac people who I dissed so many times! I’m sorry to any Windows people who I steared wrong.

Today, I find myself a healthier person – and I mean that. I’m healthier because I have those creative mediums at my fingertips like never before. I have a small home studio that I use to make music. I have a synth (thanks Aaron!), and some killer studio monitors, a crappy little electric guitar, and dual monitors – and I use a bunch of professional grade studio software apps for this. I’m learning, and I’m having a blast. I’m learning to use Final Cut Pro. Holy crap that’s a beast. But I’m lovin it! I’m also a semi-pro photographer using Lightroom and Photoshop and a bunch of plugins. For the first time in a long long time I’m once again a closet artist. I have a bunch of little projects I’m working on and I’ve never felt more inspired and creative. And I would not be doing any of these things if it weren’t for that fateful day on the Acella Express when I finally had enough of Windows and made the switch.

If you’re like I once was, an ignorant Windows jerk who for some stubborn reason would “never” switch to a Mac – well, good luck to you. You don’t have to be ignorant, or a jerk either. But if you are looking to really have fun with technology, fun with a computer, and create and inspired – get yourself a Mac.

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Marshall Phelps

Marshall Phelps

Originally uploaded by Benee

Very candid conversation with marshall Phelps, corporate VP and deputy general counsel at Microsoft. Very frank, straight talker. Great honesty about the end of the os and about google’s advantages and challenges.

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Ben Saren

Citysquares.com

617.459.4922

blog: www.yoursuspect.com

Sent from my BlackBerry

Google and the Sleeping Giant

There’s been a lot of talk in the mainstream media and in the blogosphere lately about Google’s acquisitions, Microsoft’s acquisitions, and whose acquisitions were better, or meant to block the other. It’s good stuff! Really good stuff. I’ve got a few opinions about this stuff, like anyone watching the developments from afar, but I don’t feel that I’m that much in-the-know so I choose to just sit back and observe and learn from it all. Over the past few days there have been some more developments in this Google vs. Microsoft hype that’s really been interesting to watch, including Microsofts acquisition of aQuantive. I think all this stuff has a big impact on me and on Citysquares actually.

I follow Don Dodge’s blog, and Donna Bogatin of ZDNET, and others like those in my blogroll (to the left). These folks all have strong positions and views of Google and Microsoft, and their transactions and supposed strategies.

I’m a big Microsoft fan. Maybe because I grew up on Microsoft and I’ve been certified in a variety of Microsoft products and skills (e.g., MCSE W2k + Active Directory). I am fairly savvy with ASP and .Net, with SQL, Active Directory, Exchange, etc etc. I’m just a loyal Microsoft guy. I didn’t choose .Net, SQL, Windows Server for Citysquares. I chose LAMP technology instead, for reasons I won’t go into here and now, but in short because it’s just a better development platform, IMHO.

I use Vista.
I use Office 2007 – I don’t ever see myself going to and Google apps.
I use MapPoint 2006. Yet Citysquares’ uses Google Maps.
I don’t use Hotmail except for my Messenger services. Yet I do use Gmail, and I do use Google Talk.
I don’t use MSN, ever. But my home page is my super-customized Google page (iGoogle).
I use MS Money 2007, and love it.
My preferred search engine is Google.

In my life Google has a place, and Microsoft has a place. I see Google as trying to push into too many places – and I don’t like that. It’s sort of like watching a teenager who has too much freedom, money, and independence. Maybe it’s more like the way Donna Bogatin put it – Microsoft is a sleeping giant.

Only time will tell and in the meantime I’ll continue watch this like I watch the Boston Red Sox and the NY Yankees.

My Predictions for 2007

Everyone (well not everyone) seems to have a forecast for 2007, as it pertains to everything – the new Internet (Web 2.0, if I may be so bold), technology, gaming, world peace, and politics. Well I’m going to join the masses and put my foot in my mouth. I’m writing this while in a rush, so my tone may sound a little hasty and rushed. Forgive me! Hey, now I haven an excuse when my predictions turn out to be crap. Here goes it:

MMOGs will take center stage: Games/destinations like Second Life and World of Warcraft will continue to evolve and develop even larger communities. MMOGs may even be attributed for redefining the new Internet in years to come. I firmly believe that these virtual worlds are just the beginning of what we’ll see online in years to come. I can only imagine what they’ll be celebrated for in 10, 15, 20 years. But my prediction is only for 2007.

Longhorn and Office 2007: Microsoft will be disappointed, as will consumers and businesses. Longhorn will be adopted by, who else, early adopters. Office 2007 too. Ultimately, the general business and consumer populations will not go wild over Longhorn as predicted by some, and as compared to Windows 98. I just don’t see it happening. MS has fallen short too many times and has been in the spotlight too often over the past couple of years. People will be wary. And frankly there’s just nothing really all that compelling about Longhorn and Office 2k7 to make it very desirable. Of course there are some nice GUI and UX changes, but I just don’t see that as being enough. Time will tell and in later 2007 I think we’ll see more momentum.

Google will take it on the chin: With the recent Orkut outage, the skeptism over Spreadsheets, Google’s arrogance, and with Yahoo! making interesting moves, I think Google is going to get bit by reality pretty fast in ’07. Something, I don’t know what, will hit them – perhaps a big lawsuit, perhaps competition, perhaps a failed product or acquisition of high profile will take Google of their high perch. Granted, they’ve got the cash, but in terms of general perception out there, I see a trend. I agree with Michael Arrington’s strong position on this as well. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call it a tipping point though. I think their best days are yet to come.

Social Networking will shake out: I think we’ll start to see more of these vertically specific social networking services disappear. I don’t see social networking sites for sushi lovers taking off or being profitable businesses. I don’t get a lot of them. Yet they get funded. Call me traditional, but I think the hype will start to fade. Social networking will continue to appeal to very large audiences with less super-niche focus. I do think niche is good, but come on – some of these super-niche social networking services out there just make me giggle.

Widgets: Here they come. Watch out! They’ll start to make sense soon. I look forward to having better widgets than I currently have in DesktopX. I look forward to more practical uses.

First amendment (1/17/2007): See here.

Yahoo! steps back in the ring. MSN/Live still struggles: Yahoo! will come back into the limelight and really shake things up. MSN and Live will continue to struggle and stagnate.

Local Search: Local will continue to be all the rage in ’07, and a couple new players will take center stage (preferably Citysquares.com). Local search will change somewhat. Those with more editorial content and social elements will prove to have the strongest legs, especially those who are able to monetize their traffic. Merchants are going to be looking for more meaningful value prop than just eyeballs – an interesting reality check for those big boys out there. The current, larger players out there will continue to struggle selling to the local merchants. They just don’t get it.

Xbox kicks ass, PS3 stuck in the mud, Wii is just plain fun: Sony screwed up, big time. And the xbox is just a better product. The wii appeals to leisure gamers, less hardcore gamers, and is simply a lot of fun.

iPods get boring: Yep you heard me. Apple will do what they always do. Create a very cool, pop culture product but ultimately Jobs will get his head stuck up his ass and someone (Creative Zen?) will do it better and Apple will start to lose their grip on market share. People are tired of iPod already. Trust me on this.

RSS: Continues to be adopted by just about everyone and anyone. More and more content simply becomes syndicated. Someone will figure out a really cool way to make a lot of money with their syndication. Honestly? Keep your eyes on NY Times. Call me crazy! No really…

World Peace: Not a chance on Earth. Sorry folks. The religious wars are just beginning. You may start to here chatter about WWIII. Sorry to sound so dooms day, but really, the war with Muslim extremism has just begun. It won’t end for many years. The real opening salvo of our time was 9/11. But I believe that worse is yet to come – maybe not on our soil here in the US, but elsewhere for sure. Iraq will continue to worsen until a new US President is elected. While the new President, much like the current, will have a major agenda, the global conflict with Muslim extremism will take the spotlight.

Politics: I think we’re done with the major scandals for a few years. But I see things really heating up between Barack and Hillary. McCain and Romney will go at it too, but Mitt will be less relevant come primary season. Keep your eyes on John Edwards – he’ll do well in Iowa and gather more love from the ladies. He’ll be a contender. A new republican will show up too – no more neo-cons. This one will be a new kind of republican. He’ll do well but won’t go all the way. But he’ll inspire a new generation of republicans.

Sopranos: Will be the talk of the nation! It will be confusing, it will be strange, but it will be a total shock fans all over. I don’t think Tony will die. But I think something big is coming. I just hope it doens’t end like Seinfeld. I get the way Seinfeld ended, I really do, but I think David Chase has something real special for us.