Monthly Blog Archives

Users

Computers I’ve Owned

Macintosh History

Before I really knew anything about the phenomenon known as Macintosh, sometime around 8th or 9th grade (mid 1980s), my parents bought a Commodore VIC-20 as my first computer (not counting my old Atari 2600). A Commodore 64 followed soon after which was later traded for a C-128 in exchange for me doing a few chores for my old elementary school. I’d previously been involved in the BBS community until after college. Once I moved into an apartment and actually owned a phone line, I began my internet addiction using the C-128 with a 2400 baud modem an a Linux shell account from Orlando Online. My first e-mail address was bennett@oo.com.

Since that time, I progressed through the following Macintosh computers:

  • Performa 577—This was the first Mac I personally owned, though I had, of course, used Macs during college.
  • PowerBook 3400—This laptop was my workhorse for many years. So much so that when I realized it performed better than the IIci I was using at work, I all but donated it toward all my office work and I transported it back and forth from home to office every day. Probably not a smart decision, but I loved my first laptop.
  • PowerBook G3 (Pismo model)—My recollection is that I didn’t use this machine super long. It was purchased used from a colleague and served well just a few years before I bought a brand new Titanium PowerBook G4.
  • 1GHz 15″ Titanium PowerBook G4—I’m somewhat hazy on memories of this machine other than it was the first of the radical redesign of Mac laptops, and you can still see design cues in today’s machines that go back to this model. I used the daylights out of it till I could simply no longer stand not having an Intel-based Mac.
  • 2.2GHz 15″ MacBook Pro—After serving as my primary computer several years, this machine became my wife’s computer in 2010 when we married. When she stopped using it in 2015, it was still running OS X 10.5 Leopard! Even though I’ve essentially retired it, I eventually located my misplaced 10.6 Snow Leopard installer and updated, which was required before I could update it to OS X 10.10 Yosemite. It’s now on 10.11 El Capitan which is the last version that will run on this old machine. For a while, it was useful as something I could work with in the living room while my wife used hers, and didn’t have to go hide in the bedroom where my Mac Pro used to live. These days, however, I hardly ever touch it, and it’s been well beyond a year (maybe two) since I’ve even powered it up.
  • Quad Core 2.66GHz Nehalem Mac Pro—This machine is currently in the process of being phased out as I (slowly) migrate to a 2018 Mac mini. I’d gotten to the point where I didn’t really spend much time on it and it existed essentially as a server and backup destination, as well as housing my iTunes library that is almost always accessed via my 4th generation Apple TV. These days, nearly everything I need to accomplish at home is done via my iPad (see below).
  • 2.5GHz 13″ Retina MacBook Pro—I bought this 2012 machine from a friend to replace the badly aging 2007 MacBook Pro. For all intents and purposes, it’s my wife’s computer, but I’ve been known to briefly abscond with it a handful of times. It still works well, but the battery is shot and won’t hold a charge more than 10-15 minutes. Still trying to decide whether it’s worth having the battery replaced or if I should figure out a way to buy a newer laptop.
  • Core i5 3GHz Mac mini—The Mac Pro tower is showing its age and needs to be retired, so I purchased this factory-refurbished machine from Apple to be able to handle modern software and devices. Its 256GB SSD isn’t all that roomy and won’t even hold my iTunes library (at least not including the videos). So I’m currently in the (admittedly slow) process of taking the hard drives form the Mac Pro and attaching them to the Mac mini by using enclosures with USB-C connections. I’ll continue storing my and my wife’s digital photo archives on a Drobo that is currently at 3TB of capacity (1.8TB available after protection) and can be increased in capacity as needed.

In addition to my primary computers listed above, I purchased a 450MHz G4 in October 2003 to use as a server. It held multiple hard drives for things like my iTunes library (accessed via networking), my personal photo albums, and general storage that could be accessed remotely. I permanently retired this machine July 2009 and moved all media, including my former photo album web server, to the Mac Pro. That photo album web site, however, is now also retired. Self hosting was fun, but no longer worth the hassle. All the albums underwent a lengthy process of relocation to my Flickr account and I then created photos.ALBj.net to act as a customized front end which is a bit friendlier to navigate.


iPad History

These days, I basically only use a desktop computer for intensive tasks including mass photo management, iTunes syncing, etc. I’m pretty well content to do most of my computing tasks on my iPad, and I’ve progressed through several models of those as well:

Unlike the Macintosh computers, I still possess all these iPads except the lost one.


iPhone History

I’ve admittedly owned many more generations of iPhones than I ever expected. For a little while it looked like the AT&T NEXT program would see me upgrade very year, but NEXT has been retooled in a manner that will almost certainly lead to me skipping a year every so often.

  • I started with the original, 1st-generation iPhone. It was several weeks (maybe a couple months?) before I finally had seen other people’s devices enough that I decided I wanted one.
  • I remember getting in line for the iPhone 3G upgrade on the day of release. I’d seen videos on Mac review sites that received review models and it was obvious the data speed on these was vastly better than the original. Since this was the first model AT&T made available on a two-year contract subsidy, I kept it for two years and never bought a 3GS model. The iPhone 3G was also the model I eventually bought for my soon-to-be wife when it had become AT&T’s $99 subsidized model.
  • The iPhone 4 was next in line when my two-year AT&T contact renewal was up.
  • I wasn’t directly eligible to upgrade to the iPhone 4S when it came out, but my wife was. Since we now had a family plan, it was somehow brought to my attention that upgrade eligibility can transfer between family members. I don’t recall the specifics, but ultimately I ended up with the new 4S and she updated from her ailing 3G to my one-year-old iPhone 4.
  • Two years later, we were both ready and eligible for upgrades. I had skipped the iPhone 5 with the new Lightning connector mostly because I wasn’t yet ready to abandon my various dock connector accessories. So I upgraded to the iPhone 5s, and my wife opted for the less expensive iPhone 5c. At some point not long after the 5c’s warranty had ended, its battery began to swell and it died. Expecting to have to buy another one, Apple actually replaced it at no charge under its product safety policy. Just a few weeks later, this replacement model developed a major problem as well as the screen began going wonky and eventually it wouldn’t stay powered up. Apple replaced it once again with a unit that lasted another year.
  • I skipped the iPhone 6/6 Plus models which was the last time I upgraded on a two-year contract cycle. I ordered an iPhone 6s the day it became available. At this point, I was on the older version of AT&T’s NEXT program which allowed me to upgrade annually for a while. Although the enhanced camera of the iPhone 6s Plus intrigued me, I simply had (and still have) zero interest in a phone of that size. (The iPhone SE was also released at this time and is the model my wife used for a few years.
  • I swapped out for an iPhone 7 as part of AT&T’s NEXT program. I was extremely tempted to get the iPhone 7 Plus for the dual camera/telephoto feature, but I ultimately decided against it, having realized I simply don’t shoot that type of photo on my phone, and I really didn’t want the larger device. The hardware image stabilizer previously only in the Plus-size phone was included in the standard size this time, and that’s the feature I truly wanted. Yes, the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack was initially annoying, but ultimately of no consequence. I virtually never need to pipe music from my phone to an audio system, preferring instead to use my old classic iPod (which doesn’t get interrupted by notifications) or sometimes my iPad. Since I’m content with Apple’s EarBuds, I don’t care whether I plug them in with an analog jack or the Lightning jack. The new clickless home button was weird at first, but only briefly. I actually grew to like it a lot.
  • True to form, I again invoked AT&T NEXT’s upgrade plan and acquired an iPhone X. I didn’t spend very long wondering if I should instead get an iPhone 8. I was leaning toward the X very early on. As many have written in the blogosphere, before long, Face ID just becomes completely natural. I hardly even think about it. It simply works. I’ve grown accustomed to nearly all the revised gestures necessitated by the lack of a physical home button. The only one that will probably give me a lifetime of niggles is accessing Control Center from the upper right corner rather than the bottom. I use Control Center a lot and I am still, but rarely, guilty of forgetting it’s no longer accessed by swiping up from the bottom.
  • I nearly went for round 3 of AT&T NEXT’s annual renewal upon the release of the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xr, and the much-too-big iPhone Xs Max. Ultimately, I realized I was completely happy continuing with my original iPhone X and none of the new devices’ features were a major enticement. So I kept the X another year. I did, however, upgrade my wife’s SE to an iPhone 8.
  • I’m currently using the iPhone 11 Pro in the really awesome new Midnight Green color. I am loving the super wide angle lens, and I’m nuts for Night Mode. I only wish sometimes that the super wide lens supported Night Mode. With this phone, I’m definitely no longer on an annual upgrade cycle. AT&T retooled its NEXT program where you now pay across 30 months instead of 24, and you have to add an additional $5/month (greedy little goobers) for the option to upgrade at the halfway point (15 months). I went ahead with that since my entire mobile phone bill (minus my wife’s line) is subsidized. But I’m really confused at the decision to force an upgrade plan that completely ignores the known annual new device cycle.

Apple Watch History

Yes, I am also a proud Apple Watch user:

  • I didn’t jump on board the Apple Watch craze in 2015 when they first became available. I wanted to see how they really panned out. In 2016, when the original Series 0 was ever so slightly tweaked to become the Series 1 and the Series 2 was also released, the remnant inventory of Series 0 watches dropped in price and I bought one. This watch prompted me to be more active (as it is intended to do) and saw me through my daily 10,000-step goal that I’ve been perhaps 98% consistent on, as well as the majority of the two-year streak of meeting a daily calorie goal, originally 500 and upped to 770 near the end. That streak included more than a full year of an intentional 5K walk every single day.
  • In spite of the Series 3 being released as waterproof, it didn’t really entice me because my Series 0 was still working fine and I don’t really swim all that much. But by late 2018, the watch’s battery was showing some age. When it was new, it almost, but not quite, lasted all day. Two years later, I always had to set it on the charger for 30-40 minutes in the afternoon at work to finish out the day. And so, when the Series 4 watch was released, I was ready to get on board. I was leery of the new 44mm size and seriously thought about just getting a 40mm version until I actually tried them on at an Apple Store and realized 40 still seemed small on my wrist and 44 didn’t same as huge as I imagined it to be. Not to mention, my 42mm bands wouldn’t have fit on the 40mm watch.

Workplace Macintosh History

At work, I have progressed through the following machines:

  • IIci—Purchased by the youth department but installed in my office. I’d offered to do their newsletter for free provided I could use it for projects I wanted to do for the communication department.
  • 300MHz G3—This machine was a joke. Not long after it was purchased, the ethernet failed. Since ethernet on this machine was built into the motherboard, the entire board had to be replaced, and it never worked right again after that. Repeated trips to Apple for repair proved worthless, and it eventually fell out of warranty. This machine is the reason I used my personal PowerBook 3400 at work for so long.
  • Dual 800MHz G4—I actually don’t remember much about this machine. It finally allowed me to stop using my personal computer for work, and did its job well.
  • Quad 2.5GHz G5—After I used this machine for several years, we had planned to repurpose it into a dedicated video editing station for freelancers and intern workers to our office, but it began exhibiting problems, likely power controller related. We ended up donating it to a tinkerer who I believe replaced the power supply and got it working again. Never heard whether it was useful for whatever tasks he put it to—though that probably wasn’t much since it had the old PPC chip rather than Intel.
  • 8-core 2.4GHz Intel Xeon Westmere—This beast had 6GB of RAM and four 1TB hard drives on a hardware RAID card. (Funny how even just one core of a 2.4GHz Intel is so much faster than one core of a 2.5GHz G5, just because of the difference in overall architecture.) The machine was still in working order after I moved up to my next computer, and it was used to set up a freelancer video editing station. Unlike the old office, there was an available cubicle workstation in the building where we relocated, and it happily lived there a couple years. Alas now, the department where I worked for 25 years is gone and I am in a new department. I believe the machine is now somewhere in the bowels of Computer Services’ storage closet!
  • Core i7 27″ Retina 5K iMac—This is my current machine, outfitted with a whopping 32GB of RAM and a 3TB Fusion Drive.