Thursday, June 23, 2005

Not Exactly Tech But Not Not Tech Either
Now there's a title to conjure with.
I happened, a few nights ago, to see that Charlie (The Tool) Rose was interviewing the Wall Street Jornal's "personal tech" editor Walt Mossberg. Mossberg, as a tech journalist, gets it. Stephen Manes of Forbes gets it too but Mossberg is the silverback to Manes's gorilla. And I'm not saying silverback as a reference to Mossberg's neat, white goatee. In fact, he has, very possibly, the best expression of the white goat in the known world. I'd love to be able to carry off such a beard in my future. Distant future.
But looks are not the point (You would say that -Ed.). Mossberg was extremely interesting to listen to. Despite the lousy technique of CR (with the just-too-fey purple striped shirt and matching purple tie), Mossberg made the show worth watching. I was surprised to learn that he lives in the Washington, DC area (suburban Maryland it turns out). Not that his job requires him to live in any particular place but that he lives in my general metro area catches me by surprise. Secondly, he says that Apple's OS X "Tiger" is the best operating system currently on the market. He likes the "Spotlight" search technology which really is seamlessly built into the interface. I like Spotlight but it's the widgets that do it for me (new fave: a widget from The Weather Channel which puts an animated 600 mile doppler map on my desktop at the touch of a button or the click of a mouse). Mossberg also says that Microsoft's next interation of their OS won't have such a deep search capability built in for another 18 months. A year from this coming Christmas is how he characterized the time frame.
MS might be able to push up the integration and ship sooner but the fact remains that one of the most useful OS features (Mossberg's opinion, not mine) is available now in Tiger. Mossberg is no Apple shill though. He pointed out, correctly I think, that the interim period in Apple's history, the Jobs Interregnum as it were, Microsoft's OS was the better bet. Apple had some good ideas - the move to the PowerPC from the Motorola 680x0 for example. But Systems 8 and 9 were problematic. Even a diehard Mac fan like me will admit that.
The opinion of a respected journalist aside, very few people who are already using one platform are going to switch, Apple campaigns notwithstanding, because they've already made a substantial investment in their OS of choice. Software programs, even at the consumer level, are expensive. If not by themselves then in aggregate. I, for example, have identified nearly $100 worth of programs I use regularly that I need to pay for and register (I mentioned Delicious Library a few posts earlier - that's one) that I've downloaded from the Interweb thing. It do add up. Point being that I don't expect anyone to switch. However, if you are starting your computing experience, do what Walt says: get a Mac.
For that matter, read his reviews regularly and follow his advice. It may not be 100% to your tech tastes but the man knows what he's talking about.

Hmm. I didn't really mean for this to be a Mac post. I have always had great respect for Mr. Mossberg and wanted to say how good a guest he was on the Craptacular Rose show.

UPDATE: Here's Mossberg on the Apple-Intel annoucement. For your delectation.

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