"If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."
- Maslow's hammer (Abraham Maslow)
Today Apple made the highly anticipated announcement of their new tablet device, the iPad. I'm not going to spend any time writing about this as you can read all about the device from countless sources on the Internet, but I, once again, find myself amused by those who, for whatever reason, really don't like Apple or their products. The hype leading up to this announcement was amazing and tea leaf readers have been speculating for months on what Apple would and should deliver in a tablet device. Now that the iPad is unveiled, many are disappointed in the device – writing it off as an oversized iPod Touch – and jumping at the opportunity to slam Apple for not creating something different.
An event like this usually brings out the Apple fanboys versus the Apple haters and I find the deep passion on both sides somewhat confusing because, in the end, it should just be about using the tools that work for you.
I have always had feet in both worlds. My first computer was an Apple IIc (every time I see a Bank of America commercial pushing online banking, I laugh remembering that I was using the IIc to do online banking with BofA in 1985). In truth, my very first computer experience was with a Wang mainframe but any machine that required it's own refrigerated room could hardly be considered a "personal computer".
Then there was the tragically misnamed, Compaq Portable (well … technically it WAS portable – in much the same way a small anvil is also portable). On this machine I remember using Lotus 1-2-3 and a very clever program called Sidekick.
Next came the Macintosh 512K, on which I used the built-in Paint program to do wiring diagrams and, much to my wife's chagrin, play Dark Castle late into the evening.
That was followed by a Compaq Portable III laptop on which I ran AutoCAD (if you think you have issues managing your layers now, try doing it when the only visual difference between layers is some lighter or darker shade of amber on a gas plasma display).
These were followed a Macintosh II (on which I ran the Mac version of AutoCAD) and then years of desktop PCs from companies that no longer exist. Over the years, I used and supported many different flavors of AutoCAD that ultimately didn't survive, including: Macintosh, OS/2, SCO Xenix and SunOS. In my 25 years of using computers, all the machines and operating systems I used had strengths and weaknesses and I did my best to exploit the strengths and avoid the weaknesses. This approach still holds true for me today.
Here is a picture of my office:
In this room I have a 17" MacBook Pro, a dual-display Mac Pro (hidden under the desk), a dual-display HP xw4600 workstation and the usual smattering of external hard drives, printers and peripherals (and, yes, that is a Black Knight action figure in front of the Spamalot poster). I use both my Mac Pro and my HP workstation, every day. Which machine I use depends largely on what I'm needing to do at the time.
The HP is where I do most of my typical, daily Autodesk work. It's where I handle email, software builds, work on support issues, etc. The HP has been a workhorse (though it is getting a little tired and is in dire need of flattening and refreshing the OS).
The Mac Pro is where I do most of my creative work. It's where I record and edit my AutoCAD training videos (with AutoCAD running in Parallels). It's where I manage my task lists and do my writing, blogging, and creation of Powerpoint presentations (well ... I use Keynote and then export to Powerpoint because Powerpoint and I just don't get along).
When I travel, I carry the MacBook Pro because I can take elements of both worlds with me. I can do all the creative stuff I need to do on the Mac OS and I can run the Windows stuff out of Parallels or Boot Camp (not as optimal as running on a native PC but, still, very acceptable).
My point is simply this: both environments are valid and have strengths that work for me; I just try to exploit the strengths of both worlds to my benefit.
For the last three years, I have carried only my MacBook Pro to teach at Autodesk University. Every year – without fail – I get at least one person (usually more) that says, "A Mac!? Oh, you're one of those guys." Really? I half expect them to punctuate such an insipid statement by kicking sand in my face and giving me a wedgie. Grow up, people. It's a just a tool.
Personally, I don't see a need for the Apple iPad in my world but that doesn't mean it won't be extremely valuable to someone else in their world. I love seeing where innovation can take us. The iPhone was a game-changer in mobile technology and it pushed fresh innovation from manufacturers all over the world. Version 1 of the iPad might not be the ultimate device but I expect it's very existence will cause people to push the envelope of what they create next … and that's pretty cool.