Happy Trails to You

This is my final column before I retire. Since I don’t want to waste a single word, let’s dive right in.

Did We Party Like It Was 1999?

On December 31, 1999, I said, “It’s only fitting that I end the year, decade, and century with a column that looks to the future. What kinds of stuff will Apple be selling us in the year 2010?”

Sadly, I got most of it wrong. While Macs did indeed get better, faster, and cheaper over the next decade, I predicted that by 2010, 21-inch flat-panel displays with up to 150 pixels per inch would become ubiquitous at prices below $1,000. The reality was a lot more pixels per inch at much lower prices.

I also missed by a mile when I predicted wearable Mac goggles would appear by 2007 at prices “north of $10,000.” (I’m still waiting.)

My Love/Hate Relationship with iTunes

In my February 9, 2001 column I drooled over Apple’s just-introduced iTunes, which I described as an “MP3 player/audio CD burner.” I liked it so much that I wrote The Little iTunes Book a few months after its introduction.

Little did I know that by 2016 iTunes would become a bloated, convoluted, confusing mess. In fact, I considered iTunes so odious that in 2016 I wrote my first (and only) protest song, a delightful little ditty called “iTunes Must Die” (which is unsurprisingly not available in iTunes Store or on Apple Music but is still available as a free download at www.tinyurl.com/ITMDFree.)

2007: The iPhone Isn’t Cheap at $499

Fast-forward to January 16, 2007, when I wrote about the just-introduced iPhone, saying it “blew my mind and makes all currently available smartphones look stupid.” But my favorite line from that column had to be, “While it isn’t cheap—prices start at $499—almost everyone I talked to was planning to buy one when they become available in June.”

For the record, my current iPhone (an iPhone 13 Pro Max) was $1,599.

From the Department of “Gone but Not Forgotten”

Finally, here are a few apps, devices, and events that I’ve loved, but are no longer with us:

  • QuicKeys (CE Software): The first (and best) utility ever for automating repetitive tasks on your Mac. (The next best thing is Keyboard Maestro, which is still alive and well.)
  • Macworld Expo (IDG World Expo): I often called it “the Greatest Show on Earth,” and it was the high point of the year for me until its untimely demise in 2014.
  • EyeTV (ElGato): An inexpensive box that let me watch (and record) programming from cable TV on my Mac.
  • iPod Touch (Apple): The last iPod model to die (it was discontinued in May 2022), I’ve always loved the idea of a low-cost iPhone without the phone and am sad to see it go.

Thanks again for allowing me to keep the best job I ever had for 26 years, but it’s time to start winnowing down my bucket list. Happy trails to you—goodbye and good luck.

…and that’s all he wrote.

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Lee Dronick

I am sure that we see you around online

Enjoy your retirement.

Macsee

Thanks for all the good work. We will miss you. Have a great time.

W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

Bob:

You’ve been a genuine inspiration over the years. You’ve been a voice of reason and practicality in not only your picks, predictions and observations, but also your annual reminders to do the right thing – backup, redundantly. 

I’ve always looked forward to your columns, and have benefited from your advice, from Macs to iPhones, trouble-shooting tips and even down to third party ear pieces for the AirPods Pro. And more, your obvious warmth and your joy in what you do. 

You, Sir, have been a class act. 

Thank you. 

Happy trails.