Daniel Jalkut is the founder of Red-Sweater Software. His company is most famous for the WordPress blog editing software, MarsEdit. Daniel holds a B.S. in Computer and Information Science from U.C. Santa Cruz. As a teenager, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, but his evolving interest in computer science derived from his father who was a software compiler engineer. Daniel soon discovered, with his Timex Sinclair, that he had a knack with computers. In 1995, he went to work for Apple and started working with Mac OS 7.5 as a quality engineer. Later, he transitioned to Mac OS X, maintaining the Carbon APIs. Red-Sweater was born in 2000, and Daniel has been an indie developer since 2002. Tune in to hear how Daniel made it all happen.
John Kheit is a New York attorney and a regular Contributing Editor for The Mac Observer. We share many common interests, including the 4K/UHD TV revolution, and have recently been comparing notes on that technology. So, for this edition of Background Mode, we just geeked out, chatted about his acquisition of an LG OLED 4K/UHD TV, compared OLED to the older Plasmas, covered LG’s use of webOS 3, talked High Dynamic Range (HDR), did some comparisons to LCD TVs, and offered our thoughts about the future of TV, including 8K. We finished the show chatting about last week’s Background Mode interview with Car and Driver magazine’s Eddie Alterman and the future of autonomous cars.
Former Apple Senior Director Michael Gartenberg and I got together to discuss Apple’s September 12 event, “Let’s Meet at Our Place.” We traded thoughts on the new Apple Watch Series 3, the Apple TV 4K, the iPhone 8 series and the iPhone X. Michael’s insights are, as always, amazing. Don’t miss this special edition coverage.
Dr. Alan Stern is a planetary scientist with the Southwest Research Institute. He’s also the co-founder and chief scientist of World View, working with high altitude balloon research. He is perhaps most famous as the principle investigator for NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. Way back in grade school, Alan was interested in space exploration and wanted to be a part of the Star Trek future. He received his Ph.D. in planetary science from the University of Colorado, and that launched his life-long interest in Kuiper Belt Objects and the Oort Cloud. He’s a licensed pilot, was selected by NASA as a Payload Specialist, and has flown research missions in high performance jet aircraft. We talked about his career, the New Horizons mission design, Pluto discoveries (and planetary classification) and his latest research.
Michael Gartenberg spent three years as Apple’s Senior Director of Product Marketing, reporting directly to Senior VP Phil Schiller. For his third appearance on Background Mode, we made a list of seven discussion items we both thought would be interesting. We got through two, but chatted about them in detail. The first was all about what’s to be gained by Apple allocating about a billion dollars to create original TV content. In the second segment, we talked about Apple’s struggles in the education market. Michael made some very interesting and very pointed observations. Don’t miss this one!
Mark Gurman is the Consumer Technology Reporter for Bloomberg. As Mark recalls, there was never a time in his youth when he wasn’t interested in technology. He told me that it was the iPod mini for his 10th birthday that wowed him. His love for the company that created the iPod made it feel very natural to get into reporting on Apple. In the second segment, we chatted about his seminal article in December 2016 on the state of the Mac, thoughts on the next Mac Pro, competition from Microsoft in the form of the Surface Laptop, how the Apple watch Series 3 may have LTE, how devious Apple has become in hiding its pre-release trademarks, prospects for an Apple robot and Apple’s HomePod. Mark provided, as always, fascinating and insightful comments about Apple.
Johana Harth is the Academic Director of a Colorado charter school. Over the last 12 years, she’s gained enormous experience in how to match the curriculum needs of K-8 grade students with modern computer technology. Thanks to the technical influence of her father, and being very good at math, as a youth her plan was to become an engineer. She graduated from U.C. San Diego with a degree in industrial engineering. All was according to plan until some significant, serendipitous events changed her life. Just how she became the Academic Director of a charter school, and then became involved in computer technology is an amazing story. Johanna explained the school’s migration from Macs to Chromebooks, when the students start with computers, how they use them and what they’re taught about computers. It’s a very, ahem, educational story.
Nitrozac (Liza Schmalcel) is an accomplished artist and cartoonist. Along with her partner, Snaggy, she founded Geek Culture in 1997, and it continues to thrive. She’s also the co-founder of the Joy of Tech webcomic. Nitrozac told me about growing up in northern Manitoba, Canada. She knew at a very early age that she wanted to become an artist, and she’s been drawing non-stop ever since. After high school, she attended the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. Nitrozac suffered for a bit with not very capable computers before she went on to photography and communication design. Eventually, she met Snaggy the team has been at the center of our geek culture for two decades. And now, she’s graciously provided a new self-portrait for us. It’s the Nitrozac mystique!
Brian Behlendorf is the Executive Director of the Hyperledger Project at the Linux Foundation. He’s also the co-author of the Apache Web server, now under the Apache Software Foundation. Plus, he holds a seat on the board of the Mozilla Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Brian has been one of the leading proponents of the open source software movement. Brian’s parents met at IBM, and so computers became a natural part of his early life: the TRS-80 (he learned BASIC and gaming), Mac IIc’s at school, and later IBM PC Jr. He studied physics at Berkeley, but in so doing fell in love with the internet. In 1991, he started thinking about a better Web server than the original from NCSA, and Apache was born. We chat about Brian’s distinguished career and current work.
Maria Langer is legendary for the 85 books she’s written about computers from 1991 to 2012. That was merely the middle part of her career. Maria started her career with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Hofstra University. After a few stints as a financial analyst and auditor, she decided to dump the 9-to-5 grind and delved into writing computer books. Basically, if you wanted to learn anything about computers in those days, you read her stuff. Around 2011, that came to an end, and so, inspired by a childhood ride, she started helicopter pilot lessons. Today, she owns her own helicopter and tour business, working out of both Arizona and Washington. Maria and I are both aviation enthusiasts, geeked out about aircraft in our chat, and Maria tells some interesting stories about flying choppers.
Joe Moreno is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former U.S. Marine officer, a former Apple software engineer for nine years, and is now the Chief Technical Officer of ItsBorrowed.com. In high school, influenced by his father, Joe decided to join the Marines. He was also very much into computers and became a Marine programmer, working on production systems. Later, after the academy, he became a supply & logistics officer, and his skills caught the attention of Apple in 1998. He was virtually hired on the spot at a career fair for military officers. We spent some time chatting about Apple’s recent history and his work with databases, WebObjects, Unix and Apple’s online store. Listen in to hear us chat about iPhone ordering tricks from the Apple store during the annual September chaos.
Dr. John Gustafson is a professor of computer science, now at The National University of Singapore. He holds a Ph.D. in Applied mathematics from Iowa State University and also specializes in high performance (supercomputer) computing. (HPC). He’s worked at Sun Labs, Clearspeed Technology, Massively Parallel Technology, Intel, and AMD. At an early age, he was fascinated by chemistry and also had a good sized electronics lab in his basement (thanks to indulgent parents). But by the time he started his undergraduate degree at Cal Tech, he’d settled on applied mathematics with physics as a second major. It was at Cal Tech where he met and was influenced by the Nobel Prize winning physicist, Dr. Richard Feynman. John, describes his career arc, and at the end has some great advice for young scientists just getting started.
Jim Tanous is the founder of the TekRevue website. That’s where you’ll find a wealth of technical articles and reviews for Apple, PC and Linux products. He’s also a regular contributor and editor here at The Mac Observer. Jim was always interested in computer technology, even from age seven. There was no computer at home when he was growing up, but his elementary school had Apple IIs, and he learned the BASIC language. However, Jim’s father was an attorney, and Jim thought, all the way into his second year of law school, that he would become an attorney also. Then one day, he realized that he wasn’t enjoying himself. That, in turn led, by his account, to becoming an Apple Genius. Tune in to find out how he made that grand leap.
[Background Mode will return on July 10.]
Larry O’Connor is the founder and CEO of Other World Computing. Also known as MacSales, it’s one of the most respected suppliers of Apple product upgrades and accessories. OWC started when Larry was in high school. Frustrated with the high prices of Apple II memory expansion, he found his own source and started selling on-line. His small company just kept growing. As growth continued, Larry resisted controlling partners or buyouts and stayed true to his vision: create a profitable, fun place to work for his employees, and take great care of his customers. I asked Larry about the challenges of managing a modern company with hundreds of employees. We also chatted about his concern that Apple has steered away from easily upgradable Macs. If you’ve thought about starting your own company, this episode is a must.
Graham Dawson is an iOS and Android indie developer who specializes in meteorological and astronomical reference apps. He’s the founder and director of Ajnaware Pty, Ltd in Australia and publishes apps under the name ozPDA. Graham holds a B.Sc. in physics and meteorology, and a Ph.D. in oceanography. Graham told me about his early interest in weather thanks to extreme conditions, especially snow. That’s because, in his youth, he was skiing in Switzerland. Soon he had a weather observation station in his backyard, and he could think of nothing else as he entered his undergraduate years. Today, he publishes a wide range of apps related to the sun, moon, wind, weather and time. Some feature augmented reality. Thanks to his academic background, these apps have rock solid computational credentials. Graham told me how it all came to be.
David “Doc” Searls is a book author, consultant, and Senior Editor at The Linux Journal. Doc was inspired by a high school teacher who thought he could write well and encouraged him. Doc, who was already thinking about journalism, started his career as a reporter and photographer at a small newspaper. Early on, he also worked at a university radio station where, he earned the name “Doc.” That in turn, led to the founding of a successful ad agency. Today, Doc is an Alumnus fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and a Fellow at the Center for Information Technology & Society at UC Santa Barbara. He continues his work as a book author focusing on consumers and markets. Doc’s career is rich and distinguished, and he shared some great stories with me.