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The argument of Mac vs PC is as old as the two computer systems themselves, but I’ve always ended up on the Mac side of things. As a teacher, I proselytized the virtues of Macs. I helped convert and influence whole generations of students into the cult of Mac, and many of my friends have fallen as well. And I don’t feel guilty about it – I really do believe they were better machines, with better software. But I’m not so sure anymore.

I’ve been using Macs since they first showed up in my classroom in 5th grade (that would be around 1985). I’ve always loved them. Now, don’t get me wrong – I also used and loved PCs. In fact, I have many memories of being an elementary-aged kid and working in DOS, Basic, and the like. I would use any excuse I could to play on my friend’s Commodore 64. So I’m not a straight-up Mac snob. But there was something about them – the software was special, the whole computer was just different. Even when I was 10.

Mac8500Fast forward to college in 1994 when I bought my first Mac. I dropped an insane amount of money on a PowerMac 8500. 120Mhz, 16 Megabytes of RAM, and the humongous 17″ AV CRT monitor (with speakers on the bottom). That monitor weighed about 50 pounds or maybe even more, and I thought it was the coolest thing. I had the computer that everyone wanted to borrow (and many did). And then, after many years, I started buying the Mac Pros. And iMacs and Mac Minis for the wife and kids. We were a Mac household to the max. But before you think I’m some rich guy, I’ll tell you that many of those computers were always bought used, and I always took full advantage of the educators’ discounts for my Mac Pros.

But why Apple in the first place? Well, it was simple – they were the computer for the graphics professional. The OS was far more robust when compared to Windows when I started, even though when XP came around it was pretty good. Also, their software was amazing, especially in the early 2000’s. From Shake to Final Cut Pro, Apple was bringing truly professional software to the masses. Anyone with a great desktop could do what the pros were doing in movies like The Lord of the Rings (which used Shake) or No Country for Old Men (edited on Final Cut Pro 7). So all of that, or so I argued, justified spending the extra money on a Mac.

My classroom full of the very best 27" iMacs in 2014

My classroom in 2014 – Full of the very best 27″ iMacs.  But not anymore.

Once Apple’s Aperture came around, I was truly hooked. Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Aperture were my mainstay applications. Firewire in the 90’s brought digital video to the masses by offering a cheap and high-quality way of getting digital video footage from your camera to your computer without expensive capture boards. So, as a teacher, I was able to teach students in Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Aperture, with Photoshop right beside it. My school district spent tons of money getting me the best iMacs, loaded with the best Apple software. I’ve had plenty of students graduate and go on into the professional graphics and film/video world. It’s been money well spent, as has the money I’ve spent on my own Macs for the photography work that I’ve been doing. Just ask any of my former students. Most of them will be shocked if they ever read this blog post…

But now, Apple is not really an option for me personally anymore, and I’ve also worked with my district to switch over all 56 computers that we have in the 2 Art Department labs to Windows machines. So, if you’re interested, I’ve outlined my reasons for switching below, and I wonder how many of you will agree with me, and how many will think I’m the devil incarnate?

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Google’s New “Privacy Policy”

Today, a new privacy setting went active for anyone who has Google accounts. I wish I had paid a bit more attention to this before it actually happened, but last night I did some investigation and learned a lot, and was able to delete my history and turn off this “data mining” that Google wants to do. So, with this post, I’m going to show you how to turn it off yourself.

But before I do that, you might ask, “Why do we need to turn this off? What’s so wrong with Google keeping track of everything? They say it will help make our Internet experience better!” Well, I guess, in all honesty, you don’t need to do this. But I think it’s wise. For multiple reasons. If Google only does what they say they’re going to be doing with this information, then maybe everything will be okay. And even if we can trust Google (which I’m not sure we can, given how they were found to be exploiting holes in certain browsers to unethically mine data when that was specifically not supposed to be allowed), the real question comes when you start to think of identity theft issues: What happens if someone get access to all this information about you? Or, even worse, what happens if someone assumes your identity online and does illegal things in your name? I can easily imagine a case, like these, where someone hacks into your network, and uses your google accounts to surf and download illegal things, and then you take the fall for it. That scares me more than just about anything, really.

(And as a side note, if you aren’t locking down your wireless internet, you at risk for serious trouble, in my opinion. For more information on encrypting your wi-fi network, this is a good article to start with. But I think it best to go even further than that, and use MAC address filtering.)

Another part of this is due process. The government is pushing hard to get access to our digital information as well. You’ve probably heard a little bit about that in the news. But it’s a big issue. Especially surrounding this idea of warrants. Does a police officer have to get a warrant to get access to your digital information, even if it’s on Twitter, which is a public digital domain? So what about the information that is on your computer? Is that private? Probably. But what about the saved information that Google is keeping that you used on your personal computer? Ahhh, now the lines are getting fuzzy…

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Who Are You… Digitally?

Categories: Life,Technology 4 Comments

Beyond the silly or cryptic email names and “handles” on forums and the like, there seems to be a lot of people who believe that who they are in social media like Facebook should have no bearing on their daily lives as teachers, or interns, or businessmen. The issues we face in technology today are of integrity, privacy, and of who we really are.

The article that got me started on this topic is one I read at youtern.com, where the “saavy intern” provided an infographic about how employers use social media to chose – and reject – their future employees. The telling statistic is the biggest one – approximately 69% of employers have rejected an applicant because of something they have posted online. Conversely, 68% of employers hired someone because of what they saw online in social media. And the biggest social media site used by employers to judge their applicants? Facebook, of course.

Click on the thumbnail to see the infographic.

Immediately you might think that the moral of this story is that you need to be very careful of what you post online. I think that goes without saying. A lot of people lament the fact that there seems to be no privacy anymore. Senators can’t even sext their mistresses without having it plastered all over the internet – what is the world coming to?!

Now if that sounds a bit sarcastic, well, it is meant to. I think that the real question isn’t whether or not you should be posting certain things on Facebook, it’s really whether or not you should be doing those things at all.

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Everyone’s New Second Language

Categories: Life,Technology 1 Comment

A BBC article is asking if coding should be replacing Latin as a foreign language taught in schools. Now, as a former 3-year latin student myself, I can attest to the benefits of taking Latin. So I do not think that Latin should be completely replaced, really. But the real question is whether or not coding should be taught in schools at a young age. And the answer to that is a resounding yes. Especially web languages such as javascript, php, and html. As our young students get tossed out into the modern world, I can’t think of many careers that wouldn’t benefit in some way from the knowledge of using code. Even your typical non-technical artists and craftsmen and craftswomen can use the web. What better way to spread the knowledge of your skills than via a blog, or twitter, or something along those lines? Some might argue that there are plenty of coders that are making tool – a la Dreamweaver – for the non-coders to be able to publish to the web. But that’s only if you want to have a website that looks and moves just like everyone else’s. With those kinds of tools, you are automatically limited by the tool itself. But learning to code a website yourself? Now you have your own tools that can help you take your ideas and your wildest imagination and put them into… pixels and electrons.

Another 4G iPhone – in Vietnam?!

Categories: Technology No Comments

How many of these things are floating around, and why is Apple paying people to lose them?

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/05/video-4th-gen-iphone-found-in-vietnam-contains-a4-ipad-chip/