July 17

Rising Expectations
Don't let rumors get your hopes up too much

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

If you're anything like me, your life is centered around a a big, graphite box (a G4, for those of you who aren't so quick). You praise its glory, standing on street corners like a doomsayer, proclaiming the end of Windows nigh. You argue with PC users. And even when your Mac crashes, and the PC users laugh at you, you find some way of pawning it off on Microsoft. ("My Mac didn't crash. Internet Explorer crashed.") You even dream about your Mac.

Back in the dark days of Apple (the mid-'90s), my Mac dreams literally turned into nightmares, usually involving me punching our retarded I.S. guys, who, at the time, were in the process of converting our whole publishing company over to Windows NT. (Could you imagine that? You couldn't even run ATM with QuarkXPress on NT at the time, and we were going to switch over to this system to put out actual magazines under deadline!)

They were bleak times. But we still held tough, even if it meant working on a Umax.

All that has changed, of course. Those of us who've hung on to the Mac through good and ill have been rewarded handily and consistently, with Apple raising the bar at each new product announcement and startling financial analysts with each new quarterly report.

It's almost too much goodness.

We're beginning to expect more and more with each passing trade show. It's time for Macworld and Siggraph, so it must be time for new products. New iMacs. New modular G4s. Multiprocessing G4s. New PowerBooks. We've all seen the Internet rumor mills.

And maybe this will happen again this time around. Maybe not. Certainly, for the first time in a long time, I feel like I've gotten my money's worth out of my Mac, so I wouldn't be crushed if they announced new G4s with more power for the same price. But a little boost in megaHertz isn't going to spin my head around. I'm quite happy with my machine. What gets me excited these days is Apple's continued work with developers—more software to fill up the dwindling space on my hard drives.

In the past, all of our hopes were pinned on processing power. It was almost as if the whole platform would collapse if Motorola couldn't squeeze a little more power out of its chips. This power will, of course, continue to grow until, one day, we can composite anything in real time and render anything as we work—at any resolution. It won't happen for a while, but it's a given that it will eventually, barring any unforeseen global catastrophes. So we shouldn't be focusing on new hardware. Anything announced this week or next is just a minor step on the path to desktop ultracomputing.

What we should be looking forward to is Apple's continued work with developers to bring us the best software available on any platform. We already have great stuff, some of it available only for the Mac. Others run on multiple platforms but do more on the Mac platform. Still there are those holdouts stuck in the bad old days, unsure about committing cash to Mac development. Maybe they were burned in the past. Maybe they lack the skill to write for the Mac. Or maybe they're just afraid of making the investment.

But now that the Mac's back, fewer and fewer can ignore the market. So the real signs of Apple's success will not come in the form of new machines but in the form of new developers committed to the Mac platform.

We probably won't see too much of this at Macworld this week. A little hardware here, a little accounting software there. But only so much development can revolve around annual events. I'm not looking forward to the product announcements coming out of Steve Jobs's keynote Wednesday. I'm looking forward to him getting off the stage and back to work behind the scenes, where he's proved so shockingly effective. I don't care about anything else. Well, O.K., a faster G4 would be nice. But I won't break out into a cold sweat if it doesn't happen.

Hey! We Have New Sections!

In our ongoing effort to provide you, the beloved reader, with better information, we've launched four new sections for specific users.

Mac Audio Pro is designed for users of Mac audio hardware and software. It includes content from the editors and writers of Mix Magazine, as well as original content written by our staff and freelancers.

Mac Video Pro is for digital video professionals, animators and those involved in streaming video on the Web. It includes content from our staff, as well as Millimeter Magazine and Video Systems Magazine.

Mac Interactive Pro is for Web developers who work in Flash, Director, LiveMotion and VR, as well as Web designers and professionals who work in HTML.

Creative Mac Print Pro is tailored for those working in the print medium and includes news and tips about design and page layout.

Post a message in the Creative Mac World Wide User Group.

Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, DCC Designer, DCC Workstation, Digital DTP, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Hollywood Industry, Presentation Master, ProAudio.net and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.

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