Stories by David Pogue

In Praise of Corporate Tyranny

The other day, I heard an Apple Computer Inc. programmer griping about Steve Jobs. It was the usual complaint: Steve wasn't taking opinions, conducting focus groups, or performing usability testing. He wanted things done Steve's way.

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Dear Rammy

Parenting magazine has one. Men's Health has one. Almost every newspaper has one. Why shouldn't Macworld, too, have an advice column? It'll be great: Readers write in with their Apple Computer Inc. Mac-related love triangles, points of etiquette, and moral dilemmas. (No technical questions -- too boring.) Everybody wins: the magazine fills a page, the letter writer gets a solution, and you get to read about the misery of others. Shall we begin?

Calling It Splits

Earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson made worldwide headlines when he proposed breaking up Microsoft Corp. into two smaller companies. "Microsoft would do the world a lot more good if its Windows division weren't in bed with its applications division," he said at the time.

The Dawn of a New Error

Upon marrying a surgeon, I discovered a surprising characteristic of doctors: When writing professionally, they write exclusively in passive voice: "The patient was examined," not "I examined the patient"; "The wound was cleaned and dressed," not "We cleaned and dressed the wound"; and so on. It's as though 12 years of English class had never happened.

Real Estate Breakers

The first Mac, as those of you older than 21 may recall, had a 9-inch screen. The standard screen size has crept upward over the decades, but even today, the most common Mac screen size is only 15 inches, like the one on the iMac. Considering all the palettes, button bars, and control panels today's software requires, that's not a lot of real estate.

The Night Before X-Ness

Most stage performers would be delighted to turn in a performance that had people talking a week later. But at January's Macworld Expo, Steve Jobs unveiled Apple Computer Inc.'s Mac OS X-and gave a performance that had the Mac community reeling for months. Here was a radically different OS-one whose underpinnings were based on Unix, the same system that runs your bank, airlines, and government-that looked like the gorgeous, futuristic offspring of Kai's Power Goo and Colgate's Berrylicious toothpaste. To this day, many Mac fans' euphoria and fear show no signs of abating.

Secrets of the Software License Agreement

Every time you try to install a piece of software or download something from the Internet, you click past a screen of legalese known as the software license agreement. You can't get past it without clicking on one of two buttons: Accept or Decline. Nobody actually reads this document, of course. At this point, you blindly click on Accept. After paying $300 or $800 for a piece of software, you just want to get the thing installed.

Reality Check 2000

A friend recently e-mailed me a hilarious collection of technology predictions. Popular Mechanics in 1949: "Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." Western Union in 1876: "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication." And Bill Gates in 1981: "640K ought to be enough for anybody." The moral: If you think you can predict the future of technology, you're a fool.

Why Stainless-Steel Software Stinks

Apple, as anyone can tell you, is flying high these days. Its stock, reputation, and sales are soaring. Most of this good fortune stems from Apple's return to its former focus: design. Sensational, rule-breaking, irresistible design. After all, without its translucence, shape, and color, what's the iMac? A Performa.