I guess that I am guilty of not paying enough attention to the world of Apple. However, I have been a loyal and long suffering paying member of Apple's .Mac and MobileMe services. I lived through all the changes such as my web pages coming down and my photo albums disappearing into incomprehensible folders.
My account was also one of those whose renewal coincided with the announcement of the new free iCloud services. That meant that my account got extended until summer of 2012 which is probably why I have paid so little attention to iCloud. The other reason is that the cloud that has my attention is Google's.
However, when I got the notice below last week, I thought perhaps I should spend some time investigating iCloud's free services.
Actually it turns out to not be so easy to move to iCloud unless you have already jumped onto Apple's newest bandwagon with both feet.
Apple's "free" services are actually free only if you already own an IOS device or have already upgraded to Lion. Apple doesn't hide this fact, but I have missed any discussions that you have to be running Apple's Lion operating system to enable iCloud from a Mac.
Since I saw Windows 7 mentioned, I thought that I might be able to sneak by with that, but I had forgotten that this was Apple that was offering a "free" service.
I though surely this must not be the case so I contacted one of my favorite Apple system engineers, and he confirmed that you do indeed need to be running Mac OS X Lion.
Now I am not exactly out of date on my Macs. I did buy an I5 iMac about fourteen months ago. However, I have seen no reason to upgrade to Apple Lion's operating system, and a couple of good reasons to not upgrade.
First I don't like the on-line upgrade process, and second, I am afraid it might break the older version of iPhoto which I am using. I quite like the older iPhoto, and as you can see from my posts, I detest the newer version of iPhoto.
So I have happily stayed on Snow Leopard. While it is not perfect, I no longer have to enjoy the latest and greatest to get my work done. I am even a version behind on Microsoft's Office on my Windows laptop though I do have the latest Office on my iMac.
It is interesting that Apple's new "free" services are only available to Apple customers with the latest and greatest operating systems. I might sound like a technology party-pooper, but I have a very usable dual G5 tower that I bought in December 2004. It has a couple of one terabyte drives in it, and I still use it almost daily. I can't upgrade it to Lion.
Until late last month, I was still using my 2006 MacBook. While it isn't completely dead, it doesn't run for more than a few minutes before dying on me. I even tried a new hard drive, but beyond backing up all my data, I had no luck in fixing the MacBook which happens to be our only other Intel based Mac. I should mention that we still have a very usable white half moon iMac at our other home. Our youngest daughter is also using one of those. I bought three of those one summer.
So I guess I am stuck trying to figure out the best, or more properly, the cheapest way that I can enable Apple's new "free" iCloud services.
When my MacBook died, I was actually thinking about perhaps buying a new laptop of some sort from Apple. I have been carrying an Apple laptop since Apple started shipping them. It feels a little funny to not take one into a hotel room when we are traveling.
However, I got a quick reminder of why I am sometimes hesitant to buy Apple products.
Those of you who are regular readers will know that I am writing a book about about my career at Apple. In the fall just before my MacBook died, I sent Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, an email congratulating him on re-instating Apple's charitable match. I saw it as a very positive change at Apple. I mentioned in the note in passing that I was writing a book about Apple and would send him a copy when it got to market.
The next week, the day my MacBook died, we got an envelope from Apple's legal department reminding me of all the non-disclosures that I had signed with Apple. They also included copies going back to the first one that I had signed in 1984. I took the letter as a not very subtle attempt at frightening me into dropping the book.
However, I sent Tim back a note thanking him for the reminder, but also telling him that I have been writing about Apple for over seven years and until I pulled down much of the content in preparation for my book, I had over 1,000 pages of articles about Apple on-line. Not once in the seven years did I receive a note from Apple complaining about the accuracy of my posts or about my disclosing any proprietary information.
I did tell Tim that the letter from his legal folks had convinced me that there might be more friendly alternatives to an Apple product such as a Kindle Fire.
So here I am stuck between some family members who would like to keep their old email addresses that go back to the .Mac days and Apple which is requiring me to buy something before I can use their "free" services.
It is hard to believe that even Microsoft is better at free than Apple. Microsoft's Skydrive which is truly free now even works on Firefox. Of course Google has a host of free services which seem to work from just about any platform. Actually Google pays me more in my Adsense account each year than I pay them for the extra storage that I need on Picasa. They also host one of my domains for free, and their email has become a favorite of mine.
The truth is that Apple is one of the most proprietary companies in the computer business. They are also among the best at mining their customers and accumulating a huge pile of cash. Much of what Apple does is dedicated to getting you to buy their latest gear and only their latest gear. I don't have a problem with Apple making money, but I find it wasteful to throw away perfectly good hardware that is still doing the job. Perhaps that is one reason I love what Ubuntu is doing.
So I am wondering how Ubuntu can create a very simple distribution disk that I can download from their servers and use to install the latest and greatest flavor of Linux on my old Dell Pentium III while Apple wants me to go to their store? The obvious reason is that Apple wants to lock me into their store and only their store.
Well I might have to figure out if I can buy an iPod touch and use that to migrate my Mobile me services. That might be the cheapest and least painful of the solutions that are out there.
Any suggestions from others facing this dilemma would be appreciated. I am not giving up my Android phone because I love the integration of the mapping apps with Google Maps. Besides I like the choice that the Android world gives me. Also my Droid won't be two years old until March, and it is still doing a good job of keeping me connected.
My Apple book is now being edited by my trusted family staff, my wife and my oldest daughter. At this stage, it is 295 pages and covers the time from September 1982 when I started selling Apple IIs in an Atlantic Canadian dealership to July 2004 when I left my position as director of Apple's federal sales in July 2004 just after sitting in a Senate hearing with Avie Tevanian.
I feel like I have done a commendable job describing life at Apple, but it has taken me seven years to get far enough from the situation to write a book, so I will await the judgment of others. I am glad that it is all down on paper. Some of it is still hard for me to believe even though I lived it.
I am grateful that I wrote down about twenty-five pages of thoughts the fall after I left Apple. That and a habit of using a daily planner have helped me nail down many of the important dates. Not so surprisingly, the more I wrote about the old events, the more that I remembered. Somehow I still haven't remembered any secrets, but that might be because I didn't know any even when I worked at Apple.
I have talked to a number of ex-Apple employees to get refreshed on a few things, but the story is mine. Next week I am talking to agent recommended to me by someone well known in the Apple world.
Beyond that fishing has been good here this fall on the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. We were still in shorts weather through December 16 when I had a spectacular afternoon over on the beach.
With all the great weather, I am glad that I still have the ability to focus, or I would never have gotten my Apple book written in this fall to remember. Hopefully my next post will have some details on how the book is going to published. However, after the letter from Apple legal, Tim Cook will have to buy a copy if he wants one.