The Calm Before the Storm

With seven days left until the idiocy of NaNoWriMo begins, it feels very much like the calm before the storm.

I’ve sorted out the study at home, the old iMac is up and running, I’ve figured out how to backup the writing (I’m going to use gitlab – once a software developer, always a software developer), and I’m NOT going to use Scrivener. I’m just going with text files – the same way I write blog posts. Yes, Scrivener is lovely and all that, but writing in plain text files means I don’t get to dick around with fonts, or plot, or whatever else.

There is a huge temptation to search online for somebody selling an original iMac G3 keyboard and mouse – to complete the idiotic retro escapade I seem to have set out on. At least it will give me something to talk about during November – “oh yes, I’m writing on a twenty year old Mac”.

I wonder if anybody might be interesting in learning why this twenty year old lump of silicon and plastic sitting in front of me is still able to “work” on the modern internet ? (puts on tweed teacher coat, with worn out elbows)…

When Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, he started a new company called NeXT, a vanity spite project if ever there was one – intended not so much to destroy Apple, as much as to force them to take him back. The NeXT computer was an expensive mess, but it had one thing going for it that many desktop computers at the time didn’t – it’s operating system was based on BSD Unix – and Unix had been designed to work well with networks. The internet was becoming mainstream at the time, and most popular operating systems were adding networking and internet capabilities as a hacked-together afterthought.

The rest of the story has been told repeatedly over the years in movies and books – Apple hired Steve back, Tim Berners Lee invented the World Wide Web on a NeXT workstation, and Steve scrapped all the old Mac desktop computers and operating systems – replacing them with the NeXT operating system, re-badged as “OS X”, and given a new coat of paint to look familiar to Apple users.

There’s a pretty funny story about Linus Torvalds (of Linux fame) being invited to visit Apple around the same time they were working on OS X and the iMac. He tells the story in his book “Just for Fun” – about his invitation to visit Steve at the Apple campus, and meet the developer in charge of the OS X kernel development project. Needless to say Linus didn’t join Apple – go read the book – it’s funny.


Cutting a long story short, Apple lucked into basing the OS X line of operating systems on Unix, which was designed with networking in mind from the ground up. Which is why it still works today. This entire post could have been a lot shorter if I had just said that, couldn’t it.

p.s. if I don’t happen to share much over the next few days, it will be on purpose – I’m already realising that if I keep emptying my head, I might run out of stories to tell in November.

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