Gillmor Gang: Apple Tacks

When the music’s over, turn out the lights. Back in the day, The Doors were one of a number of 60s rock groups to surface around the intersection of blues, R&B, and a cultural shift that challenged our notions of who was in charge. The Doors were a four-piece that sounded like something bigger. The keyboard player, Ray Manzarek, created that sleight of hand by collapsing bass, drums, guitar, keyboard, and vocal to drums, guitar, vocal, and bass on his left hand and melody on his right.

In the studio, they often augmented the sound with a traditional bass sideman, but the overall feel of the left hand driving the feel and the right the upper notes produced a unique sound and hybrid of musical styles. They were not my favorite, but the night I caught them at a New York club called Electric Circus, I lurked stunned behind Manzarek as he performed this magic trick cum laude into the night. Years later, I remember every note. It feels like I cheated the bounds of the universe.

Since the election, I’ve been hoping for a sense of completion, of triumph over the bounds of the terror of these times. Surely, a big part of it is the pandemic, which doesn’t care how close it was in Georgia or when or if Trump flies off to Florida for the holidays. But news of a second robust vaccine trial suggests the tough times, though not over by any means, may be in sight of an end or at least some version of a plan to get there.

Not so much for Trump and his fearful enablers. There’s much to look forward to: Inauguration Day, or as I like to call it, Eviction Day. A bailout of the 20 million unemployed that keeps them in their homes and on a pathway to economic recovery. A rational approach to the science of the virus and how to slow it while we figure out how to distribute the vaccines. A majority government for a change.

Instead, every last step will be fought tooth and nail. The early breath of fresh air is still lingering, but there’s no doubt this will be for every inch of the way. Come to think of it, did we really expect anything different? No, we expected the worst, and we got it. But this is not about the politics for me. It’s about finding a place to breathe, to invest in a future we can accept, to relearn how to be kind to ourselves in setting our expectations.

I’ve always held a fascination for technology for just that reason — to experience the combined shouts of innovation and inspiration that lead to breakthroughs in what’s possible. Even in the darkest depths of this crisis, the vaccine trials offer a glimpse at the leading edge of new approaches that will span not just the current virus but advances in efforts to battle cancer and other more traditional enemies. In politics, some of the citizen-based fundraising efforts of Bernie Sanders and media innovations like the Lincoln Project suggest ways of countering the negative effects of social networks and misinformation attacks.

In the more conventional reaches of tech, Apple’s M1 transition from Intel to Apple Silicon chips is unmistakably thrilling. Seeing the wave of computing acceleration spurred by the iPhone and iPad merging with the Mac on the desktop is so inspiring. For the first time, I’m delaying the new iPhone because I lust for the new Silicon version of the MacBook Air. Why? Because of what it doesn’t have, a fan. It’s like the taxi scene in Star Wars, you know the one where they’re not the droids you’re looking for. Then: no wheels.

Now: it’s not about the fact that you can run iOS apps on the Mac. It’s that you can write apps that take advantage of the whole platform, not just mobile but not Mac, or Web but not etc. The trade offs between the two platforms are evaporating. Notifications may be useless still on the desktop; that will rapidly change as app makers get used to the system-wide features spread across the merged platform. Video editing can move seamlessly to and from iPad (LumaTouch) and back to the Mac (X86 emulation mode), creating a production ecosystem and rendering farm for the new streaming renaissance. Work from home goes portable, plug and play as you travel and collaborate.

This will happen because Apple Silicon is such a game changer that it will be impossible to disrupt. Instant on, silent computing, virtual memory so invisible that you can swap huge loads in and out of memory, all kinds of attention to how people really use computers in this mobile era. The iPhone and iPad changed the way we thought about things. Now the Mac thinks that way too.

The only way I can justify the upgrade to the latest iPhone is by reupping to the Apple monthly payment contract at the end of the first of two years. So, Apple, how about you put the M1 MacBook Air on that plan, That way, as the ecosystem expands across the new modular software/hardware economy of speed, silence, and computing that just works, I can upgrade every release to the latest and greatest. The Apple Tax never had it so good.


The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary, and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, November 13, 2020.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

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