Being an Atypical Mac User

After delegating my first PC, a cheap bamboo PC, to home server duties I had 5 years of using X20 and X41 ThinkPads with various open source operating systems on, mostly OpenBSD, but also lots of FreeBSD and some time in Linux land too. All good.

I needed to use Windows some of the time, even spent 9 months in a course learning .NET. But I really didn’t like it, and I’m glad I finally found a job outside the myopic Microsoft ecosystem.

Then, in 2005, I could afford my first Mac (with the salary of said non-Microsoft job as a sysadmin at TELMORE). It was a PowerBook G4, 1.67 GHz and 1.5 GB of memory, the most powerful computer I had ever owned. I was very happy with it.

I was especially happy that I had the combination of the slick, commercially supported GUI, where I could for the first time get all the nice Flash stuff running well so I could enjoy YouTube and Weebl, and just the general neatness of the Apple apps, iCal, Address Book etc. It was almost all good.

It did take me a long time getting to like iPhoto, opting instead to use my own bourne shell script to import photos for a very long time. I do use iPhoto now, but I still don’t like it much. It’s the only thing I’d really like to change.

But that is just the thing — for someone like me with my Unix skills I can use them, directly, on Mac OS X, there’s almost no learning curve, and when you’ve used several BSD’s and Linux distributions it’s just as easy as picking up a new Linux distribution. It takes a few days, and then you’r pretty much done with the surprises.

With Mac OS X there’s also a lot of indigenous command line apps for system administration, and I could see how I could manage Mac servers via SSH almost all the time. Not that I’d want to for the kind of server duties I’m working with, Mac OS X is simply not a good choice, but the point is that a Mac is a good Unix citizen.

And that’s what I like about Macs, and that is completely different from the majority of Mac users. They’re typically rather technically unsophisticated, they just enjoy the simplicity of a computing experience where software and hardware just works, in concert, in a way that is almost impossible to convey to non-Mac users.

And I enjoy that too.

When I go to hang out with my nerdy friends and look around the table it’s 80% Macs. To me, that’s Mac users.

So when I read people bashing Mac users for being uninformed and naïve I smile a little, because the majority of those I know aren’t, they’re all the good hackers out there that keep the internet running.

Oh! What got me thinking about all this was this blog post: “Yes, I was hacked. Hard.” — the summary is, iCloud password hacked, and someone really fucking him over.

Inspired by that tale I’m taking another hard look at my personal data security as soon as I have time. Especially relationships between accounts and services, and ways to restore my access should I loose it, because that’s what went so badly wrong for Mat Honan above.

I’ve had my Google account hacked once, and that was a really unpleasant experience, and I would very much prefer not having that happen ever again with anything. Luckily it was my non-Apps account, which I had wiped of almost all info, and all mail was forwarded, but still… A password change seemed to fix it. Needless to way it was Chinese kiddies on the loose.

I think they got the password from the hack where I think I had my Gmail listed, and used the same password. Yes, I am ashamed. And yes, I have done something about it, and I now manage all passwords, save for a few I have to or want to remember in my head, in 1Password. Now all passwords are really long random strings that I can’t possibly remember. Not even someone looking over my shoulder at an accidental clear-text version would be able to remember them from that. Highly recommended.

No more rambling now. Time for sleep.