apple inc

An interesting Look back at Apple Standards


Apple Computer Inc went through many versions of standards with their brand, products and product presentation over the years.  A recent Acquisition by Apple II Enthusiast Javier Rivera shows the standards which were followed when presenting the Apple brand from the early 1980’s in a much clearer light.

This 42 page book is a gold mine of information and shows the purest essence of the Apple II and the beginnings of the company we know today.

To download the PDF, check out the link below:

3rd Anniversary of Steve Jobs’ Passing


On this, the third anniversary of Steve Jobs passing, we take a look back at the man we knew or thought we knew.  Many of us had passing experiences with the one person who changed so much about the way we do business and run our personal lives.   Where would the world be without the iPhone or the iPad or the iPod.  These three items made our daily lives different in the way we enjoyed our music, our movies and our phone conversations and chats.  It also changed the way that social media pursued the end user.

For me personally, the last time I saw Steve was in December 2002 in person.  Even at that time, he looked a bit grey and ashen as he delivered his keynote for Mac Word Expo 2002 in Tokyo.   The introduction of the iMac received thunderous applause and the introduction of the iPod, iTunes and other goodies just really lit up the faces of the people who attended the conference.

But alas, 12 years later we are marking his passing and even those in charge of his now monolithic company pay homage, with CEO Tim Cook writing to Employees this past week; ”


Sunday will mark the third anniversary of Steve’s passing. I’m sure that many of you will be thinking of him on that day, as I know I will.

I hope you’ll take a moment to appreciate the many ways Steve made our world better. Children learn in new ways thanks to the products he dreamed up. The most creative people on earth use them to compose symphonies and pop songs, and write everything from novels to poetry to text messages. Steve’s life’s work produced the canvas on which artists now create masterpieces.

Steve’s vision extended far beyond the years he was alive, and the values on which he built Apple will always be with us. Many of the ideas and projects we’re working on today got started after he died, but his influence on them — and on all of us — is unmistakeable.

Enjoy your weekend, and thanks for helping carry Steve’s legacy into the future.

- Tim

As I think of Steve and his hard driving attitudes which people both loved and loathed, it is with a fondness for his vision that I say, “I wish he were still here but appreciate the time he was with us!”

Apple Creates U2 Album Removal Tool

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 5.27.32 PM

In the aftermath of the outrage over forcing users to download the U2 Album, Songs of Innocence, Apple has relented and created a website tool which allows users to remove the album.  Many users found the album automatically added to their purchases who had absolutely no interest in the album and no way to remove the album from their purchases.

The SOI removal tool webpage is at:

Is Sir Jonathan Ive Exiting Apple?


World famous designer Marc Newson is joining Sir Jonathan Ive’s design team at apple according to an article in Vanity Fair.  The article.  While the pair have worked on some projects before, this has all the appearances of a Steve Jobs/Tim Cook style ascendency to the top design position in Apple currently held by Sir Ive.

This is not the first time that Marc and Sir Ive have collaborated on projects, having worked together on the famous Apple Red project with U2 leadman Bono.   According to the article, Marc Newson will continue to participate in non-Apple related projects but seemingly will be calling the shots on a number of new product designs within the company.

Four years older than Sir Ive and seemingly out of the limelight, Marc Newson is no stranger to the world of high pressure design having done projects for New York based Museum of Modern Art and Nike    He has also been involved in projects for the Gap, Renault, Ford, and Canon among a bevy of other upper tier brands around the globe.

Photo Credit: Vanity Fair

Apple to Stream Event Live on September 9th


Apple has announced that they will be streaming the Scheduled September 9th live over the Internet.  The event which is expected to announce the availability of the iPhone and iWatch among other things will be held in Cupertino at 10am that day.

The announcement for the live stream appears on the main Apple website, allowing users to add the calendar item to their calendar app.  This is a marked separation from the Steve Jobs era in Apple’s current habit of live streaming every event including the Developers Confer3ence events. You can find the live stream at:

Substantive Hints About iWatch and 9 September Event


The first hints of anything really happening in the world of the now highly anticipated iWatch come from Apple’s master of design, Sir Jonathan Ive.  Sir Ive has been long known for his brashness and his means of shaping the Apple product line and said recently in a New York Times Interview , “According to a designer who works at Apple, Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design chief, in bragging about how cool he thought the iWatch was shaping up to be, gleefully said Switzerland is in trouble — though he chose a much bolder term for “trouble” to express how he thought the watchmaking nation might be in a tough predicament when Apple’s watch comes out.”

Obviously, this is a bombshell with Apple’s long held ideas of total secrecy prior to any product release.  In Steve Jobs’ day, this type of statement would have likely been enough for Sir Ive’s immediate termination, yet in the era of Tim Cook, it seems to be a bit more of the norm.  Dropping hints along the way has given Apple even a larger following and seemingly, the forthcoming September 9th event in Cupertino will be no real mystery but instead quite loaded with more goodies besides the iPhone 6.

While we here at A.P.P.L.E. have been in love with the idea of the wearables for years, if this statement attributed to Sir Ive is any indicator of what is to come, then this will be the first time since the introduction of the Timex DataLink where the wearables were anything more than a bulky computer on the wrist.  With his appearance in a fashion column, Sir Ives may actually be trying to create the image that the iWatch will be the 2014 Rolex.

Source: NYT Photo: Todd Hamilton

Apple Releases Mac OS X Yosemite DP7


Apple has released  another Developer Preview version of their latest version of Mac OS X 10.10.  As they ramp up for release, there are several items in this preview which reflect the direction Apple is taking with the desktop including  a number of updated icons in both the System Preferences and the Applications / utilities directories.

In addition to these changes, Apple has also removed the Software Update option from the Apple Menu.  Updates are now completely handled through the App Store application.  No date for release of the new version has been set as of this time, however, many thing that this Developer preview will be the last one and that the public release will occur at the event on the 9th of September.

For more information, check the Apple Developer website at:


Apple’s iPhone 6 Intro to Occur on Sept. 9


Apple has announced an event on September 9th at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, Ca.  The event which has been long expected by those following the iPhone 6.  The schedule currently has the event beginning at 10am PST.

Also expected to be introduced are a number of other related products including a new version of iTunes, iOS 8,  and the iWatch among others. While the iTunes and iOS 8 are pretty much a foregone conclusion due to the introduction of the iPhone 6, the iWatch and other product introductions are still much more of a mystery.

Slated for release sometime this fall is also Mac OS X version 10.10 and this could be the point where Apple release it as well.  Also expected in some circles is an update to the seemingly archaic Newsstand which has been without much love in the industry lately.  An Apple introduction of a version of iBooks Author for Newsstand could potentially corner the magazine publishing market as well.

It is unknown if Apple will live-stream the event but if they do, it will likely be on their Apple Events page at

The Northern Spy — iSchool, iTech, iBM


iSchool, or the Pitter Patter of little feats
September is supposed to be back to school, but here in British Columbia of the frozen north, the public school teachers union and the Provincial government are so far away from each other in their contract positions that the mediator they consulted walked away from the dispute because his involvement had no prospect of success. It doesn’t help that after a previous government gave the union a sweetheart deal on class size and conditions the current one first tore the contract up then lost a lawsuit over the matter. An appeal seems unlikely to succeed, so expect the government to legislate the union back to work by mid October or so. Meanwhile, no prospect of back-to-school technology sales here, especially to the families of teachers in the public K-12 system.

The union executive needs to restrain its desire to control the classroom and moderate its salary demands, while the government needs to recognize that class composition, even more than class size, is a serious issue that must be addressed. More than one or two “special needs” students in a regular class pretty much destroys it as an educational opportunity–quite the opposite of the good intentions of social engineers who decreed that since their theory says all students are the same they must be all lumped together in the same environment and expect the same outcomes. NOT. Oh, and a second NOT to the idea of online learning as a replacementy. Not bad for adults for a few courses, but without virtual theatre classrooms, not  sufficiently interactive for good teaching or learning. The Spy’s recommendation–one course per subject and one course per year–maximum in both categories.

University is another matter. At Trinity Western, where the Spy tools in the ivory basement, enrolment seems to be up sharply (no “is” until you see the whites of their chequebooks). This reverses a long-term trend, and renews hope that our small school can re-start the computing science major we had to suspend for lack of students a few years ago. First year programming has over 30, which is a good sign. The Spy plans to teach Programming Language Design next semester, featuring Swift and Modula-2 R10 as examples of  where the state of the art is now and where the rest of the programming world will soon be going. Y’all come now.

Not all universities will see increased enrolment this year or the next few, as there are fewer high school graduates, and the well of applicants created by the big institutions decreasing admissions standards to maintain enrolment has now run dry, as there is no more “down” to go. Look for a further general decline and threats to the existence of some smaller schools.

iAnnounce iXYZ
Meanwhile, Apple prepares for announcement day, although much of the content, including parts, pictures of the finished product, screen sizes, etc., are already well-known, courtesy of supplier and assembler ileaks. Still, iCook has an ace or two up his sleeve, the Spy thinks. This column, though a couple of days late because of the labour day weekend (including a birthday party for one-year-old Gregory Sutcliffe), has no hard news and eschews speculation, so by all means circle a week from now, September the ninth on your calendar, but don’t lose any sleep over it, don’t expect that everything Apple announces will be purchasable within a few weeks or even a month of that day, don’t expect all the rumours to be substantiated, don’t expect everything to come in this one product release announcement, and do assume at least one surprise.

Most likely to succeed–the new iPhone/iPod Touch(?), which well sell in the hundreds of millions. Lower volumes can be expected on new iPads, and iWatch–if Apple decides to do the latter. Least likely to be introduced–even if content issues can be resolved, which seems unlikely–and to make buckets of money if it is, would be a radically new iTV. On the bubble are health and home automation hardware, which Apple may leave to others, though the former might be incorporated into a wearable to create a broader market for what otherwise is at best a marginal niche product in the status symbol category.

Least likely to get a personal “buy” from the Spy–the iPad and the iPhone, in that order. He’s a writer. Writers need plenty of screen real estate and a workhorse full-sized keyboard. Even a portable has to have desktop accoutrements when he sits down at home or office. Likewise, he’s a language guy and programmer. He needs high end CPU power. ‘Nuff said on the iPad–he’s not against them, just has no use for one, and declining sales figures seem to confirm his views. And, after the Rogers debacle of a few years ago, he will never again become involved in a long-term phone contract. He might consider a phone again if he buy get one unlocked, not tied to network, and on a pay-as-you-go cancel-without-notice plan. Otherwise, a new and larger iPod Touch is just the ticket–should Apple choose to make one, which is by no means assured.

The Spy notes much speculation concerning the strategic partnership between Apple and iBM–ranging from “it’s a dud” to “when will they merge?”

Again a NOT–to both. There is enough of a culture clash to prevent an outright merger between two so dissimilar companies, even though they are more complementary today than at any time in the past. OTOH, that very complementarity might make this partnership work at arms’ length where so many similar arrangements in the past–including ones between these same two–have failed to produce anything of value. iBM isn’t in the PC business any more, and is rumoured to be looking for a buyer for the server division as well. An Apple that manufactures computing devices and sells primarily at retail to individuals, and an iBM that makes essentially no products but consults with and markets to the enterprise are a good theoretical fit. However, don’t forget the Spy’s Third Law The practice of theory never matches the theory of practice. Good intentions only might pave a road to more profits for both, but there’s a saying about that, too. Final argument: a merger or purchase by Apple might make sense for the iBM patents, but not otherwise.

Meanwhile, iBM-compatible now means Mac, iPad, iPod, and iPhone. Who’d ‘a thunk it. Bonus for extra credit: what is a “thunk”?

Sometimes advances in technology usability are made by rethinking something simple. Yes, a better mousetrap will sell. So will a better tape measure, though not a better typewriter. A local (but just across the line into the US of A) company has re-thunk this humble bit of technology and produced several innovations rolled out in half a dozen models. Three rivets, heavy-duty tape, built-in pencil sharpener, metric (true 32) and/or Imperial units and/or left/right handed, journaled tape, and a note pad on the side are constitute small changes that add up to the best tape measures the Spy has ever owned–by a country kilometre. He was given a combo metric/Imperial model and bought the true-32 left/right metric model–perfect for cabinetry.

Manufacturer FastCap of Ferndale WA makes and sells a wide variety of innovative products, principally for carpenters and cabinet makers. The company name is a nod to their screw caps–not a press-in, but a peel and stick, available in a wide range of wood grains, as is their matching edge banding . Check out their website and order a catalogue, or visit either their factory and showroom or one of many retailers. You won’t likely buy a competing product again–certainly not anyone else’s tape measure.

And, unlike many North American technology companies, nearly all their products are manufactured here–the only exception being the aforementioned tape measures, though they are working on changing that. BTW, the Spy thinks outsourcing hardware manufacturing and software development has run its course, and has proven itself a failed experiment in both categories. Time to insource. Are you listening, Apple? Bring the jobs back home.

FastCap is also an advocate and practitioner of lean development and management. The whole tech industry could learn something from this. You don’t throw resources at a problem to make it go away. You plan to make problems go away and then you acquire more resources from a better bottom line. Check it out.

On a similar note, the Spy has previously given bouquets to Bosch for its line of 18V Lithium cordless tools. In the last year or two, competitors had passed Bosch in terms of power and quality, by moving to 20V and/or brushless motors, which can deliver more torque with less electricity. However, in recent months Bosch has met the challenge by quietly replacing most of the tools in this line with brushless models, and upgrading the batteries from 1.5 and 3 Amp-hours to 2 and 4, respectively. Since the Spy was happy enough with the former line, he need not upgrade, but the changes should give Bosch a leg up on the competition. Superb quality. An enthusiastic buy.

And, competition is the watchword in this market as the cordless tool makers cut prices to jockey for market share and visibility. Look for bargains as margins are cut to the bone and older models are cleared out at sometimes ridiculous prices. What tools should be in every cordless workbag?–a light duty drill, an impact driver, a heaver hammer drill, a jigsaw, six-inch circular saw, and a reciprocating saw (which the Spy calls a wrecker’s saw but uses for tree pruning on distant portions of his acreage). There is also an angle grinder, an impact wrench, medium-duty drills, and a right-angle drill plus a separate line of heavier 36-volt hammer drills. The Spy’s wish list here includes a telescoping chain-saw pruner and an orbital sander.

Next Month
A fall round up on Apple’s announcements and whither the company from here.

–The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a.k.a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several community and organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and nine novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to Participate and you could win free web hosting from the subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe’s fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon’s Booksurge.

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WWDC 2014 Keynote to be Broadcast LIve


The annual World Wide Developers Conference keynote for the 2014 rendition of WWDC will be broadcast live.  Breaking with past years, the past several keynotes have been broadcast over the Internet, making it available to more people, especially in light of the popularity of the tickets for the event.  WWDC is held each year at Muscone Center in San Francisco and is a week long chance for developers to rub elbows with the developers at Apple.  It is also a chance for Apple to announce forthcoming products at a conference where it is a majority of people who are pro-Apple.

Apple has also made many of the events available for viewing using their WWDC app over iOS enabled devices.  The broadcast of WWDC 2014 will begin at 10PM PST and can be viewed with the Safari Browser only.   To view the WWDC Keynote, go to: