Awkward Moments Dampen Woz's Return

by Derrick Story

The line of Woz fans formed early and snaked through Moscone North well before the panel discussion titled "The Move to Mac OS X" was scheduled to begin.

The moderator was Dave Mark, MacTech Mag editor in chief, was joined by Bob LeVitus, Robin Williams, and Neil Ticktin -- a good bunch of folks indeed. But the star of the show was clearly Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, whom the audience gave a standing ovation upon his introduction. Unfortunately, that was the highlight of this event.

For starters, the audio was just terrible. Microphones weren't working, or they'd cut in and out while the speakers were trying to make a point. The presentation was held in a partitioned-off area on the trade floor itself, so the ambient noise level was high to begin with. Having crappy audio only made the situation worse.

As frustration set in for panelists and audience alike, the pace of the discussion began to disintegrate. The topic was supposed to be "The Move to Mac OS X," but the only LeVitus and Ticktin seemed truly enthusiastic about Apple's new operating system. And at times, Wozniak even appeared clearly dissatisfied with the Unix-based OS. Not that I was expecting all love and roses here, but I wasn't prepared for a platform debate either.

From my perspective, this approach wasn't very illuminating or inspiring. Some good points were made by panelists, but basically the discussion was a rehash of dozens of discussions I've witnessed during the last two years. I think it would have been far more helpful for these seasoned OS 9 users to focus on sharing tips for making the move to OS X easier.

Every now and then a healthy suggestion would break through the conversation, that is, if you could hear it. But overall, I felt somewhat deflated by this session. Too bad, because the potential for a great talk was there.

I understand the pain that accompanies a wholesale move from one platform to another. I realize that Apple sometimes engages in "tough love" that is hard on consumers who don't have the disposable income to upgrade to the latest and the greatest. I too sometimes wish for a more kinder, gentler Apple.

But I didn't feel that this was the place for that discussion. Instead, how about more time spent on low-cost workarounds that help with the transition to Mac OS X? What can schools do to begin the migration even though they have older hardware? If you're not rolling in dough, how can you experience Apple's platform of the future?

Bottom line: good participants, good topic. For some reason, it just didn't work out. Too bad. I hope Woz comes back again for another try.


2003-01-08 04:40:16
Missed Opportunity
Too bad, sounds like an excellent opportunity was missed to evangelize moving to OS X.

I have heard WOZ speak many times over the years and he can be quite compelling (in his own way).

He certainly has influence with long-time Apple users (me, included) as evidenced by the standing O,

Maybe, Apple should capatalize on this, by using WOZ in a "Switcher" ad.


2003-01-09 00:27:04
Woz and change
For the ones that remeber, Woz was not very happy with the change from Apple II (and III) to the Macintosh in the early days.

Woz is a hardware genius, but maybe a little bit old fashionned for this kind of move.


2003-01-09 18:54:09
Woz and change
Woz was loyal to the Apple ][ for obvious reasons.

I don't remember him (or anybody) being a fan of the Apple III.

The Mac was developed mostly after Woz left Apple.

But when the Mac came of age, Woz embraced it with great enthusiasm -- purchasing/donating many Macs to charities, the US festival developers, his own business ventures, San Jose Opera/Symphony, yadda, yadda, yadda

Many of the people who created the Mac (Hertzfeld, Atkinson, Tog, & the like) were atttracted to Apple by Woz's simple/elegant design (of both hardware and software). The Apple ][ disk card was a thing of beauty as was the miniassembler. Oh yeah, color & HiRes graphics -- just 'cause he thought they were neat!

Jobs was able to insist on an Apple ][ case without a fan because Woz was able to design a motherboard with very few (heat-generating) chips.

I haven't seen Woz in years, but I suspect he is a big Mac fan -- the Mac of today was built with many of the same goals as the Apple ][.


2003-01-09 22:33:43
Agreed--very lame!
I was also there, and I definitely agree that this session was a major disappointment. Most of the people on the panel did not seem to be very "with it," which made them kind of a funny group to be extolling the virtues of OS X. I found myself really slapping my head when the subject of UNIX came up! Rather than recognizing Mac OS X's newfound potential as an enterprise operating system, or discussing the strategic importance of Apple's alliances with the open source community, they spent an inordinate amount of time discussing the rather prosaic command line utility "fsck!"

Also, maybe it was because of the sound problems, but the moderator did a very poor job of coaxing anything interesting out of the panelists. After politely listening to Woz slavishly defend Mac OS 9 while blaming Internet Explorer for all of the old OS's problems, the guy really should have said "OK, well now can you tell us what you *like* about OS X?"

Woz is wonderful, and I greatly admire him, but he needs to get with the times--anybody who insists on running his *web servers* on OS 9 when OS X exists and ships with Apache pre-installed is clearly not the best authority on "the switch to OS X."