A LIFE CHANGER FOR ME

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Submitted Date 10/03/2019
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Just about everyone can tell you about something that significantly changed their lives for the better. It could be a person, a place that they visited, something spiritual or even something materialistic.

At first pondering of my choice as a life-changer, you might think that it is indeed just a materialistic choice however, it is so much very more than that.

Back in 1979 and 1980 while I was working at what was then the world's largest record store chain (by sales volume), Peaches Records and Tapes, we would have 100,000 or more pieces of shiny black vinyl in the store. We also had plenty of colored and picture discs. I had no idea how it was going to happen, but I was telling my coworkers back then that someday we would be able to hold the store's entire amount of music in our two hands.

Peaches Records and Tapes

http://www.themortonreport.com/entertainment/music/peaches-records-tapes-warm-memories-of-a-fallen-giant/

At that time there wasn't anything digital available, hell it was still a few years away from the first CDs. I was also talking about there would be a means for us to view the entire world from our living rooms and interact, but I could not explain how. Over the next decade, I kept on thinking about these things in the back of my head.

The original Peaches was in Hollywood, California.

The Hollywood Peaches Records and Tapes
The starting date of this lifetime change for me started on January 24, 1984, however, I did not truly realize this for more a decade later.



This was the first day that Apple released the Macintosh computer. Just before that day on SuperBowl Sunday, one of the very most important and famous TV ads of all times was played only once on TV. This is an interesting video of how that ad came about.


When you look at the year this ad was made and think about all the TV ads made before it, especially for the SuperBowl, it is indeed impressive.


For the first time, a personal computer was making sense to me because using something like DOS certainly didn't. I am severely dyslexic therefore DOS and any type of coding was never going to happen for me.

It was going to take me over a decade though before I was to buy my first computer. As those years were rolling by the advent of multimedia becoming something that the masses could create was fascinating me. Then the 90s came and with the decade came the beginning of powerful software programs that could perform what a few previous generations ago would have called magic. It sort of all started from the simple Mac Paint program and that later inspired Adobe's Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop 3

Adobe's founders were previous Apple contractors and the programs that came out then were revolutionary. Illustrator, Premier, Acrobat and of course Photoshop were changing the way people would be using computers for an entirely different brand of computer users. One of them would become me.

January 1990 I started Mittmount, a company specializing in the installation and isolation of ceiling-mounted surgical microscopes. Soon I was dealing with medical facilities, architects and engineers from all over the nation. I started to think about maybe having to get a computer for business, to do all that crap that I wanted no part in like word processing, spreadsheets, and databases. So a few more years went by.

January 1995 I had just moved HQ from Baltimore to Knoxville, Tennessee. After three years of trying to deal with the dangers of living in the intercity of B'more, even though I was in the Waverly neighborhood, I had to get out of there.

Once I was in Knoxville I began thinking more and more about getting a computer system and at that time, in particular, there was a lot of controversy about what computer OS to use and what software to run on it. This was the era when Microsoft was on a rampage of stealing programming and at the same time trying to stifle innovation. The era of the internet just breaking for the early masses and those nasty AOL plastic discs were appearing everywhere. The era where Apple was without Steve Jobs and was starting to flounder.

I spent two years studying the situation, going to stores, looking and asking questions, going to Atlanta to watch demonstrations and seminars by Apple and Adobe and buying computer magazines monthly. I was determined to get the computer system I was envisioning in my head because I knew it was possible but being in Knoxville made it more difficult than living in a city.

When talking about the various places I have lived in this life I say only about six of those years I wasn't living in a city, four of them in Knoxville. During my years there in Knoxville, it was a base for me to travel to other cities around the nation as I was doing a crazy amount of driving to all the operating rooms I was working in.

By 1996 I had decided that I wanted to get an Apple computer system because it was at the time the only platform that most all the Adobe products would work on and it was the multimedia pioneer. It also had seemed to me that Microsoft was quite a dishonest corporation. https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-a-monopoly-rules-judge-jackson/

The realization that by using a Mac I could take the things I only before could envision in my head and make them for real digitally, was becoming quite exciting to me. For those last few years, I was convinced that a "home" computer had to completely interface with your home entertainment system to be a home computer. Making that possible in 1996/97 was practically impossible in a home environment.

Sometime during that summer, I read an article in USA Today about the advent of broadband and how it would be changing everything about the internet. It spoke about how soon you would be able to download a movie in real-time speed. In other words, a two-hour movie would only take two hours to download! In 1996 that sounded amazing!

And with broadband audio and video streaming would be possible! It was that USA Today article that put it all together for me. The things I was thinking and talking about in the late 70s was about to become true! I was sure I wanted to be among the first to witness what we now call streaming. But I wanted it to happen on the home entertainment system, not on a computer monitor and through the computer's speakers.

Within a few days after reading that article I learned that Bell South was making Knoxville a test market for a new, faster way to connect to the internet called ISDN. So at least I never had to start off with dial-up 56K service. Compared to today's broadband, ISDN is extremely slow at 128 Kbps but it was better than using the phone.

I had just moved out of the Old City and into a really cool house on Western Avenue. The front of the house was like any normal house on Western but the back part of the house was one huge room that was made to be a sound studio and living room all in one.

In the center of the room was a fireplace that I was never going to use it as a fireplace. So above the fireplace, I had my 36" RCA picture tube TV, the bottom of it seven feet off the floor. The Bose/Onkyo surround sound system filled that room majestically. The Onkyo was one of the new video switchers and so it would interface with the TV and the satellite dish as well as all the audio gear. Now the trick would be to get a computer to play nice with it all.

It was very difficult for me to get the information that I was looking for back then because next to no one was thinking of incorporating an entertainment system with a computer, to me it made perfect sense and yet everyone thought I was nuts. Especially at the Apple reseller in Knoxville.

After more research, I read about the Mac towers that were being used at George Lucas's Skywalker Labs. Built into the towers straight from Apple these towers had S-Video in and out, RCA Video in and out and RCA Audio in and out! They were the first of their kind in the computer world and I knew then that was the computer I needed at home.

At that time flatbed scanning was a new thing and I wanted to buy the top of the line gear because by then I already knew how quickly things get outdated. Agfa was the quality scanner brand then and I decided on the Arcus II which came with a licensed full version of Photoshop 3 and an upgrade to PS4 when it came out. It was $1600.00.Adobe Photoshop 4

Of course, I needed an office laser printer and I bought the LaserWriter 12/640 PS with the duplex printing option. It was around $2400.00 and is a rather large printer.

Apple LaserWriter 12/640 PSThis is a fairly large printer.

It was the Apple PowerMac 8600 tower that I waiting for once I had ordered it from Eastern Computers in Knoxville. Even after I had put a down payment on it they couldn't figure out why I would want such heavy-duty gear as this as my first system. I was supposed to have gotten the model with the built-in Zip drives (first computer model to do so) but the shipping delay caused me to get the 8600 without the Zip. Buying an external Zip drive and a bunch of Zip discs was what I had to do, floppies just did not hold enough data.

Apple Powermac 8600

Finally, the day arrived when all gear showed up in Knoxville and ready to be picked up! I hired one of the contractors that worked with Eastern Computers to set the computer up and show me the basics. We could not get it all completed the first day and it was on the second day that we had it all together and interfacing 100% with all of the home entertainment system!

Mind you, this was March 1997. I could play something from the TV satellite feed, see it on the TV and record the video and audio using QuickTime Pro and save it on my new Mac. I could take any audio or video file from the Zip drive and play that on the Bose/Onkyo system and the TV! And I was connected to the internet via ISDN. At that moment there was nothing else like it in all of Eastern Tennessee!

Upgrade to QuickTime Pro 3

When RealAudio Player first streamed audio and then video, I was able to catch it on my home computer. And that is what I have been telling people ever since it is not a home computer if it does not interface with your home entertainment system. That would merely be an office computer in a home.

RealAudio Player

The next thing would be to learn how to use the Mac, multimedia and all the software I wanted hopefully master. The first thing that I taught myself by reading and going a couple of seminars in Atlanta was professional scanning. The Agfa Argus II was one of the best flatbed scanners of its time and together with Adobe's Photoshop, they could be the key to getting the best in professional results.

The one problem that I didn't learn about the Argus II until after I tried scanning documents is the fact that Agfa did not build any TWAIN drivers and capability for OCR to be used! Again, this was back at the beginning of mass marketing scanners. This was fairly disappointing to me since the scanner had cost so much, but it was still a great scanner and using it properly taught me a lot about the basics of creating high res graphics and images. Plus, it came with the full version of Photoshop 3 with an upgrade to PS 4, so I have been playing with PS ever since.

Agfa Arcus II flatbed scanner

It didn't take long before I figured out how I could make animated GIFs with PS however, it was much more work than it is today. Making GIFs became my hobby on the Mac and I would rather do that than play a video game. Here's a collection of some of my animated GIFs: https://rgator.com/gifs/

Back then I was regularly going to Atlanta to check out different computer hardware and software events and seminars. One of them was Adobe's introduction for ImageReady, a stand-alone application that would work in concert to make web-ready images and animated GIFs. Needless to say, I preordered ImageReady.

ImageReady 1.0

As far as working with images for the web, it sure made things easier. Back then graphics were more geared for printing which would be a least 300 dpi and the web-ready image is 72 dpi. That difference was a bit of a workaround until ImageReady was released. Within a couple of years, Adobe incorporated ImageReady into Photoshop and it became more as we know it now.

Adobe ImageReady 7.0

While I was living in Knoxville I had a tough time trying to learn multimedia and the cooler tricks of using a powerful Mac. There was a MUG (Mac User Group) which I joined and attended many of the meetings. The situation for me though was it was mostly beginners like me and no one else there was genuinely interested in multimedia yet. They wanted to know about word processing, spreadsheets, databases, setting up a printer or the internet, boring stuff.

To get any live multimedia information, I would have to travel to Atlanta. By February 1999 I had enough of Knoxville and moved back to Denver. By then the Metro Denver & Boulder area had become a little Silicon Valley and has sort of remained that way ever since.

A little research told me that one of the best MUGs in the USA was located in Boulder and within a month I had joined COMUG. The amount of industry-leading professionals in their fields, working for the likes of Apple, Adobe and Quark, that were members was impressive.

CoMUG Logo

This MUG was a world apart from the one I had previous experience with in Knoxville and I was able to learn and glean a lot of useful information. They no longer have their monthly meetings but when they did, they were always held at the NCAR in Boulder. https://ncar.ucar.edu/ This was the perfect setting for our meetings because below where we would sit, deep into the mountain sits one of the six original hubs of the internet! This was also the year that I started using Adobe's PageMil to make websites.

Adobe PageMill

It wasn't too long before I was able to ask questions that would then get some serious discussions going. Not much later I would sometimes give demonstrations of software. A couple of years later I was working on the sales floor for the Apple Store in Denver, at Cherry Creek.

Cherry Creek Apple Store Denver Colorado

The coolest thing about it all has always been that I am now able to take something that I could have only envisioned before and now actually turn it into something that others can see too. Being able to use what has always been to this day the cutting edge in a GUI has been a huge benefit for someone that is as dyslexic as I am.

Having a GUI that both is intuitive and makes sense, along with software that matches, allows someone to create rather than having to figure out how to. The software is written to understand what the user wants and then writes the code correctly to get that to happen. That's the beauty of great software and an outstanding GUI working in concert. The creator can focus on creating the next art piece, website, video or whatever and never have to worry about the code behind it for the most part.

GUI Graphical User Interface Graphical User Interface

The advent of broadband truly helped to change my life since it meshed in well with the use of all my Macs. Within a couple of months of moving to Denver in 1999, I had my computer system set up in Aurora where I had one of the first Macs to connect to the new cable broadband system. This was before they were called Comcast, it was AT&TBI.

For the last two decades, the internet has been the primary source for all the music I listen to, most of the news that I get, the means of purchasing my software and so much more, most of the movies I watch. Most of the time when I am home I'm listening to https://RadioParadise.com and have been for nearly 20 now!

Radio Paradise Logo

All of the music that was once held within a Peaches Records and Tapes Store can now easily be held with one hand on one hard drive.

Once that tower aged out and wasn't worthwhile to upgrade anymore the new OS X was about to come out. That would the last tower computer I would ever own. Apple had started to make some laptop computers that were smoking the PC towers and there was no need to have a tower because you were a professional any longer.

Mac OS 9.2

Mac OS X 10.1 CD

Note the installation was a CD and not a DVD!

I bought the very first PowerBook model that had Wifi and it was the first laptop in the world to have Wifi and it had a 60 GB hard drive and a Superdrive. https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2002/11/06Apple-Introduces-New-Titanium-PowerBook-G4-with-DVD-Burning-SuperDrive/

Apple PowerBook G4

Twenty-two years following the first firing up of that Mac tower I still don't know how to use a spreadsheet and any more than a simple database or word processor. I just do not care about that sort of stuff when it comes to computers.

I now have two MacBook Pros sitting at my desk, between the two over 50 TB of hard drives are connected, each laptop with an extended 27" monitor and using Bluetooth to lock in with my Klipsch ProMedia2 powered speakers to listen to Roxy Music at this moment playing on Radio Paradise.

Klipsch Bluetooth ProMedia 2 Powered Speakers

Any work that I get these days comes from using my Macs. I knew a few decades back that I was going to have to learn how to earn a living sitting on my ass should I happen to stay alive. Between the rheumatic fever and all the construction work I was doing then, my body would be shot later in life, that I was certain of. For the last decade, my living has primarily come from using my Macs to produce the work.

My MacBook Pros

That being said, getting a Mac has changed my life for the better more so than just about anything else I can think of.

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