An Apple a day, keeps the Genius in pay

The (much too) common cold

Illness, even minor, can be a real headache. And sometimes, just sometimes, that illness encompasses headache, too. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as I’m preparing to shoot a wedding at the weekend. As usual, I’m determined to beat it into submission. Combing through the medical literature in search of evidence supporting the use of high dose vitamin C in the common cold (yes, an element of confirmation bias may be present) I’ve come up largely empty-handed. There have been several Cochrane Library meta-analyses, which involve sorting through all of the evidence on a particular subject matter in an attempt to come to some evidence-based conclusions, on the subject of vitamin C in prevention and treatment of the cold with mixed results. Regular supplementation has been shown in some studies to reduce the duration of colds, but this result wasn’t borne out in therapeutic trials. However, given the safety of vitamin C and low-cost, they suggest trialling it on an individual basis. What’s the worst that can happen? Too much vitamin C can cause diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting, but it’s worth a shot. The vitamin C tablets I’ve bought also contain zinc, so I’m limiting my intake on that basis, but I’m going to start with 2000 mg vitamin C and 30 mg zinc and see what happens. It’s science in action, people! Not terribly good science, but a trial of sorts. Nature, here I come…

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The Macintosh Classic pictured here, along with the Atari 1040STe and a bunch of other memorabilia

Apple Addiction

I recently watched the Steve Jobs movie starring Michael Fassbender as the turtle-necked master salesman, and it got me thinking about Apple Computers. If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth a look. A dramatic rendition of three product launches, the Macintosh, the NeXT Computer, and the original iMac, presented in a clearly delineated three-act structure. Well, that wasn’t the only thing that made me think about Apple. My brother came across dad’s old Macintosh Classic computer lying in the roof space, neglected for many years. Launched in 1990, the Mac Classic was Apple’s first really affordable Macintosh. Memories flooded back, with me sitting at the computer and playing with the settings, and not really doing much else. I don’t think we had much in the way of software other than the word processor, and certainly no games that I remember, but I could entertain myself forever with that machine. I can remember the horrendous grating sound that the ImageWriter dot matrix printer would make as it brought whatever was on the screen into reality. My dad was really into computers at the time, and had the foresight to invest in the future, and was really the person who got me interested. The Mac Classic case had seen better days. In my youth I had a thing about putting stickers on almost everything, and the Mac was no exception. Along with the ImageWriter, it was covered in stickers from a Star Wars: Episode I Filofax. It took some scrubbing, but I managed to get most of the stickers off. The residue was another matter. If anyone out there knows a good way to remove old sticker residue from plastic, let me know. I couldn’t shift it in any meaningful way. I’m planning to give the casing a treatment with hydrogen peroxide, as it reverses the yellowing caused by light reacting with the plastic, but I don’t want to take that step till all the sticker stuff is gone.

The more I read about Apple, the more I wanted to read. I knew very little about the early days of the company. Sure I was aware of the big milestones, the Macintosh, the NeXT, iMac, iPod, iPhone and so on, but that was the extent of my knowledge. I had no idea how instrumental the Apple II, the second Apple computer designed by Steve Wozniak, Woz, was to the success of the company. And I didn’t fully appreciate the genius of Woz, and the immense talent he is. Go and watch a few interviews and spotlights on Woz – the above video is particularly interesting – and you’ll start to understand what I mean. He did things with computers that no-one else on earth was doing, and was instrumental in making personal computers a reality, driven by wanting one for himself. Steve Jobs played a key role in getting Woz’s designs out to the world and monetising them, driving the revolution forward. Woz was giving away his designs for, what would become, the Apple I for free before Jobs found a buyer and got the ball rolling on Apple Computers.

For all my talk of the wonders of Apple, you’d think I would be writing this on an Apple Mac. If you were talking to me ten years ago, you may well have been right. I had an Apple iMac G3 Graphite Special Edition back in Junior High, but it has since been relegated to the roof space. But in reality, I’m using a Windows computer. I love what Apple does, and what it stands for, but I grew up fiddling with and breaking Microsoft Windows, and Mac OS X is too restrictive for my liking. That, and I can’t afford the damn things. I helped my parents make the jump from a 2006 black MacBook to the Asus ZenBook UX303. Design and quality of Windows laptops are always improving, and the ZenBook is a beautiful piece of kit. I put together a quick unboxing video if you’re interested – it’s above this paragraph. Pound for pound, performance was much better in the ZenBook, and the build quality was almost on par with Apple. The touchpad isn’t quite as nice to use, but it’s a small issue in an otherwise great package. Loaded up with an Intel Core i7 processor, 256 GB SSD, and 12 GB RAM, it’s well specced and here’s hoping it will last as long as the MacBook has.

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