Author Archives: Thaddeus

My Macs

Yesterday, the Macintosh celebrated it’s 30th birthday. To honor the beloved machines, aficionados shared stories that lead to their love for the platform, including the history of machines they’ve owned over the years. I included a picture of two Mac minis, declaring them as the first Macs I owned.

thaddeus First and second. With and without modem.

Well, this wasn’t entirely true. The Macintosh LC III was technically the first machine I owned. During high school, I helped our school district’s tech director with maintenance and upgrades of our school’s computer labs. At some point, we replaced a lab full of LC IIIs with brand new grape iMacs, and I was given the chance to procure one of the old machines before it found its way to be recycled.


Macintosh LC III, courtesy of

The LC III was a handsome little computer, with an easily-accessible 3.5″ floppy drive on the front, a slim case that shouldered a bright monitor, and the familiar Mac keyboard and mouse of the day. The machine was built before Compact Disc became a driving force in software distribution, only to be replaced in our school by a machine with no floppy drive. The drum of Apple driving forward beat strong even in those days.

My classmates and I had slogged over papers in ClarisWorks and enjoyed countless hours of Sim City 2000 1 on the machines, and I was pretty delighted to be able to keep one of these machines for my own. The models we had at school had been updated to included ethernet cards, which meant our labs were connected to the internet much earlier than many other schools in our area. 2

The Desire For Macintosh

While I’d used the Macintosh throughout my years in middle and high school, our family owned a trusty Gateway 2000 with Windows 3.1. I spent my high school years using that machine until I replaced it with my own PC. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I was reunited with the Mac. My friend Carl had upgraded to 10.3 and was showing off Exposé. He would take his G3 iBook out of his backpack and be working much faster than any of the PC users in our classes. 3 At some point, Carl showed up to class with a new PowerBook, and I shamelessly ogled the machine for the rest of our time in college together. OS X was a very different operating system than 7, 8, and 9, which I was familiar with from high school, and the PowerBook was vastly different from the plastic LC IIIs and iMacs I’d helped administer. I wasn’t sure how, but I knew I had to get one.

And therein lied the problem – as a college student, I simply couldn’t afford one.

Mac mini

Mac mini – courtesy of

This tiny little machine absolutely changed things for me. I was working on a semester-long co-op in January 2005, when Steve Jobs answered a common question at Macworld:

Why doesn’t Apple offer a stripped-down Mac that is more affordable?

The cheap Macintosh was born. I purchased one before returning to school that fall, and quickly found myself wanting more. I sold the Dell Inspiron I’d bought a few years previous and bought a G4 iBook mid-semester. Before the school year ended, I also owned an Early 2006 iMac (the very first Intel desktop from Apple).

Huh. I thought I couldn’t afford one.

Intel iMac

Anybody that owned a G4 Mac mini and actually tried to use it as a primary computer for very long knew the dirty little secret – it was barely usable. I imported my photos into iPhoto and it fell apart. 4 My iTunes library destroyed the machine. When I tried to do much more than chat with friends on iChat, things got messy.

The Intel iMac changed my Macintosh experience again. As soon as I accepted my full-time job that final semester of college, I ran out (and foolishly) bought an iMac. It was a machine that had so much more power than any of the other machines I’d previously used, and it also ran the OS I enjoyed.

I graduated from college and started working full-time on an embedded Linux system. Here an there, I dabbled with Objective-C, but never had anything in particular I wanted to try and build. I used the machine daily, and absolutely loved it. I had it paired with a 20″ Dell display, and the setup was absolutely wonderful for the day. 5

The iMac with its matching Dell display in college

Luckily, that iMac still had plenty of life when I downloaded the iPhone SDK in 2008. That’s a story for another Apple birthday.

Happy 30th, Macintosh.

  1. Mr. Oliphant had the progressive thought to teaching us about city development by playing a video game. He had an incredible impact on my path toward software development.
  2. My first experience on the internet was on a LC III with an external modem. The computer was designated specifically for teachers and special use by students.
  3. Nevermind those of us still bouncing between labs and personal machines back in our rooms, juggling Zip drives or FTPing homework back and forth.
  4. I had even perform the ceremonial putty-knife surgery to upgrade the RAM
  5. As it turns out, the Dell used the identical panel as the iMac, so it couldn’t have been a better setup.

It Still Works

On Friday, FedEx dropped of my wife’s new iPhone 5s (gold). She graciously offered to wait for me to finish working before we unboxed it.

thaddeus On the topic of unboxing @jenaeter’s gold iPhone 5s

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We spent the evening preparing for our son’s birthday party, so the phone sat in the FexEx box on a shelf. Saturday came and it was time to host family for the party, so the phone continued to sit. When things finally calmed down and I asked her if she wanted to open her phone, she stunned me.

“I’m not sure I want it. My [iPhone 4S] still works great.”

Her reason was simple. Most of the time, you upgrade a phone because the current one is bothersome, whether it be slow, incompatible with new software, or damaged. For her, none of these were true. The iPhone 4S is still a really great phone.

In the end, we opened the iPhone 5s for the original reason we bought it – as parents, the camera improvements are worth every subsidized penny we spend on these phones over the course of two years.


Favd IconFavd is a new iPhone app by the fine folks at YourHead Software. I’ve been beta testing the app since WWDC, and it’s great. 1

In a lot of ways, Favd is very similar to Instagram. Its prominent function is to capture photos and share them with your friends. It allows quick and easy application of filters, including live previews, and can broadcast to Twitter, Facebook, and of course (ADN). Favd includes a beautiful timeline view for browsing your friends’ photos with gorgeous previews.

Where Favd draws one major distinction is the backend network that powers the app: ADN. The app blazes a trail that developer Isaiah Carew has been advocating, as have many others. The real power of ADN is that we are able to build applications like Twitter, Instagram, and even Facebook, on a set of APIs that keep the user in control of their data. The service continues to build out new features, and has shown a commitment to working with the community to make building great apps possible.

Be sure to check out Favd. It’s a free app, with some great premium filters that support its developer.

  1. I’ve been without the app since I got my iPhone 5s, so I’m really glad to have it back, and to be able to support Isaiah.

Can FBI Get iPhone 5S Fingerprint Data?

Now that the iPhone 5s is in our hands, the public FUD about its new finger print scanner (branded Touch ID) has begun. This piece from Ars raises the following questions:

(1) Is it possible to convert locally stored fingerprint data into a digital or visual format that can be used by third parties?

(2) Is it possible to extract and obtain fingerprint data from an iPhone? If so, can this be done remotely, or with physical access to the device?…

Likely answers: yes and yes. To the first question – the fingerprints are stored in a digital format on the device, since it is, a digital device. That data could be harvested from the device, if it was convinced to reveal the data it is storing. Assuming it’s a one-way encryption,1 it wouldn’t be trivial to break the encryption,2 but you could also intercept the data coming off the reader if the hardware has been compromised to that point.

Here’s my question: who cares? Is getting my fingerprint data from my phone easier than just grabbing something I throw away at the mall? Why not snag my credit card from the waitress when I pay for a meal? There are lots of other ways to get this data, and they don’t involve invoking the Patriot Act.

  1. The data is stored encrypted, and when swiped, incoming data is encrypted. The two encryptions are matched for validation.
  2. Obligatory encryption-breaking joke about our government here

Was Touch ID Steve’s Last Project?

There has been lots of speculation that the iPhone 5 was Steve Jobs’ last major project at Apple. That has always felt pretty shallow. The iPhone 5 was a significant redesign, but certainly not the groundbreaking kind of release that would consume a visionary’s thoughts.

This answer on Quora has me wondering if it was actually Touch ID. He certainly had to be aware of the project if it was in-progress while he was at Apple. The vision necessary to see something like that as far back as 2008 is very much in the realm of Steve.

Apple has taken a very slow and methodical approach with the release of Touch ID.  We can see that there was a tremendous amount of amazing work that has gone into this project.  All of this convergence took over seven years of very hard work. It includes many patent applications, the acquisition of AuthenTec, the selection of the A7 processor and the integration of the TrustZone suite all baked together into what we now know as Touch ID.

Sounds about like Steve to me.

Via Daring Fireball