Hopes, and Homes, Crumbling on Indian Tea Plantations, from

An article reporting on working and living conditions in Assam, India, which produces some of the largest quantities of cheap black tea in the world.  Conditions like this are likely much more common than known publicly. 

It’s a stark contrast to my experience at Makaibari Estate in Darjeeling. which is well known for it’s reinvestment in it’s community and workers.

Tea pluckers, most of whom are elderly women, deserve great respect and support. Without them we would not have tea.

Pluckers in the fields at Makaibari, Darjeeling. May 2013.

My 30 Years of Using The Mac

I’ve been a Mac user all my life, thanks to my parents and my public schooling in San Jose, California. In honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Macintosh I wish to share my timeline of computers. I had computers in my life before the internet existed. Back then we would enjoy things like games and multi-media via CD-ROM and exchanged files on floppies and Zips.

Macintosh Classic — Our family’s first Mac. One day my dad called me into the garage to take a look at something. He was standing next to a giant white box with a greyscale, bitmap image of the Mac and a large red Apple logo. (Purchased c. 1990)

Macintosh IIci — This was my brother’s. He had purchased it from a friend who was upgrading to a Quadra 840av. We had the Classic, the IIci, and an original HP DeskJet printer all connected via LocalTalk. Our IIci had an 80MB hard drive, which was too small for games and holding Microsoft Office (back then Office shipped on 42 floppy disks). The Iomega ZipDrive was just released offering 100MB per disk, and we bought one and plugged it in via SCSI. We had a Zip disk for Office, Games, and a few for backing up stuff. The IIci lacked an internal CD-ROM drive and we eventually bought an Apple external drive so I could play Myst and use Encarta. (Purchased c.1990)

PowerCenter 150 + Sony Trinitron 17” — The time came to upgrade from our IIci and I really wanted a PowerMacintosh 7600. But it was too expensive and the Mac Clones were new, cheaper and seemed promising. The PowerCenter worked like you expected but had a clunky look instead of a refined, beige Macintosh on a desk. It had curious technical oddities too, like requiring the “CD-ROM Toolkit Driver” extension to use the internal CD-ROM drive. Our computer also suffered from various crashes over a period of several months (“Sorry an error has occurred. Error Type 11. Restart”). After many weeks of troubleshooting, reinstalling system software, and time on the phone with tech support, we discovered our PowerCenter had fautly RAM. But in all of that time I learned everything there was to know about diagnosing and fixing problems with computers. Our defective PowerCenter kicked off what would become always evolving skill of supporting computers for myself and many others. (Purchased 1996)

PowerBook 3400c — My first laptop. Although the 3400 was thick and heavy it’s substantialness and dark grey body felt professional. The screen featured a subwoofer, which added to the bulkiness. The CD-ROM drive was a module which could be removed and replaced with an Iomega ZipDrive. This was around the time our home network evolved into a 10base-T ethernet network. At the time our PowerCenter had a GlobalVilage 56k modem plugged into it. Our first internet access was with AOL. Later with a local provider called WombatNet. Then I installed an application called IPNetRouter on the PowerCenter to share that connection with my PowerBook. (Purchased 1998)

PowerMacintosh G3 tower + ColorCync 17” — Although comical in its  look, the new blue and white G3 tower impressive as well as entertaining because you could open the side door and view all it’s parts. The act of opening and closing the side door was thrilling. This was the height of the ZipDrive, so I had one installed internally below the DVD-ROM drive. The blue and white G3 still had an ADB port for people who used Wacom tablets, used Quark Express and had to plug in the license dongle, or had one of these fancy ColorSync displays. The ColorSync displays were very special in that adjusting the brightness or Contrast would bring up a system based dialogue box to show the Brightness meter. This feature was handled through ADB. (Purchased 1999)

PowerBook G3 “Pismo” — The Pismo was the last of this style of shapely black. It was thinner and had a beautiful translucent brown keyboard. It was the first PowerBook to have FireWire and an internal slot for the new AirPort card. It was my dad’s idea to buy the first AirPort Base Station to share the home internet connection on wifi and ethernet. At this time he was using my old 3400 and we plugged in a third party wifi card. We still had the PowerCenter 150 too. (Purchased 2000)

PowerMac G4 Tower, AGP Graphics — Very much like the blue and white G3 tower but with the G4 processor, faster bus, and better graphics known as AGP. I got a deal on this model when I worked at ComputerWare. I kept this G4, passed the G3 onto my parents, and we sold the PowerCenter. (Purchased 2000)

iBook G3 12” — As an Apple Campus Rep for my university, I was given an iBook to use for work and spreading the gospel of the Mac. The iBook felt very compact and cozy to use. This series of laptops suffered from very squeaky and stiff hinges. (Received 2002)

PowerBook G4 12” — The very first of this model was just an iBook with a G4 processor and an aluminum exterior. It wasn’t until the 1GHz version was released did it really feel like PowerBook levels, with the better processor, faster bus, and mini-DVI. Later on the Campus Rep iBooks were replaced with 12” PowerBook G4’s. (Received 2003)

PowerMac G4 “Mirrored Drive Door” (MDD) + Cinema Display 20” — This combo was luxurious. The PowerMac was a dual 867MHz G4 powering a giant, flat Apple display. This was the first time I had a Mac that lasted in the family a lot longer than I anticipated (thanks to the dual processors). These particular Macs were known for fans that were too loud. Apple later offered kits with revised power supplies built with quieter fans. I passed my previous G4 onto my parents and we sold the G3 tower. (Purchased 2002)

iMac G5 20”, ALS — Growing up as an Apple power user, I would always buy the “Power” Mac or Book, never an iMac. But the iMac G5 had an impressive set of features and power, comprable to the tower and at a better price point. Plus I had just moved to my apartment in San Francisco and welcomed an all-in-one box. This would become a home theater system with Front Row having just debuted. This iMac had an ambient light sensor that would dim the sleep light at night, so as not to disturb the darkness. I passed the PowerMac G4 MDD on to my parents and we sold the first G4 tower. (Purchased 2005)

MacBook, 2.1Ghz Core 2 Duo, 13” White — I no longer had the Campus Rep supplied laptops and my job had given me an old iBook. The new white MacBook was a huge jump in performance and had a sturdiness that was quite welcome after years of feeling the iBooks and first Titanium PowerBooks fall apart. Apple had just started switching to Intel processors and this was my first. (Purchased 2006)

iMac, 3.06Ghz Core 2 Duo, 24” — Anything large and aluminium feels like a luxury. This 24” iMac was huge and a welcome upgrade from the iMac G5 with its loud fans cooling that hot processor.  Although this iMac was less friendly to open up, I was able to twice upgrade the internal hard drive. I sold my iMac G5 via Craigslist. This would be the last desktop I owned, as I would later sell it in favor of having a MacBook Pro i5 as a media hub and an MacBook Air for everyday use. (Purchased 2007)

MacBook Pro, i5 — Like going from the iBook to the PowerBook, I went from MacBook to MacBook Pro and felt like a pro again. This would be the last Mac I owned with a spinning hard drive. At first this MacBook Pro was mighty fast running OS X 10.6.3 Snow Leopard. But soon 10.7 Lion would come out and this would change. I remember specifically after installing 10.7 all my Mac’s were reading/writing to the disk almost constantly. While the processor and other parts remained speedy, anything that used the disk would start to feel very slow. What changed? Lion was developed to work best on the new SSD’s, plus our computing behavior continued to go more and more towards constant loading of web content. All this surfing requires meant caching more and more to disk. (Purchased 2010)

MacBook Air, i5 — My current and only Mac as I live in Berlin. Historically I’ve loved having two computers. A desktop and a laptop, one central and a media hub plus storing old stuff, the other with my live work coming along with me wherever I go. Not the case anymore as even the standard range of Mac laptops gives us the features and performance we once could only get with a huge desktop. (Purchased 2011)

Today: 8 Year Anniversary at FontShop. Coming Soon: Sabbatical

Today marks my 8 year anniversary at FontShop.

In that time I’ve worked on a ton of different projects, including the recent undertaking of the TYPO conference in San Francisco.  Along the way I’ve had the great pleasure of working with the best variety of people possible. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the camaraderie and support I’ve had during my time with the FontShop family.

What’s next?

Starting late April 2013 I’ll be taking a leave of absence from FontShop for about 6 months. Personally, I’ll be calling it a sabbatical (I love this word).

During that time I’ll be traveling and experimenting with a few creative ideas.

First stop is India to wander around hills of Darjeeling to see tea estates and learn the history that region (did you know I like tea?) After that I’ll spend some time in Zürich with my brother and sister-in-law and some time in Berlin to bike around that city.

Then back to San Francisco to see what’s next for me.

Follow me here, on my main site,  Flickr, and my blog.