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by Jason Whong

My new idol

Jason I have a new idol.

When I was at Macworld NY (booth 2013, remember?), I got schooled. I'd have to say that half the stuff I know about this biz I learned during that three-day event. At the end of the show I met Peter Tamte: the genius that started MacSoft and grew it into the largest Macintosh game publisher.

He was my idol. I was excited to meet him, and jokingly asked if I could be his understudy for a week. I think he was flattered. At least, I hope so. He works at Apple now, in charge of consumer marketing. That makes him even cooler.

I hope he won't be offended when someone tells him about this article. Then again, since my new idol is Steve Jobs, I guess he would not take offense. I mean, who can compete with Steve, the visionary?

Some of you might be wondering why Peter was my idol, and Steve wasn't. Well, it's a long story... I joined the computer age a bit too late to hear about Steve's legendary exploits, aside from the famous "Sugared Water" challenge that he issued to John Sculley about 15 years ago. Essentially, I missed out on all the cool stuff then, simply because I was too young.

Today I saw Jobs' Macworld San Francisco keynote live, via satellite, at Ambrosia's usual satellite gig hangout, The Distillery (Mt. Hope Avenue in Rochester, good food, good beer) and I was stunned. No, I was floored. Amazed. Excited. Enthused. Flabbergasted.

Not only did Apple have good iMac news, they also had great desktop news. The new G3 minitower looked awesome, and I wanted one right away. But the good news didn't end in the marketing "speed matchup" demonstrations - FireWire made a debut, with a cool demo. Jobs pulled out a tiny pink box, the size of a pack of cigarettes, and said it was an 8GB FireWire drive! I have not been that excited since the announcement of the Iomega Zip Drive. He then plugged the drive into the Mac (without a power cable, mind you), and it mounted! Then he played a QuickTime video from it, and pulled the plug, and the Mac didn't even freeze! It just paused the QuickTime movie! How freakin' cool is that?

I was amazed. Then Jobs said he could make an iMac boot from a G3 minitower. He proved that it was booting from the minitower by quipping that he had removed the hard drive from the machine, holding it up for all to see.

That's what I like about Jobs - he gives a great demo.

Then he said that 50 iMacs could boot from just one G3 minitower server, and work entirely via the network. Sure enough, a whole mess of iMacs rolled onto the stage, and they all booted, and played QuickTime movies from the server. I almost jumped out of my chair.

This means that Apple has a relatively low-cost "thin client" in its arsenal. This also means that Apple has a reasonable shot at winning over Corporate America. After all, it's very exciting to think of a setup which eliminates many visits to users' machines to fix them. Think of how much less expensive it is to have fewer technicians, and even fewer problems? This is VERY GOOD for Apple. I think this is going to make Apple grow more than some of us realize.

But let's go back to why Steve Jobs is my new idol.

Jobs had John Carmack of id Software speak at the keynote. Carmack, the creator of Quake, has been a very vocal critic of Apple for a long time, refusing to create his best selling software for Macintosh because of Apple's proprietary standards. If there is any one most important computer gaming person in the US (besides Andrew Welch, of course), it is John Carmack.

Carmack was praising Apple's new efforts in the 3D arena, and specifically congratulated Apple for adopting the OpenGL graphics standard. John Carmack, the Mac hater, was saying that there's no reason for the Mac not to be the ultimate gaming machine. John Carmack, the Mac hater, was not a Mac hater anymore.

It was then that I knew that Jobs was my new idol. Jobs is the kind of guy that turns Mac haters into Mac fans. And while I do that on my own, one person at a time, Jobs does it one influential person at a time.

Steve, if you're reading this, I'd really like for you to come to Rochester for a day or two. Think of how the imaging world would change if you could make Mac lovers (again) out of Kodak and Xerox. And I bet you'd like to check out the cool games we're working on here.

If you find me bowing to you, please take it as a compliment.

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