Stuff I Use: The Mac

Macbook Pro

I’m a Mac fanatic.

I haven’t always been. In my Software Engineering days I slagged the Mac as a shiny, expensive toy. Outwardly hostile, inwardly I eyed them with envy.

On the side, I built a recording and IT consulting business based on the Windows world. I would make money off of the failures of Microsoft, fixing problems that ought not to have existed. In my own creative space, I chose PCs for music & photography out of necessity. I could get discounted PC hardware, leaving more money for paying the rent.

But as I grew out of enjoying the tinkering and into actually wanting to get work done, my enthusiasm for the DIY World of Windows quickly faded.

The final straw: one day, a well-meaning roommate inadvertently plugged my PC workstation into the internet without a firewall. Within five minutes, the machine was completely locked up with malware & viruses. Not only that, but it took two days of OS updates, driver installs, and software installation to get it back to a usable state.

Ever since then I’ve been sold on the Mac.

Not long before, I had set up my first video editing suite: Final Cut Pro, and a shiny new G4. Robb, my local Mac evangelist, dropped off the machine and took it out of the box for me. He plugged in the power. He plugged in the monitor. He plugged in the keyboard & mouse, and turned it on. He dropped in the install DVD and let it churn… and that was it. 15 minutes top to tail, and I had a working edit suite.

They’re still computers, and they still drive me nuts at times. But I’ve been won over. The user interface is designed & thoroughly thought through. The APIs given to third-party developers have been created in a way to make applications have an air of familiarity, even if they do vastly different tasks. There’s consistency. There’s simplicity, with the underlying power of Unix (if I really want to hack away).

And there’s the beauty of the thing, both in the software and Apple’s renowned industrial design.

With all that, I think my favourite part about the Mac is the ecosystem it creates for 3rd-party software. While Apple covers the bases well with the included applications, every productivity or creativity task you can think of, has been… and turned into a simple program to allow you to work. Apple’s design philosophy trickles down into these applications, where interface design and engaging me as a user is as important as the functions the software performs.

They still drive me nuts. Really. But if I have to choose a desert-island companion, my Mac just might win over my camera. Maybe.

Photography for Africa: the Bulembu Calendar

This February I travelled to Swaziland after filming in Rwanda. I was on assignment with the Teldon Community Foundation, photographing the town of Bulembu. A former mining town, Bulembu is now being transformed into a centre of job-creation, commerce and orphan care.

The images were destined for a fundraising calendar, which you can now get your hands on here. The final product is excellent, and I’m excited to see the photographs used for a good cause. Head to Bulembu.org for more info and to purchase your copy of the calendar. 100% of the purchase goes to Bulembu Compassion.

{{ Check my Bulembu Archives for more posts & photos from the trip. }}

Featured with Stephen Lewis

Alive Magazine-small

My photography is featured in the July edition of Alive Magazine, as part of an article about Stephen Lewis and the AIDS crisis in Africa. It was an honour to share the page: Stephen is one of my heros for his articulate speech and tireless effort to bring attention and real progress in Africa.

Click here for a PDF of the first two pages of the article… or you can pick up a copy wherever health & wellness magazines are sold.

work-in-progress

For those of you visiting this site in browsers other than Safari, I feel your pain. I recently viewed this site on another machine and much of the beauty is lost to some formatting glitches. I hope to have those fixed in the next while.

I’m happy with how often I seem to be drawn here to post. It comes and goes… but there are times this web canvas is an attractive forum for thought. When I’m in deeper trouble, I tend to be more introspective and less ends up here. I turn to my sketchpad, my personal thought-bucket. The thoughts trickle back into public places once I’ve had a “Eureka!” moment, or when I can’t hold it in any longer.

This is one of those times.

outside my window

I am working out something within me that seems to nag whenever I reach a period of stability. Somehow, right now, I have more passion and creativity; but it’s stagnated, dirty water in a puddle: like I have words but nothing to say. I am more prepared than ever before to burst into what I want to do, but I’m creating less than any previous period. Why?

I feel trapped by stability.

For me, freedom is a Very Big Thing™. Keeping my options open falls above engagement in my subconscious reflexes. Options give me the illusion of control.

Bizarrely, and – this is where I’m wanting to understand myself – I pair aloofness with responsibility. I frequently bind myself to roles and ways of thinking that negatively cut down the emotional and creative side, in the name of duty – and in the name of power: power to keep my options open.

In the end I bind myself twice – to self-imposed responsibilities and exile from true engagement.

That’s why I turn to writing, sketching, drawing. Not usually here, public like this – but writing helps me work out my ideas, just like photography & music help me work out my emotions. I’ve been taught how to listen to my internal themes to avoid the siren call of distraction, and when something’s up my gut pulls me to express it so I can work things out.

And this writing, this expression is the art. It helps me remember: I am not bound to freedom. I am free so that I can live life fully – to create, engage, be broken and re-create. That, to be bound to things worth holding is not a cage.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

— Dr. Howard Thurman

[updated to work out the 3AM writing delirium]