This is the eleventh episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts are, as always, Kyle Cronin, Jason Salaz, Nathan Greenstein.

  • We have a special guest today: Long time Apple user, speaker, and author Tom Negrino!
  • Tom was introduced to Macs by accident. He got a Macintosh after seeing the 1984 commercial, and has been using them ever since. He tells the story of how Macs have factored into his life over the years.
  • Tom has been a professional writer for more than 20 years. He tells us how he accidentally started writing, and how that’s lead him to where he is today, with more than 40 books published.
  • Out of us four, Tom is the only one who has been using Macs since before OS X. When asked what he misses from those days, he tells us that “OS X is so much better than the original system that there’s really no comparison.” He shares some of the things that have been drastically improved (or added altogether) with OS X.
  • That’s not to say, however, that that era didn’t have its share of great hardware. Tom’s SE/30 remained in use from 1987 to 2002! Amazing for its time, that machine had an expansion slot (for a color monitor) in addition to a 9” grayscale screen. This leads us to discuss Apple’s masterful use of clean, monochrome displays.
  • Tom explains how he initially learned of Ask Different during MacWorld Expo 2011. Tom had only recently learned of Ask Different after his wife, Dori, had a business meeting at MacWorld with Stack Exchange’s own Jeff Atwood back while she was a Moderator Pro Tempore.
  • We touch on Tom’s opinions of the Stack Exchange engine and it’s various sites, which draws the inevitable comparison to other networks such as Yahoo! Answers, and just how dramatically different the content and demeanor of the sites are. Kyle explains his theory about this difference in intent by referencing the broken windows theory, explaining that people answer with shock value on Yahoo! Answers, but answer with quality on Stack Exchange, due to the quality of both questions and answers already on the site.
  • Tom and Dori both recently attended WorldCon 2011 / Renovation both personally and also to help promote Stack Exchange and their Science Fiction and Fantasy site and Writers StackExchange as well. We talk about the attendee experience, such as one of Tom’s favorite costumes, specific qualities present in Las Vegas conventions based out of a hotel and casino, and some of Tom’s experience speaking on Renovation panels. If you’re interested in science fiction, Tom recommends the podcast The Incomparable.
  • This turns us to talking about the tech, both hardware and software, used by writers not only for the literal act of writing the content, but also the choice of software and operating system used for various application screenshots. Tom mentions that he could not live, professionally speaking, without Dragon Dictate and OmniOutliner.
  • We discuss the state of OS X with regard to the numerous methods of installing and updating your third-party software. What works, what doesn’t, and what gets in your way. With particular reference to the completely trivial upgrade methods employed by Panic for their software such as Coda, but also the completely different flow used by apps listed in the Mac App Store.
  • Currently, Tom has a single computer upgraded to Lion, and another one still remaining on Snow Leopard. We talk about early adoption habits past and preset, beyond OS updates, also covering the release of the original iPod, the more recent release of each iPhone, and the iPad.
  • We contrast the decade-long evolution of the original iPod to the current generation iOS devices, to the drastic changes that Lion suddenly brought us with regard to Natural/Momentum Scrolling, Reverse Scrolling, Hidden Scrollbars, the revamps to spaces found in Mission Control, and more. Tom has many of the same opinions that Chris Breen detailed in an opinion piece he wrote for MacWorld.
  • And finally, we talk about the biggest headline of the week, the resignation of Steve Jobs as CEO. We explain the fundamental changes this brought, and the details that speak to the amount of trust placed in the new CEO Tim Cook. We talk about much of the coverage that we’ve seen since that announcement on Wednesday, including Tom’s suggested read; Glenn Fleishman’s article on how Apple has personally affected his life, and the lives of so many others.
  • Tom Negrino can be found on Twitter, Facebook, on his personal site, and of course on Ask Different. His latest book is JavaScript: Visual QuickStart Guide, 8th Edition.

This episode was recorded on August 27, 2011. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at


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