The Apple Matters Interview: Derrick Story

by Hadley Stern May 01, 2005

Derrick Story is the managing editor of the O’Reilly Network, Mac DevCenter, and O’Reilly Digital Media. He is the author of Digital Photography Hacks, Digital Photography Pocket Guide, 2nd Ed., and the PowerBook and iBook Fan Books. He coauthored iPhoto: The Missing Manual, which is now in its fourth edition. Derrick likes to keep his shooting skills sharp by running his photography business, Story Photography.

Derrick is an iPhoto expert, and is constantly futzing, testing, and innovating his workflow with his favorite operating system, OS X. Derrick shares his thoughts on what he thinks is best about Tiger, and why Redmond extends the date of Longhorn while Apple continues to innovate.

Hadley Stern: Tiger is out, what is the feature you’ve been most excited about?

Derrick Story: Personally, I’m jazzed about Automator. I never really bonded with the AppleScript editor, but I need AppleScript all the time. In digital photography and QuickTime production, there are lots of mundane tasks that should be automated. With Automator, I’ll be able to put things to work on one computer, then chip away at other projects on my second Mac.

Plus, there are other nifty things you can do with it. For example, you can save an Automator action as a Finder plug-in: aka a CM (contextual menu) for right clicking. How cool is that? CMs have been a pain to write, and now you can crank out as many as you want in Automator.

Hadley Stern: What feature do you think is just hype?

Derrick Story: Well, my BS detector hasn’t gone off with Apple’s marketing of Tiger. Sure, they overstate the general release with phrases such as “the world’s most advanced operating system.” I suspect that’s hyperbole. But the software itself is pretty outrageous.

There are some features that I’m more interested in than others. I doubt I’ll spend a lot of time in group chats with my iSight. I use it more for making movies that I do for chatting as it is now. So for me personally, that’s no big deal.

But I really like a lot of the Tiger features—Spotlight, Smart Folders, Dashboard, Safari RSS. Plus the stuff that’s under the hood, such as Core Data, are going to enable developers to make big improvements in their apps.

Hadley Stern: Is this the biggest upgrade yet for OS X?

Derrick Story: I think Panther was the upgrade we had to have. Before Mac OS X 10.3, I still felt like I was using an emerging OS, not a finished product. Panther is good, very good. So for me, it is the most important version of OS X.

Tiger begins the refinement phase. Now that the basics are covered, Apple engineers can begin to flex their visionary muscles, and this is something that many of us have been waiting for.

When it’s all said and done, who knows what the most important version of OS X will have been. Panther will be up there, and I suspect that Tiger will be near by.

Hadley Stern: Why does Apple upgrade it’s OS on a consistent basis and Microsoft takes years?

Derrick Story: Apple has been so darn smart about OS X. They knew that they’ll never have the engineering horsepower that Microsoft does. The OS X crew would be creamed in a tug a war with the Longhorn engineers.

So what did Apple do? They looked to open source for time-tested proven OS components, added a little NeXt and Apple magic, and launched OS X. Why didn’t someone think of this before?

Apple doesn’t have to invent every component in the OS. This is a great advantage and has allowed them to blow the doors off Longhorn. Plus, remember, Apple has control over the hardware. Another big advantage. Imagine having to hassle with Dell, HP, Toshiba, Sony, etc, etc, etc to make things work properly?

Microsoft is a good technology company. But right now, they are being out maneuvered by a more nimble, imaginative Apple. If Apple can keep its edge, they are going to set the world on fire for years to come.

Hadley Stern: With the recent convergence of Adobe and Macromedia and the ever-apparent similarity between Tiger and Longhorn, do you ever see a day when the two OS’s merge?

Derrick Story:  Nope. Apple is Unix and Windows is Windows. Plus, what would we argue about if they did? Microsoft needs a healthy Apple to keep things interesting and to test ideas for them. Apple needs a healthy Microsoft to be the heavy and to service all those computer users who don’t really care about their OS, they just want the spreadsheet to balance. It would really muck things up if Apple and Microsoft became bosom buddies.

Hadley Stern: As a professional photographer and iPhoto expert how will Tiger improve the way you work?

Derrick Story: Initially, Automator is at the top of that list. Spotlight is right behind it. But over the long term, the apps that we’re going to see leverage Core Image and other Tiger technologies are going to be the real benefit.

Hadley Stern: What makes Tiger/the Mac platform a better place for photographers to work?

Derrick Story: I’m probably the wrong guy to ask. But I’ll say this: Why would a photographer, who makes his or her living creating visually compelling images, want to work on Windows? The Apple UI has so much more elegance. My PowerBook is a great laptop. Photoshop is wonderful on OS X. iPhoto is a riot. I just finished a project using iMovie HD and was blown away at how much it’s improved over two releases ago. It’s fun to go to work. I guess I just feel more inspired when I create on a Mac.

Hadley Stern: Are you going to install Tiger right away, or wait?

Derrick Story: I’m going to install it first on my developer machine and see if there are any gotchas with my core suite of apps. If everything checks out, I’ll be totally Tiger asap.

Hadley Stern: Do you recommend a clean install or just an upgrade?

Derrick Story: I’m a clean install kind of guy. These upgrades are a great excuse to do a little housekeeping. I’ve written about this in my latest article on MacDevCenter: Housecleaning Tips for Tiger.

Hadley Stern: What do you think are the next items Apple should be working on in the follow up to Tiger?

Derrick Story: I want developers to have the most powerful, easy to use tools possible. So if anyone with any hacking skill has a great idea, he or she can implement it faster on a Mac than any other platform. If Apple does that, we will see things we never imagined.

Hadley Stern: Why is Tiger important to Apple?

Derrick Story: All sorts of reasons, but my favorite is that it proves they are more than just the company that makes iPods.

Hadley Stern: Does Tiger matter?

Derrick Story: You bet it does.


  • Why would a photographer, who makes his or her living creating visually compelling images, want to work on Windows?

    As one who uses both platforms for film and animation work, I can answer that by saying that to me the OS is completely transparent.  I don’t pay that much attention to the aesthetics of the tool anymore than I’d imagine Derrick picks a camera based on how cool it looks. 

    The tools that I use to create my work reside in the OS like my pencils and paper reside in a desk.  While I suppose there is something to having a nice fancy desk over a plain wooden one, IMO there’s not even that much difference between XP and OSX.  In this case, one of them is shiny white plastic desk, the other is a shiny blue plastic desk.  And at the end of the day, it’s not the desk that has done the work.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on May 03, 2005 Posts: 2220
  • This story sonuds interesting and i like the idea behind it. ceiling fans

    Suzzy had this to say on Sep 05, 2011 Posts: 1
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