Mike Culbert, RIP

I just read that Mike Culbert, who was the chief technologist on the Apple Newton (and went on to do a lot of other neat stuff at Apple) has died of cancer.

We’ve lost another really great engineer. Mike was one of those rare people who “got” entire systems, from transistors and batteries all the way to how the user worked with the system. He was comfortable with hardware design and could sling code pretty well, too. He had a great sense of clean design and a wonderful and sarcastic sense of humor (the Newton prototypes he designed for us were dubbed, by him, “Bunwarmers” — presumably because that’s all that us software types did all day long on those things). I enjoyed the time we worked together.

My condolences to his famiy and friends.

Seaing Clearly

When you wade into the ocean and a kid who’s six years old says, “Mister, you shouldn’t wear your glasses into the water,” just maybe you should listen. Because some six year old kids are smarter than you are.

Within five minutes I’d been turned upside down by a wave, and my prescription glasses (without which I can’t see more than about ten inches) had been washed off my face. Gone.

So I go to the kiosk where they rent things like masks and snorkels. Hey, I might search and get lucky. Only they won’t rent me anything because the waves are too high.

“C’mon, give me a break,” I wheedle. The kid running the kiosk looks slightly disgusted, and hands me a mask even though he’s not supposed to. Five minutes later a second wave upends me, rolls me around, slams me against the sand and rips off the borrowed mask. My breath has been knocked out and I just kneel down in the water, trying to suck in air while I wait for another wave to cream me. The mask is gone, too.

I know when to quit.

If you’re stupid like me, always carry a spare pare of glasses on a trip. And listen to wise kids. And don’t fuck with the ocean.