MonthApril 2008

Stan Flack, MacCentral and MacMinute founder, passes away

Via a post on Twitter, Rick LePage reports he has received word that Stan Flack, founder of popular Mac news sites MacCentral and MacMinute, has passed away. No other details are available at this time. MacCentral was one of the first major Mac news sites on the web until it was bought and its content incorporated into Macworld.com.

Stan had been ill several times over the past year or so, with MacMinute going on unexpected hiatus due to his medical problems. On June 18th of last year, he told his readers “Monday evening I was rushed to emergency and immediately placed in intensive care due to a serious medical issue.”

In November, Flack faced another unexpected surgery: “At least this time I had a brief warning and the opportunity to alert you as to my circumstances.” he wrote to his readers. “I will be back in the saddle as soon as humanly possible and things will be be back to normal.”

I’ll always remember Stan’s policy of not posting news on Veteran’s Day, instead posting “In Flanders Field,” a poem dedicated to the fallen soldiers of World War I. He was also the first person I know of to “decorate” his site’s logo, changing the stopwatch to an Easter egg or decorating it with a Santa hat. That playfulness and accessibility permeated Stan’s work.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Stan personally, but I was frequently inspired by his entrepreneurial spirit and the example he gave of how much one dedicated person could accomplish when he was doing something he loved. Stan and I shared some friends, and from their reaction to his passing, it’s obvious that he was a very special person.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Stan’s family.

What’s your verdict on the MacJury?

Back in the late-nineties, I produced what would now be called a podcast on the long-defunct “GiveMeTalk” Internet Radio Network. They were mostly 10-15 minute scripted shows, wherein I offered some analysis and commentary on the day’s news. Topics back then ranged from the introduction of candy-colored iMacs to the passing of legendary Mac journalist (when such a phrase could be used without irony) Don Crabbe.

I haven’t spent much time on-mic since then, although I’ve threatened to start up “RandomMaccess Radio” again every once in a while. This week, though, I finally return to the Internet “airwaves” as a member of the “MacJury,” Mac User Group guru and podcaster Chuck Joiner’s latest venture. The show joins his already excellent lineup of MacNotables and MacVoices. MacJury distinguishes itself by convening a panel (the jury) to talk in relative depth about two or three issues of interest to the Mac community, not to re-hash the week’s tech news.

I think this is a great strategy and fills a real void in the Mac podcast space. I like Chuck’s idea of rotating jury members, too–mixing up the panel should keep the discussion and interactions fresh. For episode two, Chuck’s panel included Steve Sande of Movable Beast, Red Sweater Software’s Daniel Jalcut, Rogue Amoeba’s Paul Kafasis and yours truly. We covered the future (and merits) of the Mac Mini, some of the possible consequences of Microsoft’s buyout of Yahoo!, and the iPhone’s dominance among mobile browsers. It was, I think, a good discussion and a fun listen (for geeks, anyway). I liked the way we interacted and had a few laughs along the way.

Panelist or not, I think it’s a good listen and a show with a lot of potential. Give it a try and let me know what you think. The show is now up and available for subscription on the iTunes Store. (Link via Chuck Joiner.)

200 stores later, a look back at Apple’s first Garden State outlet

Now that Apple has opened its 10th New Jersey store (in Cherry Hill, for those wondering), I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at how we covered the Garden State’s first store, which opened in Tice’s Corner in 2001. Back then, of course, there were only five retail outlets, and the company had an ambitious goal of opening a total of 25 by the year’s end (there are over 200 now), and store openings were a big deal, not just among the Mac press, but the mainstream news outlets as well. Apple’s newest product, the “iPod,” wouldn’t even be available for another week after the opening.

RandomMaccess was given exclusive access to the store the night before the special pre-opening “press event.” Here’s how we reported our first look at Apple’s foray into retailing.

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