by Jim Lynch

Ars Technica OS X reviewer John Siracusa retires

Apr 16, 201510 mins
Consumer ElectronicsMacOSOperating Systems

In today's Apple roundup: Ars Technica OS X reviewer John Siracusa retires. Plus: Apple buys 36,000 acres of forest for conservation and sustainable harvest. And why exactly is Apple going green?

Ars Technica OS X reviewer John Siracusa retires

John Siracusa is famous for his incredibly in-depth and extremely detailed reviews of OS X on Ars Technica. Today he announced his retirement from reviewing OS X, and it’s clear that the technology world has lost a jewel of a reviewer.

John Siracusa announced his retirement from OS X reviews on the Hypercritical blog:

Nearly 15 years ago, I wrote my first review of Mac OS X for a nascent “PC enthusiast’s” website called Ars Technica. Nearly 15 years later, I wrote my last. Though Apple will presumably announce the next major version of OS X at WWDC this coming June, I won’t be reviewing it for Ars Technica or any other publication, including the website you’re reading now.

…I’ve been contemplating hanging up my OS X reviewer’s hat for some time now. Producing thousands of words (and hundreds of screenshots) about each major release of OS X was my first real claim to fame on the Internet. The prospect of stopping has made me reconsider my public identity and sense of self. Who am I if I’m not “that guy who writes those OS X reviews”? But when I finally decided, the relief I felt let me know I’d made the right choice.

There is no single, dramatic reason behind this. It’s an accumulation of small things—the time investment, the (admittedly, self-imposed) mental anguish, the pressure to meet my own expectations and those of my readers year after year—but it all boils down to a simple, pervasive feeling that this is the time to stop. I’ve done this. It is done.

I still love OS X—and I still have many complaints about it. I will certainly talk about OS X 10.11 (whatever it’s called) at length on ATP, and I’ll read the many great reviews written by others when it’s released. But neither podcasting nor writing have ever been full-time jobs for me. I’ve always had to fit them into my life alongside my actual job and my family. Right now, I’m looking forward to my first summer in many years that won’t be dominated by stolen daytime minutes and long, sleepless nights in front of a screen with a noisy air conditioner blowing behind me.

More at Hypercritical

Here’s a list of all of the OS X reviews by John Siracusa at Ars Technica for you to enjoy:

OS X 10.10 Yosemite

OS X 10.9 Mavericks

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

OS X 10.7 Lion

OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

OS X 10.5 Leopard

OS X 10.4 Tiger

OS X 10.3 Panther

OS X 10.2 Jaguar

OS X 10.1 Puma

OS X 10.0 Cheetah

News of John Siracusa’s retirement from OS X reviews saddened Apple redditors:

iHartS: “No one writes reviews that are in depth for any operating system as his were for OS X. One of the things that drew me to the Mac was his reviews, because if a system could inspire someone to go that in depth with it, then it might be worth a look.

He looked at both the surface features and the modifications under the hood that most reviews don’t even know to question, and I do hope that someone does try and carry on what he started, but I have my doubts.”

Digitalpizza: “I have absolutely zero interest in reading a review from anyone who started using OS X around 10.5 when Macs became common. Most other tech journos just look at things from the surface, Siracusa’s cut the Apple in half and talked us though from the core outwards.”

Tvtb: “He’s had several complaints about the process of putting out an OS X review in print. One is that it takes months to write and edit, and drops on release day, and most things smart he’s thought of to say, other people have already blogged/tweeted/podcast’d about already during the beta stage. Another is that he doesn’t spend enough time with his family during the summer.”

Kielrene: “The thing about John is that whatever he is doing, he’s doing right. He’s going all in, doing a 200% job. Most people would just stick to mediocre work, but not John. This makes his work so great. Obviously this is very stressful for him. I can totally understand that. I’m happy that he found a way to do a podcast without hours of preparation (although he still seems very prepared for ATP). I guess I can live with not getting a yearly OS X review if he sticks with ATP – we all need a little Siracusa in our lives.”

Mygodwhathaveidone: “The release of Siracusa’s reviews was more exciting than the release of the OS itself. This is like Santa hanging up his red outfit. Big loss.”

Syedzq: “I’ll miss them. I was born a month before the first, and now I’m 15 and have read every single one. Gone are the two-hour-long reading sessions in the summer. Have a nice summer John. Thanks for the reviews. Loved reading them.”

Kingfang: “I went back and reread the the OS X DP2 review and then the 10.10 review after reading this blogpost. What a way it’s all come, each step has been a journey in its own. Sad to see the long-form coming to an end but I’m eager for whats in store for the future of the spoken review! I’ll be listening.”

Osteofight: “His reviews were ridiculously thorough. I don’t know what he does for a living, but he should be employed where he can get paid top dollar for his great skills.”

Zorn_: “I will definitely miss reading his reviews. Some of the best tech writing on any OS at all, really.”

More at Reddit

Apple buys 36,000 acres of forest

Apple has long been known to be a green company, but now the company has gone beyond its previous efforts by buying 36,000 acres of forest to be used for conservation and sustainable harvesting for the packaging of its products.

Ellen Cushing reports for BuzzFeed:

Apple is partnering with an environmental nonprofit to purchase roughly 36,000 acres of private forestland, which will be sustainably harvested and used in Apple’s packaging. The land — two tracts in Maine and North Carolina that, combined, are roughly two and a half times the size of Manhattan — will be managed by The Conservation Fund. This land is part of an estimated 45 million acres of private forest in the U.S. that are in danger of being lost to development.

Though Apple will harvest pulp from these forests, other companies will also be able to buy fiber from them as well. Selzer’s organization will manage the forests under the “working forest” model, in which trees are harvested with what Daniel Brindis, a senior Forests Campaigner with Greenpeace, described to BuzzFeed News as “an eye toward the long-term economic well-being of the forest.”

Apple declined to say how much paper it uses in its packaging, but the company does sell hundreds of millions of iOS devices a year, each of which comes in a paper package that’s composed of about one-third nonrecycled fiber. According to Jackson, the paper produced by these two forests is equivalent to nearly half the virgin — that is, nonrecycled — fiber that went into Phone, iPad, iPod, Mac and Apple TV packaging last year.

More at BuzzFeed

If you aren’t familiar with the idea of sustainable forest management, be sure to read Wikipedia’s background article about it:

Sustainable forest management (SFM) is the management of forests according to the principles of sustainable development. Sustainable forest management uses very broad social, economic and environmental goals. A range of forestry institutions now practice various forms of sustainable forest management and a broad range of methods and tools are available that have been tested over time and space.

The “Forest Principles” adopted at The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 captured the general international understanding of sustainable forest management at that time. A number of sets of criteria and indicators have since been developed to evaluate the achievement of SFM at both the country and management unit level. These were all attempts to codify and provide for independent assessment of the degree to which the broader objectives of sustainable forest management are being achieved in practice. In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests. The instrument was the first of its kind, and reflected the strong international commitment to promote implementation of sustainable forest management through a new approach that brings all stakeholders together.

In simpler terms, the concept can be described as the attainment of balance – balance between society’s increasing demands for forest products and benefits, and the preservation of forest health and diversity. This balance is critical to the survival of forests, and to the prosperity of forest-dependent communities.

For forest managers, sustainably managing a particular forest tract means determining, in a tangible way, how to use it today to ensure similar benefits, health and productivity in the future. Forest managers must assess and integrate a wide array of sometimes conflicting factors – commercial and non-commercial values, environmental considerations, community needs,[2] even global impact – to produce sound forest plans. In most cases, forest managers develop their forest plans in consultation with citizens, businesses, organizations and other interested parties in and around the forest tract being managed. The tools and visualization have been recently evolving for better management practices.[3]

More at Wikipedia

Why is Apple going green?

Speaking of Apple going green, The Street has an article that examines Apple’s motivations for putting so much effort into its environmentally-friendly decisions.

Chris Ciaccia reports for The Street:

Like most companies, Apple (AAPL) cares about the products its consumers are using to ensure they return for more. The tech giant is also focusing on its environmental footprint, which in turn, rewards shareholders.

That’s part of what’s behind Apple’s recently announced power deal with First Solar (FSLR ) according to Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives. “There’s a huge economic benefit because we’re going to potentially save hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the deal,” she said.

As part of the First Solar deal, Apple has committed $848 million under a 25-year power purchase agreement, which means Apple is buying the power, but First Solar is actually constructing the solar farm. The energy output will be used for Apple’s offices, the company’s new campus, its data centers as well as 52 Apple Retail Stores, Jackson noted.

The solar project sits on 2,900 acres of land, and 1,300 acres will be be used for 130 megawatts, which Apple is buying initially. The rest of the facility will generate an additional 150 megawatts of power, which will be “sold to Pacific Gas and Electric (PCG-A) under a separate long-term PPA,” according to First Solar’s February press release. On the back end of the 25-year contract, Apple will take over PGE’s 150 megawatts, meaning Apple will eventually be buying all of the energy.

More at The Street

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