Jobs, Apple, etc.

I’ve got nothing original to contribute on Steve Jobs.   I’ve never been one of the Apple/Jobs worshipers (I love my Ipad and Ipod, but I’m typing this on a Dell), but Steve Jobs is without a doubt an amazing technological visionary.  Along these lines, I think Farhad Manjoo (easily my favorite tech write) has the best tribute: short version– no matter what technology you are currently using, it owes a debt to Jobs:

I saw the news of Steve Jobs’ death on a device that he invented—the iPhone—and I’m writing on another machine that he willed into being: the graphical interface computer. I happen to be using a PC running Windows, with generic hardware I put together myself; technically, only my keyboard was made by Apple. But none of that matters. Just like the touch-screen smartphone and, now, the tablet computer, the PC that you and I use every day became ubiquitous thanks mainly to this one man. I’ll go further: Whether you’re yearning for a Kindle Fire or a BlackBerry PlayBook, whether you play Angry Birds on an iPod Touch or Google’s Nexus Prime, whether you’re a Mac or a PC, you’ve succumbed to Steve Jobs’ master plan…

Rather, his role was to separate other people’s great ideas from their terrible ones—and to refine the best ideas into workable products. He did this, most famously, with the mouse, a gadget he’d encountered on a trip to Xerox’s research facility in Palo Alto in 1979. Jobs instantly saw that it could redefine computing, and he worked feverishly to turn the research into something useful. He cribbed other parts of the Mac from Jef Raskin, a legendary computer interface expert at Apple who’d come up with several of the key concepts for graphical computing.

Windows as we know it does not exist without Jobs pushing the Mouse and graphical user interfaces.  Same with all of our touchscreens, whether Apple or not.  That said, I’ve always been annoyed by the cult of Apple.  Kevin Drum does some nice baloon puncturing on this score– and I like the imperfect VHS vs. Beta analogy (you won’t be surprised to know I was a VHS person back when that choice mattered):

This whole argument reminds me of the great VHS vs. Betamax controversy. Consumers are stupid! screamed the Beta fans when their format died. Beta was clearly a superior format. Well, no, it wasn’t. There’s no single continuum of “quality”: every piece of technology ever invented is a series of compromises. Beta provided better picture quality, but with short runtimes and relatively high cost. VHS made a different set of compromise: adequate picture quality with higher runtimes and lower cost. That set of compromises turned out to be more popular.

Ditto for PCs. By hook or by crook, PCs and Macintoshes simply represent a different set of compromises. If you’re primarily a writer or an artist, aren’t too price sensitive, don’t care about setting up an office network, and value good design, then a Macintosh is a great computer. But don’t kid yourself: you’re accepting a certain set of compromises, not picking an objectively better product. If you’re primarily a financial analyst or a product manager, want lots of choices of computing platform and software, work primarily on a corporate network, don’t want to spend a lot of money, and don’t really care about design aesthetics, then a PC is a better choice for you.

Exactly.  I’m not some luddite with no aesthetic sense for preferring to use PC’s, just means I value different things out of my computer.  That said, that’s my problem with the Apple cult, not Jobs himself.  He deserves the praise he has been receiving today– a true visionary.

Favorite children

So, my amazing amount of frustration with my son Evan this morning reminded me of this really interesting Time cover story from a couple weeks back about the fact that parents typically have favorite children and everyone knows it, though nobody admits it.  [Looks like Time pulled the free version of the article, but there’s a nice NPR interview with the author].  Of course, that’s a good thing, as this can lead to a lot of difficulty among siblings.  Since my sister doesn’t read my blog (I’ve got 2 additional half sisters who were not raised in the same home as well as a brother who was raised in institutions and group homes due to autism and a world that didn’t know how to best deal with it then), I’ll go ahead and make the claim that I was my parents favorite.  It’s kind of easy to understand, though, whereas I was pretty much a model child, valedictorian; she didn’t get her act in gear till her 2nd year of college.  In short, it was much more frustrating to be her parent.  Though, I don’t think my parents loved her any less.  Since she’s eight years older than me, though, this did not lead to any of the sibling rivalry that often seems to come about from parental favorites.  In reading the article, I asked myself if I have a favorite.  There’s certainly thing I am able to enjoy the most with David my sheer virtue of his age and maturity (movies, our soccer team, science fiction, etc.), but he also exasperates me to no end.  Anyway, I concluded that I don’t have a favorite, but as of now, Evan is my least favorite (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read my blog).  He’s so damn whiny and demanding.  Presumably he will grow out of it, so I’ll make no apologies for him being a current least favorite.


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