A sad day

I am a middle kid. When I started high school my brother had already used the family computer, a Mac Plus, for a couple of years before he left for college. The thing had no on-board storage so for a while I wrote everything on an early version of Microsoft Word that fit on six 3.5″ floppy discs that you had to constantly swap in and out.

When we bought a hard drive my sophomore year, I thanked jeebus to be past that disc swapping nonsense. Still the hard drive seemed excessive somehow, a big expensive thing that had way more memory than we would ever fill (thirty two megabytes!). I was a cold-blooded killer with CrystaQuest. I struggled to ‘win’ SimCity v1.0 until I figured out that you could keep taxes at 0% for most of the year and then jack them up to something crazy on tax day. I hear that they ironed that out later.

When I left for college my sister took over the Mac for a while. Startup took a few tries by then, but papers came out of the ImageWriter II for a few years yet. Eventually the folks bought her a laptop just because.

Two things stood out about that grey box. One, using it just made sense. I watched my brother run it when I was eleven or twelve, and then I figured out the rest myself. Two, twelve-ish years is a pretty good run for a computer. The thing lasted so long that it went way past being slow and limited next to the stuff that other kids were using. It became a comical monochrome dinosaur that would not die or even call in sick. It did not occur to me until college that peripherals and drivers and weird operating system versions could get in a fight and tie up the inside wires in irreperable knots.

I think it is wrong to argue that the simple, everyone-friendly personal tech would happen eventually if Steve Jobs finished his college degree and found a comfy job in insurance. What happened when Apple forced him out? They made PC clones with Microsoft-like operating systems that had less and less to offer consumers other than vastly less compatibility with proprietary software and equipment. When Jobs bought Pixar he created an absolute revolution in animation. When he came back to Mac he re-reinvented computers, phones, music and pretty much every damn thing else. I honestly think that without Jobs we’d live in a world where fat feature lists are pretty much the only thing to distinguish our awkward, buggy PCs, smartphones and Microsoft Zunes.

Mark Nugent made a related point this morning at TAC.

The original Macintosh was introduced in 1984 as “the computer for the rest of us”—an easily-scoffed-at slogan, as the machine retailed for $2,495, or $5,440 in today’s dollars. But even though its products are still criticized as overpriced, Apple has since delivered on the democratic promise of computer technology. The iPhone and its peers, which are orders of magnitude more powerful than all 16 pounds of that first Mac, are within easy reach of the middle class. What’s more, you can’t get a better phone even if you’re able to pay an extra $500, $10,000 or $100,000, which is not the case with cars or televisions. Assuming Microsoft’s chairman uses a phone based on Windows Phone 7, I can safely say that, with an iPhone 4 in my humble pocket, I have a better phone than Bill Gates.

This is a philosophical point, but it cannot be emphasized enough. The idea that the feature list matters above all pretty much defines Microsoft. It would rule the world if a counterweight did not exist to challenge Redmond’s lead. It genuinely worries me that nobody else can match the simple, reliable, good aesthetic that characterizes Apple stuff, because Apple will have to do it and they don’t have Jobs anymore. RIP.






163 replies
  1. 1
    kindness says:

    Oh FSM, please let us not be faced with weeks of unending PC/mac wars because Steve Jobs died. Yea, this thread didn’t start that way at all but , not only here but most places on the web, that is where they end up.

    Please help us oh great FSM, we need your special meatballs & sauce now!

  2. 2
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    It genuinely worries me that nobody else can match the simple, reliable, good aesthetic that characterizes Apple stuff, because Apple will have to and they don’t have Jobs anymore.

    The only possible answer to that is the google web page. If there’s one company that possible understands this idea it’s google. We’ll just have to see if they truly get into the hardware market.

    The funny thing about Microsoft is that I tend to prefer their hardware. The wireless mouse I have is about 5 years old, has gone through a dozen drops where I have had to snap multiple pieces back in place, yet it works.

  3. 3
    Corner Stone says:

    I have no issues with the open debate on Jobs’ technology and cultural impact.
    But it’s starting to turn into a Reagan-esque hagiography of the man as an individual. Like everyone, I’m sure he had good skills and bad skills, and the people around him found ways to overcome the bad skills (ex. people management).
    But I saw an early morning blurb on MSNBC today and the onsite reporter seemed to be looking for a place to hang the halo she had brought with her.

  4. 4
    eemom says:

    Babe. I got you babe. I got you babe.

  5. 5
    Steeplejack says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    The funny thing about Microsoft is that I tend to prefer their hardware.

    And one of their first successful products way back when was an add-on card for the Apple II that gave it an 80-column display instead of its native 40.

  6. 6
    Corbin Dallas Multipass says:

    What Belafon says.

    And in regards to what Corner Stone says, I’m pretty sure some people expect Steve Jobs to be back by Saturday. The parallels would have been clearer if he had died a day later.

  7. 7
    Maxwel says:

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

    If you want to find out how little the readers of most sites know about tech, just submit an article about Jobs or Apple.

  8. 8
    Jimbo says:

    @Corner Stone: Steve Jobs was a genius, and he changed not only my industry (IT) but the way a lot of the world looks at technology. That said, he was also an arsehole and a *ruthless* business man (see any of the deals that he made when active as CEO).

    I’m with you – Celebrate the man’s idea and legacy, but if you’re looking for beatification, best start looking elsewhere…

  9. 9
    Reality Check says:

    Despite being an asshole in his personal relationships from what I hear (so was Henry Ford FWIW), Steve Jobs is a testament to the power of American capitalism. He will be truly missed.

  10. 10
    RossInDetroit says:

    I’ll give Steve Jobs this: he GOT that user interface was the key to personal electronics, and he pushed that in directions that possibly nobody else could have.
    But pretty much everything else that will be credited to him is debatable. And I’ve been having those debates for years.

    ETA: not a gadget hound. Electronics tech since the mid ’70s and an IT professional from ’84 – ’02.

  11. 11
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    One of the problems Apple faces now is that there is no backup Steve Jobs to be the larger than life individual personification of their brand.

    We’ll have to see how this plays out, of course, but keep in mind that they don’t have a guy like Jobs waiting in the wings because the culture of Apple couldn’t stand having two of them at the same time.

  12. 12
    ThresherK says:

    When Jobs bought Pixar he created an absolute revolution in animation.

    For my money Pixar’s accomplishment was not forgetting to tell stories. Everyone competing with them somehow can’t do that nearly as well, nearly as consistently.

    And damned if I know how they do it.

    (And I go back to Spike and Mike, and Luxo Jr.)

  13. 13
    Walker says:

    @Reality Check:

    Despite being an asshole in his personal relationships from what I hear (so was Henry Ford FWIW)

    As was Edison (e.g. his public defamation of Tesla). But consider how both of those are remembered today.

  14. 14
    elmo says:

    I wasn’t the earliest of early adopters — I didn’t have an Apple II in high school — but I did write my college thesis on an Apple IIe, in 1987. I went through law school using a Mac Plus — for writing during the day, and for accessing BBS’s at night. I stuck with the Mac through my first legal job, but like most lawyers in the early 90’s, didn’t have much choice but to switch to PC.

    I was passionate about Macs back then, and I ran in Mac-cultist circles, but they were less and less relevant to my work life. But I’ve rediscovered my passion for Mac and Apple in the last few years, and my iPad makes me very very happy.

    I really didn’t think I’d be affected by the death of a businessman I never met. But I am.

  15. 15
    Reality Check says:

    @Walker:

    Andrew Carniage too, for that matter.

    Ironically, they say Bill Gates is a really nice guy personally despite the ruthlessness of his company.

  16. 16
    James K. Polk, Esq. says:

    Does this mean iPhones will finally get Flash?

  17. 17
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @James K. Polk, Esq.:

    Lord, I hope not. Flash is as buggy as all hell. What a piece of shit it is.

  18. 18
    Alan says:

    Don’t Apple products have feature lists? I mean, you can buy an Apple PC or laptop at various speeds and capabilities. Or maybe I’m confused as to what a feature list is.

  19. 19
    Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac says:

    When Jobs bought Pixar he created an absolute revolution in animation.

    Wat. You might as well claim that Disney’s purchase of Pixar is what caused a revolution in animation. Don’t get me wrong, the huge cash infusion that Jobs purchase came with did wonders for the advancement of animation technology, but Pixar’s animation focus and drive did not come from Jobs. The money did.

    Also, did every person out there suddenly wipe Foxconn from their brains?

    I guess I’m just one of those people who have a hard time understanding why a CEO deserves this sort of praise when it’s his design group and engineers who saved Apple, he just gave them the freedom to do so.

  20. 20
    Walker says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    One of the problems Apple faces now is that there is no backup Steve Jobs to be the larger than life individual personification of their brand.

    Maybe not, but they still have Jonathan Ives. And Jonathan is really the other major player in the resurgence of Apple. Because modern Apple is all about design, and Jonathan is the source of that design.

    Now, he is not as powerful a personality, and so is not going to be a figurehead. But he is the reason no one thinks Apple will collapse overnight.

  21. 21
    Walker says:

    @James K. Polk, Esq.:

    Flash is evil, evil, evil. It memory leaks like a New Orleans levy. Please let that format die the death that it deserves.

  22. 22
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @ThresherK:

    For my money Pixar’s accomplishment was not forgetting to tell stories.

    One of George Lucas’ major failings. Too much “wow, this would be cool!” nonsense going on, there…

  23. 23
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Walker:

    I don’t think Apple will collapse overnight, but I’d never heard of this guy until you mentioned him.

    That’s the problem.

  24. 24
    cleek says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    but without Flash, you don’t get the constant “Flash has been updated” messages ! and without that, you miss out on the feeling that your computing device’s primary function is to act as a host organism for Flash.

    sad.

  25. 25
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Walker:

    Despite being an asshole in his personal relationships from what I hear (so was Henry Ford FWIW) As was Edison (e.g. his public defamation of Tesla)

    And the Wright Brothers, who tied Glenn Curtis in legal knots, even though his aircraft was better and arguably the one all others descended from (ailerons instead of wing warping, for example)

  26. 26
    Reality Check says:

    Seriously. Fuck flash with a rusty chainsaw. It’s quite possibly the biggest market failure since the adoption of QWERTY.

  27. 27
    gex says:

    I think it is key that Jobs got to pick a successor rather than have it get resolved after his death. And it may be a stereotype, but I’m hoping the gay guy that’s replacing him has as keen a sense of style as Jobs did.

  28. 28
    Seebach says:

    @Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac: You’re wrong. Jobs did it all HIMSELF because it makes us feel better to think so.

  29. 29
    William Hurley says:

    My sentiments regarding Jobs differ. I too started young, programming then playing games on the new Apple II plus my uncle bought (he’s a mathematician).

    Over the years, I drifted away from computers only to “boomerang” 15 years ago. Since then, I’ve watched Apple, with and without Jobs, change.

    In rekindling the brand’s mystique, beyond the core of long time worshipers, Apple became the antithesis of what is was in the early years.

    Apple – the business, brand and mindset – is imbued with a distorted view of platform purity and secrecy (theirs, not yours) that is injurious to the marketplace and user-base – Apple and non-Apple. Apple, the company/person, and the person/brand Jobs dismissively then aggressively countered its customers’ complaints about violations of privacy and a proprietary prerogative over ownership (e.g.: do users actually own the device(s) and apps they buy or not).

    Jobs and Apple elected to attack these users’ concerns using tech, mainstream and social media to advance their marketing-driven agenda. The courts have also been a venue where Apple sought “remedy” from users who have had the audacity to believe that the device and software they purchased were their personal property.

    In the realm where “device” meets world, the web and Internet-facilitated services constructs, tech writers and analysts have long criticized Apple’s closed-minded, closed-platform approach to networking. Some of these critics and observers have posited that Apple’s reticence to openness reflect its corporate culture – where purity, secretiveness and propriety thrive. The meta commentary these analyses give rise to is one of a company and a brand that carries the scent of Huxlian bravery in a new world defined and framed by profit maximization and a sophisticated application of the psychology of marketing.

    In may ways, the Jobsean vision for the company he founded and the arena in which it conducts business shares core dispositional assumptions with that of Google’s Eric Schmidt.

  30. 30
    Joey Maloney says:

    It became a comical monochrome dinosaur that would not die or even call in sick.

    As late as 2002, an office I worked in had a floppy-drive Mac+ running 24/7 as a fax server.

  31. 31
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac:

    CEO deserves this sort of praise when it’s his design group and engineers who saved Apple, he just gave them the freedom to do so.

    And there’s your answer, right there- not a “numbers for the quarter” bean-counting MBA jackass, but a visionary leader.

    If all the CEOs who think they’re visionaries actually were, maybe I’d have the flying car I got promised back in the 1960s.

  32. 32
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @cleek:

    Meh, I can live with that consequence. It will be very hard to adjust to, but I can live with it.

  33. 33

    I’m sorry this isn’t the place for this but I just got named BEST LIBERAL in the Nashville Scene’s “Best Of Nashville” issue! NO SHIT!

    Best of Nashville 2011: Media & Politics Writers’ Choice

    BEST LIBERAL: SOUTHERN BEALE
    Take clearheaded analysis, soak it in 150-proof prose, light the wick and throw it through the window of stupidity, and you’ve got Southern Beale. It’s one of the best-written and most engaging blogs in Nashville regardless of political slant, and Beale makes no apologies for her liberal ideals — in her posts or in her interactions with commenters, many of whom don’t line up on the same side of the political gymnasium. But as her blog tagline at southernbeale.wordpress.com implies — “Mad as y’all, not taking it anymore” — she’s got a sense of humor, too. Just don’t forget she’s one tough S.B. STEVE HARUCH

  34. 34
    Walker says:

    OT: But for all you Flash haters:

    Click to Flash

    It makes it so that no Flash ad or program loads unless you specifically click on it. This program was key to my sanity as I need to access Flash games (for, err, research), but Flash graphics card issues were causing kernel panics on my laptop once a week.

  35. 35
    RSA says:

    It genuinely worries me that nobody else can match the simple, reliable, good aesthetic that characterizes Apple stuff, because Apple will have to do it and they don’t have Jobs anymore.

    A great deal of the quality of the user experience for Apple products should be credited to the Apple Human Interface Group, which has been around (off and on, I think) since the mid-1980s. Their original Human Interface Guidelines document was enormously influential in the user interface design community, and it’s been updated regularly. The knowledge about how to build good products is out there and readily available; the question is just as you say, whether Apple retains the corporate will to do it right.

  36. 36
    RossInDetroit says:

    @William Hurley:

    Apple started out making kits that users were encouraged to hack, modify and personalize. A long time later the idea crept in that products could be made perfect if only the users’ grubby fingers could be kept out. This led to the walled garden that is modern Apple. The products are really amazing, and most are far ahead of the competition in quality. But something is lost for customers who want to be more than a consumer, who want to be involved in making something their own rather than just using it on the designer’s terms.

  37. 37
    Reality Check says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:

    Alfred Sloan, the visionary that made General Motors what it was by the 1960s, was a Nazi. No, that’s not hyperbole. He actually wrote that he wished the Germans would win WWII because Fascism was the way of the future according to him. It also takes real balls and a special kind of cynicism to manage to war profiteer both from the Nazis AND the Allies, which Sloan did.

  38. 38
    Reality Check says:

    But, just remember, progressive–Jobs was (GASP!) part of that dreaded Top One Percent ™. He even Sent Our Jobs Overseas ™.

  39. 39
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Reality Check:

    You do know why QWERTY was adapted, don’t you?

    Because typists were getting too good at typing, and it got the keys stuck?

    The Navy tried to shift from QWERTY to Dvorak during World War fuckin’ II, but encountered so much resistance that they just gave up.

  40. 40
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac:

    I guess I’m just one of those people who have a hard time understanding why a CEO deserves this sort of praise when it’s his design group and engineers who saved Apple, he just gave them the freedom to do so.

    Because he was one of the few CEOs smart enough to do that. It’s certainly not an easy thing to do, as one can see by looking at the wreckage of tech companies run by idiots who thought they knew best.

    To me, the peculiar genius of Steve Jobs was that he was able to look at what his engineers and design group came up with and figure out what regular people would want made from that, not just what techies and engineers would think was totally cool. Regular people don’t give a shit if the microprocessor in your Android phone is x-whatevers faster than their iPhone, or that you figured out a way to unlock it and install something you found on the internet. They just want something that will let them make phone calls and send e-mails with a minimum amount of trouble.

    The iPhone is a easily operated, easily understood piece of technology that lets even computerphobes do things that were unimaginable 20 years ago. That’s why it’s taken over the world while other, technologically superior smartphones are left in the dust.

  41. 41
    ThresherK says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: But Pixar’s works had that trait from the beginning and kept it, whereas Lucas had it and lost it.

    If Episodes I-III had been demoed with old biplane dogfight footage in lieu of the space battles (as was the original), who would have greenlighted them?

    Compare that with the extended opening of Wall-E: Pantomime, just like their shorts, ~fifteen minutes of complicated scene-setting without dialog. Not forgetting where they came from.

  42. 42
    Reality Check says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Yes, I know why, but this isn’t really an issue with computers. I wish they could have at least switched then. After all it was when typing switched from a specialized skill (mostly limited to women) into something everyone had to learn so the vast majority of the population wasn’t stuck in the QWERTY habit. I still consider it a market failure.

  43. 43
    Walker says:

    @RossInDetroit:

    But something is lost for customers who want to be more than a consumer, who want to be involved in making something their own rather than just using it on the designer’s terms.

    Everyone says this, and this is not quite right. Anyone can program for the iPhone. There is some cost ($100) that serves as barrier to entry to get on to the physical device, but at an educational institution even this barrier is gone. You can make whatever application you want, custom tailored to your desires.

    What you cannot do is sell your applications to others without going through iTunes. And while you can give Apps away for free, you also cannot do Open Source where you distribute the application with the source code (though you could just distribute the source code and give it to anyone else to compile and put on their device). The control is a matter of distribution, not development. And as I pointed out in a previous thread, this is no different from game consoles or any other consumer electronic device out there.

    The only development that you are prevented from doing is loading other OS’s on the device. And I just don’t see that as a big deal.

  44. 44
    MattR says:

    @Southern Beale: Woo-hoo!!!! Congrats.

  45. 45
    JCT says:

    @Southern Beale: Completely awesome and well-deserved!

  46. 46
    Kilgore Trout says:

    Apple – the business, brand and mindset – is imbued with a distorted view of platform purity and secrecy (theirs, not yours) that is injurious to the marketplace and user-base

    Here’s the opposing view on that: Apple’s closed ecosystem allows it to prevent potential incompatibilities that an open system allows. The result for the end-user is a device that works without requiring tinkering (or even allowing much tinkering for that matter). For tech-heads that like to tweak, it sucks. For end users that just want their stuff to pretty much always work, and work seamlessly, it’s great.

    (Full disclosure: I’ve never owned a Mac but I do have a couple of iPods, an iPad and most recently an iPhone. Having previously used an Android phone, I’ll take “it just works” over “I can tweak it” any day, and twice on Sunday.)

  47. 47
    Reality Check says:

    So, should we tax people like Steve Jobs into oblivion? Or not?

  48. 48
    J.W. Hamner says:

    @Corner Stone:

    This is my issue. The dude was a great business man and innovator and he will be missed, but let’s be clear: he’s getting all these teary eyed eulogies because he made toys for rich white people… not because he was tending lepers in the Congo.

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Reality Check:

    We should DEFINITELY tax lickspittles of the parasite overclass, such as yourself, into oblivion.

  50. 50
    Mnemosyne says:

    @RossInDetroit:

    But something is lost for customers who want to be more than a consumer, who want to be involved in making something their own rather than just using it on the designer’s terms.

    I have nothing against hobbyists who want to build their own computers. I sometimes hand-knit my own socks even though I’m fully aware that I can just head into Target and buy a dozen pairs for $10. And I can see that it would become annoying to have a computer company that’s not willing to play nice and accommodate the hobbyists.

    It’s only when you guys sneer at those of us who aren’t interested in being a hobbyist and just want a machine that we can turn on and use without thinking about it that I get annoyed. If I don’t get to sneer at you for wearing machine-made socks instead of the clearly superior hand-knitted, custom fitted ones that I make, then you don’t get to sneer at me for not wanting to build my own computer from scratch.

  51. 51
    techno says:

    Jobs was perhaps the only guy in the tech business who actually understood the economic importance of aesthetics. This might seem like an obvious conclusion to draw but really, who else drew it?

  52. 52
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Today’s xkcd is fitting.

  53. 53
    JPL says:

    @Southern Beale: Very impressive.

  54. 54
    Reality Check says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Was Steve Jobs a “lickspittle of the parasite overclass”, or visionary leader who dramatically imrpoved the lives of ordinary individuals?

  55. 55
    Culture of Truth says:

    I had a Mac Plus! It was great. I currently use a Mac from 2001 (still going strong though has problems with Youtube and such) and new PC using Ubuntu. No iPhone, or iPad, though I like them.

  56. 56
    stormhit says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    I don’t think despair over what’s to come in that regard is necessary. I mean, there’s evidence out there that even MS has picked up pointers.

    See Windows Phone and to a lesser degree what’s shaping up to be Windows 8. Windows itself is always going to be a little trapped by needing to support legacy features, but the phone even out-“simple and reliables” the iphone.

  57. 57
    Steeplejack says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Congratulations! It is a weighty mantle you wear.

  58. 58
    geg6 says:

    I am a middle kid. When I started high school my sisters and brothers had already used the family typewriter, a manual one, for a couple of years before they left for college. The thing had no correction tape so for a while I had giant stashes of Liquid Paper and required the use of carbon paper in order to create two copies at a time.

    When my parents bought me an IBM Selectric electric typewriter for high school graduation, I thanked jeebus to be past that Liquid Paper nonsense. Still the soft touch of the electric keyboard and the auto return seemed excessive somehow, a big expensive thing that had way more power than I would ever need.

    Two things stood out about that grey box. One, using it just made sense. Two, the thing lasted so long that it went way past being slow and limited next to the stuff that other kids were using. It became a comical monochrome dinosaur that would not die or even call in sick.

    I still own it and it still works to this day.

    Yes, I know I’m old, but jeebus. A love note to a machine? Tim, I love ya, you sweet young yinzer, you. But you’ve gotta be kidding, right?

    Anyway, I thank Steve Jobs for my iPhone, the only Apple product I have ever used. RIP.

  59. 59
    Origuy says:

    Guess who is planning to go to Jobs’ funeral?

  60. 60
    MattR says:

    @J.W. Hamner: I loved that ESPN had an article up trying to tie Jobs in to the sports world. Some of the things made sense but then they claimed that the creation of the “Cars” franchise somehow affected athletics. I am still trying to figure that one out.

    OT, but related to my comment, ESPN has decided to permanently stop using Hank Williams Jr for the opening song to Monday Night Football

    @Mnemosyne: I agree, but it is not a one way street. There is quite a bit of condescension coming from both sides of the PC-Mac (or Apple vs non-Apple) debates.

  61. 61
    r€nato says:

    twelve-ish years is a pretty good run for a computer. The thing lasted so long that it went way past being slow and limited next to the stuff that other kids were using.

    I have here in my home studio (Mac-based, of course) a G4 tower, 2001 vintage. It still gets daily use. It’s not my primary computer, of course.

    I still use it regularly to edit standard def DV video and it handles my mail and functions as my media server.

    Anybody out there have a Windows PC that is 10 years old and still serves them as well as this Mac does for me?

    Every time I hear someone repeating that tired old saw about how Macs are sooooo much more expensive than PCs, I reply:

    1) I guarantee that within 3 years you will be replacing that PC because it has become too old and slow, takes forever to start up and shut down. A Mac will still serve you well five years from now and even longer.

    2) Ever heard of MacBook Air? PC builders can’t make a competing product that matches the quality of the MBA and costs the same or less.

  62. 62
    RSA says:

    @Kilgore Trout:

    Apple’s closed ecosystem allows it to prevent potential incompatibilities that an open system allows.

    This is exactly right. The usability of applications on Apple platforms tends to be more predictable than on, say, Linux or Android, and that’s at least partly because a consistent user experience is easier to manage when there’s some top-down control.

  63. 63
    Reality Check says:

    The ONLY problem I have with Apple is their lack of gaming on Macs. It’s getting better than it used to be but it still sucks. Aside from that they kick ass for reasons mentioned above.

  64. 64
    Tim F. says:

    @geg6: It’s a love note to a design philosophy.

  65. 65
    burnspbesq says:

    @William Hurley:

    And Apple has surely been punished for its sins, hasn’t it? Customer satisfaction ratings that any other company in its space would kill for, the second largest market cap of any company on earth, and … umm … no documented history of antitrust violations.

    Your “badly out of touch with reality” light is on. Please unplug, wait two minutes, and reboot.

  66. 66
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Origuy: Do you think if we got a bunch of signs with the green robot that said “Use Android” instead and stood with them it help or hurt the church?

  67. 67

    Thanks! So, since we’re talking Steve Jobs, I do have a post up today remarking on the Tennessee connection. He got his liver transplant in Tennessee by taking advantage of a loophole only available to the wealthy.

    I don’t fault him for doing what anyone in his position would do when faced with a terminal illness. But I do think it brings up a valid point about our inequitable healthcare system and that perhaps it should be part of the conversation.

  68. 68
    master c says:

    LC3 was our first…..now coming to you from a MacBook Pro.
    Photo and Design people are forever Mac folk.

  69. 69
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Reality Check:

    The original reason for QWERTY ceased to be an issue before the time the Navy tried to change, but unfortunately, it became the “industry standard” and there was too much resistance to changing it, no matter how much sense it made to do so.

    Computers, that don’t even use the same system, remotely, only highlight the silliness of it. Why is the railroad gauge what it is? You can trace its lineage all the way back to the Romans.

  70. 70
    Brachiator says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    One of the problems Apple faces now is that there is no backup Steve Jobs to be the larger than life individual personification of their brand. We’ll have to see how this plays out, of course, but keep in mind that they don’t have a guy like Jobs waiting in the wings because the culture of Apple couldn’t stand having two of them at the same time.

    Very few organizations, period, can contain two visionaries without friction (and yeah, I include the partnerships of Richards and Jagger and Lennon McCartney for comparison purposes).

    As for the future, the Walt Disney Company stumbled for a while after Walt’s death, but later found a way to plug into a leadership that understood how to continue Walt’s vision without trying simply to slavishly reproduce it. And it helped that they later bought Pixar, a company that understood the core of animated storytelling using the latest technology without forgetting the heart of things.

    It’s also a touch ironic that HP, one of the companies whose method influenced Jobs, is foundering. And so, even if years from now Apple loses its way, a generation of people who feel inspired or challenged by Jobs may lead the next technological revolution.

    @Jimbo:

    That said, he was also an arsehole and a ruthless business man (see any of the deals that he made when active as CEO).

    This kinda brought to mind an anecdote about jazz trumpeter Miles Davis:

    “Miles was at a very fancy dinner, where all of these high class dignitaries were invited (the type of people he hated most). A clueless lady sitting next to him asked him what he had done (basically saying, “why were YOU invited”), and he just responded, “I changed the face of music four or five times. What did you do?””

    Miles was prickly and ruthless in his own way. And yet musicians wanted to play with him, even if they later left after getting fed up or angry with him.

    And whether or not Jobs was a jerk, I find it interesting that after he resigned, people in the tech world guarded his privacy, and helped him maintain a quiet space where he could be with his family without pointless intrusions. I recall watching an interview with the Woz, who mentioned that he had talked to Jobs fairly recently, but who was clearly careful with some of his responses, not out of fear, but clearly out of affection for his friend. I’m sure that there are those who would spend a lot of bucks to the the “inside dirt” on Jobs. It says a lot about Jobs, and perhaps a good segment of the tech community, that most of these people would easily turn the offer down.

  71. 71
    eemom says:

    I must admit I like this thread much better than last night’s. All this tech talk is like soothing white noise.

  72. 72
    Jennifer says:

    I remember using a Mac way back in 92, when everything else was still pretty much operating on DOS. Though the market went more PC and I went that way along with it, I also remember telling people around the time Windows 2000 came out that it had finally caught up with the easy functionality of Mac 92.

    BTW, I’ve posted a refined/updated T-shirt design over at my joint, in honor of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Working on searching out printing options today, so if you want one, let me know in comments.

  73. 73
    replicnt6 says:

    @Reality Check:

    The ONLY problem I have with Apple is their lack of PC games. It’s getting better than it used to be but it still sucks.

    This video is all that needs to be said on this topic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzRrgZUnbFY

  74. 74
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    I honestly think that without Jobs we’d live in a world where fat feature lists are pretty much the only thing to distinguish our awkward, buggy PCs, smartphones and Microsoft Zunes.

    No, then all the engineers, programmers, managers, etc who worked/work for Apple would just go to other companies, and we’d be hailing the Tandy or Commodore for being the revolutionary product that Changed Everything.

    ETA: I wonder if Mark Nugent actually has used Mango.
    I guess I don’t care much for businessmen hagiographies.

  75. 75
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Origuy:

    Grifters gotta grift, you know.

    Why can’t Dexter focus on those clowns for a bit and make all our lives better in the process?

  76. 76
    Reality Check says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Another good example along the same lines: The failure of metrication in the Untited States, and the half-failure of it even in Canada. And for that matter customary units are still used in the UK in everyday life, despite actual legal penalties for doing so in commerce. Nevermind that customary units are utterly ridiculous and make no logical sense! I guses English-speaking people are stubborn.

    The ONLY thing that’s been metricated in the US is volume. Whens the last time you heard someone refer to the size of a car’s engine in “cubic inches”? I still don’t know why that particular measurement and nothing else.

  77. 77
    geg6 says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Congratulations! Awesome stuff.

  78. 78
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Reality Check:
    No, the military actually is a big user of the metric system.

  79. 79
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Brachiator:

    I’m sure that there are those who would spend a lot of bucks to the the “inside dirt” on Jobs.

    Ghouls.

    (paging Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes to the white courtesy phone!)

  80. 80
    Walker says:

    @Reality Check:

    The ONLY problem I have with Apple is their lack of gaming on Macs. It’s getting better than it used to be but it still sucks. Aside from that they kick ass for reasons mentioned above.

    Ironically, the iPhone and iPad are now the center of the gaming universe.

    Gaming on the Mac was bad in the late 90s, early 2000s, once everything was making the move to 3D. But before that it was pretty good in specific genres. RTSs sold very, very well on the Mac. And photorealistic adventure games like Myst ruled on the Mac.

    Heck, my college roommate went to go work for a game studio dedicated to Macs. At the time it was this really small, almost unheard of company. It was called Bungie.

  81. 81
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @MattR:

    OT, but related to my comment, ESPN has decided to permanently stop using Hank Williams Jr for the opening song to Monday Night Football

    …and you can add Hank Williams Jr. to the list of Great American Patriots who don’t know what the First Amendment says.

  82. 82
    geg6 says:

    @Tim F.:

    Meh. I guess I don’t get that, either. It’s a bunch of stuff that matters not at all to people like me who aren’t techies. Whatever works best for us and what is easiest to adopt. That is why the iPhone was a great idea. Simple to use, the biggest drawback being the pitiful battery life, which does not seem to me to be fixed if my second iPhone is any indication.

    Now marketing genius, I’ll give him.

  83. 83
    stormhit says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Most people who still mindlessly slag on Windows Phone don’t tend to even be aware they aren’t actually talking about Windows Mobile.

  84. 84
    soonergrunt says:

    Steve Jobs is dead.
    Oh. Sad Mac.

    What, too soon?

  85. 85
  86. 86
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    There’s no way that someone like Reality Check would ever know that, seeing as he breaks into cold sweats within three blocks of a recruiting office.

    The military does everything it possibly can in metric, except when they just can’t push the private sector into providing it. Have been since WWII. No one talks about “miles” in the military…at least not when issuing orders.

  87. 87
    Alex S. says:

    @Reality Check:

    I’d tax them into limbo, or maybe into the Formless Realm.

  88. 88
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    Anything in this thread that wasn’t in any of the others last night? Haters still hatin, computer geniuses still telling us that they make way better ones themselves? What am I missing, he got medical care like some kind of zillionaire?

  89. 89
    Mnemosyne says:

    @geg6:

    Do not dare to mock the IBM Selectric, which is still the greatest typewriter of all time.

    Yes, I’m being serious. I fucking loved that machine.

    @MattR:

    There is quite a bit of condescension coming from both sides of the PC-Mac (or Apple vs non-Apple) debates.

    There is, but I do think its roots are in that fundamental misunderstanding about what some people find compelling about their PCs — namely, that they enjoy futzing around with it and customizing the machine and OS itself. If you’re the kind of person (like me) who just wants to turn the thing on and start doing other stuff, it’s hard to understand why someone would actually like constantly tinkering with it. Once I figured out that the fun part about a PC for my brother were the times when it didn’t work, it started to make a lot more sense to me.

  90. 90
    Epicurus says:

    Biiiig shoutout for Crystal Quest! Also, too, many happy hours wasted playing Dark Castle…memories…RIP, Mr. Jobs.

  91. 91
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Mnemosyne: 66 Chevy trucks are for tinkering.

  92. 92
    RossinDetroit says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    It’s only when you guys sneer at those of us who aren’t interested in being a hobbyist and just want a machine that we can turn on and use without thinking about it that I get annoyed. If I don’t get to sneer at you for wearing machine-made socks instead of the clearly superior hand-knitted, custom fitted ones that I make, then you don’t get to sneer at me for not wanting to build my own computer from scratch.

    I’m not sneering at people who want to use a great product as it was designed. I said that Apple lost appeal to those of us who want to customize and personalize.
    That’s not limited to building a machine from scratch. It also, more importantly, includes adding the software and apps that you want. Apple acts as a gatekeeper there, rejecting programs that don’t pass their vetting. They do that to keep the user experience high. But a consequence is to keep the experimenters and hobbyists from using some of the best hardware available without violating the terms of service by ‘jailbreaking’.

  93. 93
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Reality Check:

    Seriously. Fuck flash with a rusty chainsaw. It’s quite possibly the biggest market failure since the adoption of QWERTY.

    Well, at least you acknowledge that the market can fail. That’s something.

  94. 94
    Kilgore Trout says:

    @Brachiator:

    This kinda brought to mind an anecdote about jazz trumpeter Miles Davis

    Awesome. I was talking to my son last night (college senior) and used Miles as an analogy – basically that Steve Jobs was to tech as Miles was to jazz. Not a lot of people single-handedly change the market they operate in. Precious few do it three or four times.

  95. 95
    somegayname says:

    @Mnemosyne: But allowing the hobbyists to tinker is not mutually exclusive to shipping a device that ‘just works’ out of the box. The locks do nothing positive for the standard consumer, and if anything add extra kludge in the hardware and software. If you don’t want to tinker, don’t. It’s not so much condescension as frustration that consumers seem willing to give up control and privacy for ‘fancy + shiny’. It’s getting worse in that touchpads and ereaders are not user serviceable or modifiable. If I really own a device I should be able to do whatever, up to and including installing new OS. In short – Debian Supremacy….

  96. 96
    Dougerhead says:

    That’s a good point about Bill Gates having a shittier phone than I do.

  97. 97
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    This ought to make you fuckers happy:

    Westboro Baptist Church leader Margie J. Phelps has announced that the group will picket the Apple co-founder’s funeral, condemning him for “teaching his neighbors to sin.”

  98. 98
    JBerardi says:

    It genuinely worries me that nobody else can match the simple, reliable, good aesthetic that characterizes Apple stuff, because Apple will have to do it and they don’t have Jobs anymore. RIP.

    John Gruber, at the time of Jobs’ resignation as CEO:

    Apple’s products are replete with Apple-like features and details, embedded in Apple-like apps, running on Apple-like devices, which come packaged in Apple-like boxes, are promoted in Apple-like ads, and sold in Apple-like stores. The company is a fractal design. Simplicity, elegance, beauty, cleverness, humility. Directness. Truth. Zoom out enough and you can see that the same things that define Apple’s products apply to Apple as a whole. The company itself is Apple-like. The same thought, care, and painstaking attention to detail that Steve Jobs brought to questions like “How should a computer work?”, “How should a phone work?”, “How should we buy music and apps in the digital age?” he also brought to the most important question: “How should a company that creates such things function?”

    Jobs’s greatest creation isn’t any Apple product. It is Apple itself.

    It will be fascinating to see how Apple functions without him.

  99. 99
    RSA says:

    @RossinDetroit:

    It also, more importantly, includes adding the software and apps that you want. Apple acts as a gatekeeper there, rejecting programs that don’t pass their vetting.

    I generally don’t write software except for my own use, so I don’t know the issues–how does Apple act as a gatekeeper? I’ve generally been able to write and run any kind of program I like (though it’s all for research rather than for end users).

  100. 100
    Winston Smith says:

    I’m surprise nobody has posted this yet:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FL7yD-0pqZg

    Yeah, iPhone is the best phone.

  101. 101
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @JBerardi:

    Maybe the health of major corporations shouldn’t be tied around the cult of a single individual then?

  102. 102
    Don SinFalta says:

    “When Jobs bought Pixar he created an absolute revolution in animation” is a pretty bad misperception. Yes, he kept it alive with his money, and stuck with it until Toy Story made them and made him a billionaire. But the absolute revolution in animation was made by Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, and a bunch of other really stellar technologists and artists. It was their vision, and their realization, not Jobs’. I don’t mean to knock Jobs or his impact on technology and society. But when I see all the articles authored by people who just assume that since he bought Pixar and then a few years later all these hit animated movies came out, Jobs must have been the genius who revolutionized animation, I wonder how much else in the Jobs legend is equally poorly understood.

  103. 103
    Mnemosyne says:

    @somegayname:

    It’s not so much condescension as frustration that consumers seem willing to give up control and privacy for ‘fancy + shiny’.

    Honestly, I’m not sure what kind of “control” you’re picturing a non-power user needing over their machine.

    It’s getting worse in that touchpads and ereaders are not user serviceable or modifiable. If I really own a device I should be able to do whatever, up to and including installing new OS. In short – Debian Supremacy….

    Again, I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in servicing or modifying my ereader. None. Zero. I’m perfectly happy to bring to to whatever authorized service place will do the work for me. I’m not sure why I’m supposed to be indignant that a hardware company considers their warranty void if you futz with the machine without authorization. If you decide to install a new OS on it and it doesn’t work, you shouldn’t be allowed to go back to the manufacturer and demand that they fix your mistake. Your choice, your responsibility.

  104. 104
    RossinDetroit says:

    @RSA:

    The App store. Apps that don’t meet their standards don’t get approval. I understand why this is and how it improves quality for most users. But if you want your own code on your iPhone, or a friend’s, or you just want to fool with it, you have to violate the TOS to install. Lots of geeks would like to be able to tinker in there, but it’s locked down unless you have serious skillz.
    It’s a business decision and it was probably a wise choice for what Apple wanted to be. But it’s like being a car geek and finding the hoods of the most desirable cars welded shut.

  105. 105
    Jon H says:

    @ThresherK: “For my money Pixar’s accomplishment was not forgetting to tell stories. Everyone competing with them somehow can’t do that nearly as well, nearly as consistently.”

    And Jobs let them do that, rather than pushing hard for a quick and easy return on his money.

  106. 106
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @RSA:

    For example, the app that allows you to unlock your iPhone…sure as hell doesn’t come from the offical Apple App Store.

  107. 107
    Jon H says:

    @RossinDetroit: ” But if you want your own code on your iPhone, or a friend’s, or you just want to fool with it, you have to violate the TOS to install. ”

    No you don’t, you just need a developer account.

  108. 108
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Don SinFalta:

    IIRC, Jobs brought the same thing to Pixar that he brought to Apple: knowing how to market something that people didn’t even know they wanted. He let the creative guys, Lasseter and Catmull, get to work actually creating things while he got to work figuring out how to get people to want those new products.

    Lasseter is an artist and Catmull is an engineer, so Jobs brought what they needed to build a viable company: business knowledge. He could glad-hand the money guys and convince them that Lasseter and Catmull knew what they were doing so therefore the money guys should invest in Pixar.

    In an odd way, Jobs was the Roy Disney to Lasseter and Catmull’s Walt Disney — the guy who knew how to get the money to do what the creatives wanted to do.

  109. 109
    drkrick says:

    @RossInDetroit:

    But something is lost for customers who want to be more than a consumer, who want to be involved in making something their own rather than just using it on the designer’s terms.

    True, and those people would be wise not to buy Apple products. But most people just want the damn thing to work and wouldn’t know why to “make it their own” even if they could figure out how.

    I compare it to the state of the art in cars 8 to 10 decades ago. In those days, it was risky to take a long automobile trip unless someone in the car had at least some knowledge of how to fix it, because it was pretty likely to break. Over time, the technology matured, reliability increased, and it was no longer necessary for the average driver to know any more about auto repair than the address of a reasonably honest repair shop.

    Computer technology isn’t there yet, but for those using “walled garden” devices it’s getting closer faster. It seems like a perfectly reasonable market segment for someone to fill.

  110. 110
    RSA says:

    @RossinDetroit:

    The App store. Apps that don’t meet their standards don’t get approval. I understand why this is and how it improves quality for most users. But if you want your own code on your iPhone, or a friend’s, or you just want to fool with it, you have to violate the TOS to install. Lots of geeks would like to be able to tinker in there, but it’s locked down unless you have serious skillz.

    Thanks for the info. A few years ago I was involved in the development of a tiny iPhone app in my research group, for our own use. Was Apple really vetting the software before we could see it running on our iPhones? I didn’t realize.

    EDIT: Huh. @Jon H suggests an alternative.

  111. 111
    Jon H says:

    @Don SinFalta: “It was their vision, and their realization, not Jobs’”

    Sure, but as the guy fronting the $50 million out of his own pocket to run the joint, he had every right and opportunity to take a short-sighted approach and put return on his own investment before their vision.

    He didn’t.

    Many, perhaps most, investors and CEOs these days wouldn’t let a bunch of perfectionist artists take ten years to produce a return.

  112. 112
    orogeny says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I’m a web designer and I’ve worked on both Macs and PCs over the years and I don’t understand this whole ‘constantly tinkering with it” meme.

    My home machine is an Alienware Win XP gaming PC that I bought in 2006 and it is still working fine. I’m not a tinkerer and the only thing, other than installing software, that I’ve done to it is to replace a memory card that went bad last year. It goes weeks at a time without being rebooted and always seems to work just fine.

    My work computer is a high-end Dell Precision workstation running Windows 7. It’s about 2.5 years old and is as reliable as any machine I’ve ever owned. It also goes weeks at a time without rebooting, since I regularly have to work from home via VPN.

    The Macs that I’ve used, an iMac G3 and a PowerMac G4 were equally, but no more dependable or simple to use.

    Where does this “ya gotta tinker with PCs all the time to keep them working” thing come from…is it just a relic from the old Windows 2-3 days?

  113. 113
    Joel says:

    @Reality Check: QWERTY was a godsend for jammed typewriters.

  114. 114
    RossinDetroit says:

    I gotta go read a thing. I’m studying up for my first IT job in 8 years, running remote network management for servers. This sure ain’t IBM 360!

    It’s easy to forget that behind the seamless user experience of a well run system or slick app is a lot of squinting and head scratching by nerds. People like Jobs are the visionaries who conceive the way products will look and work. Then comes the grunt labor of making it happen. Both are necessary and neither is sufficient.

  115. 115
    Jon H says:

    @Mnemosyne: “He let the creative guys, Lasseter and Catmull, get to work actually creating things while he got to work figuring out how to get people to want those new products.”

    I don’t think Jobs even played that role for Pixar. Too specialized. I doubt Jobs was involved with pitching Listerine on having Pixar make commercials, and I think Pixar’s short films, TV commercials, and SIGGRAPH presentations were sufficient to sell the Renderman software to the sorts of customers who bought that kind of thing.

    I’m sure Jobs helped get Disney interested in making Toy Story and other films, but that was probably more a matter of schmoozing between titans of industry.

  116. 116
    cxs says:

    @Southern Beale: Congratulations! It’s well deserved.

  117. 117
    Joel says:

    @soonergrunt: You forgot to link.

  118. 118
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Reality Check: We didn’t, and taxes could go up substantially, and we still wouldn’t. His goal wasn’t amassing the largest possible pile of cash, it was creating great products.

  119. 119
    Tim F. says:

    @orogeny: I sure as hell had to tinker with my old Compaq. When I wore out the case screws after three hard drives, a video card replacement, a hot-swap bay install and two power supplies I held it together with packaging tape.

    Most likely this comes down to buying less-shitty merchandise up front, following best maintenance practices and taking care with peripherals.

    Oh yeah, peripherals. My career is based on digital microscopes for research. They all run on Windows only, and each one is basically a set of three to eight exotic peripherals hooked up to a fast off-the-shelf PC. If had to pick one reason to hate PCs it would be the bizarre and dysfunctional relationship that Windows has with peripherals.

    My first scope ran on ME. My latest, which costs several times more than my house, runs on Vista. Those two might be the worst and second-worst OS’s that Redmond ever made, especially with respect to peripherals, so I may be biased. Based on experience, however, I would give a useful digit or two to have my scopes run on a Mac.

  120. 120
    Patrick says:

    Dvorak is a fable ; ;Iproducts have their own elements of fantasy.

  121. 121
    Jon H says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: “No, then all the engineers, programmers, managers, etc who worked/work for Apple would just go to other companies, and we’d be hailing the Tandy or Commodore for being the revolutionary product that Changed Everything.”

    Pretty much every technology company has good, even brilliant engineers, managers, etc. Microsoft plows billions into its Research arm, full of top scientists.

    They are necessary, but not sufficient.

  122. 122
    Jon H says:

    @J.W. Hamner: ” he’s getting all these teary eyed eulogies because he made toys for rich white people”

    Go ahead and spend the day in your white first-world self-loathing hair shirt.

    Knock yourself out.

  123. 123
    Brachiator says:

    @RossInDetroit:

    The products are really amazing, and most are far ahead of the competition in quality. But something is lost for customers who want to be more than a consumer, who want to be involved in making something their own rather than just using it on the designer’s terms.

    Often, this is a more than acceptable trade-off. An example that hopefully goes beyond the walled vs open stuff.

    When I was wanted to buy a smartphone, I watched a number of tech podcasts. I was really put off by one host who almost sneered to a caller, “I don’t use an iPhone for phone calls. It does so much more. You can play games on it. If you just want a phone, buy a feature phone.”

    On another show, the guests were proud to outdo each other on the number of hours they spent rooting their phones and customizing them. And they happily carried around extra cables and battery paks because all the stuff they used their phones for drained the heck out of batteries. On still another show, guests droned on and on about apps that were functionally useless, or which didn’t do much of anything but look pretty or were cool.

    Granted, you sometimes get exciting innovations from users, but they can often impede usability because the worst tech geeks don’t care about much more than the technical issues and the cool factor. If the automobile industry were dominated by customizers and hot rodders, the average person who just wanted a car that was cheap and efficient, and would get him or her to work on time would still be waiting for a car that, as Jobs might say, just worked.

    @Don SinFalta:

    Jobs must have been the genius who revolutionized animation, I wonder how much else in the Jobs legend is equally poorly understood.

    It counts a lot that Jobs (and others like him) would have the patience and yes, the vision, to subsidize and nurture and not interfere with the Pixar folk. Another type of investor would want a quick hit, and have no care at all about quality or the nurturing of an amazingly creative group like Lasseter and his crew.

  124. 124
    Jon H says:

    @Reality Check: “The ONLY problem I have with Apple is their lack of gaming on Macs. It’s getting better than it used to be but it still sucks. ”

    Boot Camp. Problem solved.

  125. 125
    Jon H says:

    @Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac: “I guess I’m just one of those people who have a hard time understanding why a CEO deserves this sort of praise when it’s his design group and engineers who saved Apple, he just gave them the freedom to do so.”

    Yeah, I’m sure Apple could have done everything without Jobs. Really, they didn’t need him at all. They flailed about in the 90s trying to come up with a modern OS, and flailing, but they were just messing around, they totally had it under control.

    I find it very hard to imagine how, even if you added NeXT’s employees to Apple’s technical staff in 1997, but retained Apple’s feckless management and leadership of the time, Apple could have succeeded the way they have under Jobs.

  126. 126
    orogeny says:

    @Tim F.:

    Most likely this comes down to buying less-shitty merchandise up front, following best maintenance practices and taking care with peripherals.

    This is probably the case. I’m limited as to how often I can replace equipment, so I always buy top-of-the-line when I get a new box. I also research reviews and forums pretty thoroughly before I make a purchase.

    I can relate on the Compaq story….owned one (one!) about 15 years ago and it was just about useless. Not because it was a PC–it was just a poorly made piece of equipment.

    I wonder if the fact that there is such a variety of PCs being sold, with quality ranging from poor to excellent, is the reason for the “PCs all suck” myth? Lots of people have bought cheap, low-quality machines and blame the troubles they have on the fact that it is a PC, rather than it is a cheap POS. Sort of like someone buying a Yugo GV and then deciding that all internal combustion-based cars suck because of their experience with that one.

  127. 127
    Jon H says:

    @Reality Check: “Despite being an asshole in his personal relationships from what I hear ”

    There were issues with his treatment of Woz, and of his first daughter from when he was young, but I’ve never seen anything to suggest any assholery where his wife and kids were concerned.

    For what it’s worth, I’m on a mailing list of ex-NeXT employees, and I haven’t seen any bitterness. Instead they’re planning a memorial get-together. NeXT was tiny compared to Apple, 500 people (250 after they stopped making hardware), so it’s quite likely they interacted with Steve face to face.

  128. 128
    Jon H says:

    @orogeny: “I wonder if the fact that there is such a variety of PCs being sold, with quality ranging from poor to excellent, is the reason for the “PCs all suck” myth? Lots of people have bought cheap, low-quality machines and blame the troubles they have on the fact that it is a PC, rather than it is a cheap POS. ”

    Most likely. If you want a decent computer, you’re likely to pay something closer to Apple’s prices.

    The fetish for cheap PCs is a false economy.

  129. 129
  130. 130
    James K. Polk, Esq. says:

    @Tim F.: Why do you think it is that scientific devices don’t run on Macs?

    My guess is that Windows takes backwards compatibility as gospel, and OSX obsoletes older software in order to force people to buy new hardware.

    I am a scientist, and the thought of validating a new computer system every few years gives me the chills.

  131. 131
  132. 132
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jon H:

    I doubt Jobs was involved with pitching Listerine on having Pixar make commercials, and I think Pixar’s short films, TV commercials, and SIGGRAPH presentations were sufficient to sell the Renderman software to the sorts of customers who bought that kind of thing.

    No, he was involved with getting people to invest in the company so Lasseter and Catmull could develop the really cool software and animation that they then took to Listerine to pitch them on Pixar making commercials for them.

    It’s not actually free to develop software, especially since you can’t develop something like Renderman by being one guy sitting in his garage. You need money to fund the development until you get to the point where you can actually do stuff with it to show other people so you can convince them to give you money to do things for them.

    That’s the schmoozing that you’re discounting. Jobs didn’t just sit around on his ass for five years until Pixar was ready to produce “Toy Story” and then get a meeting with Michael Eisner. He found the money at the beginning of the process that Lasseter and Catmull needed to bring their idea to fruition. And he was smart enough to stay out of their way when it came to the creative side.

  133. 133
    Mnemosyne says:

    @orogeny:

    Where does this “ya gotta tinker with PCs all the time to keep them working” thing come from…is it just a relic from the old Windows 2-3 days?

    As Tim F. and Jon H. said, some of it has to do with the false economy of buying cheap systems that don’t last.

    But I was talking more about the mentality of the vocal fans of the PC who decry the “walled garden” that is Apple hardware. They are the ones who love to tinker around with their machines to get them to do stuff. (And I don’t mean they “have” to tinker to get things to work — they like to tinker with them and customize them.) I’m just pointing out to them that not everyone shares their hobby or their desire to customize their hardware to the breaking point, so complaining that Apple considers your warranty void if you jailbreak your iPhone to run a different OS on it doesn’t have nearly as much broad appeal as they seem to think.

  134. 134
    Peter says:

    Wow! How many front page posts is this on Steve Jobs? And nary a one on Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. Sure Jobs made the life experience better but Shuttlesworth made us better by putting his life on the line for change.

  135. 135
    geg6 says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Do not dare to mock the IBM Selectric, which is still the greatest typewriter of all time.
    __
    Yes, I’m being serious. I fucking loved that machine.

    I couldn’t agree more. I loved it, apparently, more than any computer I’ve ever used since I couldn’t tell you a thing about when I got or used my first one and certainly more than anything Apple has made because, as I mentioned above, I have never owned or used an Apple product with the sole exception of my iPhone.

    Was not mocking, dear Mnemo. Was giving it the same paen that Timmeh was giving to Jobs and Apple products. Of course, the fact that my godfather was (and still is, as a retiree consultant to them) an employee of IBM as a mainframe designer (starting right after WWII, when he got out of his job in the Navy doing the same thing) does nothing to account for my Selectric love. He thought I was a Luddite back in 1977 when I received my beloved Selectric through a deep employee discount he got for my parents. No matter how often he took me to visit in his offices around the country (especially in Binghamton), he couldn’t get me interested in his gigantic computers or, later, PCs very much. I don’t even understand why there would be any sort of arguments as to whether PCs or Macs are better. I will never love either (not even my iPhone) as much as I loved that Selectric.

  136. 136
    Mnemosyne says:

    @geg6:

    I will never love either (not even my iPhone) as much as I loved that Selectric.

    I’ve gotta agree with you there — I am fond of my Macs, but they can never replace the Selectric in my heart. But as long as I know you were not mocking my beloved but only expressing the same undying passion, we’re cool. :-)

  137. 137
    J.W. Hamner says:

    @Jon H:
    Go ahead and spend the day fetishizing a CEO with a multibillion dollar net worth as your personal savior.

    Knock yourself out.

  138. 138
    orogeny says:

    @Mnemosyne: It’s funny, I’m not a tinkerer…actually dislike computers in many ways. I’ve always said that I feel like a cowboy who hates horses. When I got my first Mac, a 128k Macinabox back in 1984, I was convinced that eventually everyone would be working on a Mac. But, over the years what I consider to be Apple’s arrogance, coupled with the cultish nature of a lot Mac advocates has turned me off…there’s a quasi-religiosity to it that reminds me of scientology, and it just grates on my nerves. When Bill Gates dies, I doubt that there will be crowds of weeping mourners standing outside Best Buy.

  139. 139
    Death Panel Truck says:

    twelve-ish years is a pretty good run for a computer. The thing lasted so long that it went way past being slow and limited next to the stuff that other kids were using. It became a comical monochrome dinosaur that would not die or even call in sick.

    I have an Apple IIgs that came from the elementary school where my wife is the special ed teacher. It was manufactured in 1987, and it is still going strong. She used it for years in her classroom. The kids loved to play Number Munchers on it. It has two external floppy drives, and no hard drive. Two years ago a guy from computer tech came to her classroom and offered to take the IIgs off her hands. My wife asked if she could take it home, and he said he’d take it off the inventory.

    I have owned nothing but iMacs since 1999. I’ve had three of them, and they all still work. Two of them are in the closet. I’ll pay the extra money for them without complaint.

  140. 140
    Death Panel Truck says:

    the cultish nature of a lot Mac advocates

    Not a cultist. I just know a good buy when I see one.

  141. 141
    Redleg says:

    I respect the vision and innovation that Jobs was able to bring to Apple. If Apple fails after Jobs’ passing, then I’d have to say that Jobs was a piss-poor CEO from the perspective of transforming the organization.

    Part of what great leaders do is develop and change people so that when the leader is gone, the vision, values, and competencies will still exist and the organization will continue to succeed.

  142. 142
    Mike says:

    Maybe they will finally bring back HyperCard now. I’ve never understood Jobs’ absolute hatred of developers. In his mind, only apple employees were worthy of doing anything for “his” computers. He seemed to have forgotten his roots in BASIC and such. The iPad would be such great tool for kids to experiment in basic programming, yet none of that is allowed for some inexplicable reason. It’s one of Apple’s great failings–an educational company that refuses to educate.

  143. 143
    Jon H says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Jobs put something like $50 million of his own money into Pixar, so while I’m sure they did go to outside sources, they had lots of money to work with. I’d probably have to dig up the IPO documents to see who owned what.

  144. 144
    Jon H says:

    @Mike: ” I’ve never understood Jobs’ absolute hatred of developers.”

    You’re on crack.

    NeXT’s triumph was its development environment.

    The hardware went away first due to lack of demand for it, leaving the NeXT OS running on NeXT hardware, Intel PCs, Sparcstations, and HP PA/RISC workstations. But customers didn’t so much want the OS, they really wanted the developer tools, so eventually NeXT started selling a runtime environment for Windows. And they had WebObjects, which applied their development tools to web applications.

    The development environment’s descendants are still with us, and better than ever. They’re free, whereas NeXT charged $4000 for them, and customers like investment banks paid it.

  145. 145
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @r€nato:

    I guarantee that within 3 years you will be replacing that PC because it has become too old and slow, takes forever to start up and shut down. A Mac will still serve you well five years from now and even longer.

    My vintage 2004 Asus P4C800-E Deluxe (i875 chipset) P4-3.2 GHz would beg to differ. Upgraded with an ATI/AMD HD3850, it still rocks on quite well. Could you upgrade your Mac video card with the latest tech five years after its release? I also have a Dell Inspiron 8000 P3 laptop from 2000 that I still use to this day. I’m typing this on my garage laptop, a Dell Inspiron 9100 P-4 3.2 GHz system. My main desktop system is powered by a first gen Core i7, three years old now and still close to the top in performance and upgraded recently with the latest X58 mobo with USB3/SATA3 support (upgrade cost of $176.00).

    I’ll bet I get a hell of a lot more computing power and options for less money than you have spent.

    Try again Mac lover. :)

  146. 146
    Jon H says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    “Go ahead and spend the day fetishizing a CEO with a multibillion dollar net worth as your personal savior.”

    I’ve always felt I got my money’s worth, and developing software for NeXT gave me a pretty decent living in the 90s. I don’t begrudge him his money.

  147. 147
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    Could you upgrade your Mac video card with the latest tech five years after its release?

    Yes. Contrary to the propaganda on this thread, you can crack your Mac open anytime you want as long as you don’t expect to get free warranty service if you screw it up.

    Next question?

  148. 148
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jon H:

    That’s why I was comparing Jobs to Roy Disney — he’s the guy who knew where to find the money to do what Walt wanted to do. He knew how to talk to the bankers to get them to extend that mortgage just one more time while Walt and Ub were drawing Mickey Mouse.

    Jobs had more than a little touch of Walt while he was at Apple, in that he was able to get hundreds of creative and technical people to work towards his vision, but I think he was much more Roy in his role at Pixar.

  149. 149
    Jon H says:

    I don’t really see the point in tinkering with a PC. I did, once, when I was running NeXTSTEP on an AMD K6-3. I tried over clocking, etc. But I’ve *long* since lost interest.

    Frankly, plugging cards in or swapping a hard drive, or even swapping a motherboard, doesn’t even really carry much nerd cred anymore.

    If you want to tinker, it’d be way more impressive and creative to get into electronics like the Arduino and related sensors, motors, etc.

  150. 150
    Jon H says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: “Could you upgrade your Mac video card with the latest tech five years after its release?”

    Yes, if it’s a Mac Pro, assuming the card doesn’t use a new, incompatible bus.

    Also, there are Thunderbolt expansion chassis coming. A box with several PCI Express slots that run at full speed, which connects to a Mac with a Thunderbolt cable. So you could have three cutting-edge video cards plugged into, say, a laptop.

  151. 151
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @orogeny: “When Bill Gates dies, I doubt that there will be crowds of weeping mourners standing outside Best Buy.”

    What’s really funny is that many people who love to tinker with their pc have a love/hate relationship with Gates. Gates doesn’t have the starry-eyed worshipers that Jobs has, that’s for sure.

  152. 152
    Jon H says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: “What’s really funny is that many people who love to tinker with their pc have a love/hate relationship with Gates. Gates doesn’t have the starry-eyed worshipers that Jobs has, that’s for sure.”

    Well, yeah, that’s what happens when your OS is so crappy for so long.

  153. 153
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    See #150; IF you have an Intel based Mac Pro. My old P4 computer is older than the Mac Pro, so try again. Enjoy your walled garden, it’s what you want in your computing experience and it makes you happy. It’s a necessary place for some people and personally, I’m glad it’s there.

    @Jon H:

    I quit overclocking after the P-4 NetBurst platform. By that time the performance was such that it wasn’t really necessary. It isn’t “nerd cred” that drives me to build custom computer systems, it’s because I like making things work, and work well, with my own hands.

    I like a challenge and owning an Apple product isn’t a challenge, it’s autopilot computing. Many people love that and Jobs filled that niche quite nicely, making some big bucks doing so.

    @Jon H:

    Triple graphic card equipped laptops would be something nice to see. I’m now putting together a kit I got that connects an external PCIe card to a laptop (but only in 2x). I need to kick up the power on my XPS m1730 laptop. :)

    Geek stuff is fun. :)

    “Well, yeah, that’s what happens when your OS is so crappy for so long.”

    That’s a small part of it, very small IMO, and mostly related to the craptastic Vista OS. It’s more the restrictive nature of MS code, DRM issues, imposing their might on little people and such.

    Much like pc geeks problems with Jobs and Apple…lol!

  154. 154
    Jon H says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: “That’s a small part of it, very small IMO, and mostly related to the craptastic Vista OS”

    Oh no. Complaints about Windows, and DOS before it, have been around as long as DOS has been. That’s why Windows NT and 95 were such a big deal, warts and all. Back in 1994, Windows NT would crash on me when I opened a certain file in Microsoft’s C++ environment. Turned out there was an invisible control character in the file. That brought the whole machine down.

    As Douglas Adams said in 1995, “The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to lead all his customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he who by peddling second-hand, second-rate technology, led them all into it in the first place.”

  155. 155
    RSA says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    I like a challenge and owning an Apple product isn’t a challenge, it’s autopilot computing.

    It depends on what one finds challenging. As Paul Graham puts it (with respect to the Mac, at least–he has a different view on the iPhone), “All the best hackers I know are gradually switching to Macs… Apple is popular at the low end and the high end, but not in the middle. My seventy year old mother has a Mac laptop. My friends with PhDs in computer science have Mac laptops.”

    That’s my experience as well. Not that it’s a big deal, though; the differences between computing platforms generally come down to the software people want to run and their personal preferences, and for a lot of knowledgeable computer people the preferences aren’t very strong. Every year I ask a new batch of computer science grad students about where they stand in the everlasting online war between Windows, the Mac OS, and Linux, and the answer is always, “Meh.”

  156. 156
    Brachiator says:

    @orogeny:

    When Bill Gates dies, I doubt that there will be crowds of weeping mourners standing outside Best Buy.

    I guess. But Bill Gates’ contribution to technology is equally great, and will be equally celebrated.

    @Mnemosyne:

    That’s why I was comparing Jobs to Roy Disney—he’s the guy who knew where to find the money to do what Walt wanted to do. He knew how to talk to the bankers to get them to extend that mortgage just one more time while Walt and Ub were drawing Mickey Mouse.

    Roy may have been a touch like Steve Jobs, as well as a money man. I remember that Roy fought to maintain the studio’s vision, and found this as part of Roy’s wiki:

    Roy Disney resigned as an executive from the Disney company in 1977 due to disagreements with corporate decisions then. As he claimed later, “I just felt creatively the company was not going anywhere interesting. It was very stifling.”…While investors were attempting hostile takeovers of Disney with the intention on dismantling the company and selling off its assets, Roy organized a consortium of white knight investors to fend off the takeover attempts which led to Eisner and Wells being brought on. Roy soon returned to the company as vice-chairman of the board of directors and head of the animation department.

    Ironically, a background to this was former Disney head Michael Eisner’s antagonism towards Pixar and Steve Jobs. When Roy regained control, he repaired the bad relationship between Disney and Pixar.

    Its’ a small world, after all.

  157. 157
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Jon H:

    Umm, IBM/MS-DOS v1.1d owner here and I’m more than familiar with the history of Windows, warts and all. No doubt that early versions sucked eggs but they were still highly configurable systems that could still be made to do pretty much what you needed. I’ve installed and serviced NT systems from 3.51 onward, so I’m well acquainted with that too.

    With XP, Microsoft really started getting it together, IMO. Vista was a huge step backward and Win7 isn’t really much better (for my personal use). Win8 is looking very promising but I wouldn’t put it past MS for F that up too.

    I’ve never thought of Bill Gates as a knight in shining armor…lol! Not with his past, especially his early history, that’s for sure. His bs with killing Netscape pissed off a lot of people, thus my not using any flavor of IE to this day. I have no doubt that if Mr. Bill could pull a Jobs in the computing world, he would do so in a heartbeat.

    Nope, I just can’t idolize some guy who was in the right place at the right time. All I care is that I can do what I want with my hardware, with as little interference as possible. Apple is learning that lesson the hard way in the pc wars, having only relatively recently adopted the Intel platform out of necessity.

    Thank goodness that Mr. Bill hasn’t been able to control the hardware side of the pc too much.

    @RSA:

    That’s why I’m a pc user, preferences and availability of what I need, especially in regards to gaming. Video editing is important too and I’ve been doing it on the pc since I got interested in it back in 1990’s when I bought my first Matrox NLE card. While a Mac has always been known for its power in video editing, some day Mac will catch up in the gaming realm (they’ve improved tremendously since adopting the Intel platform) but for now they just can’t fill that need for me.

    I’ve always viewed Macs as too restrictive for my purposes, not versatile enough for what I do. They are good computers and always have been, no doubt about that. Just like I like the pc, that’s the same reason why people really like the Mac; it does what they need it to do.

  158. 158
    RSA says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: No disagreement on your last comment.

  159. 159
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    Actually, I was talking about that Roy Disney’s father, Roy O. Disney. (Roy the younger was Roy E.) But I do think it’s interesting that Roy E. was one of the people who helped bring Jobs onto the Disney board — I think he recognized some of the qualities he wanted for the company in Jobs.

  160. 160
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    My old P4 computer is older than the Mac Pro, so try again.

    I have an accelerator card on my G3, which was very easily purchased. Your turn.

  161. 161
    Greyjoy says:

    I don’t understand Macs users’ perception of PCs, except that, along with their perception of Macs as being “far ahead of their competition”, they just plain believe their own marketing without examining it critically.

    Just about every computer you buy today “just works” right out of the box without having to do a single thing to it. Some brands are more reliable than others, but really…you buy it, you go home, you boot it up, it’ll work. It won’t even be cluttered up with a jillion trial programs you have to delete. Virtually all the major manufacturers have stopped doing that because they were taking a hit in consumer loyalty–meaning people really were deciding not to buy a ______ because there was too much bullshit loaded onto it at point of purchase. So they stopped.

    As for PCs, you don’t need to tinker with it, ever. Not if you don’t want to. PCs are cheaper. “Most likely. If you want a decent computer, you’re likely to pay something closer to Apple’s prices.” Wrong. You can get a perfectly decent PC laptop for five hundred bucks that will do just about everything you want it to do. Your videogame will look like crap on it and you won’t be able to edit your 2-hour feature film on it, but everything else? Sure.

    Hackers and developers use Macs because they’re built on an OS that’s a specialized flavor of Unix. It’s easier to buy a Mac and be able to use it for all kinds of things, than to build a Linux box and use it for one thing.

    But really, the whole, “You need to buy a Mac because PCs get viruses and are awkward and you need to customize them to use them” schtick, I mean come on. That hasn’t been true for over a decade, at least–certainly not since XP came out.

    Right now I’m working on a 3-year-old Toshiba that gets a little hot sometimes but still works fine. Got it for $700, which at the time was an amazingly cheap price for a laptop that came standard with 4GB of RAM and “high-end” speakers. The keys started to fall off about a year or so in (which has never happened to be before) so I bought a keyboard on Ebay for $50 and found an article online about how to replace it. Within 10 minutes, voila, new keyboard, no more problems.

    My employer has a contract with HP to recycle all our work machines every 3 years, which is nice because then you don’t get stuck with obsolete hardware. My current laptop, nicknamed “The Warbeast” because it apparently has a military-grade crap-proof keyboard and also weighs 10 lbs with a 3 lb adapter, has been super-reliable. As was the laptop before it, to be honest, and the one before that.

    My next computer will almost certainly be an Asus. I play *a* videogame (Sims 3, let’s keep the laughter to a minimum) and from what I’ve read, they’re top-notch in hardware reliability and customer service–even beating Apple a time or two. Their machines aren’t pretty and white, but they have put a lot of thought into their design: extra-strong hinges, a higher keyboard angle for better ergonomics, fans that blow their exhaust out of the REAR of the machine instead of the bottom, so you can actually use your laptop on your lap without roasting yourself. And their prices are extremely reasonable–the latest 17″ model is $1200. That’s literally half the price of the starting 17″ model of the Macbook Pro. That’s a big, big difference.

  162. 162
    somegayname says:

    @Mnemosyne: That is exactly my point. It can come out of the box and never require user tinkering…great, excellent. Don’t want to modify it? don’t. This functionality does not require locks that PREVENT tinkering. Cars are a good example of a ‘just work’ product that still have a huge hobby market. Having to jailbreak a device you ‘own’ is akin to needing to unweld a hood so you can work on your car. It also stifles innovation. Imagine if Motorola had active restrictions to prevent ‘unauthorized’ use on the 6502 and later chips. You wouldn’t have an Apple. A lot of talent and time is unnecessarily wasted overcoming these hurdles. All this might affect you in the sense that the next ‘steve jobs’ is sufficiently deterred and you miss out on an awesome ‘could have been’ technology.

  163. 163
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Five years after the fact and it ran the latest in games? A wider variety in video hardware selection, prices and regular updates is my point. There was no comparing the two then but Apple is getting better since they went Intel. It’s still more of a hassle than the pc platform though that is because the market has been catering to it forever. Mac support is coming along quite nicely now and it’s because of Apple having to move to the Intel platform.

    Intel. :) The pc world says: “You’re welcome.” ;)

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