Think different

I had a meeting last night, my third evening meeting in a row this week, and thankfully, the last. Like most meetings, I was working on my iPad throughout, taking notes, checking dates, looking up information relevant to the discussions at hand. (I even thought to bring my Bluetooth keyboard along, but didn’t end up using it this time.)

When I got home, I pulled out my iPod Touch and checked email. It was a long week, so I had no intention of pulling out my MacBookPro to do any “real” work. I figured I would pull out the iPad, but I was tired, so I just sat on the couch and pulled the iPod out of my pocket.

I checked email, then peeked at Facebook. There were a few of the captioned pictures that have been going around at the top of my feed, but then there were Apple logos, Apple pictures, and finally some references to Steve Jobs. I started seeing RIP with the name, and pulled out the iPad… it was time to get a bigger screen and a better view.

My heart goes out to his family and friends. I know nothing of what Steve Jobs was like on a personal level, but 56 is too short a time.

I effectively grew up with Apple products. The first computers I got to play with were Apple II’s in my junior high. There were two, and not everyone could use them, but I was one of the first to get permission. The first computer I owned was a Commodore 64, a gift from a forward-looking aunt and uncle. (Even better, I had no disk drive, only a tape — as in cassette — drive.) It was an interesting toy, and I learned a little about programming on it, but it never went to school with me. At IMSA, we had Mac pluses, I think — the old unibody Mac’s that predated the iMacs. I can remember introductory seminars to such advanced software as MS Word 4.0… (We also had access to other computers… I had a Plato account there.) I had a long-term relationship with a friend who used Macs, and I can remember using his desktop Mac for assignments in college until I finally got my own — a Mac LC II, with a monochrome monitor. In graduate school, I finally made the switch to a laptop with a “Wallstreet” Powerbook G3. As a postdoc, I turned a small bit of inheritance money into a newer 17″ Powerbook, one of the last models to carry the Powerbook name. Three years and a few months later, I had an amazingly good customer service interaction — that powerbook had all kinds of issues, all of which were covered by AppleCare until the end of Applecare… it was “fixed”, but still wasn’t working right, and it went back in 2-3 months later for another fix. After a week or two of working without my primary computer, I was frustrated and sent two copies of a 2-page letter — one to the Apple Store in OakBrook, IL, and another to Cupertino. Within 36h of mailing the letter, a manager from the OakBrook store called me up and offered me a 17″ MacBookPro as a replacement — the computer that I’m now typing on. It’s not without it’s own problems — it has a Radeon X1600 video card that has problems that Apple isn’t really acknowledging, but it’s still my primary computer. I do have my eye on a MacBook Air as a replacement, but that’s probably still 6-9 months away…

For our New Media Seminar, we’ve been reading V. Bush, Wiener, Licklider, and Engelbart. I don’t think the volume has anything by Jobs, but it seems clear that he belongs in that (and many other) list(s) as a visionary. Fortunately, he was able to bring many of his visions to fruition — there’s something magical about a device like an iPad that makes computing easy for people who can’t figure out how to use a computer.

I was thinking about it this morning, and while my oldest knows that music comes on round things that are a bit fragile, my younger two (twins) likely only associate the discs with movies. They’ve grown up with one old iPod (a 3rd generation iPod — one of the earliest ones, and yes, it still works!) in the playroom, and a Nano in their bedroom for lullabies…

Thanks, Steve, for thinking different, and helping others to think different, too. I hope that Apple (and others) will continue your legacy for years to come…

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