Archive for ‘Apple’

October 5, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

 

‘You’ve got to find what you love,’ Jobs says

This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

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September 11, 2011

Toco sunset. Trinidad.

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Taken with my Galaxy Tab using Pro HDR app.

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October 25, 2008

Shaking the foundations.

 

It has now become transparently obvious to me that to blog more frequently I am completely dependent on my powerbook Tinkerbell. It isn’t that the iMac I am now using is flawed in any way or even her big sister Sybil, the dual processor PowerPC sitting next to her with the impressively large flat screen display it is just that I like sitting on the couch and blogging. I am a multitasking kind of person I need to blog, while watching something on TV and reading an economic treatise. It might not be the ideal concentration situation but it works for me so I am counting the  days till Harry replaces her hard drive and I can pack her for my upcoming trip.

 

Speaking of my upcoming trip it is nice to see that things are slowly coming together because the logistics are headache inducing. Planning a trip of a limited number of days but still managing to see as many hotels, restaurants and sights is not an easy business. Arranging accommodation alone is a major task since no hotel can reasonably host a travel writer for more than a few days and not the duration of a visit. I am really looking forward to Bucuti in Aruba as my pal of last year ,Susan, has graciously offered to host me for a few days. Having a chance to experience a hotel that seldom has a vacant room and that takes style and environmental consciousness to a new level is going to be one of the highlights of this expedition. Still, I can’t help hoping that the global economic downturn will not take a toll on the tourism income of the ABC islands that rely on visitors.

 

The world economy has been one of my major focuses these days both for work and personal reasons. I have long love the magical science of economics and have been boning up on as many studies that I can so I can seem semi-literate when speaking to both economists and politicians. It is a complicated business but, ultimately, economies have cycles of ups and downs and no amount of intervention can stop them. The world will pull out of this slump once we establish a nadir and inevitably we will, after months or years, start the upward journey again. 

 

Here at home the main problem is inflation heavily fuelled by massive government spending on non-productive projects. Sure, there are a few areas that may spur productivity such as infrastructure but tall government buildings and unnecessary stadiums i shardly likely to bring a return on investment. They don’t seem to have studied the whole FDR New Deal thing properly. Inflation has now reached a worrisome 14.8% and is almost certainly likely to climb. This is the headline inflation  but food inflation is the especially troubling part. Newsday condensed the Central Bank’s analysis of the situation :

 

Food price inflation, considered a key driver of the headline inflation rate, was recorded at 34.6 percent in September. This represents an increase from 30.2 percent, as a result of increases in bread and cereals (63.2 percent), fruits (38.4 percent) vegetables (42.4 percent) and fish ( 25.1 percent). “

 

For people living on the edge such price rises can lead to catastrophe and for some I am sure it already is. Governments have two ways of dealing with rising prices one is curtailing demand and the other is addressing supply. Clearly, as the figures are not measuring caviar prices, it is impossible for people to cut back on consumption if they are already having a hard time affording food to feed their families. On the supply side government has been proposing that people start small gardens which is hardly a useful suggestion in a largely urban country. It has also been pushing the import substitution agenda saying that we should substitute local things like eddoes ( taro) and cassava ( manioc) for imported potatoes. Great suggestion except last time I checked both local items were a lot more expensive than potatoes. Things must really be desperate in their “Vision 20/20 heading for developed country status”world if they have to dredge up unworkable solutions last employed by underdeveloped nations in the 1970s.

 

The other budget “initiatives” involve a “new” agricultural thrust calling for everything from mega-farms run by Cuban farmers to improving access to rural areas. It is like a tired and fading echo now. They have been promising such things for years and nothing has been delivered. I wish they would just get sense and let the private sector do what it does best – get results. Offer meaningful incentives for people to grow food crops. If they want to make it more attractive than long hours slogging in the hot sun and fearing floods then make it more attractive and modern. The simplest solution is to promote things like large-scale hydroponics and aquaculture. Offer potential farmers a $200,000 grant ,a $500,000 interest free loan and a 10 year tax holiday to undertake such projects and I can guarantee that we would be overflowing with food in a matter of 6 months.

 

On the other hand, we can keep making misguided halfway efforts to do things the old way and hope the population doesn’t finally get fed up.

September 22, 2008

The Atacama Budget

 

Just a short note today as I only just got home from broadcasting our analysis of the 2008/2009 budget that was delivered today. It was supposed to be the first budget to be delivered by a female Finance Minister and also one of the shortest budget speeches . I will freely agree it was delivered by a female Finance Minister but at 3.5 hours it was surely not even competition for the 35 minute speech during the UNC regime. Worse still those of us enduring it in the newsroom had to reapply facial moisturizer several times because we could feel the dryness of the delivery dehydrating our faces. The entire presentation was ineffably boring.

 

I had my views and our panel basically just reinforced my beliefs that this budget was just a rehash of last year’s. Nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing original. The only new ground this budget broke was in managing to spend $50 billion dollars of taxpayers money. Maybe it is just me expecting miracles but I think when large amounts of money are involved those spending it should be visionaries. I am used to Steve Jobs at Apple who, despite his almost innumerable faults, gets people excited about plans. Surely, when it is a country involved, people should feel involved and look forward to the future. I honestly don’t feel even interested in what is being planned. There must be something wrong when $50 billion is spent in a country of only 1.3 million people and I can see no immediate tangible benefit. Indeed, the government says that agriculture is a priority and is still spending less on it than it is giving to Tobago with 80,000 people. Feeding a two island nation of securing Tobago votes …. I guess the government has made its decision.

 

On a side note it was an interesting day for family today. I hosted the budget discussion with my cousin Gillian Lucky being part of the panel since I was actually using her time since she normally hosts Just Gill ..her programme …in that time slot. I love Gillian so I was fine with that. Even more interesting, while Gillian and I share the fact we are both fully Lucky family members ( mine changed their name) I was shocked by a comment I received today from the only true bearer of one of my family   names . Blogs are a minefield of surprises. It seems that my cousin Johnny found this blog while in Switzerland. I didn’t even know he had moved to the land of ridiculous prices and ridiculously high mountains …oh..and Heidi.

 

So basically..it was a really boring and expensive budget and I got closer to two family members. A mixed bag but to my mind a really good one. And I will freely admit I would love Gillian as Prime Minister.

 

Wait a minute…that wasn’t short.

August 3, 2008

Take me back

This is sort of a meaningless entry but it relates to things that provide me with hours of amusement – the internet and Law & Order the TV series. I was watching, as I usually do, the newest episode of Law & Order CI when one of their computer forensic guys managed to find a deleted page on the web by using the Wayback machine. How amusing, I thought, a clever reference to Rocky and Bullwinkle ( one of my favourite childhood cartoons and still a guilty pleasure today). But since Tinkerbell, my trusty powerbook was in front me and my WiFi 15 meg signal was beckoning me I Googled it.

 

Turns out there actually is a site that offers a Wayback Machine that takes snapshots of the internet to record a legacy that is highly ephemeral in nature. When I think about it the concept is pure genius. We are all hooked on the net to some extent but pages come and go with no hard record. That is a first for humanity since we always tend to be able to look back at our communication media. Magazines and newspapers exist from their genesis and even TV and radio programmes are archived..but not the internet…the most powerful tool we have invented in generations. Billions of pages of information have vanished as they are updated. I think this is an excellent project and I am fully in support of it. 

Typically for me I have spent hours turning back the clock and surfing to sites as they were over a decade ago. I have noticed a few things. Early sites apparently existed without much input from graphic designers as they were almost universally more garish than they are today. Sites were also much simpler as they existed before high speed access and before Flash. I was also traumatized to see that horror of the early internet age – frames.  

As with all things human we tend to improve as we go along but it sure is interesting to look back in time and remember the early days when we were still feeling around in a new medium looking for a way to harness it.

 

July 14, 2008

It had to be me.com

 

 

Some of you may be wondering how you got here. I say this because globewriter.com normally directs to my site hosted on Apple’s .Mac servers and built using the IWeb application ( brimming with beach ball goodness) but I have been forced to redirect that domain here. Why? Well a while back I expressed my abject horror that Apple was transitioning from Mac.com to the icky and silly sounding mobileme.com service. This was all in order to appeal to the hordes of iPhone owners who needed the latest buzz term called “cloud computing”. Fine…though in my mind there was nothing wrong with the Mac.com domain. That transition started last week Thursday and, not to put too fine a point on it, has been an experience comparable to the launch of the Titanic. Actually, at least the Titanic had the courtesy to put people out of their misery fairly quickly, so scratch that comparison.

The 4 hour transition has turned into a days long screwup with many parts such as the web site hosting still not working properly. The whole mobileme site was not working properly until the weekend and even then only sporadically but the web sites were fine. Now, it seems the sites are not showing up properly and my blog seems to have vanished although it still seems to be working via RSS. This wouldn’t be so bad except that I pay for the service that provides me with email, web hosting and my online idisk. 

Thankfully, when .Mac was being difficult a few months ago I cleverly decided to mirror it here on wordpress a decision that reveals i had the wisdom of Solomon for at least a few minutes. Had I not made that decision I would be sitting here frustrated that my blog  and almost a year of writing might be lost and I would have great difficulty reposting close to 300 entries using cut and paste. It also turns out that people read the wordpress version more by a factor of 10 so I guess if anything the .Mac site is now  the mirror. If it ever comes back up I may redirect back to it or you can add it at http://web.mac.com/globewriter/Site/Blog/Blog.html  

Other than that trauma the PNM Convention happened this past weekend and the PM announced that he will be pushing for constitutional reform. He noted that the changes ( when finalized) would require a special majority of parliament to pass and that he was sure the opposition would not support it. In that eventuality, he blustered to the throng of admiring fans, he will “go directly to the people”. As soon as someone explains to me how that makes sense in the context of a parliamentary democracy I will be a much happier person.

July 9, 2008

The robot that broke my heart

I finally gave in to my urge to see Pixar’s latest film – WALL·E. Having already said that Pixar seldom puts a foot wrong when it comes to film I was still a bit worried that their latest effort would not match up to all the critical hype. I am happy to report i was wrong. I will not fall into the trap of saying it is one of the best movies of the year as the year is only half done but I can safely say it is one of the best  animated films I have seen in the last decade and I see a lot of films.

I am not going to spoil the fun by giving the whole plot away but I should at least give a quick summary in ( oh yay…haven’t done this in a while) point form.

  1. Humans have left the earth after rampant consumerism has left it as a huge garbage heap.

  2. WALL·E is a lonely little trash compactor robot left behind that someone forgot to turn off.

  3. He spends his days compacting trash and his nights watching a tape of Hello Dolly with a cockroach for a friend.

  4. He has also developed a personality somehow and collects a vast array of trinkets that keep him amused including a small plant that has emerged from the garbage.

  5. A robot probe called EVE arrives from the human space outpost looking for signs of life.

  6. WALL·E falls in love with EVE.

It is basically that simple and yet so much more complex. I will ignore the space trip they take and their interaction with humans who have become fat and lazy and unable to walk as they depend on computers for everything. That message is important and key to the plot but ultimately this is a love story and a truly effective one at that. Amazingly, Pixar carries the story elegantly and perfectly with hardly any dialogue and with only WALL·E’s binocular eyes to convey emotion. How they did this is anyone’s guess but i was pulled in and completely forgot I was watching an animated film. I also failed to notice there was no dialogue other than beeps for the first 30 minutes. What I experienced was the sort of magic Chaplain used in the silent era..where a simple movement could convey a universe of meaning.

Pixar has set a new benchmark for animation. Frankly, the early scenes on earth were so realistically rendered ( imperfections and all) that i was convinced I was watching either the best stop motion I had ever seen or an actual robot. Even more cleverly the humans are rendered much less realistically making the world of the machines more real than our own. It takes a special touch to make me cry when two robots hold hands.

In one of the early dialogue free scenes we see WALL·E bringing home some of the special items he has collected and carefully putting them away using his filing system. He pulls out a ubiquitous spork – that awful invention of the modern age – and looks at his shelf that contains a cup of forks and a cup of spoons. His eyes move between the two puzzled and eventually he places the item between the two cups. That sort of humour shows what Pixar is all about and what makes them rise high above most other companies making films. It is all in the details and details are what Pixar understands only too well.

This is most definitely not a kids movie ( though they may well enjoy it) it is , quite simply, a great movie. Funny that it takes a little lonely robot with a huge heart to help us understand what it truly means to be human.

P.S. Did I mention that when WALL*E boots up he plays a Mac startup chime? Now that is cool.

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May 21, 2008

Back to the future

I am the first to admit that when it comes to technology I am about as addicted as they come. When i am not plugged into my iPods I am tinkering with something and spending hours trying to get the most arcane little system preference just right. I am also typically human and I find that I sometimes get nostalgic for an old movie or, quite often, an older piece of technology. This explains my pleasure in getting Sybil ( the resuscitated dual processor Power Mac I am using to type this entry) to feel as loved and useful in the world of 2008 as she was in 2001 when she was born. She is running OS X Tiger at a speed that is not discernibly different to my G5 machine or my Powerbook ( both running Leopard) and though my benchmarks indicate she is lagging far behind both of them in a technical sense I cannot tell the difference in real world use. Having proven she can run PhotoShop and web surf like a trooper I felt that twinge of nostalgia that led me think back to my many happy days in the original Mac OS before the advent of pretty  UNIX pretending to be a bona fide Mac operating system.

Now I know that my handful of readers are most likely not computer ( much less Mac) inclined but I think there is a bigger picture here. Let me explain. Before the introduction of Apple’s current operating system ( the thing you see when you turn on your computer…not the desktop picture of your cat..the general thing with icons etc.) us Mac users were a blissfully happy lot plodding away on the old system called OS 9 in its last iteration. We did everything one would want to do on a computer, running all the usual programmes and wasting time on the internet, and we were quite fond of our unique machines which we touted ( as we still do) as the best computers on the planet. Sure we had some less than honest moments when we lied to our Windows friends that our systems never crashed – even though they froze more regularly than plumbing in Antarctica – but such  is the job of the evangelist. Then Moses ( aka Steve Jobs) came unto us and gave us OS X ( really OS 10 following on the heels of OS 9) which was based on UNIX which is a serious industrial operating system. It was prettied up ,had bouncy things,useful things like column view and even buttons that  Steve described as “lickable”. To most younger people and Mac owners after 2003 this new crash-proof and pretty thing is what constitutes a Mac.

I have stubbornly refused to get one of the brand new Macs with Intel chips in them precisely because to me a true Macintosh is one that has a different processor namely a RISC processor ( we shall avoid that explanation this time around)  but in the back of my mind I missed our old operating system with all its quirks knowing that it was that OS along with the different internals that truly made using a Mac a unique experience. Now that I have this older machine that can still startup in OS 9 ( as well as OS X) I have spent many an hour getting her to run it perfectly. For the past few days i have been reveling in the joy of using my old OS and I am still amazed by how perfect it was in many ways. It takes up hardly any drive space and uses hardly any memory to the point where I have been unable to get the computer to use even 20% of the available memory when running 10 programmes simultaneously. To be sure she has frozen once in the last two days and OS X has only frozen once on me in 5 years but i found myself sighing in nostalgic joy watching her freeze.  Other than that I have been able to write, surf the net, send instant messages, check email, run Photoshop 6, listen to music and even watch movies. In short, I have not noticed any major difference in my computing life using an operating system that was introduced in 1999 which is an eternity in the technology world. In fact, I can say with 100% certainty that many of the older programmes that were designed to run on machines with far slower specs than mine are faster than their equivalent OS X versions running on my newer machines.

In our endless quest to get the latest and greatest technology we sometimes forget that there was nothing wrong with the old technology we were using. Sure the newer one may be prettier and glossier and even better in some ways but does it make it more useful? I am left to wonder with my latest experience. Were it not for the  fact that I cannot use iWeb to write my blog on the older system and that the older internet browsers have not kept pace with the requirements of modern browsing I don’t think I would have a problem going back to using OS 9 at all.

Perhaps there is a life lesson in my experiment that we should not dismiss the effectiveness of the tried and true or perhaps the true lesson is that you never forget your first love.

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March 30, 2008

Remotely Interesting

Just when I think this country could not get any stranger something comes along to remind me that there is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of strangeness lurking in the shadows. Yesterday Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday was forcibly ejected from Parliament for ..heaven forbid..using his Parliament issued laptop. It seems the house speaker sent a circular last week outlining his position that only people who plan to participate in the debate may use their laptops. Now one would think that those who didn’t plan to do so would need to fill their free time..but such is not the case. The speaker, confronted with the horrifying sight of the 70 year old Mr. Panday peering at this laptop screen, asked him if he was planning to participate in the debate. The redoubtable Panday replied that it really depended on what the government had to say. In my mind, that was not an unreasonable response to a rather silly question but the Speaker deemed it otherwise. He instructed Panday to leave the house. Panday retorted with something on the order of  “you’re not the boss of me” at which point the police were called and Parliament adjourned.


Frankly I think any 70 year old who is able to use a laptop for anything but a footrest is to be highly commended. That the Speaker would choose to throw him out of the house for something so trivial speaks of his luddite ways and shows someone who is obsessed with trivialities. The fact that the matter to be discussed was rising food prices makes the Speaker’s actions even more unspeakably stupid. As I said, the strangeness just keeps on coming…funny if it weren’t so sad.


I have been treating myself to a few new tech toys lately including a new iPod ( i know..nothing wrong with the old one) and a new Bose home theatre system. The latter also required buying several hundred dollars worth of cables and switchers to accommodate my various devices. The iPod is great for the gym and for watching movies at work and the Bose adds a whole new dimension to my classical and jazz collection which I now find myself listening too all the time. The only downside of all of this, and indeed modern life, is the plethora or remotes. Yes, some  of them are allegedly universal remotes but they never seem to be able to control all the functions of the device in question. I now have seven remotes occupying an unseemly amount of space on my coffee table. I suppose if I were in a relationship with an Italian they would be great for pelting but as it is they just sit there causing me stress when i try and figure out which one I have to grab at any point. I am considering taking up juggling so as to put them to a more amusing use.

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March 21, 2008

Junk in the trunk

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As I type this I have just returned from spending a bit of time with Alvin and Binky just shooting the breeze and catching up on the usual bits of news that seem to make life slightly fun. That being said I had to take 3 aspirin before leaving the house as Clyphil has artfully conspired to ensure that every muscle in my body is in some sort of spasm following his torture session in the gym. You know it is all very well for a 23 year old to be telling people to sit on a ball and contort themselves into various unusual positions but I would like to see him do it at my age. That being said, I must say he really gets me to do things that I would never have even ventured to do at the gym otherwise.  I have now taken 2 more aspirin extra strength and I am hoping that I am able to sidle out of bed tomorrow as I have a day off and there is a plan afoot to drive to Icacos on Trinidad’s extreme South-Western tip. It is entirely up in the air if I will go or not as it is my day off and sleeping in is high on my priority list ( as opposed to getting in  Robin’s HiLux for a 4.5 hour drive in each direction). I am only considering it because I may get a chance to take lots of pics and it will be fun hanging out with the usual gang.


I added another gig of RAM to the iMac G5 that i am currently using after I agonized about whether or not to but two gigs of matching RAM so as to switch the processor into a 128 bit data path which is theoretically faster but the thought of tossing a good 512 Mb stick in the drawer seems wasteful. So far the machine is, as the say in the tech world, “teh snappy”. I am never sure why tech people like to spell “the” that way but i guess it is a inside joke on a common typo. Now, of course I am almost certain I will run out and purchase another 1 gig stick on Tuesday just so I can see how snappy it can get ( and it is pretty damned snappy now). Why do i obsess on technology so??? It is a curse. I also know that within a month I will be buying a Macbook Air and most likely an iPod Touch…just so I can have them…never mind my old iPod is working an I have given away the at least two iPods I have bought since then. For that matter why do i need an Air since it is only thinner than by powerbook and not even noticeably faster? Ah well.


And speaking of technology, I cast a rare glance into my junk mail folder on Apple’s Mail today to see if anything slipped through the cracks. Nothing did amazingly given I use 5 email addresses on the programme but the content of the junk mail truly amazes me. I mean what else but junk mail would have subjects like “Boobs galore at SM beach” or “longer and harder os good for her” or even the tantalizing “Britney loves it large”. I mean God bless Britney and her refusal to settle for anything less but really who, other than a spam emailer, has ever sent out anything with such subject lines? Even more puzzling is who on earth would open one of those emails and click through to the advertised site? Surely someone would have to be dumb beyond reckoning to respond to such a thing. I suppose, though, spammers count on the .001% ( I hope)  who would be stupid enough to actually open and check such an email. But  even in that select club who would be so extraordinarily cretinous  to actually whip out a credit card and order the product? Well yes, I suppose there might be a few people with internet access who are actually cretins..but surely they would not have a credit card? I ask myself how these spammers actually make money given the abysmal response rate? Now being a Mac user I might also assume that many of these spam items might also be vectors for viruses which cannot affect me so i will excuse those enterprising souls who use it for that purpose…but again…who the hell would open an email with such a subject line??


It says a lot about the human condition that out of the 310 items of junk mail that Mail has caught a goodly 275 are for something to do with either penis enlargement or sex in general. In case you are wondering the remaining emails seem to be trying to sell me a Rolex which , of course, one would naturally purchase via an unsolicited email. No matter how developed we become as a species with our technology it always seems that someone will use the latest and greatest tool to push sexual content. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against sex and i hear it is very good in the right circumstances, but there is something terribly wrong when sex seems to dominate every aspect of human life. Look at the internet and personal computers..possibly the most powerful combination of tools to spread information that has come along since writing and most people use it for…make a guess…sex. I would not be surprised if at least 80% of people view some form of sexual content on the web or even use it for arranging sexual trysts. I would not be surprised if closer to 100% of teenage boys use the internet for looking at sexually explicit material at least a majority of the time. Despite the fact it just comes down to something going in somewhere and a bit of friction the sex urge is part of the internet and , from what I can see, a major part of the world of spam.


Maybe it is just me but do that many men really obsess about their penis size? There seems to be no lack of fraudulent products available through spam or on the internet in general for addressing the ..ahem..point. It is all too sad.


Now if you will excuse me I have to do some clicking to see exactly why Britney is so emphatic.