Posts Tagged ‘steve jobs’

Casual Friday: Link Pack

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linksHonestly, I save pages all the time to Pinboard (if you collect pages/links for future reference, let me be the first to say this is worth a one-time fee of $10.37), and it’s been quite some time since I’ve emptied my queue. I’ve scoured the entire internet to bring these to you, which is no small feat. You’re welcome.

Anton Checkov on the 8 qualities of cultured people.

I want this hole to another universe for my son’s bedroom wall.

Steve Jobs’s most inspiring quotes.

Nike has fired its FuelBand team and seems set to exit the wearables market. This is interesting to me for two reasons: (1) the FuelBand was widely met with good reviews, and (2) Tim Cook wears a FuelBand. And he’s on the Nike board. My wildly-speculative guess is that Nike knows something we don’t about, um, a disruption in the wearables space. Just a hunch.

The Crossroads of Should and Must: easily the best thing you’ll read all weekend. I mean it.

6 must-read book recommendations from our favorite leaders. Looking for a good book to read, one that comes recommended from someone you respect? Your search is over. (I’ve read Julien Smith’s The Flinch, and it’s one of the ONLY books about self-improvement that has stuck with me. I literally think about it weekly. Oh, and it’s free, too.)

Interesting: Sherpa pay on Mt. Everest is $2k-$4K per season, compared to a median income of $540. It’s a good (but obviously insanely dangerous) gig to have, and their lives are insured up to $23K. Talk about endeavoring risk for reward.

Honestly — no kidding here — I love dodgeball. Yes, I know that’a a terribly awkward sentence for a 45-year-old to write. Nevertheless, it’s too bad the game has been demonized to the point of extinction.

I’ve wondered this myself: why is national anthem singing so much better in hockey than other sports?

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Larry Ellison Sees Bleak Future for Apple Without Steve Jobs

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Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider:

Rose asked the tech mogul to share his thoughts on what Apple will become without Jobs. Ellison said “we already know.”

“We saw — we conducted the experiment,” Ellison explained. “I mean, it’s been done. We saw Apple with Steve Jobs. We saw Apple without Steve Jobs. We saw Apple with Steve Jobs. Now, we’re gonna see Apple without Steve Jobs.”

Strong words. Can’t say I agree with Ellison just yet, but the fact is the rate of product introduction has slowed, and some board members are starting to get antsy. Panic time? Not yet, but the market better see some of the product pipeline Tim Cook is always talking about, and soon.  I know certain folks like the constant iteration approach Apple has taken so far, but the fact is its main products have matured, and there is legitimate competition in the marketplace. We can’t just have incremental improvements all the time. Right now Apple owns the key teen/young adult demographic, but when it goes, it goes fast.

(Side note: Ellison’s view, coupled with Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster speculating that the rumored iPhone 5C will be intentionally hobbled by not having Siri, drives me nuts. But, I’m betting Munster is wrong, per usual. )

Casual Friday: Stuff I Found While Clicking on Underlined Words

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It’s that time again, and I’m sorry to do this to you. Not so sorry not to do it, however. Good luck deciphering that ambivalence.

I indeed have an absolute bucketload of tabs open in my browser that I want to share, but that don’t quite warrant their own posts. I’ve done these linkposts before, and it’s time for another one so I can close these tabs and free up gigs (literally) of used memory. It’s all about my system resources, people. Here we go.

Here’s a video of Lionel Messi (the reigning best soccer player in the world) versus a robot goalkeeper. Lots of nerds arguing over this on the internet (nerds arguing? on the internet? no way!) about how this robot works. Regardless of how it operates (my guess is the small camera recognizes the ball’s trajectory, plots the path in some 3D space very rapidly, and moves the robot arm to intercept), it’s amazing. Nevermind the fact that Messi’s first two shots hit the post. We’re one step closer to the Rise of the Machines, folks. Get those canned goods stocked up.

Is your child bored sometimes? Good. They should be allowed to get bored.

Want to get the heebie-jeebies while you read something? No sweat. Check out Nathaniel Rich’s story about deep water divers. Exhilarating.

Consider this a PSA in case you haven’t heard: Google is shutting down its Google Reader (an RSS feed reader) on July 1, which means one of the key Google services I use is going away. I am using both Feedly and Reeder side-by-side to see which one sticks. I am not happy about this, and I know it’s Google’s right to kill their totally free service anytime they want, but I’d be lying if I said this doesn’t make me wary of putting my critical data in a Google app. Example: Google is trying to get people to try its new Google Keep. No thanks — I’ll stick with Evernote, which has this thing called a Sustainable Business Model, so a year from now my notes app will still exist. Not that I’m bitter.

I think Kilian Jornet Burgada is superhuman. If you missed Christopher Solomon’s piece entitled Becoming the All-Terrain Human two weeks ago, don’t miss it this time.

Speaking of superhumans, how much caffeine can you have before winding up in the E.R.?

The spider who couldn’t hide. Funny! Also scary! Mostly scary! But also funny! God I’m anxious about spiders.

Here’s a brief set of photos depitcting Steve Jobs’ return to Apple in 1996. Man, I miss that guy. (Nerd bonus: the camera used to take these pics was the short-lived Apple QuickTake camera, which cleary exceled at rendering black as purple. Ugh.)

Finally, I leave you with How Animals Eat Their Food, far and away the funniest thing on the Internet this week: learn more here.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Apple’s Dominance, In Context

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We all read the headlines today that position Apple as one of the most powerful companies on earth. Most everyone understands the magnitude of Apple’s ascent from the doldrums of the late 1990s and early 2000s. But do you really understand Apple’s power in the market? If you’re not a hopeless Apple nerd like me, allow me to provide you some context:

Last Thursday, Apple’s stock hit $494/share, making Apple worth more than Microsoft and Google — combined. When you look at what Apple purportedly has lined up for this year, you realize they still have tons of upside. How successful will the iPad 3, iPhone 5, and rumored Apple TV/iTV be? I wouldn’t bet against them.

And then there are the observations from David Leonhard over at the NYTimes Economix blog:

• With a market value of about $460 billion, Apple is worth more than Google, Goldman Sachs, General Motors, Ford, Starbucks and Boeing combined.

• Apple is now worth almost twice as much as Microsoft (about $258 billion) and more than twice as much as Google ($198 billion).

• It is also worth more than twice as much as General Electric (about $202 billion), I.B.M. (about $224 billion) or Wal-Mart ($212 billion).

• Apple — ranked 35th in the Fortune 500, which is based on annual sales — is worth eight times as much as the company just below it on the Fortune list (Boeing, at about $56.5  billion). Its value is 20 times as much as the company just above it (Medco Health Solutions, about $23.4 billion).

If you want a glimpse of just what the iPhone hath created, understand that today, Apple’s iPhone business is bigger than Microsoft in its entirety. Let that sink in for a bit. Even if you removed the iPhone business from Apple, what’s left of Apple would still be worth more than Microsoft. 15 years ago, Apple was on the verge of death. And now this? Amazing.

Finally, in 4Q of 2011, Apple took 80% of all profits in the mobile space. Eighty. Percent.

All this from a company that a decade ago was making candy-colored iMacs and this thing called an iPod, which was not met with a favorable popular reaction.

My, how times have changed.


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Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 1/27/11

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Unabashedly Waxing Poetic on Apple From a User’s Standpoint

I started using Macs when they were powered by the Motorola 68000’s and Berkeley Breathed anthropomorphized one in Bloom County. Even back then, in the miasma of the awakening WinTel juggernaut and whiffs of Amigas and Atari STs, Macs were considered niche machines. I wrote my first dozen short stories on that little Mac, and after upgrading to a Mac SE/30 I went through high school with that little beige box on my desk. The Mac, and the Commodore 64 that preceded it, were my first technology proving grounds.

Later, because I was a hopeless gaming nerd, I migrated to Windows PCs for a stint. I built my own rigs. I spec’ed my own motherboards, hard drives, RAM chips, cases, power supply and garish-colored fans. When GPUs were invented, I pored over every polygon each had the potential to push. I had become a full-on hardware nerd.

My stay on the Windows side of thing lasted longer than I expected, because that happened to be the same time Steve Jobs was exiled from Apple and John Sculley began his seemingly-intentional grounding of the company into any rocky shore he could find. The Windows PC era was in full bloom, and nobody outside really dedicated typesetting/design studios ever thought about Macs again. Everyone thought Apple had been relegated into insignificance; Michael Dell even suggested that Apple should sell the stock back to shareholders and ‘shut the company down’.

In the early 2000’s, as real life became more real and I wasn’t spending my nights fragging strangers in Rocket Arena 3, I was looking for a more elegant computing setup. My giant, power-sucking, room-heating beast of  PC was too much, Windows was too boring, and I longed for something new. As it turned out for me, everything old indeed does become new again.

I did something that made everyone laugh at me: I bought an overpriced, shiny, white MacBook. That was back in OSX 10.1 days, when the OS was unquestionably immature and limited to the point of being annoying. It was also during the very beginning of Apple’s real resurgence, a movement that saw the iPod give way to the iPhone, and the introduction of what many argue is the new modern-day portable computer: the iPad. It also heralded a bona fide Mac explosion.

Today, I’m Apple everywhere, for better or worse. I have an iMac, MacBook Air, iPhone 4S, iPad and Apple TV. Everything just works. My days of fiddling with Windows and building my own machines have given way to technology that enables me to do what I want, easily, effortlessly. I  know it’s bad form to gush uncontrollably about a tech bias in public, but Apple has done something amazing with itself over the past 12 years, and I’m proud to say I’ve been along for (most of) the ride, through the doldrums as well as the ascent. To me, and from the perspective of the user, Apple is a brave company, one that stands for higher standards and holds a focus on user experience that is in its DNA, as opposed to watery marketing fodder, they do know how to follow the king kong digital marketing agency reviews through every step.

A few days ago, Apple announced a historic quarterly earnings report. Even by the hyperspazzy standards of Wall Street analyst wonks everywhere, Apple absolutely showed that it is winning pretty much every battle its fighting. Scratch that — it’s not just winning, it’s dominating.

Apple announced sales of $46 billion. Think about that. Here’s a $100-billion-plus company growing at a 73% clip, which simply isn’t supposed to happen. Sales in Apple’s past quarter exceeded its entire 2009. And this year, we’re looking at the iPad 3, the iPhone 5, probably an Apple TV reincarnation, and who knows what else. What’s for sure is that this momentum shows no signs of slowing.

Some other interesting trivia in light of Apple’s performance:

Data shows that shows PC shipments waning — except at Apple.

Farhad Manjoo puts things in perspective for anyone who can’t get their head around what Apple just announced: Apple’s profits ($13 billion) exceeded Google’s entire revenue ($10.6 billion).

At Verizon, 55% of all phone sales for 4Q 2011 came from iPhones. That means two iPhone models (the 4 and 4s) outsold every Android device the carrier offers combined.

Finally, here’s the ultimate framework in which to look at Apple’s data: it just posted the second-most-profitable quarter in any company’s history.

Where’s Charlie Sheen when you need him? Oh, he’s right here.

Have a good weekend, everyone.


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Peggy Noonan on Steve Jobs and Why Big Companies Die

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Peggy Noonan, talking about Steve Jobs in her WSJ column:

There is an arresting moment in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs in which Jobs speaks at length about his philosophy of business. He’s at the end of his life and is summing things up. His mission, he says, was plain: to “build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products.” Then he turned to the rise and fall of various businesses. He has a theory about “why decline happens” at great companies: “The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The company starts valuing the great salesman, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues.” So salesmen are put in charge, and product engineers and designers feel demoted: Their efforts are no longer at the white-hot center of the company’s daily life. They “turn off.” IBM [IBM] and Xerox [XRX], Jobs said, faltered in precisely this way. The salesmen who led the companies were smart and eloquent, but “they didn’t know anything about the product.” In the end this can doom a great company, because what consumers want is good products.

Jobs believed if you build great products and services, the rest will take care of itself and sales will happen organically. Don’t get lazy, don’t forget what got you there.


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How to Get a Meeting With Any VIP

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Christine Comaford, writing for Forbes:

I was a young CEO and I needed answers. Steve Jobs had them. There was only one thing to do.

So I sent a FedEx letter.

Then I sent another.

Then I started calling.

Then I sent another FedEx, and called some more. Finally, after 7 FedExs and 12 phone calls, Steve’s assistant said he wanted to talk with me.

“You keep sending FedExs and calling. So let’s end it. What do you want?” Steve said, with his characteristic charm.

“Five minutes of your time. I really admire your accomplishments and as a young CEO I have a few questions no one else can answer.”

“Bring a timer.”

“I will. Oh—and thanks.”

He had already hung up.

That’s not exactly how the meeting went. Here’s what happened:

Forty five minutes later Steve released me. Sitting in my overheated car in the sunny Redwood City parking lot, my head bursting with the remarkable, complex, complete vision of Steve Jobs in my head, I made a commitment.

I would no longer see barricades. Stumbling blocks would now be seen as stepping stones to something better, or something to crawl over or walk around. Previous limitations would now be a mere triviality, at worst a slight inconvenience. There were insanely great things to create and we were here to create them and that’s all there was to it. All thoughts to the contrary were irrelevant.

That’s how I still live today.

Great story that concludes with some very smart advice. Worth your time.


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The Great Tech War of 2012

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Utterly fantastic article in Fast Company by Farhad Manjoo about the greatest tech showdown of our time, all likely going fully thermonuclear next year. With players like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon in the mix, this isn’t the minor leagues. Who winds up on top here controls the innovation economy moving forward, and there are sane arguments for each as the winner. The following excerpt sums up the vast power and influence these companies have over our technological lives:

To state this as clearly as possible: The four American companies that have come to define 21st-century information technology and entertainment are on the verge of war. Over the next two years, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will increasingly collide in the markets for mobile phones and tablets, mobile apps, social networking, and more. This competition will be intense. Each of the four has shown competitive excellence, strategic genius, and superb execution that have left the rest of the world in the dust. HP, for example, tried to take a run at Apple head-on, with its TouchPad, the product of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm. HP bailed out after an embarrassingly short 49-day run, and it cost CEO Léo Apotheker his job. Microsoft’s every move must be viewed as a reaction to the initiatives of these smarter, nimbler, and now, in the case of Apple, richer companies.


According to Nielsen, Android now powers about 40% of smartphones; 28% run Apple’s iOS. But here’s the twist: Android could command even 70% of the smartphone business without having a meaningful impact on Apple’s finances. Why? Because Apple makes a profit on iOS devices, while Google and many Android handset makers do not. This is part of a major strategic difference between Apple and the other members of the Fab Four. Apple doesn’t need a dominant market share to win. Everyone else does.

If you asked me to list the four biggest players in the tech space, this is the list I’d jot down.  And the scary thing? I’m a customer of each.  In Google and Facebook’s case, I am the product itself.

2012 will be anything but dull.


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Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 10/7/11

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Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

Our normal Friday feature usually involves a meandering story followed by some links.  I’m going to pass on that today to honor the passing of Steve Jobs, who died on Wednesday at 56 years of age. He was a hero to me and many others.  He indisputably made the world a better place.

I’m an unapologetic Apple fan, and I have been since I was in middle school.  It’s safe to say that were it not for Steve Jobs and the Macintosh, I might never have had my interest in computers kindled to the point where I would make a career out of staring at them. Say what you want about open vs. closed, the secretive culture Jobs built, or Apple’s products: nobody in the history of computing has cared as much about his users’ experience as much as Jobs did. Some would argue that he obsessed on UX to a fault, but standing here looking at Apple — especially the results of Jobs’ second act — those claims ring pretty thin. Even though the word ‘innovation’ is slathered in the cruft of marketing BS, Jobs and Apple actually honored the word in ways that most other companies simply cannot comprehend.

When I learned of his passing, I had just brought my son home from soccer practice and sat down on the couch for a moment with my iPad. Immediately after opening Twitter, I realized what had happened. I had a deep wariness that Jobs wasn’t doing well when I read the announcement that he was stepping down as Apple’s CEO, but I didn’t know the day was so near.

It was hours later when I finally realized that I learned of his passing on a device that he invented, as I’m sure many others did. The closest we had to a modern day Leonardo Da Vinci was gone, lost to cancer, a life cut short.

Before it’s too late, everyone should take a screenshot of Apple’s homepage. It’s a simple picture. A picture entitled, if you dig a little deeper into the filename, t_hero.png.

The hero.

There’s all the news you could ever bear to read about Jobs’ passing and those who are honoring him all over the web, but I want to call out a few that I find poignant.

First, there’s John Gruber, who met Jobs up close once before Jobs’ final keynote and noticed grass stains on Jobs’ famous New Balance 991s.  Why the grass stains? How’d they get there?

Mac app developer Panic says goodbye.

Want heartbreaking? Here’s Steve Jobs himself narrating The Crazy Ones. Gives me chills.

Here’s Neven Mrgan’s retrospective, simply entitled Steve. Don’t miss it.

Wired’s entire homepage is a homage to Steve Jobs. Some amazing, touching quotes there.

Marc Benioff: “There would not be a without Steve Jobs.”

Finally, I don’t know of a better way to end this post than to quote Steve himself from his famous 2005 commencement speech to Stanford’s graduating class:

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.

Godspeed Steve.

Whatever the afterlife may be, it just got a huge upgrade.

“Don’t be sad because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss


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Linkology: The Best of the Internet for 9/2/11

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You should never, ever, allow somebody you don’t know to build something for you where your safety is actually up for grabs.  Invariably, when you are not looking, they will flub the job just enough to send you to an emergency medical establishment, where their uncles work and will pay them a handsome fee for sending you their way.  This is a fact.  Every year, the Coalition for People Who Build Unsafe Things for Other People gets together and figures out to what extent their unsafedness should be carried. You don’t read about this, but it’s true.

GUY 1:  Okay, this year we need to make people more unsafe with our products and services.  I move that we shoot for a quota of a great number of nasty maimings so my uncle Hank will keep making payments on my pet mongoose. I know that’s an ambiguous quota but what am I, a Stanford graduate?

GUY 2:  (Reading spreadsheet)  In my region, I can see to it that most of what I build is dysfunctional and very unsafe.  About eighty percent, maybe.

GUY 3 (arriving late and bleeding profusely):  Sorry I’m late, everyone.  The plane I flew in on broke into thirds while we were landing, which I found to be rather unsafe, and I was the only one who made it.  I would have been a goner, too, if a suitcase didn’t break my fall.  Those suitcases are pretty safe.

GUY 2 (angered): Who’s in charge of suitcases?

ALL (in unison): Buford.

GUY 2:  Sack him. No way a suitcase should get in the way of some good unsafety.

And that’s how the agenda for Unsafe Things comes about every year. No joke.

From Personal Experience

Years ago, I experienced an Unsafe Product when I had a race mountain bike built for me by a number of the members of the Coalition.  Of course, when I asked them to build it for me, I had no idea that they were borderline criminals and had every intention of eventually sending me to an emergency medical establishment in a large jar.  But they stuck to their deranged agenda and did their horrid deeds without my knowing, using a mechanical prowess intentionally no greater than that of your average frog.

When I came in to pick up my completed bike, it looked as good and as solid as any other bike.  I paid them real cash money, gave things a quick once over, and went on my way.

Two hours later, my good, safe, buddy Jim and I were at a not-so-local mountain bike trail, and I was a little more than excited to be riding my new, soon-to-be-discovered-unsafe race bike.  While Jim was getting his bike out of his Amigo (remember those?), I glibly told Jim I was going to take a warm-up spin around the parking lot.  I mounted my bike, clipped into the pedals, and began to accelerate down the length of the parking lot.  After about five full pedal rotations, the back wheel on my bike, which really isn’t that important if you happen to enjoy having your nose ground down to roughly the width of a business card on the asphalt, decided that it wanted to fall off.  So the back wheel did, in fact, fall off, and I was rudely launched over my handlebars onto my two front teeth in front of many, many, onlookers, all of whom had rear tires on their bikes.

Many of these benevolent onlookers rushed to my aid, most of whom were pointing at my clearly unattached back tire and spraying bike lube, olive oil, and many other safe fluids all over it.  After ascertaining that I was okay, one onlooker in particular asked me what kind of jerk put my bike together in the first place.  I told him the name of the shop that did the assembly, and he laughed a mighty laugh and said, with great conviction, “Those guys over there are a bunch of baboons!”  With that, he helped me get my still-unsafe bike back in Jim’s Amigo, and went on his own merry, safe, way.

After that incident, I made it a point to try and find the sources of this growing epidemic of unsafeness.  While I cannot identify nearly all of them, I have determined, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that it cannot be tamed. Sorry for the disappointing conclusion. This story’s got to end somehow, right?

Here are some links for you to click and enjoy my overdue Steve Jobs-fest, which I know you’ve been anticipating. Dig in.

How Steve Jobs is similar to famed architect Norman Foster.

Steve Jobs’ best quotes.

The Onion on Apple CEO Tim Cook’s new strategic vision: I’m Thinking Printers.

Holding the Door: a story about Steve Jobs, told by an Apple employee. Awesome.

Enjoy the long weekend, everyone.


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