In Memorium - Steve Jobs

I was home sick when I got the news that Steve Jobs had passed away on Wednesday. I spent the past 2 days living in the media of the post Steve Jobs world.

Listening to some of the podcasts about Steve Jobs death, one question that would come up for people was "which of his products had the strongest impact on you." That is a very hard thing to answer, because most of the time, each product that I used had the biggest impact on my life, right until the next one.

In 1984, I was visiting my cousin Jil, and her family, in California. Jil had a Macintosh. It was 1984, so there was only 1. I wrote my first story on that Mac. It was a true story about a scary experience I had with a bat that was living on their farm. Being able to see the shadowing, outlining and other font effects on the screen made writing the story fun for a 14 year old kid that had never written anything like that before. That was were Apple won me. Right with the very first Macintosh.

I didn't get my own Mac until college. A Mac 2si. This was in the "bad times" when Steve's hand wasn't guiding the process. But even the beige boxes being put out by Apple still ran the magical Mac OS which was always infinitely better than the alternative. My roommates and I had no trouble setting up a network between our computers and playing games against each other. It was not only a bonding experience with them, but also started me down my career path in networking and computer support.

When I graduated, my office only had PC's. I used American Express points to get my first laptop. A PowerBook 100. Even though my desktop computer was more powerful, it became my primary computer, both at home and at work.

At this point, I was keeping my contacts on a sharp wizard. That device was stolen and then I got the first device that really changed the way I did things. The Newton Message Pad. I missed out of the first generation with the handwriting nightmares. My MP130 and then my MP2100 showed me that handheld was the wave of the future. I managed my contacts, my calendar, my to do items, and I ever read books on it. It was only the mid 90's but those devices created the PDA market and even term PDA, foreshadowing the iPhone by more than 10 years.

After a brief stint with a Power Computing clone at my office (which had been kind enough to let me get a Mac), Steve Jobs came back to the fold and not only did I buy my first shares of Apple stock (at $13) but I replaced that clone with a G4 cube, which I still have in working order, more than a decade later.

I had always bought middle of the line computers that I could afford, but when the 17" Titanium PowerBook came out, I went whole hog, top of the line. My father had just passed away. He always bought himself the best, and I decided that this time, so could I. And it was an amazing machine. Absolutely beautiful, and that wasn't even when it was on. I knew then that I'd probably never get a desktop as my own personal computer again.

Then there was the iPod. I hadn't listened to music regularly in ages, and the iPod reintroduced me to my music collection. And then to Audiobooks, which, for the past 10 years has been my number 1 method of consuming literature. I can't tell you how many books I have enjoyed, that I wouldn't have without the iPod.

And then there was the iSight camera. That little accessory that let me be there when my niece was born on the other side of the country. My brother in law was smart enough to turn off the thing for a certain 5 minute inteval, but other than that, I was with my sister in the hours before hand, and I was one of the first people to see my niece, Dylan, at 5 minutes old. I still have screen shots saved of the whole things.

I was in the room when Steve Jobs gave the keynote speech at Macworld expo announcing the iPhone. For my whole life, I will remember him talking about new devices saying "An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator" over and over until everyone realized that he was talking about one single device. I just watched that you tube clip (2007 Keynote if you want to look for yourself) and am tearing up, just at the excitement of it all. The iPhone was the greatest piece of technology I had ever touched. it was the first device, since the end of the Newton that I felt was a good replacement. (Yes, I had tried other things like Palms and HPs, always going back to my ancient, but still better Newton.)

And finally, the iPad. And it's a whole new game again. This is the device that I have with me at all times. I read on it. Watch TV on it, sing from my sheet music on it, email, videochat, everything really.

Which of these things had the most impact on my life? The answer is all of them. The answer is, Steve Job had the most impact.

Farewell Steve. I didn't know you personally. I only knew you from your public persona and the devices you brought to us that changed the world. I may not have always agreed with your choices, but it was your own vision that you followed, and that is what brought the world to where it is today, and where it will be 20 years down the road.

Rest in Peace.

Steve Jobs doesn't know what freedom is.

There was a recently publicized email exchange between Steve Jobs and Gawker Media's Ryan Tate where Steve Jobs said that the iPad offered:

“...freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn..."

Let’s look at the definition of Freedom from the built in dictionary in the Mac OS.

The very first item:

“the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint”

Further down in the definition we get:

“unrestricted use of something”

Mr. Job’s statement about offering freedoms is an oxymoron.  Those things aren't freedoms.  Exactly the opposite, in fact. They are restrictions.

Book burners could say the same thing.  They are offering freedom from smut/heresy/anything-the-book-burner-disagrees-with. Just as one example from the thousands in history, there have been church groups that had book burnings to offer freedom from Harry Potter books

Censorship is not freedom. it is the exact opposite.

Don't get me wrong.  It's Apple's platform and they can do with it what they will.  I appreciate the precautions that they take in order to give the majority of their customers the best experience possible, but let's be honest here.  It's not freedom!

I can only hope that Mr. Jobs doesn’t expand the list of things he wants to offer me freedom from. It’s not a far leap from porn to erotica to classic art containing nudes. Nor is it outside the realm of possibility that he might want to offer me freedom from political satire, or from religious books that aren’t in line with his religion.

Mr. Jobs, I understand your desire to keep apps off the platform that will make it function in a less than optimal way. There is no question that it’s a good thing to block apps that use resources poorly draining the battery or apps that are insecure and put my data at risk.

But how about not censoring content that the government says I legally have the right to consume?

Me at the WSOP again.

Wow, Is it possible that I haven't blogged since May? So much has happened. Twitter and Facebook. They are to blame.

Well, here is the really short version.

I played in a charity poker tournament that was run by
Poker4Life and I came in first place, winning a seat to the Main Event of the World Series of Poker. I lasted 2 days, and got to play with Greg "FBT" Mueller and Mike "The Mouth" Matasow. I was doing well until my AA got cracked by QQ (all in pre flop) but what can you do.

At least, this time I got a little bit better TV coverage than I did
back in 2006...

So close and yet so far...

Last night I played for 6 hours in an online poker tournament. I came in 57th place out of 954. Unfortunately, only the top 48 got the $12,000 World Series of Poker prize package. Still, I got $650 for my trouble, but if I survived through 9 more people it would have been much nicer.

Oh well. There is always next time.

My feelings about the New York Choral Society Chamber Chorus

I was in the chamber chorus way back during it's last incarnation in the early 90's. After it stopped, every year I would ask at the annual meeting "when are we going to have a chamber chorus again?" It was almost a joke that I would repeat every year. And, finally this year, thanks to our assistant conductor, Michael Ciavaglia, we got a chamber chorus again.

However, to be honest... after 15 years, I suddenly realized that I no longer had the driving desire to be in a chamber chorus. I had been asking every year out of habit. But I am at a different place in my life and, at this point, I really didn't need to give up another night of my week. But, since I was such a pest about it all those years, I figured I had to at least give it a go.

Rehearsals were fun, and during our first concert I was filled with overwhelming joy. It was such a pleasure to make such beautiful music. I love singing with the big chorus, but that first concert with the chamber chorus I felt so much more involved in the making of the music. It was spectacular.

Then, during this last concert, I swear to god, there was a moment during the Frostiana while the women were singing, when again, I was suddenly overwhelmed with pride and joy at being part of a group that could create such beauty. I hate to over use the word "Overwhelmed," but that is the word that most accurately describes the feeling. Literally, my eyes started to tear up.

Anyway, this is just a long way of saying, thank you. It is an honor to sing with everyone in the chamber chorus, and in the big chorus as well, and I am very grateful for the reminder of how much I actually love what we do.