27. Januar 2012

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson …
(… das Buch habe ich gerade ausgelesen.)

Just finished this book this early morning. As a rule: Never comment right away. Still, I’ll do that, but I’ll refrain from some sudden, personal judgements: comments related to my own oldfashioned beliefs (was his human rigor worth his products?), comments related to my age (the larmoyant thought that the world would loose so much wisdom with one’s death). So here some technical comments.

1. The author is deeply inbedded in the Apple story and in Silicon Valley. That lets him (and many other fans of Apple) see Apple products as Steve Jobs had wanted. He sees a slightly distorted “reality”. I remember when I bought an Ipod for Carla and tried it myself, I very much missed the off switch until she told me: “press at the bottom of the wheel”. Apple use is far from intuitive. But you only notice that when you really haven’t touched a device before. You learn so fast – especially if things aren’t really complicated –, you want to leave your embarassment behind so quickly, that you forget your frustrating first experience. I don’t blame Apple, I just think Apple fans overestimate its simplicity.
···2. Isaacson keeps defending the integrated architecture vs. open systems. He’s in the bag. I personally am out, free. Out of Apple, because it annoys me, this constant synchronizing with some i-cloud. i-don’t want it. (And Apple is overpriced as well.) I want to do my own thing, stay on top myself, decide on what’s happening and what’s in my gadgets, my PCs, my files, where they are, what they do, how connected they are. What overwrites what. My Psion 3mx is non-connected, since I have (1999) it never crashed, and there I store what I want to store there and on my PC what I want to have there.
···Anyway: I am and was away from Silicon Valley most of my life. I lived there two fine years, 1970 and 71, and remained very close to the Valley for many years thereafter, working for Hewlett-Packard and Tandem Computers in Europe. When I was invited to work on HP’s operating system back in 1973 to Cupertino, I had prefered to remain in Europe, my home, my heritage. So I never again was woven into this Bay Area, as I used to be, and as I had loved to be. I’m homesick of California until this day, but I’m glad to be here where I am now.
···Here, from Europe, from this Outside, we have a more remote view of Northern California and of Apple.
Grid Lite···3. I remeber many great computers apart from Apple. The first ones I loved where Grid computers, “GRiD” as they spelled. I had and have both the "Lite" model, design Winfried Scheuer, see picture at right, and the sturdy metal version. I used them extensively in the late 80s and in the early 90s. They were not so expensive that I could not offord them as a normal citizen – Apple-priced I’d say. See the Grid “Case” here.
···The next models I really enjoyed were Thinkpad Butterflys by IBM. Small and clever. I still use Thinkpads; this blog was started this morning on a X60s.
···I wrote numerous articles on and about these laptops, here is one.
···As I never ran around with earbuds, prefering my own self-induced moods to smooth external feelings, I did not follow musical devices that much. And if I had, I would not see them in connection with computers. Connected to computers I see television sets – early Prestel and then Bildschirmtext tried that, but so far nobody has come up with a real good combination. I expect Apple to do that presently, but then again in a non-open way, which probably won’t let me play my videos out of my digital camera.
···As to films, I’ve watched some on a PC, but didn’t really enjoy them as much as from a bigger screen, at least TV size. I didn’t find inserting a DVD into a reader under the TV set more cumbersome than into a PC – with or without slider. On other occasions however Apple drove me crazy when a CD didn’t reappear out of its slot. Where’s the hole for the pin?
···In other words: No grudge on Apple. But I prefer open systems. With all those sealed boxes and approved “apps” we killed all hardware and software curiosity and creativity. Nobody is able to open his or her calculator any more (I once used an HP 35 to build a phone charge counter via a simple optical link from the charging pulse to the “enter” key), nobody can program his hand held device any more (I have a couple of self-made programs on my Psion, and I have my old BASIC interpreters (1985) even on my wife’s Sony laptop with Windows 7. Closed systems make us stupid (“suck” as Jobs would say).

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