Your Mac Life: In Memoriam—Steve Jobs

Shawn King, host of the long-running Your Mac Life broadcast, put together an audio tribute to the memory of Steve Jobs:

Wednesday was an awful day for the Macintosh Community – Thursday was not much better. As I wondered what to do and how to do it, I came up with this idea – have friends and colleagues “Tell Me a Steve Jobs Story”. Thanks very much to all who participated and, for those of you who couldn’t do it, my apologies for not being able to fit you in.

The “audio vignettes” feature thoughts, observations and remembrances of a dozen Mac community members, including Adam and Tonya Engst, Michael T. Rose, Chris Pirillo, John Moltz and yours truly. King’s tribute is a lovely, respectful, often touching collection and I’m proud to be a part of it.

The special episode is available on iTunes or via the Your Mac Life website.

iPhone announcement coverage

RandomMaccess will be covering the Apple iPhone announcement as it happens. Check back here starting at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern Time. And look for RandomMaccess Publisher Chuck La Tournous on a special MacJury session reviewing and analyzing the announcements.

Among the anticipated (OK, rumored) enhancements we’ve seen bouncing around the web: Voice Assistant, Dual Core processor, 8 megapixel camera, “teardrop shape,” larger screen, 4S/5 or both, iPod touch 3G, App rentals…did we miss any? Read on to see what’s really announced.

Click here for the live coverage page.

RandomMaccess LookBack: ‘The revolution at 20; save the trip down memory lane, Apple—keep looking ahead’

The one-year anniversary of the iPad (I discussed it on a MacJury panel this week) and an episode of Shawn King’s Your Mac Life brought to mind a piece I wrote in 2004 to discuss the 20th anniversary of the Macintosh. Although the article is now seven years old, I think the analysis is still relevant, with one caveat: I think Steve Jobs’ well-publicized health issues have given him a greater fondness for past achievements. I’m not saying he’s now content to rest on his laurels — far from it — but I do think he’s got a greater fondness for acknowledging (albeit it not reflecting) the past. Maybe it’s all just a matter of perspective.

By Chuck La Tournous | First published January 24, 2004

Yes, this column is about Apple and the 20th anniversary of the Macintosh, but I promise it won’t be another of those walks down memory lane, where we talk about how Apple had it all only to bungle its way into irrelevance against the mighty onslaught of Microsoft. Sheesh. There are enough Monday-morning quarterbacks opining Apple’s “should-woulda-couldas” to fill a football stadium.

In fact, I think that’s one of the reasons Apple itself has kept so low-key about its milestone. How does the company talk about its history without touching on those issues? For those only following the Mac since Steve Jobs returned to Apple’s helm, it’s easy to forget that Apple had its Dark Ages — and some pretty pitch-black ones at that. And even if the company were to dance its way around issues of licensing and shrinking market share and a zillion and one different models of Performas and spin it into a lovely little fairy tale — that’s just not Steve Jobs.

Jobs has always struck me as someone who looks forward, not back. He plots his course by seeing what’s ahead, not lingering on what he’s done. Even the nod to the past in his keynote was more of a statement of where the company is now than where it was then. Jobs played the famous “1984” commercial, which aired as a paid spot just once — during the 1984 Superbowl. But in this rendition, the freespirited revolutionary heroine rushes past the legions of listless masses ready to shatter the status quo — wearing an iPod. The spot is no longer about the original Macintosh, but about Apple and what it represents today.

So what does Apple represent today? It’s a big question, and certainly a bigger one that can be fully answered here. Jobs has given the “sound bite” answer himself; he want the Macintosh to be the hub of your “digital lifestyle.” When he first said that, it seemed a pretty vague statement, but what Apple’s done since then has made it a lot clearer. The Mac, then, is more than a just a traditional computer. It’s not just the place to bang away on your word processor, plan your family budget and let your kids play a game or two. As heretical as this may sound, the Mac isn’t the best way to do any of those things. You can write letters and spreadsheets on a cheap PC just as well as on a Mac, and with the money you save, you can buy a console system that will do a much better job of playing games than a PC or a Mac.

But think beyond those traditional computing tasks, and imagine what someone on Star Trek would do with a sort of computerized assistant. “Computer — display the pictures of Alex and James’ baseball games; put them in an email addressed to grandma.” iPhoto. “Computer, take the movies of Nicole’s birthday party. Delete the part where the neighbor kid picks his nose. Add some nice music from my selection of songs from the 1950s. Assemble the movie and put it on a disc so I can send it to Aunt Patty in Florida to watch on her TV.” iMovie & iDVD. “Computer — play a random selection of my top-rated songs — but no slow ones. And don’t play anything by The Beatles — I’ve been listening to them a lot lately.” iTunes. “Computer — My friend David has a new email address. I’ve changed it in my Address Book, but make sure my work computer, cell phone, PDA and iPod are all updated with the new information.” iSync.

I could go on and on. My daughter asked me once, (OK, more than once) why I spend so much time on the computer. I told her that I was actually doing a lot of different things — it just so happened that now, most of them can be done better and faster on the computer. I might be reading the news on the Internet; downloading photos from my camera and printing or sharing them with family and friends; scanning and restoring photos of family members who lived a hundred or more years ago; helping her do research for her homework; making a movie of the apple-picking trip we just took; chatting with a friend who lives in California; or writing a song for her mom. A lot of these are things I couldn’t have done a few years ago; some are things that would’ve taken me much longer or been so hard I might not have tried them.

The image of the woman in the 1984 ad remains a potent and fitting symbol for Apple and the Mac. Because distilled down to one word, the Macintosh is about revolution. It’s what the old slogan “the computer for the rest of us” really means. None of what the Mac allows us to do is impossible without the Mac. But it is beyond the reach of most of us, reserved for the rich or very gifted. The revolution is that these abilities are now in the hands of us — the masses. The revolution that started with the power to create professional-looking documents and spreadsheets continues to this day in GarageBand, which lets the most tone-deaf among us make “real” music. And in between, we’ve been given other tools to do what was once, if not impossible, then highly impractical.

I, for one, am glad Apple’s not devoting a whole lot of its time and energy looking at the past. I’d much rather they keep working on bringing me the future.

Macworld appearances at MWSF11

It’s that time of year again, but with some interesting differences. Last year’s Macworld Conference & Expo proved IDG could host a successful show without Apple’s presence; this year we’ll see if exhibitors and attendees got the word. This year’s conference also makes a break with the past by using a new venue — or more accurately — leaving an old one. The entire show — including conferences, feature presentations and exhibit hall — will be held within Moscone West with no elements of the show using the familiar North and South halls.

I’ll be at the show as usual. For those interested in catching up with me, here are your best shots:

  • I’ll be delivering a User Conference Session called “Tell Me What I Didn’t Already Know About Safari” on Thursday, January 27th from 10:30-11:45 in Room US907.
  • I’ll be appearing in the Macworld All-Star Band at Cirque du Mac 8.0. The time and location are undisclosed and the event is strictly invitation only, but if you’re nice to me, I may have an extra ticket or two.
  • On Friday, January 28th, I’ll be participating in a panel called “Parenting in the Digital Age,” hosted by Chuck Joiner. It will be held in Macworld LIVE stage at noon. In addition (and perhaps contrast) to me, the panel will include smart folks like Tonya Engst, Omaha Sternberg and Christopher Breen.
  • Chances are excellent that I’ll also be Tweeting about interesting sessions, discoveries and sessions, so if you’re at the show, follow me at And if you see me, please make a point of saying hello. It’s the opportunity for real-world, face-to-face interaction that makes Macworld such an important aspect of the Mac (and technology) community.

Apple’s Music Event announcements explored on MacJury

I took part in the latest MacJury podcast, where we discussed the announcements made at Apple’s September Music Event. I joined Host Chuck Joiner and panelists Dave Hamilton, Don McAllister and Omaha Sternberg to give our thoughts on the slew of product updates ranging from new iPod shuffles, nanos and touches; iTunes 10; iOS 4.1 (and beyond); the updated AppleTV and more—even the marketing strategy behind Apple’s return to live streaming of events.

I like the MacJury whether I’m on the panel or not. I’ve said it before, but Chuck does a great job of bringing together people with interesting points of view and importantly, objectivity. MacJury also provides enough time to delve beneath the surface on issues and get into the details—this is not just a bullet-point listing of what was said, but an exploration of how we got here and what it might mean for the future.

The show can be downloaded for free from iTunes or you can listen directly from the MacJury website. It’s a smart group of people and I’m happy to be asked to participate so often.

MacJury Live at Macworld 2010 video now available

I got to meet my fellow MacJurors face-to-face at Macworld San Francisco 2010 for a live version of the MacJury podcast. Host Chuck Joiner and our panel recorded the session live on the floor of the Moscone Center — in the Music Theater stage, to be more specific — in front of a live audience. The panel consisted of Tanya Engst, from TidBITS and TakeControl Books, Ted Landau from Macworld and The Mac Observer, Jeff Gamet from The Mac Observer and the Design Weekly Podcast and yours truly. The audience was super, the conversation lively and it was a typically fun session. Thanks to all who attended and for Chuck for putting it together. The session — in all its video glory — is now available on the website.

Greetings from Macworld Expo 2010!

I just returned from a week at San Francisco’s Macworld Conference and Expo 2010. Hopefully, you’ve been frequenting The Mac Observer, where I’ve had a few posts on the subject lately, including one that appeared today entitled “They Said it Couldn’t Be Done: IDG Pulls Off an Apple-less Expo Hit.

I also spoke at the Conference, delivering a session called on keyboard shortcuts called “Look Ma, No Mouse!” If you attended the conference, you already know where to find the slides. IDG, the show’s organizer, will be sending out more information on that soon as well.

On the show floor, I was lucky enough to be asked to participate in MacJury Live – a session of Chuck Joiner’s excellent podcast done in front of a live audience. It was great fun talking about the show with Chuck and fellow jurors Jeff Gamet, Tanya Engst and Ted Landau — some of the smartest people in the Mac community. As soon as the show is posted (in video, no less!) I’ll put a link to it here.

Between the Mac Observer article and the MacJury podcast, I’ve said pretty much all I have to say on the topic, other than to reiterate that it was a great show, ironically made perhaps even better by Apple’s absence.

Social Media from a corporate perspective on MacVoices

At New Media Expo in Las Vegas last month, I joined Chuck Joiner for a discussion of Social Media and its implications for corporations. We discussed whether or not corporations “get” Tweeting, blogging and other aspects of Social Media and whether it’s too late for those who don’t. As always, it was a lively and (I hope) interesting conversation. My apologies in advance for the fact that it’s a video interview.

You can watch the interview below or on Chuck’s MacVoices website.

Social Media from a corporate perspective on MacVoices

At New Media Expo in Las Vegas last month, I joined Chuck Joiner for a discussion of Social Media and its implications for corporations. We discussed whether or not corporations “get” Tweeting, blogging and other aspects of Social Media and whether it’s too late for those who don’t. As always, it was a lively and (I hope) interesting conversation. My apologies in advance for the fact that it’s a video interview.

You can watch the interview below or on Chuck’s MacVoices website.

I should’ve predicted world peace

On a recent MacJury, during a discussion on the new ability for iPhone applications to send “push” notifications, I joked about a Twitter client with that capability and what a nightmare it would be. We all had a good laugh at the ridiculousness of the suggestion and moved on to more serious topics.

I was surprised then to hear about Twitbit, a new Twitter client for the iPhone that features — you guessed it — push notifications. I’m struggling to comprehend the benefit of this. Unless you’re following very few people (and if you are I’d argue you’re not a good candidate for a for-pay Twitter client for the iPhone) it seems like the near-constant notifications of new Tweets would quickly drive you crazy — not to mention kill your battery.

Twitbit’s developers say the app will be configurable in future versions, so you can turn notification off for regular Tweets, but on for Direct Messages. Since you can already set that to happen via email, I still don’t see a big benefit. It will be interesting to see how Twitbit does (or evolves).

Had I known my predictions carried such power, I surely would have gone with something other than a Twitter client with push notifications.

Twitbit is available in the iTunes store for $4.99. More information is available on the app’s website.

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