B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Archive for the ‘Steve_Jobs’ tag

Joe Nocera Trolls Apple

without comments

Tech Graveyard
Tech Graveyard

NYT columnist and Steve Jobs antagonist Joe Nocera builds a flimsy case for Apple’s decline upon a tenuous foundation in today’s paper. A few points worth responding to:

If Steve Jobs were still alive, would the new map application on the iPhone 5 be such an unmitigated disaster? Interesting question, isn’t it?

(click here to continue reading Has Apple Peaked? – NYTimes.com.)

No, not really. Are you asserting that everything Apple ever released while Steve Jobs was alive was perfect? As a Mac user from before Steve Jobs came back to Apple, I’ve followed the company pretty closely, and there were plenty of crappy applications, plenty of dud hardwares, plenty of missteps during the fifteen years of Jobs running Apple. Ping? The PowerMac G4 Cube? The so-called antenna problem with the iPhone 4? Final Cut Pro X? The hockey puck mouse? Some iterations of Mobile Me? You get the idea: Steve Jobs and Apple have failed plenty of times, releasing unpolished, unfinished or unsuccessful products. But for Joe Nocera, the alleged failure of Apple Maps 1.0 means Apple is about to crumble into pieces. Next week, Nocera is going to call for Apple to spin off their iOS division, and license the software to Nokia. 

In rolling out a new operating system for the iPhone 5, Apple replaced Google’s map application — the mapping gold standard — with its own, vastly inferior, application, which has infuriated its customers. With maps now such a critical feature of smartphones, it seems to be an inexplicable mistake.

And you can see it in the decision to replace Google’s map application. Once an ally, Google is now a rival, and the thought of allowing Google to promote its maps on Apple’s platform had become anathema. More to the point, Apple wants to force its customers to use its own products, even when they are not as good as those from rivals. Once companies start acting that way, they become vulnerable to newer, nimbler competitors that are trying to create something new, instead of milking the old. Just ask BlackBerry, which once reigned supreme in the smartphone market but is now roadkill for Apple and Samsung.

That’s one way of looking at it. But all we really know is that the license agreement between Apple and Google has ended. Perhaps Google didn’t want to license their maps to Apple anymore? Or Google raised the licensing fee to astronomical levels? After all, Google’s Android is a direct competitor to Apple’s iOS. Apple has always been more comfortable making their own versions of software so that companies don’t have leverage over Apple’s business decisions. Remember in the late ‘90s when Microsoft and Adobe almost stopped developing Microsoft Office and Photoshop for the Mac? I’d be leery of depending upon Google as well, Google has become much more cutthroat in recent years. 

Dreaming of Phone Booths for a modern Superman
Dreaming of Phone Booths for a modern Superman

And maybe that’s all it is — a mistake, soon to be fixed. But it is just as likely to turn out to be the canary in the coal mine. Though Apple will remain a highly profitable company for years to come, I would be surprised if it ever gives us another product as transformative as the iPhone or the iPad.

Part of the reason is obvious: Jobs isn’t there anymore. It is rare that a company is so completely an extension of one man’s brain as Apple was an extension of Jobs. While he was alive, that was a strength; now it’s a weakness. Apple’s current executive team is no doubt trying to maintain the same demanding, innovative culture, but it’s just not the same without the man himself looking over everybody’s shoulder. If the map glitch tells us anything, it is that.

But there is also a less obvious — yet possibly more important — reason that Apple’s best days may soon be behind it. When Jobs returned to the company in 1997, after 12 years in exile, Apple was in deep trouble. It could afford to take big risks and, indeed, to search for a new business model, because it had nothing to lose.

Fifteen years later, Apple has a hugely profitable business model to defend — and a lot to lose. Companies change when that happens. “The business model becomes a gilded cage, and management won’t do anything to challenge it, while doing everything they can to protect it,” says Larry Keeley, an innovation strategist at Doblin, a consulting firm.

Again, Nocera is trolling here. He claims to be able to see into the future, and tells us plebes that Apple will never make an innovative product again, ever! Really! And the reason that Apple is going to sour is that a first iteration of an app they released on Wednesday doesn’t please everyone. Maybe Mr. Nocera ought to switch to decaf and lay off the bath salts?

For the record, Maps seems to be ok for me, but I rarely used the Street View in Google Maps, plus Chicago is pretty well mapped. If I lived somewhere else, maybe I’d be displeased as well. But version 1 of Google Maps wasn’t so great either, and that didn’t mean that Google was about to descend into RIM/BlackBerry territory. No, instead, there were steady improvements made, and now Google Maps is fairly useful, and accurate. I still use it on my phone, by the way. In fact, I have an icon on my home screen that allows me to load it whenever I need it, or am concerned that Apple’s Map app might be wrong.

I would bet Joe Nocera $500 that Apple is going to improve its iOS Map app rapidly, and by version 3, this won’t be an issue for the majority of users. For all the negative press, I haven’t read of many people returning their iPhone because the Map app is so horrible.


A less “trolly” response from Mike Dobson:

I have spent several hours poring over the news for examples of the types of failures and find nothing unexpected in the results. Apple does not have a core competency in mapping and has not yet assembled the sizable, capable team that they will eventually need if they are determined to produce their own mapping/navigation/local search application.

Perhaps the most egregious error is that Apple’s team relied on quality control by algorithm and not a process partially vetted by informed human analysis. You cannot read about the errors in Apple Maps without realizing that these maps were being visually examined and used for the first time by Apple’s customers and not by Apple’s QC teams. If Apple thought that the results were going to be any different than they are, I would be surprised. Of course, hubris is a powerful emotion.

If you go back over this blog and follow my recounting of the history of Google’s attempts at developing a quality mapping service, you will notice that they initially tried to automate the entire process and failed miserably, as has Apple. Google learned that you cannot take the human out of the equation. While the mathematics of mapping appear relatively straight forward, I can assure you that if you take the informed human observer who possesses local and cartographic knowledge out of the equation that you will produce exactly what Apple has produced – A failed system.

The issue plaguing Apple Maps is not mathematics or algorithms, it is data quality and there can be little doubt about the types of errors that are plaguing the system. What is happening to Apple is that their users are measuring data quality. Users look for familiar places they know on maps and use these as methods of orienting themselves, as well as for testing the goodness of maps. They compare maps with reality to determine their location. They query local businesses to provide local services. When these actions fail, the map has failed and this is the source of Apple’s most significant problems. Apple’s maps are incomplete, illogical, positionally erroneous, out of date, and suffer from thematic inaccuracies.

(click here to continue reading Exploring Local » Blog Archive » Google Maps announces a 400 year advantage over Apple Maps.)

My point remains: the Apple Map app may be bad, will probably get somewhat better in the future, and this still doesn’t mean that Apple is about to turn into Sears & Roebuck, and be discarded in the tech graveyard.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 22nd, 2012 at 10:40 am

Posted in Apple,Business

Tagged with , , ,

Neil Young and the Sound of Music

with one comment

Neil Young

Neil Young has long fulminated against the sound of digital music…

You know what the biggest problem with music today is? Sound quality. That’s Neil Young’s take on the issue, anyway.

For years, the musician has been obsessed with improving the way modern music sounds, sonically speaking. In an interview with Walt Mossberg and Peter Kafka at our D: Dive Into Media conference, Young, the perennial music purist, said that while modern music formats like MP3 are convenient, they sound lousy.

“My goal is to try and rescue the art form that I’ve been practicing for the past 50 years,” Young said. “We live in the digital age and, unfortunately, it’s degrading our music, not improving it.” While modern digital encoding schemes might sound clear on our iPods and smartphones, they only feature a small percentage of the musical data present in a master recording, and Young is on a crusade to correct that.

“It’s not that digital is bad or inferior, it’s that the way it’s being used isn’t doing justice to the art,” Young said. “The MP3 only has 5 percent of the data present in the original recording. … The convenience of the digital age has forced people to choose between quality and convenience, but they shouldn’t have to make that choice.”

So what’s the solution? New hardware capable of playing audio files that preserve more of the data present in original recordings, said Young. Ah. But who’s going to produce that?

Said Young, “Some rich guy.” And evidently some rich guy was working on such a device. The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “Steve Jobs as a pioneer of digital music, and his legacy is tremendous,” Young said. “But when he went home, he listened to vinyl. And you’ve got to believe that if he’d lived long enough, he would have done what I’m trying to do.”

(click here to continue reading Neil Young and the Sound of Music (Dive into Media) – John Paczkowski – Dive Into Media – AllThingsD.)

Written by Seth Anderson

January 31st, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Posted in Apple,Music

Tagged with ,

Jobs, Jobs and Cars

without comments

Chrysler Royal
Chrysler Royal

Paul Krugman writes, in response to the lame Mitch Daniels response to the 2012 State of the Union speech:

Why does Apple manufacture abroad, and especially in China? As the article explained, it’s not just about low wages. China also derives big advantages from the fact that so much of the supply chain is already there. A former Apple executive explained: “You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away.”

This is familiar territory to students of economic geography (corrected link, PDF): the advantages of industrial clusters — in which producers, specialized suppliers, and workers huddle together to their mutual benefit — have been a running theme since the 19th century.

And Chinese manufacturing isn’t the only conspicuous example of these advantages in the modern world. Germany remains a highly successful exporter even with workers who cost, on average, $44 an hour — much more than the average cost of American workers. And this success has a lot to do with the support its small and medium-sized companies — the famed Mittelstand — provide to each other via shared suppliers and the maintenance of a skilled work force.

The point is that successful companies — or, at any rate, companies that make a large contribution to a nation’s economy — don’t exist in isolation. Prosperity depends on the synergy between companies, on the cluster, not the individual entrepreneur.

But the current Republican worldview has no room for such considerations. From the G.O.P.’s perspective, it’s all about the heroic entrepreneur, the John Galt, I mean Steve Jobs-type “job creator” who showers benefits on the rest of us and who must, of course, be rewarded with tax rates lower than those paid by many middle-class workers.

And this vision helps explain why Republicans were so furiously opposed to the single most successful policy initiative of recent years: the auto industry bailout.

The case for this bailout — which Mr. Daniels has denounced as “crony capitalism” — rested crucially on the notion that the survival of any one firm in the industry depended on the survival of the broader industry “ecology” created by the cluster of producers and suppliers in America’s industrial heartland. If G.M. and Chrysler had been allowed to go under, they would probably have taken much of the supply chain with them — and Ford would have gone the same way.

Fortunately, the Obama administration didn’t let that happen, and the unemployment rate in Michigan, which hit 14.1 percent as the bailout was going into effect, is now down to a still-terrible-but-much-better 9.3 percent. And the details aside, much of Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address can be read as an attempt to apply the lessons of that success more broadly.

(click here to continue reading Jobs, Jobs and Cars – NYTimes.com.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

January 27th, 2012 at 9:18 am

Hofmann, Jobs and LSD

without comments

Steve Jobs and Albert Hofmann (source unknown)

stevejobsgrim.jpg

I know we’ve discussed Steve Jobs and LSD previously in this space, but I’m too lazy to find the link at the moment…

Anyway, too many of the obituaries of SJ omit this one facet of his life: he was imbued with the ethos of the counter-culture, possibly due to his experimentation with mind-expanding chemicals like Albert Hofmann’s “problem child”

“Dear Mr. Jobs,” begins the 2007 letter from Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann to Apple’s (AAPL) CEO. “I understand from media accounts that you feel LSD helped you creatively in your development of Apple computers and your personal spiritual quest. I’m interested in learning more about how LSD was useful to you.” Hofmann, as students of the sixties will recall, was the chemist who first synthesized, ingested and experienced the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide.

LSD Art
LSD Art.jpeg

Steve Jobs, as readers of John Markoff’s “What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry” may remember, dabbled in psychedelics in the 1970s and has called his LSD experiences “one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life.” “I’m writing now,” Hofmann’s letter continues, “shortly after my 101st birthday, to request that you support Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Peter Gasser’s proposed study of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with anxiety associated with life-threatening illness.”

(click here to continue reading Dr. LSD to Steve Jobs: How was your trip? – Apple 2.0 – Fortune Tech.)

Ryan Grim adds:

The letter led to a roughly 30-minute conversation between Doblin and Jobs, says Doblin, but no contribution to the cause. “He was still thinking, ‘Let’s put it in the water supply and turn everybody on,'” recalls a disappointed Doblin, who says he still hasn’t given up hope that Jobs will come around and contribute.

That Jobs used LSD and values the contribution it made to his thinking is far from unusual in the world of computer technology. Psychedelic drugs have influenced some of America’s foremost computer scientists. The history of this connection is well documented in a number of books, the best probably being What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer, by New York Times technology reporter John Markoff.

Psychedelic drugs, Markoff argues, pushed the computer and Internet revolutions forward by showing folks that reality can be profoundly altered through unconventional, highly intuitive thinking. Douglas Engelbart is one example of a psychonaut who did just that: he helped invent the mouse. Apple’s Jobs has said that Microsoft’s Bill Gates, would “be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once.” In a 1994 interview with Playboy, however, Gates coyly didn’t deny having dosed as a young man.

Thinking differently–or learning to Think Different, as a Jobs slogan has it–is a hallmark of the acid experience. “When I’m on LSD and hearing something that’s pure rhythm, it takes me to another world and into anther brain state where I’ve stopped thinking and started knowing,” Kevin Herbert told Wired magazine at a symposium commemorating Hofmann’s one hundredth birthday. Herbert, an early employee of Cisco Systems who successfully banned drug testing of technologists at the company, reportedly “solved his toughest technical problems while tripping to drum solos by the Grateful Dead.”

“It must be changing something about the internal communication in my brain,” said Herbert. “Whatever my inner process is that lets me solve problems, it works differently, or maybe different parts of my brain are used.”

 

(click here to continue reading Ryan Grim: Read the Never-Before-Published Letter From LSD-Inventor Albert Hofmann to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.)

Written by Seth Anderson

October 9th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Apple

Tagged with , , ,

Apple and Its Cash Hoard

without comments

Apple Store in Soho
Apple Store in Soho

Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune Magazine links to an utterly fascinating perspective on what Apple is doing with its very large hoard of cash (in the neighborhood of $70,000,000,000 at the moment)

Apple’s cash for short-term and long-term marketable securities totaled $65.8 billion at the end of the March quarter. Cash increased by $6.1 billion.

The increase in cash is net of approximately $900 million for prepayments and capital expenditures related to the strategic supply agreements that Apple announced last quarter.

(click here to continue reading If Cash is King, Apple’s is an Emperor [Updated] | asymco.)

Instead of giving this money to stock holders as dividend payments, or using it to purchase other companies, Apple uses it as leverage to make arrangements with component factories, as explained below.

Apple actually uses its cash hoard in a very interesting way to maintain a decisive advantage over its rivals: When new component technologies (touchscreens, chips, LED displays) first come out, they are very expensive to produce, and building a factory that can produce them in mass quantities is even more expensive. Oftentimes, the upfront capital expenditure can be so huge and the margins are small enough (and shrink over time as the component is rapidly commoditized) that the companies who would build these factories cannot raise sufficient investment capital to cover the costs.

What Apple does is use its cash hoard to pay for the construction cost (or a significant fraction of it) of the factory in exchange for exclusive rights to the output production of the factory for a set period of time (maybe 6 – 36 months), and then for a discounted rate afterwards.

This yields two advantages: Apple has access to new component technology months or years before its rivals. This allows it to release groundbreaking products that are actually impossible to duplicate. Remember how for up to a year or so after the introduction of the iPhone, none of the would-be iPhone clones could even get a capacitive touchscreen to work as well as the iPhone’s? It wasn’t just the software – Apple simply has access to new components earlier, before anyone else in the world can gain access to it in mass quantities to make a consumer device.

One extraordinary example of this is the aluminum machining technology used to make Apple’s laptops – this remains a trade secret that Apple continues to have exclusive access to and allows them to make laptops with (for now) unsurpassed strength and lightness. Eventually its competitors catch up in component production technology, but by then Apple has their arrangement in place whereby it can source those parts at a lower cost due to the discounted rate they have negotiated with the (now) most-experienced and skilled provider of those parts – who has probably also brought his production costs down too. This discount is also potentially subsidized by its competitors buying those same parts from that provider – the part is now commoditized so the factory is allowed to produce them for all buyers, but Apple gets special pricing.

Apple is not just crushing its rivals through superiority in design, Steve Jobs’s deep experience in hardware mass production (early Apple, NeXT) has been brought to bear in creating an unrivaled exclusive supply chain of advanced technology literally years ahead of anyone else on the planet. If it feels like new Apple products appear futuristic, it is because Apple really is sending back technology from the future. Once those technologies (or more accurately, their mass production techniques) become sufficiently commoditized, Apple is then able to compete effectively on cost and undercut rivals. It’s a myth that Apple only makes premium products – it makes them all right, but that is because they are literally more advanced than anything else (i.e. the price premium is not just for design), and once the product line is no longer premium, they are produced more cheaply than competitor equivalents, yielding higher margins, more cash, which results in more ability to continue the cycle.

(click here to continue reading How Apple became a monopsonist – Apple 2.0 – Fortune Tech.)

That is pretty ingenious, I think.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 5th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Apple,Business

Tagged with ,

Smithsonian Oral Histories: Steve Jobs

without comments

Speaking of Heathkits, Steve Jobs had them as well…

Topic of the Day

I got to know this man, whose name was Larry Lang [of Hewlett-Packard], and he taught me a lot of electronics. He was great. He used to build Heathkits. Heathkits were really great. Heathkits were these products that you would buy in kit form. You actually paid more money for them than if you just went and bought the finished product if it was available. These Heathkits would come with these detailed manuals about how to put this thing together and all the parts would be laid out in a certain way and color coded. You’d actually build this thing yourself. I would say that this gave one several things. It gave one a understanding of what was inside a finished product and how it worked because it would include a theory of operation but maybe even more importantly it gave one the sense that one could build the things that one saw around oneself in the universe. These things were not mysteries anymore. I mean you looked at a television set you would think that “I haven’t built one of those but I could. There’s one of those in the Heathkit catalog and I’ve built two other Heathkits so I could build that.” Things became much more clear that they were the results of human creation not these magical things that just appeared in one’s environment that one had no knowledge of their interiors. It gave a tremendous level of self-confidence, that through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex things in one’s environment. My childhood was very fortunate in that way.

[Click to continue reading Smithsonian Oral and Video Histories: Steve Jobs]

I skipped second grade, which I’m sure altered me in some ineffable manner. I’m happy with who I am, but of course, wonder what I would have been like if I hadn’t been younger than most kids in my grade up until I was in college. Apparently Steve Jobs skipped ahead too

SJ: School was pretty hard for me at the beginning. My mother taught me how to read before I got to school and so when I got there I really just wanted to do two things. I wanted to read books because I loved reading books and I wanted to go outside and chase butterflies. You know, do the things that five year olds like to do. I encountered authority of a different kind than I had ever encountered before, and I did not like it. And they really almost got me. They came close to really beating any curiosity out of me. By the time I was in third grade, I had a good buddy of mine, Rick Farentino, and the only way we had fun was to create mischief. I remember we traded everybody. There was a big bike rack where everybody put their bikes, maybe a hundred bikes in this rack, and we traded everybody our lock combinations for theirs on an individual basis and then went out one day and put everybody’s lock on everybody else’s bike and it took them until about ten o’clock that night to get all the bikes sorted out. We set off explosives in teacher’s desks. We got kicked out of school a lot.

In fourth grade I encountered one of the other saints of my life. They were going to put Rick Farentino and I into the same fourth grade class, and the principal said at the last minute “No, bad idea. Separate them.” So this teacher, Mrs. Hill, said “I’ll take one of them.” She taught the advanced fourth grade class and thank God I was the random one that got put in the class. She watched me for about two weeks and then approached me. She said “Steven, I’ll tell you what. I’ll make you a deal. I have this math workbook and if you take it home and finish on your own without any help and you bring it back to me, if you get it 80% right, I will give you five dollars and one of these really big suckers she bought and she held it out in front of me. One of these giant things. And I looked at her like “Are you crazy lady”? Nobody’s ever done this before and of course I did it. She basically bribed me back into learning with candy and money and what was really remarkable was before very long I had such a respect for her that it sort of re-ignited my desire to learn. She got me kits for making cameras. I ground my own lens and made a camera. It was really quite wonderful. I think I probably learned more academically in that one year than I learned in my life. It created problems though because when I got out of fourth grade they tested me and they decided to put me in high school and my parents said “No.”. Thank God. They said “He can skip one grade but that’s all.”

DM: But not to high school.

SJ: And I found skipping one grade to be very troublesome in many ways. That was plenty enough. It did create some problems.

Keep reading, it’s a fascinatingly wide-ranging article.

Ok, one more excerpt, one involving Pete Stark who is still in Congress, and Bob Dole, who, fortunately, is not

One of the things that built Apple II’s was schools buying Apple II’s; but even so there was about only 10% of the schools that even had one computer in them in 1979 I think it was. When I grew up I was lucky because I was in Silicon Valley. When I was ten or eleven I saw my first computer. It was down at NASA Ames (Research Center). I didn’t see the computer, I saw a terminal and it was theoretically a computer on the other end of the wire. I fell in love with it. I saw my first desktop computer at Hewlett-Packard which was called the 9100A. It was the first desktop in the world. It ran BASIC and APL I think. I fell in love with it. And I thought, looking at these statistics in 1979, I thought if there was just one computer in every school, some of the kids would find it. It will change their life.

We saw the rate at which this was happening and the rate at which the school bureaucracies were deciding to buy a computer for the school and it was real slow. We realized that a whole generation of kids was going to go through the school before they even got their first computer so we thought the kids can’t wait. We wanted to donate a computer to every school in America. It turns out that there are about a hundred thousand schools in America, about ten thousand high schools, about ninety thousand K through 8. We couldn’t afford that as a company. But we studied the law and it turned out that there was a law already on the books, a national law that said that if you donated a piece of scientific instrumentation or computer to a university for educational and research purposes you can take an extra tax deduction. That basically means you don’t make any money, you loose some but you don’t loose too much. You loose about ten percent. We thought that if we could apply that law, enhance it a little bit to extend it down to K through 8 and remove the research requirements so it was just educational, then we could give a hundred thousand computers away, one to each school in America and it would cost our company ten million dollars which was a lot of money to us at that time but it was less than a hundred million dollars if we didn’t have that. We decided that we were willing to do that.

It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done. We found our local representative, Pete Stark over in East Bay and Pete and a few of us sat down an we wrote a bill. We literally drafted a bill to make these changes. We said “If this law changes we will donate a hundred thousand computers at a cost of ten million dollars to us.” We called it “the kids can’t wait bill”. Pete Stark introduced it in the House and Senator Danforth introduced it in the Senate and I refused to hire any lobbyists and I went back to Washington myself and I actually walked the halls of Congress for about two weeks, which was the most incredible thing. I met probably two-thirds of the House and over half of the Senate myself and sat down and talked with them.

It was very interesting. I found that the House Members are routinely less intelligent than the Senate and they were much more kneejerk to their constituencies–which I found initially quite offensive but came to understand later to be a really good idea. Maybe that’s what the framers wanted. They weren’t supposed to think too much, they were supposed to represent. The Senators are supposed to think a little more. The Bill passed the House with the largest favorable majority of any tax bill in the history of this country. What happened was it was in during Carter’s lame duck session and Bob Dole who was then Speaker of the House killed it. He would not bring it to the floor and we ran out of time. We would have had to have started the process over in the next year and I gave up.

However, fortunately something unique happened. California thought this was such a good idea they came to us and said “You don’t have to do a thing. We’re going to pass a bill that says ‘Since you operate in the State of California and pay California Tax, we’re going to pass this bill that says that if the federal bill doesn’t pass, then you get the tax break in California’. You can do it in California, which is ten thousand schools”. So we did. We gave away ten thousand computers in the State of California. We got a whole bunch of the software companies to give away software. We trained teachers for free and monitored this thing over the next few years. It was phenomenal. One of my great experiences and one of my biggest regrets was that really tried to do this on a national level and got so close. I don’t think Bob Dole even knew what he was doing but he really unfortunately screwed up here.

[Click to continue reading Smithsonian Oral and Video Histories: Steve Jobs]

Amazing.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 16th, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Apple

Tagged with ,

Albert Hofmann fundraising letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs

without comments

Strangely, I had never heard of this before

Steve Jobs has never been shy about his use of psychedelics, famously calling his LSD experience “one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life.” So, toward the end of his life, LSD inventor Albert Hofmann decided to write to the iPhone creator to see if he’d be interested in putting some money where the tip of his tongue had been.

Hofmann penned a never-before-disclosed letter in 2007 to Jobs at the behest of his friend Rick Doblin, who runs an organization dedicated to studying the medical and psychiatric benefits of psychedelic drugs. Hofmann, a Swiss chemist, died in April 2008 at the age of 102.

See the letter here.

[From Ryan Grim: Read the Never-Before-Published Letter From LSD-Inventor Albert Hofmann to Apple CEO Steve Jobs]

Steve Jobs and Albert Hofmann

Steve Jobs and Albert Hofmann

and for lack of a better place: the Google Voice message left, presumedly by Google executives:

Written by Seth Anderson

July 10th, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Posted in Apple

Tagged with , , ,

Steve Jobs Had Liver Transplant

without comments

Speculation still at this point, but probably true

Topic of the Day

Steve Jobs, who has been on medical leave from Apple Inc. since January to treat an undisclosed medical condition, received a liver transplant in Tennessee about two months ago. The chief executive has been recovering well and is expected to return to work on schedule later this month, though he may work part-time initially.

William Hawkins, a doctor specializing in pancreatic and gastrointestinal surgery at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., said that the type of slow-growing pancreatic tumor Mr. Jobs had will commonly metastasize in another organ during a patient’s lifetime, and that the organ is usually the liver. “All total, 75% of patients are going to have the disease spread over the course of their life,” said Dr. Hawkins, who has not treated Mr. Jobs.

Getting a liver transplant to treat a metastasized neuroendocrine tumor is controversial because livers are scarce and the surgery’s efficacy as a cure hasn’t been proved, Dr. Hawkins added. He said that patients whose tumors have metastasized can live for as many as 10 years without any treatment so it is hard to determine how successful a transplant has been in curing the disease.

[From Jobs Had Liver Transplant – WSJ.com]

Wish Mr. Jobs well

Written by Seth Anderson

June 19th, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Posted in Apple,health

Tagged with , ,

Rumors Vs. Press Releases

without comments

Tech Crunch and the Gawker empire have a pretty cynical view of journalism. Damon Darlin reports on the sites that promulgated the Apple is about to purchase Twitter rumor, and other allegations that later turned out to be false.

Topic of the Day

A few days later, Mr. Lam1 could claim vindication when Apple announced that Mr. Jobs was taking a leave of absence because of his health. To this day, it is unclear how much his health figured in Apple’s decision to withdraw from the MacWorld show. Nevertheless, Nick Denton, Mr. Lam’s boss and the founder of the Gawker blog network, crowed, “This is why access is overrated.”

Mr. Lam says it taught him a lesson. “If we don’t have rumors, what do we have as journalists?” he asks. “You have press releases. So maybe there is some honor in printing rumors.

[Click to read more: Ping – Get the Tech Scuttlebutt! It Might Even Be True – NYTimes.com]

Really? These are the only two choices? Reprinting rumors or reprinting press releases? What about doing a little research of your own? What about fact-checking? Making some inquiries into interested parties? Even using critical thinking? The yellow journalism aspirations of both Tech Crunch and Gizmodo are why those web sites are visits of last resort: I don’t trust much of what I read there, so why waste my time rolling my eyes reading thinly-sourced rumors?

There’s even the time tested yet still reprehensible journalistic technique of “he said, she said”, as throughly and thoughtfully explained by Jay Rose:

Quick definition: “He said, she said” journalism means…

There’s a public dispute.
The dispute makes news.
No real attempt is made to assess clashing truth claims in the story, even though they are in some sense the reason for the story. (Under the “conflict makes news” test.)
The means for assessment do exist, so it’s possible to exert a factual check on some of the claims, but for whatever reason the report declines to make use of them.
The symmetry of two sides making opposite claims puts the reporter in the middle between polarized extremes

[Click to continue reading the discussion of PressThink: He Said, She Said Journalism: Lame Formula in the Land of the Active User ]

At least this shortcut forces the reporter to attempt to include multiple points of view, and not just rely upon rumor.

Footnotes:
  1. Brian Lam built Gizmodo, owned by Gawker []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 7th, 2009 at 10:57 am

Posted in Apple,Business

Tagged with , , ,