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I'm Mac, iPhone, and iPad consultant Christian Boyce. Helping people with their Apple stuff is what I do.

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Book Review: Becoming Steve Jobs

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader.

By Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli.

Becomingstevejobs

In Becoming Steve Jobs, tech journalists Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli document Steve Jobs' growth and development as a person and consequently as a better leader of companies. It's a far more humanizing book than Walter Isaacson's flat portrayal of Jobs as half jerk, half genius in his 2011 authorized biography, Steve Jobs, though Isaacson's book covers more ground. I found Becoming Steve Jobs to be an interesting contrast to Isaacson's book, and I recommend reading them both.

Becoming Steve Jobs tells several well-known (and some not-so-well-known) stories about Steve Jobs, but with a twist: the stories are used to describe Jobs' mindset and maturity at various stages of his career rather than provide a chronicle of milestones and dates. It describes the young Steve Jobs' immaturity and lack of tact when dealing with others, the lessons learned by being demoted at his own company, the insights gained from Pixar's Ed Catmull and John Lasseter, and finally the older, wiser, gentler, grown-up version of Jobs, the one whose second go-round at Apple led to the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. The authors make a case for Jobs maturing significantly during the ten "wilderness years" between his disgraced exit from Apple and his return when Apple purchased Jobs' new company, appropriately named "NeXT." They do a good job of that, and it an easy argument to accept.

Maturation did not strip Jobs of idealism, nor of his desire to do great work. Nor did it turn him into someone all sweet and cuddly. But maturation-- and Jobs' experiences with NeXT and Pixar-- did show Jobs that sometimes patience is rewarded. It also showed him that one can't do everything by oneself. Toward the end of the book, when his cancer comes back and he knows his time is short, Jobs prunes away distractions until his life is work, family, and friendships-- with everything else left in the hands of trusted, capable people.

Interestingly, though this is a story of growth and maturity, it never paints Jobs as egomaniacal or even selfish. Even his return to Apple was not about him, not about a second chance for Jobs. That experience, according to the authors, was strictly about saving the company that Jobs had never stopped believing in-- or loving. Jobs was careful to not make it "about him," to the point of not wanting to narrate the "Think Different" TV ad (the voice-over was by Richard Dreyfuss).

Bonus: here is the same ad, narrated by Steve Jobs. It never aired in this version, at Jobs' request.

Becoming Steve Jobs does an excellent job of explaining how luck played a significant role in Jobs' successes. For example:

Jobs bought the Computer Graphics Division of LucasFilm from George Lucas (of "Star Wars" fame) for its 3D computer graphics technology and expertise. The CG Division was known at the time for its "Renderman" software that made realistic-looking 3D surfaces, and it was being used to provide computer-generated imagery (CGI) for George Lucas' movies. Jobs, intrigued and impressed by the realism that Renderman produced, wanted the software and the talented people who made it, so he bought it from Lucas and renamed it Pixar. Unbeknownst to Jobs, though, Pixar's super-smart, super-creative people didn't just want to make software and do CGI for other people's films. What they really, really, really wanted to do was make full-length animated movies themselves. The eventual result? Toy Story, a deal with Disney, several more movies, and eventually a sale to Disney that made Steve Jobs Disney's biggest shareholder.

Speaking of luck, it's pure luck that LucasFilms' Computer Graphics Division was for sale in the first place. It was 1986, and George Lucas needed money. He and his wife had divorced in 1983, and he didn't have ready money for his payments, so he had to sell a few things to generate cash. Without the divorce, LucasFilms' Computer Graphics Division mightn't have been for sale, and there might never have been a Pixar. Steve Jobs should have written the ex-Mrs. Lucas a thank-you note.

Another lucky move had to do with NeXT, the company that Jobs started after leaving Apple in 1985. The company was supposed to make "the next great computer" but it was overpriced and never found a market. By 1993 NeXT was down to making software, not machines. NeXT was running out of money and would probably have failed in another few years-- unless they managed to get someone else to buy them. Incredibly, NeXT found a buyer in Apple. The story there is Apple needed an operating system that didn't crash, (with features to match Microsoft's Windows) and was looking outside its walls after years of trying to write an operating system in-house. Jean-Louis Gassee, a former Apple Vice President, had started a company called "Be" and its BeOS was thought to be Apple's Number One choice-- but Gassee over-played his hand, and Apple looked elsewhere. Under tremendous pressure to get a deal done as Apple was about to go under itself, Apple bought NeXT for more than $400 million in 1996. Suddenly, Jobs' failing NeXT company had a buyer, and Jobs had a new job as a "Special Advisor" to Apple CEO Gil Amelio. It wasn't long before the Board fired Amelio and asked Jobs to take his place.

None of that happens without Apple flopping around for years, trying-- and failing-- to make an operating system themselves. None of that happens without Jean-Louis Gassee failing to close the deal with Apple. None of that happens without NeXT being eager to be purchased because it was itself failing. Three things had to fail, and all at the same time, for Jobs to get back to Apple-- and it did. Jobs came out smelling like a rose. You can't make this stuff up.

Becoming Steve Jobs describes some of Jobs' failures, and these help dispel the notion of Jobs having the Midas Touch. He was smart enough to buy Pixar but didn't know what he had until years down the line. He assembled a great team at NeXT but couldn't build a successful business with it. (He also brought us the original Macintosh computer, but ground-breaking as it was he couldn't get it done at a price that would make it a hit. The Apple III, another Jobs project, was also an expensive flop.) Becoming Steve Jobs is the first book I've read that debunks the rather simplistic notion of Jobs being able to see around corners, to know what the future would bring, to know what people wanted before they knew it themselves. This does nothing to lessen Jobs' accomplishments, while significantly adding dimension and a certain "real life" aspect to our understanding of the man.

Interesting as Jobs' growth journey is, the things that don't change are just as interesting, and serve as a foundation upon which the rest of Jobs' story plays out. Jobs wanted to do great work, wanted to surround himself with people who thought the same way, and believed that financial success was a by-product of a great product and not the product itself. These are constants in Becoming Steve Jobs, from beginning to end.

I found Becoming Steve Jobs a very enjoyable and well-rounded book (it includes several pages of photographs, all previously unknown to me, as a nice bonus). One of the authors, Brent Schlender, knew and interviewed Jobs multiple times over a 25-year period as a writer for The Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine. His interviews, plus more recent ones with those who knew Jobs best (his widow, Laurene Powell Jobs; Apple CEO Tim Cook; Apple's Senior Vice President of Design, Jony Ive; former head of hardware at NeXT and Apple, Jon Rubinstein; President of Pixar Studios, Ed Catmull, and many many others) inform the bulk of the book. The passage of time may have generated more reflective thoughts than might have been given in the weeks immediately following Steve Jobs' death; in particular, Tim Cook's remarks are thoughtful, extensive, and poignant.

Struck down at the height of Apple's success (while still on an uphill path), Jobs' impending death looms large as one approaches the end of the book. Jobs ran out of time, and I wanted Becoming Steve Jobs to have another chapter-- as if additional pages would prolong not just the story, but the life.

I recommend this book.


Becoming Steve Jobs is available at Amazon via this link in Kindle, hard-cover, soft-cover, Audible, and as an audio CD. It is also available on Apple's iBooks store as a book and as an audiobook.

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Watch Me Now: How I Came to Want an Apple Watch

Apple Watch 3-up

When Apple introduced "Apple Watch" last September, I was more than a little skeptical. Here's what I wrote back then:

"I usually don't generalize but there are two kinds of people: those who wear watches, and those who don't. This is going to be interesting to watch (pun) because anyone who wants to wear a watch, and has the money to buy a $349 Apple Watch, probably already has a fancy watch on his wrist, and if there's one thing I know about "Fancy Watch Guy" it's that he likes the watch he has now. I suppose we may see people wearing two watches at once. Otherwise there are going to be a lot of Rolexes gathering dust on the dresser.

The people who don't wear watches have their reasons, and those reasons will still be there, Apple Watch or no. For example: I keep banging it on things, it catches on stuff, it's too bulky, I'm afraid of losing it, if I want to know what time it is or to send a text message I just pull out my iPhone."

(Here's a link to the whole article, if you want it.)

I am pleased to announce that even at 52 years old I am open to changing my mind. And, when it comes to Apple Watch, I've changed my mind. Careful readers may recognize that, in September, I was making the same mistake with my assessment of the Watch as I did with the original iPhone. I was thinking "the Apple Watch is a watch, and I don't need a watch" the same way I thought "the Apple iPhone is a phone, and I don't need another phone."

Of course I was wrong about the iPhone, and I was wrong (but am no longer wrong) about the Apple Watch. Both devices are both poorly named: the "watch" part of Apple Watch-- that is, the time-telling part-- isn't the important thing, just as the "phone" part of the iPhone doesn't describe 90% of what we do with it. I'm now thinking of the Apple Watch as "a super-portable computer/communication device that is always with me, literally no more than arms' length away, that adds value to the iPhone and (by the way) also tells the time" in the same way that I now think of the iPhone as a hand-held computer/iPod/web browser/email machine/address book/camera that also makes phone calls.

If I look at it that way-- that is, if I think of Apple Watch as a super-portable computer/communication device that is always with me, literally no more than arms' length away, that adds value to the iPhone and (by the way) also tells the time-- $349 for the low-end model is palatable. Three hundred and forty-nine dollars for a watch? Out of the question (for me). But $349 for a clever device that adds value to my iPhone, frees up my hands (because I don't have to pull out my phone), and makes things a little more convenient for me, many times a day? And it tells the time? AND you can set the watch's face to be an animated, toe-tapping Mickey Mouse (among many options, but why would you need them)?

Holy cow. I want one. I'm in.

Need more convincing? OK. As with the original iPhone, Apple's made a bunch of apps that take advantage of the new hardware. Take a look at these Apple apps that come pre-installed on Apple Watch.:
  • Messages: Get tapped on the wrist when a new message comes in; raise wrist to read it.
  • Phone: See who's calling. Mute by covering phone with hand.
  • Mail: Read your email. Delete messages.
  • Calendar: Get reminders on the watch face.
  • Activity: Simplified way to see whether you're exercising enough (prediction: you're not).
  • Workout: Shows statistics during cardio workouts.
  • Maps: Turn-by-turn navigation.
  • Passbook: Boarding passes and tickets and rewards cards, all on the wrist. Everything shows up when it should (that is, when you arrive at the airport, your airplane boarding pass appears, and when you pop into Starbucks, your Starbucks card appears. Not sure what happens when you pop into the Starbucks at the airport).
  • Siri: Uses the "Hey Siri" method of hands-free interaction (see my article about it). Makes it easier to use when you can simply say "Hey Siri, call Christian Boyce."
  • Music: No speaker, but you can listen to songs using wireless Bluetooth headphones. Or, control the music on your iPhone.
  • Camera Remote: Use the Watch as a viewfinder and a shutter control for your iPhone.
  • Remote: For controlling your Apple TV.
  • Weather: Local weather, and weather anywhere in the world. (Clever graphical presentation-- you'll see.)
  • Stocks: Keep track of the Apple stock you just bought.
  • Photos: View your favorite photos, in miniature.
  • Clock Stuff: Alarms, Stopwatch, Timers, World Clock. Same stuff as on your iPhone but a little bit handier.
  • Settings: All sorts of settings, but my favorite is you can send a signal to your iPhone and make it go "bing" so you can find it (now that you're not using it so much).

You can read more about the above, and see little movies about them, by visiting this page on Apple's site. Note also that, unlike the original iPhone, Apple's opened up Apple Watch to app developers, and many 3rd-party apps will be available on Day 1 (April 24th, 2015).

Apple Watch has to be paired with an iPhone. The description at the Apple site says "Requires iPhone 5 or later running the latest version of iOS" so plan on buying an iPhone at the same time, if you don't have one that's new enough. Interestingly, it turns out an iPhone is better when paired with Apple Watch. For one thing, Apple Watch brings Apple Pay to iPhone 5 and 5s owners (previously, you needed an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus for Apple Pay). I would bet there will be other interactions and I will tell you all about them once I get my own Apple Watch. It's going to look a lot like this one:

Apple Watch home screen

I was thinking today about how we want everything, all at once. For example, we want our iPhones to be really small, so they're really portable. At the same time, we want them really big, so they're easy to use, with big screens and big buttons. But, no matter which size Apple gives us, the iPhone's size is always a compromise-- a trade-off between portability and usability. Apple Watch, as a companion to the iPhone, changes things. Now, instead of trying to make one device (the iPhone) simultaneously small and large-- very difficult-- Apple's solved the problem by introducing a second device (Apple Watch). Very clever. And a lot easier than breaking the laws of physics.

Apple Watch can be pre-ordered from the online Apple Store April 10th, 2015. It will be available in the physical Apple Stores on April 24th, 2015, and if you pre-order on the 10th your Apple Watch might arrive on the 24th too. I'll be pre-ordering on the 10th: Apple Watch Sport, 38mm case, white band.

And I'll be thinking of it as a super-portable computer/communication device that is always with me, literally no more than arms' length away, that adds value to the iPhone and (by the way) also tells the time.


Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help?

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You might also like my One-Minute Macman blog. It's very brief, comes out daily, and it's written by me.
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Secrets of the Mac OS Dock

Yosemite horizontal dock

We use the Dock all the time without thinking much about it. But, it turns out there are a lot of "Dock things" worth thinking about. The more you know the better you can use it. That goes for me too: while writing this article I learned some stuff myself.

Here are some "Dock things" I think you should know.

1. Move it around.

The Dock can be placed at the left edge of the screen, the right edge of the screen, or the bottom of the screen.

Dockpositions

You can go to System Preferences/Dock and position the Dock at left, bottom, or right, but it's more fun to do it by holding down the Shift key, clicking and holding on the little line (see picture), and dragging it to different locations on the screen. Yay.

Yosemite horizontal dock with arrow

2. Make it as big as you can.

Why squint at tiny icons when you can put off getting glasses by making the icons bigger? The Dock will make the icons as big as it can (or, as small as necessary), depending on how you adjust the Size in the Dock Preferences. Suggestion: make it "Large." Bonus: drag the little line-- same one as in the previous tip-- to resize the Dock. No need to go to System Preferences/Dock (although you can do it that way if you want to). When the Dock's at the bottom, drag the line left or right. When the Dock's positioned at the left or right side, you still drag the little line left or right. Sort of weird but it works.

3. Click and hold.

Oh, the things you'll discover if you click and hold on an icon in the Dock! Firstly, if you click and hold on the icon for an app that's running, you'll produce a little menu with "Quit" at the bottom.

Yosemite Quit

This is a nice way to quit things. If you have trouble quitting something (maybe the app has crashed) try holding the Option key. "Quit" becomes "Force Quit" and it will really pull the plug on the app. Do this only when you have to as it is rough on the app. (You may have to choose "Force Quit" twice if a program is really stuck.)

There's other great stuff in those menus. Slide to Options, then notice "Keep in Dock" (perfect for that app that is in the Dock sometimes, but disappears other times), "Open at Login" (which means the app will launch every time you turn on your Mac), and my favorite, "Show in Finder," very handy when you wonder where the real thing is (because the icons in the Dock are just remote-control triggers to the real things).

Yosemite Keep in Dock

4. Drag documents onto icons already in the Dock.

Why would you want to do that? Because when you do, the icon you're dropping onto is the app that will open your document. For example, let's say you have a PDF and it opens with that abomination "Adobe Reader" when you double-click. You'd rather open it with Apple's Preview. If Preview is in the Dock you can open your PDF in Preview by dragging the PDF to the Preview icon in the Dock and letting go.

Want to get fancier? Drag a file (picture, Word document, even a folder) onto the Mail icon in the Dock. That creates a new Mail message with your file(s) as the attachment(s).

The ultimate: drag things from Safari's Downloads menu straight to icons in the Dock, such as Mail or Preview.

5. Take a moment to have some fun.

When you click the yellow button in a window's top left corner the window minimizes itself into an icon in the Dock. If you hold the Control key down while you do it, the minimizing action is slightly slower. If you hold the Shift key down while you do it, the minimizing action is a LOT slower. And if you hold the Control key and the Shift key while clicking the yellow button, the minimizing action is incredibly slow. Impress your friend with your slow-motion Mac mastery!

slowmotionwindowminimize_smallertrim

Click and hold (again)-- this time, on a running app.

Some apps give you a menu with special options when you click and hold on their icons in the Dock. For example, Safari will show you every open window if you so choose. Here's how the menu looks...

Show all windows

and here's what happens if you choose "Show All Windows."

Show All Windows in Safari

Click on the window you want to look at and away you go. Rather handy.

6. Turn off Magnification

Magnification is the feature that makes the Dock icons bulge when you pass the mouse over them. Looks like this:

Bulgy Dock

It's nice to look at, but squirming icons are harder to click. You can turn off the squirming in the Dock's preference pane. I'd do it right away.

Super-Bonus tip that no one knows: if you've turned off magnification, but for some reason you want to turn it on again temporarily, hold down the Control and Shift keys while you move the mouse over the Dock. Presto: magnification is back on, but only as long as you keep the keys down. Wild.

One more thing: the Dock responds to single clicks. You don't have to (and shouldn't) click twice.

That's it. I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to tell a friend-- that's a big compliment and I would appreciate it very much.


Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help?

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