Welcome, visitors from the Ask Pat podcast!

Click here to join my mailing list!

The Boyce Blog is written and maintained by Mac, iPhone, and iPad consultant Christian Boyce.
The blog has one goal: to be

The best site for Mac, iPhone, and iPad tips, period.

Have a suggestion? Have a question? Email me. I mean it.
Or call: 424-354-3548.

Show iOS 8 posts. Show iPhone posts. Show iPad posts. Show Mac posts. Show all posts.

Book Review: Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson


I'll keep it short: Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs (titled, simply, "Steve Jobs") is disappointingly shallow. It reads like a high school history book, touching many topics, but going into depth on none. The book serves as a good introduction to Steve Jobs, but given the countless articles that have been in circulation for years, didn't we already know this stuff? The story of Jobs recruiting John Sculley, hiring him, changing his opinion of him, and eventually losing a power struggle with him, isn't anything new. Same with Apple buying NeXT, same with Jobs being "mercurial" and "difficult" and adopted, and a vegetarian. Oh, and he had pancreatic cancer. And he liked Bob Dylan a lot.

The main trouble with this book is that it doesn't dive deep. Isaacson relates story after story (told to Isaacson by those who knew and worked with Steve Jobs), but the stories are just who-what-when-where. No "why." It may turn out that Steve Jobs, despite his amazing contributions, may not have been all that deep, and that may explain why Isaacson doesn't try to explain "why," but I have a feeling there probably is quite a bit of depth to Jobs, and it would be interesting to read a biography of Steve Jobs written by someone who really knew him-- perhaps his wife Laurene Powell Jobs, or Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, or Apple's lead designer Jony Ive. (Interestingly, while I came away wanting to know more about Steve Jobs, I also came away wanting to know more about his wife, and Wozniak, and Ive, among many others. They are given cardboard-cutout treatment in Isaacson's book but appear to be among many fascinating people who are mentioned.)

The book shows signs of being rushed, which it probably was. The same people are introduced in multiple chapters, the same topics are covered in multiple chapters, and each time it's as if it's the first time. Taken on a chapter by chapter basis, there isn't a problem, but when you read the book straight through, the lack of careful editing is apparent.

Finally, there's a necessary technological slant to much of Steve Jobs' story, but Isaacson's impressive background doesn't include much tech. Thus, he tends to parrot technical prose verbatim, not realizing that sometimes it needs explaining. For example, when describing what NeXT's system could do, Isaacson writes: "It offered protected memory, advanced networking, and preemptive multitasking"-- and then moves on, as if the reader has any idea of what any of that means.

In the end, "Steve Jobs" is an easy read, partly due to Isaacson's skill, and partly because he tells the reader things he already knows, challenging the reader not at all. That's too bad. I'd hoped for more. Of course, this will not be the last book written about Steve Jobs, and with luck we'll soon get one written by someone who's able to reveal something new.

Those looking for additional info on Steve Jobs today would do well to visit www.allaboutstevejobs.com, a site I've just discovered but am enjoying immensely.

Still have questions? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.

Help me spread the reach of The Boyce Blog by sharing it with your friends. These buttons do all the work.

iPhone 4S: Siri


My iPhone 4S arrived and of course I had to start experimenting with Siri.

Here are some tips:
  1. You have to turn Siri on! Siri is initially switched off. Settings/General/Siri.
  2. Hold the Home button down until the iPhone beeps twice-- then start talking to Siri. You can also pick the iPhone up, hold it to your ear as if you were on a call, and listen for the two beeps. I like pressing the Home button better. (If, when you try to trigger Siri, you see "Voice Control" instead of the Siri microphone, Siri has not been turned on yet.)
  3. Teach Siri who your mother and father and sister and brother are. Simply say "Edward Boyce is my dad" or "Darlene Boyce is my mom" and from then on, you can say "Send an email to my dad" or "Call my mom at home" etc. Very handy.
On the left: Siri is off. On the right: Siri is on.

Here are some of the things that I asked Siri to do for me (and they worked):
  1. Check my email.
  2. Do I have any emails from Zach?
  3. Call Joe Smith at work.
  4. When is my next appointment?
  5. Show me my calendar.
  6. Make an appointment for Saturday, 4 PM: UCLA football game (puts it into the calendar)
  7. What time does Mom arrive? (I had a calendar item that said "Mom arrives" in my calendar)
  8. Show me directions to Union Station in Los Angeles (shows it on the map, with directions from current location)
  9. Remind me to buy tickets to the UCLA game (puts it into "Reminders" app)
  10. Wake me up at 6:30 (creates an alarm for 6:30 PM, which is not what I wanted)
  11. Cancel that (it cancels the alarm)
  12. Wake me up at 6:30 tomorrow
  13. Make a repeating alarm for 6:30 AM (perfect)
  14. Set a timer for 10 minutes
Turns out that there is a lot that Siri can't do-- not yet. It can't read your emails out loud to you, it can't launch applications for you, it can't go to a website directly (but it can search for it, and it will be the first item in the search results). I have a feeling that you'll eventually be able to do all of these things in time, but not now. For now, Siri's a little bit limited, but it's definitely good enough to use.

If you find a cool Siri feature, send me an email and let me know.

Still have questions? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.

Help me spread the reach of The Boyce Blog by sharing it with your friends. These buttons do all the work.

"He Cared the Most"

Apple's posted a video of the company's recent celebration of Steve Jobs' life. It's beautiful, and moving, and I recommend watching it all the way through. In it, Jony Ive (lead designer on Apple products including the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad) absolutely nails what made Steve Jobs so great.

Here are the essential four words: "He cared the most."

Here's the link.

Still have questions? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.

Help me spread the reach of The Boyce Blog by sharing it with your friends. These buttons do all the work.

Use Google to Search One Website


Right when you think you know everything, you learn something new. At least that's what happens to me. Yesterday, I learned how to restrict my Google searches to a particular site. This can be very handy when you know that you read something on the internet, and you are sure you know the name of the site, but you just can't find the article. The technique is also handy if you are wondering whether a particular website has covered a particular topic.

For example: let's say you're looking for an alternative to Quicken, because you're moving up to OS X Lion and you know that Quicken 2007 is not compatible with Lion. Let's say you hear somewhere that the website www.maclife.com did an article on the topic. You set out to look for it, using Google.

Here's what you get when you search for "alternatives to quicken maclife" using Google. It's not bad, but there is a lot of stuff here that isn't on www.maclife.com.

So now you try searching for "alternatives to quicken maclife.com" and while the results are better, they aren't restricted to articles on www.maclife.com. And maclife.com articles are all you're looking for this time.

Turns out there's a way to do what you want. What you do is put "site:" in front of the site you want to search.

Like this: alternatives to quicken site:maclife.com. You can put in www if you want. But you don't have to.

Works like a charm. Try it.

Still have questions? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.

Help me spread the reach of The Boyce Blog by sharing it with your friends. These buttons do all the work.

First Look: iOS 5


Apple released iOS 5 October 12th, 2011 and I installed it here on an iPhone 4 and an iPad 2 right away. It works great on both. You can read quite a bit about the new features on Apple's site. Here, I'll point out some key features that are especially important.

Let's take it from left to right in the picture above (Apple's own graphic, showing us what THEY think is important).


Notifications.
The new Notification Center is not a typical app in that you don't launch it by touching an icon. Instead, you swipe down from the top of any screen, and a whole bunch of notifications appear. In addition to Mail, Calendar, and SMS, you can show notifications for a bunch of built-in Apple apps (Stocks, Weather, Phone, Reminders) and also a ton of 3rd-party apps (too many to list). Anything that put an alert message up on the screen in previous versions of iOS now is handled by the Notification Center. It takes some setting up (Settings/Notifications) but it's worth the initial trouble. I have the Notification Center showing alerts from the Weather, Stocks, Phone, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, Southwest Airlines, and Mail. Super-handy to have them all in one place. If a notification pops up while your iPhone or iPad is locked (black screen) you can unlock the device and go straight to the notification all in one swipe. It's pretty neat.

Interesting Tidbit: the weather notification bar shows the local weather. Tap it to go straight to the Weather app.


Messages.
Messages sent to another device running iOS 5 don't cost anything. That's cool. So, if you can talk your friends and family into getting iPhones running iOS 5, you can save a few bucks by not paying your cellular carrier $20 for unlimited texting. I'm sure that they'll find a way to get those $20 from you anyway. Maybe they'll start charging $5 a month if you actually use the phone to make a phone call, borrowing Bank of America's technique of charging extra for when you actually use the service you're paying for.

Messages can be sent back and forth to anyone with an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, even if they don't have a phone contract. That's cool too. So, if your kids have iPod Touches, and there's a wireless network they can connect to, and they want to send messages (which can be text or pictures or videos), they'll be able to do it, for free, with iOS 5. Of course you can continue to send and receive messages with non-iOS people. Apple makes it easy to tell whether you're using your cellular carrier's messaging or Apple's own free messaging-- cellular carrier messages are green, and Apple's groovy new free ones are blue. You can send a message to a group of people all at once, and you can tell when someone's read your message. All in all, pretty handy stuff.

Interesting Tidbit: iOS 5 lets you create "typing shortcuts" and those really come in handy when texting (though they work anywhere you enter text, such as in Mail). For example, I made a shortcut that is the letters "cb." When I type "cb", the iPhone expands it to "Christian Boyce." How nifty. I made another that is "ty" (expands to "thank you"), and another that is "gbs" (expands to "Go Bears!", handy when texting Mom, or Spencer the Nephew).


Newsstand.
Yawn. This one is not such a breakthrough. What it does is group your various newspaper and magazine subscriptions into a little bookshelf, a lot like the iBooks app. However, Newsstand is not even an app. It's a special folder, with one special button: a "store" button that takes you to a special "Newsstand" section in the App Store. Yay.

Interesting Tidbit: none.


Reminders.
This is really neat. At first it looks like simple to-do list. On an iPad, that's about what it is. You can put in as many as 1,000 reminders, and if you want a little message to show up on your iPhone reminding you to do something at a certain time and date, Reminders is just what you need.

When you run Reminders on an iPhone or an iPhone 4S, it gets more interesting, because on those devices you can set something called a "location reminder." These reminders get triggered when you're either arriving at, or leaving, a specified location. Locations can be where you are currently, or any address in your Contacts list. (This is another reason to maintain a really good and complete Contacts list.) It leads to a whole new way of thinking about your to-do list: now you can be reminded to get bird seed when you arrive at the hardware store, or to order a pizza when you leave work. It is also possible, by the way, so set reminders that have a date and a time AND a location. Maybe you only want to order a pizza when you leave work on Friday, for example.

Interesting Tidbit: the whole thing.


Twitter.
Well now. I guess that Apple's thinking that Twitter is here to stay because Twitter is integrated into iOS 5, in a big way. (I have a feeling that if they could have made the proper deal, I might have been writing about Facebook integration too. But no.) Sign into Twitter in the Settings on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. You can "tweet" photos, web pages, maps, and videos, and you don't have to go to the Twitter app to do it. You'll find the option to share via Twitter in other apps (Camera, Photos, Safari, Maps, and YouTube) when you click the "Action" button (used to be called the Share button). Look for it. But don't use it too often. The world's noisy enough already.

Interesting Tidbit: if you click the Update Contacts button in the Twitter settings, the iPhone will look up the Twitter usernames of the people in your Contacts app and put those usernames, and photos if available, into your Contacts. Allegedly. It has not worked for me yet.

Camera.
Camera, you're wondering? Haven't we had a camera all along? How can iOS 5 improve the camera, you're wondering? Well, yes, we've had a camera all along. But now it's easier to take pictures, and easier to take better pictures. For example... there's an optional grid that you can display, for you Rule of Thirds people. High Dynamic Range (HDR) is easier to turn on and off than before. You can get to the camera in a jiffy when the phone is locked (double-click the Home button, and then touch the little camera icon). And, you can turn the phone sideways and use the Volume + button to take a picture, which makes it feel a lot like a real camera. You'll have to try it to appreciate it. I like it a lot.

Interesting Tidbit: you can do a little bit of editing (cropping, rotating, "instant enhancing," and red-eye reduction) right in the Camera app. Just touch the Edit button at top right when you're looking at a photo you just took. Controls show up across the bottom. Sort of handy.

Odds and Ends That I've Come Across So Far
  • The Calendar app is better on the iPhone and on the iPad. Turn the iPhone sideways to see a week view. Turn the iPad sideways to see a year view. Turn pages on the iPad's calendar as you would with a book (swipe).
  • The Contacts app is better on the iPad. You can easily tell that you're in Edit mode, so it's harder to make mistakes and mess things up.
  • The Maps app is better on the iPhone and on the iPad. First, the routes "to here" and "from here" are nicer to look at. Second, they give you alternate routes and you can choose one by tapping it. Easy as pie.
  • You can assign custom sounds to just about everything-- incoming texts from certain people, phone calls from certain people, notifications from certain apps, etc. You can also create your own vibration patterns (Settings/Sounds/Vibration Patterns/Vibration).

Still have questions? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.

Help me spread the reach of The Boyce Blog by sharing it with your friends. These buttons do all the work.

Some Thoughts on Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs is dead, and the tributes are everywhere. I've read as many of these tributes as I could and at the end of this article are links to some of the best. I've especially enjoyed reading personal recollections from people who knew him, though I'm not sure that I've seen any from anyone who claimed to know him well.

I never met Steve Jobs. I thought that someday I might, but I never did. Yet, twenty-five years as a full-time Macintosh consultant connect me to Apple and Jobs in a way that most people haven't experienced, and that gives me a perspective on Steve Jobs that is a little different from most. I hope my thoughts on Steve Jobs add a little something to your overall picture of the man.

I have a couple of stories. As Steve Jobs said in his commencement speech at Stanford, you can only connect the dots looking backward.

Dot #1: When I first met Mac.
In 1985 I was a graduate student at the University of Texas. As an engineering student I knew something of computers but I wasn't interested in them. I had a bunch of other interests, including my schooling, and if a computer could help me with them, great. Otherwise, no thanks. I was not what you'd call a computer geek.

My academic department at Texas had a small computer lab that I could use, and in it were three IBM PCs and three Macintoshes. The IBMs had the computer on the bottom, and a monitor on the top. With the IBM, word processing (a new term to me) meant seeing my document in green letters on a black background, and some codes to signify bold and italic.

Original IBM PC

Printing went to a dot-matrix machine and was an adventure since what came out of the printer didn't look much like what showed on the screen. There was a bit of a learning curve before you could do anything with the computer at all. In short, the IBM PC looked like something that was going to make my life harder (at least at first). Not what I was hoping for.

The Macs were of one piece, friendly little machines where word processing meant black letters on a white background-- same as in "real life" with a typewriter. On the Mac, if you made a word bold it showed bold right on the screen. And it had a mouse, which to my way of thinking was a million times easier than using arrow keys on the keyboard. (Pythagoras knew what he was doing when he proved that it's shorter to go diagonally, which you can do with a mouse, than to go over and up, which is what you have to do with arrow keys.)

Printing was essentially an exact match to what you saw on the screen. "It's like electric paper," I thought. I could use it right away. And so I did, using MacWrite and later Microsoft Word (version 1.05) and Excel (version 1.0) to produce great stuff for my graduate school classes (and some rather fancy letters to those back home).

Original Mac.


Close-up of original Mac screen, showing the word processor "MacWrite"

To me, the IBM PC made MORE work for me. The Mac helped me do the work I already had on my plate, and it helped me to do it faster, and better, and neater. At the time, Apple called the Macintosh "The computer for the rest of us" but to me it felt as if they'd made it just for me-- a smart guy who wanted some help getting stuff done. I had this image of the Mac's designers having people like me in mind as the user of their computers, hoping that the user would understand what they were trying to provide. I felt like telling them "I get it! I totally get it!" to let them know they'd succeeded. At the time, I didn't know that I should be thanking Steve Jobs-- I just thanked the Mac's design team-- but of course Steve Jobs was the leader of the Macintosh group, so looking back it's clear that "Dot #1" was made in that computer lab at Texas.

Dot #2: The start of something big.
After grad school I took employment as a rocket scientist (really) in Southern California. One evening I attended a meeting of the Los Angeles Macintosh Group, a "Macintosh club" that brought Mac users together for social and educational purposes. The speaker onstage-- a Microsoft representative-- was showing how to make calculations and charts with Excel. The guy sitting next to me jabbed me with his elbow and said "I could run my whole business with that program! Do you know how to use it?" I did know how to use it, and as I was used to helping fellow Mac Group members, I told the fellow I'd be glad to show him how to use it too. He asked "How much would you charge for that?" and I told him something like "You have to be kidding, this is a computer club, we help each other, each one teach one," something like that. He looked at me as if I was nuts and said "You're not from around here, are you. Around here, no one gives anything away." I said OK, gave him a three-hour lesson the next Saturday, came home with $60 and my eyes doing the cash-register thing like in the cartoons. A business was born. Four years later Macintosh consulting became my full-time business. Incredibly, I was being paid to do stuff I would have done for free. Thank you, Apple, and by extension thank you Mr. Jobs.

Dot #3: MacWorld San Francisco, January 1997.
The story of Steve Jobs hiring John Sculley to run Apple, his subsequent disagreements with Sculley over the direction of the company, and his eventual ouster from Apple is well known. The company was able to move along without Jobs but failed to continue to innovate, and by 1996 the rest of the world had more or less caught up to Apple. Apple's Macintosh used an operating system that was very crash-prone and Apple's management had spent years trying to create a new, "modern" operating system that was better. Each attempt was abandoned (I personally know of three). With time and money running out, Apple decided to buy an operating system from someone else. "Someone else" turned out to be NeXT, the company that Steve Jobs started after leaving Apple. But Apple didn't just buy NeXT's operating system-- they bought the whole company. Including the people. And that meant, of course, that Steve Jobs was coming back.

The deal was made in late 1996 but there wasn't a lot of fanfare. A few weeks later, in January 1997, Apple's then-CEO Gil Amelio gave the keynote speech at MacWorld Expo San Francisco. I and two friends had snuck into the invitation-only event, possibly by walking backward into the exit so the guards would think we were leaving (a trick I learned from my father). The keynote was long, dry, and dull-- nothing like the ones Steve Jobs would give in years to come. The crowd was super-restless. Then, finally, out of the blue, Amelio said something like "And now I'd like to bring out Steve Jobs." Jobs walked onto the stage and in an instant the place went wild, several minutes of standing ovations that came in waves-- as it started to die out it would start up again, over and over, as Jobs stood on stage and beamed. Eventually, Jobs was able to get us to stop. As I recall, he said simply "Thank you. I look forward to helping to bring Apple back." But that was enough. Suddenly, for Mac fans, there was hope. Steve Jobs was back. Everything would be OK.

(This was particularly good news for me. Under the rudderless leadership of the CEOs who'd run Apple in Jobs' absence, the company had nearly gone bust. (Michael Dell famously suggested that the best thing to with Apple would be to dissolve the company and give the money to the shareholders.) Those of us who understood the specialness of the Mac, the ones who "got it", were irritated, saddened, frustrated-- even angry-- that that the people running Apple didn't get it. With my livelihood dependent on Apple, I was directly affected by "the lost years," more than most. Now, with Jobs on board (as a "special advisor"), we could throw "rudderless" out the window. Jobs didn't just "get it." He invented it.)

I slept better after that. And so, I call that "a dot."

Dot #4: The times, they are a-changin'.
It wasn't long before Jobs went from special advisor to "iCEO" (the "i" stood for "interim"). He put his own guys (from NeXT) into key management positions, making me wonder whether it was actually NeXT who bought Apple (with Apple's money). And little by little, under Jobs' leadership, Apple began to come back. I'm not sure when you could say that Apple was all the way back, but let's just say the progress was steady-- and relentless. The new operating system (OS X) was a success. The iMac was a breakthrough machine, completely different from anything we'd seen before. The iPod, which many of us didn't appreciate at first, turned out to be a game-changer. Apple was starting to roll. But something didn't seem to fit, and that something was Jobs' salary.

Jobs was taking $1/year in salary from Apple. I spent a lot of time wondering about that. I knew that he received other benefits, including an airplane, but if a guy is working for $1/year, he's obviously not doing it for the money. Maybe he had something to prove, that he'd been right about the Mac all along, and that under his guidance it would not have turned into a niche player. But maybe it was something else. Looking back, I'm sure it was something else. I think Jobs wanted to give the world "technology done right," technology that empowered people to do great things. I think Jobs thought he could still do that. Being the "iCEO" of Apple provided Jobs the resources to change the world, resources he couldn't get otherwise. And man, did he ever take advantage.

In 1985, Jobs said this about the personal computer market:

"...it really is coming down to just Apple and IBM. If, for some reason, we make some giant mistakes and IBM wins, my personal feeling is that we are going to enter sort of a computer Dark Ages for about 20 years. Once IBM gains control of a market sector, they almost always stop innovation. They prevent innovation from happening."


I came across the quote a few months ago, when Jobs stepped down as Apple's CEO. Turns out he was right about those computer Dark Ages. Apple did make some giant mistakes, IBM did win, and the IBM PCs and their accompanying Microsoft Windows software completely dominated the computer business from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s. Many, many people had to endure a demonstrably second-rate user experience every single time they used a computer. Long before Jobs came back to Apple the battle with IBM (and the clones, and Microsoft's Windows) had been lost. A lot of people thought Apple should keep fighting, but Jobs saw that as a waste of time and resources, and instead took the best thing Apple had going-- the Mac-- and rode that as far as he could, looking to make a difference later, with another product, as soon as they figured out what that would be. In a sense, the original iMac and all of its subsequent iterations were buying time for Apple and Jobs to come up with the Next Big Thing, and man, did they hit it out of the park. What they came up with, of course was the iPhone. Talk about "technology done right."

Dot #5: The iPhone.
Watch the iPhone introduction, remembering that there'd been no mention of an Apple phone before its introduction, no rumors, no nothing. Listen to Jobs say "This is a day I've been looking forward to for two and a half years" and realize that hey, this stuff doesn't happen overnight. Listen to him talk about how lucky one is to be able to do even a little bit of important work in a career. And then try to remember what you thought when the iPhone was announced. I know what I thought: very cool, but who needs another cell phone, and especially who needs one that costs $500 and runs only on AT&T? It would be fair to say I didn't "get it"-- but I bought one anyway, because I knew my customers would be asking me for help with theirs. And as soon as I got it, I "got it."

The iPhone, as everyone knows, was an immediate hit. Turns out that a lot of us agreed with Jobs' assertion that "smart phones" weren't all that smart, and they weren't so easy to use. My iPhone became a constant companion, allowing me to get email on the go, to take pictures and send them to friends, to check in for an airplane from the front seat of my (parked) car. I used my iPhone to plot a route from Appointment A to Appointment B and I used it as an alarm clock. All of this was easy stuff, in stark contrast to my existing Samsung phone which could do a lot of the above but only if I had the manual open. (I used to wonder whether the Samsung guys ever actually used the stuff they designed. I don't think they did.)

Looking back, the iPhone is a "dot" for me. It made it plain that Steve Jobs was all about technology done right. In terms of usability, the iPhone was so far ahead of every other phone that it made it look as if "the other guys" made their design decisions based on economics rather than on any real thinking. With Jobs, the attitude seemed to be "think it out, do it right, and the economics will follow." With the other guys, it seemed to be, "we have a lot of keyboards left over from our current smart phones, so let's design our new phones around those keyboards."

I think that the iPhone saved us all from 20 years of a horrid user experience with so-called "smart phones" from Palm and Blackberry and Nokia. Once again, I'm grateful to Steve.

Dot #6: The Dream.
I've been studying iPhone programming for a couple of years. Usually my studying's done at night-- not because I'm all that smart at night but because I am busy providing Mac and iPhone (and iPad) support during the day so nighttime is all the free time I have. And with iPhone programming being the last thing I do most nights, sometimes it sneaks into my dreams.

A few months ago, I had a dream about the iPhone. I'd come up with a revolutionary idea and the idea was so good, I contacted Apple about it. Someone at Apple thought it was good too, and they arranged to have me come to Apple's headquarters and explain it. In the dream, I arrived at Apple was about to start discussing my idea with a couple of Apple employees, when much to my surprise, Steve Jobs walked into the room. Jobs looked at me and said, "I hear you have a great idea. You have two minutes, tell me all about it."

I froze.

For two minutes I tried to remember my great idea but I couldn't. I tried and tried. I felt like those people on TV game shows who don't know the answer to the question, so they slowly repeat the question ("The longest river in Argentina is... ") hoping that saying it out loud will build up "momentum" and the answer will automatically follow. It didn't work for me either. Jobs left. I went home.

Not a happy dot, but a dot nonetheless. It reminds me to be ready. Some chances you don't get twice.

Connecting the Dots
When you connect the dots, you sometimes get a picture. Here's the picture I get of Steve Jobs: he wanted to change the world, he knew he could do it-- and he did it. Yes, he turned out to be a great businessman, but think about how that happened: he insisted that Apple make great stuff, and what do you know, focussing on making great stuff was exactly the right thing to do. And think about why he insisted on making great stuff. It wasn't about the money-- he had plenty. It wasn't about the fame-- by all accounts, he didn't want fame. Truly, I believe that Steve Jobs cared enough about his fellow humans that he dedicated himself to providing "insanely great" devices that helped people with the tasks they had, and enabled them to do things they'd never dreamt of. The alternatives are all around us-- clunky, awkward devices whose manufacturers wasted the chance to do it right. With Apple's devices, the devices themselves fade into the background, so the user thinks only of the task. With an Apple product, you don't think about "operating a computer" or "operating a phone"-- instead, you think about writing your Master's Thesis or taking a picture at the beach and emailing it to your Mom. That's the way it should be. And that's what happens when you care enough to do it right. With Jobs at the helm, everyone at Apple cared enough to do it right (or found a new place to work). It will be interesting to see what happens moving forward.

It's odd to be so moved by the death of someone I never met, even though I sometimes jokingly referred to him as "Uncle Steve." Maybe it's because I know my life would be very different if not for him. More likely it's because I know that all of our lives would be very different if not for him. No matter the reason, I keep coming back to that $1/year, and what Steve Jobs did, and why.

My favorite Steve Jobs links
Playboy Interview, February 1985. Long, meaty interview with Steve Jobs, at the time head of Apple. Fantastic reading. Three months after this interview was published, Jobs was out of Apple, fired from the company he started.

MacWorld Expo Boston, Summer 1997 Keynote Speech. Jobs is back with Apple, thanks to Apple's acquisition of NeXT. Gil Amelio (the Apple CEO who oversaw the acquisition) is out, and Apple is operating without an official CEO. In his first big public speech since his return, Jobs outlines his plans for bringing a reeling Apple back to health. He is particularly gracious in giving thanks to the outgoing Board members for working hard under difficult circumstances. Watch and listen as Jobs alludes to "the crazy ones" that Apple makes computers for (soon to be the theme of some very memorable ads). Great stuff throughout.

Stanford Commencement Address, 2005. Twenty-two minute video (counting the introduction by Stanford's President John Hennessy). Jobs' pancreatic cancer had been diagnosed the previous year, and the perspective it gave him is evident throughout the speech. Highly recommended.

Original iPhone introduction, MacWorld Expo 2007. "This is a day I've been looking forward to for two and a half years." Steve Jobs at his very best. Part 1 here. Part 2 here.

Signatures of the original Mac team, inside the case, where almost no one would ever see them

Super article by John Lilly, titled simply Steve Jobs.

Great article by MG Siegler: Here's To The Crazy One.

UPDATE: I had two "Dot #4"s. Discovered by Mom (a math major). Fixed.

Still have questions? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.

Help me spread the reach of The Boyce Blog by sharing it with your friends. These buttons do all the work.

iPhone 4S Introduction

In case you spent the day in a cave, let me tell you about the new iPhone that Apple introduced today. They call it "the iPhone 4S". You could call it a disappointment because it's not an "iPhone 5," whatever that was imagined to be, but it would be better to call it a refined and polished iPhone 4. Apple similarly refined and polished the iPhone 3G to make the 3GS, and that worked out very well indeed. Let's hope it turns out as well this time.

(Watch the keynote video. Watch more about the iPhone 4S here.)

They're keeping the iPhone 4 around in a minimal configuration of 8 GB, for $99 with a two-year contract. Spend another $100 and you get a 16 GB iPhone 4S. To me it's a no-brainer: for $100 more, get the 4S. In addition to double the storage, you get a faster chip (so everything is snappier), a better camera, a lot of invisible-but-important improvements, and maybe best of all, "Siri."

Now you're probably wondering what (or who) Siri is. Siri is software that lets you control your iPhone by voice, a feature that's been around a little while, but not to this extent. Previously, voice control was limited to "Call Christian Boyce" or "Play Music." With Siri, you can do a lot more, and you can speak to Siri in a fairly natural way, like so: "Set up an appointment with Christian Boyce on Friday." It takes an enormous amount of processing power to do voice recognition properly, power that's available only in the iPhone 4S. If you don't have an iPhone 4S, you don't have Siri. Sounds like a commercial.

Watch this video for a brief intro to Siri.

The iPhone 4S comes in black and white and looks nearly identical to the iPhone 4. I don't know if we'll be able to use our existing iPhone 4 cases but I do hope so-- I just got a good deal on a glow-in-the-dark iPhone 4 case from Marware. You can get the 4S in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB models, and you don't have to worry about buying "the Verizon one" or "the ATT one" because this time, one phone does it all. Apple's calling the iPhone 4S a "world phone" which means that the exact same phone can be used with a lot of different networks. You'll still have to choose a network, same as now, but if you decide to change carriers down the road you won't have to buy a new phone. By the way, the iPhone 4S works on the Sprint network too. I think the word "finally" is in order.

And now you're probably wondering when you can get one. The answer is "soon." You can order one online starting October 7th, for delivery "starting October 14th." Or, you can take your chances at an Apple Store in person, starting at 8 AM October 14th. Here's a good page on Apple's website telling you what you should bring with you when you come in to buy an iPhone 4S. It also has a "check your eligibility" thingy that lets you see whether your existing wireless plan qualifies you for an iPhone 4S at the lowest price.

I think the iPhone 4S is going to be a great phone, and a big hit.

Personal note: there was no mention of Steve Jobs in today's announcement, and the keynote was duller than dull. In a way, that's good: the iPhone 4S had to impress us on its merits alone, not with help from the famous Steve Jobs "reality distortion field." I'm not so sure that Apple won't scale back these product introductions a little further yet, because without Steve Jobs delivering the news these things just aren't as much fun.

UPDATE: it appears the management team presenting the iPhone 4S knew, before the presentation, that Steve Jobs was down to his last hours. No wonder they were a little down.

CORRECTION: Even though Apple's iPhone 4S can run on Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint (and other networks), if you're planning to run it on a CDMA network (Verizon, Sprint), you have to specify that when you buy it. This doesn't make a lot of difference to most people because you buy the phone with a two-year contract with a particular carrier. But, it does make the statement above, "if you decide to change carriers down the road you won't have to buy a new phone", pretty much incorrect. Just order an iPhone 4S already and pick the network you like, please.

Still have questions? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.

Help me spread the reach of The Boyce Blog by sharing it with your friends. These buttons do all the work.
Click here to join my mailing list! You'll be notified every time I post something new.