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My own encounter with Steve Jobs

On October 5, 2011, in Apple, by Brian Huberd

I don’t often tell this story, mainly because I don’t necessarily believe it to be true. So if you have your misgivings and doubts, I wouldn’t blame you, I have them myself. But here is my story of my encounter (if you could really call it that) with Steve Jobs:

It was in 1987 and I was working in a computer software store in a mall in Eugene, Oregon. One morning I was busy working on laying out and printing up the store’s sale flyer on our Mac Plus that we had. This was back in the day before everything in a retail store was controlled from the top down by corporate of course and we had a little bit of leeway in in store promotions, etc. Naturally I was hunched over the keyboard and mouse, sweating the details and nudging everything on screen to pixel perfect positioning. Or as best as could be with a 72 dpi screen. Still, I think for the time and technology everything looked pretty sharp.

When I was done and was getting the printout of my work the store manager rushed over and grabbed my arm and went “Do you know who was standing behind you?!”

“No,” I repled, and before we go any further, this was at a time well before I really caught the Apple fever.

“Steve Jobs!”

“Sure it was, Sandy, sure…”

I had my doubts. I still do. But she swore it was him, and she had just finished reading “The Journey is the Reward” by Jeffrey S. Young, the first of the unauthorized Steve Jobs biographies and knew what Jobs looked like. It was also at a time right after Jobs and Apple parted company and after the founding of NeXT. At this time Jobs was apparently touring the country and going from college to college to see what an institute of higher learning would want and need out of a desktop computer system. So it’s possible, however unlikely to me, that he very well may have come to Eugene to visit the University of Oregon.

If we take what was told to me to be true, Steve Jobs stood and watched me work meticulously for several minutes as I was lost in my own world of getting it right and doing the best job that I could with the best tools that I had available to me to do it.

If we take was was told to me to be true, it also can mean that I ignored Steve Jobs standing behind me while I was off in la-la land working on flyers and not paying attention to my surroundings. Whoops. I can only hope that while I was working and my manager was up in the front of the store with me that she asked him if he needed any help.

Thank you for everything, Steve. We already miss you.

ZOMG!!!!1111!!! Verizon iPhone!!111!!1111!!!!!!!

On January 14, 2011, in Apple, iPhone, by Brian Huberd

So life as we know it was changed forever on the morning of the January 11, 2011. Verizon and Apple announced a CDMA specific version of the iPhone 4 hardware that will work on the Verizon network. AT&T decided that instead of working to improve their network in light of new competition decided to instead provide a little snark for the proceedings. Why shouldn’t they? They’ve got the bulk of the iPhone customer base in the United States (for now), a faster 3G network (for now) and they have those existing iPhone 4 customers locked into their network for at least another year and a half due to their shockingly high contract termination fee.

Apparently, AT&T feels that the iPhone has hit a saturation point in the US and that existing AT&T iPhone customers who HAVEN’T renewed their contracts (say…original iPhone, iPhone 3g an iPhone 3gs customers for example) are happy with where they are. They very well may be too – unless they live in New York, San Francisco or any other major metropolitan area where AT&T’s service is horrific on a good day compared to Verizon’s level of service.

Thus the comment from AT&T that essentially said that Verizon iPhone customers had better enjoy life in the slow lane. This is due to the very real fact that on the Verizon 3G network, in contrast to AT&T when you take a call on your smartphone (iPhone, Android, etc) you are not able to access your data connection. Point to AT&T on this valid concern. That said, I think many iPhone customers in these affected markets would just like to take and complete a successful call every once in a while. They’ll be able to do this on the Verizon network. Point to Verizon. Also, a very good guess is that the next iPhone will be a LTE phone for 4G networks and Verizon is working like mad to build up theirs now so they will be ready for the faster speeds it will bring, and back with it being able to use the data connection while taking a call. Plus, on the Verizon version of the iPhone you’ll be able to use the phone as a WiFi hotspot for up to 5 devices.

Until a call comes in…

I know people who have iPhones on AT&T and are on a month to month billing and will bolt over to Verizon so fast when it goes on sale on February 10th that you will hear a sonic boom. AT&T I hope had better be preparing for an attrition rate that is unheard of in the industry. If not, their head is in the sand deeper than anyone realizes. No wonder they are getting worst carrier in the nation reviews. Maybe one day they will realize that they need to compete to stay in business…

Tomorrow is WWDC…

On June 6, 2010, in Apple, by Brian Huberd

…and boy do I have a lot on my mind before the keynote. So bear with me.

First, let’s talk data plans…AT&T…

For the iPhone: They’ve changed the plans to $15 for 200 meg and $25 for 2 gig. That’s GREAT! I love it! I hardly use more than 200 meg per month, so I can go ahead and switch my plan to that $15 plan and save money. AWESOME!

Except that with the release of iPhone OS 4.0 due this month that Apple is introducing multitasking which will be great for streaming apps to run in the background like, say, Pandora. That’d snap that 200 meg in two like a twig and probably eye the 2 gig data cap with hungry eyes.

Fortunately, those with 3g and 3gs iPhones can grandfather their plan into their iPhone upgrade when they renew their contract and keep their unlimited $30/month data plan. But only if they renew.

Oh, and don’t forget, AT&T doubled their early-termination-fee to well over $300 too!

So instead of working tirelessly to upgrade their network into a first-class cellular network, they’re working tirelessly to make sure their new and existing customers are locked in for at least another couple years. Not that the significant impact to AT&T’s network once people decide to pull down all sorts of streaming information, and the potential for video chats now that we all but know officially of the front facing camera, plus rumors of a Verizon-based iPhone coming out later in the year are making them sweat it out a bit. Who cares about customer satisfaction when you’re going to vacuum up their money anyway?

For the iPad…

If it wasn’t clear enough from the above – SCREW YOU AT&T! Really? Only a couple months of this “amazing price” for unlimited data? Oh, you can grandfather in your existing unlimited plans if you activate before…tomorrow (June 7th), and apparently continue to renew. So if you don’t need unlimited every month and drop the plan, well…you’re up a creek, because once you cancel, you ain’t gettin’ it back. The best you can hope for is again the two gig plan. This may work for some…but don’t count on any heavy duty Netflix streaming unless you can hook up to a wifi hotspot…

Don’t forget the backgrounding that’ll be going on with the iPad as well once the 4.0 software is available for the iPad in the fall. Just a word to the wise to pay attention to what and how much you’re streaming.

Now let’s talk about WWDC stuff.

Clearly the new iPhone will be announced for all to see, no thanks to the losers at Gizmodo (where responsible journalism is just a phrase they’ve heard once…never when someone was describing them). We’ll also probably see a final release date of the 4.0 iPhone software as well for the 3g and 3gs users. Apparently Mac OS X 10.6.4 will be released as well, but I’m sure there will be a new iTunes to work with the new iPhone hardware and software. Maybe some new features, but at least compatibility updates can be expected.

The other big rumor is Safari 5.0′s release. What’s supposed to be cool is that Apple will officially have some sort of real plug-in API like Firefox so you can do Firefox-type add-ons. If so, I’ll switch back to Safari from Firefox. Not that I don’t like Firefox, or really am particularly religious about a web browser, but…that weird Firefox/performance/memory leak issue really is getting old (on every platform), and Firefox isn’t a native Mac OS X application – so (for example) if I right click on a word for spell checking, it isn’t using the Mac OS X dictionary, but the included Firefox dictionary. Why double up the effort? Why not get Firefox as a full, native Coca application?

Yes, I know of Camino, and it’s Firefox’s Gecko rendering engine in the Coca shell to make it a full native application. However, it doesn’t use the Firefox plugins. Which is the appeal of Firefox. To me at least.

No easy answers…but if I can get the suite of Firefox plug ins that I personally use ported over to Safari, I’d be a happy camper.

Oh, and Apple…if you’re trying to show off how HTML 5 is better than a proprietary plug in, don’t lock that page that shows off these great features of HTML 5 into working with your own browser only. I suspect that Safari isn’t the only browser that works with HTML 5 right now. Call it a hunch. If you must, do your usual Apple-y talk of how HTML 5 is great, and now HTML 5 is even better on Safari since it’s sooooo compliant so if something breaks in IE 8 or Chrome people will be warned and will at least be able to check it out with their browser of choice. Just a suggestion…

Yeah, Jobs…it sure is just a hobby, isn’t it?

On November 8, 2009, in Apple, Apple TV, Steve Jobs, by Brian Huberd

So, I updated to version 3.0 3.0.1 (Oh, hey, yeah…could you update one more time, please?) of the AppleTV software for their self-described hobby project/media center device. I do love the end to end, just barely skirting this side of an antitrust lawsuit, seamless integration that the Apple experience provides the end user. It just works, it really does. Before the 3.0 3.0.1 (No, seriously, you’re going to want to update now – we released over the weekend even) software was released however, the AppleTV seemed to lack the polish that the other Apple products had like iTunes, the iPod, etc. The menu system and layout on the AppleTV seemed like it was there as a placeholder, ready to be swapped out at any time for the final, finished product. Functional, but it sure wasn’t much to look at.

With 3.0 3.0.1 (I’m not kidding, it’s in your own best interest to re-update), that’s changed quite a bit. Somewhat. When you first start up the system with the new software, the main menu now has the start of the high polished, Apple-style experience. Fairly logical left to right menus with the items to select in each menu appearing below when you move from section to section. Above the menu is a context-sensitive display of unplayed movies, TV episodes, podcasts, etc. at the top left and along the top right are the most popular or new from each appropriate category from the iTunes store. All with a little Cover Flow love where applicable. All very nice, all very respectable. Until you select one of those menu items and drill down to choose some media to play. Then it all falls apart. After you do something like say get to a list of your TV shows to watch, it turns into the same old menu sorting like in the previous version of the software. The same thought and touches didn’t get to this level for the user to appreciate, and it’s not like the menu system in use is the end-all, be-all. They could have put in a similar cover flow selection style for the sub-menus, and they may indeed try something like this in a future release, but it would have been nice to see a fully-finished product in 3.0 3.0.1 (Oh, in the name of all that is holy PLEASE DO THIS NOW AND UPDATE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!)  and not a wonderful little tease of what it could be once the software is completely revamped. It’s moving in the right direction, I guess I just want it to move a little faster.

January 24th, 1984…

On January 24, 2009, in Apple, Macintosh, iPhone, by Brian Huberd

It was 25 years ago today that the original Macintosh 128 was released to the public. What a wild ride it’s been since then.


My original Mac 128k and iPhone 3g

My original Mac 128k and iPhone 3g

And here’s what started it all…

Another Macworld packs it in…

On January 10, 2009, in Apple, Macintosh, by Brian Huberd

So Macworld 2009 is officially gone and done and with nary a blip on the cultural radar. Not due to indifference from the public, in fact, just the opposite. The public expects at times a miracle every year at the keynote speech. Apple just didn’t have much to discuss this one last time that they gave the keynote. It’s nobody’s fault. Not Steve Jobs‘ for not showing up for heath reasons that he discusses reluctantly (and right so), and gets itself a translation from plain, polite talk to the more blunt message that I suspect Jobs could have given. While I agree in the letter of both, hopefully Steve knows that if we didn’t care, there wouldn’t have been the chatter.

Mind you, that doesn’t excuse those who were trying to twist it around and make things seem worse than they were.

The Phil Schiller Show that we got instead wasn’t terrible. Watching it, if you were an experienced Apple watcher, you could mentally smooth out Phil’s nerves, add a dash of hyperbole, flip some other words and phrases around and you could see how Steve would have done it instead. But for someone who’s usually Ed McMahon to Jobs’ black turtlenecked Johnny Carson, he did a great job and he’s a very likable personality. I wouldn’t mind seeing Phil do more of these myself.

Keynote highlights were basically a new version of iLife with a version of iPhoto that made me want the whole package right there and then. The facial recognition and geotagging options look great. The new version of iMovie 09 also seems to go a long way towards explaining the rather abrupt change in the product that was made in the previous version and brought howls of frustration from the user base. Garageband music lessons also seem pretty slick with the high profile musicians giving lessons for specific songs along with the basic instrument lessons provided. Still, this app is going to be my ringtone converter for my iPhone for the foreseeable future.

I’m not terribly interested in the option in iWork 09, but that’s mainly because I am not interested in the whole collaborative document option. It does look impressive and we’ll see what the final cost is for using that service. If they were smart, they would have added it to MobileMe at no additional cost to sweeten the deal for those users and for people who were considering purchasing it. The new iWork features themselves are OK. No raves, but I’ll be getting my upgrade to that as well.

As far as the new 17 inch Macbook Pro, I couldn’t care less. Not that I’m necessarily off laptop fever (although my iPhone is doing 99% of everything I’d do with a laptop on the road), I have always held that a 17 inch display on a portable computer is ridiculous. It’s too large to really be practical for on the go and is more of a desktop replacement that can be easily moved. Again like the Macbook Pros introduced in late 2008 these have the unibody construction and similar to the Macbook Air, the battery is non-removable. What is interesting and will reduce some irritation from the prospective buyer is that the battery is rated to last 5 years, last 8 hours (we’ll see…) and go through 1000 full recharge cycles. They also engineered a new battery design as well to reduce wasted space within the frame of the laptop and keep the weight close to what they were at before while getting the performance increase.

What is very interesting, but altogether expected, was the final announcement for iTunes. Not that you can now purchase your music on your iPhone on the 3G (and Edge apparently) network and not have to be within WiFi range, but the DRM and variable pricing structure. Both sides of the negotiating table seem to have blinked here – Apple and the record labels. Apple for agreeing to pricing that isn’t 99 cents a track and the labels for, well, allowing Apple to remove the DRM in the first place. People who make a sport of talking trash on Apple seem to like pointing out Apple’s (rather lax if you take the time to examine it) DRM on the music store as if it was Apple’s idea to be diabolical. They then make allusions of Jobs then eating babies in Apple’s boardroom right after that and then continue to destroy any small amount of credibility they had. Well, the DRM is (or was) pretty lax – playback on up to 5 systems, you can burn the same playlist 7 times before you have to change the playlist to burn again if it’s made up of protected songs, and you can re-rip the music right back in if you want after burning without DRM included. Oh, and can be copied to an unlimited number of iPods and iPhones.

That sounds pretty…you know…fair… Hence the name FairPlay that they use for the DRM. Now, don’t forget Apple haters that until Apple grows to the size to purchase these music labels themselves, they have to respect the wishes of the people who’s product they are selling. So if a label says to use DRM, Apple has to use DRM. No diabolical scheme here, sorry guys. Simply contractual obligations to respect a rights holder’s wishes in order to provide a product to the people. People who for the most part seem very happy with that since iTunes is the #1 music vendor right now. Fortunately now that issue really does seem to be an thing of the past.

So now that Apple is removing the DRM on store purchases, you too can have the DRM removed on your existing tracks for about 30 cents a song. Hmmm… Yeah, that I’m not so sure about myself. If current and future purchases have no restrictions, and all you’re doing is modding a file to remove the DRM…surely you can go a long way towards keeping the fanbase happy here by making this service gratis? What was also interesting in the keynote that no mention of variable pricing and DRM was made for other regions. This seems to be a US only feature for right now but I would expect this to roll out quite soon to other areas with Europe being the first due to some pressure put on Apple there to remove DRM by some countries who again don’t quite understand that while Apple may sell the music, it’s the music labels that were calling the shots as far as protection goes.

With Macworld being over, and Apple not returning next year to exhibit, some people are speculating now, and in fact stating that it’s a done deal, that Apple will instead have a booth (and presumably a keynote slot) at the Consumer Electronics Show which overlaps Macworld’s show dates almost every year. I’d put that in the maybe slot myself. I subscribe to the theory that Apple is tired of having to announce world-changing products on someone else’s schedule (Apple does not run or own Macworld Expo). The expectation has grown to be that every Macworld keynote has to have something amazing, or else the company may not be doomed, but due to expectations being set so high based on past speeches where the iMac, the iPhone and so on were introduced, that not only will the press be flat, it also tends to affect Apple’s stock price. Exhibiting at CES just keeps that cycle going, along with just adding Apple’s voice to the strum and drang of CES in Las Vegas. I also suspect that there would be some simply amazing jockeying for position for providing the first keynote for the show between the temperamental Jobs for Apple and everyone’s favorite chair thrower at Microsoft, Steve Balmer.

So while Apple could possibly show at CES, I suspect they may not and will instead focus at least over the next year or so over smaller town hall events to introduce new products as needed and on their schedule to make sure nothing is rushed to market before they are ready. This seems to have worked for them in the past, and may well be what Steve Jobs wants to do in the future. Besides, how else can Apple perpetuate the snooty Mac user persona that some enjoy lampooning? I enjoy the Mac-holiday in the second week in January as much as anyone else, and I’ll miss the keynotes but this way is healthier for Apple’s stock price to avoid the up/down roller coaster that always seems to happen at the start of the year.

USB 3.0 is on the horizon

On November 15, 2008, in Apple, computers, by Brian Huberd

In between not working on the MySQL project today I watched the latest GeekBrief with the effervescent Cali Lewis. It looks like on Monday we’ll have the formal announcement of USB 3.0 with speeds that could start to put Firewire out of its misery.

Not that I hate Firewire by any stretch. In fact, I’m quite the fan. But I saw the writing on the wall with the introduction of the new Macbooks earlier in the month. No Firewire except on the high end models. I expect once USB 3.0 becomes widespread we’ll probably see Firewire fade away eventually on the Pro models as well. Sure, Apple has provided Firewire 800 as a considerable speed bump from the original Firewire 400 spec that has served us all so well over the years. However, let’s not forget that Chairman Steve is all about the Zen simplicity and functionality. Right now shipping systems with both USB and Firewire connections for peripherals is like a 21st Century version of serial and parallel ports from the 1980s. Just more compact and easier to deal with. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s still multiple ports on the desktop or laptop.
With a USB only setup, it wouldn’t matter what you had to plug in, it would just go into the one USB port. Kinda the whole point behind USB in the first place. Of course, USB 1.0 was nightmarish for any real data transfers. USB 2.0 is better of course, but in sustained transfer speeds, Firewire still owns USB hands down. But USB 3.0 could trump everything unless Apple has something up their sleeve. But I suspect they don’t and may not actually wish to try to compete with Intel on this.
Yes, Firewire is an amazing high speed data transfer connection and it did indeed deserve the accolades from the film industry for providing a great way to transfer video from digital camcorders to desktop computers to help revolutionize the workflow for desktop video editing. I’m using it right now for my external hard drives for my iTunes data and Time Machine backups. But, if a future system has only USB 3.0 connections, I won’t fret much (it doesn’t hurt also knowing that my drive cases have USB ports along with Firewire to help with the transition). Firewire is probably going to be around for some time in the high end video arena. But it’s clear that its days for the consumer to mid-range desktop systems are numbered. Oh, well.
Now the only question that remains is what is to become of booting your Macintosh in target mode? A very handy feature that requires Firewire. The same could be said of the Mac’s nifty ability to migrate your data from your old system to your new system which also requires the old Mac to be booted into Target mode. If Firewire is truly going the way of the dodo, I would hope that some form of Target mode is going to be available on future systems using USB 3.0. But time will tell…

I got my iPhone 3G

On July 12, 2008, in Apple, iPhone, by Brian Huberd

It took an extra day, but I managed to get one. This time I was first in line. Lucky me. So now that we have this…

Let’s ponder briefly what next year’s iPhone model will bring while I wait for all my music to load up. I’d say realistically (because a hardware keyboard just isn’t going to happen unless Steve Jobs gets replaced by a Pod Person) we might see:
1. Better battery life – this is a given. They love to tout battery life and how it’s much better now than it was. With the addition of the battery-sucking 3G technology, you’d better hope they’re working on adding in some higher capacity batteries.
2. Double the storage – another given. I’m going to a 16 gig iPhone from a 16 gig iPod Touch. They have 32 gig iPod Touches now, and while I’m actually quite comfortable with 16 gigs, I’m sure I’m like most people and wouldn’t turn down double the storage.
3. Haptic touch screen feedback. This will help with people trying to type on the virtual keyboard as they would get feedback that they can feel as they type. It could also be used for other programs on this theoretical iPhone, but for those who complain about the current keyboard situation, it would be a boon.
4. Stereo Bluetooth. Now I could get a little envious of this. Stereo Bluetooth means I can listen to the iPod portion of the phone without all those pesky wires tethering me to the device. But this wouldn’t make me sell my soul in a year to get one if it were true.
These are all keen things, but not killer apps for me if these were to appear in an iPhone refresh in a year or so. This is why I took the plunge this morning and I’m not waiting another year. The software updates have been free so far, so no worries there. So I’ll just wait for the model after the next one when my new AT&T contract expires in two years.
But this thing is gonna rock…

Getting an iPhone?

On July 7, 2008, in Apple, iPhone, by Brian Huberd

I sure am. Or I hope I am. They go on sale this Friday and I’ll be in line at my local AT&T store to pick one up, because going to an Apple Store in Portland really is too far to drive for this sort of thing. Of course, AT&T has provided a helpful guide for everyone who will be wanting to get their iPhone with a minimum of fuss come July 11th…

Fan-tastic. Thanks AT&T! I did especially enjoy the important note there about getting your old phone number from a different carrier ported over to AT&T. While the movie was playing I heard this important note – which was to make sure to bring in a copy of your bill to the store to get the account number and so on to help with the number porting. This was playing while I was in the middle of shredding documents. Specifically at the time my Verizon bill. I believe this may count as irony. I’m not sure right now. However, I will not let this small issue stop me. Somehow.