Steve Jobs

I finished reading the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Issacson earlier this week. It was worth it, and I recommend anyone who is remotely interested in modern technology to read it. A great writer is complemented by an extremely fascinating life story. (I hope I don't come off as too biased because I am, just a little, but it'd definitely one of the better Steve Jobs biographies I've read so far.)

Here are some quotes I wrote down as I was reading the book...

Steve Jobs cover.

"Reflecting years later on his [Jobs's] spiritual feelings, he said that religion was at its best when it emphasized spiritual experiences rather than received dogma. 'The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it,' he told me. 'I think different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don't. It's the great mystery." (p. 15)

"'He was an enlightened being who was cruel,' she [Brennan] recalled. 'Thats a strange combination.'" (p. 32)

"The calligraphy course would become iconic in that regard. 'If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them.'" (p. 41)

"This fusion of flower power and processor power, enlightenment and technology, was embodied by Steve Jobs as he meditated in the mornings, audited physics classes at Stanford, worked nights at Atari, and dreamed of starting his own business." (p. 57)

"It was Sunday, June 29, 1975, a milestone for the personal computer. 'It was the first time in history,' Wozniak later said, 'anyone had typed a character on a keyboard and seen it show up on their own
computer's screen right in front of them.'" (p. 61)

"'His [Markkula] values were much aligned with mine. He emphasized that you should never start a company with the goal of getting rich. Our goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last.'" (p. 78)

"'I got a feeling for the empowering aspect of naďveté,' Atkinson said. 'Because I didn't know it couldn't be done, I was enabled to do it.'" (p. 100) "'You did the impossible, because you didn't realize it was impossible.' (p. 119)

"Before and after he was rich, and indeed throughout a life that included being broke and a billionaire, Steve Jobs's attitude toward wealth was complex. He was an antimaterialistic hippie who capitalized
on the inventions of a friend who wanted to give them away for free, and he was a Zen devotee who made a pilgrimage to India and then decided that his calling was to create a business. And get somehow these attitudes seemed to weave together rather than conflict." (p. 104-105)

Jobs: "I never worried about money. I grew up in a middle-class family, so I never thought I would starve. And I learned at Atari that I could be an okay engineer, so I always knew I could get by. I was voluntarily poor when I was in college and India, and I loved a pretty simple life even when I was working. So I went from fairly poor, which was wonderful, because I didn't have to worry about money, to being incredibly rich, when I also didn't have to worry about money. / I watched people at Apple who made a lot of money and felt they had to live differently. Some of them bought a Rolls-Royce and various houses, each with a house manager and then someone to manage the house mangers. Their wives got plastic surgery and turned into these bizarre people. This was not how I wanted to live. It's crazy. I made a promise to myself that I'm not going to let this money ruin my life." (p. 105)

"In various interviews, Jobs had been referring to computers as a bicycle for the mind; the ability of humans to create a bicycle allowed them to move more efficiently than even a condor, and likewise the ability to create computers would multiply the efficiency of their minds." (p. 115)

"One day Jobs came into the cubicle of Larry Kenyon, an engineer who was working on the Macintosh operating system, and complained that it was taking too long to boot up. Kenyon started to explain, but Jobs cut him off. 'If we could save a person's life, would you find a way to shave ten seconds off the boot time?' he asked. Kenyon allowed that he probably could. Jobs went to a whiteboard and showed that if there were five million people using the Mac, and it took ten seconds extra to turn it on every day, that added up to three hundred million or so hours per year that people would save, which was the equivalent of at least one hundred lifetimes saved per year. 'Larry was suitably impressed, and a few weeks later he came back and it booted up twenty-eight seconds faster,' Atkinson recalled. 'Steve had a way of motivating by looking at the bigger picture.'" (p. 123)

"When the design was finally locked in, Jobs called the Macintosh team together for a ceremony. 'Real artists sign their work,' he said. So he got out a sheet of drafting paper and a Sharpie pen and had all of them sign their names. The signatures were engraved inside each Macintosh. No one would ever see them, but the members of the team knew that their signatures were inside, just as they knew that the circuit board was laid out as elegantly as possible. jobs called them each up by name, one at a time. Burrell Smith went first. Jobs waited until last, after all forty-five of the others. He found a place right in the center of the sheet and signed his name in lowercase letters with a grand flair. Then he toasted them with champagne. 'With moments like this, he got us seeing our work as art,' said Atkinson." (p. 134)

"Eve thirty years later, reflecting back on the competition, Jobs cast it as a holy crusade: 'IBM was essentially Microsoft at its worst. Hey were not a force for innovation; they were a force for evil. They were like ATT or Microsoft or Google is.'" (p. 136)

"So the '1984' ad was a way of reaffirming, to himself and to the world, his desired self-image. The heroine, with a drawing of a Macintosh emblazoned on her pure white tank top, was a renegade out to foil the establishment. By hiring Ridley Scott, fresh off the success of Blade Runner, as the director, Jobs could attach himself and Apple to the cyberpunk ethos of the time. With the ad, Apple could identify itself with the rebels and hackers who thought differently, and Jobs could reclaim his right to identify with them as well." (p. 163)

"'Each one thought he was smarter than the other one, but Steve generally treated Bill [Gates] as someone who was slightly inferior, especially in matters of taste and style,' said Andy Hertzfeld. 'Bill looked down on Steve because he couldn't actually program.' From the beginning of their relationship, Gates was fascinated by Jobs and slightly envious of his mesmerizing effect on people. But he also found him 'fundamentally odd' and 'weirdly flawed as a human being,' and he was put off by Job's rudeness and his tendency to be 'either in the mode of saying you were shit or trying to seduce you.' For his part, Jobs found Gates unnervingly narrow. 'he'd be a broader guy if he had dropped aside one or gone off to an ashram when he was younger,' Jobs once declared. / Their differences in in personality and character would lead them to opposite sides of what would become the fundamental divide in the digital age. Jobs was a perfectionist who craved control and indulged in the uncompromising temperament of an artist; he and Apple became the exemplars of a digital strategy that tightly integrated hardware, software, and content into a seamless package. Gates was a smart, calculating, and pragmatic analyst of business and technology; he was open to licensing Microsoft's operating system and software to a various of manufacturers. / After thirty years Gates would develop a grudging respect for Jobs. 'He really never knew much about technology, but he had an amazing instinct for what works,' he said. But Jobs never reciprocated by fully appreciating Gates's real strengths. 'Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he's more conformable now in philanthropy than technology,' Jobs said, unfairly. 'He just shamelessly ripped off other people's ideas.'" (pp. 172-173)

In 1985, Jobs: "Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get struck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them. / I'll always stay contacted with Apple. I hope that throughout my life I'll sort of have the thread of my life and the thread of Apple weave in and out of each other, like a tapestry. There may be a few years when I'm not there, but I'll always come back.... / If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you've done and whoever you were and throw them away. / The more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you, the harder it is to continue to be an artist, which is why a lot of times, artists have to say, 'Bye. I have to go now. I'm going crazy and I'm getting out of here.' And they go and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently." (pp. 189-190)

"He [Jobs] later claimed it was mainly out of curiosity. 'I believe in environment more than heredity in determining your traits. But still you have to wonder a little about your biological roots,' he said."
(p. 254)

"For all of his willfulness and insatiable desire to control tags, Jobs was indecisive and reticent when he felt unsure about something. He craved perfection, and he was not always good at figuring out how
to settle for something less. He did not like to wrestle with complexity or make accommodations. This was true in products, design, and furnishings for the house. It was also true when it came to personal commitments. If he knew for sure a course of action was right, he was unstoppable. But if he had doubts, he sometimes withdrew, preferring not to the about things that did not perfectly suit him." (p. 315)

"At times Jobs displayed a strange mixture of prickliness and neediness, he usually didn't care on iota what people thought of him; he could cut people off and never care to speak to them again. Yet sometimes he also felt a compulsion to explain himself." (p. 316)

"One of Jobs's great strengths was knowing how to focus. 'deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,' he said. 'That's true for companies, and it's true for products.'" (p. 336)

"One of the first things Jobs did during the product review process was ban PowerPoints. 'I hate the way people use slide presentations instead of thinking,' Jobs later recalled. 'People would confront a
problem by creating a presentation. I want them to engage, to hash things. out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they're talking about don't need PowerPoint.'" (p. 337)

"After a few weeks Jobs finally had enough. 'Stop!' he shouted at one big product strategy session. 'This is crazy.' He grabbed a magic marker, padded to a whiteboard, and drew a horizontal and vertical line to make a four-squared chart. 'Here's what we need,' he continued. Atop the two columns he wrote 'Consumer' and 'Pro'; he hobbled the two rows 'Desktop' and 'Portable.' Their job, he said, was the make four great products, one for each quadrant. 'The room was in dumb silence,' Schiller recalled." (p. 337)

Ive: " Why do we assume that simple is good? Because with physical products, we have to feel we can dominate them. As you bring order to complexity, you find a way to make the product defer to you. Simplicity isn't just a visual style. It's not just minimalism or the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of a complexity. To be truly simple, you have to go really deep. For example, to have no screws on something, you can end up having a product that is so convoluted and so complex. The better way is to go deeper with the simplicity, to understand everything about it and how it's manufactured. You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential." (p. 343)

"Design was not just about what a product looked like on the surface. It had to reflect the product's essence. 'In most people's vocabularies, design means veneer,' Jobs told Fortune shortly after retaking the reins at Apple. 'But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers.'" (p. 343)

Jobs: "The older I get, the more I see how much motivations matter. The Zune was crappy because the people at Microsoft don't really love music or art the way we do. We won because we personally love music. We made the iPod for ourselves, and when you're doing something for yourself, or your best friend or family, you're not going to cheese out. If you don't love something, you're not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much." (p. 407)

"So he [Jobs] had the Pixar building designed to promote encounters and unplanned collaborations. 'If a building doesn't encourage that, you'll lose a lot of innovation and the magi that's spared by serendipity,' he said. 'So we designed the building to make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium with people they might not otherwise see.' ... 'Steve's theory worked from day one,' Lasseter recalled. 'I kept running into people I hadn't seen for months. I've never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one.'" (p. 431)

Apple core values, by Cook: "We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products, and that's not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make; and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. And frankly, we don't settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we're wrong and the courage to change. And I think, regardless of who is in what job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well." (p. 488)

Jobs, on liberal arts and technology: "It's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough. We believe that it's technology married with the humanities that yields us the result that makes our heart sing. Nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices. Folks are rushing into this tablet market, and they're looking at it as the next PC, in which the hardware and the software are done by different companies. Our experience, and every bone in our body, says that is not the right approach. These are post-PC devices that need to be even more intuitive and easier to use than a PC, and where the software and the hardware and the applications need to be intertwined in an even more seamless way than they are on a PC. We think we have the right architecture not just in silicon, but in our organization, to build these kinds of products." (p. 527)

After Jobs gave his son Reed one of his bicycles: "When Reed said he would be indebted, Jobs answered, 'You don't need to be indebted, because you have my DNA.' A few days later Toy Story 3 opened. Jobs had nurtured this Pixar trilogy from the beginning, and the final installment was about the emotions surrounding the departure of Andy for college. 'I wish I could always be with you,' Andy's mother says. 'You always will be,' he replied." (p. 540)

"He got Apple back on track by cutting all except a few core products. He made devices simpler by eliminating buttons, software simpler by eliminating features, and interfaces simpler by eliminating options." (p. 564)


And other pages of interest to me: P 112 quote on managing, ideas, and stealing. P 310. Apple is like a ship with a hole. P 350-351. iMac handle's design rationale. P 512. Jobs quote to destroy Android. P 544-545. Advice to Obama, and about education. P 563. "Future of the Internet and How to Stop It," and the harm of integrated argument.

The Uncommon Cold

According to my notably feeble memory, this is the first I got sick in 2011. It looks like it's an ordinary cold. And I was two months from claiming a full year free of sickness!

For me, these bouts of sickness always begin with a scratchy or sore throat. Then it progresses to the runny nose phase that can last a few days if I'm not careful. Depending on the severity of the cold/flu, it will sometimes be followed by a fever, and sometimes with body ache. The runny nose would then switch to a stuffy nose, which means a stuffed nose and lots of mild coughing is next. Yay.

Although it's been a while since I caught a cold, this is also a short one, which is welcome. First symptoms set in this past Sunday; recovery begins tomorrow.