Steve Jobs, you will be missed

I was so sad to hear of Steve Jobs’ passing last night.  Of course I didn’t know him at all, but his company has touched my life in many ways.  My first computer was not an Apple, but in 7th grade, I took a CS class.  We had a TRS-80 and two Apple IIe‘s.  Mostly, we played games on them, and I remember playing Lemonade Stand on the Apple for what seemed like hours.  I didn’t see another Apple or MacIntosh again until college.  PCs dominated for a while in the early 80s.  I acquired an IBM clone my sophomore year in college.  When it collapsed my senior year, I used a friend’s MacIntosh to complete my senior thesis.  I was pretty hooked by then, so when I went off to grad school, I sought out the Mac Lab.  Yep, we had separate labs back then.

Throughout grad school, I was platform agnostic, and found my way around Macs, Windows machines, Solaris (unix-based), and NeXT‘s (a Steve Jobs creation).  Apple was anything but platform agnostic, of course, and until Mac OS X came out, I spent my time mostly in Linux-based computers.  But I’ve been a Mac person ever since.  I’m typing this on my MacBook, and on my desk is an iMac.  Next to me is an iPad, and up until this summer, I had a first generation iPhone.

Apple did a lot of things right, and many of the innovations they came up with are now seen across multiple platforms.  It can be argued that Apple made mainstream the GUI interface we now all take for granted, as well as the touchscreen interface that has many of our kids trying to pinch regular computer screens.  Apple engineered for consumers rather than for engineers.  I dare say consumer electronics would not be the same without them.  Without Apple, we’d be stuck with buttons and scroll wheels.  And though Google is mostly associated with cloud computing, Apple’s Mac Air pretty much insisted on having things stored in the cloud.

Had he not gotten cancer, Jobs would likely have continued innovating for another 20 years.  What great things will not happen because he’s gone?

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Random Tech Stuff I’ve heard about

  • Apple has a new small computer
  • You can rent movies via iTunes
  • Microsoft products suck
  • Scrabble makers want Scrabulous to be removed from Facebook
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking comes out for the Mac
  • Blackboard bought and emergency notification company
  • YouTube is still huge
  • I still can’t believe how much academics don’t know about technology

A DRM-free World

Several stories in the news are discussing the possibility of buying music DRM free. Steve Jobs, I guess, is urging music companies to drop DRM and now EMI is in talks with several music services about the possibility of selling its entire catalog to them without DRM. I’ve always hated DRM. It punishes the wrong people. Oh, I’m sure there are plenty of “regular” people out there downloading and sharing copyrighted music, tv shows and movies, but in general, the big violators are the pirates selling cds on the streets. And you know, we all go over the speed limit sometimes. The worst thing about DRM though is that it prevents most of us from doing what we want with our music, and you know what, that might include making a cd for a friend (which usually means eventual sales for the record company, just FYI), or having music on multiple machines (like home and work) without any hassles.

I just had a nasty run-in with DRM last night. I finally got around to buying the new BNL album and so I was updating my iPod when I got a lovely message saying that 51 of my songs were not authorized to play on my computer. Now, that was a weird message because I’ve had the same computer for almost 6 years now. I authorized my work computer, so that’s 2. It took me a while to figure out what the problem was. It turns out that those 51 songs were purchased using my .Mac account, which I no longer have. I now use my Google email. At first, I think iTunes didn’t really notice this switch, but now recognizes that I’m using a different username. I am not happy about this and have sent a note into the iTunes Customer Service to see if they can fix it. Honestly, I used to strip the DRM from my purchased music, but at some point the third-party software I was using to do so couldn’t keep up with the upgrades to iTunes. 51 songs is a lot of music to be missing, especially since it includes some of my favorites (like Death Cab for Cutie). And I was just singing Apple’s praises last week. Let’s see if they live up to my expectations.

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