Thursday, October 06, 2011

He's Gone

At 8:30 last night I got the news. It came from somebody who knew me quite well and knew my hardcore loyalty to Apple, enough to call me a "Steve Jobs Apple toady bootlicker." A good friend, yes. He told me: Steve Jobs was dead.

Wow. I remember when John Lennon was killed and I'll remember getting this news.

Steve Jobs has been part of my professional and personal lives for 25 years. I got my first Mac in 1986, during my second year of medical school. It was a huge decision, and even with a student discount a tremendously expensive thing to do. It was a decision I've never regretted. I still have that machine.

The day I went to pick up my new machine they held a special event at the university hockey stadium. The whole place was filled with aisles of Macs stacked six feet high. People were lined up around the block to pick up their new machines. The only time I've seen anything like that was at the opening of the first Apple store in 2001. I was standing in line at Tyson's Corner, fortunately not at the end which curled around the second floor and down the stairs. The waiting time to get in was rumored to be three hours, and there was security in place to make sure the store stayed below the fire marshal's limit of people in the store.

The Apple years without Steve Jobs were grim. A series of five CEO's successively drove the company into the ground. The quality of the machines dropped, there were recalls for broken parts, bad monitors, stuff that never would have happened under Steve. (OK, the Apple Newton eventually became the prototype for the Palm Pilot---using an operating system designed by former Apple engineers---but it never quite got it right.)

Then he came back. Just in time, like Superman coming back just as the bomb is about to explode, to save the world. We got that weird-looking first-ever all-in-one pyramidal iMac. We got OS X, one of the most stable operating systems I've ever used. We got iPods and iPhones and iTunes (without which our My Three Shrinks podcast would never have happened). We got the iPad. We got the software. It just happened.

So here we are. We three Shrink Rappers all use Apple products. We edit podcasts with Garage Band, have iPhones, use MacBooks. Our iPhone edition of Grand Rounds was one of most popular posts (complete with clickable iPhone buttons). Technology for non-geeks.

There's not much else to say. If there is, the Twittersphere has it covered---it's been nothing but mourning for hours after the news broke.

He's gone.


And thanks.


Carrie said...

I watched news on this for most of today. I pretty much have my MacBook Pro and iPhone next tp me at all times when at home. When I go to bed, my iPhone is plugged in at the bedside table, and I keep my MBP on a tv tray right next to the bed. On my bedside table is an alarm clock with an iPod dock where I keep my iPod touch that I no longer use since I got the iPhone. When I play the piano, my iPhone sits on top of it and my MBP sits again on a tv tray next to it. I use my MBP to record a lot of my music, BUT - even when I'm not recording, I have to have it next to me! It's a sickness - one I don't want to give up.

I didn't get into Apple in the 80s like everyone else. My grandfather worked for IBM for his entire career, so our first computer was an IBM. I was loyal to IBM machines (and then IBM-related machines, and then...worst of Dell Inspiron 5150, which even today makes me shudder in horror). I remember my elementary school using the Apple IIc. My college roommate had an iMac. I had a ginormous IBM-compatible desktop with a million wires. I didn't even want an iMac back then, but I did envy the simplicity.

I think my first Apple product may have been an iPod - a 1st generation iPod at that. I got my first MacBook Pro in 2005 on a payment plan from CompUSA because I couldn't even afford it, but was ready to, quite literally, throw my Dell off a tall building. My brother had already gotten into Apple computers at that point. I later got several more iPods - the first video iPod and my most treasured is my iPod touch. I may have gotten a shuffle somewhere in there, and I got another iPod touch with my last MBP purchase, but I gave it to Jason because I already had one. :) I bought this MacBook Pro up front from the Apple Store in the Christiana Mall in Delaware (tax free, baby!!), and it's taken so much abuse since I got it in 2009. I got it to go back to school at Penn, and I carried it everywhere. I also have a Time Capsule (though really haven't used it much) and we have Apple TV, which I *love*. I got my iPhone in 2010, late to the party as I stayed loyal to Verizon. The crackberry storm 1st generation made me forget all about loyalty!! Jason and I both want iPads, but we're not going to allow ourselves the indulgence just yet... :)

Remember all the "I'm a Mac. I'm a PC." commercials? I *LOVED* those! Who didn't?? So simple, and yet so right!!

I will miss Steve Jobs introducing his new inventions, after we all sat and speculated about just what might be coming next.

I was born 3 days after John Lennon was killed, so I don't remember that obviously. But I've heard people speak about it. I think 10/5/11 is going to be a day that we'll remember for a really long time.

Anonymous said...

Too bad he never came up with the idea to pay his overseas workers a decent wage to make the products we pay a heck of a lot of money for.

jesse said...

Thanks, Anon, for your thoughts. No, Steve Jobs was not perfect, no more than you are, but at a funeral one does not point out all the defects of the deceased. It is rude to do so. Steve Jobs was one of the most innovative, creative, just plain good people around. Apple has changed so much in the world.

I, like others, have seen so much change as a result of Steve Jobs and his vision. The world is certainly a more empty place without him.

Besides technology, Steve had a sense of what people really wanted, long before they knew they wanted it. He was rarely wrong.

I, too, have found so much through Apple products. I have learned to trust Apple. In August I visited Cupertino and was totally amazed at the beauty of the campus. Apple genius is seen in every corner. When I was there I kept my eyes peeled for Steve Jobs, but while I did see Jony Ive I did not see Steve. Now I will never see him, but I will continue to enjoy and be entranced by what he created. Thank you, Steve.

Anonymous said...

Jesse, this is his funeral? Right here, on this blog? Rude is denying someone the right to have an opinion other than your own.

Anonymous said...

Here are some more "rude" folks. I am sure they are not perfect either.

ClinkShrink said...

Anon: Chill. Of course the post isn't a funeral, but it was a commemoration in a way. Your comment had the feel of someone spitting on a roadside memorial. Sure, it's your right to do that. If that's who you want to be.

Anonymous said...

I, too, think Jesse was out of line. It appears he has taken on the role of Ms. Manners of Shrink Rap. It's patronizing. Steve Jobs sold computers and telephones. He was a good salesman. There isn't a Nobel Prize for the person who sells the nicest telephones, is there. Telephones and computers are ready-mades. And you like it because you have it and it works--it does what it is advertised to do. That is rare, today, in corp america, for sure. You also like Jeff Koons for the same reason. A vacuum cleaner sits in MOMA and you have a vacuum cleaner in your house.

Carrie said...

Ha - I really don't get it. People don't like him just for the "stuff" he made, although the Apple products he invented were what set the standards for computing everywhere. He was an innovator and an inspirational leader. He also took a company that was dying and brought it to the extreme success it sees today. And all this in honestly not much of a time frame, as his life was cut short.

If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all. Things we should be learning in Kindergarten. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

I'm not being adversarial. I just don't understand what the guy did other than put an iphone in my hand for which I paid him a lot of money and he profited...along with the shareholders... I call the same people on my iphone I used to call on my dial-phone. He didn't make me see the world differently as some Noble laureates have...

Anonymous said...

maybe he was a prince of a man. anyway. i said you were an "apple computer loving groupie" not a toadie. just for the record.

Anonymous said...

Who on earth said people don't like him just for the stuff he made, which was made by sweatshop workers anyway. Good stuff, those folks deserve better. If Clink feels that I am spitting on a roadside memorial, so be it. She is entitled to her opinion. Oh, and they do have roadside memorials for Hell's Angels, too. Not that he was a Hell's Angel but did anyone read anything other than a US obit? Why is it that in the UK it is acceptable to write an obit about the whole man with all the shades of grey? Why do we have to make the man into a saint? A commercial genius? Sure. Heaven forbid that someone does not praise Dinah's pov to the moon. The man was not perfect. Why is that blasphemy to anyone? How on earth is that rude?

Alison Cummins said...

Interesting about the cultural taboos around what can be said about/ done to a dead person.

In the US it seems to be pretty much “don’t speak ill of the dead.” There are two reasons for this that I know of: it’s not fair to gossip about someone who isn’t around to defend themselves, and if you insult a ghost you might get haunted.

As Anonymous says, this is quite cultural. Some funeral customs involve telling the truth about the dead, and as we all know the truth is not always nice. For myself, I’ve always found the pious taboos against saying anything negative about someone freshly dead rather irritating. Obviously if someone is devastated that their 22-year-old little sister has just been killed in a car accident, that may not the time to talk about the deceased having been a mean drunk. But that is about kindness and respect for the living, not sanctimony.

We also treat recently dead people differently from long-dead people. We put human bodies on display in museums — if they’ve been dead long enough, they become artifacts.

The US is also an extremely conformist, hierarchical culture. (Americans are free to disagree.) Saying bad things about leaders is very distressing to many Americans, even if they dislike the leader in question. (These days conservatives get around that by deciding that any leader they don’t like is not a legitimate leader anyway, so doesn’t count. But it wasn’t always that way.)

jesse said...

Allison is quite right that the concern is for the living. If one is having a debate about a public figure then the most critical opinions may be fair play. But this is different. The issue was not a debate, but sadness and loss expressed by several people, including me. In response to that admission of loss there were some comments that while ostensibly being simply disagreements about the man, were in fact a slap to those expressing grief.

If in a living room one said "I feel really bad, so-and-so just died," one would not respond with "he wasn't all he was cracked up to be...he didn't do...etc." "Eulogy" is from the Greek for good word. Yes, it is customary, but for good reason. Everyone at any funeral knows the deceased was not a saint, but no one talks about it. There is the rest of time in which to comment on his temper or sadistic tendencies, and so on, but one does not hit the mourners with them at that time.

Once I went to a funeral in which the deceased's son got up and spoke about what a nasty man his father had been, what an unkind man, what lack of sensibility. People were in shock. Yes, he had been a poor father, but his son's anger and lack of kindness spoke about his own difficulties, not his father's.

I follow the Italian papers, and in Italy the sense of loss at Steve Jobs death was as it was here. So, please, don't tell me that in some other areas of the earth one criticises the newly dead, or spits in his grave, or dances insanely. We are an English speaking people and the customs of America are our customs.

If I am being Miss Manners, perhaps reflect on what makes that seem necessary to me. One particular thing I love about Shrink Rap is that many people have spoken of very painful and personal events here. To do so requires sensitivity and a sympathetic ear on the part of the listeners.

Jane said...

...As far as the manners thing goes, sometimes manners are not logical. Yes, people are correct that Steve Jobs did disagreeable things in his life. Yes it is totally logical to point that out. But it's an etiquette not to do that while people are still upset. Etiquette is something you do with your heart, as opposed to something you do with your brain.

I'm a Muslim. We have lots and lots of etiquettes that make zero sense. For instance, women cannot pray beside or in front of men. That is because we bow in prayer and it sucks for the girl is she's bending over and a guy is right in front of her. Women are supposed to be given privacy while in prayer so they must always be behind men and can never lead men in prayer...unless the woman is praying around the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia (she still doesn't lead though). Does that make any sense??? No. It is the only exception to the prayer rule. But everyone knows the respectful etiquette is for a woman to pray behind men (for her privacy and so he does not get distracted by her if he is in prayer to. Can't be praying and checking out a woman's behind at the same time!). However, magically, this all changes at the Kaaba. Women pray side by side and in front of men. No segregation.

A long time ago a homosexual Muslim man prayed with me. He was beside me. I led by reciting the verses (we're kinda liberal). But as I started, I noticed he immediately scooted up so he would be in front of me :) He's gay! He's probably not gonna be checking me out. But he knew the rules and so he followed the Islamic etiquette. It's not logical. He was just being a nice guy and trying to show me respect.

Moral of the story...Don't over-think etiquette. It's not the kind of thing you analyze too deeply. It doesn't always make sense and it's not supposed to.

Jane said...

"That is because we bow in prayer and it sucks for the girl is she's bending over and a guy is right in front of her."

Sorry that was wrong. It should have been "bending over and a guy is right behind her."

jesse said...

I mentioned the Italians. This was in the NY Times tonight, a quote from Paola Antonelli: “Apple has the status that Ferrari has in Italy,” Ms. Antonelli said. “It’s a source of national pride and of pride for every employee. You get to that stature only if you created something so fundamental that everyone loves.”

jesse said...

And Jane, thank you for explaining that about bending in prayer. Yes, one needs to be sensitive and respectful of customs, not overthink them. Especially when they matter to others.

Carrie said...

The only people in the US who throw sensitivity completely out the window when it comes to funerals and death are the Westboro Baptist Church folks, and we know that unless you're actually in their group, nobody condones what they do.

At my grandfather's funeral when I was 16, my dad's stepbrother (whom we all loved very much prior to this) got up and, unbeknownst to any of us, spoke about how divorce is wrong and how it destroyed their family. Afterwards, he wrote a many page letter to my grandmother (his stepmother) basically ripping her apart, his father apart, and saying that my grandmother only ever loved her own children and that divorce ruins lives.

We don't talk to any of my dad's step family any longer. It's a moot point anyway... My grandmother passed away this summer - she was widowed twice at 23 years of marriage. My dad's dad died when my dad was 16 - and she remarried the grandfather that I knew when my dad was in his early 20s.

There were times my grandmother treated me horribly. I was even a little bit surprised by all that was said about her at her funeral, in terms of all of the wonderful things she had done, etc. I still didn't bring up "Oh remember the time..." Uh... Not okay.

My family couldn't be anymore English or Irish if we tried either - I identify very strongly with those cultures - my fiance is Italian and they have an entirely different way of dealing with life in general. In England, maybe it's fine to write it in the papers, but etiquette is still held to a higher regard there than anywhere else in the world... Also, in England - the death are mourned for a week before they are buried. Not like here where it is typically done within a few days...

It was never just about a phone.

jesse said...

Here is a bit from today's NY Times, written by James Stewart. Steve Jobs was a true visionary, an artist first, a businessman only after the engineering and conception was perfect. The fabulous business sucess followed his adherence to his vision. That was why it astounded so many who work with the bottom line first and above all:

Mr. Jobs made no secret of his focus on design; in a Jan. 24, 2000, interview, Fortune magazine asked if it was an “obsession” and whether it was “an inborn instinct or what?”

“We don’t have good language to talk about this kind of thing,” Mr. Jobs replied. “In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. 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 of the product or service. The iMac is not just the color or translucence or the shape of the shell. The essence of the iMac is to be the finest possible consumer computer in which each element plays together. ... That is the furthest thing from veneer. It was at the core of the product the day we started. This is what customers pay us for — to sweat all these details so it’s easy and pleasant for them to use our computers. We’re supposed to be really good at this. That doesn’t mean we don’t listen to customers, but it’s hard for them to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it.”

The best psychiatrists I know work and think the same way, to the extent they can. First comes the wish to help the patient. Other considerations are secondary.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if people actually read and thought about the notion that it would have been great had he paid those overseas workers a decent wage. For all the ways in which "he knew what people wanted before they did", corporate giants mostly do not do a good job of taking the perspective of the other when the other is a low wage worker somewhere far away. This is a statement of sadness for the nameless people who have put all these products into our hands, some of killed themselves before Mr Jobs died. Who grieves for those people? Did Steve J change the world? In many ways. Should people in his position concern themselves with the process or only with the final product? I think they should. I do not think saying so is akin to slagging anyone off.

Jane said...

@ last anon...I really debated whether I should respond or not. but i'm just gonna give it a go. I remember when Heath Ledger died. It was really sad. And I read later on that the Bush admin made a PSA around that time to tell teens not to abuse prescription drugs. It was a total coincidence. They postponed releasing that when Heath died. They postponed it because they thought it would look tacky (like they were trying to comment on his death). George W. Bush is not renowned for his way with words and his amazing sense of tact. And yet he still knew it would look bad if it even looked like he was criticizing Heath at a time when so many were mourning his loss. You might want to take this as a lesson from our former president.

Anonymous said...

directly after my mother's funeral the family all laughed through the tears at how we relieved we all were that no one eulogizedher as a saint. Good woman definitely not a saint. Thank god for real people. To Jane : your pres, not ours. The web is world wide except in america

Anonymous said...

You are being Miss Manners and what makes that necessary for you is maybe the loyalty or desire to let Clink hold to her hagiography or your own love of your telephone or computer. I thought the internet was about a place to share different views? Not in your living room? Admonitions to not speak ill of the dead are laughable in this case. Public figures lead public lives. And they are up for scrutiny. You better believe that if Cheney passed away there would be no admonition from the NYT editor not to speak ill of the dead. Are you living on this planet? Their deaths begins the process of figuring out their historical context. And you better believe Jobs was a public figure. He was a hawker of computers and telephones. Is he a genius or just a good salesman? Until 2010 all of the i-pod/mac/phones processors were outsourced: third order innovations using second order technologies made sparkly and pretty but, too, made to work. You also better believe that Apple benefited from 'cult status' 'group think' or whatever you shrinks want to call it. There are tons of products out there that do the same thing as Apple products. A world without Apple would be much the same as the world today. I don't get Shrink Rap, at all, anymore. You want to be a place were people can share views or you want to be a place where you can control the extent to which people share views? You want to just be heard and lauded for your insights? But then, we really all know what kind of living room you want: one in which you are the person in charge. If you want to be in charge of a forum, then you have to put forward a convincing argument about why the Jobs hagiography is justified. Shrieking, 'you're mean!' 'this is a living room!' 'be nice!' over and over again is pretty silly. So Italy thinks jobs is equivicable to Enzo Ferrari? I don't think so. Ferrari didn't just put nice sheet metal around an engine. He was active in Formula One. And that is all about pushing the technology, the chip, as it were. Don't ever think Formula One is about the pretty car or about the driver--it's about the engineers. I must find a better place to play. Enjoy your living room.

Jane said...

What the heck??? Some of you guys aren't even American? I could get not being American and posting a kind comment about Jobs, but why would you come on and post negative stuff? I could say a lot of stuff about Princess Diana, but I don't go on British tribute blogs in her honor and start criticizing her. I won't put Steve Jobs in the same league as Princess Diana, but he's still a huge symbol of American computer success and aggressive entrepreneurship (hence the "silicon valley pirate" nickname.)I'm actually Californian. Born and raised. I am friends with the son of two, early '90s, well-known Silicon Valley Pirates (he's quite the computer whiz himself and writing computer code for a company). So I guess it's a little bizarre to me that people who are not American, and are on a blog by three psychiatrists from Maryland, are coming on and venting about Steve Jobs. I actually don't go on too many websites that are geared towards people from other I wonder what the incentive was to come on. It's a blog geared towards American psychiatrists. I go on the UK version of Yahoo Answers sometimes, but obviously the topics get pretty unrelatable at times.

I understand people from California, other parts of America, or just fans of Jobs posting...but why would you post if you don't like him and have no links to Silicon Valley or Apple?

Jane said...

...and one other thing. People are acting like clink was posting about whether wellbutrin or strattera is better for ADHD. Debate! Like it was a science thing that needed to be debunked. It was a tribute to Steve Jobs, not a debate topic. That's totally different. No one will feel sad if you starting trashing wellbutrin. No one gets offended if you insult their strattera.

Carrie said...

+1 Jane - totally agree. With all of it.

You all could ask my grandfather and others who spent their lives working in the industry how Steve Jobs affected it. A paper I read here compared him to Henry Ford. Sure, automobiles existed before Henry Ford - but who was the one to push it to the edge? Say what you will about Fords today. I've actually been to the Henry Ford museum in Michigan - it's a pretty cool place talking about all sorts of things he did that I'd never have known.

Anyhow - if you've got something to say, use your name instead of hiding behind an anonymous username. I'm sure it wouldn't be the first someone's said that.

Analysis is fine. LATER. Not in the immediate aftermath of the man's death. I'll be happy to say learn some manners. If any of you are English, then you know that propriety is not entirely dead.

Anonymous said...

Henry Ford. Ah, my fave bigot of all time.