The Day The Music Died

“I can’t remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride…but something touched me deep inside…the day…the music…died…”

Don MacLean wrote American Pie in 1971 about the 1959 plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Those three musicians (especially Holly) were some of the most influential of their time and their passing was monumental; probably the saddest event in the history of music.

On Wednesday when Steve Jobs lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, the music died; a much louder, more beautiful, more inspirational, far-reaching music than the world had ever heard.

What I can’t believe is how torn up I am about this. I mean, when I heard he had passed I was shocked and then re-reading all his unbelievably inspirational quotes and seeing iconic images of him I started to feel genuinely sad like a friend had died. Finally, on Thursday I went to Apple’s homepage and honestly shed a tear when this is all that was there.

Wow. He’s really gone. He was so other-worldly I guess I just assumed he’d never leave us. But in the end, the pancreatic cancer he had no way of fixing or making better (as he did with everything he ever touched) took his life after a mere 56 years. I guess I write this because I want you to know what he and his innovations have meant to me my entire life. He wasn’t just some guy to me, he was a true inspiration; a hero.

An Apple IIe was the first computer I ever used with it’s black and green screen and I fell in love with Oregon Trail and simple word/math games in elementary school. My Dad bought the first Macintosh where I first played with this new device called a “mouse” and painted the crappiest drawings you’ve ever seen with the spraycan or pencil tools in MacPaint. I remember what a huge deal it was in junior high when the school got an entire computer lab of Apple IIgs’ with their rad color screens! Yes, I was raised on Apple computers and I loved them. What Apple did for education was monumental. The long-running joke had always been that Apple computers were for education and graphic designers but where would I/we be without Apple’s contributions to education?

I switched my life over to 100% apple about 4 years ago and I’ve never looked back. As I type this on my iMac and navigate with my Magic Mouse, listening to a podcast downloaded through iTunes and backing it up on the Time Capsule which also acts as my router I’m checking a text I just received on my iPhone and sending someone an email using my email address and will be heading out later with my Macbook Air to meet someone to discuss business plans. So yeah, you might say that I am a big fan of the products and services Apple offers and with good reason: they are the best.

Sadly, there had become this “us vs. them” mentality of the devout Apple users pitted against the die-hard PC folks, exemplified in Apple’s brilliant “I’m a Mac…” ad campaign. What the PC people forget is that it’s that competition with Apple that helped advance their hardware and software to where it is today. Never-mind who is “better” both Apple and Microsoft or the PC community at large are better because of Steve Jobs. Jobs vs. Gates was always played up but I’m guessing if you asked Bill Gates about the matter he’d say the same thing. If you have ever used a computer, you owe the way you interact with that computer to Steve Jobs. The invention of the Macintosh computer and the Mac OS in 1984 was the dawn of the modern computer and started us down a path we never knew possible and brought about products such as Microsoft Windows and a booming PC industry…and it was Steve Jobs who got the ball rolling.

But for me, the most important thing that Steve Jobs contributed was his passion, his dedication to accomplishing things that many believed were not possible or better yet he just did things that nobody thought of. Watch the video above; it’s unbelievably inspirational and if you thought the passing of Steve Jobs was no big deal, think again…this was one of greatest human beings that’s ever lived and reading or hearing his words gives me goosebumps. He was one stubborn SOB and many times that came off as arrogance but it wasn’t arrogance it was belief in what he was doing and maybe even a bit of frustration with the world around him who doubted him; I can identify with this more than you know. I always admired that about him and that dedication, that unwavering belief in that what he was doing was the best, was right and could be done has inspired me more than a blog piece can explain.

If you know me at all you know I’m different; I think differently than anyone I know in anything/everything I do and I’ve always looked at Jobs as inspiration because he was proof that thinking differently and believing in what you feel  and know deep inside is all you ever need to be successful, happy. The slogan “think different” will always be associated with Steve Jobs and that passion for looking at something and saying “yeah, but I want to do something different…” is what made him so amazing. He revolutionized the distribution of music, how we interact with a computer and so many other things because he thought differently. He didn’t just come up with solutions, he came up with entirely new paradigms and created things we’d never imagined or knew we wanted or needed yet here we are swiping at our smartphones or gesturing our way through a webpage like it’s commonplace. That’s the most important thing about Jobs to me: he created. He didn’t just build a better mousetrap, he created an entirely new way to trap mice you never imagined. He always seemed to be a step or 3 ahead of everyone and living in his own little world and sharing that world with us one piece at a time.

And now, we have to trust that his successors can continue his legacy and maybe in a poetic way it’s fitting that Apple’s HQ is located on a street named “Infinite Loop” where Steve’s legacy will live on in perpetuity.

So, thank you Steve. From the bottom of my heart and with every fiber of my being, I thank you for everything you did for the world around you but especially for me, personally. I lost my hero on Wednesday but I’ll never lose the passion for life, the belief that anything is possible, that with hard work and dedication it’s possible for ordinary people to do extraordinary things, that I will encounter myriad people who will challenge and question what I know and believe in my heart, that life is a gift and that following your heart will never leave you astray…all things that you personified more so than anyone I’ll ever know.

October 5, 2011: The day the music died

>The Apple-ification of Bryan Mills

>Well, as eluded to in a previous post, it’s time for an upgrade on my computing technology. In a radical departure from the past 12+ years of my life, I won’t be going with a Dell, In fact, I won’t even be going with a Windows-based platform.

Yup, you read it right: I’m ditching Windows in favor of Mac. I saw this coming for a while now and the time is just right from an operating system, hardware and design point of view. I’m making the switch for 2 major reasons:

1. I’m not as much of a “power user” as I once was or think I currently am. Back 5 years ago I was stoked to rip open a case and replace HDD’s or video cards or RAM or what not, like tinkering on a classic ’67 Camaro or something; Fry’s was a great place to go and look at all the fun new stuff for your computer. Then I got to wondering why my computer was like an ’87 Honda Accord or Scion and I was constantly pimping my ride and having to change the components all the time to get the results I wanted.

I’d hack into the OS and make little changes so things would run smoother or more to my liking, install any # of utilities that would add functionality missing from Windows, update virus software and deal with isolated threats every few months and so forth. Now, I’m over it. Why mess around with it? Why not just have something that works without having to throw all the bells and whistles at it? Why not just use a machine that does everything you want and more without having to ala carte your way there and mess everything else up in the process?

2. I want something that plays nicely with others and just works. Period. I made excuses for why Macs sucked in the past and touted the benefits of PC’s and Windows until I couldn’t talk. Now, I’ve started to ask myself: why do I need to defend something so much and why don’t you ever hear the Mac people quite as loudly as the PC guys? Well, I’m beginning to see the light and realizing that PC’s just aren’t all they’re cracked up to be and the software I need to run is widely available and maybe even more impressive on Macs, especially since all new Macs are built on Intel architecture and chips.

PC’s are fine machines but without constant monitoring, upgrading and general diligence about maintaining the status quo, you find yourself messing with viruses, software incompatibilities, driver updates, missing .dll’s; the list goes on. At any given time I have about 50 processes running, maybe 10 of which I intend on running. You’re probably asking “why not just find the processes and kill them or disable them through the Services application in the control panel?” YOU’RE PROVING MY POINT!! I don’t want to dick around with all that crap anymore! It’s onerous, at best, impossible at worst and I’ve done my time; it’s time for a new change.

So, with all that said, in a few weeks time we will begin the “Apple-ification” of my stable of computers and technology. “What are you going to get” you ask? Good question! Let’s go in chronological order…

MacBook Air
The laptop is the 1st to go. My Dell Inspiron 2600 has served me well for almost 3 years now and I have no hard feelings towards it; been to Indonesia, Europe and all points in between. It will go to a good home, no doubt, but it’s being replaced with Apple’s newest piece of technology the ridiculously small/thin and sexy MacBook Air. I don’t do much on my laptop but browse the web, word processing, occasional spreadsheets and PDF stuff for work and chat. I don’t need a massive screen, incredible processing power or optical drive and care more for portability, battery life and usability/compatibility with all the peripherals I use. The MBA seems to be the perfect fit and being the newest and most talked about laptop in a decade makes it right up my alley 🙂

Apple Time Capsule
This one is still up in the air. I am looking for a backup solution as well as a more powerful router and print server and this fits the bill on all accounts. At 500GB, it will also serve as not only backup but probably a NAS (network accessible storage) device for both myself and Katie who can both store music, movies, photos and other documents for immediate retrieval on any of the desktops or laptops in the house. I may opt for an external HDD and an Apple Airport Extreme base station instead if I can find a good deal but it’s pretty hard to beat the Time Capsule since it does everything I need in 1 convenient device.

24″ iMac
The new Mothership of my technology armada. I fell in love with the design of the new iMac the second I saw one in person and the display on the 24″ is probably the most gorgeous display I’ve ever laid eyes on. The machine is powerful, sleek and capable of doing everything I could ever want and more. It’s a pretty radical departure from the mini-tower desktops I’ve always used but since I’ve no desire to look under the hood and tinker with the guts of my computers anymore, the iMac will be great. Working with the MBA and the Time Capsule, this should be an awfully impressive team. But wait, there’s more!!

iPhone 2.0
When the iPhone debuted almost a year ago, I knew this device would change the way people view mobile phones but I was disappointed that it lacked several key features someone like myself needs, namely operation on a 3G network and ability to play nicely with Microsoft Exchange Server, which I rely on heavily. Well, it’s widely predicted that in a couple weeks Apple will be unveiling iPhone 2.0 with those 2 additions and more. I’m due for a new phone (BlackBerry Curve is approaching it’s 1-year anniversary) and since I’m going all Apple, I figured the new iPhone would be the icing on the cake. Katie has her own iPhone and loves it. Going to Forever 21 isn’t that bad when you can sit on her iPhone the whole time and browse sports scores or play games 🙂

This photo is ironic because the desktop I currently use is the same one shown above…

So, everything should be coming together in the next couple months and once it does I will be 100% Apple technology. Every call I make, document I produce, email I send, MP3 I download, blog entry I post and spreadsheet I print will go through an Apple device. I never thought I’d do it, but I’m about to become a full-fledged Kool-Aid drinker.

But is that so bad? These devices are easily some of the best in their class or the gold standard and they work amazingly well and play extremely nicely with one another. In Apple’s perfect world, everything is built to work with one another. Laptop, desktop, phone, storage, router; they build all of those devices and for them to work their best they’re to be used in unison. Problem is, that rarely happens. Somewhere along the line the chain is broken and Apple has to work with a device that’s not Apple and maybe in some way the perfect world isn’t so perfect anymore; same could be said for any software/hardware manufacturer.

Apple is unique: it is both a software and hardware company. The bum steer for Microsoft is that no matter how good their product is, it has to work with a 3rd party and that’s where the fun begins. If MSFT manufactured their own hardware, things would be a lot different and maybe the utopian world that Apple paints would be reality for Microsoft, too.

I’m pretty stoked that I won’t have X devices from X different manufacturers all trying to work together and none of them doing it 100% right. Instead, I’m hoping that the “perfect world” that Apple wants each and every one of it’s customers to operate in is indeed perfect I’d I’ll look back at the mid-90’s to present day and laugh at all the follies and frustrating days had on Windows-based PC’s and sip my chai-tea macchiato and queue up some U2 on iTunes while researching alternative fuel sources for my Prius. OK, I won’t go that far, people; you have my word…

The countdown has begun to Technology Life 2.0… I’ll keep you updated.

>Bryan’s history with computers

>It’s a slow Monday, so let me give you a brief history of my experience and ownership of computers.

Circa 1985: I begin using my first computer at Echo Park Elementary School in Burnsville, MN. I believe it was an Apple IIe, seen above. You know: black/green screen, Oregon Trail, etc.

Circa 1986: We buy a Commodore 128 for the house. Games like Jumpman, Zork and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego are played for hours. The color screen was ultra-pimp.

Circa 1987: My dad buys an Apple Macintosh and I begin playing around with it at his house on the weekends. Same sort of thing as the Apple IIe, but this one’s screen was black/white…AND, it had a mouse. I played many a game that was so primitive, yet incredibly fun, with this new-fangled invention the mouse. However, I think ejecting disks automatically by dragging the disk icon to the trash can was more fun than anything else. The GUI was here to stay

Circa 1990: Mom buys a Macintosh Classic II for the house. Not a lot of advancement here unless you count the 80MB HD an advancement. This computer would last quite a while until I’d move to the Dark Side and to Windows-based PC’s.

1995: I move to Kansas and need a computer for school, so at my dad’s request and financial assistance I pick up a Dell laptop. I’m not sure which model it was, I just remember it being big, heavy and having a really shitty battery-life. I had moved to the brand-new Windows 95 and thought it was cooler than anything I’d seen. Apple/Mac was in a bit of a funk at this time and Windows was gaining momentum everywhere, including academia as almost all the computers at KU were PC’s; a stark contrast from K-12 where it was rare to see a PC.

1996-present: I have purchased approximately 12 Dell computers during the past 12 years, both laptops and desktops. I am never without a laptop and a desktop machine in the house and seem to replace each machine every 2 years. Both laptop and desktop are nearing their short lifecycle and will be put to pasture fairly soon.

Present – future: Well, you just knew this post was leading somewhere. Stay tuned a bit later this week and I’ll unveil to you what the near and dustant future holds for my stable of computers and electronic gizmos.