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 me.com 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

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>It’s not a giant iPod Touch

>

So this past week Apple unveiled their newest creation the iPad. As with ALL newly unveiled Apple products there was much disappointment and bitching by the Apple haters of the world. Let’s get to the crux of what the haters are standing on.

It’s a giant iPod Touch.

That’s it. People don’t like it because they perceive it to just be a huge iPod Touch with a much bigger screen and price tag; nothing new, whatsoever. I won’t argue that from an aesthetic and possibly even current functionality standpoint the iPad is anything more than an iPod Touch, but is that such a bad thing? I mean it’s larger and allows the user to interact with, input and experience things on the device that they never could on an iPod Touch. You can edit photos on the Touch, create a symphony and draw out blueprints for your new house on the touch but would you? Why stop there. Did you know that you can compose a 500-page book on your Motorola RAZR flip-phone using the T9 text input method? I mean why do we need the iPad if these arcane, inferior devices can already do this stuff??

 
iBegToDiffer

Think about the iPod. That device was created 9 years ago. 9 years…and now it is the de facto portable music device, a name as ubiquitous as Kleenex or Xerox. The development of that device is staggering…yet people want to call the iPad a failure before it even hits the shelves? If there’s 1 thing you ever learn from this blog, learn this: people always have and always will be DUMB.

 
Hi. We’re the iPods. We’re 9 years old and we rule the world.

People also complain about the features, or lack thereof. This boils down to a huge misconception over what the iPad was going to be and a difference between certain individual expectations and what was originally planned by the people that actually developed the product.See, the haters wanted the iPad to basically be an iMac or MacBook without a keyboard; a fully functional computer that could replace your current machine. In fact, the iPad is meant to augment your desktop and/or laptop computer by providing certain mobile functionality that the form factor of a laptop cannot provide, or more accurately, provide as well as the iPad can.

Bear in mind, it was all rumors and conjecture. Apple until the actual day of the unveiling event hadn’t made 1 public statement about iPad; it was one of the closest held secrets in the history of computing and all the specs, functionality, release date and such were placed on the iPad by the public at large, not Apple. Hell, Apple even created a Delaware LLC to register certain trademarks prior to the launch. The name of that company? “IP Application Development, LLC.” Get it? IPAD.

The final complaint is that Steve Jobs claims that this product is “revolutionary” and probably the most important product he’s worked on, which when you think the thing is just a big iPod Touch makes sense. What people fail to recognize is that Rome wasn’t built in a day; they view development like the alphabet and believe that anything less than “Z” is a failure. The iPad hit like a “K” and that’s totally fine, maybe even expected.

 
Revolutionary

Think back to 1984 when Apple released the Macintosh. There were computers that were faster, had better monitors, more features, etc. That product was revolutionary and while you sort of understood that at the time it took years and years of further development to realize what the original Macintosh was: truly revolutionary. I believe in 10 years we will look back at the iPad and Steve Jobs and say “that sonuvabitch did it again.” We don’t realize that something is revolutionary until after the fact when it’s been proven; look at the Macintosh. The potential of this device (whether you think it’s a giant iPod Touch or not) is immense.

Imagine the applications in academia, where Apple decided to focus it’s efforts 30+ years ago. Think about carrying around this device and having all your textbooks on it…from every semester you were in school. Furthermore, imagine the possibilities of multimedia textbooks. Chemistry students could be reading about various compounds and have a 3D, interactive display to learn from in the classroom or wherever they may be. Music students can compose directly on the tablet and collaborate in real time with other students in schools thousands of miles away, art students can have fully interactive versions of the worlds greatest works…I mean the possibilities in academia are endless. Fancy yourself a chef? How cool would it be to have a recipe with videos demonstrating various steps in the recipe like how to tie up a roast or the correct technique for folding egg whites into a souffle?

Can other devices (including laptops) do these things already? Sure. But can they do it as well as the iPad will? No way. I keep coming back to the original Macintosh and how similar this device is from a “revolutionary” standpoint. Apple’s ability to innovate and lead the world from a technology perspective is absolute and anyone who thinks that the iPad is a failure, not revolutionary or that it’s just a giant iPod Touch is a fool and I ask that you go back to Windows 95 or Windows ME where you belong.

Does it have shortcomings? You bet. Is it something I would buy right away? Probably not; I want to see how well it does out of the gate and where they focus development efforts and then hop on board. Bear in mind that I LOVE being on the bleeding edge of technology and have purchased the first generation of more technologies than I care to admit so maybe I will jump right in but I still think there are a few things I’d like to see Apple address and I’d also like to see if they decide to make the wireless capabilities available to other carriers besides AT&T as I fear that this is going to piss people off even more than they already are with the iPhone exclusivity. In the long run this will damper the 3rd party development efforts of this device, which is where the true potential lies.

Assuming you made it this far, you need to watch this awesome video by Parry Gripp from the band Nerf Herder. He makes all these super fun, catchy songs about the most random things and the iPad was his latest inspration. Listen to the lyrics. While they are really silly and comparing the iPad to nachos may seem ridiculous, the message is actually pretty spot on…