Monday, August 24, 2009

Random Thoughts

The following are lessons or thoughts that I have lately. Maybe there are some wise men/women did say similar things before that I don't know. Maybe, they said it even better in more concise ways. Anyway, just want to say what's on my mind......

- It is not how much you make, but how much you can leave for spending freely that matter.

- Relationship is like a plant, that need frequent replenishment of nutrients, water, and sunlight. Keep this in mind.

- Jealousy may not found in your mind but it exists.

- Keep your emotion in balance is not easy. Taking deep breaths always help.

- Treat yourself nicely once in a while is important, being a giver most of the time is stressful.

- Even without bad habits, without goals in life is hazardous as well. As you will lose focus in your life and live like a zombie.

- Don't be regret for your actions if you have already tried your best.

- Self-dignity is important for a person to become respected. Respect should not be asked for, it will naturally go to those who deserve it.

- Be thankful for how fortunate you are all the time. Though there are people better than you are, you are always better than many others.

- What's most important in your life usually is something that you already have but ignore most of your time. Like health, family, freedom, etc.

- Try to educate and remind yourself that helping others is a good act, try to enjoy it.

- Don't ask for 'ups' in you life, cause they usually come with 'downs' that you may not be ready to bear.

-Don't expect free lunch, even though it exists, you will pay back in other ways.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My iPhone 3GS first review

Being an iPhone owner for almost 3 weeks now, the feeling is really good. It basically match my original expectations. In this blog, I'm not going to review its functions as many other blogs or websites have done already. For me, it is really just my thoughts and experience with the phone so far.

Physical appearance - I understand iPhone is really a mini-computer, with all the physical parts, it gotta be a bit heavy. I think the weight is actually fine in my hands, just it is sometimes kinda like a burden when I put that in the pocket of my shirt. However, in terms of size, it is perfectly done. The screen size is appropriate, the thickness is fine. I'm sure they may make it thinner in future, but that doesn't bother me much.

Headphone - I like the iPod headphone that with the little plastic clip that trap two plugs together. That's so handy that it makes it so easy to untie the whole thing. For the iPhone, it only do half a job because of the volume control with mic. It is better than without it. However, the good side is the mic itself, I like to use it to chat, actually I can hear better with the headphone than using the phone itself. The second good thing about the headphone is that I can easily tell the difference between left and right plug based on the volume control. The white color looks sharp, but it's got to be dirty down the road.

Voice Control - I still can't manage to use it as it should. I found that somehow it doesn't recognize what I said in many cases. Also, I still couldn't figure out where it can recognize multi-language in same command.

Battery - that's gotta be the worse thing. I don't think I use the phone extensively like playing games for extended hours. But the battery really goes quite fast. I don't leave my phone on overnight, but I still have to charge it every 2 days or so.

Games - I don't really play a lot, my favorite one is 'Word Warp'. Though, I downloads few pages of games, I just never manage to have time to really play them. For me, playing games are just really for killing time which is something I don't often need to do.

Apps - I think the iPhone's most successful feature is the app store. With its head start, Nokia, Microsoft and the rest are not gonna able to catch up. Physical form is easy to copy, but the depth of app store is simply amazing. For now, all my apps are free downloads. I don't see the need to buy anything yet. The only one that I will consider right now is the Quickoffice which would allow me to use Word and Excel. I'm thinking about it...

Music - Perfect! Just need some get use to it, transit from being an iPod classic user.

Web - It is not as fast as I want that to be. I don't know if it is because where I am or site traffic or what. It is decent, but still below my requirement.

Phone - Fine, but quality of the phone service provider is not that great. I like the contact phonebook.

Input - the keyboard is fine, the handwritten recognition is fine too.

Camera - Quality of pics are fine. Just still need quite a bit of practice to take 'steady' pics. Also, it is quite easy to take pic accidentally while holding the phone. Video is decent, but I didn't use that much.

Others - I still have not really use the others features much, like GPS, etc. Will comment more in future if I've more to say.

Well, that's it for now!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Good Supplimentary article to "I.O.U.S.A."

August 19, 2009

Americans: Serfs Ruled by Oligarchs

“In a little time [there will be] no middling sort. We shall have a few, and but a very few Lords, and all the rest beggars.” R.L. Bushman

“Rapidly you are dividing into two classes--extreme rich and extreme poor.” “Brutus”

Americans think that they have “freedom and democracy” and that politicians are held accountable by elections. The fact of the matter is that the US is ruled by powerful interest groups who control politicians with campaign contributions. Our real rulers are an oligarchy of financial and military/security interests and AIPAC, which influences US foreign policy for the benefit of Israel.

Have a look at economic policy. It is being run for the benefit of large financial concerns, such as Goldman Sachs.

It was the banks, not the millions of Americans who have lost homes, jobs, health insurance, and pensions, that received $700 billion in TARP funds. The banks used this gift of capital to make more profits. In the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Goldman Sachs announced record second quarter profits and large six-figure bonuses for every employee.

The Federal Reserve’s low interest rate policy is another gift to the banks. It lowers their cost of funds and increases their profits. With the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, banks became high-risk investment houses that trade financial instruments such as interest rate derivatives and mortgage backed securities. With abundant funds supplied virtually free by the Federal Reserve, banks are paying depositors virtually nothing on their savings.

Despite the Federal Reserve’s low interest rate policy, beginning October 1 banks are raising the annual percentage rate (APR) on credit card purchases and cash advances and on balances that have a penalty rate because of late payment. Banks are also raising the late fee. In the midst of the worst economy since the 1930s, heavily indebted Americans, who are losing their jobs and their homes, are to be bled into bankruptcy by the very banks that are being subsidized with TARP funds and low interest rates.

Moreover, it is the American public that is on the hook for the TARP money and the low interest rates. As the US government’s budget is 50 per cent or more in the red, the TARP money has to be borrowed from abroad or monetized by the Fed. This means more pressure on the US dollar’s exchange value and a rise in import prices and also domestic inflation.

Americans will thus pay for the TARP and low interest rate subsidies to their financial rulers with erosion in the purchasing power of the dollar. What we are experiencing is a massive redistribution of income from the American public to the financial sector.

And this is occurring during a Democratic administration headed by America’s first black president, with a Democratic majority in the House and Senate.

Is there a government anywhere that less represents its citizens than the US government?

Consider America’s wars. As of the moment of writing, the out-of-pocket cost of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is $900,000,000,000. When you add in the already incurred future costs of veterans benefits, interest on the debt, the forgone use of the resources for productive purposes, and such other costs as computed by Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University budget expert Linda Bilmes, “our” government has wasted $3,000,000,000,000--three thousand billion dollars--on two wars that have no benefit whatsoever for any American whose income does not derive from the military/security complex, about which five-star general President Eisenhower warned us.

It is now a proven fact that the US invasion of Iraq was based on lies and deception of the American public. The only beneficiaries were the armaments industries, Blackwater, Halliburton, military officers who enjoy higher rates of promotion during war, and Muslim extremists whose case the US government proved by its unprovoked aggression against Muslims. No one else benefitted. Iraq was a threat to no one, and finding Saddam Hussein and executing him after a kangaroo trial had no effect whatsoever on ending the war or preventing the start of others.

The cost of America’s wars is a huge burden on a bankrupt country, but the cost incurred by veterans might be even higher. Homelessness is a prevalent condition of veterans, as is post-traumatic stress. American soldiers, who naively fought for the munitions industry’s wars, for high compensation for the munitions CEOs, and for dividends and capital gains for the munitions shareholders, paid not only with lives and lost limbs, but also with broken marriages, ruined careers, psychiatric disorders, and prison sentences for failing to make child support payments.

What did Americans gain from an unaffordable war in Iraq that lasted far longer than World War II and that put into power Shi’ites allied with Iran?

The answer is obvious: nothing whatsoever.

What did the armaments industry gain? Billions of dollars in profits.

Obama is the presidential candidate who promised to end the war in Iraq. He hasn’t. But he has escalated the war in Afghanistan, started a new war in Pakistan, intends to repeat the Yugoslav scenario in the Caucasus, and appears determined to start a war in South America. In response to the acceptance by US puppet president of Columbia, Alvaro Uribe, of seven US military bases in Columbia, Venezuela warned South American countries that the “winds or war are beginning to blow.”

Here we have the US government, totally dependent on the generosity of foreigners to finance its red ink, which extends in large quantities as far as the eye can see, completely under the thumb of the military/security complex, which will destroy us all in order to meet Wall Street share price expectations.

Why does any American care who rules Afghanistan? The country has nothing to do with us.

Did the armed services committees of the House and Senate calculate the risk of destabilizing nuclear armed Pakistan when they acquiesced to Obama’s new war there, a war that has already displaced two million Pakistanis?

No, of course not. The whores took their orders from the same military/security oligarchy that instructed Obama.

The great American superpower and its 300 million people are being driven straight into the ground by the narrow interest of the big banks and the munitions industry. People, and not only Americans, are losing their sons, husbands, brothers, and fathers for no other reason than the profits of US armaments corporations, and the gullible American people seem proud of it. Those ribbon decals on their cars, SUVs and monster trucks proclaim their naive loyalty to the armaments industries and to the whores in Washington who promote wars.

Will Americans, smashed and destroyed by “their” government’s policy, which always puts Americans last, ever understand who their real enemies are?

Will Americans realize that they are not ruled by elected representatives but by an oligarchy that owns the Washington whorehouse?

Will Americans ever understand that they are impotent serfs?

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. This fall CounterPunch/AK Press will publish Robert's War of the Worlds: How the Economy Was Lost. He can be reached at:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Great article about Steve Jobs

Just came across a great article about Steve Jobs.....on

From The Sunday Times
August 16, 2009
Steve Jobs: The man who polished Apple
Chief executive of Apple Inc and owner of Jackling House changed the world and cheated death. So why the paranoia?

Bryan Appleyard
For five years the owner of the Jackling House in Woodside, California, has been trying to knock it down. He hates the place, calling it “one of the biggest abominations of a house I’ve ever seen”. He hates it so much, he has abandoned it to live a few miles away in Palo Alto. Pictures of the interior show a ghostly, decaying mansion. The owner can’t knock it down because of protests from conservationists. But a deal has been done. He will spend $600,000 to have it taken down and will have it rebuilt elsewhere — not a big victory by his standards, but a satisfying one. He has been having a hard time lately.

In June, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple Inc and the owner of the Jackling House, had had a liver transplant at the Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, in April. He’d taken a house in Memphis to be nearby if a liver became available. He had chosen Tennessee because of its short transplant waiting list. But, even there, to get to the top of the list means you have to be close to death. He was, the hospital confirmed, “the sickest patient on the waiting list at the time”.

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, author of the Apple 2.0 blog at, e-mails me the grim details of his operation: “He’s lost his gall-bladder, part of his stomach, part of his pancreas, the upper end of his small intestine and now has someone else’s liver, which probably means he’ll be on immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of his life. That can’t be fun.”

On January 5, Jobs had written to the “Apple Community” explaining that he was ill and taking six months off work. “Fortunately, after further testing,” he wrote, “my doctors think they have found the cause — a hormone imbalance that has been ‘robbing’ me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.”

Apple Inc is worth around $140 billion. But is it worth anything without Jobs? It is a company formed around his personality and inspiration. It is also the most watched, envied, admired and adored company in the world. So how, you may wonder, was it possible for Jobs to put out such a statement four months before a liver transplant? And how was it possible for consumer capitalism’s greatest hero to pull off the Memphis Liver Caper in absolute secrecy?
The answer is that, along with computers, iPhones and iPods, secrecy is one of Apple’s signature products. A cult of corporate omerta — the mafia code of silence — is ruthlessly enforced, with employees sacked for leaks and careless talk. Executives feed deliberate misinformation into one part of the company so that any leak can be traced back to its source. Workers on sensitive projects have to pass through many layers of security. Once at their desks or benches, they are monitored by cameras and they must cover up devices with black cloaks and turn on red warning lights when they are uncovered. “The secrecy is beyond fastidious and is in fact insultingly petty and political,” says one employee on the anonymous corporate reporting site, “and often is an impediment to actually getting one’s work done.”

But employees are one thing; shareholders are another. Should Jobs (who, as far as the world is concerned, is Apple) have been allowed to conceal the seriousness of his illness? Warren Buffett, the greatest investor alive, doesn’t think so. “Whether [Steve Jobs] is facing serious surgery or not is a material fact.”

Some say another sign that Apple omerta has gone too far was the death of Sun Danyong, a 25-year-old employee of Foxconn, a Chinese manufacturer of Apple machines. He was given 16 prototypes of new iPhones. One disappeared. Facts beyond that get hazy, but it is clear that Sun committed suicide by jumping from a 12th-storey apartment. Internet babble says he killed himself because of the vanished prototype and, therefore, because of Apple’s obsessive secrecy.
Then there is the recent case of the exploding iPod in Liverpool. Ellie Stanborough’s iPod touch went up in a puff of smoke. Her father, Ken, complained, but Apple said he could only have a refund if he promised not to talk. He refused. “They’re putting a restriction on myself, my daughter and Ellie’s mum not to say anything to anyone,” said Ken. “If we inadvertently did say anything? they could take litigation against us. I thought that was absolutely appalling.” This isn’t the freewheeling, good-times California lifestyle image the company likes to project. It is, rather, that of a much tougher and paranoid operation.

Yet secrecy is Apple’s core marketing tool. Jobs’s specialities are 90-minute to two-hour-long presentations to prayer meetings of the faithful. These always end with the words “and one last thing”, at which point he unveils the latest gizmo to geek hallelujahs. Rumours suggest he is, in spite of the transplant, about to do it again in the next few weeks. It will be a dual sensation: the sight of a walking, talking Jobs and of a new tablet computer, a sort of giant iPhone, which, some say, will yet again change the world. Excitement intensified early this month when an unnamed “analyst” was reported as having actually held the tablet. He said it was “better than your average movie experience”.

The secrecy is all about preserving the magic of each new product. Apple hates personality stuff and press intrusion. “We want to discourage profiles,” an Apple PR tells me stiffly, apparently unaware she is waving a sackful of red rags at a herd of bulls. Another PR rings the editor of this magazine to try to halt publication of this piece.

Jobs doesn’t like being questioned. Despite his attempts to find serenity through Zen Buddhism, the agony of interviews can get to him. “Imagine what he’d be like,” said a reporter after emerging from a Jobs drubbing, “if he hadn’t studied Zen.”

“He’s a tough, prickly interview,” says Elmer-DeWitt, “and he’s always selling. Hard.” In fact, any interview situation with Jobs can turn nasty. One excessively strait-laced candidate for a job at Apple bored him so much, he sprang questions like “How old were you when you lost your virginity?” and “How many times have you taken LSD?” on the poor sap. (Jobs has said that taking LSD was one of the most important things in his own life.) Then he lapsed into a chant of “Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble”. “I guess I’m not the right guy for this job,” said the candidate finally.

The transplant was not Jobs’s first near-death experience. In 2004 he was found to have pancreatic cancer. This usually means certain death. He was told to go home and put his affairs in order. Then he got a call. His tumour was rare and operable. He returned to work, and in 2007 launched the iPhone, the latest of what he calls Apple’s “insanely great” products. The iPhone joined the Mac computer, the iPod and the films of Pixar Animation Studios, all vastly successful, influential products brought to market by Jobs. Well, “products” is perhaps a bit weak: “agents of global transformation” might be better. “My God!” says Andrea Cunningham, a PR hired and fired four times by Jobs. “He’s single-handedly changed the world, like, at least three times!”

But, even as the faithful queued overnight to get their hands on the first iPhones, new rumours were circulating about his health. These were given almost comical credence when his obituary was accidentally published by the Bloomberg news service last August. Then, in January this year, Jobs made his announcement. Then came news of the transplant. This indicated the cancer had spread to his liver. The signs are not good. On the other hand, he seems to be up and about. He has gone back to work, and Elmer-DeWitt has reported that he’s been seen at a Coldplay concert. Cunningham has seen him going into the Fraiche yoghurt cafe in Palo Alto near her office. “He walks by occasionally. He looks pretty good, actually, and they do make great yoghurt.”

The drama of it all is intense, important — not least for Apple shareholders — and strangely thrilling. Jobs, in business, has died before and risen from the grave. For the past 12 years he has been the risen God of Silicon Valley, the Sun King of Palo Alto. Yet it won’t be until squadrons of pigs are flying over the frozen wastes of hell that he will appear on Oprah Winfrey or Larry King to tell the world how he feels about all this.

Jobs can be a cold, hard boss. In fact, judged simply as an office politician, he can seem pretty hopeless. He blew it in 1985. Having launched the Macintosh, he was driven out of Apple by John Sculley, the CEO he had lured from Pepsi-Cola with the hubristic and diet-conscious words “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?” Many at Apple were happy to see Jobs go. They would be sad soon afterwards.
That’s Bad Steve. But then there’s Good Steve. Abused employees, if they survive, often find themselves praised to the heavens. They ride on what is know as the “hero-asshole rollercoaster” and they live inside the “reality distortion field”, Jobs’s uncanny ability to convince people that the utterly impossible is, in fact, entirely possible.

Good Steve is the only businessman to be accorded rock-god status by millions. Apple nuts queue overnight to hear him speak. They buy Macs, iPods and iPhones not just because they want them, but also because they want to support this company as if it were some kind of charity or cult. The nuts aren’t wrong for one crucial reason. Though personally worth $3.4 billion, Jobs is one of them, the great consumer of his own products.

“Jobs is not an engineer,” says the writer Dan Lyons, “he can’t really design anything and he doesn’t know anything about circuits. But he is the ultimate end-user, the guy who is on our side.” Lyons created the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs blog with a motto that captures the strange Jobs mix of geek fantasy and power: “I will restore your sense of childlike wonder. There is nothing you can do to stop me.” And so, amid the secrecy and geekery, Good and Bad Steves blend to form one, gigantic, mesmerising personality. “He would have made,” said Jef Raskin, the brain behind the first Mac, “an excellent king of France.”

To call Jobs a control freak is to call rain wet. When building the first Mac, engineers wanted to include “expansion slots” into which people could slide kit to customise their machines.

Jobs resisted. The machine was his and it had to be closed and perfect. And he’s still at it: he has made it impossible for buyers even to change the batteries on his latest laptops.

But he has eased off on this with the iPhone. He has allowed outside companies to develop applications — “apps” — that can be downloaded to the phone. These range from Grindr — a gay cruising tool that helps you find nearby gays — to Shakespeare, which stores all the plays on your phone. The success of apps has stunned Apple. By the end of the year there will be 100,000 apps available. There have already been 1.5 billion downloads. Some have speculated that the app cult will supplant the internet. Certainly the new tablet Mac will be based on this phenomenon. Jobs also has a bizarre obsession with the insides of his machines. He drives his engineers mad by insisting that insides look beautiful, even though his customers won’t see this. This code of impenetrable perfection even extends to Jobs’s view of his own body. He has always been a fussy eater, and health problems have intensified this. His favourite dish was once said to be shredded raw carrots without dressing.

Jobs is, in the words of the psychiatrist and scholar of leadership Michael Maccoby, “a productive narcissist”. To Jobs, the world is an epiphenomenon, a side effect of the existence of Steve. Or rather, it is a pyramid with Jobs at the top, a few bright people just beneath him, and then the rest of us — the “bozos”. The customer bozo is not, to him, always right. In the early days it was said the Apple marketing department consisted of Jobs looking in his mirror and asking himself what he wanted. His customer-relations motto is from Henry Ford: “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” In a world driven by technology, only the technocrats know what we want and need.

Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco, was once simply the Santa Clara Valley, a land of orchards. Now it’s a land of smart, rich people who eat breakfast daily suffused with the conviction that today is the day they will make billions and change the world. It was in here, in the town of Mountain View, that Jobs spent his childhood. He was born to Joanne Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali in San Francisco. They were young and unmarried and, as a result, he was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. They seem to have provided a good home, but everybody is convinced that the mere fact of the adoption did much to form Jobs’s character. Michael Maccoby thinks the key might be the idea of the absent or lost father.

“The very striking thing about productive narcissists, particularly men, is that they grow up in families where there is an absent or weak father figure. You can see this in narcissistic presidents like Obama, Clinton, Reagan and Nixon. They struggle with their identity and view of the world. So they tend to come up with a very original view of things and are then driven to find followers.”

Later, Jobs dropped out of college. Again, this seems to have been crucial. Alan Deutschman, author of The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, says his lack of a proper education in a world of highly educated people left him permanently insecure, especially in matters of taste. “I think his choice of a minimalist aesthetic comes from his fear of making the wrong aesthetic choice. He was someone who had great wealth from his early twenties. He was worried about not being seen as a brilliant sophisticate, so he had gurus to help him. There was this anxiety about being judged, combined with a natural instinct about the tremendous importance of design.”

There was another sense in which Jobs seemed to miss out. Deutschman says he “lagged the zeitgeist”. He was too young — 12 in 1967 — to enjoy the full hippie, summer-of-love experience. Yet he seemed to want to catch up, travelling, like the Beatles, to India to find enlightenment, and returning, unlike the Beatles, a Buddhist.

His first business persona was that of counter-cultural guerrilla, a silicon Che Guevara. The Mac was launched with the most famous TV ad ever made, a tour de force of ad-art directed by Ridley Scott. It portrayed IBM as George Orwell’s Big Brother and Apple as a blonde, athletic Californian-type freedom fighter, smashing Big Brother’s screen with a sledgehammer.

Finally, he even dated Joan Baez, the folk-singing goddess of the counterculture. Some said it was because she had been the lover of Bob Dylan, and Jobs is crazy about Bob. According to Deutschman’s book, he later said gracelessly:

“I would have married Joan Baez but she was too old to have my children.”

Which brings me to the matter of Jobs and women. This has been a rocky road. When his first serious girlfriend, Chris-Ann, became pregnant, he refused to accept it was anything to do with him. Lisa, his daughter, was born in a commune in Oregon in 1978. They have since been reconciled. That would be that but for the fact that, in the early 1980s, Jobs rediscovered his biological parents. They had married and had a daughter, Mona Simpson, his sister. She was a highly regarded novelist, who in 1996 published A Regular Guy, about a driven, narcissistic superstar business man and his relations with the daughter he had abandoned. At every turn, Jobs’s story seems to grow into fiction and then myth.

Jobs seems to go for the blonde, athletic Californian look of the girl in the Mac ad. It may be one more aspect of his pursuit of belonging in the pampered groves of the Valley. In 1991, at a Zen Buddhist ceremony, he married a woman — Laurene Powell — with precisely that look. They are still together and have three children.

His eviction from Apple in 1985 was a death and he did not go gently into that good night. One day he called Andrea Cunningham to the Jackling House to talk about his new company. She found him in the almost entirely unfurnished house haranguing journalists about the iniquities of his usurper, John Sculley. “He was pretty much ranting. I was quite shocked that someone of his abilities and intelligence and all of that would attempt what he was trying to attempt. It was just amazing.”

Then came the wilderness years. Apple lost its way, and by the mid-1990s it was on the verge of collapse. Its computers were dull and the Apple operating system was buggy and awful. I reluctantly abandoned them at this point. Jobs’s new company, NeXT, meanwhile, went nowhere. It made beautiful-looking computers for education. But they were expensive and impossible to sell.

In 1986 he bought — from the creator of Star Wars, George Lucas — a strange commune of brilliant men who were convinced that movies could be made on computers. It was called Pixar. They were inventing the technology as they went along. That, too, seemed to be going nowhere.
Saddled with these increasingly implausible projects, Jobs saw his own massive wealth begin to dwindle. His press coverage, adoring at the time of the Mac, became sceptical. But vengeance is his and he will repay. Pixar went into partnership with Disney to produce Toy Story, and Apple, crippled and loss-making, took over NeXT and brought Jobs back into the fold. Within months he was God again. Pixar grossed millions, then billions, and Apple brushed the dirt off its face and leapt out of the grave. First came the iMac, a toy-like, one-box desktop computer that can still be seen in groovy offices. Then in 2002 came the real payoff for the grim NeXT years. Mac OS X, the new operating system, was based on NeXT software. It was superb, infinitely better than Microsoft Windows and infinitely more beautiful. I, and millions of others, returned to Apple.

Jobs couldn’t hope to conquer Microsoft’s dominance in the market, but he could easily make it look desperately clunky. Silicon Che Guevara, having defeated IBM, returned to outcool Microsoft. But world domination was still to be had. He took it with the iPod in 2001 and the iPhone in 2007. The first stole almost the whole of the MP3-player market, and the second is doing the same to the mobile-phone market. Apple is now the consumer-electronics company by which all others are judged and found wanting.

Inevitably, with his health hanging by a thread, this raises the question: can they do without him? Of course they can, says Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original Mac-makers, who is now at Google. “It’s ludicrous,” he e-mails, “to think that Apple is a one-man company; there are hundreds if not thousands of exceptionally talented individuals who work there. Much of their post-Steve fate will depend on the leadership that eventually replaces him. The company disintegrated after Steve left in the mid-1980s; hopefully, they can do much better this time around.”

Others are not so sure Apple can do without his burning product perfectionism. “A lot of companies can do without that,” says Cunningham. “There’s probably a lot of business they can do with long-term incremental improvements to their products. But are they ever going to have another breakthrough product? I don’t know.”

“Apple will keep executing its current business plan,” says Philip Elmer-DeWitt, “which could go on for years. But it will be different in one key respect: with Jobs there was a guy at the beginning and end of every project who had the authority to say, ‘This sucks. Start over.’ Whoever replaces him may share his vision and job title, but he or she will not be the co-founder of Apple and won’t have the same authority.”

My own view is that a Jobsless Apple will seek a merger with Google. The two companies are rapidly converging, a fact that recently led to the resignation of the Apple director Eric Schmidt, the chairman and chief executive of Google. He had been on the Apple board for three years, and was forced out because of suspicions that links between the two companies could endanger competition. One other director of both companies remains: Arthur Levinson, former chief executive of Genentech. The key areas of convergence are, first, mobile phones. There is Apple’s iPhone and there is Google’s Android, not a phone in itself, but an operating system that can be used by other companies. Google also produce a web browser called Chrome, which competes with Apple’s Safari. And, most importantly, Google is working on a computer operating system, also called Chrome, which may well be a very serious competitor for Mac OS X. Apple’s iPhone “apps” also compete with many free Google applications. The point is that both companies are aiming to seize dominance of the world market from Microsoft. Microsoft’s Windows still dominates world computing in spite of its failure to innovate. The loss of Jobs’s genius for products would mean Google’s innovation and Apple’s design and market sense would be a very good fit, although antitrust regulators might disagree.

Then there is the mighty, epic question of Jobs himself. Can the Valley do without him? Can we? Opinions of his career swing between the Bad Steve/Good Steve poles. Those who focus on the former think he could have done it all without the tantrums and brutality. Gifted people have been damaged horribly by his behaviour. Jobs took against Alvy Ray Smith at Pixar and cut him out of the company history. “He has failed many times,” says Smith, “but the press and the public overlook that in their rush to glorify him? Steve and I don’t like one another.” Deutschman’s book is a cool look at Bad Steve and asks the very good question once asked by a college friend of Jobs: “How much of an asshole do you have to be to be highly successful?” One Hollywood boss compared Jobs to Citizen Kane, adding: “I hope there’s a sled called Rosebud.”
“Rosebud” was Kane’s mysterious last word. It turns out to be the sledge he lost when a banker took him from his childhood home. The implication is that Jobs nurses a wound that cannot be healed. Such ambivalence infuriates those who focus on Good Steve. “I think Deutschman’s book was a hatchet job,” says Hertzfeld. “Steve is a complicated individual. Like many of us, the good and the bad aspects of his personality are inextricably linked.”

“I think we need productive narcissists like Jobs,” says Maccoby, “but there are always quirks. You may get an Abraham Lincoln or you may get an Adolf Hitler; you may get a Winston Churchill or you may get a Joseph Stalin.”

The strength and relative stability of the company make it clear that Jobs learnt something from his first fall and his second coming. He learnt, says Maccoby, that a narcissistic personality like his, with extremely dodgy people skills, needs a more consensual character to keep him in check. He found one in Tim Cook, Apple’s comparatively serene chief operating officer, who is the likeliest successor. He’s not Jobs but he’s a rarity in the Valley — a “safe pair of hands”.

All agree that Jobs made Apple into more than a company. To the believers it is a great cause; to the sceptics it is more sinister. “Apple is less of a company and more like a cult,” says Dan Lyons. “If the Church of Scientology went into consumer electronics it would be Apple.” The status of the company is beyond argument. It is watched by bloggers who trawl through its patent applications and analyse its every move. “I swim through Apple newsfeeds like a whale swims through krill,” says Elmer-DeWitt. Yet the company continues to surprise and amaze. I don’t want Jobs to die because my computers and iPhone are, indeed, “insanely great” compared with the dismal competition but, more importantly, because he is an extraordinary figure. I don’t use the word “genius” about businesspeople, but in Steve Jobs’s case I’m prepared to make an exception.

Geniuses tend to see their own lives as universally significant, embodying the great currents of their age. They may not know they are doing this, but it is evident in their work. Everything about Jobs tells me this is how he sees his life, as the distillation of the high-tech revolution and of affluent, aspirational consumerism. He is, as Dan Lyons says, “the ultimate end-user”, both consumer and maker. He is one with the bozos and their gizmos. That’s who he is.

Surviving his health crisis may require more than a transplant in Memphis. Perhaps he will need a free download or upgrade from the other god that watches over Silicon Valley. If he gets it, then he can knock down that ghostly house in Woodside and build the minimalist mansion that will set his consuming mind to rest. He just wants a home really, like the rest of us bozos, because home is everybody’s Rosebud.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Apple's 'iPad'

‘Ipad’, the nickname of the alleged tablet PC that everyone is predicting that Apple is gonna release in near future: either before this holiday season or early 2010, is something that really has alluring power. Of course everyone has their take on the price, the release date and all that. My interest would more on its functionality than anything else. Cos, for Apple, it doesn’t follow but create market, also what Apple product doesn’t charge consumer a premium? So, what really matter is how good the product is gonna be.

I’ve read quite a number of articles about the iPad/iTablet. Regarding the product itself, the consensus is that it is gonna be multi-touch, with 10 inches screen, run OS X, has Wi fi can access and use iPhone apps. (see the above fictional picture of what it will look like, created by some artists) That’s about it. I think those predictions are absolutely reasonable, but in terms of market, usually writers of articles mentioned the possible price range of around US$699 to define what it is. For me that’s not really any comment about the target audience or market. Also, since Tim Cook criticized the current netbooks in the market, so the iPad is believed to be going after the non-netbook consumers. For that, I would disagree so.

I think the iPad will be hit three particular products the hardest when it comes out: the netbook, the e-book readers (aka Kindle, and Sony reader), and those big screen PMP. Those 3 products are all portable devices. Netbook is popular because it is portable and cheaper than a laptop that can provide mobile services for web-surfing, simple office functions, and simple media playing functions. The shortcoming is the crumby keyboard, subpar OS, and speed. Ebook reader is for reading books and magazine, but e-link still has a year or 2 before color can be added. So, it is still black and white. Also, it is expensive for simply serving those functions. PMP, a less popular device, is mostly for watch DVD, purely for entertainment purpose. I believe that iPad will all that and better. Netbook and PMP will have no match considering the superiority of Apple’s OS. The design and form factor with multitouch will have strong appeal than the Kindle. Cos, you can swipe a page on the iPad to go to next page, like you read a magazine or a book, not pressing ‘buttons’! With iTunes, it should be easy to add ‘books’ there. So, Amazon has to watch out.

Certainly, iPad’s goal is not just to beat those 3 products, but doing more. Apple already has a great fan base in education field. So, iPad can definitely become the e-textbook of choice. If iTunes University contains lectures from elite institutions already that is using iPod and iPhone for access. Would iPad be even better for viewing? And even handing out homework assignments back to teacher? The usage in education market is only limited by your imagination. Lastly and naturally, iPad can be rolled out to Medical market which is predicted and will be welcomed by health professionals.

Therefore, with the release of iPad, I strongly believe that Apple will once again have a hit on its hand. I don’t think it will be as big as iPhone, but I should do much better than iCube, AppleTV, or Macbook Air. The greatest concern that I’ve for iPad is the battery life. Unlike iPhone or iPod, iPad’s battery gotta be detachable for replacement, before better battery technology is commercially available. Otherwise, it will certainly create a lot of grumpy customers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

End of the World as I know it

Recently, I saw the preview of the movie 2012, it is about the Mayan’s belief that 2012-12-21 is supposed to be the 'end of the world'. Of course, Hollywood uses that as gimmick to make another blockbuster movies showing what else?...the end of the world! Making by the director of ID4, and The Day After Tomorrow. So, you can guess pretty much what you will see in the movie. Yes, the digital effects are gonna be spectacular. However, though the movie is not out yet. I would like to see if there is more ‘story’ to it, then just screen after screen of destructions.

Personally, since I was a kid, I’d been fascinated by the idea of ‘end of the world’. I think I’m not alone for that. Certainly, as I grow older, things have been changed a bit. Anyway, I think people who are very into this topic are usually those who feel that they are part of a collective incapability of changing our life and our world. Maybe, it is because regardless what political system we are under, the rich and powerful will always get their ways to hold on to power and make more money. As a result, most people and the environment suffer. Also, if they have some kinds of religious beliefs, then we all humans are sinners that deserve to die, be punished by God or whatever. Namely, we dig our own graves! As such, we will see that we can’t make a difference, and the hell goes with it, then it may be logical to believe that we all gonna die in such an ultimate event – the end of the world!

Comes to think of it, end of the world has different meanings that many people don’t really try to distinguish them. Sure, the end results on personal level will pretty much be the same – we all gonna die! However, logically speaking, there are different meanings, including: (i) the end of current human civilization, (ii) the extinction of human beings, (iii) the destruction of earth environment that no living things can exist anymore, also (iv) the ultimate destruction of the Earth itself.

I think the great flood in Bible mostly resemble (i). Only few people survive. There is a rainbow of possibility between (i) and (ii), somehow they are related. Usually, the fact is a substantial number of human population die. That has caused the loss of the fabric of society, countries, and knowledge that; it leads to total revamp of human existence for the remaining ones. In the movies, the Day After Tomorrow is a good example, but U.S. Government still exists. So, do few others like Armageddon, and Deep Impact. Nonetheless, I think that it somehow will really depend on the cause of the destruction. The major factor would be how long ahead we know the ‘big one’ will happen. Cos, if it is due to asteroid, or sudden shift of polars of the world, there is not much time that human can prepare. I think that actually is better. If it is due to nuclear wars or disease, it would be worse. Cos, in those case, the number of people that killed by other fellow human beings can be as many as those killed by radiation, or gems. Considering the chaos and panic that the fore coming event will create, I’m sure some people will just do what they wouldn’t dare to do in normal life if they know that they are gonna die with many others in 4 weeks for example. The worst and best side of human beings will be shown in those occasions. The rich may open their wallet to help many people with no string attached, but the potential criminals would simply try to ‘enjoy’ whatever time left and carry out actions that violate many others. I’m pretty sure that will happen.

For (iii) and (iv), they are largely ‘academic’, unless a space ‘ark’ is created, otherwise, we will all be dead, and so it really doesn’t matter. If such ‘ark’ is created, then, the scenario in the movie ‘Deep Impact’ will happen. Namely, who has the right the live? That’s a big question, and I’m sure it is not a just a concept in movies, many governments do have such hidden plan. Certainly, there are individuals trying to make it on their own. Such as those radiation-proof vault that you can bury in your backyard with a tunnel built from your basement to its entrance. You can live inside the vault for 2 years with food, recycled-water, etc. Nonetheless, that’s just minority with unproven solution.

On my personal side, I think this topic is just being one of novelty idea for entertainment and imagination these days. By any means, it does a very interesting topic for conversation if you find the right folks to chat on.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Match-making Services

During my monthly lunch with an old colleague who is working in the same building as mine. Besides the casual catch-up of what’s going on in our life, we do exchange ideas of whatever topic that comes up. Today, she asked me a question about how come men are unlikely to express their emotion, particularly about relationship issues….then somehow the topic of match-making or dating services come up….

Certainly, it is not something that would apply to us, as both of us are married and I believe the respective relationships are doing fine. She mentioned that she has many female friends who are still single in their 30s, and just somehow can’t settle down. I told her that they should try match-making services and said that I didn’t meet my wife back then, I would go to those services in order to find a spouse. Cos, logically speaking, it is a really a good way to find the ‘right’ one in today’s life as everybody is busy with their works with tightening social circles. Then she said that one of her friends did go to those services and end up marry in 6 months. That person was a very attractive lady that had no problem meeting men, just never the right one. I said that it is exactly the best part of those services. It helps people to screen out those just not gonna be right in spite of the fact that they may possess certain advantageous factors. Cos, a lot of very important factors will not be found out until way down in a committed relationship. If the answers are known much earlier, it would be good to know if those answers doesn’t match what’s on your mind. For example, you wouldn’t discuss some key factors like whether you want to have kid or not, living with parents after marriage or not, etc when you are in the early stage of a relationship.

If the answers to those types of questions don’t match what you want, it would be very hard for the couple to live happily together for long. When so much tangible and intangible resources have been devoted in such relationship, the pullback is gonna be painful. The worse thing is that time and youth has gone, and they are not coming back. In order to avoid of those maybe life-long regret, it is good to find them earlier! What is better than learning those answers before you meet that person, then you just pick those right factors that match yours, and what’s left are the characters, physicality, and relationship buildup. Learning those factors would help to defuse a lot of relationship-threatening ‘bombs’. Then, my friend asked me, ‘would a couple meet through such services take away the romance or destiny of relationship?’ I said ‘no’. Cos, it is still take some ‘luck’ or ‘destiny’ to get the couple together. Cos, they have to be going to the same service or sharing the same database at the same time. Also, they don’t get marry or go into relationship on the first date, they still will develop relationship, just more efficient and happy along the way, as they should have similar goal in life and they know what they are picking, provided that they didn’t lie in the first place and they don’t change their life goals afterwards. Certainly, nothing is guaranteed, but it is always better to do prevention of problems whenever possible.

Come to think of it, the concept of such modern match-making dating services is not new. It is simply better than the old traditional way of match-making between parents which took place back then and are still happening in some countries these days. The concept of those practices was considered to be old fashion and backward, however, I think they are not really bad, but they just have some shortcomings. The good part was that girls back then were usually very home-bounded with limited opportunity to meet boys. Parents had greater authority over the livelihood of their children. As such, they all wanted a better match for their children, so they would go to seek families of similar background to avoid a lot of class issues. The concept was that couples of similar backgrounds were better match than the otherwise. Actually, it wasn’t wrong in that sense. Nowadays, many couples are from similar class to some extents. Professionals usually would seek other professionals. They usually have similar level of educational background, and their area of interests would be more likely overlapped. That also applies to their life value and views on many social issues etc. With people that I aquatinted before, I do see couples like Judge-banker, professor-teacher, HR-insurer, civil servant-civil servant, financial manager-financial manager, IT-manager-financial manager. I also see couples of plumber-financial manager, marketing manager-chef, and PR expert-technician that are doing fine. Well, I think as long as things can work out, there is no rule for match-making. Nonetheless, if you ask me I’m pro or against such services, I’ve to claim the former.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My iPhone 3GS

Finally, I got this in my hand, charged, and with my phone plan activated. Yes, I will be sticken to this deal for the next 2 years. I know what is coming, cos my wife has already been an iphone user for almost a year. So, there is nothing unexpectedly happened after I got mine. Before I bought my iphone, I’ve read enough to know what I’m getting into. What I will try to do now is to really make it great use of it to improve my life. I told my wife that it is gonna be my last gadget for a foreseeable future, cos based on the current status of my life, I just can’t find time to own and play with anything else. To me, my iphone doesn’t just replace my ipod classic, though I would love to have a much bigger hard disk than the mere 32GB, it replaced my broken Samsung phone, and it will give me a powerful tool to improve my productivity and provide me with convenience in my daily life. E.g. I will less like to forget things than the past, cos my iphone will be with me in most of my wake up hours. For me, killing time with games would be nice, but I don’t see that as critical for me, cos I just don’t have a lot of free time to be killed anyway. The bottomline for now is that, I’ve no compliant so far and I’m happy with it.