Becoming Steve Jobs

Nobody’s perfect. But some people are very interesting. I’d have said both of those things to you about Steve Jobs a long time ago but I’d also have added that I wasn’t that fussed. I’m not sure that I am now but if nothing else, that man got stuff done. You can well argue that it was all the people around him, but he got many or most of them and he got them doing the things they got done. He managed them, at the very least, and reportedly inspired them too.

Actual inspiration. It does happen. I have been inspired by people. I had a natter this afternoon that has set me off writing something I Do Not Have Time For So There but I will do.

But I’ve also had just the smallest, tiniest taste of what it is like managing people and I don’t want to go there again. I think I’ll have to, but I also think this time I’ll get to pick the people. Wish me luck.

Becoming Steve Jobs is a biography with a purpose: while it charts the Apple guy’s life, it does so to examine very specifically how he began as this wild child and ended as this venerated industry genius. Not how he got his ideas, so to speak, not what he did with his talents or his time, but how he worked with others and became great at it.

Or at least mostly great. Usually great.

The book is not the hymn of praise to Jobs that you might expect after Apple staff keep talking about it: instead it is very clear about his reprehensible traits.

Some of those you know, especially if you made it through the boring official biog, but there is plenty that is new in this book and I want to cautiously recommend it. If you’re an Apple fan, go get it, you were going to anyway. If you’re not, then go to Amazon and have a look at the Peek Inside stuff, see what you think. There is much to enjoy here and much to learn from, too.

Though I did just say the official biog is boring. If that’s down one end of the scale of biographies, there is one that is at the other end – it’s much better than either the official Jobs biog and it’s better than this new one. Unfortunately, it’s not about Jobs. It’s Leander Kahney’s Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products.

Such a good read.

In this week’s newsletter… November 28, 2014

What to do when you get things wrong. Say so. Right away. Such as me, for instance, I got a big thing wrong and I admit it right at the top of this week’s newsletter.

Sorry? A man getting something wrong – and admitting it? Songs will be sung of this day.

Also, a couple of Black Friday deals that shouldn’t really happen in the UK but do plus a terribly absorbing video summarising Steve Jobs’ advice about business. Recorded the day after he died, it’s a speech by Guy Kawasaki who abandoned whatever regular talk he was supposed to give and instead talked about Jobs. It’s very Apple-centric as you’d imagine but each word is useful for us whatever our work is.

Plus, it has a comparatively off-the-cuff feel about it so rather than a studied presentation, it feels like a chat.

All that in the newsletter which you can read here and then sign up to get your own copy each week.

Jeff Goldblum and Steve Jobs on connecting to the internet

Inspired by the video of today’s teenagers reacting to how the internet was in 1990 and also by how today is WWDC day where Apple announces something or other, let me show you two things.

One is the Apple way of getting online back in the olden days:

And then there’s this. This is the Apple announcement in 1999 when Steve Jobs demonstrated wifi. It’s now impossible to imagine there was a time we didn’t have this so, strangely, it’s also impossible to conceive how jolting this Jobs presentation was. As ever, wifi existed before, but as ever, you wouldn’t know it from how no other firm got us using it so completely.

So, about those Beats headphones

Please picture us having a mug of tea and chatting entirely without the aid of research or statistics, possibly therefore without even facts.

Beats headphones aren’t as good as we’re told.

I was in the aforementioned tea and chat situation last night with a friend. Where you might and a surprising (to me) number of people turn to me for information about Apple, this friend is the guy you would and I do turn to for anything to do with music and hifi.

Let’s call him Steve.

No reason.

I asked Steve about Beats music because I hadn’t heard of it before Apple was in talks to buy the service, its headphones and its people. Steve had heard of it before. He can even pronounce the name of its head guy, Jimmy Iovine, with confidence.

He agrees with just about most things we suspect: he thinks that yes, Apple bought Beats in order to get Iovine. He knows his streaming music and why Beats is considered good at it even though it hasn’t very many listeners compared to Spotify.

But the other thing he knows, as an audiophile, is that the Dr Dre headphones by Beats are not perfect. He doesn’t like them at all but I went searching online and found a lot of praise from them for various corners of the audiophile universe. Except Steve’s problem with them is a problem for every review and every reviewer I could find: these headphones are made to suit bass-heavy music.

Great if you like bass, not so much if you don’t. And despite my being a rubbish audiophile, I don’t like the idea of artificially whacking up the bass on a recording: I know what work goes into making a mix and even if I can’t get it to its best effect, I won’t deliberately change it.

There’s this WWDC announcement tonight. Nobody knows what’s going to be talked about – not really – but maybe Beats will come up in the presentation. I have had such a good time with Apple gear, it has helped me so much, that when Apple brings out something new I will at least hear about it, I will probably take a look. I don’t think I’ll be buying Beats headphones.