Big ‘Jobs’ for the PILC Book Group

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My first encounter with any of the well-bitten Apples was five years ago when, while using a simple Nokia, I was beginning to get frustrated with the small buttons, thumb breaking texting, and small screen.  So when my brother, who had just come back from the US, brought with him a pocket full of iPhones for his family, I nodded with big eyes like a puppy dog, and got one.

My phone life has changed ever since.  It was a God sent soft touch and type, with bigger screen making reading mails and surfing nonsense a cinch while waiting for something somewhere less boring.

I’m still using that first iPhone while my kids are already onto their i-5’s, with its many cool apps.  Siri for one was fun to talk to among the many trendy apps.  She might sound like she knows it all, but she’ll bite back if you become too pushy with her, beware.

BG members with their Apple gadgets: Susan Burrows, Pam Lovell, Kirsten Lillelund, Denise Del Barto, Carola Berhagen, Ann Winfield, Anita Laurilla, Angela Poustie, Silvia Berra, and PMTV Sue.BG members with their Apple gadgets: Susan Burrows, Pam Lovell, Kirsten Lillelund, Denise Del Barto, Carola Berhagen, Ann Winfield, Anita Laurilla, Angela Poustie, Silvia Berra, and PMTV Sue.

Then it’s as if Jobs wanted me to have another one of his products.  I won an iPad earlier this year, which I left in the box for a month before I took it out to get acquainted, and now it has become my best buddy in bed.  Though it can’t really do the work of a PC, it sure beats having to sit at the desk waiting for a ‘puter to fire up.  With iPad, just turn it on, swipe it and get on with surfin’.

But like many people in this world, I wasn’t interested to learn about either the tech side nor the human side of the i-family until Jobs died.  So when the PILC Book Group March 2013 meeting chose “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson as its monthly tome for review, I ordered a copy.  It was only as I picked it up two weeks before the meeting that I found I would have 600 pages to read!  Ouch!  And with the amount of time I gave it, I managed 150.

It was interesting enough to learn how mean and insensitive Steve Jobs actually was to many people around him and to try and analyze him.  The stories behind the birth of Apple, the development, the innovation, the following generations of its products, and Job’s working attitude were even more amazing.  His complex and compelling personality, together with his creations made him a legend in the industry and his products a technological piece of art.

I saw a program on TV that said Jobs actually got the iPad idea from Indian school children’s personal slate tablets when he was soul searching in India; same size, same border design.

Another observation from reading the book is how one would think he’d use Zen Buddhism for personal growth and philosophy, but he mainly utilized it on the simple practicality of gadget design.

I was amused how he thought it was OK to steal ideas from others but locked up his own gadgets in a tight, single hardware/software integration calling it ‘whole widgets’.

“He was an elitist artist who didn’t want his creations mutated inauspiciously by unworthy programmers,” says one passage in the book.

Isaacson’s book was very easy to read and took us older generation folks back in time.  I started to wonder where I was when all the success stories at Silicon Valley were in process, bringing out the famous names that caught on long before the i-family, from early Apple, Lisa, neXT, and all the Mc’s and Power Books.

To me Steve Jobs was a rebellious kid who stayed rebellious all his life, with a strong desire to make a mark in this world, and so he did.

At the Book Group meeting, some of the guided questions lead by Pam sparked different opinions from the members on Jobs’ contradictory personality, the impact of being an adopted child, the context in which Zen played a role in his life, his “Reality Distortion Field”, how much control the author actually had on the book, etc.

Here are some of the member’s points of view:

Pam:  I think the book is very well written and balanced.  Steve Jobs was a visionary and a person who got immersed in the details.  He was full of contradictions.  Fascinating!

Carola:  I wonder about the book, especially in terms of “authorization”, but now view the person Steve Jobs more critically.

Denise:  “Steve Jobs” was a book I would never have normally read but learning about the character and management style of this creative, innovative genius gave me new insight to his life and the products he created.  But I doubt that I would want or enjoy having lunch with this brash, sometimes cruelly blunt man.

Anita: We are lucky to have a group of women who are passionate about literature!  “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson helps one to appreciate the genius behind Apple.  Isaacson presents the life of Jobs in an approachable style and helps to explain how the Apple CEO, through sheer force of will, created the most admired company in the world.  After reading this book, you might love Steve Jobs or hate him, but you can’t help but admire how he changed the world and gave us the MAC computer, the iPad, the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone and Pixar movies.

Silvia:  When discussing “Steve Jobs”, the book, we kept coming back to discuss Steve Jobs, the man.  We tried several times during the whole meeting to focus on just the book but were unsuccessful.  We were absorbed by his intense, compelling, contradictory, complex personality.  If we were trapped in this way, I just could not imagine what it would have been like to work with him or to live with him.

I just keep thinking how it would have been to be one of Apple’s employees, having finished a given task and to see that spark in his eyes knowing that it would became one of the most sold products …ever!  Knowing that he or she was part of it, a part of the Apple world.

The Book Group meeting ended with a nice lunch prepared by some of the members and was appreciated by all.  Special thanks to Angela Poustie for providing the venue.

Finally we leave you with a quote from the man himself:

“All external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.  Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.  You are already naked.  There is no reason not to follow your heart.

“I’m fifty –fifty on believing in God.  For most of my life, I’ve felt that there must be more to our existence than meets the eye.  I like to think that something survives after you die.  It’s strange to think that you accumulate all this experience and maybe a little wisdom, and it just goes away…. But on the other hand, perhaps it’s like an on – off switch, Click!  And you’re gone….maybe that’s why I never liked to put on – off switches on Apple devices.” – Steve Jobs RIP