Conflicting personalities in jOBS movie

January 28th, 2013 10:33 AM
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Last week, Gizmodo posted a clip from jOBS, a biopic of the life of Steve Jobs. In this scene, we see Ashton Kutcher of That '70s Show as Steve Jobs and Josh Gad of The Book of Mormon at Steve Wozniak.

Like Gizmodo reporter Jesus Diaz, I had an initially positive reaction to this clip. I liked his disparate the personalities were, with Woz taking the time to greet a co-worker while Jobs is more interested in furthering an agenda. I liked that only one of them had an inkling of the revolution they were about to launch. And I liked that Jobs appeared to be taking advantage of Woz, which struck me as consistent with what I know of Jobs.

With that in mind, I shared the post on Facebook. It wasn't long before other Apple II enthusiasts shared observations I'd overlooked. "Kutcher isn't trying to pick up any vocal mannerisms… I'm sure the script is great, I liked the dialogue I heard in the clip above. I just think the actors they got are sub par in their delivery," wrote Marty Goldberg of the Electronic Entertainment Museum. Added Atari historian Curt Vendel, "If they are going to do something based on real characters, then they should actually try to nail it down better… I think iJobs is going to crash and burn because of the lacking of strong character portrayal." Even Apple II veterans Mark Simonsen and Don Worth were unimpressed.

One of my favorite comments came from Apple II game reviewer and programmer Brian Picchi, who suggested the best person to play the role of Woz is Woz. Gizmodo must've agreed that Woz would have some insight into Gad's character, as they published a follow-up with Woz's thoughts on this one clip. He was quick to point out that the scene featured in this clip never happened, though he points out such factual accuracy is unnecessary — the film is a dramatization, after all. More important is how untruthful the personalities are:

Personalities and where the ideas of computers affecting society did not come from Jobs… A more accurate portrayal would be myself in the Homebrew Computer Club (with Steve Jobs up in another state and not aware of it) being inspired by liberal humanist academics from Berkeley and Stanford and other places speaking of these high social goals. I decided then and there to help them reach those goals by designing a computer that was affordable. I gave it away to members of this club to help them. My goal was not money or power. In fact, when Steve came down and came to the club and saw the interest, he did not propose making a computer.

Will the film fail as fully as Vendel suggests? Probably not, I think. As Jason Scott added in the Facebook thread, "Spoiler Alert: This movie is not for vintage computing nerds."

jOBS — which has official presences online, on Facebook, and on Twitter — comes out April 19 from Open Road Films. It is not to be confused with Sony Pictures' bigger-budget adaptation of Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs.

Steve Wozniak and the Apple Historical Museum

November 19th, 2012 12:46 PM
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David Greelish is petitioning Apple to include a visitor center in their new campus. It seems that Apple is quick to forget their history, offering visitors to their offices little opportunity to reflect where in the evolution of Apple's product lines the user was introduced to the brand.

It wasn't always this way. In 1984, Steve Wozniak gave a tour of what was dubbed the Apple Historical Museum. As he works his way through the time tunnel, he presents to the viewers examples of original Apple-1 and Apple II hardware, regaling us with tales of design and manufacture.

What I love about this YouTube video, which was digitized from the Apple IIc rollout VHS tape, is how timeless Woz's presentation is. His enthusiasm, memory, and didactic nature are just as apparent in this 2010 tour of the Computer History Museum:

I wonder when Woz himself will be worthy of a museum and visitor center?

(Hat tip to myoldmac.net)

Wozstralia

October 8th, 2012 1:06 PM
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Switzerland may be the birthplace of the World Wide Web, but that invention is just a component of the larger Internet, for which the United States of America can claim responsibility. Yet the USA has fallen behind in broadband penetration and speed (6.7 Mbps average — just 43% of what South Korea attains).

So embarrassed by this performance that the USA may lose another of its children: Steve Wozniak wants to move to Australia, where a national broadband network is being deployed.

Sydney Opera House"I support it very much. It's one of the reasons why I actually like this country and want to become a citizen," Woz told the Australian Financial Review. "It turns out I can keep my American citizenship. I intend to call myself an Australian and feel an Australian, and study the history and become as much of a real citizen here as I can."

This isn't just idle chatter, either: The Mercury News reports that Woz was in Brisbane at the time of the iPhone 5's launch, filing the documents necessary to begin the citizenship process to settle in the Land of Woz.

It's ironic that Woz would place so much emphasis on personal broadband, as his current California residence lacks that connectivity. The Woz is apparently able to get by with mobile access from his multiple cell phones.

Be it mobile or broadband, Woz's and the world's connectivity needs are very different from the days in which the Apple II was invented. Even today, though the telecommunication projects of Ewen Wannop are nearly essential additions to any modern Apple II user's software library, there's so much we can do offline with our classic computers. While the same can be said for Macs and PCs — games and productivity suites often work fine without an Internet connection — I never feel as crippled with an offline Apple II as I do with an offline MacBook. Instead, I enjoy the slower pace of the Apple II, the thoughtful navigation and swapping of disks, and the monotasking work environment.

Does Woz need to switch countries — or computers?

(Hat tips to Paul Lilly and Om Malik)

ABC & inThirty talk to Woz

June 4th, 2012 12:32 PM
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Steve Wozniak's star continues to shine brightly, with media appearances all over the world and the Internet.

In May, Woz spoke with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) of Sydney. The MP3 of the interview is short, clocking in at fewer than ten minutes. The only new piece of information I gleaned was that (if I understand correctly) the Apple-1 was designed not with a personal computer in mind, but an Internet terminal. That's unsurprisingly prescient of Woz.

More interesting yet less publicized was Woz's Leap Day interview with tech podcast inThirty, hosted by Justin Freid. Part one (iTunes) and part two (iTunes) each run about 30 minutes, for one hour total. These interviews are much meatier, conducted as they are by a tech guru and not a mainstream media anchor, even though both inThirty and ABC want to know about Woz's relationship with the late Steve Jobs.

inThirty's exchange most relevant to Apple II Bits readers was prompted by the question: "How much of the Apple II do you see in the iPhone and iPad? Is that philosophy of Apple being an engineering company still prevalent?" Woz's answer:

It's very hard to see any similarity between the Apple II that I designed and the iPhones and iPads today in terms of the product features… I built the Apple II for myself, and Steve Jobs wasn't around — he was up in Oregon, he wasn't talking to me… Here's what's similar … the Apple II, I just built them because I wanted a computer to do my work at Hewlett-Packard… I wanted to play games and have a machine for fun… that was all I ever wanted out of the thing, and as such, I was building it for myself… It's very important to know who you're building something for, so that it comes out good and consistent for that person, and the person was only one person, which was myself. I like things simple, clean — I don't want them full of stuff that nobody understands. That's a beauty to me.

Woz likes things simple and clean, yet he pushed for the Apple II to have seven expansion slots, against Steve Jobs' wishes. Is the sleek, streamline form factor and interface of today's iOS devices therefore not the antithesis of Woz's philosophy, as commonly believed, but rather its realization?

Woz loves Android

January 19th, 2012 8:21 PM
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Last summer, I attended the CIO 100 Symposium, a conference hosted by my employer, IDG Enterprise. In one of the sessions, "New Ways To Manage Change", I and several IT professionals discussed the emerging trend of "Bring Your Own Device", in which employees supply their own technology rather than rely on corporate-issued hardware. An interesting correlation surfaced from one of the table discussions: whether it be theirs or their employers', salespeople wanted to use iPhones, whereas the engineering department wanted Android devices. It seems engineers don't want to work in a walled garden, preferring a machine that they can more easily tamper with.

Steve Wozniak, the quintessential hacker, recently reinforced that dichotomy. Woz, a known owner of several iPhones (simultaneously!), commented to Dan Lyons of The Daily Beast:

"My primary phone is the iPhone," Woz says. "I love the beauty of it. But I wish it did all the things my Android does, I really do."

Android phones aren’t as simple to use as the iPhone, but they’re not that much more complicated, and "if you’re willing to do the work to understand it a little bit, well I hate to say it, but there’s more available in some ways," Woz says.

Although initially surprising to hear the Apple co-founder say anything that could be construed as disparaging against an Apple device, Woz's desire to operate outside the constraints of iOS is consistent with the creativity and innovation that led him to design the Apple II in the first place.

In the end, though, maybe there's something to be said for ease of consumption. After all, despite the above comments, Woz still uses an iPhone — and most of the world no longer uses the Apple II.

All the less power to them!

(Hat tip to Dwight Silverman)

Woz meets Spock

January 9th, 2012 9:58 AM
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No big story here, just a geek encounter that's too cool to go unnoticed: Apple II inventor Steve Wozniak gets grilled by Leonard Nimoy, aka Spock.

This crossover, orchestrated by VentureBeat's Matt Marshall, occurred Thursday, January 5, in San Francisco at DEMO Enterprise, an event hosted by my employer, IDG Enterprise and sponsored by Woz's Fusion-io. It's not clear to me what the science officer of the Federation starship Enterprise was doing there, but given how much closer to Star Trek's 23rd century Apple technology has brought us, it seems a fitting intersection.

(Hat tip to Computerworld)