Search This Blog

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Morning Check In: Thank You, Steve Jobs

Did you ever have one of those days?

You know what I mean, I am sure. The kind of day when things seem to resemble a Salvador Dali or Picasso painting, where things are oozing out of their boundaries or disconnected and sliding along unfamiliar geologic fault lines.

I have had that kind of day. In fact, I have had several days like that. I have been working on an article for posting about the Grasshopper and Giant Complex, and I cannot seem to finish it. I officially gave up about midnight and decided to look at my new Flipboard application for iPad. As I looked through the suggested feeds and selected some items for my new Favorites list, I stumbled across several feeds and photo streams related to last week's earth-shattering event in the Apple world -- the death of Steve P. Jobs. That is when I recognized why my days have been so abnormal. The death of Steve P. Jobs bothered me more than I anticipated. We all have our own thoughts about this, but here is my story.

I have been associated with the "Apple" world since the early 1980's when my ex-husband brought Steve Jobs to my attention and brought home my very first computer. After listening to my ex talk about Steve Job's philosophy regarding computers and the future, I was caught up in the technology myself. We owned an Apple IIe, and I was fascinated with the possibilities. This all occurred at the same time that I had gone back to school to finish my undergraduate degree, actually switching majors to an entirely different field from music to criminal justice with the plan of attending law school afterwards. I used our new computer, my first ever, to write papers, and there were lots of those in my chosen major of "judicial administration." I also secured permission to use Apple's version of "Basic" to program assignments in my Computer Literacy class. I still remain thankful to that instructor from UTSA who allowed me to venture into an additional computer programming world other than the "Basic" program taught at the universities at the time.

I did go on to attend law school, and I was the editor for the Women's Law Caucus newsletter. I did not have my beloved Apple IIe computer with me at the time, and I recall having to do all of my formal Caucus writing on the school's "Wang" system. Thankfully, I had enough training in my UTSA course to understand enough about how the system worked in order to use it. Basically, I got through law school with my old electric typewriter and the school's Wang system computers at the time.

From law school, I then entered the legal work force. Yes, I was still a musician, and I have always been a musician. The other careers I have explored have always been my "seconds." I have given them 100%, but my heart has always been with music and teaching. Still, I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to continue my learning and to broaden my abilities to explore other ways to use technology to teach.

Fast forward to my first job as an attorney. I recall getting my first credit approval. It was not to purchase a new car; it was to buy a new Macintosh computer. Fortunately my new boss from the law firm happened to enter the Apple store at the moment I was making my purchase and was able to give the official approval of my employment. I recall that my first purchase was a big decision, as the purchase was expensive. I believe that Apple has not changed this part of Steve Job's philosophy: one pays for quality. I cannot say that I have ever heard Steve Jobs actually make this statement, but Apple's policy of charging a bit more for things and then delivering the commensurate quality also sent me the message that this was Apple's philosophy: one pays for quality.

Amusing anecdote: When I came home with my new Mac purchase in 1989, my current husband Bob asked me why I had bought the computer. "I need to build a database," I answered, and then tried to explain that I had a 3-foot stack of newspaper clippings and other articles that I needed to organize so that I could complete the book I was writing in law school about Hermine Tobolovsky, the author and spearhead for the Texas Equal Legal Rights Amendment. I used the Mac to write that book and also to complete my legal education and pass the Texas bar exam. I also used the Mac in my profession. I took the Mac to my legal office, and I did much of my work on it. I would then print out what I did and hand it to my legal assistant to finalize.

Unfortunately, in those days, there was no compatibility between Macs or Apple products and PCs. The systems were completely separate from each other, and email was not helpful in the business setting at that time. Basically, I kept up my use of two systems for several years. I like to compose with a keyboard rather than a dictation machine, although I have tried both. I type faster with a keyboard than I think with a machine, so I have always preferred the computer and the keyboard. I used my Mac in the office to compose my memos and other legal briefs, and then I printed out my work for my legal assistant to transcribe. Unfortunately, I did not have the technological setup to make corrections to my legal assistant's work.

When I finally opened up my own law practice (still performing with the symphony), I bought my first PC computer. I did it only because that was the way things had happened in the previous office. And that is the way things continued for many years, I am sorry to say. Finally, I began teaching at Texas State. The school used Mac computers, but there were still throwbacks to PCs as well. I took my PC laptop into my office to complete work. It was a hassle to take the machine back and forth from home, but I did it. When I took technology training, I took it on a Mac machine so that I would be able to function on either system.

The day finally came when I made the switch back to Mac and Apple. I had tired of having to keep my PC running smoothly. I was finished with having to "Scan Disk" and "Defrag" and purchase another update of Virus scan software. Enough already! I used my educational discount to buy a Mac Book. I even paid extra to get it in black.  Then I bought an iPhone. Then I bought my husband a Mac Book (in white). Then I bought an iPad. Then I upgraded to another iPhone. And I have never looked back.

I spend so much less time keeping my computers and other technology devices running smoothly than I did with the PC world. I love my devices. I love the connectivity I have. I love the technology and the philosophy. I am connected in a useful way. I use apps in my teaching. I use iTunes and GarageBand and Mobile Me for so many things in my teaching, group classes, and writing.

Steve P. Jobs was an amazing man. I am not writing this blog post to inform you about Steve and his life, because I do not know much about him (I have pre-ordered his autobiography for December delivery). I have listened and watched his Stanford commencement address and learn something from it every time. I have always been impressed with him since the day I first learned about him from my ex-husband, and I am still learning from Steve's example. If you have not watched this commencement speech, I urge you to do so. You will find it interesting and learn something about Steve as well.

I am part of the generation that was faced with a choice about the future. Do we hang on to the way things were done in the past, or do we grab onto the comet of the future? We were confronted with the pivotal decision of whether we would stick with the way things were as we knew them or whether we would venture into the unknown and learn something new about ourselves and the future.

I choose to follow Steve Jobs. The news of his death this past week hit me harder than I expected. I have spent the week contemplating why that is. My conclusion is that I admired the man. I admired him because he had a vision, a philosophy, and a plan, and he was not afraid to venture into unknown territory. I admired him because he did not settle for defeat but found a way to reinvent himself and to move forward in the face of adversity. I admired him because his presence in the world basically held up a mirror in front of me and frequently reminded me of what I needed to do to make my own mark on the world.

For now, I have Apple's picture of Steve Jobs from its website on my desk top and home screens, and I think I will keep it up there for  a while. I want to remember Steve's legacy.

Thank you, Steve Jobs. You are the reason I am on a computer right now. You made it simple. You made it part of my world. You made it believable, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

No comments:

Post a Comment