Celebrate the life

Steve Jobs departure

I’m not one to usually embark on bandwagon expressions of sympathy when someone dies. The truth is i didn’t knew Steve Jobs, never met him and i can’t say that he meant anything emotionally to me. So i wont shed any crocodile tears for him publicly. That would be an insult both to him and to those that actually knew him and will miss him.

I once read one of those New Age / Zen style phrases that actually had a content and actually meant something; it went like this: “Don’t be sad when someone dies, rejoice because they have lived”.

So, within this frame of mind, I prefer to focus and honor the contribution given by Steven Jobs to the technology & industrial world and the “common Joe”. I prefer to be glad that he lived and actually helped to shape the computer industry into a “rest of us” friendly industry. And, i believe, that is the “first” of the two teachings that Steve leaves as entrepreneur, technologist and visionary.

For the rest of us

When computer technology was going the IBM way, a dehumanized, CLI-only interface, “you need to be one of us initiates to actually use it“, “centralized mainframes are the future and nobody needs to have a device like this at his home”; Steve and the rest of Apple had the vision that it didn’t had to be this way; that Computers could and should be for the masses: the regular joe that didn’t went to the University or wore a black suit and tie, the household mom that just wanted to do a gift list or a recipe cookbook, the kids with their homework assignments.

The graphic interface was until then nothing more than a lab experience. Neat, but ultimately useless and stuck in some closed lab. Steve had the vision to understand that that technology could allow anyone to use a computer and be productive without actually understanding what was below; and that they didn’t or should need to know that. And it did. It truly did. Technology to the masses, a computer in every home, creativity flourishing everywhere. The popularization of the Graphical Interface, the knowledge that you could just pick up a funky looking piece of plastic called mouse and drag things around on a metaphorical desktop, or draw pictures like you were holding a pencil was magnificent. It changed the world around us and the future to come.

Apple wasn’t ultimately successful in bringing these “gifts” to the large masses of the world though. Apple wasn’t ready, Steve wasn’t ready, mistakes and blunders were made. It’s easy in hindsight to point out the mistakes done by those pioneers, but they didn’t had the accumulated knowledge that us XXI Century citizens have, thanks of course to the same technology that they were designing, building and selling. But every other competitor around then, every other IT company that tried to built something to the masses knew then that if they were to succeed in that business they needed to go the Apple way, the easy-to-use GUI interface with its metaphorical desktop and its faithful companion, the mouse.

And that is the first “gift” that Steve brought us. That in a such complicated world as Software and Computers you should strive for Simplicity, Ease of Use, Focus and Clarity on the task at hand. “Gazillion” buttons and options and complicated and endless menus and submenus or “preferences windows” are good on paper and for geeky engineers (( hey i’m actually one, but this is a very common fault among ourselves. )) but not for the “rest of us”. If you want to reach to the masses, then that’s the only, and best, way.

Race for quality

The second “gift” Steve brought to IT business world, was a even more different-thinking one. In a industry where every one competes on low cost and crappy hardware, where the quality of the product is measured by random specs announced on a packaging box but where none of them actually work together, where everyone assumes as normal that you should replace your computer every 18 or 24 months (at best), where everyone is too afraid to scare some client aways and so pack every product with every ancient port or subsystem available in the most un-ergonomic way possible; in such a business, Apple was the only one that had the courage to stand up and say We will not make crappy products that we are ashamed of selling. And that, amazingly, was a breakthrough statement for most.

Back in a 2008, (( Cnet )) Steve said this: “We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk; our DNA will not let us do that.” Now here is something amazing and that you don’t see often. A company that chooses not to go to the “hot spot” on their industry because they don’t believe that they can do a good work on it and refuse to do a bad one. If only all companies were like this.

Steve called computers “a bicycle for the mind”; i really like that definition as that is how i feel about computers: a mental training and workout tool. When you build a product with so many possibilities and uses, then don’t run to the bottom. Don’t settle for the cheap commodity status. Someone might make a quick dollar from it, but it doesn’t have to be you. Go for a goal. Do products for “someone” not just a vague “consumer target” or “research group”. Design a computer for the graphic artists; or for engineers; or for household parents. Choose a target for (from?) your vision and do a product that they need to have. That improves their life, their productivity, their leisure. Build with quality, design “i care with you” on your products. Try to think like your customer to figure out where you are making them adapt to your product instead of the other way around.

Good ideas spread around

I’m no business man unfortunately. Haven’t had that great idea from where i can start building up. I’ve learned and grown a interest for these aspects of business and usability both by formal education and some experience listening to regular people around me. Currently i’m researching and looking at some completely unrelated features/usability issues and thinking “This current proposal is insane. The common joe can’t, nor should have, to go through these hoops to use this. There has to be a better way, a simpler, more direct way, that allows the regular user to use this product to his benefit with a minimum mental effort. Something my grandmother could use.” And so, i’m looking for it, avoiding the “if everyone proposes or is using this then it must be the only solution” trap. Because it isn’t. And if it is then it’s just wrong. Strive to find a better one.

This mental quest for simplicity and usability i actually learned from using Apple products and seeing as everything was simple and “just works”. When Steve said “for the rest of us” he was talking about the Computer industry, but his approach, his Vision, could and should be applied everywhere. And that’s magical!

So, for these two gifts Steve, thank you. I’m very glad that you have lived.

Just one more thing… (( Black and White Apple with Steve Jobs silhouette by Jonathan Mak | Acrobat Steve Jobs by David Paul Morris/Getty Images News ))


Rounding error

“iOS powered devices generate more revenue than all of Microsoft’s products put together”


Microsoft Report

Apple Report

The charts above, from Horace Dediu at Asymco are amazing and pretty much a paper written proof of what everyone already feels instinctively. Microsoft is in deep trouble, their “evil empire” is crumbling and they haven’t manage to grow any enthusiasm or momentum (upwards i mean) in a long time. (( and no, i’m still playing with Windows 8 but i don’t think that it will save the ship. In fact i’m starting to think it will just sink it even more, because it tries to be everything to everyone while failing at it for every one. But let me play with it a little more… )) There is a lot more reflection on Asymcos original post so be sure to check it out.

The obvious joke at Steve Ballmer in the title of this post could have been forgotten or not used at all. But then again it’s just too easy to aim at him. That’s what you get for being a blind arrogant incompetent jerk most of your stage time.

DigiNotar cleanup

“Description: Fraudulent certificates were issued by multiple certificate authorities operated by DigiNotar. This issue is addressed by removing DigiNotar from the list of trusted root certificates, from the list of Extended Validation (EV) certificate authorities, and by configuring default system trust settings so that DigiNotar’s certificates, including those issued by other authorities, are not trusted.”

About Security Update 2011-005

Apple finally corrects the DigiNotar mess that everyone else had already corrected. 10 days after it went public and another 4 or 5 after everyone else had already corrected it. Including Microsoft. Can’t say it’s a stellar record in rapid response to security threats by Apple.

So in case you didn’t read this post regarding how to clean up this mess by hand, please run “Software Update” in your Mac as soon as possible. It involves a system reboot though.

Quality assurance

There’s something wrong with the copying manufacturing factories at Samsung. I mean they seriously need to check closely with their Quality Assurance inspectors.

I mean, didn’t they noticed that the trackpad wasn’t centered regarding the opening indentation?


And that they forgot to put the glowing apple logo on the top lid of this “macbook”?


And that the Magsafe port is rectangular instead of round?


These small details could just make someone think that they were looking on a cheap rip-off homage PC instead of a full quality Apple Macbook manufactured by Apple’s biggest supplier, Samsung of course.

I guess the clean large trackpad was obvious that it was coming to every computer, as it just makes more sense and is insanely superior compared with the previous ones. In fact i long for one every time i have to use a standard notebook. But that they even reproduced the indentation for opening the lid exactly as Apple’s Macbooks was shameless and unnecessary.

In the end i’m just curious how much did Samsung spend to have their “designers” and engineers trying to copy the outside of Apples products, resulting of course in this half-breed that strikes to look beautiful as it’s competitors but in the end just fails because of all of its incongruences and corner-cutting, instead of doing it’s own design from the ground up and ending up with a product of their own that would probably look better and would be inherently more original. And i guess it would probably have some other industrial strengths in either cost, internal space, or physical resistance.

Photos  from PC World’s article

DigiNotar certificate security issue

“We’ve been made aware of a security issue caused by the Netherlands-based CA DigiNotar, who mistakenly issued a valid SSL wildcard certificate for google.com. The existence of this certificate, coupled with the implied lack of proper verification at DigiNotar, means that we consider it inappropriate that our systems continue to trust DigiNotar to issue SSL certificates.”

Coriolis Systems Blog

Apparently there is a rogue Google security Certificate being used somewhere out there on the Internet.

This is a major flaw, as this is the way your computer knows when “he” is actually talking to Google.com or Gmail or any other site belonging to Google, probably including Google Checkout as well.

Recommendation is that you should disable any security certificate from DigiNotar and the post tells you how to do it.

As warning, although i do believe this is a safe practice to do and i currently think that you should do it, i’m not completely sure of it. So decide for your own and do your research before.

The only apparent downside is that you may find some sort of “this website security certificate can’t be trusted” on other sites than Google. But if Google certificate got hijacked how safe do you think that website you’re apparently visiting is?

Update: Apparently Microsoft is also recommending removing DigiNotar Certificates from your computer, so never mind my initial objections.


“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.”

Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO, Macworld Coverage

The Mac App Store (4)

Oh yeah, and i forgot, i love, i mean just love that somehow the password that is requested to install applications on my computer thought the app store, is not my user/admin password but the Apple Id password.

Somehow, Apple figures that is “safer” to use a password, that keeps going back and forth in the internet, to use a root enabled application on my computer than use my admin user password that is safely ((as safe as possible)) kept and used only on my computer. Love that. I mean just love that…

The Mac App Store (3)

Oh, and i just remembered another wonderful features of the App Store that i love.. I keep my dock really really small. Only the apps i use every single day AND that i can interact with their dock icon by dragging something to it (like for example photos from a mail to iphoto or to the compression utility keka for compressing files.) Everything else i call through AlfredApp (a really great great launch application utility).

So that is somehow around or under 10 app icons. Now, the App store icon is the only way to know if i have any update to the (very small and every time shorter list) applications i downloaded through the app store. Remember that i can’t get no “sparkle update warning” when i run them if there is a newer version available.

Now, as i don’t want to spend precious pixel space with the ugly App Store icon, i never know when there is a update available to my applications. In fact, every single time i updated an app though the app store was because i read the news on some apple covering press site or i managed to read the warning from the app makers on twitter. (( you can find me in Twitter under the username maccouch ))

In the more busy times, where i don’t spend as much time reading or looking to this kind of crap (and obviously some times are more busy than others) i can possibly go around for weeks/months using a vulnerable buggy application without knowing.

Now how is this any good for the Mac general security? Or consumer friendliness? Is everyone supposed to put the app store icon on the dock? Or to take attention to the small red number on it? And “regular folks”, the kind that has troubles using a DMG file, will somehow take care and keep monitoring it and update every time there is one available, even if they keep using the app they want and there is no “update available” warning? Yeah, sure. If you believe that I’ve got a bridge to sell you…