Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Apple”

Have you Been to Church? – Tom Rossi

Have you been to church lately? Have you worshiped the almighty Jobs? Have you read The Book of Jobs? Have you attended services to celebrate the resurrection of Jobs?

iphone4

 Steve Jobs was, as far as I know, the first CEO who was enough of an egomaniac to call big press conferences to announce a new device that his company had produced – even if that device was, many times, just the latest version.

Apple-will-probably-hold-press-conference-on-October-4

 Now, press conferences to announce new toys or versions of electronic toys or versions of softwares are de rigueur, and reporters and “enthusiasts” (people whose lives revolve around having the latest iPhone or whatever) flock to them like kids to ice cream trucks on a hot day. We still have press conferences for Apple, but also Samsung, Facebook, and a host of other companies who have CEOs anxious to play the court jester. I think they all want to stick their success in the faces of the jocks who kicked their asses in high school and the girls who made barfing sounds when they asked them out.

apple-iphone-os4_007

 Yes, these press conferences are attended by throngs of reporters because the release of a new device version is what, today, passes for news. In between a few reports of shootings in east Oakland, this weeks big party parade across San Francisco, traffic reports, and horse-race political reporting, there is always “news” of some company releasing an iblender4.3, or something. “Apple announced, at its big event today, that iPhones will now be available in blue.” Very exciting news.

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 What really gets me about these press conferences is that they are purely for the purposes of publicity, and the media are complicit in the scheme. Every tech-head nerd-geek knows better than to take what is said at these release orgies too seriously. Anyone with more sense than dollars waits to hear from the reviewers who take the thing back to the office and work it over like Muhammad Ali beating up on Cleveland Williams. That’s why we hear so quickly about defects with things like map apps.

 But this is our new church. We, or our representatives, sit in the pews, waiting and hoping for a glimpse of our savior – whoever is the latest to promise us safe passage into heaven… or to heavenly FaceSpaceTumbling and Twitstagramming, anyway.

 I have an iPhone. It’s kind of a nice thing to have. I use the map a lot – that’s really what I bought it for. My iPhone is something like two years old. It still works well enough. I also have a hammer and a pair of vice-grips that I like. They’re all pretty useful tools.

 -Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Vote with Your Apps Dollars – Roger Ingalls

Last year 1.6 million cell phones were stolen nationally and 50% of all theft crimes in San Francisco are now related to cell phones. The proliferation of crime related to these smart gadgets is going through the roof and it’s a big headache for local law enforcement.

There is a way to thwart these techno-hooligans but the big smart phone manufacturers refuse to side with legal paying customers. Apple, Samsung and the others generate a good portion of their revenue from replacing stolen phones. Essentially, in the minds of these companies, crime pays.

apps image

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon recently met with some of the cell phone manufacturers and asked them to voluntarily put permanent kill features into the phone so when reported stolen they are rendered useless forever. The stolen phone market would fade away because who’s going to buy a dead useless phone. However, the manufacturers ignored the request effectively endorsing the illegal market.

Garcon has now partnered with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and they are scheduled to meet with the smart phone companies again in mid-June. With mounting pressure, maybe this time the smart phone manufacturers will act responsibly and side with legal paying customers and not the criminals. If not, it’s time for us non-criminal smart phone users to take action.

If Apple, Samsung and others don’t act responsibly, we should boycott them by not purchasing smart phone APPS. So far in 2013, four to five billion APPS are downloaded monthly; now that could be a powerful vote!

Let’s help Garcon and Schneiderman significantly reduce smart phone crime. If the phone makers don’t want to play then we shouldn’t pay. Using our phones to text, tweet and run other social media tools, we could organize a “don’t buy APPS day” to send a message. After losing a few hundred million, they may get a clue.

Vote with your APPS dollars!

The Online forum – A Place for Answers? – Tom Rossi

I’m taking a little break from politics this week. Stop the ride or I’m gonna barf. Instead, I present another of life’s annoyances.

I hate it so much when I or someone else asks a question on a forum on the internet and people answer with what they think or assume but they have no actual knowledge of the answer.

Here’s my impression of the typical online forum discussion:

YahooMicrosoftAppleGoogleKingOscarSardines Discussion Forum

New thread

Posted by Elmerglooigloo654:

Hi everyone. I’m new to this forum. Can anyone tell me if it’s safe to plug my computer into a socket with only two holes? The computer power cord has three prongs, but they sell those converter things that take it down to two.

Thanks in advance.

Replies

TestasRossas9753:

Elmer, that’s the first thing they ask you when you call support for a computer, “Is it plugged in?”

Joetheplumper:

I had the same problem. I just cut off the extra prong with a pair of dikes.

Jenniiii2112:

That’s what happened to me! I was like, Duh! After I plugged it in, everything was OK. My computer gets way too hot, though.

Barbariomustachio666:

Plugs have three thingies on there now because we have 3-way electricity now. You need all three kinds.

Babaphooey.3.95:

I think it’s safe. I’ve been doing the same thing for years. I’ve had a few system crashes, but I don’t think it’s related. The new ones I replaced them with worked fine, at least for a while.

Ekiekipakang001:
The electricity that comes out of the wall is at a frequency of 60Hz. It’s at a voltage of 110, 120, or 220 volts, depending on where you live. Is your microprocessor running at 65megaMIPS? Or is it made by Microyamasakaco, and therefore 64.85megaMIPS?

IROCgenie1984:

Jenniiiiiiiiiiii, you must be some kind of moron. Of course your computer gets hot. It’s sitting on your lap, one of the warmest parts of your body. If you want your computer to run cooler, drink some ice water or something. But don’t waste our time on this forum!

BrattyMattyBoomington64:

How dare you say “dikes!” I’m so sick of this sexist, racist, genderist society! Joetheplumper, your nothing but pig. If you actually had any balls, I’d cut them off!

Elmerglooigloo654:

Ekie, I’m not sure how many MIPS my system runs. Is this important?

99redbuffoons:

Did you know the end of an electrical cord is called a “dongle?” That’s funny.

Quirkiedork123:

I wouldn’t do it. If the thing came that way, use it that way. You have to trust the company. I had a Ford Pinto for years without any problems.

JohnCleese1977:

I discovered that the only reason it had been sitting on its perch at all was that it had been nailed there.

Waltzowizard.loves.Wilma:

Three-way electricity???? Dude, u r we Todd did.

Inthinkerator757:

I think that third, long prong on the plug is just an anchor. It just makes the plug stay in place better.

Jenniiii2112:

Youre the moron IROC cheeseball! For your information, I always use my laptop on a table. The table isn’t hot. Unless I just spilled some coffee or something. Anyway, my thoughts are just as important as yours. If you want your time unwasted, go back to playing space invaders or whatever.

Ekiekipakang001:

Elmer, it matters because it makes a difference what memory module you’re accessing at the time. If it’s 0000 BA16, for example, then you have to have enough power through your capacitance to flip the ifindibulator to the RFMA state. But that would change if, say, you were accessing memory module 0010 BA15. Understand?

Joetheplumper:

Bratty, it’s a tool! You idiot!

Barbariomustachio666:

Look, Waltzowizard.loves.Wilma, Ekiekipakang001 totally confirmed what I’m talking about. He (and he sounds like a pretty smart guy) says that there’s 110, 120, and 220 volts. There. Whoz retarded now? Yes, I figured it out. Smart ass.

BuckGlenBeck09:

Wow. Just… wow.

BrattyMattyBoomington64:

So now you’re calling us tools?!?!? Listen, Plumper, you have dug your grave deep. I’m going to call the women in your family and have them slap you. I suppose by “tool” you mean something to use to entertain yourself by “watching.” You make me sick.

Muchomacho.Z28.Brooklyn:

Yo! IROC man! I used to have and IROC! They rule! Mine was super dark purple – almost black. It looked like some kind of ominous spirit coming down the street at night. Awesome!

Kiddieridebarfbag1111:

Dongle… that is funny. LOL!

Elmerglooigloo654:

Um, can someone who actually knows something just try to answer my question?

Please?

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Apple, $700 per Share – Roger Ingalls

This week Apple Inc. hit $700 for a single share of common stock and, as a whole, the company is now valued at $656 billion which places them at the top of the market valuation list. These dollar figures are incomprehensible.

The company has been very successful over the past fifteen years and the employees should be proud of their accomplishments but I wonder what the success of Apple says about our society. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade but for all intent and purposes, Apple supplies entertainment products. If all the company’s products were to suddenly disappear, the human population would not go extinct and other companies could supply similar gadgets.

As a species, we need food, water, shelter, care (love, nurturing and healthcare) and external energy. These five needs are essential to our existence yet the most valued company in our society is one that provides a luxury product. To be fair, ExxonMobil is an external energy company and very similar to Apple in market valuation. As much as I hate fossil fuel based companies, it is much more justifiable, in my mind, for an oil company to have a higher market value than a company providing a non-essential product such as Apple.

It agitates me that a company selling luxury products sits at the top of the value list when a significant portion of our nation does not have access to healthy food, are an event away from homelessness and can’t get adequate healthcare.

I know connecting Apple with the basics for human existence is not a legitimate discussion but it would make more sense if companies that helped us with essential survival were at the top of the valuation list.

Ironic observation: The Occupy Movement protested against corporate greed while having Apple earbuds stuffed in their ears.

The iPhone Does Not Exist – Roger Ingalls

Imagine you’re sitting in Starbucks holding an iPad, iPhone or iPod and someone walks up to you and says, “that thing in your hand does not exist”. You’d look at them, think they were off their rocker and quickly scurry away. When climate-deniers tell me increased levels of CO2 are not responsible for global warming, I believe they are either brainwashed (followship syndrome), have a political agenda so truth doesn’t matter or they’re just plain crazy.

You may be scratching your head and asking why I’m drawing parallels between Apple products and manmade climate change but the answer is simple. The same technology used to predict how CO2 impacts temperature change is also used in the manufacture of the advanced computer chips (integrated circuits) that go into cell phones, iPhones and all similar devices including computers. However there is one big difference, predicting CO2 related climate change is magnitudes simpler than controlling the manufacturing of integrated circuits.

Destructive SEM Photo of Chip, sciencedirect.com

Computer chips, which are about the size of a finger nail, have millions of components inside them (called gates or transistors) with dimensions smaller than 100 nanometers. For comparison sake, the width of a human hair is about 100,000 nanometers. These chip components are so small they cannot be seen through the lenses of the most advance optical microscopes and aren’t clearly visible with multi-million dollar scanning electron microscopes. The shape and dimensions of these super small parts can only be “inferred” or predicted by analyzing how light (similar to sunlight) reflects, absorbs and scatters off the parts. A special machine shines light onto the part and then captures the light coming off them. The light-data creates a “kind of” fingerprint that resembles an up and down squiggly line. The light-fingerprint is compared to millions upon millions of stored fingerprints, which were created by computer simulations, until a match is made. Once a match is detected, the shape and dimensions are provided.

Climatologist use the same technique as described above except the problem is much simpler. The sun is the source of light that is analyzed as it reflects, absorbs and scatters through and off the atmosphere as well as the Earth’s surface. Computer chips are more complex because they have forty or more material layers or atmospheres with varying chemistry while the Earth has just one atmosphere with a few elements such as oxygen, CO2, nitrogen and so on. The dimension that climatologist look for is temperature as it relates to CO2 concentration. Computer simulations are used to predict or “infer” temperature change as the chemistry of our atmosphere varies; computer simulations predict a rise in temperature as CO2 amounts go up. CO2 concentrations have increased from 175 ppm (parts per million) to 395 ppm since the start of the industrial revolution. This is the fastest increase in Earth’s history and we know this from another type of scientific analysis but I’ll save that explanation for another day.

If you believe iPhones, high-speed internet and similar products exist, you must also believe in manmade global warming because the computer simulations that allow the manufacture of these gadgets also predict an increase in temperature as CO2 concentrations rise.

You can’t believe in one and not the other, it’s illogical.

List of Shame: The 1%’ers Who Dodge Taxes

Let me be clear from the start: this post is not about all those who occupy (excuse the pun) the top 1% of our nation in terms of wealth. This is about those who pay taxes annually to the tune of $1. There are many who worked hard to amass their wealth and are incredibly philanthropic. As the director of a non-profit, I have been honored with many opportunities to meet and work with such people.

These generous people are propelled by a moral code and take a meaningful portion of their money and time to promote social justice issues, to support those in our society who need help – the elderly, the poor, the homeless etc., and provide cultural and educational opportunities that might not be business-viable without such support. This article is NOT about them. I am sure they pay their taxes, understanding that the services they receive – an army to defend them, a police force, fire and emergency response force, the roads they drive on, the street lights…do I need to go on?

But unfortunately there are those billionaires who seem to take pride out of not paying their taxes. These people manage to show a salary of $1. They include such individuals as Eric Schmidt and Larry Page (both Google), Steve Jobs (Apple) from 1997 until his death last year, Larry Ellison (Oracle) and Meg Whitman (Hewlett-Packard). And apparently, recently wed and start-up-turned-public Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) is about to join this shameful club.

Ironically, these ‘poor’ folk might actually be eligible to receive the kind of government aid that is available for low-income populations. If they keep their personal income under $13,000 they would be able to apply for an Earned Income Tax Credit. While I am sure they won’t collect on this, I hope they appreciate that the taxpayers provide this safety net, but they probably won’t.

There are many ways to ensure that you can live the lifestyle of the super-rich, amass wealth, and not pay taxes. One of these, for example is to hold multiple home equity loans, which is (I think) borrowing money against the values of many of your homes and property. This is debt and therefore not taxable, but it is money for them to jet around and live the life they want. In a country where good folk are losing their homes (their only homes) to foreclosure, isn’t this ironic? There are many other ways and I am not the person to expound on them.

Let us assume that one day the Zukerbergs decide to purchase an island in the Caribbean. Most people who show an income of $1 might be more inclined to buy food, clothes, medical insurance etc., but someone with significant net worth need only cash in a few shares (Facebook anyone?) to make the purchase. For sure, he might have to pay 15% capital gains taxes, but ain’t life a bitch.

To be perfectly clear (once again), I do not resent these people their wealth. I have a deep respect for the philanthropists that I have a relationship with. But I believe in paying taxes and I want everyone who can afford it to pay their share and pay it with grace.

Those billionaires who take pride out of cheating (yes, cheating) our society out of their taxes are screwing not only those of us who pay taxes today, but also failing to help prevent the nation accumulate debt that our children will be saddled with.

For some reason, what hurts even more, is that these people are paying more money for financial advice that helps them avoid tax exposure than I earn in a year…before I pay my taxes.

I work hard for my salary and pay my taxes as I should. I have a right to be angry.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Change The World

I love change.org. It is a website to help people with their political advocacy by providing a framework to build a petition. This is from a recent eNewsletter that they sent out to subscribers.
In the past three weeks, Apple revamped its policy to protect workers in China, Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp stood up to high school bullies, President Obama took action to protect Syrians living in America from potential torture and death, and a woman named Hope saved her husband from deportation.
Here’s the crazy thing — it’s possible none of this would have happened if people hadn’t started petitions on Change.org. But they did. Today we want to share stories with you of nine people who took a chance to try and change something, earned the support of thousands of signatures, got attention from major media outlets from the New York Times to The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and who ultimately won their campaigns.
These victories are amazing on their own. But we’re even more excited about the potential they represent: we’re living in a time where anyone, anywhere, can use the internet to change the world. (Seriously, you can start a petition right here.)
Keep reading — we hope you find these stories as inspiring as we do.
– Patrick and the Change.org team
 
 
Apple customer Mark sparks promised improvements for workers in China
“Like most Apple customers, I had no idea how appalling the working conditions were at Foxconn, where most iPhones and iPads are assembled. After hearing employees worked excessive hours, in some cases seven days a week, and stood so long their legs swelled until they couldn’t walk, I wanted to write a letter to Apple, but then I thought, why not start a petition instead? 250,000 signatures later, Foxconn has promised major changes, including making sure all employees work no more than 49 hours per week without having their salaries cut. I know great organizations continue to press for additional improvements, but I’m so grateful to have played a part in this amazing first step.-Mark Shields
 
 
Maha and Darakshan save countless Syrians from terror and violence
“Since Syria’s democratic uprising in 2011, the government there has killed thousands of people. Syrian nationals living in America were terrified of being deported and tortured or killed for supporting democracy. We started a petition asking President Obama to grant those Syrians “Temporary Protected Status” so they could stop living in fear, and after 12,000 people and several members of Congress supported our campaign, President Obama came through.-Maha Hilal & Darakshan Raja
 
 
Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and Ellen DeGeneres support Katy’s fight against bullies
“I used to be bullied so badly that I was afraid to go to school. When I saw that a new documentary made to stop bullying was rated R, I started a petition asking the Motion Picture Association of America to change the rating to PG-13 so that the kids who most needed to see the film would be able to. A few weeks and almost half a million signatures later, I got to be on The Ellen Show. Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, and 35 members of Congress threw their support behind my campaign. Now the movie’s distributor, The Weinstein Company, is releasing the film as ‘unrated’ so that all kids can see the movie.” -Katy Butler
 
 
Mom and food blogger Bettina keeps “pink slime” out of school cafeterias
“I’m a parent who writes about children and food, especially school food reform. So I was upset to learn that USDA was arranging to offer school districts ground beef containing 7 million pounds of ‘lean, finely textured beef,’ more commonly known as ‘pink slime.’ LFTB is made from slaughterhouse scraps previously used only for pet food and cooking oil, and treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens. In just 9 days, nearly 250,000 signed people my petition, leading the USDA to change its policy and offer districts, for the first time ever, ground beef without this cheap filler.-Bettina Elias Siegel
 
 
Jason takes on an insurance company to help save his dad
“My dad, Henry, had a terrible heart attack last fall that left him with severely impaired cognitive and motor skills. His doctors said that rehab would help him get better, but his insurance provider — Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts — refused to pay. I started a petition on Change.org and almost 200,000 people signed it. Now Blue Cross has agreed to pay for my dad’s care.” -Jason Warren
 
 
Craig — a straight Republican Marine — defends his gay brother’s right to marry
“I served in Iraq to defend freedom and liberty, but the legislature in my home state of New Hampshire wanted to take away my brother Calvin’s freedom to marry the person he loves just because he’s gay. I started a petition asking New Hampshire’s Republican legislature to do the conservative thing: stay out of people’s private lives. More than 125,000 people signed my petition, and the legislature voted to uphold marriage equality. I hope one day I get to be the best man in Calvin’s wedding.” -Craig Stowell
 
 
Cancer survivor mom Jane convinces Mattel to manufacture bald Barbies
I lost my hair when I went through chemo, and I know so many little girls go through the same thing — it can be sad and scary. I started a petition asking Mattel to manufacture a bald Barbie so that little cancer warriors will see that they are beautiful princesses, too. Almost 35,000 people signed my petition, and now Mattel says it will make bald dolls and donate them to children’s cancer wards around America.-Jane Bingham
 
 
Hope Mustakim uses petition to save her husband Naz from deportation
“With the outpouring of support from our community, numerous organizations, churches, Change.org, our incredible legal team, friends and family, and our loving God, my husband Nazry is back home in Waco. Thank you Change.org for believing in our cause and providing a way to gather the support that played a monumental part in winning Naz’s freedom back. We are so grateful.” -Hope Mustakim
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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Amazon Challenges Publishers Pt.1

Friday today and another story from the publishing world. Amazon.com continue to redefine the publishing world. Earlier this month they released a new line of kindles, the handheld reading devices. At the bottom end, the basic no-frills model comes at the lowest price yet of $79, while at the upper end, the Kindle Fire has color and can be used to stream movies, surf the Internet, play games and host a vast amount of apps. Apple junkies are quick to point out that it lacks many features of the iPad, but with the Fire at half the price, it has to take a bite out of iPad sales (do we have an iPad 3 coming out soon?).

But Amazon are taking other steps to dominate the book world. The features of the new Flame has techie junkies claiming that Amazon are about to launch a “Netflix for books.They already have their own self-publishing platform (Createspace) and even created a streamlined publishing platform that is solely digital based.

Now Amazon are busy signing up authors for their own imprint. I have already featured authors who have learned to use the system to amazing results including J.A. Konrath and young-adult author Amanda Hocking — who made more than two million dollars by publishing her own books via the Kindle marketplace before signing a $2-million deal with a traditional publisher earlier this year.

Now there is an interesting new addition. Thriller writer Barry Eisler, a former CIA operative turned author, made his name as a self-publishing success story. However, when his sales garnered the publishing industry’s attention in a big way, he turned down a $500,000 advance for two books with St. Martin’s Press in March, and announced he would self-publish his new novel instead.

Eisler wants his independence and the most efficient model

In an NPR interview, Eisler — who has several New York Times  bestsellers which were published  traditionally — says he has come to the conclusion “that mainstream publishers simply aren’t as efficient or as useful to authors as they used to be, now that there are other options.”

“To say that publishers really care passionately about books as though they are concerned about what’s better for the world … I’m sure when they look in the mirror they feel that way. But in fact, what they care about is preserving their own position, perks and profit — that’s just what establishment players come to do over time.”

I’m not sure that this is a fair comment. The publishing houses have a right to chase profits and both publishers and agents that I have approached or been approached by, were very honest about this. If an author is going to get offended (and I’m not claiming Eisler is) when a publisher asks more about your marketing model and target audience rather than focus on the quality of your story or the message behind it, then the author also might need to look in the mirror.

Eisler was more direct, I think, in the New York Observer, when he says that one of the reasons he decided to decline the St. Martin’s deal was that the publisher was simply too slow in meeting its obligations. St. Martin’s, for example, took more than four months just to send a draft contract, “and during that time, the landscape of the industry had changed to the point where many of the terms were no longer acceptable — in part because of the explosion of e-books and self-publishing.”

Eisler also criticized legacy publishers who deliberately slow down the process of publishing a book, to earn interest on the money they would otherwise have to pay to authors. “By contrast, he said, Amazon was willing to sign a deal immediately and then guarantee to have the e-book version and the paperback version of his new books on the market long before a traditional publisher could.”

“What I care about is readers, because without readers I can’t make a living [and] I want people to read a lot. To that end, if I can find a way to get readers books that cost less and are delivered better and faster, I want that.”

Eisler’s frustrations, long expounded by authors, were heard by a opportunist giant in the book world, who is willing to listen to its authors and readers and adapt. More tomorrow.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Learning From Steve Jobs

There has been a lot written about Steve Jobs since he passed away and while I read many articles at first, I seem to just flip through them now. But one article that I not only read, but returned to, was written by Carmine Gallo, I feel there is a lot in here for me to learn.

I want to give Carmine’s bio here as I do lean heavily on his article. The list is his, any comments are mine. Carmine is a communications coach, a popular keynote speaker and author of several books including The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs. His latest is The Power of Foursquare (McGraw-Hill, 2011).

1. Do what you love.  Carmine offers two quotes here from Jobs.

“People with passion can change the world for the better.”

“I’d get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about.”

I consider myself very lucky in this respect. The only time that I have ever held a position I didn’t enjoy was temporary and for a specific purpose (earning money quickly to fund travel in my younger days). But more importantly, I love writing novels that highlight social injustices and, yes, I hope that maybe my novels might just contribute to a better world.

2. Put a dent in the universe. I love the quote that Carmine provides. Apparently, Steve Jobs once asked then-Pepsi President, John Sculley, “Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?”

This is all about having a vision that can make a difference. Is it really enough to have a solid product like Pepsi, a lucrative career that benefited no one but yourself?

A friend recently asked me why I don’t write thrillers or romance models. His hypothesis was if I kill more characters and add more sex, I would sell a lot more books. While he is probably correct and my bank account would appreciate the change, I love what I write. I truly get passionate about the social injustice issue or the characters that I create. I could write “Pepsi novels,” but it just wouldn’t be me.

Still Learning From The Master

3. Make connections. Jobs believed in a broad life experience: to travel, read, learn from everyone and everything. Then return to your vision and use these experiences to achieve what you are setting out to do. In Judaism we are taught that wherever we wander (and Jews sure wander) we should immediately seek out a teacher. Today, with the explosion of social media, we are all connected to everyone. But do we take the time to listen enough to learn from each other.

4. Say no to 1,000 things. Carmine recalls how when Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he cut 340 products from the company, leaving them to focus on only 10. In doing this, he focused only on those products that could fulfill the vision that he had for Apple.

5. Create insanely different experiences. Everything about Apple is different. Everything is unique and clearly part of a carefully engineered brand. Just think of the experience, sensory and practical, of entering an Apple store. It is simply entering a different world. We look forward to going to the store in a way that we don’t experience with any other company.

6. Master the message. This is absolutely crucial. You must be able to communicate your message clearly, quickly and in a way that inspires the person/people who are listening to ask more questions, or to want to act/react in the way you want. If the response to my telling someone that I write political fiction is a request to pass the cheese, then I need to reconsider my message (though I might want to pass the cheese first).

7. Sell dreams, not products. I think this is an important concept and one that we are prone to forget in the hectic day-to-day. How often do we get bogged down in the small details of our books, or products, or political platforms, and forget why we are doing this.

Finally, Carmine leaves us with the pearl of Jobs’ ethos, and I will leave you with this.

“See genius in your craziness, believe in yourself, believe in your vision, and be constantly prepared to defend those ideas.”

Steve Jobs passed away last month, but his lessons will stay with us for many  years, and may well help us create a better world: one built on the concept of excellence.

Thank you Steve.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Steve Jobs 2

Following on from last Friday’s post, I have been wondering how much a company can really be sustainable if it leans so heavily on its CEO. The way some people talked about Steve Jobs stepping down at Apple had me worried that my iPod and MacBook would self destruct in five seconds.

But there are certain companies where the CEO seems to take on legendary proportions. Apple is of them, but there is also Walmart, Microsoft and most recently Starbucks.  Howard Shultz wrote the book on building a company based on values and a dynamic business model. He literally wrote the book – Pour Your Heart Into It.

A Great Read.

When Howard Shultz left Starbucks the company experienced its first downfall. I’m not sure this is attributed to his departure, it is hard to spend $4 on a cup of coffee when you lose your job and your house is foreclosed, but tellingly, Shultz was lured back and Starbucks repositioned. I am sure this is all recorded in the uber-CEO’s latest book, Onward, and I will review it soon as it rises up to the top of my To Read book pile.

I  wonder if it shouldn’t be a benchmark of a good CEO that s/he brings through a line of highly trained personnel from which one could be groomed as a successor? Was it a failure of Howard Shultz that  he had to make a comeback? I wonder whether the mood within Apple was as preoccupied as it was played out in the media.

And this brings me to another top-heavy organization – the government. At the risk of endangering my desire to become a US citizen, I wonder whether there isn’t too much emphasis on the President for governance and policy. Shouldn’t there be a bigger emphasis and accountability on those who sit on the House and Senate to fix our problems and lead us forward?

Perhaps we learn from the successful company models in restructuring our governments.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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