j.j. toothman

Menu Close

Page 3 of 35

On the passing of Steve Jobs

And just like that, Steve Jobs was gone.

(Note: I rarely cross post the same piece to multiple blogs.  But in a tribute to Steve Jobs, I’m going to do so with this post.  Steve liked to say that he worked where technology met the liberal arts. His work crossed a lot of boundaries.  In that spirit, I’m going to share this on the many blogs I contribute to where the subject cross various boundaries.) 

I have always found it interesting to assess how I react to the passing of people whom I never got a chance to meet.  But despite that, they’re still people that have played a significant role in my life by inspiring me, adding joy, and impacting my life in so many positive ways.  It always takes me a while to collect my thoughts and find that proper clarity.  Clarity that helps me determine the proper perspective and context of the significance of the person the world has just lost.  As clarity emerged for me late last night, too late for me to start writing anything, I realized that the last time I felt this deep sense of loss (for someone who I had never met) was when Jerry Garcia died

Like Jerry Garcia, Steve Jobs infused a lot of joy into my life. Jerry did it with the sounds of his guitar, the songs he played, and the festive parties1 we both participated in.  Steve jobs impacted my life with technology.  Life changing technology.  As Steve would put it, it was (and is) technology infused with the  liberal arts.

I did not grow up an Apple user.  I do not have a story that involves my first Apple II. In fact, I learned computing on TRS-80s, Commodore 64s, and IBM PCs.  On those systems, I learned how to write programs in BASIC, how to operate MS-DOS, and how to launch computer games via the DOS prompt. 

Back in the 80s, my mother was involved with desktop publishing and, as you might expect, involved with evaluating Apple products and desktop publishing software.  My first exposure to Apple and the genius of Steve Jobs was the Macintosh she brought home to evaluate  The Macintosh – a personal computer with a graphical user interface that made a fun, somehow appealing deep tone announcing its presence whenever you turned it on.  Mom may have brought that home to evaluate for work, but I was the one really evaluating it.2 This only child found an instant playmate.  MacPaint.  Solitaire.  Just moving the mouse around and seeing the cursor move with you was a thrill.  It felt like…the future.

You would think that such an experience would create an Apple fanboy for life.  But it didn’t happen that way.  The main computer in the house remained an IBM PC.  That’s what got me through high school papers and college applications.  Attending the University of Vermont meant having a PC as well.  And so it went for me.  Developing early computing proficiencies that do this day have me primarily working primarily on a windows machine.  Nevertheless, the windows machines were life changing and would not be the same without Steve’s innovations with the graphical user interface.  I use computers every day.  Personally and professionally.  I can manipulate, absorb, and produce information in countless ways.  Ways I never would have imagined as a 13 year old boy.  If Steve doesn’t evolve personal computing with the GUI, I’m probably not writing this blog post right now. Or working in the job I have right now.  Or living in the house I am right now. Thank you, Steve

No, Steve Jobs didn’t start impacting my life with his own life altering inventions until the iPod came out. That was the first Apple product I ever owned. When I got one, my music collection was already spinning out control.  Having to select 10 CDs to take with me in the car or to work was not only hard to do due to having to think ahead about what I might want to listen to 4 hours from now, but also time consuming.  The iPod changed everything.  I could put the bulk of my music and have it at my fingertips for any moment. And it was the size of my wallet.  So small that it was easy to misplace. I once wrote that if my house was on fire, I would first make sure my family was safe then see if I could run back inside and grab the iPod. It was a device that infused my life with a constant soundtrack.  Thank you, Steve.

And Apple and I went from there.  The iPod was a gateway drug device. The iPhone. I can’t even tell you how much the iPhone has changed my life and so many others.  All this information from every corner of the globe.  In my pocket.  Thank you, Steve.

The evolutionary device of the iPhone, the iPad has once again shown me the future.  All I need to do is watch my kids with an iPad.  It’s just like when my Mom brought that Macintosh home.  I  have given my kids zero instruction with an iPad. They are three and five years old and they can both find a movie on Netflix, browse maps, play Angry Birds, and launch apps to help them learn spelling, math, and music.  It is the future.  My kids thank you, Steve.

They also thank you for Pixar. And the most impressive family friendly animated films the world has ever seen. 

The inventions of Steve Jobs continue to infuse the life of this family.  A family slowly morphing into an Apple household.  My wife now has a Macbook Air.  A machine so impressive that I myself have thought of ditching the windows laptop and purchasing one. 

It is perfectly natural, that I learned about Steve Jobs on his invention.  An iPhone.  I then used the same device to connect with friends on Twitter and Facebook.  And then used an iPad to read news stories and coverage of his death. His legacy and impact will be felt for generations to come.  It is hard to sound full of hyperbole with Steve Jobs.  He was the Einstein and Henry Ford of our times. He will be missed and there will never be another.

  1. aka Grateful Dead concerts 

  2. Looking back, maybe that was Mom’s plan all along.  To see how a 13 year old boy can grasp the Mac with zero instruction and guidance. 

So…Why Sudbury?

Keturah held our first gathering of friends at our place over the weekend.  Partially a BBQ.  Partially a housewarming party with a lot of kids play date flavorings (there was a bouncy house after all).  We called in Sudtoberfest. Lots of people I haven’t seen in quite a long time.  Some over 15 years.

Anyway, the question “Why did you decide to leave in Sudbury?” was directed my way by at least a half dozen different people.  So, let’s address that.

First off, I’m thinking that the question was rooted with one of the following underlying sentiments by that individual:

  1. Some people who were thinking “You guys are crazy to move out here to deep suburbia. You’re an urban type who likes to catch a band playing a small club on Tuesday nights; who likes hipster, speakeasy type coffee joints; and who enjoys dining at places where you order at a counter and take a number to your table.”
  2. Those who are secretly wondering, “Wait, I’ve got two little kids myself that about to head off to kindergarten and maybe it’s time for me to consider a place like Sudbury”
  3. Surely some people wonder “You’re working exclusively from home, why aren’t you living on the Cape or even better, from Tahiti?”

As I’ve previously alluded to, it was time for us to leave California in part due to the weaker family communities out there.  Or to be more diplomatic about it, weaker than what is commonly found in New England.  We are here in part for the strong family oriented communities and the excellent schools systems.

We are also here partially to be near some family.  Keturah has family down in Southern Massachusetts and I have family still in Glastonbury, Connecticut.  Given that, it made sense for us to stay west of Boston.  Our search started the day after we landed at Logan.  It started with a massive list of towns from Newton all the way out to towns on the edge of 495 such as Sherborn.  Eventually, we crossed off a bunch of towns and zero’d in on Sudbury and Wayland.  With those 2 towns identified we pretty much tracked what was coming available via RedFin.  Ultimately finding a home to our liking on Willis Road in Sudbury.  We easily could have ended up in neighboring Wayland.  In fact in many ways, Sudbury-Wayland feels like one big town.

Why Sudbury, specifically.  Well…

  • It’s awfully pretty here.
  • There’s plenty of families here.  Plenty of people here, but it certainly doesn’t feel overcrowded.  Everyone has a decent sized lot for their house.  Lots are measured in acres here.  Not the 5000 sq. foot increment measurements that happen in California.
  • There’s a fair amount of convenience here.  And you don’t have to work overly hard to drive to the grocery store or Target.1
  • Public transportation isn’t totally out of the picture.  The commuter rail station in Concord is 10 minutes away. The one in Framingham is 15-20 minutes away.
  • Waltham, a tech hotbed in metro Boston is about a 15 minute drive away.
  • Great cycling up here.
  • Our house is 15 minutes from Walden Pond. Same with downtown Concord.
  • Are you noticing how everything is about 15 minutes from our house?  It’s nice.  Much different experience than our Half Moon Bay existence2
  • The schools are amazing.  Someone told me that all but 2 people from last years graduating high school class went to college.
  • Lots of youth programs. In fact, what’s available for kids in this town is almost overwhelming.

  1. It’s amazing how pleasing it is to be able to drive 10 minutes to Target and only have to deal with a single traffic light. 

  2. Of course, there’s no ocean view here. 

It’s iPhone Announcement Day!

It’s nuts how psyched I get by day of Apple’s press conference to (presumably) announce their next iPhone – or as I like to refer to the iPhone, Apple’s gateway drug.  There’s no question that a couple of years ago, the iPhone was THE phone.1 Before I had an iPhone, our household was void of any Apple products.  We were a technology family knee deep in Windows products. But then Keturah and I both got our iPhones and over time more Apple products have creeped into our lives. We bought the first iPad when it came out, the slowly lost control of it when our kids discovered it and quickly became proficient with it.2 Keturah bought the Macbook Air this past summer and I have to admit, it’s quite a nice machine.3 Even I’ve been browsing Mac Mini listings on Craig’s List with the intent on setting it up as media server in the living room.  Lastly, we’re in a new house and it’s only a matter of time before I fill the rooms with sound via Apple Airplay.4

So yes, I’ll be following the announcement online today and yeah, that sounds awfully silly.  But what can I say?  The iPhone was a life changing product that hooked me.


Some final random thoughts:

  • My iPhone 3GS is absolutely crawling to the finish line. I’ve pretty much pushed that device to its performance limits.  It’s either that or it senses it’s about to be passed down to a five year old and is rebelling.
  • I’ll still buy an iPhone 4S, but for some stupid reason of vanity, I want the new phone to be an iPhone 5.  I decided that I was going to put myself on a two year upgrade cycle with the iPhone5 I’d be even happier to be on the upgrade cycle that involved major product advancements instead of the feeling of iterative steps that the iPhone 3GS was and the iPhone 4S would feel like.
  • I really want NFC technology to be in this thing.  I’m ready to speed up the death of the plastic credit card.
  • The 64GB iPhone rumor doesn’t make sense to me in an era when Apple wants to be pushing iCloud.  Maybe I’m not understanding Apple’s iCloud strategy, but it seems like if content is stored in the cloud and streaming from the cloud, devices would need less storage not more.
  • An even crazier rumor is the one that the iPhone 5 is exclusively coming to Sprint.  In this scenario, it is speculated that an iPhone 4S comes to Verizon and AT&T while the iPhone 5 version drops only on Sprint, then the other carriers in early 2012. First, if this happens I’ll be pissed.  I’m not interested in switching to Sprint.  Since moving away from San Francisco, I’m actually pleased with AT&T iPhone performance.   I would expect some Apple fanboy revolt if this played out.  Actually, the only way it might make sense is a 64GB version of the new iPhone came out exclusively on Sprint.  Here’s why that might make some sense.  Apple has probably done enough research to realize that a 64GB phone isn’t necessary, especially with iCloud becoming a reality.  At the same time, they know some consumers always fall for the “bigger is better” type specs.  Their big questions are how much such a phone would actually sell?  Can they actually price it way higher? So instead they hedge their bet by getting Spring to pay $20 million to carry the iPhone and can up that price by giving Sprint exclusive right to sell an iPhone version (where the only difference from Verizon/AT&T versions is that is has more onboard storage)  they’re not actually sure anyone truly wants. If all that’s true, what a move by Apple.

  1. Even with all the Android phones out there now, it still feels like THE phone. 

  2. Actually, when we get the new iPhone, our old iPhones are being passed down to the kids – to be pseudo iPod touches –  and we’re hoping to bring the iPad back into our control. 

  3. Ordered on the first day it was available. 

  4. I tried doing something similar in the old house with DLNA. And let me tell you, that tech sucks. Never worked smoothly. Haven’t tried Sonos yet, but hear good things 

  5. Dropping a few hundred on a new phone every year just seems silly. 

Best Tom Hanks films–non Gump division

There was a fairly interesting and amusing thread in Bill Simmons recent mailbag column on Grantland1 regarding the what people would select as their 3 favorite Tom Hanks movies if they weren’t allowed to pick Forrest Gump.  I’ve been spending (probably too way too much) time thinking about this over the past few days.  The question is being stored away in my “use this topic of conversation if you’re ever in an uncomfortably silent circle of people at a cocktail party” category for future use. And since I’m thinking about it, I might as well write a blog post about it.  So here goes. 

My three favorite Tom Hanks movie performances that are not named Forrest Gump (in no particular order).

Big – I haven’t grown tired of watching this film over the years.  I still secretly wish to live in large Manhattan loft with celings high enough to have a trampoline in it. In fact, I’m going to encourage some of my single guy friends to do that just to find out if the “hey, I have a trampoline in my apartment.  Wanna come over?” line works. 

Road to Perdition – Not sure why whenever I channel surf to this movie I end watching the rest of it, but I do.  Perhaps its because I’m amazed that one on the guys that used to star in Bosom Buddies can go toe-to-toe in a movie with Paul Newman.

Saving Private Ryan – Really?  Tom Hanks lost the Oscar for Best Actor that year to Roberto Benigni? That sounds like a future Trivial Pursuit question.

Now that I’ve done this little “exercise”, I’m surprised that Catch Me If You Can isn’t in that top 3.  I enjoy watching that movie more than any of the above.

  1. Grantland, btw, has cracked my top 10 web sites list 

Remembering R.E.M.

I was 15 years old the first time I can accurately recall hearing an R.E.M. song.  I used to listen to 105.9 WHCN in Hartford on this cheap Emerson brand AM/FM clock radio while I got dressed and ready for school in the morning.  And there it was – “Fall on Me.”  It had an immediate impact.  I went out and bought Life’s Rich Pageant later in the week and R.E.M. and I went from there.  R.E.M. became one of THOSE bands.  One of those bands was always with me while I growing up during high school and starting to figure out who I was during college. 

Rem Document Album Cover

It helped that back then, they had a new album out every year.  Document became one of my favorite albums of all time.  I purchased Green the first day came out.1Out of Time became the album of the summer of ‘912 and dancing to “Shiny Happy People” was a great way to meet girls during that time.3  Monster came out right when I was moving across the country and I listened to it continuously on some long days of driving. 

But then R.E.M. started to fade for me.  It was one of those cases of just not being able to maintain the high level of musical excellence they set early on.  Pretty much every album after Out of Time frustrated me to some degree, regardless of how much I wanted to like the album.  “Everybody Hurts” may be a great song, but I still hate it.  To me, it was a sign of the edgy college radio band I loved completely losing it.  The Michael Stipe started showing up places I could care less for him to show up in.  Like that show Iconoclasts on the Sundance Channel.4  In fact, in the last 15 years my favorite R.E.M. memory is the time Keturah and I went to see a Patti Smith concert in Seattle and Peter Buck joined in to play a few songs. 

R.E.M. will always be part of my youth.  And now that they’ve broken up, perhaps its time to for me to forget about how disappointed I am in what they became and recall how great they once were

  1. Bought it on tape actually.  Which I partially blame for not liking it the album so much 

  2. Summer of ‘91 was when I moved into my first off-campus house in Burlington, VT 

  3. But the more interesting girls knew that “Me in Honey” was the best song on the album. 

  4. And by the way, I’m not overly happy about Eddie Vedder being on that show either 

© 2017 j.j. toothman. All rights reserved.

Theme by Anders Norén.