Steve Jobs, on life

Upon waking this morning, I opened up my iPad. The familiar ding sounded and a push notification from MacWorld popped up on my homepage with the nightmarish news that Steve Jobs had died.

The brilliant, creative genius of Apple products that kept blowing us all away was gone. He was only 56.

Tribute to Steve Jobs on the Apple homepage

Many will remember him for the genius that he was. Colleagues who worked with him probably remember him either at his best or at his worst. Most of us know him by the everyday devices we bring around with us that have become part of our identities.

But what struck me today, listening to the CNN coverage on Steve Jobs, was how he pursued his own version of a meaningful life with such a driven, focused passion.

Steve’s life has been very colorful. But his close encounter with pancreatic cancer in 2004 made him realize how life was too short. This mindset shift was clearly reflected in part of his speech at the 2005 Stanford commencement speech:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new…

Such profound words from a man who had a love-hate relationship with so many people who knew him! This must have been why he seemed so driven despite his illness. He wanted to go with a bang. And he has. He has left us with a legacy and many life lessons.

To me, what left a huge impression was Steve’s thoughts on death as a life-changing agent. It truly is. When we realize life is short, then we stop being a sham, a fake if you can call it that. We stop living someone else’s life. We begin focusing on who we really are, what we want to really do, where our passions lie, what counts in life, WHO count in our life. We realize that walls that we erect to ‘protect’ ourselves from hurt are actually walls that shut out people who love us. We begin to see people and things around us that, in many busy seasons of life, usually go by unnoticed. We learn detachment and see material things from a functional point of view rather than from an obsessed, never-ending acquisition binge.

To get a better sense of Steve’s mindset, watch this video of that 2005 Stanford commencement speech:

Thank you, Steve Jobs, for how you changed our lives in a dramatic way. How the world will communicate and connect will never be the same again. You will be truly missed.

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Apple in my life

The very first time I laid my eyes on an Apple product was in the 80s. Back then I was a graduate student in the U.S. working on my Masters degree. One of the Filipinos in my batch purchased an Apple IIe. He had it in his dorm room and I remember several of us going to his room to ogle and salivate. At that time, very few people could afford an Apple computer so it was quite the novelty amidst the Ataris and Radio Shacks others had.

(courtesy of http://www.allaboutapple.com/)

My next encounter with an Apple was at work. Most of the computers in the office were Windows-based ones but when it came to desktop publishing, nothing could beat what the Macintosh could do. Fortunately, I was one of those who had projects that required me to work on the Macintosh using Adobe PageMaker. It was thrilling then to see how the icon-based user interface differed from the command prompts we had to type in on Windows PCs. It was really so much easier (and fun) to use.

 

(courtesy of http://www.allaboutapple.com/)

However, there was a long hiatus as I went the way of Windows PCs and laptops when I moved to a bank which was predominantly on Windows. Both at home and at work, I became so rooted in Windows that when my girl received the first Macbook in the family as a graduation gift, I always wondered why she raved about its performance. The second Apple convert was my oldest son who began using an iMac at home. Then on one business trip, my husband came home with our first iPod  – his gift for the kids. That was followed by another iPod, won by my son unexpectedly in a consumer product raffle.

Then, it was time for me to get a laptop when I needed to be mobile. It was a personal struggle – to go with a Windows laptop or move to the Macbook. One agonizing year – yes, believe it or not, it took me that long to weigh how I’d use it, how I’d adapt to new features and commands, and whether it was worth the price. I made the move in late 2008 and got myself the unibody Macbook. At almost the same time, I got an iPod Touch. One was for heavy, serious work. The other was for portability and communication when I needed to be mobile. It was a decision I have never regretted.

The genius of Steve Jobs has shown in each and every Apple device that has been made. I’ve read a book about him and it told of how he could be very hard on his colleagues, very demanding, unsympathetic and a lot more descriptions that are not really flattering. But in the end, his devices really spoke to the hearts of everyone, young and old. He knew what we wanted before we even knew what we wanted.

Someone once told me that when you’ve tried an Apple device, it would be hard to go back to Windows. I was a bit skeptical about that statement but right now if you ask me if I’d give up my Macbook and iPad and revert back to Windows and a non-iOS device, my answer would be a big NO.

The last bastion standing now is my cellphone. Because I love qwerty keyboards, I have not switched as yet to an iPhone. I am still on a Nokia E71, loving its tactile feel and being able to type texts rapidly without the typos I get on a touchscreen device. But there are many things I cannot do seamlessly with it. I cannot livestream properly. I cannot take a picture (because its camera is really lousy) and upload photos on the fly to my social media networks. But friends with iPhones can.

Maybe this is the time to go full circle and complete my lineup of Apple devices by getting the iPhone 4S. That is a decision I am still weighing at the moment.

Our home is filled with Apple devices, just like many homes are. Without a doubt, Steve Jobs and his Apple devices have changed the way I communicate, work, play and get my news. I really hope that the spirit of Steve will live on for a long time. The world has so much to be grateful for to this one man who went against convention and what people may call common sense (at that time) to make portable devices with powerful communication features and massive consumer appeal.

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Apple’s App Store Turns 1

Today, July 14, Apple’s App Store celebrates its 1st anniversary.

I am the happy owner of an iPod Touch and before I had this gadget, life was pretty fragmented. I kept some contacts on my phone, calendars & music on a PDA, notes stuck here and there on post-it notes and paper notebooks as well.

But my life has become that much easier with this one gadget. I easily sync calendars and contacts on my phone. I have notes, my music and videos in one place.  I surf the  web on a Safari browser. But what is truly a winner is the App Store!

According to the Gadget Lab, the first billion downloads took 9 months. But half that number has already been downloaded in the last 3 months (a sign that downloads are spiking pretty fast).

The App Store (short for Application or even Apple — pretty ingenious titling, if I may say so) now has over 65,000 applications with more being released every day covering anything you can ever think of that can be shrunk into manageable file sizes. Some apps are free; others are offered at fairly reasonable prices.

When you open up the App Store, you find it covers several categories ranging from Games to Productivity Tools and Utilities to Education, Finance, Medical, Travel, etc. I have spent hours checking out new apps or apps recommended by friends and downloaded so many already (including games my kids love to play). I now have 9 pages worth of apps.

Here are some of my favorites and why (and, they’re mostly FREE!!!!):

1. Flashlight – this is a toe-saver, if you get up in the middle of the night to pee or drink water. With my ipod beside me, all I need to do is activate this app and it beams a small light (you can even choose the color) good enough for you not to stumble in the dark. This is what I also bring to the movies to help us find our way around.

2. Facebook, Plurk, Skype, Twitter, Y! Messenger – yes, my social networking sites are on this gadget as well as variations of Twitter (Twitterfon, TweetDeck).

3. Dictionary – at a blogger party once, when the young ones got into an exciting game of Scrabble, I ended up being the moderator using this app to check if certain words indeed existed. This app comes with a Thesaurus feature as well as the Word of the Day.

4. Holy Bible – This is truly a weight saver as far as I am concerned, especially when I attend Christian gatherings where the Bible is needed. I can quickly get to the chapter or verse I want, and even choose the bible version among those available. If you plan to download this, also consider the Catholic Calendar. It contains the liturgical calendar from 1970 to 2300 and beyond, saint feasts celebrated in different countries, and you can now download the Liturgy of the Hours and Mass readings for yesterday, today and tomorrow from the Universalis website (needs internet connection).

5. ER Lite, Sleepmaker, Sleepstream, WhiteNoise and Om – these are some of my sleep-inducing apps for nights when sleep escapes me. My favorite sound is the steady raindrops falling. Second would be the waves crashing on a shore. These apps also have jungle sounds and other interesting ones as well. As for the Om, well being a yogini I have recently discovered its use for my yoga meditation sequence.

6. 9-Toolbox (free version but eventually will cost $4.99) – It has currency conversion, calculator, days until (an event), holidays, unit converters, an inclinometer (measures an object’s incline), loan amortization tool, menstrual cycle calendar, and others. 9 useful tools in all! I installed another converter called MultiConvert.

7. TVUPlayer – free TV, YES!!! When in a free wifi zone, I can put my headsets on and tune in to any of the available TV stations. Right now, some popular ones are Channel NewsAsia, Disney Channel, Classic Movies, CBS, Comedy Central, The Science Channel and Fox News.

8. USA Today, NY Times – oh yes, even online newspapers are apps now.

9. Wikiamo – the Safari-like Wikipedia viewer

10. Ustream – the same app for livestreaming events. I actually got to watch part of the Obama inauguration on my ipod using this app.

11. Remote – ooohhhh this is a cool app. It turns your ipod into a remote control for iTunes. I can activate my playlists or choose the music to play from my music collection just with a tap on the screen.

I’ve got many more apps in this tiny iPod Touch of mine like yoga apps, quotations of all sorts, apps for sending files across to it from my desktop or laptop, first-aid and medical apps for those possible emergencies, and so on.

Given its dramatic success in just its first year, who knows where the next year and the next will find the App Store? It’s truly on a roll!

What are your favorite downloaded apps? Do share with me. I just may have missed a really good one….

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His name is MAX!

Yes, so now you’ve met my new love. But I never did get to tell you his name, right?

Well, his name is MAX. I have my own private pet name for him but for the world, this shiny, new hunk of metal is MAX – short for My Apple Xtreme! 🙂

I guess having the power of the earlier Macbook Pros makes my baby qualify to be called Xtreme (at least till the next more powerful model comes along!).

It was also as close to a man’s name as I could think of and quite close to “Mac”, which he is. And it also reminds me of Max Alvarado whom you would either love or hate for his contrabida roles in Pinoy movies till his death in 1997. I used to be amused when he did comedic roles as a bad guy and the name Max does conjure images of a bouncer.

Do you give names to your laptops? Do share them with me so I know Max is not alone…

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Meet My New Love!

It took me a while to take the plunge. Over a year to be exact.

So much time was spent thinking about it. My kids were on both sides of the fence. Two of them were fierce lovers of M; the other 2 went for W. Choosing either way was agony. I was torn!

My comfort zone was with W. After all, I had known W for the longest time — at work and at home. I knew what made W tick. There was no need for adjustments. He knew what I wanted; I knew his strengths and weaknesses. He was not perfect but he worked for me. As they say, why fix what ain’t broken?

But a few weeks ago, I made one of the most important decisions in my life. I chose M over W.

While my love affair with M is still brief and the novelty is still there, it is definitely not a whirlwind one as I had over a year to think about him. And I find more and more things about M to love as the days pass.

There is so much still to learn about M. He is still mysterious and fascinating and surprises me now and then with unexpected things. I hope M will not disappoint as I am wishing this will be a “for life” love affair.

This yogini is in love!

And here’s a picture of my new love — Continue reading

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