Steve Jobs

I have paid attention to Steve Jobs only in knowing he was producing some pretty sexy products at Apple. I had never owned one until December 23rd of 2011.  I had however respected Apple & Job’s Products. I knew very little about the level of his drive and passion. I also knew little about his rock star attitude, which often cast him as the “asshole”.

It was time to learn more about Steve Jobs. What better way than to give the recent bestseller a read. You know, the one with his face planted right on the front. By the end of the book, I had rooted for Apple far more than I had imagined I would have. I have damned them over the years far more than I should have and I have respected them a little less than is due. Apple with Steve Jobs at the helm has indeed done some amazing and great things.

After reading the book I came away with a new respect for Jobs, more than I already had. I had learned he is not the hippy nut he’s portrayed as, nor some capitalist pig, but all of the above and somewhere in between. I found him to be a dreamer, loves intensely, and is passionate about creating. Something we all could learn from. Creating new beauty, designs, products that enable us is indeed one of the great human achievements.

Some of the key parts of the book include his interactions with his parents, not the blood parents, but his honorable and loving parents that actually raised him. Stood fast beside him and cast aside things to enable and help him learn. One of the quotes that stood out as how awesome his father was, reminding me of my own father, “Paul Jobs told the teachers, his son recalled, “If you can’t keep him interested, it’s your fault.” His parents never punished him for his transgressions at school. “My father’s father was an alcoholic and whipped him with a belt, but I’m not sure if I ever got spanked.” Both of his parents, he added “knew the school was at fault for trying to make me memorize stupid stuff rather than stimulating me.” He was already starting to show the admixture of sensitivity and insensitivity, bristliness, and detachment, that would mark him for the rest of his life.”

He grew into this way of acting, and I really can’t wrong him for it regardless of who he cut down with his wrath, because he knew and wanted people to jump into the fire with him. He didn’t want nor deem that he wanted to waste time with people that couldn’t step right up to a brash, honest, and give 110%. Maybe I related with it too much, I try diligently to avoid such outbursts or other characteristics, but I for one don’t have a problem working with people like that. I want passion for a product. I want love of design. I want an insatiable desire in people around me to create.  I can absolutely understand why he did too.

Late in the book, the reader learns of other battles Jobs had. He saw himself as a person of the counterculture, and thus naturally part of the political left. Even though he throughout life rarely involved himself directly in politics. But because of this, and the views of the counterculture on technology at the time he was often torn. Regarding the counterculture, “Many in the counterculture saw computers as ominous Orwellian, the province of the Pentagon and the power structure.. In The Myth of the Machine, the historian Lewis Mumford warned that computers were sucking away our freedom and destroying “life-enhacning values.” An injunction on punch cards of the period-“Do not fold, spindle or mutilate”-became an ironic phrase of the antiwar left.”

It was something that Jobs, as his life unfolds in the book, just faced up to and dealt with. Eventually the counterculture caught up with the times and became enraptured with technology, in large part because of Apple & Steve Jobs.

Overall I think the book captured Jobs in a realistic way. In the typical Jobs fashion too, the book ends with a segment written by Jobs himself. You’ll have to give the book a read yourself to know what it says, but suffice it to say he managed some amazing things in life. He was also very much more aware of the world regardless of his “Reality Distortion Field” and insanely passionate about insanely great products.

In summary, a great read. Pick it up!

A Few Choice Quotes:

“If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you’ve done and whoever you were and throw them away.”

– In a scary way, this holds to be true, as an artist grows and evolves the previous passion often must be cast aside to find an ongoing and new passion.

“God gave us ten styluses, let’s not invent another.”

– A statement that the purchasers of the iPad, iPod, and iPhone proved through purchasing millions of these devices and turning Apple into the world’s most valuable company. I just found it rather funny myself, yet rings very true.

“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”

– Nuff said!

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

– Passion embodied in a simple phrase.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

– Yes, it was the ad, but it is one of those times when an ad becomes something a bit more, one could almost say it becomes art.

Reality Distortion Field : 17 Companies’ Sitrep

I’m sitting on the bus this morning. As happens almost every day of the week. I’m flipping pages, sort of, it’s an eBook on my Kindle App. I’m reading about Steve Jobs taking over the Macintosh Program at Apple. How things started to fall into place for Apple, for the Macintosh, and how Jobs saw what could be a pushed for it. Everybody else; Microsoft, Xerox, Canon, and practically every single other company was missing it. Xerox Parc had it right in front of them, the GUI, Mouse, Object Oriented Language, and about every single thing we assume for computer use and development today but wasn’t doing anything with it. They were all missing it, except Jobs. The eccentric, crazed, reality distortion field generating Jobs pushed forward and found those that agreed, this was absolutely the future. Today’s computers owe so much to Jobs efforts to pull these people together, to what he saw as the future, and our modern computing world will forever be indebted to Steve Jobs.

Howard Hues had done this 50 years earlier. He simply stated, “nobody wants to fly on a plane at 10k feet and get shaken to pieces, planes need to fly at 30,000 feet or more where the air is smooth!” He then went about working to get a plane built that could do this! The Government was in his way, the industry was fighting him, everybody said this wasn’t the way to go. Nobody could build a plane that would do that right now! It’s absurd. He did it, and bought every single one of them he could putting the airline (TWA) in hock at the same time! But it paid off, and his airline had the nicest planes, best flight in the world, easily. Today’s airlines are all modeled after this ideal, our modern travel owes a huge debt to what Howard Hughes pushed forward.

The competition, the fighting pushed the envelope, but in both cases a visionary could see the future. To them it was plain as an image on a clear sunny day. To them, the future didn’t need to be tomorrow, it was ready right now. The future just needed dragged kicking and screaming directly into today! They did this, they pulled people together who could make these changes, and they with their teams yanked the future right into humanity’s grasp.

Utility Computing / Cloud Computing

With those thoughts flying around at Warp 10 in my mind, everywhere, at every moment it seemed to occur to me. We’re merely putting the motherboards and cassette tape drives together right now in cloud computing. We have no Macintosh of cloud computing, we have no clear direction, there has to be something bigger, much bigger. At this point we’re merely making small steps, slight little strides toward the future. What we need to do is create the future and pull it directly into now!

There could be more though. Some of these things are being put together by individuals at various companies, oriented toward the platform level. There is, somewhere, a growing movement toward that next big shift in the way things are done. The gap between big architectures, big ideas, and launching these things is decreasing by the day – literally!

With these big ideas and big architectures and all the small steps and small pieces the industry is moving in the right direction. We’ve experienced shifts over the years and some more are definitely coming up very soon!

The Playing Field : Sitrep

With these thoughts racing around I felt compelled to look at where the industry stands right now. These are in no particular order, they all provide some type of building blocks for the next big thing, all in some aspect of the industry.

Amazon Web Services : This one should not need explaining. They’re probably the most utilized, nearly the most advanced, robust, price conscious utility storage, compute, and services provider in existence today. They continue to defeat the innovator’s dilemma over and over again, this company, and the departments in the company are hungry, very hungry and they fight the fight to stay in the lead.

Cloudability : This company is about keeping utility/cloud computing costs in check, and knowing where and when you’re pushing the pricing limits among all the various building blocks. There has been more than a few issues with billing, and people blowing through budgets by inadvertently leaving on their 1000 node EC2 instances and Cloudability helps devops keep these types of things under control stopping overages cold!

New Relic : The key to this offering is monitoring of everything, everywhere, all the time. New Relic offers absolutely beautiful charting and information displays around services, compute, storage, and a zillion other metrics among Ruby, PHP, Python, .NET, and about everything else available.

Puppet Labs : Imagine operations, IT, and systems administration all rolled into a single bad ass company’s product efforts. Imagine ways to automate and monitor ritualized machines, get them deployed, all with elegant and extremely powerful tools. Imagine that power now, you’ll know what Puppet Labs provides.

Opscode : The cloud needs management, hard core powerful management. Opscode and their respective chef product does just that. The influence of chef has gone so far as to influence Amazon Web Services (and others) to design their systems automation in a way as to enable chef usage. The devops community around Opscode is growing, the inroads to systems agility they’re making is getting to a point as to even be considered a disruptive market force!

Joyent : The birthplace of node.js, do I need to add more? Well, ok, I will. Joyent has a host of amazing devs, and amazing ops goals. The advances coming out of  Joyent aren’t always associated back to the company (maybe they should be) but rest assured there is some heavy duty research and dev going on over there. Things to check out would be their SmartDataCenter and of course the JoyentCloud.

MongoHQ : Mongo HQ is one of the distributed cloud hosting provider for Mongo DB. Mongo HQ  is also a supported provider in several of the other PaaS Providers such as Heroku and AppHarbor.

MongoLabs : Mongo Labs, another distributed cloud hosting provider for Mongo DB. Mongo Labs is also a supported provider in several of the other PaaS Providers such as Heroku and AppHarbor.

Nodester : Nodester is a hosting solution for node.js applications beautifully distributed in a horizontal way.

Nodejitsu : One of the leading node.js hosting providers and a very active participant in the community in and around New York.

AppFog : AppFog is a Platform as a Service (PaaS Provider) that is working on providing a cloud based horizontally distributed platform for creating applications with a wide variety of frameworks and languages. Some of those include .NET, Ruby on Rails, Java, and many others.

PhpFog : This is the PHP root of the PaaS Provider AppFog. They have a good history and an absolutely spectacular architecture for PHP Applications with a screaming simple and fast deployment model to cloud/utility based systems. They have a really great product.

Heroku : Deploy Ruby, Node.js, Clojure, Java, Python, and Scala. Probably the leader in PaaS based deployment right now. Got git, get Heroku, get push heroku master is about all the gettin’ for your application to be running there.

EngineYard : Think Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Rubinius, or any other aspect of Ruby and you’ll probably arrive at EngineYard in short order. The teams at EngineYard are heavily active in the cloud & Ruby scene. They are easily one of the leaders in PaaS based git workflow deployment in the Ruby & Ruby on Rails Community. They also, however, support tons of other technologies so don’t think they’re limited to just Ruby & Rails.

AppHarbor : The .NET Framework, often thought to be left completely out in the cold when it comes to serious cloud computing git based agile work flows, finally got included with AppHarbor! With the release of AppHarbor the trifecta of IaaS and a solid PaaS offering were finally available for the .NET stack.

Windows Azure : Windows Azure is Microsoft’s official cloud service, which supports a host of capabilities centered around a mostly PaaS based service. Windows Azure has however spread into SaaS and IaaS also. Some of the frameworks and tools they support include Ruby on Rails, Java, PHP, .NET (of course), node.js, Hadoop and others.

CloudFoundry : Cloud Foundry is an open source PaaS Solution that serves to link up various back end and front end architectures. Currently it is supported by a host of companies including VMWare, AppFog, and others.

Putting the Pieces Together

That’s where we stand in the industry today. We have all the pieces and they need fit together to create something great, something awesome, something truly remarkable. I fully intend to create part of the future, will I see you there? I’d hope so!