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Oct 06 2011

Steve Was All Right

Although, to be honest, I’m a PC girl. Have been since the personal computer fell within a middle-class price range. And there was a while there when I hated Steve Jobs, because he made my job so much harder. All right, I didn’t hate him, I hated his phone. iPhone users had an almost-religious fervor and would never ever in a billion trillion years admit that their phone might have a problem rather than the network. Thing could be shattered in a thousand pieces after being dropped on a tile floor, and they’d still claim the network did it.

And that bloody touchscreen and I couldn’t communicate. It didn’t like my cold fingers. My friends would thrust their pride-and-joy my hands, and it would just sit there, inert, or take me places I didn’t want to go. Bloody stupid device.

But that was all before the iPhone 3gs, which got so very much right, and which I got along with.

I troubleshoot iPhones now, and quite like troubleshooting them, because they make sense. Oh, they do odd things, but unless the hardware’s gone horribly wrong, there’s always something you can do to fix it that doesn’t involve trying to talk a novice through typing complicated codes on a haptic keypad to get to the engineering menu. Nope. Just go here, here, here, and here, and tap that gently, and there you are. Sorted. If it’s not sorted, plug it into the computer, back up, and restore, sweet and easy as anything. Brilliant. There’s even some specific issues that I can only fix on an iPhone, because no other phone allows us to employ particular cunning tricks.

The iPhone 3gs assimilated my stepmother. She emailed me one day asking for help. She’d just bought an iPhone. She wanted to know what she should do with it. We are talking about a woman who couldn’t figure out a flip phone just over a year prior. I screamed, and I do not lie. Way too much phone for a novice.

Only it wasn’t.

Ten minutes’ tutoring over my lunch break, and she was on her way. A week later, she was a certified expert. Every time I talk to her now, I’m subjected to at least fifteen minutes’ worth of evangelizing about the wonders of Apple. iPhone this, iPad that, gonna get an iMac the other. She ripped out the stereo in her car, quite a nice stereo, and replaced it with something that could communicate with her iPhone. She hounds me continually. I finally gave in over the weekend. For Christmas, I am creating a line on their family account so she can have my upgrade. She’ll get the iPhone 4s, and I shall be acquiring her iPhone 4. I didn’t want it. I didn’t want a handheld computer that will make phone calls. But it makes her happy, and I’m at the stage of my life now at which I cannot be separated from Twitter for more than a few moments. Not to mention, I’ll be able to eke time out to reply to comments here even in the midst of the Winter Writing Season. Probably. Unless the next thing that happens is that I get roped into Angry Birds, in which case you’d best plan on never hearing from me again.

Oh, and that Kindle Fire I’m so excited about – that wouldn’t have happened without the iPad. I’m not a Mac girl just yet, but I surely appreciate what Apple has done.

So yeah, Steve Jobs was all right. He revolutionized our lives countless times. He ensured I’ll be gainfully employed for as long as I can stand to be a tech rep. And I’ll be able to bloody well do field geology on a fucking phone, because he and his company created a device that was just that brilliant.

All this from some dude in a garage.

You were all right, Steve. Sorry about all those times I cursed your name, back when. Thank you for making my stepmother into a complete computer geek, and for bringing us sci-fi technology, and making this world a much more interesting place.

We’ll miss you, man.

Image by Jonathan Mak Long

**Updated to add original image source.

4 comments

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  1. 1
    Chris Rowan

    ‘I’ll be able to bloody well do field geology on a fucking phone’

    There’s a legacy to be proud of!

    I went from being quite scathing about Apple stuff in the 90s to being a full-on convert today. Admittedly, my purchase of a MacBook 3 or 4 years ago was more due to how much Vista sucked than anything else, but it was worth it for the trackpad alone. My PhD supervisor finds this about-face very amusing indeed.

  2. 2
    leftwingfox

    We are talking about a woman who couldn’t figure out a flip phone just over a year prior. I screamed, and I do not lie. Way too much phone for a novice.

    Actually, that was my whole reason for lusting after an iPhone in the first place, back when it was still just a rumour. I’m not a tech novice by any means, but Flip-phone interfaces infuriate me. Everything’s vague and kind of hidden, and a lot of the designs just plain suck. Had one with a MASSIVE camera button that couldn’t be locked. Every time I put it in my pocket, it would take a photo, the leave both LCDs running in a video stream until the battery died 20 minutes later. Good luck trying to actually get any of those photos off the dumb thing.

    I’ve been a Mac boy since ’86. I figured if anyone could make a phone with a logical interface, it would be Apple.

  3. 3
    Eunoia

    Off Topic?

    Dana, since you moved this blog it loads much slower, which of course implies reduced usability due to reader impatience. You need to look at this issue. Just sayin’

  4. 4
    george.w

    Exactly! Making an advanced device that a non-technical person will take into their lives and actually enjoy is a stunning achievement and a real contribution to human society. And Jobs did it multiple times.

    I have been surprised by some tech bloggers I’ve read who hated Steve Jobs for making a product that people (who aren’t fascinated by technology) could use. They remind me of clergy decrying the use of English instead of Latin in the Mass. Their main complaint seems to be that unless an interface is infinitely configurable, it’s no good. They can’t seem to understand that most people want to use the technology, not fiddle with it.

  1. 5
    The revolutionary and his revolutions « Decrepit Old Fool

    [...] into the usability of the iPhone from a phone-support professional: Steve was all right [...]

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