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Aug 30 2011

What Steve Jobs did really well

Jobs is stepping down from his leadership role at Apple, as has been all over the news for the last several days, and I had to say that he’s someone I’ve really admired. Not just as a fully committed member of the Cult of Mac, but because I’ve really liked his style.

Here’s a video of Jobs addressing a rather insulting question…and answering it amazingly well.

He doesn’t get defensive, he doesn’t defend the details, he just steps back and explains what it means to have the whole picture in his head.

And then his management style was legendarily combative and critical. Jonah Lehrer has an excellent piece on the strengths and weaknesses of in-your-face confrontation. This resonates with me: I find a little strife extremely invigorating, and I know some personalities like to seek it out and wrestle with it.

At first glance, this cultivation of anger and criticism seems like a terrible idea. We assume that group collaboration requires niceties and affirmation, that we should always accentuate the positive. Just look at brainstorming, perhaps the most widely implemented creativity technique in the world. In the late 1940s, Alex Osborn, a founding partner of the advertising firm BBDO, outlined the virtues of brainstorming in a series of best-selling books. (He insisted that brainstorming could double the creative output of a group.) The most important principle, he said, was the total absence of criticism. According to Osborn, if people were worried about negative feedback, if they were concerned that their new ideas might get ridiculed by the group or the boss, then the brainstorming process would fail. “Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom, while discouragement often nips it in the bud,” Osborn wrote in Your Creative Power.

But maybe this is a big mistake. Maybe Steve Jobs was on to something when he refused to hide away his disappointment or displeasure. That, at least, is the takeaway of a new paper by Matthijs Baas, Carsten De Dreu, and Bernard Nijstad in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Their first experiment was straightforward, demonstrating that anger was better at promoting “unstructured thinking” on a creativity task, at least when compared to sadness or a neutral mood. The second experiment elicited anger directly in the subjects, before asking them to brainstorm on ways to improve the condition of the natural environment. Once again, people who felt angry generated more ideas. These ideas were also deemed more original, as they were thought of by less than 1 percent of the subjects.

You don’t change the world by placidly finding your bliss — you do it by focusing your discontent in productive ways.

(Also on Sb)

142 comments

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  1. 1
    PZ Myers

    Also, I really hate that happy flippy-dippy non-critical sweetness-and-light shit.

  2. 2
    unbound

    Regardless of your feelings towards Apple products (personally, I’m unimpressed by them), Steve Jobs was an amazing person that put it all together and made Apple what it is today. Apple was well on its way to becoming another Commodore in the 90s before Mr. Jobs came in.

    Hopefully Apple will continue full steam without Steve Jobs at the helm. I definitely want to keep competition going in all arenas.

  3. 3
    Glen Davidson

    It’s not really fair to compare brainstorming sessions with a demanding boss like Jobs. He has to set a fire under employees, to be critical and forceful, because he’s responsible for the final product.

    The trouble with criticizing in brainstorming sessions is that often a type A person could dominate regardless of merit. Jobs has to dominate to some extent, and is known to be a good enough businessman that the company already depends upon his merit.

    There are occasions for the Jobs approach and occasions for toning the criticisms down. Sort of banal and obvious, but it has to be said when one approach is being bandied about as perhaps “best.”

    Glen Davidson

  4. 4
    required

    I think he’s a dick. I’ve used mac for the last ten years now, and I have not been happy with the direction Apple has been heading for some time now, and plan on switching back to Windows because they are actually on their shit now. But none of that colors my opinion of Jobs.

    Jobs succeeds on the work of others. First, it was Woz, and then Xerox, and then a bunch of smaller, innovative companies that don’t have the funds to do anything with their amazing technologies. But Jobs is always credited with creativity. Sure, he has the business sense to obtain and use these technologies, but he didn’t do anything creative in his life. Apple deserves its success, but Jobs doesn’t deserve all the credit.

    Jobs is also a hypocrite. In his early life he maintained a hatred of “The Man,” and in the technology field he found himself in, that Man was IBM. He loathed them for being so powerful, and sought to bring them down. Of course, it isn’t that he hates the fact that one person or company can have so much power, but that it wasn’t HE HIMSELF who had all the power. Once Apple was in the power position in several markets, he started acting like a dictator — exactly the thing he once railed against.

    I don’t hate him for “selling out.” I just dislike his hypocrisy, and how he used it to get ahead. And pointing any of this out will get you called an MS fanboy (oh the irony).

  5. 5
    marcus

    Y’all have fun changing the world. Goin’ out to find a little bliss on my mountain bike. (I’m more of a “Flow” kinda guy myself.)

  6. 6
    Holms

    I’ve always thought that his cheif genius was to change the target consumer of Mac products: initially selling only to tech hobbyists, he switched over to trendy, hipster idiots and laughed all the way to the bank.

    Good marketing beats good product, sadly.

  7. 7
    feralboy12

    Y’all have fun changing the world. Goin’ out to find a little bliss on my mountain bike. (I’m more of a “Flow” kinda guy myself.)

    Your point being….?

    Does this look like your Twitter page?

  8. 8
    TheBlackCat

    I have to agree with required, the thing Steve was good at was taking other peoples’ work, putting a little gloss on it, then calling it original. Very little of what they have done has been all that original, they have just done it perhaps a little better initially, then muscled out anyone who tried to improve it further, and sued anyone who that didn’t work on.

    Most of the software technologies they are most famous for ultimately were not actually developed by them (the osX kernel, webkit, aac, objective-c, etc), and all of the hardware technologies they sell long predate their entry into the market.

    Sure, they did many of them well. But you can’t claim they are selling their products on their merits alone when they have to rely on lawsuits to keep the competition away (especially not lawsuits based on falsified evidence), and you can’t claim they are selling their products on originality when others made similar things before and just weren’t as lawsuit-happy.

    So yeah, they have been good for their bottom line, and they have been good at marketing. But I don’t think they have been good for consumers overall, and they would have been far worse if they hadn’t been prevented from doing many of the things they tried to do.

  9. 9
    Pierce R. Butler

    Apple often seems to reflect Jobs’s own character – in particular, the consistent abandonment of projects (successful or otherwise) in frantic pursuit of the Next Big Thing.

    For years, to take one example, they sold a multipurpose (word processor/spreadsheet/graphics/db/etc) program called Appleworks: nothing spectacular, but generally adequate.

    Then someone came up with new ideas for the same applications, which eventually resulted in an imitation Microsoft Office suite called iWork. So, Appleworks went down the tubes – even before iWork was ready for prime time.

    A few versions later, iWork is finally a half-decent product – but it still lacks certain essential functions (outlining, multiple windows, etc), and can’t import A-works files without loss of formatting, content, and more. Now the new “Lion” Mac OS release no longer supports Appleworks (or Quicken, or other important applications), meaning that much of my (& many others’) work & important data will either be lost or require many hours’ of tedious labor to convert – all because one overgrown-adolescent billionaire demands shiny new iToys and lacks the attention span to take care of customer needs.

    The “cult of Mac” itself has become obsolete: only the iCult gets any service now.

    Moral of the story: NEVER EVER trust anything of lasting importance to Apple products.

  10. 10
    Brice Gilbert

    Reminds me of David Jaffe (creator of God of War, Twisted Metal) keynote at PAX last weekend where he spoke about finding his voice and being combative to get it across. He’s obviously no Steve Jobs, but it’s incredibly interesting to see people in these positions so open and honest.

  11. 11
    Moggie

    I’ve always been a little concerned about the cult of personality around Jobs (despite owning and enjoying various Apple products myself). Clearly he’s a talented guy, perhaps even inspirational to people who have worked with him, but at the end of the day he’s still just one person, in a large company with a lot of smart people. Apple is more than just Steve Jobs: is it really a good thing that he has allowed the company to become so identified with him in the public mind that his departure leaves many expecting Apple to fail? Read the forums at macrumors.com sometime: it’s not uncommon to find a level of adulation there bordering on religion.

  12. 12
    Moggie

    Pierce R. Butler:

    Moral of the story: NEVER EVER trust anything of lasting importance to Apple products.

    That depends. On the desk beside me is my iMac. A sweet machine, and it runs Fedora Linux really well!

  13. 13
    Scott Hamilton

    This clip is perhaps not the best example of Steve as a leader, because he wasn’t a leader at this point. Note that he’s referring to the developers as his equals, and talks about the executive team “we” (i.e. the developers) need to support. Apple had recently bought NeXT, and Jobs was employed at Apple as an advisor and nothing more. (Of course a few months later Jobs became the iCEO, and then he took over the board and made it permanent.) Any point after this video, you’d be hard pressed to find Jobs putting himself in a position where he had face criticism directly. The whole talk he gave this day to developers was pretty great, and worth watching in total. It does foreshadow a lot of what Jobs would do when he was in charge.

    “Required,” you’re making a straw man argument when it comes to Jobs’ “hypocrisy.” Jobs was pretty clear why he didn’t like IBM. Watch him intro the “1984″ ad. He didn’t dislike IBM having too much power — he disliked IBM’s philosophy that computers should be business machines understandable only to experts. Jobs’ whole career has been about making computers into consumer level devices, and there’s nothing hypocritical about that.

  14. 14
    'Tis Himself

    <also posted at SB>

    Anger is good when it’s justified anger. Lehrer describes how Jobs vents anger and frustration at the MobileMe group. But it was justified anger. The group had created a dud which had negative responses from critics and the buying public.

    Unjustified anger is basically bullying. If MobileMe had good reviews and decent sales, then Jobs being angry at the MobileMe group would have been counterproductive.

    Lehrer has a good point that anger has a place in the creative process.

  15. 15
    Howard Fortran

    Backward compatibility is important to a degree but the future always belongs to “the young” which naturally continually changes. The young don’t have any documents to convert and they have no brand loyalty and they will choose whatever new things suits them.

    Right now… Apple suits them.

    One can chase them too much but I think many of us “old folk” forget what it’s like to be young and able to make choices that are different than their parents.

    I see Apple as chasing the young.

    Any truly long-term documents should never be stored in a proprietary format anyway. If you really need them forever then convert them to a more universal (and likely text based) format.

  16. 16
    Jason Dick

    The thing that really annoyed me about that response was that the question seemed to be about the quality of the product (I couldn’t hear the whole question), while Jobs’ response was about how he can sell the product. Those can be similar, but in many cases are absolutely not the same thing. A company like Apple (or Microsoft) can make a great many decisions that have very little to no impact on sales, because most consumers will have no clue as to how the inner workings of their system may impact them in the years to come. It is even possible that a decision may make people more likely to buy a product, even though, in the end, it produces headaches for them down the road.

    So the focus on sales, though I suppose it is required in a capitalist society, in the end can very much end up hurting the consumer.

  17. 17
    Rambling T. Wreck

    I find it a little hypocritical that while the IBM was an open system that anyone could develop for, you can only get an app onto an iPhone if you pay Apple the appropriate fees and get their approval. They have become at least in that area very tight-fisted in their control and the “1984″ ad is looking increasingly ironic.

  18. 18
    ErictheHalfaBee

    Not sure the study linked to proves your point, PZ – it only compares performance while angry against performance while sad or mood-neutral, and as even the title of the paper says:

    Creative production by angry people peaks early on, decreases over time, and is relatively unstructured

    How about a comparison with performance while excited or happy? You know, actually motivating people to achieve by inspiring them?

    Also, what about the knock-on effects of making people angry? Many people deal with anger ineffectively and may be negatively affected over time (along with the people around them) by overly negative or abusive bosses.

    That is not to say that there should be no criticism, but public naming and shaming particularly of groups of people doesn’t strike me as likely to be productive. I know how I’ve felt when put in that position, and it hasn’t been loyal and productive.

  19. 19
    Lauren

    Meh, all this business stuff is just a little too over my head right now. I just hope Steve Jobs is able to get better. It’s always sad when disease takes away something you love, and you can tell that he’s still passionate about Apple.

  20. 20
    Turboladdade

    I wanted to add some insight to this video. OpenDoc, the thing he’s talking about, was a pre-Jobs development on Apple’s part to produce something akin to interchangeable mini-apps that could be dropped into and out of “documents” which weren’t specifically tied to any particular application or format. For example you could create a document and type up some word processing content into it, then drop a web browser inside of it and then draw a picture inside of it, etc…

    It has a really cool gee-wiz kind of effect, but in reality it was patently useless and very few third-party apps were released that made use of it.

    Jobs killed it immediately upon return.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDoc

    I find it a little hypocritical that while the IBM was an open system that anyone could develop for, you can only get an app onto an iPhone if you pay Apple the appropriate fees and get their approval.

    And that’s why IBM left the PC business years ago.

  21. 21
    Synfandel

    Negativity kills brainstorming. If your boss calls the team together and says, “We need some creative ideas to address X; let’s toss some ideas on the table,” and then every time someone offers an idea he gets told it’s stupid, how many ideas do you think will come out before everyone just shuts up? And do you think anyone will offer any ideas at all the next time?

    I’ve worked in positive and negative office cultures and I assure you that the positive ones were vastly more creative and productive than the negative ones. In fact, negativity and disempowerment drive out talent.

    If you’re managing creative people and you can’t keep a lid on your temper, get counselling.

  22. 22
    PZ Myers

    The people who are carping about Apple products haven’t actually listened to the video. Try it. Really, really listen.

    He’s not saying that the secret of his success is that Apple comes up with the best, most creative, most perfect ideas. He’s saying that the key is understanding what the user wants and adapting the technology that exists to deliver it. You guys are like the questioner in the video — focused entirely on one little piece of the picture and wanting to tweak it into perfection, while Jobs is looking at the composition as a whole.

    Apple hasn’t been the engineering innovator. Apple has been the company that provides easily used tools.

  23. 23
    Nentuaby

    And that’s why IBM left the PC business years ago.

    And why Microsoft and (how ironic!) Apple’s *-top lines have similarly folded up, surely. </snark>

    Granted, various vendors have different levels of openness or closedness for the OS itself, but iOS is the only major operating system that runs a closed shop for user-installed applications. It makes it kind of hard to argue that they “need” to do that when a more open OS once made its primary shareholder the world’s richest man.

  24. 24
    Michael

    I can’t get the video to play, so I presume that the insult was about his pants?

  25. 25
    'Tis Himself

    Negativity kills brainstorming. If your boss calls the team together and says, “We need some creative ideas to address X; let’s toss some ideas on the table,” and then every time someone offers an idea he gets told it’s stupid, how many ideas do you think will come out before everyone just shuts up? And do you think anyone will offer any ideas at all the next time?

    That’s not anger, that’s derision. There is a difference.

  26. 26
    Anthony K

    If your boss calls the team together and says, “We need some creative ideas to address X; let’s toss some ideas on the table,” and then every time someone offers an idea he gets told it’s stupid, how many ideas do you think will come out before everyone just shuts up?

    Synfandel, you might be interested to know that we’ve invented an entire system of finding things out called ‘science’ and an entire branch of mathematics called ‘statistics’ because we’ve found that the answers humans give to questions like “what do you think will happen”, even when they offer their own personal anecdotes as support, don’t track with what we call reality with much consistency.

  27. 27
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Nentuaby:

    Granted, various vendors have different levels of openness or closedness for the OS itself, but iOS is the only major operating system that runs a closed shop for user-installed applications.

    This is completely untrue. Symbian. Playstation OS. Xbox OS.

    There’s three for you that are far more closed-shop than iOS.

    While the acceptance of iOS applications relies on Apple, it’s not hard to get most applications accepted. It’s essentially impossible for Symbian or Playstation OS, and a bit more restrictive for the XBox.

    While I prefer truly open platforms (I’m still a huge Linux fan, as I have been since 1993), your claim that iOS is the only major OS that runs a closed shop is demonstrably false.

  28. 28
    Comrade Carter

    I worked at Apple for nearly ten years, first as an assistant manager, the as a Genius.

    Steve Jobs was the reason. I thought that before I met him, I thought it afterwards.

    We can go on about what Apple did and did not “invent”, but the fact is that Apple put those things in motion well before the rest of the industry, especially Microsoft.

    And Xerox? They got paid for their time by Apple, not so much with Microsoft.

    By the way, I was at one time a PC user. Not anymore. It’s all Apple or Linux.

  29. 29
    Moggie

    ErictheHalfaBee:

    How about a comparison with performance while excited or happy? You know, actually motivating people to achieve by inspiring them?

    Or horny? Hey, it’s worth a try. I’m not sure I could keep it up (heh) at my age, but it’d be better than going to work expecting to be angry.

  30. 30
    grolby

    Jobs succeeds on the work of others. First, it was Woz, and then Xerox, and then a bunch of smaller, innovative companies that don’t have the funds to do anything with their amazing technologies. But Jobs is always credited with creativity. Sure, he has the business sense to obtain and use these technologies, but he didn’t do anything creative in his life. Apple deserves its success, but Jobs doesn’t deserve all the credit.

    I think Woz himself has said that without Jobs’ drive and sense for business, Apple would never have existed, and Woz might be soldering circuit boards in his garage to this day. The same goes for lots of other technologies and creations. How on earth does Steve Jobs not deserve credit for seeing the potential of technology and getting it into the hands of consumers? The ability of Jobs to understand what technology can do for people and how to turn it into products that people will love (and yes, he’s not right about everything) is something that really shouldn’t be taken for granted. He’s built a company whose success is absolutely unprecedented, and it’s pretty hard to argue that Jobs is not a once-in-a-generation business talent. That’s all his own.

    In any case, this is an objection one can make about any big company or CEO in the tech business, or any business. Business is a collaborative exercise, and lo and behold, you can make the same accusation of anyone who is phenomenally successful in a collaborative exercise. Science is a great example. No one succeeds in a vacuum.

    And I have to make a specific objection to the implication that these ideas were lifted straight from their creators. That’s simply not true. Yes, Jobs was inspired by the Xerox PARC computer, but take a look at it sometime – the original Mac is NOT a PARC clone; the Apple team introduced many of their own innovations and ideas that have become synonymous with modern operating systems, such as pull-down menus and the file-navigation system that would eventually become the Finder.

    Jobs himself doesn’t seem to (deliberately) cultivate a personality cult, though he’s certainly aware of the intense focus on his life; just observe his intense secrecy around his personal life. He has always, at least in his second run at Apple, consistently given credit to the people who work at Apple. He always uses the first-person collective “we” when talking about products that Apple has made, and seems to mean it. For all I know, the guy is a jerk in his personal life, I don’t know; but his public persona as Apple spokesman is one in which he has always been remarkably humble about his own role, while admittedly (and deservedly) proud as hell of his company.

    Apple, and Steve Jobs, are polarizing subjects among tech nerds. That’s fine. I think that it’s hard to see, though, how he has not been incredibly successful in building a very effective creative team, and he has done it as a very demanding boss and collaborator. So I think PZ’z point is a very good one. I think what works is not necessarily being nice – what matters is having an exacting, high-quality vision, and asking your collaborators to live up to it. That might not work if you’re only an average person. If you have as consistently great a vision of whatever your raw material is as Steve Jobs does of technology, you can be great.

  31. 31
    Anthony K

    ErictheHalfaBee:

    How about a comparison with performance while excited or happy? You know, actually motivating people to achieve by inspiring them?

    Or horny? Hey, it’s worth a try. I’m not sure I could keep it up (heh) at my age, but it’d be better than going to work expecting to be angry.

    Matthijs Baas’ website suggests he and his collaborators have done that (well, not the horny):

    My work, done in close collaboration with Carsten de Dreu and Bernard Nijstad, shows that creativity is enhanced most by moods that are activating (happiness, joy, fear, and anger) rather than deactivating (sadness, relaxed state, relief). Furthermore, my work suggests that activating mood states stimulate creativity primarily through flexibility when the motivational orientation is towards approach (happiness, joy) and primarily through persistence when the motivational orientation is towards avoidance (fear).

  32. 32
    PZ Myers

    I have to make one complaint about Apple, though, and it’s about one specific failure of vision.

    They have all these products — the iPhone, the iPod, the iPad — that are integrated together, and which we sync together with our computers (a MacBook Pro, in my case). And how do we do it?

    Via the iTunes music player.

    It’s utterly bizarre and unintuitive and annoying. I have files, like spreadsheets and wordprocessing documents and keynote presentations — that I want to share between my computer and my iPad. How do I do it? I plug them together with a cable, and…fire up my music player. It makes no sense. I want the integration to be at the OS level, and when I plug two devices together — or better yet, connect them wirelessly — I want to move files about with the standard file manager interface, the Finder.

    This is such a central concern of the platform that I’ve been wondering for years why it’s going through this peculiar bottleneck.

  33. 33
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    ErictheHalfaBee:

    How about a comparison with performance while excited or happy? You know, actually motivating people to achieve by inspiring them?

    Have you ever served in the army?

    The best combination for inspiring people seems to be this simple formula:

    1. Earn their respect.
    2. Demand more of them than they demand of themselves.
    3. Be firmly critical, but not insulting. Don’t pull any punches.
    4. Give them more of yourself than they ask for.

    It’s really pretty damned simple. Inspiration is not the desire to feel good about yourself. It’s the desire to please others, whether someone you respect, or someone you don’t even know.

    Jobs seems to be damned good at all 4 of these. He would’ve made a fucking great drill sergeant.

  34. 34
    grolby

    The thing that really annoyed me about that response was that the question seemed to be about the quality of the product (I couldn’t hear the whole question), while Jobs’ response was about how he can sell the product. Those can be similar, but in many cases are absolutely not the same thing. A company like Apple (or Microsoft) can make a great many decisions that have very little to no impact on sales, because most consumers will have no clue as to how the inner workings of their system may impact them in the years to come. It is even possible that a decision may make people more likely to buy a product, even though, in the end, it produces headaches for them down the road.

    So the focus on sales, though I suppose it is required in a capitalist society, in the end can very much end up hurting the consumer.

    He does talk about sales – and of course he should, since Apple is a business, and in 1997 it was a business in serious, serious trouble that was wasting resources working on dead-ends like OpenDoc – but listen to what else he says: “You have to start with the user experience.” He’s actually very diplomatic in answering this question, because the point ultimately is that OpenDoc SUCKED for users. It was useless to users, and in fact it was worse than useless; it was bloated, not interoperable with anything (ironically), it didn’t fit into a real user’s desktop working environment, and there was no app on the horizon that anyone would have been able to use this cool technology with. So, yes, he’s making an argument about sales, but he’s making an argument about sales from the perspective of the customer: “Let’s make something that people want to use, and can use.” That’s a pretty humane way for a company to guide its sales decisions, and it has worked incredibly well.

    The closing irony is that the Apple of the mid-90′s that was throwing resources away on cool technological projects was screwing its users, technologically, as a result, because their core product was languishing. The Mac OS of the time was technologically way behind the curve. Jobs brought in a strategy to actually sell products, make money, and get his customers onto a platform (MacOS X) with a future. Not bad, all things considered. It’s a matter of perspective, of course; some people accuse Apple these days of screwing their customers because they insist on advancing their technology – so, the Rosetta compatibility layer has been removed from Lion, meaning apps compiled to run on PowerPC Macs (which have not been made for FIVE YEARS) no longer work – like Quicken. Some people think this is Apple being evil, but I think that’s stupid. Quicken has had five years to write a new version of Quicken for Intel Macs; and reverse compatibility is no excuse, because they can ship a universal binary so that people on older and newer Macs can use their product. If people are angry, they should be angry at Quicken, not at Apple. Other people’s software isn’t Apple’s responsibility.

  35. 35
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    PZ:

    This is such a central concern of the platform that I’ve been wondering for years why it’s going through this peculiar bottleneck.

    My suspicion?

    MS-Windows.

    To do all that on an MS-Windows platform would require integration at the MS-Windows OS level. To keep the “experience” homogeneous, they use a single application.

    But that’s just my analysis as a professional geek. I have no insider knowledge to confirm this.

  36. 36
    Sili

    Apple has been the company that provides easily used tools.

    I guess that explains why I can’t figure out an Ipad, while the Samsung knockoff makes perfect sense.

    Iono. I like your being confrontational, but Jobs comes across as nothing but a smug smuck.

    The only difference I see between him and Gates (aside from the new liver), is that Gates didn’t found a cult. Say what you will about Billyboy, but noöne loves him, that’s for sure.

    Okay, one other difference. Gates makes a big deal public charity. I have no idea what Jobs does with his billions.

  37. 37
    Sili

    By the way, I was at one time a PC user. Not anymore. It’s all Apple or Linux.

    What do you run Linux on? Your toaster?

  38. 38
    Kagehi

    Wait.. OpenDoc died to provide a “cohesive customer experience”? That’s sort of like claiming that picking the shittiest DVD player, to put in the home entertainment system you sell, was “a better experience”. There is a point where “cohesive customer experience” becomes the logical equivalent of “The MS Windows Experience”. The point where you refuse to allow, or provide, or give an alternative, or use the best option, purely to a) protect patents, or b) create a “cohesive” environment, at the expense of the customer, even while you *think* you are doing otherwise. A good example, as you mention PZ, is the iTunes store. Another is the bullshit that went down with the, “buying shit via an app is patented”, crap, which now basically requires companies like Amazon to add a web browser into their products, like the Kindle, to do purchases. And, stupidly, Amazon’s own, “one click to buy on a web page”, BS means that, I assume, if you bought a Nook, or the like, you would probably need to go through extra steps. Why? Because a) you can’t use an app, unless you use the iTunes store, b) you can’t use a one click to buy, unless you use Amazon. So much for either a “cohesive” experience, never mind a fair, or, for that matter, better experience for the customer.

    In short, Apple has reached the, “screw everyone”, point in tech, much as MS did. The only major difference being that the “experience” may be better, since it tends to work more often, but everyone else gets screwed, since they can’t replicate it, and the customer gets screwed, because everything from books, to the actual computers **cost more** when bought from Apple.

    Yeah, I have a few complaints with them myself… lol

  39. 39
    Reverend PJ

    I’m thinking of Henry Rollins:

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WR8s9THU2GY&version=3&hl=en_US

  40. 40
    Orac

    It’s utterly bizarre and unintuitive and annoying. I have files, like spreadsheets and wordprocessing documents and keynote presentations — that I want to share between my computer and my iPad. How do I do it? I plug them together with a cable, and…fire up my music player. It makes no sense. I want the integration to be at the OS level, and when I plug two devices together — or better yet, connect them wirelessly — I want to move files about with the standard file manager interface, the Finder.

    Actually, Apple has apparently finally realized that. After all, isn’t that problem what iCloud is supposed to address? If it works as advertised, it will allow users to seamlessly sync their documents between their Macs, iDevices, and the Cloud. Add to that iTunes in the Cloud, and it will also allow users in essence to sync their music libraries between their Macs, while also being able to download media to iDevices on demand. In essence, it will free iDevices from having to be tethered to a computer, while allowing for file transfers between Macs and iDevices in a much more intuitive fashion. Even if iCloud doesn’t work perfectly initially, Apple will improve on it over time, as it has with most of its main products.

    I will agree that iTunes is a great example of how a piece of software can be cobbled together and grow far beyond its original function, as it’s asked to do more and more. Personally, I find iTunes to be perfectly serviceable software for what I need it for and am frequently puzzled by the level of vitriol dumped on it, but then I don’t have an iPad for which I want to be able to sync files with my computer; so the file syncing issues just aren’t issues for me.

  41. 41
    Sili

    ersonally, I find iTunes to be perfectly serviceable software for what I need it for and am frequently puzzled by the level of vitriol dumped on it,

    My personal experience is that it takes forever to open and close, and it frequently stops responding.

    But it does keep my podcasts updated (most of the time).

  42. 42
    Pseudonymoniae

    While I agree that some people might find a combative work environment to be invigorating, I highly doubt that this is the case for most people. And your quote of Jonah Lehrer just reinforces my opinion of him as a moron. Even at first glance, Lehrer’s ideas idiotic.

    Lehrer quotes a study which compares anger, sadness and neutral emotions in terms of how much they promote creativity. He claims that the study finds that anger promotes creativity more than these other feelings. Okay, that’s all well and good. Now, let’s apply this finding to a board meeting where participants’ “new ideas [are] ridiculed by the group or the boss”. How would we expect a person to react to this situation? Some might grow angry, others might become sad or self-critical. Even assuming that our board meeting is full of people who become angry–and that this anger promotes creativity–what are the odds that a person who has just been humiliated will use that creativity constructively? It seems probable that a lot of people in this situation would spend their creative energy to come up with some ingenious revenge tactics.

    Moreover, let’s assume that we have a board meeting full of people who, when yelled at by their boss, will become angry, and use that anger to generate creative ideas that are constructive. But wait, will they say these ideas out loud? Wasn’t that the whole point of having a criticism-free brainstorming process? What use is it having a bunch of angry, creative thinkers who are too pissed off to talk to each other?

    Oh yeah, and too bad that study didn’t look at how creative people are when they are happy and not fearing criticism…

    God, the list just goes on. Way to go Jonah, critical reasoning at its finest.

  43. 43
    TheBlackCat

    To do all that on an MS-Windows platform would require integration at the MS-Windows OS level. To keep the “experience” homogeneous, they use a single application.

    But that’s just my analysis as a professional geek. I have no insider knowledge to confirm this.

    That is only an issue if the software is poorly-designed. Generally it is considered good programming practice to keep the logic, the underlying mechanisms (in this case, allowing the computer interface with the hardware) separate from the user interface (what users see). If you do that, then you can build as many user interface as you want on top of the underlying logic. So itunes could access the hardware on windows, while on Macs both finder and iTunes could access the hardware.

    This is, in fact, how third parties have implemented iPod access on other systems like linux. You can access it both through various media playes, as well as through file managers, all based on a single generic underlying interface.

  44. 44
    Gopiballava

    For those who call Apple’s products mediocre, is that because they don’t do what you need, or because they’ve done a bad job at what they set out to do?

    Good and bad are not objective, context-free terms. If you want to be able to quickly replace a hard drive, most Dell laptops beat most Apple laptops. If you want to pick up your computer and not see lots and lots of ugly panels and poorly spaced screws and labels with irrelevant information, Apple beats Dell.

    @TheBlackCat:
    “putting a little gloss on it”

    What part are you calling “a little gloss”? Are you saying that Cocoa Touch, the UI framework on iOS is “a little gloss”? Every Android device I’ve used has been unable to get something as simple as scrolling lists working with consistent acceleration / end of list bounce consistently. Some parts of the UI accelerate differently than others, some bounce at the top (a quick visual indication that you have reached the top) and some don’t. It may be “a little gloss” but it seems like nobody else can put it on – perhaps because it’s actually a lot more work than you think it is.

    I don’t think you have any idea how much engineering effort has gone into the products you’re talking about, or how different they were from their predecessors. I’ve used Windows for Pen Computing (Win3.1-based tablet), WinCE back before color screens, Symbian UIQ (first touch-screen Symbian platform), Newton OS (1.0, 1.3, 2.0, 2.1) and have done software development on all but Windows for Pen Computing. I’m curious, before you declared how little work was needed by Apple, how many of those platforms did you actually use?

    “Most of the software technologies they are most famous for ultimately were not actually developed by them (the osX kernel, webkit, aac, objective-c)”

    A good implementation of something is more work than you seem to realize. Apple has done more work on these components than you realize. Other than AAC, Apple has done *significant* work adding stuff to them.

    Mach: One of the core developers of Mach, Avie Tevanian, joined NeXT and continued working on the kernel there. CMU ended the Mach project in ’94. NeXT and Apple have done a lot of work on Mach. Don’t forget UIKit, originally NeXTStep. The UI framework was entirely in-house

    WebKit was a fork in 2002, yes. They did a *lot* of work and have been almost entirely responsible for its development over the last 9 years.

    AAC? Never heard anybody say that AAC was an Apple invention. That being said, are there any other music stores that use it? They’re responsible for virtually all the AAC music usage going on.

    “Sure, they did many of them well. But you can’t claim they are selling their products on their merits alone when they have to rely on lawsuits to keep the competition away”

    Perhaps you should look at the sales figures before the lawsuits? And some of the prototype Android phones before the iPhone? It’s pretty clear that Apple had *very good* sales before any lawsuits, and Android changed from a Blackberry clone to an iPhone clone.

    I do not agree with the lawsuits, and I think they’re wrong. But it’s ridiculous to suggest that the Galaxy Tab was flying off the shelves before the lawsuits.

    “(especially not lawsuits based on falsified evidence)”

    I hope you actually looked at the documents in question and saw the correct aspect ratio photos right there too? Nobody looking through the documents Apple submitted to the court would be able to miss the accurate photos that were also there. If there were no correct photos, you could perhaps make the argument that it was a deliberate attempt to mislead the court.

  45. 45
    Anthony K

    Way to go Jonah, critical reasoning at its finest.

    Smug sarcasm is not how I would have ended a critique which consisted of hypotheticals, assertions, and opinions disguised as reasoning with statements like “it seems probable that…”

  46. 46
    RW Ahrens

    @required;

    “Jobs succeeds on the work of others. First, it was Woz, and then Xerox, and then a bunch of smaller, innovative companies that don’t have the funds to do anything with their amazing technologies.”??

    Oh, come on. What CEO doesn’t? Jobs wasn’t an engineer. He ASSISTED Woz in building the first Apple computers, but his main role, admitted by Woz and the other founder in a recently aired interview, was as the business leader. He put things together, made the deals to obtain financing, parts and to sell the products. Xerox was compensated for the use of their UI through the award of a portion of Apple stock, and Apple has either bought companies or used licensing deals or outright bought technology they’ve used in Apple products. iTunes is the most famous example of that, bought outright from a third party who had built a popular music app.

    Otherwise, what Apple has always done is called INNOVATION. As opposed to invention, that doesn’t mean you actually create the technology, but you take what exists and combine it with other tech, mix in your own way of operation and make something that, while it hasn’t any NEW tech, is a new product all by itself. That is true of the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad and to an extent, the iMac as well. Not new tech, not invented by Apple, no, but Apple has never claimed to be the inventors of most of their tech. They DO innovate what tech exists, combine it with their own software (which IS their own work) and sell it as something that is increasingly popular.

    No business leader, whether the CEO or one of his division VPs, does it alone, and Jobs is on record, in anecdote after anecdote, as being a leader that has repeatedly given credit to not only his VPs, but the rank and file that actually did the work. It is well known in the industry that Apple is a good company to work for, and while the time demands are brutal, the rewards are often astounding. There are a lot of engineers working at Apple who really don’t need to work, they have been so well compensated.

    Jobs is NOT a hypocrite, as noted by Scott Hamilton, above. He is a famously straightforward person, often brutally so, but while he demands a lot of his employees, he demands as much of himself, if not more.

    Hey, he has built a company that has successfully disrupted at least two markets and virtually invented a third, while their PC business has performed a very successful series of something like 35 quarters of industry beating profits and growth. They may not have a market monopoly like Microsoft, but where Apple takes technology, the industry follows, and they regularly outperform that industry in both growth and profits.

    Is all that due to Steve? No, he has assembled a crack team of people under him, Tim Cook prime among them, who have together built Apple into a powerhouse of technology – and he has acknowledged that team every step of the way, publicly and openly!

  47. 47
    Ant (@antallan)

    Re iTunes, I think nigel and Orac have the right of it: iTunes works equally (?) well on Mac OS X and Windows, providing a degree of OS independence; iCloud will provide this in a much more elegant way.

    Yes, it’s daft that a music player does all this, but I think ITunes was Apple’s Trojan horse: Apple created a demand for iPods amongst Windows users, as it beat most other MP3 players hands down. But that demand needed a Windows version of iTunes (“Hell just froze over”). And that created a large population of users that were immediately able to use iPhones (and iPads) when they arrived — much, much larger than the 5% or so who own Macs.

    Under Jobs, Apple plays the long game.

    /@

  48. 48
    Kagehi

    I plug them together with a cable, and…fire up my music player. It makes no sense. I want the integration to be at the OS level, and when I plug two devices together — or better yet, connect them wirelessly — I want to move files about with the standard file manager interface, the Finder.

    Yeah, that one bugs the shit out of me. Nearly every damn device on the market uses FAT, of some sort. But, you have everything from stupid BS, like iPods, that you can only handle via iToons, to even some cheap cameras, which have “no” drive support at all, and will actually erase every picture you took already, if you don’t install the damn software drivers “first”, and you have to use “twain” to access. Never mind that, a lot of the time, even that doesn’t work 100% with all of them. How the hell hard is it, to support “delete these picture off the camera via twain”, or “snap a new pic via twain”? Its part of the bloody interface, and I have seen “both” missing on at least two cameras in the last year. o.O

    But, the worse had to be the idiot Palm OS… FAT support only on the “mini HD” in the only model that had that, but only the most basic one, no HDSD support, and everything stored its files in a damn DB, which if you, for example, used one application to edit DocumentX, but that was a text file, if you didn’t load it in the Notepad app, and resave it, the next time the device reset, updated, or otherwise purged “unsaved” data, you lost all your changes, since the “copy” that contained that was in RAM, not stored in the long term memory. And that was only the start of the nightmare of trying to just use it, never mind get things on/off it, like if you needed to edit the damn spreedsheet/note, etc. on your computer. Hint – you needed someone else’s DB extractor to do some of that, since it only “updated” to certain applications, if any at all (such as your email’s contact list).

    Most of them have, finally, figured out that this sort of thing seriously pisses anyone, that has *any* clue how file systems are supposed to work, off. Some still don’t get it. Phones, especially, are *horrible* at this.

    Mind, I wouldn’t be too annoyed by an application for accessing this stuff, if they didn’t either make it so you can’t tell what kind of damn thing is attached (i.e., the interface is the same, in all cases), or they stopped using cuetsy BS, like the one for my phone, which “looks like” a phone itself, can’t update properly without the phone attached (since it goes through the detection before it gets to the ‘you need to update the program’), and tries to “help” by giving you a bunch of lame mini-apps, for every stupid thing on it, with no simple, clear, “open a file window”, as an option, even for stuff that it makes sense to do that for. Oh, right.. And phone apps.. God forbid someone might want one of them, but not to pay the extra cost of bloody having data access and the “app browser” on the phone to get them, never mind, *gasp!* some way to back up those, as well as the data.

    Man, I hate a lot of the stuff on the market, due to this sort of stupid nonsense.

  49. 49
    PZ Myers

    I understand why Apple went with the iTunes interface. I’m just saying it compromised the quality of the user interaction, which was otherwise anathema at Apple.

    They should have integrated it better with the Mac OS, just so we’d have another reason to gloat over the PC users with their klunky iTunes kludge.

  50. 50
    Hemogoblin

    My suspicion?

    MS-Windows.

    To do all that on an MS-Windows platform would require integration at the MS-Windows OS level. To keep the “experience” homogeneous, they use a single application.

    That’s bollocks. All the gadget would need to do is to present itself as a removable storage device (on demand, if necessary). This is not hard: both my 2005 DSLR and my 2006 cell phone can choose to present themselves as either dumb storage or smart, computer-controllable peripherals (I never use the latter).
    The reason you have to go through iTunes is simply because they want to lock you into using iTunes. Where you’ll hopefully spend even more money.

  51. 51
    ErictheHalfaBee

    @ Nigel, #33

    Have you ever served in the army?

    No. Your point?

    The best combination for inspiring people seems to be this simple formula:

    Seems to whom? Compared to what alternatives?

    Inspiration is not the desire to feel good about yourself. It’s the desire to please others, whether someone you respect, or someone you don’t even know.

    Riiight, nobody’s ever inspired by the work itself, by the process, or the creation of something new or the excitement of discovery, they just all want to please their daddies or their RSMs.

    Muppet.

  52. 52
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    The reason you have to go through iTunes is simply because they want to lock you into using iTunes. Where you’ll hopefully spend even more money.

    Ding ding ding.

    Though my J-River media center program allowed me to manage files on my old iPhone.

    There are other options.

  53. 53
    Pseudonymoniae

    Smug sarcasm is not how I would have ended a critique which consisted of hypotheticals, assertions, and opinions disguised as reasoning with statements like “it seems probable that…”

    I’m glad to see you didn’t really read what I was saying. For example, I used the rhetorical tactic of “assuming x, y and z” not to support my own belief about how individuals would react in a given situation, but to illustrate the number of assumptions which would be required for Lehrer’s point to ring true. Moreover, I used a number of plausible hypothetical responses to illustrate situations in which these assumptions would not hold true.

    I notice that your reply to my comment implies that you believe it is implausible that when humiliated in a public meeting, there might be numerous individuals who would react creatively but in a negative fashion. You will notice that the example I gave (“creative revenge tactics”) is obviously hyperbolic, and is not meant to illustrate how most people would respond, simply that some people might respond in such a fashion. Would it be more reasonable if I had said that some people when humiliated might be likely to think creatively about their plans for the weekend? This would work as well.

  54. 54
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The reason you have to go through iTunes is simply because they want to lock you into using iTunes. Where you’ll hopefully spend even more money.

    Actually, I think they went through iTunes since it was a proven platform that could synchronize data and upgrade the hardware with new software automatically upon connection. The path of least resistance.

  55. 55
    Gopiballava

    @hemoglobin:

    That’s bollocks. All the gadget would need to do is to present itself as a removable storage device (on demand, if necessary).

    While they could do this for much of their content, they couldn’t do it for all, and it’s not as simple as you’d think.

    Applications are not single files on the device. Installing an app involves opening up an archive and extracting files and building a directory structure. So, if you used a filesystem-based app system, you’d basically be putting an app into the inbox to be installed, rather than directly installing it.

    Contacts and calendars: You need to do intelligent merging. Exposing the file system would let you make backups but wouldn’t let you sync.

    Music: Lots of metadata is there for music. Played or not, ratings, etc.

    Application data: Some is internal only, so you don’t want to go mucking about with that.

    So: if they wanted to give you read/write access, they would either have to let you mangle stuff you could easily break, or they would need to implement a separate pseudo-FS letting you modify some stuff but not others, and generating some files for you out of databases.

    Syncing without iTunes would either
    a) Not sync many features of the device, or
    b) Involve a special third party sync application

    Now, I would be very happy to have full file system access. In fact, I do, and I have had it on every device since the first jailbreak. I know the iOS on-device file-system very well, and have modified on-device databases when I wanted to do stuff. But I don’t think that putting engineering time into something that a tiny minority of customers would find useful is a good idea.

  56. 56
    Moewicus

    PZ wrote:

    I have to make one complaint about Apple, though, and it’s about one specific failure of vision.

    They have all these products — the iPhone, the iPod, the iPad — that are integrated together, and which we sync together with our computers (a MacBook Pro, in my case). And how do we do it?

    Via the iTunes music player.

    Don’t even get me started. For me, the time-consuming, confusing and restrictive process of syncing my ipod to my computer has simply meant that I haven’t even bothered with syncing in a long, long time. Want to put a single picture on your itouch? Connect it to your computer, wait for itunes to load, wait for the annoying automatic stuff to stop going, select the folder you want your device to sync to… oh hey look, I can just email it to myself and save it onto the itouch that way. What a novel concept, just being able to drop a single file onto a portable file carrying device in just a few moments. I think I’ll patent the idea and sell it to apple. Call it the iDrop.

  57. 57
    grolby

    The reason you have to go through iTunes is simply because they want to lock you into using iTunes. Where you’ll hopefully spend even more money.

    This is demonstrably bogus. If Apple’s business model was centered around making 30 cents on the dollar selling content through the App Store and Music (…and video, and TV show, & etc.) Store, this would be correct. Just looking at where their profits are coming from demonstrates that pretty conclusively. Apple made $14 billion, with a b, last year. That’s PROFIT. Their iTunes Store REVENUE was, if I recall correctly, somewhere on the order of $1 billion. That may have been profit; whatever. The point is, they are not losing money on the iTunes store, that’s not Apple’s way, but they aren’t running it to make money from the iTunes store. From their perspective, a billion dollars or less is more or less covering operating expenses for the store.

    On the other hand, iOS devices account for 75% of Apple’s profits. Add in the Mac, and those product lines account for 95+% of their profits. Apple doesn’t succeed by getting 30 cents to the dollar selling apps, they succeed by getting 30 cents to the dollar selling iPhones, iPads and Macs.

    The point is, if you want to understand why Apple does ANYTHING, you need to understand that whatever they do is in the service of SELLING MORE iOS devices and Macs. The details of protecting their platform or the user experience or whatever by making it easy (in the case of music, movies, etc) to buy content from the iTunes Store or only (in the case of iOS devices) allowing native software to be purchased from the App Store is in the service of selling more products. Apple seems to think that this approach will sell more devices and make them more money, and the evidence seems to suggest that they are right. Whether you like them or hate them, Apple’s business is built around getting people to buy their computers and consumer electronics devices. Any extra money they make from the iTunes store is relatively incidental.

  58. 58
    Gopiballava

    Want to put a single picture on your itouch? Connect it to your computer, wait for itunes to load, wait for the annoying automatic stuff to stop going, select the folder you want your device to sync to… oh hey look, I can just email it to myself and save it onto the itouch that way

    Amusingly, I just plug in and sync and all my recent or highly rated photos are there without any effort. I use Aperture on my Mac to organize my photos, and it’s integrated into the sync process.

    For me, this is preferable to dragging via a file system. Also, I find emailing to be easier than plugging in a cable and navigating a file system in most cases.

    I do not like iTunes itself very much. But if you gave me a straight file system I’m not convinced that it would improve things for me much unless I wrote some nice auto-sync scripts.

  59. 59
    Sili

    Will Gopiballava and grolby get the full Monsanto treatment, or do we only reserve that for companies that aren’t sexy?

  60. 60
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    The point is, they are not losing money on the iTunes store, that’s not Apple’s way, but they aren’t running it to make money from the iTunes store. From their perspective, a billion dollars or less is more or less covering operating expenses for the store.

    Citation needed.

    A profit center is a profit center.

  61. 61
    grolby

    Will Gopiballava and grolby get the full Monsanto treatment, or do we only reserve that for companies that aren’t sexy?

    Will Sili get the full douchebag treatment, or do we only reserve that for preferences that aren’t technology products?

  62. 62
    tim Rowledge

    Context is important. You have bunch of teammates that are all comfortable with aggressive critiquing? Fine, go for it, and you’ll get good results. Team member that is shy, or perhaps stutters, or simply doesn’t handle aggression well? Not so smart an idea.
    Even if everyone involved can stick to the subject (so, not so many people here, then) and completely avoid personal criticism then some smart and valuable team members are likely to fail to take part to their best advantage.
    And poor characterization of the brainstorming concept – sure, during the initial phase of getting ideas out into the open you suspend criticism. But after that you’re supposed to go back and critique, throw out the failed ideas and gradually refine until you reach some conclusions. Hmm, hypothesise, test, synthesize, repeat until plausible conclusion reached. Where have I seen that idea before?

  63. 63
    madscientist

    “Confrontational” is fine – abusive is not.

    Whenever I’m called off to some “brainstorming” session my colleagues tend to get upset. They don’t like to hear that their wonderful idea is “bullshit” or “useless” or “has absolutely no scientific or technological merit” or that “such an instrument is fundamentally impossible to build”. Non-experts may nod mindlessly but people who know have an obligation to speak the truth. It makes no sense otherwise – you’d simply waste time and money pandering to bullshit.

  64. 64
    grolby

    A profit center is a profit center.

    And I’m saying that a business that constitutes less than 4% of a company’s operating profits is NOT a profit center. It’s not a secret that the purpose of the iTunes ecosystem is to make people want to buy the products that work best with it – which happen to be the products that Apple sells. This simple fact doesn’t mean you need to stop imagining Steve Jobs steepling his fingers and laughing evilly, I’m just saying that the reason the whole iTunes system is controlled and enforced the way it is is not to make money off of that business, it’s to increase the money they make off of their actual business. They certainly don’t mind that it earns them a nice little side profit, but if they have to make a decision about it that will cause them to make more money from iTunes at the expense of device sales, or sell more devices at the expense of profit from iTunes, they will go with the latter.

  65. 65
    Nentuaby

    nigelTheBold, Pure as the Driven Snow says:

    Definitional with the PS and XBox firmwares, I suppose. I don’t consider anything that runs on one and exactly one device when discussing “major” OSes. Granted they’re installed on a million more copies of that one device than there have ever been BSD nodes, but being so specific they aren’t really players in the landscape of OS design. iOS itself used to be in that position, but now that it exists in many mutations on various iThings it’s become visible as an OS in its own right rather than just “the firmware in the iPhone.”

    I do seem to have neglected Symbian, which I don’t know much about.

    Anyway, I continue to back my essential point, stripped of the absolute: iOS is an extreme outlier in closedness, far less open than our old bugaboo MS Windows, and the excuse that it somehow needs to be so doesn’t hold up in light of the success of other platforms, including Apple’s own second pillar.

  66. 66
    Shane P. Brady

    Steve Jobs was heavily inspired by Atlas Shrugged. It fed into a lot in how he conducted business and strived for Apple to be the best.

  67. 67
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Steve Jobs was heavily inspired by Atlas Shrugged

    Citation, as always from a libertured, is needed.

  68. 68
    Anthony K

    For example, I used the rhetorical tactic of “assuming x, y and z” not to support my own belief about how individuals would react in a given situation, but to illustrate the number of assumptions which would be required for Lehrer’s point to ring true. Moreover, I used a number of plausible hypothetical responses to illustrate situations in which these assumptions would not hold true.

    That’s what you think you were doing? Let’s see. From your comment:

    Even assuming that our board meeting is full of people who become angry–and that this anger promotes creativity–what are the odds that a person who has just been humiliated will use that creativity constructively?

    Ooh, what are the odds? You’ve got some numbers backed by data, do you?

    It seems probable that a lot of people in this situation would spend their creative energy to come up with some ingenious revenge tactics.

    Oh, I see. You don’t.

    Nonetheless, you’re right; it sure was idiotic of the study authors to follow the data, and Lehrer to cite their paper. What they should have done is called upon you for some conjecture based not on data, but on what you think seems probable.

    Fuck research. Why aren’t people just citing you?

    I notice that your reply to my comment implies that you believe it is implausible that when humiliated in a public meeting, there might be numerous individuals who would react creatively but in a negative fashion.

    Wrong. You didn’t notice that at all. What you should have noticed was that I said nothing about plausibility, but noted that your critique “consisted of hypotheticals, assertions, and opinions disguised as reasoning with statements like ‘it seems probable that…’”. In fact, that’s pretty much exactly what I wrote, explicitly:

    Smug sarcasm is not how I would have ended a critique which consisted of hypotheticals, assertions, and opinions disguised as reasoning with statements like “it seems probable that…”

    See?

  69. 69
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I find a little strife extremely invigorating, and I know some personalities like to seek it out and wrestle with it.

    I don’t seek it out. Strife has been stalking me for years.

  70. 70
    RW Ahrens

    “A profit center is a profit center.”

    Everything Apple does is a profit center. Like the man said, the difference is in which is bigger, and it is obvious, simply by perusing Apple’s Quarterly statements, which are the bigger centers – hardware sales. Anybody that has followed Apple long enough (and I’ve followed them personally and professionally for thirty years) can tell you that their focus is on hardware. The software is what makes that hardware a better experience, and thus a better buy, than their competitors’ products.

    Of course, they’d like you to keep using iTunes – they sell content there, and in order to keep having content for you to buy, they need customers buying it enough to make it profitable for their content creators! This isn’t illegal, is it? Or unethical? Didn’t think so. It is simply part of their business model, which is building an ecosystem of content and mobile capabilities which will work with all of their products and provide their customers with the best possible experience.

    Profits follow automatically, if this is done right.

  71. 71
    Shane Brady

    I see the ad hominem method of discussion as carried over to here. Such a shame.

    Anyway for people wondering about the Jobs – Atlas Shrugged connection:

    http://www.theatlasphere.com/metablog/1325.php

    A shame commenters here have to stoop to mindless insults.

  72. 72
    Anthony K

    I see the ad hominem method of discussion as carried over to here. Such a shame.

    A shame commenters here have to stoop to mindless insults.

    Yes, finger-wagging is so much more rational. Shame on everybody but Shane Brady, shame!

  73. 73
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Brady, try here. Liberturds have trouble with reality. Reality has a liberal bias, and isn’t occupied by arrogant, ignorant, and morally bankrupt idjits.

  74. 74
    grolby

    Well, Atlas Shrugged might’ve been one of them that he mentioned back then

    .

    Okay, so Woz, who is well and deservedly loved but is also a serious flake, says that Steve Jobs – who himself is a hippie from way back when who hung out with Hare Krishnas, became a Buddhist, would walk around Apple barefoot and whose person politics are liberal – MIGHT have mentioned Atlas Shrugged as one of the books that influenced him back in the mid-late 1970′s, and from that throw-away quote you get:

    Steve Jobs was heavily inspired by Atlas Shrugged. It fed into a lot in how he conducted business and strived for Apple to be the best.

    You’re a loony Randroid nutcase.

  75. 75
    Shane Brady

    Thank you for proving my point. Have a good night.

  76. 76
    DLC

    There’s a big difference between being The Boss, and being part of a brainstorming session. There’s also a big difference between being positive about what you want, defending that point of view passionately, and being an arrogant insulting asshole.
    The former of the two could be a successful CEO, and the latter of the two is merely a bully who needs a smacking down. If you sit in a business meeting with me and yell insults at me, the least you’re going to get is me walking out and cancelling any further business with you or your company. You don’t have to kiss my ass, you just have to treat me with the same dignity and respect I would treat you with.
    PS:
    Open source OS is great for hippies, cheapskates and code monkeys, but not so good for the guy down the street, who just wants the thing to work when he turns it on.

  77. 77
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Thank you for proving my point. Have a good night.

    And thank you for proving mine arrogant, ignorant, morally bankrupt, and evidenceless liberturd. You did great. What a loser…

  78. 78
    grolby

    Have a nice flounce, Shane! Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!

    *sniff* Apple may drive us apart, but it’s so BEAUTIFUL, the way Ayn Rand-worshipping dingbats bring us together again. *sniff*

  79. 79
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    *sniff* Apple may drive us apart, but it’s so BEAUTIFUL, the way Ayn Rand-worshipping dingbats bring us together again. *sniff*

    *have a tankard of five day old grog, on the house*

  80. 80
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    ErictheHalfaBee:

    @ Nigel, #33

    Have you ever served in the army?

    No. Your point?

    The army was an interesting experience for me. It gave me the opportunity at a young age to observe leadership. Not just bosses, but the difference between leadership and being a boss.

    Now, I can fuck a fish like a boss with the best of them. But I realized I was not a leader. It took me a while to figure out why, and I did so by analyzing the people in positions of power above me who were leaders. I realized that, universally, those who inspired their command were those with the traits I listed.

    The best combination for inspiring people seems to be this simple formula:

    Seems to whom? Compared to what alternatives?

    Seems to me, compared to all other alternatives. Limited, I know. That’s why I wrote “seems,” instead of “are.” I didn’t think it would confuse you so much.

    Inspiration is not the desire to feel good about yourself. It’s the desire to please others, whether someone you respect, or someone you don’t even know.

    Riiight, nobody’s ever inspired by the work itself, by the process, or the creation of something new or the excitement of discovery, they just all want to please their daddies or their RSMs.

    If you were inspired by your work, you wouldn’t need the empty patronizing encouragement of your boss and peers. If you are inspired by the work you are doing, you should be able to stand up to honest criticism. If you are inspired by the excitement of discovery, no muppet would be able to discourage you, no matter how antagonistic they were.

    I believe the original post was about actual inspiration, the ability to get people to do with enthusiasm things they wouldn’t do on their own, and the use of criticism over cuddly-wuddly feelgood bullshit. However, I might be wrong on that.

    Muppet.

    Thanks. I like and respect muppets, and the genius behind them.

  81. 81
    Gopiballava

    Will Gopiballava and grolby get the full Monsanto treatment, or do we only reserve that for companies that aren’t sexy?

    By Monsanto treatment, do you mean the silly assumption that not assuming pure evil is equivalent to being a shill for a company?

    I’ve seen at least some of the design patents and software patents that Apple is suing over. I think that Samsung has been copying Apple, but I have not seen them copy anything that I think is legitimately *protectable*. None of the software patents that I’ve seen in the lawsuits were things that I believe should be protectable for eternity (20 years counts as forever in this industry, and most nowadays) if at all.

    I frequently read new Apple patents that sound like nifty ideas but that, again, do not sound like something that should be granted an effective eternal monopoly.

    I watched Apple VP Joswiak discuss Apple’s arguments against the DMCA exemption granted for unlocking, and I found them uncompelling at best, disingenuous in many cases, and I believe misleading in others – though I’d have to check my notes for examples.

    So, I have *serious* fundamental disagreements with the IP regime in the US and around the world, and how Apple uses it. But, I also appreciate attention to detail in product and UI design. I want my gadgets to have keyboards that don’t hurt (Sony sub notebook I tried had a sharp edge, was uncomfortable after 5 minutes), I want nice connectors, I want things that fit together well. I don’t want battery status LEDs that are so bright they literally hurt my eyes in normal ambient lighting (Thanks, HP! Did you actually build a full prototype before you went into production?).

    I think that Apple does a better job in many ways, and that most of their problems are tradeoffs that I disagree with. It is a personal thing, but I’m generally more tolerant of an annoying design tradeoff than something that is annoying due to not caring. I’m more patient about dealing with a problem caused by my desires being different than a problem caused by a designer who just screwed up.

  82. 82
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Hey Shaney, read this.

  83. 83
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Nentuaby:

    Definitional with the PS and XBox firmwares, I suppose. I don’t consider anything that runs on one and exactly one device when discussing “major” OSes. Granted they’re installed on a million more copies of that one device than there have ever been BSD nodes, but being so specific they aren’t really players in the landscape of OS design. iOS itself used to be in that position, but now that it exists in many mutations on various iThings it’s become visible as an OS in its own right rather than just “the firmware in the iPhone.”

    I don’t see the number of devices as the defining factor here. The defining factor is intent. Both the PS3 and the XBox are walled gardens, built for a specific user experience, controlled by the vendor. The iOS devices are similar, in that the intent is to control the user experience through controlling the OS.

    Don’t get me wrong: I don’t agree with it. I liked my PS3 running Linux, and was disgusted when an update fucked that up. I realize it was in response to assholes using the “Other OS” feature to fuck with the experience (at least, that was the excuse). But it pissed me off.

    Then again, I still play PS3 games. And XBox games.

    I do seem to have neglected Symbian, which I don’t know much about.

    The big thing there was the control by the phone companies. They were very particular about the programs you could install.

    Here’s the kicker: the iPhone pretty much broke that stranglehold.

    Anyway, I continue to back my essential point, stripped of the absolute: iOS is an extreme outlier in closedness, far less open than our old bugaboo MS Windows, and the excuse that it somehow needs to be so doesn’t hold up in light of the success of other platforms, including Apple’s own second pillar.

    Not entirely true. Like the PS3 and the XBox, the concept is to control user experience through control of the entire platform. I don’t agree with that concept, but it does hold a certain amount of water. If it wasn’t, the Linux or BSD experience would equal that of the OS X experience. And they simply just don’t.

    Also like the PS3 and the XBox, I think it’s more about taking their share of the profit from apps than it is about total control. But then, that’s really what it’s about: control of the distribution channel results in a cut of the profits. Microsoft discovered that years ago, with the PC.

    1. Tax the friction.
    2. If there’s no friction, create it.
    3. Profit!

  84. 84
    Pseudonymoniae

    That’s what you think you were doing? Let’s see.

    Yes, that’s exactly what I was doing.

    Ooh, what are the odds? You’ve got some numbers backed by data, do you?

    Oh, so I see, you think I need data to support an assertion which is quite evidently plausible. Why? I am simply making an objection to someone’s assumptions about how social interactions occur. I am not trying to make statements about how people behave in all situations; simply how they might react in some. As we know that social interactions vary widely, and that my assertion could easily fit into the normal range of activties, there is no reason why I need data to support the possibility that this hypothetical situation might occur.

    it sure was idiotic of the study authors to follow the data, and Lehrer to cite their paper.

    Now, you are making assumptions about what I have written which are not valid. I never made any statement about whether or not it is valid for a study’s authors to follow their data. More importantly, I never criticized their data, I even explicitly accepted that we could assume their study was accurate for the sake of argument. As to Lehrer’s ideas, I never criticized his decision to cite their paper. What I criticized was his use of their study to support assertions which they never investigated. In particular, Lehrer takes their findings (that anger induces a certain level of creativity) and generalizes these to specific situations which they never studied (anger due to being humiliated at a board meeting). If you go back and read my original comment carefully, you will notice that I object to Lehrer’s piece not because he cites data on anger and creativity, but because he explicitly implies that anger-induced creativity will improve constructive thinking in a work environment. It was never my intention to provide data demonstrating that this is false. However, given that Lehrer is making a positive assertion which is not backed by data, I am well within my rights to use plausible hypothetical arguments which disagree with his assertion.

    Wrong. You didn’t notice that at all.

    You’re right, I didn’t notice that, I assumed it. Because otherwise, your objection is really meaningless. In my original statement, I am attacking another person’s unsupported assertions by deconstructing his assumptions and providing hypothetical situations where these assumptions would fail. This seems like a pretty apparent use of reasoning to me.

  85. 85
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    ok grolby I see your point.

    Just did some poking around and it certainly looks like iTunes basically pays for itself and improvements and not much more.

    rwahrens

    This isn’t illegal, is it? Or unethical?

    never claimed it was

  86. 86
    Gopiballava

    The big thing there was the control by the phone companies. They were very particular about the programs you could install.

    Here’s the kicker: the iPhone pretty much broke that stranglehold.

    This is the irony here: Carrier stores were extremely limiting, far more limiting than Apple’s App Store. Many Symbian phones allowed you to install your own apps, but if you wanted to sell them to people it was tough.

    For the (large) percentage of apps that got approved, the App Store charged less than many other publishing options, and opened your app up to far, far more people than would have likely seen your app under any other system.

    What is ironic, IMHO, is that a system with more intentional restrictions ends up, in practical terms, giving most people more freedom.

    I still think that side-loading apps should be permitted without restriction.

  87. 87
    ErictheHalfaBee

    @ Nigel, #81.

    Ah well, job done then. It’s OK everybody, Nigel’s figured it out. No need for further experiments.

    Seems to me, compared to all other alternatives. Limited, I know. That’s why I wrote “seems,” instead of “are.” I didn’t think it would confuse you so much.

    Confused? No, just expecting that since you were confident enough to dictate the necessary and sufficient requirements for a good leader, you might have better evidence than just your own military experience.

    If you were inspired by your work, you wouldn’t need the empty patronizing encouragement of your boss and peers.

    Did I mention wanting patronizing encouragement? No. All I said was that public group shaming was probably counter-productive.

    If you are inspired by the work you are doing, you should be able to stand up to honest criticism. If you are inspired by the excitement of discovery, no muppet would be able to discourage you, no matter how antagonistic they were.

    You think there aren’t situations where people think they’re onto something good but could still be discouraged out of it or might even need encouragement to develop a good idea because of a lack of self-confidence? That’s unrealistically absolutist, isn’t it?

    I believe the original post was about actual inspiration, the ability to get people to do with enthusiasm things they wouldn’t do on their own, and the use of criticism over cuddly-wuddly feelgood bullshit. However, I might be wrong on that.

    Yep. You’re wrong. The point in the original post I commented on was about the use of direct confrontation and provocation of anger as a tool for motivation. I carefully drew a distinction between that and criticisim, and pointed out the weakness of the study given that it only compared with sadness and mood-neutral. You appeared to disagree, but perhaps that was due to your lack of comprehension of the OP.

  88. 88
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    ErictheHalfaBee:

    Did I mention wanting patronizing encouragement? No. All I said was that public group shaming was probably counter-productive.

    And where in my list of qualities was public shaming? Seriously. If you’re going to argue against me, at least argue against what I wrote, instead of a strawman version.

    You appeared to disagree, but perhaps that was due to your lack of comprehension of the OP.

    Could be. I was responding specifically to this paragraph:

    How about a comparison with performance while excited or happy? You know, actually motivating people to achieve by inspiring them?

    This paragraph was structurally and logically distinct from two paragraphs down, where you said:

    That is not to say that there should be no criticism, but public naming and shaming particularly of groups of people doesn’t strike me as likely to be productive. I know how I’ve felt when put in that position, and it hasn’t been loyal and productive.

    The OP was about anger, not shame. Sorry if I misunderstood your point (which you say was the final paragraph). The structure of your post made the “excited or happy” bit seem the central thesis, not the shaming.

  89. 89
    andyo

    PZ

    They have all these products — the iPhone, the iPod, the iPad — that are integrated together, and which we sync together with our computers (a MacBook Pro, in my case). And how do we do it?

    Via the iTunes music player.

    That’s supposed to be fixed with iOS 5, but it was a long time coming. What I don’t like about Apple is that their first or first few generation of products are half-baked. iPod Touch 1 was just a shiny piece of nothing. Only with the Touch 4 it’s grown into something pretty useful (and even then, they only just added bluettoth HF profile, for instance).

    Another thing that will be fixed with iOS 5 that was long overdue: setting up the Airport express via iOS (no need for a full fledged Mac or Windows PC anymore).

  90. 90
    Rey Fox

    Also, I really hate that happy flippy-dippy non-critical sweetness-and-light shit.

    Bart: Sharing is a bunch of bull, too. And helping others. And what’s all this crap I’ve been hearing about tolerance?
    Homer: Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  91. 91
    gopiballava

    What I don’t like about Apple is that their first or first few generation of products are half-baked. iPod Touch 1 was just a shiny piece of nothing.

    The first iPhone had an extremely limited set of features. However, IMHO it did a superb job handling those features.

    It wasn’t half baked. It was more fully baked than anything I’ve ever used from Nokia. The reason for that was they didn’t overstuff the oven so much that most of what you got out was raw dough.

    To give you an example, my last Nokia phone was a Series60 v3 one. The email client had four major problems:

    a) When you deleted an IMAP message, you had to wait until the client had finished issuing the server command before you could do anything else. Not good for deleting even small volumes of spam. iPhone v1 was multi-threaded: You hit delete, the iPhones keeps responding to you while it goes off in the background and requests a message delete. So you can scroll and hit “delete delete delete delete” and get rid of your daily spam (I’m lucky…only a few a day…)

    b) When you opened an image in an email, it would open the image up into a separate viewer. Not only that, but the viewer treated this as a new image – it acted as if you had just created a brand new image. So when closing the viewer, it asks you if you want to close without saving? To a normal user, they think “wow, I’d better save this picture, I don’t want to lose it”. Really, what it meant was, “Would you like to save a *second* copy of this image somewhere else on your phone?”

    c) When writing emails, it took way too many button presses to use an email address from a contact. Also, the formatting of the screen was so poor that every email address had an ellipsis in the middle. You might see only the first and last few characters of an email address. “foo…ar.com” is not helpful. Simple layout changes would have fixed that.

    d) About two or three times a week, the Nokia email client would have some problem retrieving email. Because the OS was designed by people who paid $$$$$ for cellular data, it would turn off all automatic data. God forbid the phone use data by mistake.

    Bonus feature: Let’s say you’re on a phone call using a bluetooth headset and you want to lock the keypad. I believe it was 7 button presses. “Menu->scroll down(5x)->Enter Active Standby->(Menu-*)”. How’s that for intuitive?

    So, when I hear somebody call the original iPhone half-baked, I bristle, because in my experience the iPhone v1 did a better job on telephony and email than any Nokia device I have ever used. I think that one of the key reasons for this was that they chose a small feature set and had everybody polish and polish those features until they worked really well.

    Also, Apple issues real OS updates for their devices. Nokia didn’t in the past, don’t know if that changed. The VoIP client for my Nokia never worked. Nokia could not identify any SIP server that would work. I got it half working with Asterisk, but it would reboot the phone every third call approximately.

  92. 92
    Troy Britain

    Funny, just this weekend I saw a thing on C-span where an Ayn Rand worshiping Libertarian was speaking of his admiration for Jobs as well…

    ;)

    [Exits quickly to avoid the wrath of PZ and his minions.]

  93. 93
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Troy Britain:

    [Exits quickly to avoid the wrath of PZ and his minions.]

    What wrath?

    Randians will worship anything vaguely profit-making. Even if it means fucking over your fellow humans.

  94. 94
    andyo

    So, when I hear somebody call the original iPhone half-baked, I bristle, because in my experience the iPhone v1 did a better job on telephony and email than any Nokia device I have ever used.

    I didn’t call the iPhone in particular half baked, but I guess I should have said “many” of their first-gen products. But I’m not talking just in comparison with the competition. If you take the example of the iPod Touch 1, there was nothing like it at the time, but when you got to use it, after a day, you would go “so what else?”. There was no app store, no speaker, no mic, half-baked inbuilt apps. I even jailbroke it, installed a couple of apps that made it much more useful, but still at the end of the day, I had to reset it and return it. Gen 4 is doing pretty well for me now.

    And this has been my experience with other iPods too. I’ve had a gen 3, a Photo, and now a Classic. I would not have bought that first iPod if it wasn’t for the comparably large amount of accessories for it, even back in 2004. The Photo was a joke for photos (so much that they renamed it the “color”), and the Classic is finally just fine.

    The iPad also had some features overlooked that were already available in the iPhone and iPod Touch, if I’m not mistaken, but I haven’t had an iPad. And the MacBook Air just recently has become interesting and competitive.

  95. 95
    'smee

    PZ

    This is such a central concern of the platform that I’ve been wondering for years why it’s going through this peculiar bottleneck.

    Simple: DRM

    To control the content, you need a content controller. Since they can’t put the genie back in the bottle regarding ‘normal’ files, they need to ensure ALL content goes through the gatekeeper.

    iCloud is simply iTunes in the sky. DRM writ large, and controlled even more centrally – with no opportunity EVER to jailbreak or circumvent that DRM – even for fair use.

  96. 96
    Muzz

    I’ve not done any in depth research, but from my experience and others the cult of apple tag is very appropriate. I’m all for Jobs user first approach but the idea that it’s not what others are doing is kinda weird.
    After encountering people who swear by Apple quite a bit in the past, and not great techs who argue about the minutiae but regular folks who profess to hate computers and so on (but have enough disposable income to buy a Mac instead), it’s not Apple’s inherent superiority in any facet (which isn’t to say they aren’t distinctive and innovative). It’s really more a sort of confirmation bias, a roaring triumph of branding and marketing.

    I have seriously sat there while people made mistakes, buggered up their computers, brought up the spinning beachball of death repeatedly doing unremarkable things and listened to them rag out Windows the whole time as being unable to do the things they are (trying) to do and just so hard to use. Which was of course nonsense.
    Hey Windows isn’t that great either. But the whole ‘It Just Works’ meme is the most fantastic smoke and mirrors. Again, I’ve seen people swear by the reliability and ease of use of their Macs while it crashed and brought up all sorts of troubles in front of their face and they blundered their way through the interface. They’d blame themselves rather than the machine. They wanted to persist to get to grips with it.
    Maybe that’s some design triumph in itself. I’m not so sure. I think there’s lots of instances where that attitude would get them through with another system just as well and it wasn’t anything inherent to Apple’s design that caused it.
    That’s why the ‘cult’ tag is apt. Followers have osmosed the greatness of the Apple ethos and design rather than a critical understanding of the technology. Instead they’re really just competent and different with premium pricing.

    (some areas they are clear winners. best laptops, for example. but that’s not what I’m talking about)

  97. 97
    RW Ahrens

    andyo;

    Apple always makes their first gen products a bit anemic on features. They call it the power of saying “no”. That is a counter to the tendency of most electronics makers to pile on the features until marketing literature is pock full of bullet points.

    The point is, as noted by another poster above, to do a few features and do them WELL. Polish the OS, polish the UI until it gleams and feels right. Do they always get it right? Hell, no! Any tech writer can tell you of numerous issues with numerous products where Apple fans dragged Apple over the coals over what sometimes seem to be minor points – but are really major irritations to long time users.

    Lots of times, Apple replaces a feature with another different way of doing the same thing and ends up either putting it back, or adding a pref pane check box to give users a choice of continuing to do it the old way.

    In short, there is a deliberate plan, mapped out ahead of time, of what features will be added with which update number, or with which hardware update, designed to continue to tweak users’ desires and keep us coming back to upgrade and update our tech. It isn’t an accident.

    The idea is to bring a simple device to market – simple but revolutionary, then update it via software updates as users learn how to use it and the market develops. Major updates occur via new hardware models that also add major features that software can’t do alone. It is a formula that they pioneered with the iPod and continue to use today with all their products. If they develop a new device type, look for them to keep using it the same way, tailored for that product.

    And PZ;

    iOS 5 will not only bring wireless syncing to the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad, but it will untether these devices from needing iTunes to activate a new device at all. Buy a new device, and activate it wirelessly, without owning a computer at all!!

  98. 98
    RW Ahrens

    Muzz;

    I’ve worked in the IT field for almost twenty years, and have watched Apple for almost thirty as a consumer.

    As a pro, I have fixed and supported both platforms through most of their various iterations.

    Granted, Apple isn’t as “it just works” as advertised – that is, after all, advertising! But in general, for the average user, the Mac OS of today IS easier to use for the first time. That is because to does a lot more for you in the background.

    A simple example:

    In Windows, create a shortcut on the desktop to a file in your MY Documents folder. Make sure it works.

    In the Mac OS, do the same thing by creating an Alias on the desktop of a file in your Documents folder.

    Now, in both systems, MOVE that file to another directory. Test the Shortcut/Alias to see if it works.

    The shortcut in Windows won’t, but the Alias in the Mac OS will. The Finder tracks such things for you so they keep on working. Windows does not. (at least up until XP, it doesn’t. I haven’t worked enough with win7 to see of that has changed)

    Yeah, simple, but a good example of what I mean.

    Windows is a good OS, my agency uses XP almost exclusively, although that is slowly changing – money is the object. Macs ARE being slowly accepted on the Admin side of the house, but the scientific folks use the Mac OS almost exclusively unless they are using Linux.

    In short, I’ve always advocated using the OS that meets YOUR needs. This a big wide world, with billions of folks willing and able to buy a computer. There is room for everybody, and the more competition there is, the better off we, the consumers will be.

    My own personal choice is a Mac, I’ve got a nice, big 27″ iMac on my desk right now! But at work, I use both the Mac and a Dell running XP. Each is good for something, and each does a better job of some things than the other platform does it.

    Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

  99. 99
    Gopiballava

    I’ve not done any in depth research, but from my experience and others the cult of apple tag is very appropriate. I’m all for Jobs user first approach but the idea that it’s not what others are doing is kinda weird.

    You haven’t done any research but you’re happy to use a pejorative? Thanks!

    I’m a computer scientist by profession, have had (minor) UI research published, and have at various times supported Windows and Mac users in three countries. (Can I be wrong? Hell yeah! But ignorance is not my excuse.)

    I don’t think there are really any fundamental differences that can be expressed in single words or terms in the approaches of different companies. I think perhaps the biggest difference between Apple and just about anybody else is that it seems like the industrial design people are in charge of product timelines: new products don’t come out at fixed intervals, they don’t *have* to make a new major design change every so often. They make it when they think they’re ready.

    I’ve seen products that looked like they must’ve shipped because they were too embarrassed to admit that this laptop just plain sucked and should’ve been cancelled. Or, that looked like, if the design guys had seen the product *precisely as it shipped to the customer*, they would have changed things (I’m thinking about LEDs that were painfully bright: Perhaps the final prototype was too dim, and they said “Let’s make them brighter” without respinning a prototype).

    That terrible hockey puck mouse that Apple shipped in ’98? The guys that built that explained why it was good, why they liked it, etc. They were wrong, IMHO, but at least they actually tried.

    regular folks who profess to hate computers and so on (but have enough disposable income to buy a Mac instead),

    Perhaps I’m confused. What is strange about people not liking computers and choosing a particular one? There are cars that are supposed to be good for “people who like cars” and cars for people who don’t. No reason that the same isn’t true for computers.

    I have seriously sat there while people made mistakes, buggered up their computers, brought up the spinning beachball of death repeatedly doing unremarkable things and listened to them rag out Windows the whole time as being unable to do the things they are (trying) to do and just so hard to use. Which was of course nonsense.

    And I once had a Windows user tell me that Plug’n'Play was a reason I should choose Win95 over MacOS. Hint: MacOS has had that since they had expansion slots. (This guy was a fellow computer science major at Carnegie Mellon, FYI, so silly ideas about which OSs are good are not limited to newbies)

    Most people are clueless. Period.

    Hey Windows isn’t that great either. But the whole ‘It Just Works’ meme is the most fantastic smoke and mirrors.

    It doesn’t always. But in my experience it more often does just work. Personally, I tend to use Macs not because of their ability to work but because of the quality of their UI, and the attention to detail in many (but not all) aspects of their design.

    Again, I’ve seen people swear by the reliability and ease of use of their Macs while it crashed and brought up all sorts of troubles in front of their face and they blundered their way through the interface. They’d blame themselves rather than the machine.

    That’s lame. I have a Windows XP VM that I use. It is marginally less reliable than MacOS. It is much, much more annoying to use. I use it enough that I don’t think this is a lack of familiarity alone.

    That’s why the ‘cult’ tag is apt. Followers have osmosed the greatness of the Apple ethos and design rather than a critical understanding of the technology. Instead they’re really just competent and different with premium pricing.

    Premium pricing? Have you been following the news about the problems that their competition is having with planned pricing on Ultrabook-style machines, which are supposed to compete with the MacBook Air? They can barely get their BOM down to the *retail* price of an MBA. Apple doesn’t build cheap machines, but you’d be astonished how often building a, say, Dell desktop with the same CPU as an Apple Mac Pro will get you something more expensive. I haven’t looked in awhile, maybe Dell is cheaper now. When you spec out a comparable PC product, you rarely come in cheaper than Apple.

    Tablets? You can’t get much cheaper than an iPad without going to a resistive touch screen, very slow CPU and very old OS – a device that is absolutely terrible.

    I know that most Mac users don’t understand computers. That’s true of users of virtually all computing platforms. I’m a computer scientist, and I’ve worked on platforms you probably haven’t heard of – I used to have a system that couldn’t run NetBSD (The CPU family had never had NetBSD ported to it. The NetBSD slogan is just marketing fluff).

  100. 100
    grolby

    Simple: DRM

    To control the content, you need a content controller. Since they can’t put the genie back in the bottle regarding ‘normal’ files, they need to ensure ALL content goes through the gatekeeper.

    iCloud is simply iTunes in the sky. DRM writ large, and controlled even more centrally – with no opportunity EVER to jailbreak or circumvent that DRM – even for fair use.

    Okay. I don’t know why the meme that APPLE WANTS TO CONTROL UR MEDIA!!111 is so sticky, but it is.

    So look, the evidence is abundantly clear that Apple has no love of DRM and doesn’t see it as a good component of any content strategy, but they put up with it because their media partners demand it. What is that evidence?

    First, Apple has never sold any of their software with DRM. That includes their operating systems. You could take your Mac OS X install disc and put that sucker on as many computers as you like, and Apple would never know. Hell, the Snow Leopard Upgrade disc came with a license to only install over a previously existing copy of Leopard, but Apple didn’t take any steps to cripple it and shipped a FULL VERSION of Snow Leopard on that disc, which could also be installed on as many computers as you like, if you don’t care about breaking a software license.

    Second, to the extent that there is DRM on App Store software, it allows the user to install a copy of whatever app they purchase on ANY device they’ve activated with their Apple ID, as many times as they want. That’s not what I would call restrictive.

    Third, Apple lobbied hard to sell their music content without DRM, and eventually succeeded. Hell, Steve Jobs personally wrote an open letter (just Google “Steve Jobs thoughts on music”) to the industry in 2007 urging the abandonment of DRM; within a couple of years, he got it in the iTunes music store. Unfortunately, TV networks and movie studios have proven harder to budge. But Apple’s alternative is not selling it, so they’re going to grit their teeth and put up with it.

    The point being that saying that iTunes is the portal because it enables Apple to execute it’s super-evil media control strategy is really fucking stupid.

    It’s also really stupid to imply that iTunes or iCloud (and, by extension, Apple) actually gives a shit about where you get your media. No, media acquired through other means doesn’t get synced through iCloud for free, but that’s hardly evidence of some Machiavellian scheme to take away your freedom. Otherwise, you can rip, download, transcode and transfer your movies any way you want, you just need to sync them the old-fashioned way. Not really a big deal.

    And, last but not least, absolutely no one will have to use iCloud. Don’t like it? Don’t use it.

    Once again, the only way that it makes any sense to understand services like this is in how they can help Apple sell more of the products that it actually makes money from. Apple selling devices that can easily buy and watch movies = $$$ for Apple. Apple locking down everything with DRM and laughing evilly = not $$$ for Apple, but lots of annoyed customers, which = less $$$ for Apple.

    Apple is a big fucking corporation, and they like to make money. DRM doesn’t make them money.

  101. 101
    andyo

    I’m a Windows guy, but I like Vista more than XP, couldn’t wait to get rid of it. It was still a pain to have to deal with XP at work. I like 7 even more. I find some kind of cult-ish behavior too within Windows users regarding XP. Not much of what was “wrong” with Vista was MS’s fault.

    The point is, as noted by another poster above, to do a few features and do them WELL. Polish the OS, polish the UI until it gleams and feels right. Do they always get it right? Hell, no!

    Even “Hell, no!” can be an understatement when you have an OS that can’t do copy/paste. It’s little things like that that I’m also talking about. Like the complete inability all these years to set up the Airport Express from iOS. Don’t make it accessible via http like everyone else, and require special installation of software that runs in the background? Fine, whatever you’re Apple. But it’s the other, obvious stuff that annoys me more.

  102. 102
    grolby

    I’m a Windows guy, but I like Vista more than XP, couldn’t wait to get rid of it. It was still a pain to have to deal with XP at work. I like 7 even more. I find some kind of cult-ish behavior too within Windows users regarding XP. Not much of what was “wrong” with Vista was MS’s fault.

    Man, I’m with you (though I never used Vista, went straight from XP to W7). Windows 7 blows the doors off of XP. It is better in almost every conceivable way – not just in the technical, computer science details and security, but in significant, user-facing ways. But people are resistant to change.

    I think the reason for that resistance, though, is that even the easiest to use desktop operating system is hugely complex and difficult to master, and people who lack the interest or aptitude to really dig into the workings of a computer will resent the feeling that the considerable time that they’ve invested in learning how the familiar system worked is now gone.

    I can understand that. I like figuring out how to work more efficiently on a new system, and I’m not intimidated by computers, but I also don’t like messing around with the workings and settings for their own sake. I want the computer to get out of my way and let me do my thing.

  103. 103
    Gopiballava

    This new auto-email on posting thing is evil. It’s good on low traffic blogs, but is a bit too distracting here :)

    can be an understatement when you have an OS that can’t do copy/paste

    I’m happy they didn’t do copy/paste the way that it was implemented on Symbian or WinCE. WinCE in particular made it way too easy to accidentally start selecting things. Very obnoxious.

    The auto-identification of numbers and links meant that copy/paste was a lot less necessary on iOS than on other phone OSs. In fact, I suspect that if they had implemented copy/paste early on, there probably would have been more places in the OS where, instead of a way to move data without copy/paste, the built-in app designers would have just told you to use copy/paste.

    Given how badly other pen-based OSs have handled copy/paste, how few apps there were on iPhone v1, and how many ways there were to move data around without copy/paste (Notes could be emailed, URLs emailed, contacts emailed, links and phone numbers auto-converted to URLs, etc.), I think the initial lack of copy/paste is actually a more reasonable design choice than you would think.

    I think that shipping v2.0 and the App Store without copy/paste was a mistake. (That being said, iOS 2.00 was a stunning example of Second System Effect. Far more bugs than 1.0. Far less responsive. That makes it hard to rationally argue that they should’ve done more in it.)

  104. 104
    David Utidjian

    Speaking from the perspective of having to maintain a labs full of Macs (mostly iMacs) for the past 11 years… for me it is a love/hate perspective. I love some of the hardware and hate some of it. I love some of the software and hate some of it. My users… some of them love Macs (and Mac OS X) and some of them hate it, with a passion. Then of course there is the stuff I am just indifferent to. Even after 11 years of using Mac OS X I am still annoyed by its little quirks that, for me, it is the death-of-a-thousand-cuts and prefer to use Linux almost exclusively. I could type in pages of pros and cons about my experiences as a user and maintainer of Apple products but would rather not (who would read it anyhow?) I will address what PZ was complaining about because it is also one of my pet peeves with any OS and group of devices.

    One important aspect is ‘transparency’ in the sense that the user doesn’t even have to think about it. Apple has been much better about that in the past with their own proprietary file system. The problem was it was difficult to integrate with other systems (Unix/Linux/Windows.) With the advent of Mac OS X it got a LOT easier. Eleven years ago I set up my labs with a file server (Linux) which exported the users /home/userid folder via NFS for Linux and Mac OS X, Appletalk for Mac OS 9, and Samba for Windows. It didn’t matter which desktop or system the user was sitting at. All they had to do was log in and all their stuff was automagically there. Windows was a little awkward because its concept of desktop was a bit different. For Linux and Mac OS X users all their stuff was where they left it on the desktop. There were other quirks that such a system would produce such as certain filenames in Mac OS 9 but we phased that out pretty quickly and those problems went away. There were also issues with being logged in at multiple different desktops and, say, trying to edit the same file. If you stick to one type system that is handled with file locking but it can still be awkward if you have to go and find where you were editing the file last. Other nice features of such a system was any particular type of web browser was always in sync for bookmarks and prefs. It was a sort of mini, local cloud. We even distributed it so that one could access the file system from anywhere on campus, library, dorms and even from home. We were young and innocent then.

    Later because of security issues we had to batten it down and it is now available via VPN when outside of the labs. Eventually all on-campus systems will be moved to OpenAFS and single-sign-on. In any case… everything was is accessed via the Finder on Mac OS X, whatever file browser one likes to use in Linux (I use Nautilus), and whatever the Windows now calls their Explorer.

    Having a local ‘cloud’ really helps with administration also. If a device or desktop has a problem just swap in another. Ready to go in minutes. Backups are very easy. Mirror to another server and offsite. We only have to backup one folder (/home).

    But what about all the other devices; phones, cameras, Kindles, iPads, tablet PCs, laptops, iPods, etc… ?

    Kindles (with 3G) already have a neat way of syncing via their ‘whispernet’, it also works with the Kindle app on my DroidX. All seamlessly.

    For the rest of it Google via their Google+ system has taken care of the rest. Google+ is kinda like iCloud and Facebook all rolled in to one. From what I have played with so far it seems pretty neat. I take a picture with my phone or a video and within seconds it is seamlessly and automatically uploaded to my google+ account. On Windows or Mac OS X or Linux I can access everything all through the same interface. The browser.

    iCloud will be similar but I will be stuck with iTunes on Windows and nothing for Linux (thanks Apple).

  105. 105
    andyo

    I think the reason for that resistance, though, is that even the easiest to use desktop operating system is hugely complex and difficult to master, and people who lack the interest or aptitude to really dig into the workings of a computer will resent the feeling that the considerable time that they’ve invested in learning how the familiar system worked is now gone.

    Wasn’t talking about them though. I use one of my PCs as an HTPC, and hang out at some HTPC/media forums. Even with stuff like blu-ray playing, which doesn’t really have much support in XP, they still prefer to use it. Music/audio playing as well, the WASAPI and mixer is superior in Vista/7 than whatever XP was using. I’ve even seen audiophools who have relatively high technical knowledge of the OS, still claiming XP’s superiority in audibility. It’s baffling.

  106. 106
    Muzz

    Gopiballava @100 says:

    Premium pricing? Have you been following the news about the problems that their competition is having with planned pricing on Ultrabook-style machines, which are supposed to compete with the MacBook Air? They can barely get their BOM down to the *retail* price of an MBA. Apple doesn’t build cheap machines, but you’d be astonished how often building a, say, Dell desktop with the same CPU as an Apple Mac Pro will get you something more expensive. I haven’t looked in awhile, maybe Dell is cheaper now. When you spec out a comparable PC product, you rarely come in cheaper than Apple.

    I’ll clarify a few things. Laptops are (puntastically) off the table. If I had to recommend a lappy to someone who wanted something light and operated longer than half an hour on battery, there’s been no alternative to Apple for the better part of ten years,’sfar as I can remember. Still, if portability and basic software are all its for, you can get an ok PC based one for about $500 these days that will do most people.
    Desktop prices; I find that hard to beleive. Comparing with Dell won’t get you far I suppose and it’s a difficult comparison. I just built a higher spec PC than a basic Mac Pro for a little over $1000. Staight off the Apple Store, that Mac here in Aus would cost me $3000; in the US $2500. Sure my case isn’t as nice, but hey. You can get an A grade pre built PC from a computer store that will play any game you can throw at it for $1500 these days. An official builder sort like Dell or Alienware or Sony, it’s probably a different story. I couldn’t say.

    In my long term, albeit relatively small, experience, everyone who ever bought a Mac paid way more than they would for a comparable PC. On several occasions they had no idea PCs were so cheap when I brought this up. Apple have consistently traded on their boutique air for a long time if you ask me.

    As to computer users are idiots; Well yeah, and courting those idiots is the tech industries biggest goal as well as making them feel like they don’t need to be anything but idiots to use the equipment. The nub is why Mac idiots are so happy, often in defiance of their own experience (or rather, assume that whatever depths things sink to Windows would be worse).
    It isn’t that Mac is bad or Windows is better or any of that. It could be there is something about the Mac UI that just grabs people. But the uncritical brand loyalty I have seen from time to time is a tad cultish.
    (there may well be Windows cultists. I’m lucky enough to never have met any of those)

    rwahrens says:

    In short, I’ve always advocated using the OS that meets YOUR needs. This a big wide world, with billions of folks willing and able to buy a computer. There is room for everybody, and the more competition there is, the better off we, the consumers will be.

    My own personal choice is a Mac, I’ve got a nice, big 27″ iMac on my desk right now! But at work, I use both the Mac and a Dell running XP. Each is good for something, and each does a better job of some things than the other platform does it.

    Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

    Nicely said

  107. 107
    Tom

    This video is from a time when Steve and Apple were a man and a company worth admiring. Sadly, that is no longer the case. You disappoint me PZ.

  108. 108
    johnm55

    Steve Jobs and Apple are control freaks. No other OS insists that everything you do must be pre-approved by Big Brother. Microsoft lets you install any programme that you want, even if it doesn’t work. Linux lets you faff around with it’s source code if you feel so inclined. Apple wont even let you play your own music without using iTunes or Quicktime.

  109. 109
    Gopiballava

    Still, if portability and basic software are all its for, you can get an ok PC based one for about $500 these days that will do most people.

    Yes, lots of people will be happy with a machine like that, I agree. It will be slow, probably be nearly as chromed as a Harley, but many people would be better to keep the $$$ in the bank.

    Desktop prices; I find that hard to beleive. Comparing with Dell won’t get you far I suppose and it’s a difficult comparison. I just built a higher spec PC than a basic Mac Pro for a little over $1000.

    Which CPU did you use for the PC? W3530 Nehalem? That’s one thing that gets a lot of people – they spec out PCs with some of the cheaper Intel CPUs. I just did a quick poke at Dell’s site, and a comparable machine was retail $1968, “instant savings” down to $1498 (no idea how frequent those savings are), also don’t know if it had IEEE1394 or S/PDIF optical audio. The Dell standard power supply was inefficient – upgrading to an Energy Start complaint 85% efficient one added another $50. You may not need that, but “more than you need” and “more expensive for the same thing” are different.

    Staight off the Apple Store, that Mac here in Aus would cost me $3000; in the US $2500. Sure my case isn’t as nice, but hey. You can get an A grade pre built PC from a computer store that will play any game you can throw at it for $1500 these days. An official builder sort like Dell or Alienware or Sony, it’s probably a different story. I couldn’t say.

    I’m not a gamer. Pretty sure that a $300 PC would handle any game I threw at it. :)

    In my long term, albeit relatively small, experience, everyone who ever bought a Mac paid way more than they would for a comparable PC. On several occasions they had no idea PCs were so cheap when I brought this up.

    If you’re comparing a major vendor with lots of features to a local builder, I wouldn’t really say you could call it comparable. Sufficient, perhaps. I’ve never been happy with the service I’ve gotten at small vendors – both PC and Mac, back before there were Apple stores.

    Virtually everybody I know uses laptops.

    As to computer users are idiots; Well yeah, and courting those idiots is the tech industries biggest goal as well as making them feel like they don’t need to be anything but idiots to use the equipment.

    Their marketing materials say that you don’t need to be a computer expert. I don’t think you should need to be a computer expert to use a computer. I think that there is still a ridiculous amount of arbitrary complexity around computers, and I hope to see that continue to fall away. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.

    The nub is why Mac idiots are so happy, often in defiance of their own experience (or rather, assume that whatever depths things sink to Windows would be worse).

    Same reason drunk people are happier when they’re drunk, of course!

    When I was still in school, I was eventually forbidden from installing any software on my dad’s PC. Stuff kept breaking. Any time he had a problem, he’d ask if I had installed something. When he got a Mac, his habits changed. He would ask me, hopefully, if I’d installed some cool new thing. Installing new apps rarely caused problems with the system. Virtually all of the computer scientists I know tell their relatives to buy Macs, even if they themselves use UN*X boxen or Windows, simply based on the tendency to have fewer problems.

    It could be there is something about the Mac UI that just grabs people.

    Attention to detail, consistency, clear thinking, an acknowledgement that Fitt’s Law exists? :P

    But the uncritical brand loyalty I have seen from time to time is a tad cultish.

    I don’t like uncritical brand loyalty. There are some people that sound cultish. But when you see the number of PC fans who point at netbooks with tiny screens and crappy keyboards, and claim the MacBook AIr is overpriced – ignoring the vast differences in CPU, graphics, SSD, etc – you’d probably get frustrated too.

    I can’t speak to your personal experiences, only mine. I think the most users I’ve solely supported at one time was ~200. It was a very easy job. Fond memories of not having to fix many problems may bias me. :)

  110. 110
    madtom1999

    Jobs is an amazing guy. Or a charlatan if you consider that he makes people pay twice the going rate for old technology.
    As someone who has been in IT for 37 years I cry when people tell me how fantastic their Idevice is and all this new technology makes things so much more productive.
    MS and Apple have succeeded in selling computer woo to people and held back real IT progress for 20 years.
    The number of times I’ve had seemingly intelligent people spend a couple of hours with their Ithingy trying to tell me how much better it is that something else – and generally failing miserably as Apple brilliantly sold the impression of efficiency and design.
    Making it easy to do simple things stops people thinking about complicated things and solving those problems. Its reverse science, reverse ergonomics and makes people devote their lives and others in explaining why they’ve wasted so much money on a piece of junk.
    The emperors new Iclothes….

  111. 111
    Gopiballava

    Looks like the trolls are out! I shouldn’t be feeding them but facts are facts.

    No other OS insists that everything you do must be pre-approved by Big Brother. Microsoft lets you install any programme that you want, even if it doesn’t work.

    Just FYI, MacOS also lets you do that. In fact, I’ve never gotten a warning that a device driver on my Mac wasn’t approved – but I *have* gotten warnings like that under Windows.

    And Windows Phone 7 only lets you install apps from Microsoft’s marketplace – unless you jailbreak your phone or join the developer program, *just like the iPhone*!

    Linux lets you faff around with it’s source code if you feel so inclined.

    Yes. And Android only lets you faff around with bits of it – v3.2 on tablets has no source availability at all.

    FreeBSD also lets you faff around with everything, and it’s got better engineering under the hood. IMHO. But I’m biased, having a good friend on the dev team.

    Apple wont even let you play your own music without using iTunes or Quicktime.

    Umm, yeah, no, that’s also false. You can have third party music and video apps on MacOS and iOS which do not use iTunes or QuickTime.

    he makes people pay twice the going rate for old technology.

    I’d like a $250 tablet, most recent OS, capacitive touch screen. URL, please?

    I’d like a $500 laptop, Core i5 or faster CPU, 2.4lbs max, 5 hours of battery. URL, please?

    If they’re selling this stuff at twice the going rate I’d like to know where I can find it for half what they sell.

  112. 112
    ErictheHalfaBee

    @ Nigel, #89.

    And where in my list of qualities was public shaming? Seriously. If you’re going to argue against me, at least argue against what I wrote, instead of a strawman version.

    [Sigh] I used the phrase “public shaming” in my original post, in reference to the article to which PZ linked, in which Jobs harangues a whole roomful of people about the MobileMe technology. If you accuse a roomful of people of poor performance, I’m pretty sure that’s intended to induce shame. Why would you think I was attributing the phrase to you? All I was doing when I used it again was reiterating my original point.
    Please remember that I responded to PZ, and you responded to me. I’m just attempting to answer your somewhat tangential criticism of what I thought were rather uncontroversial points, namely that the study did not compare against positive emotional states and did not claim that a negative state should be the recommended option since the study was lukewarm about the effects, even in its title; and that therefore it did not serve to make the point PZ wanted it to. You seem to be wilfully misunderstanding what I write. Not only that, but you’re even contradicting yourself. You write:

    Inspiration is not the desire to feel good about yourself. It’s the desire to please others, whether someone you respect, or someone you don’t even know.

    but also:

    If you were inspired by your work, you wouldn’t need the empty patronizing encouragement of your boss and peers. If you are inspired by the work you are doing, you should be able to stand up to honest criticism. If you are inspired by the excitement of discovery, no muppet would be able to discourage you, no matter how antagonistic they were.

    So, we always do it for other people but we shouldn’t be affected by them? Neither of your statements is true and they’re mutually contradictory. A tour de force of incomprehension – I salute you!

  113. 113
    Ben

    Steve Jobs and Apple are control freaks. No other OS insists that everything you do must be pre-approved by Big Brother. Microsoft lets you install any programme that you want, even if it doesn’t work. Linux lets you faff around with it’s source code if you feel so inclined. Apple wont even let you play your own music without using iTunes or Quicktime.

    Maybe you’re talking about the iPhone/iPad/iOS system, because you’re completely wrong if you’re talking about Apple computers like the iMac. You can install anything on your iMac just like you can on Windows or Linux. You can fuck around with the system file is you want, though it’s a recipe for disaster. You can install music programs other than iTunes, though there aren’t really any others because no developer has seen the need to make one.

    OS X is not locked down, though some features are obfuscated from less savvy users who are better protected from the core of the system. You’re also forgetting that Apple’s target market aren’t geeks, or tinkerers, or people who need everything customisable and done their way. Is for the vast majority of people who don’t care about that stuff so long as it works.

    If Windows or Linux work for you because it allows you to screw with the system more, then go ahead and use those OSes. Nobody’s stopping you, forcing you to use Apple products.

    But why do people feel the need to shit on somebody else’s rug just because they don’t like the colour? Just say “that’s not my style, glad I don’t have to live with it, but hey, each to their own.”

  114. 114
    Kagehi

    Music: Lots of metadata is there for music. Played or not, ratings, etc.

    Application data: Some is internal only, so you don’t want to go mucking about with that.

    So: if they wanted to give you read/write access, they would either have to let you mangle stuff you could easily break, or they would need to implement a separate pseudo-FS letting you modify some stuff but not others, and generating some files for you out of databases.

    Syncing without iTunes would either
    a) Not sync many features of the device, or
    b) Involve a special third party sync application

    Sigh.. First off, this is nonsense. Half the shit on these things, on older ones, like the Palm, “where” pseudo-FS stuff. The newer ones got rid of it because it was a) buggy, b) hard to design any sort of interface for, including syncing, etc. (a) above “may” be true, but its like the whole, “OpenDoc vs. crap people use more, so we will keep using that instead”, issue. If you can’t sync it, its because its buried in some stupid proprietary format, so if something goes wrong with “their” app, kiss syncing at all goodby. Or, like my old phone, something goes wrong with the phone itself, such that the sync software can’t talk to the bit in the phone that handles the interface, something way less likely to happen, if the damn thing has it stored in a sane way to start with.

    PS:
    Open source OS is great for hippies, cheapskates and code monkeys, but not so good for the guy down the street, who just wants the thing to work when he turns it on.

    As someone that has worked with Apple computers since back when the only thing they sold where Apple II and Apple III, here is how the transition to the new OS worked:

    1. Stage one – Develop, a new system with more ROM, where all the UI stuff is in the ROMs.
    2. Stage two – provide a way to “software patch” those ROM functions, in effect, allowing you to install “new” updates to existing UI elements, or even new UI elements, into the OS.
    3. Scrap all of this, to stick it on the disk, like Windows does, as a “load when needed” UI layer.
    4. Scrap the old FS and OS, in favor of one of those damn, free, open source, operating systems. Sell you a license to the UI, without which none of your applications will run, unless you have a) source code for them, and b) know how to recompile them to use an open source library.
    5. Get annoyed that people figured out how to strip out *your* OS, install some other flavor of Linux, and still use your libraries, and run your software, since on a “code level” the only real difference is the UI, so install a “chip” on the motherboard, which makes the system stop working if its not your OS on it.

    The only difference, other than the UI, between Mac OS, and say Ubuntu, is that the former has a stable UI from clear back when the Color MAC first came out, tacked over it, and they develop, for the most part, their own drivers, for **known** hardware. This is the same reason that consoles are less crash prone that PCs, and less bug prone that some Linux versions, and require less tweaking. They run on known hardware, with known drivers (mostly), where the behavior is well documented, and few, if any, problems can crop up.

    Ubuntu, on the other hand, and way too many others, run into the problem that the people working on them are more interested in tweaking the shit out of them, not fixing things they break in the process, and ignoring the customers. Oh, and.. all the GUIs out there are written people with the same, “Lets at more shit, before we have it working completely”, mentality. The exception often annoying the tech heads, because they do what MS and Apple both do, and limit what you *can* configure. And there is nothing that pisses off someone that is used to being able to customize “everything” more than handing them something that works, but not the way *they* want it to, then telling them, “You can’t change that!” lol

  115. 115
    Kristjan Wager

    You could take your Mac OS X install disc and put that sucker on as many computers as you like, and Apple would never know.

    You can put it on as many Apple computers as you want to. Mac OS checks for a specific chip on the motherboard which only Apple computers have (and which only purpose is to verify that it is an Apple computer to the OS).

  116. 116
    Bruce Gorton

    Here is my problem with Apple. Apart from the whole “Such a shitty working experience they had to install nets to catch the jumpers” thing.

    i. Apple brought about the whole “Too trendy to capitalise i” crap. A jihad on uncapitalised i!

  117. 117
    Adam

    It’s more correct to say OS X is not locked down YET. Apple have already announced plans for an ARM based Mac which would be the perfect time to do it. I am pretty certain this will happen because Apple won’t have to worry about existing 3rd party software because the thing would be a clean slate. They’ll lock it down, force people to use the store and people will LIKE it and defend Apple for having the grace and foresight to restrict where and what kind of software they can run on their device.

    As for Steve Jobs, he was a driven and forthright man and his legacy on computing is there for all to see. However it is not hard to find first hand accounts that paint him as a sociopath and a pretty unpleasant person to work with.

  118. 118
    RW Ahrens

    You can put it on as many Apple computers as you want to.

    Ever heard of a Hackintosh? People install the Mac OS on PCs all the time, I’ve even seen some local businesses that sell the darn things. If you know what you are doing, it is not only possible but some of em are pretty nice.

  119. 119
    RW Ahrens

    Ok, I’ve seen a lot of people jump in here and rant on and on about how bad Apple is for various aspects of “locking” things down, or for various design choices, or for catering to the non-geek crowd or for not selling cheap PCs.

    First of all, the Mac OS isn’t the only game in town. If Apple’s products are so bad, then keep buying Windows, you’ll be happier. Just (like the man said above) stop shitting on my carpet just cause you don’t like the color!

    Apple under Steve Jobs, and probably under Tim Cook as well, is devoted to making what they consider the best electronic products they can. Their focus is on the user experience and making that as smooth, un-worrisome and as easy as possible. Yes, they cater to the less experienced, non-PC-aware crowd, there are a LOT more of them than there are geeks! (bigger market)

    One of the biggest problems with the PC industry today is that of malware.

    Why? Because today’s OSe are so “open”! Look at phone OSes. Which of them are more afflicted with malware? Android, the “open” one! The iPhone hasn’t been hit once. That is NOT due to the “security through obscurity” crap people throw around – the iPhone is one of the hottest properties selling today. It is because of its “locked” nature.

    If you want a phone you can fuck around inside of, get an Android, but be prepared to deal with malware. For the rest of us, we’ll be happy with our malware free phones.

    If Apple is moving towards locking down the Mac OS in a similar way, good for them! For what it is worth, I agree, I think they are definitely moving towards that goal, as it seems to be the only worthy method we have right now to deal with the malware problem. Again, if you want an “open” system (snort), go with Windows – but be prepared to keep dealing with malware.

    Don’t throw that obscurity crap at me either. I’m not going to argue that one here, it takes too long. Suffice to say in short that an OS with almost 40 million installed base isn’t “obscure” any more now that its parent company sells the most popular music players and phones. There are other reasons why there is more malware on Windows than the Mac that has nothing to do with the inherent built-in “resistance” of either platform to malware or the raw numbers of installed base.

    The real point is that Apple is looking ahead at the future and the “big picture”, as Steve mentions in this video. How does one defend oneself against malware? Their answer is to lock down the OS. Is that the only way? Maybe not, but that seems to be what Apple has in mind.

    if you don’t like that, keep buying Windows.

    As for cheap PCs, Steve is on record as saying that they “don’t make crap”. His words, not mine. So I would bring your attention to the fact that save for the Mac Mini, Apple doesn’t really sell an under $1000 PC. But it has been shown that Apple dominates the OVER $1000 market for PCs! By about 80%. (Plus, they also bring in about 60% of the industry’s profits!)

    That said, it has already been noted that Apple’s current crop of laptops are competitively priced, the iPhone and the iPod are as well. iMacs are now relatively cheaper than they’ve been based on feature set, and the Pro has always been competitive with similarly equipped PCs at the high end.

    Note that Apple does NOT compete with local builders of gaming machines. That is a market they never got into, and rightly so.

    Apple makes premium built, well engineered machines, which they back up with a world class support system. Yeah, warranties are a bit slim – that’s one criticism I’ve always had of them – but what I’ve seen Apple stores do to replace hosed Macs, iPods and iPhones would amaze you. That is part of the price you pay when you buy a Mac – a truly fantastic support system, which is NOT cheap and easy for them to provide!

  120. 120
    Comrade Carter

    “By the way, I was at one time a PC user. Not anymore. It’s all Apple or Linux.

    What do you run Linux on? Your toaster?”

    No, and this is the most brain-dead question I have ever answered…

    I have an Asus netbook with Linux and I can run it on my iMac.

  121. 121
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    ErictheHalfaBee:

    [Sigh] I used the phrase “public shaming” in my original post, in reference to the article to which PZ linked, in which Jobs harangues a whole roomful of people about the MobileMe technology. If you accuse a roomful of people of poor performance, I’m pretty sure that’s intended to induce shame. Why would you think I was attributing the phrase to you? All I was doing when I used it again was reiterating my original point.

    True. I misread your response. I apologize for that.

    Look, I was simply responding to this:

    How about a comparison with performance while excited or happy? You know, actually motivating people to achieve by inspiring them?

    My point, which I didn’t get across very well, was simply that being called out in a group (and especially as a group) can inspire people. Inspiration is not limited to being “excited and happy.” I originally asked if you had been in the armed services because basic training is predicated on that concept. And it works, with the caveat that you respect the person who is dressing you down in public.

    From the MobileMe example in the story, the “public shaming” is a perfect example. He called them together as a group and was brutally honest with them as a group. And it appears this inspired them: MobileMe got a damned sight better fairly rapidly.

    Oh, and my list of traits with which you took exception is pretty much the same as Kirkpatrick and Locke outline.

  122. 122
    David Utidjian

    Sili @ 37:

    What do you run Linux on? Your toaster?

    I know it wasn’t directed at me but… I will answer it anyhow.

    On my toaster? Not quite. It does, however, run on:
    My Panasonic flat panel TV.
    My TiVo (duh).
    My Sony DVD/Blu-Ray player.
    My Motorola DroidX phone (duh).
    My Linksys wireless webcam.
    My Linksys wireless router.

    It runs on all the computers at home and at work… Laptops, servers, desktops,… iMacs, MacBooks, Mac Pros, Dells, IBMs, Asus EeePCs, Nooks, Kindles, NAS devices, computing clusters, printers, fax-servers. It runs on my lab equipment at work (oscilloscopes, data acquisition, balances).

    It is quite likely that most people come in contact with a device directly or indirectly and/or use Linux in some way almost every day of their lives. For the most part, they won’t even know it. It is, as it should be, transparent.

    Welcome to the GNU world.

  123. 123
    grolby

    It’s more correct to say OS X is not locked down YET.

    Pure FUD. You can add the “yet” to the same sentence written about consumer-targeted desktop OS. As it stands, Apple could choose to restrict the Mac to apps downloaded from the app store, but this doesn’t seem likely at the moment. OS X serves a different purpose for them than iOS.

    Apple have already announced plans for an ARM based Mac which would be the perfect time to do it.

    Bullshit. Apple never announces plans for ANYTHING. You’ve no doubt heard rumors that they have builds of OS X running on ARM hardware; this is almost certainly true, because Apple likes to keep it’s options open. But the existence of their top secret ARM OS X research does not indicate any plan to transition to ARM in their products. They were running OS X on Intel chips long before they had any actual intent of switching, just in case. Going to ARM on the desktop in the near future makes no sense.

    CPU architecture is a red herring anyway; the relative “openness” of iOS or OS X has nothing to do with the chips they run on.

  124. 124
    Synfandel

    Brownian says:

    Synfandel, you might be interested to know that we’ve invented an entire system of finding things out called ‘science’ and an entire branch of mathematics called ‘statistics’ because we’ve found that the answers humans give to questions like “what do you think will happen”, even when they offer their own personal anecdotes as support, don’t track with what we call reality with much consistency.

    Brownian, science is very good at determining whether a theory is correct or incorrect and whether an idea will work or won’t, but science doesn’t come up with many ideas in the first place. Curious and creative people do. Apple didn’t become what it is today purely by practising science; it did it by coming up with useful ideas, and then applying science /technology to them. If you rely on creative people and you abuse and bully them, they don’t become more productive. First they become less productive and then they leave and go somewhere that you’re not.

  125. 125
    Sili

    Laptops, servers, desktops,… iMacs, MacBooks, Mac Pros, Dells, IBMs, Asus EeePCs,

    None of which are PCs?

  126. 126
    Kagehi
    What do you run Linux on? Your toaster?

    I know it wasn’t directed at me but… I will answer it anyhow.

    On my toaster?

    What, you don’t have one of these?

    http://www.uberreview.com/2005/09/netbsd-controlled-toaster.htm

    Or, either of these:

    http://www.linuxscrew.com/2008/01/18/fun-windows-vs-linux-for-toasters/

  127. 127
    tim Rowledge

    “You can put it on as many Apple computers as you want to. Mac OS checks for a specific chip on the motherboard which only Apple computers have (and which only purpose is to verify that it is an Apple computer to the OS).”
    If you have any actual *evidence* for that claim I’d be very interested to see it since I’ve been researching the matter for a work issue. So far as I have been able to find out there is no evidence whatsoever for your claim, none, nada, zip. The very early *development* machines for the intel switchover had a slot on the motherboard for a standard intel TCM module but no products since 2006 have even hinted at having a save to put one. There has not been any evidence of OS X making any use of any such hardware. Do you have some demonstrably Apple source code to support your claim? Anything?

  128. 128
    tim Rowledge

    “Going to ARM on the desktop in the near future makes no sense.”
    Dependent on your definition of ‘sense’ I may disagree. From a business perspective it probably doesn’t make much sense to change CPU again right now. There’s a lot of software around compiled for intel and having to do yet another far-binary cycle would probably piss off everyone.
    Technically it could make a great deal of sense, particularly for portable machines. An ARM core uses roughly 10% of the wattage of any intel core for the same compute output. So if you can get the same compute output with less than or equal to 10 ARM cores then it would be a net win to change. The biggest factor in the way of that occurring is the dismal state ot the software world wrt non-trivial parallelism. One of my favorite applications can’t make effective use of even two cores, so having many cores but each one being less powerful would be a big loss for that use. I blame the demise of the transputer – crappy but at least a serious attempt at practical massive parallelism.
    In the old days we used to say “an intel CPU is a waste of perfectly good sand”

  129. 129
    leftwingfox

    Sili @127: None of which are PCs?

    I’m sure they’re defining “PC” in terms of “IBM PC-compatible” Windows system, rather than the generic “personal computer”.

  130. 130
    SocraticGadfly

    Jobs was a genius at getting people to pay big bucks for planned obsolesence. He’s not liberal, and most iProducts aren’t worth the money.

    That said, a few Steve Jobs jokes:

    http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2011/08/some-top-stevejobs-jokes.html

  131. 131
    ErictheHalfaBee

    @ Nigel, #122.

    OK, things are a little clearer now, but after having wrongly accused me of attacking a strawman (for which you’ve graciously apologised – accepted) you’re now doing the same to me. I haven’t “take[n] exception to” any traits. Quote where I take exception to a trait, please, or retract (again). What I’ve taken exception to are your categorical assertions, that leadership can only be done in one way, and of what inspiration is and is not, specifically:

    “Inspiration is not the desire to feel good about yourself. It’s the desire to please others, whether someone you respect, or someone you don’t even know.”

    That’s a crock. Inspiration has numerous sources, both internally and externally generated and life is far more complicated than you’d like to make out.
    I’m not even denying that sometimes negativity of some form or other can work. In my original comment I simply:
    1. expressed disappointment at the lack of comparison with the effect of inducing positive moods [you then implied(on no good evidence) that positive moods are inferior when you declared "the best combination..."]
    2. pointed out that because of 1. and because of the study’s prominently lukewarm findings it was insufficient to prove the thesis that an aggressive style should be the go-to option
    3. and pointed out that feelings of anger could have further negative effects beyond the scope of the study and beyond the job when applied in real life.
    You’re the one making the categorical assertions, not me, so you have to be able to back them up – which you’ve signally failed to do.

  132. 132
    Kagehi

    If you have any actual *evidence* for that claim I’d be very interested to see it since I’ve been researching the matter for a work issue. So far as I have been able to find out there is no evidence whatsoever for your claim, none, nada, zip.

    You need to look harder. There is a reason why non-Apple machines, running their OS are called “Hackintoshes”:

    http://news.cnet.com/Much-ado-over-Apple-Intel-developer-box/2100-1016_3-5819211.html

    I suppose its possible that, since then, they gave up on the idea, due to it being so easily cracked. But, when they made the originally transition from the older OS versions, and a hardware switch to the same chipsets as Windows used, instead of the original 65c02, 65816, etc. chips, they also plugged in a special chip on the board, which functioned as a security lock, to stop you installing OS X on any non-Apple machine.

  133. 133
    Gopiballava

    I suppose its possible that, since then, they gave up on the idea, due to it being so easily cracked.

    It’s actually pretty hard to get definitive answers about the TPM – many of the hackintosh wiki pages are out of date. However, it looks like current machines don’t even have a TPM.
    http://osxbook.com/blog/2009/03/08/a-tpm-for-everyone/
    http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=93153

    But, when they made the originally transition from the older OS versions, and a hardware switch to the same chipsets as Windows used, instead of the original 65c02, 65816, etc. chips, they also plugged in a special chip on the board, which functioned as a security lock, to stop you installing OS X on any non-Apple machine.

    If we’re going to be pedantic…the 6502, 65C02 and 65C816 were the CPUs used in the Apple ][ series, which have nothing in common with the Mac software-wise. The 68000, 68020, 68030 and 68040 were the original Mac CPUs, followed by the PowerPC series.

    Intel Macs boot differently from standard PC BIOS booting. EFI is what they use for their BIOS, which is somewhat different than commodity Intel PCs. That alone requires some effort to work around. Apple only provides drivers for a limited number of devices, which is another major issue. Also, Apple often puts much fancier CPUs in. Most Hackintosh builders of course want to make their machines work with low-end CPUs.

    I don’t know for sure what protection measures Apple puts in to place, but the things I just listed are, ironically, apparently the most time consuming for OSx86 developers. Ironic because those features are purely engineering choices that Apple made rather than explicit anti-hacking.

  134. 134
    The Sailor

    “Jobs was a genius at getting people to pay big bucks for planned obsolesence”

    You are forgetting all of history of personal computing up to today. Windowstm has made their big bucks on arbitrarily changing the GUI so they can sell more classes to learn the difference between unintelligible GUIs to the next gen of unintelligible GUIs.

    Mac users had a steep learning curve on the Uni* OS, but we didn’t have to deal with UI issues if we didn’t want to. It’s the difference between ‘plug and play’ & ‘plug and pray.’

    Apple products hardware lasts so long my Uni replaces Windows ‘puters every 2 years. Macs get replaced every 4 years.

    I have 4 Macs and 12 PCs. One Mac has been in service 24/7 as a file server for Windoze and Mac users for 3 years. One is a webserver that has been using open source Apache/PHP/MySql for 8 years.

    I can’t even get my sniny new $3k W7 computer to share files within my work group. I had to give that Dell to a colleague who dedicates it to major image processing. Which means I had to reactivate an old W-XP computer to do the job.

    OTOH, my personal work station, a Mac, serves all Windows/Linux/Mac users from around the world. At the same time I’m using it for PS and FF. And running Parallels with Windows 7 running PS and MATLAB. It’s 2 years old and still running W7 running MATLAB than most of our PCs.

  135. 135
    Kagehi

    If we’re going to be pedantic…the 6502, 65C02 and 65C816 were the CPUs used in the Apple ][ series, which have nothing in common with the Mac software-wise. The 68000, 68020, 68030 and 68040 were the original Mac CPUs, followed by the PowerPC series.

    Your right. The closest thing to a MAC I ever had was a IIgs, which was basically a Color MAC, with the bones of the Apple II still in it. Thus, the same “class” of processors. I couldn’t remember at the time I posted if it was the same “exact” class as the older Apples. It still wasn’t AMD/Intel, in any case, which was what meant.

  136. 136
    Species8472

    I’m quite happy with my home-built computers and Linux. Wouldn’t want an Apple product if I had them thrown after me …

  137. 137
    Lucy

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    Videocamera kopen

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  141. 141
    area 51 nevada location

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