Thank You, Steve Jobs

Sad-Mac-logoIt doesn’t matter which side of the PC vs. Mac or Android vs. iPhone fence you are on because today you lost an ally. And whether you consider yourself geeky or a total n00b, you should pause for a moment to reflect and give thanks.

Steve Jobs, the magnificent mind behind the plethora of Apple products consumers know and love as well as the man that saved Pixar, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer today at the age of 56. His innovation and creative spirit will definitely be missed.

That said, we have to remember that Jobs wasn’t the first to create a lot of the products we use today but instead, he made them better by rethinking them. The Apple II wasn’t the first computer on the market but it was the first with color graphics and floppy drives (as opposed to cassette drives).

The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player either, but Jobs took the idea and brought forth his vision in the first iPod back in 2001 along with a place to buy and manage your music.

Until the iPhone came along, smartphones were limited in memory and capability but Jobs ripped that idea to shreds with his vision of a phone which pretty much changed everything. And without the iPhone and iOS, you can bet that the Android platform wouldn’t exist. Indeed, a little competition never hurt anybody.

And for years, Bill Gates labored with the idea of a tablet PC which, until Apple’s iPad came along, would still be swirling in the toilet. But with the innumerable amount of iPad clones on the market, it’s safe to say that Steve Jobs once again saw an idea and thought he could improve upon it.

With all this, though, also comes criticism and controversy.

Remember Antennagate? An unhappy iPhone 4 user emailed Jobs directly to ask him why he got poor reception when he held it a certain way.

Jobs’ reply to him was to “Just don’t hold it that way.”

Another big “duh” moment came when he introduced the new line of iPod shuffles – the ones without buttons and that relied on voice commands, with voice dictation being what every athletic person wants to do while jogging. This was remedied with the 6th generation, which appeared to be just like the 4th generation: complete with buttons and volume control. Never quite understood that.

One of the things I’ve been most critical about with iPods is that with every new generation, accessories like alarm clocks with iPod docks are made obsolete. I have two alarm clocks that won’t charge 2 of the 3 iPod touch models I own so I’ve since given one of them to Anthony to charge his 8GB iPod touch which happens to be my 1st-gen model. (Read more about all of my iPods in this post.) It’s a bit frustrating.

Regardless of the bad, I’m happy to be the owner of a myriad of iPods even if I have sold a few over the years. Whether my 30GB iPod Video I bought back in 2006 or the 64GB iPod touch I bought just last year, they have brought me hours of entertainment that I would have otherwise never experienced so conveniently. In fact, I always blog while listening to my White Noise Storm app on my iPod to clear my mind as I write.

Jobs will be missed. This was evident by the number of Wall posts and tweets by individuals and companies alike on Facebook and Twitter, all of whom either posted links or images in memory of the Apple co-founder. I’ve never seen my entire Facebook News Feed dedicated to one person’s passing which gives you an indication of how much we all admired the man’s unique way of making our lives better. Without a doubt, we’ve been enriched by what Jobs brought to the world and we probably can’t thank him enough for the way he changed the way we work, play, and communicate.

But I’ll start in the way I would have done it in high school, using an Apple IIe and Pascal:

program ThanksSteve(output);
  Writeln('Thank you, Mr. Jobs. RIP.')

Respect the Van

It took a little wheeling and dealing but the nightmare involving our Ford Escape is now over.

And here is the result:


That’s right, peeps, we traded it in for a minivan. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s a 2009 Chrysler Town and Country that we purchased from Sunrise Ford which is way out in Fontana (or Fontucky as some locals refer to it) from the salesman that helped us out on several other cars. He definitely pulled through on this deal as well.

It’s also a step up from the Escape in that it is larger, seats 7, and has storage up the yin-yang. So much storage, in fact, that Anthony is now stowing away all of his toys into whatever compartments he can find which is fine with us since it won’t look so messy inside (and I have no problem with that). The Stow-N-Go seating is beyond awesome—the seats fold into the floor, leaving the van practically empty should you decide to give your 900-pound friend a ride to Wal-Mart or buy a MINI Cooper and don’t have someone to drive it home for you. It’s pretty cavernous.

When we were looking at cars years ago I had hinted to Ann that minivans are incredibly useful, even more so than SUVs in some respects. And given the fact that most SUVs will never be driven off-road, a minivan makes sense since it will carry the family, all the cargo you need, and is extremely comfortable on long trips.

We’ve only had it a few days and can’t be happier with it. It’s just the start of the good things that will happen this year. Now all we have to do is begin working on everything else that needs attention but look at it all in a positive light.

I’m still convinced it’s going to be a good year. It couldn’t be worse than the last Smile

2010: The Year That Just Won’t Quit

I guess it was about the middle of November when I decided that the major personal events in the year 2010 were pretty much at an and. What was left besides Christmas and New Year’s Day, right? As a matter of fact, I had started a list of events—good and bad—that I would post here when I had the time to do it (since Anthony and I are off until January 2nd and spending lots of time together).

But like clockwork, 2010 decided to kick me in the ass just one more time today—in the form of a Certified Letter.

See, with only a few months left on our lease, we decided to go back to the dealer to buy out the remainder of the lease and finance it for a lower monthly payment. And from what we understood as we left the dealership, everything was under control and the Escape would be ours.

Then we started to get the denial letters from various financing companies which is quite the norm but eventually, somebody will approve you. This time, however, things seemed a little off-kilter because at a time when we should have gotten the paperwork and been approved, we hadn’t yet.

I made a few calls to the salesman who had helped us on all of our deals since 2000 and he assured me that he would personally take care of the details. He had never let us down before and I had my full trust in him once again this time. But something went awry.

The approval/Welcome Letter from our new finance company never arrived but instead, today we got a Letter of Decision to Rescind from the dealership. That simply means that for whatever reason, they have decided to not refinance our `08 Escape and they now want it back.

Fucked, fucked, fucked I tells ya. I should have stocked up on the Vaseline because man, I’m continually getting screwed in the end this year.

So, in addition to the financing thing not working out, a call to my salesman today revealed that he and the Finance Manager are—wait for it—no longer working at the dealership where I had bought the Escape. So while he can do some stuff to help us, the situation is pretty much out of his control and now we have to deal with who’s left at Ken Grody Ford in Buena Park, CA, where I was a loyal customer since 2000 and purchased my share of vehicles over the years. Thanks for screwing us this time and when I turn over the vehicle and keys (should that be the case unless something miraculous happens real soon), I can guarantee that I won’t ever be back for any reason, except maybe to perhaps piss on your shrubs every now and then.

From the moment I got the letter, I made several calls to the person listed on the letter and got no calls back after 4 hours. And because Hell hath no fury, Ann later called and demanded to speak with the manager, then handed the phone to me and within a few minutes I had him on the line. He was useless without his finance cronies there to help him.

So yeah, with only a few days left in this tumultuous year, it’s been decided by some otherworldly force that Ann and I need just a little bit more pressure placed upon us so that we may welcome 2011 with a handful of problems to contend with.

They can take the damn Escape. I really don’t care. It’s already cleaned out and everything. We’re just pissed off that it took so damn long to get any kind of response on the matter. But this gives us the chance to get into one of those crazy $0-down, $0-whatever, $199-a-month deals that many manufacturers are having now, which would be cheaper than what we’re paying on the Escape.

Do I have any good news? Yeah, sort of. We found a couple of used iMacs at the thrift shop the other day and bought one, then I went back today and bought the other one:

[Fuji] 003

The low, low price of $17 for both, plus another 20% off with a coupon, was a little hard to resist. The one you see here is in Anthony’s room and will be good for him to play some games if he pleases. It can access the Internet but it’s not connected. Besides, IE 5.1 tends to crash quite a bit anyhow. So even if he screws this up, we only spent $7 on the thing.

So there’s the good news. Aside from that, 2010, I won’t be too sad to see you go.

But hey, isn’t that what I said about 2009?