Jobs: An examination of an icon

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I’ve always been a bit of a geek.  I grew up on computers and with the desire to know how to make them work for me.  I went to school to get a better understanding of computers and networking, and I’m currently working with computers.  My brand of computing, however, has always been under the Microsoft banner.  I’m a PC and I will probably always be a PC.  I’ve never really been fond of Macs, but that doesn’t mean I can deny how much of an impact Steve Jobs and the garage band he started had on the world.

I went out to see the film Jobs and felt it appropriate to do more than just review the film, but discuss the impact that home computing and the people who ushered it in had on the world.  When home computing was just a crazy idea, some young radical thinkers saw the future – a future where the world is connected and everybody has a personal computer.  A future we call the present.

jobs_movie_poster_2Being that the movie is the foundation of this article, it’d make sense to discuss that before going into the nerdy history of modern computing.  Jobs details the history of Apple Computer from its humble beginning out of a garage to its industry leading position as a home computing powerhouse.  Centered on the players who birthed the industry on Apple’s side, namely Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the film details, as best a two hour film can, how Apple came to be a computing powerhouse before nearly going under and its rise back up to the position it now holds.

The film is done well enough.  Characters are pretty fully fleshed out with Steve Wozniac being an easy favorite; a man who was in it just for the passion of doing the impossible and putting computers in the hands of everybody.  Josh Gad does a great job in the role by really portraying the passion he has for technology and what his vision of the future is.  There’s usually a shining moment whenever he’s on screen and it’s easy for the audience to get caught up in his excitement for ushering in a new era even though that time, in the real world, has already come and gone.

The real triumph of Jobs, though, is Ashton Kutcher.  I was skeptical when I heard Kelso from That ‘70s Show was going to be filling the role of one of the kings of the modern era, but that skepticism was entirely unfounded.  Ashton Kutcher was an unexpected choice for the role, but he so manages to capture the spirit of Steve Jobs that it’s almost uncanny.  The way he carries himself, his hand gestures, his facial twitches, and even his speech patterns are a near perfect emulation of the late Steve Jobs and it’s truly impressive.  He puts an effort into the role that displays a passion I haven’t seen in a biopic – let alone any film – in quite some time.  I was thoroughly impressed by the performance and Ashton Kutcher deserves every bit of praise for his presentation of Steve Jobs’ character.

The soundtrack is another shining point of the film with period-appropriate rock pieces perfectly complimenting plot progression.  Being a bit of a nerd, it was easy for me to get a little excited when a group of guys looking toward the future were putting together circuitry for the Apple I with some Joe Walsh playing in the background.  I can’t think of a moment in the film when a music selection felt out of place.

MacIntosh_Plus_img_1317The film plays, expectedly, in chronological order and does a good enough job getting the main details out there.  It skips or skims over some important things, but we’ll get to that in a bit.  Some of the nitty gritty details aren’t the priority of the film, instead it tries to successfully tell the tale of the man who built Apple.  Steve Jobs was a complex man – one who can be summed up with a wide variety of adjectives:  a visionary, an innovator, a genius… an asshole – a highly flawed man who unquestionably used people to build an empire.  The film doesn’t shy away from the fact that Steve Jobs wasn’t an easy person to get along with – which was, honestly, a shock to me given the marketing surrounding the film.

It’s an enjoyable biopic and one that is definitely worth watching, especially for those of us who appreciate technology or have a fascination with its history.  Like the man it’s about, it is flawed, but it’s well constructed and moving.  Even though I’m not a Mac head, I appreciate what Jobs and Wozniak did for the modern world and it was fun seeing a dramatization of the events surrounding home computing’s early days.

It was, however, some of those minor details that kept me from loving this film entirely.  I’m well aware of the fact that Steve Jobs has gone on record to say that Bill Gates was not innovative lacked creativity, something that actually comes up in the film in the one scene that introduces Windows 1.0.  What the film manages to omit, however, is the Xerox Alto.  Not to take away from the accomplishments of Steve Jobs, but the operating system that redefined the world of home computing – the operating system that helped found an empire – was built from someone else’s genius.  At this point in time, it’s pretty much ancient history, but just a decade or so ago there was still chatter going on about how Microsoft stole Windows from Apple.  The Graphical User Interface (GUI) was Apple’s invention and Microsoft was the big bad who stole it – obviously since they have the largest market share of PC operating systems, they have to be evil.  Well, what about the Alto?

Apple’s first PC to be released with a GUI was the Lisa back in 1983 – the Macintosh followed a year later.  Over a decade before the release of the Macintosh to the public, Xerox introduced the Xerox Alto – a computer system with a GUI.  While not a consumer system, the Alto undoubtedly laid the foundation for modern computing with its innovative interface – and Steve Jobs saw potential in the GUI when he was introduced to it by Xerox in 1979.  Xerox obviously didn’t realize the potential of what they had as they basically gave the head of Apple the keys to the future showing him all the ins and outs of the system.  The foundation for Macintosh and its beloved OS was laid on the innovative, forward thinking ideas of the team behind the Alto.  It’s just, to me, ironic that Steve Jobs famously called out Bill Gates for his lack of originality when his groundbreaking system was undeniably built on a stolen idea.

primeiras-cenas-em-que-ashton-kutcher-caracterizado-como-steve-jobs-aparece-com-steve-wozniak-interpretado-por-josh-gad-1358449584412_300x300Again this isn’t trying to detract from the man’s accomplishments.  The film just glosses over some important events and it’s easily misleading.  The one scene with Windows in it only works because the audience, especially those who are ignorant to the history of home computing, because the film presents the creation of Lisa OS as an entirely original idea birthed by Steve Jobs.  It wants you to believe that the GUI was exclusively an Apple idea and that Bill Gates and Microsoft were thieves by building a visual shell for their already existing DOS.  The scene where Steve Jobs damns Bill Gates over the phone works because the film decides to omit the part where Microsoft saved Apple from going under in ’97 by purchasing 150,000 non-voting shares.  The film doesn’t attempt to villainize Bill Gates of Microsoft, but it tries to emphasize that they weren’t interested in innovation.

The film also fails to give a satisfactory transition from Steve Jobs being booted from Apple to his return.  It’s somewhat understandable as, especially to the non-geeky viewers, the film can feel long – and at two hours it actually kinda is.  However, it would have been great to see more than just a snip in a montage about NeXT.  It probably would have caused the film to drag if they threw in more footage than it already has, but maybe trimming some fat from the first two acts could have made room for NeXT.  It feels like a missing opportunity to see where the foundation to the modern era of Macintosh was built.

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Flaws and all, Jobs was a well-made film with some great performances, a lot of energy, and an excellent soundtrack.  Macs and PCs alike should give this film a shot.  It’s not as groundbreaking as the man it’s about, but it was well worth the price of admission.

Jobs:  3.5 out of 5

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Apologies for the lacking posts

I’ve been working some odd hours lately and haven’t had the time I’d like to dedicate to writing new posts.  It’s a lot of work keeping this blog up and I know I’m falling far behind with maintaining my other real-life obligations.  It’s disappointing that I can’t invest as much time in this as I would like, but it’s a necessary evil as a man’s gotta eat.

With that said, my whole having a hard time keeping up with blogs, I’d love to have help in maintaining PowerUp.  If you’re a film, gaming, comic, or technology enthusiast with a love of writing, I’d love to have you on board providing content.  If you’re interested, shoot me an email at atsbedgood@poweruponline.com.  Include in the body of the text a little bit about yourself, what your area of expertise is, and a writing sample.  Please, no attachments or images.  I’ll get back with you when I look over your stuff and let you know either way.

Thanks,

Andrew T.S. Bedgood

And we’re back!

I want to apologize for that posting break.  It was undesirably long but entirely necessary.  I’ve been working on getting some things in my personal life straightened out (mainly living and financial stuffs), so I’ve been away and unavailable for the past two weeks.  I’m slowly but surely getting things in order, so hopefully there won’t be as many long pauses between updates and I’ll be able to get all the latest and greatest entertainment news up for you to view.  I really do appreciate all of my readers and their support, so stick around and I’ll try my best not to disappoint you!

 

Much thanks,

Andrew T.S. Bedgood

Xbox One: Lending still in?

New-Xbox-One-ConsoleAccording to Polygon, apparently Xbox One owners will still be able to borrow and lend friends’ games without paying a fee.  By the sounds of things, installing a game on your Xbox One registers you on Microsoft’s servers as the owner of that game, thereby deactivating the game on whichever account it was activated last.  That is to say, if I have a game installed on my Xbox One and lend it to a friend, as soon as said friend installs the game on his Xbox One, the game is deactivated on my account and registered under my friend’s account until the game is returned to me.  When I receive my game disc back and put it in my Xbox, it is reactivated on my account and deactivated on my friend’s account.  From there, if my friend would like to continue playing that game, that’s when the fee would be required.

As convoluted as this sounds, it’s really not going to be complicated for the user.  You as gamers will be able to borrow and lend your games as you normally would on current hardware with this activation/deactivation process being automated on Microsoft’s servers.  It’s also a completely understandable measure.  Since Xbox One game discs will not be required to play games after they are installed, if the game wasn’t deactivated on your user account, you would be able to play the game while it’s lent out.  Having this authentication process ensures that your game behaves as it would under normal circumstances; i.e. if you lend out a game you own on Xbox 360, you’re not going to be able to play it until it’s returned to you, likewise an Xbox One game shouldn’t work for you while you’re lending it out.

This is certainly good news for gamers as it seems to alleviate the rumors that Microsoft would block us from being able to lend out our games.  I’m certainly breathing a sigh of relief and this makes me a whole lot less skeptical regarding the Xbox One.

 

Source:  The Verge

Xbox One and the power of “the cloud”

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It’s been noted that Microsoft’s Xbox One doesn’t quite have the processing power or high-speed RAM of the PS4.  For graphics enthusiasts beckoning the new generation of gaming, this is surely a drawback of the system.  What the Xbox One does promise, however, is that it’s “Cloud Powered.”

Microsoft has increased the number of their Xbox Live servers from 15,000 to 300,000 and promises that these servers will help with some of the graphics processing of your game system.  They specifically indicated that the servers will be used for background effects such as lighting or fog to prevent latency from ruining your gaming experience as these effects don’t need to be persistently updated.

This cloud power may explain why Microsoft would require an online connection for the Xbox One, but it doesn’t explain why you’d need to check in every 24 hours.  If you’re not connected, you’re not going to be experiencing the benefits of this additional processing power, so why make the connection necessary at all?  I can see the availability of this additional power a nice perk that would encourage gamers to stay connected, but requiring a connection to their servers sounds like it will hurt the system’s longevity.  For instance, if I want to play my NES right now, I can play my NES; twenty years from now, if I want to play my Xbox One, I won’t be able to because their servers will, undoubtedly, be offline.

 

Source:  The Verge