Daily Archives: June 21, 2008

Steve Jobs & Pixar

Steve Jobs and Pixar

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Great paradigm-shifting narratives — entrepreneurs seeing clarity where others saw only fog — often have a feeling of manifest destiny about them. What’s striking about David A. Price’s history of Pixar, the computer animation studio behind “Toy Story,” “The Incredibles” and other movies, is how provisional it all seemed in the moment, how key players at important junctures didn’t really understand what they were doing even as they were doing it. But they kept working because of a sixth sense that something would eventually happen.

Pixar began to take shape in the late 1970s, when George Lucas, after the success of “Star Wars,” hired many of these men (virtually without exception, they are men) into Lucasfilm’s computer division. But he didn’t have a clue what to do with them. Even with the best computer animators on his payroll at Skywalker Ranch, he used no computer animation in “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), resorting to scale models for special effects. Indeed, in a desperate bid for attention, Lucas’s computer division — named, unimaginatively, Computer Division — persuaded another studio, Paramount, to include a 60-second computer animated sequence in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982) to show Lucas what they could do. It didn’t work then or later. “He couldn’t make the leap from the crudeness of it then to what it could be,” said one of the short’s creators, Alvy Ray Smith.

Frustrated with Lucas, the Computer Division renamed itself Pixar in 1986 and sought an outside investor. Through a friendship with Alan Kay, a crucial figure in the earlier creation of the personal computer at Xerox PARC, Pixar’s central figures were introduced to Steve Jobs, already worth $185 million and beginning his Apple exile. After Jobs’s $5 million offer was rejected, the team attempted to do a deal with Disney, then a bastion of hand-painted cel animation. Pixar’s cause was championed by Disney’s chief technologist, Stan Kinsey, who was convinced that Pixar’s technologies would “not only lower costs, but also allow freer camera moves and a richer use of colors.” Kinsey wanted Disney to buy Pixar outright for $15 million, but he was overruled by Jeffrey Katzenberg, then head of Walt Disney Studios. “I can’t waste my time on this stuff,” Kinsey says Katzenberg told him.

Read Full Story HERE!

(Via NYT > Technology.)

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Woz BBC Interview

Woz: How it all began

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and inventor of the Apple I and II, talks with the BBC about starting Apple in 1976. “Everything was … thinking about the good of humanity,” he said. His starting salary? $24,000 a year: maybe a quarter of what an Apple engineer makes today.

For those of you new to the Apple universe, this is an entertaining 10-minute brief of how it all began.

Woz has probably told this story a million times, but he talks about it with the same enthusiasm as if it happened yesterday. He discusses the Silicon Valley homebrew movement, Microsoft, and the perceived animosity between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Also — and totally off-topic — Woz wears a giant watch. I mean, seriously. Huge.

(Via (TUAW))

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Seven iPhone Disappointments?

Seven iPhone Disappointments – Forbes.com
BBF4E8DB-E711-4BA1-B799-36C9404D5CF4.jpgApple’s new iPhone promises to be 4.7 ounces of awesome.

It will do everything the iPhone does well–surfing the Web, serving up music and movies, and letting you flick through your voicemail messages with a fingertip–only faster and cheaper.

Yet imperfections still lurk, in spite of Chairman Steve Jobs’ maniacal attention to detail. Even before its release, there are some niggling issues–some minor, others major–that make the iPhone a mere gadget, just like any other. Just ask those pesky bloggers:

The Cost
Those crafty phone companies! Yes, at $199, the new iPhone is cheaper up-front than the original, which first went on sale starting at $499 last year. It is not, however, less expensive to own. Do the math you find out and the iPhone will cost $160 more over two years than the original iPhone because AT&T (nyse: T – news – people ) put together a pricier data plan for the phone to help it subsidize the up-front cost of the handset. The gadget fiends at Gizmodo called that “a small price to play,” but Bits, the technology blog at The New York Times, called it “a step backwards for consumers.”

No Flash
The iPhone is a surprisingly capable Web browser. Its wide, high-resolution screen and the ability to bop around the Web by tapping links with a fingertip has turned mobile Web surfing from a chore into a pleasure. The biggest hitch: the iPhone still doesn’t support Adobe’s (nasdaq: ADBE – news – people ) Flash technology, which means many multimedia-rich sites remain off limits. While Adobe is working hard to make its technology iPhone-friendly, don’t hold your breath.

No Replaceable Batteries
Hardcore road warriors don’t have time to stop and recharge their phones. Instead they carry their batteries with them, clicking them into their BlackBerrys in the backs of cabs, or, if they’re lucky, in a coffee shop. By contrast, there’s no easy way to crack open the new iPhone’s sleek case to pop in a battery, disappointing bloggers. And while kits are available for do-it-yourselfers, we wouldn’t recommend trying it in between bites of your bagel.

Video Recording
Apple’s (nasdaq: AAPL – news – people ) computers come preloaded with iMovie, a slick little application that makes video editing easy and fun. Apple’s iPods, with the exception of the Shuffle, have evolved into snappy little video viewing machines. But if you want to record video, you’d better talk to Sony (nyse: SNE – news – people ). Despite its built-in two-megapixel camera, Apple isn’t building the ability to take video into its new phone, a feature even many low-end so-called “feature phones” include.

No Cut-And-Paste
The inability to copy a chunk of text and paste it into another application has baffled geeks since the iPhone’s introduction last year. It’s a simple tool that would make blogging and zapping bits of text to friends via e-mail a breeze. And, yes, it can be done without screwing up the phone’s interface.

No Multimedia Messaging Service
This might be the most interesting example of what makes the iPhone quirky: There are some things dirt-cheap phones cranked out by the tens of millions can do that the vaunted iPhone cannot. Forbes.com’s David Ewalt sees the lack of support for Multimedia Messaging Service as one of the most maddening. Want to open an image sent to you via MMS by a friend from her (dirt-cheap) mobile phone? No dice.

Bonus: No Voice Dialing
No blogger we’ve seen has complained about this yet. Maybe that’s because all the geeks who might whine about how tough it is to dial the iPhone died in fiery auto wrecks first, seeing as the iPhone doesn’t have the voice-recognition smarts to let users dial verbally–the one feature makes the BlackBerry, with its nubby little plastic keyboard, usable on the road.”

(Via forbes )

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Tiny Trojan – Mac OS X TROUBLE?

Tiny Trojan Trots Into Mac OS X Turf
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With the rise in popularity of Apple’s Mac computers and the OS X operating systems they run, dangerous malware, viruses and Trojans are now being targeted for the Mac, too. The most recent case in point comes courtesy of a security advisory released by SecureMac. The advisory warns that multiple variants of a new Trojan horse — out in the wild — is ready to run roughshod all over OS X 10.4 and 10.5. SecureMac notes that the Trojan, which is based on AppleScript and currently called “ASthtv05,” is only being distributed from a hacker Web site at the moment.”

(Via MacNewsWorld)

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Rare Bill Gates Photos…

Rare Bill Gates Photos, Narrated by Bill Gates [Bill Gates]

Picture 1.pngFortune has a nice package for Bill Gates’ upcoming departure from Microsoft—the best is their exclusive gallery of 15 rare photos from throughout his life, narrated by Bill himself. I think my favorite pic is the leather biker jacket slung over his V-neck Cosby sweater at a Harley event—or the fist pump when he gets a Jeopardy question right at a company dinner—two sides of the same man, fiercely charitable and competitive. galleryPost (Yea, I want the new iPhone!); [Fortune]

(Via Gizmodo)

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Without Steve Jobs, Apple can be successful

Analysts: Even without Steve Jobs, Apple can continue to be successful
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The thought of Apple Inc. without Chief Executive Steve Jobs spooks many investors, but his absence might not spell long-term disaster for the innovation machine behind the iPod and iPhone,” Scott Hillis reports for Reuters.

“As valuable as Jobs is, respect for the executive team he has assembled runs high, and Apple could quickly bounce back if Jobs were to leave for whatever reason,” Hillis reports.

“Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, whose laconic Southern style distinguishes him from the intense Jobs, has won praise from analysts for his firm grasp of day-to-day operations, and is thought to be a likely successor,” Hillis reports. “Jobs may be the public face of products like the iPod, but it is Apple’s top-flight design team led by Jonathan Ives that is responsible for the iconic shapes of the company’s computers and gadgets.”

“‘Steve clearly is the voice of the company, but it would be a big mistake to state that he’s the only one driving the vision of Apple,’ said Tim Bajarin, head of Creative Strategies,” Hillis reports. “‘While Steve is still by far the most important person in the company, he has created a team of people who understand his vision for today and tomorrow and are fully capable of executing on that for three to five years,’ Bajarin said.”

Hillis reports, “Jobs himself has sought to downplay concerns. ‘Some people say, ‘Oh God, if (Jobs) got run over by a bus, Apple would be in trouble.’ And you know, I think it wouldn’t be a party, but there are really capable people at Apple,’ Jobs told Fortune magazine earlier this year.”

More in the full article here.

(Via MacDailyNews)

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