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Dude, You’re Getting Dell

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One of my coworkers appears to have metamorphosed into many Dell monitors.

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Steve Jobs: A Biography

Steve Jobs: A Biography

Steve Jobs: A Biography by Walter Isaacson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think the main feature of this book that I would emphasize is that it is, in fact, a biography about a flawed man, and not so much a history of his technical achievements. As a computer geek and long-time MacAddict, I found that a little disappointing; I didn’t care as much about every anecdote of his emotional instability, I cared about how he did what he did at various companies. There was barely anything on his time at NeXT, and even the major changes at Apple in the last 15 years pretty much got a single chapter each. I was also surprised to find a couple of spelling mistakes, although I suppose since I read an electronic version that could get patched later.

Overall I would echo John Siracusa’s Hypercritical podcast episode in which he reviews the book as having been writing by “the wrong guy”, making the point that Isaacson is someone who was generally incurious about technical matters. I think my rating of this book would be higher if he had delved into that side of Steve more.

That all said, it is probably the best collected summary of what he was like, mostly due to the access Isaacson had. I learned a lot of trivia, and there were a lot of interesting quotes that I marked in iBooks. I knew very little about his early life, or his family life. I just would have liked more of a study of what made his technical and design successes. There were some good stories from, among others, Bill Gates, Jony Ive, and Steve Wozniak.

I think it’s a reasonable first look at The Steve, but I would definitely read other history books first, or generally familiarize yourself with the history of Apple, NeXT, and Pixar. For the latter, the documentary that appears on the WALL-E DVD, The Pixar Story, is excellent.

I think my favorite quote from Steve featured in the book was this one, which is more philosophical than technical: “The job of art is to chase ugliness away.”. As in my initial reaction to his death, I think Steve clearly achieved that.

Posted in Book Reviews Tagged with: , , , ,

Reality Distorted

I had just gotten home from work on Wednesday night, when I read this tweet from my friend and fellow Apple fan Andrew. It was certainly a surprise, to the point where I initially doubted it (or perhaps hoped it wasn’t true), but the stream of traffic from my tech-oriented Twitter feed made it fairly clear that Steve Jobs had died. This news affected me more than I expected.

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Posted in Life Tagged with: , , , ,

Back That Thing Up

Introduction

Three Sundays ago, my primary Mac OS X hard drive failed. Those of you who follow me on Twitter got somewhat of a play-by-play as I discovered the depth of my drive failure I got home to the Spinning Pinwheel of Death (SPOD), and discovered quickly that my computer would not wake from screensaver or boot. However, I didn’t panic. Why? Because I have what I believe to be a relatively robust backup system for home use.

I can’t stress enough how important regular backups are. Data loss is one of my personal nightmares (well, that, and Lego or Andrle loss), since most of my life (professional and personal) is on the computer. Among other things, I’d lose every picture I’ve ever taken since freshman year of college, every homework assignment I’ve written on the computer since late 6th grade (when we got our first Mac), not to mention substantial configuration work and those precious saved games.

I sit atop what I call the Backup Tripod: regular clones to an external disk stored off-site, hourly incremental backups to a local disk or local network storage, and as-needed on-save synchronization to cloud storage. I’m sure there are many other articles out there that recommend a particular strategy, but this is my solution for Macs. I even convinced my parental units to use a similar setup. I’ll go into detail on what solutions I use and why (as well as recovery strategy) for each below the cut.

I can’t emphasize enough how important data backup is for the typical modern power user.

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Posted in Computers, How-Tos Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Nicolas Ward

Software engineer in Natural Language Processing research by day; gamer, reader, and aspiring UltraNurd by night. Husband to Andrle
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