Steve Jobs and the NExT Big Thing

I started reading a book today called Steve Jobs & the NExT Big Thing. The book chronicles Steve Jobs’ vain attempt to break away from his beloved Apple Computer to found NExT Computer. For those who may not know, Steve Jobs has had a very motley career in business. He co-founded Apple Computer in the late 70s with his college friend Steve Wozniak. Apple shortly became the fastest growing US company in history. Jobs’ moody and unpredictable nature lead to his ousting from Apple in 1986. Jobs decided he would go off and found NExT, a company with the goal of making a computer that everyone would want. (While at Apple, his goal was exactly the same.) NExT was given venture capital in excess of $250 million, despite the fact that it never achieved quarterly profit in a single quarter. Jobs came away smelling like a rose because he had bought Pixar, the company that hit the big time with 1995’s hit Toy Story. After the success of Toy Story, Jobs ended up making more money than he ever. In 1997, Jobs returned as the prodigal son to floundering Apple, where he has been the CEO ever since. (Apple has made quite the turnaround under his authority.)

I have read many accounts of Jobs but the NExT chapter of his life was usually just skimmed over. NeXT used its nearly endless capital to create some of the most innovative software to date. All modern OSs share loads of features that were available on NeXTSTEP (NeXT’s OS) over 15 years ago. The book should give me an idea why NeXT never actually got it together. (NeXT’s computers were highly overpriced, but a competent business team should have been able to make it work somehow.)

Real University Behavior

Being at a university, you expect that curiousity is something to be desired by everyone–including students and faculty. For the most part, I have found it true. However, in several of my computer classes, I have been chastized for deliberately trying to break a program or get the operating system to crash while I was writing programs. “Why would you want to do that, Trav?” you may ask. The answer is simple: If I know the exact thing that will cause an OS to die, I can take special precautions to safeguard against that cause and make sure my programs never destroy the machine of an end-user.

Yesterday in my database class, we were doing some simple queries that I learned how to do two years ago. Since I already knew how to do it, I was able to finish the exercises in about 2 minutes. When I got done, I started poking around in the help file for the database and finding “keywords,” which are things that cause something to happen in the database. When I would find one, I would type it in and see what happens. The professor suddenly appears over my shoulder. He surveyed my screen and saw that I was messing with parameters and such. Then he starts telling me all this other stuff I can do. He actually shows me how to change stuff that can kill the database if I don’t use it correctly, which is to imply that he trusts me enough to know I’ll keep the values within the boundries! Talk about fostering curiousity!

It’s Stability Charlie Brown

The one constant throughout the many years of my life has been the Charlie Brown specials. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was on last night. I hadn’t seen it in about 5 or 6 years. I guess the urgency to watch wears off as you get older. While I sat there watching, I felt very calm and happy inside. In all fairness, yesterday I managed to whack all my immediate due dates square in the head. But I don’t think I would have been as happy without Snoopy and gang.

I have always felt like Charlie Brown in many ways. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to kick the football (both figuratively and litterally). Also like Chuck, women remain a mystery to me. If only I were bald…

The passing of Charles Shultz in 2000 was very depressing to me because I admired his little cartoon about a group of kids and a wierd beagle so much. The concept was so simple, yet the daily trials of young life that he was able to capture are timeless. Shultz really loved his work, so I guess it was fitting that he died the day the last Peanuts was published. I can honestly say that I do not want to die slumped over my keyboard. I guess you can say that’s the difference between liking what you do and loving it.

Time Changes Suck

I have never liked daylight savings time. It is neat that it intended to give us more sunlight, but my circadian rythm has never gotten along with shifting the time off by an hour. I am the sort of person who looks at a clock whether I have something urgent to do or not. I almost always wake up two times a night and look at the clock. Since my life, right down to the sleeping habits, are so attatched to the notion of time and a clock, daylight savings time can be considered some sort of cruel torture. Most people can adjust in about three days. Not me. I’ll be out of sorts for three weeks. Ten days until Chicago!

Office Space Revisited

I had such a horrible day yesterday. Five and a half straight hours of class followed by two mind-numbing meetings. I decided I needed a little bitter delight, so I popped in “Office Space,” my favorite movie. I realize it isn’t the type of movie that you would normally choose as your favorite, but I’ll probably be entering some buearacratic corporate system that is so accurately depicted. I think last night was the most pleasant screening I have enjoyed in quite some time. I slowly felt my aggrevation melt away, and even though I can quote the movie nearly verbatim, I laughed with great force. By the time the movie was over, I was relaxed and semi-happy. As Peter says, “Human beings weren’t meant to sit in little cubicles and stare at computer screens all day long.” As long as I don’t forget that, everything will be OK.

Long Day

Geez it’s been a long day. I’m very tired. I have a lot to do before going to Chicago: three tests to take and an art project to finish. Oh well. I don’t have enough dress pants to take with me. Maybe I can get Mom to spring for a new pair of khakis. I miss the money I got from tutoring, but there is no way I could have worked this semester while maintaining this pace. Seems like I never get caught up. Ce la vie!

I got to see my cat when I went home a couple weeks ago. She has grown so much and can now inflict serious damage with one quick bite. Mean little beast. As long as you feed her, she won’t attack. If boredom sets in, though, it’s all she wrote. I miss my cat. I think playing with her would help me wind down from this super-long day.

Yet Another Site Redesign

I redesigned the site once again. I know, I know. You’re probably thinking “Gee Trav, got too much time on your hands?” Well, the answer is a resounding, “No!” There are two reasons why I’m always monkeying with my site: I love web design and designing a new page is just good practice. Because I took the time to set the site up to be as dynamic as possible (ala using a database to generate pages), I can plop down a new user interface frontend in about 2 hours, which was the case today. I added weather and the external links panel on the right. Anyway, look for other little tidbits in the coming weeks.

Life is funny like that…

Life boils down to a series of associations. The world around me is like a living memory. Smells, sounds, and sensations all drum up some past memory. Everyone experiences this, but sometimes I think I have a higher affinity for it because it’s hard for me to look out the window without reliving something in my mind. The odd thing about many of the associations I have is that many of them are not based on anything particuarily rememberable or tragic. The most mundane things are linked to certain songs I hear. Because of this, I have a fairly detailed bank of memories that depict everyday life that most people would probably lose in the sands of time. I don’t really think that makes me special but instead different.

Sleepy

I have two tests and two quizzes today, back-to-back-to-back. That’s not so bad. I think I’m prepared for them all. The problem is that I’m very sleepy, and sleep deprivation generally leads to stupid mistakes and errors. I can handle just totally getting something wrong on a test but I can’t stand missing something because I did something stupid. It’s the same as losing a basketball game by one point. Oh well.

Weekend to Weekend

I am currently living from weekend to weekend. The constant barrage of projects and homework is aggrevating, mostly because the majority of it is meaningless. If I understand a concept, leave me alone about it. Don’t make me do a ton of stuff to prove I know this stuff. I read the material before class as I am supposed to, and, oddly enough, I think about the stuff I just read. I’m a Senior: I wish I were being treated like it.

I took this computer art class as one of my two electives. It’s computer art and we use Photoshop and Illustrator on Macs. I like the computer part, but when we done with a project, we have to mount it on matboard. For those of you who don’t know, matboard is like very thick, stiff posterboard. Cutting this stuff with an X-acto knife or anything else is difficult. For whatever reason, I have always had a hard time cutting straight lines. Cutting a straight line on this matboard has proven a near impossiblility. I can’t practice with the stuff because it’s $5 a sheet and I really don’t have the money to go nuts and experiment. The mounting process has taken all the joy out of what would otherwise be a very enjoyable class. Welcome to Senior year I guess.