Friday, April 9, 2010

STEVE JOBS

His Apple iPad is now in stores, being applauded, frowned at, wondered about, as people are standing in line, waiting to buy it.

The iPad hype is: "YOU HAVE TO HAVE IT. YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IT."

I am a FROWNER. Sit back, and hear my little story.

I had my first "writing aid" machine in the early 70's when I was rising, not there, but ascending to the top, the pinnacle of my dancer-performer days.

On a transcontinental tour, I'd written a journal on a portable typewriter, as we drove from one performance to the next. The journal wasn't publishable, but a literary agent friend liked it, and said, "Em, you ought to write a novel."

Arranging performances for my Dance Drama Company, I'd discovered the Friden Flexowriter. (It had computer abilities before computers were in the marketplace.) It automatically typed my basic "selling" letter, but paused for inserts. I wrote to colleges -- sent out 3000 "personal" letters twice-a-year, inserting the college president's name and address, and possible dates for a performance there.

Thinking I might be a writer someday, looking into new technology to see if there was anything to help me with my 6000 "selling" letters, I fell in love with an Exxon Qyx typewriter -- it displayed what you typed in a box -- you could fix typos, save a corrected paragraph on it's 3-inch disk.

I bought 10 disks and started a novel. A month later, I traded the Qyx for Exxon's Vydec "Word Processor" -- a huge green monster with an 18" x 18" black screen that displayed a full page -- 46 lines!

"Dar- ling - you - ere - grow - ing - old... " I'm singing, remembering how wonderful it was -- to be able to write, edit, and save a entire chapter on an 8-inch Vydec disk! Because of the Vydec, I was able to write, polish, and sell 90 pages of a first novel, and get an advance from Bantam Books.

Then I saw the first IBM portable computer. It weighed 27 lbs., but I could take it with me on tour. The 5" x 7" brown screen with orange letters wasn't lovely, but it had a "hard drive" that could hold an entire novel. Wow! With a printer, and Word Perfect Version 01, I could cut, paste, and edit a book.

"Dar- ling - you - are - grow - ing - old.....silver - threads - among - the - gold ..." There I was in the early 80's, dancing, and on the verge of getting my first novel published.

Time marches on. Various faster, larger PC's have come and gone; it's a Word Perfect 14 now, on 3 computers that sit near my dear old Vydec desk -- a glamorous, expensive, curved 9 ft. slab of beige Formica, that surrounds me in a semi circle.

Today, thrill is in the air, because of .Steve Jobs. "HOW HE WILL REVOLUTIONIZE READING, WATCHING, COMPUTING, GAMING AND SILICON VALLEY is on the cover of Newsweek. Steve Jobs' face (slightly reminiscent of Charlton Heston's "Moses"), is the cover of Time. Both magazines contain respectful, admiring biographies of Jobs, the innovator.

But the computer machines I used -- Flexowriter, Qyx, Vydec, IBM existed before the young Jobs was working in his garage, inventing the Mac. (No wonder, I'm prickly about the hullabaloo over "innovative" Steve.)

Yes, "... you - are - grow - ing - old... " I sing, aware that Apple's Steve Jobs and Microsoft's Bill Gates are also growing old.

Our Mac Os X Leopard annoys me -- there's no "right" click, and if you want to delete a line you have to backspace. Yes, we can make movies, and create music on it, but editing, cutting, pasting is much faster and easier on a PC.

And I don't like the hymns of praise all over the media, the braggadocio of "APPLE DOESN'T ASK PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT, IT TELLS THEM WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO WANT NEXT."

It's fascistic! Sure, the Apple guys are glowing, thrilled, proud -- they feel they're introducing the home computer to millions of homes that never could afford them. But that's baloney. A basic iPad costs $500 (plus tax); and at that price, it is NOT able to do what a computer -- my cheap $600 one, or my $1400 expensive one, or our $2000 Mac -- can do.

"THINK REALLY DIFFERENT" says Newsweek. "THE IPAD WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU USE COMPUTERS, READ BOOKS, AND WATCH TV, AS LONG AS YOU'RE WILLING TO DO IT THE STEVE JOBS WAY."

I object! I say NO! And I'm not alone -- there are other guys, young and old, who do not want to be forced into the Steve Jobs or the, Bill Gate style, or the style of any of their brilliant brainy buddies such as Paul Allen or Steve Wozniak.

Okay, so with your iPad you can turn the page, read back-lit, bright, easy to read published things, and download tons of apps-apps-apps. And it can be your be-all-end-all, beloved, one-and-only tool, but remember, Apple and Jobs are in the money-making biz.

Yes ..."Dar- ling - you - ere - grow - ing ... out of date, but beware, folks -- don't rush out and grab this shiny new Apple before its ripe.

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