Saturday, August 8, 2015

Becoming Steve Jobs

I'm blanking where I came to hear about this book, I just remember reading somewhere that this book would be good.

Turns out, for me, it was a much much better read than Walter Isaacson's version of Jobs. As a preface, I might suffer from confirmation bias from my previous article of Isaacson's book.

I won't cover much of the book contents, there are the usual bits of history, but not as much as the Walter Isaacson (I mean, one being a biography, I'll attribute it to a style choice).

Instead, I would describe this book as a compilation of mini stories throughout his years starting from 1979. This isn't a retelling of history that you can find on Wikipedia. (Well actually you can now after this book is published.) As a journalist covering the industry, Schlender has a lot of notes from different eras of Steve Jobs life. Moreover, he interviewed various people that crossed Steve's path. They say that wounds heal with time, and remembering a figure that has been passed on has made a lot of people being interviewed a little more candid and opinionated about things.

Schlender interviewed a lot people in the inner circle including both Tim Cook and Lauren Powell Jobs for this book during 2013 to 2014. Constructing stories that we know with these interviews brings more life and passion to the stories, and also to the people.

There is an entire chapter devoted to much shared/retweeted 2005 Stanford University commencement address. The trials and tribulations of getting to the stadium, Steve Jobs panicking at the last minute. The entire speech is reprinted in its entirety. Something even which Isaacson's book does not have. (It was used with permission from Apple and Lauren Powell Jobs.)

Continuing with the mini-stories, the last chapter wasn't something that summarizes the feelings of everyone interviewed, or having an title that is . It was titled "Just tell them I'm being an asshole". It came from a conversation that Schlender had with Jobs about not being able to make it to an important roundtable due to his health. Without wanting to tell the others the real reason for his absence, he simply said:
"Just tell them I'm being an asshole. That's what they'll probably be thinking, anyway, so why not just say it?"
I felt that was the best representation of Jobs' attitude at his age. He's owning up to that part of his history, embracing the arrogance of his youth, perhaps poking fun at it a little.

Maybe Walter Isaacson was caught in the Steve Jobs reality distortion field that was so famously described in his book. Don't get me wrong, his book is still the way to go for people who wants a historically accurate version of Steve Jobs. However, it is missing that spark and passion that Jobs himself embodies. In engaging/courting Isaacson for his biography, he rises to the list of people that Isaacson has wrote biographies about: Einstein, Franklin, Kissinger. The Isaacson story is a story that was essentially told by Jobs. Reading that book and this book has told me a lot about how Jobs' wanted control. Control over product announcements, control over leaking bad news, control over how his story is written. Even when he didn't interfere with Isaacson's version, the side/version that Jobs told Isaacson was essentially what he wanted the world to see of him, of his legacy.

It is sad then, that that book is the official biography of Steve Jobs. There are so many things that can be inferred, so many anecdotes from the interviews of Lauren Powell Jobs, Bill Gates, Ed Catmull, Tim Cook and Jony Ive, that complete the picture of Steve Jobs.

I recommend this book to people who have read Isaacson's book and came away feeling that they've missed parts of the story. Reading this book will not tell you the entire story of Steve Jobs, but you'll leave with a very good idea of who Jobs is and what he stands for.

PS: After doing some wikipedia reading which links to the articles, seems like Apple endorses this book as well. That's great to know. Maybe that's where I remembered it from.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Weird Al and his 8 days of coverage

Weird Al Yankovic has a new album out. Mandatory Fun.

To me, it wasn't how good his songs were that was interesting.
It was how he advertised for this album.

He said that he would reveal 1 new video in each day for each day. He certainly started out strong with Tacky, his parody of "Happy" by Pharrell. Then followed by "Word Crimes", and so on...

He could have just revealed everything on his website, or stuck with a particular website, or his Youtube channel, or VEVO like every other artist.

Instead... he did this:
1st video on Nerdist
2nd on VEVO
3rd on CollegeHumor
4th on Yahoo
5th on FunnyOrDie
6th on Popcrush
7th on his own YouTube channel
8th on The Wall Street Journal

The order of the website is interesting. Perhaps alluding to the amount of influence each site has on the release of his album (VEVO being a conglomerate of multiple record companies including Sony Music Entertainment, which label RCA is releasing this album), on him (He hosts a show on Nerdist), on the internet (CollegeHumor/Yahoo/Funny or Die) or on mainstream coverage (WSJ).

As the days went by, I was trying to guess both which song was going to be shown and the website on which it was to debut on.

The only one I don't understand is Popcrush. It's not a particularly big or important enough site for a Weird Al video to "exclusively" debut. As of writing this, it is still on the front page, albeit relegated to a link under "Latest News" [for something 3 days ago...].

Then again, by giving these websites exclusivity, he probably saved a lot of production / promotion fees for these videos. By grouping these videos together in a 8 day barrage, each website gets more views from different demographics and in turn, perhaps, encourage the person visiting to check out more of the site.

Out of his parodies in this album, there was one song that was left out. "Inactive", a parody of Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive was not made into a video. He did make the right choice though, I felt that it was the most uninspired song in the entire album. For parodies of the fluffy, he himself left a huge shadow with his 1988 song "Fat" [or even "Eat It" to that extent].

I leave you with my favourite song in this album:

Turns out most of it has been covered by The Atlantic. Oh wells.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014






in the nicest of ways: Have you figured out what to do with your life?
Well I know what I want to do today, I know what I will be doing a month from now, a couple of months from now. A year?



Listening to: John Legend - All of Me

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Movie Recommendation: Shanghai Calling

You're welcome:

You know the thing that people do when they pretend it's a place but they aren't actually there?

I hate this in films, I hate this in video games.

Media that misrepresent the places and the people whom live in these places.

After watching the trailer for this movie, I had a good feeling that this was going to be at least not bad.

But this just exceeded my expectations. Turns out it was excellent.

I got a real kick out of watching the city I remember, all the crowds, all the places, all the Shanghaiese, and the side characters saying stuff that are not subtitled.

The plot is meh, but I really really love the setting. (I'm biased like that)

Fun fact: Daniel Henney really isn't Chinese, he's Korean.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


During the time I was in Jakarta, Indonesia, a friend of mine's father led us to this port in city centre. They were sending cement and wire meshes for building foundations to other islands, and the other islands would send wood back for selling.

These boats were traditional, I mean traditional, they were completely made of wood.

Logs and boats in full view, the workers move on thicker logs to get on and off the boats

The people who unload these boats, are paid 20-30 dollars total (USD) per one truck. That money is shared among the people loading/unloading the boat. It's not that much.

The worst part was that since it was Ramadan month, they were fasting during the day, no food, no water... moving wood logs under the hot sun. Plus, they have to feed themselves/their families.

Our tour guide of the boat. I could imagine being the tour guide, even for a few minutes, earns them a lot more than moving the logs.
The development of Jakarta is very segregated. The rich live the rich life. The poor live a completely different life. The average working office lady starts out at 1.5 million rupiah a month. For those that don't know the exchange rate, that's 1 USD to 10,000 rupiah. So, that runs down to 150 USD a month. Hence forth, food is relatively inexpensive, all the food I've taken pictures of that is on my FB did not exceed over 100,000 each.

This particular dish was 64,000 rupiah, the most expensive single dish I've had in Jakarta.
I had said this on my Weibo: In Singapore/North America, an iPhone is a third, or a quarter of a month's salary. In China, that would be a month or two's worth. Indonesians, on the other hand, have to save half a year's worth of salary to be able to afford an iPhone.

The difference is staggering.