• Steve Jobs

    One hundred years from now, people will talk about Steve Jobs the same way we do of Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and the Wright brothers. Perhaps, as my friend Chris helped pointed out, he was a mix of Edison and John Lennon. Maybe he was a bit like Walt Disney, or Jim Hensen, a man who was personally tied to the brand he created.

    Regardless, he was an an inventor, a visionary, a man full of ideas. He was more than just any businessman, CEO to Apple, he personally held patents for many of the technologies used in their products. He was the perfect mix of creative genius and salesman. In the tech world, Steve Jobs was elevated to near deity-like status, but as cancer proved, he was still just a man.

    Every CEO of every company on the planet should pay attention to this right now and ask themselves, “why won’t this happen when I die?” (@jayfanelli)

    I tried to sit down and put together my thoughts on his passing last night, but couldn’t. I was too overcome with the emotions pouring out from people across the world on Twitter. I shared some of my own but it was interesting to watch the wake for a man happen in real time from people all across the world. People who loved and hated him all had emotions to share.

    Even President Obama had something to say:

    The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Steve’s wife Laurene, his family, and all those who loved him.

    But I’m not sure those outside of the technology community could really feel the impact the way we all did. My wife didn’t understand last night why I was grieving for a man I’d never met, the founder of a company that now rivals ExxonMobil as the world’s largest. Without meeting him, Steve Jobs had a profound impact on my life. I credit him (and Bill Gates) for sparking my interest in technology… for making me what I am today.

    The first computer I ever used was an Apple II when I was in kindergarden. Later, I learned how to do amazing things on some of the first Macintosh systems. I used to skip recess to go down to the elementary school library so that I could learn on devices that he helped create. And while my family can attest to later holding Apple and their products in contempt through much of the mid-90s, while pounding the drum of Microsoft, I later came back to the “distortion field” as Steve brought real innovation back to the industry.

    The Apple II, the Macintosh, Pixar (who doesn’t love Toy Story), iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes. Disruptions to the status-quo. Disruptions that are all because of the leadership and creative mind of Steve Jobs. I don’t remember much about what computers were like before the Apple II or the Mac, but I know what movies were like before Pixar. I know what buying music was like before iTunes and the iPod. I know what phones were like before the iPhone, and I love my iPad. I wouldn’t want to go back to a world before the things Steve created, existed. Even if you’re a hardened Android fan, you have to remember what smartphones were like before the iPhone and thank Apple and Steve Jobs for setting a new trend. Even if you’re a Microsoft fanatic, you have to thank him for keeping Bill on his toes for all those years, and forcing each other to continue to innovate.

    In my article last week, prior to the announcement of the iPhone 4S, I said this:

    I still maintain that Steve Jobs will be present at the announcement, even after his recent retirement as Apple CEO. I think he will be there to hand it off to Tim Cook in some way, or perhaps participate in some FaceTime chat to highlight a new iOS 5 feature. At the very least, his presence will be felt.

    There was an empty chair, in the front row of the hall, with a cloth wrapped around it marked Reserved. That was no doubt a chair for Steve, one he wouldn’t be in because of what we all now know. I think Apple knew this was coming soon, and probably played the announcement a bit low-key as to not attempt to overshadow what could have probably happened any day. That said, I have no doubt that Steve wanted to see one last keynote, one last product launch, before he passed on. His presence was felt. His presence will continue to be felt with every future Apple product.

    At 56, Steve Jobs did more than most people do in 90 years. He was the original Apple genius, a master showman, and the original tech virtuoso. He will be missed.

    Wednesday October 5, 2011
  • AT&T Fun

    I’ve had AT&T’s U-verse service since October 2009, the day we moved into our house. At it’s heart, it’s really a fantastic service offering… IPTV, whole home DVR, advanced DSL, all wrapped up into a nice package. But for the last 6 months I’ve been struggling with a lot of different issues ranging from broken DVRs, freezing TV signal to Internet connections that go away at random. While the issues have not been persistent enough to track down an exact cause, they’ve been frustrating.

    The other day, after watching Face Off on HBO (for the first time, I know) and getting right to the climax of the movie, the whole TV signal froze and wouldn’t come back. It was 1AM and my wife was already sleeping, so I muted by frustration and went to be deciding to look into alternatives the next day.

    Monday, I called up the two traditional cable providers in the area looking for pricing. Then, I hit Twitter with my plan:

    Thinking of dumping AT&T U-verse for Surewest, anyone in KC area have any experience with them?

    I actually didn’t get any responses from Surewest customers. What I did get was a little more surprising.

    1. A reply from Ron, a Surewest social media manager saying hi. Fairly standard stuff. (see here)
    2. A reply from an AT&T social media manager, asking for my phone number. This was a little more interesting. (see here)

    I decided to DM my number to the AT&T manager, figuring what could it hurt? A little while later I get a call from a Jessica. She asks me what my issues are, and then vows to take care of them if I can wait a couple days while she follows up on them. I said sure, halfway thinking nothing was going to come from it.

    Today I get a call from Diane in the “office of the President” of AT&T. Diane has obviously been talking to Jessica, knows what my issues are, and asks if I’ll stay on the line while they get one of their engineers on the line. Right before Diane hands me off to him (I neglected to write down his name) she gives me her direct phone number to contact her to follow up, and then the engineer runs some tests to see whats going on with my service. He schedules a tech to come up the same day and tonight that tech comes out and tests every line and piece of their equipment in my house.

    Rick the technician ends up re-terminating some connections, and replacing my “Residential Gateway” (modem/router) with a model that within seconds proves it’s light years ahead of the previous version. We have a nice chat about networking, technology, etc. He leaves.

    Where is this all going?

    I’m consistently amazed with the level of customer service that a monolithic company like AT&T manages to provide for U-verse. Truth be told, this is not my first positive experience with them. Every time I’ve called their technical support for any type of issue, either with my setup or family who has the service, the people have always been friendly and helpful. They’re well trained, and for the most part seem to know what they’re talking about. Granted, they could invest in some better equipment, but I have yet to have an experience with one of their employees that put a bad taste in my mouth.

    The fact that one of America’s largest corporations is monitoring their Twitter feed and pro-actively trying to correct issues that customers have, is really pretty awesome.

    Customer service in America, on the whole, has gone to crap in the last 10 years. Ironically, it’s companies like AT&T with their advanced networks that can put an army of poorly trained and poorly paid people in call centers all around the world, that corporate America have used to reduce their bottom line. But thankfully AT&T themselves don’t seem to be following the trend they’ve helped create.

    I need to call Diane back tomorrow and thank her. Now, hopefully the service will be stable enough that I don’ t need to even call for support again. If not, I know who to talk to.

    Tuesday April 26, 2011
  • Phone Stress

    The boys who cried wolf (AKA The Wall Street Journal, et al) are all indicating that Tuesday will be the announcement of the long awaited iPhone 4 on Verizon. I hope they’re finally right.

    Not because I’m going to switch, no, I’m actually pretty satisfied with my AT&T service, having been a customer for a long while before the launch of the first iPhone. I’ll just be glad when the noise makers and complainers can have another option. I hope that Verizon’s network works better for them than AT&T (although I kinda also hope it’s just as bad) so that they’ll shut up. I also look forward to another network getting some of the load so that my service will be even more reliable than it already is.

    I can’t be alone in this thinking, if AT&T’s network is so god damn horrible across the entire country as the people in San Fransisco and New York make it out to be, no one would use it. Fact is, myself and millions of other subscribers made the choice to use it long before the iPhone. I even used to live down the street from the world headquarters of Sprint, and still used AT&T because I got better service.

    I’m not discounting that there are people with horrible AT&T service. I’ve been places where that is the case, I know people who have this problem on a regular basis. It sucks, but chances are no has one forced you to use an iPhone this whole time.

    I’ll also be glad when this golden phone finally does arrive, so we can stop obsessing about it. The phone will come out, AT&T’s subscriber numbers will slightly decrease, Verizon will see an increase, Apple’s profits will go up. The sun will still rise in the east and set in the west. Choice is good, but the tech world needs to stop treating this like we’re awaiting the second coming of Christ, and treat this like what it is, like what happens all around the world with the iPhone on multiple carriers. The same phone, on another network.

    Saturday January 8, 2011