A Young Steve Jobs Teaches a Class at MIT (1992)

Asking whether there will ever be another Steve Jobs seems to me like asking whether there’ll ever be another Muhammad Ali. While there may be little comparison between their respective domains, both unique individuals mastered their chosen pursuits, fought like hell to keep their titles, and “thought different” than everyone around them. Also Jobs, like Ali, didn’t hesitate to speak his mind, as in the clip above, in which he declares Microsoft’s Windows “the worst development environment that’s ever been invented.” It ain’t politic, but it’s maybe… kinda true? I don’t know…

My opinions on the matter aren’t worth much—I wouldn’t know the backend of an operating system from the backend of a tractor-trailer. But Jobs didn’t attain tech guru status just for the sleekness and simplicity of Apple’s designs, but for his keen insights into the refinement of consumer computing technology and his ability to convey them with the unpretentious directness of a black turtleneck and dad jeans. The clips here are of a young-ish Jobs teaching at MIT circa 1992, when he was 37 and running his company NeXT, founded in 1985 after he was originally forced out of Apple.

He stayed plenty busy during his Apple interregnum, helping to launch a little computer graphics division that would become Pixar and developing the technology and designs that revolutionized Apple when it bought NeXT in 1997—and when Jobs retook his empire through proprietary ruthlessness.




Here, five years away from that fateful event, we see him explaining his philosophy of innovation to students who may or may not have foreseen the breakthroughs to come. Just above, he describes how “you can use the concept of technology of windows opening, and then eventually closing,” referring not, this time, to Bill Gates’ hated OS.

Rather, Jobs talks of a situation in which “enough technology, usually from fairly diverse places, comes together, and makes something that’s a quantum leap forward possible.” One of Jobs’ many leaps forward in consumer technology might reasonably be summed up in one word: portability, as in, the ability to carry an entire library of music or a cell phone/music player/personal computer in your pocket.  Just above, he discusses “the enemy of portability,” namely such market demands as processing speed, storage space, and high-speed networking. And in the clip below, he talks about a subject near and dear to every tech executive's heart—poaching talent from competitors such as, well, Microsoft.

The uniform of turtleneck tucked into jeans, the deliberate pacing back and forth, the expressive hand gestures and genuine comfort and confidence in front of a crowd: all of the mannerisms we remember from those hotly anticipated launch events are there in a shaggier form.

Through the various applications of his technological acumen, Jobs remained always himself. The “next Steve Jobs,” or rather those aspiring to his level of relevance should take note—he did it by insisting on doing it his way.

See several more clips of Jobs at MIT at the YouTube playlist here.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Apple’s Hypercard Software, the Innovative 1980s Precursor to Hypertext, Now Made Available by Archive.org

Archive.org is on a bit of a roll lately. After recently making available 25,000+ digitized 78rpm records from the early 20th century, they've turned around and put online Apple Hypercard software. When Hypercard was released in 1987, The New York Times published an article entitled "Apple to Introduce Unusual Software," which began:

Apple Computer Inc. will introduce an unusual database and management information program Tuesday that the company hopes will help it maintain its lead in technology for making computers easy to use.

The new software, known as Hypercard, will enable users of Apple's Macintosh computers to organize information on computerized file cards that can be linked to other file cards in intricate ways. The program will be included for no charge with each Macintosh sold, starting this month.

Hypercard made its appearance precisely when Apple also released "a communications device, known as a modem, that will enable the Macintosh to send documents to and from facsimile machines." Some of us still use modems today. Hypercard, not so much. At least not directly.

As Hypercard's creator Bill Atkinson indicates above, Hypercard started working with the hypertext concept that's now prevalent on the web today. Think those links you find in HTML. On Archive.org, you can find and play with Hypercard software, or what they call emulated Hypercard stacks. (They also host a library of emulated software for the early Macintosh computer). Read more about Archive.org's Hypercard project on their blog here.

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Director Michel Gondry Makes a Charming Film on His iPhone, Proving That We Could Be Making Movies, Not Taking Selfies

What's director Michel Gondry up to these days? Apparently, trying to show that you can do smart things--like make serious movies--with that smartphone in your pocket. The director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the Noam Chomsky animated documentary Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? has just released "Détour," a short film shot purely on his iPhone 7 Plus. Subtitled in English, "Détour" runs about 12 minutes and follows "the adventures of a small tricycle as it sets off along French roads in search of its young owner." Watch it, then ask yourself, was this really not made with a traditional camera? And then ask yourself, what's my excuse for not getting out there and making movies?

According to Europe 1, the film took about two weeks to make, during which Gondry used the video software Filmic Pro, which costs $14.99 in Apple's app store.

"Détour" will be added to our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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Steve Reich is Calling: A Minimalist Ringtone for the iPhone

What if minimalist composer Steve Reich got his hands on the iPhone's familiar Marimba ringtone? That's what the website Steve Reich is Calling imagines. Here's how Jason Kottke describes the basic concept:

[Reich's] 1967 piece Piano Phase featured a pair of pianists repetitively performing the same piece at two slightly different tempos, forming a continually evolving musical round. Seth Kranzler took this idea and made a Reich-like piece with two iPhones ringing at slightly different tempos.

From what I can tell, there's not actually an official way to download the ringtone and make it your own--though it does appear that there are, indeed, ways to convert Youtube videos into ringtones. (Note: we haven't tested these methods, so proceed cautiously.)

For anyone interested in taking a deeper dive--a much deeper dive--into Reich's musical world, please see this post in our archive: Hear Steve Reich’s Minimalist Compositions in a 28-Hour Playlist: A Journey Through His Influential Recordings.

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Looking for free, professionally-read audio books from Audible.com? Here’s a great, no-strings-attached deal. If you start a 30 day free trial with Audible.com, you can download two free audio books of your choice. Get more details on the offer here.

via Kottke

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Stanford University Launches Free Course on Developing Apps with iOS 10

Whenever Apple releases a new version of iOS, Stanford University eventually releases a course telling you how to develop apps in that environment. iOS 10 came out last fall, and now the iOS 10 app development course is getting rolled out this quarter. It's free online, of course, on iTunes.

You can now find "Developing iOS Apps with Swift" housed in our collection of Free Computer Science Courses, which currently features 117 courses in total, including some basic Harvard courses that will teach you how to code in 12 weeks.

As always, courses from other disciplines can be found on our larger list, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Watch an Epic, 4-Hour Video Essay on the Making & Mythology of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks

If you’re like me, every little bit of information doled out for the upcoming third season of Twin Peaks is like a series of clues found along a dark path through the Ghostwood National Forest. We’ve seen brief views of some major characters. We’ve heard Angelo Badalamenti confirm he’s back to score the series. We picked up and speed read the Mark Frost-written Secret History. We know that it will be 18 hours of pure David Lynch and Mark Frost, and that whatever it may do, it won’t go all wonky and not-so-good like the terrible trough in the middle of Season Two. And now we have a date for the premiere: May 21.

So it’s not time to brew coffee, or put a cherry pie in the oven, just yet. Instead, it’s time to bone up on the series itself and ask ourselves, is Twin Peaks a failed series that needs to be rectified? Or if Lynch and Frost had never agreed to revisit their iconic work, would we still have a cohesive work?




Video essayist Joel Bocko says yes, and has made what is probably the definitive and most thorough analysis of the series out there on the web.

I first stumbled across Journey Through Twin Peaks one night, and thinking that it was only one short video essay I started watching. My mistake: episode one was only the first in a 28-chapter series that totaled over four hours, arranged in four parts. And, yes, I sat and watched the whole damn thing.

Bocko is good, real good. This is not uncritical fan worship. This is a man, like many of us, who fell in love with the transcendent heights of the show and suffered through its miserable lows, but, through that misery, figured out what made the show such a game-changer.

One important thing Bocko does is give Mark Frost his due. Usually hidden behind the art and the mythos of Lynch, Frost brought much to the show, from the detective procedural framework to themes of the occult and Theosophy. Bocko shows how Lynch came out of the Twin Peaks experience with a completely different and much more complex idea of character. Before Peaks, Lynch’s work saw good and evil existing not just on opposite sides of the spectrum, but as different characters. (Think of Blue Velvet.) In the films he makes afterwards, doppelgangers, fugue states, and self-negation, along with the spiritual confusion that come with it, are central to Lynch’s work.

But that’s just one of the many insights waiting for you in this rewarding analytical work, which also takes in Fire Walk With Me and Mulholland Dr. through to Inland Empire. Suffice it to say, it’s full of spoilers, so proceed with caution.

On the other hand, if you don’t have time before the premiere, you can always watch the first season in under a minute here.

via Welcome to Twin Peaks

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Maya Angelou Reads Her Poem, “The Human Family,” in New iPhone Ad Released for the Olympics’ Opening Ceremony

It’s always demoralizing when a favorite song---Iggy Pop’s "Lust for Life" or the Rolling Stones’ "Brown Sugar" come to mind---is co-opted to sell soda or Caribbean cruises.

Poetry, however? I’m not ungrateful to have some smuggled into my day by a commercial carrier whose agenda is somehow less suspect. Would that we lived in a world where the poetry of Ted Hughes or Emily Dickinson might be seen as having the power to sell viewers on a particular brand of pizza or automobile.

It almost seems we do, given the response to "The Human Family,” a new Apple spot showcasing the iPhone’s camera capabilities with a slideshow of portraits submitted by users the world round. The images---already captivating---are made more so by the unmistakeable voice of the late Maya Angelou, whose poem, "The Human Family,” supplies both title and inspiration.

It’s very stirring, as befits an ad debuting during the Olympics' opening ceremony. (I weep that the Super Bowl failed to make the Dr. Angelou commercial parodies of yore a reality.)

The one-minute spot shaves a bit off the poem, but perhaps it is okay to leave a bit behind as a reward for viewers moved to look it up on their own.

The complete text is here. Below, find a non-Apple-sponsored video that matches the same narration to a slideshow featuring the author at various stages of life. The reading will be added to our collection, 900 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free.

via Adweek

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Her latest script, Fawnbook, is available in a digital edition from Indie Theater Now.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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