Steve Jobs Plays FDR in Apple’s Rally-the-Troops Film, 1944

Shortly after Apple aired its famous Ridley Scott Super Bowl commercial in 1984, the upstart company knocked off a cheap World War II-themed internal video -- a rally-the-troops film -- dubbed 1944.  The cause is freedom and the mission, to save the world from bad computing. The enemy isn't the Axis (Germany, Japan, Italy.) It's IBM and its "big blue mono-blob." And the commander in chief? It's Steve Jobs, of course, channeling F.D.R. at roughly the 5:30 mark (find the isolated cameo below).

To be sure, there's an historical quality to this film. It offers a visual reminder of how Apple positioned itself against IBM before Microsoft came along. (Walter Isaacson drives home that point in his recent biography of Steve Jobs, which you can download from Audible if you sign up for a free trial.) But there's also something more timeless about the film. It just goes to show that every company, no matter how much they think different, can revel in the same corporate gimmicks -- the schwag, the fawning inside jokes and the rest. Poof, there goes my chance to work at Apple one day.

via Apple Insider

Van Gogh to Rothko in 30 Seconds

What if you took great works of art, stacked them side by side, and had them tell a story? You'd have a decidedly artful video ... and a great teaser for the new artCircles iPad app that brings you collections of images curated by well-known figures including Yves Behar (named one of the "World's 7 Most Important People in Design") and John Maeda (president of Rhode Island School of Design). The app is free on iTunes, and if you pick up the new iPad with retina display, you can see where the device really excels. Or at least that was my experience when I gave it a spin.

And while we're on the topic, here's another free app worth checking out: "The Life of Art." Produced by the Getty Museum in LA, the "Life of Art" gives users a chance to understand how objects end up in a museum in the first place. Photography, animations, video, and 360 degree rotations narrate the artistic lives of these objects. Find the app here. H/T Kottke

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Apple Releases Free iTunesU App & Enhanced University Courses (Plus Textbooks)

Analysts expect Apple to sell 48 million iPads this year, with new hardware and software driving the sales. iPad3 is right around the corner, and today Apple unveiled (watch here) a new initiative that will bring textbooks to the iPad/iPhone platform. Download the latest version of the iBooks app and you can now purchase textbooks (typically for about $14.99) that feature enhanced materials such as 3-D models, searchable text, photo galleries and flash cards for studying. (To see it all in action, download a section of E.O Wilson's Life on Earth textbook here.) And if you're a teacher, Apple will provide you software - iBooks Author -- that will let you make your own interactive textbooks. Of course, all of this presupposes that students (or cash-starved schools) can swing the price of an iPad ($499 at minimum) and that teachers want to oblige students to work within Apple's closed ecosystem.

Then came another piece of news. Apple has released a new iTunesU app that lets students access enhanced university courses ... for free. Once you download the app, you can select courses that combine audio/video lectures with supporting materials: books and articles (sometimes free, sometimes not), transcripts of lectures, exercises, slideshows, useful software and beyond. Some courses preloaded in the free app include:

American Revolution - Joanne Freeman, Yale
Colonial and Revolutionary America – Jack Rakove, Stanford
Core Concepts in Chemistry -  Stephen L. Craig, Duke
iPad and iPhone App Development - Paul Hegarty, Stanford

These courses now appear in our collection of 400 Free Online Courses, which aggregates free courses available on iTunes, YouTube, and the web.

The Zen of Steve Jobs: A New Graphic Novel

Walter Isaacson's new biography of Steve Jobs (click image below to get a free audio copy) covers a lot of ground in 571 pages. By design, it's broad and comprehensive, but it doesn't always go deep. One facet of Steve Jobs' life that doesn't get much coverage here was his relationship with Kobun Chino Otogawa (1938-2002), a Buddhist priest who taught Jobs the way of Zen and shared his passion for art and design. The two became close -- close enough that Kobun presided over the Steve Jobs-Laurene Powell wedding in 1991. This relationship receives a fuller treatment in The Zen of Steve Jobs, a new 80-page graphic novel that uses stripped down dialogue and bold calligraphic panels to tell this story. The book was authored by Forbes writer Caleb Melby, and the artwork provided by the creative agency JESS3. The video above gives you a good introduction to the imaginative work. h/t BoingBoing

1 FREE Audiobook RISK-FREE from Audible

Download The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine as a Free, Interactive eBook

A year ago, Apple began selling The Beatles' catalogue of music on iTunes. Now, twelve months and many millions of downloads later, Apple is giving away The Beatle's Yellow Submarine as a free ebook.

It's not just any ebook. Based on the 1968 film, this ebook features animated illustrations, 14 video clips from the original film, audio functionality that magically turns the book into an audio book, and various interactive elements. You can "read" the book (download it here) on any iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Our apologies in advance if you use other devices.

The Yellow Submarine will be added to our collection of Free eBooks, which features 250 classics, including texts by Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Joyce, Nabokov, Austen, Nietzsche and others. Also don't miss our equally large collection of Free Audio Books.

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Create iPhone/iPad Apps in iOS 5 with Free Stanford Course

Back in 2009, Stanford University started recording lectures given in its iPhone Application Development course and then placing them on iTunes, making them free for anyone to view. The course hit a million downloads in a matter of weeks, and now, two years later, here's where we stand. The course remains the most popular item on Stanford's iTunesU site, having clocked in 10 million downloads. And the school has released a new version of the course that focuses on iOS 5, the latest version of the iPhone/iPad operating system. You can download the course on iTunes (in HD video or standard-definition video) and start creating apps on your own.

The iPhone Application Development course is now listed in the Computer Science section of our big collection of Free Online Courses. There you will find 40+ free courses that will teach you to code....

via Stanford News

Steve Jobs Muses on What’s Wrong with American Education, 1995

In late October, Computerworld unearthed a lengthy interview with Steve Jobs originally recorded back in 1995, when Jobs was at NeXT Computer, and still two years away from his triumphant return to Apple. Filmed as part of an oral history project, the wide-ranging interview begins with Jobs' childhood and his early school days, and it all sets the stage for Jobs to muse on the state of public education in America. He began:

I'd like the people teaching my kids to be good enough that they could get a job at the company I work for, making a hundred thousand dollars a year. Why should they work at a school for thirty-five to forty thousand dollars if they could get a job here at a hundred thousand dollars a year? Is that an intelligence test? The problem there of course is the unions. The unions are the worst thing that ever happened to education because it's not a meritocracy. It turns into a bureaucracy, which is exactly what has happened. The teachers can't teach and administrators run the place and nobody can be fired. It's terrible.

Asked what changes he would make, Jobs continued:

I've been a very strong believer in that what we need to do in education is to go to the full voucher system. I know this isn't what the interview was supposed to be about but it is what I care about a great deal.... The problem that we have in this country is that [parents] went away. [They] stopped paying attention to their schools, for the most part. What happened was that mothers started working and they didn't have time to spend at PTA meetings and watching their kids' school. Schools became much more institutionalized and parents spent less and less and less time involved in their kids' education. What happens when a customer goes away and a monopoly gets control ... is that the service level almost always goes down.

And so the answer. Vouchers, entrepreneurship and market competition:

I've suggested as an example, if you go to Stanford Business School, they have a public policy track; they could start a school administrator track. You could get a bunch of people coming out of college tying up with someone out of the business school, they could be starting their own school. You could have twenty-five year old students out of college, very idealistic, full of energy instead of starting a Silicon Valley company, they'd start a school. I believe that they would do far better than any of our public schools would. The third thing you'd see is I believe, is the quality of schools again, just in a competitive marketplace, start to rise. Some of the schools would go broke. A lot of the public schools would go broke. There's no question about it. It would be rather painful for the first several years.... The biggest complaint of course is that schools would pick off all the good kids and all the bad kids would be left to wallow together in either a private school or remnants of a public school system. To me that's like saying "Well, all the car manufacturers are going to make BMWs and Mercedes and nobody's going to make a ten thousand dollar car." I think the most hotly competitive market right now is the ten thousand dollar car area. You've got all the Japanese playing in it. You've got General Motors who spent five million dollars subsidizing Saturn to compete in that market. You've got Ford which has just introduced two new cars in that market. You've got Chrysler with the Neon....

The full transcript appears here. Or, if you want to watch the interview on video, you can jump to Computerworld, where, rather lamely, you will need to register before watching the actual talk. Bad job by Computerworld.

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