jOBS (2013)

IMDB plot:

The story of Steve Jobs’ ascension from college dropout into one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century.

Historical (accurate or not) spoilers here.

After a very interesting movie, an ok biography and whatever else they can throw to make more money of his name, jOBS is yet another take on the co-founder of Apple Computers.

Just to be clear here: I read the biography and watched the old movie (both links listed above) and I’ll draw some references from both to explain this all. So… yeah, triple spoilers event!

First of all, this movie is the one the paints Jobs more ruthless than any other thing I saw/read. In “Pirates of the Silicon Valley”, Jobs is portrayed as a fun guy who only mistake was to leave a daughter behind — someone who, later, he made peace. In his auto-biography, he’s a genius who left a daughter behind, lost the company he created but, ultimately, got back into the company, made emends with his daughter and, ultimately, made the company profitable again. In this movie, Jobs is a quirky guy, who left his daughter behind, pushed his employees to the brink of madness, drove out his only true friend, saw enemies everywhere, lost his company, got back into the company and decided to take revenge on everyone he saw as being part of making him leave in the first place.

So… yeah, this is not the “Jobs was a genius” kinda of movie. Maybe it is the more accurate one, maybe it makes him more dark for the sake of getting more points for showing a different facet (or maybe it’s Hollywood tendency of making everything “darker” these days leaking over a biography). Who knows?

Thing is, Jobs is shown as a dark personality here. And you know, when he talks in that calm tone he used to show in his previous WWDCs? Well, it’s there, but the way Kutcher makes the same movements and talk in the same pace and with the same volume… it sounds much more like a cold, vengeful person than a patronizing, friendly person.

Speaking of which, Kutcher kills on those two aspects: voice and movement. When he talks, you hear Jobs; when he moves, you see Jobs movements (at least, from the presentations he did). The looks… well, not so much. But yeah, I can’t point the good job doing Jobs Kutcher did.

I can give this 6 out of 10 IBM PCs.

Of Jobs, rms and Ritchie

Last two weeks were a complete train-wreck for people in IT: First, Steve Jobs died on October 5. I thought I should write something to “enlighten” some people saying things like “Oh, he did some gadgets, so what?” But, when I was waiting for the dust to settle, rms came with an statement that inflamed a lot of people, including some asking “What this Stallman wrote, after all?” Le sigh. And, again waiting for the dust to settle, another lost: Dennis Ritchie died a week after Jobs. And no press really cared.

But let’s close those points:

First, we have Steve Jobs. Yeah, he was a capitalist who commanded one huge company who did care about creating devices where under their total control.

But, at the same time, he was the helmsman of a company that disrupted everything other companies were doing. In IT, we have the expression of “disruptive technology”, which are things created the shake the market completely. Linux is such thing. And Apple products are other. Tablets changed and got accepted when Apple launched the iPad, even if the idea of such devices predates the device by a long time. Smartphones weren’t really smart till Apple launched the iPhone; MP3 players only became a mass market thing after the iPod; and suddenly we have a whole new wave of ultra-thin notebooks coming around after the MacBook Air.

Apple did hold control of everything they did, yes. But you can’t deny how disruptive the company was for the IT market.

But there is one thing that tops it all: HTML5. When HTML5 was just a thing coming out of draft, Jobs was the voice saying “Kill Flash, ’cause HTML5 is the future”. Sure, he had his motives (the fact that his company hold part of the video standard was one of those), but HTML5 became a big thing when Apple started pushing it. Or would you prefer Adobe position of, for example, saying that “Linux is hard, so no acceleration there” instead of Mozilla position of “We recognize there is a problem with accelerated WebGL/Canvas on Linux, but we are willing to work with developers to improve this situation”?

And then Richard Stallman, also known as “rms” (yes, lower case), came with some… erm… “rude” words about Steve Jobs. And then people came with “And what have this Stallman done? Nothing.”

Well, dear sirs, Stallman is the helmsman of the Free Software Foundation and the creator of the GNU project. The very first thing rms created was the Emacs editor, which influenced the readline library, which influenced, for example, the OS X shortcuts. Oh, and his second project was a compiler called “gcc”, which was the only compiler on XCode till version 3 (version 4 also uses LLVM, but that’s a completely different beast). And what’s XCode? It’s the official application for creating iOS applications. Oh yeah, ladies and gentlemen, part of the success of Apple can be be attributed to the guy that dissed Jobs days after his death.

Not only that, but gcc was the official compiler for NeXTSTEP, the operating system that Jobs started after being fired from Apple. And hey, guess what? NeXTSTEP is the reason Apple bought NeXT and, as Jobs said himself, “was the base of the renaissance of Apple”. Would NeXTSTEP be such interesting operating system for Apple if they had to take the time to design their own compiler?

And, after you brush off the politics of rms message… Can you point anything wrong with it? Isn’t Apple the company that pushed a completely controlled environment? Isn’t that the completely opposite vision of what rms have for software?

And then, on October 12th, Dennis Ritchie died. Ritchie was the co-creator of Unix operating system and the C language.

“Whateves” is what those attacking rms and saying “meh” to Jobs are probably thinking now. Unix is the power behind OS X today (with the Mach kernel) and its main developing language is Objective C, which is C with some added features (Wikipedia page lists it as “adds Smalltalk-style messaging to the C programming language).

Not only that, but rms idea with the GNU project was to create a completely open source Unix — which later was achieved with the help of the Linux kernel — including a C compiler (the gcc I mentioned before).

If Apple went long, it’s because it stood in the shoulders of giants like rms. If rms managed to fulfill his dream of an open source operating system, it’s because he stood in the shoulders of giants like Dennis Ritchie.

WALL-E (2008)

IMDB plot:

In the distant future, a small waste collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

Hey, a Pixar movie! Let’s watch it!

So, looks like WALL-E is the darkest Pixar movie so far. Why? ‘Cause it shows a completely barren, empty Earth where the only inhabitants are the cleaning robot of the title and a cockroach. Still is a kids movie ’cause the cockroach is cute and the robot have big eyes to make it look like a kid.

One of the things that impressed me was how much emotion Pixar manage to put in the robots, using just eyes. Later, when I saw the extras, the director mentioned that they were specifically playing with a binocular and that was used to build WALL-E. All magic broken ’cause you think “Hey, that’s one interesting thing they did by accident” and then they say it was on purpose. Oh well…

Also, this is probably one of the Pixar movies with less lines of all. Most of the action happens between WALL-E and EVE, and they basically don’t talk. They can say each other names, a few words and that’s it. Most beeps and computer generated sounds, some directly from the OS X voice-to-speech synthesizer. Well, since Steve Jobs owns most of Disney, Pixar and Apple, there are a lot of references to OS X/Mac products in the movie.

People mentioned that there is a strong political message in it. In a way, yes: The Earth is dead, the human population is now living in a spaceship with robots doing all the hard work so they don’t do any kind of exercise (not even walking) and so attached to communication devices they don’t see that the person they are talking is sitting just right next to them or look at the stars.

Such laziness is just broken when a small robot that doesn’t belong there start doing things they don’t expect. Then, suddenly, they realize their ways.

Although there is a message there, I think it fails to deliver it. Call the medium for it, but… it just don’t work. There is no transition state: They are lazy, then they are not. It’s weird, it lacks the “getting a conscience” part of the experience.