Monthly Archives: October 2011

Jamie Farr in Joplin – 2008

In 2008, Jamie Farr (Klinger from M*A*S*H) visited Joplin, Missouri for the annual St. John’s Reginal Heath Fair, held on the campus of Missouri Southern State University.  He spoke of his life and career and was very entertaining.  I attende the event and recoreded the event on my cell phone.  I have edited the audio and it is the best I can get it.  I apoligize for the low quality, but it is worth th listen.  It is about 90 minutes long.  Click the link to be directed to the file:

Jamie Farr

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Reminder: Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs” to be Released Tomorrow

Tomorrow marks the release of Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs.  The book is constructed from a set of over 40 interviews conducted with Jobs and over 100 interviews of Jobs’ friends, family and rivals.  Reviews have already been published and the book has received good marks.  I will review the book sometime this week.

In the meantime, Isaacson appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes tonight and included were several clips from the interviews conducted with Jobs.  In the video there is mention of a extras online.  You can watch Steve’s Family Album and the 60 Minutes Overtime on CBS’s site.  I was able to embed the actual story (in two parts) from 60 Minutes.  Here are those videos:

Part 1:

Part 2:

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Course Reviews: Fall 2011

I realized that I never wrote about my courses for this semester, so I will do that now.  The semester is now half over and I am counting down until Christmas break!  Instead of writing a separate post for each course, I will give a brief description of each course in this post.  You can find my book list post, HERE.

HIST 590

Gender in Latin America meets twice a week with a mix of grad students and undergrads.  As with all 500 level courses, we have a separate 4th hour meeting with the professor to discuss our addition work/readings.  For this course, however, we have a 4th hour, but no additional readings.  Our only additional work is a reading review each week.  The course has 15 books, but we do are not reading one per week as you might expect.  We are reading in chronological and generally read chapters from 3-4 books per week.  Overall, it is not a bad course and it fulfills my requirement of an out-of-concentration course.  The course is taught by Dr. William C. Van Norman.

HIST 600

The Seminar in Early American history changes from year-to-year depending on who teaches it.  This year the course is taught by Dr. David Dillard and focuses on his area, Southern history.  The reading list for this course is pretty short, but the course layout is very different.  The course is broken up into three blocks of three-week segments.  The first week, the whole class reads the same book.  The second week we break apart and read different books from the historiography.  Finally, the third week we discover how the history of the period is viewed by the public via museum, movies, television, etc.  It is a unique course design and I really like it as it allows me to incorporate a little of my Public History training.

HIST 700 

My thesis research is going well and I have been working toward my thesis since early this year.  Over the summer I did a great deal of secondary reading and gathered all my primary sources.  I have moved past the research phase and am now into writing.  My first chapter is due October 24, and I have about 12 pages so far.  My goal is 20.  After writing chapter 1, I will skip to chapter 3 and have it done by Thanksgiving break.  Before I leave for Christmas break, I hope to have Chapters 1 and 3 completed and substantial progress on chapter 2.  The entire project is due the middle of February.

I meet weekly with my thesis advisor, Dr. Christopher Versen, and we discuss what I have read, what I have written, and where the project is going.  The other members of my thesis committee include Dr. Chris Arndt and Dr. John Butt.

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Steve Jobs’ Rolling Stone Cover

Following his death, Steve Jobs has been featured on the cover of almost every imaginable magazine…Time, Fortune, Newsweek, even The New Yorker.  None of this would have mattered to Steve, however.  He had been on the cover of most of those magazines before.  This week though, Steve graces the cover of Rolling Stone.  The articles written by Jeff Goodell and Chrisann Brennan are well written and Goodell provides insight into the Steve he knew.

The real story is the fact that Steve made the cover of the Rolling Stone!  Every musicians dream is to be on the cover, just ask Dr. Hook.  But Steve was not a musician.  He changed the music industry and loved the publication.  Of all the magazines that have placed him on the cover over the past two weeks, the Rolling Stone is one that he would have been most proud of.  After all, his idols the Beetles and Bob Dylan have both appeared on the cover, and now they are now immortalized together, bound by the cover of the Rolling Stone.

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Who is Laurene Powell Jobs?

Following the death of Steve Jobs, many have began to wonder who he really was.  He was an extremely private person and the same his true for his wife, Laurene Powell.  Powell met Steve in 1990 when he was giving a speech on the campus of Stanford University.  She was working on her MBA, and he was a guest lecturer in one of her classes.  They exchanged phone numbers and were married a year later.  Steve and Laurene have three children together ranging in age from 14 to 20.

When the official biography of Steve Jobs is published next week, it is certain we will learn a great deal about him and his life.  But we are not likely to learn a great deal about Powell.  Although she is a very private person, she is a very active philanthropist as well.  I was surprised to learn of her activism.  She is the co-founder of an organization called College Track, which helps under privileged children get through college.  Powell is also a member of the board for: Teach for America, New Schools Venture Fund, Stand for Children, New America Foundation, and Conservation International.  In addition, she was selected by President Barack Obama to serve on the White House Council for Community Solutions.

It is clear that Powell is a very active person and I hope that she continues, and expands, her activism following the death of her husband.  Her work is extremely important and has gone largely unnoticed.  I think we will learn this about Steve Jobs as well, but Powell has an opportunity now to expand her philanthropy.  Apple has not had the best reputation for charity work, but Tim Cook has already begun to change that by announcing that Apple will match all employee donations to any charity, up to $50,000 per year.  Let’s help Powell continue to make difference by supporting the organizations.  You can do so by clicking on their name above.

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iPhone 4S Review

It turns out we did not get our fabled iPhone 5, but we did get a new device from Apple last week, the iPhone 4S.  As usual, I received my device on day one and am prepared to review it.

Design

The iPhone 4 had an impressive design with glass and on the front and back and a stainless steel band holding everything in, and the iPhone 4S maintains that design.  The 3.5 inch retina display remains as well.  Again, those hoping for the iPhone 5 might be disappointed, but the 4S looks great, especially in white.

Hardware

What is new with the 4S is the internals.  Apple’s dual core A5 chip (from the iPad 2) is paired with 512MB of RAM.  Apple claims the A5 will improve performance by up to 2X for daily tasks and up to 7X for graphic rich games.  The iPhone 4S is quicker at launch apps, loading apps, and just about everything else.

Another major change internally is the antenna.  There was a lot of controversy surrounding the iPhone 4’s antenna.  So much that Apple provided free cases to iPhone 4 customers experiencing a drop in network connectivity.  Apple has supposedly fixed this issue by allowing the phone to switch seamlessly between two antennas built into the phone.  So far, tests have indicted this system has worked.

Camera 

Apple is very proud of the fact that the iPhone 4 is the most popular camera on Flickr and they have upgraded the camera for the 4S. The sensor is increased from 5MP to 8MP, but the real story is in the CMOS sensor from Sony.  The backlit sensor allows in more light making the images crisper in low-light situations.  In addition, Apple has added an additional lens into the design allowing for more accurate color depiction.  All these features, along with the new  f/2.4 aperture (improved from the old phone’s f/2.8) make for a great camera.

In addition, the camera now takes 1080p video and, paired with iOS 5, includes many new built in photo editing options.

iOS 5

The latest release of iOS improves greatly on what Apple has already created, and addresses many of the concerns put forth by those in the tech world.  The creation of Notification Center is certainly one of the greatest features in iOS 5.  Notification Center is similar to that on an Android device and makes it easy to keep track of everything you missed.

Other features such as: iMessage, Newsstand, Reminders, Twitter integration, and mail improvement are just a few of the over 200 new features in iOS 5.  Perhaps one of the greatest new features is the fact that Apple has made their devices truly wireless.  It is not longer necessary to sync your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to iTunes for backups and updates.  Syncing can be done over WiFi and the OS is now updated over-the-air via delta updates.

Overall, iOS 5 is a very solid OS.  There were some download issues when it was released last week (my iPhone 4 was bricked for a few hours), but that was largely due to the amount of traffic on Apple’s servers.  It has been reported that 1/3 of all iOS devices are now running iOS 5.  It hasn’t even been out a week yet!

iCloud

A major new feature of iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion is iCloud.  iCloud allows the user to wirelessly sync photos, calendars, contacts, bookmarks, documents, books, mail, and iTunes between all your Apple devices without the need to sync.  It is all done automatically and it works very well.  For example, I downloaded an iBook yesterday to my iPad, it automatically downloaded it to iTunes and to my iPhone.  I also added an appointment to my calendar on my iPhone and it automatically added it to my calendars on my iPad and MacBook Pro.  As Steve Jobs said in June, it just works.

All these features are also accessible from iCloud.com if you are not on an iCloud enabled device.  Users can also signup for a free .me email address if they choose.  Perhaps the most amazing part of iCloud is the price, FREE.  iCloud is free to all iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion users.  I believe this is going to start a trend in the tech world as cloud services become more and more popular.

Siri 

Perhaps the greatest, and most fun, feature of the iPhone 4S is Siri.  I am sure you have seen all the articles about Siri’s attitude and snappy remarks, but she really is helpful.  She can send email and texts, set reminders and appointments, make phone calls, play music, search the web, and just about anything else you might need.  She does so, as she says, humbly.  Siri is remarkably smooth for a beta and there are few times that she misunderstands.

Yes, Siri is fun to ask off the wall questions, but she is very useful and I think will only get better with time. I believe that Apple will eventually share Siri’s APIs with developers and we will see voice integration with 3rd party apps and that will truly make Siri the master of everything.

Impressions 

I have to admit that at first I was a little disappointed by the announcement of the iPhone 4S on October 4, but after using it for a few days, you begin to realize that Apple still has the complete package.  Having used Android phones, most recently the Samsung Galaxy S II, there appears to be an inherent cheapness to the feeling of the chassis of many phones.  The iPhone 4S, like the iPhone 4, feels very strong and durable, despite being made from glass.  The other issue with many phones is the disconnect between the hardware and software, but with Apple, both are made by the same people to ensure they work together seamlessly.  The iPhone 4S is a strong smartphone with great overall features, but other devices, such as the Motorola Droid RAZR, are thinner and have larger displays.  Apple is on par with the current market, after all, Apple did sell 4 million over the weekend, but a major redesign in 2012 will be required if they do not want to fall behind the crowd.

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The Problem with Apple’s Newsstand

Apple’s iOS 5 is full of great new features (features I will review in full detail in my review of the iPhone 4S) and one of my favorite was supposed to be Newsstand.  I say “supposed to be” because there is one major flaw in Newsstand.  It is not the fact that it is nearly impossible to put Newsstand into a folder, but it is the price of subscription to some of the publications.  The idea of selling media digitally is to cut down on the costs of printing and postage.  One would think, therefore, that digital editions of magazines and newspapers would be cheaper than their paper counterparts, and some are.  For example, The New York Times can be delivered to your iPad for $20 per month.  That is a $10 savings per month over home delivery costs.  Autoweek’s digital subscription only costs $4.99 for a year subscription, half off a print subscription.  National Geographic charges $19.99 for the Newsstand subscription, the same as print.  Charing the same amount is fine, but some magazines have really gotten it backwards.  Motor Trend is a great example of a poorly conceived pricing structure.  If I subscribed to Motor Trend by mail, I only pay $10.  However, if I want to get it digitally on my iPad it is $19.99.  WHY???  The iPad edition is more interactive and includes videos, yes, but I can get the same videos from their website for FREE. Why should I pay more for a magazine that it not generating the costs of printing and postage?  Motor Trend is not the only magazine doing this, here are a few other examples:

-Popular Mechanics: $12 by mail, $19.99 on iPad

-Esquire: $8 by mail, $19.99 on iPad

-Golf Magazine: $10 by mail, $19.99 on iPad

-Reader’s Digest: $10 by mail, $14.99 on iPad

-Vanity Fair: $19.99 by mail, $19.99 on iPad

-The New Yorker: $59.99 by mail, $59.99 on iPad

Publishers need to realize that in order for a digital distribution system to work, they are going to need an aggressive pricing strategy.  Charging twice as much for digital over print is ridiculous.  I understand that this is new to many publishers and they are working on pricing, design, etc, but I feel that over time prices will come down.  I do not mind paying for content, but I do mind being screwed.

*I have emailed Motor Trend with my concern and will update this post if they reply, but I doubt they will.

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