Steve Jobs and "KISS"
Many of you have heard me rail about my little grandson’s predilection for fiddling with my ham radio equipment, so let me pick on someone else in the family now! My mom called the other day…seems that Comcast had re-wired the TV cable system in her condo once again. (They can’t seem to agree on a method, so one tech comes in and undoes what the other had done.) Well, her TV still didn’t work! So what to do? Call in her ham radio trained son to stop by. I have seen this problem before – too many stupid remote control devices! She’s got one for the VCR, and one for the TV and one from Comcast and they all don’t play nice together. Sure, Comcast’s device allows you to control most of your equipment…but it means you have to have your TV set to the proper channel first. Took me about three minutes to solve her problem, but it really got me wondering what the future will be like when I am 82 years old. What crazy array of cobbled technology will I have to face and what friendly person will come in and show me how to turn my TV set on? The more complex things get, the most complex things get!
Which brings me to one of the books I have been reading lately. Steve Jobs’ biography. This book has been fascinating. First, it is amazing that he earned nearly $250 million by the time he was 25 years old! That’s enough right there to give you pause. I never really paid that much attention to the inner workings of Apple or Microsoft so it has been interesting to see how closely Bill Gates and Steve Jobs worked together on many things. What struck me most interesting though, is how much a role ham radio played in his life in the early days. Steve was not a ham, but he made friends with many people who were hams, and who had parts that he could borrow or purchase to build some of their early devices. Electronics, computers in the early 70’s was a very exciting time – it was the intersection of a new emerging field of computing with the ever evolving field of electronics. Steve and his buddy Wozniak were tinkerers. They enjoyed combining things in different ways that became the foundation for the company they would eventually start. The brilliance of Steve Jobs, perhaps wasn’t his engineering skills but his ability to see through the clutter to find a way to make technology simple. To make it work for the common man.
Steve left us all too soon. I wish Steve were still around to help us improve the TV controller mess…well, actually, we have put ourselves in the middle of bunch of really big technological messes. Phones are too complex – and hardly even work like phones any more, in fact, they are more like cameras than phones. Sometimes it is good to step outside the box and look around to see if there is a better way to get things done. Schools don’t teach that skill directly…but some people have a knack for seeing the world in a different light. I think it is interesting that Steve Jobs never finished college…but took many courses that appear really off the wall - art, eastern philosophy, typography – all of which played a huge role in helping define the products that Apple would one day make. So before you coach your kids or grand kids about taking “practical” courses in college – think about Steve Jobs. Take a bite out of that apple!
Meanwhile, the bands are heating up – 10, 15, 20 meters are all humming again. Time to put the soldering iron down and hit the mic button or the CW key! See you on the bands.