Steve Jobs. The Movie. A review


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“The thing that struck me was his intensity. Whatever he was interested in he would generally carry to an irrational extreme.” Jobs had honed his trick of using stares and silences to master other people. ” One of his numbers was to stare at the person he was talking to. He would stare into their fucking eyeballs, ask some question, and would want a response without the other person averting their eyes.”

So said Walter Isaacson of Steve Jobs in his breathtaking biography.

This, frankly scary, aspect of Steve Jobs’ personality is heavily sugar-coated in Danny Boyle’s excellent biopic and your requirement for absolute accuracy of detail could be the undoing of it for you, because you could drive a coach and horses through many of the structural, and representational, aspects of the film.

Boyle presents Jobs in an extremely positive light and this is surely not to satisfy his Estate as Isaacson’s Biog has already ripped him to pieces in personality terms.  Kate Winslet’s role as Joanna Hoffman, his right hand woman, seems hugely overblown compared to her real influence but she is a vital plot device.

There are three of these.  His relationship with Hoffman (Winslett in yet another Oscar nominatable performance); his relationship with the mother of his daughter (and, by association, his daughter Lisa) and the three product launch performances (legendary though they are you never actually see them – The Macintosh, The Next Computer and the iMac).

Central to all of this is the underpinning and highly challenged relationship with his daughter Lisa whom we see grow from a wide eyed four year old to a somewhat embittered Freshman.  Jobs comes out of this reasonably well as Danny Boyle positions his ex, Chrisann Brennan, as a needy, somewhat whingeing, gold-digger.  It’s highly debatable as to whether this is an accurate reflection of her.  But it gives Fassbender (as Jobs) the ammunition to riff off and gradually respect the needs of his daughter whom he reluctantly builds an affection for.

Steve Wosniak is played dead straight (and very well) by Seth Rogen and one of his stand up battles with Jobs, as he tries to get him to acknowledge the vital importance of the work of the engineers who build the business saving Apple II, is a pretty fundamental exposition of Jobs’ cantankerous, unforgiving, deeply focussed drive for perfection in the future; not the past.  It’s electrifying.

This movie is low on action; instead we get two hours of fast-paced, intimate dialogue in typically brilliant Aaron Sorkin style that will surely reap for him a further Oscar.

What’s odd is that the movie picks quite a short (15 year) window in Jobs’ career (mostly its downside).  I can’t help thinking the project overall might have better suited to an 8 hour TV serial broadening its scope to the full Monty of his life and career, in all of its ups and downs.  But, no matter, Danny Boyle has shown that when he focusses on smaller detailed character pieces his output is at its best, and this, unquestionably, is a career high sitting alongside, Sunshine, The Beach and Shallow Grave in my opinion.

Once again how can I find words to describe the quality and range of Michael Fassbender’s prodigious output?  Surely this will break his Oscars duck because despite some of the film’s weaknesses they are not down to him.  A compelling and sympathetic performance that is entirely engaging.

I’ll leave the last word for Daniel Pemberton’s beautiful and understated soundtrack.  It’s reminiscent in many places of Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose’s brilliant Social Network score.

A solid 8/10.

Why Apple is still one of the world’s greatest companies.


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No one likes technical problems with their kit and in my case when I installed Yosemite onto my iMac it had a pretty devastating effect on my iPhoto libraries, resulting in much duplication and completely trashing my libraries.  My go-to man for tech help was stumped, so I called Apple’s support team.

I got through in under a minute and after stumping Apple’s regular guy I was put through to his superior – an incredible lady called Jennifer Convery who, it turns out, is based in the Newcastle Upon Tyne office.  She’d never come across this problem either, but by a process of elimination we (well, I say we, it was she) were able to crack the problem, completely rebuild my iPhoto library from scratch (nearly 400GB of pictures) and get everything up and running smoothly.

It took the best part of 24 hours and involved four calls (she called me back, not the other way around) but she held my hand throughout the process and the result is that we are back to an iPhoto library that is even better than the one I had before the problem occurred.

Once we’d agreed all was good she said.  “You know what Mark, Apple has caused you a lot of grief over this.  Do you ever use the Apple Store?” to which the answer was, “Occasionally.”

“OK, well as a token of goodwill why don’t you go and choose £70 (or thereabout) of Apple products from the store, email me what you want, and I’ll sort it out for you.”

This was not asked for.

I wasn’t ranting and raving.

It was just a genuine customer service offer that will go a long way to underpin my already excellent opinion of Apple.

Truly outstanding and I hope Jennifer Convery’s boss sees this.

O2.  Are you reading this?

Oh dear Apple Macintosh. You’ve changed.


Where once you sold the brand on emotion and an innate understanding of how the Mac unlocked creativity, like this…

…you now do it like this….

What a load of pompous PC-like tosh.

“This is what a pioneer looks like.”  she says smugly.

“The only way I could do this was with a  mac.” says Moby.

“All artists are like this.  You give us a new paintbox we go crazy.”  (Whereas mac users used to just BE crazy.)

“Truly worldwide democratisation of creativity.”  

Oh please.  How many macs per head will you find in these countries?

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The world has lost its technological axis


Steve Jobs died today.

I am gutted. I’m actually in tears.

I love, really love, that man, even if he was hard to work for.

I never worked for him; merely admired him above, pretty much, anyone else on earth.

Three things to remember him by…

This from apple

This from Apple.

And this; one of the greatest ads ever and what he was all about…

This ad makes me cry and you know what Apple need to make a tribute ad to him about him.

 

what’s your view on apple’s service? Let me share my latest experience.



I honestly can’t work this one out. But, before I start, I’d give Apple a victory in extra time.

So, here’s the story.

I bought, with excitement, the new Apple TV in October last year.

In fact, I pre-ordered it online. But a week after release it was still on order. No sign of delivery any time soon.

No worries, I was in Glasgow and popped into the Apple store one day,

“Got an Apple TV?” I asked wistfully.

“Actually, yes, 10 arrived about an hour ago, you’re in luck.”

Cautiously I advised that I had an online order, unfulfilled,

“Don’t worry sir you can cancel it.” (I think, in retrospect they could and should have done that on my behalf instore.)

I went home to cancel , only to find it had been despatched, when it arrived I had to take it back to the Apple store, unopened, for a refund.

It was refunded. Without a great deal of grief, although unbeknown to me they took back the shop sale, meaning the receipt I had was for the online product.

So, moving on. I now have a shiny new Apple TV.

But, every time I tried to demonstrate the wonder of this amazing invention to my pals it took, like, at least an hour to load my computer library.

I never actually used it, not once, because it’s, frankly, crap if you have a big music or photo library on your mac.

I have both.

Two days ago I gave up, phoned the Apple store and asked if I could take it back for a refund.

“yes” the manager said, I could. For cash.

So I did.

Today.

Thereafter ensued a bit of a trauma. It took over half an hour for me to establish that the return had been approved by the manager, for cash.

At first the sales assistant disbelievingly went to check with the manager and came back to say I could get a gift voucher to the value of the product.

“No, sorry.” I said.

Cash, my cash, had been spent on the product, and as, in my view, Apple TV is not fit for purpose I demanded it back.

He crumbled and relented (for me that suggests that the manager had gone for an initial fob off on the gift vouchers).

Thereafter, many, many attempts (and many, many staff) were involved in disentangling the fact that my receipt was for a purchase from the Apple Store online at the same price as the Apple Store on terra firma.

In the end the deed was done.

I was, ultimately satisfied.

So, what does this say about Apple?

Actually, in my view, a lot of positive things.

Despite the shambolic process they honoured an agreement to replace a four month old technology purchase without any real gripes. They accepted that the customer’s view of the efficacy of the product may be wildly wrong, but he is actually the customer.

They, reluctantly, and with great difficulty, crossed distribution channels, albeit the same price, product and firm. But they did.

Overall, I feel good about the Apple attitude, but the experience was pretty rank.