The Spark

Yesterday, I taught my dad how to copy and paste. Not Ctrl C, Ctrl V copy paste, but the simple ability to copy a bit of text from somewhere, and transfer it somewhere else, which is something we all take for granted.

We’re currently changing energy providers, and as part of the switchover, my dad was e-mailed a link to a snazzy portal where he can log in and check his new bills from New Energy Provider PLC. The problem started when my dad had to take a reference number from the e-mail sent to him, and transfer it to aforementioned snazzy portal.

Fumble fumble, ruffle ruffle, went the clutter on my desk as my dad searched for a piece of paper and a pen. Considering how messy I can be, this was no small feat. I soon realised what dad was up to, and looked up from my book to see what the tumult was about. When I enquired as to what was going on, he asked me if I had a piece of paper where he could jot something down; something which he had in his e-mail, and which he wanted to put somewhere else.

I sat up, and got my dad to dig out the e-mail with the number he was searching for. Highlight the text you want to move, right click, then left click ‘Copy’. After then getting him to switch tabs (again, no small feat) to his portal login, I instructed him to right click inside the box where he wanted the text moved, then right click, then left click ‘Paste’.

That was when I saw it. Dad sat back, and his eyes widened, as his brain registered what he’d just achieved. “This is wonderful stuff,” he said. That was all he had to say.

My parents are quite a bit older than the parents of most other people my age. They’re not tremendously computer literate, which I think is partly why I developed something of an aptitude for computers and other systems/machines, after I was given a computer at the age of 11. I didn’t have anyone to show me how to use it, so I just had to figure it out myself. Still, ignoring all of that, just to see someone’s face light up like that was very humbling, especially a parent. Whoever you are, chances are your parents kicked considerable amounts of arse to provide you with what you have today. I know mine did.

Even as I write this now, I find it somewhat startling the number of things we take for granted, daily. Things that people weren’t able to do ten, or twenty years ago, or things that weren’t even possible thirty years ago. Things like moving a bit of text from one document on a computer, to another. It’s so easy to get lost in it all, and realise that for some, the world can be an expansive, confusing, and sometimes scary place. Then again, it must be wonderful to have so much yet to discover, and to feel that feeling of doing something you’ve never done before. I feel it less and less as I get older, but for older generations, it must be the other way around, surely?

Simple pleasures.


There will never be another

The world has lost one of its best.

It was almost as if I was in some strange parallel universe, when I saw a shot of Steve Jobs appear on my TV this morning. I was just about to leave for work, but I stayed. I saw the caption and I could not believe it. It was almost as if the news was trying to dupe us; it was having us on.

I froze on the spot, and watched the short report that followed. It just all seemed so unreal.

Steve Jobs will be sorely missed. As I walked in to work, I passed the office manager, and we made small talk while the news droned on from a TV in the background. I looked at the TV, then asked him, “Have you heard?” I was mildly offended when he seemed nonplussed. Why? Because Steve Jobs changed the world, I told him.

Aside from the revolutionary technology that Mr Jobs and Apple created, he was a character. He was a self-confessed square peg in a round hole, and watching him every year, defying convention and normality with every product launch, he gave courage to those of us who have ever felt alienated for believing in something new; something real. Steve Jobs was a role model for all of us who have ever stood up and said, or wanted to say, “This is the world, and this is how I see it.”

In his iPad review, Stephen Fry concluded that its best feature is that it is a joy to use. It’s a product that despite all of the complex techno-wizardry contained within, still manages to bring joy to its users for just using it. Of course, there were many criticisms of the iPad when it launched. There were those who said there was no place in the market for it, and there were those who complained it was flimsy and underpowered for what it presented itself as. Still, the iPad seems to have done quite well for itself, and carved out its own niche in the market, inspiring a slew of other tablets from a number of manufacturers. What remains, is that Steve was there first. He was the one who said, “Hey, let’s try it this way,” and while we were hesitant at first, we got it. We understood, and it was beautiful.

Steve Jobs represented to us what it means to think outside of the box. It’s difficult to think that he’ll no longer be around, pushing boundaries, kicking ass, and taking names. He was the first great who made the technology world sit up and listen. While he will not be the last, there will never be another Steve Jobs, and he will be missed greatly.

To end on a somewhat saccharine note (or not), it’s our responsibility now to make sure the spirit of Steve lives on. That no matter how many people tell us we’re crazy, or just plain wrong, or full of bad, unworkable ideas, we will not take no for an answer. We’ll keep kicking at boundaries, and changing things for the better. That’s on us.

Thank you so much, Steve. You will be missed.

In Memoriam - Steve Jobs (by @gapingvoid)

Stay hungry, stay foolish.
Steve Jobs -1955-2011