Archive for ipod

STEVE JOBS By Walter Isaacson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Fans of Steve Jobs are likely to find much of this book uncompromising and possibly offensive, in its no-holds-barred look at the visionary behind Apple.

Despite Jobs’ obvious skills it appears he founded Apple on the back of the other Steve’s (Wosniak) invention of the Apple computer. Sure, Jobs had a hand in the design, and his powerful personality brought the commercial success of this and many later products, but he wasn’t the brain behind it, more the brain behind the brain.

Indeed as you read further Jobs becomes the powerhouse, the businessman and CEO of Pixar and again of Apple and his unrelenting determination to drive his staff to produce the best possible products is what makes Apple great.

The book follows Jobs rise and fall at Apple, his ten years in the wasteland of NEXT and the beginnings of Pixar. It doesn’t give much insight into how he developed his businesses, and it’s quite harsh on Jobs’ uncompromising nature. A nature that, when he was brought back to Apple and eventually took over, helped to create the world’s largest company (by market cap, positions have changed once again since the book was published).

Jobs comes off as a man of contradictions, a Buddhist interested in products, a foul-smelling, mean and uncompromising brat. A man who either loved or hated you, thought you were a genius or an idiot, and had little patience. A salesman, a visionary with the ability to see what people want before they know what it is they want. A control freak determined to perfect every single detail.

But his fierce determination to control everything is what lost him the company he built, it’s also what brought us products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Jobs’ successful return to Apple is where the book excel, although I would have liked even more detail. I remember the advertising campaigns from the 1984 one through to those of the dancing silhouette for the iPod and the new iPad adverts, I remember Adobe refusing to write software for the Macs and the original iMac which revolutionised PC design.

Jobs might not have been a particularly nice man, and from the book it doesn’t seem he mellowed much, despite his bouts of cancer and near death experiences, but he was an intelligent man who creates masterpieces of simplicity and genius design that makes Apple one of the most profitable, and now largest, computer manufacturers in the world. Jobs will be pleased that his legacy in Apple is a strong company, but where will they go without their glorious leader? Only time will time. Sadly for Steve, and for us, his time ended too soon.

Credit Crunch: A Survivor’s Guide – Debt: The Enemy

Posted in Life..., Personal Finance, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Most of us have some form of debt.

If you don’t think debt it bad then think about this: the whole entire world went into recession in 2008/9, the main cause of this was debt. Too many people owed too much money and couldn’t afford to pay it back. Debt is always, and will forever be, the enemy.

The list below is not comprehensive, but it gives you an idea of the vileness of the debt. Each one is another layer further into the rings of hell. We start off with the cheapest form of debt, only two of which can be considered acceptable. After that you’re on the rocky road to hell!

Student Loans – From the Student Loans Company or a similar body. The rates on these are based on the rate of inflation, so they cost very little. Unfortunately you are limited by the amount you can borrow per year and you have to be a studying full-time. You don’t have to pay these back until you have a certain monthly income, rather than having to start paying it back as soon as you finish your studies.

Mortgage – Likely to be the largest amount of debt you will ever have (hopefully!). Although it may actually cost you £300,000 to pay off a £150,000 house, mortgages are generally the cheapest form of debt available. But, by overpaying your mortgage you can save thousands. By changing your lender and getting the best deals you can save hundreds of pounds a month, which you can use to pay it off faster, hence saving you several years of debt.

Unsecured Loans – Loan agreements vary, depending on the length of time, the amount you want and the lender. 7-15% is normal for a high-street leader. You can get them for home improvements or buying a new car. Also popular is consolidating credit-card debt.

Credit Card – Get back hellbeast! With rates of 18 to 35% normal, you could be paying off an iPod for 20 years if you only pay the minimum payment. Credit cards are basically a way for banks and merchants to lull you into a false sense of security, and slowly and methodically rob you of all your hard-earned wages.

There is only one reason to use a credit card, and there is only one sensible way to deal with the debt: pay it all off every month. Use a card that has added benefits, such as cash back or airmiles, or BA miles, but always always always pay off the credit card balance every month.

If you already have credit card debt (and don’t worry, it happens to us all) this is the biggest obstacle to have to deal with, and you do that by transferring your balance to 0% interest card for the length of the 0% period and trying to pay off as much as possible, and then moving the balance again once the period is up, preferably to another 0% on balances card and continuing to pay it off. If it’s too large for you to ever be able to pay it off in 18 to 24 months then it would be worth looking at an unsecured loan.

Storecards – The actual devil! I kid you not! Rates for storecards have come down a little in recent times, but 20 to 50% is not unheard of. Some of them do nice introductory offers, which might be worth looking in to, but read the fine print and know what you are signing up for. It could well be your soul you’re signing away! The storecard is the ultimate enemy!

You have to try to work your way out of the debt. The way to do this is to work your way out of the hole. The less you pay to service the debt (overdraft fees, interest, etc), the better off you are.

Try to never get into debt. Having debt means your money is not your own. If you’ve budgeted and you have £400.00 left and you have a load of credit-card bills then that £400.00 won’t last long. Most of what you will be paying back will be interest, which just means you’ll be paying nearly the same amount next month and the month after and the month after that! Don’t fall into the debt trap, and if you do, try to escape as soon as possible.

If you have debt what you are basically doing it throwing your money at your bank manager, or credit card company, or loan company. Throwing it, picking up big piles of cash and throwing it away.

Don’t do it, it’s wrong.

Audio books

Posted in Life..., Reviews, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2009 by stanleyriiks

If Stephen King tells you to do something you do it. And Stephen King told me to read a lot, well in his book On Writing he says if you want to be a writer you have to read a lot, and I want to be a writer. Every day I slog to work and back, every day I am abused and mistreated, every day I read: I want to be a writer.

So I bought a few audio books off Ebay, thought I’d catch up on some classics, so H. G. Wells and Jules Verne to start off my collection.

I listened to The Invisible Man and was impressed. The cheap CD I got from Ebay was basically a collection of downloaded audio books from Librivox. I visited the website and found there were loads of books waiting for me to listen to, so obviously I’ve filled up my ipod with Dante’s The Divine Comedy.

Audio books take a bit of getting used to, it takes a little more concentration than listening to 30 Seconds to Mars and Papa Roach. But once you get your head in gear it’s off you go.

Librivox hasn’t got everything available, but it is free. Amazon do a range and so does Apple at their download store, I bet your local bookshop does too.

Think I might download Justineby de Sade next!

Reading had never been so easy!

Reading and Writing

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2009 by stanleyriiks

I finished reading Stephen Fry’s The Hippopotamus last week, and thought I’d raid my bookshelves for something different and came up with Shaun Hutson’s Deadhead. You can’t get more of a contrast, and I’ve been a fan of Huston since the beginning, so I read that one this week too. (Review coming soon!) For those of you who don’t know, The Hippopotamus is a middle-class comedy set in Norfolk, and Deadhead is a brutally realistic urban horror novel

Now I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing, another old hardback from my ancient collection that’s been gathering dust for years. King says he reads between 60-70 books a year. Like King, I’m a fairly slow reader, and I doubt I’ve ever managed 60-70! At the moment I’m on a pretty good run and I’ve read about four books in three weeks and should finish On Writing tomorrow or Monday, which puts it at four days, which I think is pretty good. Of course, King is counting audio books. I’ve never read an audio book, haven’t listened to one either. Fry would be excellent, he does the Harry Potter books, but I’ve read all of those.

A quick check on ebay and I’ve bought a collection of Clive Barker books, unabridged as King suggests, an Edgar Rice Burroughs collection and H. G .Wells, and some classics. When they arrive I’ll download them to my ipod and listen to them instead of 30 Seconds to Mars.

On Writing is good. King doesn’t like adverbs or the passive voice, so I’m trying not to use those. He also doesn’t plot. Which does explain some of his novels. I am a fan of Stephen King, when he’s on form he’s one of the best, Different Seasons is amazing. But the last book of his I read was Rose Madder, one he says he did plot. That was utter pants. On Writing is much better, and it helps to read books about writing every now and then, it’s like driving, after we pass the test we learn lots of bad habits. It’s the same with writing but without the test. I will try to put his advice to the test and hopefully will wind up with his success.

Wrote the Hutson review (needs to be edited), an article on Scream Queens which was really hard work, and a flash zombie story which was fun. Nose to the grindstone!