Keep Two Thoughts

Personal essays

Not for me - Essay from Newsletter 56

There’s nothing wrong with most things we complain about - they’re just not for us


Probably twenty years ago I went down to Cleveland’s West Side Market with a friend of mine to pick up some produce.

In those days there were a couple of really good vegetable stands and a fruit stand I really liked.

As we approached one of the stands a vendor held out a tray with pieces of a tomato he’d just cut up.

I tasted one and, as he expected, stopped to buy some.

He held the tray out to my friend and she shook her head and said, “ewww, tomatoes are gross.”

I was so taken aback that I remember it clearly to this day.

No Thanks

Maggie hates mushrooms.

I try not to cook them when she’s home. There are so many things I can cook that I try to make the things she likes.

But we were somewhere and they served something with mushrooms.

I don’t think the hosts even noticed that she didn’t take any of it.

She didn’t make a fuss, she just quietly passed on it.

My friend could have said, “no thank you.”

She could even have said, “no thank you, I don’t care for tomatoes.”

But she said, “ewww, tomatoes are gross.”

Not everything has to be for you.

April Event

Anyway, I was thinking about that as I watched today’s Apple Event.

I love Apple events - or at least I used to.

From my Twitter feed it seems as though a lot of people loved the event and are on their way out to buy many things.

That’s when I suddenly felt old like the old rocker who wore his hair too long and his trouser cuffs too tight.

I suppose quoting an old Jethro Tull song from the 70’s settles whether I’m too old to rock and roll.

This isn’t an “if Steve was alive they’d never” post. My objection was that the event didn’t feel like Tim’s Apple.

Tim is the soft-spoken empathetic leader who cares about my privacy, my health, and that I’m getting the most out of life. I’m ok that he thinks the way for me to do this is to buy Apple products and immerse myself in Apple’s ecosystem. That’s both his job and something that he seems to believe.

But today’s event didn’t seem to care about me at all.

Blinky Tags

I partnered with some folks at Apple when I wrote two editions of the companion book for the Stanford iOS course taught by Paul Hegerty.

Most were exceptional and Paul was generous with his time and feedback.

But there was one senior person who was the boss of the person who brought me in to work on the project. My contact was great - but his boss wasn’t. His boss wanted to meet with me and so we met for coffee in the once busy atrium at Apple’s Infinite Loop 1.

We chatted briefly about the project and about people we knew in common.But then he took out a manilla envelope to show me something top secret and cool. The book would be available from Apple’s Book store but the course would be in this new store - but that wasn’t the cool part.

“Look”, he said, and he showed me a mockup.

Now before I tell you what he showed me, I have to remind you that back in those days, Apple was big on skeumorphism. Since books belonged on bookshelves, the Apple Book Store displayed books as if they were resting on wooden shelves.

This new store would also have wooden shelves, “but,” this senior person told me unable to contain himself, “it’s a different type of wood. Look at the grain.”

New Toys

That’s what today’s event felt like to me.

It’s like when we first used desktop publishing (talking like an old person again) and all of a sudden we had access to all of these fonts and so we used them all. We produced brochures with a ton of fonts and colors - because we could.

We were web designers using blinky tags every where drawing your attention to everything.

We have a guy at our local CocoaHeads that whenever he presents he puts extreme transitions between his slides. There’s always a transition from some small point to another where he uses a flame transition so that the current slide catches on fire and gives way to the next slide.

But he knows he’s doing it. And he’s doing it as a joke. Others do it in their presentations and refer to it as a “Scott transition”.

As I continue to prepare for my never-to-launch video series I’ve been looking carefully at past presentations by folks I admire to see what sorts of transitions they use.

Most Apple slide presentations use no transitions. They go on to the next point and our mind fills in the fade.

Transitions are distracting and can be annoying.

But in the Apple Events in the past year we’ve seen drone transitions that fly us across Apple Park from one presenter to another accompanied by transitional music.

For live events transitions were one speaker walking on stage as they were introduced with a title slide, taking the clicker, and thanking the previous speaker. They would then look at us and speak to us.

The drone transition doesn’t bring us into the event more, it reminds us that we’re watching remotely. It takes us out of it.


But there are so many people in my Twitter feed who liked the video of diving into the couch to find something - maybe I just don’t get it.

Or maybe it’s not for me.

Seeing Tim breaking in to an Apple Lab wearing a disguise to steal a chip from one Apple device and put it in another was a mini movie.

But, for me - and maybe only for me, Apple Events were enough of an immersion into the future and the possibilities. These vignettes took me out of the event.

I loved seeing the person in charge of a product showing it to us by actually working with it. Not some pre-produced video.

I loved getting to know some of the product owners and seeing them show me what is new - this event had so many characters I couldn’t keep track.

I like a slow paced event that I watch with friends either in the same room or connected online. Apple shows something and we start speculating. We are diving into the details deeper than that dude who dove into the couch.

The drones, the videos, the pace, the lack of real people touching real products, …

There’s nothing wrong with any of it.

It’s just not for me.

Essay from Dim Sum Thinking Newsletter 56. Read the rest of the Newsletter or subscribe

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