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back to article MobileMe drove Steve Jobs to foul-mouthed fury

Apple fanbois were shocked to the core today at the news that not only does Steve Jobs swear but that the sainted one actually declared that a Mac product was a pile of steaming crap. Jobs' alleged tendency to rant and rage at his cowering VPs was revealed in a piece by Fortune magazine. The piece itself is subscription only, …

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In other words

he did exactly what a good CEO is expected to do and refused to listen to the usual BS that PHBs and VPs are always prepared to spew to cover things up?

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using profanity and telling employees they should hate each other

definitely what a good CEO should do </sarcasm>

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Good management?

Nope. If the reports are true, he showed himself to be on a level with the average three year old as far as problem-solving is concerned.

Good managers acknowledge that there's a problem, ask what the details are, what the plans are to fix it, how the manager can help (facilitation, resources etc) and what the estimates are of the time the fixes will take given the level of resources agreed upon. Then, on the agreed dates, they check that the fixes have been made.

Rinse and repeat until either the problems are solved or they have real evidence of incompetence. Even then, they never lose their temper. It's childish and usually counter-productive.

The checking of the fixes bit is the thing most managers fall down on: then, when they do find out that things are still not working because it's in the press or something, they throw a tantrum instead of asking themselves how they let things get to such a pitch.

All this sort of behaviour does is to make people afraid to reveal problems until it's too late. It's the kind of childish machismo much loved of 'The Apprentice' and it is simply bad management.

The people he was addressing are unlikely to have got into this mess on purpose. Having got there, Jobs' job is to help them get out of it: not to pout and stamp his feet (if the reports are true and that's what he, metaphorically, did).

I learnt all this from watching a previous boss I was lucky enough to work for. Someone without a paper qualification to his name, which probably stopped him from reaching the level he deserved, and for whom getting the job done right was more important than any fruitless ego trip.

Good on yer, Clive. Wherever you are.

Cheers

Peredur

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Manager?

@Peredur

Steve Jobs isn't a manager, he probably doesn't even manage his own PA

The rant was required to let the VPs and PHBs know that they were playing with fire.

Rinse and repeat is for low level project managers.

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@ AceRimmer

You don't chew out managers when the subordinates are around and you also treat people as if they are adults.

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@ Peredur: Sony management?!

I'm sure Sony has been using your management suggestions during the PlayStation Network screwup to great success.

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@peredur

Can't quite agree with you there. Whilst his approach may be on the unprofessional side (shouting out in front of everyone) you also cannot go with your offered advice which is akin to the mollycoddling support you'd offer a five year old that is still in very much in the early leaning phase of life. Presumably these people are paid quite high salaries for their perceived competence. That they have shown themselves to not have any by releasing something on a par with an internal beta on behalf of a company that cherishes it's "it just works" mantra (whether true or not) shows foolhardiness in the extreme.

"The people he was addressing are unlikely to have got into this mess on purpose."

Judging by how shit things were I simply cannot agree here unless they are incompetent in the extreme.

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Grenade

Mmmhhh...

Interesting. I think the message is about delivery rather than content. A person at his level should be able to get the message across clearly and succinctly without shouting and bawling. It could be that heads needed to roll, in which case there are better ways to go about it, but sacking people should be the case of last resort and not the first. I would question why Steve, who seems to like to control everything, was not aware of how poor the situation was before it became so bad.

Engendering a climate of fear is not a good way to bring out the best in people. All it does is cause people to spend more time on political machinations in an effort to ensure that the blame can never be left at their door. That does more to stifle creativity than any lack of investment etc.

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How would you like to have treated?

Think of it this way... Suppose it was you that His Holiness had ripped a new one publicly and now you've been castrated in front of your own sub-ordinates, how would you feel? Has your ability to effectively manage your sub-ordinates been damaged? You're damn right it has!

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Anonymous Coward

Is that so bad?

After the failure that was MobileMe at launch what do you think Steve should have done? 10% bonus to everyone and a tap on the back? The stir up got the job done and MobileMe worked fine since then.

Come on guys he isn't even barely Gordon Ramsay material, much less Steve Ballmer. Plus even with his more extreme chair throwing tricks Ballmer still got nothing really working.

And get your facts right, apps are not rejected due to the use of profane language.

Is this linkbait Apple bashing Monday at El Reg or is it because you've reviewed the Motorola Xoom?

Xoom is actually the perfect example of who a product would actually have improved by having SJ style approach, like "Why the fuck doesn't it charge at all via the perfectly fine USB port?" or "What is the SD slot for? So why the fuck is this out in the market already and it's still does nothing?". But apparently is was managed by a bunch of wussies afraid of hurting the engineers' feelings.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes

"Is this linkbait Apple bashing Monday at El Reg"

Yes.

And tomorrow will be linkbait Apple bashing Tuesday at El Reg...

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Grenade

Hold on there...

"Is this linkbait Apple bashing Monday at El Reg"

No more than any other day is for linkbait Apple bashing at El Reg.

Oh. Wait...

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Grenade

USB port and SD slot

The USB spec 2.0 port provides 5 volts and a maximum current draw of 500 mA. The Xoom has a 24 Watt-hour battery that provides "up to" 10 hours of video playback, so doing the math (5V *500mA / (24Wh / 10 hours) = O crap i just fried my computer trying to watch video on my Xoom while charging via USB. The problem doesn't lie with Motorola but with USB. Do you complain that you can't charge your laptop via USB?

P.S.: Does the iPad even have a USB port or SD slot (or HDMI port)? Thought not.

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Xoom

The non-charging via USB is a pain, but one that seems strangely consistent across Android tablets. On the other hand, the fact that it is a standard USB port makes it rather more useful in other ways compared to the USB connectivity of the iPad.

Non-functional SD slot? If you've got the choice of shipping hardware today which is partly disabled due to firmware limitations but which can be fully enabled by the user at a later date, OR shipping hardware today which is partly disabled because you removed the bits of hardware you don't yet have firmware support for and which will require the user to buy a completely new device if they want to add that functionality when its finally released, OR delaying shipment for an indefinite period until everything is working just fine, what do you do? Early adopters of the Xoom might not be able to do anything with the SD slot just yet, but sooner or later they will. iPad owners, on the other hand...

Horses for courses, Apple produce stuff that is, generally, well polished and functional as far as it goes, but which is a bit feature-poor with limited appeal to those of us who don't subscribe to the Steve Jobs view of how consumer electronics gear ought to be used. Meanwhile everyone else produces stuff that is, generally, lacking in the fine attention to detail, but which is also generally more likely to let us use it the way we want to.

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Um, let's see...

The iPad charges just fine over USB, the Xoom's SD slot doesn't actually work, so it's omission from the iPad is somewhat academic and if I feel a burning need to view content from my iPad on my HDTV I can buy a cheap adaptor.

Other than that, your points were perfectly valid.

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@Chris 244

Your maths is a little confusing.

1) A USB port will shut down and throw up a warning if you try to draw too much current. It won't fry.

2) 5v * 500mA = 2.5watts, so a USB port can supply 2.5watts per hour, so it could just about keep up with a XOOM drawing 24Watts over 10 hours.

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Fail?

I know the iPad charges from USB (although given the requirement for a high-power port if you want to do anything with the thing whilst it's charging, I'd hesitate to say it charges "just fine"), but USB isn't just a means of recharging mobile devices or tethering them to a PC, remember...

And the Xoom SD slot does actually work, as users of rooted Xooms have proven, it just isn't enabled in the firmware currently being shipped by Motorola. In contrast, no amount of rooting is going to enable SD support on the iPad, because you can't enable something that's physically missing. This is hardly an academic point, unless you believe that a) Motorola/Google have no intention of ever supporting the SD slot in a future official firmware release AND that b) they have every intention of attempting to block rooted access to the slot in a future official firmware release.

As I said, it's horses for courses - it seems you can get along OK with what the iPad has to offer, but some of us would prefer a tablet that does things differently, or actually does things in the first place.

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@ Steve Evans

Tell that to my co-worker who fried 3 of the 4 USB ports on his laptop but plugging in devices that pull current. You can fry USB ports!

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Wachu talkin about

I'm sure you've done a bit of research, but a 2.5 W supply will not charge a device using 24W. You Don't have Watts/Hour. 24 W seems quite a lot of power for a small device to use anyway. You probably got it nearly right.

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@Chris 244

Chris, the problem is not with USB, it's with the Zoom. USB was never designed as a mechanism to recharge batteries in electrical devices. The original design goal of USB was a data communications interface where low voltages and low currents are needed.

As for your specifying that USB specifies a maximum current of 500mA, I think that's BS. I haven't checked the electrical spec and I'm not going to bother. I think it's BS because they won't specify a maximum current, they will specify a minimum current.

If the designers of USB specify a minimum current then all 3rd party manufacturers designing products to run of USB they know precisely what current is gauranteed to be delivered by the USB connector.

If they specifiy a maximum current, which is what you state, then how can any designer design any product to run off USB and run reliably when they don't know what current will be supplied by the USB connector!

So I think your assertion that USB delivers a maximum of 500mA is wrong.

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USB current limit and extra power

I can confirm that USB ports shut down and generate a software warning if something tries to take too much current. On my PC, anyway.

If you need more than the USB current limit but less than twice as much, you can do what the vendors of some USB disk drives do. Supply a special USB cable with two host connectors, one for power + data and the second for extra power.

In the case of something containing a battery it should always be possible to charge off USB when the device is off, even if it would overload the USB with the device on. If you were really smart you'd have two batteries, with the device running off one while the other charges, with a controller switching the batteries around every few minutes. That way even if the power going out was in excess of the power going in, at least USB wouldn't overload, and you'd extend the runtime, though not to infinity.

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WTF?

IN the interest of professional and unbiased reporting

.. could The Register tell me the date when 'Linkbait Google bashing' will occur?

[Oh, wait, I forgot - Google actually own The Register.]

...

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What are you on about?

Of course the USB specification lists the maximum current a device can draw from each port, it'd be complete BS if they didn't because then you could design something that tries to pull a bazillion amps out of the port and then have grounds to complain that the port isn't meeting its design spec... Also, if the USB spec really did define a minimum current then every USB device would need to sink that current whenever it was plugged in, no matter how little current it actually required to operate.

Designers of USB devices DO know what current is guaranteed to be delivered by the port, because so long as their device doesn't try to exceed the maximum available current from the port then it will deliver exactly as much current as the device needs.

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@TkH11

"So I think your assertion that USB delivers a maximum of 500mA is wrong."

It is not.

I could advise you to go read the actual specs, but it appears you won't be able to interpret it correctly.

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FAIL

Electronics 101 FAIL

2.5 watts of power will charge a 24Watt-HOUR (note the time dimension in the battery capacity spec, which you blatantly missed) just fine; it will take about 14 hours.

Perhaps that's not quite acceptable in today's fast-paced environment, but that's another matter entirely.

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If those ports crapped out

the manufacturer was too cheap to add a port current controller (a standard part which most USB port and hub chips have support for), and either went for a simple fuse, or considered the PCB traces to perform that function.

You might want to inform people*) regarding the manufacturer, so that they can be avoided.

*) the model range I use myself doesn't have such cheapness issues.

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@+++ath0

It doesn't charge via USB because USB specs will not allow enough power into the device.. this is a limitation of the USB spec and not a result of any Motorola screwups.

The SD slot isn't working now but will be fixed with a firmware update.. ok.. its a screwup.. but an official firmware update will soon be in place... now where's that official Apple patch that that will give me flash?

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Jobs Halo

The way it should be.

[...] He will apparently, accept excuses and reasons for screwups from low-level employees. But if you're a VP, you no longer have that luxury.

Well this is what makes a good company, right? Managerial accountability. Not smoke and mirrors.

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Absolutely

that and checking to see if the areal works properly

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Unhappy

Thanks, mate

I Can't spell areal anymore. Maybe that is the right spelling?

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@Pigeon

No, it's not spelled areal. You're probably holding it incorrectly and stopping the correct letters from getting out.

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@PIgeon

No, the right spelling is "Aureole".

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Jobs Horns

apple products

first and most important - steve jobs requires products that do what they are supposed to do.

he can always sacrifice features (look at iphone 1) but available features/functionality/design have to be "perfect".

i'm not surprised, that he was angry, that his company released unfinished product.

(otoh there are apple products, that are not awesome, but they have to be finished according to apple design requirements - e.g. appleTV).

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@hyartep

"he can always sacrifice features (look at iphone 1) but available features/functionality/design have to be "perfect"."

Oh, how I laughed. Like how the iPhone 4 aerial was "perfect".

I remember trialling an iPhone 3GS a friend had purchased because I was seriously thinking about buying one. There was huge inconsistency in which built in apps would support rotating the screen. Given that I found the portrait keyboard unusable (and the landscape one only a fraction better) the inconsistencies were a big issue to me. I suppose that fits your definition of "perfect" as well. The incredibly slow AT&T internet access was a big issue as well (as were the dropped calls on AT&T). Now I know that isn't directly Jobs' fault, but he did decide only to launch on a single carrier in the US, and he did decide to pick the worst carrier. Perhaps that also meets your definition of perfect. I could carry on listing all the plethora of flaws with other Apple products, but it just isn't worth it, fanbois like you will always claim it is perfect.

I know the flaws of my Android phone (and they are many), I also know that it does what I need it to do. I'll happily buy an Apple product when it does all the basic things I need it to do, and is value for money compared to other products that also do all the basic things I need.

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Admirable

As much as I dislike Apple for various reasons it's hard not to applaud that sort of behaviour. VPs get paid a lot of money, when they cock up they should pay the price. Far too often the guys at the top get away with passing the buck.

If investment banks all had Jobsian 'tyrant' at the top perhaps we wouldn't all have got so screwed by their incompetence.

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I agree

Not the world's biggest Apple fan, but I agree that this is the proper way to 'motivate' high-paid execs who are supplying excuses instead of solutions. Nice job, Steve

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Grenade

@ James

You don't call them out in a public/corp event. You yell at them privately... Anything less here in the US and you could be looking at a high dollar lawsuit.

I believe the term I would use is "Hostile Work Environment" and sue for Harassment.

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Here in US?

You do know that Apple is headquartered in the US, right? This was not a public/corp event, it was a meeting with the MobileMe team.

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He then summarily fired a few employees....

Looks as though you made that one up.

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A grain of truth.

Certainly people were replaced (responsibility got handed to Eddie Cue, who runs iTunes) and by all accounts, most of the team who were working on it at the time got disbanded.

I've never read anywhere that anyone actually lost their job over it.

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Happy

That's OK then...

...I'll have to remember to write that in my diary tonight, "El Reg today contained a grain of truth!"

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@Dick Head

The Reg is one of a dwindling minority of tech news sites that doesn't just reprint press releases and occasionally even does a bit of sleuthing. If that's not what you're after then why not just post pseudo-satirical blethers on the comments to an article about Steve Jobs? Oh, hang on...

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Pirate

Mobile Me.... tsk tsk

Have they got it working with Firefox 4 and Safari yet, I always seem to get Invalid cert/can't verify website problems... or maybe it's just me?!?! Oh dear, SJ has obviously got it in for me, or am I just being paranoid?

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Stop

Can we stop that redheaded stepchild crap

Just because English people are scared of celts, doesn't make it ok. It's still racism. Bet you wouldn't say 'black stepchild'.

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Go

he he....

I'm not sure you can claim red hair as a race.

I think you'll find it's discrimination, not racism.

I also think you are wrong on the English being scared of the Celts, but as I'm only one man I can't claim to speak for us all....

Any way, have a nice day just remember the sun screen, don't want you burning now...

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Anonymous Coward

Red headed celts...

My girlfriend's house mate is a red head, and the only thing about her that frightens me is that she insists on leaving half eaten food in her room until it's evolved into a form one step up from a politician.

(about two weeks).

Actually her singing is pretty scary too.

Are these normal traits for Celts?

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Anonymous Coward

So all redheads are Celts, are they?

Like, say Henry VIII or Lizzy I or Prince Harry (I know he is styled "of Wales" but that is because his Dad owns the place, not because he has any Welsh blood) or all those Vikings (hint: the ones titled "The Red") or the Teuton The Red Baron, or that famous Celt lover Oliver Cromwell. Or my favourite Celt: Malcolm X

To name a few.

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What?

James Hewitt owns Wales?!!!

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RE : "English people are scared of celts"

Virtually all of the English have partly Celtic ancestry, so I'm afraid you're talking out of your backside.

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Stop

Oh, please

I can't be arsed with you - troll off.

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