It didn’t come as a total surprise, but hearing the news of Steve Jobs passing away was still heartbreaking and very, very sad.  On one hand, it’s a huge loss to have such an influential visionary leave us at an early age, but on a more personal level, it was sad to lose someone who, despite me never having met, has impacted my life in so many ways. Steve’s ideas and inventions have provided me tools and inspiration to express myself creatively, embark on new journeys I was once afraid of exploring, and share those experiences with numerous strangers, acquaintances, friends, and family.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

Creatively, I pursued my interest in filmmaking and videography using Apple products, learning how to explore ideas, discover possibilities, and ultimately create an experience using the moving picture. Going from iPhoto to Aperture to the iPhone, I developed an interest in photography, using the craft to strengthen my skills as a filmmaker, ultimately choosing to share all of this via a web site and photoblog. While Apple products were by no means the only way to have accomplished all this, the ecosystem, community, and most importantly, user experience that Steve’s company offered, could not have been matched by anything else.

It is the user experience, and the mystique Steve liked to create around it, that impacted me professionally as a software engineer and manager. Years ago, that Apple “experience” and philosophy Steve often espoused offered me a newfound appreciation for the design and usability of the products my team creates, respect for the team of usability specialists I get to work with, and a heightened sensitivity for how others experience the things we create.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.” – Steve Jobs

And finally, there is Steve’s impact on my family. From converting a few family members over to a Mac, using Steve’s “iProducts” to teach my kids how to spell, read, take pictures, or play checkers, to incorporating a round of Angry Birds in bed as part of their “going to sleep” routine, the iPhone and the iPad have become ubiquitous in my family’s lives.

Perhaps the moment that best embodies all of these experiences for me, is one where I watched my 1 year old son, struggling to hold the iPad in his little hands, tapping the screen roughly, attempting to imitate the gentle swipe he’d seen me do many times, sometimes managing to express some semblance of a swiping gesture, and other times slapping the screen with his palm, either out of frustration or shear playfulness.

I watched him go through this every evening for a few days, until the one day when, out of pure happenstance, he managed to swipe the screen just enough to trigger that familiar “swish” the world has come to know. The screen illuminated his face brightly, revealing a whole new world for him to discover. His eyes widened, and a smile only a parent can truly appreciate, fell upon his face.

As Steve would say, it was magical…rest in peace Steve.

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