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Scale Modeling Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #058-Stay Young...Stay Foolish
October 15, 2011
October 15, 2011

Stay Young...Stay Foolish

It seems foolish to dedicate the October issue of Scale Modeling Tips and Tools Monthly to Steve Jobs; after all, we are scale modelers and most of us barely use a PC.

Macs are for the younger generation and for the most part, slipped right past us.

And Bang, we’re into the 21st century. How things have changed in the last decade. Even our modeling is beginning to rely more on computers and technology that Steve was more than familiar with despite the fact he had no known scale modeling habits.

What can we possibly learn from this life that ended Oct. 4, 2011 that has any bearing on our lives approaching the shallow end of life’s pool? When the death of one man reaches around the world to someone like a Chinese design student named Jonathan Mak, maybe we ought to look deeper and find something of our own. A recent feature of this newsletter has been a search for Apps relative to scale modeling, but perhaps we ought to consider all software. It eventually ties somehow back to Steve, even if he had no involvement in its development and it won’t even run on a Mac.

The ties are supple, but then again, so are many of life’s lessons.

A very important person in my life took the time to share the following with me and I would like to pass it along to you. It is Steve’s Commencement address to the graduates at Sanford University six years ago.

I recommend it to you and to others you know who are looking for something to hope for.

Incidentally, if you or yours are looking for something that will give you hope for a better future, I highly recommend you take a look.

Apple, Pixar CEO Addresses Sanford Grads

Steve Jobs' Commencement Address to Stanford goes to the heart of the Scale-Modelers-Handbook philosophy about work and life...

In print, this may seem foreboding, but there is also a video of the event. I suggest you read along while viewing the video.

'You've Got To Find What You Love'-Jobs

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example: Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. 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. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

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.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Who'd a thunk it without Steve

A New Way

When I first got my iPad, I considered it pretty frivolous and in many ways superfluous to computer activities on my PC. In fact, I thought it would mostly be a gaming console for adults. 

As I sit here in bed writing this on my iPad,  I can't help but wonder about the impact Steve Jobs of Apple had on scale modeling, not so much as a modeler himself, but by the products he has birthed.

Who would have thought you could wirelessly connect to you model railroad, start and control a train from your iPhone or iPad?

Who'd of thunk it without Steve Job's imagination?

He has been widely regarded around the world as one of the foremost geniuses, a visionary, and a perfectionist. It has been said he profoundly changed the face of the world by revolutionizing six different industries.

 His death October 5,  2011 was widely mourned and considered a loss to the world by computer users across the globe.

70 More Shopping Days

You'd think 70 days (20% of a year) would be an adequate amount of time to get ready for Christmas, but in today's economy, it may take longer than that.

With a large number of scale modelers out of work planning (and budgeting) for the holidays needs to start earlier than in previous years.

For that reason, my Etsy shop, ScaleCraftsman will be maintaining sale prices through until the end of the year.

I have just added an HO Scratch build of "Stuffy's Tavern and Brewery" which took a good two months to finish.

There are also a couple of Christmas projects in the works for you to consider and I had better get back to them.


Marklin Mobile Station

One of the frustrations of operating a train or Heaven forbid, multiple headers on a large layout is the constant plugging, unplugging and walking between operation stations.

There's an App for that!

he MobileStation transforms your iphone or ipod touch into a complete digital controller for your model railroad.

Features: Simple, intuitive operation, with the same operation look and logic as with the Märklin Central Station You have access to the settings on the Märklin Central Station when running and controlling locomotives or controlling solenoid accessories and routes Up to 16 locomotive functions and 320 solenoid accessories can be controlled Automatic display of the function status by means of explanatory pictograms Can be used in vertical and horizontal formats

Requirements: Märklin Central Station 60213/60214/60215 (Version 1.4.)

iphone/ipod touch

Network connection to the CentraI Station WLAN connection to the iphone or ipod touch

Let The Buyer Beware

Like any other popular high tech function, there are Apps which are a waste of time and money and more than likely, no opportunity to get your money back or even complain to someone who can do something about it.

A couple of cases in point originate from the same software distribution company, the Both are aimed at the model railroading community and have been seriously panned by purchasers who wrote review information on the sales pages.


Pay Attention To Those Reviews

Poor app

by Sea Low

This app is all text and no graphics. A guide should contain diagrams, an index, and plenty of images.

It's also way overpriced. I want my $3.99 back!

------------------------ Guide to Building Model Railroads

by Shep61

This app was a total waste of money. So basic as to be useless. Sounds like they rewrote first chapter of some book. App is poorly constructed & no graphics!! Does not deserve 1 star. Worst app I have seen. I also want my money back!!!!!



by B90000008

This app/book contains the equivalent of spam. It's written in broken English and contains little to no actual information. AVOID!!!!

The reviews for both Apps were about the same, not surprising since they were produced by the same company. They were written when these Apps sold for $3,99 each. Today's price $9.99.


Your Help and Ideas Needed
To Expand SMH Idea Base

Making daily decisions involving for the past 62 months has led to the creation of over 425 pages of articles on the various facets of scale modeling, this monthly e-zine and a host of modeling questions answered.

As we get ready to embark on our fifth year, I am hoping to open the site up to input from other scale modelers. You may have noticed the Navigation Bar has been sub-divided into the major hobbies covered.

Each of these sections now has one or two pages that invite participation with questions, tips and pictures regarding your various modeling endeavors.

We want to hear from you as do the other 25,000 modelers who log onto this site monthly.

As I get ready to roll into my 73rd year, I can’t believe how much I have learned about hobby activities In the past two years. I have heard from other modelers with similar experiences.

To help me develop and maintain my website your comments on its content are essential. You can send me your comments by visiting the “Voice Your Opinion” feature at the top of the Navigation stack in the left column on each page.

It was never my intention to make this website a one way street as my knowledge is no where deep enough for me to be termed an “Authority”. I hunger for your feedback, comments, ideas, tutorials, plans, pictures and even your negative comments if considered constructive.

The Internet and that includes work best when they are interactive and that is collaboration only you can provide. It has been a pleasure serving as your guide for these past two years and by no means am I throwing in the towel, for I honestly believe the building and maintaining of this website are instrumental in keeping my mind active.

I want to open up this site in the fast lane. That is your part of the two-way street.

Its In Your Best Interest

If you have been giving some thought to launching your own home business in 2010, it is worth your time to take a look at what I found:

Steps To Success

Until Next Month

Make It Your Best Effort!

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