Science and Technology News

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Military Ode to Steve Jobs

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By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2011 – My friend and I were walking through the parking garage yesterday en route to the mall when she saw me fiddling with my iPhone.

“Let’s have a moment of silence for Steve Jobs,” she said, referring to the Apple co-founder and CEO. I wholeheartedly agreed.

Jobs lost his battle with pancreatic cancer Oct. 5, and the world lost a technological genius and visionary who revolutionized the way we use computers and phones, listen to music and, with the introduction of the iPad, browse the Web. The resultant App Store and its vast array of often-addictive games even changed the way we spend (or to some, kill) our time.

Whether a diehard Apple fan or not, it’s undeniable that Jobs changed the face of technology forever. Year after year, he unveiled one cutting-edge product after another – the iMac, iPod, iPhone and the iPad – making technology as accessible and useful for a military spouse juggling schedules and kids during a deployment as for a high-powered executive balancing budgets and businesses.

Recognizing the astounding potential for a military application, officials continue to explore the use of smartphones and tablet devices in the field for everything from translation to mapping to filing reports. And, as a side note, I read a CNN blog post the other day that says Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, uses an iPad each day to access the latest information.

We can also credit Jobs and other visionaries like him for their impact on our military families. In the past decade, our troops have deployed frequently to locations thousands of miles from home. In the past, they would rely on spotty phone service and “snail mail” to maintain connections at home. But now-staple devices, such as the personal computer (which Jobs helped to make wildly popular), the Internet, smartphones -- and the resultant social networking they allow -- have and are bridging the physical divide.

Thanks to this technology, kids can video call their dad in Afghanistan to share a recent achievement, a proud mom can text pictures to a military loved one overseas and a soldier dad can watch the birth of his child from thousands of miles away.

As this technology continues to evolve, I look forward to a future where gaping chasms of distance will become mere cracks in the sidewalk for our military families.

So, for the second time this week, I’d like to take a moment to remember Jobs’ contributions, not just on the technological side, but also on the human side.

Perhaps President Barack Obama summed it up best in his Oct. 5 statement on the passing of Steve Jobs. “The world has lost a visionary,” he said. “And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”

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