The New York Times has published an interesting article (What Steve Jobs Learned in the Wilderness) by Randall Stross, who's apparently still milking the Steve Jobs book (Steve Jobs & the Next Big Thing) he wrote 15 years ago. There's some good and some bad here. The bad is that the point of the article is pure speculation and, well, pointless. He writes, "If [Jobs] had instead stayed at Apple, the transformation of Apple Computer into today’s far larger Apple Inc. might never have happened." Um, right. Actually, it would have never happened at all. No need to speculate: Jobs drove NeXT into the ground. The good, however, is a reminder to those who would rewrite history, and when it comes to Apple, that's a lot of people. Stross tells us, for example, that NeXT sold only 50,000 computers ... OVER SEVEN YEARS. Jobs is a guy that needed to fail as badly as any human can fail in order to turn himself around and succeed as well as any human can succeed ... which is exactly what Jobs is doing right now. But let's not color Jobs' successes by whitewashing his failures. The guy's not perfect, far from it. But he had matured enough by the time he returned to Apple to do something he wouldn't have been able to do otherwise.

And while we're discussing CEOs of big tech companies, anyone remember when we used to refer to Microsoft's Steve Ballmer as "Emballmer"? Of course not. But this makes me wonder: Billions of dollars later, has Ballmer simply gone soft? I can't recall which NBA book this was anymore--either When The Game Was Ours, perhaps, or one of the Phil Jackson titles, but there's a story about then-Lakers coach Pat Riley realizing in the late 1980's that he had lost the respect and leadership of his team, and he felt that coaches only have that chemistry with the squad for a certain amount of time. So he left, and each (the Lakers and Riley) went on to great future success. Maybe CEOs are like that too. Steve Ballmer's a great guy and everything. But he and Microsoft no longer seem to have that killer instinct. Yes, it got them into antitrust trouble. But surely there's a middle ground between the old Microsoft and the new, soft Microsoft. It's needed if this company is serious about competing with the likes of Apple and Google, two companies that know nothing about being shackled. You can't win a fight with one hand tied behind your back.

In this BBC video report, US city erased from Google Maps, some concerns are raised about the power Google wields over us all.