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Tech Q&A

Jim Heid

Describe your latest project.
The Macintosh iLife '06 is the latest and largest edition of my book about Apple's iLife suite. I'm also working on a couple of art- and photography-related projects: an art book and a photo gallery that will hopefully be opening in San Francisco later this year.

What inspires you to sit down and write?
Having a monthly mortgage payment! Also, the desire to inspire creativity in people. Apple's iLife suite opens the doors to an incredible array of creative options, even for people who aren't digital filmmaking or imaging gurus. If my tutorials and tips help get someone's creative juices flowing, then I've done my job.

Describe your favorite childhood teacher and how that teacher influenced you.
A fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Cornell, encouraged me in some of my offbeat hobbies, such as writing and recording weird "radio shows" with friends. A high-school English teacher, Mr. Bianco, exposed me to so much great American literature and encouraged my own writing. And I can't forget Mr. Lentz, my high-school graphic arts and photography teacher.

I was lucky to be able to attend a wonderful public school that had fabulous resources: a TV studio, printing and graphics arts lab, darkrooms, electronics labs, even a planetarium. Those resources and the teachers all had a very direct influence on my life and career.

Chess or video games?
Scrabble! I hate video games.

What do you do for relaxation?
Play music (jazz, blues, funk) with friends and also compose original tunes in GarageBand.

What's your favorite blog right now?
It isn't a blog as such, but it's peripherally related: it's Flickr, the exquisitely addictive and magnificently beautiful online photo sharing site. Looking at images from people all over the world is an incredibly exciting thing, as is the ability to meet people from all over. Flickr has very literally changed my life for the better.

Douglas Adams or Scott Adams?
Sam Adams!

What was your favorite book as a kid?
Stars: A Guide to the Constellations, Sun, Moon, Planets, and Other Features of the Heavens by Herbert S. Zim. It's a little, pocket-sized field guide on astronomy, and I read it from cover to cover again and again. It fueled my love of science.

If you could be reincarnated for one day to live the life of any scientist or writer, who would you choose and why?
Probably John McPhee, the brilliant writer for the New Yorker. I'd love to better understand his writing and research processes.

Describe the best museum of science and/or industry you've ever visited and what made it great.
In Florence, Italy, there's a museum of science that has Galileo's first telescopes in it, among many other things. It's incredibly moving to see those hand-made instruments and realize how far science has progressed since then — and how far we have to go.

By the end of your life, where do you think humankind will be in terms of new science and technological advancement?
My hope is that we're able to survive what the late Carl Sagan called our "technological adolescence." We're in this precarious time where we've developed technologies and weapons that can dramatically affect our world, yet we haven't matured much beyond our warrior and territorial roots. We have the potential to soar, but we need to mature as a civilization. So far, the pace of our technology has outstripped the pace of our maturity.

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