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Life and times of an iMaverick

Steve Jobs, if he's staying in touch with the world on a supernaturally supercharged iPad somewhere on a celestial iCloud, will probably have admired this documentary about his life.

He might not have liked everything that was said in it but he would certainly have appreciated its clean lines and smooth finish. iChanged the World zipped briskly through Jobs's rapid rise from garage geek to Apple boss, his bitter ejection from the company, his triumphant return and his subsequent game-changing innovations.

What really made it a bit special, though, were the insights and anecdotes from his admirers and detractors, who can often be one and the same, depending on the topic.

Journalist and author David Sheff, who first interviewed Jobs for Playboy magazine 30 years ago, was present at a birthday party thrown by Yoko Ono for her son Sean when Jobs produced an Apple 1 computer from a box.

The young Lennon was entranced with the machine's then state-of-the-art paintbox programme, but not as entranced as Andy Warhol who, down on all fours on the floor, looked up and beamed, "I drew a circle!"

Technology journalist Robert Cringely, the pen name of Mark Stephens, who worked for Jobs and his partner Steve Wozniak in the early days, remembers the stone-broke pair offering to pay him in stock. "I held out for the cash," said Cringely, just about managing, despite his name, to suppress a cringe of embarrassment.

Ronald Wayne, a third partner recruited by Jobs and Wozniak, was offered a 10pc stake in Apple, which would today be worth $37m, but has no regrets about opting for quick money instead. "Nobody diddled me out of anything," he insisted.

Wayne was one of the more fortunate ones. According to Cringely, most people went through three stages with Jobs; they were "seduced, ignored or scrooged. It depended on whether he needed you. Steve ultimately betrayed everyone."

One of the betrayed is Alvy-Ray Smith, a co-founder of Pixar, who described a face-to-face row he had with Jobs as "pure playground bullying". Smith watched as Jobs, who started out with a 30pc stake in Pixar and was the only one of the partners with the means to purchase more shares, ruthlessly and systematically bought out everyone else, until he owned the whole shebang. "Steve's genius was to move when he had a great idea," said Smith, "but they weren't necessarily his ideas."

Jobs's friendly rivalry with Bill Gates, who gave Jobs €150m when he most needed it, apparently wasn't always as friendly as it seemed. Neither Gates nor Jobs are particularly nice men, said Cringely, "but Steve was more fun". Cradling my lovely iPhone, that seems like a pretty good summing up.

I imagine Bram Stoker would also have liked TG4's Bram Stoker and Dracula, a fine, scholarly, utterly engrossing look at the origins of the Dublin author's Gothic masterpiece. Everyone knows who Count Dracula is, even if they've never actually read Dracula (and they should; it's wonderful), yet as this elegant film pointed out, not nearly enough people realise the difference between the literary Dracula and the one popularised from the 1920s onwards in plays, movies and television adaptations.

Although Dracula invariably conjures up spooky images of capes, bats, swirling mists, superstitious peasants and gloomy castles in Transylvania, its setting was of little importance to Stoker himself.

Far from being influenced by stories about the real-life Vlad Dracula, aka Vlad the Impaler, Stoker's extensive notes for the novel, which were unearthed in the 1970s, reveal he nearly made Dracula Austrian.

What's more, he also toyed with the idea of calling him Count Wampy. Doesn't have quite the same ring, does it? The thrust of this excellent documentary was that Dracula is, in effect, an Irish novel that reflects the political and social tensions of the era, and has its roots in Irish folklore.


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