Remembering Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy passed away ear­li­er today. If you asked many peo­ple, they might tell you that they hear Mor­gan Free­man’s voice in their head when they imag­ine the voice of God. To me, it will always be Leonard Nimoy. That placid, chain-smok­ing-induced growl that, in part, made Spock such a won­der­ful char­ac­ter of his fills me with awe.

Hipster Spock

As a child, in addi­tion to Star Trek reruns (both the orig­i­nal series and the ani­mat­ed series), I grew up watch­ing Nimoy host Nick­elodean’s Stand­by: Lights, Cam­era, Action!. That show was a won­der­ful look at how movies are made. Nimoy was a won­der­ful host, engag­ing in demon­stra­tions of spe­cial effects and occa­sion­al gags. His love of movies was evi­dent. In a time before the inter­net, Wikipedia, and movie blogs, it was a source for me to learn about movies, actors, and direc­tors. In fact, it was there that I first learned1 that the orig­i­nal Star Wars were the mid­dle piece of a larg­er tril­o­gy, and some­day there would be pre­quels (before the word pre­quel exist­ed, even, I think) and sequels2. I also learned about Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and the Klin­gon lan­guage from the same show. Of course, that film was direct­ed by Nimoy, who’s involve­ment in movies and tele­vi­sion grew beyond act­ing.

It’s said to nev­er meet your heroes, as they will only dis­ap­point you. How­ev­er, I do tru­ly regret nev­er hav­ing had to the chance to meet Leonard Nimoy in per­son. He tru­ly seemed like a beau­ti­ful per­son in most every way and Gene Rod­den­ber­ry once called him “the con­scious of ‘Star Trek’ ”. A won­der­ful quote from Nimoy:

What­ev­er I have giv­en, I have gained.

It’s very sad to have lost Nimoy but I’m so glad that he was able to con­tin­ue to appear in pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion and films, even up until very recent­ly. His char­ac­ter of Spock is a cor­ner­stone of pop-cul­ture and it’s due almost entire­ly to Nimoy’s act­ing. In a show that is remem­bered for some cheesy plots and ham­my act­ing, as well as some rather uneven movies, Nimoy was a gem in Star Trek. Hon­est­ly, if you can watch the scene of Kirk and Spock in the radi­a­tion cham­ber at the end of Wrath of Kahn and not get choked up, you are pos­si­bly more Vul­can than human:

It’s hard to think of a bet­ter way to remem­ber Nimoy that with a per­for­mance like that. Live long and pros­per.

  1. Well, either there or my Mom, who per­haps also learned it on the same show! []
  2. More recent­ly, JJ Abrams &emdash;who cast Nimoy in his series Fringe as well as bring Nimoy back as Spock in the re-envi­sioned Star Trek films&emdash; has tak­en over those sequel films. In fact, in no small part does the will­ing­ness of Abrams to con­tin­ue to use Nimoy as an actor gives me appre­ci­ate of Abrams’ taste and abil­i­ty to pull off such a daunt­ing role. []

The End of RadioShack

RadioShack announced today that they have filed for Chap­ter 11 bank­rupt­cy. They will close about 2,400 of their stores with many of the remain­ing loca­tions being pur­chased by Sprint. This is more-or-less fit­ting, giv­en that the brand has basi­cal­ly gone from the go-to sup­ply store for elec­tron­ics parts to a cell phone reseller. I hon­est­ly can’t say that they no longer car­ried any elec­tron­ics parts, but I seri­ous­ly doubt it’s some­thing most of their loca­tions car­ried at all.

Ball's TV

Bal­l’s TV by Math­ew Warn­er on Flickr. These guys look like they could legit­i­mate­ly fix your old tube tele­vi­sion, though.

It’s dis­ap­point­ing news for some. Wired has as a sto­ry on how influ­en­tial RadioShack was in build­ing Sil­i­con Val­ley1. Steve Woz­ni­ak (Apple co-founder) recounts how some orig­i­nal tele­pho­ny hack­ing got he and Steve Jobs to go on to build com­put­ers:

He used [a Touch Tone dialer pur­chased at RadioShack] for the now-infa­mous Blue Box, which he and Steve Jobs used to make their own free calls with­out inter­fer­ence from Ma Bell. With­out RadioShack, there’s no Blue Box. And as Woz tells it, with­out the Blue Box there’s no Apple.

While it’s good to under­stand RadioShack­’s impor­tance in the hack­er / mak­er / DIY cul­ture that helped to spur inno­va­tors like Woz, it’s impor­tant to note that the RadioShack we all knew and loved died many years ago. They either did­n’t see the rise of mak­ers or sim­ply ignored it, in lieu of chas­ing mobile phone buy­ers. Admit­ted­ly, that was chas­ing the mon­ey at the time. Of course, it’s not served them well in the long run. And they com­pa­ny that brought IBM Com­pat­i­ble PCs to many homes across the coun­try (includ­ing my friend, TJ’s, when we were kids) got out of the com­put­er man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness ear­ly on.

Jason Soldering

The time my old­er broth­er & I fixed my wash­ing machine with a kit I ordered off the inter­net.

Even so, I think there’s nev­er been a bet­ter time to be a mak­er or a tin­ker­er. With a near­ly end­less sup­ply of free how-to videos on YouTube, count­less DIY and repair sites cater­ing to any­one with a screw­driv­er and some time, and amaz­ing online shops like Adafruit, some­one today has far more access to get start­ed build­ing what­ev­er they can dream up. So, for that, I can be ok say­ing good bye to RadioShack. Frankly, I wrote them off a long time ago.

  1. Also, they get it wrong about fix­ing mod­ern tech & gad­gets. I’ve repaired iPods and iPhones myself, with parts I ordered off the inter­net and by watch­ing YouTube videos.
    iPod Battery Replacement

    Replac­ing the bat­tery in an iPod Clas­sic.