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Smile for the cell phone camera you created, Steve

The Silicon Valley is a long way from the flashbulbs and high speed chases of the west side of Los Angeles, where paparazzi chase after celebs at more than 100 mph on city streets. I used to live in that madness. You saw some real sights driving up Robertson Blvd., a.k.a. Paparazzi Row, where celebs went to be photographed. It was all so deliberate despite protestations to the contrary.

They may act like they didn't want their picture taken, but trust me, if it was taken, they wanted it to happen. This is a town where people call the paps to say where they will be ahead of time. All the chic restaurants on Robertson have two entrances: attention whore and non-attention whore.

Up here, we don't have that nonsense. Most Valley CEOs are kinda boring, although Yahoo boss Carol "F-bomb" Bartz has been providing considerable entertainment lately. Despite those goofy Intel commercials about their "rock stars," we don't really have any.

Well, except for one. And unlike the celebrity who protests having their picture taken while walking out the front door of The Ivy where the paps are waiting, Apple boss Steve Jobs really does hate intrusions into his life and probably isn't a happy camper over this. (click for a larger version)

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Yes, TMZ strikes again. The site that was all over the death of Michael Jackson, leaving other press flat footed, caught the first photo of the Valley's last rock star since his liver transplant surgery and subsequent return to work. The irony of it is that the picture was taken with an iPhone camera, which would explain the lousy quality.

Just prior to the release of the 3GS, which has a new camera, a developer told me that the 3G camera phone quality would improve as well because of improved software. I have noticed no difference, and this picture seems to validate that. Granted, the photo was taken through the windshield of a car, which distorts the view. Still, while the iPhone is a great phone, the camera quality is seriously lacking.

Given it was taken in the Apple campus parking lot, with an iPhone and through the windshield tells me it wasn't a pap job. They would never be so sloppy. It was likely someone visiting Apple who sold the picture to TMZ (the name means "thirty mile zone," a portion of LA where all the celebs are clustered). Whoever it was, you better not let your identity leak out.

It's not lost on anyone that Jobs is now about as skinny as an iPod Touch turned sideways. Some have noted on various boards that following an organ transplant, patients are often shot up with steroids, and they gain weight, they don't lose even more. Now we know why he wasn't at WWDC. The audience would have had a collective heart attack if they saw him like this. The fact he's even skinnier tells me one thing: the last year has to have been absolute hell for him.

On the other hand, that's not a bodyguard or a personal trainer walking with Jobs, that's Apple design chief Jonathan Ive, who looks like the picture of health. Good thing. While Jobs gets the worship and fretting over his health, Ive's departure would be far more detrimental for Apple than Jobs's would be.

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