Tag Archives: PATH

The kindness of strangers (aka My Blog is Awesome)

random-acts-of-kindness

I’ve got to testify.

Today was a weird one.

Somewhere between getting off the train in Hoboken and arriving at the Hoboken PATH entrance, I lost my wallet.

It’s not really a wallet.

It’s more like a change purse.

Let me explain.

I don’t dig the bulk of men’s leather wallets.

You can’t conveniently stow it away without generating an unsightly bulge within your garments.

Back pocket, front pocket, jacket pocket – it doesn’t matter.

Got a wallet? You’ve got a bulge.

So long ago I gave up the bulk for money clips and slim sleeve-like wallets.

My current card and money holder was actually a gem purse from Steven Fox Jewelers.

Don’t trip. It’s functional.

Anyway, it was this purse that was lost in the span of 300 steps.

You can imagine my surprise arriving at the PATH turnstiles, reaching into my pocket to retrieve my Metro card, only to find it gone.

I frantically performed a self stop-n-frisk confirming what I feared – I’d dropped my wallet.

All was not lost though.

I had only gone three hundred steps and my train just arrived at the station.

I could not have been in Hoboken for more than a minute.

I decided to retrace my steps back to the train.

The foot traffic was light, and there weren’t many people in the station when I arrived.

So I assumed if I didn’t see it along the path back to the train, it was either still in my seat or in the custody of a NJ Transit conductor.

But that’s just too clean.

Of course, it wasn’t along the path, on the seat or with either of the train’s conductors.

Arrggghhhh!

Don’t fret Stephen.

Head over to customer service.

Report your missing wallet and someone may turn it in.

That’s what “Lost and Found” is for right?

I broke it down to the nice Black lady inside the makeshift Customer Service booth, who took my info, handed me a little slip of paper with a number, and promised to call if my wallet was recovered.

When I asked her if there was a TD Bank in the area – so I could try to convince them to allow me to withdraw my money (with no credentials) to get on the PATH – she dug into a little box from under her desk and proceeded to hand me 11 dusty quarters.

That was the first act of kindness I received today.

Thankful for her charity, I went back to the PATH to buy a single ride to get to work.

But wouldn’t you know that when I went to pay with my 11 dusty quarters, three of them weren’t even quarters.

They were quarter-sized Canadian nonsense coins.

Ashamed I was even in this predicament, I retuned sheepishly to inform the charitable Black woman handing out dusty quarters, that she had given me slugs.

Thankfully she took the slugs, laughing heartily at her error, and dug out three genuine dusty quarter replacements.

Back to the PATH.

Copped a single ride.

Got on the train.

Annoyed the entire ride from Hoboken to 23rd.

Brooding over the fact that as soon as I got to the office, I was going to have to cut off all my shit.

At some point I was going to have to do the dreaded DMV dance to replace my license.

Request new key cards from the j-o.

And replace my COSTCO, AAA and loyalty cards.

Fuuuuuuucccccckkkkkkk me!

Got to the job in a funk.

Glared at the desk clerk, daring him to request the inane tap on the key reader to confirm I worked in the building.

Nigga you see me every day! Don’t even go there!

No pleasantries exchanged with riders sharing the elevator I rode up to the sixth floor, or my colleagues when I hit the door of the office.

Flopped down into my seat at my desk.

Whipped out my lappie and set it on its stand.

Flipped it open and noticed three emails in my Gmail.

The first one was from a Gabriela.

I’m a pimp. So, intrigued, I opened it and read:

Hi Stephen,
I found your wallet on the Path this morning. I work in Manhattan and live in Bloomfield. I Google searched the name on your license and found your blog and your email address. Please let me know if there is an address you would like me to send it to or if you would like to meet in Montclair so I can give it to you. I saw a Montclair address on your license. Let me know!
Best Wishes,
Gabriela

The second act of kindness.

I think I teared up.

I subsequently learned that the lovely Gabriela worked 12 blocks away on Broadway.

She was on her way to a meeting and offered to leave it with her secretary.

Two hours later, my beloved was tucked squarely in my buttoned back pocket.

And I was spared the agony of having to cancel and replace all my shit.

Now what have we learned?

Always check your person for your wallet before you get off the train?

No.

Keep a lil’ stash of moolah tucked on your person, just in case your shit goes missing?

Uh uh.

Publish a pseudonymous blog, so people know where to find you when you lose your shit!

PS Gabriela Moya, you’re an angel.

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Filed under branding, Smack talking

There’s (Already) An App For That. Just Make Your’s Better!

I think I've got an idea...maybe not.

So the other day, I thought I had a killer idea for an app.

It was a variation of the peek-a-boo pens from back in the day.

You know, the ones where you flip the pen and the girl’s clothes disappear revealing her undergarments.

I shared the idea with a few people, who were also of the impression that I had a killer app idea on my hands.

I was brainstorming for a client that caters to ‘adult’ themed entertainment – not personal, mind you.

The idea was so good that I raced home to sketch a few ideas out on OmniGraffle.

But then it hit me…

This idea was too good.

Not that I’m a dunce or anything, but I couldn’t imagine that an idea this good hadn’t been done already.

So I Googled it.

And wouldn’t you know, my app idea had been done – by no less than four different developers.

They were all variations on a theme, and each executed with varying degrees of aplomb.

Mind you, I come up with apps all the times.

Clients are constantly asking me what they should do, and I’m a wellspring for app ideas.

The one thing that I tell all my clients, is to find an app out there, that they like and think works well, and improve upon it.

With over half a million apps in the iTunes App Store alone, it’s very likely that any idea you’e got (as I found out) has already been done.

And that’s not to say that original apps aren’t still being created.

It’s just that it’s unlikely that most of us will come up with something that is truly original.

And that’s okay.

The reality of it, is that you wouldn’t necessarily want to be the first app to do one thing or another.

Unless you knock it out of the park on your first try, you’re probably going to have an app that’s buggy, and delivers an ‘ok’ user experience at best.

Believe me.

I’ve created a number of novel web and mobile applications that, despite how hyped and excited as we were about it, our initial market trials were…not good.

But what we did learn from those experiences, was that being second (or even third) to market was useful, because it gave you invaluable insight into what your competitors were doing.

It also helped you figure out what the market would bear (i.e. should your app be premium or free).

The most important thing you can get from building an app based on a pre-existing app, is that there is room for more than one.

Photo sharing app.

Think Instagram and Path (and now Wyst).

Music identification apps.

Or Shazam and SoundHound.

Checkin apps - there sure are a bunch of 'em!

And how about Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, SCVNGR, and now Yelp for Mobile.

You get the picture.

This underscores my point that even if your app idea has already been done, you can still make a mark or carve out a niche by doing something – even just one thing – better than the rest.

So don’t be discouraged if you find that you idea for the next killer app has been co-opted by someone else.

Check them out. Bide your time. And once the feedback starts coming in about what they did wrong, drop yours!

What’s your killer app idea? Wait…don’t tell me…it’s been done already. Right?

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Filed under apps, branding, digital advocacy, mobile

Trouble in Paradise. Apple’s Privacy Loophole.

Apple, I hope you're paying attention! Cause we're watching you!

With all the different websites, email platforms, social media sites, and mobile apps out there, we’re constantly agreeing to the terms and conditions of use as a condition for being able to use these platforms.

Few of us, rarely (if ever) actually read the fine print, and typically scroll through to the end of this usually voluminous text or simply check the “I Agree” box so that we can get passed the legalese and into the <insert name of digital thing you want to play with here>.

Most of us take it for granted, that if we’re signing up for something – anything – online, that there are sufficient safeguards in place that protect our personal information.

We usually aren’t worried that our private information isn’t going to be shared, sniffed, phished, sold, traded or otherwise accessed in any nefarious way.

And if it IS going to be so utilized, we’ll be given clear and unambiguous notice of such (nefarious) intent, and the option and opportunity to opt out of such use/mis-use of our information.

Right?

WRONG!

Last week, Gizmodo reported that Path, the smart journal app that lets you share your life’s experiences with your friends and personal network, was uploading its’ users’ contact information to their servers, without either the knowledge or consent of the apps’ users.

After the issue was raised, and many bloggers expressed outrage and dismay at Path’s actions, the company quickly removed all the uploaded data and apologized.

However, another Gizmodo’s piece (published today) exposed a troubling issue that continues to exist with Apple’s apps: the fact that any app can access and utilize the contacts from any user’s address book unchecked by Apple.

Now you must know, Apple’s entire paradigm is built on protecting a user’s privacy.

Anyone who uses Apple devices, can attest to the fact that everything is permission based.

You can’t pass gas using an Apple device,without a pop-up asking if you’re sure you want to do that.

Which makes the Path loophole, even more disconcerting.

If you’re like me, you’ve got a number of different apps on your iOS devices.

You take it for granted that any app that you’ve got on your device, passed Apple’s rigorous muster, and isn’t going to do anything or can’t do anything to compromise the integrity of other data you’ve got residing on your device.

You certainly don’t expect that an app is going to be able to not only access your private data, but also share that data without your knoweldge or consent.

Mind you, Path had taken advantage of Apple’s failure to protect the data in your contacts.

While Apple scrutinizes every app that ultimately makes it into the App store, this loophole exists on an operating system level, outside of that scrutiny.

As Gizmodo aptly summarizes:

The problem is that the address book service doesn’t use the same mechanism. It’s free for the taking. This is where the privacy clusterfuck ensues. Some app developers—like Path did—are taking advantage of this weakness. The fact is that, at this point, any app can access your address book and steal all your contacts. Just like that. We don’t know which apps may be doing this right now. That is a scary thought and Apple should have thought about it.

Who knows which of these apps are utilizing this back-door approach to access (and potentially suck up) my contacts (and who knows what else).

Apple MUST do something about this – and soon!

As Jesus Diaz (the author of the Gizmodo piece) puts it, “Apple should have made the access to your contacts information as restricted as to the user’s geolocation data.”

I’m going to keep an eye out for the resolution of this issue, and keep you posted.

But whatever the case may be, be careful what you put on your iOS device, it may be gaffling your info!

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Filed under apps, digital advocacy, iPad, iPhone, mobile, privacy, technology, Uncategorized

Stephen Chukumba says: “Kudos to Hotel Rivington. Last night was a blast!”

I had a blast party hopping last night at a rooftop soiree in the Hotel Rivington.

Well I wasn’t really ‘party hopping’ in the traditional sense, but rather hopping from people cluster to cluster within one party.

It was a chore I had to do with my girl Flora Vaysanova, of FonLabs, who told me it was some ‘interactive’ function. ‘Chore’ because the last ‘interactive’ function she invited me to was straight Snorelax. But I’m down with the FonLabs clique (Sup D. Holla atcha boy), so I generally accept Flora’s invites (and she’s got the company card-can you say ‘expense it’).

When she told me I had to ‘dress nicely’, and not repeat the ’100% Negro’ t-shirt incident, from our last outing, I was legitimately frightened about the night that lay ahead and the square set I was sure to run into (again). How long would I have to endure the ‘so what do you do’ query or offered response?

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised to run up on the fly ensemble on the Rivington rooftop.

As soon as I hit the door, I spotted my girl Flora. I weaved effortlessly through the well appointed guests to her, and was promptly introduced to the two folks she was speaking to at the time. I’ve forgotten both of their names but they were with a cool company. The one led with ‘so what do you do?’ and a chill ran down my spine. I quickly extricated myself. If our paths are meant to cross again, they will. But for now. I’m out!

Disclaimer: I write this freshly home from this shindig, so it may be VERY stream of consciousness. Don’t hold it against me, but let me know what you think, when I’m done.

I resume.

From Flora I ran into Paula Moss (formerly of LA currently of NJ) and Judith Davis (formerly of Hearst, currently with Conde Nast), two fine sistahs perched by the hotel’s rooftop hot tub. I had my Red Bull on ice  and we chuckled about Commodore 64 word processors and Paula’s niece and nephew’s wonderment at seeing a corded push-button telephone.

Judith challenged me to tell her what the acronym WWD stood for (Women With Digital?). She was an (the?) editor for WWD and I stumbled around in my mind searching for the answer to her query, until she finally relented and told me ‘Women’s Wear Daily.’ Flora, who had joined us, knew this, of course.

I told her it was a fluke and I was going to poll everyone at the party to see if I was in good company with my ignorance. What do I know? I am man! Although I never guessed the actual name of the publication, Judith was, nonetheless, impressed with my ability to make an apparel connection and figure out the ‘Woman’ part without assistance. Thank you very much.

Flora whisked me away from the quizzing duo to meet Carlos and Jessica.  Carlos, a sculptor who counts the BET award trophy as one of his designs, elocuted on on the properties of mescaline and acid. Jessica, who provided therapeutic mental relief for stressed executives, delved into the metaphysical depth of yogis. I asked if they had read Carlos Castanada (to let ‘em know I got down with the astral projection), before I was introduced to Luis for the first time (Ahem, pay attention).

After allowing me to dabble with Carlos and Jessica, I was introduced to Zach, who is on the verge of launching an online original song creation tool and social media portal. I can’t remember the name of his service (neither of us had cards to exchange), but Zach gave me the elevator pitch. Essentially, with a simple online interface, users can browse lyrics and beats submitted by aspiring and established artists and producers. Select one artist’s hot lyrics, combine it with another producer’s sick beat and BANG! You’ve created your own song.

The site would allow users to shoot the song to their friends, who could, in turn, share it with their friends (and so on, and so on, and so on…) If the song gets love and goes viral, folks cop it, and the revenue generated is split between the parties. Monetizing UGC…I love it. Plus, the service gives artists and producers a way to flip their shit! Hotness.

Oh, you’ve got beats in the can? Park ‘em here and let’s make you some money!

Oh, you think you can spit? Prove it! How many people copped your verbs?

Digression. Sorry

Zach introduced me to Mike, a partner in the venture. We spit about the law, contracts and developers. And then to Luis. That’s twice. We talked application developers and sponsored research with top tech graduate programs, MIT, Carnegie Mellon.

From there, Flora redirected my attention to Jesse (short for Jessica, that’s two) her (Jesse’s) cousin’s wife (who’s name I can’t remember) and Vanessa. This trio was abuzz about how ‘chics be hatin’ on each other. (Of course) I joined in the merriment, offering ‘She think she all cute, don’t she?  She ain’t hardly all that!’ (in my best La’teesha) to which (fuel having been added to the fire) the buzzing began anew.

Jesse broke down the ‘hair weave’ hater…’That’s probably not even her real hair. Umm hmm, I can see the tracks. THAT’S a weave!) Fred’s wife dropped the ‘not-a-real-blonde’ hater…’You can tell she’s not a real blonde, look at her roots. She needs to touch that ratty shit up!’ Vanessa searched for answers..’What’s that even about?’ What is that about indeed, Vanessa. Indeed.

Now since they were all cute (honey, ignore this part), I heard the voice of victims (and not vain assailants), so it was hilarious to listen to them share their genuinely offered perspectives. We talked candidly about the fact that dudes just don’t deal with each other on that level (unless they’re bitch asses) and how annoying it must be. We commiserated on the (sometimes) wack dynamic of female on female interactions.

Before I could complete my thought, Flora grabbed me once again, to introduce the Dominican massive. Literally, it was a massive Dominican posse. They were at least seven deep, and had taken over one whole corner of the roof. If you include Luis (who I was again introduced to in this DM-sweep), Fred Tom (cousin to Jesse, married to the cute chic who’s name I can’t remember), Zach and Michael, they were almost a dozen strong. Throw in the chics with them, there were 14.

I hit ‘em all up. I was introduced to and gave pounds all around, but all I’ve got right now is Buddha (not ‘Booty,’ as I called him initially…no-homo!) and Mike…It’s a wrap for my memory right now- gotta work on that.

And they came to party.

Bob Marley dude.

Again, I digress.

Fred Tom (I fucks wit’ Fred Tom – if ya wit’ me stand up!) and I, joked about being the father of girls, and what that REALLY means to be a dad (all my NRA card carriers throw ‘em up! Lic’ a shot!) Dude had me dying. I was laughing so hard, it felt like I had been to the gym, busting it out with my trainer. I’m saying, my abs were burning B.

When I recovered sufficiently, we shot the breeze about the mobile industry and the digital space in general. We ended up figuring out that we might could do a lil’ bid’ness, and I was once again, introduced to Luis (that’s 4, if you’re counting), who said he would shoot an NDA over.

Luis (who I now felt like I knew intimately since virtually everyone here introduced me to him – did I say he happened to be the host?) had me doubled over recounting the story of the fly Asian chic. Apparently at his last function, there was this modelesque Asian girl who rudely barged through Luis and his set (without even an ‘excuse me’) only to walk her fly ass smack into a clear glass wall (she mistook as the route to egress). She completely fell out (she hit the wall full stride) and rolled around on the ground in pain, and (I’m sure) sheer embarrassment.

The next thing you knew, there were 15-20 pointing onlookers (as opposed to the original 8 she had insulted with her lack of home training), who were all now hooting and hollering loudly at her sorry state of affairs. Cries of ‘That’s what you get with your rude ass!’ and ‘Oh Shit! Did you see that?!’ To make matters worse, there were allegedly all kinds of ballers and industry cats in the cut.

Hello Insult. I’d like to introduce you to injury. I think you make a lovely pair.

My stomach hurt. My ribs hurt. My jaw hurt. Clearly fucking with these cats was hazardous to my health. By 10:42 (got there at 8, nice little run), I though it appropriate for me to bid all a fond farewell, and hit the bricks back to Jersey.

On the way home  at the PATH station at WTC (parked the Jeep in Hoboken), I ran into Kelvi. Now Kelvi’s a kid I’d been mentoring through my fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, since he was in seventh grade, while I was at RU. I’ve been running into casually since I left New Brunswick and we spent the time waiting for the train caughting up. We were so engrossed in conversation, that he followed me back to Hoboken, and I dropped him off in his little gated community (2 stops off the GSP from me).

Kel was the reason I’m getting home at 1:45. If I hadn’t bumped into him, I’da been home by 11:30, easy. But it was well worth it. For 33 (to my 39), the kid had some good sound perspectives on life and we vowed to up the pace of our interaction and dialogues.

Since I’d promised Judith that I would blog about this night (and there’s no time like the present), this post is probably populating your email at 3:52 a.m.

Now I’m off to bed (my homage to those passionate FBers who religiously sign off with that lil’ ditty).

Was I babbling incoherently?

I’ve given only the most cursory review of this post, so feel free to drop me a note and let me know whether this stream-of-consciousness blogging is any good.

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