Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Samsung Galaxy S III is no iPhone, but it isn’t (all that) bad.

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I’m not the kind of person who stays blindly entrenched in a position just so I’ll never have to admit that I’m wrong.

So it is without reservation that I state that the Samsung Galaxy S III, which I just got the other day, isn’t that bad.

It’s no iPhone, to be clear, but it is a feature rich, fairly simple to use device.

I got the SIII from the job.

I wasn’t about to buy that ish with my own money.

And I’ve picked it up, here and there, over the past few days.

Although I’m no expert, by any means, I can share you with my initial pros and cons.

Pros

Massive Screen. The screen on this thing rivals the screens on a few net books I’ve seen. Makes for really good video viewing.

Fast. I can’t front, swiping between screens, calling up apps, navigating the web…everything feels so fast.

It’s a 4G phone so I’m not surprised, but damn!

It could just be that new toy joy I’m feeling.

Like after you wash your car.

Doesn’t it feel like its faster?

Is it just me?

Google power. One thing that the S III does, hands down better than any other smart phone I’ve used to date, is integrate seamlessly with Google.

Contacts? Sucked in no time flat.

Search? Right on the home screen.

Maps? Fuggedaboutit!

Cons

Flimsy. When I first took the S III out of the box, put the battery in and replaced the backplate, I felt like I was handling a toy, not a high end smart phone.

The phone is so diaphanous that I’m scared to put it down, or in my pocket, or let it frolic among the other kids on the playground.

If you’re going to rock the S III, might I suggest a case for it, lest it shatter like delicate glass.

Strange UI. Having been an iPhone user for the past five years, I’m just so used to the iOS user interface that anything else seems…foreign.

Trying to understand how to navigate the various screens, settings, and buttons makes me feel like I’m learning a new language.

I’ve seen other Android users baffled by the UI, so I know I’m not alone. There are so many different options that it’s easy to be flummoxed.

Small buttons. I’m not really checking for the Chiclet-sized keys on the S III’s keyboard.

The predictive word completion is nice, but not when you’re typing fast and are presented with options that are nothing close to your intended word.

I felt like a Neanderthal with this thing. I’ve been reduced to meticulously typing each letter to avoid striking the wrong key and sending long strings of garbled nonsense in texts or emails.

But like I said, I’ve only had the S III for a couple of days.

Today is the first day I really went in.

I suspect my attitude towards it will soften (or harden) after I’ve lived with it for a while.

So check back for an update!

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Filed under iPhone, mobile, opinion, technology, Uncategorized

The CollegeDJ Music Festival is coming. Artists are you ready?

For those of you who know me, you know that I was one of the founders of Digiwaxx, perhaps the largest digital music promotion service ever.

Alongside Corey Llewellyn and Andrew Edgar (the REAL founders of Digiwaxx), I helped develop a fledgling brand into a household name.

At the time, Digiwaxx’s core was DJs from all walks of life: radio DJs, college DJs, club DJs, satellite DJs, pirate radio DJs, hobbiest – anyone who spun vinyl, digital vinyl or CDs.

And our base was huge.

But as the labels were increasingly focused on mainstream airplay – essentially the stuff they could track – DJs that weren’t on radio became less important.

So as Digiwaxx grew, labels became wholly focused on the mainstream DJs (radio, satellite, mix show), and less on the others.

As technology started to change, so did the appetite for DJs, who became less enamored by Digiwaxx’s methodology of sending daily email blasts (sometimes up to ten in a day).

Where our open rate used to be well over 90%, we’d be lucky to get 50% and by the time I left Digiwaxx, our open percentage was below 10%.

Mind you, by that time, we had well over 25,000 registered DJs, so 10% still represented a fair number of DJs, and our reach was worldwide.

Fast forward six years, and I’m now working with another brand, that’s catering to DJs.

This time, the focus is exclusively college DJs, and the name of this brand is, appropriately enough, CollegeDJ.

Now, you must know, that CollegeDJ was started by my younger brother, Celestine, who never understood the allure of Digiwaxx.

Through my eight years with Digiwaxx, he was constantly pointing out areas where we could improve or risk obsolescence.

As is typical of older brothers, I ignored his entreaties, opting instead to tow the party line, and follow the initiatives we had set, with blind allegiance.

Even as our stats started to decline, labels balked at the price for our service, and the grumblings (about the frequency of blasts or the failure of labels to respond to requests from smaller DJs) from our membership became louder, I stayed the course.

When I finally did leave, it was just as my brother was launching CollegeDJ, at Penn State, as the antidote to Digiwaxx.

CollegeDJ has quietly become the standard bearer for college djs across the nation.

Every day, CDJ publishes articles about label signings, new artists, and the latest music releases, keeping its membership and readers up to speed on the goings-on of the music industry.

Four or five times a year, CDJ puts out a mixtape, CDJ Sound Check (now on it’s 7th volume) featuring the music of underground, up-and-coming, and established artists alike.

And now, in it’s second year, CDJ hosts an annual music festival, which brings together all the brightest talent in music and DJ culture for a full day of panels, music performances, DJ battles and partying.

This year, the CollegeDJ Music Festival takes place Sunday, November 11, 2012, from 7:00 pm to 4:00 am, at the storied Sullivan Hall.

I’ve been working quietly behind the scenes, doing a little here and there to help ensure the success of the event.

Two years ago, CDJ brought out the likes of Najee, Zuzuka Poderosa, DJ Valissa Yoe, The White House Band, and others.

But this year’s line-up is sure to raise the bar.

I can’t talk about it until the confirmations are in, but rest assured, it’s going to be off the chain!

With over 16,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook and over 18,000 followers on Twitter, CollegeDJ has certainly struck a nerve with a significant niche audience.

It probably doesn’t hurt that the founder of CDJ is an SEO/SEM/social media ninja – with a Ph.D. to boot!

Make sure you mark your calendar!

And if you’re an artist, and would like to perform, make sure you reach out to CollegeDJ right away!

You can find CollegeDJ on their site, on Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under branding, social media

Move over QR Codes. Good night SnapTags. Augmented reality is here!

A few months ago, I was looking at the back cover of a box of cereal and noticed something pretty interesting.

There was a complete takeover by the latest Spiderman movie, and (more importantly) there was an app.

If you downloaded the app, you would be able to see an advance clip from the movie.

Intrigued, I downloaded the app, dialed it up on my iPhone, and pointed it at one of the frames on the box…

And suddenly, the scene on the box came to life and I was watching a clip from the movie on the box!

Rather, on the box on my phone.

I had never experienced that before.

There were no weird wiggly lines or ringed logo required to access the video.

No separate browser window.

I just aimed my phone at what looked like a frame from a Spiderman comic strip…and viola!

Mind you, I’m a fan of QR Codes and SnapTags.

I’ve written about them a few times.

I think they’re immensely useful for driving interactions between brands and consumers.

At the time, I had no idea what technology was powering the Spiderman experience on the cereal box.

And while I found it novel, I didn’t explore it any deeper.

But a few days ago, a colleague shared a Ted talks link with me about augmented reality.

The video talked about how brands were exploring ways to integrate augmented reality into their apps.

I realize that my explanation of the Spiderman cereal box leaves much to be desired.

So check out the video from the Ted talk, which explains (and demonstrates) augmented reality with far greater clarity.

The technology Matt was demonstrating was developed by a company called Aurasma, which is one of the pioneers of augmented reality apps.

I definitely see augmented reality as the wave of the future.

The possibilities are literally limitless.

And the opportunities for brands to engage in immersive and increasingly interactive ways are even more limitless.

And I’m not talking about donning a helmet or a pair of glasses – I’m talking about having rich, interactive layered experiences by simply pointing your phone at an object.

But don’t take my word for it.

Keep an eye out for augmented reality coming to an app near you.

If you want to get a jump on the whole augmented reality movement, check out the Aurasma app in the iTunes App store.

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Filed under apps, digital advocacy, mobile, technology

Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, Stevie J makes me feel dirty.

I can’t do ‘reality shows’.

They’re just too base for me.

Folks acting like pure idiots, trying to outdo one another with outrageous behavior.

Behavior that, I suspect, wouldn’t likely occur if the cameras were turned off.

One show, that I believe, achieves all-time lows, is Love & Hip Hop Atlanta.

I’ve watched a sum total of 15 minutes of the show.

And that 15 minutes was all I could stomach.

Mind you, it was 15 minutes watched cumulatively over a few episodes.

In one segment, a guy by the name of Stevie J was meeting with a therapist with his girlfriend Mimi, and his artist Joseline (who he was apparently having relations with).

The doctor who they met with, Dr. Jeff Gardere (the same doctor from The Maury Povich show – hmmmm) was trying to help the aforementioned Stevie J see how his behavior wasn’t fair to his women.

At one point, the artist, Joseline Hernandez, is invited into the session with Stevie J and his girlfriend, and promptly starts whupping on Stevie J, when he reveals that he’s been living with his girlfriend, while sleeping with Joseline.

When security rushed into the room, I thought, “How many doctor’s offices have six beefy security guards on call?”

Reality television my ass.

In another clip, on a different day, Stevie J is talking about how he has invited Joseline to to the studio meet his new artist.

The new artist looks like a combination of Joseline and Keisha Cole, and we’re shown clips of Stevie J, rubbing her arms as Joseline walks into the studio.

Things promptly go south, as Joseline verbally chastises Stevie J, and suggests that the new artist start “sucking his d*#!” since that’s what she’s there to do, before storming out.

After Joseline leaves, Stevie J and the new artist high five one another (celebrating him being byatched on national tv perhaps), before she stands up and starts twerking in front of Stevie J, who responds by smacking her ass.

Doesn’t this dude just look like a scumbag?

Cut to Stevie J remarking about how Joseline doesn’t realize that the Stevie J bus can just go down the road and pick up another girl who’s ready to ‘get on the bus’ and ‘take a ride’.

I couldn’t make this stuff up people.

After watching this second segment, I felt…dirty.

Like I had to take a shower and wash my eyes out with bleach.

Stevie J should be called Sleazy J because he comes across as a lecherous pig.

I’m all about one getting his or her man on.

But give me a break!

Have some class…a modicum of respect.

For yourself, if for no one else.

But Stevie J takes the cake for being the grimiest, most low down, nasty bastard on tv.

It doesn’t help that cats are putting this fool on camera, strangely validating his particular brand of sleaze.

Thankfully, this season has come to a close, and we can allow our eyes and psyches to heal from this particular brand of televised filth….

Until next season…

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Filed under opinion, rant, reality tv

It’s Official. I’m old(ish). The saga of a fool in glasses.

I’m still quite striking in…glasses.

Take a good look at the picture above.

Notice anything different?

No, I’m not more handsome.

It’s the glasses!

I’m wearing glasses!

And they’re not cosmetic.

I actually need them to see.

I’ve been straining my eyes whenever I look at my phone, tablet, computer screens, business cards…essentially anything that uses a 10 point (or smaller) font.

Mind you, this situation has been going on for some time.

I first notice it when I was reading an email (or text) on my iPhone…and had to pull the phone away from my face (old head style) to see what it said.

Imagine my shock when I realized what I had done.

I used to make fun of my mom and dad whenever I saw them doing the exact same thing, so I was justifiably horrified to be standing in their footsteps.

I’m only 42 damn it!

I eat my carrots, spinach, kale, collards…all good eye health foods.

I exercise regularly.

Yeah, so I stare at computer screens, mobile and tablet devices all day…

But damn!

Should I really be rocking glasses right now?

It’s not the end of the world.

My vision is still good.

The glasses are purely for magnification.

15 minutes on, 15 minutes off.

That’s what the doctor said.

But he also said that I’m going to need progressively stronger magnification every year.

Every year!

WTF?!

What’s next?

A walker?

Depends?

Hearing aid?

Not on my watch.

Not on my watch!

Let it be known that I’m not going down without a fight!

All my eye glass wearers, rise up!

Cast your bifocals and prescription lenses off!

Remove those long-wear contacts!

Don’t let the oppressive yoke of medically augmented vision keep you captive!

Hold on…

The page is getting blurry…

Got to put my glasses on…

Now what was I saying?

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Filed under rant, Smack talking

Black punk! AfroPunk takes over Brooklyn

Last night the fam and I attended the AfroPunk Festival at Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn.

The festival, which started yesterday, is a two-day music festival and skate competition, which brought together some of the hottest acts in the afro punk scene (and some of the illest BMX riders and skaters in the game).

The festival line up included Erykah Badu, Gym Class Heroes, Janelle Monae, Das Racist, Skindred, Toro Y Moi, Reggie Watts, Spank Rock, Ninjasonik, The Memorials, Bad Rabbits, Gordon Voidwell, The London Souls, Cerebral Ballzy, Phony People, and Body Language, among others.

AfroPunk 2012 was sponsored by Nike, Vitamin Water, and media sponsors The Fader and WNYC.

If you’re not up on AfroPunk, let me give you a short primer.

AfroPunk is a movement devoted to the Black Punk scene in America.

It’s start can be traced to the 2003 cult film Afro-Punk, by James Spooner, whose film highlighted the growing alternative universe that is the Black Punk movement.

Yesterday’s event was particularly special because last year’s concert was cancelled due to hurricane Irene, and even with the sporadic rain fall, cats were not deterred.

By the time we got to the festival, around 6:30 pm, the line to enter the park was almost a mile long!

There were two main festival stages, a skate park, vendors, and food trucks out the wazoo.

AfroPunk had a contest to meet Erykah by Tweeting #Afropunk.

The highlight of last night for me, by far, was Erykah Badu, who closed out the show.

Even though I was near the back of the park, and Erykah looked like a plastic figurine from where I stood, her distinctive voice and songs, were all I needed to get my party on.

The park was packed with folks of all sizes, shapes and colors, all grooving to Erykah’s music.

I’ve been attending AfroPunk events for years, and this was, by far, the biggest event they’ve produced to date.

It was really special to see how much this niche brand has grown over the years.

If AfroPunk still perplexes you, I’d suggest you check out their website, or their Facebook page, which includes a butt load of photos from the event.

Get your punk on!

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Filed under music

Apple 1 (billion). Samsung 0.

Samsung is cute and all, but original…not so much.

Yesterday, it was announced that the jury in the Apple patent lawsuit against Samsung had returned a verdit in Apple’s favor on virtually every count of their complaint.

The jury determined that Samsung had, in fact, ripped off Apple’s designs for the popular iPhone and iPad devices.

Despite a spirited defense, and counter complaints against Apple, alleging that Apple had infringed upon several of Samsung’s patents, the jury soundly rejected Samsung’s arguments and found in Apple’s favor.

The jury found that several of Samsung’s products illegally used Apple’s patented “bounce-back” feature when a user scrolls to an end image, and the ability to zoom text with a tap of a finger.

In so finding, they awarded Apple $1.05 billion, about $1.5 shy of what Apple was suing for, but a marked more than Samsung expected to pay.

Apple’s lawyers, seeing blood with the jury verdict, are now asking the judge to levy treble damages (triple the amount of the actual damages awarded a prevailing plaintiff, leveled to punish the losing party for willful conduct).

Of course, lawyers for Samsung immediately filed an appeal, seeking to reverse the jury verdict and challenge the damages awarded.

It’s unlikely that they’ll be successful.

But the bigger issue are the implications for the rest of the mobile phone industry.

Samsung isn’t the only mobile phone maker to use Apple’s bounce-back or zoom features.

A full range of Android devices are likely going to be in Apple’s crosshairs soon enough.

Samsung was one of the first companies to leverage Google’s Android platform on it’s devices, but it is far from the only one.

Motorola, HTC, and LG are all handset makers utilizing the Android operating system in their phones, but Samsung was by far the leader, with over 20 million Android smart phones sold since their introduction in 2010.

The real impact of this verdit will be seen in the coming months, as manufacturers determine whether sticking with Android will expose them to the type of liability Samsung has been exposed to.

If anything, this verdict re-establishes Apple claim to innovation.

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Filed under iPad, iPhone, mobile, technology

STI-NKY. You ain’t got no alibi. You stinky!

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Far too often, I find myself presented with a particularly detestable situation, that I just have to get off my chest.

I’m sure that I’m not alone, and that many of you have experienced the same thing.

I’m talking about B.O.

Have you ever found yourself talking to someone and noticed a really foul odor.

Instantly, you think, “what the f*ck is that?!”

A quick once over and you confirm that you’re not the source.

And then it dawns on you, the person you’re speaking to is the culprit.

If you’re lucky, this nasty bastard has just passed gas, and soon the malodorous air will pass.

But if the root cause is bad breath or body odor, you’re going to continue to suffer until you can decouple and escape to fresh air.

I’m not talking about a minor case of halitosis.

Or someone who is fresh off a run or some other physical activity.

But a person who has no right (No right, I tell you!) to be so offensive.

And (even more offensively) to be wholly unaware of the fact that they offend.

Now being from the Continent, I’ve experienced my fair share of BO.

Lets be real.

When it’s routinely 100 degrees outside and AC is a luxury, cats are going to be a lil’ spicy.

But we’re not in a third world people!

We’re in the US of A!

So you can handle those pits one time!

There is no reason for me to have to endure your funk the first thing in the morning (or at any point in the day for that matter).

Didn’t you bathe!?

Haven’t you heard of mouthwash?

Handle that!

There is simply no excuse for you to be assaulting me with your goat cheese cow dung breath.

Suck on a mint.

Chew some gum.

Keep a mint leaf under your tongue.

If you can’t manage any of these simple tips to save others from olfactory assault, then cover your mouth when you talk.

Or wear one of those Chinese avian flu masks or a bandana to shield the world from your gas hole.

And if you’re one of those people who perspire profusely, here’s some advice for you:

1. Wear t-shirts. They help to capture your sweat and keeps it from reaching your outer layer of clothing.

2. Use extra-strength antiperspirant. Notice I didn’t say ‘deodorant’. I said ANTIPERSPIRANT. Your issue is that you sweat too much, causing your pits to be funky. Don’t try to mask your funk. It doesn’t work.

3. Carry a change of clothing. If you’re prone to sweating, such that your clothes carry that wet dog smell, be sure to have a fresh change of clothes that you swap mid-day, to get you through the rest of the day.

And if you’re one of those people who aren’t even aware that they offend, here are a few clues to let you know you’re funky:

1. Avoidance. Folks turn around and walk in the opposite direction when they see you coming.

2. The holding of breath. People routinely take huge gulps of air when they approach you and/or seem to only exhale in your presence.

3. Social isolation. Whenever a group of coworkers get drinks after work or hit the clubs, you don’t get invited. Or if you do, you spend most of your time on the periphery.

4. The scattered roach effect. People disperse whenever you approach clusters of them in the lunchroom or at water cooler chats.

5. The Orbit effect. You are regularly offered gum and breath mints from perfect strangers in public.

6. Crying toothbrush. You notice that your toothbrush and dental floss weep whenever you use them.

7. Honesty. You’ve been told “Your breath stinks.” or “You smell.” more than once.

These are telltale signs that your hygiene game needs a makeover.

Do something about it…

Now.

You nasty thing!

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Want straight talk on politics? Tune in to Rachel Maddow

This chick knows her ish!

I usually don’t ‘do’ politricks because (IMO) its all just a farce.

We elect figure heads who promise us the moon when they’re campaigning, ignore us for the majority of their term, and come abegging for our votes at the end of their respective terms.

Rarely do they keep their campaign promises.

Rarely do they exude the steely fire and commitment (in office) that they demonstrated while stumping.

Rarely are they the same people they presented themselves to be, before they took office.

It’s not surprising, then, that many are disenfranchised and disillusioned after their heros get elected to office, and then turn their backs on their constituency.

I’m a registered Democrat, but I’m not some fanatic that supports Democrats just because.

Nor do I tow the party line on issues.

I generally think that most politicians are liars, not to be trusted.

Kamau bigged her up so much I had to watch the show.

So it was with great interest that I listened to Rachel Maddow, first on Totally Biased, with W. Kamau Bell show, and then again, last night on The David Letterman show.

For those of you unfamiliar with Rachel, she is an American television host, political commentator, and author.

Her nightly television show, The Rachel Maddow Show, airs on MSNBC.

She also has a syndicated talk radio program which airs on Air America Radio.

What I found particularly captivating about Rachel is that she’s just so friggin’ smart!

I mean seriously, this chick has something special going on in all that grey matter between her ears.

Her perspective about the upcoming presidential election, the respective candidates and their parties, was unquestionably, one of the most concise, objective commentaries I’ve heard in a long time.

Even more impressive, was her passion about the subject, and her ease addressing whatever was thrown at her.

To be fair, she was talking to two comedians.

It’s not like either W. Kamau Bell or Letterman were dropping bombs on her with the questioning.

But it was clear from her responses, that she knew what the heck she was talking about, and she wasn’t merely parroting some liberal party line.

I’ve never watched the Rachel Maddow show.

I was am so disgusted with the state of politricks, that I really don’t care what either side has to say about anything.

So it stands to reason that none of these political talking heads (Wolf Blitzer, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter) have ever really resonated with me.

But with Rachel Maddow, I might actually have a reason to tune in and pay attention.

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Filed under opinion, politics, rant, Smack talking

It’s 2012 and you’re still not on mobile? For shame!

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Several years into the mobile revolution, and I still find myself grappling with the relatively few number of brands that have adopted mobile as a reality.

I can’t accept how many websites fail to have mobile equivalents.

Invariably nine out of ten sites I visit from my mobile phone, aren’t optimized for mobile.

Many brands that (I think) would naturally benefit from being on mobile – retail, restaurants, transportation, media – simply aren’t adopting mobile as a viable platform.

And (I think) to their detriment.

The explosive growth of apps like FourSquare and Instagram, highlight the fact that people are always on their phones and have them with them wherever they go.

I challenge you to walk down any street, anywhere, and find five people without a phone in their hand, up to their ear or on their person.

Mobile phones have become literal extensions of the human body keeping us inextricably connected to the world (wide web).

As such, it behooves brands to adopt a mentality (and methodology) that speaks to this interconnectedness.

Having been in the mobile space actively for the past six or seven years, I’ve witnessed mobile go from fringe to mainstream – globally.

But despite the widespread adoption of mobile devices, and the rapid advances in technology (which have made devices more powerful yet less expensive), brands are slow to get with the program.

And the results of this slow pace equal huge losses for businesses whose audiences are being turned off (and away) from sites that aren’t optimized for the third screen.

I have no greater peeve than when I try to navigate a full HTML website from my iPhone.

And while I CAN navigate a a full site from my phone by employing the swipe and pinch functions, I shouldn’t have to.

Especially if it means that pinching or swiping takes other critical sections of the page offscreen (compromising the overall utility of the site/page).

There are a few sites that I use regularly, that ‘get it’ and have really thought through the intended utility of their sites for their users.

These include Expedia, CBS, CVS, NJTransit, and Amazon.

There are others, that simply leave me scratching my head (NBC, Mohegan Sun, Gucci).

Not having a mobile presence (mobile site, mobile app, tablet-optimized site) gives your competitor a tremendous advantage in this increasingly competitive world.

Mobile transactions are increasingly factoring into the bottom lines of many businesses, and the failure to accommodate your users, in this way, could materially impact a company’s revenue stream.

So take my advice…

Mobilize or perish!

The choice is yours.

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Filed under digital advocacy, mobile, opinion, technology