Monthly Archives: October 2013

I really need to get over myself. A lesson in humility.

I originally published this 3 years ago, but re-reading it now, I just had to share – again.

Yesterday, God decided that I needed to be brought low.

You see, I think I’m the bee’s knees.

I’ve always thought that I was a handsome dude (really ever since I got my first piece of a**), so whenever I’m out, there’s typically a peacock strut happening.

Yesterday was no exception.

I had gone into Jersey City to see my friend, and was headed home, when I stopped into the Starbucks on the corner of Park and Church street in Montclair, to pick up a Green Tea Frappuccino for wifey.

As the weather has been nice and balmy, the people were out, and there were plenty folks milling about, enjoying the pleasant weather.

I stepped out of my freshly washed ride, opened my plume and strutted into Starbucks, aware that all eyes were on me (at least in my head).

Placed my order with the female barista. Stop staring, honey, my shine is so bright you’ll hurt your eyes.

Waited for my drink next to another redbone obviously checking me out. Notice my ring finger babe. Hate to disappoint, but I’m spoken for.

Pass another biddy on the way out the door. You actin’ like you aint lookin’, but I know you peeped my steeze when I first walked in. Stop fronting!

Note: Oh my sh*t is ridiculous!

As I step out of Starbucks, there’s this hot red drop top (‘convertible’ for the urban linguistically challenged) with a fly sister perched in the passenger side, parked behind my Jeep.

Of course, I’ve got to pass IN FRONT of her ride to get to mine, and I’m abundantly aware of the fact that I will be eye candy for her as I pass.

Plume opened and magnificent. Check.

Swagger on 10. Check.

Big Pimpin’ soundtrack playing in my head. Check.

Commence strutting.

I could write out the rest of this little episode, but better you hear it from the horse’s mouth…

And that’s why I need to get over myself.

If you’ve got a story of vanity gone wrong, I’d love to hear about it.

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Watching TV on the toilet. Simulcasting to apps is the future (of broadcasting)

You must master the four screens.

You must master the four screens.

This weekend, I was watching The Alien, 48 year old Bernard Hopkins defend his title against Karo Murat, the 30 year old challenger from Germany.

The fight was fairly spirited and I was thoroughly engaged.

But as my salsa and cheese dip decided they wanted out, I had a difficult choice to make.

Do I suffer through the next six rounds and try to suppress my bowels or make a b-line for the commode and miss the fight?

My trips to the latrine are rarely brief.

My intestines got the better of me, and as round six ended, I reluctantly broke for the bathroom.

Back in the day, this story would have ended with me Googling the results or checking The Bleacher Report or ESPN.

But something told me to check out the App Store to see if there was an app that would let me watch the fight live from the toilet.

The fight was on Showtime, so I decided I’d start there.

What was there to lose?

As I plopped down upon my throne to handle the affairs of state, I whipped out my iPhone and quickly located the Showtime Anytime app.

showtime anytime

I downloaded and launched the app, and true to form, there was a Live TV tab in the footer.

When it pulled up the program choices, there was a ‘Watch Now’ button next to the Hopkins/Murat listing of the fight.

Before I knew it, I had taken in six rounds of boxing on the crapper, and I realized that broadcasting had come a long way.

The future of broadcasting was in my hands.

No. Not the toilet paper. I had already flushed that.

Although toilet paper is a wonderful invention.

I’m talking about apps which allow you to consume live media.

I think HBO was the first content provider to drop an app which let their subscribers access content from their mobile devices.

Others quickly followed suit and there were similar offerings from the likes of ESPN, A&E and Cartoon Network.

Soon regular broadcast players joined, including ABC, PBS, CBS and TBS.

Not to be left out, cable providers made sure they had skin in the game with their apps, including Time Warner, Cablevision, Verizon Fios and Xfinity.

The battle for eyeballs has gotten so fierce that if you’re not present on all platforms, you’re giving up valuable ground to the competition.

It used to be enough to have a broadcast channel with good content.

Back in the day, all you had were the broadcast television networks, like ABC, CBS, and NBC.

The networks had a virtual monopoly.

Then came cable, which changed the game.

No longer were you restricted to ‘tame’ television.

You had options. And no commercials.

And then the internet decided to change things up a little more, offering tons of video content that you couldn’t find on television or cable.

And for the most part, it was free.

YouTube was the genesis of this, but other players like Hulu and Vimeo kept things interesting (and ever expanding with user generated videos and internet only shows).

When Netflix brought their DVDs by mail into the home, first streaming over the internet and then through set top boxes, the broadcast ecosystem fractured even further.

And now there’s mobile.

It’s not enough that you’re proficient on one platform at the expense of the others.

To meet the needs of an increasingly mobile and demanding audience, you’ve got to master them all.

And as a content creator, you’re going to want to leverage distribution methods that ensure you’re meeting your audience, wherever they are.

If you’re not simulcasting (or offering your content simultaneously across multiple platforms), best believe the next guy is.

As technology evolves, users are going to expect faster, more streamlined access to all forms of media.

I predict that in the future, we’re going to see more players offering content that is traditionally delivered to televisions being delivered to set top boxes, online, and through apps simultaneously.

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I will turn tricks for an iPad Air.

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A few days ago Apple hosted one of its infamous announcements.

Once again, I received no invitation to the event announcing their upcoming releases.

So I made it a point not to let them benefit from my considerable digital footprint by mentioning anything about Apple on Wednesday.

But I did check in (online).

Of all the things Apple announced, one item caught my attention: the iPad Air.

First, there was the iPad, which revolutionized tablets. Sure it had its flaws, but it was dope nonetheless.

Then came the iPad 2, a massive leap forward from its heavier, clunkier, camera-deprived predecessor.

On the heels of the iPad 2, came the iPad 3 and the oddly named “New iPad” (a/k/a the iPad 4), which have both been subsequently discontinued.

As well as the iPad Mini.

On Wednesday, Apple unveiled the newest member of the iPad family and all I can say is: I want it.

It’s terrible, I know.

I, of all people, should be able to resist the lure of a new Apple product.

But you know what? I can’t.

And you know why? Because the new iPad is awesome!

Why is it awesome?

Well I’ll tell you.

For one, its lighter. Now I’m not a bitch and I work out rather frequently. So it’s not like carrying around my iPad is physically taxing.

But lighter is lighter, and as strong as I may be, I’m always appreciative when device manufacturers lighten my load.

Next, it’s faster. For the recreational user who is all Scrabble-with-Friends and Angry Birds, Apple’s 64 bit A7 chip probably doesn’t mean much. But to anyone into motion and graphics, the new architecture means faster CPU and graphics performance.

I’m no heavy filmmaker or photographer, so the processing power of the latest iPad is somewhat lost on me. But I still appreciate knowing that all that power resides under the hood if I need it.

Now if you’re on the go all the time, like I am, then this feature alone is worth the upgrade: two antennas.

There is nothing worse that weak wifi or cellular signal strength. The iPad Air should be able to keep you connected if you’re near anything broadcasting a wireless or cellular signal.

The improved 5-megapixel iSight camera will let you shoot in 1080p and there are also enhancements to the image quality of the FaceTime camera as well.

I’m particularly interested in the smaller overall profile of the iPad Air. I’m curious to see how the smaller bezel, width and weight translate.

The one thing that really excites me about the iPad Air is all the free stuff that comes preloaded with the device. iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are free with iPad Air.

If I recall correctly, Apple is giving their iWork and iLife suite of productivity products away free for everyone with a MacBook and iPad device.

All in all, the iPad Air has me all hot and heavy.

To be clear: I am a whore for Apple products. Even though I may not cop every single thing that comes out of Cupertino, I lust hungrily for them nonetheless.

I may play hard-to-get, but we all know I’m Apple’s hoe.

Notwithstanding my hoe-ish inclination, my excitement for the iPad Air is genuine and unrelated to my natural promiscuous nature.

But I will turn a trick or two to get one…

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Keyboards and Keystrokes. Confessions of a Black Geek.

Black keyboard

At the behest of my favorite reader, Levi, I’ve decided to share another (unfinished) chapter from my book.

It recounts my formative first experience with computers, in high school, and signals where my interest in technology was piqued.

Enjoy!

In 1985, I was a sophomore at Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. It was a private Catholic high school known for its athletics and rigorous academics. My older sister Beatrice had set the bar, by applying for and being accepted to the prestigious Stuart Country Day School for Girls, in Princeton. Even though it cost my parents a grip, they weren’t prepared to skimp on the education for their boys, so my brothers and I were enrolled in the slightly less expensive and much closer Notre Dame.

Quiet is kept, I was a great student. I excelled in all things academic. Being the child of two Nigerian educators (dad had a PhD and mom two Masters degrees), I didn’t have much of a choice. And it went without saying that I was a dork.  A Black Nigerian dork, but a dork nonetheless.

I graduated at the top of my class from elementary school. High school was no different. True to my genetics, in my freshman year I tested into all AP courses. Over the course of my high school career, I had AP Math (algebra, geometry and trig), AP English, AP Biology, AP Chemistry and Honors French. Even with this schedule, school was a breeze. I got straight A’s and was on the Honor Roll every semester.

But it wasn’t a total cakewalk.  Despite the fact that I was a Black brainiac, there was one class in which I was rendered daft and totally useless: typing (or word processing rather). Sure, I could recite the periodic chart, conjugate a sentence in French and dissect an invertebrate with floss and a toothpick, but in typing I struggled.  I was totally out of my element.

No amount of intellect was going to help me break the cipher of the cryptograph machine they called a typewriter.  “Place your hands so that your fingers rest at ASDF JKL;”  What are you saying? It felt so weird. Why not ASDFGHJK? Or SDFGHJKL Or even ASDFKL;’?  There was just too much going on at the same time.  Hands cocked just so, eyes shifting from copy to keys to typed sheet, I was overwhelmed.

While my classmates’ fingers flew across the keys, click, click, clacking away, I found myself pecking tentatively, struggling for accuracy, not speed.  Head down, I stared menacingly at the keys to ensure they remained where they were supposed to be.  Imagine my consternation upon hearing “Eyes up Mr. Chukumba!  You should be looking at the copy not the keys! Eyes up!” If my eyes were up, how was I to know if I was pressing the right keys? Riddle me that Joker!

The torture was exquisite. I struggled through the first half of the term, earning a “B” – my lowest grade ever.  I had to face the very real possibility that my GPA would be reduced by a non-academic class. Would I ever live down the shame? Mercifully, the semester ended with me no worse the wear.  I survived, and my fingers eventually attuned to resting on the “home row” of the keyboard, poised and ready.

Despite surviving the first term of typing, I was loathe to return the following semester. Who needs typing anyway? I was going to a titan of industry, run my own business, rule the world! Some lackey was going to do my typing. Couldn’t I take another AP class instead? Something useful, like animal husbandry perhaps?

As I walked into the typing classroom and sat in my seat, agonizing over another torturous semester, I failed to notice that our word processors had been replaced by keyboards, CPUs and monitors. Our typing instructor had been replaced by a person calling himself a “computer programmer.”

Some time in the 80s, the powers that be in the Roman Catholic Dioceses felt that their college prep schools should ready students for the coming world of computers. So the decision was made to add basic programming  to the curriculum. And apparently over the break, Notre Dame took heed of that directive and introduced computing.

When our instructor informed us that were sitting in the new computer lab, for the new Computer Science course, the goosebumps on my arms told me something truly life changing was going down.  I would now have the opportunity to put the techniques I had learned in our typing class to practical use. I was over the moon! As we walked through the process of “booting up” the computer and I saw the blinking glowing green cursor on the screen for the first time, I knew I had arrived.

Mind you, it’s not like I hadn’t seen a computer before.  My younger brother, Anthony, had hipped me to computers a while ago. Anthony was a true geek.  He had some early hobbyist version DIY personal computer, which he hooked up to an old black and white television (which served as his monitor) in our basement. At least a year or so before my class, he had animated a little digital man and made him run across the television screen.

He could make the running man do all kinds of things. Run left to right. Right to left. Diagonally. In descending rows across the screen until he disappeared. But he did other things too. Like make the computer speak. And play music, and rain digits (a la Matrix).

I was mesmerized then and it all came back as I sat in class.  I vaguely recalled his “if, then” commands, as we were talked through BASIC, DOS and ASCII. When we were given the key to rebooting the computer, if we ever experienced a glitch, (the now famous) Ctrl+Alt+Del, I felt that I was being handed the Rosetta Stone, that would allow me to unlock untold secret digital knowledge.

After we ran through several exercises, I discovered that I was able to focus more on the instructor’s instruction than the location of the keys as my fingers found their stride. Outside of trying to find the various function keys, I never looked down at the keys. I had mastered the keyboard!

By the end of that first class, I was buzzing, and I knew then (as I do now) that this tech thing was going to be an indelible part of my future. Even though I didn’t take up programming, I realized the power of computing and knew that somehow my personal fortune lay in understanding (even at the most basic level) how things – digital things – worked. And how the inner workings of this world would impact everything.

Now before all you fact checkers get all up in arms over my dates, know that I’m still researching.

I’ve reached out to my old high school to see if they can pull my transcripts and let me know if my memory actually serves me correctly.

Who knew that writing a book would actually require you to remember dates and shit?

It’s a work in progress, bear with me.

But anyway, Levi, what do you think?

Do I keep going?

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Revolt TV. Diddy is a genius.

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Revolt is here!

What’s Revolt? you ask.

Revolt is Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs’ latest venture whose singular goal is to turn the concept of a music video channel on its ear.

If you’re not up on Revolt, I don’t blame you.

The station just launched last night at 8:00 pm EST, and it’s only being carried by two carriers: Time Warner and Xfinity/Cablevision.

On Time Warner, it’s on channels 105 (standard def) and 692 (HD) but I couldn’t find the channel listings for Cable.

And if you’re like me, you’re ass out.

It’s not yet available on Fios.

But don’t fret, just visit Revolt.tv, click “Watch Live” and you can catch the live stream.

I’ve been doing just that since last night.

And you know what?

Diddy is on to something.

According to their website, Revolt “represents the architects who define culture and influence society.”

A bit of a stretch, but I see where he’s coming from.

Hip Hop went from fringe to mainstream, and today it’s a global phenomenon.

Musicians and performance artists have a significant influence on youth culture and society at large.

Think Jay Z, Beyonce, Obama and Cuba.

Or recently Miley Cyrus ‘twerking’ incident

Virtually any event from pop culture, which became mainstream news unequivocally supports this premise.

When MTV started 30 years ago, no one would have imagined that Hip Hop artists would dine with presidents, or pop stars would be advising major corporations.

Today, its a whole different story.

And Revolt is pushing the envelope.

For the most part Revolt is devoted to videos, which range from hip hop to alternative to heavy metal to pop to music that can’t fairly be defined by genre.

And they’re not you’re traditional MTV/VH1 videos either.

They’re highly stylized, graphic, trippy and a lil’ left of center.

You will find no bootleg Video Music Box videos on Revolt – sorry Ralph McDaniels.

In fact Diddy expressly states that artists who want their videos to appear on his station will have to step up their game.

Does that mean no more stripper poles and make it rain videos?

And while you may see some videos you recognize, a lot of them are being aired on Revolt for the first time.

Interspersed between videos are the occasional commercial, station identification and vignettes of Diddy walking around Brooklyn stopping traffic announcing the arrival of Revolt to the world.

In one Revolt clip, Diddy pays a cabbie $100 to stand on the roof of his cab, stopping traffic.

In another he encourages the gathering crowd to be disruptive by walking down the middle of the road.

He treats an entourage of young people to cheesecake at the world famous Junior’s, and lays out his game plan for eyeball domination.

Spinning a yarn, he tells the assembled youth that they are the future of music.

Per Diddy, Revolt is going to break the mold for music video stations, because Revolt won’t be restricted to one genre of music.

Revolt is for all genres.

While I was a lil’ tired of Diddy’s shameless self promotion, I have to acknowledge his genius, which stems from the fact that he’s tapped into music’s life blood – the youth.

I’m going to keep an eye on Revolt to see if it remains true to its mission of empowering youth.

Who knows, the iconic phrase “I want my MTV!” may one day become “I want Revolt TV!”

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Battle of the Blah: Streaming Pandora, Live 365, Spotify or iTunes Radio sucks

Streaming iTunes Radio is like Chinese Water Torture.

Streaming iTunes Radio is like Chinese Water Torture.

Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of music on streaming services.

Ever since I was banned from using my personal computer at the job, I’ve had to rely on other means for getting my music fix on.

You see, I have a massive sizeable music library, far too big for an iPod or portable music player.

And as I am loathe to allocate precious memory space on my phone to music, I’ve had to rely on alternate means to soothe my inner savage beast.

Back in the day, I used to rock Pandora hard.

I made a few stations based on artists I liked and was content for a hot second.

But when I realized that was listening to the same 15-20 songs over and over again, it quickly lost is luster.

Then there was last.fm.

Same difference as Pandora – except you could scrobble.

Someone suggested 365 Live as an alternative, and for a while I was content.

I’d primarily listen to their Classical or Jazz stations, and every once in a while stray to their Reggae offering (mistake).

I came across Spotify one day, and decided to give it a try.

In addition to their genres, you could create your own playlist or listen to radio stations built around artists or songs you like.

The problem with Spotify, aside from the annoying ads every three songs, is the repetitious nature of its playlists.

If you listen for more than an hour or to the same station multiple times, invariably you’re going to hear the same songs over and over again.

Now there’s one thing I don’t understand, each of these services claims to have millions of songs, but all of them suffer from repetition.

They all have ads (in the free versions) that pop up more frequently than terrestrial radio, and although they don’t last nearly as long, they’re annoying nonetheless.

For all that, I might as well simply listen to the actual radio.

At least then I’m under no delusion that I’ll experience variety.

But a few weeks ago, after I got my iPhone 5s, I noticed something new in iTunes.

Radio.

Do my eyes deceive me?

I don’t remember iTunes having a radio.

Scanning my memory banks, I did recall some mention of iTunes Radio at the WWDC.

But it was buried in the iOS 7 hoopla, and quickly faded from memory.

Having discovered the radio button in my dock, I decided to give it a go, and quickly created several stations.

The good thing about iTunes Radio is the absence of a learning curve.

Hit any one of the preset stations and you’re off.

Making a new station is as simple as pressing a “+” button and typing in the name of the artist or song you want to create a station around.

iTunes Radio does the rest.

Initially, I was pleased.

iTunes Radio seemed robust and the music was varied and (at first blush) non-repetitious.

But then it happened.

The commercials.

The repetition.

The random song unrelated to the artist or genre I had selected.

Worse than that though, was the spotty service.

Streaming iTunes Radio seemed to be worse than the other streaming services I used.

Now, to be fair, all streaming services suffer from some defect in playback.

But iTunes Radio seems to drop at an inordinately higher rate than Spotify, Pandora, Live365 or last.fm.

Waiting for iTunes Radio to connect (or reconnect as was often the case) was like Chinese Water Torture.

The anticipation was unbearable, especially when you were in the groove.

Despite my initial enthusiasm, iTunes Radio was no better than the rest.

It does provide you with the ability to purchase songs you hear on the fly, but so what?!

In the final analysis, streaming music apps are often more trouble than they’re worth.

I resign myself to the fact that I just have to devote some of my device’s precious memory to storing music.

Because streaming is for the birds!

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Chapter 1: The Walkie Talkie Incident

walkie talkies

As you all know, I’m writing a book chronicling my journey as a certified digerati.

It’s been a minute since I’ve updated you, so I felt it appropriate to devote today’s post to my non-blog related rambling.

I shared my intro in my last exercise, and I’ve got the first chapter in the works.

I’ve been messing around with various opening chapters for The Life Digital, and have settled on this:

Chapter 1: The Walkie Talkie Incident.

Here goes.

My earliest recollection of being gadget obsessed was 1976, when I was in the first grade.  Sean Leary brought in a brand new walkie talkie for show-and-tell.

I had never seen such a beautiful piece of technology.  It was sleek, black and shiny.  There were buttons, dials and a long silver antenna, which expanded and collapsed into itself.  It was a thing to behold.

It crackled to life when he turned it on.  It’s shiny newness would have been enough for me, but then I heard it’s Siren song and it took me over the edge.  The clean crisp sound of disembodied voices (interference) floated from its speaker.  He turned a dial, adjusted the channel, and lowered the volume to an obedient hum.

Right then and there I had to have it.  The exact details are still a bit sketchy, but before the end of the day, the walkie talkie was mine.  I had liberated my precious from Sean’s sweaty palmed brutish tyranny.  The power of the crackling voice box was mine!

In the fleeting moments that passed, I imagined myself in all kinds of adventures with my prize.

“Mrs. Williams is pulling out of her driveway. Over.”

“Roger that. What’s your 20? Over.”

“Three clicks to the North. Over and out.”

Did I even know what a “click” was?

No matter. Me and my disembodied voice, inseparable forever.  It never occurred to the six-year-old me that you need two walkie talkies for the adventures I imagined in my future to occur.  Or that the device’s owner was not as daft as I.

I don’t know how or when, but by the end of the day, Sean Leary discovered his beautiful walkie talkie missing.

And alerted the authorities a/k/a our jailer – Sister Brian.  Oh wait, did I mention I went to a Catholic school?

Nigerians looooovvveee Jesus.

Anywho, Sister Brian enlisted us all to help Sean find his walkie talkie.  We were all asked to look under our desks.  Back in the day, your desk was a chair, tabletop, and cubby (underneath your seat) in one.  The undercarriage was used to store your texts and notebooks.

One by one, we got out of our seats and checked our respective cubbies for the walkie talkie.

Nada.

Then, Sister Brian asked us to check our backpacks and jackets in the closets, in the event that one of us had inadvertently placed the walkie talkie with our belongings.

Again, one by one, we filed to the back of the class and furtively searched for the walkie talkie.

Nothing.

Ha! I was going to get away with this!

Fantasies of sending clandestine messages to unknown compadres flashed through my mind.

“Blue Falcon, what’s your twenty? Over.”

“Gold Leader, I’m twenty clicks to the south bearing down on your position. Over.”

“Roger that Blue Falcon. Over and out.”

Again with the “clicks.”

My daydreaming was interrupted by a voice.

“Stephen? Can you help me?”

“Yes, Sister Brian.”

Together Sister Brian and I walk out of the classroom.

Mind you, I was Sister Brian’s assistant and routinely helped her with the odd task now and again.  It never occurred to six-year-old Stephen that the jig was up and my malfeasance had been discovered.

When we arrived in the hall a few feet away from the classroom door, Sister Brian proceeded to pat me down NYC stop-n-frisk style.

I was shocked!

With the aplomb of a beat cop discovering contraband on a suspect, Sister Brian calmly retrieved my Sean’s walkie talkie from inside of my pants.

The bulge in my pants must have been painfully obvious.  To everyone but me, of course.

Damn Toughskins!

Thankfully, the shame of my crime was mitigated by Sister Brian’s tact.

We returned to the room, with Sister Brian crediting me for the walkie talkie’s discovery, and The Walkie Talkie Incident ended without incident.

Until I got home, of course.  Where Uneze tanned my hide.

It was then, nursing my bruised ass – and ego – that my lifelong digital journey began.

Inauspiciously, I’ll admit.

But a start’s a start.

I had the bug and things could only get better.

Thoughts?

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iPhone 5s. The “s” stands for sucka.

iPhone 5 sucker

Apple is notorious for making us want things we don’t need.

Think about it.

A few weeks ago, they dropped the kaliedascope 5c and the FBI-inspired 5s with fingerprint recognition.

And who bought those phones?

Were they iPhone newbies eager to own their first iPhone?

No.

Invariably, they were iPhone veterans stepping up to the latest and greatest.

Although if you copped the 5c you were actually stepping down.

I digress.

Folks who stood in the long lines or pre-ordered a new iPhone probably had nothing wrong with their current devices.

The only thing wrong, was that a new iPhone had just dropped.

More likely than not, they were salivating over all the features the 5s had to offer, and looked upon their current phones with disgust.

Why can’t you be more like the 5s?

But if they were already on the 5, which countless millions were, the 5c and 5s were nothing more than Apple’s oft-rehearsed slight of hand.

A shell game as it were.

Seriously, how many times have they run this play?

Get us all hot and heavy for the latest iPhone.

Queue us up like lambs to the slaughter, waiting in long lines to pay a pound of flesh for our shiny new bauble.

Let us bask in its shiny newness for a hot minute.

Only to drop a better, shinier, more feature-filled device immediately thereafter.

And the cycle begins anew.

Why do we fall for it?

Are we stupid?

Is obsolescence that quick?

Do their upgraded devices simply work so well that we can’t live without them?

Or is Apple’s marketing that persuasive?

I’m going to go with “Apple knows a mark when they see one.”

That’s right.

We’re all a bunch of hopeless marks.

Seriously.

What is the 5s anyway?

A new OS?

No. They released iOS 7 and you didn’t need a new phone to get it.

A new shape?

Nope. It’s the same body shape as the current 5. Buttons, ports, everything’s in the same place.

Fingerprint recognition?

Not likely, since it’s universally acknowledged that its the most nonsecure method of protecting your device.

I can’t imagine that we’re falling over ourselves to cop a new phone for that useless feature.

The “gold” back plate and accents?

Nah. Sure that little gold “O” around the home button is kinda sexy, but not everyone likes gold or could get that limited edition.

And the vanity factor is quickly eliminated once you drop it in a protective sleeve (like I do).

So what Made Apple so sure of themselves?

One little letter: “s.”

Adding an “s” to any of their phones makes us crazy.

Think about it.

3gs. 4s. 5s.

Every time they released an “s” phone, cats queued up.

We didn’t know that that effin’ “s” meant, but we knew we had to have it.

It’s got an “s” in it’s name, damn it! Get out of my way!

While some surmise that the S stood for Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, that theory fails to pass muster when other iOS devices also have Siri – and no “s”.

Others suggest that the “s” could stand for “special” or “super” or even “speed.”

No. No. No.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

It took me months of clandestine research, bribes and subterfuge to uncover this information.

“S” is a highly classified designation at Apple.

It applies to a select subset of products.

Ready?

The “s” stands for “sucka.”

Which is what you are for falling for Apple’s little tricks time and time again.

Present company included.

Damn you Apple!

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My week with the iPhone 5s and iOS 7 in one word: Boooooo!

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Last Friday I got the 5s.

Rather the job got me the 5s.

A gold one.

One of the benefits of working in tech.

Anyway, with the 5s, I’ve been able to check out two things.

iOS 7 and the latest iPhone.

Since my phones are always jailbroken, I hadn’t updated the operating system on my former iPhone 5, so I wasn’t really up on iOS 7 quite yet.

Even though I played with a few of the devices in the office that we updated to iOS 7, I wasn’t in a position to critique it fully, as I wasn’t rocking it day to day.

But with my new phone, with iOS 7 baked in from the door, I had no excuses.

So since Friday, I’ve been all 5s and iOS 7.

What do I think?

Underwhelmed is the first word that comes to mind.

There were no great leaps from the 5 to the 5s.

Yeah, it’s gold-ish and has a cute ring around the home button, and that fingerprint authentication is interesting (= totally unsecure).

But considering that Apple is known for coming up with dope shit, this falls well below the standard I’ve come to expect.

From the moment I took it out of the box, I’ve been waiting for that “Aha!” moment, when I could actually see what all the fuss with iOS 7 was about.

Almost a week later and I’m still waiting…

A month ago, when I reviewed iOS 7’s features, I was genuinely intrigued.

Jony Ives’ LSD inspired color palette redesign (which I’m not particularly fond of) aside, it looked like Apple was really trying to get back to their core – innovation.

Although all the updates looked very Android-esque, I was willing to reserve judgment until I held (and rocked out with) the genuine article.

Now that I have, I can’t help but feel gipped.

Why? You ask?

Well, it’s simple.

The new stuff isn’t really new.

I mean it is new.

There is a new color scheme, new icons, new gesture-based commands, new buttons, new transitions and new ways to access and remove apps running in the background, but none of this is anything to write home about.

So yeah, there are new things in it, but I was expecting more.

Is it just me?

Do I expect too much?

But seriously, some of the changes they’ve made are just annoying.

Safari? Boooo!

Can I just get to the browser bar? Please?

What’s with the unnecessary steps just to input a URL or search query?

Quitting apps running in the background? Boooo!

Why does it seem like there are more screens than icons?

And why is it all loosey goosey?

And what’s with all this zoom in zoom out stuff?

Apple, your transitions are giving me vertigomotion sickness.

Chill with all the unnecessary animation!

Things used to be so simple.

Mind you, this is not to say that there aren’t features in iOS 7 that I like.

There are.

For example, where you used to be able to swipe to the right from the home screen or click the home button to access search, you can now simply swipe down in the center of any screen.

See? That’s something right?

But there are more things I don’t like, than I do.

What can I say?

I’m a critic.

All jokes aside, one thing that I can say I am unequivocally NOT fond of, is the number of times iOS 7 has crashed.

It is by far, the most unstable OS release to date.

I can count on three fingers the number of times I’ve had my iPhones (plural) crash in the past.

But I’ve had the same number in less than one week.

I wish I could say that these crashes occurred when I was doing something exotic, like trying to jailbreak my phone.

But no. In the course of ordinary use, the joint will just fail.

I’d heard grumbling a of iOS 7’s instability, and I’m not one to take naysayers at their word (being one myself).

But this joint WILL crash on your ass.

There. I’ve said it.

All in all, the iPhone 5s gold, is cute.

The vanity of the the upgrade was enough for me – especially on a company dime.

And the updates are enough to satisfy the undiscerning masses.

So you’ll probably be impressed.

But not ole Stephen Chukumba.

You’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to impress me.

And Apple clearly overslept with this.

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