Category Archives: technology

New Rainmaker. Now you really owe me.


If you’ve ever heard the expression “pay it forward,” then you know that if someone does something kind or altruistic to/for you, you’re supposed to do the same thing for someone else.

Hence, pay it forward.

Today, someone put me onto something that promises to revolutionize the way we look at DIY site building.

And since I’m learning front end web development, I probably shouldn’t hip you to a tool that will potentially make my new found knowledge obsolete, but…

It’s called New Rainmaker and it’s a one-stop-shop for building a high performance website for your business or brand.

You probably know a few free or low-cost site building tools: SquareSpace, WordPress, Tumblr,, etc.

But if you’ve used any of them, you’ve probably encountered some roadblock or hurdle, that made it less than it was cracked up to be.

Maybe there was no eCommerce component.

Or social sharing was a hassle to implement.

Perhaps creating columns required advanced knowledge of cuneiform.

Rainmaker promises to change all that.

Per the New Rainmaker website:

Introducing Rainmaker, a hosted turn-key online marketing and digital sales platform designed to give you everything you need to build your business by building an audience. It’s not just everything we use on our sites (such as Copyblogger and StudioPress), it’s exactly what we use on our own sites … ready for you to make your own.

Now I can’t actually tell you anything about the platform, as it hasn’t been released quite yet.

What I can tell you is that it’s built off of WordPress, and allows you to take advantage of all the plugins and widgets natively – that is, without having to call up or install anything individually.

It’s also built on HTML5, so it’s fully responsive.

That means it will be optimized for whatever screen users are viewing your site from.

Building your site using Rainmaker’s platform is also supposed to be dummy-proof.

Simply select the options you want via their wizard, and the Rainmaker Platform does the rest.

At the end of the day, Rainmaker is supposed to make setting up your site and running your online business a cinch.

Supposedly, it will make building sites using SaaS offerings like SquareSpace and WordPress feel like learning Chinese.

We’ll see. is a hosted WordPress blog.

So whenever Rainmaker does turn on the switch, I’ll be one of the first to convert my existing site to their platform.

And I’ll give you a blow-by-blow assessment of how easy (or difficult) it was to get set up, as well as my impressions.

Oh yeah.

The reason I feel like I’m paying it forward, is because there is a limited window to sign up to join the Rainmaker trial.

If you sign up at, you too can register to take their platform for a test drive.

In addition to having first dibs to Beta test their platform, you’ll have access to the Rainmaker knowledge center, complete with podcasts, webinars, reports and video presentations from industry veterans and experts.

Now if you’re happy with your site (and it’s performance, conversions, etc.) then you can ignore this post altogether.

But if you’re looking to start a new business or website, and want just the right tool, then Rainmaker may be the thing for you.

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Filed under digital advocacy, technology

When you’re amazing it shows. Ode to a professional gangsta.

You're packin' a mean piece o' steel, Mister.

You’re packin’ a mean piece o’ steel, Mister.

I know when you read the title of this post, you thought, “Oh here he goes again!”

And on a normal day you’d be right.

I would absolutely be talking about me.

Heaping mounds upon mounds of praise on myself, crowing about how great I am at everything I do, and how the world hangs on my every word.

But today, not so much.

You see, today I’m going to heap praise on someone whom I consider a professional gangsta.

Who, I might add, bullied me into even writing this post.

Listen to me when I talk, y’all.


Her name is Dianne Ramlochan.

And she’s not to be trifled with.

In the almost two years that I’ve known her, she has impressed me as one singularly bent on getting her way.

It’s her way or the highway.

Perhaps it’s the only child thing.

Who knows.

But whatever Dianne wants, Dianne gets.

Case in point, I don’t usually “friend” co-workers and professional colleagues on Facebook.

I like to keep my virtual personal world separated from my real professional one. Ya’ dig?

We can be LinkedIn, and you may get a trickle of the virtual real me from the incomprehensibly-difficult-to-disconnect Facebook/LinkedIn nexus.

Can someone pleeeeaaassssseee tell me how to decouple this bullshit?

But by and large, you’re not peepin’ my personal shit online unless you’re digging.

Somehow, though, Ms. Ramlochan managed to Jedi mind trick me into waiving that work-professional life separation.

Don’t you know I friended this heifer?

And she’s following me on Twitter.

She famously quips about how if ever she can’t reach me at my desk via landline, email, mobile phone or text, she’ll “tweet” me.

Tweet me?

How are you going to be tweeting your project manager?

Have you ever heard of anything so ludicrous?

But that’s this chick.

To her credit, when I met her, she had just been hired to the team of one of the illest executive dudes I’ve come across to date.

No nonsense Anthony McLoughlin.

This dude was like Miles Finch from Elf – except a lil’ taller.

Point was, you didn’t eff with Anthony.

If you did, it was your ass.

And D worked for this dude.

Trial by fire is all I can say.

But then Anthony left for the West Coast, and Ms. Ramlochan inherited his fiefdom of projects, vendors and responsibilities.

And turned us all into her vassals.


What it felt like to work for Dianne.

Overnight, we went from watching Dianne do all Anthony’s dirty work, to having to do Dianne’s dirty work.

I still get cold chills thinking about the day Dianne took over…

Homegirl is relentless.


She had one word you never wanted to see come across your email.


That’s all she’d say.

Unacceptable this.

Unacceptable that.

Unacceptable the other.

Unacceptable, and cats would gets to steppin’!


But we worked it out.

And in the process, she pushed through a few apps, next gen mobile web, iPad kiosk update, a couple of mobile web and app-specific pilots, and a tablet web project.

She had help, of course (=your’s truly), but it all went down under her watchful eye.

And now, she’s leaving the nest – where she truly learned to abuse fly – to new shores.

Those of Saks Fifth Avenue – heaven protect you (said in a whisper).

To leave a wake of psychologically traumatized victims forge new trails.

Anywho, on the last day of our professional lives together, I bid her adieu in the best way I know how.

Memorialized in my blog.

There, D. I’ve made you famous.

PS Congratulations on your new job!



Filed under branding, digital advocacy, technology, work

Why the rumored iPhone 6 gives me wood.

Concept art courtesy of

Concept art courtesy of

I’m a sucker for anything Apple.

It’s true.

I readily admit I’m a fanboy.

Mind you, I’ll still hate on some crappy Apple shit (i.e. “flat design” of iOS 7).

But my first reaction upon hearing about some new Apple this-or-that is usually one of unbridled enthusiasm.

It should come as no surprise then, that my heart palpitations started when I heard the latest Apple rumors.

What Apple rumors?

The iPhone 6, of course.

That’s right.

Let it sink in.

iPhone. 6.

The Chinese are simply the worst at keeping secrets, and as a result, we’ve been privy to all Apple’s so-called secret developments for years.

Think about it, which iPhone release haven’t we known about well in advance?

9 times out of 10, when images of prototypes, spec sizes and talk of technology acquisition rumors start swirling about, and the source of these rumors is Chinese, you best believe it’s true.

Its no wonder, then, that folks are posting up their theories of what the latest iPhone will or will not be, with unmitigated zeal and images to back it up.

You’ve got pictures of the casing? Really? C’mon China!

Your’s truly is no different.

Like I said, I’m an Apple whore.

Anywho, with the iPhone 6, Apple will supposedly go where no iPhone has gone before: the land of the phablet.

If the rumors and prototype photographs are to be believed, Apple is working on the next generation of iPhone, that will be bigger, stronger (as in more durable) and faster than anything they’ve ever created.

When I say bigger, Apple wags speculate the screen will be somewhere between 4.7 (the current size of the 5s) and 7.9 inches (the size of the iPad Mini).

Size comparison chart courtesy of

Size comparison chart courtesy of


Screens that size will put Apple directly up against it’s Galaxy and HTC rivals, which have already dropped large screen phones on the market.

The claims that Apple will be introducing a more shatter-resistant screen lifts many a heart.

We’ve all witnessed (or experienced) the spiderweb cracks with Gorilla Glass.

Lord knows you’ve got to protect the screen like it’s an eggshell or risk slicing your fingers on an intricate lattice of cracks.

Apple’s acquisition of sapphire technology, points to a desire to make the next generation phones more durable.

As usual, there are claims that the next iPhone will last longer than it’s predecessors.

Even with the new lightning charger, the iPhone 5s’ battery dies notoriously quickly.

The next generation’s quad-core A8 or an evolved A7 should mean more power, better energy conservation and a longer battery life.

Other tantalizing rumors for the iPhone 6 include an improved camera (or at least enhanced capabilities), a thinner profile, wireless charging, and an updated OS (iOS 8).

I could go on ad nausaem, but I shan’t bore you.

MacRumors and (among others) do a far better job detailing the minutiae, and I’m more of a broad strokes sort of fellow, ya know?

In any instance, I’ll be keeping an eye out for more information and sneak peeks of the device as the Fall (?) 2014 release date approaches.

And if you see me in the streets, and notice a slight bulge in my nether region, “no” I am not happy to see you.

I’m probably reading another article about the iPhone 6.


Filed under iPhone, technology

OmniFocus + Basecamp + Spootnik = Perfect Productivity


As a productivity whore I’ve extolled the virtues of OmniFocus and Basecamp in the past.

In my opinion, these two productivity products are tops in terms of project management, collaboration and milestone tracking.

For those of you unfamiliar with either of these applications, a brief introduction is in order.

OmniFocus (which I’ve written about before) is a personal task manager by The Omni Group built for the Mac OS and iOS devices.

The Omni Group’s website describes OmniFocus as an app “designed to quickly capture your thoughts and ideas to store, manage, and help you process them into actionable to-do items.”

I’ve been using OmniFocus for about three years and it really helps you to work smarter by giving you the tools you need to stay on top of all the things you need to do.

Basecamp (which I’ve also written about) is an online collaboration project management software.

Basecamp’s web-based platform offers to-do lists, wiki-style web-based text documents, calendars, milestone management, file sharing, time tracking, and a messaging system.

Combined, OmniFocus and Basecamp provide all the online tool you need to manage multiple projects.

OmniFocus offers a series of mobile applications, which extend the power and utility the software offers through its desktop application to mobile and tablet devices.

Through the Omnisync servers, activity conducted on one device syncs seamless with all of your connected devices.

Basecamp, which had traditionally focused solely on its web platform, has developed its own applications for mobile and tablet devices, also extending its project management and online collaboration tools to connected devices as well.

Having used the desktop, web and applications with great success, I swear by them.

Notwithstanding, its still challenging working with two platforms that possess independent calendar, time tracking and milestone components.

OmniFocus has a scheduling and forecast function, which lets you see past, present and future events, tasks and milestones.

It synchs with Calendar, and allows you to see your tasks alongside any event, task or to-do that you’ve got scheduled.

Basecamp also has a calendaring function, which lets you schedule events and milestones.

The subscribe feature gives you the ability to have your events show up in Calendar too.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it definitely involves a bit of juggling.

Enter Spootnik.

What’s Spootnik?

Spootnik is an application that connects OmniFocus and Basecamp, allowing you to keep them in sync.

It was developed by Lars Steiger, who wanted to bring both his worlds of productivity together.

Spootnik pulls all of your Basecamp milestones, calendar events, and to-dos into OmniFocus, allowing you to see everything in one place.

It also allows you to make changes and updates to Basecamp items within OmniFocus, and have those updates sync automatically in Basecamp.

Having used Spootnik for over two months now, I am grateful that Lars was so inspired.

It’s put my productivity on ten and there’s no looking back.

If you’re using Basecamp and OmniFocus, I’d definitely advise getting a Spootnik account.

There’s a free 30 day trial, so you can test it out commitment free.

And thank me later.


Filed under apps, iPhone, technology

Need advice? Let me be your Emissary.


I was recently invited to join Emissary, a free platform that lets you share advice, make introductions, and get compensated for your efforts.

If you’re not up on Emissary, don’t trip. Neither was I.

I was checking out the profile of my good friend, Ben Tannenbaum, the new Director, Startup Engagement and Acceleration at Mastercard, and noted that he had a Emissary profile.

Intrigued, I checked out and was like “I do this!”

This=being sought out for advice, giving advice and getting paid for my advice.

But I realized that Emissary was doing it big, and I wanted in.

So I sent an email, had a conversation with one of the founders, Mike Sands, and Voila! your’s truly is now an Emissary.

So what? you say?

What’s so effin’ good about Emissary?

Well for one, it’s really about the power of networks.

And you know I’m a proponent of networks.

Next, it formalized the process of giving advice.

If you’re like me, people are always asking you about this or that.

Sometimes you have the answers.

Sometimes you don’t.

But when you don’t, you know exactly where to go to get the information they’re looking for.

Third, Emissary helps you make dough.

Emissary was developed because they realized that there are folks out there looking for the knowledge you (and your network) possess.

As an Emissary, you can quickly connect them with the right people in your network, and earn money for doing so.

Emissary leverages the power of networks by giving its users a platform to do what they do best.

Give advice (or referrals) to folks in need.

To be fair, I’ve oversimplified the process of becoming an Emissary.

They’re still in Beta, so there’s a pretty serious vetting going on.

When I learned about it, I went to their site and sent an email.

A few email conversations and a telephone interview was set up.

After the phone interview, there was a Skype interview, where they probed to figure out what made me an expert and justified making me an Emissary.

Having dabbled in law, entertainment, technology, and mobile, I’ve created a network of specialists in many different fields, that adds value to Emissary.

The fact that I already offer advise (as a consultant) and through my blog, probably didn’t hurt.

I’ve given you a quick overview of Emissary, but a perusal of their site will give you all you need to know.

You can check out my profile here

Need advice on an upcoming project or issue you’re facing? Hit me up.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be an Emissary? Check ’em out.

And tell ’em Stephen Chukumba sent you!

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Filed under branding, digital advocacy, technology

To cloud or not to cloud. That is the question.

There has been much ado about cloud computing.

Do I store my data in the cloud?

Do I not store my data in the cloud?

But for many of us, the question is even more basic than that:

What the fuck is the cloud?

Well, if you consult Wikipedia, it says:

Cloud computing is a phrase used to describe a variety of computing concepts that involve a large number of computers connected through a real-time communication network such as the Internet.  In science, cloud computing is a synonym for distributed computing over a network, and means the ability to run a program or application on many connected computers at the same time.  The phrase also more commonly refers to network-based services, which appear to be provided by real server hardware, and are in fact served up by virtual hardware, simulated by software running on one or more real machines.  Such virtual servers do not physically exist and can therefore be moved around and scaled up (or down) on the fly without affecting the end user – arguably, rather like a cloud.

The popularity of the term can be attributed to its use in marketing to sell hosted services in the sense of application service provisioning that run client server software on a remote location.

I’m sorry. I don’t speak Mandarin.

Did that help?

Most likely not.

So here is a lay definition of the cloud:

The cloud is a term which describes an array of hardware and software that you don’t have to manage, see or touch, which lets you store, access and run files and programs remotely.

It’s proponents compare it to having an IT department without the IT infrastructure and costs.

Detractors think it’s an trendy method of managing data, fraught with data and security risks.

So what are the benefits of the cloud?

There are many benefits, not the least of which is the ability to house large quantities of data without having the footprint or costs typically associated with maintaining a networked server array. The space and costs savings are usually substantial and allow companies to run leaner and more efficiently.

For non-enterprise users, the cloud allows you to access your content and run programs from multiple devices without the typical per-user or per device licensing restrictions typically associated with many software programs.

Cloud services are always on so you can always access your data. One of the selling points of most cloud-based services are the uptime guarantees. Because of the abstraction taking place behind the scenes, when one server goes down or has to be taken offline, the load is automatically transferred to another with virtually no interruption to service.

With the cloud businesses are no longer required to add hardware to increase storage capacity.

What are the costs of the cloud?

Security and privacy issues are probably the biggest issue when it comes to storage in the cloud. Once you give up your data, it’s up to your service provider to ensure the integrity of that data.

Service interruptions are another issue that gives most IT experts sleepless nights. When you control and monitor your own servers, if there is an issue, you’re right on top of it and can essentially manage fall-over and backup. When you move to the cloud, it’s up to your service provider to protect against downtime and service interruptions.

Lack of control is one more cost of the cloud. Once you’re locked into a cloud-based solution, you’re essentially at the mercy of your service provider. If you want to move to another solution, change configurations, add or subtract features, you’ve got to go through that provider, which may or may not offer the type of flexibility you require versus locally managing your applications.

No I could go on and on about the costs and benefits of the cloud, but suffice it to say, its a trend that IT professionals are moving to in increasing numbers.

In fact, a friend of mine created this handy-dandy infographic highlighting the trends in cloud computing.


Cloud Stats Infographic


Filed under digital advocacy, technology

Google Glass isn’t all bad. If you’re a dork (like me).


Several months ago, I wrote a post about one of the Google initiatives announced at the developers conference, a wearable computer called Google Glass.

At the time, it was theoretical, and for some odd reason, Google didn’t deem it necessary to either invite me to their developer pow wow OR send me a Beta pair.

Go figure.

But this Monday, a pair showed up at my office and I can confirm, despite the previously reported Yeti-like sightings of Google Glass in the wild (of which I had not witnessed) they are very real.

I could blather on about them, ad nauseam, but the quick and dirty is that Google Glass is an interesting piece of technology that takes a bit of getting used to, but which will go over well with dorks.

Now, I’ll blather on ad nauseam.

To be fair, my assessment of them is based on less than 20 minutes of hands-on testing. There was literally a queue of cats in my office waiting to try them out. So I felt like a hog spending more than a few minutes trying to take GG through its paces. But I made the most of my time and will now share my observations with you.

Because you care so much about what I think.

GG is literally a pair of glasses, with plastic lenses and a small translucent square mounted to the top of the frame of the right lens.

Putting them on is a little weird because they’re not symmetrical. The “fat” side contains all the components, which reside in a wide flat casing, while the “skinny” side is a simple curved metal bar, encased in soft plastic, that clings tightly to your head.

Even though it looks imbalanced, remarkably, GG feels right on your face/head/noggin.

When you first put them on, there’s nothing to see because the device is off. So at first glance, it looks just like you’re wearing a tricked out pair of Oakleys.

But once you turn them on, you know, immediately, that these are no bike riding glasses.

To turn Google Glass on, you simply tap the fat right side gently with your finger or tilt your head up 30 degrees.

Yes. I said “or tilt your head up 30 degrees” to turn Google Glass on. Just be careful if you use this method of activation around brothers (Black men, not male siblings), or they might think you’re giving them “the nod” and be offended if you don’t acknowledge them in return.

Turning on Google Glass pulls up the screen, which is projected in space about five feet in front of you. It’s like augmented reality without the helmet or wrap-around visors.

Now, you’ve got to look up slightly to see the screen because the placement of that little square on the frame (which is essentially what generates your projected screen) places it just above your normal line of sight.

You can manipulate your screen and Google Glass’ functions through both voice and touch. You control items on your screen or the menu using your finger along the side or via a set of simple voice commands. I wasn’t able to utilize the voice commands in the brief period I was playing around with it, but the dev who had them said that the voice commands work well (within the range of commands available).

To scroll up or down, back or forth and left or right, you rub your finger along the touchpad on the side of the glasses. Tapping with one finger selects, using two fingers lets you grab and move objects.

There is a small speaker on the section behind your ear, which projects sound, and it’s clear but low. And there’s also a small forward facing camera that shoots pictures and video.

During my little test run, I accessed Google Maps, watched a video, scrolled through a bunch of web pages and (unsuccessfully) tried to use Google Glass’ voice commands.

And outside of looking (and feeling) like a fucking dork – tilting my head up and down, tapping the side of my head, mumbling in audible commands and staring off into space – they’re not that bad.

I was initially prepared to write them off as a novelty, but I just had a 15 minute chat with the dev dude who got them and he actually had a lot of praise for it. I was skeptical until he told me he was is not an Android dude at all, so his opinion was patently objective.

He’d been rocking Google Glass for a week, and as a result, had a slightly more informed perspective than my 15 minute run. But just slightly.

We discussed my assessment and critique of how Google Glass makes you like a dork because you’re always looking up. Beyond that, your virtual screen is projected against the world behind it. So if you’re using Google Glass and you’ve got a funky background (bright lights, lots of traffic, etc.) it takes a minute for your eyes to adjust to all the BS/noise and focus on the screen.

When I gave him my assessment, lampooning its shortcomings, his response was that the field of view is intentionally placed above your line of sight so that you’re not looking at the screen on top of your natural field of view. The point of its placement was to avoid creating a distraction for the user or having to compete with visual background noise.

I had to concede that his argument made sense. And then I kicked him in the shins and cracked on his momma.

But that’s not to say that Google Glass gets flying colors. Google’s got work to do to get Google Glass ready for the major leagues.

A friend of mine suggested that Google Glass would be great for watching porn in mixed company, and while I initially thought that they were onto something, having rocked and witnessed others wearing them, I realized that Google Glass does have some limitations.

For one, there’s the issue of the voice prompts. Dev dude was able to execute several commands fairly easily when it was one-on-one, and when traffic and ambient noise was low. When many of us were milling about, buzzing and cackling, his attempts at controlling Google Glass through voice commands were an absolute fail. And my name “Stephen Chukumba” spoken into Google search, returned “Stephen Takuma” – although it could have been the dev dude’s Korean accent skewing the results.

Next, if you’re looking directly at someone wearing them, you can see the images projected on the small translucent square in front of the lens. Sure, the image is about a quarter of an inch big, but it’s a crystal clear quarter of an inch image, which is clearly not conducive lascivious content viewing.

And finally, even though the volume on the speakers are low, it’s still slightly audible if you’re within a few feet of the wearer. So the grunts and groans of true porn thespians is perceptible but those around you.

Anyway, as I digress into porn, I realize this post has gone on long enough.

My point is that Google glasses is still a work in progress.

Final analysis?

Google Glass is here.

You’ll look like a dork if you rock them.

But if do happen to get a pair, you’ll be a happy dork.

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Filed under technology, Uncategorized

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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Filed under apps, digital advocacy, technology

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.


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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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.


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.


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.



Filed under books, technology