3 reasons why the iPod cannot die

Washington Post recently came out with an article on the death of the iPod. Although all signs may point to its demise. I don’t think it will die as yet or ever. It may not be highest selling product of the apple family but very few niche users will continue to keep it in demand.

I have never really been a techy gadgety person. I am not averse to new technology and I really adapt pretty quick if I have to but I am not a big fan of useless electronics taking up prime real estate (or any real estate) in my house. However, I was given my first iPod in 2003 as a Holiday gift from my sister who then lived in Bay Area, California. I had never owned a CD player and I never considered myself to be a very musical person, basically listening to anything that played on the radio. Well this lovely device changed my life for the better. Long story short, I finally found life beyond crap played on the radio and am now a music snob.

Why won’t the iPod die? Here are my top three reasons:

  1. iPhones are too bulky at the gym – the idea of dragging along a large fragile smartphone (which just got larger) seems absurd to me. I rather clip on my trusty nano and focus on my workout rather than worry if my iPhone will break (or bend). Besides I am at the gym to work out not to check email in between reps.
  2. Headphones accidentally unplugging – Okay I may be a music snob but I do have a LOT of embarrassing music that I occasionally listen to. Once while listening to said music, my headphones accidentally unplugged and everyone in the subway car stared at me except for the cute guy who had so far been giving me looks now just looked the other way (true story).
  3. House party pains – Imagine going to a house party and you want to plant your iPhone in the dock to monopolize the music scene of the evening but you really don’t want to leave your iPhone with contacts in the hands of a few drunk shitheads (we all know how that ends).

Many of you may think these are very vain reasons for not giving up my iPod (and in hindsight it does seem like all these reasons have a life changing incident behind them that may or may not have left me scarred) but these are still some design concerns that Apple needs to take into consideration before making the iPod obsolete.

Right now I am still using my iPod Nano from 2007 (yes I have an iPhone and an iPod). Here is what it is looks like. The cover is pretty much a write off but I am not sure where else can I go buy a new one. If anyone has a clue, let me know!

 

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Sincerely,

Loyal iPod User

12 things every first year University/College student should know

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Crisp fall air, leaves turning red, me walking nervously through the halls of a massive university with student strength 10 times higher than the population of the towns some of my roommates were from. This time of the year always makes me nostalgic about my first year in University and I always wonder where time flew. As you unpack your belongings and get excited about new friendships, new surroundings, pub nights, frosh activities, I would like to humbly offer some advice that will prove to be useful in the long run and take a break from my usual posts related to technology and social media:

1. Take care of your health

After 17-18 odd years of your mom telling you what to eat, you will feel liberated when it comes to culinary decisions. Sugary cereal, pop, pizza packets, kraft dinners will become close acquaintances in the next four years. The meal plan will give you access to sketchy diners across campus. You will be left with little choice but to eat unhealthy, chemically processed foods. However, do make sure to eat fruit/vegetables at least once a day. Even if it’s an apple or a banana. Habits formed in your late teens/early twenties stick with you for the rest of your life.

2. Don’t judge

Now this just sounds preachy. But coming from a cozy suburb where everyone looks alike it will be hard not to think some of the things your foreign roommate does is weird. But post secondary is where you embrace the weird, meet as many people different from you as can and embrace the difference. You don’t have to be friends with them but open up the windows on your brain and every time you hear yourself thinking that person is weird, stop yourself immediately (unless the person just plain gives you the creeps, but more on that later).

3. Drink responsibly

This is a big one. Most of you in Ontario are not legally allowed to drink in your first year, so really don’t push your limits. You don’t want to be kicked out of your res/dorm or program. However, getting drunk to the point of black out where you don’t remember how you got home is cute only ONCE in university (or lifetime) not every week. Try to not get hammered to the point where people stop asking you to come out. I am not trying to be morally upstanding here, but excessive drinking though glamourized by Hollywood’s College movies, is actually bad for your liver, skin, health, and hair. You don’t want to be 18 going on 37.

4. Join a club… or two

Think about something you liked in high school or something you have always wanted to pursue. Universities have a club for everything from grandma’s ethnic background to lumber jacking. If you can’t find it, you can always start one. Basically, something to get you away from the 3 friends you met with during Frosh week and hang out with constantly. You might not appreciate this advice in the first month, but by month three, you will want to get away from them.

5. You are not married to your major

You thought you loved Biology in High School and you wanted to be a doctor. But as you enter Biology 101, theatre style lecture with 500 of your best friends, you are not sure anymore. You get more drawn to your Stats course which you only enrolled in as a time filler and you are scared to tell your parents who have already paid the fee for your first year that Biology is not what you want to do. Here is the thing, DO NOT be scared. It is better to realize at the start of your degree that you don’t like it than after you or graduate or worst, you actually end up becoming a doctor and realize you wanted to be a journalist. Have an honest chat with your parents. You might even want to take a break from university/college and go back home, it will hurt for a bit but you will be okay in the long run. Who knows, you might even be suited for a trade than a life of academia.

6. Take care of your mental health

Mental health is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. Trouble with being a frosh is, you will feel sad once in a while, get home sick. However, if you are feeling sad all the time, you are missing classes, nothing is making you excited anymore, get help. There are tonnes of resources on campus. Believe me, nothing is more precious than your health. Utilize all resources. Don’t be ashamed in reaching out. You are too precious to suffer alone in silence.

7. Use a condom

This one speaks for itself. You are not Katherine Heigl or one of the Kardashian sisters that can afford to get pregnant. And chances are the only asset the guy has is his meal plan and a weekly supply of diapers costs more than that. So be very careful and don’t let loose judgement get the better of you. Also, STDs are for real. 

8. Walk in groups

Number of on-campus rapes increases dramatically across North America in September. Why? Because we make so many friends on campus and we let our guard down and think everyone’s our friend. Walk in groups, don’t walk in dark places by your self. Use campus security to escort you if you are by yourself. As much as you have the right to walk wherever you want without people harassing you, the sad reality is there are creeps out there who will take advantage of your vulnerability. 

9. Attend Frosh/Orientation activities

You might think you are too cool for school and all these dumb activities takes down your street cred by a notch or two but I met some of my best friends at these activities. 

10. Homework

Why did we come here in the first place? That’s right folks, you will feel so much better about yourself if you dedicate at least an hour or two everyday to homework. University is a real kick in the teeth. The Professors will not remind you about due dates, if you don’t hand in your assignment, you will get a zero. And if you go to negotiate grades with the Professor, you will see that his visiting hours are on Tuesdays 9 am to 11 am only. And if you do catch him during that time, I promise you he will make you feel like a piece of shit (not speaking from personal experience ofcourse). So yes, use some self discipline and do your HW. 

11. Pick a Physical activity

Freshman 40 is real. You will gain a lot of weight, to the point your family will not be able to recognize you when you go back on Thanksgiving. To avoid that, try engaging in a physical activity 2-3 hours a week. It could be a dance class, running on the treadmill, running outside, joining an intramural league what have you. Like I said before, habits formed now will stick with you forever.

12. Lock your dorm room doors

Yes, you have made a lot of friends on your floor and now the whole floor is like a mini-familia. But leaving your doors unlocked, makes you susceptible to theft. I lost my tennis racket in the first month, another friend of mine had her laptop stolen. So lock those doors and keep track of all your personal belongings.

Here’s to the best years of your life. Enjoy every damn second!!! 

Top 5 ALS bucket challenge videos

Lately I have been hearing grumblings about ice bucket challenge and it taking over the social media. Basically the same grumblings I heard during the make up free selfie phenomena that happened a few months ago to raise awareness for Breast Cancer. I have previously relayed my views on online activism and how it’s not always counter productive and  still stand by it. If you asked me two days ago what ALS was, I had no clue. I had no idea it was the same as Lou Gehrig’s disease. I had no idea more males than females are prone to it and I certainly had no idea it is most common among the age group 40 to 70.

So maybe these videos are taking up real estate on your precious social media feed but at the end of the day it is raising awareness and also raising money for more research towards the disease. That being said I have rounded up my top 5 favourite celebrity ice bucket challenges:

1. Sonakshi Sinha

Why: She is a Bollywood actress residing in India where water shortages are common. She did the gesture of pouring water over herself instead of actual water. In a country where clean water is not accessible to millions, she managed to raise awareness of two causes in one go. Bravo!

2. Ike Barkinholtz

Why: He is the loveable nurse on Mindy Project (who is now hot all of a sudden??), anyway going through a serious Mindy withdrawal, so I had to nominate Ike. He also touched upon the preserve water message.

3. Anna Wintour

Why: More like why not? The queen of ice getting iced is entertainment all around (except not)

4. Ben Affleck

Why: Jennifer Garner throwing a bucket of cold water on Ben Affleck and their kids laughing in the background? I think an angel lost a wing in heaven. I think it’s THAT adorbs

5. George Bush

Why: Laura Bush asking George to write the check to her and take the ice bucket challenge instead shows George is whipped (and not just by Dick Cheney). And then he further challenged Bill Clinton, although I would love to see Cheney do an ice bucket challenge as well.

And just so that we don’t lose sight of the actual cause in the celeb ho hum, here is a video shot by someone who has ALS running through the family (keep the kleenex handy)

Everything you wanted to know about the Kardashian app but were afraid to ask

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The way I got sucked into the Kardashian app is pretty much the same way I got sucked into the Kardashian reality show (we all have a vice, get off your moral high ground Bachelor/Big Brother fans). Now, I am as proud of watching Kardashians as I am of eating a whole medium deep dish pizza in Chicago by myself. With both these activities, I go through the same cycle of attraction, satisfaction, and then deep regret. I personally hate useless apps but I wanted to try this one out of curiosity (or should I say Kuriosity)

The Kardashian “app” first of all is not really an app, it is a game similar to Mafia Wars or Farmville or something. It starts off with you dressing your avatar where you get to pick her initial look which is pretty basic some jeans and r-shirts and a dress. In order to access trendier outfits, you need to unlock various levels and earn money or points. Your character starts off working at a boutique where Kim Kardashian visits. As the game progresses, various little challenges are thrown your way e.g. making your way to a photo studio and getting your portfolio done. Once accomplished, you earn money or even a star. Whatever you earn can be used towards buying outfits etc.

I downloaded it on my Google Nexus tablet. The interface is a little confusing when you start but it takes little time getting used to. The graphics are pretty solid and Kim’s sound bites keep you company throughout (so cuh-oot) which may or may not induce a nails on chalk board feeling. I was actually pretty into it (and I am not really a fan of this genre of games) until I hit the level where I have to spend an hour at a photo shoot doing nothing (like real time HOUR) which I found pretty ridiculous. At which I point I turned it off. I have to say the most enjoyable part has to be dressing up the avatar and being awarded points for it (which was also my favourite thing about Wii).

So there you have it folks, another aspect of our life taken over by the Kardashian Klan. There is nothing particularly revolutionary about this “app” but it is definitely a decent time kill. So I urge you to stay away or download it, it’s totally up to you.

Twitter’s biggest problem right now

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Twitter’s most recent revenue growth of 124% in the last quarter have landed the social media site under the microscope. We are beginning to see each one of its’ issues in High Def.

Investors are being cautioned to see the slow user growth as a red flag. Twitter’s current user growth primarily stems from third party applications like Foursquare, Facebook, instagram etc. These users do not interact on Twitter itself hence don’t see any of the ads on Twitter. According to a recent article by Wall Street Journal, the number of monthly active users of Twitter is 271 million, the same number for Facebook is 1.32 billion (about a third of Facebook’s).

The same article also mentions that non third party user growth rate declined for 4.4% to 3.9%. So if I am reading correctly, there is a growth but it has declined. Whereas third party application Twitter account holders is on an upward incline with the current rate at 14% and soon to climb to 25%. Facebook claims that users who access Facebook through third party is less than 5%.

Personally to me, Twitter seems to be a textbook definition of middle child (speaking from experience) – never as good as the older sibling (Facebook) and the younger sibling can do no wrong (instagram). The dismal criticism constantly received by Twitter seems to be a side effect of comparison to Facebook.

Let me remind readers that the in the first few years of Twitter’s existence, they did not have any sort of direct revenue generating model while Facebook was having a field day with advertisements. Twitter’s recent success was purely organic in the sense that the ads were viewed by active users but a lot of the content generated was by third party users via Instagram, Facebook, Youtube etc. during the World Cup which further increased interaction among the active users on Twitter.

The much criticized third party user growth could actually be a boon to Twitter where they provide content for discussion by active Twitter users – something not too common in Facebook.

Major companies, brands, celebrities still use Twitter. Browse any article online and you will notice that announcements made on Twitter by brands or famous people get more news coverage than announcements made on Facebook. Instead of appeasing to the masses and getting lost in the numbers game, Twitter should stay true to itself  and work on tactics that would keep active users on the site. Experimenting with interactive features tailored towards the world cup proved to be a huge success. Back to the topic at hand, I would say Twitter’s biggest problem right now is not “slow” active user growth rate but living in the shadow of “big brother” Facebook.

 

 

Netflix – its journey from online bargain bin to online awesomeness

Netflix for me started out as a bargain bin. I have had a love hate relationship with Cable (hate-love-hate) as well as Netflix (hate-hate-love) since about 2010. I am not going to get into my journey of going sans cable as I have chronicled it here.

But what I didn’t mention in my previous post was how depressing (for the lack of a better word) Netflix was at that point. It was the online bargain bin. Anything you would find in a bin at now defunct Blockbuster, could be found on Netflix. Prompting me to get cable back. But then about a year or so ago, things changed for the better.

It all started when I decided to check out the hoopla behind the show House of Cards which is a Netflix production. I remember watching a few episodes and thinking to myself, wow this is an almost HBO quality show. I remember telling this to a friend and they literally laughed on my face as apparently nothing really compares to HBO.

By then I had caught wind of Breaking Bad (I know 5 years too late) and to my surprise the entire season was on Netflix. I ripped through all seasons within 6 weeks after which I latched on to Orange in the new black. Another great Netflix production and by now I was convinced Netflix was not just an almost HBO but it was much better. Not just in terms of quality but accessibility as well. What’s more, HBO’s series “Girls” placed the first two episodes of their third season on Youtube.

Internet has become the most convenient method of “TV” viewing. For a period of time, production houses were getting were worried about piracy related to illegal streaming. Even though piracy still exists, channels like iTunes, Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu are taking care of the legal issue. They are increasing affordable as well – you are paying for what you want to see rather than paying a premium and still have nothing to watch. And with devices like Boxee, your streaming experience gets even better.

Does this spell the end of cable? I am still holding my reservation on that. But all things lead to one conclusion – scheduled TV programming is not what it used to be. And this will have a ripple effect on other mediums as well particularly advertisement. Companies will have to get more creative with their Marketing technique rather than just spending most of their dollars on TV ad campaigns as TV ratings are not what they used to be. In the meantime I will enjoy re-runs of Mindy Project on Netflix. How amaze is that?!

 

 

If you buy basic t-shirt dresses at Queen W boutiques for $250 then “Preserve” is for you

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By now everyone must have heard about Blake Lively’s new venture: Preserve. It is a lifestyle website that sells everything form 7 dollar ketchup to this 49 dollar cup for drinking milk while eating cookies. The website starts off with a “letter from the editor”  where she lets it known that she is hungry for experience and not just enchiladas.

When you first get to the website, there is an introductory video which let’s be honest does not make any sense. It is a cute video, I will give her that but it is nonsense. And then you get to the “letter from the editor” AKA Ms. Lively herself. Again, the letter has an emo high school kid feel to it. And you are still left wondering what is this website?

I finally just click on “Shop”, and the first item is a 7 dollar ketchup which could be a preservative-free version of the one you find in the grocery store but at the same time there is no description of the product so I am not sure why I would buy ketchup for 7 bucks. As I browse more products, I am beginning to see what this is all about: it is random expensive shit that they sell in those cute little shops on Queen Street West only now you can order them online. They are handmade or something as well which is still not obvious to me right now.

There are some positives to the website – promoting local artisans who usually don’t have a platform to sell their goods besides urban farmers markets. Preserve also claims to donate a portion of its sales to charity.

Although celebrity lifestyle websites are quickly becoming the norm, I still commend Blake Lively for venturing outside her comfort zone. However, the website is pretty ameteurish. The purpose and vision is not clear. It tries to tug at your emotional heartstrings but that ends soon with the sticker shock. I guess the same crowd that buys t-shirts for 250 dollars at kitschy hipster boutiques would most likely order something from here.