iPhone 7: Bring back the jack

Everybody knows that Apple likes to introduce their new products with a flourish.

The black backdrop. The stage. Steve Jobs in a dark-colored turtleneck and round lenses. Spotlights. When they announce a new product, it becomes a performance.

Or some may be more familiar with Michael Fassbender playing that role in last year’s Steve Jobs biopic.

Well Steve Jobs is long gone and Michael Fassbender has no real affiliation with Apple. Tim Cook, the infamous FBI resistor, may be calling the shots now, but the company still has the same flair for the theatrics.

Those theatrics were on full display on Wednesday when Apple introduced its latest devices — the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and an Apple Watch.

iphone7

Some of the new features sound cool. Water resistance. An enhanced camera. And no headph-

Wait, am I reading that correctly?

So the company that invented the iPod and iTunes, and that has basically monopolized digital music, decided to not let people actually listen to it using headphones anymore.

That’s like Dominos announcing that the newest version of their pizza will no longer have cheese. (Or even worse, that deliveries will cease after midnight.)

And I get what Apple is trying to do. They want to continue to lead the way towards innovation. They want to continue the vision Steve Jobs created.

And they want to ultimately create a wireless world.

Well, that’s all well and good — but don’t force it upon us, dickheads.

Some people, like me, only recently decided to take the plunge to the iPhone. I didn’t necessarily do it because I thought it was the best. It’s definitely among the best, but I purchased it because most technologies nowadays specifically accommodate to Apple. Owning an iPhone just made my life easier and more pragmatic.

And now they go ahead and pull this.

One Apple executive said on Wednesday that that this decision to abandon headphone jacks was “courageous.”

So courageous that the first shipments of these new phones will contain an add-on that allows you to plug in your headphones if you want to. Courage!

This probably won’t hurt iPhone’s sales. If anything, it’s going to generate more attention towards their brand. And if Apple is really good at anything, it’s marketing themselves.

But I certainly will not be in a rush to upgrade.

I suppose I should have prefaced this post by revealing one small factoid about myself: I still use the iPod Classic for my music. And I have no shame in it. Indeed, it’s one of my most prized possessions.

At 128 gigabytes, it will never be unable to hold my entire musical library. It’s the perfect size to carry in my pocket or wear in a flap across my bicep for running. And I love the spinny wheel.

And it has a freaking headphone jack.

Apple has stopped manufacturing it, but nothing can separate me from my iPod Classic.

So Apple may be moving ahead, but I’ll remain stuck in the past.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Goodbye, Kobe Bryant. We hardly knew ye.

Before we get to today’s topic, we first have to tie up some loose ends on a few rather large news stories that have surfaced recently.

Remember the anticlimactic Apple/FBI battle? Remember the discriminatory North Carolina law that angered everybody? Remember that privileged teenager from Texas who got away with murder because his attorney claimed he suffers from “Affluenza?”

Well, there’s updates in all three of these stories, and they involve suspicious hackers, a governor’s about-face, and well deserved jail time.

First, the Washington Post exclusively reported yesterday that it was professional hackers who received a one-time fee from the FBI to crack the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter, after they contacted the bureau with knowledge of a flaw in Apple’s software.

Apple FBI2.jpgWe don’t know who these hackers are — I’m sure they’re so proficient at hacking that they can actually make a living off of it — but it’s pretty cool to know that anybody could just contact the U.S. government and help them solve a problem.

Yo, FBI, if you need blogs tips, I’m here. Just sayin’.

Secondly, Goveror Pat McCrory of North Carolina, facing intense ridicule following his “religious liberty” ordinance last week, and the threat of two major companies in PayPal and Deutsche Bank to call off proposed expansions within the state because of it, issued an executive order on Wednesday that will attempt to scale back the law so it does not encourage discrimination.

But most analysts say it’s smoke and mirrors, or too little too late, mainly because McCrory said nothing about retracting the most controversial part of the law, which disallows transgenders from using the bathroom of the gender that they now align with.

And finally, that Affluenza bitch, Ethan Couch? Yeah, he’s going to jail for two years. Thankfully.

But enough about the news.

Let me talk about Kobe Bryant. One of the most prolific athletes athletes of the last 20 years, the Kobester will call it quits after his team’s last regular season game on Wednesday night.

And yes, it took the final day of his NBA career for someone to finally call him “the Kobester.” I take full credit and I could not be more proud.

In truth, it’s been pretty upsetting to watch Kobe play this year. We’re used to his Kobe Bryant.jpgdominance. His ability to take a game over. But this year, it’s been like watching your beloved 19-year-old cat clinging to life.

You know it’s over, but you refuse to admit it.

However, at some point, you just got to put it down. And that’s why, after tonight’s game versus the Utah Jazz, the Lakers ownership will take him out back and shoot him like he’s Lenny from Of Mice and Men.

Oh wait, that’s not how it’s going to happen? He’s just going to ceremoniously retire and spend the rest of his life in his Newport Beach mansion? How … sad.

In all seriousness, for sports fans, Kobe Bryant has been synonymous with the game of basketball. Almost all people under the age of 30 never even watched basketball without Kobe Bryant.

He’s won five NBA titles, thrilled us with an astounding 81 point game 10 years ago, is the league’s third highest leading scorer of all time, and probably raped a women.

That last one is obviously not a career accomplishment, quite the opposite, but it is indeed something he’ll always be remembered for.

So it’s an and of an era, no doubt, even if he’s going out with a whimper on a team that will finish the season with no more than 17 wins, good for second-to-last in the entire NBA.

Peace, Kobe, I’ve already sort of forgotten you.

But thanks for the memories, I guess?

We were all deprived of the mega FBI/Apple showdown we’ve been waiting for

Ever since the news erupted that Apple CEO Tim Cook had refused a federal judge’s court order to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, it set in motion one of the more highly anticipated clashes in recent memory.

It was a debate of national security versus civil liberties. The government versus the tech companies. Washington versus Silicon Valley.

People from all over chimed in on the conversation. CEOs of other major tech companies. Presidential candidates. The infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden. And of course — me.

It wasn’t so much that people were dying to know what was on the San Bernardino shooter’s phone — for all we know there may have been nothing there that would have even helped the feds with their investigation.

But it was set to become a landmark case that would set a precedent of how far the U.S. government can legally intrude into into its own citizens’ personal data for investigative purposes.

Apple FBI.jpg

Tim Cook was the one taking a moral stand. He was going against the most powerful organization in the world in the United States government, and he was doing it to prevent us, the consumer, from being exploited by the very same bureaucracy that exists to protect us.

It’s drama at its finest. The stuff movies are made of. It’s the Batman vs. Superman we really wanted, one without Ben Affleck.

And then, today, the government dropped the case because they found a way to open it without Apple’s help. The end.

Talk about anticlimactic! Geez.

It’s like going to the movies, ordering your ridiculously overbuttered popcorn, smoking a doobie in the bathroom, and then taking your seat, rearing to go, only to have an usher come up to you and tell you in one sentence how the movie ends rather then allowing you to actually watch it.

We were deprived of what would have been some world-class drama.

The irony, of course, is that now Apple is the one that is demanding the government to let them know how in the world they managed to open it, so they can continue to improve their own security moving forward.

And the government has absolutely zero obligation to tell them. And just like that, Tim Cook transforms from a martyr into a fool.

The battle is still far from over. Another instance will surely pop up, most likely sooner than later, where the government will request a company like Apple to unlock a device for what they claim are for national security purposes.

But it still won’t be the same. Sequels are never as good as the original.

Especially when the original didn’t live up to the hype.

I blame Ben Affleck for everything.

Privacy — that thing everybody knows they should care about … but still doesn’t.

If it wasn’t for the whistle-blowing NSA contractor Edward Snowden, we would likely never know the extent in which governments invade privacy in order to protect national security.

And there’s really no doubting that government agencies like the FBI are trying to catch the bad guys. But with practically no oversight and regulations against them, it’s only natural that unlimited power will eventually be abused.

But since Snowden’s revelations regarding the U.S. government’s surveillance of its own citizens in 2013, privacy has at least entered national consciousness. This is the digital age, where technology is advancing at an exceptional pace, and the means in which governments can track us are becoming more and more intrusive.

At the same time, terrorism is still a significant threat, and if advanced technology can be used to thwart potential attacks on our country, why not use it?

iPhone hack.jpgThe fundamental question has become this: how much of our privacy are we willing to sacrifice in order to allow our government free rein to track suspicious behavior? Is there a limit?

If you ask Apple CEO Tim Cook, the answer is yes.

The company on Tuesday rejected a federal court order to essentially create a universal backdoor method that could unlock every iPhone and divulge all of the information inside of. The FBI wants it so they could unlock the phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Why Apple is so adamant about refusing this order is because they purposely created their latest operating systems with encryption that couldn’t be unlocked. No such method exists to universally unlock every iPhone, a policy Apple instituted to protect consumer privacy.

The creation of a universal “skeleton key,” Apple insists, would not only give its wielder the potential to unlock any phone at will, but also presents the risk of it falling into the hands of international hackers.

Which is exactly the reason why Apple never created one.

The FBI claims that it would only be used on a one-time basis — a notion that Apple says is impossible to guarantee; once the knowledge of how to unlock every phone exists, it can never be erased, they say.

It’s truly a complicated issue, one in which you can understand both sides of the Tim Cookargument, and may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. Which, in turn, would make it a truly landmark case that could set the standard for privacy moving forward.

Snowden, meanwhile, made his stance perfectly clear, calling this the most “important
tech case in a decade.” As did Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who also expressed his support for Apple (although somewhat belatedly).

Unfortunately, I still don’t think this is enough to pique the average person’s interest — at least not for more than a few days. And the reason is simple: people understand the importance of privacy, and would never want their own personal information to be made accessible, but yet, they refuse to believe that they are seriously at risk.

Who in the world would want my information, is what most people ask.

And they’re not wrong. No one probably does. But the moment we surrender the desire to protect our privacy is the moment it ceases to exist. And by extension of that, we also surrender a bit of our freedom.

… says the guy who has detailed his life and thoughts in a blog almost every day for more than six years.

I’ll shut up now.