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June 2010

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I received my iPhone 4 today, a day earlier than expected, and wanted to give my quick thoughts. There will be plenty of tech reviews surfacing over the next week, but here is a personal perspective from someone who owned an iPhone 3g.

The first thing I noticed when handling the phone is how solid it felt. It feels like a solid slab of glass in your hand. Don’t let that confuse you though. That doesn’t mean it feels like it is fragile. On the contrary, it feels much stronger than my 3g. It just feels great in my hands. The second thing I noticed about the phone was how beautiful the screen is. Seriously, this is the best screen I’ve ever seen on such a small device. The text is extremely crisp and everything seems to just pop off the screen. It truly is magnificent. The last thing I noticed is just how fast it is. It is so much faster at launching apps, downloading data, and searching than my 3g ever was. Now that I have this and look back at the 3g I wonder how I ever managed. It seriously feels like going from dial-up to broadband. That is the best comparison for device speed I can come up with. Things are instant to load and update. Just these three updates have made this phone feel like the greatest piece of technology to fit in the palm of my hand.

Of course there are tons of new features that I have yet to get into, especially with iOS4, but I’ll let all the tech sites handle those reviews. Just know that the updates, such as multitasking and fast app switching, as well as the 512mb of RAM and 1 ghz processor make this phone a great device and Apple has made me fall in love all over again.

In the event of my Demise
when my heart can beat no more
I Hope I Die For A Principle
or A Belief that I had Lived 4
I will die Before My Time
Because I feel the shadow’s Depth
so much I wanted 2 accomplish
before I reached my Death
I have come 2 grips with the possibility
and wiped the last tear from My eyes
I Loved All who were Positive
In the event of my Demise

Tupac Amaru Shakur
June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996

Happy Birthday, ‘Pac. Gone but never forgotten.

Apple is known for designing products that elicit strong emotions. They rebranded the personal computer and made it colorful and fun. Last night I began thinking about how they are playing towards your emotions with the iPhone 4 and how they do it better than anybody else, especially for a product that is essentially a cell phone.

The driving force behind me thinking about this is the video for the new iPhone 4 feature Facetime. The other night I showed my parents the video and as they watched smiles formed across their faces and stayed there through the entire video. I showed the video to my sister this evening and she felt strong emotions toward the scene where the husband/future-father was seeing a sonogram live via a cell-phone. Her reaction was of sadness. I think we could all find a situation in the video where we could replace the actors with ourselves quite easily. The music, a Louis Armstrong tune, is even perfect for the video’s theme. It does not distract you from the images that flow across the screen but greatly enhances the emotions you feel while watching them. Even when you take a look at the more technical video of the iPhone 4 you feel strong emotions. You are drawn to the beauty of the device and the excitement from the people in the video transfer to the viewer. The iPhone 4 marketing material is warm, inviting, and emotional.

This is the exact opposite of every other smartphone commercial out there. When you see the Palm Pre commercial you’re greeted with a creepy looking woman that looks like that might be a Borg Queen. When you look at any of the Droid commercials you’re presented with cold, hard, emotionless machinery. I don’t know who thought that these smartphones should only be seen as a tool and not something that should be part of our daily lives, but whoever they are, they need to be fired. Apple’s people did it right.

I’m loving the moves that the St. Louis Cardinals are making this year. In the face of a struggling pitching staff, roller coaster hitting performances, and general fan unease, the Cardinals have made some very noteworthy additions to the team. First we picked up Aaron Miles, one of the best lawn gnomes to ever play the game. Then we signed the .213 slugger Randy Winn, making St. Louis the 5th team that didn’t really want him but signed him anyway. Hot off the signing of former Cardinal Aaron Miles, and picking up Randy Winn, the Cardinals decided to sign a struggling former Cardinal pitcher, Jeff Suppan.

Jeff Suppan is coming back to the St. Louis Cardinals.

He will be joining the team in Phoenix and hopes to be active early next week. He will be signing for the pro-rated minimum, his agent Scott Leventhal said.

Suppan has not officially signed yet because the Cardinals have to work out some issues with the 40-man roster.

He was released by the Brewers on Monday after going 0-2 with a 7.84 ERA in 15 games.

Suppan pitched for the Cardinals from 2004-06 and was 44-26 with a 3.85 ERA, the best 3-year span in his career. He was the MVP in the 2006 NLCS, winning Game 7 over the Mets.

Suppan signed with the Brewers as a free agent in December of 2006. He was 29-36 with a 5.08 ERA in Milwaukee.

He is 35. STLToday

The Cardinals aren’t stopping there though. No, rumor has it that they are in talks of signing even more has-been players. After being petitioned by fans to get Jack Clark off the air, the Cardinals have signed him to a year long contract as a bench player. Also, negotiations are well under way with Dizzy and Daffy Dean‘s corpses. They are expected to join the Cardinals for the Seattle series.

I give hipsters a lot of shit for, well, being hipsters, but there’s another group of people who were around before the hipster fad. They dress a certain way, listen to music “you’ve never heard of,” and are generally people in their 20’s and early 30’s. Some could even say they directly contributed to the hipster fad. I’m talking about hip hop’s very own hipsters, the backpackers.

So what is a backpacker? Well, here is the definition that Wikipedia has for the minority group of hip hop heads.

“Backpacker” was originally a slang term from the 1980s for a graffiti artist who always wore a backpack containing his music collection and, more importantly, his spraypaint cans, markers, and spray tips. Typically, the music collection would consist of local underground rap/hip-hop music artists. The term gradually came to refer to someone with this musical taste, and now has almost nothing to do with graffiti (although certain “backpackers” may participate in graffiti “tagging.”)

It has come full circle now and is sometimes used as a derogatory term by the mainstream to describe underground hip hop fans.

One thing the Wikipedia entry left out is the typical dress of a backpacker. Yeah, the backpack is an essential item, just like white belts or aviator sunglasses are for hipsters. What else might a backpacker wear? They are not rocking hipster flannel. Backpackers don’t wear the typical clothing associated with the urban youth: baggy jeans and XXXXXXL t-shirts. Since backpackers tend to be more educated, or want to appear so, they would wear more “preppy” clothing. Remember when Kanye West hit the mainstream and you saw him wearing polos and sweater vests? That’s what a lot of backbackers wore or still wear. Perhaps you can think of the style as urban prep.

The biggest thing that hipsters and backpackers have in common is their love of music. Hipsters are always on the cutting edge of music and like obscure bands you’ve never heard of. I’m sure you’ve probably heard the joke “How many hipsters does it take to screw in a light bulb? Some obscure number you’ve probably never heard of.” Backpackers are the exact same way. They want you to know who they listen to and that what they listen to is the best. Aesop Rock, CunninLynguists, Blue Scholars, Tonedeff, Binary Star, Atmosphere, and Little Brother might all be in the playlist of these hip hop hipsters. Their love for these artists might not last long though. Like a lot of hipsters, backpackers will lose interest in a musician as soon as they hit the mainstream, uttering phrases like, “I liked him before he went mainstream.” The same backpackers that rallied around Kanye when he released College Dropout are the same ones that are saying how much he sucks on 808’s and Heartbreaks.

So, am I a backpacker? Well, I am and I’m not. I don’t carry around a backpack and I don’t wear sweater vests. That being said, I do think the music I listen to is better than what is played on mainstream radio. That has less to do with me liking an artist just because they are underground than it has to do with anything played on the radio is so broken down and formulaic that it just sucks. Most of the artists I listen to are “underground,” but I would love to see them hit the mainstream. These artist deserve a wider audience and I would celebrate that fact. So there you have it. Hip hop has hipsters too.