Posts by David Bethala

Computer science undergraduate with a strong passion for technology (particularly BlackBerry devices) and tennis! I enjoy the littlest sparks of life and almost everything intrigues me.

The Reality I Didn’t Want to Face

The truth is: this blog post is motivated by a fallacy. I lied. I lied to you and, more disappointingly, I lied to myself.

This is, in many ways, the written piece I never wanted to produce. It’s the one I foresaw one day and dreaded the possibility of the reality facing me now. And, no, it’s not because I’m rectifying a lie. It’s because I didn’t want to face or accept the truth. As many of you know, earlier this last month, I took a trip to visit a friend. Someone I had known for such a long time and, honestly, couldn’t wait to see.

I wrote a blog post about the experience, which you can read here. Was everything in that post a lie? No. All of those feelings, those emotions, that story, they’re all very real and very present, even now. What wasn’t true, was the spin I put on the experience I had visiting her.

I just want to say that the only reason I’m writing this post  is because I have to maintain the integrity of my blog and my own personal shards of dignity. Integrity because I wrote of an experience and published it. Dignity because I can no longer stand to mask what wasn’t an entirely positive experience as an overly astounding one. It wasn’t and I cannot stand by any other assertion.

Really, I hate writing this. I hate being negative, exposing this part of my life. But I can’t be dishonest, either. My only hope is that something positive emerges from the depths of my blunder. Anyway, the truth of the matter is that my trip to Wisconsin to visit my friend didn’t end on 11 January when I flew back home to Philadelphia.

No, it ended this past weekend, along with, seemingly, my friendship with the very person I went to meet. Make no mistake: these words are like daggers.

It hurts. It stings.

To elaborate a bit, my trip was not all “fun and games” like I was hoping (and probably the both of us were hoping). Instead, there was silence. Lots and lots of silence. There were many, many awkward moments. There were many times I felt downright unwelcome and unliked. I felt like a stranger, a sub-human when I thought I’d be feeling at home next to one of my very best friends. I felt embarassed and destroyed inside. I felt saddened that the fears I had conjured before I went to visit had become my reality. I felt that what I had spent, emotionally, monetarily, and physically, didn’t bear fruit.

On my way home, during a layover in Chicago, I had time to reflect. Disappointed Eagles fans heading home were watching the Cowboys and Packers, hoping Green Bay would win, not because they were fans, but because as Philadelphians, you cannot like the Cowboys. Watching that game, I had never wanted a football team to win more badly than I had wanted the Cowboys to win on that day. I don’t even like football. That says it all.

Sitting in that terminal and thinking about what had happened, that the event I had counted down towards over 93 days was over. Not only was it over, it was over in the worst possible way. I had not only had a strange experience, but I may have lost my friend as well. The sheer thought had me fighting back tears. Could you imagine? A 21-year-old guy with a tear-smeared face in the middle of one of America’s busiest airports? But that’s what happened. I couldn’t wait to get home. The sad part is, I couldn’t wait to get home a day-and-a-half after landing in Minneapolis.

As I had mentioned earlier, I knew the risk of meeting my online friend. I knew the potential existed for the physical meeting to destroy everything. I thought I knew her. I thought she knew me. I thought it would happen as I hoped it would. It didn’t. Was I about to give up, though? Not a chance.

“Perhaps I could still rescue it,” I thought.

Because giving up would indicate that the past year didn’t mean anything to me. That I had spent that time getting to know someone disposable; someone I could just simply throw out of my life and forget. I’m not that kind of person. And she isn’t someone I wanted to forget. I didn’t talk to her for three weeks. I purposefully avoided interactions on any medium, whether it be Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, because I didn’t want to talk to her before I was ready. The trip had certainly created a rift between us, but I wanted so badly to fix it.

During those three weeks, I berated and cursed myself thinking I had done or said something wrong, that I had offended her in some way, that I had done the last thing on earth I wanted to do to her in some way I didn’t even know. I kept blaming myself. It’s in my nature to assume a problem is my fault. My friends encouraged me to keep trying, but when they came to know the true nature of the trip, even they told me it’s better off giving up. But, for me, giving up wasn’t an option. This was my friend and I wanted to keep her friendship, regardless of what it meant to me. That’s how much it meant to me.

So after three weeks of silence, I finally mustered up the courage to ask what had happened and, begrudgingly, I got an answer. The answer, I’ll say, left a sour taste. It only left me with more questions. It left me frustrated and confused, much akin to the prior three weeks. It seems, though, that my inquiries will go unanswered.

An abrupt end to the conversation seemingly brought an end to everything. It was clear to me that this relationship was just about done and that I had lost my friend.

Yes, it’s sad. I’m still bothered by it, even now. How could it not? Writing this blog post; it really hurt. We both had so much excitement for this trip and to see it spiral so extremely out of control was depressing to see. Still, I maintained that we could be friends. Despite that. Despite my friends telling me it wasn’t worth it. In the end, from my perspective, it looks like they were right.

I don’t want to end on a negative tone, because I’m an optimist. I gained so much from this trip as well. For one, online friendships are a beautiful and real medium of relationships. My one bad experience has not, in any way, deterred me from any of the other friendships I’ve formed over Twitter and other social media platforms. I value them as much as I did before. My hope is still to meet many of them. Secondly, over the past three weeks, I’ve learned what amazing friends I really have, whether they be in-person or online through social media platforms. In fact, I’ve strengthed seven of my friendships over the three weeks since I’ve returned. They’ve been so incredibly supportive of me and were very understanding of why it hurt as much as it did (you know who you guys are so, thank you!).

I’ll conclude with this. My friends mean the world to me. I’ve lost close friends in the past so I know what it’s like to physically lose someone. That’s why I’ll go to any lengths to preserve a relationship with someone I care about, even if it means I have to degrade and humble myself, a view that most of my friends don’t share. But even I can only go so far and make so much of an effort before I feel like I need to start looking after myself as well. I’m very grateful for the experience.

I’m grateful that I got to meet her and see her world. I’m grateful to her for what she’s done for me, not just in those four days, but in the past year. There has to be a reason I tried to save it, right?

But, honestly, never give up on a friend. Because if you’re truly meant to be friends, you’ll find a way through anything. Because even now, despite the experience and snubbing, in the face of all of my friends calling me a naive, foolish idiot, a part of me doesn’t want to give up on this.

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My First Week as a Mac User

The end of 2014 and 2015 have brought with them lots of changes for me. In November I got my first iPhone and, last week, I decided to take the plunge and get my first Mac. I decided upon the mid-2014 13” MacBook Pro with Retina Display with 256GB storage.

I’ve been a Windows user for years. For a period of time, I even considered myself a “Windows fan,” but, really, that was because I never really took the time to get to know OS X and the Mac environment. I loved the design and sleekness of MacBooks and tried so hard to find a Windows equivalent, but with no luck. When I changed my major to computer science a couple of years ago, I decided that the advantages of having a Mac were worth the of the machine . Most of my peers had one and they were very happy with theirs. I had resolved to get a Mac long before I even considered an iPhone as my smartphone of choice. Of course, the fact that I already had an iPhone makes the MacBook all the more alluring and creates a type of synergy unique in mobile and desktop computing.

So, after a week of having one, here are my initial thoughts and a round-up of my favourite apps/programs so far.

What I like – Hardware:

General Notebook – I’m not necessarily talking about specs here, but just the way the notebook feels while I’m using it. It’s very well-built and isn’t as heavy as I thought it would be. Ventilation seems to work well as I don’t really hear any fans. The keyboard is great. The Retina Display is gorgeous. Really, there’s nothing about the Mac’s hardware that I’m missing.

Multi-touch Gestures – I’m very impressed with the multi-touch gestures on Apple’s trackpad. Every gesture works well almost every time, and most are very natural. For instance, pinch-to-zoom in the web browser works just like a smartphone’s touch gesture. Pinching brings up Launchpad (the list of all installed programs) and a four-finger swipe up brings up Mission Control (all open programs). These are just a few of many but the implementation here is near-flawless.

What I Don’t Like – Hardware:

Wrist positioning – Perhaps I’m just grasping at straws here, but the only real gripe I have with this MacBook is that when I type in a natural position, the edge of the computer feels a bit sharp on my wrist. I have tiny wrists so I don’t know if that’s a factor but I can feel it when I type. Not a huge deal, but one nonetheless.

A Speck SmartShell encases my MacBook Pro

A Speck SmartShell encases my MacBook Pro

What I Like – Software:

OS X 10.10 Yosemite – As Temple students, we have access to both Windows machines and Macs for use around campus. When I decided to get a Mac, I maximized the amount of time I spent using one. Therefore, the transition from Windows to Mac wasn’t terribly bad for me. I’ve gotten used to the Dock and the Menu Bar at the top. Having my “X” button in the top-left vs top-right on Windows took a bit of adjusting, but that didn’t take long to get used to either. Finder is very similar to File Explorer on Windows and the two work identically. I also like just using the Terminal and working from the Command Line, from where I can remotely access my school projects through ssh.

What I Don’t Like – Software:

Mac App Store – Really, this is the only point of contention on the software side of things. The Mac App Store is nothing like its iOS counterpart. It’s filled with third-party substitutes for common smartphone apps and very few of the most notable developers have dedicated Mac apps. On a computer, this isn’t really a big deal, but to have a prominent store so devoid of apps is hard to look at.

What Apps and Software I’m using So Far (and Liking):

Safari – Just a tad embarassed to say it, but I’m actually enjoying Safari on my Mac. My experience so far has been a fast and fluid browsing experience. I haven’t heard too many great things about Google Chrome on Mac OS so I’m just a bit apprehensive to install and use it. In my opinion, Apple’s built a great browser in Safari and it does everything I need it to do quickly.

Safari syncing on my iPhone

Safari syncing on my iPhone

Mail, Contacts, Calendar – Mail works as well as I could ask. All my emails come in around the same time as they come in on my phone and I get a notification in Notification Center. It just works. Calender and Contacts work in much the same way and everything was brought over from my phone to my computer.

iTunes – I didn’t use iTunes much on my Windows laptop but I’ve started using it more now that I have a system on which it works well. It helps me manage my iPhone but, more importantly, I have access to all the music I’ve ever purchased through the service and that’s all I really need.

Twitter – I didn’t even know there was a Twitter app for Mac until after I tried TweetDeck. For me, TweetDeck is a bit much. It takes up most of the screen and I don’t need all of the features TweetDeck offers, such as the activity of those I follow. Twitter is a good, minimalist app and offers integration with the Menu Bar that adds just a splash of extra convenience.

Pages – I actually had Microsoft Office installed on my Mac through my family’s Office 365 subscription. But when I saw that it actually installed around 11 programs, most of which I won’t even use, I decided to uninstall them and try Apple’s native offerings (and 256GB can fill up quickly). Pages is Apple’s answer to Microsoft Word and, so far, it’s more than satisfactory for my needs. I’ve enjoyed using it and, actually, I’m beginning to prefer it to MS applications on Mac OS.

Desk – Desk is a very minimalist blogging app for Mac. It’s a bit pricey at $30, but I decided to give it a try and, so far, I’m quite happy. It lets me store my drafts locally and publish to my WordPress or Tumblr sites when I’m ready. There are lots of in-text options and makes adding media to my writing very easy. So far, it’s been well-worth it.

Day One – 2015 brought with it a new resolution for me; to write more. Day One is a journaling application that allows me to add photos, location, weather, etc. It has an iPhone app and the two sync seamlessly. The constant reminds on my Mac compel me to write in it almost every day.

OneDriveDropbox, Google Drive – With 15GB on Google Drive, 15GB on Dropbox, 20GB on iCloud, and about 1TB on OneDrive, I’m covered as far as cloud storage is concerned. Each of those services has different data stored on them so I do need all of them.

Xcode – Apple’s iOS and Mac OS application IDE. I haven’t had much of a chance to use it yet, but learning Swift is a goal of mine and one I intend to pursue. Connecting my iPhone also automatically opens up Developer Mode options on my iPhone, which is great because it eliminates having to use a simulator.

Netbeans, Android Studio, MySQLWorkbench – Netbeans and MySQLWorkbench are specifically applications I use for school. Most programming assignments are done in Java and it’s preferred that we use Netbeans as opposed to Eclipse. MySQLWorkbench is a great tool for remote web development work (also done for school). I also have a class on Android app development this semester so Android Studio (Google’s IDE for Android development) so it will be a program used much during an long after this semester ends.

Continuity – This is one of Apple’s most powerful features. When a Mac and iOS device are signed in with the same Apple ID and are on the same wireless network, SMS and

Texts on my iPhone and my Mac Messages app

Texts on my iPhone and my Mac Messages app

iMessages are sent to my Mac as well as my iPhone. Everything syncs in real-time and the end result is seamless. Phone calls can be answered through my Mac as well and. Safari syncs between the devices and will allow me to open tabs on one device when they’re open on the other. Mail works in the same manner.

What I’m Looking Ahead to Doing:

I’d like to install Parallels software and run Windows 10 (eventually) in a virtualized environment. So far the only real program I’d like to have on my Mac that I can’t have conventionally is Visual Studio.

Final Thoughts (for now):

A lot of people told me that a Mac is “a waste of money.” I have to disagree. For me, it’s an ideal machine. As a computer science student, I’m required to devleop software for a range of different operating systems. Macs are the only computers capable of running Windows, Linux, and Mac OS on one machine. Besides that, I’m really enjoying my Mac experience thus far. Everything works and works well. I have access to everything I did on my Windows computer and now that I have an iPhone, I have a lot of extra functionality. I’ve longed for the capability to come home, plug my phone in and stil have access to everything on my computer. My MacBook makes that a reality. I’m much more deeply entrenched within Apple’s ecosystem than I had ever imagined, but this kind of synergy is very powerful. I can see why so many people opt for this duopoly. Independently, both my iPhone and MacBook are powerful devices, but I feel that, in tandem, these two together really shine. When I get home from school or work, I want to just leave my phone in one place and use my Mac for everything.

From BBM to Wisconsin: Realizing The Dream of Meeting My Online Best Friend

Ever think about your best friend and think about how you met? The strange interactions that led you to trusting that person enough to share with them your deepest fears, joys, secrets, vulnerabilities, and the other things you can’t talk about with just anyone? When I met my childhood best friends eighteen years ago, our first communication was an exchange of insults.

When I met her, it was a tweet over phones.

If you know me on social media (namely Twitter, but sort of Facebook as well), then you know who this “her” is.

September 2013 is when I like think my Twitter account was “really born.” I’ve actually had it since 2011 but never could quite grasp the concept or see its necessity in my life. While struggling with how hashtags worked and what the “@“ meant, I followed a bunch of people who I believed had interests similar to my own (or, at the very least, shared one interest with me). Roger Federer had lost in the 4th Round of the US Open (darn you, Tommy Robredo) and Rafael Nadal ended up winning the tournament that September over Novak Djokovic in the final (still wondering how that happened). What that meant for me was the beginning of a small period of time when I didn’t want to look at or talk about tennis. So I pursued one of my other passions on social media; BlackBerry.

Trying to, in a sense, “establish myself,” on Twitter, I followed a ton of BlackBerry users and employees and got over the shyness of tweeting “at” someone rather quickly. It was during this period of Twitter nascence that I stumbled across a discussion about virtual keyboards and haptic feedback or speakers or something about a BlackBerry device. It was between a man (whom I had recognized from other BlackBerry communities) and a girl I had never seen before. I assume I had some kind of an opinion because I responded. I clicked on her profile.

Lauren Kortbein @laurenkortbein

She was very clearly someone who’s passion for BlackBerry far exceeded my own and someone who was quite recognizable and outspoken in the BlackBerry community. If my goal was to build a foundation of users based on my passion for BlackBerry, she was someone I had to follow. So I followed her. She was just another BlackBerry user. Nothing more. But she was probably the first BlackBerry user I followed that was close to me in age (it appeared, anyway), so I found her slightly more relatable than the rest.

Reflecting back, I don’t remember how many times I responded to BlackBerry-related tweets from Lauren. Her tweets were always so amusing and so full of excitement. Her obsession with cars became equally as apparent as her passion for BlackBerry and technology in general. But she was still, very much, a normal 21-year-old college girl. One particular interaction about the movie Bridesmaids comes to mind, particuarly because I responded and was compelled to promise Lauren I’d watch the movie (which I did end up doing).

We quite clearly had many exchanges over that autumn and winter. By February and March, I’d say she was my most frequent Twitter mention. There was seldom a day when we didn’t interact with each others’ tweets.

By mid-March, the 140 character restraint Twitter imposes on its communications felt far too cramped for what felt like a burgeoning friendship, and one that could work. I sent her my BBM PIN on direct message through Twitter and we finally could talk in private with messages of any length. She was the same on BBM as she was on Twitter; funny, bubbly, easily excitable, and very, very friendly.

Lauren was one of the primary reasons I decided to upgrade my Z10 to a Z30 when I did and she was also the one who celebrated with me the most over Twitter and BBM. It was then I really began to feel like we were friends. Over the next few months we exchanged BBMs and had a few conversations here and there. Over Twitter, thanks to my big mouth, I inadvertantly promised her an Audi R8 for her birthday (which is a the end of May). As someone who takes promises very, very seriously, I did what most poor college students do when they can’t afford something; I improvised. I sent her a model R8 and a birthday and made absolutely certain it would arrive on her day. The idea of sending a gift to a girl I’d known only online was a bit strange, but her reaction justified it instantly. I’d do it again.

The following months that consisted of my summer almost exclusively belonged to Lauren. It started with a discussion about an episode of MTV’s Catfish: The TV Show and our relationship really took off from there. I wasn’t a particular fan of the series but I looked forward to our “Catfish Wednesday” where we’d both watch the newest episode together, but apart. Catfish was only one of the many shows we watched over the summer. If you follow Lauren, then you’re very well aware of her fondness for Netflix. The next three months was

The craziness of watching anything with Lauren

The craziness of watching anything with Lauren

filled with shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Wilfred, amongst others. One night Lauren came home after watching the movie The Fault in Our Stars and told me how much of a fantastic book and film it is. I ordered the book instantly and finished it just a few days later.

I should say that none of the above television shows or books are in my usual scope of things I enjoy watching. I don’t really like reality TV (though us watching a show like Catfish is really quite poetic) or comedies like OitNB. I’m much more into heavy stories, psychologial shows, cyberpunk, and science fiction. But I was changing as a person. I was becoming more open-minded about what I chose to watch and, let’s face it, I took any excuse I could to talk to Lauren. Anything at all. That’s how much I enjoyed our time “together.”

Our relationship was changing, too. Whereas prior to the summer we just casually talked every once in a while about BlackBerry or something we saw on Twitter, we began to talk more about what we were watching, our lives, day-to-day things, and outlying acitivities. If something happened, Lauren would be the first person I’d tell about it. It was quickly becoming the case that she’d be the person I’d talk to after waking up and the last person I’d say “goodnight” to at night. She was the only one of my friends with whom I could talk to over the course of an entire day. My friendship with her was different than any of my others, despite being much shorter than most.

The day we had our first video chat was significant in that it was an otherwise miserble day for me. Earlier that same day I had received my first speeding ticket and just talking to her salvaged my entire day. Actually, it did more than simply “salvage” it; it turned it almost completely on its head. That’s what a friend is supposed to do.

As the summer grew to a close, I was sad that the whirlwind of an incoming semester was going to really limit the amount of time I can spend talking to my friends and what I can do for my own pleasure. Still, we maintained a fantastic relationship. However, it was quickly approaching the point to where phone calls, photos, video chats; these mediums were not enough. I had come to the point where I really, really wanted to meet her. I wanted to meet Lauren. But I needed an excuse.

My excuse came in the form of a trip to Louisiana. My dad (who lives in Louisiana) didn’t seem as though he’d make it home for Christmas. So I decided to take a trip to the warm South just after Christmas. I’d bifurcate the trip so that the first half would be in Louisiana and the second half would be in Wisconsin. I though I had a foolproof plan.

When I asked Lauren whether it was even a good idea to meet, to my surprise and relief, she not only loved the idea, but really couldn’t wait for the day to arrive. I had honestly thought she’d shy away from the idea; that I was much too boring of a person worth her meeting, let alone stay in her house for four days. But she was excited and that really helped me in my determination to make it work. We had actually joked about one of us visiting the other over the summer, but it just seemed to be one of those things you only envision actually doing. Never did I imagine it may become my reality. I had dreams of it. I was on the cusp of fulfilling it.

Explaining it to my parents was a battle I was dreading to have to fight. My sister and mom knew who Lauren was, but neither was convinced I knew her well enough to actually go see her. When I told my mom, she panicked. For her, this was a new leap on so many levels. Keep in mind that my parents grew up in India and my mom has really only been in the United States for about two years longer than me. Her reservations are fueled by cultural and, to a very real extent, practical concerns. For one, this was the first time I was going to be traveling to see someone not in my family. Moreover, no one but me acutally knew Lauren. Secondly, I was going to see a girl (a white girl, at that). This sounded off so many cultural alarms. Her concern instantly turned to who else would know. I had no intention of keeping my trip a secret, and why should I? I was proud of Lauren; proud of who she is and proud that I can call her my friend. Up until the day I left my mom kept trying to sway me away, if not from the trip then from the idea of staying with her in her apartment. But I couldn’t.

I didn’t bother explaining Lauren to my father. As traditional as my mother is, my father is ten times as worse. There’s nothing wrong with being traditional, but when it errs on the side of unreasonable, my explanation seemed as it would fall on deaf ears. So I lied and told him Lauren was actually a male friend whom I had met in university and transferred to the University of Wisconsin. Yes, it was wrong to lie, and I felt even worse telling Lauren that I had to lie about who she is just so I could go see her.

I never really gained full approval from my mother, but I didn’t have time to wait on her either. So I bought my tickets for New Orleans and Minneapolis. The dream to see Lauren one day was no longer a dream; it was a reality in the making.

93 days marked the difference between purchasing the tickets and the date we’d meet. That’s all.

Turned out to be a longer 93 days than either of us had envisioned. Over the course of that period, the both of us had switched platforms; BlackBerry 10 to iOS. Had this been any other relationship this change would’ve been so trivial it wouldn’t have even been worth mentioning. But the only reason Lauren and I knew each other was because of our mutual passion for BlackBerry. Ironically by the time we’d meet, neither of us would be on the platform that brought us together.

As our BBMs became texts and then iMessages, we grew even closer over those 93 days. As the semester became more stressful it felt like Lauren was a constant stream of support, and I was one for her (I hope, anyway). It felt great. There were many instances where, despite the fact that we had never met, it felt like she was more than just a friend. I never told her that, of course, but it did.

Before our meeting, I did a bit of research into others who had met their online friends for the first time and what the experience was like. While I was beyond excited to finally meet her, I was also very, very afraid. Many aspects of this trip scared me. For one, Lauren loves to drink and even works at a brewery. I don’t drink alcohol at all. I worried it would make her feel strange drinking around me. I worried that maybe we wouldn’t actually like each other in person, at least not as much as we did over text. Finally, I was concerned that our friendship wouldn’t survive the meeting. There’s something special about having a friend you’ve never met. A certain secrecy surrounds them. Would we lose that which made our relationship unique? I had so many doubts. I carried them all the way to New Orleans and Minneapolis.

The excitement of meeting Lauren kept me awake on several occasions far longer than I would have liked. I was okay with that. Seeing the countdown tweets decrement each day reminded me how close I was to living a dream. I only hoped that it was a dream for Lauren, too. Before long, January 8 arrived.

One of the most significant text exchanges we've ever had

One of the most significant text exchanges we’ve ever had

I spent more time that morning getting ready to travel than I had on any previous morning in recent memory. I had to look my best. I was meeting the girl to whom I had given the better part of the last year. Our meeting was delayed about four hours because of brutal weather conditions in Chicago and Minneapolis. It didn’t do much to calm my nerves. After all, as much as I knew Lauren, I was still meeting her for the first time. It’s a strange dynamic. The delay felt painful, as if some higher power was trying to drag this out as long as possible. The taxi to the runway felt like it took forever. But I was soon on my way to Minneapolis; to Lauren.

Landing in Minneapolis and just walking out of the gate was an event in itself. For the first time, we were in the same place, separated by just yards and feet. Admittedly, I tried to prolong the meeting myself by going to baggage claim first and then finding Lauren. But this poor girl had waited far longer than she should have. I had to find her, and find her I did.

The tall, beautiful blonde-haired girl with gorgeous blue eyes and an even prettier smile. I found her. I embraced her and I really didn’t want to let go. I finally had my Lauren.

All the initial awkwardness I was warned about didn’t exist between us. It was like old friends meeting for yet another time. That night we went out shopping for a bit, had dinner, and made the hour trip home.

There were so many instances during which I just looked at Lauren in disbelief. I couldn’t believe it was really her walking next to me, sitting next to me, talking to me. There were times when I couldn’t believe I was sitting in her beloved galactic blue Jetta (which is quite a stunning car, really). Surreal is the only word I can use to describe what I felt over the four short days together.

The organizer Lauren and her team designed for her class. She had one made for me with my initials engraved. On top, a pamphlet from the Leinenkugel brewery where she works.

The organizer Lauren and her team designed for her class. She had one made for me with my initials engraved. On top, a pamphlet from the Leinenkugel brewery where she works.

While together, we watched quite a bit of Netflix. Something as simple as sitting on the same couch in the same room and watching the same thing together was significant in itself. We had watched so much apart so this was something I had truly relished.

Before going to Wisconsin, many of my friends remarked that there was “nothing to see there.” I truly enjoyed myself. From the Leinenkugel brewery (where Lauren works) to the snow-covered plains and small, far away towns, Wisconsin has an identity of its own. For someone from the hustle and bustle of southeastern Pennsylvania who’s grown up in and is used to life in the city of Philadelphia, Wisconsin was welcome change. Everyone seemed kinder and more personable. The towns with their French or Native American names seemed further apart and quaint. It was hard to believe that I was even still in the same country. But I would go back to Wisconsin again, and just because Lauren lives there, but because it truly is a beautiful place.

I knew that Sunday was going to come quickly and it did. It’s always difficult saying “goodbye” to a loved one but it’s even more difficult when you don’t know if or when you’ll see the other person again. It was a tough morning.

Lauren and I are very different people. She’s very much a typical American girl as much as she is different. She’s from a quaint town in Wisconsin and has lived a fairly normal life. I’m the son of immigrants from India and grew up in the metro area that is Philadelphia. She’s a fan of Aaron Rodgers. I’m a fan of Roger Federer. She loves comedies and reality TV. I love fiction, adventure, fantasy, and science fiction. Lauren’s car is her pride, her obsession. She spends hours tweaking it, cleaning it, and making it, well, whatever you make cars. I spend hours perfecting my serve, getting the toss right, the speed right, making sure no one can tell where that ball’s going to land. Lauren and I represent two different but equal sides of America. It was a mutual passion for BlackBerry that brought us together and, even though neither of us used a BlackBerry when we met, our relationship evolved past our mutual interest through a medium still
in its relative infancy. We’re two people from two very different fragments of reality, but we have a real relationship. A real friendship.

When I reflect back to what Lauren initially started out to me, it amazes me that we’ve become as close as we have. If someone had told me just six months I ago that I’d actually go to Wisconsin to see her, I’d have doubted them to no end. But even then, the signs were there. I changed because of Lauren. I became open to things, media, ideas, relationships I had been so closed off to before I knew her. She changed me. I had never worked harder for any relationship in my life before I met her. She’s made me a better person. She’s made me want to become a better me. That’s when you know you really care about someone.

A lot of you already know Lauren. If you’ve never met her, she is one of the happiest people you can meet. It’s not a false happiness, either. She exudes a general content with life. She’s the kind of person you want to take with you everywhere you go because she can find fun in even the most mundane activities. Life is just more fun and enjoyable with Lauren. She’s also much, much prettier in person. She’s gorgeous in her photos, but they don’t do her complete justice. What stuck me though was how memorable her laugh was. I’d heard her laugh so many times on the phone, but hearing her laugh in person is so different. When she laughs, you want to laugh with her. It’s so genuine.

I’ve learned so much, from Lauren, from going to see her, from even just talking to her. She is one of my closest friends and she means more to me than most people know, including her. I am forever grateful to her for all she did for me over those four short days, including just allowing me to go see her. Life’s different now that there’s no countdown to look ahead to completing, but I do hope that one day I see her again and I cannot wait until that day arrives. I’m so glad of all the friends I’ve made through Twitter and BBM, this is the one that’s grown the most and the one I took a leap on. I would jump on the opportunity to do a trip to Wisconsin again.

There are times when I wonder that, had Lauren and I met under more conventional circumstances, whether we’d be as close as we are or even friends at all. It speaks volumes about the power of social media and the technology we have available to us. An entire friendship formed through services like BBM, Twitter, Facebook, text, Facetime, iMessage, email, and even traditional mailing before actually meeting in person. It’s amazing to think that, because of the technology for which Lauren and I share a deep passion, a girl from Wisconsin and a boy from Pennsylvania, both from two very different frames of reality, can form as close a bond as we have.

Recently, whether it be at work, on the train, or at school, people complain to me about social media and technology. They claim that the relationships formed through those mediums “aren’t real,” and are “meaningless” and “impersonal.” They back off a bit when they later ask what I study in university and I tell them “computer science.” They feel as though they had just insulted my livelihood. But that’s not what I take offense to. It’s this relationship I’ve built that takes the hit. This is what I feel compelled to defend. This is why I can never agree with those people.

What I’d like anyone reading this to take away from this is that there is nothing wrong with forming a friendship through social media. In today’s world, it’s incredibly normal and don’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise. And if you’re really as close as Lauren and I are, then I encourage anyone to take the chance and meet their online friends. As I mentioned before, I read a lot of blogs and personal experiences before solidifying my resolve to see Lauren. This is me paying it forward. Social media is an incredible means of communication. For her, it’s an indispensible tool in her field of study. For me, it’s not only what I dream to work on and to improve, it’s what helped me meet and come to know someone else whose life I can put ahead of my own.

I Want BBM to be the Best iOS App

The space for cross-platform messaging applications is as crowded as ever with applications like BBM, WhatsApp, Kik,  Skype, WeChat, Google Hangouts, and many others battling for megabytes of space on everyone’s smartphones.  Among those named, BBM resonates with me more than the others.  Having been a BlackBerry user exclusively for the past five years, BBM has become an indispensable application to me.  While I was not the biggest user of BBM on legacy BlackBerry devices, it’s importance grew once I moved to BlackBerry 10.  Some of my closest relationships have formed through BBM and, because of that, I can never truly let go of the messaging platform.

Recently, I’ve opted to give iOS its first real try on an iPhone 6 Plus.  Thankfully, BBM is no longer tied to BlackBerry so I can maintain contact with my BBM-exclusive contacts.  However, a major part of the iOS experience is iMessage, Apple’s “answer” to BlackBerry’s BBM.  When people talk about cross-platform messaging applications, iMessage seems to make its name into the mix.  So I’d just like to share my thoughts on iMessage and BBM on both BlackBerry 10 and iOS.

BBM was not the hook which kept me tied to my BlackBerry for five years.  It was only over this past year, BBM has become the single-most used and important application on my BlackBerry.  To any BlackBerry user, this isn’t surprising.  For me, BBM had a few draws which separated it from the others.  For one, BBM’s use of PINs (8-digit hexadecimal identifiers unique to BlackBerry hardware and now each user) made sharing contact information easy without giving away personal data.  Even if you did acquire someone’s PIN, you would have to gain their approval to talk to them, and either could remove the other effortlessly. BBM also alerted you to when a messaged was delivered to and read by the recipient, a feature that, once experienced, becomes addicting.

The introduction of BBM Channels puts BBM squarely in contention with services like Facebook and Twitter.  BBM’s improved sharing functionality made it simple for both business and consumer users to share files, pictures, and even location.  BBM Voice and BBM Video made video conferencing and even casual video chat an enjoyable and experience and Screen Share, in particular, a very novel and useful utility.  The biggest change to BBM, though, came with the announcement of its availability on iOS and Android.  Now, BBM is available to users on BlackBerry, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and, through BlackBerry Blend, Windows and Mac users with BlackBerry devices running OS 10.3 and above. BBM has become more than a simple messaging app.

iMessage is Apple’s response to BBM and, as some see it, the company’s attempt to sway BlackBerry users tied to BBM onto iOS.  The idea behind iMessage is very simple; when communicating between two iOS devices, the text/SMS message would be sent over data instead of the cellular network.  In essence, it was a very watered down version of BBM in its inception.  It, though, made communicating with iOS and Mac devices easier and more reliable.

iMessage has evolved over time.  Users can now manually toggle whether they’d like to send “read receipts” (telling your recipient you’ve read their message).  Users of iMessage can also see when the person with which they’re speaking is typing a message.  Getting an iPhone, I was excited to have both iMessage and BBM on one phone.  After all, most of my close friends and family use iPhones and, despite my most diligent attempts, I just could not get them to install or continue using BBM.  The few who did install it uninstalled it or never responded to BBMs.  I found it puzzling that this most celebrated and long-awaited application faced such opposition.  I wanted to explore why this was for myself.

After a week of owning an iPhone, I have my answer.

BBM’s relative weakness on other platforms isn’t really BlackBerry’s fault at all.  It became easy for me to see why BlackBerry users could not figure why BBM wasn’t as popular on competing platforms as it is on BlackBerry 10, and this has everything to do with the strength of BlackBerry 10.  For those of you unfamiliar with BlackBerry 10, it’s signature feature is inclusion of the BlackBerry Hub.  The BlackBerry Hub provides  its users a single, unified interface for every communication which enters or exits the device, including phone calls, emails, BBMs, texts, WhatsApp messages, Facebook notifications, Twitter notifications, and much more.  The key functionality here is that BBMs and texts appear in the same inbox.  This makes BlackBerry 10 users very, very efficient in communicating with their friends or colleagues as they seamlessly transition from one to the other.  This kind of efficiency is almost unparalleled and BlackBerry deserves much applause for their implementation of the BlackBerry Hub.

Here is where iMessage and iOS differentiate themselves from BlackBerry 10.  iOS has one application for both text messages and iMessages.  The transition between both is equally as seamless, but in a different way. Yes, switching between an iMessage and a text message is as simple as it is on BlackBerry 10.  However, iMessage will automatically send your message as a text message if iMessage (rather, a data connection)  is unavailable.   Fundamentally, this makes me view iMessage and BBM as two distinct applications which don’t compete with one another.

So what about iMessage and BBM on iOS?

BBM on iOS is an application like any other.  When you receive a message, you can opt to receive push notifications for the message.  In this respect, BBM functions very similarly to BBM on BlackBerry. The “Ds” and “Rs” on BBM also functions identically to BlackBerry’s BBM.

This may be the first point of contention that may keep some from BBM.  As I mentioned earlier, iMessage has incorporated a similar mechanism into iMessage, but iMessage’s use of “delievered” and “read” signals are a bit different than BBM’s.  On BBM, when a message is delivered to me, it will stay marked as “delivered” until I physically interact with the message.  If I open the message, type into the text field to reply, or even press the “back” button, my message changes from “delivered”  to “read.”  Even using BlackBerry 10’s banner and actionable notifications will not mark the message as “read” until the reply has been sent.  iMessage is far less “forgiving.”  If a message is delivered to you and your screen is on and you are within the conversation thread, the message is marked as “read.”   Acting on iOS banner and actionable notifications will also mark the message as “read.” The use of read receipts is entirely optional, however, and its use has been met with controversy in my circles.   Most of my friends prefer I not use the feature, but after having used BBM for so long, it’s a difficult feature to relinquish.  But BBM’s obligatory use of this feature may be just a tad off-putting to users who aren’t so used to it.

BBM notifications on iOS are not the same as BBM notifications on BlackBerry.  On BlackBerry, you can act on BBM notifications from within any application.  On the BlackBerry 10 lock screen, tapping on a BBM will take you straight into the conversation into the BlackBerry Hub.  iOS 8 introduced similar features for iMessage, allowing actionable notifications throughout the entire OS and allowing replies straight from the lock screen.  BBM messages on iOS, however, do not enjoy the same privileges.  BBMs must be responded to from within the BBM app, fragmenting users between their SMS/iMessages and BBMs.  BBM Groups are a particular pain point.  On BlackBerry 10, users have the option to turn off group notifications in the BlackBerry Hub.  No such option exists on BBM for iOS, meaning that in order to mute groups, you must toggle off notifications for BBM entirely.  BBM Group notifications on iOS are also done strangely. Each entry into a group causes a notification to appear, meaning that an entire group conversation will appear within the Notifications area on iOS, despite all being part of one group.  Turning off push notifications, however, means that any kind of notification for BBM is turned off.  In essence, I can’t tell when I have new BBMs because turning off push notifications also turns off the notification icon atop the BBM icon.  I have to constantly check BBM for new messages.  The end result is that I respond to BBMs much less frequently than I used to on BlackBerry 10.

So, what do I want?

In essence, what I want is an all-encompassing BBM experience on iOS as I had on BlackBerry 10.  But there’s more to it.  When people compare BBM and iMessage, it’s not exactly a fair comparison.  BBM is not simply a rerouting of texts through data; it’s so much more than that.  BBM is its own social platform, complete with features that make it an attractive tool for business purposes and casual users.  Yes, iMessage is more than a redirecting of messages through data as well, but it is, in no way, as iconic or as feature-rich as BBM. The “Ds” and “Rs” used to be a huge draw, yet BBM has so much more now.  Yes, BBM will always be limited by the permissions it is allowed on non-BlackBerry platforms, but I want BBM to be the best app on any platform I use.  BBM is an extension of BlackBerry and to users of other platforms, it is the face of BlackBerry.  I want BBM to succeed because BBM succeeding everywhere is BlackBerry succeeding in one market I know it can dominate in.  If BBM is going to be available to users of other platforms, it should be the best experience possible.

I want a BBM that doesn’t intimidate iOS users with an unfamiliar UI, but one that’s inviting and comfortable.  I want a BBM optimized for the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.  I want a BBM that has more control over notifications (if that’s possible).

I believe BBM to be the single-best messaging client on earth and I want a BBM experience on iOS that is as indispensable and as enjoyable as BBM on BlackBerry 10.

Tough Love: Why We Left Our BlackBerrys

As you have probably noticed, we have recently made the change from BlackBerry to iPhone (which you can read about on Lauren’s blog and David’s blog). We’ve gotten a lot of questions and comments from this switch, and because of that, we decided to write a blog post about the reasons why. Since we both got BlackBerrys at the same time, and then switched to iPhone at the same time, we thought it only appropriate that we create a unified blog post about it!

How We Got Involved in BlackBerry

Lauren: I’ve always been a huge supporter of BlackBerry, and absolutely loved their phones. My first smartphone was a BlackBerry Storm back in 2009, and I’ve had BlackBerrys ever since. The #TeamBlackBerry community was just another reason I chose to stay with BlackBerry. They helped me with issues, supported me in my various endeavors, and became some of my closest friends! As iPhones became more and more popular, I swore I would never buy one. My friends eventually all switched to iPhones, even the ones who were as dedicated to Android as I was to BlackBerry. It was hard constantly explaining why I continued to love BlackBerry, why their devices worked for me, and why I hadn’t tried an iPhone yet. Since I had never used anything different, all I knew was BlackBerry. I thought they were the best phones for me, and no other phone would even come close.

 

David:  My intrigue with BlackBerry began in 2008 when my mother brought home a BlackBerry Curve 8330.  I was fascinated by a phone with the ability to load full web pages and one that had a full QWERTY keyboard.  In 2009, when it came time to upgrade, I chose a Pearl Flip 8230 to be my first smartphone and my first BlackBerry.  The more I used my BlackBerry, the more I loved the experience, and that experience is what brought me back in 2011 to a Torch 9810, a Z10 in early-2013, and a Z30 earlier this year.  With every passing BlackBerry device that fell into my hands, the more entrenched within the #TeamBlackBerry community I became and, soon enough, I found myself surrounded by some of my now-closest friends and the only thing which brought us together were our BlackBerry devices.  The allure of the iPhone and other competing operating systems normally felt distant, for a long time because BlackBerry’s experience felt better, but also because where BlackBerry lacked in a truly encompassing ecosystem, it excelled in forming a tight-knit community of users, most of whom cared about each other.  With every new BlackBerry came a renewed resolve, a resolve that I would never use anything but a BlackBerry in my life.

What Made Us Switch

Lauren: When one of my friends switched to the iPhone 6, I decided to test out his iPhone 5. After using it for a few days, I realized that this was actually the best phone for me. I was worried that I liked this phone so much! I was always defending BlackBerry against Apple, saying how you couldn’t possibly be productive on an iPhone, and how they were for people who wanted to conform. After using the phone for a few weeks, I realized what I should have realized years ago. Just because you support a company and appreciate the products they create doesn’t mean it’s the best product for you.

 

David:  In mobile, there are only two (well, three, now) companies that develop the software and manufacture their own hardware; Apple and BlackBerry (and now Microsoft).  As such, I’ve always found every iPhone since the iPhone 4 fascinating.  However, the experience (combination of both hardware and software) was never enough to pull me away from BlackBerry. Still, I levied my opinion on the iPhone as if I had used one.  As someone who loves technology, especially mobile technology, and a computer science undergraduate student, I recently began feeling that it was unfair of me to do this.  Admittedly, it became harder to say why my BlackBerry was the best choice for me, let alone my friends, family, and anyone else who asked for my opinion on the matter.  BlackBerry’s new enterprise-focused direction and target market further convinced me that it was time to explore other devices, OSs, and ecosystems.  It’s difficult to say that this was fueled by a dissatisfaction for my Z30 or BlackBerry 10, but it was a feeling of alienation that pushed me to fulfill a wish 4 years in the making; the wish to give the iPhone its fair share of a chance.

 

Why iPhone is Currently the Best Phone for Us

Lauren: Social media is my passion, and it’s the career path I plan on taking after college. Because there are so many new platforms and apps designed every day relating to social media, I need to stay up-to-date with them. This is the critical area that caused me to rethink my phone choice. BlackBerry doesn’t have the major apps that I need and want, like Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr. Yes, there are Android apps that can be sideloaded, and there are native versions of these apps, but they just can’t compare. As much as I risk sounding like Jony Ive, everything on iPhones just works. The apps work as they should, the OS itself is lag-free and it has all of the features I want and need. Sure, there are things I miss on my BlackBerry, but things like the hub and LED come second to apps and compatibility.

 

David:  When I used to tell people why I chose a BlackBerry over other devices, I would say that I didn’t use many apps and that I didn’t need them.  Well, the fact of the matter is, I never knew what it meant to have many apps to use and the world’s largest, most polished app library from which to choose.  Now I have access to apps for services that I’ve used while on my BlackBerry, like Pinterest, WordPress, and all of my tennis apps. Of course, there are certain things about my BlackBerry that I miss; swiping to reach the BlackBerry Hub, the flashing LED, the typing experience, and BBM on BlackBerry.  However, when it comes to the most consistent, most polished, most power-efficient operating system on the market, it’s very difficult to make a case against iOS.  Everything really does just simply work as you’d like it and, for the most part, in a very elegant and efficient fashion.

The Future

We can’t predict what will happen in the future, and we certainly can’t predict what phones are coming out in the upcoming months/years.  When it comes to what devices we’ll be picking up in the future, it’s difficult to predict with much certainty.  Right now, iOS is our operating system of choice because it works the best for us above its competitors.  With that being said, the door is never fully closed on the possibility of returning to BlackBerry.  We’ll be ever observant and supportive of the company that made us passionate about smartphones, hoping that it fully recovers and wins in the enterprise.  Even more than that, though, we desperately hope to see BlackBerry return to the consumer market with devices that can compete for the hearts of consumers like us with a version of BlackBerry 10 that exudes the polish and elegance of iOS while, at the same time, does so in a very BlackBerry-like fashion.  Whether it be through carrying one of its devices or purely through our sentiments, we’ll always support BlackBerry and our #TeamBlackBerry community.

This post was co-authored by Lauren Kortbein (@laurenkortbein) and David Bethala (@DavidBethala)

My First Day as an iPhone User – iPhone 6 Plus Initial Impressions

I’ve always admired iPhones and iOS from afar.  Each iPhone release has increasingly intrigued me, but the pull of other platforms was usually too strong.  Most of the time, hardware was a larger factor than software and, though I take better software than hardware, I never fairly evaluated iOS in the past to say it was truly “inferior” to what I was using.

Enter the iPhone 6 Plus.

Some Backstory…

When Apple announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, I instantly knew which of the two devices I would choose if I were to purchase an iPhone at all.  Though, the thought of me purchasing an iPhone was a far-fantasy.  However, it was becoming increasingly clear to me that me calling myself a “tech enthusiast” and someone interested in mobile technology was somewhat incorrect.  Yes, I love technology and I have my preferences, but I’ve long desired an experience away from the familiar.  If I truly was using what I believed was the best, then I should have no fear in the face of using another device.  If I happen to like my iPhone better than my BlackBerry, than iOS is a better fit for me.  Such was the rationale behind my choice in purchasing an iPhone.

I placed an order for a 64GB iPhone 6 Plus in Space Gray on Halloween and was given a delivery estimate in December.  Clearly, this device was more popular than Apple had expected.  I accepted that I had to wait a month and began shopping for cases and screen protectors.  The benefit of having a device arrive late is that I had time to prepare.  Still, I checked the stock of nearby stores on an almost daily basis, hoping that one would have my device in-stock.  This past Tuesday, on a whim, I checked early in the morning (before sunrise) on my train ride into Philadelphia.  The store on Walnut Street had the device in-stock.  Because the store is in close proximity to my university, I decided to take the chance and seize the opportunity.  I got to the store 30 minutes before it opened, grabbed a Starbucks coffee, and waited.  There was one man in front of me, waiting to purchase an unlocked iPhone 6 and 6 Plus for his children for their birthdays.  It was a Tuesday, but it was also Veterans’ Day, and so over the next 30 minutes the line grew considerably.  By 10AM, the associates had the doors open and we were allowed in and were queued up to buy our phones.  The man ahead of me, unfortunately, could not purchase unlocked iPhone 6s, so he left, disappointed, of course.  That left me in-front.  Within 30 minutes, an excited Apple Store associate called my name, brought out my device, completed my upgrade, and I walked out of the Apple Store a happy customer with my iPhone 6 Plus in-hand.

After another two hours, I was home.  I canceled my Apple Store Online order and called AT&T to resolve an issue that occurred while trying to upgrade at the Apple Store.  The process ended up taking about nine hours, but the kind people at AT&T were incredibly helpful in solving an issue that wasn’t even a fault of their’s to being with.  By 10:30 that night, my iPhone was ready to be unboxed and activated.

Taking it out of the box…

I had already played with the device in-store, so I had a good idea of how large the iPhone 6 Plus truly is.  I had purchased an Apple Leather case for it and it, too, was large.  The box was large.  When I took the lid off and took the device out of the box, its size truly hit me; it’s a big phone.  The iPhone 6 Plus is not the only device on the market with a 5.5″ display, but it does have large bezels.  The phone is also incredibly thin and light, though heavier than most other iPhone devices.  Admittedly, my BlackBerry Z30 is heavier than it, though.  It’s a sleek, elegant, and, truly beautiful device.  It’s also a slippery device (though I haven’t yet dropped it yet).  I powered on the device and proceeded to setting it up.

The set-up process was simple enough.  I already had an Apple ID so that made signing in and syncing accounts a simple task.  Before long, I was left to explore the device for myself.  What initially struck me was how visually stunning iOS is.  It is truly a beautifully designed operating system that puts an immense amount of power into its users’ hands in an easy-to-use package.  Opening “Settings” showed me how deep iOS really is and the amount of ingrained integration it has with social applications.  The entire OS is fast and fluid and, despite having only a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM, it flew through just about anything I put it through.  Of course, that night, I spent most of my time talking to my friends, all of whom were excited to finally iMessage me and see their texts appear in blue when they talked to me.  I installed a few applications, and despite the fact that not all of them were optimized for the 6 Plus’s 1080p screen, they remained usable. The apps that have been optimized look great and work equally as well.

That night, I hadn’t even fully grasped what had happened, but I was an iPhone user.

The First Full Day

The first full day with my iPhone turned out to be an abnormally-long day with an exam that night.  I decided to forego taking my Z30 with me and carried my iPhone exclusively and also decided not to carry a charger.  The train ride that morning saw me use the phone continuously for an hour, talking to friends through iMessage or BBM, and installing some new applications.  The great benefit of having a device running iOS is that nearly any application you want or need is available on the platform.  The app is also, usually, a well-written program.  Of course, Apple’s stringent restrictions on what is allowed into the App Store helps to ensure that the quality of apps in the repository is higher relative to those found on competing platforms.

One initial issue I had is that, by default, Twitter was sending me notifications for tweets from certain individuals.  These were from people I followed, but didn’t have on a “watch list” of sorts.  It turns out that Twitter pre-selected 72 people that it added to a watch list for me and was sending me push notifications for each tweet.  The reason it took so long for me to find the setting that toggles this particular notification is that it wasn’t in iOS’s universal settings menu; it was inside Twitter.  Locating where particular settings are located is something which I will need to become accustomed to over time and it’s something I expected to struggle with from the onset.

As it was my first full day with the device, I used it more than I would normally use any device on a given day.  As such, I expected battery life to be subpar and an inaccurate representation of what I’d experience on a day with more normal usage.  Even on Day 1, the iPhone 6 Plus’s 2910mAh battery lasted me a solid 15 hours.  I plugged in that evening at about 5% battery left.

Thoughts After the First Day (and then some)

When using my friends’ iPhones, I thought iOS was boring and unappealing.  However, the experience is different when the device is your own.  iOS was described to me as the “Swiss Army Knife” of all mobile operating systems, and it’s true.  iOS has apps from the other three major software developers; Microsoft, Google, and BlackBerry.  In fact, iOS is the only operating system in mobile that has the backing of all four major mobile players.  That alone adds to its strength and presence in the mobile space.

My experience so far on iOS has been a joy and the big screen and battery on the iPhone 6 Plus adds to the experience.  As I had mentioned earlier, I always had an interest in trying iOS, and I had my reservations on choosing the larger of the two flagship iOS devices.  But now, I feel confident that I made the correct choice, both in choosing to give iOS a try and to try it on a large device.  I used to wonder why people purchased iOS devices.  But I see now that iOS offers a lot of power and versatility bundled into a  very simple, elegant package that just works.  Are there some things I miss about my BlackBerry?  Yes.  Are there things I prefer on BlackBerry 10 to iOS?  Yes.  But, as a whole, I am thoroughly enjoying my experience on the platform and look forward to exploring it more.

I look forward to writing more about my experiences on the platform and a full review soon enough.

Wimbledon Men’s Preview: An Avid Fan’s Perspective

The 2014 edition of the ATP World Tour has flown by thus far, as it seems to do every year. We’ve already finished two Grand Slams, five Masters 1000 events, and numerous other 500 and 250 events. 2014 has proven to be quite interesting year in the realm of men’s professional tennis thus far. Today we stand at the cusp of what is expected to be an incredibly fun and exciting fortnight at tennis’ most prestigious arena: Wimbledon. I thought it would be fun to do a quick rundown of what to expect from some of the top male players ahead of the draw just to keep it a bit more generic. Without further ado, allez!

Novak Djokovic:

Djokovic, from Telegraph UK

Djokovic, from Telegraph UK

Much to his surprise and to the surprise of anyone who was not applying Wimbledon’s unique seeding system to the male players, the World No. 2 was awarded the top seed at this year’s Wimbledon ahead of World No. 1 Rafael Nadal. The 2011 champion enters Wimbledon not having played a single warm-up event on grass and a disappointing defeat in the French Open final. Djokovic, this year, also failed to defend his title at the Australian Open, however, he has performed well at the Masters 1000 events in 2014, winning three of the five contested so far. Grass is not Djokovic’s best surface by any means, however, I believe him to be less prone to the upsets normally seen during the first week of The Championships than the other top players. I expect him to perform well during this fortnight and, if he survives the first week, the odds of him winning the title over any possible other finalist become very good. The key for him will be both his health (as he’s been struggling with a slight wrist injury since Monte-Carlo) and pushing the disappointment of yet another Paris defeat out of his mind.

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal, from Dailymail

Rafael Nadal, from Dailymail

Nadal comes to London following a ninth Roland Garros victory. Triumph in Paris has not always led to success in London for Nadal, however. His last two attempts at a Wimbledon trophy have been met with disaster. The 2008 and 2010 champion was bounced in the 2nd Round in 2012 by Czech Lukas Rosol. 2013 also saw Nadal handed defeat at the hands of Steve Darcis on Day 1 of The Championships. Nadal has played one match on grass in 2014 and suffered defeat to German Dustin Brown in Halle. All three players took advantage of the slippery conditions of the grass, a condition that does not play well into Nadal’s hands. For Nadal, the draw is crucial. If he can survive to the second week when the grass is much more worn along and behind the baseline, he has a very good chance of ending the tournament with a third London victory. However, surviving the first week has proven to be difficult for him. The talk of an “aura” around the top players is true and the last two years have certainly damaged Nadal’s aura at Wimbledon. Big servers who look to end the point within the first 3-5 shots will be Rafa’s biggest obstacle during the first week. If he can make it past them, there’s really only Djokovic and Murray to worry about for him.

Andy Murray

Andy Murray, from Telegraph UK

Andy Murray, from Telegraph UK

The British No. 1 is entering Wimbledon for the first time as defending champion. The Scot’s year has improved steadily and comes into SW19 following an early loss at Queen’s to Radek Stepanek. Despite this loss, his recent performances on clay are good indicators that he’s ready to defend his Wimbledon title. Like Djokovic, I think Andy is less prone to the early round shock losses some of his peers may face. He is one of the best fast-court players in the sport today and can play aggressive, attacking tennis when necessary. His defensive skills will allow him to come face big hitters more easily and he should survive to the second week. Having defeated Djokovic in the 2013 final and Federer in the 2012 Olympic final should provide him with ample confidence that he can repeat his 2013 win with one in 2014.

Roger Federer:

Roger Federer, from World Tennis Magazine

Roger Federer, from World Tennis Magazine

The 7-time Wimbledon champion enters SW19 coming off of a 7th title in Halle. Despite a 4th Round loss in Paris to newly-minted World No. 10 Ernests Gulbis, Federer will be quick to take as little from that defeat as possible and welcomes the change from clay to grass. 2014 has seen a Federer more willing to attack the net and his choice of coach in Stefan Edberg reflects this slight change in style. The Swiss No. 2 will take even more confidence from his semifinal and final wins in Halle over Kei Nishikori and Alejandro Falla, two players he’s struggled with in the past. His attempt to defend his 2012 title in 2013 was met with a shock defeat to Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky in the 2nd Round, the earliest defeat for Federer in a Grand Slam tournament since 2003. His 2012 run was nearly put to rest in a similar manner by Frenchman Julien Benneteau. Both players served big and targeted the Swiss’ backhand and sought a short return of serve on which they could pounce. Federer’s 2014 is also remarkable due to a change in equipment. The change from a 90-sq-in. racquet to a 97-sq-in. frame will give the Swiss just a little more power in his shots as well as protect him from mistimed, framed shots. Of the top four seeds, Federer’s run will be the most dependent upon the draw. Federer’s seeding of four protects him from Murray, Djokovic, and Nadal until at least the semifinals, but if he survives the first week, the second week will be filled with big hitters like Tomas Berdych, Ernests Gulbis, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Stanislas Wawrinka, amongst others. Federer can solidify his place as the greatest player at Wimbledon and lift the trophy for an eighth time on the final Sunday, but it will take a momentous effort and a little luck to pull it off.

The Rest…
Stanislas Wawrinka – the Swiss No. 1 and Australian Open champion has never really quite figured out the grass, however, confidence can go a long way and if there’s anyone in 2014 brimming with confidence, it’s this man

Tomas Berdych – the big-hitting Czech is no stranger to the second week at Wimbledon, having lost the 2010 final to Rafael Nadal while defeating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on his way there. Because of his style of play, he’s a threat anywhere, but especially on grass.

Ernests Gulbis – Gulbis is entering Wimbledon on a high after a fantastic run in Paris which saw him defeat Roger Federer in five-sets, Tomas Berdych in straights, and even took a set from eventual runner-up Novak Djokovic. The talented Latvian is looking to make his mark and is nearly fearless regardless of his opponent. He is someone none of the top players would want to play against on grass.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – the exciting Frenchman has made it to the Wimbledon semifinal in 2011 following a win over Roger Federer, match he won after losing the first two sets. 2014 has not been as kind to Tsonga as previous years have, but if he gets it together, there’s no reason he can’t make a deep run.

Milos Raonic – the Canadian No. 1 is enjoying a stand-out 2014 and the grass surface plays well to his big serve and big forehand. Despite an early exit at Halle, I doubt he’ll allow it to bother him, especially considering his good run in Paris.

Grigor Dimitrov– the young Bulgarian is eager to make his mark on the world and will be confident entering SW19 following a win at Queen’s. He has a game well-suited to the fast grass surface and is will be a dangerous opponent to anyone across the net.

 

Wimbledon has proven to be the most unpredictable of the four Grand Slams. The slippery grass during the first week of the tournament allows lower-ranked, fast-court specialists to thrive in what is considered a nearly-extinct condition on the World Tour. Despite this, the Wimbledon trophy has only been shared by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray in the past ten years. Regardless of what occurs over the next fortnight, it’s sure to be an incredibly memorable tournament!