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10 Reason NOT to own an iPhone

People forget Apple didn’t create the smartphone. Palm converted its Personal Digital Assistants into cell phones in the early 2000’s. The BlackBerry evolved from late 1990’s two-way paging devices. Apple decided to do what companies before them had already done, re-purpose a successful product. When the iPhone was released in 2007 it was deemed a “fantastic iPod that makes phone calls.”

Where Apple really succeeded was in marketing. They never talked about specifications. Never used complex terminology in their advertisements. The iPhone was sold as a lifestyle changing fashion accessory. In essence, not owning one is a rejection of that lifestyle.

So here are ten valid reasons for rejecting the iLifestyle.

10) MFi or Made For iPhone – The MFI program requires all third parties to jump through hoops in order to ensure Apple compatibility. Consider this an “Apple Tax” that gets passed down to consumers.

9) iCloud – The iPhone automatically syncs to the internet. Which, is fine if that’s what you want. A lesson everyone should learn from “the fappening” is once it’s on the internet your data is a free for all. It’s been upheld multiple times that upload data belongs to the entity that owns the server, NOT to the person who uploaded it. That includes email. The Terms of Service, or TOS, most people skip over clearly defines the relationship corporations have with your data. However a company is free to change it TOS at will

.God-kills-kitten

Personal note: The Baby Jesus kills a kitten every time someone complain about iCloud space…

8) iIdiot – You don’t have a computer, you have an iMac. There isn’t such a thing as eBooks or tablets, just iPads. Most importantly for this article, there are no Cell Phones only iPhones. An iPerson is practically forced to live the iLifestyle. Why do you need an upgrade? Because 6 is bigger then 5, which makes it better… No Other Reason Needed.

7) Proprietary Charger – The original iPhone was launched with a proprietary charger. Standard practice in 2007. Millions of Americans already owned Apple products so having a proprietary charger that worked with multiple devices was an advantage. In 2012, after a decade using the same charging port, Apple made a change. While the rest of the industry switched to a universal standard, MicroB, Apple came out with a NEW nifty proprietary one.

Seriously…

The new charger has an authentication chip, which means any unauthorized accessories could DAMAGE your iDevice. See #10

6) Lack of Customization – This is a double edged sword. A lot of people enjoy that an iPhone is an iPhone is an iPhone. Which is fine, until Apple overhauls the operating system and changes how they want you to use their device… which has happened. If you don’t like the changes there’s little you can do. Apple’s one size fits all experience is by design.

5) Limited Hardware Choices – Apple is the only hardware manufacture for the iOS. They decide what hardware choices will be available. If a user doesn’t like the phone, for whatever reason, there’s little they can do. See #6

4) Supply issues – Apple has gotten better about anticipating product demand but they are responsible for supplying over 100 million iPhones. To put that in perspective it’s estimated that the iPhone 6 sold over 10 million handsets in its first 3 days. The Samsung Galaxy S5 sold around 12 million handsets in its first three months.

3) Premium Pricing – The top of the line iPhone 6 Plus, off contract, costs $949.  The cheapest iPhone 6 costs $649. Ouch…

Nexus 6 – Highest price $699

Samsung S5 – Was $660

Almost every top of the line Windows phone is less expensive than the cheapest iPhone 6.

2) Obsolete upon release – That could be said about all technology. With a premium price early adopters should expect they are receiving a premium product. The iPhone 6 has 1 Gig of ram, an 8MP Camera, and a Dual Core 1.4 GHz CPU. That would place apple Specs about where Android was in 2012 with the Nexus 4. No wonder iPeople look forward to annual upgrades.

1) Declining Market Share – Microsoft is determined to make a place for Windows Phone. Google has already chipped away significantly at Apple with Android. That trend is only going to continue. There are quality replacements for everything Apple. People are starting to question how valuable that iPremium is.

Google did a very smart thing by acquiring many of the developers responsible for WebOS. Their influence can be seen in current versions of Android. Android KitKat is fantastic! Due to poor experiences with ICS and Jelly Bean I’m personally waiting for bugs to be worked out of Lollipop before test driving it; but most of the issues I had with Android were resolved with KitKat.

Microsoft is softly pushing their Windows platform but the stigma left after the release of windows 8 has caused them to overhaul their platform. Microsoft wants to make it clear that Windows 10 isn’t just a re-engineered version of Windows 8… by skipping “Windows 9.” We can expect Microsoft to start push hard for market share towards the end of 2015. If any company knows how to secure a place in a saturated market, it’s Microsoft. While the Windows Phone Ecosystem is small compared to iOS and Android, the gap is closing faster than people realize.

If you like your iPhone, keep your iPhone. Apple charges what they do because demand for their product is monstrous. Most iPhone users don’t care about the competition. They enjoy living the iLifestyle. In the last few months I’ve asked numerous people why they chose an iPhone and their answer simply was, “because I like it.” That’s all the reason needed.

Money is meant to be spent, so buy what you like. Apple has made a very likable product, it’s just not for me.

David J.

Send all complaints to the FCC

In August 2014 my Ativ S fell face first on the concrete. My Case, a cheap plastic cover providing beveled edges, couldn’t absorb the gravitational strain. The “ThWAP” of a broken screen is a sound many Mobile Device owners will never forget. I knew, before even picking it up, I was screwed…

After several Android related issues with my Nexus S (Crespo) and Galaxy Nexus (Maguro) I was ready for any alternative that wasn’t an iPhone. So I purchased/acquired a HP Pre 3 and HTC 7 Series phone while waiting for windows phone 8. Microsoft had promised to deliver something amazing! With the destruction of Palm and fall of BlackBerry, a viable alternative was desperately needed.

June 2012 Samsung revealed the Ativ S (SGH-T899M) and that was that. I’d decided what my next phone had to be. As a repackaged S3 running Windows Phone 8 it was perfect! Spec wise the device would be the best available. After its Canadian and Global release I waited… and waited… and waited…

Had Samsung forgotten to release the phone in the United States?

A few months later I import one from Canada. After doing the homework I found the device would be fully functional as long as it was unlocked. Initially there was a lot of excitement. Windows Phone 8 wasn’t perfect, you know what it did? Worked!
Excitement quickly faded as support for the device was lacking in every area. There wasn’t much to complain about though.

“ThWAP”

Until it broke.

Samsung’s decision to repackage the S3, yet change the design enough it couldn’t use S3 cases, meant that an avid user would need to be extra cautious.

Here’s what I should have learned from the above experience:
1) In the United States a person must pick a carrier first; not a device.
2) Samsung caters to Carriers and Vendors; not customers
3) A device is only as good as it’s support,; Samsung chooses to minimally support Microsoft/Windows

Here’s what really happened:
1) “MY PHONE! How am I going to replace it?”
2) “I don’t need customer support, just a functioning device.”
3) “Samsung has the Best Specs so I NEED that one, how can I get one?”

My faulty, emotionally charged, logic would lead to hours of frustration. Samsung had released the Ativ SE and it was, again, the best device on the market. As a Verizon exclusive there was a bunch of homework needed to ensure it would be compatible with T-Mobile. The device hardware itself was 100% capable. Samsung and Verizon would alter the Firmware and Software in such a way that porting the device successfully with full functionality would be impossible. There wasn’t an easy way to know this until after purchasing the device.

After Months of trying to sort it out and receiving the worst device support possible I filed an FCC complaint. The FCC has new regulations about porting Phones that should make it easier for individuals to transfer service. Unlocking the hardware does NOTHING if the Vendor and Carrier lock specific settings in the device software or firmware. It also does NOTHING if the Vendor and Carrier decide to provide sub-standard device support.

Prime example, Carrier Roll out of Windows Phone 8.1 happened in July 2014 and officially supported by Microsoft August 2014. It’s almost December and the extremely capable Ativ SE has yet to receive an update.

The FCC Complaint:

1) T-Mobile had me on a plan that was 1/3 less cost monthly. when I called to ensure I’d have no issues in Central America the support person changed my plan Several other techs had to correct my issues. Now I am paying $30 more a month for the same service.

2) I purchased an off contract ATIV SE from amazon. Verizon assured me that the phone would ship unlocked from the factory. After trying to resolve several issues with the phone I’ve been bounced around to Samsung, Verizon, Microsoft, and T-Mobile. I can’t find a way to get an unmodified Windows 8 flashed to my phone and a SAMSUNG representative went so far as to say that I voided my warranty by trying to upgrade my software.

Call Details:

Date – September 29th 2014

Time – about 16:30

Tech – [redacted]

Ticket Number Provided: [redacted]

[redacted] tried everything to deny product support and insisted there was no one else above him. I am tired of being bounced around and just want my phone 100% unlocked.

I then sent an email to Samsung, T-Mobile, Microsoft, and Verizon:

To whom it may concern,

I don’t understand why I can’t flash my ATIV SE with a standard Windows Phone 8 image. I don’t understand why I have to suffer because a corporate representative made a mistake. I also don’t understand why it’s so hard to provide proper support for all products and services, not just Android and iOS.

I say this as a certified CompTIA and Microsoft IT Professional.

The stress and frustration caused by your companies finger pointing isn’t worth the effort. Since finding a quality email address wasn’t easy please feel free to forward this on your company’s appropriate person.

Below you will find a copy of the complaint sent to the FCC.
David J.

[Below was the FCC Complaint]

Samsung Responded:

Thank you for your inquiry. From review of your account we can gather your ATIV SE device (Verizon Model) was purchased from Amazon, however, you are a T-Mobile customer. Verizon assured the phone would be shipped “unlocked” but this was not the case. Per transaction [redacted] your previous request was to have the phone reflashed, however, it was explained if upon receipt of the device it is found to have been rooted this would void the warranty, or if the device were to be reflashed the phone would be restored to Verizon software. We must confirm those two pieces of information provided by the agent would in fact be accurate.

If you could also provide feedback to the below questions it would be much appreciate:

• Can you please explain to us the actual services you are needing for the ATIV SE device, or what functions you are trying to utilize but are unable to?
• What software are you trying to have reflashed to the device?
• What software is currently installed on the device?
• What exactly is the Windows Phone 8 image you are trying to flash the ATIV SE device (can a link be provided with information for this image, or what the image looks like)?

Once this information has been received Samsung can further review to determine what assistance/if any can be offered.

Thank you,
Office of the President
Samsung Telecommunications America

My Reply to Samsung:

Dear Sirs,

I did not root my phone. I installed the official Microsoft Preview for Developers. The current OS installed is 8.10.14176.243. wp_ss_20141012_0002.jpg shows the Preview for developers app open and wp_ss_20141012_0001.jpg is a screen shot providing detailed information about my device.

I had purchased an ATIV S and needed to manually input my APNs in order to get full functionality with T-Mobile. This was my forum post to help other users with the same issue:

http://forums.wpcentral.com/samsung-ativ-s/243857-t-mobile-lte-working-setting.html

The ATIV S had no issues with the Preview for Developers or allowing me to manually set the correct APNs. Unfortunately the ATIV SE version of Windows Phone 8 has been modified by Verizon. I am unable to receive MMS messages with the phone or turn on internet connection sharing. wp_ss_20141012_0004.jpg shows me sending a picture to myself, however when the phone tries to receive the message it says, “Opps! The media message you’re looking for isn’t there anymore.” wp_ss_20141012_0003.jpg shows me trying to turn on the internet connection sharing, however the error is to contact Verizon.

I’ve contacted Verizon and they told me it would be impossible for them to unlock the phone unless I had an active Verizon account. So I used a friends SIM card and Verizon 100% unlocked the phone. I tested this and the phone was indeed 100% functional with a Verizon SIM. Putting my SIM card back in caused the issues to return. I contacted T-Mobile and they have sent the correct settings to the phone several times and claim the phone must still be feature locked by Verizon.

The Windows Operating system has been altered and this is what’s causing the issues! All I want is an unaltered image installed on the phone. If that’s not possible then to be given a way to unlock the features or manually set them.

There are no available images to flash to the ATIV SE. I contacted Microsoft and they said that while they can flash other manufacture devices back to unaltered stock, SAMSUNG has not provided them with the necessary device/image information for them to provide that kind of support.

The issue is with Verizon’s alterations of the operating system and the inability to flash a standard stock image on the device. To unlock 100% functionality on the device there has to be a solution for those alterations. I would have downgraded the phone to GDR3 to further test the issues, but there isn’t an easy way to do that once the Preview for Developers has been installed.

David J.

Understand I was trying everything possible to get the device 100% functional. “Upgrading the device” made everything worse. At this point all I wanted was to master reset the device back to original stock. No reply from Samsung followed.

Verizon’s Response:

Dear Wireless Customer ,

Thank you for choosing Verizon.

I have received your email dated 09/29/2014 regarding your wireless concerns.

I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.
To contact the Verizon Wireless team, please call (800) 922 0204. They are available by phone from 6AM -11PM Monday through Sunday.

They can also be reached for chat assistance by following these steps:

1. Go to http://www.verizonwireless.com
2. Select the Contact Us link at the top of the page
3. Select the Live Chat link under the heading of “Want to Talk to Someone?”

Then follow the system prompts from there. The Verizon Wireless team will be happy to assist you with your inquiry.

Thank you for using Verizon. We appreciate your business.

Sincerely,

Susan
Verizon eCenter

Dear Verizon,

I have actively talked several people into switching away from your service. You cost more than your worth, confuse customers, and use business practices that prove the industry can’t regulate itself. When people argue with me over the idea of Wireless Carriers and Internet providers becoming public utilities Verizon has become a primary example on how corrupt, lopsided, and out dated the industry has become. I’m confused on how re-branding AWS LTE Service as XLTE isn’t considered false advertising and blatant misrepresentation, but thank you! I’ve used that information several times to successfully debate others on how the industry can’t be trusted to properly represent itself and how intervention is needed to ensure consumer protections.

Sincerely,
David J.

T-Mobile’s response shouldn’t have upset me, but it did. They were only trying to defend themselves. Lying to the FCC was NOT the proper defense.

Listen to a representatives Voicemail – I called back and a month later a representative responded by lying to the FCC.

T-Mobile,
I wish I’d never contacted your company in May. The Representative didn’t know what they were doing and messed up my account. I had to call several times, while in Central America, before it could be straightened out and afterward my corporate discount had been removed and my overall bill had been increased significantly, which was not what I consented to.

The Ativ SE is a GLOBAL handset that supports your company’s GSM and LTE frequency bands. Getting the phone to communicate with your network is not an issue. Verizon has software locking a few key settings and has said it’s not their fault T-Mobile doesn’t know how to activate the devices features. The Hardware isn’t the issue and telling the FCC the phone will not work, even if unlocked, is a bold faced lie.

Why would you lie to the FCC?

Microsoft, who had the most to lose, stayed silent. So I did the unthinkable, went back to Android.
David J.

Minimize This!

WP_20130822_001

Those of you who read the rule “College is for Suckers” might remember me saying: “Life is math, and math is hard.”

That little gem comes to mind because I ran the numbers on the national minimum wage and was surprised when the range was between $9-$10 (EDIT: The original number was exactly $9.60). That was a rough estimate for an acceptable national minimum wage that would meet specific criteria:

1) Not harm Business

2) Boost the Economy

3) Reduce Working Poverty

When it looked like Michigan was going to raise the State Minimum Wage to $9.25 the drive to dig deeper waned as it was on the lower end of my first numbers. That was until Thursday July 24th when the legislature out maneuvered it’s people who wanted a vote on making $10.10 the Michigan standard. On Friday Kristen Bell graced my laptop with a parody of Mary Poppins which got me thinking about those numbers again.

Dipping my toe into the conversation was extremely boring after finding out most people seem to have similar opinions. Kristen Bell, Tea Party Activists, and the overly clever tactics of Michigan legislators re-peaked an interest. Maybe there was more to this debate?

Many things happened in the 1900’s to drive the United States into a global powerhouse. I’m sure citizens in the 1800’s would be awestruck and unbelievable upset with our current state of affairs. So here are the numbers with a few quick facts.

1) Australia has a national minimum wage, which is over DOUBLE the United States, of $640.90 per week or $16.87 per hour. They also have a national public health option that coexists with private insurers. Yet some how they manage to have constant GDP growth.

2) Originally the courts deemed the National Minimum Wage unconstitutional. It wasn’t until 1938 that congress passed a bill that would stick. President Roosevelt struggled to get it passed, which makes it no surprise President Obama has met strong opposition.

3) The original minimum wage in 1938 was $0.25 an hour. That means people earned about $2 a day, $10 a week, $40 a month, or $520 a year minimum in 1938. The average white family that same year made $2,252. That means minimum wage started at less than HALF of  “The American Dream” for families with even two incomes.

4) Congress continually amended the minimum wage, with the exception of WWII, almost every year since 1938; until 1981 when the minimum wage was frozen for 9 years. There was a recession in the early 1990’s which lead to President Gorge Bush Senior’s defeat for presidency in 1992. The minimum wage was again frozen from 1997 to 2007, which ironically was followed by a recession.

5) Inflation was -2.1% for the first year the minimum wage was enacted in 1938. Inflation was -1.4% When congress raised the minimum wage for the first time in 1939. That would be the last time the United States would see consecutive years of Negative inflation, or Deflation.

6) Economist seem to agree that Deflation is more destructive to an economy then Inflation. Starting in 1968 the United States would see inflation go between 4.2% to a high of 13.5% in 1980 which contributed to the minimum wage being frozen in 1981. To much inflation will still destroy an economy.

7) Many people calling for a raise in the National Minimum Wage want the amount to adjust with the rate of inflation. That sounds good but if the minimum wage had started with that caveat in 1938 the minimum wage would be $3.98 OR $4.21 excluding deflationary years; 1981 would be $9.33 OR $9.37 excluding deflation; 1997 would be $7.53 OR $7.56. Adjusting the minimum wage based on inflation ignores all other economic factors, cultural changes, and human nature.

8) The minimum wage followed GDP growth until the 1970’s when it changed to follow inflation. “If the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity growth it would be $16.54 in 2012 dollars.” Wealth disparity hasn’t been this great since the 1920’s, which was followed by the great depression.

9) Even though the majority of Americans would support a minimum wage increase, the increase wouldn’t effect the pay for the majority of Americans. In the short term it’s projected that this raise will actually CUT minimum wage jobs but those who are working are far less likely to fall below the poverty line and need government assistance. The wealthy are screaming “Class Warfare” because the same figures project that those who make six times the poverty threshold or more will foot the bill for this change.

What did I learn? That I must be wrong.

“Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.” – Oscar Wild

To many people share my opinion on a national minimum wage increase. Politicians would like people to think other wise. Both sides are feeding the American public tall tales. According to the bill that failed in April, raising the minimum wage would have been linked to the Consumer Price index rounded to the nearest $0.05 as determined by the secretary. Tipped wages would increase steadily until they where 70% of the Federal Minimum Wage. It also had a section at the end labeled “Extension of increased expensing limitations and treatment of certain real property as section 179 property” which doesn’t matter as the bill failed.

The bill didn’t account for several factors:

1) The minimum wage is suppose to be the lowest common denominator for the entire country.

2) If we see deflation the minimum wage requires an act of congress to adjust down.

3) Prices don’t constantly increase, they follow supply and demand cycles.

If you’re against a federal minimum wage increase, my numbers suggest it’s time to throw in the towel. By agreeing to an increase of $9-$10 an hour with an annual change adjusted to the rate of inflation you give your opponents their victory. If there is deflation wages go down. With inflation wages go up but not with Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Short term you’ll see a little pain but the wealthy tend to focus on their long game. In the end you come out victorious. Those who continually increase the country’s GDP would secured success and growth of all future élite status. By playing the numbers and charts you’ve out maneuvered the opposition by giving them exactly what they want.

Are you for the federal minimum wage increase? Be very specific on what you’re asking for. Are wages currently unfair? Yes! Do you want to repeat the 1930’s? Lets hope not. Is it worth selling your future earnings for a little extra comfort now? Hell No!

Americans know that the current system is unfair but they don’t know why. Don’t let emotion cloud your judgment. By giving in to the GOP with a lower national minimum wage, even if it’s $8 an hour, you win; but there needs to be a caveat that congress shall pass a bill every year to change that number or reestablish the current wage. If no bill passes then the wage stays the same. What this does is keep congress talking about what’s in the best interest of the country and makes them accountable with public voting records. This allows those we elect, who are supposed to know all the factors, to act under current economic and cultural conditions. If the people are unhappy, they can tell congress with their votes.

Either way, both sides don’t realize giving their opposition what they want is a long-term victory. If the minimum wage needs to be raised in your state or city then your elected officials can set a separate standard! The national level is supposed to be the bottom of the barrel and set lower on purpose. The fact that States and other municipalities are taking control of the issue proves the system can work as designed.

Sadly the human element is the last thing we account for. The minimum wage essentially creates a government-run union. When people see a negotiated minimum they shoot for the minimum instead of using standard supply, demand, and value comparisons. Long gone are the days of Henry Ford…

There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: make the best quality goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible. – Henry Ford

This conflict over the minimum wage seems to be holding America back in more ways than one.

David J.

Click Here for the spreadsheet demonstrating minimum wage adjusted to inflation. 

Panama – May 17 2014

Panama Flying High

One thing I’ve repeatedly said about traveling is “it’s never the place, it’s the people you have to enjoy it with.” After a full day in Panama the country seems like the perfect exception that proves the rule.

I was expecting a lot of anti-Americanism for many reasons, like the 1989 U.S.A invasion, and reading the State Departments Travel and Safety risk assessment had strongly reinforced this. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Keep in mind though, our trip involves Panama City and some surrounding areas so your mileage will vary.

Saturday was the only day Mike and I didn’t have anything planned. Somehow I ended up hijacking it. Mike had gathered information from our tour guide and hotel staff with an idea of what we should do but as we started walking I couldn’t help but just keep walking.

Crossing the highway to the coast

Crossing the highway to the coast

There’s something about walking a busy city that gets me pumped. I could feel myself get more and more energetic with every step; curious about what we’d find around every corner. Eventually we found our way to the coast line and couldn’t believe how beautifully developed the city was. Along the coast was a public trail for biking and every block seemed to have activities and parks.

WP_20140517_007

Exercise Equipment?

Exercise Equipment?

Mike had to stop and do a double take as we walked past outdoor exercise equipment! I was more interested in how tactical the police officers were dressed.WP_20140517_010 They all wore bullet proof vests and military style uniforms. Some road bikes, others walked, but there wasn’t a question they where there patrolling the areas to keep the peace. Normal people apparently don’t ask people dressed for confrontation about taking their photo… I couldn’t help myself. The officers didn’t even hesitate, they just struck a pose and continued on with their duties.

WP_20140517_009 WP_20140517_011 WP_20140517_012A few minutes later we ran across our first street vendor. Real Shaved ice topped with sweetened fruit juice and what I believe is a coconut milk syrup. Across the street was a statue of the conquistador Balboa.WP_20140517_014

Not long after that we ran into a bunch of historic fire fighting vehicles. The man setting up the display was kind enough to let me get a video of him turning the siren.

That five year old inside was jumping up and down. Life sized hot-wheels that make cool sounds? Awesome!WP_20140517_017 WP_20140517_018 WP_20140517_019 WP_20140517_020 WP_20140517_021 WP_20140517_022

Less than an hour into the day and we couldn’t stop finding little things to halt us in our tracks. Even manged to get Mike to let me photograph him climbing on a jungle gym.WP_20140517_023 After each playground all I could think was “another one?” It was kid heaven. Adult sized me was struggling with play-time. While we could climb on some of the structures my knees became a constant reminder of how this equipment wasn’t meant for adults. *SigH*

Walking along the path was a fantastic way to get to know Panama City. WP_20140517_024Eventually we stumbled upon the fish market. Later finding out that it was the same Fish Market Anthony Bourdain recommended and could have kicked myself for not saving it for lunch. Over a beer Mike and I compared notes, almost more to confirm we both we’re shaking off the same preconceived notions then to share our excitement about trolling the city.

Still not convinced we were seeing the real Panama, I took us in a direction toward the inner city. Mike wisely questioned this, but, well… anyway… only a few blocks in we came across a man sleeping on cardboard in the street and our first of many garbage land marks.WP_20140517_027 This was a locals only area and we definitely where out of place; digging further in, kind of Willie Nilly until finding the entrance for china town.WP_20140517_028

I really wanted to go inside the homes. WP_20140517_029They looked like slums but it was hard to imagine people living inside. That was until we passed a furniture shop. Hand made by local carpenters that looked ridiculously high quality. I couldn’t stop myself from walking inside. I asked if I could take a few pictures, two of the three men used sign language in agreement. Turning my phone toward the third man working his craft he stopped and angrily started speaking!

Angry Spanish definitely isn’t as sexy coming from a man who could kick my ass.

“Crap! What did I get myself into!” was all I could think as I instantly held my phone to my chest, leaving both hands in plan site and apologize in English to a man who only spoke Spanish. The jist of what I got in return was an apology back along with a joke about “You want my picture you pay, $20″ holding his hand out rubbing fingers together in a universal sign for money.

As the once angry man broke a smile we all started to laugh. I pointed to their work and asked again, in English, if this was okay to photo.WP_20140517_033 In unison they all waved their hands as if to say go ahead and just went back to work before I could finish saying Gracious. emerging outside Mike gave me the “you’re an idiot look,” which, ya know, I never said I wasn’t?WP_20140517_032

Creeping further and further into what looked like the most crowded part of the worst section in town was cause to put my cell phone away and keep up full situational awareness. The armed police officer with an assault rifle did nothing to set my mind at ease. Still, we pressed on. Streets where full of vendors selling everything from magazines and knives to fresh fruit and live chickens. It was surprising how popular soup was as a street food… like their version of a hot dog stand. The restaurants had all types of amazing looking food displayed in the windows. We stopped into a bakery and bought some snacks before starting the journey back into un-graffitied and more sanitary looking territory.

I wish my mind would have let me enjoy walking among the people more. On the plus side Mike started getting into the experience and talked to a few locals about gathering his own photos. Not sure what to call that feeling when a clear dividing line was found between what looked to be completely refurbished area and slums but it was a relief.

That same block had an old church with its doors wide open as a congregation celebrated mass.WP_20140517_034 The catholic in me did a B-line for the Church and institutionally I knelt in the back row, did the sign of the cross, and stood to take in what looked to be a very old structure. Mike wasn’t sure what to make of what he’d just saw and was incredibly respectful of the ordeal.

Only a few doors down from the church appeared a “high-class” coffee shop which we gladly used as a resting place.WP_20140517_035 WP_20140517_038 WP_20140517_039 WP_20140517_042 WP_20140517_040

the rest of the day was filled with even more gorgeous views and cool little sites. We walked miles of city, took a Taxi to a few spots in the distance to walk some more, and then kept going until it was time to return to the hotel.

Back at the hotel Mike took the opportunity to take a nap while I quietly reflected on the day. What’s in these writing isn’t even a quarter of the exploring we did; and it’d been less than twenty-four hours since touching ground.

If traveling is all about the people, then Panama seems to have a culture built around having fantastic people to visit. I already have a wish to come back, even if it’s alone. Everyone we’ve met in Panama has been so warm and friendly it’s completely disorienting regardless of how unbelievably refreshing. Proof that people don’t have to be assholes all the time.

Why is that such a foreign concept in #Merica?
David J.

Tattoo Removal Photo Journal Update

For those interested I’ve updated the photo journal documenting the real world results of my tattoo removal. View the photo journal here:

Tattoo Removal Photo Journal

 

If your interested in reviewing the experience click on the links below:

Tattoo Removal Introduction

Tattoo Removal – Phase I 

 

Phase II is still on permanent hold.

Phase I was intended to focus on me and my journey; place the reader in my shoes and let them understand from my point of view. Phase II was intended to take myself out of the picture and focus squarely on the reader. Sadly I failed to consider Phase II from every angle. The original plan required extensive participation from  third parties. I learned a few things but there wasn’t any part of Phase II worth proceeding with after it started unraveling. Over reaching on others good will caused its collapse. Being over zealous destroyed it.

Phase III is independent of Phase I and II but very time-consuming and research intensive. The general idea is to focus on “everything else” and come full circle back to Phase I and my decision to get tattooed.

Without Phase II Phase III could be a bit lost however all three Phases should stand independent of each other while simultaneously adding value. Doing them out-of-order is not world ending.

If what’s been done so far has been helpful or created some curiosity let me know what questions/comments you have and I’ll do my best answering them.

David J.

Burial At Sea Episode 2

BioShock is one of the best video games ever… Period.

As an older gamer, with a back log of unopened games, the time available for gaming shrinks daily. Real life continually destroys free time once designated for interactive storytelling entertainment. It was months after BioShock: Infinite’s release before I’d play it; and after being extremely disappointed with BioShock 2, it was quickly put at the bottom of the pile.

Game reviewers don’t write for people like me, who don’t have patience for JUST tolerable story lines covered with pretty graphics. Who will STOP playing if it takes to long learning controls, a games repetitive, or is glitchy. To this day, after HATING the original Assassins Creed, I’ve refused to play another; there are to many other options yet played. 

The original BioShock was a game played through multiple times and ranks easily in my all-time top ten. Up there with Mega Man 2; a game that years from now I’ll pick up and replay just because. BioShock: Infinite wasn’t the game I wanted but it didn’t suck. The DLC was okay, but refused to give that “BioShock” feeling. Admittedly it was nice seeing Rapture before hell broke loose but half the fun of the original was imagining it.

Months of trying to finish BioShock 2 and Infinite left a lot of disappointment until finding out Burial at Sea – Episode two was scheduled for release a few days after finishing. A little hope built up enthusiasm only out of respect for what was. March 25th 2014 it became available to download. “Trying it out,” before bed, was a terrible decision. It was impossible to stop playing, to sleep, unless I knew how the story ended. BioShock: Infinite felt created just so Burial At Sea Episode 2 could exist.

I’m here on March 26th, 2014 to tell my fellow gamers that if you enjoyed the original BioShock, if it’s on your top ten, and you want to go back to what it felt like playing BioShock that first time, “suffer through” everything in between and enjoy Burial at Sea. That’s it. If you want to know details a link will be posted to the WiKi. I will not be the one who ruins a single second of your “digitally interactive storytelling experience.”

If I’d known how good Burial at Sea was going to be I would have waited until march 25th and taken a “Playcation;” doing an old school, hardcore, strait play through of BioShock, BioShock 2, and Infinite with all DLC in tact. It’s the only thinkable way that could have made this masterfully creative series ending any better. 

This is how I want it to end. If 2K knew gamers like me, they’d move on; let the franchise linger in the gaming hall of fame. But they won’t. Numerous online sources say Rapture will return with out Irrational Games, just like BioShock 2. The math works out on sequel profitability, regardless of the ridiculous bar set for the next developer.

Maybe 2K will change their minds, Ryan understands why they won’t.

David J.

http://bioshock.wikia.com/wiki/Burial_at_Sea_-_Episode_2

New Amazon Store Added

You will find a section on The Cage called “ENTERTAIN ME!” that’s a link to an Amazon store. If you’re an Amazon Prime member some of the content is free. Products relevant to, or referenced by, The Cage are found here. Content reviews will be added to this section in the future.

There are many changes being evaluated to make CagedSparrow.com a better place to visit. Ideas welcome!

Not So Shabby Very Chic

adventures in treasure hunting and shabbychic-ing

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