Evil boss orders last person on planet without a smartphone to succumb

The Apple iPhone is no longer cool, and the company’s share price has dropped. It is no coincidence that this happens at the precise moment my employer takes my trusty old Blackberry from me and replaces it with a shiny black wedge of iPhone 5. Since I hate phones and phoning, I have never had a personal mobile, so whatever the company gives me is what I (barely) use.

My initial reaction: the Blackberry is for adults and the iPhone is for children. Still, after a few days, and fixing things so my emails are forwarded to it, I am growing a bit more accustomed to the toy.

Challenge number one, as you would expect for an item dedicated to corporate use, was transferring a load of MP3s onto the beast. Unlike a Blackberry, which you can plug into a PC and use as an external drive, the iPhone deliberately makes this difficult. You have to download the iTunes music player onto your PC, and even then you can’t just copy files, you have to ‘sync’ (don’t ask). I created a specific playlist and managed to transfer it onto the phone, but it was partly by accident and I don’t know if I could repeat the process. My one attempt at downloading an app failed because I lack some sort of Apple ID password; my attempt to get one failed, though I didn’t try very hard. I think the idea is to get you to see the PC as a subsidiary component of the iPhone rather than the (more practical) other way round, or just make you source all your software needs from Apple’s patch of ‘cloud’.

These constraints are obviously designed to ensure that Steve Jobs’ estate goes on sucking in revenue for eternity. Presumably if you cooperate and sign up to Apple this and Apple that, you can revel in all the music and fun programs you want, but it punishes you for stubbornly refusing to kowtow. All of which makes me wonder: why do so many people line up for nights to buy these things? (Or why did they until last week?)

Some people apparently admire its beauty. I’ve been told I need to buy a case, but there is a school of thought that the contraption is too beautiful to cover up. Mine will go naked for the simple reason I can’t be bothered.

It goes without saying that the Blackberry keyboard was faster, but improvements that make things worse are what progress is all about.

There are some good features. Rumours that what I’ll call ‘unofficially acquired’ music wouldn’t work on the thing are unfounded. Also, the camera is OK. I’m not sure how it does it, but you can take a 270-degree panoramic photo, and if the subject – long-suffering helper, in this case – runs behind you at the right time, you can get the same person in a picture twice…

Perhaps best of all, the web browser is 100 times better than the clunky Blackberry one, and you can do things like watch YouTube while crossing the street. This is probably the clincher. 

On balance, this is a cynical product that attempts to trap deluded consumers in a monopoly by mesmerizing them with hyped-up ‘style’ (who cares how thin it is?) and some amusing features, a few of which might actually be borderline useful (like the compass for when you exit an unfamiliar MTR station). The boss should have gone with Samsung, perhaps. But it costs me nothing, so I can’t really complain.

One other drawback: if you’re not discreet, you look like one of these idiots you see all over the place constantly sweeping little shiny slabs’ screens with their fingers.

I will now try to download an app that declares the weekend open.

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24 Responses to Evil boss orders last person on planet without a smartphone to succumb

  1. Joe Blow says:

    Nice pad you got there, Hemlock, although the wall-of-books shows that you are over 60 (or almost) and the li’l brown person & the Buddha art scream ‘Expat in Hong Kong’. The water dispenser smack in the middle of the living room simply screams ‘in Hong Kong’.

  2. Old Timer says:

    Any chance of Big Lychee for iPhone (app or mobile site) in the near future, then?

  3. Lois Beluga says:

    Blackberry – for Arabs and estate agents, low-end financial staff and people who like to look like dorks.

    Lots of them about!

    Welcome to Apple World. Now you can start going to PRET!

    Re. the books. It is in fact the IKEA showroom and the books are Nury Vittachi titles. He is a bestseller to IKEA showrooms! Reliable Sauce, The Detective Something, Mr Malteser In Metroland, they are all there.

    Keep tappin’.

    PS: The iPhone already has a case. Nerds buy another one. Desist.

  4. Stephen says:

    I wonder if Hugh Chiverton and Nury Vittachi have an Apple iPhone?

    Actually I don’t care. But what in hell bells were they doing invading your blog yesterday? Chiverton plugging his lame show where he and Curtis licked CY into submission. Plus Vittachi who likes to treat us to a funny Chinese name (Fanny Fuk anyone) to delight us over the now open weekend.

  5. Maugrim says:

    We could have a competition, ‘what’s wrong with this picture”. let me get the ball rolling: there are books, real books, many books, books presumably that have been read, there is no black vinyl couch, there are no stuffed animals or toilet rolls on tables, there are no plastic tubs full of ‘stuff’. Where is the 60 inch TV and the Osim lounger? The maid’s bed isn’t visible on the living room floor, nor has she been made to clean your car at 6.00 am. The lighting looks a tad subdued and there is space on the floors.

  6. Neolithic Nokia Player says:

    I know what you mean about iTunes

    Nothing seems to work without that app and it takes forever to get going once you dial up a tine – or whatever – using a normal laptop ( = NON Mac – Apple)

    Steve Job changed the world in many ways…. not least of which is that 90% of kids now spend all their time looking at their Iphones instead of gazing into their partners starry eyes, and 99% of business colleagues talk about nothing else except the latest I- apps . F$#k – it’s worse than sitting with a load of golf players !

    I just upgraded my mobile from a neolithic Nokia ( so old that spare parts are no longer for sale) to something that can I can use in USA . which seems to run on a completely different system – like gallons, miles, no A4 size paper, no 24-hour clocks . MM/DD/YY instead of DD/MM/YY but lots of guns . Stone-age stuff (and stone age ethics : ‘insult me and I shoot you’)

    It came with color screen ( wow!), built-in camera and all sorts of other exciting things ( even email!) and it only cost me HK$500 ( not like HK$6,000 for the latest Iphone)

    But SH1T it takes me an age to do even simple things like messaging and when I want the camera thing I can’t even find out how to turn it on

  7. Des Voeux says:

    This is the first time I’ve ever read something by you and thought, “He’s so… old.”

  8. Sir Crispin says:

    Every time Lady Crispin asks me to add music to her iphone I (not-so) politely decline. I have neither the patience nor the will to attempt fiddling with that infernal device.

  9. Property Developer says:

    The sprinkling of old-style Penguins implies at least 65 I’d say. But the cropping, in combination with a 4-foot person, cuts out the box hanging from the ceiling/maids’ quarters.

    The bookshelves were designed for coffee-table books, not cheap paperbacks; the pillars look like an afterthought to stave off more cracks; the partition is made of cardboard; and the architect seems to have forgotten about windows.

    MP3s are rather passe, but if you listen to them on those tinny machines, I suppose you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

  10. mumphLT says:

    It isn’t your phone – it is a taxi drivers phone; you are merely saving it for him until he finds it.

  11. Real Fax Paper says:

    And a nautical chart of the Bristol Channel.

  12. Joe Blow says:

    Louis’ question of the day: what compels people to put books they have read on a shelf in the living room for all eternity ?

    The books -including potboilers from the airport shop- do nothing but gather dust, the paper turns yellow or becomes mouldy and 98% never get read again, by anyone, ever.

  13. Saikungbob says:

    I agree with Des Voeux, before this post, my image of you was of a slightly cantankerous, but generally curious middle aged guy, but I too now reckon you’re old and stuck in your ways. I suspect you still look back fondly upon DOS and wonder why you were forced to move to Windows 95.

    It seems that a number of your readers are of the same vintage – at least in attitude, if not chronologically.

    Don’t worry, you don’t have to enjoy your new gadget by playing games or anything that frivolous, but there are some very useful applications (free) out there. You might look at those offered by MTR, KMB and Citybus, uh, if you ever move beyond the confines of Central and the Midlevels. HK Movie is useful as is OpenRice. Thanks to this gadget, I always have Chinese and English dictionaries at hand.

    Oh, Neolithic Nokia Player, click the home button and swipe up on the camera icon and the camera is instantly available. You don’t even need to enter your passcode — assuming you know how to passcode protect your phone. How hard it that?

  14. Chimp says:

    Took a bit of work (sharpening filters, edge detection and playing with colour values). I managed to get a reasonable view out the window (Hemlock, water the pot plants) and got an exact geopositioning for the place.


  15. Property Developer says:


    At least in DOS PrintScreen did what it said on the box. I must say I greatly admire your fortitude facing the hordes and cacophony on public transport. Don’t be taken in by Hemlock’s act: it’s the self-proclaimed young(ish) techies that change email address every month, forget to back up their photos and have cupboards-full of last years gadgets.

  16. The Regulator says:

    Along with the rest of us, that Admiralty chart is out of date. No one under 30 in Hong Kong can navigate by DR.

  17. Stephen says:

    Some of you are way off the mark by guessing Hemlock is 60 – 65 just because he’s got his first iphone (I was last year)

    Last time I checked he was about the same age as me.

  18. Captain Plankton says:

    Is that the maid you accidently discovered porn and masturbating furiously on your sofa, unaware of your presence, a few years ago? If so, I understand now why you felt sorry for her and left her to it.

  19. Real tax Payer says:

    Hey Real Fax Paper – please choose you own moniker !

    Stop plagiarising !

    PS : You are all wrong about Hemmers. He is a cool, suave , handsome guy in his early 20’s and the toast of the ladies. He only pretends to be a crotchety old anti- Iphone-nerd with wrinkles, crouching over a beer and a floosie at the Old China Hand .
    AND he has more hair than Nury ( but that’s not saying much – sorry Nury : I could not resist that one )

  20. Real tax Payer says:

    Because it’s Saturday afternoon and everyone is asleep please permit me to post the ultimate tribute to the art of plagiarism, by the great Tom Lehrer : mathematician, professor and amateur musician ( for the music go to Youtube . it’s meant to be sung with a Russian accent )


    “Some of you may have had occasion to run into mathematicians and to wonder therefore how they got that way, and here, in partial explanation perhaps, is the story of the great Russian mathematician Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky.

    Who made me the genius I am today,
    The mathematician that others all quote,
    Who’s the professor that made me that way?
    The greatest that ever got chalk on his coat.

    One man deserves the credit,
    One man deserves the blame,
    And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
    Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach…..

    I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky.
    In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics:

    Let no one else’s work evade your eyes,
    Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
    So don’t shade your eyes,
    But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize –
    Only be sure always to call it please ‘research’.

    And ever since I meet this man
    My life is not the same,
    And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
    Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach…

    I am never forget the day I am given first original paper
    to write. It was on analytic and algebraic topology of
    locally Euclidean parameterization of infinitely differentiable
    Riemannian manifold.
    Bozhe moi!
    This I know from nothing.
    What-i’m going-to do.
    But I think of great Lobachevsky and get idea – ahah!

    I have a friend in Minsk,
    Who has a friend in Pinsk,
    Whose friend in Omsk
    Has friend in Tomsk
    With friend in Akmolinsk.
    His friend in Alexandrovsk
    Has friend in Petropavlovsk,
    Whose friend somehow
    Is solving now
    The problem in Dnepropetrovsk.

    And when his work is done –
    Ha ha! – begins the fun.
    From Dnepropetrovsk
    To Petropavlovsk,
    By way of Iliysk,
    And Novorossiysk,
    To Alexandrovsk to Akmolinsk
    To Tomsk to Omsk
    To Pinsk to Minsk
    To me the news will run,
    Yes, to me the news will run!

    And then I write
    By morning, night,
    And afternoon,
    And pretty soon
    My name in Dnepropetrovsk is cursed,
    When he finds out I publish first!

    And who made me a big success
    And brought me wealth and fame?
    Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
    Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach…

    I am never forget the day my first book is published.
    Every chapter I stole from somewhere else.
    Index I copy from old Vladivostok telephone directory.
    This book was sensational!
    Pravda – well, Pravda – Pravda said: “Zhil-bil korol kogda-to, pree nyom blokha zhila” It stinks.
    But Izvestia! Izvestia said: “Ya idoo kuda sam czar idyot peshkom!”
    It stinks.
    Metro-Goldwyn-Moskva buys movie rights for six million rubles,
    Changing title to ‘The Eternal Triangle’,
    With Brigitte Bardot playing part of hypotenuse.

    And who deserves the credit?
    And who deserves the blame?
    Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.

  21. Joe Blow says:

    It is going to be so much fun in the China Coast Home when you finally get there.

  22. malvolio says:

    is the China Coast still going?
    shamefully don’t know the answer

    lover of all things lychee and longterm lurker

  23. delboy says:

    Hemlock’s true identity is much, much, much worse than you all suppose.

    I hear he’s a bloody lawyer. However, I do get much pleasure with the fact that he lives is Stanley. If the mad mini bus drivers don’t get him, the diesel fumes from the tourist buses will surely do the job.

  24. I wouldn’t have thought that encouraging your customers to watch YouTube while crossing the street was a good way to build long-term customer loyalty – dead people don’t often make repeat purchases. Not that some of them would notice they’re dead, having long since withdrawn from the real world into their virtual equivalent.

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