[Updated] You Sure You Still Want to Use That iPhone?

At 4:11pm today, I received an email from the University entitled “Security Alert 11.12.11”. Below is the email message:

We have been notified by the NYPD, that on November 12, 2011 at about 7:30 p.m. two males were the victim of an attempted robbery in the lobby of a brownstone on W. 114 St. between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave. The suspect […] was sitting on the steps of the brownstone and followed the first victim into the hallway. He displayed a gun and demanded the victim’s I-phone [sic]. When the victim stated he didn’t have an I-phone, the male gave it back to him. The second victim entered the hallway and the suspect demanded his Iphone. Once again the suspect handed it back when he found out it was not actually an Iphone. The suspect left the building and fled on foot down Amsterdam Ave.

For your information, “W. 114th St. between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave.” is exactly where I live. The robbery might as well have taken place in my building.

This is about the third or forth crime reported this year around the school, but I am particularly shocked at this one.



The robber was already pointing a gun at somebody, committing a crime, and left empty-handed because the phone wasn’t an iPhone. He basically said no to the watch (~$120), no to the TI-83 (~$100), no to the laptop (~$1000+), no to the iPod (~$200), no to non-smart phones (~$100), and no to every other smartphone ever invented besides the iPhone!

I’m not sure if I should be laughing at his failed criminal act or admiring his steadfastness to the iPhone. Steve Jobs would be proud. Perhaps secretly.

Regardless of how I resolve my cognitive dissonance, if you have an iPhone, consider putting it back in the box and take out that Blackberry you retired from last year.

Watch out RIM, here’s your chance.

(Not really.)


Update Nov. 21, 2011:

You’ve got to be kidding me. This guy (or his good friend) came back!

Security Alert today:

On November 21, 2011 at about 11:50 p.m., a student was the victim of an attempted robbery on W.114St. between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. The student accompanied by another person was accosted as she was walking on the north side of W.114 St. towards Broadway. The suspect pushed the victim against a fence, threatened her and demanded her I-phone [sic]. When the suspect learned she did not have an I- phone, he fled east towards Amsterdam Avenue without taking any property. The suspect is observed on video walking back and forth on W. 114 St. prior to the crime. Moments earlier, he followed a student into Ruggles Hall but left the building immediately. If you have any information about this crime or this suspect, contact the 26Pct Detective Unit at 212-678-1351 or contact the undersigned. If you observe this person on the street, call the police immediately by dialing 911.

The incident is so serious that the University’s VP Public Safety wrote a letter addressing this issue:

In the past few weeks you have received several Security Alerts regarding crimes in our community. In particular, there has been a series of robberies and attempted robberies on W. 114th Street. I am writing to let you know that the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff, as well as others in our community, is our top priority. I would also like to share with you some of the things that the Department of Public Safety is doing to safeguard our campus, and the 114th Street area in particular, in order to help allay any concerns that you may have on the issue of safety here at Columbia…

I’m looking forward to the “iPhones Cause Crimes on Ivy League Campus” article in the next edition of the New York Times.


“Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal.”

So I stayed up almost all night watching Pirates of Silicon Valley. It’s a docudrama aired in 1999 about the founding of Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corporation.

Featuring Bill Gates the Nerd and Steve Jobs the Egomaniac

I must admit, even for a non-computer science major, I knew too little about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Probably because the dominant assumption is that they made their wealth back in the 80’s as personal computers took the world, and the computer/software/OS train has gone too far for our generation to catch its tail. That and the fact that I’m stuck at Columbia where the highest career aspirations are becoming bankers and consultants.

But as we are all graduating and trying to figure out where we’re headed, a documented display of how the two walked their paths from nobody to Forbes top 50 sheds light on a few things.

The friendly competition between Gates and Jobs is prevalent in most of our worlds – our classmates, our best friends, our frenemies. Like it or not, we are all competitive. We all like to check out how other people are doing and benchmark ourselves to see where we’re at. But that’s good and bad. Sure, it gets us going and injects a fair dosage of motivation every time we fall behind, but it only motivates us to do whatother people are already doing.

And here I thought: That would be a big problem if one wants to be original and create something. Right?

Not so much. At least not according to the film.

Jobs basically copied the user interface and mouse ideas from Xerox to create the Macintosh, and Gates pulled the exact same trick on Jobs and copied the Macintosh to create Windows.

So are these two men great visionaries? Or are they just great copiers? I can’t decide. Was it their ambition to take the world that got them where they are? Or was it their creative ideas?

Without these two, you wouldn't be seeing any of this right now.

Society wants to extol creativity because in our minds, creativity is a virtue. Theft is not. But ideas aren’t worth a dime if there’s no one to take it to the next level. The tricky part is: Who gets a cut out of the deal. Perhaps that’s where the more recent entrepreneurs, the Mark Zuckerberg‘s of the world, are encountering many more difficulties, because this generation has learned the lessons of Jobs and Gates, and will not walk until they’ve put up a serious fight.