|You're asked three questions upon getting in line for this season's "it" gadget, Snapchat Spectacles.
Are you going to sell your second pair?
What color are you going to get?
Where are you from?
The order may vary, but the combination is inevitable. It's an easy icebreaker for people with whom you're going to spend nine hours overnight on a Manhattan sidewalk in 35-degree weather.
Which is why, at some point, you start asking yourself questions, too.
Why am I doing this?
Is there anywhere around here to buy blankets?
Do shoelaces have nutritional value?
What is life?
Will these people judge me if I chew on my shoelaces?
I arrived at 59th Street and 5th Avenue, at 9 p.m. last Saturday. For my efforts, I was the sixth person in line. Yet, if you weren't there by just after 11 p.m. – still seven hours early – you probably weren't getting a wristband.
You see, this is the only permanent place to buy Spectacles, and the line moves really slowly because: 1. they're so popular 2. and although people are limited to two per day, you have to buy each pair in a separate transaction and 3. there's only one point of service (the vending machine). So they give out wristbands to the first 200 (or so – rough estimation) people in line, and if you don't get one, you probably aren't getting inside that day.
Which is why online-resale value was as high as $2,500 in mid-November. (Now, as supply has increased, you can probably get a pair for about $300. How silly does that person who paid $2,500 feel?)
But back to the elements, and how people dealt with them. Me? I think the only person less prepared than me was the guy none of us saw sit down from 9:30 p.m. on. He just paced the sidewalk with his headphones on and his hoodie up.
I wore two pairs of socks, tennis shoes (my toes were still numb within a couple hours), shorts, sweatpants, a T-shirt, a long-sleeve shirt, a leather jacket, an all-weather hoodie jacket, a stocking cap and two pairs of gloves (ditto my fingers going numb). I also brought a section of the New York Times to spread out on the sidewalk so I wouldn't be sitting directly on the pavement. This turned out to be pointless.
(Many people brought chairs, and one even brought a tent.)
By 1 a.m. I was curled up on the cold concrete leaning on my two bags (a change of clothes and supplies for church, where I was headed at 8 a.m.) trying to sleep. I never did completely go under.
For food, I brought a slice each of apple and pumpkin pie, leftover from Thanksgiving.
I didn't drink anything, so as to minimize bathroom breaks. Fortunately, everyone was pretty cool about letting you walk across the street to the 24/7 Apple Store (how ironic) to thaw out and take care of business, and reclaim your spot when you were finished. I did this once, around 2:20 a.m., and the Apple heat felt more like a tease than a relief.
The person I met who traveled the farthest was Tony, who was one spot behind me. He flew in from Arizona the night before for free because his mom works for American Airlines and he didn't have to pay for tickets.
4:43 a.m. The guy in front of me jolted awake in his chair and began asking people where we were. He looked genuinely frightened until it was explained to him. I believe he was high. If only this had happened 23 minutes sooner.
The line was 3/4 of the way around the block at this point.
5:06 a.m. A beautiful girl put a band around my wrist. I would not have minded putting a ring around her finger. Alas, I hadn't slept in nearly 22 hours and I was dressed like a cross between Leonardo DiCaprio's character in The Revenant and Robinson Crusoe. The game was not strong, and I let my latest siren escape into the night.
If you know this girl, please give her my number/address/SSN/etc.
5:43 a.m. My wrist was stamped, another requirement for entry. I don't know what the stamp was. I might as well have been drunk at this point.
5:57 a.m. My guardian angel, or a woman who lived nearby and has a kind heart – or both – walked past the line pouring those of us in the front hot chocolate from a lovely pitcher she carried in her bag. She told us to pay it forward, especially with homeless people. We should all be more like this wonderful lady, even if I wish she had showed up a lot sooner.
6:03 a.m. The wristband, along with the last reminder I had of the girl who could have been my wife if I wasn't dressed like a character from The Walking Dead, was cut off and thrown into the trash. I then went inside.
Somehow, between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., I dropped from sixth in line to 12th. A bunch of people showed up in the waning hours of the countdown, apparently having "spots" saved for them by those at the front. If I had had more energy, I might have tried to fight a certain group of 11 people all at once.
6:23 a.m. Inside for 20 minutes at this point, I reached the front of the line, and therefore, the vending machine. While one of the store employees recorded Snaps on my phone, I purchased two pairs of black Spectacles. It was all over.
But not for the woman who had been in front me. She was either dating or married to the guy who woke up high and bewildered, and her purchase was denied because he went before her and they tried to use the same credit card.
Since you can only purchase two Spectacles at a time, the machine will not accept more than two payments per day from the same credit card. I offered to let her use my second credit card if she would wire me the money – at cost, no profit – of one pair and let me keep the other, which would have given both me and the couple three total pairs.
By the look on her face, you would have thought I asked her to saw off her leg, roast it and feed it to the people in the back of the line. Instead of taking me up on my generous offer, she opted to take another wristband from the Snapchat employees, drive 90 minutes back to her home in Westchester for another credit card, return to Midtown, and get in the back of the line maybe – maybe – in time to buy two Spectacles. Can't say I was rooting for her.
From there, I walked to my office at 53rd and 7th, took a 19-minute nap on one of the couches, brushed my teeth, changed my clothes, and arrived at church on 34th Street by 8 a.m. The Spectacles? I locked them in my desk drawer, where they now remain, sealed and unopened. Well, until Thursday morning.
That's when I sold one of them for twice its purchase price. It's now somewhere between New York and Sydney, its final destination, and home of eBay user idjaustralia. With any luck, the second pair won't be far behind.
Why go through all that just to sell them? Well, I am going to make a little money, but more than that, it was about the experience. One I hope to never repeat.
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I'm under no illusions that someone at Facebook is making product decisions based on my blog, but I published the following Nov. 17:
Instead of throwing all this in my face (particularly via tactics 3 and 4), why doesn't Facebook create a separate video section featuring live broadcasts and best-of archives? Take a page out of YouTube's book and promote them as channels.
On mobile, the Live button at the top left that takes you straight to broadcast mode could instead go to said Live page. From there, Facebook could still make it really easy to "go live," while also displaying the aforementioned mix of video content.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I opened my Facebook app Tuesday night and saw this:
You probably know that if you send or receive a video on Snapchat, the icon appears in purple, and if you send a photo, it appears in red.
But this week I figured out something that purple doesn't mean video and red doesn't mean photo. Purple means sound and red means no sound. How do I know this? I snapped someone a video the other day with sound on followed by a video with sound off, and this is how it appeared in the chat dialogue (except it was actually a Snap to someone else, not myself):
How do you send a video without sound? When you record a video Snap, before sending, click the sound icon at the bottom left, and an x will appear next to it. Voila.
Twitter has a new head of product who barely uses the product -Verge
While We Weren’t Looking, Snapchat Revolutionized Social Networks -N.Y. Times
The company I work for, DNAinfo, just had a record traffic month in both New York and Chicago! Which is good, because that's kind of my job, although the reporters and editors deserve all the credit.
Check out DNAinfo New York and Chicago.
It may be an H&M ad, but this Wes Anderson-directed Christmas short featuring Adrien Brody will warm your heart.
Here is some of the most enlightening post-election coverage I have encountered:
Trevor Noah interviews Tomi Lahren -The Daily Show (video), Nov. 30, 2016
A civilized and fascinating conversation between two people on opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Obama Reckons with a Trump Presidency -New Yorker, Nov. 28, 2016
Editor David Remnick spent a lot of time with President Obama in the days before and after the election. This is a recap of their conversations.
Combative, Populist Steve Bannon Found His Man in Donald Trump -NY Times, Nov. 27, 2016
The most in-depth and up-to-date profile out on Trump's chief strategist.
The Backlash Has Arrived -Exponent (podcast), Nov. 11, 2016
This episode is more than an hour long (unless you listen to it at 2X speed), but I found it to be a fair look at why many people were surprised by Trump's victory.
This Man Is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America -Bloomberg Businessweek, Oct. 8, 2015
This might be the most recent Bannon profile in which he agreed to be interviewed. He did not participate in the above profile from the Times.
Shake Shack in Penn Station!
A lesson in why you should be cautious when pre-writing push alerts/headlines.
Do you watch Westworld? Is it good? Should I catch up before Sunday's finale? I gave up after three episodes.
Did I make a mistake? Or should I do something better? Please reply to this email or tweet at me.