Phil Nickinson

Exciting things are afoot, folks. I'm mostly going off the grid this week, insofar as the usual work week is concerned, but that's not to say there's nothing going on.

So here's to a fun, fast and fruitful week in New York City, with some of the smartest people I know.

And now, a few thoughts on the week that was:

Can'​t HTC catch a break?

From the "It's not as bad as it seems" department, HTC -- which very much has the makings of a smartphone hit on its hands with the HTC One -- sent out e-mails to those of us who preordered the 32-gigabyte SIM-unlocked and 64-gigabyte "developer edition" directly from HTC (OK, via Let's Talk), saying they were delayed and would ship before the end of the month.

That's not the biggest of delays -- potentially a week and a half -- but that's just not headline the company needed, after the HTC One was delayed in a number of countries from March to April. Not that it was really HTC's fault -- increased security and Midwest flooding were to blame -- but still.

The good news: Some phones did manage to ship out on Friday, just hours after the "delay" was announced. And HTC followed up with me, saying more shipped on Saturday, and more will ship early this week.

So it could have been worse, I suppose.

'Tech blogs' covering 'news'

A lot has been said since the horror of last Monday in Boston about publications traditionally considered to be tech sites writing about the marathon bombing. Instead of worrying about whether it was the "right" thing to do, I've been thinking more about how well it was done.

When news is truly breaking -- and not any of that blogging "developing …" bullshit that's all the rage these days -- I'm OK with tuning out for a little while and waiting for a clearer picture. I think that goes back to what I did at the newspaper. I mostly worked with the content once it was coherently written and edited. That allows for more big-picture thinking, and for a more accurate look at what's going on.

It's also perfectly natural to want to know every detail of every second. I was pretty appalled Friday night as the final manhunt unfolded live over the police scanner -- and folks just couldn't stop tweeting everything that was happening. Now police scanners are relatively lo-fidelity. But if that suspect had taken a bullet in the eye, that voyeuristic game quickly becomes a snuff film. I can live without that.

Me? I went with news sources from the Boston area, as well as the usual national players, and the raw AP feed. There's "covering" news by rewriting and aggregating someone else's work, and then there's real "coverage" by having reporters on the ground. When national news breaks, networks send their own talking heads, and newspapers send reporters or (hopefully, if they still have them) put their bureaus to work. But it's the local level that does some of the best work.

Something else I was reminded of: The tech news/traditional news argument has been going on within traditional news organizations forever. Sports desks love to watch the newsies running around all over the place on Election Day. For a hometown newspaper, that's called Friday night football. And College football Saturdays. There's blowback whenever a "sports" story becomes a "news" story. I spent my first four years at the newspaper in sports. The next eight in news. And I've been doing the "tech blog" thing for three years now. Different publications cover things differently And different sections within publications approach things differently. That's the way it should work. So maybe that's why I was disappointed to, at least initially, see such unimaginative coverage from any number of "tech blogs."

Syndication is one thing. It's a better use of resources, and more honest to your readers, I think. Rewriting and aggregating "news" -- especially during tragic events -- just seems self-serving.

I'd also argue that it's what you do between breaking events that defines how well you cover "news." While major events are never "easy," they're also laid out in front of everyone. That makes it easy for them to be covered poorly by anyone with a platform on which to publish. I'm glad there has been blowback through all this. It'll be interesting to see how daily coverage shifts. (And it might well have been shifting anyway and we just didn't notice.)

If anything, what we saw over the past week was just a bumpy stretch on a wildly shifting thoroughfare.

Lest we forget what's really important …

Maybe I've been out of the news game for too long. Or maybe having two young daughters has made me soft. But I found myself tearing up all week. At the horror. At the bravery. At the humanity of it all.

Thank those who put themselves in harms way. Who comfort the afflicted. And who help keep horrible events like this from happening in the future.

Our HTC One dev edition contest

It was pretty sad to see some folks try to cheat their way to a win in our HTC One developer edition contest. I was naive in thinking it wouldn't happen.

We're going to have someone not on our usual editorial staff pick a winner. We're still throwing in a couple Nexus 4s to two lucky runners-up. Look for the winners to be announced soon.

Best of the rest …

That was heavy. A few happier closing thoughts this week:

  • My 6-year-old daughter is obsessed with the Reading Rainbow app on iOS. (And I'm insanely jealous that LeVar Burton retweeted my wife.) Gotta get more great kids content for Android -- and Google Play needs some better discoverability for it.
  • Seeing so much love for the HTC One, actually. But we've yet to see the full force of the Samsung marketing machine for the Galaxy S4. HTC's begun its campaign, but it's more subtle. Samsung's going to carpet bomb the hell out things again, for sure.
  • AT&T got LTE in my town right as the Nexus 4 came out. Which means I haven't really used AT&T LTE in my town yet. I'd forgotten how fast LTE can be. It'll be interesting to see how the battery holds  up.
  • Ingress tip of the week: Keep as far from the portal as you can when placing resonators. The opposing faction will curse you for it, especially if one's in a hard-to-reach spot.

Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: Big things ahead


Well written Phil, as a current newspaper guy, I was proud of the efforts of the Boston Globe, Herald and the AP in their coverage of the bombings. Those people worked very hard in keeping their communities informed.
Of course, major props to law enforcement for ending this sad ordeal. They're the heroes.

It was great coverage and the community really came together in finding those guys through social media was amazing IMO, and probably a first on that scale. But it can also take a toll on you following it too much which is why I like to come here and take a break from all that, just glad it wasn't real terrorist and it didn't happen in multiple cities and towns all at once. Luckily it being one incident the law enforcement agencies were able to all come together for one specific area and get them.

Actually, what people are forgetting is that law enforcement would not have solved this case without the help of public citizens. Law enforcement is receiving the accolades, but the real heroes are the citizens that provided the information that allowed for the capture of these terrorists. And they did it for free, without outrageous union contracts and benefits behind them. I hope everyone remembers that most of all.

I think the reason that law enforcement is getting the accolades is because its a little more heroic to be out in the field tracking down two psychos who are heavily armed with bombs and stuff than to send in some pictures you just happened to take. The people who sent in the photos and videos definitely deserve kudos, and the case my not have been solved without them, but I wouldn't exactly call them the real heroes.

Until those citizens defuse bombs, pin down a murderer and prevent more carnage just shut the fuck up-you're talking out of your ass.

Sounded appropriate to me.

Remember people, next time you're in trouble, call the "real" heroes: the people with iPhones and GS3s.

I think you misunderstand. I wasn't referring to the point he was trying to make. I was talking about the STFU part at the end of the response. Totally unnecessary. It adds absolutely nothing to the point being made.

Actually, I agreed with that part especially. Those people put their lives on the line daily so we can have these stupid conversations and arguments over cell phones. Meanwhile, these "real" heroes are gonna go back to Instagraming. I think the STFU was warranted.

I am 100% for civility on forums, especially when people are allowed to hide behind the anonymity of screen-names. However, in this case, I agree with you and the person above that said it. We just saw something amazing Friday night, and this jerk wants to defame those horrible unionized law enforcement officers??? STFU, indeed!

Yes, it absolutely was. More to the point I was being polite as well. And unlike the poster I responded to, I don't hide behind a nickname, I use my real one.

As the son of a retired NY cop, it outrages me that some moron with internet access can puke out the kind of bile he did. I really hope he never needs the help of those he belittled, especially since he has not one shred of bravery in his body.

Yep, it is the citizens that give the Police the tips. Their job could not be done without them but remember it is the officers that go in after the suspects who often times armed and very dangerous. I being a retired CSI Guy have had a partner killed in action and it is not a pretty sight. So I agree that Citizens are a major key to solving crime but it is the boys and girls in Blue that get the job done. IMHO

Sheesh, get a speeding ticket last week or something. First of all, each and every one of the law enforcement officials interviewed after they captured the scum bag thanked the population of Boston and the surrounding community for their assistance. They also said that it was the cooperation of the public in providing pictures of the scene.

You are just choosing what part of the news you want to remember.

More bile spewed from the supporters of the right. I think their outrageous union contracts are justified considered they put their life on the line everyday while movie stars, athletes, and ceos get paid way more for doing work that in any normal person's mind is worth way less.

"Outrageous" union contracts as you say, is the only way to make a living in a world where our executive class make hundreds of times the money as a normal worker do.

Are you saying things are a little out of whack? The guy in charge of the iPhone hardware made 86 mil. Last year, and the guy in charge of suing Apple's competitors made 85 mil. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

That title plus photo was a match made in heaven. "Big Things Ahead" and then round it off (no pun intended) with Phil's huge melon. Priceless.

Can't wait for the contest winners announcement. Hope I win something this time. Can't do what I love to do on a windows phone. Will be awesome if i win the HTC One. :)

Wow Phil. Really!? You post this garbage today after your G+ post this past weekend? You know, the one where you didn't like me suggesting you stick to Android and not political posts? And then you blocked me? Where's the freedom of speech there? So you don't like what someone else suggests or says so you block them to shut them up?

You're a hypocrite and your news stories suck. You're bias views make you single minded with no depth. Let's let others in on your whole online persona so they can see the real you. God forbid they say something you don't like. You'll block them or have them blocked as well. But screenshots are awesome. They save what others delete and block.

Ahhh the Freedom of Speech argument... If I had a dime for everyone who threw that term around without truly understanding what freedom of speech applies to, I could pay off the US deficit 10 times over easily.

Seriously, you have no freedom of speech on a private form. It is for freedom of speech concerning the government. Phil is not a government entity. Plus, when you agree to a Terms of Service on a website, you're waiving rights anyway. I could go into further details, but those two base facts alone are enough for this discussion.

Your disagreement/beef with Phil is one thing, but if you're going to bring up the freedom of speech argument, at least know what you are talking about. Clearly you did not in this particular case.

Oh really? I defended this great nation for freedom of speech. So people like you could say whatever you like without fear of persecution. Best do your own reading. TOS's have nothing to do with bias views of an individual on a SOCIAL site. Phil just didn't like what someone else said and he chose to block. His choice, but the manner in which it was done showed a shallowness not typical from someone used to writing in the media.

Freedom of speech notwithstanding, even on a social site it lowers someone to a level of trash if they mute everything they don't like.

So, both of you can buddy up and play cards. It doesn't change anything.

1)Thank you for defending this country. It takes a great person to do that.
2)Being a great person doesn't mean you know everything, and in this case you are wrong. Phil has every right to block you from his personal site. It has nothing to do with freedom of speech. If I come to your home and start insulting you and your family, I'm sure you wouldn't just say "he has freedom of speech" and let me go on as much as I wanted. If I invade your personal space with things you don't agree with, you'd be well within your rights to remove me. Phil just did the same thing.

You are right but I also have slight disagreement with you. If Phil posts to his personal G+ page then yes, he does have every right to block me. In this case however, he was perfectly fine with others who supported him and not OK with those who didn't. This shows bias and coming from a reporter/writer, I expected more from Phil.

So I told him what I thought. I did not try and enforce my belief, just offered it like other people. A right of mine. As is posting here, regardless of what others think or how they feel.

What right do you have to post here? This is a privately owned forum, posting here is a privilege, not a right. It's no more your right then driving on public roads, something else that can be revoked.

I really don't understand what your complaint is. Like you said, its his personal G+ account, and he can ban whoever he wants. Are you saying that since he is a reporter he's not allowed to have his own personal opinion on his own personal account? Is he supposed to be completely and totally professional about every single thing 24/7 just because he has a job? He's not the President of the US, he's allowed to have time off to have his own opinion. He's allowed to post things to his personal account and ban people who agree, or ban people who don't agree, he doesn't need to have any criteria for who get banned. If he wants he can block someone because he doesn't prefer the spelling of their name. He's a writer/reporter. He's not making life and death decisions that affect millions of people. He's allowed to be biased on his own personal account. And if you expect something more, maybe you need to check what your expectations from people are.

You know, if you'd only made the first post and he blocked you, I'd say sure, you're right and he shouldn't be so biased. When you said "you should stick to Android" you were attacking his right to an opinion rather than just stating your own. That in mind, he was completely justified in blocking you and you have no leg to stand on, ex-military or not.

Serving this country doesn't entitle you to anything more than anyone else, and if you think it does, then thou did it for all the wrong reasons. I'm a huge supporter of people who serve in the military, but when they think their service gives them blanket permission to be a dick and be praised for it...

"Serving this country doesn't entitle you to anything more than anyone else, and if you think it does, then thou did it for all the wrong reasons."

This. +9000.

"Serving this country doesn't entitle you to anything more than anyone else, and if you think it does, then thou did it for all the wrong reasons."

This. +9000 (just to give you an even 18000 along with what was already given to you.)

Chris Bridges aka CBConsultation

Editors and moderators of forums like AC/Mobile Nations and Fox News have a right to and should block "off subject" inflammatory hate speech, bitterness, non applicable agenda opinions, and spam promotions.

You have a right to moderate your own forums. That's the freedom of speech and personal responsibility I defend.

If you served our country, I appreciate it. Nonetheless...

1.) You go onto a private site.
2.) You complain about freedom of speech because something was deleted.
3.) Freedom of speech does not apply to PRIVATE boards. You agree to a ToS, and if a moderator wants to delete posts, he/she has the right because it is a PRIVATE board.

I'm not saying you have to agree with anything Phil did to you, nor do I care what specifically happened to lead you to disagree with him. My point is, when you throw the freedom of speech argument around blindly, I do have an issue with that.

Technically, it does. The U.S. Constitution is applicable to anything and everything you do or can do in America.

The fact that Phil was posting that from his personal G+ profile and not the Android Central G+ profile essentially gives him the right to talk about whatever it is he would like to.

I'm sure I am not alone in thinking Phil had the right to talk about what he feels like on his own G+ account.

1) This is the Internet. Your freedom of speech on any site you do not own and/or pay for is NOT a right that is implied or guaranteed. If you want a real life analogy, a personal site (or social network page) or even a company site like AC is like private property. While the government can't inhibit your right to free speech in the public forum, a landowner can tell you to get off of his lawn if you piss him off.

2) G+ is a social network. Meaning that Phil (and you too btw) use it to post things that matter to THEM. Just because someone is known for one thing or another (like Phil is known for android) doesn't mean he doesn't have other opinions. Maybe you missed the part where he said he came from reporting on NEWS in general before joining AC. He didn't post that cartoon from the AC page on G+, and he didn't say "I am Phil from AC and I approve of this message." He, as a citizen, posted something on his personal social page. Phil is a Journalist as you put it, but that doesn't mean that everything he ever writes is journalism. he wasn't writing that for a paper, or a website, or even his own personal blog. He was posting it on G+ because (heaven forbid) he has an opinion on something.

He is well within his "rights" to block someone ON HIS OWN SPACE if he wants to. You can still post on your own site (which you clearly have). He didn't block you for having a different opinion on the events. You were blocked because you were rude and presumed to tell him what he was and wasn't allowed to talk about based on your own skewed opinion of what being a "journalist" means.

Just because someone is "well known" doesn't mean they have an obligation to talk about ONLY things you think they should (or only things in the same vein as make them popular). I have no idea where that fallacy got started, but it's wrong. Journalists are people too, and people have opinions. Phil kept his opinions off of this site and instead put them on his personal space.

Yes, this is a bit of a rant. And yes, it's kind of pointless arguing with a troll on the internet, but this reply isn't for him. It's for anyone else that reads this.

1) Your freedom of speech doesn't extend onto online forums, just like it doesn't extend into someones home.
2) People, even "famous" people are allowed to have opinions outside of the area they are known for. They have JUST as much right to express them as you do.

But back on topic, good thoughts Phil. Maybe for a longer form piece, one of you could write about how news reporting has changed (for good and ill) in the age of instant information? I for one, would like to hear your perspective since you've operated in the new "blogosphere" and a traditional news environment.

@CBconsultation. You try to make an argument by stating freedom of speech and the like, but another user above pretty much proved you wrong. There's something you are obviously failing to understand; Phil posted this on HIS g+ page, not android central's. He clearly didn't like what you were saying to him and Jerry, so he blocked you from HIS g+ page. He can do whatever he wants on it, since he owns the page. Also you trying to show others how "bad" Phil is by constantly using ad hominem, just shows that you don't have any actual logic to back up your arguments against Phil, which seems to me that you are more angry at Phil because he blocked you from HIS OWN PAGE.

Actually, whether Phil blocks me or not is not a concern of mine. As a reporter/writer I expected more of an open mind from him. Thus me adding my thoughts to him. But it is what it is. Who really cares anyway, it's the internet. He'll write what he wants, as will I. Our rights.

I totally see where you are coming from with what you are saying, and at the risk of being flamed as badly as you were for voicing your thoughts or opinions, I tend to strongly agree with the direction you are trying to take your argument. (Freedom of speech thing aside, which was a tangent that I'm not getting into and was not the point of your post).

I have been a huge android fan and a huge androidcentral fan for years, but so much bias and hypocrisy has been introduced into the site lately I can't even fathom listening to a podcast anymore. A majority of the posts (especially Phil's) lack objectivity and have a ton of personal bias in them, all the way down from hands-on and review type posts, it feels like we are being preached to from on high. When you disagree with him on G+, personal page or not, he responds very negatively and often only responds to those points of view which support him. I too expected more from Phil, but his writing on the site and G+ are both difficult to stomach, so I really do see your point of view. Unfortunately I feel like some of the people who responded (rather flamingly) to your comments jumped down your throat rather than listening to what you were really trying to say, which I do think is a very valid point. AC is not my go-to android news site anymore, and its because of exactly what you are trying to bring up in your comments, I'll head to the verge and even engadget mobile first.

on a non-related note, although I am a Canadian, I do appreciate the fact that there are people like you who serve their countries and have the nuts to run towards trouble rather than away from it. People say that doesn't give you the right to be a dick/post whatever you want, blah blah blah, and I agree; but I don't think you did that. I think if people read what you were trying to say with an objectionable mindset, they would realize they don't have to agree with what you said, but that your comments and complaints do have validity. I'm getting sick of the direction things are going.

Yeah, I would have blocked you too. Plus, you had absolutely no idea what you were talking about. The gun bill that wasn't passed focused on mandatory background checks for those who buy guns. It didn't take anyone's guns away or make them illegal in any way, shape, or form. Plus the whole "criminals don't buy guns legally" argument is mute. If we were to apply that to any other laws (theft, etc) we wouldn't have laws because criminals would just end up breaking them anyway. So good job Phil for blocking this idiot who had literally no idea what he was talking about.

Anyway, back to Android. This is a pretty exciting week because the S4 is finally going to hit some carriers. I'm dying to try it out.

So when you run your mouth it's freedom of speech but when Phil gives an opinion on G+ it's bullshit?


I used to work at a newspaper for 12 years as a sports writer. Deadlines on Friday nights were horrible, to boot. It never ceased to amaze me how all the news reporters would whine and complain about Election Night. All of us sports writers would laugh because we dealt with it every Friday night, not just for football season but for basketball season as well -- and for hoops season, it was multiple nights.

I've done news work, but truly one cannot be considered a journalist for a community newspaper until they have done sports writing on deadline.

Phil, please do a post on Ingress. I really want to try it, but it seems too complicated. Some tips for beginners would be nice


Did you use the HTC One to take another truly remarkable snapshot?

Indoor without flash, I like the skin tones and natural color, depth of field, and overall composition of "this is what's happening".

Front facing or main camera?

I am totally amazed by the quality of HTC One's "Front Facing Camera" photos that you have published including this photo and the photo you took in front of Radio City after the Samsung event.

Upon viewing those two photos, it seemed as though you were glancing at the screen to line up the photo and since you were taking the picture you had to actuate the shutter which would have been all but impossible reaching around to use the main camera.

Bottom line, what totally amazes me is your ability to get two truly great photos using HTC One's FFC. which is not the super featured ultrapixel, f/2 lens, ImageSense, optical stabilized, face recognition main camera.

Yep. Been pleasantly surprised, actually. At 33 percent remaining today after about 8 hours of pretty decent use. Expected worse. But it's been a while since I've used LTE full-time.