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iPhone 5 launch means long lines for Apple fans

Published: Friday, September 21, 2012, 6:45 AM

In a now familiar global ritual, Apple fans jammed shops from Sydney to Paris to pick up the tech juggernaut's latest iPhone. Eager buyers formed long lines Friday at Apple Inc. stores in Asia, Europe and North America to be the first to get their hands on the latest version of the smartphone.

iphone-5-line.jpgBebeto Matthews, The Associated PressHazen Sayer, an app developer, is first in line outside Apple's Fifth Avenue store on Thursday in New York. Sayer started camping out a week ago to be one of the first to get the new iPhone 5, which will go on sale in the U.S. and eight other countries Friday.

In London, some shoppers had camped out for a week in a queue that snaked around the block. In Hong Kong, the first customers were greeted by staff cheering, clapping, chanting "iPhone 5! iPhone 5!" and high-fiving them as they were escorted one-by-one through the front door.

The smartphone will be on sale in the U.S. and Canada hours after its launch in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Britain, France and Germany. In New Orleans, stores will open at 8 a.m. local time.

It will launch in 22 more countries a week later. The iPhone 5 is thinner, lighter, has a taller screen, faster processor, updated software and can work on faster "fourth generation" mobile networks.

The handset has become a hot seller despite initial lukewarm reviews and new map software that is glitch prone. Apple received 2 million orders in the first 24 hours of announcing its release date, more than twice the number for the iPhone 4S in the same period when that phone launched a year ago.

In a sign of the intense demand, police in Osaka, Japan, were investigating the theft of nearly 200 iPhones 5s, including 116 from one shop alone, Kyodo News reported.

Analysts have estimated Apple will ship as many as 10 million of the new iPhones by the end of September.

Some fans went to extremes to be among the first buyers by arriving at Apple's flagship stores day ahead of the release.

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In downtown Sydney, Todd Foot, 24, showed up three days early to nab the coveted first spot. He spent about 18 hours a day in a folding chair, catching a few hours' sleep each night in a tent on the sidewalk.

Foot's dedication was largely a marketing stunt, however. He writes product reviews for a technology website that will give away the phone after Foot reviews it.

"I just want to get the phone so I can feel it, compare it and put it on our website," he said while slumped in his chair.

In Paris, the phone launch was accompanied by a workers' protest -- a couple dozen former and current Apple employees demonstrated peacefully to demand better work benefits. Some decried what they called Apple's transformation from an offbeat company into a multinational powerhouse.

But the protesters -- urged by a small labor union to demonstrate at Apple stores around France -- were far outnumbered by lines of would-be buyers on the sidewalk outside the store near the city's gilded opera house.

Not everyone lining up at the various Apple stores was an enthusiast, though. In Hong Kong, university student Kevin Wong, waiting to buy a black 16 gigabyte model for 5,588 Hong Kong dollars ($720), said he was getting one "for the cash." He planned to immediately resell it to one of the numerous grey market retailers catering to mainland Chinese buyers. China is one of Apple's fastest growing markets but a release date for the iPhone 5 there has not yet been set.

Wong was required to give his local identity card number when he signed up for his iPhone on Apple's website. The requirement prevents purchases by tourists including mainland Chinese, who have a reputation for scooping up high-end goods on trips to Hong Kong because there's no sales tax and because of the strength of China's currency. Even so, the mainlanders will probably buy it from the resellers "at a higher price -- a way higher price," said Wong, who hoped to make a profit of HK$1,000 ($129).

Tokyo's glitzy downtown Ginza district not only had a long line in front of the Apple store, but another across the main intersection at Softbank, the first carrier in Japan to offer iPhones.

Hidetoshi Nakamura, a 25-year-old auto engineer, said he's an Apple fan because it's an innovator.

"I love Apple," he said, standing near the end of a two-block-long line, reading a book and listening to music on his iPod.

"It's only the iPhone for me."

Kelvin Chan, AP Business Writer

Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo, Faris Mokhtar in Singapore, Tom Rayner in London and Oleg Cetinic in Paris contributed to this report.

Related topics: apple, apple iphone

Hurricane Isaac's debris still festering on many New Orleans curbs

Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012, 7:21 AM

Three weeks after Hurricane Isaac, the final phase of digging out is wearing thin for many New Orleanians. Most yards are clean and the garbage has been hauled away, but piles of leaves, branches and black bags continue to litter many curbs throughout the city. The distinct stench of rotting debris, likely from discarded food added to the piles in recent days, has begun to waft across certain blocks.

map-debris-091912.jpgView full size

"My ... concern is not only the smell, but it's a nice place for rodents and roaches to hang out," said Ruth Thompson, whose Garden District neighborhood near Magazine Street has yet to see a debris truck.

"This is where the tourists want to see beautiful homes. This is where the tourists want to shop," she said. "A gentleman from Texas asked me something (about it), and I said, 'You know, that's why they call it the Big Easy.' I don't want to air our dirty laundry to someone from outside the city."

Thompson said she didn't understand why garbage crews declined to pick up household waste at some homes, or why the debris still remained untouched. When she called the city's information hotline, she got a different answer each time, she said.

Michelle Thomas, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's deputy of operations, on Tuesday asked residents to be patient. She said debris crews have made their first pass down most city streets, but she noted that some neighborhoods in Central City and elsewhere have yet to see any curbside debris removal.

She also had strong words for garbage and debris collectors alike, imploring both to pick up everything placed on curbs by residents.

"No contractor should go by a home and leave a bag on the curb," she said, adding that city attorneys are exploring all available legal actions. She didn't elaborate.

Richard's Disposal Inc., Metro Disposal Inc. and Progressive Waste Solutions, formerly known as SDT Waste & Debris Services, handle New Orleans' household waste pickup.

The city's debris hauler, DRC Emergency Services, has collected more than 120,000 cubic yards of storm debris -- which would fill around 240 typical shotgun homes. Thomas estimated that Hurricane Isaac in the end will outpace the 137,000 cubic yards of debris that Hurricane Gustav yielded in 2008.

Holding DRC accountable for slow response times could prove difficult for city attorneys. There is no clause in the contract that sets specific deadlines for collecting debris, and every storm that passes through southeast Louisiana produces a different amount of waste. The emergency debris removal contract, capped at $6.5 million for five years, was signed in August 2008 during Mayor Ray Nagin's administration. DRC was the lowest bidder.

DRC does have a list of 27 subcontractors that the city contractually approved to assist with debris removal. It's unclear how many companies were activated during Isaac's aftermath, but Thomas said around 200 personnel were still on the job Tuesday.

For Thompson, the debris can't be picked up quickly enough. The pile outside her house has already grown beyond her own contributions as passers-by add their own trash.

"It begins to take on a life of its own," she said.

Richard Rainey can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 504.883.7052.

Related topics: storm isaac 2012

Isaac damages could cost Entergy up to $500 million

Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 12:23 PM     Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 5:17 PM

Damages from Hurricane Isaac, the slow-moving, Category 1 storm that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of customers across Louisiana, are expected to cost Entergy Corp. as much as $500 million, the New Orleans utility giant said Tuesday. Isaac, which lingered over New Orleans for more than two days, gave Louisiana's electrical grid its first real test since 2008's Hurricane Gustav left much of the state in the dark.

LaPlace cleanup Saturday
Enlarge David Grunfeld, The Times-Picayune DAVID GRUNFELD / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE With the life contents on the curb, a statue of Jesus at the LeBlanc's residence 709 St. Andrews Blvd. in LaPlace Saturday September 15, 2012. Hurricane Isaac cleanup continues in LaPlacegallery (8 photos)

Next to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it was the second-worst storm Entergy has dealt with in New Orleans, with more than 126,000 homes and businesses left without power.

Over all, it was the fourth-highest number of electricity customers to lose power during a storm in Entergy's history, including more than 700,000 across Louisiana, according to the utility.

Now, weeks later, Entergy estimates the damage to its electrical facilities to be in the range of $400 to $500 million, including its territories in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. That figure puts the toll sustained by Entergy New Orleans, which provides electricity to about 160,000 customers on the east bank of Orleans Parish, at $50 to $60 million; Entergy Louisiana, with customers between suburban New Orleans and Baton Rouge, racked up between $240 to $300 million in damages, the utility said.

Extensive repairs from the 2008 storm season, which consisted of Gustav and Hurricane Ike, which followed shortly afterward, cost Entergy Louisiana $395.9 million, and it cost Entergy Gulf States, which serves areas between Baton Rouge and Texas, $236.3 million. The storms cost Entergy New Orleans $32 million.

Each utility will be on the hook for covering its storm-related expenses. Entergy also expects that its bottom line will take a hit from the widespread power outages that Isaac caused throughout southern Louisiana.

Four years apart, Gustav and Isaac followed similar paths, tracking the spine of the state's major transmission towers. But Isaac caused significantly less damage.

Gustav's 110 mph winds knocked out 13 of 14 major transmission lines connecting New Orleans to the rest of the state's power grid, whereas Isaac only claimed four.

And during Gustav, 11,800 utility poles were downed and 5,000 pole-mounted electrical transformers were damaged; during Isaac, about 4,500 poles and nearly 2,000 transformers were wrecked.

As city and utility officials continue to haggle over how much Orleans Parish residents will pay for electricity next year, final damage figures from Isaac may play a factor in whether rates go up or down, as the utility has sought to redirect a credit that customers now receive and use that money to boost its storm reserve.

In Isaac's wake, city and utility officials will have to assess damage estimates and look over any money spent from the storm reserve as part of the response, a standard move after a storm. Just more than $16 million was in the storm reserve at the end of August.

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iPhone 5 unveiled with taller screen, faster data speeds

Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012,  1:17 PM     Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012,  1:17 PM

Apple is holding an event in San Francisco during which it is announcing a new iPhone, capable of faster data speeds and sporting a taller screen. The iPhone 5 will likely go on sale in a week or two. It will work with fourth-generation, or 4G, cellular networks, something Samsung's Galaxy S III and many other iPhone rivals already do.

iphone-5-unveiled.jpgEric Risberg, The Associated PressPhil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, speaks on stage during an introduction of the new iPhone 5 at an Apple event in San Francisco Wednesday.

Apple Inc. is also updating its phone software and will ditch Google Inc.'s mapping service for its own. The two have become rivals as Google promotes phones running its Android operating system.

In anticipation, several gadget makers refreshed their lineups last week, hoping to beat Apple on the buzz. Nokia Corp. and Google Inc.'s Motorola Mobility division announced five new smartphones between them, while Inc. updated its Kindle Fire tablet computer and announced new stand-alone e-reader models.

Sales of Apple's iPhones are still strong, though the company lost the lead in smartphones to Samsung this year.

Samsung Electronics Co. benefited from having its S III out in the U.S. in June, while Apple was still selling an iPhone model it released last October. A new iPhone will allow Apple to recapture the attention and the revenue. Analysts are already estimating that Apple will sell 8 million to 10 million iPhone 5s before the company's quarter ends Sept. 30.

That said, the iPhone has been trailing Android phones in sales. On Tuesday, Google executive Hugo Barra declared on his Google Plus social networking page that 1.3 million Android phones are added each day, with 500 million devices activated globally. As of June, Apple has sold 244 million iPhones since the first one came out in 2007.

Apple's event Wednesday is taking place at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, where Apple has held many product launches.

Michael Liedtke, AP Technology Writer


Iconic Signage Project blends art and business on Broad Street

Published: Monday, September 10, 2012,  9:45 AM     Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012, 11:14 AM

Broad Street is a touch brighter thanks to a curious public art project that marries retro-chic neon design with small business promotion. Four New Orleans artists have created old-fashioned lighted signs to glowingly call attention to shops along the busy mid-town thoroughfare. In an unusual twist, tax dollars are being used to finance art that benefits select entrepreneurs.

neon.jpgVideo still by Doug MacCash / The Times-PicayuneThe Crescent School of Gaming and Bartending'??s logo was transformed to a neon sign by artist Michael Cain as part of the 'Iconic Sign Project.'??

Artist Jerry Therio beautifully reproduced the Godbarber barber shop logo with its tongue-in-cheek reference to the classic mob movies. Michael Cain captured the charm of the Crescent City Gaming and Bartending school’s card-playing crescent moon cartoon character. Christian Stock employed a sleek grill and hubcap motif in his design for Calamari’s Trim Shop – an auto interior specialist. And Candy Chang distilled the formerly cluttered F and F Botanica and Candle Shop sign into a head-turning faux antique marquis (the flickering candle flame was not in operation at this writing).

The “Iconic Signage Project,” as it is known, is meant to lend a sense of visual unity to one of the city’s busiest, but most visually chaotic urban stretches. The project was guided in part by The Arts Council of New Orleans, the city’s official art agency. According to Morgana King, ACNO’s public art director, the series of neon signs was inspired by the venerable Crescent City Steaks restaurant sign and the towering neon Falstaff weather tower that are historical highlights of Broad Street’s visual identity.

Iconic Signage Project brightens Broad Street with neon art Iconic Signage Project brightens Broad Street with neon art Watch as Arts Council of New Orleans public art director Morgana King leads a tour of the Iconic Sign Project that marries retro-chic neon design with small business promotion. Search for a detailed story titled '?Iconic Signage Project blends art and business on Broad Street' at Contact Doug MacCash at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Watch video
No art medium is more romantic and seductive than neon, so chances are all four signs will receive thumbs up from Broad Street community members and commuters alike. But, as public art projects go, the “Iconic Signage Project,” is an odd bird. Is it a community-elevating exercise in conceptual art, or simply a set of appealing commercial signs?

Cain said that he considers the Gaming and Bartending school sign to be a commercial design, since he simply imitated the company’s existing logo. Like many neon artists, Cain said he was trained to create commercial signage, but for years he’s produced purely artistic neon sculpture. Stock, who is also a neon sculptor, said that he sees the project as both commercial and artistic.

“It’s advertising,” he said, “but there’s a focus on bringing Broad back … stretching back to Broad’s glory days.”

Therio, who is a vintage neon collector as well as a custom neon designer, said that he sees neon as an inherently artistic medium because it harks back to the timelessly elegant Art Deco design era.

Jeffrey Schwartz believes that the project contains both conceptual art and economic development components. Schwartz is the executive director of Broad Community Connections, a non-profit organization that sprung up after Hurricane Katrina and the 2005 flood, in order to breathe new life into the old commercial corridor. The BCC is part of the national Main Street network of neighborhood revitalization organizations. The “Iconic Signage Project,” originated with the BCC which partnered with the Arts Council in producing the series of signs.

“One of the things we were trying to do here was to get people to look at Broad Street again,” Schwartz said. “We have a lot of wonderful businesses that have become invisible.” Since the BCC’s goal is neighborhood building, the series of signs couldn’t just serve as conceptual art, they had to “work for the business owner,” Schwartz said. But he said, ideally, the project will “blur the line between what’s just utilitarian and commercial with what’s art.”

Read about another Main Street project "St. Claude Avenue corridor to benefit from $275,000 revitalization" here.

King said the project represents “a merging the two non-profit mindsets.”

“The Arts Council’s mission is to support creativity and enrich the visual landscape of New Orleans,” King said. “Broad Community Connections is focused on the Broad Street corridor, supporting business and economic development. If you look at the cross over, we’re both interested in the visual appeal of New Orleans. It’s raising the bar for the street aesthetically.” 

The “Iconic Signage Project,” which will eventually include 6 artist-designed neon business signs, cost $40,000. It was paid for by a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal art sponsor, plus additional funds from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, a private art philanthropy, and other sources.

The use of tax money to call attention to select private businesses makes the the “Iconic Signage Project” the philosophical opposite of another of the New Orleans areas best known public art projects. Compare it to the “Artscape” project along Veterans Memorial Blvd., where businesses pay an upkeep fee that is applied in part to outdoor sculptures meant to beautify the median of the Metairie commercial corridor. In a way, the “Iconic Signage Project,” seems slightly subversive, since it erodes the distinctions between functional commercial branding and fine art in the same way Andy Warhol’s paintings of Campbell’s soup cans once did.

Read about recent damage to the Veterans Memorial Boulevard "Artscape" project" Isaac damages Michalopoulos and Williams sculptures in Metairie" and follow link to previous stories here.

King said that at the start of the project, Broad Street business owners were encouraged to apply for a free sign. A panel of judges selected the lucky recipients based on the business’ longevity, its iconic nature, whether the business owned or rented the property it occupied and other criteria. King said that the six winners were selected from 10 applicants.

To be honest, the four Broad Street signs aren’t especially artistic, nor do they have a huge visual impact on the streetscape in general. But the project is promising nonetheless. If the project grows in the future, Broad Street could become known for its neon array. Is that any less possible than Veterans Memorial Boulevard becoming known for modern sculpture?

Not surprisingly, the select business owners are happy with the the “Iconic Signage Project.” Ardell Toney, owner of the Godbarber, said that he’s proud of the glowing beacon that distinguishes his barber shop from others on Broad Street. The sign, he said, has attracted walk-in customers. He calls it a “blessing.” Matthew Boudreaux, an employee at the Crescent School of Gaming and Bartending, said the neon sign – which pairs well with the enlarged photos of Bourbon Street and Las Vegas inside the business offices – has brought an attractive new look to business in darkness and daylight.  Felix Figueroa, owner of the F and F Botanica was happy to report that customers have told him that his new sign is visible all the way from Highway I-10.

“We want to make Broad one of the most famous streets in New Orleans,” he said.

Call 540.528.3805 or buy tickets online at

Reach Doug MacCash at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 504.826.3481. Read more art news at Follow him at

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