Reliving the Windows Phone early adopter experience

I was an early adopter of Windows Phone. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My iPhone 3G had been ruined by an iOS 4 update that it was barely capable of running. To be fair to Apple, they did eventually optimise their slightly overweight OS for the 3G model with a point release (iOS 4.2?). But it was too late for me, I’d been seduced by Live Tiles and the super-smooth minimalist UI of Windows Phone. I bought a HTC HD7 running Windows Phone 7.

It didn’t take long for the dream to die. Despite delivering some genuinely groundbreaking features, the 7.0 release of Windows Phone was not a pleasant experience. You may remember that it was notorious for not even having a copy/paste feature, but there were bigger issues than that. If I started to type a text message then had to put the phone down to deal with something else, when I picked the phone back up the unfinished text message was gone. Now I know phone operating systems have to be aggressive about shutting down running processes to conserve battery, but I felt that was taking things to the extreme.

One reason early adopters suffer the pain of new platforms and services is because of the promise of seeing a product grow and improve over time. And this was true of Windows Phone because the 7.0 release was so rough around the edges that users were more desperate for a software update than any other users in the history of computing. When product boss Joe Belfiore jumped on stage to demo the 7.5 update, with all it’s fixes, but no sign of it actually getting pushed out to users, people started to get frustrated. While on stage, he even showed how it could run Angry Birds (which was a BIG deal at the time), to really rub salt into the wounds.

Even as Windows Phone 7.5 neared release, various other hold ups delayed it’s full rollout. Remember the frustrated people I mentioned? Well they really started to lose their shit.

This epic outburst on Microsoft’s Channel 9 still lives on the web to this day, and always makes me laugh:

“I want the fucking update NOW”. We all did neilspartacus, we all did.

It wasn’t all bad though. I tried an experiment recently – showing my 9yr old daughter a photo of a Nokia Lumia 800 with Live Tiles on the screen, and said it was a new phone coming out soon. She was impressed and thought it looked really neat. Then I told her it was a phone from 2012 that they don’t make any more. The phone OS of the future is now in the past.

On the Facebook/Trump internal memo published by The Verge

Lot’s of food for thought on this, and I’m not sure I agree with all of it, but there’s one standout paragraph towards the end:

The focus on filter bubbles causes people to miss the real disaster which is polarization. What happens when you see [26%] more content from people you don’t agree with? Does it help you empathize with them as everyone has been suggesting? Nope. It makes you dislike them even more. This is also easy to prove with a thought experiment: whatever your political leaning, think of a publication from the other side that you despise. When you read an article from that outlet, perhaps shared by an uncle or nephew, does it make you rethink your values? Or does it make you retreat further into the conviction of your own correctness? If you answered the former, congratulations you are a better person than I am. Every time I read something from Breitbart I get 10% more liberal.

Bam. This idea of filter bubbles distorting our thinking is flawed – the problem is we harden our viewpoint when we are presented with content we don’t want to see.

Man builds legendary engine from scratch

My all-time favourite car is the Toyota Supra 3.0 Mk IV Twin Turbo from the early 1990’s. To my eyes the car still looks fantastic today, and the engine is stuff of legend. The Toyota 2JZ engine comes from the factory at about 320bhp (European spec), but is massively over engineered and can be tuned 500-600bhp without any significant changes. With a bigger budget, 1000bhp is possible.

I’ve just found this video of a guy building a 2JZ engine from scratch and it’s a masterpiece – he makes it look as easy as building Lego

From Russia With Love retrospective review

From Russia With Love poster

Bond was off to a great start with Dr.No, so it was soon time to deliver the next chapter in the story. Making a successful sequel is no easy task – musicians often struggle with their second ‘sophomore’ album and the same goes for filmmaking. Think of the number of sequels you’ve seen that are well-made and entertaining, but lack depth because they’re no longer telling us an origin story. In the superhero genre, nearly every sequel chooses the “things get difficult for superhero” story, because there isn’t really any other option. The first film tells us how the character starts out and usually goes out on a massive high, so the only real choice is for things to get worse before they get better.

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Dr. No retrospective review

To reinforce how old Dr. No is, it was released only a year after Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, and the Boeing 707 (their first passenger jet) seen at the start of the film had only been in service for 3 years. The legendary Aston Martin DB5 featured in later films didn’t go into production for another two years.

Despite it’s age, new viewers shouldn’t worry about getting a sub-par or bare-bones Bond film. It has almost all of the ingredients that made the rest of the series so popular. Bond takes his orders from M, and then flirts with Moneypenney on his way out of the office. There’s international filming locations, car chases, fights, and a complex and evil super-villain with an elaborate lair. Ursula Andress makes a strong case for being the best Bond girl of all time. The scene where she emerges from the sea in a white bikini is cinematic legend, still winning awards over 40 years later

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Upcoming film reviews from the BOND 50 box set

Recently I purchased something that reignited an interest in all things Bond. I’ll save the story of what it is for another time (spoiler – it’s not an Aston Martin), but it encouraged me to start watching or rewatching some of the more recent entries in the series. Yes, even Die Another Day. Soon after, I saw an opportunity to do things properly with the BOND 50 box set, going cheap in as-new condition on eBay.

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Draugen – a dark, atmospheric Norwegian adventure

Eurogamer are reporting that reporting that Draugen – a new ‘fjord noir mystery’ set in 1920’s Norway is due out next week on Steam, with consoles later in the year. It looks great from the trailer – slightly reminiscent of Firewatch but much darker. Check it out:

This looks like a must buy for me – can’t wait to give it a go. Look out for a review soon.

What’s wrong with today’s gaming industry?

In the early days of the PS4 and Xbox One, I was full of optimism for almost every new big game releases, just like I had been with the 360 and before that. But as these machines matured, my enthusiasm waned – beaten down by all the titles that over-promised and under-delivered. Nowadays, unless a release has been showered in awards and has a lot of positive sentiment around it, I ignore it. Even if the reviews are good, I will still look for reasons not to buy.

Have I really changed that much? Or are there other reasons? Firstly, it’s certain that I’ve changed. There is no doubt that I have less time available. And after decades of internet use, my attention span could be better (although it is improving – more on that in another article)! I have more non-gaming interests too, so in the short chunks of spare time I have, I’m more likely to spend it on things like watching YouTube videos about cameras, old tech and other nerdy forms of procrastination.

Even so, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling underwhelmed by modern gaming. And it’s not so much that I’m getting left behind, it’s that there’s a number of trends that have had a negative effect on the pure fun of gaming.

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