Published stuff

My Stuff column this week explores the new Atari 400 Mini from multiple angles – including that of 1970s home decor: The Atari 400 Mini is now my favourite mini-console for scratching my retro-gaming itch.

For this blog, I wrote To Affinity and beyond: what does the Canva buyout means for the future of Serif? Canva has since pledged to not wreck what people love about Affinity. A positive move, and although there’s wiggle room in the language, there’s far less than there was before. Not that any pledge would stop a company later saying it had to make a “difficult choice”, natch.

Over at TapSmart, I explored Messages alternatives for iPhone. Issue 298 of iPhone sister magazine, Swipe is available now too, if you’d like to support our little indie mag with actual cash.

Upcoming stuff

Hilariously, I’m about to dig (pun possibly intended) into gardening apps. A joke because the UK weather has more or less turned our garden into a swamp.

I’ve also signed back up to Amazon Prime for precisely one month, in order to write about it and doubtless grumble about the new, ridiculous ads tier.

Beyond that, I’ve been commissioned to mull over what Apple will look like in 2030. Quite the ask, given that right now various legislators are creating conditions that make it hard to predict what Apple will even look like in 2024.

Other stuff

On Threads, Joan Westernberg said AI is not democratising film making. I largely agree. Some folks countered that gen-AI is “just a tool”. But that’s not how it’s being pitched. Tech bros are arguing that now anyone with half an idea can churn out a film, album, book or essay from a text prompt. But without having expertise in a field, how can you really know whether what you’re creating does the job? (Note, I am not talking about people being paid to be a film-maker, or whatever. I’m talking about anyone who has taken the time and made the effort to gain a skill.)

On Mastodon, Scott Jenson’s post on writing without worrying about traffic really clicked with me. My approach has always been that you have to write for yourself, because when you don’t, you may skew what makes you you. But also: numbers don’t tell the whole story.

I’ve always joked that ‘literally several people’ read this blog. It’s never been – and never will be – a Six Colors or a Daring Fireball. And that’s OK. Because you never know who will be reading. For me, that’s always been way more important than raw numbers.

Over the years, I’ve made a number of contacts through this blog, through interesting folks presumably landing here by chance and sticking around. The most notable example got me my gig at Stuff.

I received an email out of the blue from the publisher, inviting me to the then Stuff HQ. I soon learned the editor was a fan and had recommended me. I’ve been a regular contributor ever since. 

And that links back to the first point. Because I’ll bet if I’d not been writing for me and having fun with my personal blog, it wouldn’t have kept the attention of that editor in the first place.

Finally, I have a lot of time for The Verge, but the publication managed to set my teeth on edge with The fight to save old games. That podcast episode looked into the murky world of game preservation and emulation, and had a lot of good stuff to say.

But. Along with at one point saying ROMs are illegal (without any qualifier or nuance), the podcast hosts banged on for a big chunk of runtime about how they wished a Spotify or Netflix for old games existed, but how that would be impossible – due to rights issues – or simply non-viable. I was stomping along on my morning walking loudly muttering “Antstream”, which I’m sure endeared me to anyone in earshot.

And, yes, Antstream has its issues. The streaming can be glitchy, and its catalogue of 1300 games is a small slice of gaming history. But that slice includes many classic arcade games and a slew of curiosities from the dawn of home gaming. Moreover, it exists. So it isn’t impossible. And given that it’s not dead, it’s viable too. 

It certainly warranted a mention in the podcast – unlike the suggestion that the best bet for most folks wanting to play old games is to buy a knock-off hard drive stuffed full of dodgy ROMs from Amazon. (Don’t do that. There are far better options.)