Published stuff

The big news in iPhone circles this week was the first release of ‘open’ emulators on the App Store. I covered this for TapSmart in Why an iPhone Game Boy emulator is a bigger deal than you think and for Stuff in I can now play stacks of Nintendo games on my iPhone – but I want more

I’m very happy for Delta creator Riley Testut. Frankly, his app should have been approved years ago. But in a roundabout way, Apple blocking it resulted in Testut creating AltStore, which is now the first proper third-party iPhone app store; and outside of the EU, Delta has topped the charts in the US and UK App Stores. Catharsis! 

Those “but no-one really wants emulators on iPhone anyway” takes are aging well…

Upcoming stuff

I have the possible go-ahead to write up a piece on Pico-8, which I very much hope happens, given how lovely it is. In many ways, it’s my favourite system right now, despite being a ‘fantasy’ console that never existed in the real world. Although with the magic of cheap Chinese handheld devices, you can sort of pretend it does today.

Other stuff

There’s a whiff of holier than thou about a chunk of the tech press pushing back against emulation, equating it solely with piracy, and backing Nintendo to the hilt. I find this strange. As I said on Mastodon, emulation is not illegal. And even though much emulation use infringes on IP rights, things aren’t that simple.

First, legal ROMs/disk images exist. Secondly, it’s curious certain people rally against emulation but not open video/audio players. Thirdly, while I’m not a piracy advocate, I’m very aware most games would be gone without pirates and emulators. Of course, that’s something few IP owners will ever admit – even when they sometimes use cracked games in commercial products. 

I’m not sure what the solution is. But we need something better than a tiny fraction of titles being re-sold time and time again and everything else being locked away – at least in a legal sense. Just imagine if other mediums were like gaming. 99% of music and film legally inaccessible unless you owned original hardware and original media, both slowly degrading and liable to die at any moment. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Can bad reviews kill companies? That’s the question Marques Brownlee asked following the backlash over his Humane AI pin review.

It’s bad products that can kill companies. Bad reviewsmay impact on a company, depending on the sector, especially if the reviews are unanimous. But that’s not the fault of any one reviewer. 

It isn’t a reviewer’s job to make a company feel good about itself or improve its chances of success. That’s PR. A reviewer is there to act as a guide and filter, using their experience and expertise to ascertain whether or not a product is worth people’s time and money. 

Molly White wrote a piece about AI/LLMs, which is well worth reading. She looks beyond the hype to explore genuine use cases for AI, and ask whether they balance the negatives. 

As a writer, I’d be foolish not to explore this tech myself, and I’ve been doing so for months. Having A/B tested a slew of text pieces and experimented with several LLMs across a range of tests, my opinion largely aligns with White’s.

To my mind, LLMs are currently dreadful for writing from scratch anything that has the slightest complexity. For research, they can be an aid, but are often inaccurate (even Perplexity, sadly). And for proofing, they are mediocre at best. ChatGPT will find errors in text I send to it, but will more often than not miss mistakes, and will make recommendations that would make a good production editor angrily hurl a thesaurus at a swan.

On the flip side, LLMs can be useful for iteration, which saves time. Although I’ve never yet used a draft an LLM has provided me as-is. And I have found ChatGPT excellent for remembering words that vanish from your brain a nanosecond before you were about to type them. Although it’s hard to argue that’s worth all the power and water LLMs consume.

Finally, Rob Fearon has been getting his art in gear with a range of retrogaming illustrations. I think they are superb. Do lob him a few bucks via Ko-Fi if you agree.