Published stuff

I got an email from Netflix this week, telling me my plan was going to be 35% cheaper. The twist? Well, you already know it. But I wrote about it anyway for Stuff: Sorry, Netflix: I don’t want your ‘with adverts’ plan – here’s why.

One of my passions is the preservation of old games, and I got to write about that too: Beyond Space Invaders: why preserving forgotten arcade games matters. This digs into the new Quarter Arcades, which are moving beyond the likes of Space Invaders and Pac-Man to preserve more niche fare.

For Stuff, I also did my annual revamp to The best Star Wars Lego sets to celebrate May the 4th and updated Best upcoming Lego sets 2024: this year’s top new Lego releases.

Over at TapSmart, I wrote about allergy tracking apps for iPhone (which, given my own personal collection of allergies, was a great thing to get down), the pros and cons of an iPhone 16 Capture button, and the wonderful Cs Music Pro, which is the latest addition to my classics series.

Other stuff

Screen Time continues to be awful. I needed to disable it temporarily on the youngling’s iPad, to sign out of iCloud. When I signed back in, Screen Time inferred the set-up had been wiped and made me go through it from scratch. Additions were then – Surprise! – merged with the old set-up, but all the block set-ups were gone. Dreadful.

It feels like no-one sufficiently senior at Apple has kids, looks after kids, or cares about how much Screen Time their kids have. I’ve written before about how the system lacks a kill switch. It also doesn’t allow you to zero out an app, game or website but allow permission to be asked later. (The workaround is to allow a single minute, which is ridiculous.) Someone on Mastodon also noted it doesn’t even work on tvOS either. Perhaps WWDC or iOS 18 will bring meaningful updates, but I won’t hold my breath.

On Threads, writer Kurt Andersen drew attention to the fact that half of US vinyl buyers don’t own record players. He called this “some seriously loony late-capitalist activity”. I disagree. 

Just because you don’t have a record player today, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever have one. But if you have a record collection, it’s always there with you. By comparison, the second you stop a streaming subscription, all the music is ripped away from you. 

As long as you don’t get obsessive about it in a manner that derails other aspects of your life, what’s the harm in collecting records? And rather than ridiculing people for buying into physical media and supporting artists, shouldn’t we be encouraging those things?

(I don’t own many records myself – loads of CDs, but little vinyl. But I do have Wire’s three classic EMI albums on my office wall. I don’t feel weird about that in the slightest. Those albums mean a lot to me, and having them always visible makes me happy.)

Dave Mark posted about the Internet Archive’s problems. It really is on shaky ground now, and I find that a huge pity, because it does such fantastic work – and has put everything at risk by going hard on blatant book piracy. Technically, a lot of the other archiving the organisation does is IP infringement too – even Wayback Machine. But that is doing something no-one else is, preserving an ephemeral medium. It is important. I’d also argue some other archival work – digital files; out-of-print magazines – has real value. But the book thing was a massive overstep and showcased a certain ideology over even the slightest notions of realism and pragmatism.

Finally, my RGB30 saga continues. I swapped out the OS and am now running ArkOS. That appears to have solved the battery drain issue, but ArkOS is clunky and ugly compared to Rocknix. Bleh. Not sure which way I’m going to go with this one. I don’t regret buying the device, though. I’m still having a ball with Pico-8 on it.