Tag Archives: Mac

That one place

There is a place where everyone is the same, where it does not matter what your convictions are, what your gender is or how you swing your love life. That is the one thing I always believed, I remain faithful to the notion that games and gaming is the one place where it does not matter what you are, who you are and how you are, as long as you are fine that is. I grew up with games, I reviewed and tested games for well over a decade and played them for additional decades beyond that. I was already a gamer when the term did not even exist.

I always believed that games had, in those days two distinct powers. One was to entertain the person playing; the other was to lower the threshold of using computers, I ended up being correct on both counts. I started my gaming life in 1982, almost 36 years ago. I started with a Commodore VIC-20, after that a Commodore 64 and after that I was off to the races. So, the VIC-20, CBM-64, Atari 2600, CD-32, Atari ST, Amiga 500, PC, MAC, Nintendo-64, Sega Megadrive, Sega Dreamcast, PlayStation 1, 2, 3, and 4, Xbox, Xbox360 and Xbox One. I had them all and played them all. I saw games evolve from blocks; I played Pong and many arcade games. I always hoped that the women would not keep on considering it ‘an act too nerdy’ and behold, in the beginning of the second millennia I saw more and more women taking up gaming to some extent. I always thought that gaming was a true equaliser and to some extent it became one, so I was a little upset to see ‘eSports analyst receives death threats after thanking men on women’s day‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/mar/09/soembie-soe-gschwind-penski-overwatch-league), there she is on the article smiling and announcing the Blizzard event, looking like an overwatch player. Soe Gschwind-Penski was not the pesky Peski adversarial player that was up against people, she was hosting the event as the excellent eSports commentator she is regarded to be. So, the lady born in the land of Cheese and Chocolate gave the tweet: “It’s #InternationalWomensDay I’d like to give a special shoutout to all the men in our lives who have supported us, gave us a voice when we had none, fought for our cause and treated us the way we all ought to treat each other…like a fellow human being – no race, no gender.” as @Soembie she gave us all a nice tweet, all positive in every direction giving a voice to an international day. So for the utter life of me, I cannot comprehend the fact that people hand out responses that lead to: ““Ive gotten death threats and hundreds of hate messages the past 20 minutes because I thanked men for treating me as their equal, on a day which is all about womens struggle for equality,” Gschwind-Penski posted. “Hate, because I am grateful for the men in our lives who fight alongside us for our rights.”“, from my point of view that could not have been done by anyone who is an actual real gamer. I see it as actions from people pretending to be ‘gamers’; pretending to know anything at all. Like those people claiming that they finished ‘Dead Space in Impossible mode in two hours‘, or something as ridiculous like that. They tend to use cheats and god mode codes or alterations so that they can run through a game not getting hurt by anything, they are not and never will be players. I never had any regard or respect for them. So am I a great gamer? Nope! I am a good gamer and I like to enjoy games, so I will never run through an RPG. What is the purpose of running through Skyrim, or Fallout 4 and missing on the magnificent views the game offers? I even admire the fact that Fallout 4 can be played as a pacifist. I never did that, but the fact that it is there is just awesome, it makes for a gamer to be an actual gamer (cause for a golden Achievement; Hint, hint). I am not one for multiple shooting games. I used to like it, but Unreal Tournament spoiled that for me. All people hopping like kangaroos through the game, it was just too weird for me. Still, there is plenty of awesomeness in going down the throat of Diablo 3 with three other players. A game I loved since the very first Diablo and my team of 7 hardcore mode level 70 characters are decent evidence of that.

So in that setting the entire abuse of Soe Gschwind-Penski makes no sense at all. Even when we see: “The two-year-old OWL did make headlines last month when South Korean teenager Kim Se-yeon signed with the Shanghai Dragons to become the league’s first female player. But high-profile eSports competitions remain a male-dominated space: Gschwind-Penski is the only female member of OWL’s full-time commentary team.

You see, for the most finding female gamers, serious gamers are still a rare thing. So even as there might be a case in regards to the fact that ‘Gschwind-Penski is the only female member of OWL’s full-time commentary team‘, we must equally realise that for the longest time, even today that a high estimate from my speculative view is that the women in gaming are set to a mere 10% at best (I apologise if I am wrong). So we are happy that people like Soe Gschwind-Penski, Aoife Wilson (@AoifeLockhart) from Eurogamer, Stephanie Claire Bendixsen (aka Hex), and Anita Sarkeesian. The list is way too short and we can point fingers at the reasons, but in the end I am not certain if there is an actual real culprit. If there is one than I might blame the makers of these review sites and channels as the culprit for not hiring more women, or is that actually the non-capability of finding more women?

You see, I started gaming in the age when nearly all women remained in enthusiastic denial of games for well over a decade. I know that because in those days woman in gaming was extremely rare. Roberta Williams was one of the very few. Jane Jensen would not appear until a decade later and the writing she did on EcoQuest and Police Quest 3 put her on the map (both excellent games). Yet the last two were two of a very small group of game designers, not game critics or reviewers (or hosts). Yet, I still believe that women are as welcome in the gaming industry and the gaming world as much as anyone else. Anyone who does not agree with that view is of course allowed to disagree, but he is not an actual gamer plain and simple!

You see, it truly does not matter what you are or who you are in gaming. It is merely the setting that you can hold your own in that virtual team, once you do you are in it for life! There are several women that I have met who can hold their own in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer on platinum level. That is all it requires and even as the settings change per game, they are all about being able to hold your own and strengthen the multiplayer (MP) team. So in all this I have absolutely no clue why anyone would give death threats to any female gamer and I feel certain that this was not dome by any real gamer, at best a wannabe, and optionally merely a game hater and we have no real use for each of these two groups.

It is my view that it needs to be dealt with. It is in that regard that I remember an article (and found it) which was from 2014. The Guardian gave us (at https://www.theguardian.com/culture/australia-culture-blog/2014/nov/28/alanah-pearce-tells-on-her-internet-trolls-to-their-mothers) , so when we read the tweet “Sometimes young boys on Facebook send me rape threats, so I’ve started telling their mothers“, most actual gamers would be laughing out loud and when we read the results “more than 11,000 users had retweeted her comment, and more than 20,000 had favourited it, eight hours after Pearce made her original post” game reviewer Alanah Pearce struck gold! Actually, in my view it does not really matter how young or old the person is, when it comes to the threats that Soe Gschwind-Penski was exposed to, it should be standard practise to tell on them to their mommy’s. For them to be exposed as the utter disappointment they show themselves to be to others might not be a bad thing. The wannabe’s will stop pretending to be gamers and hide in a corner, the rest will get a quick moral adjustment they desperately needed.

In my view gaming is for all and everyone. It does not matter what your gender, religion orientation or conviction is. The world of gaming is about the gaming world you enter, whether that is in the depths of a cathedral in Diablo, the house in Overwatch, the landing site on Mass Effect 3, or the power chamber in Unreal Tournament. You only have to hold your own. If you cannot do that, choose a lower level and get there, or get better. It is the one part that every player can do and that is why gaming will remain a world of inclusion, it is the only place where your inclusion only relies on you doing your part which is awesome in nearly everyone’s view. And the nicest part is that if you are not ready today, you can practice, get better and return, gender was never an issue.

Yet, there is still a long way to go, not because of gamers or gender, the fact that the President of the United States is still a few cans short of a six pack and that evidence is shown in light of “Donald Trump will host executives from the video game industry at the White House on Thursday, resurrecting a debate over the link between violent video games and gun-related deaths in the aftermath of the Parkland high school shooting“, so how long until women (and some men) will turn away from Overwatch out of fear for being seen as an aspiring psychopath?

Do you think I am kidding?

The foundation of all this is values and inherent choices. The choice an abuser makes is seen in two settings. Psychology Today gives us the 5 types of abuse:

– Emotional (killing pet, playing mind games)
– Verbal (calling names)
– Technological (GPS system /Face book sabotage)
– Sexual (forcing sex while sleep or based on the bible)
– Physical (killing, punching, choking)

The issue is seen in the first two, emotional, and then verbal after that we get the physical one. Yet in gaming this is all in a virtual setting and the gamer knows this. So they know that the person they fight with is a virtual person, and in games like Half-Life counter-strike we know that the opposing person is a virtual one too. The issue is that every psychopath might be a gamer to some extent, but that person will not be able to tell the virtual world and the real world apart. They merely want to hurt people, to actually abuse them, a gamer never does. It was that same article that gave me something that I did not know. Did you know that an actual abuser ‘Holds very rigid gender roles‘? So basically these threatening people might be actual abusers and reporting them becomes a duty for every gamer, not merely every women threatened. This person, usually a male regards himself as ‘King of the Castle’, it is her duty to cater (and service) him. As I am not like that, I had no idea, but that becomes a worry and Trump is not making it easier. If anything he is currently catering to abusers and psychopaths. This could be a comforting notion if the entire issue was not that worrying, but it actually is.

Then we get the worrying part, worrying because it is a dangerous step. As we see ‘Treatment for this population‘, we get to see “Group Therapy is important because it allows the batterer to be confronted by his peers on his behavior. I’ve facilitated groups with 16 men in the room at times it would become very confrontational but it was important for the men to be held accountable for their behavior by other men and group facilitators so this might translate into “making them a group of inclusion, allow and accept them in our midst and calling them openly out on every transgression they make“. I for one am happy to shun abusers and never letting them in our midst, but I recognise that I would make matters worse, in my defence, I feel more compelled to protect my fellow gamer, whether he is a man or a woman, because quality gamers are rare and I feel that their protection is more important than curing a non-gamer in the gaming world. This is merely my personal view.

In the end I would call to my fellow gamers to call out those who attack gamers like Soe Gschwind-Penski because our population of true gamers is not that large when we compare 2-3 million on a total of 8 billion. I would love for that number to double the next few years, so as we grow we will hopefully see more women join our ranks.

In opposition

There is however a part I need to mention. I never agreed with it, but it is a view we must not ignore. In 2013 (at https://www.newstatesman.com/if-you-love-games-you-are-not-a-gamer), in the New Statesman there was a piece. In its origin the New Statesman is a British political and cultural magazine published in London. Founded as a weekly review of politics and literature on 12 April 1913, so a magazine from before WW1, gave us “The idea of the ‘gaming community’ needs to die“, it is one view. You see, as gamers we segregate ourselves, I am happy to do just that because I am proud to be a gamer, I always have been. One quote applies to the origin of the gamers (in the 80’s). With: “gamers are depicted as the contemporary nerd group, a mildly downtrodden crowd, shunned by the jocks and achievers. Gamers are the losers who spend their days in darkened bedrooms furiously tapping on controllers or keyboards in a solitary pursuit that sits close to masturbation in the mind“, in the old days that was certainly true as the image presented of gamers as others saw them. Yet is that true now? Now the gaming industry is a $100+ billion a year. Now we see that people group and identify with the worlds of Skyrim, post-apocalyptic USA and as other groups are formed around successful games like GTA5, Far Cry, League of Legends and Overwatch that image is not only no longer true, it is in opposition of all those developers called by the need of $$$ (and their developing powers). So when we see “Within the next century ‘gamers’ will be a term that encompasses every gay and transgender person, every girl and woman, every politician in the cabinet, everyone with a title in the House of Lords, every teacher, nurse, banker, social worker, dustman and paedophile“, which is an unsettling truth. It is unsettling because even as we all want our fellow gamers to be merely gamers regardless of gender, we cannot (and perhaps should not) see what they are in real life. So it is not impossible that the serial killer hides in GTA5 multiplayer, killing whatever he/she can until the call for real blood is needed. So my view is in opposition of President Trump, he is stating that every rectangle is a square, whilst I identify that every square is a rectangle, as well as proving him wrong at the same time. It is not the same but there is a foundation and a foundation where a person can hide in anonymity. I belief it is a good thing, but it could be abused by those who have in ‘the core of the matter’ no business being there. In that part the Statesman does not make the case but the call for the cancellation of any community is not overtly evil. It is a non-invalid view, especially when we see “the urge to form groups with like-minded people is a universal one. But when that collective power is turned against those on the margins of the group“, so even as we are gamers, and we unite and think alike, but when that makes us a target, is the call valid to endanger some of us? I believe that when we unite we are more than ready for those attacking us, even if we merely start protecting our fellow gamers by calling the mommy and daddy of their attackers, no matter what age they have.

In the end I hope that people like Soe Gschwind-Penski realise that every real gamer is happy that she is around and that we have no qualms about her presence, even if she, in addition, defeats us in the most humiliating way. It merely ups the ante for us to get better, and that is in the core of multiplayer gaming, a drive to improve, a fellow gamer that makes any of us a better gamer, how great is such a life?

Live it to find out!



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What was the right question?

There is an article in the Guardian called ‘Which laptop should we buy for our child?‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/askjack/2015/nov/05/which-laptop-should-we-buy-for-our-child), you might think that I have an issue with the article, and I do, but not perse with the article. The article is quite decent, however the article is about a ‘solution’. I learned recently that solutions are vague, they are transient and they fade the moment you give them. You see, as a great teacher not too long ago taught me, it is about trust and about answering needs.

I understand what Jack writes, he gives good advice and I would have given a similar advice, yet at some point I learned something new (we all do, trust me). What are the needs of the child? Now, the child might not understand it has needs here (other than cool games, and we can see that in schools laptops, or better stated ‘fat’ mobile devices are going to be the trend. Whether this is an Airbook like the Mac has, a Chromebook like ASUS has or another device in a similar capacity, the child will need to move forward.

Yet, am I not in a mode where the answer is given? No, let me explain. Jack mentions the Windows 2-in-1 “detachables”, which sounds nice Mr. Schofield, but that trend is now, it is 2015, what about 2016 or 2017? What happens when those trends shift? By the way the sentence “we can’t afford to spend lots of money“, so as such Apple will not become a solution any day soon. Interesting the Chromebook solution that many carry are on average of $250 cheaper (Australian comparison), a part not mentioned anywhere, that optional solution did not make it to the table.

For me, do I think it is a solution? I am not at all certain, you see, the needs of the child are unknown. So why spend money? To give the kid some skills? Well that is all good and fine, so why is the possible solution for a tablet; a mere Android based tablet at one third of the cost of a Chromebook not decently investigated? The mention of the tablets (all 6 mentions was regarding the push to the 2015 trend of a ‘detachable’. You see, the object of usage is a small person about to celebrate the moment of his ninth birthday. Kids have accidents, they break things (unintentional), your youngling drinks lemonade and other liquids. So you want to put a laptop there? With his excited friends that is an accident waiting to happen. So, how will you afford the second laptop?

The simplest tablet with a decent casing costs less than a hundred quid. For £49.99 you get a very basic one. The best thing is that the skills will transfer to a laptop or a larger tablet when your child is ready, more important, there is no way of knowing what the needs will be when he gets to a decent school level, when he gets to year 10, what will he need? Perhaps the school provides? Also, the pricing would have gone down to such an extent, that the one device you cannot afford now, could be really affordable in 2016.

So many people so many options, why answer them at all? Why not give the device that at least lets your little one to grow skills and answer the call to the device your young one needs when the moment is there?

So yes, Jack Schofield gives advice, it is sound advice but in all this, he failed to mention that some devices are limited and to get a better return, a much higher cost comes into view. You see a mere simple version from Asus might be £195.64, yet when you consider how fast 32GB is gone you will need something bigger, that will take you to £289.99 very fast. In my situation, I do not offer a solution, for £49.99 you get a very simple device that allows the little one to grow skills, and in 2-3 years when his skills have really outgrown the 8GB device, he might get that same device not for £289.99, but for £179.99, perhaps even less, so the little tablet paid for itself.

Part of me understands that the next generations needs to be clued in, logged in and online earlier in life, I will not stop it, oppose it or question it. Yet in all this we must also answer what is the best to make your child grow. Perhaps it is the 2 in one that Jack Schofield mentioned, but I am not convinced. You see with the quote: “there are several ways to run Android apps on Windows PCs, such as BlueStacks and AmiDuOS” is all about getting someone to windows. Why? I do not oppose Windows as I use it myself. After the blunders Windows 8 had, I am not willing to trust Windows 10 at this point, yet Microsoft is willing to mandatory push it to its user base regardless of what the consumer thinks. A methodology I do not support. This was shown in another Guardian article by Samuel Gibbs where we see: “Consumer users of Windows 10 will have no choice but to accept the installation of automatic updates, even if they break software for them” (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/17/windows-10-updates-mandatory-home-users), what happens when our choice of software breaks? Are we forced to a Microsoft solution? How is that not an instilled dictatorship? The final quote from that article was “Automatic updates may also create a situation where an update breaks something on a computer system, perhaps a legacy program“, which is what many will face over the next decade. Microsoft is starting a cleaning operation and the user is losing their rights. I might have had to pay $199 for my Windows 7, but at present trusting my system on the net is not an option, that trust was destroyed by Microsoft in a way 10,000 viruses could not. Regardless of that choice, Jack should have remained a lot more neutral than he did. I believe for the bulk of all needs Android fills the requirement of a user, this does not take away to prospect of Microsoft, but last time you looked, which software was free? Weirdly enough, for the normal student, the software like writing, calculating and presenting is free on android and Linux. Apple and Microsoft charges for that.

Yet in all this, where are the needs of the user? When he gets to the setting up of things he is addressing fear in my humble opinion. Now let me add one too. The text: “Windows 8.1 and 10 will email you a weekly record of your son’s activities: how many hours he’s used his PC, the websites he’s visited, and how long he spent in his favourite apps“, so are you the only one who gets this, or will Microsoft have this data too? There is validity in keeping your child safe, but that starts with the need for strong passwords and knowing what to do and what not to do. Your child will make mistakes and even today many adults still make these blunders and larger ones too!

So in my view, spending little is not a shame and your child should be safe, but consider the options hackers and malware have nowadays, it is close to impossible to stop, in that case let it be a device that when it happens will not infer heavy losses. In that part, let me end with another quote the article has “I don’t think it’s worth buying or installing the full desktop programs for a 9-year-old“, which is true, so how large are the hands of a nine year old. Can they not hold onto a 7” tablet easier? More important, when he gets soaked in the rain and his backpack got drenched, my money will be on a skinned tablet not any laptop or ‘2 in one’ solution to survive that ordeal.

In the end it is as I expect growing skills with your child. I get that, and I applaud that approach, yet let it be skills, playful skills and artistic skills. Let the child enjoy their life until year 6 when the skills will be tested, let them grow into the savvy programmer they can be and get them the system they can handle and let them grow into a stronger system, the needs of any child will grow stronger when ingenuity is required, factual evidence that has been known for decades. Yet how they grow will usually be up to them, not you or me, or their teachers for that matter, we can only hope to guide them in a decent direction, let’s not forget if you as a parent do not have the skills to guide them, where will they get their example? What happens when they follow the wrong example?

In the end, what was the right question? Which device allows your child to grow in all directions a device offers growth? On which device are their drawing skills challenged? Anyone can type a text, anyone can do ‘math’ with a spreadsheet, yet the art of drawing (a skill I never mastered) is getting lost more and more in this world of laptops, is that not a shame too?

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Look horny!

Seems an odd title to start with, but whenever I see certain reports by boards of directors as they make it to the press, then I am reminded of an old Dutch cartoon called ‘father and son‘ about the conservative father and the progressive son. It was a political cartoon by a man called Peter van Straaten. In one of these drawings a man is standing with a camera whilst the woman is standing not that dressed next to the fireplace, the by-line is ‘Look Horny’. It was hilarious! So was the published remark from the Apple board of directors “Apple’s (AAPL) Board of Directors has grown frustrated at the company’s lack of visible innovation.”

Be innovative in this light is as weird as being horny on command. We can all be innovative at times, but we are innovative with the means at our disposal. In his case this is about vision. Was Steve Jobs the visionary, or was he the man who could recognise it when it was shown to him? Let’s face it; we all have ideas at time. I remember coming up with something that is now called Facebook. Hold on, wait! I am not claiming I invented Facebook. In the late 90’s Warner brothers had these web spaces that were hosted through a provider called Angelfire. There was the Halliwell home, the Babylon 5 home, the Bat cave. All forms of addresses that linked the subscriber to their favourite series, or movie. It was free and it came with 20Mb space. However, it was completely static. I thought it would be a good idea to have something similar and to let these members talk to one another. Our benefit would be that we could talk to them all, a place for free advertising at the cost of one web server and a few additional costs. My boss stated that this was not our mission (which was true) and that this would never work (Really?). I think I still have the e-mail somewhere. I had no other means to pursue this idea and in the end it would never have been anywhere near Facebook, so it does not matter.

The moral is that if your boss lacks insight, things will never get pushed forward. It seems that Steve Jobs had this insight in abundance. Likely he was one of these true visionaries and the timing was right. Timing is all in that field, come a little too soon and it will not happen, come too late and you are a copycat at best.

Does the board of directors at Apple comprehend this?

Perhaps Tim Cook has part of these abilities, perhaps not. Perhaps there is no real innovation to be gotten. Let’s just face that between the cassette, the mini-disc and the iPad there were many years of waiting. The origin of the cassette recorder was around the 1930’s, which was PRE WW2 and would not be a consumer item until decently after WW2. So it took almost half a century to get to the Mini-Disc and almost a decade to get to the iPod. Will it take that long for the iPod to evolve to something truly new? There is no way to tell, innovation comes in many forms and a real breakthrough is needed to shape innovation.

I reckon the new Mac Pro is sure sign that innovation is not dead, this is however nothing more than displayable innovation with to a smaller extent an engineering level of innovation, yet, this is nothing more than a new step forward, not a leap forward onto a new train. As for ‘new’, let’s not forget that Cray had the round professional computer (read mainframe) first, the Cray CDC8600, which was released in the late 60’s, so is the idea Apple had truly innovative? The Cray version came with a bench around it, so where’s my chair Apple!

There is also a downside to innovation the way Apple does it. That part is becoming more and more visible with the iPad. There is now the iPad2 and iPad3. My iPad1 is great, I bought it to use in University and it does exactly what it needs to do and I was until recently quite happy. Developers make applications for the device and I have bought a decent amount of them. However, recently, more and more applications can no longer be updated. Even more irritating is that some updated applications will no longer work and crash as these developers only seem to consider the new iPad’s for testing and not the old ones. More important, new software often no longer works on the old models, so from that we could come to the thought that the innovation of Apple comes at the price where a device like the iPad, must be replaced after two years, which seems an expensive approach for consumers.

Now let’s take a step back. Innovation should not be a hype word. The dictionary states it as: “the act of innovating – introduction of new things or methods.”

So Apple is not really adding anything truly new to their cascading fleet of devices. There is even the idea that in the end this step like approach is a really bad idea. They seem to forget that the economy is in a slump and most of us cannot afford a steplike replacement of our devices.

I reckon the board of directors should also realise that the ‘innovative’ track of Apple has been an expensive one for its consumers; I lost close to $8000, whilst Apple was all too eager not to step forward on their failings and I am not alone. How is that related? Well, when you lose money, until something TRULY innovative comes, why would you purchase that brand? In my case my expensive laptop had to be replaced after only 14 months and as such I did not buy an apple. I am not alone; several around me had such an uncomfortable experience with the iPhone 4 that they have since moved to a non-Apple android solution.

So perhaps their board of directors need to focus on quality of the innovation, not quantity of innovations. In the end, they have nothing valid to complain about. Apple is in the bulk of the homes in one way or another. Whether it is through desktop (iMac), laptop (Macbook Air/Pro) or handheld (iPad/iPod/iPhone). If you talk to 10 of your friends then it is likely that 5 out of 10 have at least one Apple device and 2 out of these 5 are likely to have more than one device. Plenty of CEO’s would sell their first born into slavery for such returns. So in plain words, what are these board members bitching about? Is it truly about innovation or is it about simple greed?


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