10+ years of video games ripping us off!

Call it link bait, I call it a hint of sarcasm. To say that the games industry has been ripping us off for a long time is a bit of an exaggeration – we’ve been playing the “sales” game with them a long time. But people have been up in arms over the last few years about unlocking content already on the disc. Unfortunately for all of us, this isn’t a new concept and I’ve brought along a little proof that this has been happening for years Continue reading “10+ years of video games ripping us off!”

Carrier Free Phone Updates are a MUST


Smart phone owners, I believe that it is high time we take the need for firmware updates out of the hands of the carriers. At the very least there should be some sort of written minimum guarantee when you purchase your phone.

Nearly two years ago, I purchased my Android phone: the HTC Evo Shift on Sprint. Now, I know what many of you have to say about Sprint, but I’m not checking my data cap every ten minutes and I regularly use over 2.5GB of bandwidth, so the service pays for itself. The phone was supposed to be the next chapter in the highly successful Evo product line. But it was destined to fail. Mediocre sales mean the phone saw one update, from FroYo to Gingerbread, then one minor service update.

During my time with Android, I purchased the HTC Arrive, a Sprint Windows Phone 7 device. It has received one update, the Mango 7.5 update, which Microsoft somehow made sure was released to every phone. The subsequent Tango update? Nowhere to be found. The forthcoming Apollo update? fat chance! Sprint officially “end of life’d” the phone.

The iPhone is easier to update because it is not so much a phone or a model, an operating system with iterative hardware. Although it is true that Android has seen Platform fragmentation, and iOS eventually will, Windows Phone 7 was a small enough environment that the updates should have been easy. But alas, silence for my Arrive.

I believe Apple has the best handle on their fragmentation, and being the manufacturer, they have the obligation to support their device. I just hope that the other mobile OS developers take a page from Apple’s book on this one and learn to centrally manage firmware upgrades. There must be an easier way! And even if there isn’t, then every phone yogurt buy should have a minimum of two major upgrade revisions. You should sign an agreement that the phone will be supported at least beyond the box it came in, unless perhaps you intentionally buy a bargain phone! I am hoping Windows Phone 8 relies on the old Windows Update model.

You can tell me that every phone’s hardware is just too different for centralized updates to work. But nothing on earth is more widely varied or open to the creator’s wills than the desktop PC market, yet Windows Update has been working pretty reliably for Microsoft since 1998. If they can make universal updates for a literally limitless combination of hardware components, it ought to be pretty easy to send out a few updates to some simple phones!

App of the week: NASA TV

I don’t think there is a whole lot to say about this one, it’s pretty stragiht forward. But I have found myself watching bits and pieces of the NASA TV app lately on my iPad. There are frequent live feeds from the international space station, where you can watch the astronauts float around as they get their day-to-day work done. There are also some interesting documentaries and clips – I got to see some great information about the Morpheus lander only hours before it would fail in a fiery crash.

It’s free, and comes with that wonderful feeling of satisfaction in knowing that you are paying attention to something that more people should be watching!

2007 – Secondhand Serenade – Awake

I don’t know if this album falls under “guilty pleasures” or what, but in 2007 when I first stumbled on to it, Awake from Secondhand Serenade had me hooked. I’m a sucker for a guitar and someone who actually has some vocal talent. It happens so rarely that someone with talent shows up in the music industry, but then when I read more about the album and was even more impressed.

John Vesely was pretty much a one man show, with vocals and instrumentals by John Vesely. He used multi-tracking to make it sound like there were more voices and instruments. When on tour (I got to see him in Lancaster in 2008), he would bring a band with them, but only used them for some of the songs from the 2008 album, and when singing more tracks from the 2007 album Awake they left the stage and the audience filled in the other voices.

I won’t even get in to lyrics and music, I think I’ve already explained quite a bit. Secondhand Serenade saw some fame when the 2nd album released, but I’ve genuinely enjoyed awake Awake, and I think you will, too!