Gender politics in gaming is usually a topic I would avoid, but some of the online reactions I’ve witnessed to Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 are leaving me genuinely curious about the state of gaming and activism. This is a potentially toxic topic, but I’m still honestly asking: Why might it be a bad thing if some games are made and marketed specifically for men?
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Yesterday Google unveiled their new Nexus line up, new Chromecasts, and showed off a slew of services. One curious tease towards the end of their keynote revealed their strategy for offering up a new tier of productivity device.
The Pixel C.
Previous “Pixel” products utilized Google’s Chrome OS, but this next entry to the line will run stock Android, the operating system reserved for phones and tablets. Clearly Google is looking to compete with the recently announced iPad Pro, and the focus on productivity is clear. The Pixel’s signature accessory is a magnetic keyboard cover which includes and adjustable hinge.
There’s been a bit of a scramble lately in the tablet market. Sales are generally down. After being the hot item, destined to replace those boring old laptops, even Apple is struggling to grow sales year over year.
Why is this joke funny? Because we all recognize that the doctor isn’t really addressing the problem, and we’ve all shared in situations where we’ve felt an issue has been ignored or dismissed.
The Galaxy Note 5 suffers from a design flaw. If you insert the S-Pen into the stylus cavity the wrong way, it breaks the sensors in the phone which detect the S-Pen has been removed. In some cases, the Pen can become lodged in the slot, making removal extremely difficult.
Samsung’s official response to this issue?
We highly recommend our Galaxy Note5 users follow the instructions in the user guide to ensure there are no issues.
Lollipop and Material Design are starting to filter out to more Android handsets. LG G3 and G Flex 2, Galaxy Note 4 and S6. Unfortunately my experiences have been somewhat mixed.
Google has taken some interesting steps in improving the look and feel of their newest operating system. Nice sliding transitions and animations, yet I’ve found issues with phones lagging and stuttering while multi-tasking. Button presses delayed long enough to make the user question whether the press was registered at all.
Most recently, formatting on Material Design apps breaking functionality. Running my Youtube channel, I LIVE out of the Youtube Creator app which helps me manage comments on my videos. It recently got a Material Design makeover! Terrific! It’ll be prettier to interact with!
Except, the app wont scroll up to show the comments field anymore. The keyboard blocks the end of the comment and the area where I’d reply. Prettier doesn’t help me if I can’t interact easily with viewers while I’m on the go.
Of course it’ll get fixed in a future update, but I’m getting tired of waiting out a future update to address real and current concerns. I’m tired of the promise that eventually these things will work better in the future, especially when “updates” make them work less good than they used to work on older software.
The frustrating thing about stories like these is that they force me to defend a company I don’t like. $14 sounds about right for an entry level pair of ear buds and a fashion mark up to $99, but these articles always compare that $14 figure against the price tag of the most expensive pair of headphones the company offers, which are definitely not being built for $14. From the original Times article:
And even at prices of up to $450 apiece, they quickly became fashion statements. The company’s headphones have fat profit margins. Headphone designers estimate the cost of making a fancy headset is as low as $14.
Notice how I used a pair of cans as the top picture? Your brain is linking that $14 figure to a pair of expensive headphones. That $14 figure instead should be linked to a pair of earbuds like these pictured to the right, but that’s not as salacious a “gotcha” story.
And we all know the parts list and manufacturing costs don’t represent the total investment of how a gadget gets built. That would discount the work done by designers, any tech that might need to be licensed, and the marketing costs which all get rolled into the price of the product.
I really want to jump into a pages-long, old-man tirade about what video gaming was like when I was a kid. When the “bits” of a console were single digit. When playing a game meant punching in a cartridge and pressing the power button. Where instead of waiting for updates to download, the worst “tech support” we’d need to perform was blowing out some dust from the tray. But I digress…
Redditor Kadjar posted yesterday about an infuriating aspect of modern day gaming, the fact that we don’t own our games in quite the same way we used to with cartridges and discs. Instead we have an account, and our games are attached to that account. Kadjar’s Playstation Network account was compromised, and he woke up to $600 in fraudulent charges and the discovery that his PS4 was no longer attached to his account. Someone else had all his stuff and racked up some huge bills.
I recorded a video earlier this week in response to Apple’s MacBook and Apple Watch announcements, where I washed my hands of the tech angst many of us gadget geeks face when discussing Cupertino. Many of us who are now the most critical of the company, were at one time the most passionate advocates of the brand. I myself was an Apple product specialist for a company that sold systems and maintenance contracts to Department of Energy research facilities. The general thesis of my video focused on the realization and acceptance of the fact that Apple is not (and some would argue hasn’t been for some time) a tech company, but is now a full-fledged fashion and lifestyle brand.
Scanning through Apple’s site and ads, we see a company showcasing design in much the same way that a jewelry website would show off luxury, premium offerings. Sure, there’s a tab you can click on to get a full listing of hardware specs, but it’s neatly tucked to the side, while large banners talk about “Reinventing the Laptop”, or how Apple Watch is their “Most Personal Device” yet. Marketing intangibles, statements designed to make you feel good, appeal to you emotionally, but which aren’t quantifiable or verifiable.
While Apple has often been accused of recycling their designs, the tick-tock update schedule of the iPhone is a perfect example, the company has learned an incredibly important strategy from the retail arena. While iProducts rarely change much from year to year, the subtle design changes keep brand awareness high amongst the demographics of folks with money to burn.
When moving from the Black iPhone 5, to the “Space Grey” iPhone 5S for example, this was a clear visual signal that you had spent money recently to acquire the new phone, instead of slumming it with an old phone. A Silver MacBook likely wont stand out much in a coffee shop when surrounded by MacBook Airs, but a Gold MacBook gives up a ready signal that you are on the pulse. It just wouldn’t do to be seen with last season’s Apple gear. We can count on the next MacBook to be a modest iteration improvement to the internal technology, but we’ll likely focus more on a new design accent or a new color option. Continue reading Apple, Fashion, and Perceived Exclusivity – Keeping Desire High for iProducts→
It wasn’t something that I planned to do. In fact the problem was I didn’t plan as much as I should have before a shoot, and I left my house in a scattered flurry. Arriving at the studio after an hour on the 405, I checked my phone to see an assault of tweets, G+ messages, Youtube comments, emails, and a new survey for the Google Opinion Rewards app.
Why hadn’t my amazing wearable data device alerted me to all of this digital activity? Because I had carelessly left it on its charging dock at home.
It was an opportunity to see if smartwatches really did provide a benefit beyond just being cool techy gadgety things. For the last couple months, between a Pebble, a Toq, a Martian, and a Gear 2, there really haven’t been any days where I haven’t been wearing something on my wrist. Like my favorite traditional timepieces, I often wondered if they were more of a fashion statement than actual productivity devices. Continue reading One Terrible Day Without a Smartwatch…→