PlayStation 4 - The Review

Next gen (sorry Nintendo) is finally here with the first reviews of the PS4 which is out in America this Friday. The Polygon review is gorgeous to look at as well which is a bonus but others are rolling out today including Joystiq and Eurogamer.

Looks like the PS4 hardware is great but what isn’t is the initial game selection. Roll on next week when the Xbox One hits the UK.

40

When this publishes I will officially be 40.

Woo.

Seemingly it’s all downhill from here, but when the hill’s not that big in the first place the decline is hardly noticeable. Or maybe it’s ‘life begins’? All I do know is I don’t have everything figured out yet and I still don’t feel like a grown up. Will that ever happen?

Like when I turned 30, I don’t expect much to change. I can’t see me slowing down or changing habits and I’m far more active than I was 10 years ago. It doesn’t change who I am. I’ve not given it much thought apart from realising that these milestone or event birthdays are starting to run out.

1,16,18,21,25,30,40,50,65,80,100

I’m probably missing some and 65 is changing for us ‘youngsters’ in that the expectation is I’ll work to 68 rather than the traditional retiring age of 65. Scarily still not reached the halfway point of my working life. Gulp.

Nevertheless, some big milestones have passed with less to come going forward. Probably more related to the work news last week, or maybe it’s a bit of both, but I do feel more than ever that I need a plan b. Something to mull over the coming weeks, especially as I have a four week break starting on Dec 10th. Happy days.

Onwards.

The birth of xbox live

Great article from Russ Pitts at Polygon that details Xbox Live and the bets that Microsoft made all those years ago.

I still remember getting on the beta service for Xbox Live. Moto GP was the game and that first time on Xbox Live felt so alien. With the headset on I could hear others but talking felt wrong. I quickly realised it’s potential as the first couple of sessions saw me racing the Moto GP developers. Xbox Live was awesome!

A couple of hours later and Live’s true future was realised when I heard the words ‘get out the way ya fannie’. Two young Glaswegians were also on the beta and thought it was hilarious to curse and swear to everyone in the room.

The highs and lows of Xbox Live.

Alfonso Cuaron Returns to the Bigscreen After Seven Years With ‘Gravity’

I watched Gravity tonight and loved it. Possibly the best movie I’ve watched this year and one of the best I’ve enjoyed on IMAX in 3D. The effects were stunning and as I watched I was wondering how they shot some of the film…which this Variety article explains. Do not read this if you haven’t watched the film!

What’s interesting is that Shak found the film dull – polar opposite to what I felt. I’ve found others say the same, and I wonder if it’s because there is not much actual story. I love space and everything to do with it so I got sucked into the film early on and it never let go but I can understand how people can find it quite an empty film apart from the visuals.

Still, I highly recommend you catch this at an IMAX to enjoy it at it’s best – it won’t have the same impact watching at home.

Always Lurking

He slips out of his lair. Sticking to the shadows he creeps ever closer waiting to make his presence felt. It starts painlessly, confusing and distracting so he can stay hidden. Is that him? He soon unleashes a blast of light confirming the worst. He’s back. Slow moving he intensifies the brightness before falling silent. Minutes pass.

Then it begins.

migraine

Stabbing at my eye. Over and over and over. The pain spreads. He’s now hammering my head with a bat. I feel sick but when I do vomit it doesn’t help. Only darkness can save me. Darkness and burying my head in a pillow. Darkness, pillows and drugs. Sleep. Please let me sleep. My saviours.

Hours pass.

I wake and he’s gone. Back to his lair. Back knowing he’s won again. Back knowing he will strike again and there is nothing I can do. What’s left are wounds. An aching head that will take hours and days to pass. Constipation thanks to the drugs. A lack of appetite and a massive drop in concentration. If that’s not enough the next night is usually light on sleep so even if the head has cleared a couple of days later I’m left drained. He wins again. The migraine always wins.

I’ve suffered from migraines for over 10 years now. They are far less frequent than when they started, when I used to get clusters of 2 or 3 per week, but probably average out at one a fortnight. I’ve got used to the pain and can spot the symptoms easily now. What I’ve not got used to is the disruption they cause. Take today. A lazy Saturday planned, trip out for some shopping and out of nowhere a migraine struck mid morning. Boom. Day spoiled.

I’m lucky in that I’ve an understanding boss that lets me work around the migraines when they strike during the week but the disruption to mine and others life really frustrates me. I always prided myself in not giving in to an illness but a migraine knocks me for six. I’ve never found my trigger and the majority of mine occur through the night or I wake up with the migraine already under way. For many stress is a trigger and I’ve always dismissed that as a cause as I never really feel stressed. Angry and frustrated at times but I’ve never thought of that as stress – maybe it is. Maybe I need to face up to that and deal with it better.

I’m also lucky as many migraine sufferers have it far worse than me. That doesn’t stop me dreading the next time the migraine leaves his lair.

iOS 7 and those new iPads

It’s been a few weeks since Apple released iOS 7. Has it caused much change?

My iPhone home screen using iOS 6
My iPhone home screen using iOS6
Home screen on the 5s on iOS 7
Home screen on the 5s

It surprises me in that short time how dated the iOS 6 screenshot looks. Not sure if thats down to familiarisation from day to day usage of iOS 7 but it just screams ‘old’ when I look at it. On the surface many app’s look the same but most if not all the home screen app’s have seen updates over the last 6 weeks with some bringing considerable new functionality.

Take Fantastical for example. A new version came out with not only an updated look for iOS 7 but integrating reminders alongside appointments. A small change but one that has led me to using Apple Reminders rather than Wunderlist which I’d moved to from Omnifocus as it was over the top for my needs. iOS 7 has kickstarted a simplification of my app’s and services I use.

Next was removing my reliance on Apple for podcasts and switching to Instacast – should have done it months ago as listening to podcasts is a far better experience and iTunes is more stable now that I’ve removed podcasts from it. Coincidence?

Unfortunately there are still some ugly aspects of iOS 7 that irritate all the time. That Safari icon is one of them. It annoys me so much that I may switch to using Chrome on iOS as that’s what I use on the laptop and desktop. iOS 7 is also quite crashy, especially on the iPad. Hopefully a 7.1 update will remove the stability issues if not the ugly icons (agreeing with Shak that Contacts is ugly too).

Overall though I’m happy with iOS 7, the updates it’s made and the new direction it’s taking alongside the many many great app updates from third parties.

iPad

iOS 7 on the iPad
iOS 7 on the iPad

Alongside the crashy nature of iOS 7 on the iPad there’s something about it’s look that just doesn’t feel right. There is so much space and the app’s look lost on the bigger screen. Why not a fifth row? Why do folders only show 9 app’s at a time – it feels like a toy town O/S in some of the views which I’d never say about iOS 6 or the current versions of Android. Performance on my third gen iPad is also spotty so I’ve disabled most of the animations which helps but I still notice keyboard lag and stutter from time to time.

Of course, the iPad Air is now out and performance of the new device is amazing thanks to the new chip’s being used. I popped into the Apple store at the weekend and what stood out the most was the weight of the new iPad Air. More to the point, the lack of weight.

Not the screen, not the smaller design, the thinner design or the lack of Touch ID. The weight difference compared to my gen 3 iPad was more than I expected. I was convinced that a Mini Retina would be my next iPad but it will probably be an iPad Air. Yes, probably.

I’m not yet 100% that I need to replace the iPad right now. While I may want to replace it, need is something entirely different. So I will hang fire for the time being, compare it to the Mini Retina to make doubly sure and wait and see what app updates will come over the next few months that take advantage of the new chipset. Once I do decide I will definitely pick up one of these Logitech keyboards for the iPad – I think they are awesome.