The ridiculous popularity of YouTube gamers

Friday 23 December 2016 @ 10:45 pm

Here’s something I really don’t get; the ridiculous popularity of YouTubers with millions of subscribers who will happily sit for hours watching them play a video game that they likely already own. Back in the 80’s, the very worst part of video gaming, apart from having to wait for the tape deck to load the game, was having to sit and watch someone else play and not getting a turn.

The whole social media thing is a complete crock of crap. I don’t do FarceBook, Twatter, InstaCack, SnapShite or any other number of pointless social media platforms simply because I can’t imagine anyone would be the least bit interested in me and I’m certainly not interested in other peoples mindless ramblings (DISCLAIMER: I realise the irony of posting this on a blog).

Why on earth do these self-important cretins think that anyone would actually be absorbed by what they had for lunch or what they’re wearing or who they saw? Almost every post seems to comprise not-so-subtle product placements, stupid pictures of everyday mundane objects or airbrushed photos of people pretending they have a wonderful life filled with copious amounts of hot sex. And it’s not just people either, companies are increasingly using Twitter for customer service which means more and more people think they should kick up a fuss and tell the World + Dog about it just to get satisfaction. Net result? Everyone wants to be a zelebrity with their 15 minutes of fame and shortcut to easy riches.

Those famous celebrities, who are famous for nothing except being a celebrity, or releasing an “accidental” sex tap, are to blame. Social Media is now filled with nobody’s who want to be a pointless somebody, namely the latest footballer flashing their gold plated Lambo complete with hookers in the passenger seat or the identikit Instagram models who seem to do nothing all day except swan around the world at the behest of rich horny geriatrics. Is this really what we want our children to aspire to?

Oh for the days when life was much simpler, we didn’t have all of this social media BS and gaming meant a shelf full of £9.99 tapes, a cassette deck and actually enjoying playing video games with your mates.

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Stupid Samsung ship AMOLED mobiles with crap themes

Wednesday 23 December 2015 @ 12:30 am

Most Samsung mobile phones have an AMOLED screen which is power efficient and offers fantastic black levels. However, when showing a white screen, AMOLED displays are more power hungry than normal LED displays. That’s why for years, the default theme for Samsung mobiles has always been something with a black background that, apart from being comfortable to view in all lighting, made the most of the AMOLED screen to maximise battery life.

With Android 4.4 KitKat and upwards though, Samsung have decided to change the default theme from a black background to a white background with no other alternative dark theme. Why has Samsung done this? Because they’re fucking stupid, that’s why.

What is the point of using a fantastic AMOLED display with a bunch of themes, none of which are optimised for that screen? There is no point of course and given that pretty much everyone is sick to the back teeth of Samsung’s endless tide of overpriced Galaxy mobiles with their fixed batteries, copious bloatware and non expandable memory, it makes you wonder what their next birdbrain decision will be to drive the punters away.


BlackBerry Link installation fails or hangs

Saturday 18 April 2015 @ 1:26 pm

So you’ve bought one of the fantastic new BlackBerry devices (the Passport or the Classic) and are ready to install BlackBerry Link. The only problem is that it won’t install and hangs or bombs out. BlackBerry Link includes the USB drivers and BlackBerry Blend (an absolutely brilliant and innovative software package) but unfortunately needs the crappy Dot Net framework v4. This bloated piece of shitware is mandatory for quite a few programs but Lord knows why as it serves no useful purpose and upon installation, will massively increase the boot time. On an SSD, I’ve seen Dot Net add another 4 seconds which in the SSD world is horrendous. Anyway, I digress.

If you haven’t already got Dot Net 4 installed, the BlackBerry Link software will download and install it for you and on Windows 7, this is where it tends to hang or fail. However, installing BlackBerry Link without any problems is actually very simple; all you need to do is install it with admin rights so just right click on the BlackBerry Link install file and choose “Run as administrator”.

Once Dot Net 4 has finished installing, it’ll carry on with the BlackBerry Link install where you can also select BlackBerry Blend too.

To summarise then; Dot Net 4? Utter crap. BlackBerry Link/Blend? Truly excellent.


Why I regret buying an LED TV

Monday 16 March 2015 @ 1:29 pm

This is the story of an idiot who bought a top of the range LED TV three years ago and has regretted it ever since.

My previous TV was a much loved Panasonic Plasma but after several years of enjoying its fantastic picture, it was time to upgrade to something bigger with HD, streaming capability and kick ass 3D. Yes, I admit it, I like 3D.

I was all set to buy another Panasonic but didn’t want the active 3D system or the energy hungry, radiator heat of a plasma TV that tended to buzz after a while. And neither did I want something so heavy that it required an elephant to carry it home and a complex series of pulleys to hoist it into position, complete with a voucher for a free hernia operation.

The answer then was LED. Now, all LED TV’s are actually LCD TV’s that use a backlight for the image, the difference being that with LED, the light is provided via LED lights and not conventional lamps. The TV we decided on was an LG that was smart-enabled with passive 3D and the full suite of streaming options such as BBC iPlayer and DLNA.

The image on the Panasonic was always a bit dim and dull so the brighter LG was much more impressive. I spent some time setting it up but the big problem was and always has been and still is to this very day with all LED TV’s, the complete lack of any deep inky blacks. You can forget all the other specifications and scams like 4K, when it comes to judging image quality, one of the main criteria, if not THE main criteria, is how a TV can handle black colours.

With a plasma set, it’s perfectly black since the areas with black are actually switched off. With a shitty LED though, the light is always shining from behind the picture and the options available are limited to either dim the LED light locally or fiddle with the settings for dynamic contrast, black levels, brightness, backlight and all other manner of crap that interferes with the actual image. Regardless, the result is a washed out dark grey rather than jet black and terrible light bleed that once you notice, you can never not notice again. Films in particular are much less watchable because of the borders at the top and bottom which are school uniform grey and hugely distracting.

Tweaking the settings does help but the compromise is severe; enable the LED local dimming or reducing the backlight means that you get darker blacks at the expense of a dimmer image. Bump up the contrast or brightness to counter this and the picture starts to lose detail and focus. In short, there is no suitable compromise with an LED TV, even if it is fully backlit rather than the cheaper edge-lit. Buy one and you can look forward to years of watching TV’s with unconvincing black levels.

The light bleed in particular has gotten worse and will only deteriorate further. And then there’s the viewing angle. Unless you’re sat slap bang in front of an LED at the right height, the picture contrast suffers and you get a very uneven image with areas of light and dark. Stand up or sit down from you plum viewing spot and even then, the picture will change. As for the poor sods sitting at the side and having to view from a 60 degree angle, you might as well just tell them to leave the room. A plasma set has none of these issues and you could be standing at a 20 degree angle from the set and still enjoy the show.

If I could go back three years and choose again, I’d definitely say fuck LED, I’m sticking with plasma. However, given that plasma has now stopped being made, the only hope is OLED which, like plasma, manages deep velvety blacks and suffers no viewing angle limitations. In fact, OLED is even better than plasma as it’s thinner, brighter, lighter and even requires even less power than an LED TV. In short, OLED offers all of the advantages of both plasma and LED with none of the drawbacks.

Except one; cost. OLED is still too expensive to make so expect to pay a premium for one, especially since none of the other manufacturers apart from LG seem bothered to go down the OLED route and instead, are intent on pushing those stupid fuckin’ 4K TV’s that nobody wants.

I reckon it’s a premium worth paying though so my LG LED is up for sale and quite frankly, I can’t get shot of it quick enough to replace it with an OLED model.


BlackBerry Classic almost gets it right

Sunday 4 January 2015 @ 12:04 am

The launch of the new BlackBerry Classic is very much welcome. Apart from the keyboard, you also get a set of proper hardware buttons for calls and navigation along with the fantastic trackpad. I can’t tell you how much I hate all these fucking Android phones with their keyboard-less touchscreen displays and shite usability that make even simple things such as messaging or calling a real chore. And believe me, I’ve tried, even with those oversized stupid looking 5″ touchscreen Android’s that everyone seems to think is acceptable for a compact phone.

It often takes me a good 10 minutes to tap out a short two sentence message and then another 10 minutes trying to position the fucking cursor just to edit a word. Doesn’t matter if you use SwiftKey, Swype or any other Android app crap, nothing can replace a proper hardware keyboard. And BlackBerry makes the best. End of.

So here it is then, the BlackBerry Classic, following hot on the heels of the BlackBerry Passport (in my opinion, the most innovative and interesting mobile of 2014), and with a mission to convert the millions of BlackBerry fanatics grimly clinging onto their Bold 9900. I should know, I’m one of them and have another two as spare. There are plenty of reviews for the Classic floating around so I won’t bother going into the details.

Suffice to say, if you are a BlackBerry fan, you will love the Classic.

If you are an ex-BlackBerry fan now using Android and liable to stab yourself with a pen in frustration every time you have to message, it’s time to return to the fold.

If you like hardware keyboards and simply want to get on with the job of being productive, the BlackBerry Classic is the phone for you.

However, like a beautiful swan that has cruelly had its wings clipped, the BlackBerry Classic is not perfect and it’s bloody annoying.

Battery life with the Classic is great, you can measure it in days rather than hours but the battery is fixed and cannot be removed or swapped. Road Warriors used to carrying a stash of batteries will be sorely disappointed.

The screen is a bog standard LCD affair. No IPS LCD like with the Passport or even AMOLED like the Q10 which is two years old. Clarity, brightness and readability are all great but it’s disappointing to see the Classic fitted with such a cheap ass screen.

Everything zips along at a fair whack but the actual hardware chip is the same as the two year old Q10. You would have expected more than an ancient dual core snapdragon S4 which is about as cutting edge as a rubber knife.

The last criticism is more about the OS than the actual hardware. Whilst BlackBerry OS 10.3 is much better than previous versions, it’s still too awkward with a heavy reliance on gestures (not a problem with the trackpad though) and weirdness such as not having a proper home screen that shows you everything at a glance. And I can’t believe that the BlackBerry Link sync software is STILL not capable of properly syncing Outlook including Notes and Tasks. For fucks sake BlackBerry sort it out!

However, it’s great to see BlackBerry going back to its roots and actually making business oriented phones for grown-ups for which there is demand (the initial run of both the Passport and Classic sold out) rather than trying to chase the grubby teeny bopper market obsessed with their Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Well done BlackBerry and Mr Chen, let’s have more please.


Anyone surprised that Samsung Mobile profits have crashed?

Tuesday 2 December 2014 @ 6:20 pm

Not me. The Q3 results showed a steep decline in profits (over 60%) caused by weak demand for the shitty Samsung Galaxy S5. Serves ’em bloody right.

The S5 was launched in a blaze of the usual publicity earlier this year and has failed to live up to expectations. It’s not hard to see why either. Like the S3 and the S4 and pretty much all of the so called flagship mobiles, the Galaxy S5 has no compelling value proposition to encourage users to upgrade. Hell, it doesn’t even have a quarter of a value proposition.

The heart rate monitor shite is as dumb as it sounds, the screen is far too big and the battery life is beaten to a pulp by the far more desirable and elegant Sony Xperia range which has also been dust proof and water proof for years, long before Samsung decided to jump on that particular bandwagon.

That leaves the fingerprint sensor (shyeah, riiight) and 16MP camera. Fair enough, the camera will do the job but you’d need your head examined to buy the S5 just for the camera. As for the fingerprint sensor crap, this is supposed to allow you to make payments and unlock the phone and used for other security features. Only problem is that it’s not half as useful as the Apple version so don’t expect it to work. As with pretty much everything Android, it’s all buggy, laggy, sub optimal and offers the kind of end user experience that you leaves you snorting in derision.

Oh, and if you were expecting a premium finish, tough, it’s the same plastic crap, albeit with a mock leather back thing, that Apple fanboys will be mocking you again for like they have the last two years. The flagship phones from Huawei, a company far more on the ball with Android than Samsung, put the S5 to shame and are far more premium.

So there’s nothing on the hardware side but what about the software side? Specifically Samsung TouchWiz? Well, if you like the worst kind of bloatware that can’t be removed and that comes with two versions of everything, Google’s snooping apps rubbish and Samsung’s feeble stocking filler version that nobody will never ever use, then this is the handset for you.

No surprise then that there are warehouses full of Samsung Galaxy S5 stock which they can’t shift for love or money and which has accelerated the development for the next pointless version of this shitastic mobile. Samsung have said they are going to reduce the number of mobiles they bring to market (currently around 20) and focus more on the ones they do which is every bit as vague as it sounds. They might want to start by making a smaller, and by that I mean sub 4” screen, more premium handset with a useful battery life instead of being locked in the ridiculous hardware race with ever more ludicrous specs.

Welcome news then for any change in direction by Samsung, but don’t go expecting anything revolutionary. For a lot of people, Android means Samsung and those sheeple will happily buy anything with a Samsung sticker slapped all over that plastic casing. Plus, with a market as crowded and as stupid as the Android one, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate against other more compelling handsets.

If Samsung are to move back into the black, they will have to do a lot more than just churn out yet another tired Galaxy handset with a few rubbish upgrades.


Random Annoyances: Tiny Notification LED’s

Sunday 1 June 2014 @ 10:46 pm

What is the point of adding an LED to a mobile phone to notify the user of an event and then making the LED so tiny that you can’t see the fucking notification unless you’re standing right over the phone with a pair of binoculars?

Fair enough, there’s no need for a huge light that could ward off ships from a craggy coastline but neither is there any point in having an LED that makes it next to impossible at actually seeing if you have a missed event.

For years now, HTC have been the worst culprits, offering a tiny prick of an LED housed inside the speaker grill. You have absolutely no chance of seeing it unless you’re perpendicular to the phone and even moving a little to the side completely obscures the LED.

Why? Was it really so difficult to add a proper LED that you can actually see from across the room instead of something that’s barely bigger than a pinhead?

Time and time again, companies screw up even basic functionality that’s really not rocket science and HTC should know better.

But you know what? If HTC can’t be bothered to make their phones properly, I sure as hell can’t be bothered to entertain the idea of buying one.