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Net Neutrality has died...

Posted on December 14, 2017 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (0)
It's official. The FCC vote to repeal Net Neutrality guidelines has passed. As an online content creator, I am very disappointed in Ajit Pai and the FCC's decision repeal Net Neutrality guidelines which protect consumer interests and innovation on the internet. If this vote is not contested, this could mean drastic changes to the net as we know it...

Planned Obsolescence in Technology. Is It Really A Thing?

Posted on January 12, 2015 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (1)

As far back as I can remember, the theory of planned obsolescence has been a debate in technology. For those who aren’t familiar with planned obsolescence, essentially it is a theory that technology companies make products, hardware or software, with the intent of making them obsolete in a short amount of time to force the consumer to upgrade to a newer product. For the outsider looking in, seems legit! We get new tech products every year, game consoles are replaced with new ones every 5 years or so and new software platforms and operating systems are released on a regular basis. But does this really mean that companies are planning obsolescence when they create these products?

 

First, I’d like to explain how technology works in terms of progression. It’s a little thing called Moore’s Law. What Moore’s Law refers to is the fact that technology, more specifically microprocessors, get smaller, faster, more advanced and cheaper at a tremendous rate. Engineers are constantly looking for ways to improve their products and as a result, we are constantly getting technology that improves the ways we live, work and communicate. So as technology gets faster, advances further and becomes more cost effective, manufacturers can utilize this new tech to make better products.

 

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk products. Every year, we get newer and faster computers, thinner, lighter and faster phones, smaller and more portable computing devices like notebooks and tablets. It seems like every time we turn around, a new product is on the market. So it’s easy to see how people believe that a theory like planned obsolescence is a real idea used by tech companies. 3 of the most accused targets for the supposed use of planned obsolescence are Apple, Microsoft and game console manufacturers, so I will focus on them for this debate.

 

Let’s start with Apple. Apple is a company that has some of the most admired, desired and imitated products of any other company. Their products are used by millions of people and they have a strong following of loyal users. So when critics claim that Apple makes their products in a way that sets them up for a short lifespan, fans get a little miffed. Every year, we get new Macs, new iPhones, new iPads, new iPods and new versions of OS X and iOS. So I can understand why people think that Apple is trying to make their products using the idea of planned obsolescence…forcing users to buy their latest and greatest devices. But here is the thing. Apple devices are solid and perform for years on end. It’s a known fact that there are still several people using the first generation iPhone, and for the most part, it still works! Sure…it can’t run the latest version of iOS and as a result, some of the new hot apps won’t run on it. But can it still make a call? Can you still use it to browse the web and check email? Does it still connect to AT&T’s mobile network? The answer to all of these is a resounding “yes”. And what about the Mac? Surely it is built using the principles of planned obsolescence, right? Wrong! The Mac has been known for being a machine that stands the test of time. Would you believe me if I said there are users who still use the old PowerPC Macs? Those things are approaching a decade old, yet users still are able to be productive with them. And what about the iPod? Older models to this day can still be synced with iTunes. Even the original first-gen iPod can still be synced with iTunes and provide hours of tunes for your enjoyment. And finally, the iPad. This one actually comes from personal experience. Back in 2011, I bought myself and my girlfriend (now my wife) the iPad 2. And it wasn’t until recently that we upgraded to an iPad Air 2 for myself and an iPad Mini 3 for my wife. Did the iPad 2’s still work? Yes! In fact, my old iPad 2 is still being used by a friend of mine and still works just fine. Did we need to upgrade? No! We wanted to upgrade. We chose to upgrade…so we did.

 

What about Microsoft? Microsoft makes software for PC’s that are used by millions, if not billions of people. Their software powers the majority of personal computers in the world and is, in many ways, the industry standard for personal computer products. They make other products as well, but for the sake of keeping things simple, let’s focus on their flagship software product, Windows. We regularly see new versions of Windows ship every few years or so. Most of the time, these new versions only offer minor improvements…at least on the surface. Under the hood however, it’s a different story. But we will get to that later. Whenever a new version of Windows is released, often times some of our older apps no longer run, peripherals are no longer compatible and features we loved from the previous version are no longer present. With reasons like that, it’s easy to see why people target Microsoft for practicing planned obsolescence. Remember early we mentioned Moore’s Law and processors becoming more advanced? New capabilities are added to processor on a regular basis. But for those features to be utilized, new software needs to be created to take advantage of those features. Otherwise, those new features go to waste. Regarding incompatibilities of older software and hardware, it is the responsibility of the manufacturers and developers to make sure these products are capable of running on new versions of Windows. Sadly, more often than not, they don’t update their stuff to be compatible with Microsoft’s new stuff. So Microsoft is simply trying to give us access to the latest advances in processor technology with every new release of Windows. That said, are we being forced to upgrade? Ask people who are still using Windows XP. That version of Windows was released in 2001 and it is still the most widely used version of Windows. We have had 4 major releases of Windows since then, but Windows XP continues to dominate. And guess what? It works perfectly fine to this day.

 

Now let’s wrap this up with game consoles. I remember hearing my grandmother always bickering when I got a new game console about, “Didn’t you just get the last one!?” and “Those companies just make new machines to rip you off!” This is a common view shared by many. But here is the thing about game consoles. They have fixed hardware. Once it is designed and shipped, it can’t be improved. It can’t be upgraded. It can’t be changed. Once it ships, you get what you get. So if game developers want to take advantage of new graphics processor technologies and processor enhancements, they need new hardware. Those pretty graphics that you get on your shiny new PlayStation 4’s and Xbox One’s weren’t possible on say…a PlayStation 2 for example. Unless we want our games to never change or improve in quality, we need to also improve the hardware. As a result, every 5 years or so, we get new machines. But that doesn’t make the old machines useless. In fact, many console developers still support the old hardware for a significant amount of time. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are still on the market and while the PlayStation 3 shipped in 2006, the PS2 was still for sale and being supported until 2013! With the PlayStation 2 being release in 2000, that’s a pretty long support lifecycle. Going even further back, consoles like the Atari 2600 and original Nintendo Entertainment System are still enjoyed by retro gaming enthusiast to this day. Just because a game console is old, it doesn’t mean it is useless.

 

So here is the deal. Yes we get new products all the time. And yes, you could upgrade to them. But do you have to? Does your old product instantly stop working when a new product is released? Does the old product become less useful once a new product is available? Depending on the device, maybe with time they will reach a point of true obsolescence. At the rate technology progresses, all tech devices are doomed to one day become obsolete. But this idea that companies are making their devices doomed for failure and a short life would imply that we expect them to prevent technological advancement just to stretch out the life of your gadget. The truth is, people who believe in the myth of planned obsolescence are often people who want the latest and greatest, but don’t want to shell out the cash for it. Also, I often find older generations who look at tech gadgets and compare them to other non-tech products, like appliances or furniture, are often preachers of the planned obsolescence controversy. They can’t understand how their 30 year old couch is still good or their 15 year old microwave still works, but they are being expected to replace their computer every 5 to 8 years. For them, they simply do not understand the progression of technology. I can’t fault them for that. But here’s the deal. Expecting anyone to slow innovation so that consumers feel they get a couple extra years out of their devices would be preventing the human race from moving forward in our quest for better, more advanced technology. And that my friends wouldn’t be beneficial to anyone…

 

Living Without a Cell Phone....

Posted on September 4, 2014 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

For the past few days, I have been without a cell phone. My iPhone died for good and I ordered a new phone the same night, but the wait has been unbearable.


We always joke about our dependency on technology, but having gone a few days without a cell phone, I realize how much we really do depend on our gadgets. I am literally experiencing withdraws!!!


So I look at this situation and wonder, "Is our dependency on technology a bad thing?" Personally, I say yes! The idea that there was a time when I didn't even own a cell phone is as foreign to me as thinking about a time when I didn't even exist. I find myself constantly reaching for my phone pocket even though it isn't even there. Not only that, but being that my cell phone is my primary method of contact, I have been blind to the outside world. No one can call me. No one can text me.


I also miss having instant access to my email, Facebook notifications and tweets at all times. Not having constant always-on access to the digital realm is so alien. And while I miss my little gadget, I do appreciate all the free time I have to be more productive without it. Quite ironic considering the fact that cell phones are meant to make us MORE productive.


So as I check my tracking number and see that my new phone has arrived, I wonder if this new phone will be my salvation, or was the time away from my phone a moment to reflect on true freedom? 

Facebook Has Lost Me As A User

Posted on April 1, 2014 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

NOTE: The following post is NOT an April Fools day joke.

 

Facebook has really REALLY pissed me off today. I am officially no longer using my personal Facebook profile anymore. Facebook has AGAIN blocked my account from sending out friends request on the grounds that I have continued to add strangers when in fact I have NOT sent out a SINGLE friends request as well as canceled all prior friends requests since the last block. I am tired of the BS and will discontinue use of my personal Facebook account.

 

For those of you who follow my public Facebook page, this will not affect you. I will continue to run and operate that page. I am simply discontinuing the use of my personal profile.

 

As for those who are currently friends with me, you are welcome to PM me for contact info so we can keep in touch. You can also like my public Facebook page and reach me there. That page can be found here: http://on.fb.me/1h0cS3P

 

If you have any questions or concerns about this, please direct all messages to my public Facebook page at the link provided above or email me at robert@yourgeekytipster.com.

 

-Robert Santellan

     *Fed-Up Facebook User

 

My Thoughts on the YouTube Content ID Catastrophe

Posted on December 13, 2013 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (1)

Well folks...the dream has been squashed and the community we love is dying. YouTube is dying. I hate to say it, but it appears to be true. And whether your a content creator or just a viewer, this affects us all.

This really seemed bad when Angry Joe and Boogie2988 felt the need to provide their input on the matter, but the nail in the coffin for me and the rest of the community had to be when Mark from Classic Game Room announced that he was leaving YouTube. He didn't outright say it...but the hints were obvious. Thanksfully he has the resources to host his content on his own site, but not all of the YouTube Content Creators are so lucky.

Take me for example. I am a very small YouTuber. I have been a member of the community for 7 Years now. I started on November 21st, 2006 and since have been trying to find my niche. I started with gaming videos and killed my channel. I moved on to technology videos and killed my channel. Nothing seemed to stick. Finally, 3 years ago, I just decided to be myself in front of the camera. I like games, I like technology and general geekery. So that is what I decided to cover. Things were slow at first and I didn't allow the low number of subs to get me down, but last year the numbers really started to pick up. This year, I reached 2,000 and at the time of this writing, i currently stand at 2,266 subscribers. Is it a lot? Considering where I was a year or 2 ago...Hell Yeah! Not as much as PewDiePie and the Angry Video Game Nerd, but I'm still very happy with my subscriber base and honored that anyone would subscribe to my little channel. I even got partnered last year and started earning a little money doing my vids. Its not much, but it is nice to have a little extra spending cash.

With YouTube moving from just being a hobby for me to something I started to take more seriously, I started investing in better equipment to produce better content. Just last month I purchased a couple game capture devices to help improve my reviews. But now I don't even know if I can use those devices. Why is that? Cause YouTube's new policies and Content ID system would likely just flag any content I created using those devices. You see...for those of you not in the know, YouTube has rolled out new "features" in it's Content ID system. The system is meant to ID and flag copyrighted materials uploaded to YouTube in the hopes of protecting the content owners. Sounds good if you own intellectual property. And I understand the need for it. But when this system fraudulently flags videos or flags videos that clearly fall under fair use, that is a HUGE problem.

As a result of these changes, many YouTuber's are having their very livelyhood held hostage. And for little guys like me, it means a dream we had of possibly making it big has vanished in an instant. I know I am small and under normal circumstances, someone like me doesn't have a voice to be heard. But YouTube has given us a pulpit so our voices could be heard. It is a gift that just this Thanksgiving I publicly stated I was thankful for. But now that gift is being snatched away.

Now, this whole thing is starting with gaming videos. but we have a much bigger problem on our hands here. What about people like the Nostalgia Critic? It's only a matter of time before they target movie reviews. Or what about people who do mashups and music remixes? You can bet they'll go after those too. This is just the beginning. YouTube as we know and love it is finished.

Now at this time, I have yet to have any content flagged. Thank God for that. But there was some ideas and content I had coming down the pike that likely will never see the light of day now. For those of you who wanted to see my Twin Galaxies World Record gameplays, you probably never will now. I had plans to upload them with commentary, but now I am not so sure I should. I also had plans to do a series where you can watch me play games I suck at. So much for that idea. As a result of these changes, several ideas for quality content I wanted to provide to you all have to be thrown away, never to be enjoyed by my audience. After all the time I invested in building up my channel, after all the money I spent trying to improve my content and after all the feedback I took to heart from my audience and wanted to apply to make what I do better, I am now restrained by these rules, guidelines and policies in a way that limits my creativity.

To wrap this up, I want to address a few groups of people. To the YouTuber's who have been affected by this, I am sorry you have to deal with this. We made YouTube what it is today, and this is no way for them to return the favor. To the audience that thrives for content but now wont get it, we want to give you our best, but YouTube wont let us. To the game publishers and other media copyright holders, I understand that there are legitimate reasons for your concerns. But this approach is bad for the community, bad for your image and in the end, it will be bad for business. And finally, I want to address Google and the YouTube team. You guys are blowing it. You guys have created one of the biggest and best communities in the world and now you are tearing it apart. Please, we beg of you, make this right before it is to late.

All told, I hope things are made right before it goes too far. What will I do now? I will continue to do YouTube videos as long as I can. For now, I have been untouched by this. But as a result of it, I have to toss out some amazing content plans I had for you all. I hope the future for YouTube is brighter, but right here and now...it doesn't look too good.