Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation

Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation
Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Console Wars is John Grisham for nerds. Predominantly coming over as a “good guy vs the big bad corporation” story, and filled with industry insider detail it’s a surprisingly easy read.

The Sega / Nintendo generation was one I was part of chronologically, but not actually involved in. We had an Atari VCS which led the charge in home consoles before (partly down to wonders such as the E.T. game) crashing spectacularly and taking the whole concept of the “home arcade” with it. By that time, we’d moved onto computers (a Sinclair ZX-81 followed by an Amstrad, then Amiga and onto PCs), which was more common in the UK as opposed to the console-friendly US where Nintendo went on to corner the market.

Until Sega came along.

Console Wars is that story. The battle for market dominance between Mario and Sonic, bracketed by the demise of Atari and the rise of Sony. There are tons of little facts and background stories in here without it coming across as a book of nerd trivia. It’s about the story and the characters first and foremost.

At 558 pages it’s no lightweight, but it’s also not a coffee table book. This is written to be read, not just glanced through occasionally.

If you’re looking for a gift for the geek in your life that’ll get them off the internet for a while yet still keep them quiet, this will almost certainly go down well.

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iOS updates vs Android updates

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Updating iOS

Get excited that new version is coming out on set date

Jump on download the moment it comes out

Wait 6 hours for download to arrive while your eyes dry out and crust over

Re-download when download fails at 99%

Wait for reboot

Keep waiting for reboot

Try hard reset

Pack phone in box and go to Apple Store

Come back with working phone and extra goods you were up-sold while you were at Apple Store

Hate new version of iOS

See new iOS release date


Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Updating Android

See new version being touted

Wonder when they’ll give a release date

Several months later, get release date

Wonder when they’ll release it for your actual handset

Find out your manufacturer/vendor isn’t going to release it for your handset

Find out that they’ve given in to backlash and will release it

Wonder when they’ll give a release date

Keep checking for release date

Give up

Find out that they released it a month ago without making an announcement

Download update

Install update

Reboot handset

Enjoy new version, except for the functions they had to miss out because your handset can’t run them


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Facebook whingers

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Loving all the people who don’t like the new facebook “we can use your posts, comments and images in adverts” policies being touted, and who think that simply posting that “I do not give you permission…” etc. is enough to prevent this.

Sorry folks, by using facebook (for free, remember) you agree to *their* terms and conditions. If you don’t agree to them, then you can’t use the service. It’s not an “agreement” in that you sit down over a pint and discuss one-to-one how you’re going to use the service (for free) and then walk off after a handshake.

Facebook provide you with a contract to which you must agree to use their service. Part of that contract is that they are permitted to *change* that contract as long as they give fair notice (they seem to think 7 days is fair). If you don’t agree to the contract (in whole or in part), you don’t use the service. That’s the agreement.

Frankly, I think it’s a storm in a teacup. The example of usage they’ve mentioned is, for instance, an advert for a venue underneath which they may place a post from one of your friends who’s been there before. A post/picture you’ll already have seen as you’re on their friends list. They aren’t taking stuff you’ve posted to a limited audience (friends, groups…) and posting them publicly.

Get over it, or get out. Good luck gaining as large an audience or following on Google+ with its echoing walls.

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Lower mobile data usage

Wi-Fi Signal logo
Wi-Fi is the answer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m with GiffGaff and have gone for the cheapie £10 package which limits me to 1Gb of data per month. Regularly I was hitting 700-900Mb per month, which is fine – but I noticed I was gradually using more. No real reason other than I was out and about and getting more and more reliant on apps, etc.

A simple change to my settings saved me a huge amount of data and I’m now hitting around 300Mb per month. Simply ensure that your app updates are set to run automatically only when you’re on wi-fi.

Aside from things like streaming media, this is probably one of the biggest data downloads you do on a regular basis. There’s usually very little need to have an app update *right now* (and if there is, you can force an update manually very easily), so just leave them till the next time you’re in the house when they should kick in automatically.

This is easy enough to do on Android – not sure about Blackberry or Apple.

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Using 1&1 for your web hosting? Check your email!

Dodgiest marketing *ever*

I’ve been using 1&1 for quite a few years now and – unlike some, it seems – I’ve had pretty good service and support from them. However, the same cannot be said for their marketing.

There was a sudden push a year or so ago involving a ridiculous amount of cold-calling, trying to sell me upgrades to my account which I didn’t want or need. Despite my geekiness, I’m a fairly simple user of the system. I only run a handful of WordPress instances on a few mySQL databases. So nothing really techie, business-y or anything.

Anyway, I got an email from them yesterday. It regaled me with a bunch of new features that would come into affect at the start of August. All lovely, none of any use.

Oh, and by the way – it mentioned down at the bottom – these extra facilities will raise your monthly fee by around 20%.

And, squirrelled away a sentence later, was the option to “opt out”.

Now, assuming this marketing mail didn’t end up in your spam folder… and assuming you read it right through once you realised it was just telling you about a bunch of new tools you’ll never use… and assuming you got past the additional fees to the last sentence… then you have the chance to not be charged extra each month.

I posted on their facebook page and did get a response, but it’s just not satisfactory.

They argue that most people accept these offers. Well – do they? Or do they just not get the mail / read far enough / care (maybe they’re corporate and it’s not their cash) and just suck up the extra money each month putting the increase in their bill down to inflation?

To put it into another scenario: if I wander around Tesco with a shopping trolley, would I find it acceptable for random members of staff to just drop things in with the rest of my shopping (perhaps subtly when I wasn’t looking) and expect me to remove them if I didn’t want them before I got through the checkout and realised I’d paid more than my budget? No, I wouldn’t. And I don’t see how this is any different.

Also, they kindly informed me that my name hadn’t been put on their “Do Not Call” list to prevent cold-calling. This came as a surprise and I had (twice) been told that it had.

So, despite having a decent service in my experience, their marketing is abysmal. Still better than 3, though, who have a crap service, awful support and horrible sales staff.