It’s About Reigning In Spending, Right?

The Revolt of the Republican Strategists - Ross Douthat

In which case the original sin of the strategist class wasn’t moral compromise or racial blindness but simple condescension: a belief that they didn’t need to take their own constituents seriously, that they could campaign on social issues and protecting the homeland and govern on foreign wars and Social Security reform and that it would all hang together. Which it did — until a demagogue came along who was ready to exploit the gap between promises and policy, and to point out that the Republican adults supposedly in charge of governing weren’t actually governing very well.

Listen, I’m not going to sit here with a straight face and tell you that either of the political parties in the US do exactly what they say they’re going to do, but the chasm between what the right says and what they do when they govern is vast, and is one of the many reasons I left the party behind 15 years ago.

So Much Left to Learn

Just for the fun of it – Shawn Blanc

Which means it’s been eight years since I began photography as a hobby. And to be honest, I still feel like a huge noob.

I am constantly finding inspiration in other people’s work and learning from other photographers. And that is exactly what excites me…

I feel the same about photography as Shawn, and I think this applies to basically everything we do. There is always more to learn, and if you love something, you really can do it for your whole life and keep learning new things about it constantly.

The Most Substantial Changes to the Movie Theater Business in Decades is Happening Right Now

Judge Agrees to End Paramount Consent Decrees | Hollywood Reporter

The changes with surefire impact, though, will be a lifting of the ban on studios licensing their works on a packaged basis. Again, the judge looks to a shifting market as a justification for allowing this to happen two years hence when a sunset period expires.

In addition to the acceleration of the home release model spurred by COVID-19 this year, this new decision from the DOJ has major potential to change how movie theaters work going forward.

If indie theaters were worried about the move to streaming, now they have the cherry on top of worrying about Disney, Amazon, and the rest buying up theaters and restricting what films will be shown at what theaters. Get ready for more trailers saying something like, “coming this summer exclusively to Disney Theaters near you.”

The iPhone SE Still Can’t be Beat

The Pixel 4a is coming out soon and it looks like a great phone. Much like last year's 3a, this is a lower powered phone, but with Google's clean version of Android and a killer camera. If you want a sub-$500 Android phone, I find it hard to think you should be looking at anything else. And at $349, this thing comes in way under that budget.

But I think the iPhone SE is still a better deal, especially for people who want to buy a cheapphone and have it last for years. Let me explain.

At its core, my position comes down to one thing: the A13 Bionic. Yes, the iPhone SE runs the same SoC as the flagship iPhone 11 Pro, and while it may a sliver slower than the Pro phone, it's basically within the margin of error. Per synthetic benchmarks, the A13 is much faster than the Snapdragon 865+,the fastest processor on Android devices in 2020. It's also projected to be faster than the 875 coming out in early 2021.

Broken down, the $399 iPhone SE is going to be faster (or at least as fast) than every Android phone released in 2020 and 2021. Depending on how generous you are with predicting the Snapdragon roadmap, we're basiclaly saying the iPhone SE is going to be faster than every Android phone until the Galaxy S40 hits in March 2022.

I'm not saying synthetic benchmarks are perfect, and I'm not saying that performance is all that matters in a phone, but if we're talking about value, then how fast your phone is has a big impact on how long it can stay useful.

On a very related note, software updates are a big deal, and users want to get them for as long as possible. Google promises 3 years of updates from the time the device ships. That's pretty good for the Android world, so it will ship with Android 10 and get upgraded to 11 this fall, 12 next year, 13 the following year, and then hopefully Android 14 in 2023 (that will technically be slightly over 3 years, so it's not technically promised). Considering how slow you phone is likely to feel by then, that's probably the time you're really going to want a new phone.

Apple doesn't make promises around updates, in part because at this point they're just expected. My iPhone SE from 2016 is currently running the iOS 14 beta, and will get all software updates Apple pushes out until this time next year. If this holds true for the new SE, then we can expect the $399 phone you buy today to get updates through iOS 18.x in 2024.

There are of course some things the Pixel 4a does better. The screen is higher resolution, the cameras are a little better, and the bezels are much smaller, but I'd argue that the bezels and more-retina screen aren't huge value points, they're status points. The camera is a real win, although the iPhone SE takes very good photos as well, and far better video, so depending on your use, that could be a wash. The Pixel 4a also comes in one storage size: 128GB. That's awesome, and the iPhone SE's 64GB is a little tight, but an upgrade to match the Pixel is $50 more, bumping it to $449, or $100 more than the Pixel 4a.

My ultimate point here is that even if you match the storage and pay $100 more for the iPhone SE, I think it's still a better deal than the Pixel 4a in the long run.

BUT…

I'm also splitting hairs here, because what else is a tech blog for but to split hairs? While I think the performance edge the iPhone has make it a better deal long into the future (aka that price savings doesn't mean much if you need to buy another phone in 2-3 years vs 4-5 years), the Pixel 4a looks like it's no slouch and $349 is an incredibly agressive price. I don't think anyone is going to be upset whether they get the iPhone SE or the Pixel 4a.

My Horizon Zero Dawn PC Performance Review

My Horizon Zero Dawn PC Performance Review

This is my firs try at this sort of thing, but I did a few minutes of commentary on how well Horizon Zero Dawn runs on PC. I specifically tested it on the NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super GPU, since that's all I've got.

I'm not Digital Foundry or anything, but I thought it was a little more fun than my commentary-free videos I've uploaded in the past.

Check it out below!

https://youtu.be/AdwSNflw4fk

Chrome Becoming a Password Manager on iOS

The beta version of Google Chrome for iOS recently gained the ability to act as a password manager. This is going to be huge.

For lots of people, Chrome is the place they store their passwords and payment details. While people like me (and probably you) like 1Password or LastPass for this, there are tons of people who just use their browser's storage, and looking at web statistics, most of those people are doing that in Chrome.

The problem forever, and the reason people like me use a third party manager, is that those credentials couldn't be used anywhere besides Chrome. Once they can, that will mean Chrome has a free, cross platoform password manager that millions of iOS users are already bought in on. I think if Google has a good on-boarding that tells people how to activate this when it releases to everyone, it's going to be a big win for them and for users.

Anecdotally, I love 1Password, and use it on all my devices. My wife has a vault as well, but for the life of me I can't get her to use it. Even though it should be easy to use and because if she did use it, then she'd be able to quickly find passwords for my accounts if she needed to get into one of them, she doesn't like to use it because it's more work and "Chrome just works already." She's going to use this feature right away.

I Never Have to Accidentally Quit Safari Again (using Keyboard Maestro)

I Never Have to Accidentally Quit Safari Again (using Keyboard Maestro)

I know Mac die-hards hate the relatively new Chrome (and Edge) behavior where you have to hold down the CMD+Q command to actually quit the app, but I actually love it. I don't want this for every app, but it can really save your bacon in a browser.

The problem is a combination of my fat fingers and the fact that the shortucts to close a window and to quit a whole app are right next to each other, and if you miss the W, hitting the Q can be bad.

I've been using Safari as my work browser again for a few weeks (used Edge before, which I love, but I wanted to try out the new Safari), and I've accidentally quit the app during multiple video calls, making me awkwardly scramble back into the meeting and apologizing for disappearing for a few seconds. It's not the end of the world, but it never happened to me when Edge's protection was in place.

The Keyboard Maestro macro is shown below and is remarkable simple, and while it's not quite as integrated into Safari as I'd like, it gets the job done.

And this is what it looks like in action:

Finally, Keyboard Maestro pro tip here: you can click the gear icon the the top right of the alert action and go into the timeout settings. I set this to time out after 2 seconds, which means I can quickly confirm the action if I want (the GIF shows a mouse, but hitting Enter/Return on the keyboard works too), but it disappears almost right away if I didn't mean to do it.

Update: I took it for granted that everyone knew how to make a KM rule that only applied to a specific app. To do this, you need to make a new "group" in the app and call it something like "Safari". Then you can say all macros inside that group only trigger when a specific app (or apps) is in the foreground.

Netflix and Xbox Game Pass: Are They the Same Thing?

Netflix and Xbox Game Pass: Are They the Same Thing?

Microsoft announced they are releasing their Project xCloud as a new feature in Xbox Game Pass on September 15. This will be available on Android, but not iOS (for now, at least). While I don't want to get into whether Apple should allow this or not, I did want to address the "how is this different from Netflix?" question I've seen thrown out a lot.

Not that it needs an introduction, but Netflix is a subscription service that gives you access to a large library of video content. You pay a monthly fee to Netflix (via their website, not via IAP) and that gives you access to everything they produce, past, present, and future. When  a new movie or show is added to Netflix, it doesn't require them to update their app because the content lives online.

Xbox Game Pass is a monthly subscription service that you pay for, and it gives you access to play a bunch of games for free on your Xbox or PC today, and in a month it will allow you to stream those games to an Android phone or tablet. The games are physically stored in the cloud and they are streamed to your local device. Like Netflix, as Microsoft adds or removes content, no app updates will be required because of course, nothing is running on the local device.

To my eyes, these are the same thing. You're paying a subscription fee to a third party, that party provides a list of content to the user that's streamed to their device, and that content is dynamic and changes over time.

It's unclear to me how in-app purchases will work with these streamed games. Currently, Game Pass users get most base games for free, but you can pay for expansions to get more content for those games. Also, as far as I know, there are no consumable IAPs in Game Pass games the likes of something like Candy Crush that we have on mobile (if I'm wrong here, let me know what games do it so I can update this article). But even if this carries over the streamed games, how is this different from Disney+ allowing you to pay $30 to add Mulan to your library?

I guess this is a "change my mind" post because I'm really failing to understand how Game Pass is any different from Netflix or Disney+ besides being newer.

On another note, Stadia is brought up as well, but I think Stadia is a different situation. Unlike Game Pass, Stadia makes you buy your own games and then only those games are available on your account. You get the occasional free game, but I think this is a very different business model, so it's not as clear as I think Game Pass is.