March 05, 2015

Improbable Insights : Episode 1 : Commentary

Some additional comments about Improbable Insights Episode 1.

The first episode is good and I have empathy for actors starting a new television series. It takes a few episodes to become comfortable with a format, co-host, and topics. We've already recorded a few episodes, so I know the show gets more fluid. And I'll say some things I'm going to hear about from industry friends ;-)


I'm incredibly excited about the potential of Project Ara. While I love my iPhone 6+, I wonder about a mobile world where one dominant vendor ships a singular design language and feature set. I believe self-expression and varying the tool for the task have greater value than perhaps the modern, sealed mono-slab smartphone gives credit to. But unless Apple decides to make a change towards these values that other major phone manufacturers inevitably ape, Project Ara stands as a lone champion towards modularity?

I also really like and dislike Google's initial singular expression of Ara; a smartphone. Focus is absolutely critical when creating a new solution. So I laud Google's focus on smartphones as the single initial Ara expression. But I wish that I could see smaller, tighter implementations of the Ara vision. 2x2 endoskeletons would facilitate a whole range of new consumer devices that look the way we want and do only what we want them to do. Feature creep eliminated by lack of space ;-) These smaller endoskeletons will come, either through Google's expansion or third parties (?) if Ara gains momentum and we end up with many modules and no where else to put them?

Quoting Yoda, "No...there is another..." Check out Runcible. I've met these guys and love their insane and inspired vision. Their selection of Firefox OS might cloud over an exceedingly fresh take on form factor and function. I hope this becomes more than a bespoke product.

My everyday carry phone is an iPhone 6+, which I'm sure we'll talk about in an upcoming episode. I also infrequently use an HTC One (M7) Google Play edition so I can keep with with Android.


I'm still torn on the next-generation monitor decision. I like my new Dell 4K monitor, but use it as a Retina 1080p display attached to my MPB. Once you've experienced "retina" on the desktop everything before it looks like crap. My Dell's 30hz refresh rate stinks however, so I'm glad I got an amazing price on the monitor. It was truly an experiment.

The Tested guys recently looked at 21:9 and 4K monitors, and at the end of their discussion suggested going straight to 4K. I love and trust their opinion, but without a monster video card, can I really drive new games at 4K (yet?)? Seems like more discussion and research is in order before I make a transition. Though my trusty Dell 30" 2560x1600 tries to die on a regular basis, so my decision might be sooner rather than later.


Like Loyd, I'm done with Dragon Age: Inquisition multi-player. As we commented on in the podcast, this trend by game developers to make MP a massive grind with low value, random rewards stinks. While the Diablo loot system has had windows where it was overly giving, it typically felt balanced and rewarding as you level up. Both Destiny and DA:I seemed to have over-rotated to stingy and missed the mark. I hope other game developers are watching this carefully and don't mimic these developers.

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