Time to cancel Netflix?

Compound these pratfalls and shortcomings with another poorly timed price hike — it’s now over fifteen quid for the top tier membership — instated just as we’re starting to feel the fiscal bite of the cost of living crisis, and suddenly, murmurs of Netflix cancellation are getting louder. What doesn’t help the ‘flix argument is the sudden groundswell of quality content coming by way of its increasingly emboldened competitors: Apple TV+ has boasted a conveyor belt of strong series’ and films (including, to Netflix’s great dismay, their first Best Picture winner in CODA). Critics are increasingly arguing that Apple’s offer is now, in fact, the preeminent choice… More here.

Is it coincidence that I have been considering dropping Netflix? With Amazon Prime (postage as well etc), Disney+ and Apple TV+, Netflix is starting to look a bit dated and it is expensive by comparison.

Garmin Epix (gen 2) and a bunch of phantom steps

I thought this problem had gone away with the older Fitbit devices, but it appear to not be the case.

My wife and I were driving back from Norfolk today and I noticed something strange happening. When we left I only had 550 steps according to the Epix, but then I noticed a big change, an extra 441 steps.

I kept an eye on things and the following happened-

In the space of 42 minutes the Epix added 154 steps and so I ended up doing almost 500 steps without moving during the 2.5 hour journey, and I wasn’t even driving.

It is hard to understand how an £800 fitness watch cannot fix this- the GPS alone shows that I am travelling at 70 miles per hour, I am obviously not running, and so I would expect software to be able to solve this.

This has been going on for some time (see this Reddit thread from a year ago) and so I suspect that Garmin cannot fix the problem easily.

It may not be a big deal for many people, but what it does do is knock confidence in an expensive system. It should not be happening and I should not have to turn off activity tracking on the Epix every time I drive because the product is not clever enough to work this out.

What are NFTs? They are nothing

The above makes perfect sense to me. I am struggling to see NFTs as anything more than a fad.

Will this open a whole new market for decentralized collectibles? Will this cement the status-quo? Or could we see a stalemate with a fresh understanding that both can coexist and even complement one another as we traverse the next 50 years of innovation? More here.

Quite a gap between the real and the NFT in the above auction, which makes sense to those with sense. Thanks to Kirk for both links.

Mixed feelings about Peterson

I do have mixed feelings about Peterson. Some of his ideas are good, others are a kind of loathsome (and a few are based on pretty sketchy science) I did read that one book of his.

So, my main problem with the first part of this video is it is too confident in treating our selves as a unified thing; like it bifurcates the world into “the real you” and “these external ideas”, and doesn’t acknowledge that, like Jung pointed out, our selves are more of a committee. Like with that quote “people don’t have ideas, ideas have people” and the accompanying marionette – that’s an important part of meme theory, that concepts kind of have their own agenda and only ideas that are spreadable get spread, but they are then internalized. they are a part of us. They might not be in accordance with the aims of our “higher self” but to try to pretend they are external is a lie we might tell ourselves.

The second part… well like a lot of self-help advice and promise of incremental progress as the reward for persistence, I think it discounts the effort needed to prevent backsliding. Arguably that’s a nuance that’s kind of included in the rest of the plan he lays out, but i definitely think it’s worth dwelling on – or maybe I’m too aware of it? Like I have this unreasonable expectation for “real growth means the changes you make that take high levels of vigilance and effort gradually become more natural and require less energy”… and maybe that’s why I don’t think real growth and change happens all that much… Kirk

Kirk was responding to this article.

Are e-cigarettes safe?

The move to make e-cigarettes available on the NHS has largely been welcomed. Prof Alan Boobis, emeritus professor of toxicology at Imperial College London and chair of the UK Committee on Toxicity, said smokers could already buy e-cigarettes to try to quit. But he added: “Licensed vaping products will have to meet a defined standard set by the medicines regulator, the MHRA, and in return they will be available to clinicians to prescribe to their patients, which will be an important step forward.” More here.

I can only speak from my own experience. As an ex-smoker and someone who does vape the benefits have been huge for me. The expense alone is a massive benefit, but more than anything the move was made because of my health.

When I looked at the ingredients in e-cigarettes compared to real cigarettes there was no doubt in my mind that they would be better for me and to this day I remain convinced that for many people they likely represent the only way to move away from real cigarettes.

I loved smoking, I really did. For someone who drinks alcohol rarely and who has had no other addiction, cigarettes grabbed me and would not let go.

It still took time to give up and lots of willpower initially, but vaping was the bridge I needed. The fact that the bridge is still there, something I see in many other people who vape, is not ideal and so I still vape to this day. I guess that is better than smoking real cigarettes.

Offering the product through the NHS is no bad thing either. People who are highly obese can have surgery, those who have drug addiction can get products on subscription, alcoholics get lots of support so it makes sense to deal with this as well.

Sadly in the UK we have a strange view of acceptable drugs. Drinking alcohol is revered and often times applauded, but we have moved to a place where smokers are to be shunned away. That is not really a bad thing, but I am glad to see that the NHS is now stepping in.

As I said, I can only speak for myself, but I am convinced that without vaping I would still be smoking today…

The true ‘cost’ of electric vehicles?

The latest “Electric vehicles are scary!” study is out, and this one is a doozy. A new paper from the economic consulting firm Anderson Economic Group (AEG) does some novel things as it tries to comprehend the full spectrum of costs associated with making the shift away from a gas-powered vehicle to an EV.

For example, based on gas prices in Michigan, where AEG is based, the study says the “direct monetary cost to drive 100 miles in an internal-combustion (ICE) vehicle is between $8 and $12, and in an EV is between $12 and $15.” That sounds alarming, and the results show that no matter what, it costs more to refuel using electricity than gasoline… More here.

There is more to the above than meets the eye so click the link and read the whole article for a more unbiased view. I will try to find time to dig in to the motives and people behind the study.

One thing that bugs me about electric vehicles, however, is what will happen to the batteries when they can no longer be used.

Are they recyclable? Will certain wastes end up in landfill that could potentially hang around longer than most products and, perhaps most importantly, are we just pushing the problem of travel pollution back a decade or so?

Amazon 4-star. What is it designed to do?

Amazon has made a big thing of its new retail store in Bluewater and yesterday Jo and I got to visit it while we waited for Apple to repair an iPhone.

As we walked around, the store is not big so it didn’t take long, we were approached by a lady doing market research for Amazon.

Thirty minutes (!) later we had finished offering our thoughts on an experience which was so bland that I was left wondering what the reason for it is. She said that a lot of our feedback mirrored what she had heard from other people, but that we went quite a bit deeper.

Here are some of my thoughts-

  • The store is small and the range of products is limited. Amazon states that the products are curated and are 4 star and above items in terms of reviews. Surely no one believes most Amazon reviews any more?
  • The number of products per category was very small and as such it led me to instantly want to go online (to Amazon of course) and compare pricing. So, Amazon is competing with Amazon?
  • The interior of the store was really strange. It did not offer a retail experience in any way and looked positively low rent when compared to Apple and John Lewis. It also did not quite go the full factory outlet route and so ends up being a mishmash of, well, I’m not really sure. It is remarkably unemotional.
  • The only good part I could see were the pricing tickets that change price automatically, but which look like paper tickets. Sadly I only became aware of them when the lady asking us questions pointed them out.

I was left with one question- why?

Why is Amazon doing this retail experiment? Is it to give back to the retail sector? Unlikely. Is it to make more money through stores than online? Surely not? Is it branding and to increase awareness of services like Prime? Possibly.

No matter why it is happening I was left confused by the experience because to me Amazon wins by speed of delivery, reliability, pricing and online experience. None of that is enhanced by a retail store that offers nothing at all above any other retail store. Any ideas why you think Amazon is doing this?

It’s like we lost all the margin in our lives, and there’s no time to be creative and enjoy the ride.

I keep thinking about what you said about how our hobby is dead – it’s what everyone uses now and is no longer a hobby. It used to be fun. You didn’t have to be a pro, you just had to have interest and common sense to contribute to the community. You didn’t have to do things the way everyone else does it, so there was room for variety. It was fun. Now everything is so competitive and cookie cutter. Even work has become so ultra professional and efficient. People are all overworked and overstressed trying to compete and succeed. It’s like we lost all the margin in our lives, and there’s no time to be creative and enjoy the ride. I’ve become the older generation now. I now understand how the previous generation felt when I came in along with the computer generation – their way of life was dying and their value declined as the world changed and different skills were sought after. These days people just want action and accomplished tasks, whether they make sense or not. No wasted time, just do something! I have to admit younger people get a lot accomplished that way even if they miss the big picture. Everything moves so fast, they can be really wrong all the time, but adjust until they find answers… Bob R.

A brilliant thought sent in by Bob and it’s something I hadn’t thought of before in terms of tech. I have long thought about it in terms of work and what I witness; the obsession with stats, hitting targets and ‘being seen’ to do a good job or complete a task.

There does not seem to be time for creativity or for thinking of better ways to work, and if anything the negativity that comes back when trying to improve could easily put all but the most hardened off. It’s almost like the more time-saving tech we can use causes an inverse lack of time. Too many processes appear to be set in stone and the notion of having to stay in your lane is strong today.

Whether it is politics, work or even leisure time, we do seem to be suffering from a lack of margin in too many areas of our lives. I could write a lot about this, but may instead do a podcast episode to explore the subject further.

UPDATE: I ended up covering this in episode 81.