Apple TV+ MIA

During the COVID-19 lockdown so far, a time when streaming services and their shows are the talk of the town, there’s one streaming video service I am hearing nothing about.

Apple TV+ was launched late last year with a few original shows (and seemingly nothing else, no back catalog). I can barely remember what the new shows are. From memory: A space series, a time-period piece, an alternate timeline movie called “See.”, an Oprah series, and the morning TV talk show featuring Steve Carrell. The actor now being featured in a new Netflix series I saw an advertisement for.

I am a subscriber of Apple TV+. But I don’t watch it, I don’t use it, I couldn’t even tell you if Apple has cancelled it or not. Nobody is talking about it. There are no ads anywhere reminding me it even exists. When I had checked it out at first, there seemed to be nothing of interest to me on the service. Right now there’s nothing of interest to me on Disney+ either, after having finished The Mandalorean season, but at least I see Disney+ mentioned here and there either by friends, in business news, or even in the paid Apple/Tech newsletters I subscribe to.

Apple has a lot to do to catch up with Netflix in this space. So far, it’s not working for me.

Macs, move to ARM already

I think, hidden in my last two blog posts, was this undeclared conclusion:

At this point, there’s no reason for Apple to stick to Intel chips in Macs. Almost nothing of significance* runs on the latest MacOS anymore that can’t be recompiled by its developer to run on Apple A-chips (ARM) in an afternoon’s work.

So I guess it is high time that Apple switches from Intel to Apple chipsets. I, for one, will not be upgrading my 2016 MacBook Pro until that happens.

*To the existence of the Mac as its own platform separate from iPad or Windows PCs

Apple Arcade

As a quick follow-up to my last post, I’d like to point out that MacOS and iOS both have the new Apple Arcade subscription.

Apple Arcade doesn’t have any AAA titles. Blockbusters.

It’s not exciting. These subscriptions include a boatload of games, but nothing big and exciting. Nobody talks about these games. Imagine if Netflix had all the shows it did but none ever became popular and attracted people to the service for it.

For a computer system like the Mac, Apple Arcade doesn’t seem compelling. It looks and feels like you’re subscribing to be able to play a bunch of mini games.

This may be ‘OK’ for iOS devices… but not for the Mac. Not as a way to save the situation described in my previous post.

Mac vs. PC (gaming and VR)

Gaming on desktop computers is still important. My two sons love playing games on our desktop computers. They both started with MacOS. They both were using MacOS on iMacs.

But a year ago, one of them asked to install Windows. I bought a copy of Windows and we installed it. Because of games. He has never since loaded MacOS again. His next computer will be a Windows PC. His favorite game just recently announced dropping support for the Mac. Now I can’t play it (I love my MacBook Pro and my desktop setup with it, I have so far refused to dual boot Windows or get a second computer, a PC).

My other son also installed Windows on his iMac recently. But then wanted to switch to a laptop. We sold the iMac and bought an Alienware laptop. The MacBook Pro was completely and utterly wrong for this purpose. The 144hz display on the Alienware is amazing for games.

I don’t think these two will ever go back to MacOS the way things are.

The state of gaming on the Mac is dismal right now. Here are some facts. Some are old news, some are new:

  • Steam is a great game platform many people use. It supports the Mac.
  • Steam just today dropped VR support on MacOS.
  • With the latest MacOS, Catalina, many Steam games no longer work. Most of the games I bought for my Mac no longer work. Most likely this is the same reason new game software doesn’t support the Mac.
  • If Macs move to Apple chips, that’s not going to help at all. Nail in the coffin?
  • Overwatch by Blizzard, MTG Arena, and many other cool titles don’t work on MacOS.
  • The MacOS App Store doesn’t have what people want. Game developers just find it to be too much trouble, or the system access is too restricted, or the “deal” is just not good enough on the App Store. So the good stuff isn’t on MacOS.
  • Apple claims iMacs are great for VR. Steam just today dropped VR support on MacOS.
  • Macs don’t support things like greater than 60hz displays, even now.
  • There are at least 3 big MMORPG games that support Mac still, at least there’s that. World of Warcraft (Blizzard) has the money to convert their game to “Metal” (the API for using Mac/MacOS hardware graphics to get the most out of the machine) but who else has that kind of time and money? Apparently not many.

Apple may have been thinking they have so many iOS developers that can now make games for the Mac. But the gaming world does not revolve around iOS.

Apple doesn’t seem to be doing “whatever it takes” to make MacOS great for game developers to support. Perhaps this is “niche”, and they don’t care so much. Perhaps they think the iPad is the future of computers. I doubt that. But something’s wrong then.

It looks like, if I want to play “computer games” (not console, not iPhone), I will have to switch to using a Windows PC. My options are getting more limited every month, it seems.

Euphemisms and fake concepts

Four things today:

1) Government can’t “buy back” your weapons because they never sold them to you in the first place. Also, they won’t give you fair market value, so really, just say the truth, that government will basically be stealing gun owner’s property if they only give them pennies on the dollar. Have the guts to tell it like it is, since you’re going to take the weapons either way.

2) “Self-quarantine” is a euphemism, it’s “forced quarantine”.

3) There is no such thing as “crisis profiteering” or “price gouging during a period of emergency”, it is illogical. It is contradictory. I’ll debate this with you, but be prepared to be exposed as a closet communist!

4) The concept of money is NOT evil. However, the implementation of money that we are currently using IS evil, because it is an economically and socially destructive scheme. Yes, I’m talking about “fiat money”, the state-issued, debt-based, increasingly valueless money used as money because of government decree. The unlimited amount of inflation that fiat money is subject to is particularly evil.

…and for that much loved friend that rolls his eyes (hates!) when I use the word “evil”, because it seems like incendiary rhetoric, the definition is simple: “whatever harms or obstructs the causes for happiness in this life”.

Capitalism

Two travellers cross paths in the desert. There’s nobody else around. One, for some reason does not have any water, and clearly will not be able to reach civilization before dying from dehydration. The other has 2 jugs of water. One jug is all either one needs to reach civilization.

The thirsty traveller asks the other if he could give him a jug of water. The other says “I will not give one to you, but I’ll sell you one. Show me the contents of your purse so I can see how much money you have.” The other takes out his satchel and shows him he has 5 bars of pure gold, worth over 50000 jugs of water if traded in the nearest city. This is in actuality the thirsty traveller’s life savings. “Okay,” says the traveller with the water jugs, “I’ll trade you 1 jug of water for all your gold bars. Take it or leave it.”

The thirsty traveller thinks about it and gives the other his answer.

Question 1: If the thirsty man decides he does not want to make the trade for some reason (e.g. because “he is not going to be taken advantage of”, or “I don’t think water is worth that price, I worked hard for my money”) then isn’t he making the decision which he thinks will be the most beneficial to himself? (Same question if he decides to make the trade)

Question 2: Is the traveller with the water taking advantage of the thirsty traveller if he accepts this “ridiculous” trade? Or is it a “win-win” transaction?

Question 3: Is the thirsty traveller happy to have this opportunity to make this decision or better off not having ever crossed paths with the traveller with the jugs?

Question 4: If the thirsty traveller accepts and is happy with the trade (maybe thinking “better to be alive and poor than rich and dead”), and the traveller with the 2 remaining jugs is also happy (maybe thinking, “I guess water out here is worth that much!”), would you like a powerful third party to come and intervene in the name of whomever you think is the poor “loser” in this transaction and make it more “fair”?

Question 5: If the thirsty traveller refuses the trade and prefers to keep his money, and the traveller with the jugs says “suit yourself” (maybe thinking “I guess water out here isn’t worth that much”), should then a powerful third party come and intervene?

Question 6: What if the traveller with the jugs only had ONE jug, does this change your answer for question 2?

Question 7: What if there were two thirsty travellers and only the one that has the most money gets to buy the jug of water. Is there an injustice occurring because the poorer traveller will die but the richer traveller gets to live?

Question 8: What does it mean that the richer traveller had more money than the poor one? (Assume the richer one got the money legitimately)

By your answers to these questions, I think I would know what Capitalism means to you. Go ahead and send them to me at odi@kosmatos.com.

Happy 10th Birthday Bitcoin

Bitcoin is 10 years old today.

Hundreds of obituaries. Dozens of rage quitting economists. $Trillion+ transacted.

10 years of a decentralized uncensorable currency available to anyone, anywhere. Even if you don’t agree with the power it brings, you can no longer ignore it. It’s here to stay, and will change everything. Its impact will be huge.

Happy birthday Bitcoin, you red-pilling, hope-giving, savage son of a gun! You are one of the most important steps towards freedom that we’ve seen in the last 100 years.

The first Bitcoin block was mined on January 3rd, 2009.

[In your face Nouriel Roubini, Glenn Fleishman and @counternotions]
[Parts of this text lifted from tweets by @hodlonaut and @nvk]

33 reasons why holding bitcoin is better than holding gold

Here are 33 reasons why holding bitcoin is better than holding gold. I hold and have experimented with both in various ways, which helped me come up with this list.

By the way, holding bitcoin means being in possession or control of the private keys to your bitcoins, like when using certain bitcoin wallet apps, instead of keeping a bitcoin balance online at an exchange or in an online wallet. Holding gold means being in possession or control of it, not owning gold certificates or bonds. Same idea, except one is the digital equivalent to the other’s analog.

1.

If you store your gold at home or in your apartment, it can be stolen. You can also lose access to your home, and therefore your gold. Gold can melt in a fire. Bitcoin can’t. If you store your gold in a bank vault, you can also lose access to it for a variety of reasons.

2.

If you carry your gold coins or bars around, they can be lost or taken. You can get mugged. You may be the victim of civil asset forfeiture, or other illegal seizure. Your Bitcoin cannot be taken from your smartphone or encrypted paper wallet without your consent. Also, nobody can frisk you or search your car or bags and figure out you have Bitcoin on you.

3.

You can’t buy stuff online with your gold. Like furniture from Overstock, items or services on craigslist, computers from Dell, Microsoft, and hundreds if not thousands of other online services and stores.

4.

You can’t buy gold online and immediately receive it within moments. It must be shipped to you, insured, and you have to be there at the right moment to receive it. Nor can you upload your gold to liquidate it into cash.

5.

If you get sued for any reason, or divorced, or your assets are seized by a court or the state, whether rightfully or wrongfully, then your gold stash can be physically seized. Your bitcoin cannot be taken from you without your consent.

6.

The best “sound money” is the one you have with you! Not only is Bitcoin safe to carry around, but Bitcoin has no weight, so you are not disincentivized to carry it around. You won’t carry around gold bars or coins larger than a Maplegram for those reasons. If your gold is at home and you need to liquidate it for some reason, you have to go back home to get it, and that may not be a good option at all times.

7.

Carrying gold around is less useful than bitcoins, because there are comparatively far less businesses –and these days, people– that accept gold for payment than Bitcoin.

8.

You can’t cross borders with some of your gold stash without declaring it. You can’t even bring any worthy amount on an airplane.

9.

There’s no “app for that”. You can’t send your gold to somebody over the internet. You have to hire today’s equivalent to the Pony Express, such as UPS or FedEx, and then wait, and trust them with it. Or deliver it yourself. Slow, tedious, costly.

10.

You can’t safely trade your gold for cash in-person with someone you don’t know and trust. With Bitcoin, there are trustless ways to trade.

11.

Storing your gold securely at home requires an expensive safe and electronic surveillance. Security through obscurity is weak. Storing your bitcoin securely just requires you to memorize a PIN code or a passphrase. You can have better than Fort Knox security with your Bitcoin at no charge other than to make sure you have a good smartphone (a non-jailbroken iPhone 6 and up with latest iOS will do fine.) and follow some best practices.

12.

You can’t get a gold-backed credit or debit card and then decide to instantly load it up with some of your gold stash.

13.

You can’t buy and sell gold at ATMs across the world. You can only *buy* gold from a Vending machine. In Dubai.

14.

If government outlaws private possession of gold, as they did in the USA until 1975 (and could do it again, as other countries still do), forcing individuals to return gold in return for paper currency, the risks of discovering your gold stash (or being denounced) are far greater than if this happens with bitcoin.

15.

It’s hard to tell the purity of gold. You might own impure or even fake gold. It’s drop-dead easy to know if you have real bitcoins.

16.

You can’t convert Gold to Silver or to Platinum or other precious metals if those become more fashionable or have better growth prospects with the press of a button from your sofa. You can convert Bitcoin to other cryptocurrencies with the press of a button in your bitcoin wallet app.

17.

You can’t simultaneously store your gold in multiple locations. You can keep copies of your bitcoin private key in multiple locations.

18.

You can’t give partial control of your gold to other people. With Bitcoin, you can give private keys to your bitcoins to a certain number of people and have them controled only if 2, 3 or more of them accept to make a given transaction.

19.

You can’t lock-in your gold so it can’t be traded/sold until a certain time. You can with Bitcoin.

20.

You can’t check your gold balance (or know if it is still all there) whenever you want even, from anywhere. You can with bitcoin.

21.

You can’t accept gold donations securely without even being there to receive them or paying/trusting a 3rd party to collect and protect them for you. With bitcoin, you can. It can be as easy as having a bitcoin sticker with the bitcoin QR code to donate to on it.

22.

You can’t convert gold to a brainwallet and store it entirely in your mind. You could be naked and in solitary confinement and still control fortunes and therefore have the power to spend/trade it.

23.

Bitcoin is easily divisible into smaller units as needed. Gold, not so much. I have some nifty 1g Canadian Mint MapleGrams, they are pretty tiny, but still worth about $50 USD each. You can have $2.00 of bitcoin or whatever you need.

24.

Gold transactions can be reversed. Through violent coercion. Bitcoin transactions cannot.

25.

Bitcoin is more scarce. Total amount of gold is unknown, and in some ways unlimited. Total amount of bitcoin is known to all, and is limited. Scarcity helps maintain value.

26.

Gold mining/production rate (and therefore daily supply) is variable. Gold mines can be discovered. Therefore its scarcity is variable. Bitcoin production is a known and fixed quantity. Gold production may increase over time. Bitcoin production gets cut in half every 4 years. This directly affects supply and demand and therefore is a factor that causes bitcoin’s increase in value over time.

27.

You can’t mine gold from the comfort of your home, while doing other stuff. You can do this with bitcoin. Just buy a mining rig, plug it in and configure it, and you’ll be accumulating bitcoin.

28.

You can’t start your own precious metal or even mint your own coins or create a gold-backed currency of your own (see Liberty Dollar and e-Gold). You do all that with Bitcoin.

29.

Bitcoin is programmable (can support smart contracts, tokens, secure and automatic crowdfunding), gold is not.

30.

Bitcoin can and does significantly evolve. It gets new capabilities and features every year. Gold, far less, such as the introduction of thin, wallet-size gold wafers that can be separated into tiny rectangles for divisibility.

31.

Bitcoin can exist in virtual worlds below our level and move back and forth between the current layer (the real world) and the virtual layer (the level below), gold cannot.

32.

Bitcoin is still new, with a blue sky for potential value gain. Market cap is less than $100 billion. Gold has at least a $1 trillion market cap. Lots of room for bitcoin to grow. Gold, far less. It’s gold’s market cap to lose, and bitcoin’s to gain.

33.

Bitcoin transactions are time stamped, so proving you traded it is easy. Proving you paid in gold requires a trusted receipt, and the receipt can be cheated.

Bitcoin Poem for a June morning

Bitcoin
Dropping like a dot com stock
Made by a computer jock
Smarter than Mr. Spock
Boat’s leaving the dock
Shock

Sexier than your wife
Sharper than a knife
Heavier than gold
Underbought and oversold
Hold

Mount Neverest

In the late 1980s I wrote my first BBS game, a multi-player mountain climbing game. While rummaging through old files I found the player’s manual. Maybe someday I will redesign it into some kind of MMO. Posting the manual here so I don’t forget.

                                   /\^
  Player's Manual                ^/   \^
  Revision III           ^/\    /       \
  Sept. 8, 1990         /   \/\/   ^     \
                      ^/         ^        \ /\
                     /   ^                 \^\^\
                  ^^                 ^          \      By Odi Kosmatos
                ^/                               \^    [Sledge Hammer]
               /     M O U N T   N E V E R E S T   \
              /                                     \^
             /   ^     Version 7.50     ^             \
            ^   o       ^               o     ^        \
   /\      /   /\                      /|>        ^     \      /\^ 
/\/  \/\/\/   />                        /\               \/\/\/  \/\/\/\/\
 
 
Introduction:
-------------
 
Mount Neverest is a multi-player online game. This means that you play
this game against other people. You actually interact with them even though
they do not play at the same time. Rather, you take turns, playing from
day to day, trying to become the most powerful player. The object of the game is
to try to get to the top of Mount Neverest.

Once at the top, you will be in a very powerful position, with many spells
available to you. You will be like a "God" and will enjoy having special
control over the other players. But to get to the top, you will have to fight,
sabotage, confuse and crush other player(s). But do not think that being at
the top is being all-powerful. There is treachery within treachery in this
game and you might find yourself destroyed if you are not careful. Being 
careful, you will enjoy being powerful.

How to play:
------------

    When you first enter the game, you start off being relatively weak.
You have a few magic points, and a few life points, and your height is 0,
which means you are at the bottom of this 121,000ft-high mountain. Life
points are mainly how much physical strength you have left, and they are
a measure of how much you can climb. 1 life point means you can climb
up to 1 foot up. But climbing has its risks. Life points are also useful
for other things. You can do various "moves" with life points. Things such
as climbing, throwing ropes and rocks, searching for things, attacking
others physically and some other special things. The different moves you
can do (depending on your height) are listed to you in the game when
you type "HELP" (or "?").

    Magic points are  where the strategy comes in. The more magic points
you  have, the more powerful you are. With magic, you can use spells. When
you start the game, you know only one or two spells, one of them is called
CREATORIS. This lets you get more life, so you can climb. But as you get
higher and higher, when you type "HELP", you will find out that you know
more and more powerful spells, like fighting spells, power spells, and all
sorts of the most ingenious spells to confuse other players. So when you
start playing Mount Neverest, you will only be trying to climb up a bit
using the CLIMB move and the CREATORIS spell, until other possibilities
arise.

     At the writing of this player's manual, there were 34 different spells
you can cast when you are very high up. And about 16 different "moves".
The mysterious thing is that this player's manual does not tell you what
each spell can do! It is up to you to either 1) Try each spell and see what
it does, or 2) Pay the oracle and see if he gives you hints or 3) Try the
special "move" which explains each and every spell. (Again, this document
will not reveal which "move" that is.).

    In this game, there is a built-in E-Mail system. To send mail to another
player, you use the PIGEON spell, if you are high enough. And to read your
incoming mail, you use the READ MAIL "move". Spells take up magic, and
"moves" take up life.

    To make this game seem more realistic, or more like the others are
playing at the same time, your player has a "memory" which remembers any
special things that have happened to you since you last played. To see the
things that happened to you, use the READ MIND spell, if you have it.

    And remember, there is treachery within treachery within treachery!
 
Pitfalls:
---------

    Now, dont think things are going to be that easy, even if you are the
best player of them all! On the planet where Mount Neverest is, there is
a super-God called the Sky-Lord. He doesnt like to make things easy so each
player will have to pass 4 initiations by the time they get to the top!

    You will probably have to pass your 1st initiation by the time you
reach 50,000 feet high. (Good players, from the start, will reach that
height in about 4-8 days. Teamwork can help a lot, also). Be prepared
for your initiations and make sure you pay close attention and think
wisely! Examine the minute details during your initiation.

ELEMENTALS:
-----------

    To help you in your quest to the top, spells have been provided so
that you can summon various Elementals. These mystical creatures have
special powers, and when they are with you they can do various things
which will help you a lot. There are about 6 elementals. It is up to you
to find out what each one does and which one you need. It doesnt take
a relatively large amount of magic to summon one. But if someday you find
it is gone... Treachery should be the first thing to come to mind. Read
the journal, it helps a lot to find your ennemies.

AMULETS:
--------

    Many of you may not notice, but there are 4 amulets which can
be found in the game. (4 distinct  amulets of which  no two players  
can have one at  the same time) which will make  their holders very
powerful. A player may be given an Amulet from  the Sky-Lord all of 
a sudden when you enter the game. Or, you can resort to treachery.
Each one of the 4 amulets gives you a specific power which can either
be very helpful to you, or destructive to others. Good luck.

DRAGONS:
--------

    Beware of dragons! But if you do meet one, be prepared for a nice 
graphical picture of the dragon and of you. The pictures will change as
things get heated up in your confrontation. It is an enjoyable thing to
see, once. Dont expect to meet it in your first week of play, unless you
play really well.

MYSTIC DIAL:
------------

    Following the true spirit of this game, I will  only give the
slightest  of  hints, and let you  find out the rest. DON'T let the 
mystic dial reach 100%!

The daily journal and Score files:
----------------------------------

    This game automatically produces a daily journal for you to see what
the major events of the day, and yesterday were. The system operator
of your BBS should make it available for players to read.
 
    The scores file shows the ranks and power-levels of all the players,
and where you stand in the game. (If you play, that is.)

It's up to you:
---------------

    These instructions do not reveal  the spells  you will know when
you climb higher, its up to you to figure out what they do. That is the
true  spirit  of this  game. There are many  hidden things and  ways of 
being "all powerful" (in the eyes of your opponents) -- go and find them  

    So go ahead and play this wonderful game, you will definitely
have lots of fun when people start discovering the possibilities of this
game.

Have fun,
Odi Kosmatos

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please note that the sysop can chat with you when you are playing, so if
you have trouble with the game and the sysop notices, don't be surprised if
all of a sudden he/she drops into chat mode with you. (sysop presses F1)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Copyright 1989 Odi Kosmatos