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My Terribly Organised Life III:B – Technical Development

Code starts in a text editor. Your text editor might be a full IDE, custom built for your language, a vim window with more commands than you can remember, or an emacs with more metakeys than you have fingers. Nowadays, it might even be a window in a browser tab, but that’s always given me flashbacks to deploying software by pasting lines into textareas in Zope, but the lines I type are in a text editor, and currently that’s Sublime Text 3.

I used Eclipse, Netbeans and Aptana and variants on the Java-based juggernaut for years, but partly because my main development languages are PHP and Python, it never really worked that well for me. My primary development OS is OS X, on by beloved Macbook Air, but I don’t want that to matter at all. I use SublimeText because it has plugins to do most of the things I liked about IDEs (SublimeCodeIntel, some VCS plugins, and a small host of other things) and it works the same, and looks the same, across every OS I use day to day. I’ve got my prefs and package lists syncing via dropbox, even, so the plugins stay the same.

I work as a contractor for hire, most of the time, and I’m terminally addicted to new projects. So I’ve generally got upwards of a dozen different development projects active at any one time. Few of them use the same language/framework combination, and all of them need to be kept separate, and talk to each other only in the proscribed ways. Moore’s law has made that a lot easier with the advent of things like Virtualbox being able to run several things at once, but getting those all consistently setup and easy to control was always a bit of an arse. Vagrant is my dev-box wrangler of choice right now. It could do a lot more, but mostly I use it to get up and shut down development VMs as I need them, safe in the knowledge that I can reformat the environment with a single command, and – with most projects, after prep work I’ve already done – anyone can set up a fresh and working dev environment in a few minutes.

(In theory. In practice there’s always some “How up to date is your system” crap)

Plus, the command line history always looks like it’s instructions for some kind of evil gift-giving robot. Vagrant up! Vagrant Provision! Vagrant Reload! VAGRANT DESTROY!

It’s a year or so since I switched almost everything to vagrant environments, but it’s only in the last few months I’ve looked in more depth about using something other than shell-scripts to provision them. I don’t really want to run a separate server for it, I’m not working to that kind of scale, so Ansible is currently my provisioning system of choice.

Ansible technically breaks my rules on development environments being platform agnostic, since it’s fairly militantly anti-windows as a host platform, but with babun (which is a cygwin repackage, complete with a replacement for the awful cygwin interactive shell, zsh, and a full package manager. If you take away nothing else from this, never install cygwin again) it works fine.

I’m fairly lucky in that all my clients have standardized on git as their vcs of choice, as it’s my choice too. Tower absolutely shatters my platform independance rule, but it’s hands-down the best git GUI I’ve used, and its built in git-flow support makes a lot of things easier. In Windows I’m using Atlassian SourceTree for the same job, which does a passable job. I’d still not recommend a git gui unless you know how to drive the command line to some level, if only because the terminology gets weird, but at the same time I’ve really liked being able to work with cli-phobic front-end developers who could still commit directly to the repo and make changes without needing a dev to rebuild.

For that, and not much else, I’ll recommend the Github client (in both Windows and Mac forms). It’s the most easy to use git client out there, but it’s doing that by hiding a lot of complexity rather than only doing simple things. It will work with non-git repos, even, though it’s not terribly happy about the concept. Does have the massive advantage of being free, though.

For the full Rained On By The Cloud experience, current primary deploy stack for Skute backend involves pushes to Github branches automatically triggering CodeShip CI, which runs the test suite before deploying (assuming success, of course) to Heroku. Secondary stack is similar, but deploys with ansible to AWS (for Reasons. At some point in the future I’ll no doubt be doing deeper stuff on how I’ve built the backend for Skute). Leaning heavily on the cloud is, in IT as much as life, not entirely a good idea, but it’s a really good starting point, and redundancy is in place.

Heroku’s mostly been a good experience. We’ve run into some fun issues with their autodetection (They decided our flask-based frontend service should be deployed as node.js, because the asset build system had left a package.json in the root) but the nodes have been rock-solid. Anyway, I’ve drifted into specifics.

Other dev utilities I couldn’t live without? Putty, in windows, for all the normal reasons. Expandrive is a Windows/Mac util for mounting sftp services as logical drives (or, indeed, S3 buckets or a dozen other similar things). LiveReload automatically watches and recompiles CoffeeScript, SASS, LESS etc. when necessary, Sequel Pro is an OS X GUI for MySQL access… and Evernote, where go checklists and almost every other bit of writing that isn’t also code.

There’s probably more, but that’ll be another article now.

Computer Games

Pillars of Eternity: Gather party, venture forth

Group shot. Complete with little green circles, like your parents used to bake when you were little, or something
Group shot. Complete with little green circles, like your parents used to bake when you were little, or something

It wasn’t until about four hours in that I heard it first. The triggers for it aren’t the same as previous games, it’s more forgiving in that respect at least, but attempting to get out of an underground maze:

You must gather your party before venturing forth.

This is sixty hours of nostalgia trip, an old school CRPG ripped from last decade and presented at 1080p, from the zero-to-hero character arc to the micromanagement of fights to the little green circles on the ground, it’s the infinity engine reborn.

I’m a way in now, just having finished Act II, so while these aren’t thoughts on a completed game, I’m fairly sure they’re grounded, unless the rest of the game suddenly massively changes.

You can turn off the HUD for nicer screenshots, but you lose the targeting circles
You can turn off the HUD for nicer screenshots, but you lose the targeting circles

Combat is semi-turn-based, in the Final Fantasy style more than anything. Your character will do an action every N seconds, if you set what that should be, it does that, otherwise it’s an autoattack. There’s no AI, no script behaviors, if you want to cast a spell you need to do it yourself. Hit points are in two pools, endurance and health. Points come off endurance first, and then health later on, and endurance recharges between encounters, while health requires a Rest. This improves the D&D cycle of heavy fight, camp, while retaining danger. Zero health is maiming first, or straight to permadeath, depending on your difficulty settings.

They are difficulty settings, too. While there is the standard slider of easy to impossible, there are separate options for Iron Man delete-save permadeath, Expert Mode, how much you see in conversation trees (Do you want to know that there’s a [Perception 13] conversation route you didn’t quite make? Would your game be enhanced if you could see that taking this option will boost my reputation, while that one will decrease it?), the aforementioned maim-before-kill, and a few other options.

It’s not a game if you don’t like reading, either. While most of the characters – and all the party banter – are voiced, conversations with NPCs tend towards “key phrases” rather than full narration. The intro and explanatory set pieces get full voices, but the deeper routes – and roots – of the conversation tree are plain text. This makes sense, but does sometimes lead to voicework trailing off into silence before suddenly launching into a monologue several choices later. It’s an advancement on and an inspiration from the original games, but occasionally a disjointed one.

A screenshot of combat in Pillars
Six party members, plus pets for any or all, means combat-micromanagement can become a macro task.

It’s a brand new universe, too, and one that Oblivion are really keen to give you a grounding in. The whole game is filled with books, exposition and characters willing to educate you at great lengths on metaphysic and history. There’s loads of identifiable NPCs who you can click on for a 500 word vignettes on their past lives. It’s all entirely optional, but still occasionally overwhelming. There’s also a weird lack of time in all of it, possibly to avoid aging the characters. The universe is interesting and has a few fascinating basises, but is ultimately a very familiar fantasy universe. They could have made it much better by, for example, just not having elves or dwarves at all, or at least calling them something else.

Your party is made up of characters, in both senses of the word. There are more companions than you can have in your party at once, eventually. Some of them are more interesting than others, some give good banter but aren’t very useful in combat. One very useful innovation is that at any inn you can pick up a random adventurer – whose skills you specify exactly like on chargen – to come along with you and fill in any gaps your party has.

The aesthetics are nice, I suppose. There’s a certain chunky quality of the character models that works oddly with the beautifully hand-painted backgrounds. It’s honestly lovely to have a game not built out of familiar tilesets. The sound is so much like Baldur’s Gate that it could be from the original soundtrack and I couldn’t tell, but I wish there were more variations on the battle music.

The tone is a bit bleak, and beyond party banter there’s not a lot of humour in it. To discuss this more, I’m going to have to get into the story a bit, so if you’re avoiding spoilers completely, you probably should just skip the bit between screenshots. I’m not going to talk about anything that actually happens after the first half hour, but I am going to talk about general themes and possible triggers.

"It will take you 1 day, 24 hours, 30 minutes to complete your journey"
I think we’re going to differ on what a day is, game

The overarching theme of the game is The Soul, with a lot of science-vs-religion in there too. The big bad state-of-the-world problem is that babies are being born without souls at all, and this is being blamed on a) something big that happened a while ago and b) a class of magic-users who manipulate souls, and put souls into things, and such. There’s a lot of plot around ways they’ve tried to fix this problem – binding souls into bodies, putting animal souls in instead – but the main character’s Distinguishing Power is the ability to peer into the souls and past lives of people.

Because the main way this problem manifests is with soulless babies, there are major elements around killing babies, and a certain amount of dead-babies imagery in the game, and effect on mothers (and, indeed, fathers). It’s not roughly handled, as such, but it’s occasionally heavy. There are quite a few writers named in the credits, and while the lead writer and most of the “Additional Writing” credits are – from names – male (and I know that at least one of the “Additional Writing” credits wrote the scripts and character for two companions), the two overarching “Writer” credits are both female. It’s not balance, really, though I can’t tell from outside, but I’m both glad they didn’t dive directly into “the importance of motherhood” with a full white-male team, and kind of wishing there were more front-facing female voices in Oblivion. Certainly none of the main narratives in the kickstarter videos were. Anyway, I’ve strayed off my original point.

A loading screen
A loading screen! With a combat tutorial! Just like in the olden days! and also every other game.
For full disclosure: I kickstarted this project. $40 of the 4 million pounds it raised was mine.
For full disclosure: I kickstarted this project. $40 of the 4 million pounds it raised was mine.

Generally, though, it’s great. Like, consume my day great. If you liked Infinity games – even if you didn’t love them, or found the mechanics overwhelming – I can highly recommend it. It’s a kickstarter project I’m happy to have backed, and the first Kickstarter game that’s been everything I ever expected of it.

In fact, I stick by the brief review I posted a few hours in:

Did you like Baldur’s Gate style games? Don’t buy this. This will suck sixty hours of your life, and do you have sixty spare hours to spend on computer games? I didn’t think so. Don’t get this game. Your loved ones and dependants will thank you. It’s awesome.

There are niggles. While it’s hard to end up with “Trap” builds, where your party is functionally useless, it’s far too easy to get in over your head. Mobs and areas aren’t levelled, so your first clue that everything’s about to go arse over teakettle is often when the shorts are already arcing over the samovar. In fact, in the process of writing this review I managed to take a one-way trip five levels down the megadungeon under your stronghold – two features I’ve not even mentioned in the 1300 words above – and had to restart from my last manual save after it put me nose to nose with a small dragon. My last manual save was about two hours prior to completing Act II. That has, however, given me a chance to complete some quests that I didn’t realise were suddenly going to resolve as failed when Act II ended. We’re back to Infinite Engine basics again: Autosaves are good, but manual save often.

It’s also got a few other narrative annoyances, like NPCs who are perfectly reasonable though a complicated dialogue tree until they suddenly attack, meaning if you fail the fight (see unlevelled monsters, above) you’ve got to go though the tree again. Trying the same conversation with “You could have taken this option if you were higher level in $foo” options on tends to reveal that there’s nothing you can do, this is a funnel to a large fight, and all your talking cannot convince them. Sometimes you can, but when you can’t it seems very… computer gamey.

It’s still an outstanding example of its type. The third Baldur’s Gate I didn’t even realise I was missing, fifteen years since the last one. This is the new bar that Torment, the next Shadowrun and even Beamdog/Overhaul’s forthcoming licenced Baldur’s Gate 3 are going to have to clear.

And now, I’m going to go play some more of it. See you later.


Small Content Providers in the age of Facebook

We have been fucked by the federation and syndication of our content.

I miss comment threads, and I miss blogging. The age of transitory content, of content discovery, has happened, and it turns out that the winners are the content aggregators, and the losers are the content producers. Web 2.0, where the users take back the web, won, and the price of our winning was our names. Hurrah.

A step back.

Ten years ago, at the high-point of this site, there were debates in the comment threads. Now, when I post something it goes here, where some spambots will comment on it, it goes to Facebook, where some people might like or comment it, it goes to Tumblr where someone might reblog it, and it goes to twitter where someone might retweet it. All these interactions flow away from the blog.

Last week, I posted a stupid damn pun to Tumblr. It’s running at 49,000 “notes”, which is an accumulation of reposts and “like”s, which dwarfs my previous high point for interactions by more than quadruple (another stupid pun, last year). This is all very nice, and affirming, and such, but the net gain for my “personal brand”, for the tumbleblog itself, or any of my other things is close to zero. Out of those 40k, I’ve gained forty followers, most of which appear to be lurkers or spambots, and hardly any of which have reblogged or liked the post in question. Empty numbers, nearly fifty thousand people who pushed “reblog” on a thing they like, with no thought as to who posted it. (Tumblr communicates in tags, a lot of the time, and the number of tags of “I’m stealing this” “Where do these come from?” etc. indicates a lack of interest in authorship that I find less surprising than distressing). At one point someone removed the “via (my blog)” auto generated citation, and now that’s blown up too. The high point was when a screenshot of the original post, stripped of all attribution, started doing the local rounds of Facebook.

I also run a series of readings of The Secret World’s lore, which go up on Soundcloud. The first got featured on the front page of the game’s forums, and was briefly on the website, and in the twitter feed, and on the facebook page… It got me a couple of thousand listens, and a few dozen bits of feedback. Subsequent episodes get more positive feedback from fewer and fewer people, until eventually a dedicated request for feedback and suggestions – something I hate doing – for the last episode resulted in a single response. I’m not going to be doing much more of that, I think.

It’s nothing new, really. Content runs on feedback, a lot of the time, and the more there is out there to consume the less feedback you’ll be getting. I had the same problems posting sequential stories to usenet, the short-lived scifi soc anthology. Familiarity breeds acceptance, and response dwindles.

Facebook’s made it worse, though. The last regular content-drop thing I run is Idle Speculation, a satire of UK Fest Larp and community on Facebook. I’ve run experiments on regular posting, and timed posting, posting often, posting rarely. There’s no way to communicate with the people who have opted-in to Like your page reliably. I posted a new thing to IS today, and it’s done fairly well, but Facebook are offering to sell me the ability to “boost” my post, which will – by their own graphs – mean that another 50% of the people who have already expressed an interest in the page might see it. This is broken. I’m having to work to models designed for PepsiCo not to spam hundreds of thousands of people who clicked “Like”, instead of the barely 300 who would volentarily read Idle Speculation.

At least when I was posting to Livejournal people would see it within a day or two, when they next caught up. Facebook’s priority algorithms mean that the chances of everybody seeing my update, unless it involves whatever keywords are on fire today, are unpredictable.

Nothing I do has large community outreach. The maximum for the UK larp stuff is a few thousand, the outer reaches of TSW fandom (as opposed to merely players) is similar, and the most people I ever want to reach with a personal facebook article is 445. Even here, where the top regular readership never really hit over 200, I can’t reliably see anymore. Feedburner says 80 people subscribe, and click-throughs to my recent articles haven’t exceeded 5.

We’ve levelled the playing field, small content providers now get to fight with the same rules as PepsiCo, McDonalds and Nike, fight for the same places on the same incoming information feeds. All its cost us is our audience.

Apparently the best way to pick up an audience would be to get featured on Buzzfeed or something, but that doesn’t seem likely, and seems to result in a lot of people seeing your content, and nobody ever getting as far as the tiny credit link at the bottom.


Computer Games Gaming Larp Personal Work

WRP Week Six – As good at weekly as anything.

I used to do this kind of thing monthly in WRP format. It’s as good as any:


Skute’s in the wild, to some extent. Beta invitations have been sent out – the demons of the Play Store beta system are occasionally eating us – and the first few hundred tags are around. Speccing up bits for Phase Three of the backend system, and putting docs together.

Converted PiracyInc’s vagrant provisioning to Ansible as a test to see how easy that was. It was so easy I converted an app for my contracting gig, and today one of the Skute applications over (that already had ansible playbooks).

Again on a PiracyInc -> Skute path, used PiracyInc as an excuse to learn how celery (background task queuing thing) backs onto Flask, and then ported a couple of long tasks (uploads to S3, mostly) on Skute’s media server to it. Can probably extend this to some other tasks later on, but the speed boost on uploads is nice.

Need to work out how this would interface with the main API, which is on Heroku. Pretty sure using a remote redis as a queue store isn’t a great idea, though I’m sure it would work. I’ve got enough architecture problems with remote systems I can’t control or fix if they go wrong. Maybe I’m not thinking with my head in the Cloud enough. It’s possible that our time with Heroku is coming to the end of its lollypop, given we already have AWS servers to do the media stuff. I do love platform consolidation tasks, they make my dark heart glad.

More features & fixes up on Test, as well. Those will get migrated with the next android build…


Did the Empire Podcast with Mark and folks, which went really well. Massively glad I did that last weekend, and not next, as a series of blamestorms and internal bullshit has drained me of enthusiasm for the game entirely. This is probably linked to the cloud of rage and stress that’s currently hovering over me, but I did a toys-external rant this afternoon, and my attendance is now slightly shaky. That said, the toys-external rant appears to have actually made stuff happen.

One of the massive problems with doing freelance work and working from home is that my division line between working and not-working is flakey, which is adding to my current feelings of stress. I kind of need to decompress for a week or so, but can’t really do that until a couple of near-future milestones pass. So I’m becoming increasingly short tempered and unwilling to give any leeway to people fucking about, even when it doesn’t actually matter.

Other projects? There’s a long post on small-time media creators in the age of Facebook that I need to finish soon, but the short version is that everything else I do is trapped in a cycle of falling interest, because even the people who are engaged with the premise don’t get most of the things I produce for it.


I’ve booked for two larps, in a desperate attempt to play more than zero this year (Last year I managed one, which promptly collapsed).

More technologically, The new episodes of Dreamfall & Borderlands’s episodic things came out last week, and I drove through them with wild abandon. It’s interesting that Telltale’s hundred episode history hasn’t quite solved the narrative issues of a second part to a longer story, but to be fair Red Thread hasn’t magically done so either. Both felt like a small and not very important internal arc primarily to cause more questions and dominos to be set up for the main story.

MMO-wise, I’ve wandered back into Elder Scrolls Online to finish up the last area. Nobody I know seems to be playing it anymore – apart from fyr, who’s using my account – and I’ve no idea where social hubs are to find a low-key guild to bounce around with, so mostly I’m playing it as a more restrictive and more narrative Elder Scrolls single player game, with occasional multi-gigabyte patch downloads that don’t seem to add anything. I’ve fallen out of The Secret World for a bit. The new player experience is a massive improvement, and I’d highly recommend the game for anyone interested in that kind of modern-world conspiracy setting, with tinges of Lovecraft around the edges (ping me a for a trial code), but my next stage will be Nightmare dungeons and scenarios, and I need a better build, which means grinding out AP. I’m looking forward to the new issue, and the new dungeon that comes with it.


Sir Terry Pratchett, 1948 – 2015

“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…”

― Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

I’m rarely out of words, but today’s one of those. It’s around 20 years since I wondered why everyone kept stealing these kids books from the school library where I worked. It was astounding, no matter how often we restocked, they were gone within a few days.

They weren’t gone, as it happens. Turns out there’s no appreciable difference between books that are taken out as soon as they come back in, and books that never get returned. However, there was my empty shelf in Fiction, P-Z, where books should be but weren’t. One day, I found Eric had been filed under Kirby instead of Pratchett, thus lasted long enough for me to book.

Shortly afterwards I bought Mort, and then every other book in a scatter-shot order that was based partly on characters and partly on the fact that if Sourcery was £3.99 and Moving Pictures was £4.99 I was going to either get a book this week or after my pocket money came in. Such are the economics of early years (and, indeed, later ones).

In 1995 I bought the Discworld Companion in paperback, which contained a lot of things I already knew, several things I didn’t, and a blurb at the back about some fanatics who lived on a Usenet group called This was shortly after we got Compuserve, and thus the internet, and a long time before such things as always-on connections and free ISPs. I learnt how to get on the internet, how to find AFP, how to cope with 600+ messages a day, and how to post. Then I posted. Then Terry Pratchett replied to it, and then I ran THE FUCK AWAY FROM THE SCARY THING.

I spent a while in the quieter backwaters of Eddings fandom until returning to AFP as well, and spent several years pouring words by the hundreds of thousands into opinions, arguments, bricktext, filks and short stories on the group. I joined the IRC channel, I went to the gatherings. There is fairly literally no part of the life I lead today that isn’t in some way descended from being part of Pratchett Fandom since before I could legally smoke. Jobs, houses, friends and relationships are all tied up with people I’ve met and talked bullshit with, all tied together in the name of all liking Terry.

A story he told: Before he was a novelist, he worked for the nuclear power industry as a PR man. In the wake of the 1979 nuclear incident, he was in a restaurant and he ordered a salad. When they asked which dressing, he replied, distracted, Three Mile Island. A short while later they bought him a salad, a serving of thousand island dressing, and with careful reverence, a bottle of tabasco sauce.

And he was *nice*. I mean, he was angry occasionally, and had all the wariness of anyone given a large group of strangers who all want you to know how much they like you (I’d imagine), but he maintained a level of respect and humour in the face of a thousand fans that will remain my model for grace under fire for a while.

(CW: Alzheimers, assisted death, suicide)

When he announced “The Embuggerence”, there was an element of the unfair to it. The vacuum of an uncaring universe briefly found enough irony within it to condem such an amazing thinker to such an ignoble fate. But he fought. He fought equally by drawing attention to the Alzheimers research that was so poorly funded, and to the assisted death laws he hoped he wouldn’t need.

I’ve no idea if he chose his own exit. It’s something he would do, and the description of his peaceful death supports the plans he made. While I can’t understand, I think I can sympathise. I find assisted death to be tricky as a moral standpoint, because I know too many people who would not be enjoying their life now if it was an option for them before. But I feel that for people like Terry, and his position, it should be… possible, I think.

(/end CW)

I don’t have enough words to describe how much of an impact he had on my life. To say that he will be missed is to describe the sea as more than a mouthful.

And I liked his books, too.


Watch the next step

New Apple announcement looks interesting. Handily, the new Macbook will been in second revision about the same time I’m looking to upgrade my work MBA, I’m impressed they got a high-res display into a fanless thiner-than-air case without too much of a hit on battery life.

Less impressed with the loss of Magsafe as a feature, though the one-port expansion will make plugging in to add power, extra monitor/s and everything all at once a bit nicer. I’m curious as to whether they’ll switch to USB-C for iPhone/iPad so soon after the Lightning transition. They’d take a PR hit on forced upgrades, but seeming as tech media appear to be reacting like someone’s set fire to the sky already, it might not make a difference.

And the Watch.

The reaction to the watch has fallen into three camps. Camp one: “That’s roughly what I thought. Cool.”. Camp two: “Why the hell would I buy a watch?”. Camp three: “Apple forces everyone to buy a $10,000 gadget that will explode in exactly one year”.

Camp One: Way to keep your cool. Proud of you.

Camp Two:

I don’t have an Apple Watch. I might – it depends on several things, including budget stuff – but what I do have is an original, Kickstarter funded, wlack & white e-Paper pebble, which I’ve written about before.

I’ve been using a smart watch, then, for a couple of years. Reading that article again, I am amused, partly that I thought that the interest in Apple Watch was reaching fever-pitch then, and mostly that my issues remain mostly intact.

The thing it mostly replaces are the day to day references to my phone. Who is calling me? What was that notification? Set a timer for five minutes. What song is this? Next track, previous track, volume controls (since my current headphones don’t have them).

More recently it’s also replaced my fitbit as an activity and sleep tracker.

There are pluses and minuses. The ability to see my notifications without looking at my phone has made me more likely to see and react to notifications, which is good and bad. The looking at my wrist makes people think I’m in a hurry or too busy to talk to them (or being desperately rude), and it’s not done by inability to disconnect many favours. On the other hand, the ability to see my current GPS route on my watch has been great, and Runkeeper’s status output to it has been handy too.

The being able to see who’s phoning is great, and access to SMS messages on the go – even without the ability to reply, on the Pebble – has been handy too.

Those are the Smartwatch features, generally, and they’re the things I expect to carry over from the Pebble to the Apple Watch.

It’s not been a life-changer, but as someone who tends to wear watches anyway (I never liked pulling out my phone to check the time), but I don’t regret my purchase.

On a more specific comparison, the battery in the Pebble lasts about six days, depending on the animatedness of the watchface you’re using. The battery on an Apple Watch is predicted at 18 hours, which means daily charge. Daily charge would be irritating, I think, but in a world where I have to do that with my phone anyway, not life-defining.

The first thing the Pebble misses that the Apple Watch provides is two way communication. In general, save acknowledging notifications and music state changes, pebble communication on iPhone is one way. This is mostly Apple’s fault, rather than Pebble’s. The Android support allows for more advanced notification responses, but iOS doesn’t have the hooks for that kind of response over bluetooth, at least not yet. It’s possible that with initiatives like carplay, and the Watch itself, that work over bluetooth, new capabilities may emerge, but holding your breath waiting for Apple to open up that kind of integration isn’t a life-saving mechanic.

The other thing is… and this is where I move from mostly-detached analysis to Apple eco-system member… design and whole-ness. The Apple Watch is still a bit chunky for a fashion item, but it’s ahead of the rest of the smart watch market by quite a way. The magnetic charger and basic design are directly comparable to the same things for the Pebble Steel, but have an elegance that is the difference between Apple’s design aesthetic and that of others. Pebble’s done a fantasic job, but against a company who hold both sides of the development API, and can dictate their will at every stage of the supply chain (They formulated a custom metal alloy for the bands, for starters. I didn’t expect to see metalurgy porn in an Apple presentation), they’re going to pale slightly.

That said, I’ve tried the Samsung Gears, and I’ve seen the Motrola and Sony attempts, and if I was a part of the Android Ecosystem to any personal degree, I wouldn’t hesitate to keep upgrading my Pebble.

Camp Three:

Don’t buy an apple watch.

It’s the same insides at £299 as it is at £12,000. I know one person in the universe who might buy an Edition, and I expect him not to at least until version two.

There was a similar thing around the time of the Cereal Cafe opening on Brick Lane, where you could buy cereal for £3/bowl, when you can buy two packets of cereal for that!!! This the other end of the street where you can pay £25 for a fuck-awful curry which you could pick the ingredients up for in the shop down the road for around£5.

It’s very nearly the same as the Daily Mail whining about people who save up their low incomes to buy a nice new TV.

Buy things you like, if if you don’t: Don’t buy an apple watch.