Should you pay for Apple Arcade?

I’ve been playing around with Apple Arcade for another month after being given a free 3 month trail and unfortunately for me my thoughts haven’t changed since I used it at launch – it’s just not worth £4.99 a month.

We have fun with a few games

  • Cricket through the ages
  • Sneaky Sasquatch
  • What the golf

But after not using it for a long time and coming back I’m disappointed at the lack of new or engaging titles that would warrant my £4.99, especially at the moment.

I know Apple Arcade isn’t competing against something like Xbox games pass technically but at only an extra £3 a month it’s no competition.

I’m struggling to figure out where Arcade sits. All the casual gamers I know wouldn’t pay for a service, they prefer free to play that are already on the App Store. All the others that play games get them individually on console or pay for Xbox Game Pass.

So my verdict is that you still shouldn’t pay for Apple Arcade, if you’re getting it effectively for free as part of the One bundle then it doesn’t hurt to try a few games but as a dedicated £4.99 a month, no.

Using the 12” MacBook in 2021

The 12″ MacBook is my main computing device now and I wanted to share my thoughts on using it as part of my daily work flow. You can pick them up pretty reasonably used now and I think they are worth considering if you’re after a more affordable Mac.

First off my MacBook is an early 2016 base model with 8GB ram and 256GB SSD. It was bought refurbished from Apple back then and from a hardware perspective I’ve had no issues. I did have a tab key that stuck down a couple of times years ago but it sorted itself out and I’ve had no issues with the keyboard at all. The trackpad is the same, no issues. After all this time the battery still lasts me a long time and I only have to charge every couple of days. The screen quality is great and the resolution is fantastic. Very occasionally the one port annoys me but it’s not something that would drive me to upgrade.

From a performance perspective on macOS Catalina I was starting to think about an upgrade as it was slowing down a lot but after an upgrade to Big Sur it became completely useable again and the responsiveness went up. Even with my base spec macOS runs great and aside from the occasional stutter in Safari I have no issues.

It’s important to understand your use case though as this will determine what you can do on it. Mine is

  • Zoom meetings
  • Job searching: heavy pages use and web searching
  • GarageBand recording: plugging in my guitar and recording some music
  • Mail, messages and productivity apps

I don’t do any video editing so that’s one thing to call out. If you’re going to do video and want a 12″ MacBook then make sure you get one with 16GB ram. 8GB can do it but it’s pretty slow on the export and don’t even think about anything higher than 1080p.

I do think though that this MacBook shows that whilst Mac’s are more expensive initially they outlast a PC of similar age, certainly in my experience anyway. You won’t game or do any mega video production but if you’re looking for a small and light laptop that does the job then you can’t go wrong with the MacBook.

On that butterfly keyboard: I know some will be wary of the keyboard but I’ve actually grown to love it. It’s flat but I actually quite like typing on it but I appreciate that there are well documented issues. I haven’t had any but if you’re worried then ask the seller if they have been through Apple service and also check if it’s still covered under warranty. I’m pretty sure Apple extended it for this particular keyboard but cover yourself off so you don’t have to spend a fortune on a new keyboard at some point.

The best left handed kids electric guitar

I’ve played guitar for as long as I can remember but recently found myself scouring the internet to find the best left handed kids guitar for a family member. This proved to be harder than I thought. First off there is a premium for any left handed guitar let alone one selling in small numbers like a 3/4 sized kids one so having a budget is important _ would say don’t spend more than £100 on one.

I wanted something that was great value for money, a good setup out of the box and something that could take a bit of a beating (headstocks are the most likely bit to get a hammering on walls and doors).

After a lot of searching I settled on the LA by Gear4music.

The day after this order it came in the post and I was surprised that aside from a tune up it played well out of the box, action a little high and strings a little higher gauge than I thought a kid would like but on the whole great. Certainly above what I was expecting at this price, I’m not sure if Gear4music set them up beforehand or it’s straight from the factory but either way I’m happy with the one that we got.

I was also surprised at the quality of the fit and finish (I’ve included some pics below) but there were no dents or scratches on the body, the controls all worked fine (albeit a little stiff), the frets where very well dressed and not sharp at all (a big plus on a guitar at this price) and the only things to point out was a little bit of damage on the front face of the headstock (see the images below) and the input jack is a little noisy when the cable is moved.

I have to say that I’m blown away buy these guitars for the money and will do my best to review some of the full sized models. If you’re looking for a kids electric guitar and don’t want to break the bank or struggle getting one that’s in stock then you really can’t go wrong with one of these.

Note: I have included the Amazon Affiliate link in this post, if you purchase one it will help support the site and further review items (thanks!).

Is there too much friction to creating a newsletter?

I’ve been dabbling with newsletters for years but I always find there’s too much friction for me to stick to it. I work across iOS and macOS and all the solutions seem to inherit the same issues

  • No native iOS app
  • They are web based creation and sending that don’t always work particularly well on iOS

It’s why I enjoy blogging, there’s an app on my Home Screen where I can write up a post (like this one) whenever an idea comes to mind.

I think until there’s a friction free way to share via a newsletter I’ll always be a blogger first and wonder why I’m doing a newsletter in the first place.

Unfortunately it seems newsletters have become a way to add something to a membership these days and whilst that may work for some it’s not something I want to do, I just don’t see the value in locking this kind of content behind a paywall.

So, I’m rambling a bit to say

  • There’s too much friction (for me) in creating newsletters across platforms
  • I’m still undecided on if I’ll keep a newsletter going
  • I prefer blogging

One recent development I spotted on The Dent was the Hey email service looking at creating this friction free process and it might be the time that I jump in but for now I’ll put my newsletter on hold until I figure out why it’ll be of use, I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

My iPhone 11 Home Screen

I’ve paired things down a little lately and wanted to share my latest Home Screen, always enjoy these sorts of posts.

The main thing I’ve done is settle into Todoist and removed the calendar widget. I found that in these current times the calendar widget just wasn’t useful and a reminder of where things are. I decided just to have the Todoist one to show me what I had on my plate in a day.

I’m starting to play with Streaks and DayCount for habit (good and bad!) tracking again having fallen off the wagon.

Everything else is pretty standard for me. Reeder for RSS, no social media apps on my Home Screen, podcasts and music and I’m still using Apple Notes.

The wallpaper is great and can be found here.

STAR comes to Disney Plus

Today Disney Plus now includes STAR content and I’m pleased to see a load of stuff Ill enjoy catching up on.

My favourites include

  • Futurama
  • The Strain
  • The X-Files
  • Starship Troopers
  • Titan A.E.
  • Modern Family
  • Office Space

Parental controls all seem sensible to me but real world testing will show me if it’s effective or not. (Kids always find a way 😀).

How to move an item between lists in Microsoft To Do

I’m having a test of Microsoft To Do right now, it’s always good to see what other apps are offering if you’re into productivity apps.

The first thing that I thought was worth sharing was how to move an item between different lists.

If you want to move an item, swipe right on it and tap the red icon. You can then pick the list from the selection screen you see above.

Organising my email

I’m not sure if it’s because my day job now is locked in job seeking so I’m at the Mac a lot more but I decided to clear down my email. I just normally let them come in and delete very rarely. I decided with so many job search emails coming in and appointments or follow ups I needed to organise a bit. Flagging and searching isn’t stellar on iOS or macOS so I decided to create folders like job seeking and reference and moving my emails into the correct place.

They went back to 2010 but I’ve done it. Most were deleted via iOS, which offers a much quicker way via multiselect and bin. I must have removed 3000 emails and now I know where things are in their appropriate place.

I’ll just need to keep on top of what’s coming in and delete as I go.

Hush: Browse the web in a bit more peace

I noticed Daring Fireball linked to this open source Safari extension and after using it a little I have to say that it’s made my browsing of job related sites a lot happier experience without closing about 50 pop ups. This works with Safari on iOS and macOS and blocks pop ups, like newsletter and cookie prompts. Not the ads remember but speeds things up a lot and I’d recommend checking it out if you use Safari as your browser of choice.

You can check out the Hush site here.