Why I left Squarespace

I’ve been blogging since 2008 across several different platforms and here in 2017 I’m back where I started – WordPress.

For about 5 years I’ve been a satisfied Squarespace user but over the last few months they have not catered for my needs so decided to leave.

Here’s why I left Squarespace

  • Lack of attention on iOS apps; slow to update to the latest technologies of the latest iOS version and hardware (such as new screen resolutions)
  • They cater to photography; a very heavy focus on promoting and providing templates to photographers, it’s not a blogging friendly platform
  • Integration; more integration options on WordPress thanks to the development community
  • Polished iOS blogging experience on WordPress ; I prefer using the app than the site

So as a blogger focusing on text rather than images and is also iOS first I feel that Squarespace is leaving me behind. WordPress fulfils all of my iOS and template needs as a text based blogger.

Biggest letdowns of 2017

I’ve shared my favourite things so here are my biggest letdowns.

  • Star Wars Battlefront II : I don’t think I need to highlight the loot crate situation that highlighted EA’s greed to everyone. Yes, this was a big reason but also the first person mode in game felt broken. Confusing customisation and weird UX just made it feel like a rushed game with no love gone into it. I’m glad the community stood up together against EA and although in game purchases are turned off for now it’s still a poorer game than the first Battlefront (which I’m still playing and having fun with).
  • Formula 1 2017 : I love my F1 games and I had high hopes coming off the 2016 version. Well the 2017 version reuses most of the assets and ultimately feels like the same game. The physics and driving still feels good but the graphics just don’t come near to the competition. People looks strange and the constant screen tearing reminds me of a 10 year old game. I’ll pick up when it’s £10, that’s all it’s worth.
  • Sony 4K HDR TV : This was a pricey TV that suffered from lack of support from Sony to keep Android optimised and up to date. Everything felt slow, confusing and too many steps to do anything. The picture was ok but the OS just meant for a bad experience.
  • iOS 11 : So many little niggles for me from a UX and UI perspective. Bugs everywhere and even on an iPhone X it feels sluggish at times. It’s been a bad year for Apple in software and I’m hoping all of the lessons taken from 2017 will improve things in 2018.
  • VW Golf GTE : I wanted to love my new car but now I’m a few months in I really don’t like the VW hybrid implementation. I’m finding that for local miles it’s great, if I have a charge I’ll be good on electric. Unfortunately my job requires doing a lot of motorway driving, this isn’t good for a hybrid. Even with a full battery (around 20 miles) I’m getting 40MPG. On a low battery it can be as low as 25MPG on a long run (200 miles). I really want to love hybrid but for me based on the VW experience I’ll be going all electric with a Tesla Model 3 or petrol for my next car.
  • Sonos Play 1 : Sounds good but for me the implementation ruins the experience. The app is slow to respond and when using Apple Music it gets bogged down if you have a lot of music. Streaming is pretty solid in terms of play time after hitting play within the app and drop outs however. I’ll be looking at selling and getting a HomePod as soon as I can.

Here are my letdowns, what are some of yours?

My favourite things of 2017

Thought I’d share some of my favourite things from 2017. No particular categories just anything that gave me some joy this year.

  • Thor Ragnarok : Up there with The Last Jedi as my favourite film of the year and along with Guardians of the Galaxy one of my favourite Marvel films so far.
  • Star Wars, The Last Jedi : Very polarising film based on public opinion but on second watching it cemented it as one of my favourite Star Wars films. It plays with some of the rules of the universe, has lots of shocking moments and takes old characters in interesting new ways.
  • Stranger Things Season 2 : One of the most original, compelling and well acted TV series of the last 10 years in my opinion. Season 1 was amazing, season 2 took up it up a notch.
  • Nintendo Switch : My gadget of the year, goes everywhere with me. Bought on day 1 of release and played almost every day since. Just wish the older games were out so that I could relive the NES and SNES days.
  • Zelda Breath of the Wild : What can I say, not been this drawn into a game like this since the original uncharted. It feels like being inside something like middle earth and I think I put almost 100 hours into it. I don’t think I’ve ever been this obsessed with a game in my life.
  • GT Sport : Always been a fan of Gran Turismo since the original PlayStation. This new 4K HDR version feels like I’ve come back home. Loads of cars, loads of single player challenges and a cracking online option.
  • Lego BB-8 : Hands down my favourite bit of Lego I’ve done all year and a must for any Star Wars fan.
  • Sphero R2-D2 : If you can pick this up for under £100 then it’s a must, again if you are a Star Wars fan.
  • iPad Pro 10.5″ : Apple have made some good hardware this year but my pick has to be the new iPad Pro. Paired with the Smart Keyboard cover and Pencil it is easily my favourite “computer ” Apple has ever made. As with my Nintendo Switch it goes everywhere with me.
  • LG B7 OLED : Dropping our Sony with Android and grabbing this webOS enabled LG is one of the best decisions I’ve made all year. The quality of OLED blows me away every time I watch it and HDR adds a 3D quality you have to see rather than me try to describe.
  • Apple AirPods: I know they technically didn’t come out this year but that’s when I’ve been using them. Easy to set up, use across devices and design to easily make them my favourite headphones of all time. I still think they look a little funny but I’ll take it over wires dangling and getting caught on things.

So here’s some of my favourite things this year, what are some of yours?

Do I still trust Apple?

There’s been a lot said in the press and on social media after Apple admitted they slow down hardware with less than optimal batteries.

It’s now resulted in them publicly apologising and reducing the cost of their battery replacement service.

I’m left thinking do I still trust them?

Well, in a nutshell yes.

They stated a while ago that they would be making changes in iOS to address random shutdowns and it would be mad for them to purposely slow down older hardware. A portion of the users slowed down would surely switch to Android.

They failed big time in their communications this time around and hope they learn a hard lesson. The perception that they slow down older hardware to make you buy new is going to haunt them for at least 5 years.

This on top of other software problems isn’t good reading for Apple in 2017. I’m hoping they put a lot of effort into their software in 2018.

I still trust Apple above any other technology company with my data and trust they are making the software decisions based on current hardware limitations.

LEGO BB-8 review

I tend to get a couple of Lego Star Wars kits a year, when I saw the BB-8 larger model it had to go on my wish list. Well I must have been good because Santa brought me one this year.

This kit is one of the more tricky I’ve done and requires a bit of forcing! The main body is held together by an elastic band until you get all of the sides on so be prepared for some swearing.

Assembly took about 4 hours at a relaxed pace and aside from the above it’s a pretty easy one.

I’d guess that anyone over the age of 10 will be ok with this but might need a hand with the centre section of the body.

Once assembled it had a moving head and lighter opening. You control these via either side, spinning the disc on each side will move the mechanism inside to make the magic happen.

This is the first Lego I’ve had with a display stand. It’s actually pretty great and comes with a mini fig you can put just in front of your full sized model.

So overall if you are any kind of Star Wars fan then this is a must buy. As a Lego collector it’s not a complicated build so best if you are a fan of BB-8.

IS PSVR (PLAYSTATION VR) WORTH BUYING?

I’ve owned the PSVR since launch and now we are over 9 months on I wanted to share my thoughts on whether it was a good purchase and if it’s worth investing in yourself.

Spoiler: it’s not worth the investment.

When it launched and for quite a few weeks afterwards I was loving playing job simulator and demoing it to visitors. I then started to notice very little being added to the catalog with VR support.

With the exception of Resident Evil there wasn’t anything worth buying. Loading the store and trying to find VR games got a little demoralising and now PSVR has dropped in importance on the front page.

This coupled with the feeling that no games makers are embracing the platform has me worrying for its future.

The only game on the horizon that makes me excited is Ace Combat but I’ll get motion sickness. I’ve found slower paced VR games sit better with me .

I’m left with a device that’s sole purpose is to play job simulator.

Sony haven’t invested the time and money it takes to get game developers on board and take it seriously. Unfortunately like a lot of Sony projects I feel this is destined for the scrap heap.

Ambitious and a groundbreaking price for the technology but I feel strongly that it’s not living up to it’s promise and one to avoid.

I may look back on this post with embarrassment in a few years but I’m confident in saying VR just isn’t mainstream enough.

CAN AN IPAD HELP WITH RSI?

I’ve been typing on keyboards for as long as I can remember (ZX Spectrum was my first computer if you are interested!) and it’s all catching up on me as I get older. I have experienced shoulder, hand and wrist pain over the years of working on a computer for 8 hours a day and wanted to share how the iPad has been helping me to manage this.

If you have been following me for a while you will know that I am a big advocate of using an iPad to get your work done and with the incoming iOS 11 update it’s an even more important time to start to look at if you can alter your work habits.

I’ve found using an iPad Pro as my daily machine for writing and as a supplement to my 9-5 machine to really improve how I use a computer and thus having a positive impact on my RSI issues.

THE 9-5

In my day job I am at a standard Dell laptop but supplementing this with my iPad has made a difference to how I’m sat and my posture throughout the day. I use my iPad for all my notes and sketches in the day (I’m in meetings at least 2 hours a day). Using the iPad encourages me to change my position, allows me to stand up and walk around and change my hand position.

WRITING

90% of what I do on this site is produced on the iPad and Apple Pencil. Using this combination allows me to change my sitting position, use the on screen keyboard, the smart keyboard cover and the pencil for navigation – basically it gives me loads of flexibility.

I also find that I enjoy using the pencil for navigation as a way to take a break from typing and walking around with it allows me to give my shoulders a rest.

SO DOES IT ACTUALLY HELP?

Unscientifically for me – yes.

I find that the iPad forces me to change my position and with the pencil on hand to navigate with it gives my wrists a much needed rest. It’s important to point out that regular rests (every 30 mins or so), even if it’s just standing and sitting again is important anyway and having an iPad on hand to use especially in the day job forces me to break my laptop typing and use something else.

Get up, walk around with the iPad and make the most of this amazing technology we have at our fingertips.

Sphero R2-D2: Initial impressions

I’ve had about 2 hours with the Sphero R2-D2 so wanted to share a few of my thoughts on using it so far. (For context I already own the Sphero BB-8 and am using on iOS).

  • The box is beautifully made and the unboxing experience is a step up from BB-8
  • Couldn’t see any instructions in my box
  • Comes with micro USB to charge
  • Has a charge indicator on the droid, this is great
  • Having sounds coming from Artoo is great, BB-8 doesn’t
  • On board LED lights are great and he looks just like the movies
  • Easier to control than BB-8
  • More predefined actions at the tap of a single button

In short, I love this new Sphero. It’s a must for any Star Wars fan if you can get it under £100.