Google Stadia is Shutting Down

My thoughts when Stadia closed the doors on its first-party studio last February:

Google’s own studio didn’t even last two years.

Google hired former Head of Sony Santa Monica, Shannon Studstill, not even one year ago.

This is, unfortunately, not surprising. The clock is ticking for Stadia on the whole. Real glad I got a controller and Chromecast for free late last year. When Google is practically handing out hardware, you know the end is near.

Turns out the end was 19 months away.

[Stadia] hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service…

Players will continue to have access to their games library and play through January 18, 2023 so they can complete final play sessions. We expect to have the majority of refunds completed by mid-January, 2023.

Make sure to back-up those Stadia games!

Joking aside, I saw IO Interactive is trying to help their Stadia customers. Wonder what will come of it…

Interesting to see Jade Raymond fully with PlayStation now since Sony bought her studio Haven. Colin Moriarty and I discussed how Haven is playing into PlayStation’s development strategy. It sounds like that tech or the ideas behind it spawned from Stadia.

Ironic to see Jade at PlayStation and Shannon Studstill working at a blockchain company now.

Child Predators Use Amazon’s Twitch to Systematically Track Kids Who Stream – Cecilia D’Anastasio

Child Predators Use Amazon’s Twitch to Systematically Track Kids Who Stream by Cecilia D’Anastasio for Bloomberg

The reporting shows how alleged predators are able to target multiple children simultaneously using common grooming tactics. In late July, one Twitch voyeur entered the livestream of four different young users and asked them to perform acts including “spicy dares,” slang for requests that may be indecent or vulgar. One stream attracted 290 viewers. In that case, Twitch shut down the broadcast after 30 minutes. But others go unmoderated.

I remember back in 2008 when I would stream live on Stickam choppy 240p screen capture of emulators. I’ll never forget sitting in the dining room, streaming Mega Man Battle Network 3, when someone entered the chat. Very exciting to a 14-year-old trying to connect out on the Internet.

It didn’t take long for this individual to begin using explicit language to describe my body and what they wanted to do with me. They couldn’t even see me – just hear my voice. I felt fear and shame. I reported the account, told my parents, and never streamed on Stickam again.

Dunkey Launches Indie Game Publishing Company Bigmode

My Indie Game Publishing Company by videogamedunkey

Dunkey is branching out of YouTube and into video game publishing. His video is very hype—very Dunkey. He invokes indie titans like CelesteEnter the Gungeon, and Hollow Knight. There are plenty of games I’ve never heard of or seen.

I am a smidge surprised at the criticism of this venture in the just 12 or so hours since its announcement. I generally lean on a half-full perspective, but I’ve seen the devs, publishers, and press share a range of feedback. Takes from “I have opinions on games, so now I can publish the best” to “get lots of money upfront incase it fails.” All of these come off as valid criticisms to me, if leaning to the pessimist/realist perspective. That’s probably a safer approach in business.

Here’s what Dunkey’s company Bigmode is looking for:

Here’s what excites us in a game!
Fun
Substance
Originality
Passion & artistry
Devs with a clear, strong vision
Devs with deep gaming experience & understanding

Aren’t we all?

And here is what Bigmode is offering devs:

We believe quality & originality should be supported— Bigmode is a unique & powerful way for great indie games to stand out in a crowded space, and our publishing contracts are designed to be the most developer-friendly possible!
We can get involved at any stage from pitch to near-completion. We can also assist with any standard publishing needs you may have:
Funding
Development support
PR & community management
QA, porting & localization
Merchandising

To me, Bigmode comes off as dunkey’s Official Seal of Quality. His videos do have sway and power. I would think his financial backing would alleviate sides of development and publishing so that the devs can focus on making the game. It’s not just exposure. I am curious how it will all play out. I hope for the best for all involved.

No matter success or failure, the mascot is divine.

Chapter Select: Season 4, Episode 3 – Fast & Furious

Photo and design by Max Roberts

New episode. Original Hosts. It is 2009 and The Fast and the Furious franchise hits the reboot button and shoots for the action-packed stars. Max Roberts and Logan Moore take a trip to Mexico to figure out how the series went from street racers to superheroes.

Download (33MB)

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Fast & Furious

Rotten Tomatoes – 28% critic and 67% viewers


This episode was originally recorded on August 4, 2022.

@ChapterSelect

Max’s Twitter @MaxRoberts143

Logan’s Twitter @MooreMan12

Researcher, Editor, and Producer – Max Roberts

Hosted by Logan Moore & Max Roberts

Photo and Art designed by Max Roberts.

iPhone Xs Max Exit Review

“When we have a baby, you can buy a new phone.”

This was the deal struck between Abby and myself. I’ve been rocking the iPhone Xs Max since its launch on September 21, 2018.1 It was the first iPhone I bought outright and unlocked – no trade-ins, no payments.2 I rocked the Max in Space Gray with 256GB of storage for $1,549.36.

I was stoked. This was the exact phone I wanted. Gone was TouchID with FaceID taking its place. The OLED screen would give content those inky blacks. I finally entered the Max Club3 – part wanting a larger phone and part because Apple put my name in a product’s name. And we cannot forget the camera system with SmartHDR and my first foray with a telephoto lens on an iPhone. This may have been the first picture I took with the snazzy camera (very on brand), while I remember this being my first portrait mode picture. This was the best Apple had to offer and I was fortunate enough to buy it.


When we found out we were finally pregnant (and that she was sticking around) – after the obvious celebration – I remembered our deal. 2022 was upgrade year.

Going into this year’s iPhone 14 event, I was more amped than normal. Those events are always more exciting when you know you are going to buy on of the products right at launch. I think the last Apple event I felt like that was the iPhone Xs Max event.

Every year, major reviews discuss the year-over-year leaps (or for some years, hops) that Apple makes with their flagship device. This is the nature of the gig. These creators have to stay on the bleeding edge. iPhone reviews do huge numbers.4 The catch is, I think most folks don’t upgrade year over year.5 So zeroing in on the one year gap ignores the multi-year bound people make when going from say, an iPhone Xs Max to an iPhone 14 Pro Max…👀


The week before the iPhone event, ATP conducts exit interviews for the outgoing phones and watches. I thought I could do a similar thing for my iPhone Xs Max. Instead of an interview, I guess it’ll be a review because I am all by myself. Time to look back on the first Max phone before I get what could be the last.

Screen

I felt the same about the jump to OLED as I do about my impending jump to 120Hz; incredible technology I couldn’t wait to have in my life daily. Before my iPhone Xs Max, the only OLED device in my life was the PlayStation Vita.6

The color recreation and accuracy makes my nerdy heart sing. I get satisfaction knowing my blacks are black. One year after the Xs, iOS 13 entered the world with Dark Mode. I have been living the #DarkMode lifestyle ever since.

One major concern with OLED though is burn-in. Leave an image on an OLED screen too long and part of said image with leave pixel-seared branding behind. This can be avoided by not leaving the same image on a screen, use screen savers, etc. Gaming presents an issue, thanks to game HUDs.

Phones are different though. While the bulk of the screen does have dynamic content, the status indicators never move. And four years in, my iPhone Xs Max has faint burnt pixels in the upper righthand corner. I didn’t notice until a few months ago. I was swiping around and the indicators vanished during a transition and I caught sight of their ghostly remnants.

Has this impacted my use of the phone? Nope. I can’t see them unless I am trying, like loading up a white screen and forcing the indicators away. My cell reception, Wi-Fi, and battery never leave though. The only exception would be video. The marks are so faint and tucked in the corner next to the notch that I don’t even pay attention. It bugs me more knowing the burnt pixels are there than their actual existence.

I am concerned about the new Always-On Display for the iPhone 14 Pro though. Now the time, widgets, status indicators, and possibly more will always be on my screen, should I keep the feature turned on. I can’t help but wonder how this will impact the longevity of the screen and its pixels. How quickly will this brand the pixels? If it took me four years to notice burn-in on my Xs Max, how soon will I notice it on my 14 Pro Max?

Performance and iOS Support

The iPhone Xs launched alongside iOS 12, which feels like a lifetime ago in software. This was before Dark Mode, widgets, and Focus Modes. It was the year Workflow was transformed into Shortcuts and integrated on the system level. In the past six years, Shortcuts has become the baseline and future of automation, not just on the iPhone, but for the iPad, Watch, and Mac.

Based on Apple’s trends of software support, I should expect at least another two years of iOS for this phone. Their long-term support is wonderful to see. In these past four years, the iPhone experience has gone from refinement to personal innovation. Looking back at Federico Viticci’s iOS 12 review to his brand new iOS 16 review shows the drastic evolution. In some ways, my Xs Max is not the same phone I bought four years ago.

Performance wise, the A12 Bionic is starting to show its age. Spotlight is less responsive. There are hang ups happen on the daily. Snapping pictures in apps (i.e. tapping the camera icon in iMessage or Tweetbot) is so slow that it is painful. Comparing to the A16 Bionic, I’ll be gaining one GPU core and doubling the Neural Engine form 8 cores to 16 cores. It’d be an understatement to say I am eager for the responsiveness of a new phone.

I do think it is important to say though, that if we were not having a baby this year, I believe I could comfortably ride out my Xs Max for another year. I’m not at the point of frustration or the device being unusable. The phone has aged gracefully and enters retirement at the right time.

Battery Life

Another area of decline has been the battery life. This year has been the year where I went from “I can make it the whole day without charging” to “I need a mid-day charge.” I am a heavy user and have been the phones enter run. I’ve never been an auto-brightness person.7

Currently, my battery capacity is reported at 83%, while my battery peak performance capability is “supporting normal peak performance.” Say that five times fast.

Going from 83% to 100% along with all of the performance gains, battery size increases, and optimizations over the last four years, I am not sure I am actually prepared for the longevity. Could this be a two day phone at the start? I have no idea and I am giddy to find out.

Camera

When upgrading your phone, who isn’t amped for their new and improved camera? I was jazzed in 2018. I am jazzed in 2022. One trend I was not jazzed about in the intervening years was the removal of my beloved 2x telephoto lens. Then Apple blessed me with its pseudo-return thanks to the new 48MP sensor.

I spoke about this on The Max Frequency Podcast with Casey Liss this week, but the range of focal lengths on the iPhone 14 Pro line come off to me as useful and flexible. Having 0.5x, 1x, 2x, and 3x just makes practical sense. It reads like having a Swiss Army knife of camera lenses at my disposal at a moment’s notice.

The Xs Max has been my camera up until I bought a Canon 90D a couple years ago for work. I’ve been snapping thousands of pictures with this thing for years. Most of the time, they are silly shots. I haven’t been able to use my phone as the de facto group or event camera in years. I always urge the use of the latest and/or best camera present. I feel like my Xs Max aged more rapidly than other phone cameras though. The leaps in computational photography within the last three years has been astounding to observe from the outside—from Apple, Google, and Samsung. It’ll be nice to have a relevant camera in the group again and I hope it stays relevant for longer than my Xs Max did.

I do have to stick up for my tiny camera bump phone though. I feel like in the past couple years, there has been a revisionist history attack on the Xs line and its SmartHDR. People don’t seem to be fond of this era of iPhone photography.8 Back in 2018, it was hailed as a major upgrade to the iPhone X.

“This upgrade I think firmly puts it right up behind pixel 2 as the second best smartphone camera. It’s a real upgrade from the iPhone X and every other iPhone. Actually, a little more than I was expecting.” – MKBHD, Apple iPhone Xs Review: A (S)mall Step Up!


I can confidently say it’s a huge camera upgrade. There’s a lot of little improvements, but Smart HDR definitely takes the cake. This is a feature and technology that improves virtually everything you capture with your iPhone camera. I think you’ll be really thrilled when you experience the results yourself. – Austin Mann in iPhone Xs Camera Review: Zanzibar

Not everyone was hot on the SmartHDR back then though.

This is as good as I want HDR to be. Like some of these photos border on too unrealistic. – Stephen Hackett on Connected 211: That’s Enough to Shrink Some Jeans

The only explanation I can think of would be those leaps and bounds in computation photography in the last four years.9 The quality and versatility has grown exponentially since the Xs launch that looking back has sparked disdain for the camera. I can’t speak to that now – I’ve been in the Xs Max camera trenches for years. I wonder how I will feel about this era of my personal photography when looking back.

Upgrading before the baby was the reason for buying my new phone. I wanted the pictures from this time in her life to be the best they could possibly be. Whether that is from my iPhone or my big camera, I’m doing my darnedest to make sure they are the best the can be. I wonder what I’ll think of these new pictures when I look back on them in so many years.

Leather Case

Being my first big boy iPhone purchase, I decided I wanted a mature case. I, of course, opted for the Apple Leather Case. The case has rarely left my phone and has aged quite well, as one would expect leather to over the years—in the Florida heat and humidity no less! I could not have asked for a better case. It’s saved my phone from the occasional drop. I have been surprised at some of the hits it has survived. I went for it again this time around. If it ain’t broke (which my phone sure isn’t) then I don’t see a need to fix it.10

3D Touch

This is the one feature I am crushed to be losing in the upgrade. Good night sweet prince. You were the best and no long press could ever replace you.

Time Capsule iPhone Xs Reviews

Final Thoughts

The other day I was chatting with Abby about how strange it is we still call our phones “phones.” These are super computers that fit in our pockets. We carry them everywhere. They control our homes, document our lives, and connect us to each other.

Over the last four years, there is not one device in my life I have used more. I have written countless posts and reviews. I’ve tweeted tens of thousands of tweets. Snapped thousands of pictures. Listened to thousands of hours of podcasts. The time spent on my iPhone Xs Max is immeasurable.

And even with my new phone today, I don’t plan on packing up the Xs Max yet. I want to try using it as a webcam or just a secondary camera for angles and shoots. There is still purpose to be extracted from this first of its kind iPhone.

I ended up buying the iPhone 14 Pro Max in Space Black with 1TB of storage. That’s four times the storage and who knows how many times of a performance gain all for $248.64 more than what I paid in 2018. It’s out for delivery as I write this. After I deal with the setup, it probably won’t take long for me to start forgetting about the Xs Max.

But I do think it is important to reflect on the longevity and usefulness of my phone. As much as the media and advertising would like you to forget last year’s model the second the new device arrives, these phones – these super computers – have a life outside of Year One. Their impact has been world altering. And as my own life prepares to be transformed, I can’t help but take a moment to stop and look around. It’s about to move very fast and I don’t want to miss it.


1. Actually, we were up in Indiana on the 21st in a corn maze. Looks like I didn’t get home to my shiny new phone until September 24, 2018.

2. I was jumping ship from an iPhone 7, which Abby used for one more year until we bought her an iPhone 11 the following year.

3. Formerly known as the Plus Club.

4. Just glancing at MKBHD’s top 20 videos (out of 1,464), seven of them are iPhone specific. They total a cool 84 million views. Also, his most viewed video is about the Game Boy with 39 million views. The second most viewed has 23 million and is about the first Samsung Fold.

5. Upgrade program numbers may indicate that line of thinking is not accurate. And carriers are so aggressive with their trade-in deals. I could be totally wrong.

6. Since then, only three more OLED screens have entered my daily rotation; my LG CX 55’’ TV, my PS VR headset, and my Splatoon Switch OLED. I did have an Apple Watch Series 2, but that bit the dust a few years ago.

7. Maybe I ought to try again with the 14 Pro Max…

8. Stephen Hackett and Federico Viticci rip my Xs Max to shreds in Connected 404: The Non. I was surprised to hear this backlash.

9. A real quick way to glance at the leaps in iPhone photography in year chunks would be to look at Austin Mann’s 10 Years of iPhone post from 2017. Holy smokes man(n).

10. One design change that may get me to change leather cases is the bottom lip. Sometime since 2018, Apple has fully wrapped the leather case around the iPhone, instead of leaving the bottom edge exposed. I suspect it was exposed due to the (at the time) new gesture-controlled interface. I am curious as to how I will feel about a lip where my thumb swipes up over constantly.

iPhone 14 Pro Camera Review: Scotland – Austin Mann

iPhone 14 Pro Camera Review: Scotland – Austin Mann

I was hoping this would drop yesterday. I have three must-read (or watch) as soon as they are available iPhone reviews; MKBHD, John Gruber, and Austin Mann. 1

The iPhone camera has touted a 12 megapixel camera for seven years, and the last time it saw an upgrade the jump was from 8MP to 12MP on the iPhone 6s. The iPhone 14 Pro introduces a massive resolution jump to 48MP, quadrupling the iPhone 13 Pro’s sensor.

When I learned about the increase in resolution of the iPhone 14 Pro sensor, I was cautiously excited. I’ve long been happy with the 12MP files coming out of my iPhone, and I know higher resolution sensors often have their trade-offs. All that said, I was excited to see this massive jump in megapixels in the iPhone 14 Pro as it will open doors to capture more detail, crop in on images, and also open up new possibilities for larger format prints at higher DPIs.

Four of those years, I’ve been rocking my iPhone Xs Max, which I dubbed iPhone MaXs.

When we went out on the boat looking for whales in the evening, I switched from 48MP to 12MP because I knew I’d be dealing with fast-moving subjects (animals) and shooting from a moving platform on the boat. This meant the camera is super responsive and will be rendering the best possible image files in these limited lighting conditions.

I hear babies are fast-moving subjects. And that apartments have limited lighting conditions.


1. It actually took so long for me to share, that my mom forwarded Austin’s review to me, not knowing that his reviews have become an annual iPhone season highlight for me. I never would have guessed my mom was subscribed to Austin’s newsletter.

Chapter Select: Season 4, Episode 2 – 2 Fast 2 Furious

Photo and design by Max Roberts

It is time to hit the streets of Miami and meet the East Coast members of the Family. Max and Logan dive into a world of undercover agents, night life, and neon to find out if this sequel sinks or swims.

Download (31MB)

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2 Fast 2 Furious

Rotten Tomatoes – 36% critic and 50% viewers


This episode was originally recorded on July 30, 2022.

@ChapterSelect

Max’s Twitter @MaxRoberts143

Logan’s Twitter @MooreMan12

Researcher, Editor, and Producer – Max Roberts

Hosted by Logan Moore & Max Roberts

Photo and Art designed by Max Roberts.

A Birth Story – Meaghan O’Connell

A Birth Story by Meaghan O’Connell for Longreads via Marco Arment

In doing a little research for the next episode of The Max Frequency Podcast (recording very soon update: the episode is live), I came across this story on Marco’s blog. His enthusiasm for the story encouraged me to save it (although, not with Instapaper).

It’s long (save it), and I wanted to quote almost every part. Here’s one of the many sections that made me laugh out loud while reading it in bed at 1 AM last night…

In typical Meaghan style, it’s refreshingly humane, surprisingly informative, hilarious, and terrifying.

Having read Meaghan’s tale today, I realize that I glossed over Marco’s closing word of “terrifying.” As someone who is about to become a dad in—checks the calendar—37 days (give or take), I’m not sure this was a wise decision. I took multiple breaks in my reading; not due to its length, but due to the overwhelming emotional response of fear, anticipation, and joy that I had. But as strong as my response was, so to was my desire to continue reading. I could not stay away for long.

There were two bits I did want to quote:

We couldn’t see in there; couldn’t access it. This was what I hated most about pregnancy and what I wanted over with more than anything: the opacity of it all. I wanted him out where I could see him.

The entire pregnancy has felt like this to us. I feel even one more step removed since the kid is growing inside my wife’s womb. All I get is feeling the occasional kick. I have never been so grateful to be kicked in my life, but I want to see my daughter.

He didn’t have a name yet, because nothing had felt completely right, the way we thought it would. We wanted, or I wanted, a revelation; a name that was traditional, simple, strong, but that all of society had somehow forgotten; a name that we alone had unearthed. I wanted everyone to kick themselves, wishing they’d thought of it first. I wanted it to be hiding in plain sight.

This never happened.

We do have a name picked out, but it’s a secret to everybody. Landing on her name did feel like a revelation to me. Years of ideas and months of discussion coalesced into a lightbulb moment for our family. I’ll never forget the night we decided.

As thankful as I am that Meaghan shared her story, I hope ours is at least a little bit shorter. And if you too about to become a parent, maybe save this one for after you enter the club.

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – 2022 Notice

It is once again September and you know what that means. With it being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the fine folks at Relay FM are once again raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

It’s not even noon and they are nearing $45K (so they’ve been raising money for a week or so 🤫). You can help raise even more money by donating.

This year, you can even sign up to fundraise alongside Relay FM with all funds going to the same place and same overall goals. There are sweet looking incentives and donation rewards all around. But the greatest reward is helping put an end of childhood cancer.

As always, mark the Podcastathon in your calendar! This year it is on September 16, 2022 at 12:00 PM EST to 8:00 PM EST. Myke Hurley and Stephen Hackett will be together in person for this eight hour variety show.

With my own baby on the way, hearing Stephen share his family’s story once again about Josiah and discovering a brain tumor at six months of age, my heart swells in a way it never has before. Please considering donating.

Comparing The Last of Us Part I Gameplay to the Original

Here is 4K60 gameplay from the PS5 remake.

And here is the same portion of gameplay at 720p on the PS3.

Let’s not forget the PS4 remaster at 1080p either.

I find the most powerful element from this Part I footage to be that the game looks like I remember it. But when you go back thirteen years to the Cell processor and see what it actually looked like…The Last of Us in 2013 is a testament to the immersive “on the stick” design that Naughty Dog strives for.

Side Note: Listen with headphones if you can. Some of the 3D audio design comes through as well.