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Spider-Man, Robots, Endings, And Zero Nazis!

Because nobody wants nazis. You’d think.

This week’s newsletter is a bit like a mullet: there’s gonna be business in the front, and a party in the back. Well, maybe not a party, just some fun stuff that’s unrelated to the bit at the front, which is about some changes I’m making around here. But make it through the first part, and then meet me in the second part where I talk about Spider-Man, video games, ending a long-ending comic, and how robots are slowly stealing our time.

First the big news

ChatGPT’s illustration for this story. The bald naked guy with his boots still on is supposed to be me I guess?

As many of you have heard, the newsletter platform Substack, which I’ve used for several years to manage this newsletter, has recently revealed themselves to be a nazi-friendly platform. When called on it, their response wasn’t, “Oh crap, let’s get rid of the nazis” but more “Yes, that’s right, we have nazis and we’re fine with that.”

Now, I’m a believer in free speech, but that also means writers like me are free to go elsewhere rather than support a site that gives nazis a platform and income stream. And several of you have let me know you don’t want to read newsletters on Substack anymore as it slowly transforms into a Nazi Bar. I hear you.

So welcome to the new home of my newsletter, Beehiiv, a platform which has made it clear that nazis are banned.

If you’re reading this, the transition worked. I’m still kicking the tires and playing around with the design and features, including a new header. What do you think of it?

What this means for you

Unfortunately, I’ve lost the big advantage of using Substack: it didn’t cost me anything. Several of you were kind enough to be paid subscribers, which definitely helped make writing the newsletter worthwhile, but I never strongly pushed that option. Substack took a percentage of those contributions, but they didn’t charge me anything no matter how many free subscribers I had.

Beehiiv, however, is not free. It’s kind of expensive, actually, for a newsletter of my size. But I do believe in paying for good service, and Beehiiv is definitely the nicest alternative I’ve found. So this means I need to find a way to make it monetarily worthwhile.

And that means asking more of you to be paid subscribers. So I come to you with hat in hand asking that if you find value, joy, entertainment or education from this newsletter, please pay what you can to support the newsletter and keep it going. Your contribution supports not just my writing, but my video and other independent creative endeavors.

And if you can’t afford anything, please continue to enjoy the newsletter for free. I will think about adding paid-subscribers-only content in the future, but for now everyone is getting everything.

(Note: If you were already a paid subscriber, you don’t need to do anything special. Your payment method has been carried over here and canceled over there, so it should all be pretty seamless. But let me know if you encounter any issues.)

Oh, and people who prefer to follow via RSS can find the new feed here.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about Spider-Man

ChatGPT apparently doesn’t know how many legs a spider has. Eh, close enough.

Over the holidays, my kids — who just got a brand new Nintendo Switch and a bunch of games that they should be perfectly happy with for a while without asking for anything else — got a chance to play one of the new Spider-Man games on a PlayStation 5. And they got to see what a more powerful system can do with a high-end game. It looks way better than the graphics on the Switch.

There’s no way I’m buying them a PlayStation 5 after I just got them a Switch. But on the other hand, that game sure did look fun.

It turns out that the game is also available for Windows. But I’m a Mac guy. And games like that just don’t come out for the Mac very often.

Then I remembered that last year Apple released a tool for game developers called the Game Porting Toolkit. It would do some magic under the hood to convert Windows code to Mac code so developers could run their high-end games on a Mac to see how well it works without any changes at all. Then they could decide if it’s worth the effort to properly optimize and release the game for the Mac.

I knew that some regular folks were taking advantage of this to just play Windows games on their Mac, but it looked pretty complicated to set up and use the toolkit.

Then I learned about Whisky. It’s a native Mac app that installs the toolkit and does all the complicated stuff for you. Once it’s done, you can easily run Windows games on a Mac, although not everything will necessarily work.

So I tried it! The “Spider-Man Remastered” game for Windows had a pretty big discount through Steam’s winter sale, so I grabbed it. I figured if it didn’t work, I’d just get a refund.

But friends, it works like a dream.

It took a little fiddling to get it to recognize an old PS4 controller (bought cheap on eBay) properly, but once I sorted that out, I now have a high-end Windows game running smoothly on my Mac.

Does it look as good as the PS5 version? Not quite. I’m not maxing out the monitor resolution, and I don’t have graphics settings on their highest level. Sometimes when there’s a ton of action I notice that the frame rate dips. But it’s good enough that I don’t care about any of that. It’s extremely playable, looks great, and is a whole lot of fun.

I feel like this opens up a whole new world of games for me.

Just don’t tell my kids.

“Spider-Man Remastered” on my Mac

(Note: I’m running it on a Mac Studio with an M1 Max processor and 32 GB of RAM. Your mileage may vary depending on your setup.)

Has The Always-Ending Story finally ended for real?

Since 2015, on the website GoComics, where you can read all your favorite newspaper comics, you could find an unusual strip by a cartoonist named John “Scully” Scully (actually a pseudonym for Tom The Dancing Bug creator Ruben Bolling).

The strip is called The Comic Strip That Has A Finale Every Day. And true to its name, every single day since May 1, 2015, it has run this exact same comic:

That’s it. No changes or variations. Just the same “last strip” every day.

It began as a gag in another of Bolling’s comics before spinning off as its own thing. And believe it or not, the comic has fans. A little community has popped up in the GoComics comments section, where people leave comments almost every day. For example, during the height of the pandemic, discussion arose over whether these characters are adequately social distancing.

But it appears now that the comic strip may have actually had its finale. The last strip appeared on the website on December 31, 2023 and nothing new has posted for 2024.

Is this a mistake? Will it be back-filled? Or could it be that it truly is the end of the comic that ends every day?

Voice assistants are stealing our minutes

Too often, I have a conversation like this with Siri or Alexa:

Me: Set a fifty minute timer.
Alexa: Setting a fifteen minute timer.
Me: No, cancel timer.
Alexa: Fifteen minute timer canceled.
Me: Set a fifty minute timer.
Alexa: Setting a fifteen minute timer.
Me: Stop! Cancel timer!
Alexa: Fifteen minute timer canceled.

Then I realized that if I ask for a fifty-one minute timer, there is no ambiguity. There’s no such thing as fifteen-one, so now it never fails. Same for forty-one, thirty-one, etc. Now I’m in the habit of setting timers for one minute longer than I need rather than spending a minute arguing with a robot. It’s a weird quirk of dealing with modern technology.

I started to imagine the voice assistants as sentient overlords, training us humans to waste time, a minute here and a minute there, stealing little pieces of our lives without us even noticing.

I wrote about this quirky new behavior on the socials (what’s the collective noun for Twitter replacements?) and heard from various people who either do the same thing or were surprised they never thought of it. But one reply by Rohin Francis was especially clever:

I set it for 49 minutes and that’s why I’m always two steps ahead of the competitionn

And now I believe humanity will win the war against the robots. I just won’t be the leader.

And that’s it for another newsletter, the first one in my new home. How’s it working for you? Anything broken? Any quirks I should know about? Comments are turned on at Beehiiv just like they were at Substack, so let me know there or just shoot me an email.

Thanks as always for reading. Before you go, here’s another opportunity to upgrade to be a paid supporter of this newsletter!

Even if you can’t support this newsletter financially, I still appreciate you reading as a free subscriber. More great stuff to come!


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