The Google golden age has ended

Everything sucks now. Google Photos will no longer provide unlimited uploads, Google Music has shutdown and YouTube Music is not a proper replacement, YouTube will now run ads even on unmonetized videos…

Google Photos no longer unlimited

Since I recently got into photography this one hurts quite a bit even though I already understood I was not going to benefit from unlimited uploads from my Canon 90D.

Prioir to 2020 I was snapping pictures right and left with my OnePlus 6 and I enjoyed it quite a bit. When unlimited high quality uploads was a thing I toggled this setting right away, even if it wasn’t archiving the original quality I was more than happy about it as it was.

On June 1st 2020 Google will no longer provide unlimited uploads, previous uploads that were part of the unlimited uploads will not count toward our storage usage. But this still sucks.

I was heavily using Google Photos to share albums with family and friends, I was also heavily pushing friend and family into using it instead of Facebook and WhatsApp because of how simple and efficient it was.

Now I know that photos coming out of Lightroom wouldn’t be able to be part of the unlimited uploads, but now I look like a fool.

YouTube Music

As someone with a small following and a nice number of uploaded videos to YouTube I use a brand account: SenpaiSilver.

Brand accounts permit users to have channels under a specific name instead of their own real name, used for the Google account, just like the good old Google+ pages back in the day when this had to be a thing.

So I can use YouTube Music to listen to some sick tunes with that brand account right? Possibly.

I can’t use my brand account to access my own uploads though, this makes using YouTube Music a very bad experience since I need to switch to my main account. Someone’s gonna get doxxed one day by forgetting to switch back.

Another list of issues come from the Android app:

  • Scrolling through your library requires loading after a couple of titles, can’t just scroll down through my small 500 song library in one flick of the finger;
  • The app attempts to sync very often and it might take more than minutes, killing my 2 day battery in under a day while I’m quarantined home;
  • The app might play music that is not within your queue, I’m not sure if it’s because I shuffle my music or loop it and I was not able to reproduce it.

Nothing seems right about how YouTube Music works and I wish for it to die a horrible death since I don’t see the appeal of it. Unlike YouTube Gaming, YouTube Music is an attempt a break something that was working really well and it just does that, even though no one asked for it.

YouTube running ads EVERYWHERE

As someone that is unable to monetize my own videos due to not meeting the requirements for that, I decided that the best thing to do would to just not show ads at all. Many viewers, including myself, run uBlock Origin to avoid ads and tracking anyway so how about I cut the middleman and make sure YouTube doesn’t bother trying to load ads ? Well I won’t be able to do so anymore.

YouTube will run ads on videos for channels that are not part of the YouTube Partner Program. I’d love to be a partner but I’m not meeting the requirements and YouTube is not a job nor a hobby of mine.
Previously we were able to just opt-out.

While I just confessed to blocking ads (and actually much more with uBlock Origin) I’ve subscribed to YouTube Premium for the past year and a half. I did that in part for Google Music and also because I liked the benefits such as picture in picture, downloading videos to my phone to watch later and not having ads on mobile. The thing is that right now it’s starting to become hard to justify.
I consume so much YouTube content that I make it worth it but is it really?

The golden age is over

Google isn’t the only one making bad decisions to improve growth and benefits. We could say that the internet golden age is over and direct the blame to Twitter, reddit and other popular services.

Gaming is not immune to that either, console game prices have increased, microtransactions are everywhere, storage requirements are too damn high and where’s the real fun?

Gaming: You had to be there

Recently I’ve been getting so much FOMO (fear of missing out) with some games that I just started feeling burnt out from things that I enjoy because I might end up no longer enjoying them.

Games are supposed to be fun and are to be enjoyed during my freetime. But I’m missing out on the fun because I don’t have all that freetime.

Events, seasons & schedules

Gaming is now a live service thanks to battlepasses and season passes (that actually last for a season). You no longer buy a game and enjoy it as it is, it always comes back for your money through DLC a bit like a subscription.

More often than not you’ll have the “two lanes reward system” where having the season pass unlocks a new lane in the levelling system with rewards for each level.

Sometimes you’ll only have access to certain timegated activities that happen outside of your free time.

Once a timegated event is over there’s no chance left to enjoy the content and its rewards. You missed that shiny item from a collaboration event ? Too bad mate.
And I can’t even share mine with you because it’s untradable.

Destiny 2

When Destiny 2 turned free-to-play it permitted free users to enjoy the base campaign and the two first extensions (Osiris and Warmind). One you got past the extensions you have the seasonal content that is locked behind a season pass.

Each seasons provides story elements, activities, rewards and “content”. They run for about 3 months with many changes made to the balance and the inner working of the game sometimes.

Depending on how invested you get into the seasonal event you will feel like you are missing out if you do not have the time or if you are not playing enough of the game.

Right now I missed out on the season of the worthy, it was not fun to play and was very grindy. I didn’t care enough about the season of arrivals and couldn’t grind it to the end, there’s still 24 hours in a day over here.
With some content getting vaulted I have officially missed out on some items and activites such as:

  • Catalyst for exotic weapons;
  • Raids;
  • Side quests.

I feel sad about all this because I really did enjoy the Shadowkeep extension and really got into the game for the season of undying and the season of dawn.

If you have time read what Forbes had to say about it: Destiny 2’s “You Had To Be There” Philosophy Is Turning Off Players.

Phantasy Star Online 2

Now this is something else… I’ve been enjoying Phantasy Star Online 2 since its release in Japan and I’ve built a nice big community around it. But ever since summer of 2020 I just don’t have time to farm. I don’t have the energy to think about farming it. I’m burnt out.

I’ve thought about the new North American/Global release but decided to not bother since I’ve been playing the Japanese one for ever, nothing against it and if you need to know which version to choose, just go the Global one (it even exists on Steam).

PSO2 is the kind of game where you’ll be able to enjoy being timegated to get new items because you will not have access to the raids called “emergency quests” when they happens at scheduled hours. After a while some scheduled quests might happen randomly and we’ll be given the opportunity to play they by purchasing items called “triggers”.

If you want to get the hundreds of items required to gear up, you need to play multiple emergency quests, sometimes over 50 times, before you can finally upgrade or obtain the item. Sadly this doesn’t work well with my working hours.

Lately I have not felt like farming the “divide quests” to get the materials needed to get the best weapon out there, and you only had a limited fixed yield per week.
Counting on my own luck to shorten the grind is not something I consider worth it or even healthy.

The game also introduced a battle pass system, with double the rewards if you purchase it with either real money or some in-game currency that can be obtained by playing the game (but that is not infinite).

PSO2 New Genesis has been announced and will permit you to port your weapons and fashion into the new game. This game is exploiting FOMO and will certainly run into legacy issues.

Meanwhile many categories of quests are no longer been played like:

  • Ultimate Quests;
  • Buster Quests;
  • Advanced Quests;
  • Challenge Quests.

Some quests can be enjoyed alone, but some do required at least a couple of players to be enjoyed correctly. Keep in mind that all the rewards from these quests are now totally worthless too.

Miss directing the blame am I?

Now let’s take a step back for a second.

Am I whining because I decided to play other games? No!
Am I whining because I work? Not really.
Am I whining because I’m not getting shiny new items? It’s not that…

I’m pissed at the live service games because I can not longer enjoy all of the content on my own schedule. For me gaming used to be as simple as popping a cardridge into my Megadrive and switching it on.

Now I’m supposed to live around the events and schedules if I want to be part of something.

Don’t get me wrong, if I was part of a guild/clan/team in a game that scheduled some raids or evening I’d still have to make some time to be part of it, but this is something the participants can choose to do while discussing it. We would schedule something when people are available.

Game companies on the other hand don’t have time for that, they build schedules on their own and we must be there, until we decide that we will miss out.
Sometimes life just happens.

Photography

I took up a new hobby: I take photos now!

I invested in a Canon 90D with a 18-135mm lens and the 50mm prime lens. I liked taking photos with my OnePlus 6 but I’ve always wanted to up my game and do better, and I am now.

But photography takes time because I’m shooting and I’m editing my shots (I even invested in Lightroom, classic version with Creative Cloud).

Conclusion

Like often, I’m pissed and mad. I’m whining about a first world problem that doesn’t really affect my life. Gaming is a hobby that I want to be able to enjoy on my own time and not have it dictate my life.

But currently I’m missing out too much on some things and it’s making me a bit sad because I want to be part of it and be able to say that I was there. This is no longer the case.

Keep in mind that other games than those I mentioned are also guilty of that and I didn’t even cover the stability and viability of games and the space they take on the users’ device. Getting new content is often synonymous of having to download a huge patch, introducing balance issues and all sorts of bugs that will be ironed out over time. The most lucrative exploits for players will be patched fast, but those that affect the players negatively will most likely take a bit more time to be fixed.

My FOMO will kick in.

I am no longer there, I don’t miss it.

Recycling usernames is bad

Once upon a time I had an Instagram account as SenpaiSilver. Then I decided that I didn’t want Instagram anymore and was sick of notifications about people wanting to hijack my account, so I deactivated it.

Back in the day when senpai was just a foreign word people wouldn’t understand I was really happy to see how unique my username could be by adding “Senpai” in front. At first I stylized it with a space to be “Senpai Silver” but not every service supported spaces… So I removed it.
But still, I was happy to have a unique username.

Truth is, I might have deleted it instead and then someone recycled my username.

Recycling username in such a way opens a window for usurping one’s identity. I can understand that it can be a good thing in case you delete your account by mistake (or is maliciously deleted) but there’s usually a way to restore an old account.

Do I want an Instagram today? No. But I don’t want my username being used by someone else.

Please do not recycle usernames, even when asked to delete all data about a user.

I have unsubscribed from LinusTechTips

LinusTechTips is one of the channels I have the most followed out of my subscriptions over the years. I’ve been writing this post on and off since May 2017 and I have unsubscribed in April 2018.

I feel like this post is still relevant because it also shows what YouTube is becoming.

What I liked

I like the unboxing type videos that were going over hardware and benchmarks. The overclocking guides were nice and I always wished they would showcase some of the keyboard and mouse software that is actually part of the experience.

The content was genuine and didn’t seem all that forced (unlike pushing a Dyson sponsorship over a vlog).

There used to be something to get out of the content.

What I disliked

When doing review of keyboard and mice they always skipped the software that comes with it. It’s part of the experience too. They also don’t cover older hardware to see how it performs nowadays or make follow ups on gaming laptops…

Once the content is produced and uploaded they’re done, unless it’s a multi part video.

The silly faces do not make me feel like I’m a grown up too even though they were not as bad as the current ones.

Why I’m ending my subscription

It’s not what it was. It became pretty bad and that’s what happens when you expand. The clickbait is painful. The thumbnails are terrible. The video title could be randomly generated by and algorithm for all I care.

Toddlers made the thumbnails and wrote the titles

By looking at the thumbnails and the titles it’s really hard to know what it really is about:

  • Gaming with your FEET: what the name/brand of the device?
  • High School for GAMERS: where?
  • Hotel Built for Gamers – WHAT???: what and where again?
  • This Laptop Does EVERYTHING! Sorta.: which laptop?
  • Why is EVERYONE Buying the $200 Phone??: what phone?

The videos only aim to generate clicks, not content.

Clickbaiting Intensifies

Some call it sensationalist, I call it clickbait.

Name catching videos are necessary, right, everyone need to earn a living because food doesn’t grow on tables. But there are video titles that too far.

  1. A GAMING PC AS THIN AS A COIN!
  2. Triple your Battery Life for FREE! THIS METHOD REALLY WORKS!
  3. AMD RYZEN 5 AND 3 PERFORMANCE PREVIEW!
  4. We Stole Tampons from the Cashier-less Amazon Go
  5. Double your RAM – This Method Actually Works!

It sounds like a lie that a PC could be as thin as a coin. When I think of the thinness (or thickness) of a coin I don’t think about the diameter of one but about the actual side, edge or slice. When comparing thinness you take the thinnest part to compare to the other thinness part. The flat side of a coin isn’t the thinnest.

Triple your battery life by crippling your performance and experience! We could also desolder all the LEDs just in case and replace the electic fans with hand fan.

Already recommend while I just unsubscribed

Low Quality content

At first the quality was low. The idea was putting out new videos as quick as possible but we had informative content at least. That was during the NCIX time. Then LinusTechTips became a team and quality went up and the content was really good.

But now everything is going down the drain. Quality and informative content doesn’t seem to exist anymore.

  1. What Happens If You Delete System32?
  2. $30 MOTHERBOARD?! – Can it game?
  3. 5 BIZARRE Wearables;
  4. WTF?? A 3-Dimensional Keyboard??
  5. AMD LET ME BUILD THEIR NEW 80 VEGA SUPERCOMPUTER…

The 3D keyboard might be more damaging than anything else. The quality of the video is so bad that it doesn’t even feel serious anymore. We don’t need to have actors fake fainting/falling. The old B-roll was actually better.

Nitpicking

I don’t need to hear the sound of a data center, you can afford to do voiceovers now, not that it’s expensive or hard to integrate over moving pictures. I’d prefer high quality B-roll instead of bad and unnecessary acting.

Even an amateur would be able to stitch audio with Audacity and merge it with video by using ffmpeg.

The videos are also clearly aimed at the North American audience and the rest of world, in wich there’s Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe, won’t be able to relate to the pricing or the imperial system. There’s no world besides America on YouTube most of the time I guess.

For the pricing excluding tax makes price seems so much cheaper, it’s deceptive but it’s not like they sell the hardware they review so… Whatever I guess?
And again they target a North American audience.

High quality content

Let’s give credit to the guy where he deserves it. Some of his recent content can be pretty interesting.

These kind of videos are hard to come by today.

YouTube problem

Monetizing videos is harder than ever. The adpocalypse hit hard and pushed YouTubers to seek alternate ways of earning money such as sponsorships and Patreon. On the surface it’s not a big deal for us viewers and the idea isn’t bad at all if it really pays out in the end and doesn’t end up worse that the preroll ads.

Sponsors are no longer funny, they’re the unfunny joke that keeps getting told over and over until someone decides to change their slogan (Squarespace for example). Some other sponsors are irrelevant to the content been watched and I’m genuinely impressed that a shampoo brand hasn’t sponsored anyone I watch yet.

For sponsors to appeal to their viewer they need to be relevant and unlike TV they must not be the same copy/pasted speech that everyone knows and that doesn’t actually differ much from one channel to the other.

Pushing Patreon or some other pay wall is not as bad but it can still be tiring to end a video and have 2 or 3 minutes where the names of the Patreon subscribers are being shown or read… This is a waste of bandwidth and artificially increases the length of videos (to trick the algorithm maybe).
This also feels a bit like shaming the non paying viewer.

Sadly I have no viable solution to this issue. Revenue is never secured in this kind of business.

Recommendation

There are a couple of channels that are genuinely good, don’t clickbait and produce content with substance, I will highlight more in details these in a later post. In the meantime I’ll just list them here:

Honorable mention to Level 1 Techs (Level 1 Linux) for Wendell’s Linux coverage and hardware (but I still don’t like their news coverage).

At the time of publishing, these YouTuber are light on sponsors and put forward their content before anything else. There’s much more passion coming out of what they do.

Conclusion

LinusTechTips is becoming really irrelevant outside of the benchmarking of new hardware and new hardware isn’t released that often.

The videos are boring, clickbaity, irrelevant to my interest and full of sponsors that are irrelevant.

Just to be clear I’m not attacking anyone. I just don’t enjoy them anymore. I couldn’t care less if the channel were to shutdown, their success doesn’t affect me and I don’t want to be frustrated with the new “content” they produce.
They do not need me nor my subscription.

If I’m not coding, I’m not working

I’m currently a web developer and whenever I’m part of a meeting or just not in front of the computer smashing the keys to advance in my JIRA task I feel like I’m not working.

Same goes when I’m doing research or writing snippets of code to test or benchmark ideas.

I know that this feeling is wrong, being at work and doing some research by written snippets of code or being part of meetings is part of the job.
Shaking off this feeling isn’t easy.