Today’s Links

Epic’s Fortnite Now Free To Play on Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming for Mobile, Desktop, Console – CNET

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is either good or it’s just so comforting that I don’t care – Ars

Tech’s new season of shrinking – Axios

Intec GBA HDMI – Another Laggy Mess – RetroRGB

Testing Out Apple’s Self Repair Program With an iPhone 12 Mini Battery Fix – Macrumors

New Video: Review of the Airthings Wave Plus Radon Detector

See the review here. 

Buy one on Amazon (compensated affiliate link) – Radon is a dangerous radioactive gas that is the second leading source of lung cancer in the United States. The Airthings Wave Plus can detect Radon levels in a home over long periods of time and measures other air quality metrics.

What was interesting when we did the livestream unboxing the other day was how many people were not aware of the dangers of radon gas in their home. I had to put in a mitigation system when I bought my home to bring the numbers down.

See more smart home videos –

Links for Today

Meta announces massive hiring freeze, blames Apple for revenue slowdown – iMore

TurboTax forced to stop misleading “free, free, free” ads and pay back $141M – Ars Technica

Cameo lays off close to 90, including senior executives – Protocol

Florida Flights Face Worst Delays in Years Thanks to Private Jets and Space Launches – Yahoo News

New Obi Wan Series Trailer! – YouTube

Elon Musk Invited to Discuss Twitter Buyout With U.K. Parliamentary Committee – Variety

Humans Behind Search: Meet Matt – Google Blog

RetroRGB Roundup #303 – RetroRGB

Programmatic Product Placements?

According to Amazon is experimenting with a new dynamic advertising method that allows for CGI product placement.

That means a bowl of Skittles for one viewer could appear as a bowl of M&M’s for another. It also allows product placement to be an ongoing source of revenue for Amazon vs. a one shot “baked in” advertising opportunity. 

New Empire Strikes Back Game for the Commodore 64

Just in time for “May the Fourth” retro developer Megastyle games has released a new Empire Strikes Back game for the Commodore 64!

The game play is similar to the Atari 2600 and Intellivision classic where your snow speeder is up against wave after wave of imperial walkers. This one adds AT-ST’s to the mix along with a level progression system that was lacking from the original. The graphics look great! Here’s some footage of the game courtesy of YouTuber C64.

This will run on original hardware along with emulators and the MiSTer core. They made the game available in a few different formats including cassette tape! 

RocketLab Catches Rocket with a Helicopter!

When we think of commercial space providers we’re often thinking of Elon Musk’s SpaceX or Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. But there’s another company that’s successfully launching small satellites called RocketLab.

RocketLab specializes in launching small satellites on their Electron rocket. The rocket is usually ditched in the ocean after each launch but the company is working towards reusability to lower costs. While SpaceX and Blue Origin propulsively land their large rockets, RocketLab is working at plucking theirs out of the air with a helicopter! 

Wach the catch here. There’s also a cool Twitter video from the helicopter’s cockpit here

RocketLab’s CEO Peter Beck said they released the rocket shortly after catching it due to instability. It was picked up by their recovery ship shortly afterward. Still a very successful first attempt! 

Facebook & Plex Exiting the Podcast Business

iMore reports that Facebook is leaving the Podcasting business but the company doesn’t plan on telling anyone about it. 

Oddly, Facebook said that it doesn’t plan to tell anyone on Facebook that podcasts are going to be removed. That responsibility will fall on podcasters to alert their audience.

I didn’t even know Facebook was doing podcasts so it looks like the feature wasn’t heavily used. Plex also recently discontinued their podcasting feature:

As part of our ongoing effort to make sure we’re spending our time and energy in ways that best serve our awesome user community, we’ve made the decision to end support for podcasts within Plex. We recognize this impacts several of you greatly, and we apologize for the inconvenience it will cause. You can continue to access your podcasts within Plex until next Friday, April 15th, 2022, at which point they will no longer be available. 

I did a video recently about how nobody controls podcasting due to its decentralized nature. Check it out learn why so many social media companies struggle integrating podcasting into the apps. 

Members of Congress are not Pleased with DOD’s UFO Investigation Progress

From Politico:

Lawmakers receiving the latest secret briefings on UFOs say national security agencies still aren’t taking seriously the reports of highly advanced aircraft of unknown origin violating protected airspace.

Members of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees received classified progress reports in recent weeks on a series of new data collection efforts the Pentagon and spy agencies are now required to pursue to more rigorously investigate reports of UFOs, three people with direct knowledge confirmed.

But some leading sponsors of recent legislation want more analysts and surveillance systems dedicated to determining the aircrafts’ origin — and not just more reports of their existence.

Former Pentagon official Christopher Melon, who is credited for initially breaking the story, also weighed in on Twitter:

For a start, Congress absolutely needs to know who in the executive owns the UAP issue and what they are doing to identify the mysterious ‘drones’ that have been stalking U.S. warships and disrupting training activities in military airspace.

7 Ideas for Elon Musk’s Twitter

Twitter may be under new ownership soon if a mammoth $44 billion purchase by Elon Musk goes through. For this week’s Weekly Wrapup video I offer 7 ideas that I think would help make Twitter work better and perhaps even address how free speech can work on social platforms.

Here’s what I think Elon should do:

Eliminate “Blue Check” Elitism
Twitter has two classes of citizens: ones with a blue check and ones without. Blue checks are reserved mostly for people who belong to major media organizations or have enormous followings. They can upload much longer videos, filter out those of us without the checkmarks, and get other privileges. It’s time to level the playing field so every user has a chance.

Balance Political Content Recommendations
Social platforms have algorithms that could very easily provide viewers with multiple perspectives on hot button issues. But because they value attention and engagement more than responsible discourse they tend to only put things in front of viewers that they already agree with.

For nearly a century broadcast media has been required to follow an “equal time” rule. The way it works is that if I as a candidate for public office get interviewed for a news story, the broadcast station has to offer the same opportunity (and air time) to my opponent. The same rules apply to purchasing advertising – my opponent gets the same deal and time that I was offered. And a candidate’s advertisement cannot be censored – a political candidate can say anything they want in an advertisement.

There also used to be a “fairness doctrine” in the United States that required broadcasters to cover controversial topics and offer ample opportunities for opposing viewpoints.

So how would the algorithm determine what to recommend? Perhaps instead of topics they should look at behavior.

Moderate on Behavior – Not Topics
As the chairman of my local board of education one of my responsibilities is to ensure the public has an opportunity to be heard. We have an “audience of citizens” at our regular meetings where any citizen can come and address the board and share whatever they wish.

But there are limits to speech – and those limits typically involve the behavior of the speaker. For example shouting obscenities, inciting violence, and other behaviors that disturb the peace or regular order of a meeting could result in that person being asked to leave. Unfortunately modern social platforms tend to amplify and even promote bad behavior – rewarding conduct that does not contribute to constructive dialog.

Connecticut’s constitution has an interesting perspective on speech:

Every citizen may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.

Every right has responsibilities. If social platforms focus on both the RIGHT and the RESPONSIBILITY moderation could be done much more effectively – especially if it focuses on the behaviors of speakers vs. what it is they are trying to say.

There’s a great Twitter thread from Yishan Wong, the former CEO of Reddit, on this topic. It’s a great read that unpacks where Elon Musk is coming from related to free speech and how challenging it is to create a true online public square when everyone acts like imbeciles.

One place social platforms could look is how computer bulletin board systems (BBS) governed themselves. FidoNet, one of the largest international BBS networks in the 80’s and 90’s, spent a lot of time focusing on this problem. Their moderation rules focused almost entirely on the conduct & actions of users – not the messages they were trying to convey. There’s some wisdom in that.

Require Verification But Allow Anonymous Speech
Musk wants to “authenticate all real humans” in an effort to cut down on bots. But at the same time he should look at protecting anonymous speech – an important protected right here in the United States. This would also protect parody accounts which add a lot of value to discourse.

Twitter Blue Should Get Rid of Ads
Twitter Blue is a $3 monthly subscription plan that offers some additional features to the Twitter app. While it does offer some news content ad free, most of Twitter still includes advertising both as in-line tweets and as pre-roll videos.

I think Twitter Blue should work more like YouTube Premium and offer an ad free experience.

Yes, We Need an Edit Button
It’s a running joke at this point that Twitter does not allow users to edit a tweet after publishing. While Twitter Blue does have a “recall” function for a few minutes after posting generally the only way to edit a tweet is to delete it and do it again.

There are some legitimate concerns that editable tweets would allow someone to accumulate a ton of RT’s and Likes and then change the content to something different (and possibly offensive). But that could be easily mitigated by clearing them. In most cases the only time I want to edit a tweet is shortly after I post it.

Open Source Twitter’s Software & Federate Content
Finally I think Elon should go a step further than just open sourcing the algorithm. He should open source the entire codebase and give users the option to install their own self hosted Twitter application. Those self installs should be able to federate content with and other self-hosted users. This would be something similar to how WordPress makes their software available for free at but hosted at

There’s definitely a lot to unpack here. Head over to the video and let me know what you think!

Cable Companies Becoming Dumb (Profitable) Pipes

Interesting article in Multichannel news about Charter Communications using Comcast’s Flex platform to deliver streaming media to customers. Charter CEO Rutledge believes most customers will end up cutting the TV cord and go IP only:

“I expect that incrementally most of our customer base will be all-IP,” Rutledge said after being asked about the JV on Charter’s Q1 earnings conference call with analysts. He added that unused video spectrum can be recaptured and used to increase broadband speeds or provide additional capacity over time.

Cable companies make far more money delivering dumb pipes vs. TV. The reason is that cable providers have to pay television networks and broadcasters per subscriber to carry the channel.

Streaming works the other way around: streamers like Netflix have to pay the cable provider for direct access to their network or face network congestion. Cable companies profit on both ends of that equation and in some cases get a portion of subscriber revenue too.

A Great MiSTer News Source

There is A LOT going on with MiSTer these days – so much so that I hope to do an update video about some of the things that I’m most excited about soon. A Sega 32X core has been added, a Playstation 1 core is close to completion, and the holy grail (for me) – the Apple IIgs – is in the works too! 

RetroRGB is a great source for following the progress of the project. A contributor to the site, Lu’s Retro Source, is posting regular update videos of all that’s new and exciting in the MiSTer project. You can find Lu’s channel here

Check out my prior MiSTer content here. Bob from RetroRGB and I have done two panel discussions of this at Retro World Expo that you can also find in the playlist. 

Now Running WordPress :)

Well I gave Hugo the old college try but ultimately I was finding it was more cumbersome for a blog than I would like. The biggest impediment was the lack of image management and the rather clunky process of uploading new posts.

I had to create a new markdown file, manually enter (or copy over) the basic metadata, manually re-size images, move those images to the right folder, type in the right markdown code for the image, save the post, run Hugo in terminal to render the site, and finally sync with my FTP server. If I had to make change I had to re-run Hugo and resync. Just too much for what I wanted to be a quick thing.

So back to WordPress. I am self hosting for now on my web server. The only issue I encountered this evening was getting the full feed to dump out to my RSS feed. The RSS feed is how I generate my digest emails.

I had to hand code the RSS generator PHP to correct what looks like a bug. h/t to this 2009 post which solved my problem.  I also found a clever way to pull down the “medium” sized images too. Both of these fixes required editing the RSS template in the WordPress installation.

One of the things I like about WordPress is that it’s so ubiquitous and everything works with it. So I can easily post from my phone. I also use a great app on the Mac called Mars Edit that I used 10 years ago when I was doing more with WordPress. To my surprise I was able to upgrade to the newest one for a nominal fee a decade later! Thanks Red Sweater Software!