The EU’s Fine on Google – My Thoughts

Image From: CNN

I think I should begin with the fact that my opinions of this $5 Billion USD fine slapped onto Google by the European Union is ever-evolving. However, here’s my opinions based off my understanding.

Google bundles the Play Store with a bunch of Google apps, but the ones particularly in focus are Google Search and Google Chrome. Now, I personally use both services on a day-to-day basis… I have a Chromebook, after all, and use Chrome on my iPhone 6s. Of course I personally benefit from these apps.

However, I also believe in a free market economy with reasonable legislation. I am writing this as I’m listening to Episode 390 of the Android Central Podcast.

The arguments brought up are as follows:

-Google Search is utilized in many aspects of the core Operating System. Many of its features would be broken if this app was just removed.

-Google Chrome is used by millions of apps in the Play Store, Twitter being one of them… removing Chrome would brake all of them.

Now, there are a lot of nuances to this issue that I’m not going to get into right now, however these are the core pieces of the system. I am not going to argue that if you remove these two apps it won’t break the system. It will. Android’s ecosystem was built around these systems.

However, the problem is simple: Both of these apps are proprietary.

Android was built to be an open-source Operating System. It was built to be customizable in a million ways by the end user, even if they wanted to go as far as to root their devices and flash a whole new firmware onto it. This is part of the reason I like Android. However, it’s not like Google can’t make some moves to fix these underlying issues.

Let’s start with Google Search. Yes, it’s true that it’s integrated into many parts of the Android Operating System. But why should Google lock this up? Android does have a built-in settings app. Why not include a “Preferred Search Engine” section there?

Services like Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, Ask, Yandex, and more should be allowed to integrate themselves into the OS. If programmed properly, you would be able to install DuckDuckGo and select it from the Android settings; from then on any part of Android that relied on Google Search would now rely on DuckDuckGo.

I understand 90% of users would not make this switch. But if we’re going to use that as an excuse to not make this change in Android P or Android Q, we might as well abandon Android OS for “Chromephone” devices. Chrome OS was designed completely around Google Chrome and Google Search in the first place.

Next, Google Chrome. You know how on Twitter, when you open a link, it stays within the Twitter app and loads the webpage right then and there?

That’s not because Twitter inserted a Mini WebKit Browser into their app. It’s using a Google Chrome API to load up the website. Yes, it’s very functional and keeps the app working.

Why can’t I change that?

I am able to install a whole new Web Browser (Such as Firefox, Opera, Edge, Puffin, and more) and I am able to set this as a default web browser. But Android also has an Open Source web browser that, for some reason, get’s replaced by Chrome when a phone gets loaded with the Google Play Store.

When you set a default web browser, however, all that does is make it so that when you click a link in an app and it needs to launch the web browser, the default browser is what’s launched. This is expected behavior, after all. On my iPhone, I can’t do that, so whenever I click a link it goes to Safari, despite the fact that I use Chrome. WHY CAN’T I SET THIS??!?

So… why is the API that apps like Twitter uses to get a mini web browser placed inside Chrome… instead of Android? Wouldn’t it make more sense if when the mini web browser loads up, it loads the default web browser you set?

Maybe a browser would need to program itself to be capable to be “Hooked” into, and would need a separate “Hooked Browser” setting in the Android settings. I would actually be okay with that. I would actually want that.

Maybe I prefer to use Chrome as my default web browser and Edge as the Hooked Browser? Who knows. This should be an option.

And of course companies like Samsung would be free to load up their devices with whatever web browser they want to. Maybe the average user would replace it with Chrome. Maybe the average user wouldn’t touch it.

But for the users that would, this should be an option. Again, Android is meant to be an Open Source Operating System.

I understand that the Google Play Store is a proprietary app. This was my initial response to the situation. I was on Google’s side. But maybe Google could do a little more to make their system a little more open. Maybe, just maybe, there should be competition in the App Store market. Competition is, after all, always good.

Maybe there should be more freedom in making forked versions of Android and still being allowed to load it with the Play Store. Maybe Amazon should be allowed to place the Play Store in Fire OS (not that they would).

In the end, however, I still am of the belief that the $5 Billion USD fine is a little much. Is a fine warranted? Yes. Look at the further nuances of the issue, and there are plenty of anticompetitive practices put in place. However, I still think the fine should be lower.

The EU complains that Google hooks Chrome into their Operating System, but Apple does the same thing. I know there’s a reason Apple’s situation is different from Google’s, but the fact is they are doing the same thing. Do you know how many times I click an Amazon link, and it redirects me to Amazon, only to redirect me to Safari? THIS IS SUPER FRUSTRATING!!! It’s not just Amazon, either, but that seems to be the biggest culprit.

I should be allowed to set a default browser in iOS. If the EU is going to fine Google for preloading Chrome into every device with the Play Store and having apps hook themselves into Chrome via their API to make the argument that removing Chrome would break millions of apps a valid argument, I think they should do the same to Apple. Yes, I get there are legal nuances that makes this legal for Apple to do, I get it, but I feel Apple’s practices are very anticompetitive in many aspects.

I want to use Chrome. I can’t set it as the default browser. I want to use Google Assistant. I can’t replace Siri. I want to use Android Messages. iMessage is the only SMS app that’ll work. I want to rent movies from Google Play Movies, or purchase music from Amazon, or purchase a book from Google Play Books, but all of this is locked down so I have to use iTunes to do all this. By the way, all the prices are marked up there.

You’re seriously going to tell me this isn’t anticompetitive practice just because iOS isn’t the majority Operating System in terms of Market Share?

Either enforce the same rules on everyone, or don’t have them at all. I don’t support double standards.

As always,

-Keep Exploring

Welcome to Screenbones!

As you can see, I have completely replaced my older website with this whole new design. I have decided to move this website to a differing direction, more towards blogging. As you can see, my posts that came from the former Screenbones Ego website are now here, and I do still plan to continue to make Ego posts. This website is still a work in progress, however, so you’ll see my new plans very soon. It may include a combination of Google AdSense and Patreon.

Thank you for checking out this website.

On YouTube?

So, I want to try getting back on YouTube.

However, there are a lot of things holding me back. Considering I’m a millennial (or, at least, whatever it between millennial and gen z, I was born 1999) in a lower middle class family, it’s not like I can just purchase a high-quality camera and editing rig. I will be working minimum wage, or close to minimum wage, when I finally get hired by someone (minimum wage is $10.50/hour right now, headed to $12/hour by 2020).

Of course, I can always use WeVideo to do simple editing on my Chromebook as a short-term solution, however I would need to get an upgrade at some point. The short-term solution would be easy to do a classic gaming channel, however I want to run a tech channel, and a politics channel with Julian, plus I want to eventually move to more modern games on various consoles.

So, here’s the question:

Should I start the gaming channel and run a Patreon for growth? Should I start messing around with RPG Maker and finally release a full-fledged game? Should I do both?

I could also launch a podcast with Julian, however we were never very good at keeping something like this up. Do you think, being out of school, this would be much easier to start up? What kind of podcast should I run?

However I end up running things, growth will take a while. Patreon may end up being my main form of income for Screenbones. Should I make my first game free? Should I start with a smaller game?

These are the questions. Where do I start? Where do I go from there? What’s a reasonable plan for growth?

As always,

-Keep Exploring

Is there really not a market for something like iGoogle?

iGoogle was an internet dashboard. The idea was simple: You’d set it as your browser’s homepage, and every time you open it up all your information would be there. Of course you have the search bar, but you also have the weather, Gmail, an RSS Feed, maybe a few digital pets, Google Calendar, a countdown, and whatever else you would need. Maybe Google Classroom or Google News. Your YouTube Subscription Feed?

It’s such a genius idea that it’s curious that this kind of thing didn’t catch on. Why don’t we hear about dashboard sites more often? Why doesn’t Windows or Chrome OS have something built-in for this? Why is there no universal standard for creating web widgets?

iGoogle was launched May 19, 2005. It was discontinued November 1, 2013.

The reason laid out was “the unforeseen evolution of web and mobile apps and the erosion of the need for the site”. But… how does this make any sense whatsoever? How is a homepage that gives you all the information you may need in one place not something people would want? For crying out loud, why isn’t there an app for THIS?

Now, of course, there do exist iGoogle clones. However, none of them are really any good. I still have yet to sign up for one and stick with it the same way I enjoyed iGoogle.

I still long for a single homepage that lays out all the information I need. I would have Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Keep, my YouTube Subscriptions, an RSS Feed, a digital fish tank, a weather app, hopefully Google Assistant, and maybe some others on that dashboard. Before May I would have had Google Classroom listed there, as well.

Is this really not something people see potential in? Is this really not something ANYONE wants? Not a single person?

As always,

-Keep Exploring

What a Chromebook can, indeed, do.

So I’ve been using a Chromebook for about a month already, and I pretty much love this device. I honestly haven’t found a lot of things I could not do that I wanted, with the exception of Minecraft (and I could probably find an APK somewhere and use a guide if I really wanted to).

The fact of the matter is, the majority of what you’d need a computer for is available on the World Wide Web, and most of the few exceptions are also available as an Android app.

Continue reading “What a Chromebook can, indeed, do.”

Sean Hannity Attacks Ocasio-Cortez By Presenting Her Platform Riddled with Popular Policies

Hello, all!

I just had to write a post on this because this is absolutely amazing! Sean Hannity of Fox News decided to try an attack Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Progressive candidate that just won the Democratic Primary in New York, by sharing to his entire audience her platform RIDDLED WITH POLICIES THEY SHOULD LOVE!!!

So let’s sit here and examine the platform that Hannity describes as “downright scary”:

Continue reading “Sean Hannity Attacks Ocasio-Cortez By Presenting Her Platform Riddled with Popular Policies”

I actually like my Chromebook

Hello, all!

Today, I want to talk a little about Chrome. Specifically, Chrome OS. Chrome OS is an operating system that is literally meant to be just Google Chrome, but it does allow you to download Android apps from Google Play.

The thing is, this thing is actually decently fast. Like, unless I keep my computer on for weeks on end without rest, it doesn’t slow down by much. It’s always ready when I need it, and I can manage documents even when offline thanks to Google Drive’s ability to work offline.

The only thing I could find I couldn’t do that I wanted was to play PUBG and Fortnite. To some of you, that might be a dealbreaker. For me, however, that’s just fine. I primarily use this device to manage spreadsheets, read books, maintain YouTube Playlists (particularly Watch Later), and I’m beginning to start playing Naruto Online.

Believe it or not, this is stuff that was really annoying to do with my Windows Laptop provided by my school. It always slowed to a crawl by the time I was done with half the day, Google Play Books did not work at all, and forget about trying to use YouTube.

Windows 10’s Bluetooth system does not work at all. I’ve had the thing Blue Screen when trying to use Bluetooth, and sometimes it would suddenly drop the connection. Once that happened, it would take nearly an hour just to try and fix the connection, and YouTube would take nearly half an hour to get working.

This is an issue I have never run into on this Chromebook. So long as I remember to turn off Bluetooth on my iPhone, all I got to do with turn them on, wait for the headphones to appear in the Bluetooth menu, and connect. Done deal. No need to worry about it.

I thought this device lacked the keyboard shortcuts I enjoyed on Windows when I first got it, but I eventually learned this is not the case. Alt+Tab works, there’s a lock button on the keyboard, and the FN+Left/Right arrows for Home and End can be accomplished by holding the Search+Left/Right. Caps Lock also continues to exist, all I have to do is press Alt+Search. In fact, my favorite new shortcut is the ability to swipe to the left or right with two fingers on the trackpad to go back and forward; I use it all the time without even thinking about it!

Basically, there’s practically nothing I miss. The only thing I miss is DOS Emulation and Minecraft, and let’s be honest, this is not a deal breaker. I will likely soon be able to play Fortnite as it’s coming to Android soon, and Naruto Online is a pretty good MMO to waste my time with.

What about video editing? I haven’t really had the opportunity to do this, however, I will likely be doing this with WeVideo Unlimited, which is $5.99/month, and will be way better than Windows Movie Maker.

As for managing my main website, I will be able to do this as this Chromebook comes with a text editor that already comes with most of the features I enjoyed with Notepad++ on Windows.

I will not be doing video game production for some time, however. I will be focusing mainly on brushing up my video production skills.

As you can see, this Chromebook is able to do practically everything I want it to do. The best part? It’s about as fast as I want it and it wasn’t too expensive. It’s even a convertible, so I can use it in Tablet, Tent, or Display mode should I choose. The resolution may be 1366×768 (Still HD, but not Full HD), but the screen is small enough to look sharp at that resolution. I even grabbed a Material Design wallpaper, which looks amazing on this thing.

I absolutely love the touchscreen on this thing, too. You never realize you need it until you have it.

So should you get a Chromebook? Unless you’re a gamer or a professional video editor (who needs something like Premiere Pro to get your job done), I’d say absolutely. There isn’t much you can’t do on this thing. In fact, even if you’re a Retro Gamer, there are a decent amount of emulators on the Google Play Store that works fine enough.

I am currently using the Acer Chromebook R11, which is available on Amazon for a list price of $299 and is eligible for Prime Shipping. Click Here to check it out.

And for the record, there is no reason to get a Pixelbook. It is $999 for the lowest model and $1,649 for the most expensive model, and that’s without a Pixelbook Pen ($99) or Preferred Care ($249).

The only downside to this device is that there isn’t a dBrand or Slickwrap Skin I can buy for it.

Can iOS 12 keep me on iPhone?

As an iPhone user, there are a lot of gripes that I have with the iOS ecosystem. I’m gonna be honest: The iPhone is not bad. It’s a very decent and very capable device. However, there are quite a few things that I wish they did differently, and a lot of this stems from Android.

And with iOS 12, some of those things may get fixed. Notifications have been a very huge reason for me to make this switch, and the same is true with Siri, the Home Screen, and the Default Browser. Now, out of those four, the home screen and default browser are being left out, however, they are improving Notifications and Siri.

With the Notifications, the complaint is very simple: Why is it that when I’m in, say, a group chat with about 20 people, each and every single individual message gets its own notification? Those notifications drown out literally every other one, leaving to miss Twitter notifications, Emails, individual messages, SMS, etc.

Now, iOS 12 is adding grouped notifications, and all I’ve got to say about that is THANK YOU!!! I’ve disabled notifications for each of the group chats I’m involved in simply because I can’t handle all those notifications, but after this update, I can finally leave them on and get involved with groups once again.

Now, with Siri, the complaint is simple: She’s adequate. She’s functional. And that’s it. She’s not good. She’s not great.

It all stems from the fact that when I ask a question, and Siri doesn’t already know the answer, I only get search results. That’s it. Contrast that with Google Assistant, who does a Google Search and reads off the result.

In this case, the system could be much better. For example, I just asked, “When did the Nexus Three come out?” I got a bunch of search results from that. However, imagine if Siri did a Wikipedia search of Nexus Three, being redirected to the Galaxy Nexus, searching for that area in the sidebar where it says “First Release”, and parsed where it says “17 November 2011” and responded “According to Wikipedia, the Galaxy Nexus was released November 17, 2011”.

How about prices? I asked Siri “How much does the Pixelbook Cost”? Instead of doing a Bing Search, why not search “Pixelbook” on Amazon, take the first result, which shows the current cost of a Pixelbook being $749 with the original price being $999, and then responded, “The Pixelbook is on sale on Amazon for $749 right now”. Maybe even report that it’s supported on Prime Shipping. “The Pixelbook is on sale on Amazon for $749 with Prime Shipping right now”.

For crying out loud, when I search how much the MacBook Pro costs, Siri doesn’t even tell me out loud: She says Apple.com can tell me the price and pulls up a button to go to the website. If I wanted to do that, I already would have!

Notice just how much better that alone would make Siri? Take questions, do a search on a relevant website, and parse the data to find what information could be helpful. If unsure, ask the user if the information was helpful. There’s no shame in collecting feedback in order to make Siri better!

That being said, however, Siri is finally being opened up in that app developers may now integrate features into Siri. Now imagine being able to request an Uber ride with your voice? Imagine if it all worked with your Apple Watch, or even Homepod when the iPhone is close enough to be seen?

The third item that I really dislike is the Home Screen, and this one is very simple: Just let me place a clock and weather widget on there. Maybe even a mail widget on one of the pages. Please?

And finally, can I please replace Safari with Google Chrome as my default browser?

Just these changes would honestly make iOS and the iOS Ecosystem nearly perfect for me. I love the Control Center, I love Apple Pay, I love iMessage, I love ARKit, and Face ID looks very promising.

To be honest, Apple should release a “VRKit” with their answer to Google’s Daydream platform. Or, in a twist, integrate the iPhone into Daydream. Then again, I’m not planning to order a Google Daydream View headset, I’m planning to go Oculus Go, which is why the device I’m switching to is the OnePlus 6 and the lack of a VR System in the iOS Ecosystem is not a dealbreaker.

However, the notifications are broken, Siri is simply adequate when she should be great, widgets are not available for the home screen, and I can’t change the default browser to Google Chrome (I’ve had a number of times when I’d enter a website like Amazon, and it’d redirect me to the Amazon app, for example, and then redirect me into Safari… PLEASE STOP DOING THAT), and they don’t even allow me to choose where I purchase my movies and my music (I DON’T WANT TO USE iTUNES). These five major gripes are honestly the reason I want to go back to Android.

However, with grouped notifications and app integration into Siri, it’s very possible Apple could hold onto me for another year. I just had a look at the Product Red iPhone 8, and it looked very good.

And if it turns out to be better than expected (especially with the shared experiences in ARKit), I very well might order their other products: The Apple Watch, Apple TV, Airpods, Homepod, and maybe the MacBook Pro (although I’m also thinking of sticking to Chromebooks for a little while longer). I’m still going to heavily use Google Software, such as Google News and Google Play Products, however.

With all that being said, iOS 13 better be absolutely amazing if you want to keep me on for 2019-2020. There are other decently priced Android Phones that very successfully rival you, Apple. iOS 12 is only lowering me from five major gripes to three, and Siri will still have problems. Honestly, letting me choose my default browser LIKE ONE CAN DO ON A MAC and allowing me to purchase digital media from Amazon and Google Play should not be that hard. This kind of thing is what Android users call the “Walled Garden”.

An Open Letter to CNN: Marketing to Millennials

Dear CNN,

I understand it’s difficult for you to deal with the fact that millennials like me enjoy shows from independent YouTubers over Corporate Media. However, your smear post about YouTube’s advertising system shows a clear misunderstanding of how it works. Either that, or you’re purposefully omitting this information for your smear.

I think we all understand which one of those I believe.

However, I’m going to come at you with a radical idea: Millennials are not a lost cause when it comes to live TV. I watch a few shows from the TYTNetwork. If they grabbed a TV channel through Dish, or even YouTube TV, that included all their shows like The Young Turks 2-Hour Live Broadcast, ThinkTank, TYT Sports, TYT Politics, What the Flick, Pop Trigger, TYT Interviews, Nerd Alert, Jimmy Dore, Secular Talk, Sam Seder, The News with Dan Rather, The Humanist Report, The Bill Press Show, and The Point, I would probably tune in on a regular basis.

And it’s not like I don’t watch Live TV at all. I watch Disney XD. I watch Boomerang. I watch BBC America. I watch Nickelodeon. I watch TruTV.

And the reason I started watching these channels are pretty clear. I liked Star vs. the Forces of Evil and Phineas and Ferb. Those shows are on Disney XD. So, I tune in to that channel to see much of their other content. This introduced me to Milo Murphy’s Law, Kick Buttouski, Mech-X4, Beyblade Burst, and even more. Yes, there are shows I’m not so fond of, but I tune in on a semi-regular basis, simply because I like the majority of their shows.

It would be the same with TYT Network. I watch their 2-hour broadcast almost daily when they come live. I watch Secular Talk. I watch The Jimmy Dore Show. I watch The Humanist Report. I started watching Disney XD on the basis of two shows. If The Young Turks got a TV channel that included each one of their shows, I’d easily tune in, and even be interested in many of their other shows in this way.

Update 2018/09/23: So, it turns out that The Young Turks is now on YouTube TV. YouTube TV is currently within my price reach, however it does not have an app on my Fire TV Stick at the moment, so I don’t really have the option of watching it. However, it actually looks pretty cool. Maybe once I make the switch to Android TV or Apple TV, I’ll sign up for YouTube TV and check out this channel. Oh wait, maybe I’ll use the 7-Day Free Trial to my advantage for now. Check back soon!

Update 2018/09/28: So, I went ahead and grabbed that YouTube TV Free Trial. In my opinion, if I had the funds, it would be well worth the $40/month, there being plenty of decent channels that I actually watch (Disney XD, BBC America, TYT… the only big thing left out are Viacom channels). The TYT Channel on YouTube TV is actually pretty decent, and I hope to see more MCN’s on this system, or other cord-cutting TV Services. I may actually convince my parents to skip renewing our Dish Network contract in favor of an Android TV or Apple TV box with YouTube TV installed. Full review coming soon.

Yes, TYT has a Pluto TV channel, but it only includes, like, three of their shows, and often does reruns. (Update 2018/09/23: So, the Pluto TV Channel got worse, now simply rerunning a 1-hour version of their last live broadcast.)

It could be the same way with CNN. Start including actual progressives in their network. Allow them to speak their mind without a filter. Cut a deal with Google to include Google AdSense on the TV Channel. Introduce some of your shows on YouTube through a YouTube Channel. I’d eventually check out one of the shows, and if it’s good I’ll like it. Eventually, I’ll check out some of the other shows on your network and eventually I’ll actually check out the CNN channel. If your content is genuinely good, I’ll tune in pretty regularly.

While I can’t speak for other millennials, I can tell you this marketing strategy will indeed work for me. It worked with Disney XD (their shows are on Netflix and Hulu). It worked with BBC America (Doctor Who on Netflix, occasionally watching Star Trek with my Mom). It almost worked with TYTNetwork (if they included all their shows on a better schedule, I’d tune in more often). It would certainly work for CNN.

And I bet you it would work with other millennials.

Sincerely,

Marco Salin

Club Penguin Rewritten to Return

On February 12, 2017, Club Penguin Rewritten was launched in response to the announcement of Club Penguin’s closure. This service was provided to continue the Club Penguin experience, by continuing to hold parties, and encouraging community engagement.

On March 4, 2018, Club Penguin Rewritten was discontinued for the safety of the staff.

Now, it’s time for the return of Club Penguin Rewritten. Club Penguin was a part of my life, and the ability to continue playing it despite it’s closure is really nice to have, especially in the face of it’s replacement, Club Penguin Island.

I wonder if they were able to recover everyone’s user accounts, though. I hope so.