STFU: I have Skype on my iPhone

I’m interested: do I have this today simply because I happen – for the next few hours – to be physically in the United States of America, and so my IP address passed the iTunes store check and let me have it? I’ve been hearing that back home no-one can get hold of this little beauty. Muahahaha!

Of course, it’s a dirty little secret that Apple refuses to allow developers to see the comments of users for any country except the one the developer is currently standing in – so those hundreds of comments per-app that the developer seems to ignore, in your home country?

Yes, they are ignoring them, because Apple refuses to let the developer read them. Oh, how amusing.

Anyway, I just wanted to gloat over my posession of the free Skype app. I wonder if there’s some way I can start sharing it with people in the UK when I get home, phone-to-phone, without jailbreaking? Assuming, of course, that it really isn’t available in the UK iTunes Store (which I don’t entirely believe – why *not* make it available? After all, Skype is a European company in the first place…)

I can’t test over 3G/EDGE/GPRS because Apple has (I believe illegally) locked my iPhone and I can’t use it in USA for cell phone – but it’s working fine over Wifi. Unfortunately, I’m in San Francisco, one of the world’s worst cities for Wifi coverage (more to come on that later), so reception is painful and patchy – but clearly in any decent 1st world internet-connected city this is an awesome chunk of functionality.

games industry network programming

Can OnLive work, technically? If so, how?

This week, a game service was announced that would stream games to your home TV without you needing to own a console or PC. A lot of people are wondering: are these guys smoking crack?

EDIT: Richard Leadbetter at Eurogamer has an article with some great “side by side compare” video to show theoretical quality you can achieve with off the shelf compressors right now. He comes to a similar conclusion on the issue of latency, although having seen the video I disagree on the quality (he feels it’s unacceptable) – it’s clearly inferior, but it still provides a very nice experience, especially if you’re sitting 6-12 feet away from the screen.

GDC 2009

GDC 2009: all transcripts / liveblogs

Here are all the liveblogs / transcripts I’ve found so far for the 2009 Game Developers Conference. If you want your blog posts to be included in the live RSS feed for future games industry conferences, let me or Darius know a week or so before the conference – we cover the big ones like GDC and AGDC, and some of the smaller ones.

I’ll edit this list as more appear – feel free to copy/paste any you find into the comments section and I’ll edit them in up here.

GDC09: Meaningful Social Reality Games

GDC09: ‘Winging It’ – Ups, Downs, Mistakes, Successes in the Making of LITTLEBIGPLANET

GDC09: Advanced Data Mining and Intelligence from Large-Scale Game Data

GDC Transcript: James Portnow, User Generated Story: The Promsie of Unsharded Worlds

The Indie Businessman

GDC: Games That Connect People

GDC09: Game Mechanics Without Rules

GDC09: Worlds In Motion Summit: Keynote

GDC09: Online Games: Europe Challenges

GDC09: Dragonslaying: Facebook lessons learned from Dungeons and Dragons Tiny Adventures

GDC09: How to sell Social Networking to your Publisher

GDC09: Building and Sustaining Successful Free to Play MMOs

GDC 2009: Role of games in personal and social change

GDC09: Post Mortem: Mission Architect for City of Heroes

GDC09: The Cruise Director of AZEROTH: Directed Gameplay within WORLD OF WARCRAFT

GDC09: From COUNTER-STRIKE to LEFT 4 DEAD: Creating Replayable Cooperative Experiences

GDC09: Meaning, Aesthetics, and User-Generated Content

GDC09: Taking Spore seriously

GDC09: From COUNTER-STRIKE to LEFT 4 DEAD: Creating Replayable Cooperative Experiences

GDC09: Red Oceans and Blue Oceans

NB: most of these were pulled from the shared Twitter feed we did this year, but I was afraid that might not remain live and working forever (a lot of sites cycle out their RSS data over time), so I wanted to capture it before it was too late!

Well done to all the bloggers who reported on the conference in such fine style! It’s great to see more people taking the plunge and adding their own professional opinions into the mix.

GDC 2009

GDC09: Online Games: Europe Challenges

Thomas Bidaux, ICO Partners


Far too much information to be any kind of practical guide (there were at least 5 (maybe 10) slides I don’t even mention here, full of facts and figures, that were glossed over too fast to record). Although note that Thomas said he’d be posting the full slides on the ICO Partners website soon, so you should be able to go over the charts yourself once that goes up.

But I think it achieved something more useful: it gave a great taster of just how broad and deep this topic is, when publishers and developers (especially American ones, but even European ones) often massively underestimate it – and lose lots and lots of money as a result. It also gave some concrete examples of what can go wrong and how, especially on the ratings side of things.

I suggested after the talk that it would be awesome to also do a long standalone list of the concrete examples. They’re not only highly illustrative but also often very funny. Watch this space (ICO Partners blog)! (hint, hint).

NB: Thomas was my boss at NCsoft until he left at the start of 2008.

GDC 2009

GDC09: Dragonslaying: Facebook lessons learned from Dungeons and Dragons Tiny Adventures

Andrew Finch
Nik Davidson


Seemed very strange that it got killed as a project. It sounded as though WotC had “learnt from the experience” but it also sounded very foolish to have haemmhoraged the newly-trained/experienced personnel. That smells like some kind of political battle that got lost rather than a normal operating decision.

NB: The slot for this talk was half the normal length for GDC talks (speakers choose their alotted time period, usually), hence the short writeup – the speakers tried to cram a fair amount in the time they had.

GDC 2009 social networking web 2.0

GDC09: How to sell Social Networking to your Publisher

Adam Martin, (me!)


I was giving this talk, so … no live writeup this time :).

The slides are up on slideshare here:

NB: I lost my voice the morning of the talk, and panicked, and rewrote the slides to include everything in words in case I couldn’t get my voice back (or if it cut out part way through). Hence the unusually dour presentation style. Sorry!

conferences GDC 2009

I have no voice and I must speak (tomorrow, at GDC)

This is going to be, um, … interesting. Darius lost his voice this week (some throat infection cominbed with lots of drinking, nonstop talking/networking, and then aggresive partying each night). Poor guy, he was totally inaudible yesterday.

And this morning I could hardly talk too, so I’m on a diet of “not speaking” and hoping it will clear up enough for my talks tomorrow, especially the midday “how to sell social networking to your publisher”.

Although … it would be awesome fun to have to do a talk without speaking a single word (I’ve seen it done before, deliberately). I think it would probably need a LOT more prepartion though than I have time for :(.

So … I’m not at the conference today, I’m chilling in SF and resting my poor beleaguered voice.

GDC 2009

GDC09: Building and Sustaining Successful Free to Play MMOs

Don Choi, OGPlanet


Very little of interest in this talk. I think there is a *lot* more you could say, and it would be a lot valuable and interesting, on the topics covered. I have no idea why the talk was so content-light (mis-guessed the audience? speaker having to give someone else’s talk? lawyers insisted on removing info? nervous speaker?), the speaker seemed fine, it’s just that the content was … absent.

computer games design GDC 2009 massively multiplayer

GDC09: Making of Little Big Planet (ups, downs, mistakes, successes)

Alex Evans, Media Molecule
Mark Healey, Media Molecule


The MM guys are funny as ever, although Alex’s “I made it myself on the way here” presentation tool would perhaps have been more usefully replaced with something like Presi (or whatever it’s called – the “interactive” presentation tool that is like Alex’s thing, but on steroids. Ask Jussi, he’s a fan of it).

The overall impression I got is: here’s another studio that has “by trial and error and cunning and talent” independently discovered something very similar to Scrum. They don’t do Scrum, and I’m sure a lot of people will scream at me for even saying it, but … I went through similar “find a process that worked for game development” (not carried so far, and on much smaller projects), and I recognize a lot of the lessons they learnt and things they incorporated in their processes and approaches. And from my experience, I think they’d find it relatively easy to switch over to Scrum, and that they’d get a lot of benefit from having a more polished version of their processes. Not to say that Scrum is universally better – there’d be losses too – but for people considering their own processes to use – or trying to “understand” Scrum – you’d do well to read this liveblog and try to internalize some of the lessons and attitudes. And then consider this and scrum as alternative to each other, but both near-relatives. And … if you are *not* MM, and don’t have all the details of precisely how they work, you’d probably find it much easier and more effective to adopt the well-documented Scrum instead.

community design games design GDC 2009 marketing reputation systems

GDC09: Game Mechanics Without Rules

Sulka Haro, Sulake


The intersection between social and gaming, and where that should be going, instead of where lots of people are obsessing about taking it.

(I have more to add here later, but I’ve got to run to a meeting; will update the post when I have time)

games industry GDC 2009

GDC09: Worlds In Motion Summit: Keynote

Raph Koster, Metaplace


Raph promised to be nice and not make us depressed this year. It was an elegy on “look how much we progressed as an industry during 2008”.

EDIT: Alice has a shorter and sweeter summary up on Wonderland.

alternate reality games community computer games design GDC 2009 reputation systems

GDC09: Meaningful Social Reality Games

Austin Hill, Akoha


Conference organizer introduced this as “during this first talk, think about the platform they’ve made, as much as you do the game; that could be especially interesting for this audience”.

I totally support the principles and the ideals. The game looks fun and interesting, and at the same time taking a very “Don’t worry, be crappy” approach to core game design: lots of classic mistakes made, obvious stuff. Is this a case of being brave enough to deliberately make the mistakes they understand (because they’re easy to fix later when you’re more successful – and it leaves you more spare time to focus on fixing/avoiding the mistakes you don’t understand yet) – or just naivety?

Interesting to hear the philosophy that fed into the creation of the game, the speaker’s personal journey and how it informed the design. On the other hand, I was a bit disappointed how little actual content there was in this talk. It was perhaps 50% or more made up of a few long video clips. They were long and very little was pulled-out / emphasised from them. Most had very little information content per minute. Worst example was a mildly entertaining video of one of their players giving an intro to the product – but, frankly, so what? This was “new” and “interesting” 4 or 5 years ago, but by now it’s happened thousands of times over, and we’ve all seen it for many games. I didn’t understand why we were watching it.

I have a sneaking suspicion that – given he’s a VC – the speaker was pitching that video stuff to show “look, we have players who love our game”. That’s interesting and exciting to investors who have little or no immersion in the online world, but IMHO for game developers that’s just par for the course these days. No?

conferences GDC 2009

A Flying Start

4 hours sleep or less?

The main 8 hour event I’ve come for today “not listed” on conference programme?

The big posters-sized signs don’t list any of the summit locations?

The map claims that the giant room where the first session takes place “doesn’t exist”?

No coffee and breakfast today?
Check (argh!)

I guess it must be the first day of a conference, then :). Bring it on!

EDIT: Darius has set up the RSS aggregator for all GDC talk liveblogging, parties blogging, etc – only this year with Twitter integration –

conferences GDC 2009

GDC 2009 Parties

Lots of news sites and blogs have reported that the recession has affected GDC this year, with lot of cancelled parties and a big drop in attendees. I wouldn’t be surprised, given all the redundancies (although … wouldn’t that mean more people looking to recruit / be recruited?), but the first round of evidence – the volume of parties – shows no signs of recession so far:

bitching games industry

IGDA Chair responds to Quality of Life debacle

We finally have a mainstream response (as opposed to responses sitting quietly in obscurity in the forums) to the issue of IGDA Board Members pissing all over IGDA’s main tenets:
(from the IGDA monthly newsletter that just went out to all 15,000+ members)

Instances of the following words in that response:

sorry – 0
mistake – 0
fault – 0
acceptable – 0
unacceptable – 0

I guess that says it all, really. If that was meant to be an apology, or a recognition that the board and the org did *anything* wrong here at all, then it’s a clear FAIL.

If not … well, what was the point?

The fact that the org refuses even now to accept that it did anything wrong, refuses to apologize, or to commit to acting differently next time, that there is no action item offered to rectify it taking 4+ months for the organization to respond (having only acted *at all* after it was pushed into the news, DESPITE the board being present at the damn event), well…

All that seems to me to say:

“it’s business as usual, folks; EA, Epic, and all the other abusive studios – don’t worry, IGDA has your back! Our members come second”

I didn’t used to believe that – I know many key people in IGDA personally and knew they would never ever espouse that – but I’m now staring the reality in the face and seeing that “the organization as run by the board” != “the diligent and wonderful individuals I know who contribute so much”.

PS: quick shout to Tom Buscaglia (one of the board members who’s so far apparently done nothing about all this) – if, after reading this post, you’re going to accuse *me* of being “a whiney little bitch who would rather quit after a loss than jump in deeper” again, then I suggest this time that you link to the post URL rather than the blog domain. That way people reading this will get an automatic trackback link to your site, and get to see your response this time around :).

computer games entrepreneurship games industry massively multiplayer recruiting startup advice

Culture, Reputation, and Running a Game Studio

What’s the biggest single challenge to a Studio Director? Or to the VP of Development / Studios who oversees a handful of publisher-owned studios?


In the games industry there are no raw materials of variable quality, there is no variety of base services to build upon; everything that distinguishes one company (and set of products) from another comes solely from the people they hire.

In the games industry there are no raw materials to pay for, there are no service charges. There are only salaries and employee-support costs.

Recruitment is where the studio heads find their hardest problems, and see their biggest successes/failures as the studio grows in size. Eventually, all their own experience and ability at design, marketing, sales, programming, art, etc become subsumed by their ability to attract, recruit, retain, lead, and motivate their people.


…is the best thing for new game studios to happen in the past 5 years. It’s achieved four things:

  1. Removed lots and lots of people from their comfortable jobs, by force
  2. …simultaneously…
  3. …indiscriminately w.r.t. quality of personnel…
  4. …and made even the supposedly “secure” games companies (EA, Microsoft, Sony) suddenly look as fragile and short-term as the riskiest of startups

The VCs have been blogging about the benefits to startups wrought by this recession, and I’ve put it to a couple of them now that, for the game industry, this one – recruitment – is the biggest by far, and each time met with straight agreement. Our industry is very like Management Consultancy: it’s driven by the people. Nothing else matters.


I’ve worked with a lot of experienced managers who’ve been adamant that “no-one leaves their job because of (too little) salary”. Also with slightly fewer who were convinced that “no-one accepts a job based on salary” (more often, that was rephrased with a rider to be: “no-one good accepts a job based on salary alone“).

In that case, why do people accept / leave a job?

“Culture” is the catch-all term that describes not just the direct environment which people experience each day in the office, but also the emotional and psychological experiences that they go through while there.

It describes how their colleagues think and act – and how those actions effect the individual. But it also describes how the “teams” within the organization think and act, which can often be very different from the people within them. You often see teams of smart people “acting dumb”, or teams of nice people act like assholes when taken collectively. Group think is powerful, very powerful.

But it’s hard, very hard, to really see the culture of a company until you’ve worked there for a couple of years, and in a couple of different divisions, and perhaps a dozen different departments. Which is not an option for most of us. You can work somewhere for just a few months and pick up the culture if you know what you’re doing and really work at it – but even that requires skill and dedication, and can only be done AFTER accepting a job offer.

(this is one of the reasons I posted my Manifesto for a Game Studio online – you can get a strong taste of the culture of my next startup, and decide if you want to work with us, without having to sacrifice a year of working there first)


Game industry staff often worry about reputation. The companies (as represented by the senior management) themselves often don’t.

The former care how their organization is perceived, and assume everyone else does too. They assume that a “better reputation” will lead to “more sales”.

The latter have access to the actual sales figures, and have convinced themselves that this is a nice idea but simply not borne out by fact (in some cases this is true, in some it isn’t – but it’s much easier to look at the figures on paper and believe it’s true than to see the flaws in that logic).

But the truth is that it IS important, very important. It’s the external reflection of the internal culture. As such, it’s what most people use to make a decision about whether they want to work there.

Obviously, it varies. The older and more experienced you are, the more you come to use a company’s reputation as a barometer of its culture – and the more heavily you weight this in your decision about accepting a job. The younger, more ignorant staff generally haven’t been burnt by terrible culture, or haven’t yet learned what to look for / avoid in their next employer.

Back to the issue of Recruitment: the biggest successes/failures are going to be from the more experienced people you hire (and, remember – hiring a “bad” person into a senior position is not just a loss, it can easily cause negative productivity, by screwing up lots of other staff who were doing their jobs better before that person arrived and started interfering / roadblocking them / etc).

So … you probably should care about your reputation, somewhat in proportion to the size of your company.


Pre-WoW, Blizzard had an exceptional reputation, for a handful of common reasons (amongst others):

  1. Never shipped a game that wasn’t really good fun
  2. Frequently invented + defined large sub-genres with their games (Warcraft was one of the first RTS’s, Starcraft created the “truly strategic” RTS genre, Diablo re-invented the hack-and-slash RPG, etc)
  3. Publicly talked about “finishing” their games, and then deliberately deciding to spend another whole year (or similar) working on them before shipping, to make sure they were really polished
  4. All of their games were best-sellers – i.e. they didn’t just make cool stuff, they made cool stuff that the market appreciated and paid for, too

Now, I’m not so sure. If a recruiter called me tomorrow with an “amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to work at Blizzard, my first reaction would be hesitation: would I really want to work at the place that Blizzard has become?

While people have queued up to defend them, the history of their actions against Glider, and now this absurd crackdown on World of Warcraft add-on authors, have left me with a sour taste in the mouth.

In my opinion, using the law to beat over the head people who discover flaws in your basic business model / acumen is the last refuge of those who recognize their own incompetence but would rather not go to the effort of raising their own quality bar. Blizzard seems to be making a habit of it. That’s not encouraging. Ten million paying players for one MMO is great, but … the sales figures of their games were only ONE of those bullets I cited above about Blizzard’s reputation traditionally. Money buys a lot of forgiveness, but not infinitely so.

conferences GDC 2009

Don’t go to GDC; listen to “industry heavyweights” instead!

For a mere $600 (yes, that *is* going to double the cost of the GDC ticket that you already bought), you can go to this competing event on Tuesday next week:

“VentureBeat is teaming with industry heavy-weights.”

Ah, hubris, how we love you.

“You’ll learn how one of the most successful and rapidly growing sectors in the high-tech industry will be critical in the development of every major computing platform, including web, mobile and social media technologies.”

The thing about making such grandiose claims is that you’re going to look particularly stupid if you can’t live up to them. I read this far with interest, perhaps even a little excitement – what were they doing that they felt bold enough to go head to head with the world’s largest and most important games-industry annual event?

Hmm. Well. Let’s look at what these Industry Heavyweights are going to be saying:

8:45: 5 different Venture Capitalists talk about new business models, and which companies are going to “win” going forwards. This would be cool, except that VC’s love to say “if I thought I actually knew, I’d quit and found my own startup”. Probably a good session if you’ve not been to these guys’ VC panels before, just so you can get a bit of insight of how they think. However, the lack of anyone who would force them to be honest takes away most of the value of having them there; VC panels *always* need someone on them who’s post-funding, or a super angel, and not afraid to cry BS on them. Where’s Nabeel, or Susan, or one of the other bullish entrepreneurs with no iota of fear of VCs?

9:30: the man who was so unpopular at the ION conference last year he almost got booed / dragged off the stage is back to take credit for creating an MMO 12 years ago which his company has failed to equal since, and to claim to “launch a new breed of online games” that as we all know is is just a clone of other, bigger, games that came out 8 years ago. Colour me not impressed.

10:00: Someone from PlayStation Network is going to talk about how tough it is to focus on your consumers, and what you should do. This will be a short one; I predict she’ll say “just don’t do what we did, we’ve screwed up on every decision we ever made”. There’s also someone from Nokia, That Failed Mass Market Wannabe Game Company Who Never Saw What Was Right In Front Of Their Faces (as if nGage weren’t enough, they had to make another one to really seal their FAIL title). And a publisher trying to make a play for control of one of the “new platforms”, who’s probably going to be a teensy weensy bit biased. I’d say that Neil Young is going to be the one here worth listening to, bias included, because he might well reveal some interesting things about life as an iPhone publisher. I don’t think there’ll be much on-topic of value, though.

11:00: “Are the barriers to entry just too big with giants like Activision Blizzard using World of Warcraft as a continuous revenue stream to reinvest?”. This will be another short session, we – all – already know the answer: “yes”. That is why no-one sane is attempting it. Wasn’t Hellgate: London enough of a lesson for you? Although it would seem implicitly that at least two of the speakers on this panel are going ahead anyway. What I’d like to know is just where do those guys find the pants big enough?

12:00-16:00: these sessions seem mostly normal, the right kind of people speaking for the topics. Although I’m not sure exactly of the value of e.g. a 30 minute session with a non-game-developer talking about his dream game development studio. Great for him, if he knows what he wants and is getting it, that’s cool. But … what does that have to do with the “industry heavyweights”? Surely it would make more sense to get someone who’s made a whole series of studios answering that question? Maybe I’m missing something here, but IIRC he … hasn’t?

16:00: “Is what sells today going to be socially acceptable tomorrow?” and “If they are indeed becoming routine, then what comes next? And, how do companies make money from it?” – well, the companies speaking at these sessions are near *guaranteed* not to answer, because they’re all betting their own futures on “them knowing, and the rest of you not knowing”. Could be a short session…

16:45: I’m taking a wild guess here that you’ll see 3 Analysts show how little they know about the industry. You’ve got someone from DFC up there, the same DFC that published a report the other week which couldnt’ seem to remember the difference between a “company” and a “product”, or at least was keen to ignore it if it got in the way of producing a vague “top 10 list”. And what’s with this factor-of-3-guesswork at revenues? I’ve got much much more detailed info than that myself!


CMP/Think Services needn’t start sweating yet. It’s going to be a heck of a lot more successful than their own attempt at something similar a few years back (“GDC Prime”), but it’s really just a sideshow, even with all the big names in attendance. They’re names, but not industry heavyweights; the heavyweights are all at GDC, IMHO.

Although … the cunning move of holding this on the Tuesday might well draw a fair few people into going who don’t have 5-day tickets for GDC (have the cheaper 3-day ones). TS has deliberately kept Mondays and Tuesdays quiet by charging an extra fee for attendance. My advice personally would be not to bother with the VB event (if you’re not already on a 5-day GDC ticket) and to instead spend the day meeting up with random GDC attendees / attending meetings.

GDC rocks. I’ll see you there…

EDIT: PS: the rampant attempts to re-inforce elitism at GDC are beginning to really wind me up. GDC Prime was bad enough, but everyone’s got to experiment with their business model from time to time. There are reasons why the elitist, coke-addled, E3 died and the developer-driven, egalitarian GDC did not (there’s a clue there to my own thoughts on at least one of the big reasons ;)), and I don’t take kindly to attempts to turn GDC into “E3 … take two”. They won’t win, so long as TS keeps their heads about them, but … it’s just tacky to watch.

conferences education games design

Serious game researchers: this is you.

Your professor tells you that you can’t study them for their own sake. However, if they’re as exciting as you say, and all the young people are reading them, then perhaps you could write an educational one? He therefore instructs you to go away and write a novel to teach addition.

For one of the conferences I was asked to speak at this year, I proposed a talk on the topic:

“Why the Serious Games movement is fundamentally bankrupt based on an idea that will never work, and what you should be doing instead, because there’s some great stuff you’re doing under that banner – but only when you undermine or ignore the classic definition(s) of Serious Games”

Unsurprisingly, they didn’t accept it. They kept on asking me to talk on something more “positive” and “business encouraging”; I kept on replying that it needs to be said, that it would be more valuable to their audience than anything else I personally could talk meaningfully on, and that if they didn’t want it, fine. Not my loss. Ah well.

(and to those of you who are doing great stuff and calling it Serious Games, but not following the foolishness of the majority – well done, keep it up, and we’re looking forward to what you come up with next!)

amusing computer games design games design iphone

iPhoneSexGame … as an MMO?

I’m very tempted to make this:

…with particular emphasis on the social / avatar / chat / networking features.

bitching conferences funny GDC 2009 iphone Web 0.1

Need help – anyone in SF next week with an iPhone hardware unlock?

(seriously – otherwise I’ll be phoneless thoughout GDC :( )

I’ve had no interest in cracking my iPhone, so I haven’t.

Until I discovered the other day that my incompetent network (O2) won’t allow me to make calls in the USA on the agreement I have with them, so I need to use a local USA SIM while I’m there. Unsurprisingly, all O2’s own staff openly advised this as the only sane course of action. They were apologetic that this was necessary. O2 loses nothing if I unlock the phone.

And then I discover that Apple’s undocumented 2.2.1 update which I was bounced into installing has disabled all known unlock processes except for the hardware ones. If I had bothered to do the unlock a few months ago, it would have worked perfectly. Now, with less than a day until I leave the country, there’s nothing I can do.

Help? Anyone?

(NB: I’m not on a contract. I’m not even registered with the network. I’m sure the EU commission will sue Apple’s ass over this sooner or later and force them to stop retailing locked phones in the UK. That is of no help to me *today*)

(NB2: Apple’s lack of respect for their consumer continues to impress me every year. I know *why* they did it (network operators forced them to), but that doesn’t excuse screwing the consumer without warning them what you’re about to do to them. Undocumented updates are vicious)