Gear & gadget reviews Other

Design: The worst thing about the New 3DS XL power button, and how Nintendo could fix it

This week I decided to take the plunge on Nintendo’s New 3DS XL, and I love it! But there’s one small problem: the power button is in precisely the wrong place, and how it works is about the least user-friendly it could be.

The position is on the lower right front edge. It’s very close to where my pinkie often comes to rest during regular play, but when things get tense I often grip hard and the pinkie slides up and presses the button. That’s the first part of the problem. The second part is how the software is designed to work once it’s pressed. It brings up a top-screen telling you to close the console if you want it to Sleep, and on the lower screen asks you to tap a button to Power off, or hit the hardware Home button to just return to the Home screen. There’s no option to just cancel the whole process and return to your game.

So in practice if you have software running when you hit the button that software will quit immediately, no saving, no matter what. In something like Animal Crossing one’s grasp of the console is a lot more relaxed, but in a particularly tense moment like the end of a Mario Kart race, or claiming a tough prey in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, it’s all too easy to find my pinkie pulling down on that Power button and it’s Game Over.

How Nintendo could fix the Power button issue

There’s a couple of things Nintendo could do to fix this with software updates. The first thing that would help would be to make the Power button only respond to a long hold rather than a firm press. It should really be like this anyway, as it is on most other portable devices. They’d ideally combine this with something a little more like how the Home button works. Instead of quitting the game just pause it like the Home button does, then ask me if I want to Sleep, Power off, or go Home.

It’s such an easy and you’d like to think obvious fix that hopefully it’s something we’ll see in a future software update. If you happen to know someone at Nintendo, do suggest this from me. 😉


CatPig Studios change the icon for Radium

new radium iconA while ago I wrote about Radium, a great app for listening to internet radio on your Mac and iOS devices, but which was rather blighted with one of the stupidest, most incongruent and confusing icons I could possibly think of for such an app: a heart-shaped chocolate.

Yes, a heart-shaped chocolate. For a radio app. I know.

This extended to the menu-bar icon, which was particularly galling to me so I wrote another post explaining how to edit the Radium app package to insert the original radio icons.

I’d always liked Radium, but I absolutely loathed the new icon and as I care about this sort of thing I wrote to Catpig to ask why they’d changed it. At first they brushed off my suggestions that it wasn’t the most obvious choice saying it was in keeping with their new tag line ‘chocolate for your ears’ (yep, also weird) but ultimately they weren’t that interested in taking any feedback and just got rude, suggesting that I was an idiot for not understanding design. I suggested they were the ones that put highfalutin but incongruent ideas ahead of user recognizability, but they made it explicitly clear that they couldn’t care less what I thought.

Well, I wasn’t the only one utterly bemused by the ridiculous new icon: a few users who saw my post mentioned in the comments some of the rude replies they’d received from CatPig when they too got in touch to ask about the icon. It seems that even though CatPig ask for user feedback on their site, they’re really not that interested in actually receiving it.

Or, are they? I’m afraid after the very rude replies they sent me I deleted Radium and subscribed to Rdio, so I never noticed a Radium update that completely changed the icon again until someone mentioned it in the comments recently. It seems CatPig finally got the message and switched from the ridiculous chocolate to an altogether more sensible radio tower. And it’s rather lovely!

Well done, CatPig! You’ve now got the best internet radio app and one of the best icons. Hopefully a customer interaction attitude adjustment is up next…?


Quick! YNAB is 75% off on Steam right now!

you need a budget iPhoneUPDATE: The Steam January 2014 Sale is now over so unfortunately if you’re reading this you’ve missed out on 75% off YNAB – but you can still get a $6 discount all year round using my own personal ‘10% Off YNAB’ referral link.

ORIGINAL POST: If you’re quick – and I mean very quick, there’s only 9 hours left at the time of writing (9am GMT on 2nd January 2014) – you can grab the utterly fantastic home budgeting app You Need A Budget for just £7.49 on Steam, a 75% discount!

Unfortunately you can’t also take advantage of YNAB’s $6 referral discount stacked on top of the Steam discount, like you can when YNAB have a sale on their own site, but you can’t have everything and hey, 75% off is an utterly amazing deal for this app, easily the best home budget software I’ve ever used.

What is Steam and how do I buy YNAB there?

Steam is a huge digital software store specialising mainly in games but it carries serious software too. If you’re new to Steam and nervous about buying from there rather than YNAB’s official website, don’t be, purchasing from Steam is easy and you’ll get a completely official copy of the app:

1. Download the Steam Store app here, and while you’re on their website create an account.

2. Launch the Steam app, login to your account and search for YNAB on Steam.

3. Purchase YNAB from Steam, then download and install it.

4. Now launch YNAB – all done!

Now then – because of how Steam works it will usually want to launch the Steam app whenever you launch your official copy of YNAB purchased from them. This is more a feature for games players who use the Steam app in the background while playing a game to chat with other Steam users. Here’s how to ‘divorce’ your copy of YNAB from the Steam app so you don’t need to worry about having the two apps open at once:

5. With your Steam copy of YNAB open: if you’re on a PC click the ‘Help’ menu, then ‘About’; on a Mac click the ‘YNAB 4’ menu, then ‘About’.

6. At the bottom of the ‘About YNAB 4’ window you’ll see a button labelled ‘Copy Activation Code to Clipboard.’ Click that.

7. Download a copy of YNAB from – the trial version will be fine.

8. Launch the trial version.

9. Paste in the activation code when prompted.

10. As you now have two copies of YNAB it could get confusing so we need to delete the one you downloaded from Steam. Go back to the Steam app, select the Library tab at the top, select your Steam-purchased copy of YNAB, right-click on it and select ‘Delete Local Content’.

All done! You now have an incredibly inexpensive official copy of YNAB, without having to open Steam every time you want to use it!


MGMT’s new album a week early on Rdio

Controversy over how streaming service royalties are divvied up aside, I really enjoy our Rdio subscription. I listen to a lot more music, try a lot of things and find new stuff I really love in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise. Rdio are much more album-oriented than Spotify which I prefer too.

Just got an email from them promoting their exclusive access to the new MGMT album, along with a pretty trippy video experience that ties in with the music, called the OPTIMISER.

The triply crab-head humanoid thingy wants you to dance

Got to say, I’m new to MGMT but I seem to remember someone telling me about them before so I’m giving it a go and so far it seems like a sort of hippy funky electro psychedelic opera kinda vibe. I’m liking it, but I think a lot of that has to do with the dancing crab-head humanoid drawing me through a weird 1990s-era computerised vortex video effects. It’s not subtle, but it’s pretty fun! As you get drawn into the visuals, glance down to see the avatars of other Rdio users float along the timeline as they watch too. Which is nice.

Sign into Rdio now and check it out just for the weirdness. But you know – in a good way.


‘Previously, On Arrested Development’ updated with Season 4

NPR’s brilliant resource for Arrested Development fans – Previously, On Arrested Development – has been updated (probably ages ago but I only just realised) with all the gags from Season 4.

arrested development npr

If you haven’t already heard about this, it’s a cool cross-referenced online ‘encyclopaedia’ of the vast range of running jokes on the once-cancelled-now-resurrected comedy show, Arrested Development. Even the name of the site is an in-joke – there was never a ‘Previously…’ lead-in on the show but at the end of each episode they always do a ‘Next time on Arrested Development’ bit that’s never actually in the next episode, but stuffs in a few more gags from the one you just watched.

I loved the first three seasons, when I finally got round to watching them. And then I rewatched them again and again, and was very excited when Netflix announced they were making a fourth season. Sadly that fourth season wasn’t as satisfying as I’d hoped. I enjoyed it for the most part and there were some truly brilliant moments – I particularly loved Michael and George Michael’s exchange of lies over the phone – but Portia De Rossi’s bizarre new face and the forced focus on one character per episode conspired to regularly jolt me out of the moment. Maybe I just need to watch it again sometime but I’m not really in any rush, which is quite telling…