Love Hate Relationship with Modern Tech

The immediate future of tech looks no pretty bleak from my viewpoint. The move to 4K looks more blundered than the move to 1080p. Microsoft and Sony are both teasing mid-cycle releases of game consoles that will be powerful enough to make the current consoles look under-powered but not powerful enough to start a new console generation. Both mid-cycle releases seem geared toward catching up to the upgrade cycle of iPhones and iPads giving owners of 4K TVs a reason to own a 4K TV. Personally, I don’t like the upgrade cycle of iPhone and iPads. I kept my last iPhone for 3 years and I plan on keeping my current iPhone for 4. My game console was my last refuge against obsolescence,  and I was perfectly happy upgrading once every 6 to 8 years. Plenty of other tech is going in the wrong direction. Google kills more products than it introduces, and I have almost de-Googlified my life as a result. Facebook keeps screwing up my feed, and my visits to Facebook have dropped proportionately. Twitter is promoting tweets almost faster than I can block the sponsors. Ad infected websites are at war with AdBlock, and I gladly avoid all of them. More and more software is sold as a monthly subscription, and I use less and less software as a result. My internet remains as slow as ever. Is there a Moore’s Law to describe the increase in the annoyance of tech over time?

In the past year, most all tech companies have raised my ire. Apple released the wonderful 12.9″ iPad Pro. I ordered one immediately, using my iPhone and Apple Pay. It arrived within a week. Then I waited rather impatiently while the Apple Pencil, Apple’s best accessory ever, was unavailable for more than a month. Worse, Apple charged an abominable $250 for an iPad Pro case and keyboard. Imagine a restaurant charging you $10 for a soda because they charged you $50 for steak and lobster. Instead I paid $140 for Zagg’s keyboard case for iPad Pro. While the Zagg keyboard is fantastic to type on, backlit with multiple colors, and needs recharging only once every two years, the keyboard itself weights more than iPad Pro and makes the iPad as thick as Dell laptop. In the back of my mind, I keep thinking of how the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard cover for my iPad 2 was perfect, and I wonder why I can’t have a bigger one for my new iPad. To add further insult, a few months later, Apple doubled the storage of the iPad Pro for the same price. The price of the keyboard cover remained the same.

My wife has her own Apple problems. If she updates her iPhone’s OS, she will also have to update iTunes on her Mac. To update iTunes on her Mac, she has to update her Mac’s OS. If she updates her Mac’s OS, she might not be able to use her legacy programs. She could buy a new Mac and keep the old Mac for legacy purposes, but then she’d end up spending $1500 to $2200 for the sole purpose of updating her iPhone’s OS. Personally, I never connect the iPhone to iTunes on any computer, or else I am plagued by syncing issues, losing iPhone storage, and those damned songs and TV shows I can’t seem to delete. Running all my updates over the air is risky, but I swear my life is better because I never have to use iTunes. I would gladly pay $250 for a iPad sase and keyboard that fixes iTunes.

Apple remained in my cross-hairs when my wife and I finally unboxed the Apple TV we bought on Black Friday last November. Little did we know that Apple dropped the optical audio output on the new Apple TV. We use our old Apple TV to watch video and listen to audio. We had the same plan for the new Apple TV. I remember reading favorable reviews of the new Apple TV shortly after it launched. None of the reviews mentioned the lack of optical audio. The problem with removing optical audio is that all of our stereo receivers use optical audio and none of them use HDMI. Rather than buy all new audio equipment, we returned the new Apple TV and forgot about any other benefits it may have offered.

You might think all of my tech related ire is directed at Apple. Much of it is because I hold Apple to a higher standard. Yet even the lowest rung of tech companies can fail me. Last fall my kids were watching “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ at a friend’s house. We had recently seen it ourselves on our vintage 2009 Vizio 42” LCD TV. My friend’s LCD TV wasn’t much bigger, but it was much better.My wife and I decided to buy a bigger, better TV (and move the old one to our bedroom because “waste not, want not”). We had only one requirement, the TV would need at least 4 HDMI inputs. We have 4 devices without HDMI output:game console, Blu-Ray player, DVR, and latop computer. Our old Vizio has 4 HDMI inputs. This seems like a no-brainer. Yet, when we looked, none of the 1080p TVs had more than 3 HDMI inputs. Some TVs only had 2. We have a full blown HDMI input crisis.

The plot thickens, because we found plenty of 4K TVs with 4 or more HDMI inputs. These HDMI rich 4K TVs cost about twice as much as a HDMI poor 1080p TVs. Are there advantages to 4K? For us, no. 4K Blu-Ray players cost about $400 and Netflix doesn’t ship 4K Blu-ray discs. Broadcast TV is 1080i (that’s like one eighth of 4K). My local internet provider can barely deliver 1080p content and the only way I could stream 4K content is to move to a city with Google fiber. Disgusted by the choices in TVs, I decided not to buy any of them. Dear TV manufacturers: if you want my money, add another $%#@ HDMI input!

The 4K TV dilemma was another reminder of the lackluster internet provided by my local telecom, Century Link. Upload is a laughable 800kbps. (I have to laugh to keep from crying). Download is a low but steady 20mbps. The ping is good, and I can compete in on-line mulitplayer games that use dedicated servers. (My most played game, Destiny, of course uses peer hosting which overwhelms my paltry upload bandwidth.) My household would switch to cable internet except the local cable provider, Mediacom provides the worst service I have every seen. We switched away from Mediacom because during peak usage, bandwidth would fall to about 1-2mbps for download. We asked our friends and neighbors if Mediacom had improved in the last 6 years. Nope. Mediacom’s internet is usable during the day, when I’m at work, and unusable at night, when I actually need it.

The poor internet in most of ‘Murica means many goods and services are beyond my reach. We’ve mentioned 4k. Data storage and backup on the cloud is just not going happen. My wife’s 1TB of photos and videos would take 167 days straight to upload to the cloud. We could mail the information faster. Even iCloud photo storage on my phone kills our network, and I often have to turn off wifi after a day of heavy camera use. My wife doesn’t even bother with iCloud. Other services we cannot comprehend are streaming video games, video conferencing, and hosting our own servers. Just to keep the poor state of the internet in perspective, you could buy 6mbps download and 3mbps upload in 1996. In 2016, our internet is barely faster. Meanwhile, the size of webpages has increased exponentially.

Tech companies have failed me before. I once owned a phone that ran Windows Mobile 5. Believe me, I have been let down by tech before. Back in those days, we knew products could be better. Everything we bought was always barely powerful enough for the time. Storage was just barely big enough. Now, I look at my iPhone 6 and I can hardly think of a feature that would make it better. I recently installed a 2TB hard drive in my PS4, and I fully expect to never fill all of it. Let me stream shows without having to pause for buffer. Allow me the pleasure of using a phone I don’t want to replace the next year. Give me the satisfaction of owning a fully functioning piece of software before the next update. I have been seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for so long, I want to finally leave the tunnel. Tech companies seem intent on building more tunnel.

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Destiny Year One

The original retail release of “Destiny” was savaged by critics for it’s lack of story and repetitive game play. Considering the reviews of repetitive, multi-player only games like “Titanfall” and later “Evolve”, these reviews seem unfair. Yet the scores the game reviewers gave “Destiny” seem accurate in retrospect. This is a game with undeniably fun mechanics that ultimately provides an underwhelming experience, and in some cases a negative experience.

The ultimate problem with “Destiny” in year one is the in-game reward system. Collecting weapons and armor is part of the game. Bungie made it that way. Finding and using new pieces of gear is fun, and “Destiny” has a plethora of interesting gear to find and use. When the reward system is part of the game, you do not win by beating the end boss, but instead you win by getting the end boss’s rewards. For some reason, Bungie decided that the end boss’s rewards should be distributed randomly, creating random winners and random losers.

Back before December, Bungie was coming up against criticism for the #forever29 meme. Players kept beating the final boss, Atheon, over and over in hopes the game would randomly drop the end rewards players needed to reach level 30. For some players, level 30 was possible after their first time beating the final boss. For a frustratingly large portion of players, myself included, a dozen victories would end hollow. Somehow Bungie was unaware that randomness meant some players might never receive meaningful rewards from beating the final boss.

Bungie promised a fix for the next final boss, Crota, and players saw a much improved random reward system. This fix was just in time, as anecdotal reports told of players quitting “Destiny” because of their frustration over the rewards. I saw more than a few players on my friends list quit “Destiny” forever. Bungie also left nothing to chance, and players could also reach max level during the player versus player Iron Banner events. The latest expansion, House of Wolves, also ensures players can reach maximum level by earning one piece of armor each week from an arena even, Prison of Elders. Some players might take longer than others, and they might not like the rewards they receive, but all players are able to reach maximum level.

Random rewards remains an issue in “Destiny”. While beating the Prison of Elders activities will reward you with the highest level armor and weapons, most players do like this gear. For them, the “real” reward is Etheric light, an in-game substance that will maximize the damage for any “legendary” weapon or maximize the armor for any legendary piece of armor. Some game activities like the Nightfall strike will randomly reward players with Etheric light. Personally, I have not seen any Etheric light from a Nightfall strike after 5 week’s worth of strikes. Other players found enough Etheric light from the Nightfall to hit the maximum level on the first day Etheric light was available. Etheric light is also rewarded in the hardest Prison of Elders activities and a curious player versus player activity dubbed Trials of Osiris. The former requires players to be at maximum level for completion, and players lucky enough to find Etheric light from the Nightfall reaped weeks worth of Etheric light before the unlucky players could hit max level. Trials of Osiris only rewards Etheric light to players who can successfully win 6 or more matches against randomly matched players. The results were obvious, with the 1% of highly skilled players swimming in Etheric light and most everyone else ignoring Trials of Osiris. Bungie again left nothing to chance, and the Iron Banner event also yields Etheric light.

The random reward problem also plagues weapons, and even more so than the reward problem with armor. The best weapons in the game are inarguably the weapons that can be randomly dropped when you defeat a final boss. The second best weapons, called exotics, can be found randomly from activities like the Nightfall strike, defeating final bosses, or from a receiving a random task from a robot. This randomness is abrogated by a weekly visitor named Xur. He or she, though Xur sounds like a human male, sells one random exotic each weekend. One exotic Xur refuses to sell is Gjallarhorn, a rocket launcher that does more damage than any other weapon in “Destiny”, more than twice as much as any other rocket launcher. (Xur actually sold Gjallarhorn the second week after the release of “Destiny”, but most players, including myself, did not have enough in-game currency to buy it). Randomness means some players will be rewarded with the best weapon after little to no effort and some players will never be rewarded with the best weapon.

Year one was plagued by other issues. Bungie did not have player matchmaking for most of the year one content. After much protestation by the player community, Bungie added a matchmaking to a couple more activities. The problem is philosophical and not technical. The content for year one additions seemed lean to players. Bungie had to continually patch the game as players used every mechanism they could find to reach the maximum level. The ensuing battle raged between players who wanted to play the game their way and Bungie who wanted players to play the game Bungie’s way. Ever fix by Bungie would cause more problems. Players were using auto rifles too much so Bungie made them weaker. Now players almost never use auto rifles. The teeter-totter of fixes shows a game that is fundamentally broken and unfixable.

Playing “Destiny” seems like madness. Maybe it is. The game is about receiving rewards and those rewards are not at all correlated to player effort. No other game has made players feel so heartbroken after they defeat the final bass. We put up with this kind of madness because we believed in Bungie. The running and shooting parts of “Destiny” are fun. They should be, because “Destiny” is made by Bungie, the same studio that made “Halo” and “Halo” was nothing less than a cultural phenomenon that defined modern gaming today. (“Halo” was the iPhone of first person shooters. It looked like nothing that came before it but every thing that came after looked like it.) Despite every misstep, Bungie said they were listening, and Bungie did make changes, albeit begrudgingly. Year one has been tough for “Destiny” players. A lot of trust has been lost. Most of of my friends on “Destiny” pre-purchased all of the year one content. Back before last September, we believed in Bungie enough to make those future purchases. Year two is different. Year two is wait-and-see. Bungie needs to earn our trust back or for many of us, there will not be a year two.

South Dakota Is a Fun State

My family’s trips are affected by two major factors: 1) my constrained vacation time; and 2) the cost of hauling 4 people. Hence, we tend to fly sporadically and when we drive, we want to drive somewhere in a day. This makes South Dakota a perfect vacation destination from central Iowa. But South Dakota is an excellent vacation destination in its own right, as you will see.

 

After a visit to the amazing Grotto of West Bend, our first South Dakota stop is Sioux Falls. Here we spent a couple of hours at Falls Park. I have seen many a water fall in my time, and while these falls do not have a long drop, the multiple tiers of rocks, falls, and rapids are breathtaking. The kids had a great time climbing on the rocks and we learned how industrialization ruined a little island that was perfect for courting.

The plains of South Dakota await with a sea of grass that extends to all horizons. The landscape can be completely flat and featureless save for a few billboards advertising Wall Drug. We broke up the expanse with a stop at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. Everyone agrees the Corn Palace is not much to see “but you have to see it”. You do not have have to see it. We did buy a couple of interstate bingo games for the kids and enjoyed a nice lunch at a grocery store. I suppose if you are going to stop in Mitchell anyway, a trip to the Corn Palace is not detrimental. 

Wall Drug is one of those tourist traps that you might want to visit just for the sheer enormity of it. At the very least, Wall Drug has a giant animatronic dinosaur. Again, if you need a place to eat anyway, you can do worse than Wall Drug. 

Just south of Wall Drug lie the Badlands of South Dakota. The is National Park offers spectacular, seemingly impossible views. The craggy expanse is one of dirt and clay, and not rock. See it now before it erodes away in another 100,000 to 500,000 years. The kids loved climbing and walking close to the edge of not so deadly cliffs. Luckily, we found a cabin available at Cedar Lodge. Staying in the park is much more fun than a hotel. 

After a brief visit to the historically innacurate Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, we finally entered the famed Black Hills. What the Black Hills lack in altitude, it makes up for with attitude. Rocky cliffs and needles surround you. The contrast to the prairie and the Badlands is stark. Is this really the same state I was driving through yesterday? Again, the kids could not contain themselves when it came to climbing on the rocks. Their favorite destination is Mount Rushmore, where they both earned Junior Ranger badges for displaying their knowledge of the four presidents carved on the mountain. 

Custer Park and Wind Cave National Park are the wonderful places for animal viewing. We passed a bison on Needles Highway but this was the tip of the herd iceberg. Bison herds, prong horns, deer, prairie dogs, and mules are all readily visible. Back in the Badlands, we also saw Big Horn Sheep, 11 striped squirrels, and Antelope. In the Black Hills, were saw fat Marmonts scurry under boulders. 

 

The kids loved Wind Cave mostly because Dad had to duck where they did not. Of the 140 miles of cave found so far, we traversed less than a mile. And my son earned another Junior Ranger badge for his knowledge of the rock formations in the cave. 

Our last day in the park was spent with some little hikes like the one around the man made Sylvan Lake and a trip to the Mammoth Dig site in Hot Springs. We finally let the kids have an afternoon off, and they very much enjoyed the pool and waterslide at Palmer Gulch. We were lucky again to find a nice little cabin at the edge of the forest, where we could enjoy a bit a privacy. 

Sad to see South Dakota go, we made only three stops on the way way home, the Presidential Wax Museum, Reptile Gardens, and the Lewis and Clark interpretive display at the rest stop near Chamberlain. The wax museum was better than expected, though our 6 year old really did not care that much about presidential history. My son was resistant to the Reptile Gardens until I told him we would only stop for about 45 minutes. We stayed there over 2 hours. Well worth the admission price. The Lewis and Clark exhibit was closed before we arrived, so we had to glean what we could from staring through the windows. The fun did not end their. Before we embarked from our Holiday Inn Express in Mitchell, we played for an hour in the pool and the very fast water slide. One last hurrah before the long drive to central Iowa. 

The Tortured Decision To Buy A Game Console

Like a game of risk, the console wars have exploded into a conflagration amongst all the major and minor power in computers, electronics, gaming, and on-line shopping. Then Microsoft announced it was dropping Kinect from the Xbox One and the war went nuclear!

Of all the glitziest new consoles, Sony’s PS4 is the clear winner with 7 million sold to consumers as of April and undisputed proof that games run better on the PS4 than the Xbox One. Then Microsoft surprised everyone by announcing that they were going to make the Xbox One just like the PS4, with no Kinect, a $400 price, no online subscription required for Netflix, and 2 free games per month if you pay for an online subscription. The only difference between the machines are now the controllers, the Xbox One’s HDMI input, and the PS4’s superior performance. If I were Sony, I would offer some sweet incentives to buy a PS4 before the PS4 can get back on its feet. 

On the PC front, Valve is playing early 1980s Microsoft and licensing its Steam OS to any hardware manufacture willing to build a Steam Machine. 13 planned Steam Machines were announced a few months ago and they were estimated to cost anywhere between $500 to $6000

On the one hand, new PC game releases have always run terribly on anything but the newest and most expensive hardware. On the other hand, PC games are generally cheaper than console games. This point is veritably moot, as the only Steam Machines worth buying cost more than twice as much as an Xbox One or Playstation 4.

On the mobile front, iOS and Android games are cheap and plentiful. However, I own lots of iPad games I never play because they do not work with virtual controls. SteelSeries released a bluetooth game controller for the iOS that uses Apple’s own game controller API. Unlike other bluetooth iOS game controllers, this one will actually work. The controller looks like the child of a Playstation and Xbox controller, which is to say, it looks pretty good.  Too bad it only works with the newer iPads, because this would be great for my iPad 2. There are plenty of controllers for Android too.

The last consideration for me is whether to keep playing my old Xbox 360. There are plenty new games available for both the Xbox 360 and PS3 and they play great. In fact, most of the games on the newest consoles are also available on the old consoles and some games of the old consoles are not available and the newest consoles. Both Microsoft and Sony made a big mistake buy not including backwards compatibility. If the Xbox One had backwards compatibility, I would bought an Xbox One at launch and this article would be about how much I still hate Kinect.

Let’s put all of this information in a chart:

Game Console Price Multi-Player Fee Other Considerations

Xbox One (no Kinect)

$400

$60/year

Halo 5 coming eventually

Playstation 4

$400

$50/year

better graphics than Xbox One

Steam Machine

$500-$6000

$0

it’s just a PC without Windows
iPad Air + Controller $560

$0

iPads are great, cheap games.
Xbox 360 that I own

$0

$60/year

Cheap games, I already own it.

Looking at the chart, keeping the Xbox 360 is a no-brainer. The same goes for anyone who owns a Playstation 3. This is a great time to own an old console. Microsoft has been giving away two free Xbox 360 games per month for Xbox Live Gold subscribers and has been selling most other old games for $5. Sony has been similarly dumping games on PS3 owners. For the first time ever, I have more games than I have time to play. (Of course, I hardly have any time to play games unless I give up copious amounts of sleep, so maybe that’s not a good metric of a console’s value).  Moreover, the new consoles cannot yet play Minecraft, and there is no way my kids are going to give up Minecraft.

Between the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One, the Playstation 4 is the obvious winner. The whole point of buying a new console is to play better looking games, and I want the console with the best looking games. The Xbox One has some TV stuff and picture-in-picture features. I shrug my shoulders because I do not subscribe to cable or satellite and I already use my iPad as a second screen for things like watching video while playing games (multitasking!). None of these features balance the Xbox One’s poorer performance playing games.

Having chosen the Playstation 4 as the next console in my household, I have to decide when to buy it. Now that Microsoft is offering a $400 Xbox One, I expect Sony will offer some free games with the purchase of Playstation 4. Why buy now when you know a deal is forthcoming. The Xbox 360 also has quite a bit of life left, so I can wait.

Browser Wars Still Not Winning Me Over

Way back in 2011, I made a terse comparison of popular web browsers.  My top consideration at the time was the amount of the browser window dedicated to actual web browsing. Almost 3 years later,  the amount of space dedicated to web browsing remains my top consideration. This time, I loaded up the Compact Classic extension for Firefox. This extension squishes the tabs, address bar, and bookmark bar like a car in a car crusher. Now Firefox is back in the running. 

Surprisingly, the newest Internet Explorer is a pixel or two more compact than Google Chrome, despite the roomier bookmarks (a.k.a. “favorites”) bar and enormous back button. Compact Firefox is slightly more compact yet, but look at the dark horse in this race, Sleipnir. The browsing space in Sleipneir 5 is one bookmar bar larger than all the rest, despite the inclusion of tab previews in the tab bar. 

Opera is written out of this comparison entirely. Not only is does Opera have the smallest browsing space, it is not near as extendible as Chrome, Firefox, or Sleipnir. Internet Explorer is barely in the race. Safari for Windows is a casualty of Apple, who replaced Safari with a browser extension that syncs bookmarks with iCloud .Microsoft kept the good design decisions of Internet Explore 8 and all the many, many bad ones. Worse, Internet Explorer never became a home for extensions. Some of use browser for real work and extension like Link Clump make a world of difference. Firefox remains as extensible as ever and clearly the most morphable browser. Chrome has actually become worse since 2011. The once useful new tab page has been replaced with eight tiny boxes showing the most visited websites. 

Look at all that empty white space. Chrome used to have links for off-line apps, web history, and recently closed tabs. I used to use those things from the new tab page all the time.

Sleipnir is something of a magic trick. The newest version of the browser for Windows is built on Chromium, the open source version of Google Chrome. During installation, Sleipnir borrowed all of my bookmarks, web history, saved forms, and extensions from Google Chrome. That last part is the best trick; Sleipnir can load any extension from the Chrome Web Store. Sleipnir has some nifty features of its own, such as excellent text rendering. The tab previews are a mixed bag. Seeing a little preview window of a tab is nice, but if I am searching through a database and have multiple results in different tabs, they all look the same. Some great Chrome features are missing, such as dragging text into the tab bar to open a page of search results. At the very least, Sleipnir is moving in the right direction when the older browsers are moving in the wrong direction.

Why I still don’t read slate.

Getting hard to read anything on the internet. Thank goodness for steady stream of Anrgy Birds levels.

Untimely Reviews: Fanboys Hate George Lucas, Apparently

This documentary lost me less than half-way through. The entire movie is a kaleidescope of sound bites from random fanboys who appear to have no particular expertise or social capital required to keep my attention. At one point, one of the random people says something like, “Our opinions don’t matter anymore. We are old and paunchy!” As an aside, there is a clinically big difference between paunchy and morbidly obese. The increased mortality of these fanboys means that in another 20 years, they won’t be around to complain about George Lucas. 

Age is most certainly a factor to the viewpoint of this documentary. Fictional character Barney Stimpson calls May 25, 1973, Ewok Line. If you born after the Ewok Line like me and my children, you find the Ewoks funny and cute. If you are born before the Ewok line, like all of the fanboys in “The People Verus George Lucas”, then you think the Ewoks are stupid. Full presentation available here

Perhaps the opposite is also true; folks born after the Ewok Line may be more likely to find complaints about “Star Wars” to be overly cynical and pointless. 

There is also, in my mind, the myth about “The Empire Strikes Back” being great because it was the darkest movie. First off, hardly anyone dies in “The Empire Strikes Back”. None of the main characters die and Luke even gets a robot hand to replace his real hand. By comparison, the original “Star Wars” had a huge body count: hundres of dead Jawas, the crispy corpses of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, and the billions of Alderonians exploded into space. The “I know” line is also misinterpreted. Many think of the line as a kind of an F-you. Earlier in the film, though, Han impishly tries to goad Leia into admit that she loves him. The “I know” line is comparable to the mom’s monologue from “Terms of Endearment”. Just listen to Harrison Ford’s voice. His tone is comforting, not bitter. Then “The Empire Strikes Back” ends with everybody safe and ready for the next adventure. This ending was hardly the portent for the bummer endings demanded by today’s portly fanboys. 

Criticism of the Star Wars prequels and “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” are fair in their own right. All four movies suffer from over use of computer generated effects and clearly George Lucas was past his creative prime at the time these movies were made. And I do mean George Lucas was past his creative prime. I remember seeing “The Phantom Menace” on opening day. There were waiting lines of excited young fans in costume, giddy as all get out. (Because the prequel was showing on so many screes, the lines were in fact unnecessary. I just walked right in and bought a ticket). Everyone was yelling with excited joy as the scrawl started. Then everyone fell silent as they read the words “The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.” This is not how you open a movie in your creative prime. (My kids have not seen it, and without an understanding of tax law, perhaps they will love it.) But the prequels and “The Kindgom of the Crystal Skull” were not made by Lucas alone. And now George Lucas has sold the rights to Star Wars. From here on out, the fans cannot blame him for anything. 

Maybe my problem with this documentary is the sole focus on fan opinion.  “The People vs. George Lucas” needed the insider-outsider’s perspective. William Shatner made the wonderfully entertaining “The Captains” and “How William Shatner Changed the World“. Shatner, of course, is not a fan. His connection between the success of a Star Trek spin-off and how positively it portrays technology is particularly hilarious and insightful. Fans tend to polarize to admiration and loathing, making their opinions rather pointless. If “The People vs. George Lucas” had someone like Shatner to give it focus, I might have watched all of it.