Capitalism and the need for anxious consumers

I was thinking about the process of unsubscribing myself from particular subreddits, particularly ones around technology for two main reasons, 1) the subreddits are just toxic in nature where discussions always end up descending into bickering or idiotic speculation amounting to the sort of rambling one would get from friend who is completely stoned 2) I find that my anxiety goes into over drive when taking about new products, speculation about what could be next etc. with me thinking “maybe there is something wrong with what I have…” etc.

I know it sounds kind of stupid but that being said it makes one wonder whether, as part of the capitalist system, that not only does a business have to create a good product and market it but to also create anxiety in their consumer base (due to the fetishisation of commodities by the commodity being an extension of who we are as individuals aka “I’m an Apple person” or “I’m a Samsung person”) so that it starts to make us feel that need to upgrade and be on the latest version of a give product.

Anyway, I’m heading off to bed, enough rambling for tonight, need a good night sleep as I’ve got training at work. Oh, and a good side I realised that I can actually get a 5 year extension on my scooter licence when it expires so I’m all good – no stress about getting my motorcycle licence straight away.

Sparking joy in ones blog

So as part of my mid year refresh and tidy up of my online and offline life I have decided to spark some joy into my blog by adopting a fresh, clean and simpler design for my blog that is less dark and dingy and more inviting to read (and hopefully follow). I’m also going to make some more time for myself to update my blog rather than the sporadic posts. In the next few weeks I’m going to do a review of the Samsung S10 Plus (128GB), movement to G Suite with Chrome on macOS then I’ll even out the technology with a critique of what happened in the Australian elections and what Labour in New Zealand can learn from it all.

When it comes to the Australian election, God knows the election in Australia didn’t occur in a vacuum when you consider that the Murdoch empire still very much pulls the strings behind the scenes not to mention the various linkups between television and radio stations along side newspapers. Lets remember where it all started – under the media liberalisation that occurred under the John Howard Liberal government. As Noam Chomsky has pointed out many times – there are few differences between the two major parties but where the differences are can have a huge impact. It is easy to whinge about how Labour aren’t left wing enough but when the Overton window has shrunk to the point that what Labour promote is the furthest left that can be done given the circumstances the best one can hopeful is a gradual nudging of that Overton window to the left over the long term. By nudging rather than expecting giant leaps there is the ability to build support within the populace so even if the capitalist class try to push out reactionary tripe in the media outlet the impact is minuscule because the masses are already experiencing the benefits and won’t want it taken away (see paid maternity leave that was introduced with much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the capitalist class only to have it baked into what the masses expect thus National didn’t try to undo it when they were office for 3 terms). I’ll go into greater detail in an upcoming post.

For dinner tonight I might buy some lamb or venison because I’m feeling like I need a meal of substance rather than the piecemeal grazing or processed convenience food that never leaves one satisfied after eating it. I’ll grab some kumara and mix it with some potatoes or pumpkin along putting some garlic butter. Yummy dinner, perfect for a Sunday. I’ll be off from work in around 10 minutes so it’ll be off to Countdown and then back home for a home cooked meal.

Progressing nicely…

So I’m gradually re-ripping my CD’s again with much progress. I had one stubborn CD that I gave a good cleaning with a chemical cleaner and a microfibre cloth resulting in a completely error free ripping (along with passing the AccurateRip test for each track). That being said, I need to deal with some classical music CD’s that have scratches so I’m going to see what scratch repair tools exist out there.

Side note: I think I’m going to use OGG Vorbis rather than AAC since it’s dealing with gapless playback is a lot smoother than trying to get it to work with AAC. I’ve got lots of space in in my Google Drive but the big question is whether I move to a higher speed plan – maybe move to a gigabit package? if so what I might have a look at maybe power line networking or some sort of plan where I can install cabling for my desktop and television so that I can get the most out of the network connection. I’m going to research to see how one can feed ethernet cable under the house back to the ‘networking room’ where my switch is located.

Looking forward to a week off in June where I can chill out and unwind – watch movies, check out the WWDC announcements of which my main focus is macOS (I’ve got a Samsung 4K TV and an Android phone with G-Suite at the centre of this all) so I’m going to spend my time enjoying the age old past time of doing sweet bugger all. I’ve got YouTube all setup and the experience has been pretty good – high resolution which probably points to Tizen supporting VP9 which is the CODEC that Google uses for streaming.

Lesson learnt: Don’t rush ripping of music cd’s and never trust external hard disks

As I was recovering from a killer migraine today I learned two important lessons, the first is to never depend on external hard disks and that came as a result of me backing up all my music CDs in FLAC format and storing them on an external hard disk. The end result? the backups were completely and utterly useless thus an important lesson learned – take advantage of cloud and avoid that sort of issue happening in future. I’ll be upgrading my Google Drive storage to 1TB which is enough space for everything I need to do (which is around NZ$14.99 per month). It’ll be around 140GB to be uploaded but as my music collection expands so will the need to have more storage. Once I get my music ripped I’ll get it uploaded to the cloud asap (I’ll backup both the lossless and lossy versions and I’ll use Drive File Stream where files are downloaded on demand rather than having to download the whole lot all at once).

With that being said, the CD rips I had were pretty crappy – lots of errors such as skipping etc. because when I did the ripping the settings were not setup properly. I swallowed my pride and bought a copy of dBpoweramp and so far it has been producing great results particularly once I got the ripping settings configured correctly so that even the most difficult CD has been able to get ripped without any audible errors coming through on the final result. Now that I’ve got an Android device (Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus) the big question is whether I compress the audio to AAC or whether I should give Vorbis a chance give that it is relatively stable as well.

Another great milestone in my life has been achieved, my student loan is fully paid off and the paperwork to change my income tax code to M has been filed. The big focus in the next 6 months will be getting the personal debt tamed so by the end of the year I’ll be in a good financial position over all. This is part of the larger goal of being debt free by 40 so then I can start ploughing the money into my Kiwi Saver and building a good nest egg for the future along with saving up some money for the trip planned for going to the United Kingdom in 2021. Lots of goals being set and gradually knocking them down one by one – something to keep oneself focused by having smaller milestones to mark off getting closer to the larger goals.

Clarification of the recent de-platforming

I’m going to put some points out there in no particular order and I’ll let you take from it what you like.

  1. When left wing people like me were saying “they’re a private company and thus they’re first of all not censoring since they’re not the government secondly as a private organisation they’re under no obligation to provide you with a platform” we weren’t defending but rather holding those de-platformed to the very same standard that they themselves set. It was the right, during the law suit between a baker who refused to bake a wedding for a same sex couple and the same sex couple where they (the right wing) would argue that the business has a right to refuse to serve who ever they want – that they’re under no obligation. Well, that is a standard they set for themselves and those of us on the left are merely holding them to that exact standard they (the right wing) set for themselves – as a corner stone of what amounts to their political ideology. The reality is that their ideology is more a list of reactionary grievances amounting to “if I’m not impacted by it then it is fair game but as soon as I’m impacted by it then it suddenly becomes a matter of persecution”.
  2. Is it concerning that modern day public square is under the control of private business interests? Yes it is because it’ll eventually come back to bite the left in the backside even the business itself decides a few sacrificial lambs are worth throwing out there to demonstrate that they’re happy to play the game of false equivalency when kicking right wing talking heads off their respective platform. In an ideal world the internet would be dominated by things like Diaspora and Mastodon but alas such services will be always fighting an uphill battle against well funded and established players like Twitter and Facebook.
  3. The fight to remove these ‘extremist’ element is a fig leaf for the fact that the mess was created by the platform’s own algorithms and default settings in the first place. I’ll give a good example of how a system is supposed to be setup, in OpenBSD when you install it the whole operating system is locked down by default meaning that if you want to setup a web server you have to install it and then enable it – in other words it is an ‘opt in’ system so that only the services that you want are enabled because you’ve gone out of your way to enable it rather than enabling everything by default then expecting you as the administration to lock the platform down (which was was Windows Server was originally configured – everything enabled by default and you as the administrator were expected to disable what you didn’t want or need). How does that relate to social media platforms? when you setup an account with Facebook and add friends you are automatically subscribed to their feed meaning that any brain fart your friend may have turns up – you then like it and then that is broadcast over all your friends who are subscribed to you thus is the start of something going viral. If you want to break the virality of undesirable propagation of undesirable views then don’t automatically subscribe people when one adds someone as a friend. Then there is algorithms – get rid of them, if you want to make content easier to discover then allow people to refine their searches better but don’t curate using algorithms or otherwise you end up having a situation where the system leads the user down the garden path to more and more extreme videos because the algorithm assumes that “hey, the user likes x so I should find more videos that around x”. Long story short, the social media platforms created the problem and rather than fixing the source of the problem they decide that de-platforming is easier instead thus leaving the problematic nature of the system unchanged.

Big Samsung TV? yes please!

So Samsung it’s thing of offering different bundles with different carriers – Vodafone has the Samsung Galaxy S10 and a Samsung smart watch, 2 Degrees has the Samsung Galaxy S10 and a Galaxy Tab A 10.1 tablet and Spark is offering a Samsung Galaxy S10 with a 49 inch television. That television is calling me – the latest updated version of Tizen which will also include updates in the future for Apple own streaming services along with support for YouTube and other platforms. Truth be known I am not particularly wedded to the tvOS platform other than having bought a couple of movies (that can be easily bought from the Play Store) so as long as the smart television has access to YouTube then I’m a happy lad not to mention the fact that Tizen comes bundled with a browser as well.

It is interesting that the more exposure I have gotten to Chrome and helping customers with their iPhone the more I recognise the limitations of the iPhone platform. For example, the inability to update parts of iOS in a piecemeal way which has impacted customers at work where our website isn’t compatible with iOS 9.3.5 but because Apple doesn’t provide a separate update for Safari/Webkit the end user is stuck with a device that is perfectly adequate for what they want to do but alas they’re unable to load another browser because Apple prohibits third parties from loading their own interpreters, virtual machines or run time engines which means that any browsers that do exist also dependent on Webkit meaning that installing a third party ‘browser’ (which is merely a shell sitting on top of Webkit) won’t address the underlying issue.

That being said, it is interesting how Chrome keeps coming back as the gateway into the Google ecosystem given that I grow annoyed by the lack of extensions for Safari that can hold a candle to the likes of uBlock Origin or Reddit Enhancement Suite. Even basic things such as if I have Ad Guard installed on Safari it either results in websites failing to load properly and even when I whitelist certain websites such as YouTube I find that the videos keep pausing as if there was a spike in CPU usage resulting in playback being interrupted. Even if that weren’t occurring then there is the 50K rules limit which can easily be hit given that if you install uBlock Origin and stick with the standard default filters then it is pretty easy to hit 150K. That doesn’t even touch on the fact that Ad Guard has to do some wizardry in the background so that the filters can be translated into content blocking rules and in that process the filters aren’t as accurate as when is running uBlock Origin on Chrome.

Anyway, back on track again, I’m going to head into Spark tomorrow before work (assuming I get up with enough time to spare before work) to find out how long the special is going for and then sleeping on it so then I don’t make a rash decision that I might later regret. All that being said, I’ll setup a G-Suite account, move my email over there, setup Google Pay and I’m a happy lad. Oh, and on a side note, I had a look at Nokia 9 but given the negative reviews not to mention the reputation for instability that ‘code fresh from Google has’ in regards to Android, maybe trailing behind Google in terms of software releases aren’t such a bad idea after all especially when you consider that Android 9 on Samsung phones is pretty damn mature with new releases being small refinements rather than major changes.

As for my carrier, Skinny is a value sub-brand to Spark, but the gap between Spark and Skinny have narrowed so much recently – when it comes to broadband it used to be an ‘all or nothing’ where you were forced into Netflix and Lightbox but now they’ve launched the unplanned plan whose price scales up and down based on usage – for a single user like me I have a feeling that it’ll either work out cheaper or pretty much the same. On the mobile front – if I choose to upgrade I’ll trade in my existing one thus leaving on a small amount left over to be paid (probably around $500 or so).

Anyway, off to bed I go so I’m all bright eyed and bushy tailed tomorrow for work.

Their heart is in the right place….

So I’ve been looking through my Twitter feed and up pops this (as a retweet) and although their heart is in the right place my concern is that it muddies the definition of what socialism actually is and even if they called it social democratic then even that would be problematic because it presupposes that that policy prescriptions are born out of the same philosophical basis rather than just political expediency (aka to hold onto power or to win power).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand what they’re trying to do when they talk about various functions of government as being ‘socialist’ so it moves the conversation away from socialism being associated with the soviet union, misery, drab grey buildings, dictatorships and goose stepping. In other words, “hey, socialism isn’t scary, you’re already have it in various parts of your life” but here is the problem, would King Charles II be considered socialist because he established the general post office in 1660? under Thatcher there were various initiatives in terms infrastructure, bailing out businesses or investing into projects like the Concord – would she be considered socialist? If were wanting to use a more contemporary example then maybe using the of co-operatives – businesses owned and controlled by workers themselves would probably be a better example of the ‘socialism’ than pointing to what amounts to be some rudimentary functions of government.

On a good side though, the spreading of social democratic ideas opens the door to larger discussion about left wing politics in much the same way that Democratic Socialists of America has provided a gateway for many Americans to rediscover socialism without all the baggage of the past. Some may stick with social democratic ideas whilst others will read more and discuss ideas which will lead them to drift further left. It is about playing the long game – moving the Overton window further to the left so that policy ideas that were once considered fringe such as nationalising the rail network suddenly become within the realm of acceptable discourse or the idea of free university is gradually becoming a reality in New Zealand even if the naysayers fail to grasp that an extra $120 extra in the hand per fortnight due to not having to pay off a student loan would be a massive leg up to many graduates who have just entered the workforce and want to start saving for their first house or getting their Kiwisaver off on a good start.