After almost 2 years in development Manifest v3 has made its way into Chrome 88 Beta (link) which I assume will mean that it is in Chrome 88 (link) but that being said, there is still more work to be done such as increase the filter limit from 30,000 in Chrome 88 to 300.000 in Chrome 89 along with taking onboard feedback from third party developers to ease the transition. For example, although the developer behind uBlock Origin wasn’t happy with the changes when Manifest V3 was originally announced it appears that he looking at the possibility of bringing it to v3 even if it means a few features are missing (link). I think that we’ll eventually see developers come around – in a perfect world these changes wouldn’t be necessary because there wouldn’t be malware and other dodgy software but alas we need to build in safeguards into software to keep users safe and by keeping users safe it keeps the extension ecosystem health so that users feel safe trying out new extensions without fear of their browser or computer being hijacked.
It will be interesting to see how WebExtensions API develops on Safari given Apple’s reluctance to implement parts of the API or change the functionality of such parts of the API to tight up security and privacy. The interesting part will be whether the changes in implementation will be adopted in part or fully by the likes of Firefox (just as they implemented some of the less controversial manifest v3 changes (link) gradually). Although Safari 14 had very basic support it was noted on the WWDC session that it is the beginning of a much richer implementation but like anything in life you have to start somewhere. I hope that eventually that it’ll get to the point of rivalling Chrome and Firefox in terms of ease of portability for third party developers – maybe be even lucky enough to see a return of uBlock Origin? one can always dream I guess.
Samsung released their Galaxy S21 series which features the new SoC based on ARM designs rather than using their own in-house designs (which came under fire last year due to the massive gap in performance and battery life between the Exynos and Qualcomm versions). Although there were rumours of a SoC featuring an AMD GPU it appears that it’ll be in next years SoC. It will be interesting to see whether Samsung utilise the open source driver and build on it to support the AMD GPU or whether Samsung will rely on a binary from AMD for support. Part of me wishes that Android vendors would push towards using components whose drivers are 100% open source as to avoid the whole fiasco that Google is trying to do right now by working on a stable driver API in the linux kernel. The interesting part will be whether Samsung next year, with the relationship they have with AMD, take their ARM based SoC beyond smartphones and maybe look at delivering ARM based Windows or ChromeOS computers.
I finally got around to picking up the Turkish delight I bought online (locally made) and OMG the last few days have beeb absolute heaven. All the flavours are naturally sourced, nothing weird of strange in the ingredients – the Manuka honey was amazing and the rose was absolutely divine. I don’t normally buy sweets but when I do I tend to go for the ‘shop shelf’ stuff so that I can really enjoy it (in much the same way I might only have ice cream every 1-2 months but when I do I get really fancy ice cream such as Kapiti Coast).
Tonight I’m going to have some a couple of tacos and burritos from my local Mexican inspired take away store and have them delivered. If there was one change that has come out of the whole COVID-19 crisis it has been the growth in delivery services and couriers upping their game when it comes to online deliveries. Before the COVID-19 deliveries were pretty much limited to Pizza, Indian and KFC experimenting with their menu for delivery but these days, anything you can imagine can probably be delivered.
The tacos and burritos arrived just then – munched those down while watching some YouTube videos (I like watching those renovation rescue shows where they take a horror of a house and transform it). Yeah, I have YouTube Premium – it isn’t until you’ve had YouTube Premium for a while then start using YouTube at work (since we use G Suite at work) when you realise just how many ads there are which one avoid when having a premium subscription.
One more day to go and then the end of the week – an early start tomorrow (at least for me) at 9:30am tomorrow then off at 6:00pm. I think I might treat myself to something for dinner and grab some movies to watch (either rent them via Apple or jump on Netflix or Neon) along with catching up with the news.
I find it funny that people are playing the victim when it comes to the latest round of right wing noise makers being kicked off then platform. I’ve made my point on Twitter pretty clear by holding the right to the very same standard that they themselves set down. The right were all over the issue of ‘freedom’ when a baker defused to bake a cake for a gay couple with the right wing claiming the it was their right as a private business to decide who they wish to have as a customer. Well, here is the problem, Twitter and Facebook (along with others) have decided that the toxicity of the far right fringe conspiracy theorist fruitcakes isn’t a customer base they wish to cater for and as such they cancelled their accounts – so where is the the problem? Twitter and Facebook are private organisations and using the right wing’s logic, shouldn’t they have the right to decide who they allow on their platform just like the baker who decides whether or not to bake a cake for a particular customer?
Then comes then even more half baked argument which is the comparison of Twitter and Facebook to ‘the town square’ all while ignoring the fact that there are numerous alternatives to Twitter and Facebook; WT.Social, Mastodon, Diaspora (link) and when it comes to YouTube alternatives there is Vimeo, Liveleak, Daily motion (link) not to mention the fact that billionaires bankroll numerous right wing outlets like Dailywire, Breitbart, Turning Point USA etc. so what is stopping the building of a datacenter and launching a self hosting social network where all the ‘freeze peach’ warriors can sit around furiously jerking each other off for eternity?
None of this should be surprising, these are the same people who claim that ‘blue lives matter’ but the moment that the mob realised that the police are on the side of upholding the law and not supporting the Trump cult is the moment they turned on them as seen by the Capitol Hill riot that took place. Many police also found out quickly that many coworkers were on the wrong side of that riot on their time off – the sort of experience might provide the necessary momentum by the institution itself for policy reform in the United States. When off duty police are turning up to riot then serious questions need to be asked about the sort of people the profession is attracting and how that is leading to the negative outcomes in police targeting black and latino in the communities they patrol.
Could all of what took place been avoided? yes, as Thom Hartmann noted regarding the white paper that was put out in 2008/2009:
I remember when the report came out – the hysterical whining from the likes of Glenn Beck claiming it was ‘targeting the tea party’ and ‘Obama is against freedom’ not to mention the concerted effort by right wing outlets to portray militia members as just “middle class mums and dads concerned about the future of the US and wanting to become politically active”. The question is whether the American public will learn anything from this episode – in New Zealand we learned very quickly after having Muldoon run the country into the ground (on the verge of bankruptcy) which necessitated the radical neoliberal reforms of the 1980s to get the ship back on course so as a result we’ve never voted in a big talking loud mouth like him again – the question is whether the US will learn that lesson? something tells me that given the average American’s propensity of only remembering things from less than 2 years ago that in 2 years time in the mid terms the Republican will rebrand themselves and gain a majority in either one or both houses in congress then obstruct like they did for 6 years under Obama. Nothing learnt at all – in one ear, out the other.
Work has been crazy this week – you’d think with the extra hands on deck due to people getting back from their annual leave that the load would be reduced but not so. I can’t go into more detail but I hope that eventually we’ll get through this patch and things will get back to normal. On a good side, I had a check of the number of hours of annual leave I have available, at the rate things are going, by the time June rolls around I’ll probably have almost a month in leave so I might end up going ‘all in’ and having 2-3 weeks off over June so I can enjoy WWDC, maybe even splash out on a Mac if the new Apple Silicon Mac’s have arrived – I’ll be looking at upgrading both my iMac and MacBook Pro – I’ve currently got a 15″ so I’d be looking forward to getting a 16″ model.
I’ve been following the news even though every time I read or watch something I feel my blood pressure rise as I cannot fathom the ridiculous nature of those who engage in conspiracy theories to justify the unjustifiable. Joe Biden won the election – end of story but of course thee are conspiracy theorists who claim that he stole the election (while ignoring the fact that the election is controlled by the states which would require the majority of the states to be ‘in on it’ (we all know the rule about conspiracy theories – the more people involved the less likely it can be kept a secret)) while ignoring the most obvious flaw – if one were to steal an election then wouldn’t one go all the way and flip the senate? why have a nail biting run off in Georgia? why not flip more state houses to ensure that gerrymandering on a census year is undone when the areas are redistricted? wouldn’t it also bring into question the election over all in general – can we trust that Mitch McConnell really won his seat then? this is what happens when you have conspiracy theorists and run of the mill idiots spewing their half baked opinions, they never follow the chain of events that would unfold if one were to take their theories seriously.
The start of a new year and a start of clearing out the old and starting a fresh new outlook on the year. The first thing I did was getting some omega 3 in the diet with flaxseed being the one with the most packed inside while being at a reasonable price. It was something that I used to take each morning but I got lazy but the funny thing is that after almost 2 weeks on having a tablespoon each morning along side my breakfast I’ve started to feel a lot better – then combine that with limiting the amount of vegetable oil (particularly canola – for some reason it has a smell and taste that I’ve started to dislike) I take in (looking at the ingredients of the packet) I’m feeling a lot better than I did before the change.
With grocery shopping, I’m deciding to have more variety than when I would just eat the same type of thing every day – with more variety means less likelihood to buy take aways because I am bored of what is available at home. On a good side I found some great simmer sauces with one being perfect for a chicken stroganoff although I might some extra mushrooms in – lets hope that this week they have a good deal on chicken breasts. I used to have dinner at work on the days I finished at 6pm but I’ve decided that on Friday and Saturday when I work late (till 8pm) I’ll stick with soups or a risotto of some sort with the other days I’ll just wait till I get home – I’ve just got to remember to get it out of the freezer the night before when it comes to things like sausages so then they’re defrosted by the time I get home.
It has been a crazy week at work – new customers signing up, old customers coming back and wanting to reset their passwords and confirm usernames etc. then add to that the usual drama over Christmas, my life has been up, breakfast, off to work then back home for a shower and jump straight into bed. I think it might be a little bit more crazy for the next few weeks as each person has their Christmas/New Years break. I had my nine days off (based on how Christmas fell this year and where my weekend sits (Monday and Tuesday) I ended up with 9 days off but only needed to use 4 days of my annual leave) but I’ll be keeping it for later this year around June when, hopefully, there will be a WWDC conference but that is assuming that the US gets the whole COVID situation under control.
The COVID vaccine is coming to New Zealand but I have a feeling that the first people to receive it will be those on the front line (those working in the quarantine facilities) and those who are most at risk of having an adverse outcome if they contract COVID. The vaccination is a two step process with the final shot increasing the effectiveness to 95% – just for some context, a February 2019, CDC interim report estimated the vaccine effectiveness to be approximately 47% against the 2018–2019 flu strains. So when viewed in that context you can see that a 95% of effectiveness is pretty good.
I did some grocery shopping this week – I was able to pick up some nice meal sauces from Barkers (link) where I bought the Tomato with black bean and Mushroom with red wine. The tomato one was very tasty which worked well with the Nachos – on the subject of Nachos, although I couldn’t find the Lewis Road sour cream at my local Countdown I did find that they were selling Tatua Sour Cream (link). Unlike the cheaper brands, the Tatua Sour Cream actually tastes like real sour cream rather than the bland cream plus gelatine concoction but without the cultured sour taste tastes when the sour cream is prepared properly.
I’ve been watching a few videos recently about the impact of Apple’s move to its own ARM ISA based silicon and the impact that change will have on the rest of the industry. Gary Explains goes into great details regarding the transition from a ‘top level’ perspective:
Just as Apple set trends in the past such as removing the floppy disk, turning USB into the ‘the one connector to rule them all’ with the launch of the first iMacs, the move to ARM will force others within the industry to look at taking ARM as a serious contender to x86. The one thing to keep in mind is that the various ARM vendors don’t necessarily have to meet or beat Apple’s own silicon but as long as they can produce an SoC that can scale up and beat Intel when it comes to power/performance (achieve the same level of performance as Intel but consume less power). Fujitsu for example has their Fujitsu A64FX as a replacement for the SPARC V which shouldn’t surprise me if in the long run we start seeing Oracle reconsider whether it makes sense staying with SPARC or whether they’re better off moving to ARM and working with Fujitsu.
The one thing I am reminded of was what the former CEO if Sun Microsystems said when Solaris came back to the x86 platform where he noted that the world runs on GET (Good Enough Technology) – “it ain’t pretty but it gets the job done”. This is the reason why, as long as the ARM alternatives good enough performance wise but beat Intel when it comes to power consumption then it’ll be good enough for the vast majority of end users.
Regarding software, if the rumours about Windows 10X turn out to be correct then there is a good chance that we’ll see ARM based ‘ChromeOS’-like devices being made available – win32 support appears to be added (link) although I could imagine the various frameworks that make up ‘Project Reunion’ (link) forming the modern foundation for Windows going forward. Microsoft (in the linked article) talks about Windows 10X being side by side with Windows 10 ‘Classic’ but I think long term what we’re going to see is win32 either delivered in the form of cloud based virtual desktop or possibly in the form of a virtual machine but what ever the case maybe long term they appear to be wanting to unburdern themselves of having to support legacy code considering that long term revenue and profits will be lower thus the cost of maintaining the code base will need to be reduced. Regarding whether ARM based Windows Server will be something available to the market or whether it’ll be a cloud only facility – I guess only time will tell but given the direction of cloud computing and changes in laws in many countries which now allow cloud to be available for industries that once considered cloud computing ‘off limits’, it’ll be interesting to see whether ‘on premises’ servers have a future.
As for what might be in the future:
ARM based games consoles, desktops, workstations etc. might be on the cards – maybe even Intel reentering the ARM market because it is clear they have the engineering talent but the ISA itself is becoming increasingly an impediment to improved efficiency (variable instruction length being one factor which makes optimisation a lot more difficult). This video goes into a lot more detail than what I could do the topic justice:
The other part of the equation is Clang/LLVM (or LLVM combined with the other various frontends depending on the language one wishes to use) which appears to be gaining greater traction when compared to the GNU toolchain which was pretty much the industry standard open source toolchain up until that point. What I think will be interesting will be the work that Google is doing to create a ground up replacement for libc where the goal is to write it in pure C rather than falling back to assembly for the sake of performance which will hopefully mean a greater focus on improving code optimisation when compiling so that not only will this new libc performs better but also all C based code perform better thanks to the investment made. With that being said, I think the interesting part will be what Apple does with the kernel with its removal of KEXT for third parties – I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up seeing Apple moving as much stuff out of kernel space as they can given that the cost of context switching (in terms of performance hit) is a lot lower on ARM than on x86-64.
Christmas appear to have come early with Ubiquiti releasing the 1.8.4 firmware update for the Unifi Dream Machine (both the base and pro models) which bumps up the version numbers of the various components plus bug fixes. For me I am pretty happy with how my UDM is behaving how that they’ve stabilised the ‘base’ build which the UDM standard uses – in the new year I’ll look at moving from Skinny to Spark given that there is next to no difference in price plus it enables me to have everything on the same bill. The other thing I am looking forward to is Ubiquiti releasing a Wi-Fi 6 access point (the UniFi 6 Long-Range Access Point looks like a good replacement) to replace my existing access point as I eventually look long term to replace my MacBook Pro and iMac along with upgrading my Apple TV to the much rumoured replacement which will also have Wi-Fi 6 support.
Rumours are circulating about Apple working on their own modem but at this point I think that is more or less pointing out the blatantly obvious. It wouldn’t be surprising if, when Apple bought the Intel modem devision, they were already working on 5G support and then later to flag it because they didn’t believe the amount required to develop it and subsequent sales would marry up. With all that being said, the one thing I do one is whether there is a long term viability for supporting 5G on frequencies about 6GHz given that all the international deployments of 5G have been on the sub-6GHz band with the instances of mmWave (higher than 6GHz) being used for point to point fixed wireless internet which Qualcomm recently tested in Australia (link). Don’t get my wrong, I think that mmWave for point to point fixed wireless internet could be a great alternative for those areas that want ‘fibre-like speeds’ but it is uneconomically viable to run fibre to their premises but I simply don’t see mmWave being a useful technology on mobile phones other than it being used as a tick box and a something for the non-technologically inclined to boast about when comparing their phone to work mates phone when they’re chatting around the water cooler at work.
Over the last few days I’ve been going for a ride around where I live and I am amazed at the number of new houses that are bing built. For example, hearing towards Taita on the land where an old church used to be there is a new housing development, and chatting with my sisters partner he is talking about how they’ve got more jobs than people able to finish it. Then there is the recent announcement of the government looking at reorganising local government regarding water (link) along with the fact that decades of underinvestment has left an infrastructure deficit that is only going to get worse as there is great urbanisation, existing sections are subdivided resulting in infrastructure designed for a set number of houses now resulting in more houses in the same plot of land making greater use when compared to what it was originally designed for. It’ll be interesting to see whether that consolodation and will translate into greater investment now that the government can leverage the balance sheet of the central bank to upgrade the infrastructure. Another thing I do hope they do is buy the council housing off councils and put it under the stewardship of ‘Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities’ (formally known as Housing New Zealand) – councils being able to reduce their debt burden by taking a maintenance item off their budget while still ensuring that those who need social housing are able to access it.
With Apple starting to ship their own SoC based on the ARM ISA there is a growing Microsoft developing their own ARM SoCs and rumours that other big players such as AMD and Intel maybe looking at getting into developing their own range of ARM based SoCs which will licence the ARM ISA but will use their own custom architecture (much like what Apple does). The rumour regarding Microsoft, at least in my point of view, is probably off base in that I don’t see Microsoft creating their own custom ARM based chip like the following article (link) but I could imagine Microsoft teaming up with Qualcomm in much the same way that Microsoft teamed up with AMD to create the custom chipset found in Xbox.
There is a lot of potential for Microsoft but I think the ‘great undoing’ will be Microsoft’s refusal to deal with the decades of legacy and use ARM as an opportunity to jettison old technology and create a modern platform (see my post regarding the EdgeOS concept) that optimised for the ARM platform then gradually expand it beyond ChromeOS competing devices into a future ARM based Xbox, ARM based servers etc. One understands the need to maintain backwards compatibility for the short term to allow a smooth transition but the damage to the platform is a lot greater when there lacks any sort of coordinated platform to move a platform forward through having a methodical process where old technologies are deprecated then the support is removed from the SDK (but the binary can still run) and then eventually the removal of it from the platform. If there is a methodical process then companies can plan for the future – they know what is going to be removed, the replacement is either announced or Microsoft says that they’re not going to provide such a technology (they might decide that it is outside the scope of an operating system vendor due to it being very much a niche resulting in the cost vs. benefit not balancing up).
It’ll be interesting to see what Oracle ends up doing given that Fujitsu has put an end to its own SPARC range of CPUs in favour of their new ARM based CPU that powers their latest super computer (link) or whether they decide to go ‘all in’ with x86-64. When it comes to Apple’s own servers – will we see Apple make use of its own SoCs within their own servers – maybe taking macOS core and scaling it up around their own ARM based SoC then matching that with a powerful neutral processor which will help with machine modelling particularly as Apple invests into new cloud applications.
As a year draws to a close it is interesting how the ‘Plan B’ and ‘we should be more like Sweden’ have been quiet we have been enjoying the hard won freedom of eliminating community transmission of COVID-19 which enables us to enjoy the holidays. I always find it funny how the ‘our plan could have done it better’ never eat that much needed humble pie and I don’t expect them to do that any time soon because it appears that those who are given a platform a quick to make claims but very slow (if at all) to show up and admit they got it wrong.. I look over in Europe at what is unfolding – Sweden which has a population twice the size of New Zealand, has had 7993 total deaths which translates to 3997 based on population when compared to New Zealand’s actual total being 22. For those who say, “but your population is 5 million spread out” – incorrect, 60% of New Zealanders reside in 4 cities, 90% reside in 8 cities – in other words, we’re hardly ‘spread out’ and instead very much an urban population.
The ‘Plan B’ types also said it would destroy our economy – well, we had two quarters of contraction (Q1 -1.6%, Q2 -12.2%) followed by a massive rebound (+14.0%) so I’m sitting here wondering once again whether we’re going to hear the doomsayers and ‘Plan B’ types come out and eat a good helping of humble pie especially when one considers what is happening in the UK with the new strain and a second wave going across Europe, the outbreak in NSW (Australia) and continuing disaster that is occurring in the United States. Disaster unfolds and the very people who have been spreading false information disappear the moment that they’re meant to face the music. I hope that this is a warning in to the public in future to remember those who reported news (RNZ) and those who were more interested in pushing a narrative (NZME, Newshub etc).
I know it all sounds kind of negative but it is rather frustrating when those who are given platforms and as a rest result of that platform the ability to sway public opinion on a given matter, I think it is important that those who do spread false information are held accountable even if it is purely in the ‘court of public opinion’.