Today was the day Google announced the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro – since there was already all the information out there the presentation was pretty much confirming everything and once again it isn’t available in New Zealand although Amazon is going to be a reseller so there is always the option of using YouShop or having Amazon selling it directly to New Zealand customers. If that is the price one has to pay to get access to it then I’m happy to pay it given that it is a niche product and given our small size it makes sense that Google focuses on the big markets (although Google could treat Australia and New Zealand as a single market in much the same way that Apple does which means that apart from the original Homepod we pretty much get everything that the Australians do). There is a good overview/unboxing by MKBHD:
The thing is with Google is that once you use Chrome and set up a Google account then you’ve kinda got to go all in – and although you can run Chrome on iOS you’re still saddles with having to use Webkit because essentially Chrome on iOS is only a front end that integrates into Google cloud services but still uses the same underpinnings as Safari not to mention Google Maps, Google Contacts, Google Keep etc are a lot better integrated into Android (it makes sense given that Google controls the Android platform where as on iOS they’re ‘yet another third party’ where Apple has the benefit of deep integration because they control iOS).
For me, I keep coming back to Chrome because it has the adblocker that I know and love, uBlock Origin, because it works a lot more reliably particularly on video sharing sites that are popup crazy. Although AdGuard Safari Extension does a pretty good job it still allows popups to get through etc whereas with uBlock Origin it stops all popups, ads, bitcoin mining etc. resulting in a much better experience. Side note: I disable my ad blocking on websites that have ads but aren’t obnoxious – if I’m blocking the ads on your website then maybe you should take a moment to reflect how you’re repelling people away.
Although Apple is improving it support for the Webextensions API the more important thing that they need to do is talk to the big players in the extension community – it is the developers in the extension community that make use of what you provide them, if what you provide them is 9/10ths of useless then it won’t matter how much you hype up your support for xyz if the end result is something that isn’t fit for purpose. uBlock Origin has over 10 million users – maybe listen to what the developer has to say since it appears that the product he is putting out is pretty popular with end users so he obviously must be doing something right. Listen to the developers and take onboard their suggestions – don’t say “we know best” then act surprised that you can’t create an ecosystem when you haven’t bothered to speak to the very people who will be creating that ecosystem.
Well, that’ll be a shortest flirtation with Chrome now that Apple has reverted back to classic tabs by default on Safari in macOS 12 and leaving the new tabs limited to compact mode which will be ‘opt in’ (link). I originally thought the satisfaction was limited to me and a few people online but it appears that it was a lot wider because rarely does Apple do a U turn unless there was a significant backlash. macOS 12 will be released on 26 October New Zealand time The timing was exactly as expected, both iOS 15.1 and macOS 12 will be released at the same time next week which makes me wonder whether we’ll see macOS 11.6.1 released before the end of this week for those who wish to stick with macOS 11.x because some of the software they rely on isn’t compatible with macOS 12.
I watched the replay of the presentation – the naming of the CPU was a bit of a surprise with the M1 Pro and M1 Max but what wasn’t surprising that rumours of Apple maybe using discrete GPUs in the pro devices has been put to rest. It is interesting how well the GPU has scaled not to mention all the specialised hardware that Apple includes with their SoC such as their image signal processing, video encoding and decoding etc.
The end of another week and a beginning of a new one with the Apple even scheduled for tomorrow – heaps of speculation online regarding what will be launched followed by the usual ‘reading of the tea leaves’ with people analysing the marketing material in search of some sort of ‘hidden clue’ about what will be announced. For me I’m still waiting for the ARMv9 Apple computers to come out since it’ll include SVE2 which will have a big boost to performance so I might as well hold onto my Intel based Mac’s until that day arrives – when it arrives it’ll be pretty awesome to experience the massive jump in performance.
The Pixel phone is going to be announced in the next couple of days and what I’ve decided to do is wait until I go over to Australia so then I can purchase it (along with a Chromecast with Google TV) while I’m over there rather than going through all the drama of trying to import it back into New Zealand – if I can purchase it from JBB Hi-Fi then that would be even better because I’ll be able to get support in New Zealand if I need to get it repaired under warranty.
The competition appears to be hotting up in the ISP (Internet Service Provider) market with the big players adjusting given the rumour of Vocus Australia and the owners of 2 Degrees in discussion to merge (link) then maybe in the long run they’ll list the newly merge company on the New Zealand stock exchange. It’ll be interesting to see what the competition will be like with three really big players offering a nationwide mobile network, wireless broadband and fixed line internet. Chorus has announced that their 100/20 has been placed with 300/100 which leaves me wondering whether I should wait until December to see what is on offer – at the moment I am on 950/450 but I never flood my connection even when connecting my iMac up via an ethernet cable – at best I maybe hitting around 8-9MBps which is around 64-72Mbps (although that may change when Google open up a data center in New Zealand which should allow higher uploads to Google Drive).
I’ve avoided talking about the COVID-19 situation in New Zealand because it is becoming frustrating that there are a small number of New Zealanders who can’t seem to grasp that no man is an island, that they’re a member of society and as a member of society they have rights but they also have obligations, they have responsibilities, that one should have sense of duty by virtue of being a member of society. When you do something stupid the consequences don’t impact just you but also all those who were dragged into it as with the case of the ‘influencer’ party up in Auckland on the North Shore (link). This isn’t the first something like this happened which is why COVID-19 keeps spreading, because people aren’t abiding by the rules, because people have convinced themselves that “but I’m an exception because I have a really good reason why the rules don’t apply to me” with the result is something that could have been containable has resulted in a lockdown going on for 2 months.
I’ve been giving iCloud+ a go with the custom domain hosting – I love having an email address that is uniquely mine but it is rather frustrating that they’ve limited it to 3 email addresses per domain which ends up with me resorting to using using the ‘hide my email’ where an email made up of random words and numbers are generated. It maybe all very well and good but the problem is this – what happens if I want to apply for a job? giving someone an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org isn’t exactly a professional email address for applying for a job now is it. On Google Workspace there is 30 aliases per email account which is more than sufficient not to mention the fact that the spam filter for Google is so much better than what iCloud provides. I guess it is on of the benefits when you control the whole stack (Google) vs. relying on third party software (Apple) it allows you to create solutions specific to the needs of your customers rather than going out to licence software that does the job ‘kinda ok’ but never as good as a bespoke solution. It would be nice if Apple had maybe a Apple+ Premium that allowed for more than 3 email aliases – if they’re trying dissuade businesses not to use it then I can kind of understand but equally if you’re a business that you’re so super tight that you’re using a consumer grade email service then any problems you do experience is on your own shoulders – not Apple’s (maybe there is a higher licence fee for the software they use if the customer uses it for commercial purposes?).
It has been pretty chilly for the last couple of days with some days even falling below 8 degrees celsius, I was hoping by this stage I wasn’t having to turn on my heater but it appears that the cold weather snap is still coming through. I’ve got my heater set to 18 degrees celsius so when I wake up tomorrow it’ll be a whole lot easier to get out of bed. I had a check of the 7 day forecast:
Although the weather will improve for the next few days unfortunately the improvement will be short lived and the temperature will go back down.
On a good side, there are some neat things coming up in the next week. On 18 October 2021 (US Time) Apple will be having a feature presentation (link), on 19 October 2021 (US Time) Google will have their feature presentation (link) then lastly Samsung on 20 October 2021 (US Time) will have their feature presentation (link). Lots of unknowns at the moment but I do hope is that Samsung announces a release date for Android 12 for existing flag ship phones, Google will announce a refreshed Chromecast with Google TV that’ll include an updated SoC so that it supports hardware accelerated AV1 playback and Apple finishes off rolling out the migration from Intel to ARM so that all that is left is migrating Mac Pro over to ARM along with giving a release date for macOS 12 and iOS 15.1 (unless they do something strange such as shipping the ARM based Macs with macOS 11.6.1 then not release iOS 15.1 and macOS 12 until November sometime).
It appears that Google is recognising that users may love Google devices but they want Google apps that run on iOS to behave like iOS apps rather than Android style apps that just so happen to run on iOS (link). I can see why they made the choice in the first place if one views It from the perspective of:
Consistency over the platforms that they support – the same look and feel so that the same experience is provided on all platforms rather than having to deal with each platforms quirks.
Not having to maintain two UI codebases – use the same Material for iOS framework for all Google applications then move the platform forward with all the applications that use it automatically inheriting the benefits (and the framework itself is updated with each version of IOS to take advantage of the improvements that particular version of iOS brings).
Like many attempts by developers to abstract from the underlying platform, the experience ends up being subpar and the amount of man power saved doesn’t offset the non-native feel. For me, it is the reason why I’ve never been a fan of Firefox because it always feels as though as a Mac user that I was an after thought when compared to the experience Firefox delivered on Windows or Linux. Many years ago there was Camino which was a Cocoa frontend to the Gecko web engine but it never gained official support so it was always a project that struggle to build mindshare resulting in bugs not being fixed etc.
Long story short, we’re Apple customers first and you provide us with the service and software that runs on out platform of choice so as a result it should look the part. If you want to try something different and innovative then that is what Android is for and if it means that certain features are only available on Android then that might act ass an incentive for people to migrate to Android in much the same way that iMessage is a ‘must have feature’ which entice people to the iOS platform.
On a side note, Apple has released iOS 15.0.2 and it appears that the IOMbileFrameBuffer, graphics stack and kernel have been getting a good work out in terms of receiving bug fixes over the last few months (link). It isn’t surprising given that such an area is fraught with complexity resulting in nasty bugs appearing where you really don’t want them to appear. Looking forward to macOS 12 and I’ve still got it marked on the calendar that iOS 15.1 and macOS will be release around the same time – probably a week or so after the Mac refresh that is rumoured to be happening soon.
With the downward spiral of the National Party I thought it would be best to collate my views as a single blog entry rather than the flurry of tweets I’ve made on the matter – don’t worry, it isn’t gong to be a multipage dissertation where I roll out complex theories to explain an otherwise straight forward situation that National have found themselves in. Before I start it is I important to recognise the the reality that elections in New Zealand are won from the centre – never the extreme left or the extreme right. As much as I would love a glorious revolution to overthrow capitalism I also recognise the fact that I am a minority voice and as such I have to keep my expectations at the appropriate level given the circumstances. National in the past has tried to run to the far right when they had Don Brash as leader – he crashed and burned which then opened up opportunity for John Key to enter who branded himself as a centre right candidate who wasn’t some wild right wing lunatic but a moderate who would make some tweaks but not upend the whole apple cart. Were there things they did that I disagree with? sure but I’ll cover that in a future post.
The first thing that National need to do is to stop fixating over the governments response to COVID because the reality is that if National were in charge with Bill English it is highly unlikely that there would be a radical difference and what it appears to be today is hair-splitting by National over minutia for the sake of differentiation rather than positioning themselves as the government in waiting. and conducting on a day to day stuff Labour does and focus on putting out a bold vision of a post COVID future. The COVID response by Labour was good and although it would have been nice to have the vaccination roll out done quicker the reality is that we’re going pretty damn good when compared to other countries. When you look at the economic position we’re in where our economic growth will be the fastest in the region (link) not to mention low unemployment, growing exporting, imports being successfully processed and distributed and a decreasing budget deficit – all contrary to the claim by John Key that New Zealand was some how a ‘hermit kingdom’ (link).
I also believe that focusing too much on “replacing Judith Collins as leader will fix the problem” ignores the fact that she is a symptom of a larger problem in National and when you look at what the alternatives are, they’re steeped in the same reactionary nonsense that Judith herself engages in. For National to get back on track they need a ground up replacement of the neoliberal orthodoxy, to reject the market worshipping that far too many politicians engage in because it allows them to always have a convenient scapegoat when they don’t get the result they want – in much the same manner of someone shrugging their shoulders and resigning themselves to ‘fate’ rather than stepping up to directly intervene to achieve the end goal that they wish.
The solution for National is to eat some humble pie, admit that Labour handled the pandemic well instead of sniping at their ankles to instead focus all their energy on developing a bold positive vision for New Zealand post COVID. When you’ve lost the battle, move on, in much the same way that when Satya Nadella became CEO of Microsoft the focus was to stop the bleeding and focus on the future, stop fighting past battles that were long ago lost and instead focus on new markets that are emerging and how Microsoft can leverage their strengths along with partnering with companies (see partnership with Samsung). In the case of National they need to focus on building more social housing so that Housing New Zealand can become the public housing provider in much the same vein as what is seen in Japan, Singapore and numerous European countries.
The next focus should be able expanding the rail network in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch (Hutt Valley line connection over to Wainuiomata by taking advantage of the incomplete tunnel that exists which will open up Wainuiomata as great place to build another 50,000 homes for starters, in Auckland expanding out to the north shore by replacing the bridge with a tunnel and tunnelling to the north shore for rail, building out a light rail network in Christchurch to connect the airport to the CBD by going up memorial drive – yeah, I lived in Christchurch around the Bryndwr area) but also fully electrifying the network on 25Kv (convert Wellington from 1500DC to 25Kv) along with upgrading the Auckland to Hamilton connection with modern high speed tilt train so that there can be a 130kmh connection between Hamilton and Auckland (reducing the trip down to 1 hour which would be faster than the Wellington to Masterton train which is chock-a-block on a regular basis).
Supporting councils in the form of funding infrastructure if the council focuses on dense urban development. The focus for sustainable development is predicated on ensuring that we use the existing land efficiently rather than sprawling and sprawling because sprawl ends up this sort of mess.
I really wish that MPs in the New Zealand parliament would watch a few of those videos just to see what sort of nightmare we should be avoiding when it comes to how we plan our cities. As you’re heading into Auckland when driving up from Wellington the sprawl is endless and unsustainable – that is something needs addressing and needs addressing fast. There also needs to be a focus on putting side land for light rail – it might not get laid down straight away but at least if there are land corridors there is the ability to either lay down light rail or even have bike paths or maybe even do a ‘cut and cover’ for light rail with subway entrances and bike paths that follow the route.
I’m going to stop there because at this point I think I’m using the National Party as an empty vessel for all the things I wish the Labour Party would do but if National did adopt those policies and build upon them with the same general vibe it would give them the potential of being able not only win back those who ‘protest voted’ for ACT but also win back those who voted for Labour because National were so dysfunctional. When there is a healthy productive tension between the two major parties with the focus on producing the best policies with the best outcomes then we the voter benefit from that. If there is going to be a change it will require more than just new leadership.
Well it appears that after much soul searching and giving Apple plenty of time to fix security holes the security researcher has released proof of concept exploit code for three iOS zero day vulnerabilities (link). I’m sorry to sound cynical but for Apple to talk about how they take privacy seriously but then half ass it when it comes to security. The problem is that security is more than just doing regular auditing and pushing out patches when required, it is also ensuring that when something is designed it is secure by design and the only way you can do that is working within the security community by allowing third parties to analyse your design and point out the flaws before a line of code is written. It is one thing to have an error in the code itself, that can easily be fixed with a patch, it’s another thing entirely when the fundamental structure of the design is at the source of the problem. Apple needs to start working with the security community rather than seeing them as a threat and actually use the bounty system by offering decent rewards because if Apple doesn’t offer decent rewards then someone else will (link).
I just hope that Apple learns from Microsoft when one considers what Microsoft was like 15-18 years ago back in the days of Windows XP, the long protracted nature of Windows Vista development, the development reset where developers within Microsoft were retrained to think about security being baked into the product right from the outset rather than it being an after thought. The net result of that was Windows Vista was reset so that rather than being built on Windows XP it was moved to being based on Windows 2003 an although Windows Vista received a lot of flack it did for the foundation for Windows 7. What I do mean by ‘forming the foundation for Windows 7’? well, WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model) was introduced to replace the Windows XP model which gave Microsoft the ability to built all this fun stuff (link) into Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 and now 11. What I wish for is for Apple to do the same along with recognising that security is a team effort – that working with third parties is good because a fresh pair of eyes looking over a piece of software might pick up issues that could have slipped below the radar. In the case of the most recent iOS security fiasco, a decent reward followed by fixing it in a timely manner would build confidence with the security community that you’re as serious about security as you claim you care about privacy.
The other thing I want to have a grizzle and a whinge about is Apple’s relationship with third party repairers. Louis Rossman has been covering this issue for quite some time (and is involved in the push to get ‘right to repair’ legislation passed (link)) and the one thing to keep in mind is that when one talks about the right to repair it isn’t “if you get your device repaired by a third party and the screw it up then Apple has to fix it under warranty” but simply providing the parts and specifications. For example, Louis talks about instances in his many videos that certain parts are impossible to get and the reason for that isn’t because suppliers lack the capability of supplying but rather that Apple forbids them to supply said component to anyone other than Apple (for example, fixing up a charging chip then having to buy a second accessory to get that chip to then transplant it all because the vendor who makes it was told by Apple they weren’t allowed to sell it to third parties) which at this point you’d be thinking ‘they can get any more punitive than that’, well, you’d be wrong.
As I go on and on I’m finding that Apple has become more and more hostile to consumers but I have to admit it reminds me of something someone posted on a forum about how if Apple got into the same market dominance position as Microsoft that Apple would be a whole lot worse for consumers. When I first heard that I thought it was just the mad ramblings of an Apple hater who is allowing Steve Jobs/Tim Cook to live rent free in their head. Well, a few years later and it appears that I’m quite the fool having not taken onboard that observation but it’ll be interesting to see how things pan out going forward particularly when you consider that Samsung software support is a lot longer than the past (not to mention the rumoured 5 years of support that the Pixel 6 will be including) – there are fewer compelling reasons for those in the know to stay with the platform. Even when you consider the privacy angle the reality is that Google doesn’t ‘sell’ your personal information to third parties, third parties come to Google and say, “hey, I want to advertise to men between the age of 30-40, live in New Zealand, openly gay but single and politically lean to the left” to which Google then comes back, “sure, and here is the cost” – no information is exchanged.
It is the part of the Apple community that frustrates me to the most, not because I feel the need to defend Google but rather I get frustrated when the discourse is polluted with either half truths of blatant lies. You cannot have a meaningful conversation if the conversation isn’t being done in good faith and that good faith rests on a person being honest with the facts. Let’s assume that the person has sincerely made a mistake, that’s ok, we all make mistakes but when the mistake is pointed out and the correction made then guess what? stop repeating the incorrect information now that you’ve advised that you said is incorrect an then provided with the correct information because continued repeating of the now established incorrect information tells me that you have no interest in having a good faith discussion. Forums die or thrive on whether those who are members of said forum are engaging in a good faith discussion – when all those participating are engaging in a good faith discussion the whole experience is enjoyable because knowledge is being shared, provoking points are being made which force you to confront maybe incorrect information you had picked up in the past so as a result you want to come back because the conversation is stimulating (unfortunately far too many create forums like a blog rather than a place to have a conversation).
Android 13 development has already started and what I hope is that they deal with the mess which consists on forks of forks of forks when it comes to the linux codebase resulting in updates and upgrades taking much longer than should be necessary (link). What I am hoping is that the move to bog standard ARM designs and AMD GPU in the next Galaxy release will result in maybe Samsung leveraging the open source AMD GPU driver which will hopefully translate into longer term support.
So I’ve upgraded my iCloud to iCloud+ with 200GB of storage and my iMac is uploading the music backup from my external drive into the cloud overnight – thank goodness I’ve got a decent fibre connection, 1Gbps down, 500Mbps up, and I’ve got that iMac hooked up to my router using a cat6e ethernet cable (I’m also working from home and if I us wifi the VoIP lag can be horrible sometimes where as using the ethernet everything comes through perfectly).
I also decided to start having one big shape once a fortnight rather than the small shopping trips after work which end up in more money being spent. The easy way to do this, since I don’t have a car, is to go grocery shopping on the internet and have it delivered – although I bought it this week on Thursday (for deliver on Friday) I think in future I’ll buy it online on Sunday and get it delivered on Monday (my day off) because once I get in the office I don’t want my deliver sitting on my front door most of the day. The other benefit with purchasing online is the ability to plan meals, it is easy to jump between different parts of the shop and construct a meal each day and then budget accordingly. Oh, and I made sure I picked up some sugar free soft drink so it avoids me walking down to the petrol station where it is more expensive.
iOS 15.1 has been released and my theory is that macOS 12 will be released at the same time iOS 15.1 is released – I wouldn’t be surprised that at the upcoming event in October where there is a Mac orientated announcement where they also give the release date announcement for macOS 12 – lets hope that it is released sooner than half way through November because really I want to take a week off at the end of October.
I originally said I wouldn’t upgrade to iOS 15 but having seen that the custom domain support in iCloud so I thought that I might as well go for it. I upgraded my iPhone and Apple TV with both of them running buttery smooth so far for me, no bugs with third party applications. There was also the release of Safari 15 for macOS and although I’m not enamoured with the idea of the new design I’ve decided to stop whining and get aboard the ‘new tab’ bandwagon and I’m sure with some practice that I’ll eventually get there and it’ll become second nature.
Safari 15 itself is pretty good, no problems with YouTube playback – I’m unsure whether it was the disabling of DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) or the browse but everything appears to be working a lot smoother. It’ll be interesting to see whether we start using content blocking extensions start to make use of the Webextensions API content blocking. The content blocking also has had the cap increased from 50,000 to 300,000 (extension developers get around the limit but spawning a separate process for each filter category thus the limit is now over a million filters which will be more than enough).
At the moment I’m writing an article regarding the National Party and what I think they need to do so that they they can be a viable opposition party, I’ve also got another post on the back burner regarding the negative aspect of social networking (the concept of a social media platform and the business that runs behinds the scenes which applies an otherwise pretty toxic concept).
I downloaded a copy of Mimestream (link) to see how it performs when setup with my Google account. It have to admit, there have been some big improvements, in particular support for Google Contacts. i had a check of the Mimestream roadmap (link) and it appears that they’re considering support for not only Contact management (beyond the basic integration so far) but also support for Google Calendaring. I’ve put my 5 cents worth in and suggested they also provide support for the Google Keep API so then it can integrate with Google using the APIs provided by Google (link).
Long term I would love to see Mimestream fill that role similar to how Mail/Contacts/Calendar/Notes integrate with iCloud or how Microsoft Outlook app integrates in with Microsoft’s Outlook in the cloud. I believe that Mimestream has a good base to build on because they’ve decided to build it from the ground up using Swift because long term, in my no so humble opinion, Apple is going to eventually get Swift and Swift UI to a point of maturity that they’ll have an UI and language API that spans from workstations all the way down to watches which will eventually supersede AppKit/UI Kit in the long term with Catalyst (running iPadOS apps on macOS with minimal changes) is a stop gap measure in the mean time (in much the same way that with WinUI you can mix and match which makes migration a lot easier rather than telling programmers to throw it all out and start again).
One thing I have done recently was turning off DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) since it really was of no benefit to me other than having a cool break down in the form of nice graphics of what type of data I was transferring which came at the cost of latency, speed and I found at times it could be a big iffy (stalling) but that being said I still have my security set to its maximum setting. I’m looking forward to the next version of Unifi OS 1.11 which will include WPA3 support, improved firmware for the UDM’s wireless networking module etc. Although there are Wi-Fi 6 devices out there, I am waiting for the technology to mature and for the finalised specifications to make their way out to devices (most of the current ones are based on the draft standard which may cause problems as seen in the past with iterations). For me the interesting part will be the 6Ghz support that comes with Wi-Fi 6E in terms of potential bandwidth improvements (particularly important when one is on a gigabit fibre connection).
More leaks regarding the Pixel 6 are making their rounds with an indication that it won’t include the sort of X1 cores that are found in the Exynos 2100 and Qualcomm 888 – rumour has it that’ll include 2 x A78, 2 x A76, 4 x A55. For me, those would be good enough for the vast majority of people (aka normal people who don’t whip themselves into a frenzy over specifications) and I wouldn’t be surprised that by dropping the X1 cores it has enabled them to keep the price low – I wouldn’t be surprise if the Pixel 6 is only slightly higher than the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 6 Pro being slightly higher than that again. There is a good chance that we might see a sub $1000 phone which will mean it won’t be completing at the flag ship level but rather going for that premium mid range segment which is where all the excitement is at the moment then add to that the rumours of 5 years worth of updates, it sounds like I need to start cracking and saving up money to buy it – I’ll end up buying it through Amazon but I maybe lucky and find that Kogan offers it or even better if Google sells it directly into New Zealand like the did back in the days of the Nexus 6p.