Well, that was delivered on time as expected (as noted in my previous post) when woke up this morning. There are a lot of security updates included in the update (link) as well as general fixes too along with new features such as the ‘Battery Health Management’ feature which manages recharging as to maximise the life of the battery which is particularly important for those (like myself) who have their laptop plugged in for long periods of time. The update gave the Boot ROM an update and on the laptop the SMC was updated from 2.45f3 to 2.45f4 – the Boot ROM bundles microcode updates to deal with Intel CPU bugs.
Back at work today and I’ve been given the date next week on which I’ll be reapplying for my position – 15 people and 11 positions available which is a big improvement from what I was originally expecting. End of the day the most anyone can do is put their best foot forward and see how things go from there and as long as when I go for the interview I do everything I can in terms of putting my best foot forward then that is all I can ask of myself. On the positive side, the government has announced an additional package and I’m in a good financial situation to weather the storm so lets see how things work out.
It appears that Apple is moving to replace the Messages app within macOS with a Catalyst based Messages application which will mean that as the iOS/iPadOS receive improvements that the macOS version will automatically inherit those improvements as well (link). It re-enforces what I’ve said in the past that in the long term I could see Apple eventually moving their bundled applications from within macOS over to catalyst versions or the alternative being that in the short term they move some key apps over to Catalyst but there is a long term to modernise all their apps by moving them over to SwiftUI once it has matures thus unifying apps over ll the platforms.
macOS 10.15.5 hasn’t been released but beta 5 was released on 20/05/20 so as long as there aren’t any show stopper bugs I wouldn’t be surprised if it is released this week but that is dependent on what else is happening behind the scenes – the security fixes that come with iOS 13.5 haven’t been divulged so there must be a fair number that are shared between platforms. The other interesting factor is the release of a ‘jailbreak’ hack for iOS 13.5 or older which raises the need to address the security flaw in iOS which allowed the jailbreak hack to work.
I had my first day back at the office on Sunday and it was a bit strange getting back into the routine of getting out of bed, breakfast, put on some business casual then jumping on my scooter off to work after over a month of working from home. We’ve got a new phone system at work that moves us away from one which is provided through a traditional telecommunications company to the AWS Connect internet based VoIP which makes used of WebRTC. It is kind of frustrating that when I am working from home I have to use Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Firefox because AWS Connect isn’t compatible with Safari but I’m hoping that will change when the changes in the technology previews make their way into the Safari bundled with the next version of macOS.
I’m been hunting around for a good television series to and tripped over a new Amazon series called ‘Upload’ and I”m onto the second episode. So far it has been a combination of Sci-Fi crossed with drama and comedy – like West World is does pose interesting metaphysical philosophical questions about the nature of what makes us who we are – where does the authentic self reside, are we merely a collection of memories? Anyway, I’ve dived into it and enjoying it so far.
I’m finding it rather funny that the naysayers to the New Zealand lock down have become rather quiet when comes to questions regarding antibodies and how long they stay in the body for, the issue relating to mutations of COVID-19 so even if antibodies develop in the body it might mutate at a faster rate and then there is the issue relating to long term damage to those who have recovered. There is still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19 so before the usual suspects start to trumpet the ‘Swedish model’ I suggest that they take a deep breath and wait this one out – there is a still a lot we don’t know and in the long run it might come back to haunt those countries which took a cavalier attitude.
Work was ok today but pretty quiet (very few emails) but I think that is because the call centre has reopened so people are opting to call up for support because of the immediate gratification it brings vs, email where it may take a few hours before someone responds (assuming the personally has kept their account details up to date).
There was the announcement on Thursday in the budget that the wage subsidy has been extended another 8 weeks but there are restrictions placed on it. What I am assuming is that although the government wishes to support businesses it doesn’t want a situation where businesses have built up a dependency on the government to prop up a business that is going to fail the moment support is taken away.
Something that is forgotten in all this is the fact that Grant Robertson, the finance minister, never said that the government could stop every business from going under nor did he promise that no one would be made unemployed (nor would is it practical). At the end of the day the purpose of the income support and other measures was to ensure that the fall out was minimised and with the recent stimulus the focus isn’t on throwing money at the wall then hoping something sticks but rather it is a stimulus to transform the economy from its dependence on low paid highly seasonal jobs such as in the tourism industry and instead focusing on making investments into infrastructure, social housing, re-tooling newly laid off people with new skills so develop newer higher paying jobs.
Of course National is screaming like banshees on heat over the debt accumulated while ignoring these two facts of life 1) The cost of doing nothing or austerity will cause more damage in the long run than a well designed stimulus package that’ll pay for itself with increased productivity in the long run 2) The fact that the debt is primarily funded through monetisation of debt – The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is going to buy up $60billion in government bonds which will mean that $60billion will be money that the government owes itself meaning that in terms of debt repayment (regarding interest) we’re pretty much in the same spot we were before.
In all due respect, if National believe that they have a better plan as to how they the money should be spent then by all means they’re more than welcome to put forward their competing vision of how they wold have addressed it. The problem is that every time National is asked “what would you do” their prescription comes down to three things 1) tax cuts for the rich and businesses (which primarily benefit big business with minimal benefit to smaller ones) 2) deregulation 3) building more roads.
The net result has been country where people work longer hours, businesses aren’t inventing in themselves and we aren’t moving up the income ladder because of our continued reliance on being a low wage economy. Under the Helen Clark Labour government there was the beginning of investment into building up the skill base to a new economy – too bad National took a hatchet to it (although I admit that National did a pretty good job with he fibre roll out when compared to the mess that the NBN in Australia has become).
Side note: One thing to remember is this; there is another $20billion sitting on the sidelines that hasn’t been allocated – lets see what happens as we draw closer to the election in September.
It appears that after many months of Google keeping tight lipped over the future of Google Play Music they have added migration functionality to YouTube Music to allow Google Play Music customers to migrate their uploaded music collection, settings, personalisation etc. from Google Play Music over to YouTube Music. Coinciding with that announcement has been a tentative timeline on when Google will be phasing out Google Play Music (link) which at this time is scheduled to be shut down by the end of this year (link).
I’ve given it a go – the uploading process is drag and drop, and yes you can select multiple folders and they will upload the contents of each of the folders. In my case what I decided to do was upload the original FLAC version as to avoid lossy to lossy conversion so that it is only a lossless to lossy conversion which should avoid the sorts of audio qualify degradation associated with transcoding between lossy formats. So far the audio quality is as good as the encoding I have done on my computer (I use dBpoweramp which makes use of the built in AAC encoder which comes part of macOS).
I’m also having a look at Google Drive and how it compares to Microsoft OneDrive – I’ve got my stuff backed up my on external flash based storage but I always like to have a second backup just in case the old proverbial hits the fan. The benefit of those two options over iCloud is firstly it downloads everything whether you like it or not – of course Apple say that it does it ‘intelligently’ but for me I don’t want it downloaded until I need it otherwise it just sits there consuming space. In the case of OneDrive and Google Drive they only download when you try to access it thus minimising the amount of hard disk space that it uses it not to mention not having to worry about whether your computer is silently downloading in the background while on a metered internet connection (see tethering to a mobile phone as a good example of that).
Another weekend has come and gone – back to work tomorrow with a new roster being posted which will result in an earlier start time starting from next week – from 11:30 start to a 9:30 start. I’m still processing the information that was given on Monday along with the follow up today with my team, There is a feedback form that they want us to provide feedback regarding the changes – end of the day it is a difficult situation that I don’t think anyone would want to take on.
The manager who was chatting to us in the meeting choked up a bit because I think for a lot of those steering the ship the hope was that eventually things would get back to normal. The hope that eventually New Zealand make its way to level 2 that spending would pick up but the problem is that I think for a many they didn’t realise how deep the recession is – the first thing people do when they are running short on money is cutting unnecessary expenditures and only buy the absolute core essentials with even those who do have a job playing it safe by putting some savings aside or focus on paying down debt quickly so if they do end up losing their job they’re in a better financial situation to weather the storm.
Thursday is when the budget comes out – although the finance minister is down playing what what is on offer, he cannot afford to have a budget response that isn’t bold enough to meet the challenge. The average New Zealand is hugely indebted – there needs to be relief in that area or otherwise there is a risk of a banking crisis off the back of a economic crisis. What could the government do? Those who have lost their job and have debt will have the Reserve Bank nationalise that debt then finance it back to the consumer at 0.25% interest (the official cash rate) with no time limit – they wouldn’t be able to raise new debt until that debt was cleared off but it would give an individual or a family enough wiggle room to survive until they can get a job then able to start making payments when they can – once fulled paid off they can raise new debt. The benefit to the bank is that it would taken off the balance sheet of the bank, the consumer would be given enough room to breath and there wouldn’t create perverse incentives to try and play the system.
I finished cleaning out the oven today – damn it was so dirty but now it is so clean and tidy. I used it for the first time – I’m happy I chose the ‘no smelling’ version of the oven cleaner. I think in future I need to do it a lore more often to avoid the sort of build up which required me to get down on my hand and knees to give it a good scrubbing.
Got the first part of the bad news and that is the outline of the cuts that have been proposed. Now, unless there is some major bail out of the industry by the government (which is highly unlikely but anything is possible given the circumstances and the various vested interest involved) it is doubtful that I’ll be in a job by the time 22 June rolls around (which is when the wage subsidies end) – it’s just basic math, when there are 34 people going for 11 jobs then the end result in that some are going to not make their way through to the new organisational structure. I am hoping that I will retain my job but I’m also realistic – I’m not going to get myself worked up by getting stressed about something I cannot control or as my old boss used to say “focus on controlling the controllables”.
I got my employment contract to see what the redundancy pay will be like – needless to say that assuming the worse case scenario happens I am very lucky that I’ll have the means to make ends meet not to mention that the government has removed the stand down period for anyone applying for the unemployment benefit.
Last night I went to the store to pick up some odd bits and pieces – oven cleaner, some Pepsi Max (was on special – the great thing about Pepsi is that it is always cheaper than Diet Coca Cola). I thought to myself that my oven needed to be cleaned but it shouldn’t be too bad – holy crap, I couldn’t get over all the grease that had built up because I never really paid much attention to what the inside of the oven looked like. I pulled out the racks inside, opened up an old rubbish bag and sprayed both of them on both sides then wrapped them up to soak over night. The interior of the oven I sprayed it on the inside and I’m going to leave that soak in over night. When I wake up on Tuesday I’ll clean out both of them – hopefully if I do it more regularly it’ll avoid having to do the intensive clean that I’ve done.
On a good side they had 2L of Pepsi Max on special for $2 so picked up a few bottles to fill up my fridge – always good to have a few bottles in the fridge to avoid having to go out.
Working from home is an interesting experience – having to maintain a resemblance of discipline and focus while also not getting to stressed that maybe some work may take longer than usual because other coworkers are also working at home with their own set of issues. Unfortunately like many businesses at the moment there has been a sharp decline in turn over which has resulted in the need for the organisation I work for to look into cutting staff numbers but nothing is set in stone. The reason why I say, “nothing is set in stone’ is because there are a lot of ‘balls in air’ at the moment such as there being a meeting on Monday along with a Q&A at work which lines up with press conference by the government about opening up more of the economy with the eventual move to level 2 not to mention a potential for an announcement by government for further income support for employees or some other government programme.
Long story short the government will want to at least attempt to ensure that redundancies are kept to a minimum because a cycle of redundancies creates a death spiral that is very difficult to reverse once it starts – a decrease in spending due to the lack of disposable income with those who are still employed being tighter with their money just in case they lose their job which then ends up further exacerbating the situation further. It is better to support the existing economy via a wage support mechanism and the ability for businesses to refinance existing debt at a power interest rate which reduces the amount the business has to pay back then have that followed up by by creating jobs via public works projects – preferably ‘shovel ready’ projects such as expanding existing project such as bringing forward future projects or start working on projects that have been on the back burner, “it would be nice to have, but difficult to justify” (investment into the Wairarapa Connection or the high speed rail connection from Auckland to Hamilton by straightening tracks (to improve speed) as well as expanding electrification).
I think it is important at this moment not to get stressed – yes, easier said than done but it is easy for ones brain to start working over time dreaming up of all the worst case scenarios.
Another day another pay – we’re in level 3 but hopefully level 3 doesn’t last too long and we can get back to normal soon but not too soon because one doesn’t want to see what happened in 1918 when cities relaxed their restrictions believing that the worst of it was over only to find that a second wave ends up coming along that does a lot more damage than the first wave. I am pretty confident that those making the decisions are going to make the correct decisions because so far they’ve done a pretty good job – clear communication without sugar coating, implementing support mechanisms to help businesses and employees and more. The interesting part will be the budget that’ll focus on kick starting the economy again – whether the much talked about ‘helicopter money’ will be part of the equation – I could imagine maybe a cash injection then followed by large public works projects to provide employment and an asset to show for any debt accumulated.
The rumours regarding ARM based Mac’s are picking up steam – one thing to remember is that there is no inherent ISA limitation that would stop ARM from matching or beating Intel based processors. For example, Fujitsu has their own super computer CPU is designed around the ARM ISA (link) and other organisations have also demonstrated it particularly for cloud computing (reminds me very much of the Sun Microsystems T1 chips which took simple SPARC II design then put a tonne of them into SoC which a massive front side bus so that the pipe line to the processor was always full and no CPU stalling waiting for data).
My prediction is that Apple is going to probably move to ARM next year, start off with MacBook then they’ll probably keep AMD around for discrete GPU design for their workstations (both desktop and mobile) along with the iMac as well. Am I worried about software availability? No, because unlike the last time – programmers are already using Xcode and LLVM/Clang where as with the PPC to x86 it not only involved moving from PPC to x86 in terms of dealing with any hand code optimisations it also involved moving compilers and dealing with the quirks of the GNU compiler too chain and moving from CodeWarrior to Xcode. The situation these days is a lot different so I’d say if there is going to be a move you’ll see more developers embrace macOS given that a lot of software share a similar core and if it means targeting two platforms and not having to deal with platform peculiarities then it’ll be a winner for all concerned.
I think the interesting part is the development of the macOS kernel now that they’re on their way to closing off the kernel to third party extensions – do Apple have something major planned? Hopefully it’ll mean that they’re can develop their hardware and software in tandem with the Mac piggybacking on the economies of scales that iOS/iPadOS/watchOS/HomeOS and tvOS bring to the party.
Side note: Interesting how there are now rumours that the first crop of iPhone 12’s might not include mmWave support – hardly surprising what a giant mess it is; all hype and very little delivery unless you’re outside in direct line of sight. Outside of the US the focus on 5G have been on the sub-6GHz frequencies that have the best balance between coverage and capacity. I can’t help but feel as though the whole mmWave hype is going to end up like 3D televisions where those who have invested a lot are left with a rather expensive trophy (aka “I was first”) rather than having something that justifies it’s original price.