One more day to go – iOS received an update for a webkit bug but what was interesting is the fact that macOS didn’t receive an update given that both macOS and iOS share the webkit framework yet only iOS received the update – is there something in particular about the iOS implementation that exposed the vulnerability? It’ll be interesting to see the rationale for difference as more information is related in the coming months about the nature of the attack.
It appears that the much rumoured Apple event in March never took place – but as noted in previous posts I always mention it is a rumour vs some websites that resort to clickbait headlines and declaring rumours to be a statement of fact when in reality there is a lot of noise but very little signal. There is rumoured to being on in April but only time will tell whether it results in something. For me, I’m holding off for what will happen with the WWDC in June – whether they’ll do the virtual conference like last year because of the pandemic or whether there is a sufficient number of people immunised that an ‘in person’ conference is doable but given how things are in a state of flux I have a feeling that they’ll go for a virtual conference since it worked pretty well last year.
It appears there are rumours about the next updated Mac will be the 21inch version but that leaves a lot of questions to ask when it comes to the bigger laptops and desktops – are we going to see the relationship between Apple and AMD continue? Keeping in mind that although Apple does prefer controlling the whole widget, we also have to keep in mind that AMD is open (and does) provide full hardware specifications, source code etc. that one would need which would give Apple a decent degree of control – which is why Sony and Microsoft decided to go with AMD for their game consoles. Both Sony and Microsoft obtain a degree of control over the final product that has all the benefits of an in-house ground up product but without the risk – the cost of one vendor when compared to another vendor, when looking at it from a per-unit point of view, is very small so the argument that AMD got their by price alone ignores all the other benefits Sony and Microsoft gain. I could see Apple maybe doing likewise where GPU can be focused on lower power and super efficiency while using AMD for 16” MacBook Pro, iMac 27” and the Mac Pro.
It’s interesting to see the Xbox is getting the Chromium version of Edge then combine that with maybe in the future a ‘desktop experience’ based on the work being done with Windows 10X and improved mouse/keyboard support, then it appears that long term the Xbox will not only be a great console but potentially a replacement for those who also want the ability to using it as a desktop – imagine a student at university being able to write up an essay then switch over to ‘gaming mode’ when they wish to play a game. It will be interesting to see how Xbox developers along side the development of Windows 10X given its recent pushing back of its release to close to the end of this year with 2022 being aimed for win32 application support which I speculate to being accomplished through a virtual machine with all the focus on encouraging developers to embrace the ‘new’ Windows 10X frameworks while still providing backwards compatibility. It’ll be interesting to see whether long term we see Microsoft replace the current win32 UI on Microsoft Edge with one based on WinUI along with moving away from being dependent on win32 frameworks not supported in Windows 10X.
Another week comes to an end and looking forward for the coming week – looking forward to Ubiquiti releasing a new firmware for my HD AC access point which comes with a new firmware, driver etc. which apparently will improve throughput, add WPA3 capabilities etc. so I’m looking forward to that being released. I’ve decided through that I’m going to keep my old Skinny number and focus on getting my life sorted out and once that is done I’ll move back to Skinny Mobile since it offers the best deal (I’m sticking with Skinny Broadband for the exact reason along with the fact that I don’t have to mess around with VLAN tagging and all the fun that comes with that territory).
I’ve gone back to using MarsEdit – the good side is that it is Apple Silicon native along with all the other applications I have. I was reading an article linked on Reddit to Apple Insider where the author was complaining about how developers aren’t porting their application fast enough – all while ignoring what the migration from PowerPC to x86 was a lot more rocky – I remember how long it took for Microsoft to release a x86 native installer even though the bundled applications were universal binaries, then there were many big name applications that didn’t come for at least 1 1/2 to 2 years after the launch – the fact that we’re getting beta releases even at this stage is a damn site better than what it was back with the last transition..
Things for National keep going from bad to worse and once again they flirt with the hard right, the electorate will reject them and then eventually a moderate person like a John Key will emerge out of the wilderness. With all that being said, lets remember that National only has at their disposal what I like to call ‘the four step tango’ which consists of 1) Tax cut 2) Deregulation 3) Privatisation 4) Build a road – look back at least 50 years and you’ll find that theory is proven time and time again. Lets hope that Labour finally grows some stones and make the necessary investments instead of being a watered down National Party with a leader that loves talking about how much their administration cares.
Google released Chrome 89 recently with much promise made about improved memory and system resource efficiency. It also has appeared that things have calmed down regarding manifest v3 regarding extensions – personally I would like to see Google maintain manifest v2 for those who wish to side load extensions (maybe adopt a ‘notarisation’ like how Apple does with applications sold outside of the App Store for Mac) and have the manifest v3 a requirement for those extensions that developers wish to distribute through the Chrome extensions store. The reasoning behind the change is that apparently it is more secure and more efficient – to be blunt I’ve never had performance issues and to be quite frank the security issues aren’t helped when people just install any old random extension without first finding out who made it. Ultimately I think most content blockers are going to adopt the new manifest standard but it does rub me the wrong way that power users are hamstrung by a company insisting on protecting users from themselves.
Anyway, back to Chrome – so far it has been running pretty reliably and the promises of greater efficiency have definitely lived up to the promise as I’ve checked the system monitor and even with 4K video playback th utilisation is in the low single digits. I tend to swap between Safari and Chrome – Safari being the super efficient but extensions are very much limited when compared to the depth and breadth available on Chrome. With Chrome, the way in which Google is positioning the browser I think it would be fairer to view it as a runtime engine when you consider the comprehensive nature of Google’s implementation of HTML5 technologies (those technologies that have become commonly associated the modern web) when compared to Apple that restricts (for a variety of reasons) what technologies are implemented in Safari (aka, if you can’t do it in a browser then you’re not using the right tool for the job – you should be writing a native application).
Apple has released another round of updates – personally I would like to see Apple take as long as they need to ensure that when it is released that as many bug fixes are included particularly around Safari and the regressions that I’ve observed since moving up to Big Sur. AdGuard Safari Extension is developing quickly although the next version isn’t going to be Apple Silicon compliant since it will require them upgrading the version of Electron that underpins their app but an Apple Silicon version has only just become available (too far along in the development cycle to upgrade Electron).
Samsung has scheduled for 18 March a product launch and a week after that there is the rumour of an Apple event where there will be Apple Silicon based Macs being launched along with a refresh of the iPad range and a few other bits and pieces. While the fabrication factories are struggling to keep up with demand, Apple was smart enough to reserve a large amount of capacity with TSMC. When it comes to Samsung, the interesting part will next year with the announcement of the Exynos SoC that’ll include the AMD GPU to replace the current Mali GPU from ARM – die shrink and performance improvement along with the protracted cutting off of Huawei from the Google Play Store ecosystem will allow Samsung to gain back Android market share. It’ll be interesting to see where the Google Pixel will be now that the 5G modem is now integrated into the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 where as on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 has the 5G modem as a separate chip so hopefully we’ll see a Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 XL with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888.
Apple has released iPadOS/iOS 14.4.1 and macOS 11.2.3 which includes a security update to Webkit – the size of the download particularly on macOS 11.2.3 lends me to believe that it also includes some low key bug fixes as well given that it was over 4GB and even on iOS 14.4.1 the update was more than 150MB (the framework itself in terms of it’s binary size is only around 1/10th that size). I’ve installed it on all my devices and no problems or noticeable changes – Safari is as snappy as always but I’m looking forward to macOS 11.3 because it includes an updated Safari (it has been updated to Safari 14.1) which will hopefully include a lot of the improvements that have been present in the Safari Technology Preview builds over the last few months.
It appears that the concerns about tracking, third party cookies and general ‘privacy invasive’ techniques employed by tech giants are coming under the microscope with the release of iOS/iPad 14.5 and macOS 11.3 which will require app vendors to ask customers permission to allow tracking beyond the site that is being used. Facebook took in its usual stride of throwing a temper tantrum while resorting to the usual hyperbole by claiming that Apple is destroying their business (they’re worried that, if customers were given a choice, they might not won’t the dodgy big brother privacy invasion?) where as Twitter has said it would have a modest impact but then again it is rumoured that Twitter is looking at offering a ‘premium’ tier of their service which will offer more features and being ad free. Google on the other hand have moved away from tracking individual users in favour of Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) (link) which places individuals into groups so as a result the relationship is abstracted away so that there is no longer that individual tracking.
Yes, some critics have bought up the fact that FLoC ignore what the anger regarding privacy invasion was all about – most people accept that if you use a platform then it makes sense for that platform to then use the information that you provide as an end user to not only make the service better to use (eg. tracking what videos you watch and suggest content that is similar) but also target ads that are relevant to you. The problem were third party cookies, Facebook creating ‘shadow’ profiles so even if you didn’t visit Facebook explicitly there was information being harvested by virtue of a website using Facebook as a vehicle for the comment section of an article.
What is also rather frustrating has been the meme put out there that so-and-so tech giant sells your information to advertisers – no they don’t ‘sell’ your private data to third parties. Firstly because it wouldn’t make any sense as a business model to sell the very data that gives you an competitive advantage so why would you give it away (even if it had a price tag attached to it)? Secondly the advertisement system doesn’t work that that – for example, a third party will go to Google, Facebook or Twitter and give them the target demographic that they wish to target, “I want to target males, between the ages of 23-35, interest in vintage computers and like eating pizza”, and the tech giant then comes back, “sure, and here is the cost of the campaign”. No information is swapped hands, the information is retained by the said technology company
I would hazard to guess that Google has changed to the FLoC system because they’ve realised that a lot of the information they have collected is of very little value – it uses a large amount of storage space, it consumes a lot of power and the extra data retained and the benefits yield from it doesn’t add up. It shouldn’t be surprising that at the beginning a technology company will go all in on something then as time goes on they realise that what they thought was necessary turns out not to be so, that the ‘fine grained’ nature’ of data collection and association is no better than the FLoC system they’re looking at becoming the default way of doing in 2022.
Apple released another update to macOS in the form of the 11.2.2 update although it appears that Apple haven’t gotten around to uploading a updated version of their macOS installer. I have a feeling that since Apple were happy to push out the 11.2.2 update gives me the impression that macOS 11.3 and iOS 14.5 it is still a month or two away – iOS will probably be released first with macOS 11.3 probably being released when the rumoured product refresh occurs in the next couple of months. Just this week Apple has released beta 3 – keeping in mind that any release notes only has the most high profile fixes and generally excludes any security fixes since disclosing those involve disclosing vulnerabilities that need to be kept hush-hush so that the baddies don’t get a hold of that information and start exploiting them.
Ubiquiti has released the UDM 1.9 firmware which includes support for WPA3 but keeping in mind that the firmware on the access point has to support it as well although I think I’ll stick with WPA2 until most of the bugs are hammered out in both the standard and the implementation. I’m happy that things are picking up in the world of Ubiquiti and I’m looking forward to the 5.x firmware series for my Unifi AP AC HD (although, as I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m looking to upgrading to a Wifi 6 AP when I upgrade my iMac and MacBook Pro to the new Apple Silicon). For all the issues experienced in the early days of owning a UDM, it was the best investments I ever made when it came to networking equipment.
The one thing I always remind people when it comes to buying something – yes, you an go for the cheaper option but 9/10 in the long run you end up spending more than if you went for the slightly more expensive option straight off the bat. In the world IT the general rule of thumb ‘you get what you pay for’ very much applies – although there are exceptions to that rule (high price but low quality but high market share due to inertia within the market when it comes to changing vendors. For example, see how long it took for the Microsoft Explorer monopoly to be undermined) but most of the time the general rule of thumb ends up being true. If you buy decent quality networking equipment it’ll run for years – set and forget with the occasional software update keeping the network secure.