Technology

Well, that was a bit strange.

On a previous post I talked about Safari Technology Preview 161 I pointed out the addition of AV1 support being added:

However interesting enough a few days later I went back to the Safari Technology Preview 161 blog notes and found that references to AV1 support has suddenly disappeared (the original page is available via the Google cache):

I original thought that maybe it was a error in the notes so I clicked on the link to see whether the changes were still committed to GitHub and it appears it is still there (link) so it makes me wonder whether they’re wanting to wait until it is more mature before announcing it as a feature. Given the complexity of AV1 I wouldn’t be surprised if there is going to be a good amount of time spent on optimising the CODEC as much as they can – maybe make use of Metal performance shaders? I guess we’ll need to ‘wait and see’ what happens. It’ll be interesting to see whether this will roll out to tvOS – the CPUs being used on the Apple TV running tvOS should be sufficiently powerful enough to decode without too many issues given the massive performance lead that Apple has when it comes to their SoC designs.

Politics · Technology

An interesting week in politics and tech.

An interesting week so far in politics with Jacinda Ardern stepping down from her role as Prime Minister and Chris Hipkins – the fact that it was such a smooth transition makes me wonder whether this had been in the works for a while. It’ll be interesting to see if there is any major changes but so far it appears, based on the speech he gave, that they’re looking at the many policies that are being pushed and pruning them back to the absolute essential ones that need to be implemented.

The three waters, which has become a political hot potato (rightfully or wrongfully) I could imagine them ‘sending it back for more consultation’ with an announcement of a short term funding announcement to deal with the immediate issues that require addressing in an expedited manner then I could imagine either the states quo or consolidation with central government funding for long term infrastructure needs.

When it comes to the merged public broadcaster they’ll push that out but I don’t think they really have the stomach for a merging – what I could imagine is that TVNZ remains as it is with maybe the news and current affairs handed over to RNZ and TVNZ licences it off RNZ a simulcast version of Checkpoint which will reduce TVNZ’s costs and reduce the duplication in the current affairs and new divisions between the two organisations.

Regarding the phasing out of DHBs, that’ll still go ahead because the whole idea of having elected DHBs never made any sense particularly when it comes to a national strategy on health not to mention the very low interest that the public had in regards to the whole DHB election process given that a sizeable number got in because they were at the top of the list rather than it being a conscious choice being made (there was an article from years ago that the top winners were also those at the top of the list as they were printed on the voting form). Even if National were to get in I don’t see them undoing it since they were never onboard with DHBs in the first place and ACT years ago talked about reducing the number of boards from 20 down to 6 – 4 in the North Island and 2 in the South Island.

I could see them maybe having a look at the tax code particularly around adjusting brackets given that there has been almost a decade of bracket creep with wages going up well above inflation but the tax brackets remaining static not to mention the IETC threshold for abatement hasn’t adjusted in over a decade meaning many are missing out on the IETC even though, if one were to adjust for inflation, their incomes had only increased modestly. As much as I would love to see a capital gains tax to transform the tax system from one of being ‘deep and narrow’ in favour of ‘broad and shallow’ which would ensure that the burden of taxation wouldn’t fall overwhelmingly on the shoulders of income tax payers.

Today Apple release updates for all their platforms – so far everything is going well with the new macOS 13.2, no issues with any of the software. Nothing Phone is gradually rolling out the Nothing OS 1.1.8 update which includes bug fixes along with January 2023 security update (link). There is the upcoming Android developer conference then followed by the WWDC in June (I’ll get time off from work when that happens) – many things occurring in the first half of this year so it’ll be interesting to see what is announced.

Technology

It has arrived.

My Nothing Phone wallet style case has arrived and fits wonderfully. The only downside is that there is a suction cup to keep it closed where as I would much rather a latch of some sort but that being said it is no great concern. I’m hyper paranoid about having a case because I made a really bad decision to take my phone to work and it didn’t have a case on it – I dropped it and the screen cracked which ended up costing me NZ$800 to get it repaired so ever since then any time I got a new phone I always made sure that I had a case on it before I left home with it.

Things are advancing in the world of Webkit with the inclusion of AV1 playback support (link) but at the moment it is marked experimental so at this point it is anyones guess when those enhancements will make their way back to the mainstream release of Safari. With that being said I wouldn’t be surprised if isn’t too far away given that all the major video streaming platforms prefer it over HEVC where the streaming platform has to pay royalty feeds. It’ll be interesting to see how much optimisation Apple has done particularly when it comes to 8K playback and whether the upgraded Apple TV has the ‘grunt’ to playback.

There are rumours that Google are working on a successor to the Google Chromecast with Google TV (link) – it’ll be interesting to see whether it comes preloaded with Android TV 13 but that being said I wouldn’t be surprised if it did come with AV1 support given how hard Google has been pushing support particularly when it comes to YouTube certification (which probably explains why Apple has ‘pulled finger’ regarding getting support added to their platforms). I don’t see there being a price drop but I could see them become more capable as they improve support for keyboards along with Google Meet (link) which will hopefully open up the opportunity to turn ones television into a communications device particularly for those who wish to keep in contact with friends and family but may not have the technical expertise of trying to do it all on a conventional computer but are put off by a tablet because of the small screen size.

Twitter is once again in the news for all the wrong reasons (link). What you’re seeing at Twitter is a text book example of a person who takes over a business and believes the hype regarding his intelligence. If you take over a business and have this idea in your head that everyone there isn’t very smart and knowledgeable but you’re the great man of history, the genius that will lead the company to bigger and greater things then don’t be surprised. The problem is that rather than sitting down and talking to engineers, display some humility and willingness to learn but nope he went into Twitter like a bull in a China shop and started breaking things. On a good side though this whole debacle has finally woken people up to the fact that the myth regarding Elon Musk’s genius was just that – a myth which as bough to light the other billionaires that are put up on pedestals by such outlets as CNBC and Bloomberg that swoon around like devotees waiting for the guru sitting upon the mountain pillow to bestow upon his follows the great wisdom he has acquired through many years of meditation.

Personal · Politics

The quiet time of the year.

Around this time of the year although there is the craziness of end of the year festivities (from a variety of different religions) and celebrating the new year in the fields of politics and technology things are pretty quiet but eventually they start to pick up heading into February with Samsung’s new produce announcement then followed by Google’s Android developer conference where Android 14 is announced then in June there is the WWDC 2023 conference (maybe in person this year?). Samsung Galaxy S23 will be interesting but there are rumours regarding the Samsung Galaxy S24 that Samsung will reduce their line up to two models but keeping in mind that they’re just rumours at the moment. There is also rumours in the world of Apple that 2024 is the launch year of Apple’s own Bluetooth, Wifi and mobile modem chip so that their SoC is completely end to end controlled by Apple. It’ll be interesting to see how much of an improvement there will be once they ‘control the whole widget’ and whether Apple removes mmWave support given the complexity of the antenna is and how useless it is in the real world (outside of the US the focus is on sub 6GHz) given that a double glazed window can block a mmWave signal.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens this year in terms of New Zealand politics particularly when one considers it is an election year and inflation hasn’t been tamed yet but that being said if the voter can see that the inflation is coming down then they might give Labour another chance. With all that being said, National ins’t exactly making themselves electable when their platform is what I like to call ‘the four step tango’ which amounts to 1) Tax cuts 2) Deregulation 3) Privatisation 3) Build a road. They attempt to dress it as something else but it always ends up looking the same and the last thing New Zealand can afford, particularly with the goal of becoming carbon neutral, to under invest in rail, to privatise state owned enterprises resulting in the treasury losing dividend payments, deregulation of the economy only for the consequences of that deregulation coming back to bite consumers and the industry in the backside (see ‘leaking homes’), tax cuts that primarily benefit the rich resulting in a decline in the monetary velocity. All in all it is a bad policy prescription that has all the stench of the ‘1980’s guy’ – too bad many on the right haven’t updated their ideology to reflect reality but then again when your ideology is about justifying policies that benefit your donors then nothing should be surprising.

Getting back to Nothing, it appears that they’re slowly entering the US market with a ‘beta test’ version of their phone (link) and although the aforementioned linked article has a cynical title (probably for the sake of getting clicks) I personally wouldn’t have bothered entering the US market given the laundry list of regulations one has to comply with when compared to the many other countries they’re making the phone available in. From what it appears, they’re taking the cautious approach to growth which is good when compared to what competitors have done where by there is massive growth then followed by numerous problems appearing one after the other as the organisation isn’t prepared to deal with the increased customer base and the after market support.

Personal · Technology

Almost the end of the week.

Things are going well with the new Nothing Phone and I’ve ordered a wallet case via Walmart (I did see it advertised on another website but I wasn’t familiar with it so I didn’t want to take a chance) which will get delivered to the YouShop depot then resent to New Zealand since Walmart doesn’t ship directly to New Zealand.

Hopefully once it arrives at YouShop it’ll be sent off and arrive by not next week but the week after – at the moment I’m not taking it out of the house because I fear that I’ll drop it. I like having the phone and wallet all in once since not all the cards I have can be loaded onto the phone such as my card from work, my drivers licence etc. I was hoping to get a nice genuine leather one, if I were to order it through Etsy the deliver times can be measured in months due to it being a one man operation where the product is built to order so you could imagine that there is a bit of a backlog.

The phone is going well, rock solid, VoLTE working as it should, Google Messages working well, I’ve uploaded all my music to YouTube Music so now they’re available anywhere etc. what I have realised is that although it has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778+ it is more than powerful enough to do what I want which makes me reexamine past decisions to always go for the flagship when there are good mid range well support phones for half the price.

I’ve put up on TradeMe two Arlo Solar Panels since I’ve never actually used them so I might as well sell them and get some money rather than them accumulating dust in the extra bedroom. If I can get a few hundred then I’ll be happy.

Personal · Technology

So much improvement but so much more work needs to be done.

As part of my work I use both Chrome and Safari – Chrome integrates into the Google Workspace that my workplace utilises and Safari I use when loading personal websites. There are lots of little things that accumulate such as Mastodon works better with Chrome and Firefox – Safari keeps complaining about ‘This Webpage is using Significant Memory in Safari’ but this occurs on both computers with the first having 24GB RAM and the other having 32GB RAM so it isn’t as though they’re lacking in the memory department. There is also lingering PWA issues not resolved such as updating in the background as new posts come in result in moving to a different tab then coming back 1/2 later to find that it hasn’t updated or at the very least updated but remaining in the same position on the time line so you don’t lose track of where you were when reading.

It’ll be interesting to see whether more resources will be put into Webkit to accelerate not only development but merging those Webkit changes into the mainstream build of Safari in a must more prompt manner to ensure that bugs that appear are fixed quickly and when new standards developed that first question is “is this good for our customers’ rather than ‘does this impact our App Store sales if we make the PWA experience for end users really good’.

The web browser of today has become the ‘run time engine’ for the internet where as in the past there was Java, .NET, Flash, Shockwave, Adobe Air etc. but all of those have been replaced with open standards based technologies that run within a web browser. It is interesting that for years Microsoft fought tooth and nail against such a transition because it feared that it would undermine the market dominance of Windows until Microsoft had a robust cloud offering then combine that with bringing their middleware and productivity to the cloud (along with building up their own hardware division) the concerns about Windows market dominance disappeared along with concerns about having an in-house browser in favour of utilising Chromium not to mention the exiting from the mobile operating system market.

What I hope is that eventually Apple gets over it’s fixation of ‘protect the App Store at all costs’ in much the same way that Microsoft got over its ‘protect Windows at all cost’ fixation because there are so many more avenues they could generate new revenue. What other avenues? create an iCloud ‘business’, maybe focus on creating a ‘fleet’ computer based on Mac mini, improved management tools, longer support life cycles to allow a much more gradual transition when upgrading to a new version of macOS, iOS etc. I’m sure there are many, many more options Apple have if they really needed new business opportunities.

On my Mastodon feed I posted that I had upgraded from an iPhone 12 Pro Max to a Nothing Phone (1) (256GB storage, 12GB RAM) and moved to a Chromecast with Google TV (upgraded to Android TV 12 ) but I’ll be writing a review of both devices once I have had some more experience using them. Regarding Google Workspace, they really have streamlined the ease of setting it up if you have a WordPress account – it is just a matter of authorising Google to chat with WordPress meaning all the DNS settings and other stuff are all taken care of rather than having to manually configure.

A couple of thing to remember is that when you setup a Workspace account you’ll need to make at least a deposit into your Workspace of account of US$30 or more then wait up to 72 hours for you to be able to access YouTube (assuming you don’t want to wait 30 days (link)). The only downside is that I had to manually add all my subscriptions to the new account – I wish there was some sort of way to download something like an XML file then upload it so then the subscriptions can be added. The other one is that if you have a Nothing Phone, Pixel or any phone that includes Google Discover then you’ll need to enable ‘Additional Google services’ (link).