Politics · Technology

Looking forward to WWDC 2023, reflecting on Fox News and voter denial.

One of the things I like to do is to go through the App Store looking at the ad blockers that are available so that I can give them a test run then compare them to what I am using today – AdGuard Safari Extension. As good as AdGuard is at smacking down ads and popups it still lets a few through so I like to see what else is out there and whether it performs the same or better than AdGuard. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve given them a try, I’ve provided feedback via feedback in the App Store (but alas those reviews aren’t visible in the App Store which is why in the past I couldn’t be bothered reviewing products if my review isn’t even going to be visible in the first place) and what I have found is that once again AdGuard comes out on top. What I hope is that as MV3 matures that Apple fills in those functionality gaps which would improve the content blocking reliability.

Tucker has been fired from Fox News with rumours that there could be still more to come (based on the number of redacted conversations that haven’t been made public) and of course there have been celebrations outside of the right wing echo system. As enjoyable as it is to bask in the pleasure of schadenfreude it is important not to get complacent because although Fox News is a big player in the right wing ecosystem their primary demographic skews to an older cohort. My concern isn’t necessarily Fox News but the next generation that is being shaped by right wing ‘influencers’ that play into the idea that your friend, that they’re on your side, that because they aren’t part of a big corporation they’re honest actors who aren’t beholden to anyone – the faux authenticity of billionaire backed influencers may end up being more effective are recruiting the young and disaffected than the mass market style media outlets that Fox News operates as.

Regarding the election deniers, Vice News uploaded a video recently regarding a county in California that decided to terminate its contract with Dominion Voting Systems with those who turned up to these meetings offering not evidence other than vibes, feelings and second/third hand information they got off some random website or social network.

What is the solution that some suggest? going back to paper ballots but here is the problem, if they go paper ballots that will take longer and if they take closer then that if it takes a long time to count that ‘obviously they’re fixing the election’ – in other words it isn’t about actually believing the election was stolen but holding onto a belief that makes them feel good that their favourite politician won but it was stolen vs the reality that their favourite politician actually lost because they didn’t deliver the goods on the day when it was needed. For many, they have melded their own identity with the identity of their favourite politician resulting in anything bad that happens to said politician as being also an attack on them, they are living a parasocial relationship .

Why do I also think that they’ll dream up new conspiracy theories? Because they were told over and over again that the mail in ballots get processed after the in person voting was counted and because Democrats are more likely to vote via mail there will a massive uptick in favour of Democrats when the mail in ballots are counted .What happened? such individuals engaged in conspiracy theories because they aren’t interested in listening to reason or facts, they’ve created a narrative to justify why their chosen politician hasn’t won so matter how much evidence you bring, no matter how in depth and dumbed down you explain it they’ll keep denying reality in much the same way that a young earth creationist will keep claiming that the world is only 6000 years old even though a mountain of evidence points to the exact opposite of that claim. Maybe it is the sunken coast fallacy, that they’ve invested so much in the narrative that it is now part of their identity, who they as as a people not to mention created a community around that narrative that many feel boxed with no way to back out of the rabbit hole they’ve gone down.

Joe Biden hoped back in 2020 that the ‘fever would break’ and the the GOP would go back to be ‘normal’ again but the problem with that is the fact that the GOP has been a problem for at least 50-60 years where it first started with the ‘Southern Strategy’ where they coopted the Dixiecrats into their ranks then going into the 1970s and early 1980s there as the coopting of the religious right and so on and so on to eventually we see what makes up the modern GOP today. To talk about the ‘fever breaking’ would be to imply that Trump and the Trumpification of the GOP was a recent phenomenon and if the part are de-Trumpified then the party would go back to normal but the problem is that it is ignores what the ‘normal’ actually was. That ‘normal’ was the fertile soil which bought to fruition Trump in the first place – Trumpism didn’t occur out of nowhere but a byproduct of a party that believed they had a rabid voting base that they could throw meat at, fail to deliver, blame the Democrats for being obstructionist then repeat the same cycle again.

What is the solution to the current situation? I’m no expert however I believe these might help the situation and they don’t require any constitutional changes:

  1. Get the state government out of running primaries – parties are private organisations and how they choose which candidate to run for which position is an internal party matter. That in and of itself would trim back those who participate because “I saw him on television” vs people who actually take politics seriously because they’re interested in advancing workable policies.
  2. The states role is to register parties and candidates, and enforce the rules.
  3. Rank choice voting for both senate and congressional representatives.
  4. De-Gerrymander the districts so that elections are competitive as to avoid extremists from being voted in.

Those 4 points wouldn’t magically create a utopia but it would at the very least result in candidates being run who are being selected based on their electability rather than their capacity to pander to the base, the rank choice voting would result in the winner being the one with the most support along with, and De-Gerrymander districts will result in competitive races rather than the situation being the winner being a full gone conclusion when the primary is run. I don’t see any of the above happening but I don’t see things improving unless there is a systemic change in how elections are carried out in the United States.

Regarding the whole firing of Tucker Carlson, there are a lot of rumours going around regarding the reasoning but I think the one thing most can agree on is the fact that on Friday he said he would be back on Monday which tells me that if there was something bubbling below the surface at Fox News that he didn’t know anything about it. At this point I have to wonder what was the straw that broke the camel’s back but that being said maybe Fox News had wanted to ‘clean house’ for quite some time but they had to wait for the right pretext. Personally I don’t see this whole experience changing Fox News because their brand is pretty much wrecked at this point – if they were serious they would be looking at retiring the Fox brand and relaunch two channels (one business and one news) under the WSJ brand with a traditional centre right perspective but I doubt it will happen.

Personal · Technology

Back to Safari and Apple TV.

Well, I’m back to using Safari and I’m finding the overall experience pretty good given all the new features, bug fixes and optimisations that were introduced in Safari 16.4 and the next version is looking even better based on the latest release notes (link). Although Chrome has its benefits I still find that the integration is lacking particularly when it comes to the ability to select text in pictures, to right click and then translate the text. I have noticed that there have been some improvements in performance and reduced bugginess – I am wondering that as part of the move to improve interoperability between the different browsers resulting in Google updating their own websites that may have used nonstandardised ways of doing something and instead updating so that they better conform to those harmonised implementations.

I finally gave in and bought an Apple TV 128GB with internet and wifi because I had enough of how slow and laggy it was and no I’m not going to buy an Nvidia shield given that the hardware is out of date and still has the same sort of lag – maybe not as bad as the Chromecast with Google TV but still pretty bad when compared to the Apple TV. I wantt to give Android a fair shot but each time I am disappointed and it isn’t as though Google is ignorant of these issues but time and time again they match a hungry operating system with underwhelming hardware then they act surprised when they experience customers get is pretty subpar.

I’m looking at getting an iPhone 14 Pro Max in June/July this year – although therre is the tempotation of wanting to wait for the latest version of a particular product while the other side of the argument is that new devices come with new bugs where as an existing device has been in production for a while, software updates have been released etc. The Nothing Phone has been great but there are so many features I miss – iMessage, battery life, the abilty to install web browser extensions etc. 


Phasing out 2G and 3G, big changes in store.

The two major mobile networks in New Zealand have announced big changes in the next few years. Vodafone NZ is now One NZ along with announcement that their 2G and 3G network will be gradually closed off by 2025 (2G mid 2025, 3G end of 2024) – the reason for keeping 2G on for longer are the number of ‘smart metres’ that power companies use. Spark on the other hand has announced their own phasing out of 3G which probably explains why, when they chose Nokia as their 5G infrastructure partner, I wouldn’t be surprised if they rip out the 4G Huawei equipment and simply having a 4G and 5G network based on Nokia’s SingleRAN infrastructure. I’m looking forward to Spark and One NZ reusing the old 3G frequencies for 4G or 5G. Spark for example has 850MHz which Telstra in Australia have redeployed for 5G (link) and Optus in Australia launched 5G on 900MHz (link) with the fall back to 4G 700MHz resulting in a pure IP based network.

It appears that Google are getting sorted out when it comes to supporting more 4G and 5G networks with the latest beta of their QPR update which has added support for VoLTE and 5G for both Spark as well as One NZ (I wouldn’t be surprised if 2 Degrees support will be coming out soon). I wonder whether the decline in ad revenue has forced Google’s hand to get its act together when it comes to their other divisions – that they need to get their hardware division sorted out and move beyond just shipping their hardware to 14 countries. At the moment you can purchase Nest and Fitbit hardware but unfortunately that is all but that being said if I can purchase Pixel from overseas but it works in New Zealand then there will be no complaints from me regarding it.

Ubiquiti has released to ‘early adopters’ and update for UDM and UDM Pro of UnifiOS 3.0.20 – getting closer bit by bit to UnifiOS parity across the Unifi product line up. It’ll be interesting to see, once they’re all into sync, how quickly new features and bugs will be fixed particularly with the launch of the adblocker – hopefully it’ll become more feature rich to allow more fine grained configuration such as exemption particular domain names etc. Personally I think it maybe useful for a large network but someone like me would find it more reliable by just sticking with uBlock Origin and call it a day.

Substack has launched Substack Notes (link) – I love the interface, it is very minimalist user interface but that being said it would have been nice if they implemented Activity Pub so then it was possible to follow a particular author from Mastodon rather than having to create an account etc. With that being said, it is good that there are alternatives arising and hopefully it’ll result in more choice, more options and hopefully reduce the likelihood that a Twitter like fiasco will occur again because some billionaire with more dollars than sense gets a bee up their backside and buys out a prominent platform.

For those who prefer a traditional email client, Mimestream (link) is drawing closer to a 1.0 release – it’ll be interesting to see whether they sell it exclusively through the App Store or whether they skip that in favour of selling it directly to the public. What I like about it is the fact that rather than using IMAP and the mess associated with translating IMAP to Gmail way of doing things (for example folders in IMAP are translated to labels in Gmail) it uses the native Gmail API along with other native APIs which results in a more reliable experience. For me, I have gotten used to doing email via the web browser (probably due to the fact that we use Google Workspace where I work). IMHO Apple should be doing the same – maybe work with Google so that you can synchronise your bookmarks and passwords so you can keep using Safari while integrated into Google, one can always dream.

Politics · Technology

A start of a new week.

Chrome 112 has been released and I noticed it is a bit more responsive. I sometimes wonder whether the improvement in performance is real and if it is real how much of it is due to fixes vs compiler improvements, the websites I use getting better optimised etc. It’s one of those things in the world of IT where there are a many moving parts thus making it incredibly difficult to isolate the cause of something not working correctly or if it suddenly starts working correctly you’re left wondering what just happened so one can learn what to do in future. It’s one of those things in IT which is why it can be frustrating dealing with customers that are adamant that the problem is with you (the provider) when in reality it could be with the ISP (maybe a DNS resolving issue?) or with an upstream provider or one of the upstream providers who provide support for the upstream providers that the ISP relies on. As cheesy as it sounds, the internet are a series of tubes of uplinks and downlinks all working in harmony right up to the point that they’re no longer in harmony.

Politics is becoming rather frustrating which is part of the reason I have been avoiding the commentary on YouTube not to mention the flood of news articles put out. The frustration is more born out of the fact that has become all very much repetitive to the point that it all blends into each other to the point that has become the cycle of a politician doing or saying something stupid, party leadership comes out in damage control, the person who did or said the stupid thing either resigns, apologises or does a half baked apology (aka “I’m sorry your felt that way” or “I apologise that you misinterpreted what I said) only for the cycle to repeat. I sometimes wonder whether politicians need to be reminded that they don’t need to have an opinion on everything, that not everyone wants to hear their opinion and sometimes the best answer to a question from someone trying to provoke you into a response is to actually ignore them (see Marama Davidson response to ‘Counterspin Media’ who were goading her into giving a sound bite).

I think the one thing to remind oneself is this: the internet is not the real world and activists don’t necessarily represent the mainstream of the community they’re advocating for. I say this because so much of the rancor and rage out there is fermented by people using the internet as the barometer of what is actually happening in the real world. The Republicans for example have convinced themselves that people like Matt Walsh, Ben Shapiro, Michael Knowles etc. represent the mainstream along with activists who keep keep bringing up the usual nonsense about wokeness and LGBTQ+ getting out of control but then you have polls such as these two (sourced from the following Twitter account):

The end result is that when it came to the midterms the ‘red wave’ never arrived because what they thought were important issues to voters was only important to those who are terminally online with everyone else aka ‘normies’ too busy dealing with taking care of kids, going to work, trying to juggle paying bills, trying to make ends meet with high inflation etc. It is highly unlikely that the ‘normies’ are engaging with the terminally online discourse that the Republicans have convinced themselves represent mainstream America – 13% want abortion completely banned with 87% of Americans sitting somewhere around the middle thus making the Republican shtick of using ‘The Daily Wire’ commentators as sources of ‘insight’ into their voting base appear rather ridiculous given the midterms outcome.

I’ve finally organised my time off in June, from 31 May 2023 to 13 June 2023 I’ll be relaxing at home, looking forward to the WWDC sessions, the keynote and my favourite being the ‘Platforms State of the Union’. For those unfamiliar with WWDC there are two keynotes, there is the keynote in the morning which is for the media, the tech enthusiasts etc. which gives a high level big picture overview with a focus on a small number of key areas which give a general vibe to the public about where their focuses are going forward. The other keynote is called the ‘Platforms State of the Union’ where it it is still very much a high level overview but with more technical details but not as much as say a session which narrowly focuses and dives very deep into that area. For example, in the keynote they’ll talk about how they’ve improved media performance, the ‘Platforms State of the Union’ will talk about how the media frameworks are optimised using xyz technology and then the sessions will go into detail regarding what they did on the backend and how as developers they can take advantage of it.