macOS 11.3 Developer Beta has been released and good news – it includes Safari 14.1 which hopefully includes a lot of the improvements that exist in Safari Technology Preview. I’m hoping that what we’ll see, with the move to Apple Silicon based Macs, that there will be more frequent updates of Safari particularly when it comes to the Webextensions API which at the moment the absolute bare minimum. What I’m hoping is that when Apple embraces more of the Webextensions API that any changes make their way back into the other browsers which will make extension developers more willing to target Safari. At the moment I use Ad Guard Safari Extension although it would be nice for uBlock Origin to be made available for Safari.
It looks like the first couple of updates were solely focused on fixing major bugs and security fixes with the next release bring in new features as part of the equation. There is also a corresponding Xcode 12.5 that being released along side macOS 11.3. It will be interesting to see whether, once the transition to Apple silicon is complete, whether they move to a rolling release schedule where major releases are instead replaced with new features, enhancements, bug fixes etc. are rolled out when they’re ready rather than being held back for ‘the big release’.
Apple has released the Big Sur 11.2 – I’ve upgraded my iMac and MacBook Pro, and as noted earlier on today the issue regarding scrolling and video playback on YouTube has been fixed which means I can now go back to use the stable build of Safari rather than using the beta/technology build (although I do hope that Apple get their act sorted and make Safari 14.1 available since the scrolling is buttery smooth and a lot faster than Safari 14.0.3). The update also updated the firmware for both devices – most likely including the latest microcode update from Intel along with any optimisations to the kernel to help mitigate any performance penalties associated with the fix (in much the same way that Google created the Retpoline fix to deal with the Spectre variant 2 fix slow downs related to the microcode fix).
Speculation is building about Apple having a spring release of the next wave of refreshes which will bring Apple silicon to more devices. The technology blogs have picked up on an Apple patent regarding multi-level memory (link) which appears to be pointing to a future where Mac Pro’s for example will have super fast on SoC memory with the ability to expand it further via slots which won’t be as fast as SoC based memory but with enough wizardry in the background of swapping things around in the background, Pros will get the advantages of the new SoC with non of the downsides. I think the big question though is how Apple is going to deal with the GPU given that although so far it has performed great against other similar embedded SoC based GPUs, will they stick with discrete GPU’s as an option so that the system switches between the Apple GPU and the discrete GPU based on system demands? I guess in the coming months we’ll find out.
Next week I’m going to take a couple of days off from work (10th and 11th) since I had some lieu days earned. Normally I would cash them out and pocket the money but alas given what the economy has gone through, the business has had to tighten up – I was lucky that I was able to cash in a week of holidays before the email came out which put an end to that practice due to tough trading conditions. Regarding WWDC 2021, assuming that the vaccinations get off the ground and most of society gets back to normal then hopefully that’ll mean I’ll take a week off in June to geek out watching the various sessions regarding the enhancements to the next version of macOS. I think the interesting part will be the under the hood changes particularly around closing off access to the kernel by third parties as Apple replace the various frameworks in the kernel with a user space extension/driver model. It also makes me wonder wether that move is also an indication that Apple will start moving drivers out of the kernel so that, not that they’re aiming for some Mach purity, reducing the amount of code that needs to be running in the kernel kept to the bare minimum which will help reduce the surface attack area.
As I’ve noted in previous posts I have been running Safari Technology Preview bought I thought I should give Firefox a try considering that the WebRender is now enabled on macOS. So far it has been very reliable and with uBlock Origin v1.32.4 it is doing a good job blocking ads and other nasties. In terms of it’s memory footprint, it is a lot more efficient than when I used it last time along with it not hogging CPU time with my current tab pretty much sitting at 0.1% with media playback still being pretty good even with YouTube being the one using the most amount of CPU utilisation due to VP9/Opus but even then, I doubt I would notice any difference if I was on battery power. One thing to remember is to install the dictionary since it relies on an external dictionary rather than using the one that is built into macOS.
I guess over the years I’ve developed a theme on my blog about my less than enthusiastic embrace of the industries slow march towards the extensive use of PWA. I have to prefix this – in an ideal world I much prefer native applications because of the improved performance, lower source usage and better system integration but that being said when compared to what came before I would sooner have PWAs over the alternatives that were championed in the past.
I remember the bad old days when the focus was created multiplatform applications and the various technologies vying for it. There Java/Swing, slow, unresponsive and just generally horrible with applets (Java applications that ran inside ones browser) even worse given how it was common to see the whole browser lock up frozen because of a poorly behaving Java applet. ‘Write once, run everywhere’ they said but as the joke went at the time ‘write once, debug everywhere’ because there was no guarantee that your application could consistently run given that a bug in one implementation of the JRE might not impact another JRE.
What other alternatives were there? Shockwave and Flash was something offered but to a certain extent it was handspring by the same limitations as Java applets (in the case of using Flash within a browser) even with the improvement of NPAPI which became PPAPI (‘pepper extensions’) but the world had moved beyond desktops and laptops into tablets and phones – people demanded an experience that worked in the browser natively without a dependency plugins and all the security implications that came with it. Adobe AIR was positioned as a replacement but eventually that has gone by the way side in favour of the Electron framework sitting on top of Chromium.
Anyone who has lived through the past attempts to deliver a multiplatform framework for developers and experienced it first hand as a user would sooner have what we have today than what existed back when Flash was so dominant (along with those other solutions). Are PWA the ideal solution? not really but every step forward in terms of abstracting away from the system is going to result in reduced efficiency but what is lost in run time efficiency is gained in greater productivity by the programmer and less likelihood of mistakes. For example, moving from a 1st generation language (binary) to 2nd generation (assembly) will make life easier because programming is almost like a brief set of instructions in semi-readable human form then when you move to 3rd generation where writing a piece of software is almost writing it in a human readable language. With each level of abstraction the greater the productivity the programmer, the easier to debug, the ability to manage very large and complex projects, to be able to reuse code etc.
I don’t think that PWAs are going to solve all of lifes problems but many applications that are native are done so not because PWAs cannot deliver but due to habit – “we’ve always done it this way” but for those organisations that aren’t hamstrung by legacy many embrace fully the future. Reminds me of a survey where those who tended to go with Office 365 tended to be organisations that were already Microsoft customers thus any move to the cloud required the legacy setup take into account where as G-Suite tended to be used by small to medium businesses, those businesses that were recent startups without the legacy systems in place which have to be take into consideration, in other words it is a ground up brand new workflow unhindered by legacy considerations.
There were updates released today for iOS, tvOS, watchOS and homeOS however macOS Big Sur 11.2 is still in release candidate stage. It’ll be interesting to see whether the improvements build 118 of ‘Safari Technology Preview’ have made their way back into the mainstream build of Safari on Big Sur 11.2. Apple has updated its security page for iOS/iPadOS (link) but it’ll be interesting to see whether ‘Additional details available soon.’ mean additional security fixes disclosed once 11.2 Big Sur makes its way out to end users in the next few days. On a side note, Ubiquiti pushed out the UDM 1.8.6 update which fixes some security updates and bug fixes – so far things have going very well.
What has begun to frustrate to frustrate me is this tendency to mistake cynicism for enlightenment which is just as frustrating as the other observation which is this idea that if you’re critical of one major party it means that you automatically support the other major party.
The first thing that frustrates me is every time there is a rumour put out there by the mainstream media, there hundreds of thousands of folk on twitter immediately assume that it is actually true even though no evidence is provided to back it up. Anyone remember the rumour that was put out there that ‘Biden was considering Rahm Emanuel’ when in reality it was a load of crap. I’ll let you in on a secret – the media is a giant club and those who are interested in a position in an administration will get someone to spread a rumour to give as a hint to the powers that be that they’re interested in a job. Yes Minister have parodied that a few times – politicians use the media and the media like it because it is the unsubstantiated rumours that can generate hours of conversations and debates to fill the airwaves that would be otherwise dead if they actually had to talk about factual issues rather than what the latest rectum plucking that originates from the nether regions of someones conspiratorial mind..
The second thing that frustrates me is the expectation for a ‘revolution’ to occur overnight, for a massive transformation of within a matter of days but rather it is going to be something that’ll occur over time. When they (Democrats) pass a bill it isn’t going to fix all the problems at once but that’s ok, it isn’t as though what is passed is set in stone, one can always go back and amend and improve. That, along with a lack of short memory, is ultimately what the Republicans hope for – that you’ll forget what happened when they were in power and that you lose interest because problems aren’t solved immediately, it might require more than 2 years to fix healthcare. The other part is this purist idea of getting things accomplished – I’m sorry for those who have delicate dispositions but the legislative process is very much like working in a sausage factory, it isn’t going to be pretty. When getting a bill through the house, it requires at times greasing the skids to get the numbers – you may call it pork but I call it the price of getting the votes to achieve a much larger objective. As the old saying goes, “keep your eye on the prize”.
After almost 2 years in development Manifest v3 has made its way into Chrome 88 Beta (link) which I assume will mean that it is in Chrome 88 (link) but that being said, there is still more work to be done such as increase the filter limit from 30,000 in Chrome 88 to 300.000 in Chrome 89 along with taking onboard feedback from third party developers to ease the transition. For example, although the developer behind uBlock Origin wasn’t happy with the changes when Manifest V3 was originally announced it appears that he looking at the possibility of bringing it to v3 even if it means a few features are missing (link). I think that we’ll eventually see developers come around – in a perfect world these changes wouldn’t be necessary because there wouldn’t be malware and other dodgy software but alas we need to build in safeguards into software to keep users safe and by keeping users safe it keeps the extension ecosystem health so that users feel safe trying out new extensions without fear of their browser or computer being hijacked.
It will be interesting to see how WebExtensions API develops on Safari given Apple’s reluctance to implement parts of the API or change the functionality of such parts of the API to tight up security and privacy. The interesting part will be whether the changes in implementation will be adopted in part or fully by the likes of Firefox (just as they implemented some of the less controversial manifest v3 changes (link) gradually). Although Safari 14 had very basic support it was noted on the WWDC session that it is the beginning of a much richer implementation but like anything in life you have to start somewhere. I hope that eventually that it’ll get to the point of rivalling Chrome and Firefox in terms of ease of portability for third party developers – maybe be even lucky enough to see a return of uBlock Origin? one can always dream I guess.
Samsung released their Galaxy S21 series which features the new SoC based on ARM designs rather than using their own in-house designs (which came under fire last year due to the massive gap in performance and battery life between the Exynos and Qualcomm versions). Although there were rumours of a SoC featuring an AMD GPU it appears that it’ll be in next years SoC. It will be interesting to see whether Samsung utilise the open source driver and build on it to support the AMD GPU or whether Samsung will rely on a binary from AMD for support. Part of me wishes that Android vendors would push towards using components whose drivers are 100% open source as to avoid the whole fiasco that Google is trying to do right now by working on a stable driver API in the linux kernel. The interesting part will be whether Samsung next year, with the relationship they have with AMD, take their ARM based SoC beyond smartphones and maybe look at delivering ARM based Windows or ChromeOS computers.
I finally got around to picking up the Turkish delight I bought online (locally made) and OMG the last few days have beeb absolute heaven. All the flavours are naturally sourced, nothing weird of strange in the ingredients – the Manuka honey was amazing and the rose was absolutely divine. I don’t normally buy sweets but when I do I tend to go for the ‘shop shelf’ stuff so that I can really enjoy it (in much the same way I might only have ice cream every 1-2 months but when I do I get really fancy ice cream such as Kapiti Coast).
Tonight I’m going to have some a couple of tacos and burritos from my local Mexican inspired take away store and have them delivered. If there was one change that has come out of the whole COVID-19 crisis it has been the growth in delivery services and couriers upping their game when it comes to online deliveries. Before the COVID-19 deliveries were pretty much limited to Pizza, Indian and KFC experimenting with their menu for delivery but these days, anything you can imagine can probably be delivered.
The tacos and burritos arrived just then – munched those down while watching some YouTube videos (I like watching those renovation rescue shows where they take a horror of a house and transform it). Yeah, I have YouTube Premium – it isn’t until you’ve had YouTube Premium for a while then start using YouTube at work (since we use G Suite at work) when you realise just how many ads there are which one avoid when having a premium subscription.
One more day to go and then the end of the week – an early start tomorrow (at least for me) at 9:30am tomorrow then off at 6:00pm. I think I might treat myself to something for dinner and grab some movies to watch (either rent them via Apple or jump on Netflix or Neon) along with catching up with the news.
I find it funny that people are playing the victim when it comes to the latest round of right wing noise makers being kicked off then platform. I’ve made my point on Twitter pretty clear by holding the right to the very same standard that they themselves set down. The right were all over the issue of ‘freedom’ when a baker defused to bake a cake for a gay couple with the right wing claiming the it was their right as a private business to decide who they wish to have as a customer. Well, here is the problem, Twitter and Facebook (along with others) have decided that the toxicity of the far right fringe conspiracy theorist fruitcakes isn’t a customer base they wish to cater for and as such they cancelled their accounts – so where is the the problem? Twitter and Facebook are private organisations and using the right wing’s logic, shouldn’t they have the right to decide who they allow on their platform just like the baker who decides whether or not to bake a cake for a particular customer?
Then comes then even more half baked argument which is the comparison of Twitter and Facebook to ‘the town square’ all while ignoring the fact that there are numerous alternatives to Twitter and Facebook; WT.Social, Mastodon, Diaspora (link) and when it comes to YouTube alternatives there is Vimeo, Liveleak, Daily motion (link) not to mention the fact that billionaires bankroll numerous right wing outlets like Dailywire, Breitbart, Turning Point USA etc. so what is stopping the building of a datacenter and launching a self hosting social network where all the ‘freeze peach’ warriors can sit around furiously jerking each other off for eternity?
None of this should be surprising, these are the same people who claim that ‘blue lives matter’ but the moment that the mob realised that the police are on the side of upholding the law and not supporting the Trump cult is the moment they turned on them as seen by the Capitol Hill riot that took place. Many police also found out quickly that many coworkers were on the wrong side of that riot on their time off – the sort of experience might provide the necessary momentum by the institution itself for policy reform in the United States. When off duty police are turning up to riot then serious questions need to be asked about the sort of people the profession is attracting and how that is leading to the negative outcomes in police targeting black and latino in the communities they patrol.
Could all of what took place been avoided? yes, as Thom Hartmann noted regarding the white paper that was put out in 2008/2009:
I remember when the report came out – the hysterical whining from the likes of Glenn Beck claiming it was ‘targeting the tea party’ and ‘Obama is against freedom’ not to mention the concerted effort by right wing outlets to portray militia members as just “middle class mums and dads concerned about the future of the US and wanting to become politically active”. The question is whether the American public will learn anything from this episode – in New Zealand we learned very quickly after having Muldoon run the country into the ground (on the verge of bankruptcy) which necessitated the radical neoliberal reforms of the 1980s to get the ship back on course so as a result we’ve never voted in a big talking loud mouth like him again – the question is whether the US will learn that lesson? something tells me that given the average American’s propensity of only remembering things from less than 2 years ago that in 2 years time in the mid terms the Republican will rebrand themselves and gain a majority in either one or both houses in congress then obstruct like they did for 6 years under Obama. Nothing learnt at all – in one ear, out the other.
Work has been crazy this week – you’d think with the extra hands on deck due to people getting back from their annual leave that the load would be reduced but not so. I can’t go into more detail but I hope that eventually we’ll get through this patch and things will get back to normal. On a good side, I had a check of the number of hours of annual leave I have available, at the rate things are going, by the time June rolls around I’ll probably have almost a month in leave so I might end up going ‘all in’ and having 2-3 weeks off over June so I can enjoy WWDC, maybe even splash out on a Mac if the new Apple Silicon Mac’s have arrived – I’ll be looking at upgrading both my iMac and MacBook Pro – I’ve currently got a 15″ so I’d be looking forward to getting a 16″ model.
I’ve been following the news even though every time I read or watch something I feel my blood pressure rise as I cannot fathom the ridiculous nature of those who engage in conspiracy theories to justify the unjustifiable. Joe Biden won the election – end of story but of course thee are conspiracy theorists who claim that he stole the election (while ignoring the fact that the election is controlled by the states which would require the majority of the states to be ‘in on it’ (we all know the rule about conspiracy theories – the more people involved the less likely it can be kept a secret)) while ignoring the most obvious flaw – if one were to steal an election then wouldn’t one go all the way and flip the senate? why have a nail biting run off in Georgia? why not flip more state houses to ensure that gerrymandering on a census year is undone when the areas are redistricted? wouldn’t it also bring into question the election over all in general – can we trust that Mitch McConnell really won his seat then? this is what happens when you have conspiracy theorists and run of the mill idiots spewing their half baked opinions, they never follow the chain of events that would unfold if one were to take their theories seriously.
The start of a new year and a start of clearing out the old and starting a fresh new outlook on the year. The first thing I did was getting some omega 3 in the diet with flaxseed being the one with the most packed inside while being at a reasonable price. It was something that I used to take each morning but I got lazy but the funny thing is that after almost 2 weeks on having a tablespoon each morning along side my breakfast I’ve started to feel a lot better – then combine that with limiting the amount of vegetable oil (particularly canola – for some reason it has a smell and taste that I’ve started to dislike) I take in (looking at the ingredients of the packet) I’m feeling a lot better than I did before the change.
With grocery shopping, I’m deciding to have more variety than when I would just eat the same type of thing every day – with more variety means less likelihood to buy take aways because I am bored of what is available at home. On a good side I found some great simmer sauces with one being perfect for a chicken stroganoff although I might some extra mushrooms in – lets hope that this week they have a good deal on chicken breasts. I used to have dinner at work on the days I finished at 6pm but I’ve decided that on Friday and Saturday when I work late (till 8pm) I’ll stick with soups or a risotto of some sort with the other days I’ll just wait till I get home – I’ve just got to remember to get it out of the freezer the night before when it comes to things like sausages so then they’re defrosted by the time I get home.