Another week of coughing, better things to come hopefully.

Almost the end of another week and although I’m not totally healed I’ve decided to go back to work but instead of going into the office I’m working from home because I still have a nasty cough. Given the cold weather out there at the moment with the combination of rain and cold weather what I hope is that I can keep working from home. I’m going to see whether I can stay at home for this week to work from home – the bad weather is continuing which will exacerbate my cough. On a good side, in the second week of September my work schedule moves to 11:30 to 20:00 and 13:30 to 22:00 – I’m more of a night owl so that’ll result in a return to a schedule that is more in keeping with my body clock.

Both computers are going well and I’m looking forward to seeing the release of the next Apple operating systems – rumour has it that the release date is in October although there are other rumours circulating that they may push it back. With all that being said, the usual schedule is an event at the end of September where the next iPhone is announced and maybe a few updated products but primarily it is an iPhone announcement event. For me the interesting announcement will be next years Samsung Galaxy announcement with rumours that they’re going to go all in with Snapdragon but then again the same rumour mill claimed that they weren’t going to ship Exynos chips with AMD GPUs but they ended up doing it.

As much as I am getting frustrated by YouTube not behaving itself with Safari, I’m not going to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ by going with Chrome. I’m hoping that a lot of the improvements that have made their way into the Technology Previews will end up in Safari 16 or at the very least there is some catch up in future 16.x updates. The biggest benefit with Safari is that it is super efficient – memory, cpu utilisation and taking advantage of the various optimised frameworks that take advantage of Apple Silicon.

Going to have Fish Pie this evening followed by sticky date pudding with custard on top – it’s a cold miserable day where I am. Although the temperature is 8 degrees celsius it does feel a lot colder than the temperature lets on. I can’t wait for spring and summer to come so that things can get a bit warmer rather than freezing to and from work not to mention the cost of warming the house – keeping in mind that I’ve got good insulation as well as double glazed windows which result in better retaining of heat.

Perusing Geekbench makes for interesting reading.

The one thing that astonishes me is the massive leap in performance between my old MacBook Pro 15 inch (2017) and my mew laptop – the single core and multicore performance doubles in a space of 5 years and within that space that SoC is so efficient it no longer requires a fan. I don’t know about you but the more by Apple to their own in-house SoC is the best move they’ve ever made. When I first heard about the change I was expecting maybe some modest improvements but holy heck the improvement is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. The performance of my Mac Studio, the single core is twice as fast and the multicore performance over triple the speed of my iMac 27 inch (2017). I’ve loaded dBpoweramp onto my Mac Studio to try out ripping and encoding music – very fast, no complaints by me. I’m tempted to see how things work with Handbreak when I have the chance but long story short the fact that it was all done without firing up the fans really goes to show the love of investment Apple has made.

To be frank, I was one of those who were sceptical about whether Apple could scale up an ARM based SoC but I’ve been happily proven wrong. The other benefit of having spent years optimising for ARM has been a rock solid macOS that is optimised for ARM from day one. The reason why I was sceptical was because scaling up GPUs, for example, can be incredibly difficult – scaling isn’t always linear so it isn’t always possible to take a lower power design then scale it up simply by scaling up the number of cores. The other scepticism was regarding Apple’s ARM CPUs from the point of view that the power efficiency may become a limiting factor but once again I’ve been happily proven wrong.

There are rumours that Apple has a big architectural change in the next couple of years so maybe that’ll make the move to ARMv9 which will include SVE2 plus other enhancements but that being said , as Rene Ritchie noted, Apple has already made a lot of those improvements available in their own implementation. The big thing will be where SVE2 fits into it but that being said I don’t think it’ll be the massive improvement given that Neon SIMD extension is good enough for the vast majority of programmers who write software.

It’s more complicated than that.

There was an interesting ‘Brooks and Capehart’ discussion on PBS regarding the issue of abortion with David Brooks raising the issue that although European countries have more restrictive abortion access laws, Europe also have more comprehensive ‘wrap around’ services in the form of welfare.

This makes me wonder about the issue of gun violence n the United States and the focus by many on passing more restrictive laws on the basis that restrictive laws keep the public safe. That being said, if we follow David Brooks line of thinking that maybe the issue is more complex than what people make the gun issue out to be, that the complimentary nature of having a public healthcare system with well funded mental health facilities married up with reasonable gun regulations results in better public safety rather than it solely being a matter of just passing gun regulations alone. I thought it was an interesting way of having a look at an issue that uniquely plagues the United States in terms of the number of mass shootings that take place in the United States.

It has been a long time.

Yeap, it has been a long time since I last updated my blog. The clumsy person that I am, I had an accident which damaged my laptop and desktop beyond repair resulting in the only device I have left over is an iPhone which is wholly unsuitable for completing blogs online hence I’ve been offline for the last couple of weeks. The replacement computers being a Mac Studio, Monitor and a Mac laptop. He laptop has arrived today and is going through the processing of being setup – the Apple Silicon experience is a massive leap from the Intel era. When Apple first announced the Apple Silicon I was expecting just modest improvements but holy heck is it fast.

The other ‘interesting’ event in my life is the fact that I’ve had COVID for the second time but this time it feels a whole lot worse than the first time due to the first time being not too long after my booster shot. I originally thought a week off from work should sort it out but even after a week I’m coughing heavily, brain fog and other symptoms. I really want to get back to work but I’m not all that useful if I’m spending most of my time either coughing or taking too long to do basic functions that in the past I could easily get done in a few seconds. It is probably best for all concerned that I take time off from work until I’m back to full health.

Another week has come and gone.

On 22 June 2022 Chromecast with Google TV was released in New Zealand – available through ‘big box’ stores (to quote an Americanism) such as Noel Leeming (where I bought mine) as a replacement for the built in ‘Smart TV’ software (Samsung uses Tizen). The problem with my television is that it doesn’t support 5GHz WiFI which requires me to run an ethernet cable from my television to my router which isn’t ideal where as I was able to hook up the Chromecast with Google TV to my television and connect to my 5GHz WiFi network without any problems.

Once all hooked up there was a 758MB download to update it to the latest version. I was holding out for an updated version but I decided that what ever improvements may exist in a theoretical future product, I doubt it’ll be a massive improvement to justify holding off till its launch. All the apps are rock solid and the device is working great, fast and responsive – funny enough I’ve found it more responsive than my Apple TV. If you’re wanting an affordable alternative to Apple TV that is just as good then the Chromecast with Google TV does the job.

Another interesting thing that has happened recently is Twitter launching Notes (link) which will enable long articles to be written as a single article rather than it being spread across multiple tweets that are sewn together. It’ll be interesting to see whether this poaches some end users from Facebook as Twitter add features to make their service more comprehensive beyond just microblogging capabilities. It’ll be interesting to see whether, at some point, Twitter offer a messaging app that is seperate from their Twitter app for those who want it or whether they’ll keep it part of the main app particularly if the rumours of Musk wanting end to end encryption, maybe utilising Signal to achieve that. Although I am on Mastodon I also keep my Twitter account just in case things change but most of the time these days I am on my Mastodon account where the vibe is a lot nicer than on Twitter.

I’m going to write up an article about the whole overturning of Roe vs Wade but I’ll do that tomorrow. All I can say is that this overturning of Roe vs Wade is part of a much longer plan that the right wing have been working on for decades. If you believe that the rolling back of rights will stop at Roe vs Wade then, to quote a great Americanism, “I have a bridge to sell you”. This is what happens when you keep telling yourself that “I’m not interested in politics” – well, you may not be interested in politics but politics are very much interested in you.

Enjoying the last few days before getting back to work.

At home chilling out watching Season 1 of Law & Order – starting from the first season and moving forward. I was going to have a small holiday away from Wellington but winter has been so crappy I decided to stay at home and enjoy the warmth and familiarity of home. The temperatures so far have been getting down to as low as 6°C – hopefully there won’t be too many wet days, I can handle a cold dry days because you can still get things done with an extra layer of clothing to keep warm but rainy days are just horrible.

Monday I’m going to get my kitchen sorted out now that I’ve given the splashbacks a good 72 hours to dry but I’ll check with my sister whether it’s ok since I’m not an expert in that area. Once given the all ok I’ll put everything back to normal then complete the backlog inn washing that needs to be done. At the moment it is raining so what I’ll do is put the clothes on the clothes horse then have the dehumidifier running to dry the clothes quickly and avoid the damp smell and making the house damp.

Watching some of the more recent videos put out on the WWDC 2022 sessions page – I think the larger theme that one can deduce from the videos is:

  1. Swift is the language of macOS development going forward – Swift is to macOS like what Objective-C and Objective-C++ to Mac OS X. Not all the frameworks may not be 100% mature and ready such as Swift UI but when it comes to where Apple is heading then it is best to get on board the Swift bandwagon.
  2. Metal, updated to Metal 3 in macOS Ventura, is being pushed and Apple is addressing the shortcomings to fill in the gaps that OpenGL developers need filling. Long term eventually Apple will remove OpenGL support particularly as big names like Adobe move their codebase over to Metal.
  3. End of the line for traditional kernel extensions – the future are userspace drivers based on DriverKit. DriverKit is not only available on macOS but also on iPadOS running on M1 iPad – I wonder whether there is a difference in the kernel settings which makes DriverKit support a M1 only feature rather than available to all iPadOS devices.
  4. Apple has consolidated the improvements that have been made available via the Safari Technology Previews into Safari 16 but even with the improvements I can’t help but feel that Apple is dragging their feet to protect their App Store interests by crippling the browser from being able to run complex Progress Web Applications (PWA).
    There is also ‘The Competition and Markets Authority’ in the UK who are concerned about Apple stifling competition in the browser space on iOS due to Apple’s refusal of allowing browsers vendors to bundle their own web engine with their software and thus forced to use Webkit – the concerns have also been voiced by European regulators as well along with Apple’s vice like grip on the App Store by blocking cloud based gaming platforms to distribute one app for their whole library which is accessible via their streaming platform.
  5. The operating systems are maturing, if you have a look at the API changes (link) the focus appears to be on laying foundations and optimising for Apple Silicon rather than flash new features. The focus appears to be about nurturing the third party ecosystem a lot more as a way of propelling hardware sales.

I’m going to keep track of how things progress while experimenting with different content blockers. What I hope is that as Manifest V3 that issues raised will be resolved although interesting discussions are being had behind the scenes at Google about the possibility of pushing back Manifest V2 support being removed as concerns are being addressed but time is running out for the 2023 deadline.

A rather lacklustre WWDC 2022.

Well…that was a rather lacklustre WWDC 2022 having watched both the Keynote and Platforms State of the Union not just once but twice in the belief that maybe I missed something given that it took place at 5:00am and I was a groggy but I made it through (I then had a quick nap then woke up just in time for the ‘Platforms State of the Union’). Part of my frustration is the lack of details regarding Safari 16 in particular regarding the newly implemented standards along with very being said about how much closer to compatibility for the Webextensions API Manifest V3. I checked out the sessions videos believing that maybe some details about what Safari 16 brings to the detail in terms of closing the gap between Safari vs. Chrome, Edge and Firefox but unfortunately that wasn’t to be the case. At the moment I am running Chrome on my Mac but I’ll see what happens once macOS 13 is released into the mainstream but I’m not hopeful.

I’m looking at taking my laptop maybe next week once the weather gets a bit better – the space bar is becoming a bit of a nuisance at this point. Hopefully when the public beta is released that maybe some features that didn’t make it in the developer betas will usable.

Google tidying up it’s offerings.

After much rumours regarding the place of ‘Duo’ in the Google communications line up there is an announcement by Google that they’re pretty much going to do what every else expected them to do – merging Duo and Meet into a single product (link). I can’t help but get the feeling that what we’re seeing is what I speculated where the ‘productivity applications’ (for the lack of a better term) are now falling under the stewardship of the Workspace team. Regarding consumers, if consumers want to use Meet and Chat then great, but Google aren’t going to bend over to make ‘customer friendly’ version when the reality is that most customers are happy to use ones designed for the enterprise – see the consumer uptake of Microsoft Teams as an example that.

The other thing to keep in mind is the recent overhaul of their payment and wallet services, Movies and TV are being merged (I remember posting it either on my Reddit or Twitter account last year) so I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up seeing a rebranding of the PlayStore to something like the Google Store into something like what Microsoft has which will sell apps, games and hardware which will bring all the acquisitions under one roof and simplify the distribution of physical products. It’ll be interesting to see whether this time line is sped up as the likelihood of Google being broken up increases – that is assuming that ‘The Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act’ (link) is passed by the senate. The senate has a habit of ‘talking a good game’ but then suddenly killing the bill in the middle of the night with the public left wondering, “I wonder what happened to that bill?” and the media never following up on why it never passed.

Chromecast with Google TV is finally officially coming to New Zealand on 22 June 2022 (link) – 2 years after it was officially launched in the United States. It’ll be interesting to see whether this is a signal that more Google branded hardware will be coming to the shores of New Zealand in the future such as the Pixel phone range – at the moment the only option for anyone seriously considering a flagship Android phone is Samsung. When it comes out in NZ I’ll pick it up – the software that comes with Samsung TV’s is pretty lousy at the best of times.

Second day of annual leave.

I’m enjoying my second day of annual leave at home – being able to wake up and chill out without having to care about the drama of work. Tonight I’ll be having a birthday dinner with the family but on the way over I’ll pick up the 12 pack of apple cider I bought using the Flybuys I’ve accumulated. I generally wait until a good deal comes where I can cash in my points to get a gift voucher to spend at either Z (local petrol station) or New World (local supermarket).

A few days ago Apple released Safari Technology Preview 146 (link) so it’ll be interesting to see what will be announced in WWDC – how far behind the Technology Preview will Safari 16 be when it is released as part of macOS 13? will there be a new release schedule which will push Safari updates outside of the usual 13.x updates? there is a lot of loss ground that Apple need to make up when compared to their competitors.

Side note: As much as I whinge and complain about Apple, in the world of IT the choice isn’t about the perfect product but the one that sucks the least. I constructively criticise Apple not out of ‘hate’ but instead because I want them to do better. Hopefully in the upcoming WWDC 2022 we’ll see Apple take on board the feed back users, reviewers and technology journalists that act in good faith. Oh, and I never got around to going into Wellington, might do that tomorrow.

A good weekend.

Well, that was a good weekend. There was the Australian election and Labor (yes they spell Labour as Labor for the centre left party in Australia) won although they’ll need to work with independents and the Green Party to get things moving. What I hope is that not only do they setup an ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) they also work to break up media concentration in Australia – break up News Corp, Channel 9, ban cross media ownership and more. If Labor failure to deal with media concentration then it is highly likely that they’ll be a one term government. They have been able to take on the Murdoch empire and win but I wouldn’t get so sure that it can be repeated.

Chrome 102 was released recently so I updated the Chrome installation on my devices. Although I keep oscillating between Safari and Chrome, I keep coming back to Chrome because a) the content blocking extension is available b) I don’t have to deal with the constant website breakages such as video playback not working properly, the ability to use the payroll website that I used for it and lots more. Google does a pretty good job at delivering a stable and reliable browser which is another reason why I keep using it.

Another tragic shooting has occurred in the United States and call me cynical but nothing will change (legislatively) as a result of – the congressman representing the area is Tony Gonzales (a Republican) and a strong 2nd amendment advocate so there isn’t even the political momentum within the community for change given who they voted to represent them at the federal level. I’ve seen this occur time and time again, the wailing, the crying, the gnashing of teeth then 12 months later the event becomes a distant memory with the gun reform legislation dying in some committee somewhere on capitol hill because no one has the stones to do what is required. At this point I’m numb to it all – at some point you stop holding out hope that things will change when it is clear that those involved and those who enable aren’t interested in pushing for change.

On more positive news, four more days until I start my long annual leave. That first week I’m finally going to get myself organised and drop my laptop off to the Apple repair place in town to get the keyboard sorted out. While I’m in there I might pick up a few things – New World on Willis Street is an wonderful bakery which is where I’ll want to pick up a few tasty goodies while I’m in there – I might even pick up some fish ‘n chips too while I’m there from ‘The Chippery’ (the Thorndon one being the easiest to access).