One week to go then holidays

So I’ve got this week to go and then Monday next week will be my last day at work for a week – I’m going to chill out and relax at home with a busy schedule of doing sweet bugger all. Although I had hoped that my time off would coincide with the release of iOS 13 I’m happy that they’ve pushed it back to October.

When it comes to Safari there is good news on the ‘content blocking’ front with the release of Ad Guard beta 1.5.2 (link) which works around the 50K limit. How they’ve done it is that each category has a limit of 50K which raises the total limit to 250K which will mean I can enable all the filters. Looking forward to all the improvements that have come with Safari 13 – hopefully what we’ve seen in terms of the technology previews are an insight into what one will see in the final version for macOS as well as iOS too.

I’m going to take a couple of ciabatta rolls tomorrow to work to go with the soup. My favourite part is that I put garlic butter and then when I am at work I heat them up the microwave for around 20-30 seconds so then they’re nice and warm. The garlic from the garlic butter goes really well with what ever soup I’m eating and it is a great comfort food on a cold and miserable day. On my breaks I’ve found a great instant coffee from Avalanche Coffee (link) which really hits the spot.

At home I’m tempted to buy a Nespresso – something to enjoy when I get up in the morning and need a good ‘pick me up’ before work but that’ll mean I’ll need to remember to buy milk as well. Great thing about these machines is that I can fill it up with water, put my cup underneath and then press a button so while all that is happening I’ve got the toast cooking and I’m getting ready to go to work.

The overtime is taking its toll some what but that being said it is only temporary because we’ve got three new staff members who have gone through their book training and now it is their practical experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 2-3 months the amount of over time drops to near zero – ideally by that time I would be at the point I want to be but that being said I’ll keep doing the overtime until there is none is available. That all being said, I’m waiting for whether I’m going to get Christmas off – hopefully they’ll give me a heads up so then it is possible to organise a flight up to Auckland and then back to Wellington a few days later. By getting it done now I can take advantage of the deals they have going – big discounts if you organise it well in advance.

Things are progressing nicely….

Reading through one of the forums I am a member of and it appears that iOS 13.1 now includes VoLTE support for Spark (carrier profile 38.0 vs. carrier profile 36.0 which is used in 12.4.1). Spark runs a ‘low cost brand’ called Skinny which uses the same carrier profile so I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up finding that I end up getting it around the same time. What it’ll mean is that it’ll no longer drop back to 3G when chatting to someone plus better audio quality when on telephone calls which is always an improvement.

Rumour has it that Vodafone is moving their old HFC customers off their old billing system to their new one but like anything they will need to do it in a piecemeal fashion – I assume in part because it’ll involve giving customers new reference numbers for bill payments. It is the one thing that always hods me off from considering Vodafone is the mess regarding their billing system which makes managing ones account a whole lot more difficult than it needs to be.

Had a small meal when I came home after work and chilled out watching Real Time. I personally don’t watch it for Bill Maher but rather the guests and it is always amazing how people who try to make out that they’re smart seem to miss the blatantly obvious. That being said, I guess everyone has their guilty pleasure – for some it is reading the gossip magazines, some like to watch trashy reality televisions shows so I guess that for for it is Real Time with Bill Maher is my guilty pleasure.

Apple Keynote: My Take

Apple simulcast its keynote today both on their own website as well as making it available for YouTube. Here is the video streamed off YouTube:

I have to admit, not all of the event I was interested in but then again I’m sure that is the same for a lot of people. For me I found the AppleTV+ and Apple Arcade are a bit ‘meh’ as I could never see myself actually using them given that I don’t play games on my iPhone and I very much doubt that the games I want to play will be made available on macOS let alone the arcade subscription package.

The iPad refresh looks good and will provide a way to bite off those customers who want a computer but they don’t want to deal with the complexity and by a computer what I mean is that they want an appliance. Most people want a computer that is like an appliance – they open it up, do what they need to do and that is it. For someone like me I like fiddling around but for most people it is a tool for entertainment, communication, creativity etc. and the less one has to think about in terms of when using the device. Want an application? just download it from the App Store. No need to worry about whether baddies are behind the application thus giving people peace of mind.

The Apple Watch received a standard refresh as expected but the focus, like the iPad, is on the software and what the software can do for the end user. As the hardware is maturing the focus will be using software as a point of differentiation and given that wearOS device vendors (like Fossil) are moving no where fast, Huawei has moved to its own operating system with the growth primarily driven through massive discounting along with bundling it with their phone so it shouldn’t be surprising that they’re growing rapidly thanks to the ‘spray and pray’ technique where the praying comes the consumer getting something for free or heavily discounted and then the customer follows up later on by upgrading to the next version and happy to pay full price because they had a good experience. Fitbit in the 2Q of 2019 showed growth over the last 12 months but once again like Huawei it is at the low end – heavy discounting to get the shipments up and products out the door. Thus leaving the only real competitor to Apple being Samsung given that what Samsung is shipping is directly competing with the Apple Watch where as the others are akin to low cost PC’s running Windows that really don’t compete in the same price bracket because someone who buys the cheap and cheerful Fitbit tends to want a basic tracker rather than a feature rich watch like what Samsung and Apple are selling.

The iPhone 11 release has been focus is on incremental improvements – if you’re expecting some earth shattering revolution then prepare for disappointment. Smartphones have hit maturity just as computers have hit maturity so now it is a matter of refining what already exists with the focus primarily being on the software making greater use of the hardware along with better integration in with services that Apple is providing.

What I think was interesting was how much time was spent on services and software – AppleTV+, Apple Arcade and then consider the work being done with the iCloud beta in terms of changing its look and feel to something more streamlined and minimalist. The holy grail of any organisation is the reoccurring revenue stream that comes from services – it is the big reason that Microsoft and Adobe moved over to the subscription model and the reason I see Apple going to move further into that area is because it puts less pressure on them to move units of devices thus allowing them to provide more to their existing base.

What I think will be interesting is what is happening in the Android space particularly when you consider the very close relationship that is building between Samsung and Microsoft. For example, there is work being done to integrate Windows 10 and Samsung Galaxy together so that one can answer ones phone and text message (like how one does with the iPhone and Mac) on a Windows 10 PC. There is already an agreement where Microsoft software is pre-installed on Samsung devices and given the work being done for the Chromium based Microsoft Edge it does open up and interesting door to where Samsung effectively becomes the ‘smartphone vendor of choice’ for Microsoft. Side note: what I am surprised is that Samsung and Microsoft haven’t come together to create an alternative to the Google Play store particularly given that it would enable them to get a foot into the Chinese market.

As expected iOS, tvOS, watchOS and iPadOS are being released next week on the 19 September then close to two weeks after that there will be the release of 13.1. Regarding macOS, Apple has updated their website (link) where it notes that October will be it’s release date which makes sense as I’ve heard many people on forums talk about how buggy it currently is which makes sense since there is a tonne of under the hood changes not to mention the fact that there are completely new API’s such as user space driver APIs to transition developers away from developing kernel extensions, the catalyst infrastructure to get iPad developers to port their application to macOS, the removal of 32bit support resulting in 3rd party developers as well as Apple ensuring that there are no nasty surprised due to legacy code sill making references to frameworks that will be getting removed. Personally, although I’d hoped that they would have released it while I’m on my holiday I can understand that if it isn’t ready to be released I’d sooner Apple hold it back and release it when it is ready rather than meeting some arbitrary deadline only to result in 2 months of craziness to fix up bugs then followed by more craziness as customers get angry that their work flow is broken because of macOS being so unreliable.

Excited about tomorrow: Apple software and hardware announcement

Well, Apple has their big ‘once a year’ announcement where they announce a refresh of the iPhone but there are also rumours of some new products appear as well as a possible refresh of the MacBook Pro 16″ (16″ screen in a 15″ chassis by removing the bezels) along with maybe some announcements regarding iCloud and Siri. There are rumours about Siri and iCloud appears to be getting a facelift in the beta version of it so it will be interesting to see what that translates to particularly with the work that Apple is doing regarding building its own data centres given that it is decreasing its reliance on third parties such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

Regarding iOS, macOS, tvOS, ipadOS and watchOS – based on what Apple did last year I would say that iOS, tvOS, ipadOS and watchOS will be released a week after the presentation tomorrow and then a week after that they will release macOS. That is assuming that they stick with the schedule of previous years. The interesting part will be the catalyst applications which were mentioned in the WWDC speech and what time line there is such applications as an officially twitter application will make its way onto macOS (a port of the iPad version using catalyst to bring it to macOS).

Android 10 has been officially released out to phones and will start rolling out to AndroidOne devices soon but the interesting part is the move away from the playful kind of Google to becoming more of a serious organisation. There is also the Pixel 4 which will be announced later on this year which will make for interesting discussion particularly if Google go beyond just the narrow number of markets they shipped the Pixel 3 to and also include selling it into New Zealand. Now sure, I could buy it from overseas or go to Australia on a holiday and bring it back but I’d sooner now have to go through all that drama.

There is a bit of drama going on in the world of Chrome extension developers with the changes announced to the extension manifest with the announcement that with manifest V3 there will be an API change akin to what Apple did with the move to providing a content blocking API given the spate of extensions pushed out by dodgy software vendors that have compromised user privacy. In the case of Google their reasoning is similar to that of Apple regarding privacy and security along with arguments relating to performance. I guess the concern about performance probably feeds into long standing criticisms of Chrome and its resource hungry nature – be it power usage and its memory usage. The developer of uBlocker Origin isn’t all that fond but keeping in mind that manifest V2 will remain while manifest V3 is being developed and given that Google have received a sizeable amount of feedback (link) unless Chrome want to kill their marketshare overnight (refer to the article I wrote regarding technology enthusiasts being the evangelists within their circle of friends and family as the ‘person who is good with computers’ and how losing that person also results in his unhappiness influencing all those around him as being the person who is ‘good with computers’) I don’t think Google is going to do something stupid. With all that being said, hopefully some healthy pressure and a revived Firefox will put pressure on Google to listen to the concerns of developers. It’ll also be interesting to see whether Microsoft will embrace the manifest V3 or whether they embrace manifest V2 with modifications like what has happened with Firefox which have embraced some of the changes that manifest V3 propose but haven’t adopted the more controversial changes.

Just having a look at the latest wearable sales and it appears that Apple is going from strength to strength but it is also interesting how Samsung has done a really good job with Tizen for both their televisions and watches (along with other devices) while accepting that Android has a role that their consumer base love. It is interesting that at one point there was a tendency to try to unify an operating system so that it scales from servers down to workstations to tablets all the way down to wearable devices but it appears companies are taking a more pragmatic approach. In the case of Samsung you have Tizen and Android being sold side by side with Microsoft accepting the Windows isn’t the be all and end all solution and we’ve seen Microsoft purchase Express Logic which makes a real time operating system for IoT devices. Why is that important? because Microsoft understands it is the infrastructure which the IoT device will communicate with which Microsoft will provide is more important than the operating system. If Microsoft can provide the operating system, the integrated developer experience along with the backend services running on top of Azure then it moves them beyond the fixation on the operating system as the be all and end all of Microsoft. It’ll be interesting to see whether Google keeps trying to push wearOS (formally known as Android Wear) or at some point we’ll see Google admit defeat and create an operating system for wearables using Fuchsia and using Flutter for the native UI kit. It’ll be interesting to see whether over the long term that these various companies can provide the same degree of integration that Apple is providing or whether it’ll never be as seamless as having a single operating system that is reused on different devices.

Busy, busy, busy

Off to work this morning and lost activity straight off the bad as soon as I arrived at work. At the end of each day I try to ensure that all the lose ends up are tidied up so then the next day when I arrive at work I start with a clean slate rather than having to deal with dramas that should have been dealt with the previous day. Anyway, went into work – cleared through the emails and started answer calls from customers. I’m pretty patient with people of my mum’s generation who are never bought up around computers so it is understandable that many will struggle but it boggles my mind when people my age or younger treat it as if it were a badge of honour to be completely clueless about technology.

Came back home and the weather is shocking – must be the weather that has been coming down from around Auckland so hopefully it’ll move on by the time I get up in the morning so then I have a pleasant trip to work in the morning. The temperature has dropped down to 7 degrees celsius – hopefully it won’t get colder than that but if it does I’ve got my heater ready on thermostat.

Apple has put out invitations to the event that they’ll hold on 10 September which will be on 11 September New Zealand time – rumours of a refreshed iPhone with a new naming scheme along with possibly some improvements to iCloud. The most recently release has been a web based Apple Music beta launched which makes me wonder whether this is the start of a larger push into web services especially when one considers the beta refresh of their iCloud services – gone is the moving bubbles in the background in favour of a more minimalist feel and that is continued through to the launchpad for the various web applications that make up iCloud.

There is also a rumour that there is an Apple TV refresh in the works that’ll move it to the A12 CPU which makes me wonder whether this is going to be a second round at the casual gaming market given Apples launch of the arcade game subscription plan. As I’ve said in the past, Apple is going for that 66% of people who sit in the middle which is why they make the computers the way they do and the software is focused on the areas they focus on – because that is what the bulk of users (both existing and potential) want out of their devices.

On a good side, with technology slowing down I’ve pretty much chalked up 3 things I’n holding out for before I make an upgrade – USB4, 802.11ax and 5G. They’re going to be the big milestones at least for me because those are areas where I’ll feel the greatest impact. When it comes to USB4 it’ll be an upgraded connector that’ll rule them all which will hopefully mean an iMac with nothing but those wonderful USB-C connectors where I’m no longer reaching behind my iMac guessing whether I have it turned around the right way. When it comes to 802.11ax, there are big benefits in terms of improved coverage, better through put, the ability to handle lots of devices and so on. When it comes to 5G I think most of the focus I’ve seen with my carrier will be around using it as a way of getting around having to pay Chorus for a line – they’ve got plenty of 2.3GHz spectrum so I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up seeing Spark make use of it and push more of its customers over to 5G thus leaving only the incredible data intensive and corporate customers on fixed line broadband.

Anyway, I’m off to sleep – I will be getting up a little earlier tomorrow so I have time to cook the kumara lentil patties for burgers before work – ciabatta roles and all the yummy fillings that I have find around the home.

Back to work, 3 weeks to go

Well, back to work tomorrow but coming in an hour early because they need some extra cover which I’m always happy with – a few extra dollars in the hand makes life a little bit easier for all concerned. When I get back from my time off at the end of September I’ll keep picking up the over time. I’m still waiting for feedback regarding whether I get Christmas off but given that I had last year off I have to wait to see if there are any counter applications during that time.

There has been much speculation regarding the usual release of an updated iPhone and other devices but I’m looking roared to the formal announcement of when iOS and macOS will be released – based on previous years it is normally a week after the event where the new iPhone is announced then a week after that the updated macOS is released. I’m looking forwarding to step into the new platform and the improvements that have been made.

Ubquiti pushed out a new update for the Unifi Controller but no new updates – not in a great hurry since what I’m waiting on, ipv6, my provider hasn’t migrated to but what I am hoping is that maybe it’ll become part of the new UDM (ultimate dream machine) platform that they’re working on to replace USG. At the moment it is in beta testing but once it is ready I’ll buy it to replace my router and switch so then I can have my single device – from what I have also heard it does away with the need to have a Unifi Controller key but I guess we won’t find out what the specifics are until it is a shipping product.

Still looking for a high temperature tolerant duct tape which exists, based on the Google results, but the question is where I can buy it from. The foil idea of dealing with my noisy motorbike so I’m hoping that a high temperate duct tape should do the job. On my day off next week I’ll head down to Mitre 10 and Bunnings to see what they have available – finally have a quieter ride so then I can enjoy my music on my way to work.

Updates delivered today, work tomorrow

Apple pushed out updates for macOS, watchOS, iOS and tvOS – all addressing a security vulnerability in the kernel along with general reliability improvements. It is interesting that with the macOS version of the update that the total size is 1.25GB which makes me wonder whether, in the process of patching the kernel, that it requires recompiling of kernel extensions as well. It’ll be interesting to see what happens given that with this coming release of macOS (10.15) Apple is phasing out kernel extensions in favour of making the kernel completely closed off to third parties in favour of moving third parties to deliver user space drivers as to reduce the attack surface when it comes security as well as also improving overall stability as user space drivers are easier to debug.

It’ll be interesting to see whether that process of moving drivers into user space will also involve Apple dog fooding it themselves and moving their own drivers into user space along with gradually making what is loaded into kernel space as minimal as possible – maybe this is the long road to making major under the hood changes to the kernel and by pushing third parties out into user space. Maybe the move in such direction will occur when they move to ARM given that the the performance cost of context switching for ARM is lower than x86 thus making the idea of a microkernel/mach kernel feasible given that one isn’t dealing with the factors that wold impact performance.

I’ve got work tomorrow and although I’m feeling a lot better than I did over the weekend I think I’ll need to reevaluate how much over time I am doing. That being said, I have a goal and my focus is getting to that goal and once achieved I’ll then step back from doing the extra hours. At the rate I am going it, I’m looking at December when I’ll get to my goal. That being said I’ll need to see what will happen over Christmas and whether I can time off. If don’t get time off then that is no big deal since I would have had the end of September off so I would have had a good rest. With the overtime I thought it might mot be available for too long since some new people had been trained up but one of them have dropped out for personal reasons so I’m going to keep making hay while the sunshines plus that time and a half over the Christmas break will make life easier. That being said, if I do get Christmas off I’ll grab some Denheath deserts.