Back to work tomorrow; Product refresh and sixth beta of iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS

Getting back to work tomorrow but happy to get back to work as things start to calm down – a whole new system and customers getting used to it is time consuming but gradually I’d say that as people become accustomed to the new system and the developers keep taking on the feedback it should hopefully mean that there are fewer rough edges. That being said, I’m happy with my work – a job is a job, money is money, and ultimately it is a means to an end so I can achieve what I want in my own spare time.

Apple recently released the sixth beta for iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS – it has been one heck of a journey given the number of beta releases but also keep in mind that part of this journey is the integration of biometric support into Safari which also includes a leap from 12.0.3 to 12.1 – reading through the release notes it appears that Apple has merged a lot of the changes from their technology previews into Safari resulting in a jump from 468 to 499 in the HTML5 test – although not as good as Chrome, which sits at 528. I am happy that Apple is taking its time to focus on not only implementing as documented but also ensuring that It is implemented in the most efficient way possible so that it doesn’t result in Safari becoming a battery hog like Chrome has become.

There is going to be an announcement on 25 March (US time) which makes me wonder whether it’ll be released in conjunction with that – that there are goodies that are dependent upon the up coming updates – maybe even features that have yet to merge will appear in a large beta build that have been getting tested internally. There are rumours regarding what will be announced with most of the big hitters like John Gruber and others have talked about Apple expanding its service side of the business along with greater investment into software (based on the job advertisements).

A wake up call for those with a prominent platform

In the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attack there has been a lot of soul searching but the one that has come to the forefront are things said by politicians (past, present and those who wish to enter politics) along with those in the media and how those ‘hot takes’ contributed, each it its own way, to moving the Overton window further to the right thus making what would have otherwise been unacceptable modes of discourse to suddenly enter into the mainstream. I am not saying that a single person caused it but rather it was a culmination of many different people over many years that fed into the monster. I’m going to put some observations out there and I’ll let you take from it what you like:

  1. I’ve had a look back at my time back when I had a YouTube channel and was involved in politics and I was always shocked even back then when politicians would stoke the flames of prejudice for political points scoring. Did I have some hot takes myself? off the cuff remarks? sure but they were never like what the likes of Winston Peters, Don Brash or recently a tweet regarding post by Stephen Berry (ACT Party candidate) from 2013. What was the most shocking thing I said? “marriage should be privatised” to which I was asked by a reporter “wouldn’t that allow polygamy?” and my response was a flippant “a girl and two guys, a guy and two girls – its all good”. Cringe worthy? sure, but hardly in the same ballpark of Don Brash and his “Kiwi/Iwi” campaign.
  2. It is possible to be critical of something without descending into hatred, racism and bigotry but to avoid that descent you actually have to know what the hell you’re talking about. Nothing irritates me more than reading a newspaper where the journalist is completely clueless about the subject that they’re reporting on – great, you have a journalism degree but that means diddly-squat in the grand scheme of things if you can’t even be bothered educating yourself about the difference between a niqqab, burkha, chador and a hijab. It is abundantly clear that there are far too many journalists who are grossly unqualified for the subjects they’re covering resulting in masses of misinformation being propagated with the newspapers themselves of little interest regarding accuracy. Then the situation is compounded by the fact that these media outlets are more concerned, when hiring, whether the person they’re interviewing has a ‘journalism degree’ rather than whether they’re qualified to cover a given subject. Friendly tip to the editor of the major newspapers in New Zealand – you don’t need a journalism degree to do something that any person with a humanities degree can do given that understanding primary and secondary sources, cross examining credibility and context etc. are part and parcel with getting a humanities degree – mine is in Religious Studies and Philosophy.
  3. People change and evolve – what they might have said 10 years ago might not represent them today and I am reminded of that when I was watching this video (at the bottom of this article) of a gentleman who went from being a neo-nazi to someone that fights neo-nazis. That maybe at the extreme end of the spectrum but the point is that people can change but whether you give them a second chance isn’t about what they claim now but what their actions actually are. Take Tucker Carlson for example, who has been raked over the coals for his racist and xenophobic views. Tucker Carlson is the prime example of what happens when you ignore the festering sore that is racism and xenophobia by writing off some like that as someone with ‘spicy hot takes’ when in reality he was making it pretty damn clear even in the early years what his views actually were. In other words it is all very well to say that what happened in the past is no longer you today but what have you done to distance yourself from that past?
  4. The social media companies need to do a better job at policing their platform and it wouldn’t require much effort. Take the second video from CBSN – a casual look through the comment section then combine that with all the people who downvoted the video – you’ve easily got 2000 people just then you can ban from the whole Google platform and then share those details with Facebook who can see whether any the of the details (email, IP address etc) match up with users on their platform. How long would it take? around 30 minutes worth of work.
  5. If you have a platform – look and learn about the type of people who are quoting what you write and who is reading your articles based on the feedback they provide either directly (assuming you publish on a website that has a comment section) or indirectly such as your article being shared on one of the big websites like Reddit. If you’re getting undesirable characters giving you ‘mad props’ for what you’re saying then maybe it is time you reflect on what you’re writing and whether those are the sort of people who you want your work to be associated with. If your intention isn’t to attract those sorts of people then have a good hard look at what you’re writing and how they’re interpreting it – if you’re using ambiguous language then the net result will always be an audience willing to inject their interpretation rather than allow you, the writer, to speak for yourself. Yes, and if it means you have to clarify what you mean when you use certain terms then expand and keep doing so ensure that no ambiguity is there – that it doesn’t require the user to know your repertoire of writing to understand what you mean as the user will only understand what you meant to say based on what you mention specifically in that article.

*gurgly stomach sound* better stay at home

Woke up, sore stomach, thought I better not risk it and later on in the day I realised it was the best decision I made. I stayed at home but then I went down to ANZ thinking that I can finalise the application but nope, they want me to come back at an organised time – a friendly tip to any organisation, if I cannot set it up online and you require me to come back on my day off to get something sorted then you’ve lost me as a customer straight off the bat (not to mention the fact that ANZ still hasn’t fixed the issue where saved payees setup via the website aren’t available through the mobile applications). Funny enough BNZ on the other hand made it very easy, I plonk in my details, upload a bill from my electricity company, confirmed my address etc. and everything went through without any drama. I’ll contact ANZ on either tomorrow or Monday and cancel the appointment. It is amazing how businesses never learn.

Anyway, I better head off to bed for a good night sleep but I’m still thinking about the article I’ll write over the next few days regarding Elizabeth Warren’s proposal.

Chrome 73 released, PWAs come to macOS and more

Chrome 73 has been released which includes not only support for dark mode on macOS but also a much awaited (well, awaited for me) PWA support on macOS – which has been available on the other platforms that Chrome is available on. In the case of macOS it allows the likes of Twitter to be available in the form of an application that can be launched from the dock and behave as if it were a local running application. The official Twitter application for macOS was officially discontinued in March 2018 thus leaving people with very few choices other than either using the website itself or resorting to third party applications that were intentionally crippled by Twitter by changing the API and charging for more advanced functionality. Windows users were lucky enough to have PWA support built into Windows 10 meaning that when Twitter did kill off their native application it was quickly replaced with a PWA version that was available through the store. In the case of Apple however their support for PWAs very much lingers which makes me wonder whether this lingering has to do with wanting to transform Safari into a feature complete framework replacement for Chromium in Electron based applications or whether it is the last vestige of resistance within Apple against the inevitability of PWAs stepping in where applications (being sold through the store and paying fees to Apple) used to sit.

Chrome 73 has been pretty stable so far although interesting enough my work’s bank that they bank with is ANZ which offers a ’employee package’ to the employees of companies that bank with ANZ. The net result? I’ve signed up for an ANZ account but I’ll see what happens because I’m going to have to go into a local branch with some identity documents to get it all formally setup. The benefit also with ANZ has been the fact that they’ve also moved to Google Pay so they’re one of two banks in New Zealand that offer both Apple Pay and Google Pay support whereas ASB insists on being the most special of special snowflakes with its own NFC payment solution on Android rather than simply doing what is best for consumers and that is embracing Google Pay.

Just a bit of a side note, most of you have probably heard about Elizabeth Warren’s announcement of ‘breaking up the big technology companies’. I’ll write an article about it in the coming week but it won’t be a pro or anti but rather looking into the nitty-gritty. Long story short, I support her end goal but I don’t agree with the method that she is employing to get to that end goal.

Another weekend..a three day weeekend

Watching some videos on my day off:

I always like to watch videos from a variety of different angles – not simply to re-enforce what I already believe but to also provoke and force a re-evaluation of positions that I’ve held but may not longer be true now that more information has come forward from studies or someone has a provocative argument that upend the original basis on which my position was based upon.

The AI debate with Jaron Lanier raises some interesting questions particularly when you think about it within the context of his writing regarding social networking and online services in general. For example in the case of online services there is extensive use of algorithms for curation but we’re just starting to see how in the case of YouTube it ends up leading people down a rabbit’s hole of extremism. There has been recent a recent scandal regarding Facebook using the 2FA beyond just simply for the sake of scurity but also for the ability for people to find you even though you only want it solely to be used for 2FA (link). Whilst all this is happening we have Mark Zukerberg declare in a blogpost on Facebook that privacy is a top priority (link) which is hard to believe given that what they’ve done regarding 2FA would have required them to go out of their way to integrate the 2FA system in with the user directory search so it isn’t as though it was an oversight or something – it was something that was deliberate.

Mark did however make an observation regarding open platforms but then again he is pointing out a trend that was already developing and that is the creation of ‘private enclaves’ on platforms. For example, in the case of my own family we have a WhatsApp group where everyone in the immediate family are members of that group so that that there is a recreation of a Facebook like social experience but instead it is closed and only those invited into the group can view the content and participate rather than the situation today where HR departments are paying third parties to scrape information of Facebook to make hiring decisions based purely on what an individual does outside of their work hours which have resulted in many simply leaving such open platforms to avoid such dramas in the first place.

Regarding the launch of the Samsung S10 along with the price ‘re-adjustment’ of the iPhone in key growth marks has resulted in some interesting things taking place. On the iPhone from there has been reports of a bounce back in sales numbers after a massive slump (link) but that was quickly undermined by a report two weeks later where a UBS analyst noted that there hasn’t been a rebound (link) so it makes for interesting reading when you consider the the launch of the Samsung S10 Plus Ceramic model with 512GB of storage is NZ$700 cheaper than an iPhone XS Max with 512GB. So you can imagine when a Chinese consumer is faced with a Samsung phone that is NZ$700 cheaper than an iPhone XS Max then the argument to buy an Apple vs. Samsung will be a difficult one to make given the circumstances such as the money saved. That being said 9 to 5 Mac has put out a review of the Samsung S10 Plus from an iPhone uses perspective:

I have to admit the review is pretty snarky particularly regarding regarding ‘wobble’ of having a phone on a table (who the heck uses a phone on a flat surface? why wouldn’t you hold it with on hand and either use your thumb on the hand holding the phone or use ones other hand’s finders to control the device? that being said, I’ve had some hands on time with it at the local store (Spark retail store down at my local mall) and it is a definite leap forward in quality over S9 particularly in the area of software quality (anyone remember those early bugs that were found such as calls dropping out 2 minutes into a call?) but what will be more interesting is what they will do when it comes to software updates – whether there has been changes within their build of Android to ensure that updates can be tested and deployed in a timely manner.

Two more days to go then the weekend

At work and at home I’m been getting better disciplined and focused on at work as well as at home – more reading rather than just mindless doodling on the internet for starters including when I’m at work on my break where as before I would surf the internet on my break but I would get into a bad habit of doing it while working thus making me distracted so I want to draw that clear distinction where at work I work and on my break I read my book to relax – right now I’m reading through the book Chomsky on Anarchism (a collection of essays in paperback form). I really do need to get back into reading because I’ve got so many books that I have yet to read and maybe next week (or the week after) I’ll invest in getting a nice bed side lamp so then I can do some reading before going to sleep – a great way to unwind after work.

There has been a lot of buzz made about the folding phones that were shown off by Huawei and Samsung at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) and the usual suspects come out of the woodworks claiming that Apple is behind the curve but I have to ask, and I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old man, have we see ‘game changing technology’ only to crash and burn when they actually get out into the real world. Anyone remember how 3D televisions were going to be the next big thing? Well, do you see television vendors boasting about their 3D capabilities these days? Remember curved displays? Apart from it being a niche in the monitor world, where are all these curved televisions that the talking heads in the technology press were claiming would be the future of entertainment?

Well, here we are with the latest crop of pointless technology gizmos that sound great in the lab but here is the problem or more correctly, what problem do they actually solve? A consumer has a problem and it is up to the business to come up to a solution to the problem either by recognising the problem or recognising how ever day activities could be made easier (not that doing it the old way was ‘problem’ per se but rather something to make life easier). I’m siting here asking, “what problem does it actually solve”? And the answer is nothing – it is a novelty that fails to address the core fundamental problem with Samsung and Huawei products – that their software is poorly maintained both when it comes to regular security updates not to mention the long times between Android being released and it being made available to consumers as an upgrade not to mention the abysmal support policy where as with iPhone I over 5 years of software updates where as with the latest Samsung flagship I am lucky to get 2 years – close to the same price point and all I get from Samsung is 2 years support and Samsung Cloud garbage rammed down by throat? Oh, but apparently all that can be ignored because “oooh, it’s a folding phone!’. Call me old fashioned but maybe Samsung and Huawei should focus on getting the fundamentals right before branching out to novelty phones that have all the usefulness as lights in the back of ones sneakers or those kids sneakers with wheels in the back of them.

Regarding iCloud, I am hoping that with the big push into services that we’ll see more investment into iCloud beyond it just being a functional cloud service into something that is a lot more feature rich but I wonder whether part of work involves making major investments into Safari given that Safari 12.0.3 that comes with macOS 10.14.3 sits at 468 points but based on what I have read on numerous forums, 10.14.4 will come with Safari 12.1 which has a score of 499 points with rumours that the Safari that is being worked on for the next release of iOS and macOS will have major performance improvements as well as standards compliance. This increased standards compliance points to maybe an overhaul in their own cloud services but I guess at this point it is all speculation until there is a formal announcement.

Senator John Cornyn’s Mussolini brain fart dissected

Screenshot 2019 02 28 at 12 18 52 AM

*sigh* don’t play dumb. It is an anti-immigrantion tweet especially when one understands it in the context of Senator John Cornyn’s support for a border wall – even though he tries to play both sides of the fence by giving the token appearance of not fully supporting Donald Trump’s wall building ambitions. Why do I think it is about immigration? Anyone who knows anything about Mussolini will know that he was talking about the dream to unify Italy through a common culture that binds the nation which is where the ‘we were the first to assert that more complicated the forms assumed by civilisation’ in which he viewed Italy as the heir to the Roman Empire (he had long standing dreams of ‘restoring the Roman Empire’ aka ‘Italian Civilisation’) but for that to happen you need to understand his position regarding race and culture:

Race? It is a feeling, not a reality. Ninety-five per cent, at least. Nothing will ever make me believe that biologically pure races can be shown to exist today.… National pride has no need of the delirium of race.

So it is important to understand that it was being said in context to his ‘restoring the Roman Empire’ meaning the creation of an empire where the subjects that empire were ‘Italianised’ so you ended up having a multi-racial but single culture (keep in mind that he held retrograde views regarding race but his views earlier on in his tenure as leader of the National Fascist Party were quite different to the views that Hitler and the Germany NAZI Party held) that binds together an empire. How does that fit into the immigration debate? Because the US is riddled with the constant dog whistle concern about ‘immigrants that don’t share Judeo-Christian values’ (see Fox News for that common talking point regarding the ‘culture wars’ that they keep alive by throwing the occasional Molotov cocktail into so it keeps it alive) so someone Senator John Cornyn jumps in and see’s it as an opportunity to linking being anti-immigrant to being pro-individual freedom by claiming that if the United Staes becomes more diverse (‘more complicated form of civilisation’ to paraphrase Mussolini) the greater the tyranny required to hold the country together as a result. So in Senator John Cornyn’s around about way he is saying, “if we want to preserve freedom we need to restrict immigration to ensure that we don’t become too diverse and thus require a tyranny”. This then feeds into the second big conspiracy theory that Republicans perpetuate and that is the accusation that Democrats like immigrantion because it means it allows them to expand the power of federal governments power to ‘hold the country together’ (along with that other chest nut that ‘new immigrants will be a locked in voting base for the Democrats’).

By the way, the linking of fascistic thought to freedom is nothing new, Mussolini linked the idea of having a single unified culture that bound a nation together to the ‘freedom of the individual’ just as Oswald Mosley made the same claim that the he would create a ‘new democracy’ a ‘real democracy’ but we all know what they really mean when fascists use such terms – devoid of specifics so as to allow the average person to interpret it six ways to Sunday resulting in no one really understanding what the true interpretation was unless one was in the inner circle aka ‘the vanguard’.

Long story short, Senator John Cornyn’s quotation of Mussolini is nothing more than a dog whistle – those who know what Mussolini meant and those too clueless will treat it like a magic 8 ball where they view what ever they want to see it it. As for his latest defence:

Screenshot 2019 02 28 at 12 22 15 AM

Either Senator John Cornyn is completely ignorant of history (therefore he shouldn’t be a senator in the first place) or he knows exactly what was put out for ‘those in the know’ but he is trying to muddy the water with some plausible deniability – “oh yeah, that sounds like a good explanation, I’ll run with that” seems to be the decision he made regarding in the above tweet.