Personal · Politics

The quiet time of the year.

Around this time of the year although there is the craziness of end of the year festivities (from a variety of different religions) and celebrating the new year in the fields of politics and technology things are pretty quiet but eventually they start to pick up heading into February with Samsung’s new produce announcement then followed by Google’s Android developer conference where Android 14 is announced then in June there is the WWDC 2023 conference (maybe in person this year?). Samsung Galaxy S23 will be interesting but there are rumours regarding the Samsung Galaxy S24 that Samsung will reduce their line up to two models but keeping in mind that they’re just rumours at the moment. There is also rumours in the world of Apple that 2024 is the launch year of Apple’s own Bluetooth, Wifi and mobile modem chip so that their SoC is completely end to end controlled by Apple. It’ll be interesting to see how much of an improvement there will be once they ‘control the whole widget’ and whether Apple removes mmWave support given the complexity of the antenna is and how useless it is in the real world (outside of the US the focus is on sub 6GHz) given that a double glazed window can block a mmWave signal.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens this year in terms of New Zealand politics particularly when one considers it is an election year and inflation hasn’t been tamed yet but that being said if the voter can see that the inflation is coming down then they might give Labour another chance. With all that being said, National ins’t exactly making themselves electable when their platform is what I like to call ‘the four step tango’ which amounts to 1) Tax cuts 2) Deregulation 3) Privatisation 3) Build a road. They attempt to dress it as something else but it always ends up looking the same and the last thing New Zealand can afford, particularly with the goal of becoming carbon neutral, to under invest in rail, to privatise state owned enterprises resulting in the treasury losing dividend payments, deregulation of the economy only for the consequences of that deregulation coming back to bite consumers and the industry in the backside (see ‘leaking homes’), tax cuts that primarily benefit the rich resulting in a decline in the monetary velocity. All in all it is a bad policy prescription that has all the stench of the ‘1980’s guy’ – too bad many on the right haven’t updated their ideology to reflect reality but then again when your ideology is about justifying policies that benefit your donors then nothing should be surprising.

Getting back to Nothing, it appears that they’re slowly entering the US market with a ‘beta test’ version of their phone (link) and although the aforementioned linked article has a cynical title (probably for the sake of getting clicks) I personally wouldn’t have bothered entering the US market given the laundry list of regulations one has to comply with when compared to the many other countries they’re making the phone available in. From what it appears, they’re taking the cautious approach to growth which is good when compared to what competitors have done where by there is massive growth then followed by numerous problems appearing one after the other as the organisation isn’t prepared to deal with the increased customer base and the after market support.

Personal · Technology

Almost the end of the week.

Things are going well with the new Nothing Phone and I’ve ordered a wallet case via Walmart (I did see it advertised on another website but I wasn’t familiar with it so I didn’t want to take a chance) which will get delivered to the YouShop depot then resent to New Zealand since Walmart doesn’t ship directly to New Zealand.

Hopefully once it arrives at YouShop it’ll be sent off and arrive by not next week but the week after – at the moment I’m not taking it out of the house because I fear that I’ll drop it. I like having the phone and wallet all in once since not all the cards I have can be loaded onto the phone such as my card from work, my drivers licence etc. I was hoping to get a nice genuine leather one, if I were to order it through Etsy the deliver times can be measured in months due to it being a one man operation where the product is built to order so you could imagine that there is a bit of a backlog.

The phone is going well, rock solid, VoLTE working as it should, Google Messages working well, I’ve uploaded all my music to YouTube Music so now they’re available anywhere etc. what I have realised is that although it has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778+ it is more than powerful enough to do what I want which makes me reexamine past decisions to always go for the flagship when there are good mid range well support phones for half the price.

I’ve put up on TradeMe two Arlo Solar Panels since I’ve never actually used them so I might as well sell them and get some money rather than them accumulating dust in the extra bedroom. If I can get a few hundred then I’ll be happy.

Personal · Technology

So much improvement but so much more work needs to be done.

As part of my work I use both Chrome and Safari – Chrome integrates into the Google Workspace that my workplace utilises and Safari I use when loading personal websites. There are lots of little things that accumulate such as Mastodon works better with Chrome and Firefox – Safari keeps complaining about ‘This Webpage is using Significant Memory in Safari’ but this occurs on both computers with the first having 24GB RAM and the other having 32GB RAM so it isn’t as though they’re lacking in the memory department. There is also lingering PWA issues not resolved such as updating in the background as new posts come in result in moving to a different tab then coming back 1/2 later to find that it hasn’t updated or at the very least updated but remaining in the same position on the time line so you don’t lose track of where you were when reading.

It’ll be interesting to see whether more resources will be put into Webkit to accelerate not only development but merging those Webkit changes into the mainstream build of Safari in a must more prompt manner to ensure that bugs that appear are fixed quickly and when new standards developed that first question is “is this good for our customers’ rather than ‘does this impact our App Store sales if we make the PWA experience for end users really good’.

The web browser of today has become the ‘run time engine’ for the internet where as in the past there was Java, .NET, Flash, Shockwave, Adobe Air etc. but all of those have been replaced with open standards based technologies that run within a web browser. It is interesting that for years Microsoft fought tooth and nail against such a transition because it feared that it would undermine the market dominance of Windows until Microsoft had a robust cloud offering then combine that with bringing their middleware and productivity to the cloud (along with building up their own hardware division) the concerns about Windows market dominance disappeared along with concerns about having an in-house browser in favour of utilising Chromium not to mention the exiting from the mobile operating system market.

What I hope is that eventually Apple gets over it’s fixation of ‘protect the App Store at all costs’ in much the same way that Microsoft got over its ‘protect Windows at all cost’ fixation because there are so many more avenues they could generate new revenue. What other avenues? create an iCloud ‘business’, maybe focus on creating a ‘fleet’ computer based on Mac mini, improved management tools, longer support life cycles to allow a much more gradual transition when upgrading to a new version of macOS, iOS etc. I’m sure there are many, many more options Apple have if they really needed new business opportunities.

On my Mastodon feed I posted that I had upgraded from an iPhone 12 Pro Max to a Nothing Phone (1) (256GB storage, 12GB RAM) and moved to a Chromecast with Google TV (upgraded to Android TV 12 ) but I’ll be writing a review of both devices once I have had some more experience using them. Regarding Google Workspace, they really have streamlined the ease of setting it up if you have a WordPress account – it is just a matter of authorising Google to chat with WordPress meaning all the DNS settings and other stuff are all taken care of rather than having to manually configure.

A couple of thing to remember is that when you setup a Workspace account you’ll need to make at least a deposit into your Workspace of account of US$30 or more then wait up to 72 hours for you to be able to access YouTube (assuming you don’t want to wait 30 days (link)). The only downside is that I had to manually add all my subscriptions to the new account – I wish there was some sort of way to download something like an XML file then upload it so then the subscriptions can be added. The other one is that if you have a Nothing Phone, Pixel or any phone that includes Google Discover then you’ll need to enable ‘Additional Google services’ (link).

Personal · Technology

Enjoying my break so far

Popped into work today to pick up a $100 Pak ’n Save voucher then I decided to join in on the end of the year get together at the local bowling alley along with some light refreshments and some nibbles. On Thursday I’ll head into the store to pick up some groceries – still tossing up between either getting a chicken, duck or lamb. There is the Peking duck on offer but I’m not familiar with how one cooks it but then again why not give it a try and see what happens. I’m also going to get some deserts – sure I could make it myself but these days the difference between getting one already done vs. doing it oneself is very small indeed.

There was an Ad Guard 1.11.9 but it is still very much hampered by the limitations of the APIs that Apple make available to developers. Those limitations are also present in Manifest V3 which, as of writing this blog post, Google has more or less have postponed it indefinitely. This isn’t surprising given that if you read through the various meeting minutes over over the Webextensions API on GitHub – it is clear that the scope of what they wished to achieve grew and grew as third party developers pointed out functionalitywthat was either missing, broken or not fit for purpose as manifest version 3 developed.

As Twitter keeps imploding even with the reversal of past decisions (see the banning of journalists then reversals of that only to result in journalists deciding to remain with Mastodon) we’ve had Vivaldi browser developers open up a Mastodon platform and now Mozilla have announced that they’re looking at opening a Firefox Mastodon instance (link) and even Washington Post is setting up an instance for their own journalists just as other outlets have done such as the Texas Observer.What will be interesting is whether we’ll see one of the big names like Microsoft, Apple or Google dipping their toe into the pool to see whether relying on Twitter given the mad king, who is currently running it, is good for ones brand long term in terms of the brand being associated with the Twitter platform.

I’m having a look at the Nothing phone for a replacement for my existing iPhone. Sure, it doesn’t have a power SoC but for someone like me I don’t need that power because I primarily use it for email, messaging, browsing the web, reddit, listening to music – basically a mid range SoC at half the price but a good support policy is good enough for what I want to do. When it comes to the desktop computer I’m macOS all the way but when t comes to the phone I’m open to both Android and iOS because I see merit in both platforms.What attracts me to the Nothing Phone is the fact that it is ‘crapware free’ – everything is very minimal so for someone like me I’m happy It doesn’t include things I’ll never use, they don’t reinvent the wheel for the sake of ‘branding’ as some OEMs do which means it uses all stock standard Google apps such as Google Phone, Messages, Contacts etc.

Personal · Technology

Great news on the UDM front.

On the good news front Ubiquiti has released the first beta build of the 2.x UniFiOS for UDM and UDM Pro which will not only result in superior reliability, lower resource usage and lots more nice things, it also lays the foundation for future updates to come a lot quicker as they’re bought into alignment with the recent UniFI 3.x based products that are either in general release or currently being beta tested. It is good that things are making progress. I am still looking at eventually upgrading my base station to a Wi-Fi 6 but I’ve got to first check the mount bracket and PoE can be reused and then maybe I’ll sell it or maybe give mum or my sister it so they can have better coverage.

There was an issue with logging into my UDM via SSH and I couldn’t work out why it kept throwing a error saying it couldn’t make a connection even though I had SSH enabled in the Unifi Controller. So eventually I found the solution when Googling and that involved opening up Terminal (on macOS) then running the following command:

ssh -oHostKeyAlgorithms=+ssh-rsa root@192.168.1.1

Then I logged in as I usually would and voila, problem solved. Not too sure how the problem occurred in the first place but at least that is now resolved.

I’ve ordered a pizza for dinner tonight and will sit at my laptop watching news, maybe see if there is anything good on the Apple TV subscription where I have a 7 day trial so I might as well binge watch as many shows that appear to be interesting. I finished Invasion Season 1 so I am looking forward to Season 2 and how the story develops. Regarding politics, I’m avoding NZ politics but what I have glimpsed, Auckland is now going to feel the consequences of 1) Not turning out to vote 2) Allowing a loud mouth with simplistic solutions to complex problems to become mayor and have a council filled with politicians of a similar vain. On a good side, down in the good old Hutt Valley we at least avoided such an election outcome.

Personal · Technology

Back to work tomorrow..one more week to go.

MarsEdit 5 has been released and I’ve upgraded from version 4 to version 5 – it is a lot faster and responsive. Although I could use the WordPress website I much prefer using an application like MarsEdit as it allows me to work offline, the experience is more responsive than using the website. I’m eventually going to grab the Affinity software and upgrade my copy of dbPoweramp – yeah, I’m one of those who still buy my music in physical form then use dbPoweramp to back up the music in FLAC format with both a copy in iCloud as well as on my external hard disk. Long story short, I’m a happy lad.

Back to work tomorrow – I was hoping to get a job in another department but unfortunately I didn’t get the job. I’m all good about the end result, I’m sure there were plenty of people who applied and missed out and keeping in mind that there may have been only one position available but with that being said I’m going to chat with my boss to see if another departments are looking for people and see if I can get my name in early. It’s no major issue given that I’m satisfied with my current position and in around a week I’ll be on holiday for around two weeks over Christmas break.

I’m giving Apple TV a 7 day trial to see what it is like as I am watching Invasion – it’s a slow burn but so far I’m pretty happy with the programme. I have a tendency to prefer the slow burn – allowing the story to be fully fleshed out, the characters developed, for mini-narratives to develop alongside the main narrative in much the same way Bosch and Bosch: Legacy episodes would develop over a season. That being said, the show contain some annoying characters – they have the opportunity to stay at a house and remain safe until the morning but nope they just had to keep moving. Gah, the frustration of characters who seem to avoid engaging in some commonsense – it’s almost as though the authors of the show are hell bent on getting the audience frustrated.

Since we’re heading into a new year I thought I might as well do some freshening up of my blog so I decided to change the theme to something that is a bit more minimalistic.

Personal · Technology

An uneventful day.

Woke up this morning and installed the latest update of Chrome only to find that it has fixed the issue I was having with the bookmarks menu – I tried searching through the change log but I couldn’t find anything that specifically noted the fix but I’ve had it running on my laptop and the issue with the bookmark menu hasn’t occurred yet (fingers crossed). Although I do love using Safari because of its efficiency, Chrome does have the benefit of having a feature rich extensions framework – even with all the criticisms regarding Manifest V3 changes they are taking onboard a lot of feedback and even pushed back the phasing out back from their original date to ensure that it is feature complete when it launches such as user script API. That being said, I’m back to using Safari – it’ll be interesting to see the improvements that’ll come in macOS 13.1 and iOS 16.2 in terms of what Apple have been working on in Safari 16.2.

At the moment I’m still sent my CV off because I’m looking at applying for a position in a different department – one that isn’t customer facing which will enable me to just focus on work all day without the drama of being used as a sound board for customer’s emotional temper tantrums. If there is going to any change it’ll be probably be after Christmas but I am also looking at other jobs that are available but I’m no urgency so I’ll ‘bide my time’ as they say and wait it out for a better job to come along rather than just picking any job that comes along.

AdGuard 1.11.8 was released around a week ago which addresses the issue of the previous version claiming that it hit the maximum number of filters limit (150K per extension, I’m unsure whether there is a global limit) but it appears it was a bug so it was quickly fixed along with updating other parts of the AdGuard extension.

In the area of schadenfreude, I’ve been having a wonderful week so far, scalpers of Nvidia video cards are finding that no one is interested in purchasing them and retail stores aren’t willing to give them cash refunds. Twitter is spiralling downwards with a low uptake of their Twitter Blue, dealing with security woes, advertisers who are either walking away or doing the bare minimum required by they contract just to avoid being associated with the toxic atmosphere being created by Elon’s decision to allow a complete free for all when it comes to racism, bigotry, conspiracy theories, misinformation and disinformation bot farms being run by state actors etc. basically it is the hellscape that Elon promised Twitter wouldn’t turn into.

On a good side, in the wake of Twitter imploding from within, Mastodon has reached over 8 million people using the service – averaging 3000-4000 new accounts ever hour. I guess the blessing in disguise of Twitter going down is that it has forced many to reconsider who they have use for social media – even Tumblr has had a massive uptick in the number of people using their service. Maybe we can see the eventual demise of Facebook in the not too far distant future – we can always hope and dream for such miracles to occur.

Personal · Technology

Extended weekend.

I had an extended weekend this week – got some extra hours saved up so I thought I might as well make productive use of it – cleaning up the yard, dealing with the backlog of washing, cleaning the home, update my CV and CV letter – something I had been putting off for ages. Long story short, I got most of what I wanted done within a few days and I feel a whole lot less stressed knowing I don’t have a list of things that still need to be addressed.

Mastodon is taking off like a rocket – in a space of less than a month there are almost 2 million new users and the active users have pushed the number of act users to 2 million. For many of the newbies they’re finding their legs as they learn the new terminology while others revel in the features that Mastodon has but Twitter lacks (or requires people to pay a monthly fee to get access to such as the edit button on Twitter but free of charge on Mastodon). There will be some growing pains as the infrastructure expands to meet demands, hopefully more donations improving the various instances on the fediverse along with growing pains regarding moderation and ensuring the rules are consistently applied.

The choice going forward that people of the internet need to ask themselves is this: Do they want social media platforms that are subject to the whims of a billionaire whose motivation is profit maximisation through increasing user engagement by amplifying content that increases that engagement and thus able to sell more ad spots to advertisers or would they prefer social networking that doesn’t manipulate users for profit maximisation and instead are run by volunteers and non-profit organisations through donations. I would prefer to have an imperfect system tended to by volunteers and funded by donations rather than one where the perverse incentives for profit maximisation result in democracies being undermined via the amplification of conspiracy theories, misinformation and disinformation.

Regarding Musk allowing Trump to come back to Twitter – Musk doesn’t appear to be the brightest bulb on the chandelier because if he was he would realise that Trump won’t come back to Twitter because Trump learned a valuable lesson in life and that is to always control your platform. When it comes to media he has OAN, NewsMax and RSBN on his side but when it came to social networking he was at the mercy of those who he saw that weren’t allied with him so instead he created his own platform which enabled him to have total control of the narrative that is put out there. The other part that will be interesting is whether those who opened up Twitter accounts on the rumour of Trump’s return will close up their account and go back to Truth Social, GAB or many of the other Trump/MAGA orientated social networking platforms.

On a good side of this whole train wreck: Twitter shareholders got a good pay out for their shares and the profile of Mastodon has been raised to the point it is being discussed in mainstream media outlets (aka ‘the normies’ are hearing about it) which may open up further discourse about the alternatives to Facebook (Diaspora) and Instagram (PixelFed). Where there is a crisis there is also opportunity – the crisis at Twitter may force the ‘friend/family member who is good with computers’ to investigate it then evangelise it to those whom they interact with, like a van guard of early adopters who then invite others to take part in this ‘new thing’ they just found. The thing is with social networks is that as soon as the ball starts rolling and picks up momentum then word will spread of its own accord through to the mainstream audience who will first be attracted to the fact that there are no ads for starters then explore to see other benefits such as the ability to edit a toot, the fact that there isn’t an algorithm shovelling the worse of what humanity has to offer into their timeline/feed.

Personal · Politics · Technology

Dealing with long COVID, Apple releases an update and no red wave.

It is an ongoing issue with the constant dry coughing, occasionally coughing up phlegm – I’m try to make sure I get a good a good night sleep each night but I think it is going to be a long road to recovery. At the moment I am working at home with the icing on the cake being able to use my own computer – Mac Studio with a boat load of RAM and a speedy processor thus making the whole work day go a whole lot faster.

Apple released a small update this week to address a security hole in libxml2 (link) which covers macOS, iPadOS and iOS along with some odd bits and pieces to fix issues that couldn’t wait until macOS 13.1 and iOS/iPad 16.2. It is rumoured that the next 13.x/16.x update will be released around mid-December so it’ll be interesting to see what improvements make their way into Safari given how quickly improvements are appearing in the Safari Technology Preview. I think the whole Webextensions API implementation is going to be interesting to watch because a lot of it is in a state of flux so I wouldn’t be surprised that Apple is taking a ‘taking things slowly’ as to avoid implementing it only for their to be a major change resulting in all that work being undermined.

Midterms in the United States didn’t turn out to be the ‘red wave’ that many in the media and Republican talking heads boasted about in the media. I think the sad part was hearing the post mortem by those on the right arguing that they didn’t go right wing enough – it’s almost as though they cannot admit that maybe the ’normal folk’ out in suburbia aren’t interested in the culture wars. Being angry all the time, hating, more anger followed by more hate isn’t sustainable for the long term – it becomes physically, mentally and spiritually taxing on oneself to the point that either you get eaten alive by it or you have to step back and simply leave it altogether.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens next year as inflation drops (the latest statistics out of the US show inflation as well as core inflation have dropped), the economy keeps growing, deficit decreases and crime decreases. What I find interesting is how economists talk about the concern over inflation becoming embedded but these same economists said nothing about 20+ years of super low interest rates in the United States which has resulted in asset inflation, housing bubbles, a stock market bubble, riskier and risker investments and all the factors that would contribute to greater financial instability. Maybe what we’re seeing today in terms of high inflation has its origin further back that two years.

Personal

Back to work tomorrow.

Well, after having a three day weekend I am back to work on Wednesday and hopefully things won’t be too chaotic but thank goodness I work from home which makes life a bit easier. Tonight I visited mum and had dinner with her, my sisters partner and two nieces. They’ll be heading up north for Christmas but I’ll give them their presents before they head off – I generally give them money which then allows them to make the decision on what they wish to spend it on rather than me trying to guess what kids are up to these days.

Giving Chrome a go last night – a strange bug kept happening where the bookmarks appear from the bookmarks menu yet if you click on bookmark manager they’re there. In the end I deleted Chrome and all the remnants from the installation then moved back to Safari 16.1. It’ll be interesting to see whether macOS 13.1 will include the improvements that have been merged into Safari Technology Preview.