Personal · Technology

One more day to go.

One more day to go andd then I can chill out and enjoy my day off but in meantime I’ve uploaded the contents of my external SSD to Google Drive – always best to keep an off site backup just in case. It is something I learned many years ago where I had around 130GB of rare MP3s but because I didn’t back it up, when I had hardware issues with the external hard disk I ended up losing the whole lot of audio files with many of them I couldn’t replace since the source of the MP3 no longer exists (they were out of print vinyl rips). Long story short, I learnt my lesson. The one thing I do like about Google Drive is that the uploading is a lot faster – I’m unsure as to the reason but given that they are working on a New Zealand based data centre, hopefully it’ll translate to improved performance goin forward.

It appears that the downfall of Twitter continues – for weeks it was hovering around 300-400 new accounts per hour and then with the recent changes that were made to the algorithm then followed up with the changes regarding 2FA where non-Twitter Blue members would have to start paying with the only other option being the use of Google Authenticator.

Personal · Technology

A giant leap forward.

I wasn’t expecting it but it has occured – Ubiquiti released UniFi OS 2.4 for UDM and UDM Pro which is the start of the long migration from 1.x to 2.x and eventually bring it in line with UniFi OS 3.x. So far it has been absolutely rock solid with the CPU running cooler, using less memory, lower CPU utilisation – a great experience overall. Unifi AP are going to receive an update soon – they’ve just released 6.5.28 however is is currently only available for a subset of APs where as 6.5.33 is still in beta testing which supports a wider range of APs so I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next month or so that it is released for all APs.

Google has released two updates in quick succession over the last few days which update it from x.77 to x.96 to x.100 – it might have something to do with the recent update that Apple pushed out as part of macOS Ventura 13.2.1 due to Blink (the fork of Webkit by Google) and Webkit still sharing a lot of code between the two projects. It isn’t all that unusual for a bug to be found in Webkit and for it to appear in Blink or vice versa. If you’re interested in where Chrome is heading in the future there is the ‘Chrome Platform Status Roadmap’ (link) which outlines the big changes that’ll be occuring in the coming months. One thing to keep in mind though not everything is listed – sometimes Google like Apple and Microsoft like to hold back on user visible features so they can do a big announcement such as the rumour of Google making Chrome a more ‘material UI’ look and feel to bring it inline with what appears to be an attempt to create a unified look and feel through Google products and services.

At the moment I’m deciding whether I should upload my music to YouTube Music or just transfer it via OpenMTP (link) with 3.2.10 being the latest version and it supports Apple Silicon. The benefit of uploading it to the cloud means that my music is accessible on all my devices but there is the process of having to upload it to the cloud in the first place but when it comes to OpenMTP it’s a matter of minutes when transferring it from my desktop to the phone.

Ordered dinner from Sabaidee Pah Khao Lao – they make some great food and their servings are very generous, something I found out the first time I ordered but on the good side I had a meal to eat the next day not to mention the fact that eating a whole lot of vegetables and rice feels a whole lot better the next day than ordering pizza. Looking forward to knocking off from work in the next 20 minutes and then relax in front of the television watching news on YouTube.

Personal · Technology

A few months later.

Well, it has been a few months since getting a Nothing Phone and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the best Android phone I’ve ever used – no crapware or adware, prompt updates (link), does not insist on reinventing the wheel in favour of using stock Google/Android default apps. The other benefit with the lack of bloat is that copious amounts of time and money isn’t wasted on not only maintaining duplicate functionality but not having to migrate all these ‘enhancements’ every time a new version of Android is released. Android 13, although trailing behind the official release, I would sooner have stability than being on the bleeding edge after having seen the effects of people jumping as soon as they can only to find that they were bitten by some nasty bugs – I guess without those early adopters that many of the bugs wouldn’t have been fixed for those who take a more cautious approach.

Even though it has Qualcomm Snapdragon 778+ SoC is is incredibly fast and fluid – helped along by the 12GB of RAM which enables more apps to stay in memory so then it is possible to quickly switch between applications without having to wait for the app to load itself back into memory again. The retaining of a largely vanilla Android with some light customisations results in a very responsiveness interface that isn’t weighed down with features that I don’t actually use. It is something I find that with many OEMs that their focus is about filling up with as many tick boxes as possible for the sake of being able to boast about being ‘feature rich’ but in reality it is dubious as to whether what they have added actually benefit the user beyond ‘specification flexing’ between fanboys. When it comes to product development, it is easy to throw features at the wall but it is a lot more difficult to say ‘no’ not to mention the challenge of removing features that aren’t absolutely core essential.

When it comes to Android 13 based Nothing OS 1.5, there was a beta 2 released around a month ago (link) with notes that imply that they’re getting closer to some sort of release. In the past one would get frustrated about missing out on the latest cool changes in Android but over the last few years there hasn’t been the massive changes because as a platform is is maturing with many of the major deficiencies being addressed many years ago such as in Android 7 when ART introduced when Google switched Android’s Java Runtime Environment from the discontinued Apache Harmony to OpenJDK with the recent years less about radical change and more about optimising what already exists. A good example of those optimisations being in Android 9 was to make greater use of bytecode compression and in Android 13 introducing a new garbage collector which will improve memory utilisation, reduce size of the code etc. The wikipedia page goes into good details along with sources (link).

Now, am looking at going back to an iPhone? No, I’m staying with my Nothing Phone because it makes little sense to keep jumping between platforms when it appears to be something that is motivated by the need to ‘scratch an itch’ than actually a genuine list of issues that causing major grief. I’ll also stay with my Chromecast with Google TV because with each update the experience is getting better and better and with the improvements in Android 13 regarding ART (link) then there is a good chance that those memory efficiency improvements will make their way through to Android TV which will help both the 4K and Standard Chromecast with Google TV.

Regarding my cloud provider, I am sticking with Google Workspace – for NZ$18 per month the price is pretty reasonable when you consider that iCloud has 2TB option for NZ$16.99. Although I could split between using Safari/iCloud and Google Workspace I decided to standardise on Workspace by moving to Chrome. The recent builds of Chrome have shown a marked improvement (I use it on a regular basis for work since my workplace also uses Google Workspace) in terms of performance, memory usage, compliance with standards etc. and unfortunately Safari suffers from the same issues that were raised for years – it can work fine when it comes to simply web pages but as soon as you move into the area of progressive web apps that make extensive use of web standards then you quickly find that either things break or if they work you find that within a given period of time it’ll come up with an error message about a web page using too much memory with the whole page just hanging there – keeping in mind that I’m running Chrome on either a laptop with 24GB RAM or a desktop with 32GB RAM so one can guess it cannot be insufficient RAM in the devices.

Regarding the recent hype around ChatGPT I think that far too many in the press are getting far to ahead of themselves in terms of the implications of such a technology. Yes, Microsoft has hyped it up and Google’s presentation wasn’t exactly smooth but in the real world I go to Bing and it still makes a pigs breakfast bringing results back that even Google, when operating in ‘Incognito Mode’ meaning it doesn’t have the benefit of learning what my preferences are, still come back with better results. The reality is that if the underlying technology produces bad search results then it isn’t going to matter all that much if you plonk a AI bot on top because it is still a matter of garbage in garbage out. Was the Google presentation pretty rough? sure but lets wait to see what happens in the real world because it is all very well to put on a great presentation but the question is how well it holds up to real world use outside of carefully controlled conditions that a presentation operates in. With that being said, the rumoured cutting investment (link) in Google Assistant has come back to bite them in the backside – this is what happens when you make decisions purely on a spreadsheet without considering the broader implications of cutting investments to save money short term but for the consequences to be disastrous in the long term.

Side note: Android 14 Developer Preview 1 has been released (link) which has a limited number of new features but like what normally happens, the big features will be announced at the next Android developer conference. For those interested, here is an interesting video regarding the Linux kernel and the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).

Personal · Technology

A good week so far.

Making changes to my life gradualy – rather than trying to make a large number of changes all at once I started off with something small then worked my way up from there. They say that if you do something consisdtenly for a month it becomes second nature, like muscle memory where you just simply do it without havint to conciously remind oneself to do it. What I’ll do is gradually over the year make small changes so then eventually by the end of the year I will hopefully get closer to my goals. Step by step, making sure that those changes stick.

Samsung announced their refreshed Galaxy range of phones – an incrimental update to their product line up which will probably result in the ‘tech dude bros’ on YouTube whip themselves in a frenzy with the usual ‘doom and gloom’ about how Samsung is no longer innovating etc. etc. The reality is that smartphones are now a mature product range where the features being added appeal to fewer and fewer people where existing features are being refined – customers certainly like those incrrimental improvements but it is doubtful that they’re something that’ll push customers to go out of their way to upgrade their phone before they absolutely need to upgrade their phone.

I’ve opened up a Signal account – encouraging family members to move over to Signal because I flat out refuse to use WhatsApp but not everyone uses iMessage so the compromise being Signal. I have to say, Signal’s app for the phone is stil much better than the clunky WhatsApp. If you’re wondering why I don’t use WhatsApp – consider who owns it and their reputation when it comes to privacy, it is an organisation I would prefer avoiding if at all possible. Yes, I would like to ween myself off Google but given the alternatives are just so horrible, see Bing and the attrocious search results if you live outside of the US of A, the only choice at the moment is Google (see rant on my Mastodon page about this very issue).

Looking forward to WWDC this year although things have been fairly quiet – usually there are strategic leaks with enough ambiguity that it gets the chatter starting online as people speculate what it could all mean for the future of a given product and service. Personally I would like to see a whole lot more work put into Safari, in particular getting it to the point that Webkit/KJS can be a drop in replacement for Chromium when it comes to electron based applications. Sure, in a perfect world we would all be using native applications but alas we live in this world where corporations see providing apps as a cost burden rather than a way for customers to build up brand loyalty through a great user experience hence the emergence of web apps which promise to deliver the ‘write once, run everywhere’.

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@

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 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.