The government has announced that from 23:59 on Tuesday that the rest of New Zealand will move to level 2 and Auckland will remain at level 4 (link). There have been some changes with level 2 so there was a meeting by management at work and they decided that we’re continuing to work from home until the end of the week. There has been changes to the level 2 protocols regarding spacing and limits which is why internally we’re referring to it as level 2.5. I think we’re probably going to stay at level 2 until Auckland comes down but then again it is all speculation on my part.

I’ve been looking through the iCloud+ regarding the details of custom domain hosting and I’ve realised that although it sounded great at the time the problem is that there is a limit of three email addresses per person per domain which means it is very much limited to 3 email per user per domain. That may sound a lot but in my case I like to more than three email addresses – I tend to have different email addresses for different purposes so that I can keep track of which websites use which email address so then I know when a website has been compromised or starts emailing be spam so then I can quickly dispose of that email and create a new one to replace it.

Google Workspace is open option although Office 365 is also a viable option but I always like to keep my options open especially when one considers that in the net couple of months that not only the iPhone 13 and Pixel 6 will be launched, there is also a Microsoft Surface event scheduled where the much rumoured Surface Duo 2 will be announced. I really do hope that they’ve learned from their mistake such as not having NFC in the first generation device given how ubiquitous NFC technology is these days.

I went back to Safari however I still find that even the best content blocker (Ad Guard 1.9.13) still allows ads to come through where as uBlock Origin with Chrome is 100% perfect on every instance I’ve used it not to mention the fact that if you need to temporarily allow ads (for example, you click on a link on a news website and it has a web address as a go between then it is possible to enable temporarily just for that site instead of having to pause the whole content blocking) it is a lot easier. I’m going to keep using Chrome but it’ll be interesting to see whether the macOS 11.3 update includes improvements to Safari or whether we’ll see Apple drag its feet when it comes to supporting standards and generally lacking the will to address the numerous short comings that users have outlined on the numerous threads over on the Apple subreddit.

There is currently an ongoing discussion in New Zealand (like in most other countries) regarding New Zealand walking the tightrope between maintaining a relationship with China while also maintaining a close relationship with traditional allies (link). For over 35 years the United States has been giving New Zealand the cold shoulder (since declaring itself ‘nuclear free’ back in the 1980s) and only now has the United States suddenly started to become ‘concerned’ about New Zealand’s relationship with China. With all due respects to those feigning concern. a relationship takes time, effort and money – most importantly when there is a project such as the TPP you don’t rock up, make a series of demands which screw over patients by jacking up prices on pharmaceuticals only to then go back to their country to then talk about how the TPP was a ‘bad deal’ and how they were ‘bullied into it by foreigners’ then pulling out at the last moment after make demands and all the parties accommodating those demands.

It also doesn’t help when a large portion of the US population is largely ignorance of the impact that voting for a moron (Donald Trump, George W Bush, Ronald Reagan being the three most recent examples) as the United States president has on the rest of the world – when the average American gets a bee up their backside and votes in a moron then it is we (the rest of the world) who have to deal with the fall out of it. While they get to live in their nameless town in the middle of Idaho the rest of humanity have to deal with the fall out of climate change not being addressed, trade wars that lead to real wars, where trade and foreign affairs are intertwined resulting in the lack of the US being in TPP has resulted in China’s ability to throw their weight around being left unchecked because the US has exited from the world stage.

Anyway, back to more enjoyable, on Wednesday New Zealand time will be when Apple will have their spring product release. For me, I have no expectations beyond the usual refresh because the rumours have been all over the place and in some cases not making any sense what so ever such as the recent Geekbench benchmark that was uploaded – need one be reminded that benchmarks can be faked. Personally I think there will be a product refresh for the MacBook Pro, maybe an updated iMac, refreshed iOS devices and that being about it. For me, with the release of ARMv9 by ARM, I’ll wait fo Apple to release their ARMv9 products before upgrading my setup. The interesting part will be the SVE2 extensions (successor to Neon) that come standard with ARMv9 and when Chrome is optimised to take advantage of it when running on Apple Silicon.

Interesting thing happened last week, my fibre connection went offline for around 5-10 minutes then came back online – Chorus pushing out a firmware update? Maybe, but everything so far has come back online so I’m a happy lad. There hasn’t been any Ubiquiti updates this week for me UDM or HD AP AC but I think they’re getting close to it – I’m happy that they’re taking their time to ensure that they get it right or at least launch without any glaringly obvious bugs.

I had a wonderful dinner from my local Turkish restaurant – grill chicken, fresh salads, wonderfully puffy rice etc. then to top it up all off a couple of pieces of baklava. This week I grabbed some fish ‘n chips from the local take-away store – one of the few fish ‘n chip stores that really do a good job where large numbers these days try to cut corners and it really shows in the final product.

Something interesting that flew below the radar was the announcement as part of Biden’s tax policy was the idea of a global 21% minimum tax (link) and when I heard it I was wondering how it work but it turns out that it’ll work exactly the way I expected. Lets assume that an US based company makes tractors, on paper the company has an office in a country that charges 15% tax, so what will happen is that the office in the country that pays 15% will ‘sell’ their US based office a tractor at the retail price and then sell it at the same price it was bought in at resulting in no profit being made by the US office which reduces the tax but because the tax is calculated on the world wide profits then things start to get interesting.

It’ll be interesting to see the 21% minimum global tax interacts with the 28% US business tax – will at some point the 21% become the minimum effective tax rate? Sounds like a good start if it did. Janet Yellen talked about having a minimum global tax rate – imaging having a minimum effective tax rate of 21% and tariffs on countries that don’t abide to that minimum effective tax rate. If we really want to fix up the situation of income inequality then we really need to deal with those at the top avoiding paying their fair share – paying taxes in proportion to the benefits that they get from the society they exploit.

Good Friday was a nice day off but I’m excited that I’ve got my annual leave sorted out which will be from 2 June to 16 June – covering the WWDC21 which has been rumoured to be a big year and then add to that the announcement of ARMv9, it will be interesting to see what is announced. I don’t expect any sort of hardware announcement but I could imagine some big software announcements particularly around the macOS underpinnings – closing off the kernel to third party extensions as Apple finish up providing the last remaining username based API’s that developers have been eating for so then they can move their driver out of kernel space to user space.

What has begun to frustrate to frustrate me is this tendency to mistake cynicism for enlightenment which is just as frustrating as the other observation which is this idea that if you’re critical of one major party it means that you automatically support the other major party.

The first thing that frustrates me is every time there is a rumour put out there by the mainstream media, there hundreds of thousands of folk on twitter immediately assume that it is actually true even though no evidence is provided to back it up. Anyone remember the rumour that was put out there that ‘Biden was considering Rahm Emanuel’ when in reality it was a load of crap. I’ll let you in on a secret – the media is a giant club and those who are interested in a position in an administration will get someone to spread a rumour to give as a hint to the powers that be that they’re interested in a job. Yes Minister have parodied that a few times – politicians use the media and the media like it because it is the unsubstantiated rumours that can generate hours of conversations and debates to fill the airwaves that would be otherwise dead if they actually had to talk about factual issues rather than what the latest rectum plucking that originates from the nether regions of someones conspiratorial mind..

The second thing that frustrates me is the expectation for a ‘revolution’ to occur overnight, for a massive transformation of within a matter of days but rather it is going to be something that’ll occur over time. When they (Democrats) pass a bill it isn’t going to fix all the problems at once but that’s ok, it isn’t as though what is passed is set in stone, one can always go back and amend and improve. That, along with a lack of short memory, is ultimately what the Republicans hope for – that you’ll forget what happened when they were in power and that you lose interest because problems aren’t solved immediately, it might require more than 2 years to fix healthcare. The other part is this purist idea of getting things accomplished – I’m sorry for those who have delicate dispositions but the legislative process is very much like working in a sausage factory, it isn’t going to be pretty. When getting a bill through the house, it requires at times greasing the skids to get the numbers – you may call it pork but I call it the price of getting the votes to achieve a much larger objective. As the old saying goes, “keep your eye on the prize”.

One more day to go and then the end of the week – an early start tomorrow (at least for me) at 9:30am tomorrow then off at 6:00pm. I think I might treat myself to something for dinner and grab some movies to watch (either rent them via Apple or jump on Netflix or Neon) along with catching up with the news.

I find it funny that people are playing the victim when it comes to the latest round of right wing noise makers being kicked off then platform. I’ve made my point on Twitter pretty clear by holding the right to the very same standard that they themselves set down. The right were all over the issue of ‘freedom’ when a baker defused to bake a cake for a gay couple with the right wing claiming the it was their right as a private business to decide who they wish to have as a customer. Well, here is the problem, Twitter and Facebook (along with others) have decided that the toxicity of the far right fringe conspiracy theorist fruitcakes isn’t a customer base they wish to cater for and as such they cancelled their accounts – so where is the the problem? Twitter and Facebook are private organisations and using the right wing’s logic, shouldn’t they have the right to decide who they allow on their platform just like the baker who decides whether or not to bake a cake for a particular customer?

Then comes then even more half baked argument which is the comparison of Twitter and Facebook to ‘the town square’ all while ignoring the fact that there are numerous alternatives to Twitter and Facebook; WT.Social, Mastodon, Diaspora (link) and when it comes to YouTube alternatives there is Vimeo, Liveleak, Daily motion (link) not to mention the fact that billionaires bankroll numerous right wing outlets like Dailywire, Breitbart, Turning Point USA etc. so what is stopping the building of a datacenter and launching a self hosting social network where all the ‘freeze peach’ warriors can sit around furiously jerking each other off for eternity?

None of this should be surprising, these are the same people who claim that ‘blue lives matter’ but the moment that the mob realised that the police are on the side of upholding the law and not supporting the Trump cult is the moment they turned on them as seen by the Capitol Hill riot that took place. Many police also found out quickly that many coworkers were on the wrong side of that riot on their time off – the sort of experience might provide the necessary momentum by the institution itself for policy reform in the United States. When off duty police are turning up to riot then serious questions need to be asked about the sort of people the profession is attracting and how that is leading to the negative outcomes in police targeting black and latino in the communities they patrol.

Could all of what took place been avoided? yes, as Thom Hartmann noted regarding the white paper that was put out in 2008/2009:

I remember when the report came out – the hysterical whining from the likes of Glenn Beck claiming it was ‘targeting the tea party’ and ‘Obama is against freedom’ not to mention the concerted effort by right wing outlets to portray militia members as just “middle class mums and dads concerned about the future of the US and wanting to become politically active”. The question is whether the American public will learn anything from this episode – in New Zealand we learned very quickly after having Muldoon run the country into the ground (on the verge of bankruptcy) which necessitated the radical neoliberal reforms of the 1980s to get the ship back on course so as a result we’ve never voted in a big talking loud mouth like him again – the question is whether the US will learn that lesson? something tells me that given the average American’s propensity of only remembering things from less than 2 years ago that in 2 years time in the mid terms the Republican will rebrand themselves and gain a majority in either one or both houses in congress then obstruct like they did for 6 years under Obama. Nothing learnt at all – in one ear, out the other.

Work has been crazy this week – you’d think with the extra hands on deck due to people getting back from their annual leave that the load would be reduced but not so. I can’t go into more detail but I hope that eventually we’ll get through this patch and things will get back to normal. On a good side, I had a check of the number of hours of annual leave I have available, at the rate things are going, by the time June rolls around I’ll probably have almost a month in leave so I might end up going ‘all in’ and having 2-3 weeks off over June so I can enjoy WWDC, maybe even splash out on a Mac if the new Apple Silicon Mac’s have arrived – I’ll be looking at upgrading both my iMac and MacBook Pro – I’ve currently got a 15″ so I’d be looking forward to getting a 16″ model.

I’ve been following the news even though every time I read or watch something I feel my blood pressure rise as I cannot fathom the ridiculous nature of those who engage in conspiracy theories to justify the unjustifiable. Joe Biden won the election – end of story but of course thee are conspiracy theorists who claim that he stole the election (while ignoring the fact that the election is controlled by the states which would require the majority of the states to be ‘in on it’ (we all know the rule about conspiracy theories – the more people involved the less likely it can be kept a secret)) while ignoring the most obvious flaw – if one were to steal an election then wouldn’t one go all the way and flip the senate? why have a nail biting run off in Georgia? why not flip more state houses to ensure that gerrymandering on a census year is undone when the areas are redistricted? wouldn’t it also bring into question the election over all in general – can we trust that Mitch McConnell really won his seat then? this is what happens when you have conspiracy theorists and run of the mill idiots spewing their half baked opinions, they never follow the chain of events that would unfold if one were to take their theories seriously.

As a year draws to a close it is interesting how the ‘Plan B’ and ‘we should be more like Sweden’ have been quiet we have been enjoying the hard won freedom of eliminating community transmission of COVID-19 which enables us to enjoy the holidays. I always find it funny how the ‘our plan could have done it better’ never eat that much needed humble pie and I don’t expect them to do that any time soon because it appears that those who are given a platform a quick to make claims but very slow (if at all) to show up and admit they got it wrong.. I look over in Europe at what is unfolding – Sweden which has a population twice the size of New Zealand, has had 7993 total deaths which translates to 3997 based on population when compared to New Zealand’s actual total being 22. For those who say, “but your population is 5 million spread out” – incorrect, 60% of New Zealanders reside in 4 cities, 90% reside in 8 cities – in other words, we’re hardly ‘spread out’ and instead very much an urban population.

The ‘Plan B’ types also said it would destroy our economy – well, we had two quarters of contraction (Q1 -1.6%, Q2 -12.2%) followed by a massive rebound (+14.0%) so I’m sitting here wondering once again whether we’re going to hear the doomsayers and ‘Plan B’ types come out and eat a good helping of humble pie especially when one considers what is happening in the UK with the new strain and a second wave going across Europe, the outbreak in NSW (Australia) and continuing disaster that is occurring in the United States. Disaster unfolds and the very people who have been spreading false information disappear the moment that they’re meant to face the music. I hope that this is a warning in to the public in future to remember those who reported news (RNZ) and those who were more interested in pushing a narrative (NZME, Newshub etc).

I know it all sounds kind of negative but it is rather frustrating when those who are given platforms and as a rest result of that platform the ability to sway public opinion on a given matter, I think it is important that those who do spread false information are held accountable even if it is purely in the ‘court of public opinion’.

The craziness of another election is over and Labour won a majority as expected but the biggest shock was the Auckland Central Candidate from the Green Party, Chlöe Swarbrick, won the seat which is the first constituency seat won since Jeanette Fitzsimons won the seat in the Coromandel. Not only that but the Green Party ended up over performing resulting in winning 7.6% of the party vote. Not only was there a Labour win but a political shift to the left with the icing on the cake that Advance NZ and New Conservatives ended up splitting in the reactionary right wing vote resulting in NZ First leaving parliament.

Oh a good side today I received two lots of confirmation, the first being that Kogan is sending me the Pixel 4 XL that I ordered which will hopefully arrive by early November. The second good news is that my brother tested the Chromecast at home has sent it so hopefully that too will arrive by early November.

Along with that I am looking at the possibility of moving to Vodafone for both my broadband and mobile connection. They’ve got a $300 credit over 12 months (which works out to be $25 per month which translates into $78 per month for 900/500 broadband. I’ve first got to find out how much notice I have to give before I make up my mind.

Another day, another pay – busy at work but one of the perks of being busy is that it makes the day go faster. Tomorrow (Saturday) I’m going to get up early so I can head over to the polling booth and cast my vote for Chris Hipkins for my local MP but I’m going to give the Green Party my party vote. I understand that the Green Party aren’t going to get everything they want but if they can focus on where their strengths are such as the environment, championing public transport etc. then hopefully as a country we can get closer to our ‘carbon neutral by 2050’ (IMHO, I think we could get their quicker if we banned importing ICE vehicles by 2025, banned ICE vehicles completely by 2030, and use that time to build up an electrified rail network to provide competitive long distance transportation so then air travel is left solely for overseas transportation – I guess that is why I’m not involved in politics, I’d annoy too many people).

The Chromecast with Google TV arrived while my brother and his partner were out so they went and picked it up. For some known reason Toll insists on having a pin when picking up – because, you know, ID that matches the name on the parcel itself isn’t good enough. Well, if there is one thing I have learned and that is, when there is the option to ‘upgrade’ to courier I should stick with the standard Australian Post because there is a whole lot less drama that way. As noted in the past, if I do ever get ‘tempted’ by Google’s product launches, what I’ll do instead is schedule a holiday to Australia where I can wrap up my purchasing in with a holiday and enjoy a holiday along side some retail therapy.

Chilling out at home before I head off to sleep and while doing so it is fun reading through the technology news, in particular, the whole to and fro that is happening between China and the United States (and it’s allies). I’m not going to pick sides since I’m not well versed regarding the ins and outs of all but it appears that each side is dragging out the dirty laundry of the other side. Thomas Friedman made a great point regarding what the Trump administration had done – yes, there were legitimate issues regarding China but the lack of multilateralism in terms of the US working with its partners has resulted in a disjointed and incoherent strategy between the different countries which make up the ‘western alliance’ with little in the way of a strategy of divestment and moving supply chains out of China towards countries that have a more productive working relationship.

Side note: I don’t think it is controversial to state that China has its interests so as a consequence their economic and foreign policy reflect those interests. It isn’t being conspiratorial to point out the blatantly obvious, as I and others have in the past (present and the future) that China and the West will have divergent views but that being said it is important for the West to admit that China is where it is today because of decisions that Western governments made for the sake of maximising profits in the believe that ‘rational self interest’ would never result in what the West today is accusing China of doing. When you treat China as the factory of the world then it shouldn’t be surprising that the factory decides that it wants to move beyond merely being a factory, a destination for outsourcing, in favour of making their own goods that they themselves have conjured up so that they can make higher profits and higher paid employment.