Woke up this morning and had a quick read up on the Apple event that occurred – as expected there were incremental change with the big focus not necessarily on performance improvements when compared to the previous but rather pointing out that it is faster than the competition then quickly focusing on the battery life, new features etc. We’re pretty much getting to the point of diminishing returns where the additional performance is having less of an impact for the average user with the focus I see being in the future around battery life and what the device can do. Call me an old grouch but I refuse to see the phone as a replacement for a computer – it is a great device when you need to quickly get something done when you’re on the go (like back in the days of the PDA) but for serious work a computer is the best choice (tablets being good ‘computer replacements’ for people who want an appliance rather than a traditional computer with it all the power, flexibility but complexity that comes as part of the package).

I was having a brief look at the benchmarks for the Mac mini and I was shocked about the fact that my iMac (slightly under 4 year old) is being beaten. This has made me wonder whether, when I do upgrade my iMac and MacBook Pro, whether I should use go and get a Mac mini, Apple keyboard and mouse then buy a nice 4K 32inch monitor from Dell. The big factor for me going with the iMac over the Mac mini was because of the discrete graphics but if Apple is going to go with their own GPU for their Macs, from top to bottom, then I might as well look at look what alternatives to the iMac. Maybe the much rumoured maxed out Mac mini or even the Mac Pro mini, both rumours having been making the rounds for quite some time, would be an option. At this stage my only criteria is that it has to be ARMv9 compatible. As for what I’ll do with my old computers – I am tempted to donate them to mum or a family member unless I can get a decent deal which avoids me having go through he rigmarole of couriering my iMac – the iMac will either have to be a local sale or I’ll give it to my sister so they can use it.

I’m going to have a kebab tonight along with a mixed grill – salad, salad and more salad! I need to start eating my greens. It is interesting the number of new restaurants that are making an appearance on Delivery Easy but I wonder whether certain dishes won’t be available since they aren’t exactly the sort of dishes that keep well when it comes to a delivery service.

I’ve move back to Safari and I don’t know what Apple did but their latest update did something because now Safari is buttery smooth again. Although I threw a bit of a temper tantrum about the changes coming in Safari 15, it is highly likely that when I do eventually upgrade to macOS 12 (probably being released in around a months time or so) I’m sure I’ll be less pessimistic (the only exposure to Safari 15 has been through the Technology Preview releases from the Webkit project website). The Technology Preview builds are going to be buggy by their nature but the Safari 15 will be a lot more mature, less on the bleeding edge with the net result being probably a better overall experience.

It’ll be interesting to see what new features Apple will add to their SoC such as support for VP8, VP9 and AV1 which will hopefully mean a lot smoother experience when it come to video playback – I wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually start finding that as time goes on that new features are either ARM only or if they are available on both Intel and ARM that the experience on ARM will be far superior to the Intel experience. It’ll also be interesting to see the work that Apple has done with LLVM (and all the associated projects) in terms of optimisations for their ARM based family of SoCs especially when one considers that eventually Apple will launch a range ARMv9 based SoCs which will include SVE2.

Had a shocker of a sleep on Sunday night meaning I only ended up getting around 5 hours of sleep but on the good side all I had to do was muddle through the day on Monday but then I fell a sleep at around 6pm when I woke up at around 11:30pm, went to the toilet then back to bed for another 10 hours sleep. After 15 hours of sleep I feel I’ve finally caught up on the lost sleep from Sunday night lol.

I work up this morning and Apple has released iOS 14.8 and macOS 11.6 – they were pretty big updates with macOS 11.6 being around 2.46GB which makes me wonder whether a few extra fixes were snuck into the update given Apple’s tendency to not always list all the changes that they’ve made but rather focusing on the most high profile changes they’ve made. I’ve updated my iMac, MacBook Pro and iPhone withe everything working perfectly fine and no adverse reaction from any of the third party applications i run such as Chrome.

Tomorrow is the big day for Apple as they’re hosting an announcement – questions are still circulating around whether this will be the announcement day for the next iPhone or whether they’ll maybe launch an Mac refresh then in a months time launching the iPhone refresh. As iPhone sales slow down the big question is how they’re going to create their services revenue particularly when you consider the recent changes regarding allow developers to collect payments through their own payment processing rather than being forced to use Apple’s own payment system along side allowing developers to link to their own website so the customer can add payment information.

Samsung has released One UI 4.0 beta to the public (link) and here is a video from Sam Mobile that covers the most visible changes that have taken place:

It’s good to see that Android 12 with One UI from Samsung is using the Linux kernel version 5.4.x with the changes being more about refining rather than anything radical but then again this is a very early beta so it could be possible that we may see either features being added or maybe seeing Android 12 with One UI being released before the end of this year and then in 2022 when Samsung releases the next Samsung S device we might see the the One UI 4.1 and possibly have One UI 4.1 also made available on the Samsung S21 series. The presenter in the video noted improved optimisation which does’t surprise me given that Samsung has moved from their custom architecture and instead using off the shelf ARM designs from ARM so I wouldn’t be surprised that as the code base matures that we’ll see improved performance. The biggest improvement to the Samsung S platform will be when the Exynos with AMD GPU is launched next year but even with the leaked information so far it appears that the gap has narrowed between Exynos and Qualcomm so I wouldn’t be surprised that we end up seeing Samsung launch Exynos SoC based phones where they used to ship Qualcomm.

Yesterday the government announced that level 2 outside of Auckland has been extended to 21 September so that’ll mean working from home for another week which I’m happy about – not having to spend money getting to and from work is nice but I wish it were a more permanent option or at least be able to work from home for Wednesday, Thursday and Sun with Friday and Saturday at work in the office (I don’t start until 11:30am those days). With all that being said, the big focus by me is to get rid of the interest free payments for my phone from Spark and focus on saving up for either the Pixel 6 Pro or next year the Samsung S22 Ultra (assuming it adopts the S22 branding). For me, I’m in no rush although I’m quickly realising that I’m more dependent on the Google ecosystem particularly as Safari doesn’t seem to be up to the task as Apple appears to be focusing on everything but getting the core (Webkit) sorted out by addressing the many developer complaints (I’ve linked to a blogpost addressing the many complaints).

New Zealand’s vaccination rate is sitting at 69% for at least one dose and 35% (slightly over half) have have had their second dose (with extra supplies obtained from Spain and Denmark). It appears that the government will be going with Novavax for the booster shot (link). It’ll be interesting to see when the government will start the booster shot deployment or whether the government is keeping their options open as generation 2 COVID vaccines are getting close to regulatory approval. Hopefully once we get everyone vaccinated it’ll be a matter of a COVID vaccine become like getting an MMR vaccine then followed up each year with a booster shot.

Oh, upon reflection, I think the headache I’ve had today was the result of keeping away from sugar and processed foods (prepared meals from the frozen section) – I’m sure after a week of withdrawal symptoms that my body will get used to the ‘new normal’. Tonight I was lazy and ordered a meal from Bowel which had a grilled chicken breast with lots of vegetables etc. which is a lot healthier than what I would have normally have. For me it isn’t about being a ‘health nut’ but more about making those incremental changes that’ll stick for life. I have a tendency of wanting to do a whole lot of changes all at once and within a matter of weeks it becomes all too much (overwhelming) that I end up slipping back into old habits – let’s hope that taking it slower will make the transition seemless and a permanent change. I guess when I was younger I could get away with treating my body like a garbage can – consumption with very little reflection of how it’ll impact my long term heath but now that I’ve hit 40 I think I need to start taking what and how I eat a little bit more seriously.

Well, it has been confirmed, Apple is having an event announcement on 14 September – could it be like last year where the September event launches a set of products then a month later (October) they launch the next iPhone then a month after (November) that there is a Mac refresh with the much rumoured M1X. It’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out. Btw, no, I’m not going to say “this year has hit peak iPhone” because every time some commentator says that it ends up being completely and utterly wrong.

On the topic of Android vs. iPhone sales figures, there was in IDC report that came out Apple outpacing Android in terms of 5G phones (link). One thing to keep in mind is that there are many phones still being sold that are solely 4G because the first generation of SoCs had the 5G modem as an external chip which raised costs for handset vendors not to mention the fact that they consumed more power (new technology tends not to be as optimised in terms of battery life when compared to the previous generation which had years of refinement in terms of hardware, firmware and driver maturity). As a result of that many held off from deploying 5G with the only ones being shipped being flag ship models but even then much of the 5G has been just that – hype.

What will happen in the next year? Well, the original Qualcomm 865 SoC was dependent on an external 5G modem where as the Qualcomm 888 which started to shipped in phones this year was the first that included the X50 integrated modem not to mention the extra complexity of 5G mmWave antennas. Then add to that when it comes to raw units shipped Android dominates the low to mid range so I wouldn’t be surprised that Android will dominate the market once 5G scales down to the low to mid level phones.

The interesting rumour has it that Google is pushing to use their custom SoC into more devices with a Chromebook being scheduled for a release in 2023 based on an article (link). That along with the work being done around Wear OS and other join ventures will hopefully put to rest the never ending rumours that the relationship between Google and Samsung is ‘rocky’. No matter how much Google tries they’ll never have the distribution reach that Samsung has and as much as Samsung would love to have their own platform the reality is that developing and maintaining ones own platform is expensive with very limited benefits beyond “hey, we have our own platform! yay for us!”.

Samsung has its own SoC with an AMD GPU with rumours that we’re going to also see a Exynos laptop running Windows 11 in the near future. It is interesting how for years 1-2 players can dominate a market then in a short period of time that dominance is gradually undermined. Reminds me of how Internet Explorer absolutely dominated the market then it was undermined by Firefox because it stripped off all the bloat from Mozilla so it was purely a web browser then that was slowly usurped by Google embracing Webkit then later forking it (Blink) for their own browser where Chrome these days is almost like a run time engine that much of the internet relies on these days (it appears that Chrome has delivered on what Java was meant to do and that is to ‘write once, run everywhere’).

Tonight had had some burritos from a local store but tomorrow I might just have an easy meal of some ramen noodles with semi-soft boiled eggs. Oh and on a side note I started taking flax seed oil again an I feel so much better even after a long day at work. I don’t know what I stopped but I think I need to make it a more regular thing – the benefits of Omega 3 along with the iron tablet will set me up for a winner of a day.

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.

Came back to work on Friday after enjoying an extra couple of days off only to be reminded of the constant barrage of calls because of the lock down – people forgetting their password, being taught how to add their debit or credit card to the website etc. hopefully things will start to calm down when Auckland moves from level 4 to level 3 but that won’t be for another 2 weeks. On 6 September the government will assess whether the rest of New Zealand will stay at level 3 or move down to level 2 – part of me wishes to stay at level 3 because I prefer working from home than having to get up early to go to work each day.

It appears that after a lot of ‘feedback’ (if we’re going to use a euphemism for the uproar by the online tech media, security and privacy experts) it appears that Apple is going to put the whole CSAM scanning on the back burner for now (link) or to quote what they said:

“Last month we announced plans for features intended to help protect children from predators who use communication tools to recruit and exploit them, and limit the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material. Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers and others, we have decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features.”

If Apple were genuinely concerned about ‘getting it right’ they should have raised their ideas up the flag pole, announce that they’re looking into said technologies and invite feedback before making any sort of decision about whether to implement it in their products and if implemented what safeguards are in place to address the concerns that are raised during the consultation process. All of this could also have been avoided by having the scanning to occur on the server as the photos are uploaded rather than it being done on the device (like they do with mail). It is amazing how a multi-billion company can screw up something so basic but then again this is the same company that cursed users with discoveryd only for Apple to take 4 updates late (macOS 10.10.4)r that it was a foolish decision and decide to replace it with mDNSresponder.

On Monday 30 August I received my second Pfizer covid shot thus making my fully vaccinated – no, I’m not going to stop wearing masks because it is still possible to get sick but taking the vaccinate greatly improves your chances of not dying if you contract it. Remember, keep safe out there by socially distancing, wear a mask, practice good hygiene and only go out because you need to purchase something (and do all your errands in one go) rather than just dawdling around the store. For me, I’m purchasing my groceries online which funny enough I’m being a lot more mindful about what I actually need rather than turning up at the store after work and hungry for dinner only to buy a whole heap of stuff I don’t really need. I also bought some razor blades for my ‘old school’ safety razor – for NZ$22.99 I can get 100 blades which is so much cheaper than if I had the modern disposable razors whose blades can be $25 or more for a 5 pack of razors not to mention the fact that the old school razors don’t get clogged up with whiskers. The only way I could go cheaper is if I learned how to use a cut throat razor but I don’t feel confident enough to make that leap – given how error prone I am I would end up like Norman Gunston (link).

macOS 12 beta 6 has been released but there are still things that need to be fixed with iOS 15 beta 7 but all signs indicate that Apple has frozen the addition of any new features and disabling those features that aren’t stable stable enough to go into the golden master. As noted earlier, what it indicates to me is that macOS will get released later (like last year) which will probably be in line with iOS 15.1 and the launch of secure relay and custom domain hosting. As noted before, I’m playing it by ear – keeping in mind that I’m not particularly wedded to iCloud but I much prefer using macOS than using Windows so my other big focus is waiting for an ARMv9 based MacBook Pro and iMac to ship.

I think holding off from upgrading is a good decision on my part having read through the Chromium change log where the various backends aren’t optimised for Metal so they fall back to the older backend technology. The net result is that although Chrome is compiling for macOS the big focus by Google will be to optimise and restore the Metal backend optimisation for Skia and ANGLE (along with other Chrome components).

That being said, there is also another piece of software that I love keeping track of which is Mimestream (link). Mimestream is a mail application designed from the ground up for Gmail so rather than implementing IMAP with all the extensions Google has done to the standard it uses the Google Mail API instead. The net result of using the API? it is a lot more reliable, pushed based receiving of emails, labels work properly not to mention all the fun ways in which Mimestream integrates in with the Google ecosystem (yes, it also works with Google Workspace). Currently it is still in development (currently 0.27 is the latest version) however it is being developed quickly and it is written from the ground up using Swift so it gains all the performance benefits of using a modern highly optimised language.

As for my person life, I am enjoying four days off from work (2 day weekend (Monday, Tuesday) followed by 2 days off (Wednesday, Thursday)) but on a good side I have been getting much better organised, eating regular meals that are home cooked. Oh, and speaking of food, they’ve finally bought back Tatua sour cream to the supermarket. Honestly, it is the only sour cream, along side the Lewis Road sour cream, that is worth buying because it has a proper sour cream taste. Next week there are a few things I want to buy but I think I’m going to make it a more regular thing to get my groceries delivered since I take a bus to and from work there is a limit in what I can purchase but if I can order a whole heap of stuff then it’ll mean I can go straight home each night rather than piecemeal shopping which can be problematic since other things get bought that I really don’t need.

Apple has made available via their iCloud beta website the custom domain hosting – I tried it out and it was fairly painless though adding the CNAME record was a bit of a pain in the backside because it wasn’t just a simply copy and past. That being said, all these services are available if you pay for extra storage space (I’m on 200GB at the moment but I’m looking at upgrading it to 2TB in the near future). Beta 7 of iOS 15 has been released so if I had to guess I would say that the announcement of the next iPhone will be mid October with the release of iOS 15 being a week after then when the iPhone 13 starts arriving there will probably a minor update (something like an iOS 15.0.1). When it comes to macOS I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up seeing macOS 12 being released mid to end of November with iOS 15.1 being made available which will include iCloud Private Relay (it was disabled in iOS 15 Beta 7 which is an indication that they’re wanting to stabilise it read to ship the ‘golden master’ to the factory for the new phones).

Getting the Delta stran under control appears to be working – the growth of community transmission is slowling which indicates a flatting of the curve (assuming there isn’t a cluster suddenly found. With all that being said, they are doing sewage testing as well which will help detect if there is any COVID within the community – at the moment the tests in Christchurch has detected trace amounts but (link). It’s speculation on my part but I have a feeling that there will be an extension probably until the end of next week with a move to level 3 the week after next week but then again anything could happen – NSW thought that they had it under control then it all went sideways because they half-assed the lock down resulting it never being properly controlled.

And the backlash with the on device scanning has coming in ‘thick and fast’ with the situation now made worse now that the discourse has moved from technology enthusiasts online debating on how the technology could be expanded in the future by Apple (via pressure from governments) to now mainstream outlets, or to use an internet term ‘normies’,

Although Apple said that it is ‘more private’ because it doesn’t involve scanning every photo already uploaded in the cloud then it raises questions why the alternatives were looked into such as Rene Ritchie bringing up the idea of using a relay service where the photo is uploaded and scanned by a server before it goes through to the destination in much the same way that a mail server will scan email for viruses as it delivered. The other option is more direct, why not scan it on the server as it is uploaded? Better still, why not announce it and then request for feedback and don’t include it in the net release or any future releases until there is a solution that the experts and tech community can agree on? It has appeared to me that this decision by Apple has been the result of one of two things; the first being that the hard word was put on them by government where by they would sooner voluntary compliance but if need be legislation might follow which will be a lot more onerous or secondly the top management of Apple is an echo chamber and they’ve convinced themselves ‘the plebs’ will eventually quiet down once something else comes along to take the focus off them.

There is also an interesting treasure trove (link) about the goings on behind close doors which has come out in the Apple vs. Epic Games trial where, as part of the disclosure process Apple is having to disclose emails between executives. With the big focus on ‘big tech’, breaking up monopolies and anticompetitive behaviours, it’ll be interesting to see whether anything comes from this or whether this is a big show that is kept up until the public loses interest in it. As noted prior, if Apple insist on having the store being the only way to allow users to load applications onto their phone along with requiring that all payments go through their own payments system then they’re opening themselves up to regulation – and to think that all this could easily be dealt with if they implemented side loading with notarisation like they did with macOS. The likes of Apple might have had clout with politicians in the past but I think they’re going to quickly find that they’re now dealing in a new era – the political winds are blowing, Apple can either demonstrate some contrition and make changes voluntarily or quickly find that there is a solution handed down by politicians that goes well beyond simply a few tweaks to Apple’s AppStore business model.

As for me, I’ve been using Chrome for the last few months because I’ve found Safari completely unusable on YouTube. Just as I thought that maybe Apple had fixed the issue of video play back issues, that video will stop but audio will keep playing or vice versa, it appears that once again they’re rearing their ugly head. I love using macOS but Safari has become increasingly irrelevant as the web has become more sophisticated the problem is that Safari simply hasn’t kept up and when Apple do deliver support for an open standard then either it is too late, too buggy and/or castrated in some way because of some nebulous reasons that sound more akin to ‘the five standard excuses’ listed by Sir Humphrey Appleby in ‘Yes Minister’. It’s frustrating but there is no use getting worked up because Apple has made their decision in terms of crippling Webkit to ensure it doesn’t pose as a viable threat to their AppStore (see recent ‘boasting’ by executives at the growth of their services and you can see that as the upgrade cycles for phones become longer the more dependent they’ll be on pushing services hence their iCloud+.

When it comes to iCloud+, before I make any drastic changes I’m going to wait until there is the announcement towards the end of September, when Apple does their iPhone event, about what iCloud+ actually looks like such as the custom domain support that was mentioned, what iOS 15 and macOS 12 is like so then I can look at it when compared to the Pixel 6 and possibly a refresh of the Chromecast with Google TV (to support AV1 – the current one doesn’t support AV1). Things could be quite different when macOS and iOS are launched, there might be limitations with Safari but the annoying bugs might have been addressed by then so I’m going to keep an open mind so that a constructive comparison can be made.

Now things start to get interesting when it comes to the discussion around CSAM where the discussion moves out of the realm of ‘arm chair expert throws around speculation’ to actual experts in the area voicing concerns and backing it up with research (link). Up until now the internet has been awash with speculation on what could happen but in this case they’ve actually done the research and, ummm, how does one put it…this is where Apple should step back and put the idea on ice in much the same way that the backlash regarding FLoC.

I think when discussing such sensitive topics that we avoid needless speculation and instead stick to the facts as they’re known – there is nothing wrong with admitting ignorance, admitting that there is limited knowledge at this point, that it is too soon to draw conclusions. It’ll be something I’ll follow closely as more independent researchers get to have a look at how it operates and whether the concerns that experts have hold merit. What I am surprised about is the fact that Apple announced it and decided to include it in iOS rather than announcing the technology, obtain feedback from independent researchers and then make a decision based on the feedback because it appears to be a bit pointless to declare that you’ve made the decision to include the technology regardless of what independent researchers say.

Finally got that $15 voucher from Countdown – I’m going to use that to buy some nice fresh organic free range eggs tomorrow which will go with my noodles (soft boiled so that they’re just firm enough to take the shell off but the yolk is still semi-runny). It’s a quick and easy meal at a good price I also grabbed some lamb and venison although lamb and venison in New Zealand is a big pricy I treat myself once or twice a week. That being said, it is cheaper than having fast food delivered so my goal is to move away from ordering in pizza in favour of having a nice meal at home with top notch ingredients which will be slightly cheaper but a whole lot healthier.

I sent a tweet to Rene Ritchie seeking clarification regarding the the whole CSAM drama by laying out what my understanding was of how the system worked (and got a reply back):

So basically it has become ‘much to do about nothing’ – the way in which people online are making it out is as though Apple just aimlessly scans what is on your device when in reality the only scanning that takes place is during the upload process – no different to a virus scanner scanning an email before sending it as to ensure there is no viruses or any other nasties attached to it. I think that eventually it’ll die down because the noise on the internet very rarely reflects the real world in much the same way that the Apple subreddit makes a lot of noise about the virtues of small phones even though in the real world their sales crash and burn because for the vast majority of people a big screen is desirable for a phone because for a significant number of people they see their phone as their ‘computer on the go’.

Although there are rumours of Apple refreshing the Mac product line up with the rumours of the ARM M1X SoC, my bug focus is on the announcement of the Pixel 6, in particular, the pro version. I’ve always had a soft sport for Android but always preferring the Android from Google in the form of the Nexus 6P and Pixel 4 XL which provides a bloatware free experience that delivers the best Google integration available. Some OEMs seem to have this idea that when customers buy their products that they’re interested in them (the OEM) when in reality for the vast majority of people the phone isa. means to an end – the end being to get online and log into Google services and if you as an OEM get in the way of that objective then you’ll quickly find that customers will look to another vendor instead.

The one thing I am also interest about is whether we’ll see a refresh of Chromecast with Google TV because the current one utilises an SoC that doesn’t support hardware accelerated AV1 decoding – I wouldn’t be surprised that if we don’t see a refresh now that we might see a refresh involving the joint venture between Samsung and Google so that eventually they get to the point that all their devices use their own custom silicon to deliver the best possible experience for end users. It is the reason why, years ago, they bought out Android because they realised that if you don’t control your own platform then it puts you in a very vulnerable position of being at the mercy of the platform provider – that the platform provider at any moment may have a change in outlook and you quickly find yourself at a disadvantage.