Technology

Well, that was a bit strange.

On a previous post I talked about Safari Technology Preview 161 I pointed out the addition of AV1 support being added:

However interesting enough a few days later I went back to the Safari Technology Preview 161 blog notes and found that references to AV1 support has suddenly disappeared (the original page is available via the Google cache):

I original thought that maybe it was a error in the notes so I clicked on the link to see whether the changes were still committed to GitHub and it appears it is still there (link) so it makes me wonder whether they’re wanting to wait until it is more mature before announcing it as a feature. Given the complexity of AV1 I wouldn’t be surprised if there is going to be a good amount of time spent on optimising the CODEC as much as they can – maybe make use of Metal performance shaders? I guess we’ll need to ‘wait and see’ what happens. It’ll be interesting to see whether this will roll out to tvOS – the CPUs being used on the Apple TV running tvOS should be sufficiently powerful enough to decode without too many issues given the massive performance lead that Apple has when it comes to their SoC designs.

Politics · Technology

An interesting week in politics and tech.

An interesting week so far in politics with Jacinda Ardern stepping down from her role as Prime Minister and Chris Hipkins – the fact that it was such a smooth transition makes me wonder whether this had been in the works for a while. It’ll be interesting to see if there is any major changes but so far it appears, based on the speech he gave, that they’re looking at the many policies that are being pushed and pruning them back to the absolute essential ones that need to be implemented.

The three waters, which has become a political hot potato (rightfully or wrongfully) I could imagine them ‘sending it back for more consultation’ with an announcement of a short term funding announcement to deal with the immediate issues that require addressing in an expedited manner then I could imagine either the states quo or consolidation with central government funding for long term infrastructure needs.

When it comes to the merged public broadcaster they’ll push that out but I don’t think they really have the stomach for a merging – what I could imagine is that TVNZ remains as it is with maybe the news and current affairs handed over to RNZ and TVNZ licences it off RNZ a simulcast version of Checkpoint which will reduce TVNZ’s costs and reduce the duplication in the current affairs and new divisions between the two organisations.

Regarding the phasing out of DHBs, that’ll still go ahead because the whole idea of having elected DHBs never made any sense particularly when it comes to a national strategy on health not to mention the very low interest that the public had in regards to the whole DHB election process given that a sizeable number got in because they were at the top of the list rather than it being a conscious choice being made (there was an article from years ago that the top winners were also those at the top of the list as they were printed on the voting form). Even if National were to get in I don’t see them undoing it since they were never onboard with DHBs in the first place and ACT years ago talked about reducing the number of boards from 20 down to 6 – 4 in the North Island and 2 in the South Island.

I could see them maybe having a look at the tax code particularly around adjusting brackets given that there has been almost a decade of bracket creep with wages going up well above inflation but the tax brackets remaining static not to mention the IETC threshold for abatement hasn’t adjusted in over a decade meaning many are missing out on the IETC even though, if one were to adjust for inflation, their incomes had only increased modestly. As much as I would love to see a capital gains tax to transform the tax system from one of being ‘deep and narrow’ in favour of ‘broad and shallow’ which would ensure that the burden of taxation wouldn’t fall overwhelmingly on the shoulders of income tax payers.

Today Apple release updates for all their platforms – so far everything is going well with the new macOS 13.2, no issues with any of the software. Nothing Phone is gradually rolling out the Nothing OS 1.1.8 update which includes bug fixes along with January 2023 security update (link). There is the upcoming Android developer conference then followed by the WWDC in June (I’ll get time off from work when that happens) – many things occurring in the first half of this year so it’ll be interesting to see what is announced.

Technology

It has arrived.

My Nothing Phone wallet style case has arrived and fits wonderfully. The only downside is that there is a suction cup to keep it closed where as I would much rather a latch of some sort but that being said it is no great concern. I’m hyper paranoid about having a case because I made a really bad decision to take my phone to work and it didn’t have a case on it – I dropped it and the screen cracked which ended up costing me NZ$800 to get it repaired so ever since then any time I got a new phone I always made sure that I had a case on it before I left home with it.

Things are advancing in the world of Webkit with the inclusion of AV1 playback support (link) but at the moment it is marked experimental so at this point it is anyones guess when those enhancements will make their way back to the mainstream release of Safari. With that being said I wouldn’t be surprised if isn’t too far away given that all the major video streaming platforms prefer it over HEVC where the streaming platform has to pay royalty feeds. It’ll be interesting to see how much optimisation Apple has done particularly when it comes to 8K playback and whether the upgraded Apple TV has the ‘grunt’ to playback.

There are rumours that Google are working on a successor to the Google Chromecast with Google TV (link) – it’ll be interesting to see whether it comes preloaded with Android TV 13 but that being said I wouldn’t be surprised if it did come with AV1 support given how hard Google has been pushing support particularly when it comes to YouTube certification (which probably explains why Apple has ‘pulled finger’ regarding getting support added to their platforms). I don’t see there being a price drop but I could see them become more capable as they improve support for keyboards along with Google Meet (link) which will hopefully open up the opportunity to turn ones television into a communications device particularly for those who wish to keep in contact with friends and family but may not have the technical expertise of trying to do it all on a conventional computer but are put off by a tablet because of the small screen size.

Twitter is once again in the news for all the wrong reasons (link). What you’re seeing at Twitter is a text book example of a person who takes over a business and believes the hype regarding his intelligence. If you take over a business and have this idea in your head that everyone there isn’t very smart and knowledgeable but you’re the great man of history, the genius that will lead the company to bigger and greater things then don’t be surprised. The problem is that rather than sitting down and talking to engineers, display some humility and willingness to learn but nope he went into Twitter like a bull in a China shop and started breaking things. On a good side though this whole debacle has finally woken people up to the fact that the myth regarding Elon Musk’s genius was just that – a myth which as bough to light the other billionaires that are put up on pedestals by such outlets as CNBC and Bloomberg that swoon around like devotees waiting for the guru sitting upon the mountain pillow to bestow upon his follows the great wisdom he has acquired through many years of meditation.

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.

Politics · Technology

The slow decline of social media platforms

Well, I have to admit, I’ve been enjoying the decline of the two big players in social media – not the people losing their jobs, I would never relish innocent bystanders finding out the day before thanksgiving that their services are no longer required, but rather the hubris of billionaires believe that they can be like Mary Poppins where at the snap of their fingers that everything falls in place.

Although both Meta and Twitter are declining I would be hesitant about putting them in the same boat given that Elon Musk is a younger version of Donald Trump who considers himself the smartest person in the room and the reason why (in this case) Twitter isn’t successful is because the company is run by morons and only he can fly in like superman with his ‘big brain’ to fix up the platform (all while ignoring that almost everyone of his ideas have been thoroughly investigated by the internal team and found those ideas either never got off the drawing board or if they did found that when they ran small scale tests the idea crashed and burned quickly).

Mark on the other hand is an example of someone who is too smart for his own good – the inability to appreciate the fact that he isn’t the ‘average person’ no matter how much he might wish to talk about his smoked meats. Running a successful business is in part knowing what skills you have but it also requires you to know what your limitations are so then when you confront something your skill set is unable to address you find someone who can. Getting back to Mark, he cannot seem to wrap his head around why people aren’t interested in his Meta version – he can’t work out why his employees aren’t interested in it even after working on it while ignoring that they’re working on it because that is what they’re paid to do not because they are interested in it. The other part of Facebook’s decline has been the ‘vibe’ of the place, people just don’t want to be associated with all the scandals around it with large numbers either going to TikTok or using alternative platforms where it is more reminiscent of the internet of old – chat rooms, dedicated ‘instances’ for particular topics etc. in other words it is the slow and gradual decentralisation of the internet after years of consolidation around a small number of internet businesses. It also doesn’t help when key people within the organisation have delusions of grandeur about ‘taking over the world’.

As for when or if these organisations may collapse – I’m not going to indulge in speculation because there are so many variables but that being said it is possible for these platforms to hang around for years before turning into something else or dying quickly as it becomes apparent that it is no longer a viable business. I remember when Internet Explorer was the dominant browser out there but then Firefox suddenly appeared and gradually its marketshare slipped then Firefox became the dominant browser then Apple embraced KHTML/KJS to create Safari then Google forked KHTML and became blink and replaced KJS with their own JavaScript engine known as V8 and here we are with Chrome dominating the browser market. Point being, there can be long stretches of time where nothing happens and suddenly things start to happen, what was seen as a permanent part of the landscape then suddenly out of nowhere disappears. Netscape Navigator/Communicator was seen as a permanent fixture on the web landscape up until it wasn’t then Internet Explorer took that place which was then quickly replaced etc.