Personal · Technology

Extended weekend.

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

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

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

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

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

Personal · Politics · Technology

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

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

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

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

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

Technology

The Twitter exodus has started.

When Elon Musk took over Twitter I expected some migration from those who had already planned an exit strategy but the reality was more than I could have imagined to the point that within a space of seven days there have been around 275000 new accounts created with an average of 3000-4000 new accounts created every hour.

One thing to keep in mind is that 90% of activity on twitter comes from 10% of users and to be considered part of that 10% you have to tweet at least 3 times a day. Although the numbers may not be in the millions the reality is that the impact will be big over time particularly when you look at who are introducing themselves – journalists, academics, politicians etc. the sort of ‘high value’ users that you want on your website so that you can attract the advertisers. What we’re witnessing is the slow death of Twitter and Elon Musk is going to find out the tough way that businesses don’t want to be associated with a ‘free speech free for all hellscape’ meaning all the subscribers in the world aren’t going to make up for the revenue drop off from advertisers. Just to wrap this up, here is a great interview with Nilay Patel from The Verge:

I’m back to using Chrome after giving Safari a try. I was hoping that with uBlock Origin developer creating a MV3 version of uBlock Origin (known as uBlock Origin Lite) would result in it eventually coming to Safari but it appears that as much as Apple likes to boast about it’s support for Webextensions API the reality is that there is a lot of functionality missing that uBlock Origin Lite relies on. As mentioned on a previous post, I waited until macOS 13 came out with Safari 16.1 to see whether those short comings have been addressed particularly in the area of Webextensions API support but so far it appears that just like the web standards, Apple is dragging their feet every step of the way. Although people have complained about Chrome moving to MV3 it appears that Webkit is in a much worse position when it comes to implementing the Webextension API.

Personal · Technology

Deleted all my tweets, I’m all in on Mastodon.

Well, I’ve finally did it – I deleted all my tweets, retweets, likes etc. from my Twitter account and now it is completely empty – nothing there. I deleted it all using TweetDelete (link) – it does have a limit of only being able to 3200 tweets, retweets, likes etc at a time so depending on how long you have used Twitter for you may need to several ‘sweeps’ to get all the tweets, retweets, likes etc. on the account.

For those thinking of moving to Mastodon here is a great article that gives a top level overview for new comers to the platform (link). One may find that at first the experience is a big overwhelming particularly the idea of having a federated network of instances that synchronise all with each other – I’m on mastodon.social which is one of the the latest instance (803K users) and hopefully soon I’ll start making donations each month – I would sooner my money fund a non-profit that my data being hoovered up so a billionaire can go on an ego trip.

Regarding why I moved, as I noted on my recent toot:

With all the #twitter migration taking place I want to put this out there: I’m all for robust discussions but those discussions must be not only grounded in respect but also grounded in reality, grounded in facts. For example, climate change is real, it’s a fact, what is up for debate is how best to solve the problem – carbon tax? ETS? direct intervention? carbon tariffs to stop leakage (off shoring of production)? that is where the discussion needs to be, not undermining facts and reality.

Long story short Twitter has become more and more toxic because ‘getting’ someone is more important than sticking to the facts and discussing how best to solve a problem. A discussion is pointless when the other side substitutes reality with their own custom reality that they would sooner live in as it allows them not to deal with the harsh reality that actually exists.

Technology

macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16.1, tvOS 16.1 released.

Yeah, I stayed up all night waiting for the release of Apple’s new operating systems and with that came the cleaning of my devices and doing a fresh install of each of the operating systems. When it came to my Macs I created a bootable USB drive. Both of the Macs had their firmware updated at the same time but funny enough the firmware on the Apple displayed has remained at 15.5 – I was expecting that maybe it would be upgraded inline with iOS update but then again it is possible that it could happen later on in a future refresh of iOS.

The big benefit I see is the improvement with Safari – the web browser is pretty much the central application that people use on their computer and there have been a sizeable number of improvements particularly around the area of compatibility as well as implementing Webextensions API. It also appears that maybe the bug with YouTube has been fixed as well – may possibly have to do with the CSS work they’ve been doing to address the compatibility issues between the implementations on Firefox, Chromium and Webkit. As for the rest of the operating system, it is pretty much problem free for a x.0 release product – I don’t have any interest in stage manager so I’m unsure as to it’s usefulness (as I’ve said in a past post – it’s a solution in search of a problem) but everything else is pretty good.

If you’re interested in a more exhaustive review then check out Arstechnica (link) which goes into a lot more detail.

Technology

A geeky weekend coming soon.

I’m buzzing with excitement regarding the great news about the release of iOS 16.1, tvOS 16.1 and macOS 13 on 24 October (US Time, which translates to 25 October NZ Time) and with that news I organised a couple of days off so I am lucky enough to have a long weekend (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) by using alternate days I had built up when working on public holidays. I’m looking for a small break before the big holiday at the end of the year.

I’ll be doing a clean install on all the devices which is a practice I’ve gotten into the habit of doing because what it allows is for the operating system to be installed on a blank slate which avoids the possibility of the previous version of macOS causing problems. In a perfect world an upgrade should be relatively easy but having experienced upgrades with problems vs a clean install without them so I always err on the side of caution. It isn’t something unique of Windows and macOS, I also saw the same issues appears with Linux, FreeBSD etc. where old setting files hang around, old versions of system libraries etc. Long story short, reducing the number of vectors reduces the chances of things going wrong.

When macOS 13 Ventura is released it’ll be interesting to see the software updates that’ll be released on the day and the weeks that follow – the important thing to keep in mind is that the migration to Apple Silicon is still on going with Aspyr still working on moving games to native Apple Silicon, software vendors optimising their code and taking advantage of underlying technologies that Apple provides etc.

Technology

Chicken and a good helping of vegetables.

I had a nice meal from Bowl’d – chicken, a good helping of vegetables, a couple of grilled eggs to finish it all off. I had some food at home here but I really did feel the need for a good helping of vegetables, at least giving me the feeling that I was eating something healthy lol. I guess it is one of the benefits of the food delivery service (I go through ‘Deliver Easy’ which is a NZ based service. All in all it was a great meal and I would definitely order it again.

There are rumours that the next iPhone will move over to USB-C, a year before the European Union law takes effect. It’ll be interesting to see if or when it arrives whether they’ll do it at the same time they move over to their own custom modem which they inherited when they bought the Intel modem business. One thing to keep in mind is the fact that products are planned years in advance so by the time Apple purchased Intel’s modem business it is highly likely that there were already 5G modem designs in the works but they wouldn’t be ready for 2-3 years where as Intel ideally needed a modem solution straight away hence selling their modem business to Apple then signed an agreement to acquire 5G modems from MediaTek. One thing to keep in mind is the fact that MediaTek also has a fab agreement with Intel so I’m sure they must have cracked a pretty good deal out of it all.

There was a Google event and once again as expected it appears that the atlases that they have at Google headquarters only list 14 countries to have existed. When a multibillion dollar organisation can’t seem to rub together the skill set required to ship to more than 14 countries not to mention their insistence on ensuring their products do not work outside of those 14 countries then it is clear, at least to me, that they don’t take selling products as a serious business. I always find it interesting how Android fanboys will ask me why I’m so heavily invested into the Apple ecosystem – it’s because of Google’s attitude which is the reason I don’t won an Android product.

Oh, and no, Samsung products aren’t good enough given that they see it as an opportunity, at every possible turn, to reinvent the wheel with their own versions of applications rather than bundling the phone, messaging etc. apps that Google themselves develop not to mention insisting on ramming their half baked ‘cloud’ (if you can call it that) solution down the collective throat of end users. If Samsung wish for me to use their product then here is a hint – provide me with a vanilla Android build loaded with stock standard Google applications and allow me to use your product for what I want to use it for and that is as a means to access Google services (Gmail, Messages, YouTube etc. etc).

So what I am I going to do? I’m still pontificating over the idea of getting and iPhone 14 or whether I should just wait it out for next years to see what Apple has on offer. What I’m really interested in at the moment is iOS and tvOS 16.1 and eventually seeing macOS Ventura being released. Although new hardware is always nice the more important thing is new software because it enables you to have a better overall experience. What I am hoping is that macOS Ventura will have Safari 16.1 and that the improvements made available in the Safari Technology Preview make their way into the mainstream Safari release a lot quicker than at the current rate – it’s just disappointing that so much great work is being made by engineers at Apple but it takes so long to make its way to end users.

Technology

End of the year draws closer.

As the end of the year draws closer the big players in silicon valley prepare to launch the last product updates out to the market. Google has a launch event for 6 October which includes the Pixel phone along with the Pixel watch. I really hope that Google will bring the Pixel phone to New Zealand but something tells me that Google are going to put minimal effort into developing their hardware portfolio beyond catering for 14 countries but with that being said, Samsung next year will be launching their S23 so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with their implementation of Android 13. I really wonder at this stage whether an gentleman’s agreement was made between Samsung and Google, that Samsung with embrace WearOS, Google would make Android easier to customise, Samsung would recommit to Android development on the phone and Google to promise not to go beyond the 14 countries they’re currently shipping their products to which directly compete with Samsung.

Apple is still working on macOS 13 Ventura but based on the latest beta 9 release notes (link) there is still a decent amount of work needing to be done particularly when you consider that iPadOS 16.x has been delayed due to a shared feature, Stage Manager, not being ready to ship. Although there has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth online, I would sooner Apple hold back releasing a product if they feel that it isn’t up to standard. There is a rumour at the moment regarding iOS 16.0.3 to tidy up some lose ends but I would say that iOS/iPadOS 16.1 and macOS Ventura 13 will probably have the release date announced soon – maybe at the rumoured Apple event but according to Mark German (link) it is highly unlikely that there will be an October event but then again we’re just going to have to wait to see what happens. One thing to keep in mind is the schedule for the Intel to Apple Silicon transition was two years and there is one more Mac to transition which is the Mac Pro so it would make sense for there to be an event so it is possible for that event maybe towards the end of October/beginning of November given that in the past Apple have released macOS as late as November such as ‘Big Sur’ which wasn’t released until 12 November 2020 or late October such as ‘Monterey’ which was released 25 October 2021.

Personal · Technology

End of another week, getting closer to macOS Ventura release.

Well, the end of another week and sure enough we’re closing in on the end of this year so quickly that by the time February rolls around next year it will mark me working for the company I am at for five years. It is interesting how as you get older it feels as though time is speeding up but I guess it just comes with age. I’ve got work tomorrow but I’ll be working from home again – my cough hasn’t cleared up but I spent all of today cleaning the place, hoovering all the carpets, dusting etc. hoping that maybe that’ll help in terms of clearing up my cough my I doubt it’ll make an improvement other than making my place a lot nicer.

YouTube and Safari appear to be an on going issue – I’ve decided to accept it for what it is given that every other website doesn’t exhibit such behaviour it would be foolhardy to move to a difference browser simply on the basis that one website doesn’t work properly. That being said, there is still a lot of work going on over at the Webkit project with the latest Technology Preview (link) so hopefully we’ll see those improvements make their way into the stable version of Safari that comes bundled with macOS. Webkit is making great progress but the problem is the slow integration of those enhancements into the mainstream Safari build that comes bundled with macOS.

Having a look at the Unifi AP U6-PRO and it appears that they no longer include the PoE injector but on the good side I can reuse the PoE injector that came with the Unifi AP AC HD. When I eventually upgrade I’ll still stick to using 5GHz given that there are 15 2.4GHz networks all broadcasting so any attempt to setup a 2.4GHz would be an exercise in futility if there ever was one. That being said, when it comes to the big uploads I always prefer to have a networking cable that runs from my desktop to the router so that there are no transmission issues which can occur when uploading large files that measure in the gigabyte size.

As we draw closer to the mid terms in the United States and the New Zealand election next year with so many voters failing to grapple with the basic idea that we live in an environment where every economy is linked with everyone else’s economy – the idea that inflation can be magically addressed through policy is ridiculous. The information that we’re experiencing today is the result of 40 years of using China as the workhouse of the world which has acted as an inflationary sponge aka having a deflationary effect but now it has come back to bite the developed world in their backside. There isn;’t some magic switch that by voting for the Republicans that the moment they take over they press it then suddenly inflation disappears or if National/ACT form government in New Zealand that Luxon will trip over a magical button that will make inflation disappear and for houses to decrease in price for those wanting to buy while those who own houses their asset goes up in value some how.

Now the newly far right Prime Minister of Italy Giorgia Meloni has come out with the usual drivel about ‘the speculators’ as if capitalism has nobility at its heart but it is undermined by ‘speculators’ and ‘crony capitalism’ etc. etc. Why do people get suckered into this obvious nonsense? because firstly most people have no idea what capitalism actually is – firstly they conflate the market with capitalism, secondly they either are benefiting from the status quo but believe it could be better if there was ‘real capitalism’ (this is where the whole spiel about crony capitalism and speculators come out) or people who convince themselves that one day their boat will come in but what is stopping them from getting that is…once again…back to the idea that capitalism isn’t the problem but the ‘polluted capitalism’ that exists today is. Why does that happen? because it is easier to convince people that the status quo is ok but simply needs a few tweaks that admitting that the very things they complain about are core features to capitalism – that capitalism itself is the problem and that a superior system needs to replace it or otherwise things won’t get better.

To quote a phrase commonly attributed to Lenin: “fascism is capitalism in decay”. When capitalism falls into crisis it transforms into fascism as a defence mechanism and wheat do I mean by fascism? fascism is when the capitalist class seize the state and use the state’s monopoly on violence to protect their class interests by suppressing communist and socialists movements that offer an alternative to capitalism. This is why history is important – to avoid another generation making the same mistake as that a previous generation made. If we don’t learn from history then we’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes of the past and thus the cycle of progress and then regression will continue indefinitely.