Updates and the future of software.

Great news, Ubiquiti has released Unifi OS 3.0.20 (link) which will hopefully mean that the early access 3.1.x builds won’t be too far away thus bringing the UDM and UDM Pro inline with the rest of their product range. The built in ad blocking (as mentioned on a previous blog post) is pretty rudimentary in that it does it at the DNS level rather than intercepting as the page is downloaded. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next few releases the focus is on dealing with bugs then once stable hopefully they’ll make it more feature rich. In terms of its relaibility and performance after the update – everything is smooth sailing but keep in mind that I have a pretty simple setup consisting of an UDM, AP AC HD with the devices connected include: Mac Studio, MacBook Air, Apple TV and Nothing Phone.

Apple has pushed out a ‘Rapid Security Response’ update (link) however there haven’t been any notes regarding what was actually updates but I’d hazard to guess that a lack of details combined with Apple’s use of their ‘Rapid Security Response’ indicates that must have been critical and the lack of details points to Apple wanting to get every user updated before giving out details. It’ll be interesting to know what the details are – I’ve checked a few key macOS components to see whether they’ve been changed (wifi firmware, frameworks such as Webkit) but nothing jumps out at me but they must have been serious enough that they couldn’t wait until the next round of updates (iOS 16.5, macOS 13.4 etc).

Chrome 113 has been released for the desktop (link) which is available for immediate update but Android will be rolled out in stages so it may not come to your Android device straight away (it is available in iOS). If you’re a developer there are plenty of changes (link) along with harmonisation of implementation standards (link). One thing to realise that when it comes to browsers, Google see Chrome like a runtime framework in much the same way one could view Android, Flutter etc. with websites becoming more feature rich – almost like a native application that eventually native applications will become less and less common. When it comes to seemingly native applications aren’t so native after all, OpenMTP for example is an Electron based application even though it makes use of low level libraries and hardware access to access an Android device via MTP.

When it comes to Microsoft, it is interesting how they’re gradually killing off native applications – very soon I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up Skype being replaced with Teams. Although they have said that they won’t do that, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a long term goal of doing just that as it would greatly simplify maintenance. I also wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up seeing the online version of Office 365 replacing the native version particularly for businesses that are either new or investing into moving away from bespoke custom line of business apps in favour of using an SDK provided by Microsoft or use another website either by Microsoft or by a third party that can integrate into Office 365.

Side note: There was a report that Google was working on getting Chrome working on iOS so then they’re ready to ship once the European Union forces Apple to open it’s platform for alternative web engines rather than forcing vendors to use the one Apple provides with iOS.I wonder whether the improvements that have come through for macOS in regards to memory, performance and battery life it is the result of inefficiencies being picked up as they develop Chrome for iOS. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the case given that when the law changes that Google will want their browser ready to go right of the gate. It’ll be interesting to see just how much transaction it will gain when it is an option given how strong the preinstalled option is for most people – “meh, it’s good enough and I’m not motivated to change it” which is part of the reason why Internet Explorer hung around for so long. With all that being said, it is interesting how there is suddenly a sense of urgency within Apple about getting Safari up to scratch – it lacks the sort of feature rich extensions framework that enable me to use the extensions I like but I guess for for most people it’s a bit of a non-issue.

As side note to my side note: I’m going to start deleting some only posts I made. I like purging the old content as keep moving forward. I’m tempted to clear out everything before 2023 so I start with a new fresh start. I’ll make the decision over the next few days. With that being said, I’ll hopefully be providing better coverage to WWDC this year – what I might end up doing is going to bed early rather than waiting up until 5am so that by the time it comes on I’m an absolute zombie. I tried covering it the first time by staying up but by the time I got around to writing my blog I needed to watch it again. Hopefully with a good night sleep I can put it on my big screen, crack out a soft drink and some nibbles and get to watch the experience – I may even do a live commentary via Mastodon for not just the keynote but also for WWDC Platforms State of the Union if I have time.

Politics · Technology

Bless their cotton socks, they really do try.

I’m back to using Chrome after giving Safari another try – I really want to see Safari as a solid alternative to Chrome but what I keep finding aren’t the major problems but rather a columination of a whole lot of small problems in much the same way that a product needn’t be completely flawed for a customer not to be happy with in. In the case of Safari there is the benefit of being able to select text within images but that doesn’t offset websites either not loading or throwing the ‘Webpage is using Significant Memory’ error even though I have 24GB of RAM on my MacBook Air or 32GB of RAM on my Mac Studio (the error mainly appears on feature rich web apps). There is also the fact that the extension framework is limited resulting in the lack of low level access to extension developers which enable content blockers to intercept content and fully block rather than the situation with AdGuard where even with the same filters that are enabled on uBlock there is content that makes it way through.

Side note: If you follow the Webextensions API meeting minutes it is clear that there is still a lot that needs to be done before Google and many of the other parties involved are not ready to make a public announcement regarding when MV2 will be phased out in favour of MV3. For me I would sooner those parties involved take their time and get it right rather than placing some arbitrary time line resulting in third party developers finding that their extensions laeck the APIs for them to be able to deliver their product. At the moment I’m fairly happy with the status quo and I cannot fathom why reason to change it – if you choose to install extensions from dodgy third parties with no established reputation.

It appears that the Google Cloud division has turned a profit (link) (putting aside questions in regards to how the segment business units when reporting financials) which makes me whether Google is trying to push harder in terms of making itself less dependent on advertising revenue. I don’t ever seeing the percentage of their ad revenue reducing quickly in terms of it’s overall contribution but in the long term if they can make it one component in a wide portfolio of services and physical products (hardware) which will insulate them from the increasingly stronger regulation coming down the pipe from both the European Union as well as the United States.

There was an interesting discussion over on Pod Save America particularly when talking about how some people treat politics as performative instead of being interested in politics as a vehicle that can transform society for the better. Unfortunately a good amount of the scolding going online, at least on social media, is about moral posturing for clout and social capital rather than using the platform to build a coalition to push for systemic changes – the regular drama and call out culture being an example of how oxygen is thieved out of the room when someone didn’t say the right thing or had a hot take but not providing context as to the reason why they made that hot take results in energy wasted on something that isn’t particularly important in the grand scheme of things.

Politics · Technology

Looking forward to WWDC 2023, reflecting on Fox News and voter denial.

One of the things I like to do is to go through the App Store looking at the ad blockers that are available so that I can give them a test run then compare them to what I am using today – AdGuard Safari Extension. As good as AdGuard is at smacking down ads and popups it still lets a few through so I like to see what else is out there and whether it performs the same or better than AdGuard. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve given them a try, I’ve provided feedback via feedback in the App Store (but alas those reviews aren’t visible in the App Store which is why in the past I couldn’t be bothered reviewing products if my review isn’t even going to be visible in the first place) and what I have found is that once again AdGuard comes out on top. What I hope is that as MV3 matures that Apple fills in those functionality gaps which would improve the content blocking reliability.

Tucker has been fired from Fox News with rumours that there could be still more to come (based on the number of redacted conversations that haven’t been made public) and of course there have been celebrations outside of the right wing echo system. As enjoyable as it is to bask in the pleasure of schadenfreude it is important not to get complacent because although Fox News is a big player in the right wing ecosystem their primary demographic skews to an older cohort. My concern isn’t necessarily Fox News but the next generation that is being shaped by right wing ‘influencers’ that play into the idea that your friend, that they’re on your side, that because they aren’t part of a big corporation they’re honest actors who aren’t beholden to anyone – the faux authenticity of billionaire backed influencers may end up being more effective are recruiting the young and disaffected than the mass market style media outlets that Fox News operates as.

Regarding the election deniers, Vice News uploaded a video recently regarding a county in California that decided to terminate its contract with Dominion Voting Systems with those who turned up to these meetings offering not evidence other than vibes, feelings and second/third hand information they got off some random website or social network.

What is the solution that some suggest? going back to paper ballots but here is the problem, if they go paper ballots that will take longer and if they take closer then that if it takes a long time to count that ‘obviously they’re fixing the election’ – in other words it isn’t about actually believing the election was stolen but holding onto a belief that makes them feel good that their favourite politician won but it was stolen vs the reality that their favourite politician actually lost because they didn’t deliver the goods on the day when it was needed. For many, they have melded their own identity with the identity of their favourite politician resulting in anything bad that happens to said politician as being also an attack on them, they are living a parasocial relationship .

Why do I also think that they’ll dream up new conspiracy theories? Because they were told over and over again that the mail in ballots get processed after the in person voting was counted and because Democrats are more likely to vote via mail there will a massive uptick in favour of Democrats when the mail in ballots are counted .What happened? such individuals engaged in conspiracy theories because they aren’t interested in listening to reason or facts, they’ve created a narrative to justify why their chosen politician hasn’t won so matter how much evidence you bring, no matter how in depth and dumbed down you explain it they’ll keep denying reality in much the same way that a young earth creationist will keep claiming that the world is only 6000 years old even though a mountain of evidence points to the exact opposite of that claim. Maybe it is the sunken coast fallacy, that they’ve invested so much in the narrative that it is now part of their identity, who they as as a people not to mention created a community around that narrative that many feel boxed with no way to back out of the rabbit hole they’ve gone down.

Joe Biden hoped back in 2020 that the ‘fever would break’ and the the GOP would go back to be ‘normal’ again but the problem with that is the fact that the GOP has been a problem for at least 50-60 years where it first started with the ‘Southern Strategy’ where they coopted the Dixiecrats into their ranks then going into the 1970s and early 1980s there as the coopting of the religious right and so on and so on to eventually we see what makes up the modern GOP today. To talk about the ‘fever breaking’ would be to imply that Trump and the Trumpification of the GOP was a recent phenomenon and if the part are de-Trumpified then the party would go back to normal but the problem is that it is ignores what the ‘normal’ actually was. That ‘normal’ was the fertile soil which bought to fruition Trump in the first place – Trumpism didn’t occur out of nowhere but a byproduct of a party that believed they had a rabid voting base that they could throw meat at, fail to deliver, blame the Democrats for being obstructionist then repeat the same cycle again.

What is the solution to the current situation? I’m no expert however I believe these might help the situation and they don’t require any constitutional changes:

  1. Get the state government out of running primaries – parties are private organisations and how they choose which candidate to run for which position is an internal party matter. That in and of itself would trim back those who participate because “I saw him on television” vs people who actually take politics seriously because they’re interested in advancing workable policies.
  2. The states role is to register parties and candidates, and enforce the rules.
  3. Rank choice voting for both senate and congressional representatives.
  4. De-Gerrymander the districts so that elections are competitive as to avoid extremists from being voted in.

Those 4 points wouldn’t magically create a utopia but it would at the very least result in candidates being run who are being selected based on their electability rather than their capacity to pander to the base, the rank choice voting would result in the winner being the one with the most support along with, and De-Gerrymander districts will result in competitive races rather than the situation being the winner being a full gone conclusion when the primary is run. I don’t see any of the above happening but I don’t see things improving unless there is a systemic change in how elections are carried out in the United States.

Regarding the whole firing of Tucker Carlson, there are a lot of rumours going around regarding the reasoning but I think the one thing most can agree on is the fact that on Friday he said he would be back on Monday which tells me that if there was something bubbling below the surface at Fox News that he didn’t know anything about it. At this point I have to wonder what was the straw that broke the camel’s back but that being said maybe Fox News had wanted to ‘clean house’ for quite some time but they had to wait for the right pretext. Personally I don’t see this whole experience changing Fox News because their brand is pretty much wrecked at this point – if they were serious they would be looking at retiring the Fox brand and relaunch two channels (one business and one news) under the WSJ brand with a traditional centre right perspective but I doubt it will happen.

Personal · Technology

Back to Safari and Apple TV.

Well, I’m back to using Safari and I’m finding the overall experience pretty good given all the new features, bug fixes and optimisations that were introduced in Safari 16.4 and the next version is looking even better based on the latest release notes (link). Although Chrome has its benefits I still find that the integration is lacking particularly when it comes to the ability to select text in pictures, to right click and then translate the text. I have noticed that there have been some improvements in performance and reduced bugginess – I am wondering that as part of the move to improve interoperability between the different browsers resulting in Google updating their own websites that may have used nonstandardised ways of doing something and instead updating so that they better conform to those harmonised implementations.

I finally gave in and bought an Apple TV 128GB with internet and wifi because I had enough of how slow and laggy it was and no I’m not going to buy an Nvidia shield given that the hardware is out of date and still has the same sort of lag – maybe not as bad as the Chromecast with Google TV but still pretty bad when compared to the Apple TV. I wantt to give Android a fair shot but each time I am disappointed and it isn’t as though Google is ignorant of these issues but time and time again they match a hungry operating system with underwhelming hardware then they act surprised when they experience customers get is pretty subpar.

I’m looking at getting an iPhone 14 Pro Max in June/July this year – although therre is the tempotation of wanting to wait for the latest version of a particular product while the other side of the argument is that new devices come with new bugs where as an existing device has been in production for a while, software updates have been released etc. The Nothing Phone has been great but there are so many features I miss – iMessage, battery life, the abilty to install web browser extensions etc. 


Phasing out 2G and 3G, big changes in store.

The two major mobile networks in New Zealand have announced big changes in the next few years. Vodafone NZ is now One NZ along with announcement that their 2G and 3G network will be gradually closed off by 2025 (2G mid 2025, 3G end of 2024) – the reason for keeping 2G on for longer are the number of ‘smart metres’ that power companies use. Spark on the other hand has announced their own phasing out of 3G which probably explains why, when they chose Nokia as their 5G infrastructure partner, I wouldn’t be surprised if they rip out the 4G Huawei equipment and simply having a 4G and 5G network based on Nokia’s SingleRAN infrastructure. I’m looking forward to Spark and One NZ reusing the old 3G frequencies for 4G or 5G. Spark for example has 850MHz which Telstra in Australia have redeployed for 5G (link) and Optus in Australia launched 5G on 900MHz (link) with the fall back to 4G 700MHz resulting in a pure IP based network.

It appears that Google are getting sorted out when it comes to supporting more 4G and 5G networks with the latest beta of their QPR update which has added support for VoLTE and 5G for both Spark as well as One NZ (I wouldn’t be surprised if 2 Degrees support will be coming out soon). I wonder whether the decline in ad revenue has forced Google’s hand to get its act together when it comes to their other divisions – that they need to get their hardware division sorted out and move beyond just shipping their hardware to 14 countries. At the moment you can purchase Nest and Fitbit hardware but unfortunately that is all but that being said if I can purchase Pixel from overseas but it works in New Zealand then there will be no complaints from me regarding it.

Ubiquiti has released to ‘early adopters’ and update for UDM and UDM Pro of UnifiOS 3.0.20 – getting closer bit by bit to UnifiOS parity across the Unifi product line up. It’ll be interesting to see, once they’re all into sync, how quickly new features and bugs will be fixed particularly with the launch of the adblocker – hopefully it’ll become more feature rich to allow more fine grained configuration such as exemption particular domain names etc. Personally I think it maybe useful for a large network but someone like me would find it more reliable by just sticking with uBlock Origin and call it a day.

Substack has launched Substack Notes (link) – I love the interface, it is very minimalist user interface but that being said it would have been nice if they implemented Activity Pub so then it was possible to follow a particular author from Mastodon rather than having to create an account etc. With that being said, it is good that there are alternatives arising and hopefully it’ll result in more choice, more options and hopefully reduce the likelihood that a Twitter like fiasco will occur again because some billionaire with more dollars than sense gets a bee up their backside and buys out a prominent platform.

For those who prefer a traditional email client, Mimestream (link) is drawing closer to a 1.0 release – it’ll be interesting to see whether they sell it exclusively through the App Store or whether they skip that in favour of selling it directly to the public. What I like about it is the fact that rather than using IMAP and the mess associated with translating IMAP to Gmail way of doing things (for example folders in IMAP are translated to labels in Gmail) it uses the native Gmail API along with other native APIs which results in a more reliable experience. For me, I have gotten used to doing email via the web browser (probably due to the fact that we use Google Workspace where I work). IMHO Apple should be doing the same – maybe work with Google so that you can synchronise your bookmarks and passwords so you can keep using Safari while integrated into Google, one can always dream.

Politics · Technology

A start of a new week.

Chrome 112 has been released and I noticed it is a bit more responsive. I sometimes wonder whether the improvement in performance is real and if it is real how much of it is due to fixes vs compiler improvements, the websites I use getting better optimised etc. It’s one of those things in the world of IT where there are a many moving parts thus making it incredibly difficult to isolate the cause of something not working correctly or if it suddenly starts working correctly you’re left wondering what just happened so one can learn what to do in future. It’s one of those things in IT which is why it can be frustrating dealing with customers that are adamant that the problem is with you (the provider) when in reality it could be with the ISP (maybe a DNS resolving issue?) or with an upstream provider or one of the upstream providers who provide support for the upstream providers that the ISP relies on. As cheesy as it sounds, the internet are a series of tubes of uplinks and downlinks all working in harmony right up to the point that they’re no longer in harmony.

Politics is becoming rather frustrating which is part of the reason I have been avoiding the commentary on YouTube not to mention the flood of news articles put out. The frustration is more born out of the fact that has become all very much repetitive to the point that it all blends into each other to the point that has become the cycle of a politician doing or saying something stupid, party leadership comes out in damage control, the person who did or said the stupid thing either resigns, apologises or does a half baked apology (aka “I’m sorry your felt that way” or “I apologise that you misinterpreted what I said) only for the cycle to repeat. I sometimes wonder whether politicians need to be reminded that they don’t need to have an opinion on everything, that not everyone wants to hear their opinion and sometimes the best answer to a question from someone trying to provoke you into a response is to actually ignore them (see Marama Davidson response to ‘Counterspin Media’ who were goading her into giving a sound bite).

I think the one thing to remind oneself is this: the internet is not the real world and activists don’t necessarily represent the mainstream of the community they’re advocating for. I say this because so much of the rancor and rage out there is fermented by people using the internet as the barometer of what is actually happening in the real world. The Republicans for example have convinced themselves that people like Matt Walsh, Ben Shapiro, Michael Knowles etc. represent the mainstream along with activists who keep keep bringing up the usual nonsense about wokeness and LGBTQ+ getting out of control but then you have polls such as these two (sourced from the following Twitter account):

The end result is that when it came to the midterms the ‘red wave’ never arrived because what they thought were important issues to voters was only important to those who are terminally online with everyone else aka ‘normies’ too busy dealing with taking care of kids, going to work, trying to juggle paying bills, trying to make ends meet with high inflation etc. It is highly unlikely that the ‘normies’ are engaging with the terminally online discourse that the Republicans have convinced themselves represent mainstream America – 13% want abortion completely banned with 87% of Americans sitting somewhere around the middle thus making the Republican shtick of using ‘The Daily Wire’ commentators as sources of ‘insight’ into their voting base appear rather ridiculous given the midterms outcome.

I’ve finally organised my time off in June, from 31 May 2023 to 13 June 2023 I’ll be relaxing at home, looking forward to the WWDC sessions, the keynote and my favourite being the ‘Platforms State of the Union’. For those unfamiliar with WWDC there are two keynotes, there is the keynote in the morning which is for the media, the tech enthusiasts etc. which gives a high level big picture overview with a focus on a small number of key areas which give a general vibe to the public about where their focuses are going forward. The other keynote is called the ‘Platforms State of the Union’ where it it is still very much a high level overview but with more technical details but not as much as say a session which narrowly focuses and dives very deep into that area. For example, in the keynote they’ll talk about how they’ve improved media performance, the ‘Platforms State of the Union’ will talk about how the media frameworks are optimised using xyz technology and then the sessions will go into detail regarding what they did on the backend and how as developers they can take advantage of it.


Tuesday updates galore.

As expected Apple has released updates to their various platforms including the firmware for the Apple Studio Display – there were many security issues addressed in these updates (link), I noticed a slight improvement in snappiness although I haven’t given Safari 16.4 a good working over but I have a feeling that I’ll install AdGuard, update the filters, visit my favourite streaming website then find myself unindicated with ads, popups etc. that uBlock Origin blocks 100% on Chrome.

System Firmware Version and OS Loader Version upgraded from 8419.80.7 to 8422.100.650 and Wi-Fi firmware upgraded from 20.10.965. to, there appears to be more DriverKit drivers that have been added and much more. It’ll be interesting to see what is in store for macOS 14 in terms of under the hood changes and what hardware support eventually be dropped as they eventually phase out Intel support in favour of going 100% ARM.

I am looking forward to the upcoming conferences – Google with their Android developer conference then followed by Apple with their WWDC which is normally held the first week of June. It’ll be interesting to see whether iOS 17 will include the required changes to bring it in compliance with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act – allowing side loading of apps and third party app stores along with allowing Google and Firefox (and others) to enable them to use their own web rendering engine with their browser rather than the current situation that they have to use the built in Webkit.

Android 14 beta builds will start appearing from April through to the beginning of June before there is a platform freeze with the focus from that point onwards regarding bug fixes based on feedback from early adopters and developers. Although I have been holding out for some big changes or new features to be announced, I think the focus will be around refinement and probably an announcement regarding removing support for third party cookies in Chrome along with using the Topics API and Privacy Sandbox – it wouldn’t surprise me if we end up seeing maybe a 6-12 month phase out with Topics API and Privacy Sandbox being made available to older versions of Android getting it via a Play Store monthly update in much the same way the new photo picker was made available to older versions of Android.


Things are looking good so far.

Ubiquiti has released Unifi OS 3.0.19 to the early release channel – it has been a long uphill slog from the 1.x series to the 2.4.x series to now the 2.5.x series then eventually when Unifi OS 3.0.19 it should mean that Unifi OS harmonisation across all the various network devices should mean feature parity.

I am looking forward to the ad blocking feature baked into the router itself – it’ll be interesting to see how it performs when compared to using uBlock origin particularly regarding how many ads it allows through versus website compatibility and whether there are issues when navigating websites with ads that use ad detection to block users from accessing their website. Hopefully the gap between Unifi OS 3.0.19 and Unifi OS 3.1.x series shrinks – the UDM was probably one of my better purchases when it comes to networking equipment vs the years of purchasing consumer grade routers only to find that they’re buggy, unreliable etc.

When it comes to Pixel devices with the latest QPR3 Android 13 beta it appears that not only is VoLTE and VoWIFI is working but also 5G is working as well in New Zealand. As I’ve said in the past, I’m all all good with Google choosing to sell Pixels online only in New Zealand (and shipping them out of an Australian warehouse) due to the small market or even not selling at all in New Zealand but what frustrated me was the lack of support for mobile phone carrier settings in New Zealand. From my point of view it will open up more Android options than the current situation of Samsung, Samsung and Samsung – variety is always good which is one of the reasons why I’m stoked that have my Nothing Phone which has ‘renewed my faith’ in Android.

For me, when it comes to computers I am all the way with Macs but when it comes to phones, I am pretty agostic along with set top boxes, networking equipment etc. For me, I see the Pixel as the ‘iPhone of the Android world’ but given that at the moment the lack of fully support for New Zealand carriers I went with the Nothing Phone. It’ll be interesting to see when the Nothing Phone 2 is released given that the SoC being used will be the Qualcomm Series 8+ Gen 1 – although it would not be the bleeding edge, I think for the vast majority of people it is good enough particularly for those who are drawn to the aesthetics of the Nothing Phone.

How are things in the world of Chrome? I keep giving Safari a try to see whether the issues I experience have been addressed but so far what I see are Safari playing catch up at least as so far as addressing bugs that break compatibility with other browser implementations of standards but looking at the Webextensions API it appears that there is a lot of uphill work yet to be done. A good example of that would be the recent discussion on the Webextensions API meeting minutes regarding user scripts, adding more functionality to the Declarative Net Request to fill in the gaps that many of the third party developers have raised etc. Part of me hopes that Google just get rid of the whole notion of MV3 and instead just focus on evolving rather than making an announcement then suddenly realising after making the announcement that there is a tonne of functionality missing that many extension developers actually need to make their extensions work.

Apple has released the release candidate builds for the soon to be released updates for the various platforms such as macOS, iOS, tvOS, watchOS, homeOS etc which will probably result in them being either released on Tuesday or Wednesday (NZ Time) next week. When they are released I’ll probably do an upgrade but on 7 April (NZ Time) I’ll do a clean install since I have a lot of stuff built up when trying different software – I like to experiment with different web browsers for example as to educate myself with what is out there so then I am knowledgeable enough to provide technical support to customers who ring up. It’ll be interesting to see what security bugs are fixed and what features from the Technical Preview have made their way into Safari. There was chatter about AV1 support in an older technical preview but I hazard to guess that it’ll probably be something that will appear in the next version of Safari being announced at WWDC because I’m sure there is plenty of optimisation that need to take place – the SoCs that Apple are plenty powerful enough to decode but it is more an issue of making sure it is done in the most optimised way possible to preserve battery life as much as possible.


The role of the media to inform the public.

To follow on from my previous blog post, part of being in a political party is to develop policies then advocating those policies to the public – if you’re in opposition then you’re the government in waiting so your job is to convince the public that if you were in government that what you’re advocating are the policies you would pursue if you were in government. When it comes to the government, there job is to not only education the population so that people know what policies there are how they will benefit from it but to also educate potential voters of their track record in government – “if you like the policies then vote for us at the next election.”

So where does the ‘mainstream media’ fit into this? In a well functioning world or at least a world where the media does it’s bare minimum of informing the public but so far what I have seen is the ‘focus on horse race politics’ of who’s in front, who’s behind with next to no time spent dissecting policies and doing a deep dive into the details of what makes x politicians policies different from y politician’s policies. The reason why that is important is because political parties are all about showing their policies in the best light which involves emphasising the good aspects while either downplaying or ignoring altogether the rough edges for example replacing the working for families with a tax free threshold will involve some who will be better off while others maybe worse off depending on the circumstances. The role of the media is to step back and provide an impartial analysis so then voters get a better picture of what is on offer by the different political parties.

Why is it important for the media to do a deep dive? in a well functioning world the media would conduct a deep dive into these policies and look at it from an impartial point of view. Politicians may try to spin the focus by the media should be to go into details, talk about the good, bad and the ugly, the winners and losers from such a policy, the cost of that policy and whether it’ll require tax increases to pay for it, what are the risks in terms of its implementation, the likelihood of it actually getting passed etc. The politicians do the spin, the media are meant to unspin and be the ones who go into detail on what is on offer. The usual complaint is that people aren’t interested in long form interviews or discussions to which I say “Joe Rogan” – he isn’t someone I listen to but given that his podcast goes for sometimes up to 2 1/2 hours yet has millions of listeners so if Joe Rogan can get and retain listeners then there is no reason why a lively discussion about policy with a few jokes and witty remarks can’t get a few million tuning listeners to as a podcast and maybe a cut down 1 hour version for television (40-45 minutes if you exclude ad breaks).


Elections are slowly building up.

Once again the media is in a frenzy with claims that Trump will be soon be indicted (link) but given how often Teflon Don has been able avoid being prosecuted in the past so I have rather hesitant to pop the champagne cork given past experiences. Assuming it all goes ahead and Trump is charged resulting in him leaving the GOP presidential primaries, will that result in the current candidates toning down their rhetoric in the culture war knowing that Trump and Trumpism are not a factors to worry about or will one of the candidates step into Trump’s position to be the ‘Trump candidate’. Personally, I think the sane Republicans in blue states in positions of governance who are looking on – they should wait it out, allow Trumpism to crash and burn in the election then bring the party to it’s knees so then it gives the ‘adults in the party’ the leverage to go “ok, we tried your childish thing, now it is time for the adults to take back the party” then purge the party of the freedom caucus and take greater control over who runs in which district rather than the current free for all.

Back in New Zealand it will be interesting to see what the election will result – I’ll vote my usual combination of Labour for my local MP and Greens for my party vote (they’re as far left as one can get in terms of being a viable party with representation already in parliament). Let me start off by saying that Labour has been a huge disappointment – rather than focusing on maybe 5 key areas they tried the scattergun approach with the end result being that very little was actually achieved as a result. The other problem is the lack of a big vision of where Labour want to take the country “here is our vision, and here are the 5 policies that are going to get us there” vs what appears to be meandering along, a bit here and a bit here but not overarching coherent strategy to address the myriad of issues that need addressing. What I would like to see is the following:

  1. Full electrification of the New Zealand rail network, standardisation on 25kV and expansion of the rail network:
    a) Expand the Melling line down to the Kennedy Good Bridge
    b) Bore a tunnel for both a rail connection as well as a road connection to Wainuiomata which will open up opportunities for further development as well as improving connectivity between Wainuiomata and the Hutt Valley/Wellington.
    c) Tunnel bore a connection in Auckland from the CBD to the airport and connection to north shore. If there is money and time then replace the Auckland harbour bridge with a tunnel instead.
    d) Rebuild the long distance passenger service by upgrade the rail track ballast along with investment into depot to depot small goods movement, mixed passenger/small goods for low traffic lines etc.
    e) Invest into intercity rail in the south island particularly from the north of Christchurch to the heart of Christchurch where a good portion of the development is occurring as well as investment into light rail particularly out the airport with a focus on grade separation along with ‘cut and cover’ where required.
  2. Investment into renewables – focus on making greater use of geothermal particular through using closed loop systems where heat is transferred via a liquid being pumped through a closed loop with a low boiling point to heat water to run a turbine.
  3. Rebuild the ministry of works so that the government has the means by which large scale nation building projects can be executed without constant stopping and starting resulting in the building up of knowledge being lost as teams that completed one project are only on temporary short term contracts rather than long term stable employment where the knowledge can be built and passed down as new employees join and older employees leave or may continue on in a more casual/contractual basis.
  4. Turn Kāinga Ora into the primary provider of rental accomodation by engaging in a massive house building project – that includes replacing existing houses on large sections and subdividing them with efficient dense housing so that more houses can be provided using the existing land holdings that Kāinga Ora already own. The way to decomodify housing is to make it unenticing for it to be an investment – set Kāinga Ora rental prices based on 25% of a single persons income if they’re a couple or 12.5% if they’re a single person living by themselves (maxing out at $500 for a couple, $250 for a single person). Provide enough housing at that price it would drive landlords resulting in house prices going down not to mention the ability to stay long term in public housing results in buyers being able to be more picky. Long story short the masses would rent from Kāinga Ora, the private sector would build houses to own and what little private sector rentals remain would be to cater for niches that Kāinga Ora would cater for aka rich people wanting to lease a luxury home because they don’t want to have their money tied up in a house they’re living in temporarily.
  5. Reform the welfare system so that it encourages rather than punishes people who take the initiative and take a chance with a part time or casual job.
    a) Completely removal of the stand down period and streamline the process for those who work in seasonal jobs and may find themselves off work for short periods (I worked for a catering company that followed the university calendar resulting in breaks between terms and found I wasn’t eligible for any assistance from social welfare- the problem the business had is that they couldn’t retain staff for that very reason).
    b) Increase the level at which abatement kicks in – on a solo parents benefit you can earn up to $160 a week before tax before abatement kicks in (link) which works out to be 7 hours per week. Let’s be realistic, how many employers are going to employ someone for 7 hours a week? at minimum the abatement level needs to be doubled which would give someone a realistic chance of getting a casual/part time job when receiving the benefit.
    c) When means testing ask more questions than just “what is your pre-tax income” because in all due respects asking someone what their pre-tax income is tells you nothing about what the financial situation – the purpose of means testing is to find out how much they’re living off once tax, student loans, maybe fines payment plan etc. are taken off the income. It is also important to ask them what their outgoings are or otherwise you’ll end up in a situation of a person owning a business, running all their costs through the business then paying themselves a small stipend so it makes them eligible not just for assistance but their kids can qualify for student allowance etc. If you asked people what their core essential outgoings are such as rent, electricity, gas, petrol for the car or cost of public transport, groceries etc. then you’d seperate those who genuinely need help vs those who game the system through accounting trickery.

I’m not hopeful that something like the above would happen but if it were to happen then it would immensely improve New Zealand by focusing on some core areas then once addressed then building on it. There was a once in a lifetime opportunity in 2016 to lay out such a bold version for New Zealand but unfortunately that opportunity has been squandered.