Another weekend has come and gone – back to work tomorrow with a new roster being posted which will result in an earlier start time starting from next week – from 11:30 start to a 9:30 start. I’m still processing the information that was given on Monday along with the follow up today with my team, There is a feedback form that they want us to provide feedback regarding the changes – end of the day it is a difficult situation that I don’t think anyone would want to take on.
The manager who was chatting to us in the meeting choked up a bit because I think for a lot of those steering the ship the hope was that eventually things would get back to normal. The hope that eventually New Zealand make its way to level 2 that spending would pick up but the problem is that I think for a many they didn’t realise how deep the recession is – the first thing people do when they are running short on money is cutting unnecessary expenditures and only buy the absolute core essentials with even those who do have a job playing it safe by putting some savings aside or focus on paying down debt quickly so if they do end up losing their job they’re in a better financial situation to weather the storm.
Thursday is when the budget comes out – although the finance minister is down playing what what is on offer, he cannot afford to have a budget response that isn’t bold enough to meet the challenge. The average New Zealand is hugely indebted – there needs to be relief in that area or otherwise there is a risk of a banking crisis off the back of a economic crisis. What could the government do? Those who have lost their job and have debt will have the Reserve Bank nationalise that debt then finance it back to the consumer at 0.25% interest (the official cash rate) with no time limit – they wouldn’t be able to raise new debt until that debt was cleared off but it would give an individual or a family enough wiggle room to survive until they can get a job then able to start making payments when they can – once fulled paid off they can raise new debt. The benefit to the bank is that it would taken off the balance sheet of the bank, the consumer would be given enough room to breath and there wouldn’t create perverse incentives to try and play the system.
I finished cleaning out the oven today – damn it was so dirty but now it is so clean and tidy. I used it for the first time – I’m happy I chose the ‘no smelling’ version of the oven cleaner. I think in future I need to do it a lore more often to avoid the sort of build up which required me to get down on my hand and knees to give it a good scrubbing.
Got the first part of the bad news and that is the outline of the cuts that have been proposed. Now, unless there is some major bail out of the industry by the government (which is highly unlikely but anything is possible given the circumstances and the various vested interest involved) it is doubtful that I’ll be in a job by the time 22 June rolls around (which is when the wage subsidies end) – it’s just basic math, when there are 34 people going for 11 jobs then the end result in that some are going to not make their way through to the new organisational structure. I am hoping that I will retain my job but I’m also realistic – I’m not going to get myself worked up by getting stressed about something I cannot control or as my old boss used to say “focus on controlling the controllables”.
I got my employment contract to see what the redundancy pay will be like – needless to say that assuming the worse case scenario happens I am very lucky that I’ll have the means to make ends meet not to mention that the government has removed the stand down period for anyone applying for the unemployment benefit.
Last night I went to the store to pick up some odd bits and pieces – oven cleaner, some Pepsi Max (was on special – the great thing about Pepsi is that it is always cheaper than Diet Coca Cola). I thought to myself that my oven needed to be cleaned but it shouldn’t be too bad – holy crap, I couldn’t get over all the grease that had built up because I never really paid much attention to what the inside of the oven looked like. I pulled out the racks inside, opened up an old rubbish bag and sprayed both of them on both sides then wrapped them up to soak over night. The interior of the oven I sprayed it on the inside and I’m going to leave that soak in over night. When I wake up on Tuesday I’ll clean out both of them – hopefully if I do it more regularly it’ll avoid having to do the intensive clean that I’ve done.
On a good side they had 2L of Pepsi Max on special for $2 so picked up a few bottles to fill up my fridge – always good to have a few bottles in the fridge to avoid having to go out.
Working from home is an interesting experience – having to maintain a resemblance of discipline and focus while also not getting to stressed that maybe some work may take longer than usual because other coworkers are also working at home with their own set of issues. Unfortunately like many businesses at the moment there has been a sharp decline in turn over which has resulted in the need for the organisation I work for to look into cutting staff numbers but nothing is set in stone. The reason why I say, “nothing is set in stone’ is because there are a lot of ‘balls in air’ at the moment such as there being a meeting on Monday along with a Q&A at work which lines up with press conference by the government about opening up more of the economy with the eventual move to level 2 not to mention a potential for an announcement by government for further income support for employees or some other government programme.
Long story short the government will want to at least attempt to ensure that redundancies are kept to a minimum because a cycle of redundancies creates a death spiral that is very difficult to reverse once it starts – a decrease in spending due to the lack of disposable income with those who are still employed being tighter with their money just in case they lose their job which then ends up further exacerbating the situation further. It is better to support the existing economy via a wage support mechanism and the ability for businesses to refinance existing debt at a power interest rate which reduces the amount the business has to pay back then have that followed up by by creating jobs via public works projects – preferably ‘shovel ready’ projects such as expanding existing project such as bringing forward future projects or start working on projects that have been on the back burner, “it would be nice to have, but difficult to justify” (investment into the Wairarapa Connection or the high speed rail connection from Auckland to Hamilton by straightening tracks (to improve speed) as well as expanding electrification).
I think it is important at this moment not to get stressed – yes, easier said than done but it is easy for ones brain to start working over time dreaming up of all the worst case scenarios.
Another day another pay – we’re in level 3 but hopefully level 3 doesn’t last too long and we can get back to normal soon but not too soon because one doesn’t want to see what happened in 1918 when cities relaxed their restrictions believing that the worst of it was over only to find that a second wave ends up coming along that does a lot more damage than the first wave. I am pretty confident that those making the decisions are going to make the correct decisions because so far they’ve done a pretty good job – clear communication without sugar coating, implementing support mechanisms to help businesses and employees and more. The interesting part will be the budget that’ll focus on kick starting the economy again – whether the much talked about ‘helicopter money’ will be part of the equation – I could imagine maybe a cash injection then followed by large public works projects to provide employment and an asset to show for any debt accumulated.
The rumours regarding ARM based Mac’s are picking up steam – one thing to remember is that there is no inherent ISA limitation that would stop ARM from matching or beating Intel based processors. For example, Fujitsu has their own super computer CPU is designed around the ARM ISA (link) and other organisations have also demonstrated it particularly for cloud computing (reminds me very much of the Sun Microsystems T1 chips which took simple SPARC II design then put a tonne of them into SoC which a massive front side bus so that the pipe line to the processor was always full and no CPU stalling waiting for data).
My prediction is that Apple is going to probably move to ARM next year, start off with MacBook then they’ll probably keep AMD around for discrete GPU design for their workstations (both desktop and mobile) along with the iMac as well. Am I worried about software availability? No, because unlike the last time – programmers are already using Xcode and LLVM/Clang where as with the PPC to x86 it not only involved moving from PPC to x86 in terms of dealing with any hand code optimisations it also involved moving compilers and dealing with the quirks of the GNU compiler too chain and moving from CodeWarrior to Xcode. The situation these days is a lot different so I’d say if there is going to be a move you’ll see more developers embrace macOS given that a lot of software share a similar core and if it means targeting two platforms and not having to deal with platform peculiarities then it’ll be a winner for all concerned.
I think the interesting part is the development of the macOS kernel now that they’re on their way to closing off the kernel to third party extensions – do Apple have something major planned? Hopefully it’ll mean that they’re can develop their hardware and software in tandem with the Mac piggybacking on the economies of scales that iOS/iPadOS/watchOS/HomeOS and tvOS bring to the party.
Side note: Interesting how there are now rumours that the first crop of iPhone 12’s might not include mmWave support – hardly surprising what a giant mess it is; all hype and very little delivery unless you’re outside in direct line of sight. Outside of the US the focus on 5G have been on the sub-6GHz frequencies that have the best balance between coverage and capacity. I can’t help but feel as though the whole mmWave hype is going to end up like 3D televisions where those who have invested a lot are left with a rather expensive trophy (aka “I was first”) rather than having something that justifies it’s original price.
I’ve been reading up on the Samsung S20 range with the Exynos 990 SoC that was bundled with it – the pitch forks are being bought in bulk as the gap, in terms of performance, between Qualcomm 865 and Exynos 990 grows and customers (who don’t have access to the Qualcomm 865 model) voice their frustraction online. When you’re selling an inferior product for the same price as a superior version that is only available in certain countries (South Korea, USA, Canada, China, Japan and Latin America) then it shouldn’t be surprising that there are customers who are angry at feeling as though they’ve been shafted by Samsung.
With all that being said, it’ll be interesting to see what happens towards the end of the year when Samsung release the next SoC for next years Samsung smartphone given that Samsung has announced that they’ve cancelled their custom CPU development (link) in favour of licencing ARM CPU designs then tweaking the design rather than building one from the ground up. There is also a new agreement between AMD and Samsung (link) which points to the future SoC being designed around Samsung’s own custom modem (which performs well in the real world) coupled with a GPU from AMD (probably based on the new RDNA architecture).
The other product I’m excited about is the Microsoft Duo – the folio style smart phone with two screens running Android. What attracts me to it is firstly Microsoft’s reputation for long term software support (when compared to other Android OEMs) but the interesting part will be the integration between Microsoft’s services and Android along with seeing what the customised Android experience will look like – will it have a fresh but unique look or will Microsoft attempt to bring the WinUI/Fluent design language so that there is a consistent look and feel between the the Windows 10X (Microsoft Neo) and Android (Microsoft Duo) devices.
The rumour mill has been going over drive with the recent leak of products that’ll be getting launched through out this year – I would have thought that the whole COVID-19 situation would have slowed down or postponed the launch of some products but it appears that Apple is charging forward with their plan. It appears that the rumours of ARM based Mac’s are picking up steam (link) (link) which makes me wonder whether we’ll see a ARM based ultrabook with their own custom GPU as part of their A12Z SoC which has 8 cores so it wouldn’t surprise me the MacBook Pro ends up being some sort of A13UB (UB for UltraBook) where it comes with 12 GPU cores then maybe in the MacBook Pro it is upgraded to a 18 or 24 core GPU design with AMD discrete GPU for extra grunt with the CPU being 8 way and maybe SMT thrown in for good luck.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens when it comes to the software side – the closing off of the kernel to third party kernel extensions makes me believe that Apple have a big overhaul of the kernel planned and by kicking third party kernel extensions out they don’t need to worry about backwards compatibility. I couldn’t imagine Apple getting rid of OpenGL support given the number of applications that very much rely on it but I could imagine them getting rid of OpenCL given that it was never adopted on a large scale by developers. There are rumours that Apple might be looking at shipping a 12 core ARM based MacBook SoC (the CPU not GPU) but if that is the case then it’ll require Apple to make changes to macOS to really squeeze the performance out not to mention the fact that some workflows cannot be scaled up in a linear fashion.
I think the big benefit of such a move to their own ARM based SoC is that they can design their components to suite the products rather than relying on a third party who has multiple customers with each of them having their own peculiarities that need addressing. There is also the benefit of being able to have product refreshes based on their own schedule as well rather than tying to squeeze in between AMD when they do their GPU upgrade and then Intel releasing their CPU refreshes. I could imagine Apple long term that Apple will eventually want to become totally self-sufficient when it comes to their GPU design. Having their own GPU design allows them to develop their Metal Framework and GPU in tandem so that both are optimised to peak performance.
I think the big factor will be getting developers to have a single unified backend that takes advantage of cross platform frameworks such as Metal, Performance Shaders etc. and then constructing front ends that are form factor specific through the use of SwiftUI which I’m sure will become a replacement for Cocoa. TouchUI etc. once it becomes more mature.
Well, it appears that the level 4 lock down has been extended for another week but even with the move to level 3 the amount of movement will be limited – those businesses that can be done remotely have been told that it must be done remotely. I had a chat to my team leader and it appears that it possible that I’m going to be getting the headset from work (along with asking whether I have unlimited internet) which might mean that not only making out bound calls but also answering inbound calls as well. Although I occasionally get a bit of lag I find that it can be kept to a minimum by directly running cable from my computer to my router which keeps lag to a minimum.
macOS 10.15.5 beta now includes a battery life management component that’ll hopefully mean that the battery will last longer before it needs replacing. For someone like me, I keep my laptop plugged in all the time with the rare occasion of using the battery – hopefully the enhancement will make it last longer.
The iPad Pro appears to be gaining traction, it’ll be interesting to see whether there will be some rationalisation of the MacBook line up if Apple move over to ARM – is the iPad Pro and the Magic Keyboard the future of the Mac or will Apple keep the traditional MacBook form-factor and simply move the internals over to their own ARM SoC. For me at least I think the advancements they have made with the iPad Pro has moved the iPad from merely being a content consuming device so something that, for many people, can be a replacement for a traditional computer.