iOS, watchOS and tvOS release today…maybe?

iOS, watchOS and tvOS is scheduled to be released today, 18 September 2018, however there has been a last minute bug found but there has been no word of it being pulled back which makes me wonder whether we’ll see iOS 12.0.1 released which will include a fix because from the sounds of things it should be a relatively easy thing to fix or at least I think it should be given my limited understanding of Webkit and how CSS are rendered on iOS and macOS (since the issue impacts both platforms). Next week will be the big release of macOS which will also be interesting to see – I’ll do a completely clean install as it is best practice, at least in my experience, that when moving between major releases to start with a clean slate as to avoid a situation of cruft from the old release causing problems where as with a clean install you’ve removed all variables so if things do go pear shaped the scope of investigation narrows down quite considerably.

Just before heading off to bed I found this great interpretation of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’:

I even found myself singing along to it. I love when a piece of music is embraced and interpreted in a new way in much the same way that Eumir Deodato did his own interpretation of Also Sprach Zarathustra:

Hopefully the last two CD’s will arrive in the next week then I can move onto getting the few CD’s I put on my wish list – I think that I might end up doing is putt everything through YouShop then group the packages into a single one. That being said though, I chose the cheapest form of shipping from the United States and they arrived within 10 days which isn’t all that much slower than the ‘fast shipping’ that was on offer so if I do ship direct I think I might just go for the cheapest shipping if it is going to be that fast in the non-festive times of the year.

Music has arrived: Grinderman, Supertramp and Pink Floyd

It arrived as I was at work – I was following DPD via Amazon then suddenly it appears (although I have two more to arrive; one from the UK and the other via YouShop):

NewCDsArrived

Today I also received a $50 end of the year bonus (Prezzy Card) so I used that to put some money in my power account – if I didn’t use it for something productive like that then it would be almost be an assurance that I’d end up frittering the money away. Churning through the surveys and with the bit of money I earn on the side doing that I’ll finish off my music collection – it is amazing the number of CD’s that I thought were not available to buy are available – I’ll probably need to get another bookcase if my collection keeps expanding at the current rate.

First CD arrived today: The Ahmad Jamal Trio – The Awakening

So the CD has finally arrived:

AwakeningCD

Which is pretty damn good considering that it was ordered 2 September but it arrived today (11 September) – thank goodness I went for the cheapest delivery option available to avoid unnecessary costs. I’ve got a few more CD’s left to deliver but I’m also got some sitting in my ‘wish list’ as well – if YouShop all works out well then I’ll be using that in future given that in many cases they’ll ship it for free so in the end the only postage I’ll end up paying for is from the YouShop depot to New Zealand which will be via NZ Post’s partner DHL where they’ll probably get their cut. Anyway, this is what my bookshelf looks like so far – I think in the future I might need to look at getting another one as my library expands:

 MyCDCollection

All the music I have is backed up in FLAC format which is then backed up to the cloud then it is converted from FLAC to AAC so then I have both a FLAC (original backup) and AAC version for my iPhone and when I listening to the music at home – I tend to set the encoding quality to maximum and bit rate to variable set to 127 (which is the highest quality) which ends to average the rate at around 300-350kbps – it takes a bit of space but it is worth it when one has a decent pear of ‘tin can’ Sennheiser headphones.

Got work tomorrow so I’m going to probably start taking books to work to read to get me away from the computer and something to do in between answer phone calls (assuming I don’t have anything to finish off). Going to leave the dehumidifier on overnight since I’ve got clothes drying – I don’t want a house with a yucky damn smell plus it is cheaper than having to have a dryer – last time I had one then power bill would shoot through the roof on the day I used it. Anyway, off to sleep and more fun hopefully tomorrow with the first day of work for the week.

Upcoming Google and Apple Events

So there are two events coming up – Apple even which will be 12 September (13 September NZDT) which will have the iPhone refresh as per usual, the announcement on when iOS and macOS will be released and maybe a few extra things such as an iPad fresh along with some accessories. Google on the other hand as an event on 9 October (10 October NZDT) where the rumour is that there will be a Pixel 3 launched and probably a refresh of the Pixelbook along with the rumoured launch of a Android TV device in the same form factor of Chromecast (there was a leaked developer module that was talked about around 6-12 months ago but there hasn’t any talk as to whether it is going to become a product to whether it’ll remain simply a developer tool). What I would love to see in the area of Android TV is an official build of Android TV for Raspberry Pi which would be a huge leap forward especially in developing markets where access to the Raspberry Pi coupled with a free download would open up more opportunities for developers to target their applications for devices running Android TV.

What will be interesting at the up coming event, with the release of iOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS and speakerOS (or what ever they call what runs on the Home Speaker) is whether there will be an update to iCloud or at least announcement of work being started on an iCloud refresh given that the launch of macOS there will be a refreshed Mac App Store. Although the primary way of accessing iCloud services is through the various applications, on Windows however there are no way to access them other than through the web browser and thus unless Apple is going to offer native applications themselves or native application integration (provide a plugin for Microsoft Photos to connect to iCloud) then for many the primary means will be via the browser. Why should it matter if customers aren’t interested in iCloud? Because iCloud operates as a gateway into the various other services so it isn’t just a matter of brand re-enforcement but also opens up the ability for Apple to offer more paid storage, movies, television shows, podcast access not to mention Apple Music – all of which is possible because of the iCloud service. I think in the long term I don’t see them starting to create original content ala Netflix but I could imagine Apple setting themselves up, via their content delivery network (CDN) to team up with traditional cable companies to eventually phase out set top boxes in favour of replacing those boxes with Apple TV with television delivered via Apple’s own IP TV network courtesy of that CDN.

Getting back to the issue of Google – it’ll be interesting to see how things improve in the area of Android TV because so far the only way to get Android TV is either on expensive Sony televisions or buying old/out of date Android TV devices such as nVidia Shield or in the case of Xiaomi Mi Box having to go through remailers and questionable overseas retailers just to get it to New Zealand. Although Google also gets a lot of things right, their podcast system is horrible – they really need to bring it up to where Apple has it – even if it is just an aggregator but even still, why not launch a YouTube Podcast in much the same way that they how have YouTube Music? They have podcasts as part of the Play Store but it is only available in the United States – why? What is the logic behind that? That doesn’t touch on the bigger issue of Chrome and its heaviness in terms of efficiency which result in worst battery life when running on the Mac and Windows platform.

All complete: Left Apple Music and slowing rebuilding my music library

As I noted earlier, I’ve cancelled my Apple Music subscription which required me to rip all my music again and create backups of the music – XLD making back ups however I noticed that three of the CDs were damaged to the point that they couldn’t be ripped. As a result of that I bought a replacement CD (it was a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album called ‘Dig Lazarus Dig’) through Amazon along with buying a few other CD’s in the process – although pricing of Apple Music was one aspect, the bigger aspect was the fact that music would appear then disappear, that albums that I had added to my library ended up suddenly not being available not to mention the fact that not all the tracks from albums were available either. A good example of an album with tracks missing would be ‘The Awakening’ by the Ahmed Jamal Trio being a good example of that where the second track, ‘I Love Music’ (which is sampled by Nas in the track entitled ‘The World is yours’), is missing from the service unless you buy the whole album which I already have so….why have the service when it seems to merely duplicate what is already have?

There is one part of the whole music subscription thing that I can’t get over and it is the same thing I could never quite get used to in the world of downloadable books – I like the idea of having something tangible in my hands, the feel and smell of paper, the fact that I can read it anywhere with having to worry about recharging it, updating it and the fact that I find reading off a paper easier than reading off a screen. Same thing with music – I like the idea of having a tangible collectible item that I can have in my bookshelf – the pleasure of not having instant gratification etc. also plays into it and thus having a greater appreciation of the music once I receive it. I bought Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album called ‘Dig Lazarus Dig’ to replace one which was unreadable due to CD surface damage but I also bought a few other CD’ such as Gary Numan’s ‘The Pleasure Principle’ (which was a right PITA to buy because I had to order it then use YouShop (a re-mailing service run by New Zealand Post but if it all works well then I might start using them in future especially if the cost of postage is cheaper than going direct from Amazon especially if the reseller offers free domestic shipping)).

On a good side with Amazon, I’m creating a little wish list and I’ll gradually work through them and hopefully if I get a positive experience with YouShop that I’ll start using it in future – free shipping to the remailer then getting a good shipping deal from the United States to New Zealand.

Looking forward to the future

I talk a lot about what has gone or what is taking place in the present but I thought I’d talk about things I am looking forward to in the future when it comes to Apple and Google.

Google has schedule a big hardware announcement around October this year which lines up with the release of Chrome/ChromeOS 70 which is in the process of harmonising the look and feel of standard Android and ChromeOS around the same design language – to avoid that jarring impact of running Android applications on ChromeOS:

Currently at the moment there isn’t a wide spread deployment of native Linux applications on Chrome OS but that also opens up the possibility for Steam making their way to the platform along with popular open source applications like LibreOffice for those who want a native offline office suite.

When it comes to the Chrome there is currently the material design being worked on behind the scenes along with the many Google web applications also being updated so that there is a unified language across their platform – be it their web applications or Android and Chrome, they’re all unified around the notion of creating a seamless experience between the desktop and the web so that web based applications don’t look out out of place which will pave the what for PWA’s become more mainstream with end users not being able to differentiate between a ‘native’ application and a PWA. Why is that important? Even when developers have worked to create a great web based experience, end users still demand ‘an app’ even though the web based application can do everything if not more but the middle but it is transparent then they won’t be at the mercy of having to write native code for each platform and then maintaining it. That being said though, developers area already making use of web based technologies such as the ASB Bank mobile banking application which shares a large amount of code between their iOS and Android versions because of the web technologies it relies on such as JSON and more. I’d hazard to guess that for a lot of bank applications there is a lot of code re-use and use of web based technologies.

In the Apple world there is the release of iOS with the usual refresh of the iPhone line up maybe along side a iPad refresh with a unlikely update of Apple TV refresh but then again there is a rumour of a Mac mini refresh but that has been doing the round for years so I wouldn’t hold but stock in it. Regarding macOS, that tends to be released slightly later but it’ll be interesting to see how it all performs with the focus on technical underpinnings in this release and whether we see less people complain about early adopter bugs being found. The big concern though that I have is how Safari trails behind Chrome in terms of standards compliance and although I understand the need to make sure that when standards are implemented they’re implemented in the most efficient manner, I can’t help but get the feeling that the dragging of feet regarding of standards has more to do with staving off PWAs than a genuine concern about the feature, the efficiency of that feature and how it impacts on power efficiency.

Regarding Safari in particular, what will be funny is what will happen to Safari use once support for the old API’s are removed which uBlock Origin rely on which many people use given that it doesn’t just block ads but it also blocks javascript based crypto-mining which can bog down and reduce the battery life of mobile devices such as laptops and tablets. So why don’t the extension vendors use the new API? they would if it didn’t have a limitation of 50,000 filter rules which sound a lot but in reality it is easy to hit the 50,000 limit thus making the new API unworkable (you can work around the limitation such as what 1Blocker X has been able to do but it is a rather inelegant solution. The solution requires a lot of leg work that I don’t think that the developers of extensions primarily focus on Chrome with Safari and Firefox being ‘a nice thing to provide’ rather than a core focus on their development efforts which is understandable – you go where the ball is and the ball is currently with Chrome).

Just before I head off, it is interesting to see that the AV1 format has been finalised and Opus adoption and development is picking up which makes me wonder whether we’ll be seeing a big push by Google with their own ‘properties’ to move over to royalty free open codecs (which benefits end users and their bottom line as well) – it appears that YouTube Music has already made that move to use AAC and Opus (link) so it’ll be interesting to see whether Google Play Music is officially killed off once YouTube has completely moved to AV1/Opus/h264/AAC for YouTube Music and standard YouTube.

Side note to the above: I’m currently paying for both Apple Music and YouTube Music/YouTube Premium but given that music is disappearing off Apple Music (I’ve reported it to the Apple Music twitter handle and no reply – do they even care?) it appears that YouTube Music is increasingly becoming a better option for me plus it’ll mean saving $14.99 per month by going with ‘one service that does it all’. I’m probably going to wait it out and see what happens particularly if there is some iCloud/iTunes announcements with the iOS 12 and iPhone/iPad refresh.

Be careful of what you wish for

I have to admit that I too had a damn good laugh at what happened to Alex Jones not because I agree with what happened but rather because of the wailing and gnashing of teeth that unfolded afterwards where Alex Jones insisted that his rights were being violated. Now, I have have some issues with what took place but I laughed primarily because the same ones who complained about Alex Jones so-called rights being taken away were the same ones who claimed that a private business had the right to refuse service for what ever reason when it came to the gay couple wanting to have a wedding cake baked. You can’t have it both ways – claiming to say that private businesses have the right to discriminate and do what they want yet when you’re on the receiving end of a business decision that you suddenly turn around and say, “well, I’m going to carve out an exemption here, here and here because I was negatively impacted so therefore I’m exempted to the philosophical stance I declared before”.

That all being said I’m going to do some numbered observations in no particular order other than it allows me to keep track of what I want to say without it turning into a spaghetti mess:

1) YouTube, Twitter, FaceBook/Instagram constitute what one could classify as a natural monopoly – a monopoly by itself is marketing dominance but there is always a change that a competitor can emerge assuming where as a natural monopoly has barriers to entry that are necessarily the result of the action by the dominant player but because of high barriers to entry because of high start up costs, long periods of losing money before one creates the economy of scale before even the remotest possibility of profitability even appears to be possible. That doesn’t even touch on the inertia associated with getting people to not only look at your platform but to also entice content producers to target your platform such as offering a greater share of advertising revenue. Earlier on it may have been easier on the early days before YouTube gained traction but these days unless you’re aiming for a niche such as Vimeo being for independent films along with Vimeo charging for additional services, storage space, live streaming facilities and other services that YouTube doesn’t offer.

2) Because of that natural monopoly one could compare YouTube (and others) to something akin to say a transmission network which in the case of New Zealand it is Kordia which runs the television transmission network and thus might need to come under some regulation due to its dominance and the natural monopoly like position that it has in the market. Justice Kennedy for example in the case of Packingham vs. North Carolina where he compared Facebook (and by extension social media such as Twitter, YouTube etc) as the public square – where people come to meet and organise in much the same way that 100 years people would meet and form political parties or organise a protest or hold meetings to share ideas.

3) There as been anger focused at YouTube/Google for demonetisation of videos that touch on sensitive subjects but one has to remember that this started originally by those on the crazy left (or as Martyn Bradbury calls them ‘the woke left’) and the crazy right where both sides threatened to boycott companies that advertise on videos that said groups of people find objectionable with the crazy left getting a lot more traction than the far right but the effect has been YouTube just going, “fuck it, I don’t want to have to deal with this shit” and thus putting their algorithm on paranoia level 11 so even the most innocuous videos discussion a sensitive matter is instantly demonetised. The effect has been that it has reduced revenue streams for independent media which has necessitated the rise in the number of outlets now pushing for people to make Patreon contributions just to keep their head above water.

So in a fit of self righteous indignation the extremes have not only hurt the other side they’ve also hurt themselves in the process. The same situation is happening now with some left wing outs crowing and gloating about Alex Jones being kicked off but now it has kicked off a round where left wing groups and activists are also being kicked off as well with claims that they’re ‘bots’ even though such people have been interviewed and said, “yes, this is actually a legitimate group and we actually do have legitimate members”. Jimmy Dore noted this recently on his show:

4) If there are going to be rules then there should be a consistent application of the rules rather than ignoring a problem then only acting when there a spotlight put on is there a knee jerk reaction by said organisations to make it appear as though they actually give a toss. I’ve reported so many scam pages and phishing pages along with spammers on Facebook yet they do nothing – months later (when I used to have a account) those accounts would continue existing, those pages still operating their scams and Facebook doing nothing. If Facebook were serious they could deal with it tomorrow but they don’t in much the same way that Twitter could deal with it but they don’t.

5) There was much opining by some about how algorithms create echo chambers because on what you watch or read on the various platforms by suggesting you more and more content along that line fo thinking thus is speculated by some that it cements extremist views in some peoples minds. If they want to provide Alex Jones with a platform but not elevate him then there is simple solution – STOP CURATING CONTENT. If you stop curating content and users were forced to look for what they wanted then it would slow down the propagation of conspiracy theorist nutcases. For someone like me, if I am interesting in something I will go and find it, I don’t want these platforms second guessing what I want.

6) The situation with the Apple iTunes Podcast is slightly different in that the iTunes Podcast system is merely an aggregation service where the hosting is done by a third party, you open up an account with Apple iTunes then point your podcasting account on Apple to where your podcasts are hosted through the use of RSS feeds. Long story short it is akin to an advertisement platform saying, “no, we won’t advertise your content” so it is slightly different to the situation with Facebook/Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.