Getting back on track

With the wonderful weather I’ve been focusing on getting my life back on track but rather than making big radical changes what I’ve been focused on is making small incremental improvements then once I start getting into a good habit (normally within a week of doing something) I then add another thing that I can do. For example, I’ve said to myself that each night I will go for a walk – doesn’t have to be a big walk but at least one walk a night as a way of unwinding from work and working out any stress which can help to get to sleep without having my mind racing at 100 kilometres per hour. I’m going to keep doing that and then make another life style change when I feel comfortable. Long term what I am hoping that a gradual approach will eventually make these life style changes second nature to the point that I don’t have to consciously think about doing them because they’ll just become part of my normal routine.

I’m looking forward to also the CD’s arriving that I ordered – I’ve finally started taking advantage of the YouShop address in the UK where I’ll get the CD’s I ordered repackaged into a single package and then sent to New Zealand. It works out cheaper in most cases because many sellers will give free domestic shipping to the remailer (YouShop) and then I group all those CD’s into a single parcel for a once off cost that is cheaper than if all the individual CD’s were sent via international post as separate parcels. I’ve got around 33 CD’s sitting in my wish list that I’m gradually working through so I’m looking forward to getting that all sorted but in the mean time what I’m going to do if I have some spare time is to start uploading all my music to OneDrive or maybe look at a network attached storage device which has built in redundancy and can be shared over the network such as a Drobo with the device in the spare room along with the router etc.

Anyway, off to bed now as I’ve got work tomorrow as well as Saturday and Sunday with Monday and Tuesday off as usual.

Trump is a symptom not the cause: Don’t ignore 50 years of drifting to the right

I was watching a video from Vanity Fair (link) and it was a great interview with ex-Republicans but I was disappointed that there was very little time spent on the historical roots of how the Republican Party ended up where it is. Sure, they touched on it but it never really went into any depth – it is like when the media talk about how civility has disappeared in politics but they ignore the Willie Horton ads during the 1980s, the conspiracy theories regarding the Clintons and Vince Foster, the rumours spread by the GWB campaign regarding McCain and an illegitimate child by asking a question that instilled distrust of McCain in the minds of primary voters, then there is the Cadillac welfare queen to which there was no evidence, then there was the work that Lee Atwater talked about in this video (link) and then there is the war on drugs by Nixon which was a way to undermine the anti-war hippies and the black liberation movement like the Black Panthers as noted in this article (link)

Americans have been criminalizing psychoactive substances since San Francisco’s anti-opium law of 1875, but it was Ehrlichman’s boss, Richard Nixon, who declared the first “War on Drugs” in 1971 and set the country on the wildly punitive and counterproductive path it still pursues. I’d tracked Ehrlichman, who had been Nixon’s domestic-policy adviser, to an engineering firm in Atlanta, where he was working on minority recruitment. At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlich man a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away.

“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or blacks, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Nixon’s invention of the War on Drugs as a political tool was cynical, but every president since — Democrat and Republican alike — has found it equally useful for one reason or another. Meanwhile, the growing cost of the Drug War is now impossible to ignore: billions of dollars wasted, bloodshed in Latin America and on the streets of our own cities, and millions of lives destroyed by draconian punishment that doesn’t end at the prison gate; one of every eight black men has been disenfranchised because of a felony conviction.

So this whole hysteria about the lack of civility is a fig leaf for what the establishment are really pissed off about – not the policies that Trump is doing because they’re quite happy with that as demonstrated by corporations happy to wave the ‘we’re socially aware and inclusive’ then turning around as Tim Cook did and turn up to a Republican fund raiser after 40 years of running on a platform of being anti-LGBT rights not to mention anti-women legislation around reproductive rights. So the complaints but the biggest so-called ‘anti-trumpers’ has nothing to do with the policies but the presentation – if it were a Mitt Romney or a John McCain then the establishment would be happy because there would be a velvet glover over the iron fist – the sweet chaser to go down after the bitter and unpopular medicine that those in the top 1% want passed for their own benefit.

Getting back to the right wing drift – this has been occurring for over 80 years right back to when the modern welfare state (at least in a pretty weak form when compared to other anglophone countries not to mention continental Europe) that was set up by the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. Ever since the establishment of the modern welfare state in the United States the Republican Party could never accept it in the same way that centre right parties around the world accepted that it is now the reality – that the debate was around the edges on how things could be done better rather than getting rid of such policies in their entirety. The anti-FDR didn’t really start to heat up until the late 1960s with the move of the Dixiecrats from Democrats to Republicans with the dog whistle politics of the southern strategy then add the unholy alliance with the religious right and then there was the ‘Reagan revolution’ that did ZERO during the 1980s as HIV/AIDS rampaged through the LGBT community all whilst white middle America looks back fondly on the very president who allowed a manageable situation to spiral out of control. Then there was the Willie Horton ad – an ad that would never have gain steam if it weren’t for the mainstream media outlets playing it over again over again (Barbra Streisandeffect anyone?) then the super predators by the Clintons to one up the Republicans, then there ‘end of welfare as we know it’ which the unholy alliance between the Republicans and Bill Clinton – all during this time the Republicans moved further to the right and the Democrats followed them.

So this drift to the right and the drift to the extremes isn’t some sort of new creation thanks to Trump but rather Trump threw away the dog whistle and replaced it with a vuvuzela, gone are the code words, the ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge’ and now it is just up front with it. Where as in the past the Republicans were able to BS around the edge and give themselves plausible deniability in polite company, in the case of Donald Trump there is no filter – what you hear is what he believes and when given the opportunity to walk it back he then doubles down on what he said and says some more. Trump is the Republican Party when what is talked about close doors at fancy dinner parties is bought out into the open and the pretence of politeness is removed. When you hear the mainstream media treat Trump as an aberration what they’re really saying is, “don’t focus on the policy, don’t focus on how Trump’s economic policies are no different than the corporate Democratic side…get angry at how he uses mean words and doesn’t say nice things”. Case in point; Nanacy Pelosi ‘pay-go’ promise (link) which will necessitate one of two choices; reversing the Bush and Trump tax cuts or institute heavy cuts to balance the budget which will put the US into a recession. It appears that where the Republicans go the Democrats are sure to follow under the guise of being ‘moderate’ and ‘bipartisan’ even if the end results are horrific and anything but moderate.

Random ideas about Apple: Present and future

Having a bit of a brain fart

“The product lineup was too complicated and the company was bleeding cash. A friend of the family asked me which Apple computer she should buy. She couldn’t figure out the differences among them and I couldn’t give her clear guidance, either. I was appalled that there was no Apple consumer computer priced under $2,000. “- Steve Jobs (1998)

I saw a post on a forum regarding how the product line at Apple has moved beyond the nice simple straight forward 4 square product matrix into what exists today. I’ve got a few opinions I’d like to share – as I usually do on any given matter. When it comes to their portables, the MacBook Air is what the old MacBook used to be (the entry level consumer device), MacBook is what the MacBook Air was and the MacBook Pro is pretty much what it has always been. What they really need to do is fix up the naming convention – entry level consumer, professional and ultrabook. Regarding the MacBook Pro – I have problem with the Touch Bar but it certainly isn’t something that compelled me to purchase the MacBook Pro but it certainly didn’t take away from it. I really have to ask – are there any MacBook Pro users who consider it a feature they wouldn’t do without if suddenly they woke up the next morning and the conventional function keys were there instead?

I’d say though the biggest confusion is their desktop offering – no clear message on what is happening with the Mac Pro. All the professionals I talk to just wanted a traditional Mac Pro cheese-grater design with updated specifications and yet Apple insisted on the rubbish tin design – money wasted on a design that no one wanted or needed. The iMac Pro is a great idea but where is the demand for such devices? a product in search of being a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist? The Mac mini is a great idea but are they going to offer significant discounts to organisations who want to order them in the thousands? why is there an aversion with pushing volumes of Mac mini’s into organisations that want large fleets of desktops that aren’t hobbled with the train wreck that is Windows 10. With all the missteps that Microsoft is making with their own operating system you’d think that this should be a golden age for Apple to come in an offer an alternative – a sane stable operating system and quality hardware without the drama of Windows 10.

When it comes to their cloud offering, there is a niche they could fit – for the small to medium business by getting their act together when it comes to offering the privacy and security niche that Google is unwilling to cater to. I don’t ever seeing Apple competing with the likes of Microsoft or even Google but there is a lot of potential selling fleets of Mac minis to small businesses and providing custom domain hosting by teaming up with WordPress for website hosting. Develop some sort of middle ground turn key solution to grow the services division outside of the consumer space without having to dip ones toe into the controversial areas of original content and so on.

I’d also love to see Apple expand their software portfolio – to serve as a counterbalance to the near monopoly status that Adobe has in the creative market. It isn’t about expanding for the sake of ‘the market’ but because Apple shouldn’t allow its future to be at the mercy of whether Adobe actually get their act together and properly support existing technologies, which they’re failing at, and new technologies such as Metal and Metal performance shaders, Adobe hasn’t even bothered talking about supporting in the near term. When you’re selling hardware and the way in which you show off your hardware is the software and the operating system then being dependent on a vendor who isn’t 100% committed to your platform (as seen via their actions and published books by ex-Adobe engineers regarding how macOS is an after thought in many cases – but then again their attention to Windows has been pretty shoddy as well).

With that being said, I’m pretty happy with how things are going – people are keeping their computers and phones longer so the turn over in terms of upgrades has slowed down so Apple is adapting to that new reality with its focus on building up niches with the recent refresh of Mac mini which is a popular hardware for a server along with the refresh of the MacBook Air. As much as the noise makers on the Apple subreddit and Macrumors try to make out as though their opinion is some how the majority, the cold hard reality is that all their complaints fall on deaf ears – customers are still buying Mac’s, they’ve still got the highest satisfaction rate and as for the phone if you choose to live in the middle of no where resulting in next to no coverage but apparently that is Apple’s fault and Intel’s fault too (regarding their cellular modem that Apple use) yet the average person rants and raves about how great it all is. Maybe, just maybe, the noisiest wheel doesn’t represent the vast majority of customers.

iPhone XS Max Review (aka iPhone X to iPhone Xs Max with a slight detour on the journey (Part 3))

So keep this in mind when one thinks of the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus when used in a setup that is primarily orientated to using macOS and tvOS – the integration is woeful, the Samsung bloat – yes they have reduce but Samsung still hasn’t cottoned onto the fact that Samsung cloud is a solution in search of a problem and their own re-invention of the wheel when it comes to critical applications such as Phone, Messages, Contacts and Calendaring isn’t something anyone is demanding. Then there is the lack of integration between Google, maOS and Android in the form of client side applications to make management and synchronisation of music a giant chore. Then there is the issue of Chrome and G-Suite – no matter how much of a second chance I gave it, it always felt out of place and none of the G-Suite services integrated well with macOS especially when it came to the email service with its butchering of IMAP standards when it comes to the use mapping creating directories to the use of labels that Gmail is based upon.

With all that in the background I returned the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and bought an iPhone XS Max 256GB (I was tempted by the 512GB version but it would be a major over kill for what I needed it for) along with an Otterbox flip case (link) which I picked up from Noel Leeming. I prefer going with the flip case because I use it to replace my wallet so then I only have one thing that I need to carry around which has my phone as well as my EFTPOS cards, ID for work along with my drivers licence (it is a requirement in New Zealand that when you drive that you have your licence on you).

Side note: I’m not going to focus on every feature but rather talking about the things that other reviewers haven’t talked about regarding the iPhone XS Max.

The first time you’ll notice when coming from an iPhone X is how substantial the phone is in terms of not only the build quality but also the the weight and size. It wasn’t until I got home and opened up the box when I realised just how big it was – not that it is a bad thing but visually it isn’t until you see a device the same dimensions as the iPhone 8 Plus but having a edge to edge display when you realise just how much space on the old ‘classic’ iPhone design was wasted once the scree is taken full size. Going from the iPhone X love the screen size especially with the screen configuration set to zoom. The screen quality appears to be better – I can’t empirically prove it but based on my experience it is an improvement in the areas of of brightness, colour accuracy and vibrancy, it is better than the iPhone X. When I say better I am not saying that it is hugely better but the improve is noticeable to the naked eye.

When it comes to responsiveness and over all performance, I updated it to iOS 12.0.1 – when it comes to operations such as taking photos with great detail, compressing video and so on the performance is outstanding but I think the biggest factor has been the under the hood performance improvements with the biggest improvement is improvements in the auto layout framework not to mention whole new frameworks which should make life easier for programmers. That being said, as I’ve noted in the past, you can keep throwing more hardware at a problem but eventually you’re going to hit a brick wall in much the same way that Microsoft hit a prick wall – throwing more hardware at a software problem is only going to compound the problems further than the demands placed on it by developers increase thus make the problems exponentially worse. The Verge has a great article going into detail and some benchmarks regarding (link) and I’d hazard to guess that with the launch of iOS 12.1 that we’ll see Group FaceTime will be merged back with iOS 12.1/macOS 10.14.1 along with more performance improvements.

When Apple made a switch to Intel modems (Intel having bought Infineon Technologies which were the original suppliers of cellular modems to Apple before moving to Qualcomm) there was a lot of noise made about the fact that the Intel XMM 7480 was lacking in areas such as download/upload speeds, reported issues when in spotty coverage areas, along with it’s die size many generations behind the Qualcomm counterpart which results in higher power usage. With the lunch of the XS and XR models, it now includes the new Intel XMM 7560 modem which supports both GSM/W-CDMA/LTE/CDMA2000 and other technologies which means a standardisation on a single modem suppler. There have been reports of issues with wifi and modem but my experience so far with my phone has been very positive – the signal is stronger than my old iPhone X (which had the XMM 7480 modem) and the wifi experience has been rock solid. Keep in mind that I’m located in New Zealand and use Skinny (which uses the Spark network) which operates 3G on 850/2100MHz and 4G/LTE on 700/1800/2300/2600MHz – it all works very reliably for both wifi and on the mobile network. There have been reported issues in the United States customers but for me everything is working well so I wonder whether this is an example of a niche situation given the abysmal quality of American mobile networks where ‘one dot’ is the norm where in most other countries ‘one dot’ would indicate a lousy connection.

Battery life has been superb but then again I never had issues with battery life given that what I most likely used it for didn’t require the screen on for long periods of time (aka listening to music) helps given that it is the component that has the biggest impact upon battery life – hence the move to AMOLED helped with battery life (I wouldn’t be surprised if in the long term that Apple moves away from LCD for all their products especially portables). It will be interesting to see what the battery life is like in the future as there will most likely be a baseband update included in iOS 12.1 – the die shrink for the modem down to 14nm (half the size as the one in the iPhone X/8) which should help with power consumption and with a more mature baseband and driver it will become more efficient overtime. Rumour has it that from 2020 onwards that Intel won’t be a modem supplier to Apple but then again the same sources said that Intel’s modem team had been abandoned then the next day they reported that Intel said that no such thing had taken place so I guess it’ll be a situation of ‘watch this space’.

Regarding the case that I bought, normally I buy a TwelveSouth BookBook but unfortunately for some reason they have decided not to ship then yet so I needed up buying a flip phone cover from Otterbox (I never realised they made such cases since I typically associate them with big chunky ruggedised cases). The one aspect I do like is the magnet latch which keeps it closed but other than that, it does a great job for what it is designed.

iPhone X to iPhone Xs Max with a slight detour on the journey (Part 2)

Getting back to Pixel 3 and Google in general, the big problem that I have is that Safari no longer has the power, flexibility and range extensions where as Chrome has all that which opens me to using Chrome instead. With the latest release of Chrome 70 the experience is a lot smoother – the look and feel integrates into macOS a whole lot better along with the look and feel of Google’s own applications. With the improvement of Chrome has lead to my embracing of Chrome and in turn Google services which involves setting up a domain and then signing up for G Suite subscription – the benefit of that has been the ability to consolidate around a single provider where I can have multiple aliases which I use for different purposes so it keeps my main email address free of spam and I can manage the inflow of emails from various sources.

With that move onto Google in services has also changed what I use for my mobile phone, I have moved to an Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Lilac Purple (256GB) for my primary phone (it came with a free watch which I’m going to sell off since I’m not interesting in wearing a watch) and I’ve also bought the Xiaomi Mi Box S with 4K HDR Android TV Streaming Media Player and Google Assistant Remote which comes in around NZ$93 (US$59.95) from Walmart – given that it comes with a wall wart that works with both 110/120V and 220/230V I ordered it which will hopefully mean that it’ll arrive not next week but the week after next week if everything goes according to plan.

I ran with that configuration for a week and as much as I tried to give it a chance there were some major downsides with the biggest being the absence of iMessage and the integration that exists between my iMac and MacBook Pro to my mobile phone. For someone like me, I love the ability to make telephone calls when I’m on either computer and send text messages from the Message application which isn’t available when using a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus. In a perfect world Samsung would use the standard phone, messaging and contacts application but they insist on re-inventing the wheel and channeling its user base to the Samsung Cloud service (the reason for its existence is still mystery to this day given how half assed it is given the limited functionality and devices that can synchronise with it).

The bigger problem is that everything is linked together so it isn’t as though you can drop in Google Contacts and Messaging because when you invoke the Phone application (that cannot be replaced with Google’s Phone application) it invokes the Samsung version of the application. Lets assume I could replace the Samsung software whole say then I could message friends via Chrome using the Google Messaging but I’d still be stuck not being able to make/receive telephone calls and it would also lack the integration between activation codes coming through on SMS and Safari being able to pick it up on Messages so that I can autofill those details into the browser.

There is the bigger issue of updates, Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is stuck at Android 8.0 even though Android 8.0 was released 21 August 2017 months ago, Android 8.1 was released 5 December 2017, a full 5 months before the phone was released and yet it shipped with Android 8.0 with Android 9.0 released 21 August 2018 and rumour has it that if it is released then it won’t be until early next year at the earliest. It is almost like Samsung is a child that quickly gets bored and reluctantly does the least amount humanly possible at maintaining the existing product in favour of focusing on the next big exciting thing – the new product that is to be launched.

iPhone X to iPhone Xs Max with a slight detour on the journey (Part 1)

I had originally convinced myself that I should wait until next year to upgrade but silly me – I went window shopping which turned into actually shopping after having given the iPhone XS Max but what I did was give the Samsung S9 Plus 256GB for a week (I could return it if I wasn’t happy) – I was open to Pixel 3 but given the hoops one would have to jump through just to get it along with the ‘you’re on your own’ approach to warranty support (something I’m not happy to live with on a NZ$1800 device). With this blog entry it is more looking at the journey and considerations – thinking out aloud put into blog format.

Over the last month or so I’ve been following some high profile reviewers of the last couple of weeks given the launch of the Pixel 3 and the disproportionate outrage that the said notch seemed to attract. When the Pixel 3 was launched, I was frustrated by the fact that it wasn’t available in New Zealand but what was more frustrating was the abysmal quality of the reviews where the focus was either on the notch or the camera as if nothing else mattered on the device which left me, the viewer, with more questions than I had answers. Before you ask, these were actually reviews that I was looking at – not unboxing videos but putting that aside for a moment, it is difficult to find good video reviews of products these days particularly when it comes to reviewers who fixate over certain aspects – both of positive and negative.

When comes to the Pixel 3 I was disappointed because I had expected that maybe the third year of having built the Pixel that maybe it would arrive in New Zealand but it did but that being said I was going to purchase a Pixel 3 via the online Google store until I saw the specifications. For starters it includes 4GB memory, which, in the case of iOS would be more than sufficient because the applications running on iOS are running in native code where as in the world of Android the applications are running on still have the overhead of the Android Runtime. Yes, it has improved hugely from way back in the day when it was interpreted then they moved to Just In Time (JIT) then added Ahead Of Time (AOT) which improved performance and efficiency at the expense of longer installation times and with the launch of Android 9 (aka ‘Pie’) they have introduced the following (link):

Android 9 brings performance and efficiency improvements to all apps through the ART runtime. We’ve expanded ART’s use of execution profiles to optimize apps and reduce the in-memory footprint of compiled app code. ART now uses profile information for on-device rewriting of DEX files, with reductions up to 11% across a range of popular apps. We expect these to correlate closely with reductions in system DEX memory usage and faster startup times for your apps.

But even so, there is a price to be paid for supporting many different SoC’s (Qualcomm, HiSilicon, Exynos, MediaTek) so it is necessary to abstract. Reminds me of the discussions regarding latency, throughput and scalability on Solaris – if you increase scalability to improve throughput then latency increases and responsiveness decreases. If you make something more responsive then you sacrifice throughput in the process – something that was the underlying decision when it came to designing APFS where the design of it was on latency at the expense of throughput hence it wouldn’t be an ideal file system for a massive server where as ZFS was designed to be run on a massive server with huge amounts of memory where the focus was on massive throughput at the expense of memory usage. So when you design systems you make decisions – sacrifice something to achieve something that you might consider more important – in the case of Android it is giving up squeezing peak performance and efficiency for the sake of greater compatibility across different SoCs that utilise Android.

Getting back to Pixel 3 and Google in general, the big problem that I have is that Safari no longer has the power, flexibility and range extensions where as Chrome has all that which opens me to using Chrome instead. With the latest release of Chrome 70 the experience is a lot smoother – the look and feel integrates into macOS a whole lot better along with the look and feel of Google’s own applications. With the improvement of Chrome has lead to my embracing of Chrome and in turn Google services which involves setting up a domain and then signing up for G Suite subscription – the benefit of that has been the ability to consolidate around a single provider where I can have multiple aliases which I use for different purposes so it keeps my main email address free of spam and I can manage the inflow of emails from various sources.

With that move onto Google in services has also changed what I use for my mobile phone, I have moved to an Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus Lilac Purple (256GB) for my primary phone (it came with a free watch which I’m going to sell off since I’m not interesting in wearing a watch) and I’ve also bought the Xiaomi Mi Box S with 4K HDR Android TV Streaming Media Player and Google Assistant Remote which comes in around NZ$93 (US$59.95) from Walmart – given that it comes with a wall wart that works with both 110/120V and 220/230V I ordered it which will hopefully mean that it’ll arrive not next week but the week after next week if everything goes according to plan.

Looking at the alternatives: Android

And so that time of year rolls around where the major vendors come out and offer refreshes of their Android product line ups – be it Samsung with the Note 9, Google with its Pixel 3, Huawei with the Mate 20. As I’ve said in the past, I always like to have a look at what the alternatives have to offer but each time I’m routinely disappointed in what is on offer. For me I place a huge importance on the software because at the end of the day it is the software that makes the hardware usable, it is the the software that integrates (or doesn’t) the device not only into the cloud but also the other devices I have around the house.

When it comes to Samsung, their abysmal track record of updates – months behind on Google security updates and even worse when it comes to software upgrades between major releases which can span up to 6 months result in a device that quickly becomes dated very quickly and with each update and upgrade the performance keeps getting worse and worse as Samsung is adamant that end users just love ‘Touch Wiz’ even though I’ve never heard anyone say, “yeah, I’d love to get an iPhone but it really lacks Touch Wiz…that is a must have feature for me which is why I buy Samsung”.

Is Huawei any better? Past behaviour predict future behaviour and in the case of the Huawei P9 they’ve demonstrated their willingness to throw their customers under the bus. For example in the case of the EMUI 9.0 release (which will come with the Huawei Mate 20 by default and the Huawei P20) won’t be coming to the Huawei P9 – in slightly over 2 years since it’s launch and things aren’t all that much better for the Huawei P10 either which is slightly over a year old and that too has been thrown under the bus – not a good way to treat your loyal customer base.

The Pixel 3 appears to be a great phone but it is hobbled with 4GB RAM which wouldn’t be so bad if if Android weren’t so inefficient but unfortunately the net result is that 4GB is the absolute bare minimum. The 4GB wouldn’t be so bad if this was on an entry level device but we’re talking about a NZ$1799 including GST for the Pixel 3XL which is the same price of the Samsung S9 Plus 256Gb when it was on sale 4-5 months ago. Then there is the biggest problem which is, once again, Google refusing to sell it in New Zealand – sure, I could go out of way to buy it overseas then bring it to New Zealand but then I’d be stuck with a device with no after market support not to mention the drama of getting it to New Zealand through a remailer.

Something that all the devices fall down is when it comes to integration with macOS, the Chrome browser still isn’t as optimised for macOS and one can’t help but get the feeling (as seen with the UI refresh not coming to macOS until version 70) that macOS is an after thought for Google. Then couple that with the half assed synchronisation tool known as ‘Android File Transfer’ – really, if you’re going to sell a phone for $1800 the least you can do is buy out Mac Sync so then it is possible to synchronise my iTunes music library to my phone rather than having to manually drag and drop it across. There is also the lack of integration when it comes to services with iMessage, answering phone calls on my Mac and sending messages from my computer – I can’t expect iMessage integration but it would be nice if Google got their act together and at least merged Allo with Messages so then out of the box customers would be automatically signed up for Allo thus making it as wide spread as iMessage.

Having have a look at the iPhone XS Max, it is very tempting but I’ll see how it all pans out but so far I’m pretty happy with the iPhone X and hopefully the launch of iOS 12.1 soon will smooth the rough edges.