Their heart is in the right place….

So I’ve been looking through my Twitter feed and up pops this (as a retweet) and although their heart is in the right place my concern is that it muddies the definition of what socialism actually is and even if they called it social democratic then even that would be problematic because it presupposes that that policy prescriptions are born out of the same philosophical basis rather than just political expediency (aka to hold onto power or to win power).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand what they’re trying to do when they talk about various functions of government as being ‘socialist’ so it moves the conversation away from socialism being associated with the soviet union, misery, drab grey buildings, dictatorships and goose stepping. In other words, “hey, socialism isn’t scary, you’re already have it in various parts of your life” but here is the problem, would King Charles II be considered socialist because he established the general post office in 1660? under Thatcher there were various initiatives in terms infrastructure, bailing out businesses or investing into projects like the Concord – would she be considered socialist? If were wanting to use a more contemporary example then maybe using the of co-operatives – businesses owned and controlled by workers themselves would probably be a better example of the ‘socialism’ than pointing to what amounts to be some rudimentary functions of government.

On a good side though, the spreading of social democratic ideas opens the door to larger discussion about left wing politics in much the same way that Democratic Socialists of America has provided a gateway for many Americans to rediscover socialism without all the baggage of the past. Some may stick with social democratic ideas whilst others will read more and discuss ideas which will lead them to drift further left. It is about playing the long game – moving the Overton window further to the left so that policy ideas that were once considered fringe such as nationalising the rail network suddenly become within the realm of acceptable discourse or the idea of free university is gradually becoming a reality in New Zealand even if the naysayers fail to grasp that an extra $120 extra in the hand per fortnight due to not having to pay off a student loan would be a massive leg up to many graduates who have just entered the workforce and want to start saving for their first house or getting their Kiwisaver off on a good start.

Google I/O ’19: Done on the device

Google has uploaded its keynote to YouTube as it always does:

What I found interesting is that from start to finish there has been three major themes:

1) Refinement

2) Security

3) Privacy

It appears that with the focus Apple has placed on privacy and the all by Tim Cook for there to be regulation, Facebook with it’s F8 conference Mark Zuckerberg talked about privacy (IMHO I’ll see it when I believe it) and each of the speakers at the keynote talked about it. For example, when it came to machine learning there is still the use of the cloud to create models to improve the user experience on the device but the majority of the processing is now taking place on the device. When it came to work regarding voice to text translation it is now done on the device itself, when there was talk about the use of intelligent organisation of emails etc. it is kept on the device.

There is also a greater focus on refinement – getting the fundamentals nailed down such as faster updates for not only bug fixes but also security fixes as well. The big push is Google will ring fence part of Android Q where by the updates will come directly from Google themselves. It is interesting that Samsung is once again on the onside when it comes to the Android Q beta where as Huawei along with Nokia plus others are working with Google to ensure that it arrives on their product range in a timely manner.

As a side note: For me the issue of updates has less to do with wanting to gt the latest and greatest features but rather that the OEM is actively pushing out security updates and fixes. I can live with not getting Android straight away especially when you hear the horror stories of Pixel users getting Android straight out of the gate only to find there are things that are buggy, broken or what have you. If the price to pay for stability is getting Android upgrades 6 months after the official release but instead OEM’s like Samsung really focused on pushing ou regular security and bug fixes on schedule every month then I’d sooner have that.

With that all being said, there is one major benefit that Android has over iOS and the is the modular nature of it meaning that even if you are running an older version of Android you can still upgrade your version of Chrome up to the latest version. At work our website doesn’t work with iOS 9.3.5 which wouldn’t be such an issue if it were possible to upgrade the browser but because the browser is embedded in the operating system and to upgrade the browser you have to upgrade the whole OS but Apple no longer supports said hardware then users are stuck in a situation of perfectly good hardware finding themselves unable to navigate many websites. With Android you can upgrade to the latest version of Chrome and keep on rocking.

The joy of taxes and getting healthy

Sitting at home on my backside and after being pretty lazy for the last few months I realised that I need to get some routine and part of that routine is going for a walk each night of around 5km. Went for a walk tonight and I hadn’t realised just how bad my fitness had slipped – sweating and sore legs. I really need to get some discipline and start doing it regularly – it’ll also help with my performance at work as it’ll provide a good way to unwind after work.

The government has upgraded the IRD computer system which will hopefully translate into quicker tax returns and refunds but I’m left a bit confused because according to the calculator I should get a refund but I guess I’ll need to wait until 16 May. What ever the case maybe any refund I’ll throw into my student loan so I can get it all paid off hopefully by the end of June so then I can move onto my next objective in my plan to be debt free by 40.

I’ve decided to go ahead and work on Queen’s Birthday (Monday 3rd June) since it’ll be a nice pay packet of not only over time (extra hours) but also time and a half which makes doing the shift all the more worth while. I’ll keep picking up those overtimes as they become available and with my student loan being fully paid off will mean extra money in the pocket to speed up the schedule I have planned.

I’ve been following Build 2019 and it appears that Microsoft has had a big focus on getting the focus on the cloud but what is also interesting is the rumour of a ‘Windows 10 Lite’ that is rumoured be a legacy free version of Windows 10 but apparently that has been pushed back with the move from edgehtml to Chromium as the engine for Microsoft Edge so maybe that has been pushed back as Microsoft move the new Chromium based Edge from being dependent on win32 to moving over to the UWP framework – the basic idea being able to push a stripped down super efficient operating system that can compete against Chrome OS in low end devices but with the Microsoft cloud sitting at the centre of that. There was also a preview of Edge on Mac which will make for an interesting future with Microsoft shaping itself up as very much a company similar to Google in that the focus being on the cloud. If this ‘Windows 10 Lite’ turns out to be true and is available on Surface devices then it might be an option for me in the future but then again that also depends on whether the rumoured ARM based Mac’s come to fruition.

Google also has its I/O conference which will talk about the usual cloud stuff along with Android Q but I think the thing that most people are interested in is what is happening to Google Fuchsia OS as so far as when it’ll be adopted, which form factors will see its adoption first and whether there will be a replacement for the Android framework or whether the purpose of Google Fuchsia OS isn’t to come up with a fresh stack but rather provide a better base which will enable upgrades to be quicker due to it’s microkernel design which enables components to be upgraded (maybe via the Google store) in a piece meal fashion rather than it being today of an all or nothing situation which can be quite disruptive and time consuming given the lack of a stable drive API and ABI in the linux kernel (which necessitates the testing and fixing compatibility even with minor kernel changes).

I’m looking forward to WWDC 2019 given all the rumours regarding Marzipan which will allow applications to be written for the iOS and easily ported over to macOS. It appears that my speculation a while ago about UIKit is correct. What I mean by that is that it is coming to macOS but UIKit will be split into two two circles with the overlapping section in the middle being the shared components that can be reused between both platforms but there will be certain things that are specific to a given platform so that will require the programmer will mean having to cater for a target platform. Sure, it isn’t the XAML dream put out by Microsoft but if it means that 90% of code is shared and the last 10% is tweaking it to work well on macOS or iOS then I’d sooner that than the ‘one size fits all’ approach that Microsoft tried to take thus leaving very few people happy in the process.

Being drawn out of the Apple ecosystem

I always like to share when I find a good product review, the balance between talking about the strengths, weaknesses and who benefits the most from said product. It was a review from a perspective of an iPhone user and it was great how he acknowledged the strengths of the Apple ecosystem whilst also acknowledging that if one isn’t as deeply invested into the ecosystem then it is possible to move from the iPhone to Samsung Galaxy S10 without missing out on anything.

The big thing that compels me is that I’m already very much invested into the Google ecosystem as well, my primary form of entertainment is via Google, all my searches are done through Google not to mention that I use Google Drive and Google Docs. There is also the fact that I am using the Chrome browser and I take advantage of the ability to install PWAs onto my desktop then add them to my dock. Although I like the idea of having native applications I find that, for example, the blogging application that I used to rely on didn’t handle embedding YouTube videos smoothly nor did it provide the ability to preview said video as part of the larger blog to see how it all fit in together without having to first post, view it then modify it.

Side note: It is interesting how the web browser these days has turned into a runtime platform – that the delivery of HTML5 technologies along with advances in javascript speed in browsers is delivering the sort of ‘write once, run anywhere’ that Java promised but never delivered as so far as desktop applications that end users not only used but actually wanted to use because they loved the experience (vs. just using them because they’re a necessary evil alongside taxes).

If you’re going to be a critic then have a clear understanding of the subject

I’m always amazed when I see people criticise Apple products and yet their criticisms are either half truths, straight out lies or a complete failure to give exact specific in favour of using vague terms about a product being ‘weak’ and ‘not up for the job’ thus leaving it to the listener/reader to guess as to what exactly the person is going on about. Here is a great video on YouTube regarding just this issue:

But I have to build on that video further because there seems to be a cottage industry of people being loose with the truth and only interest is hating on something because that is what all their friends are doing or that is what the ‘cool kids’ online are doing but here is the funny thing, when you actually corner them and demand an answer they slink away going, “I didn’t want to turn this into a debate”. Dude, you were the one making incendiary posts online and you’re surprised that it has received the attention it deserved? Are there genuine things to be critical about regarding Apple in terms of their products, services and general behaviour? Sure but you don’t need to make up stuff because ultimately it undermines your arguments – in much the same way that the obsession over ‘Russiagate’ has served to suck the oxygen out of the room when it comes to easily proveable problematic policies that actually impact the average person (see the EPA and Education appointments).

My frustration with the current discourse has nothing to do with defending Apple, Apple doesn’t need me defending them, they have a whole PR and marketing agency where they spending hundreds of millions are spent crafting a particular image. The issue I have are people who bullshit their way online and pollute the discourse to the point that no meaningful and fruitful discussion can take place thus undermining any possible reason for having a conversation in the first – for participants to share knowledge about topics that they’re knowledgeable about. That is the type of atmosphere I like to see when I join an online forum – reading through a discussion and because all those who are participating as honest actors, that knowledge can be shared and those of us reading can come away more knowledgeable. It reminds me of the ‘good old days’ of where there were discussions comparing win32 threads to POSIX threads – the benefits and drawbacks of each approach. Yes, it was a debate but out of that debate you were able to see the arguments on both sides.

Cultural Marxism isn’t a thing

A great video that dissects the boogeyman that seems to have taken on a life of its own within the ‘intellectual dark web’ or what most sane people would label the reactionary circle jerk, echo chamber and hug box all rolled into one. What is amazing is how the mainstream media actually treat the likes of Jordan Peterson, Stafan Molyneux and Faith Goldy as people worthy of being treated as though they were serious thinkers worth of a public platform and any legitimacy that is extended by virtue of given a public platform.

I have to admit, I gloated…

I know it isn’t a very mature thing to do but I can’t help but gloat when, after much hype and hysteria from the anti-Apple talking heads brigade, the whole edifice of hype regarding Samsung’s folding phone falls flat like a soufflé like a cupboard. I’m certainly not attacking Samsung because I think Samsung make some damn nice devices and products over all but rather I am gloating about the idiots who did their 10 minute videos on YouTube claiming that ‘Apple is dead’ and ‘Apple is in trouble’ because Apple isn’t some gimmicky foldable phone – a product that answers a question no one asked. I think that it is great that Samsung is pushing the boundaries and seeing what might work but what I find funny are the fanboys who went for good old gargle at the anti-Apple haterade fountain to get those clicks on YouTube. There are some good examples of just really, really horrible videos of people trying to ride the hate train to garnet more views so check out YouTube then come back.

So what am I talking about in reference to the Samsung Fold? this particular (link) provides a good overview. No, the Samsung Fold isn’t some ‘Apple destroyer’ as the talking heads on YouTube tried to make it out to be – when you’re things wrong then I think it is time to take at least a month off the internet to reconsider whether you know what you’re talking about before turning that microphone back on and start uploading videos again. (link)

Are there issues that Apple need addressing? yes but none of them have to do with the hardware but rather what is required is addressing issues with their software which really limit how far Ito the ecosystem they can go. Take the issue with extension – they introduced a new content blocking API which was promised to be more efficient but here is the problem, the content blocking as a limit of 50K rules which sounds a lot until you consider that the absolute bare basic setup using Ad Guard on Safari has 41555 rules simply if I enable the following rules: AdGuard Base filter, AdGuard Mobile Ads filter, EasyList, Peter Lowe’s list, AdGuard Spyware filter, NoCoin Filter List and AdGuard Safari filter. That is only a small selection that I had to limit because I was easily hitting the limit if I enabled a few more rule sets. Something like that needs to be addressed if Apple are serious about making there Safari extension platform something that developers want to target especially when you consider that the alternative is simply to tell users “download and install Chrome then install the extension on Chrome instead”.

Why does that matter? because the future of the Apple growth is going to depend on services which in turn is dependent upon the integration between the software (on the end users computer) and the cloud service. If for example that Safari does a half assed just in terms of an extension framework then combine that with the fact that it still trails in terms of HTML5 compliance thus leaving to a subpar experience when it comes to progressive web applications then it’ll be first step out of the Apple ecosystem. Whilst the end user has put their first foot out the door (they’re synchronising their bookmarks and passwords to the cloud so then everything synchronises between all devices) they start having a look around at what Google also have to offer – they’ve probably got a YouTube account already, maybe even a YouTube Premium subscription like myself, and it is a matter of going to to find that they can easily setup a Gmail account along with Contacts, Calendaring etc. then soon enough that person see’s that there is Google Drive and Google Photos – triple the space of what Apple offer and all free of charge.

So what is Apple’s trump card in terms of a point of differentiation when compared to what Google has to offer? privacy seems to be a card that Apple plays but there comes a point that all the privacy in the world isn’t come to offset the lack of functionality (compare iCloud when compared to what Google has to offer if one strictly just looks at Docs, Sheets, Slides along side Contacts, Gmail and so on. With all that being said I really have to ask how much stock the masses actually put into privacy given that even after a torrent of scandals relating to Facebook that there has been little to no impact on its user base numbers. To me it sounds an awful lot like the old story of people virtue signalling their outrage amounting to “I’m against bad things, I’m for good things” but beyond the public protestations that the simple reality is that the end user doesn’t really care all that much. In much the same way that when push came to shove with the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the average person didn’t care because it didn’t impact them directly. As long as the end user doesn’t see an obvious consequence then they’ll ignore those raising concerns as merely “overreacting”.

When I think about the issue if privacy, IMHO I think the greater concern isn’t Google but instead how the centralisation of data will become too tempting for governments not to take advantage of. This is one of the big philosophical differences between Google and Apple – where as Google would sooner centralise the crunching of data and delivery of services (for the sake of producing a better service for the end user), Apple wishes to keep as much of that on the device itself as to avoid the situation where their datacenter locations being a shortcut way for governments to get information their citizens not to mention the security implications of having a huge amount of personal information in the cloud that could be susceptible to hacking given that the end user is still the weakest link.

Side note: I’m sitting here using Chrome; there is a compromise one has to make in life if one wishes to get something accomplished. Yes, with Safari I have the benefit of a more lightweight browser and ‘greater privacy’ (as some proponents have claimed) but it means that it means giving up things like uBlocker Origin, Reddit Enhancement Suite and so on. At some point you have to ask whether what you’re giving up is worth what you’re gaining. As a side note to this side note, I noticed there are a large number of people who are YouTube creators that have a Mac for their computer but prefer running Chrome.