Sound Cloud issues and life in general

I’ve uploaded a couple of podcasts to my Soundcloud account however I’ve found that I’ve now got only 56minutes left and cannot wrk out whether the space provided is a fixed amount, that is, “here is the total number of minutes for all times” or is it like Vimeo where you get 500MB per week and it refreshes at the end of each week so I’ve sent off a message to their support forum in a hope that’ll get a reply soon. Worse case scenario I’ll find a better place where the audio can be hosted given that I still have the original files so I can easily re-upload them to a new service and re-link up the posts to the new location of the podcast.

Regarding fibre installation – finally received a reply back from the Chorus contractor but it appears that nothing will be happening for around 20 days or so which means it’ll be probably be June by the time I end up getting it installed. It’ll be interesting to see when Spark updates their offerings to start offering 200Mbps download speeds but then again long term I’d love to be able to have a decent upload speed so then I can push most of what is on my Drobo into the cloud so that I have an offsite backup so if something happens then I have a back up plan that I can retrieve the back up and have nothing lost.

On a good side regarding my progress towards debt consolidation and getting rid of it – I’m on track that by the end of May I’ll have all the ‘bad debt’ paid off meaning that the only stuff I’ll have left is the 12 months interest free that I can gradually chip away with knowing that I’m not having to deal with paying interest. Long term once that is paid off I’ll be looking at getting a 150cc scooter and a full motorcycle licence so that long term I’ll have greater freedom in terms of travelling – able to go on long trips with a larger motorcycle because right now a 50cc would be impractical for anything approaching 100km or more.

Finally made the decision: I’m getting the iMac non-Retina

So I finally bit the bullet and purchased an iMac non-Retina on the 12 months interest free deal that Apple has going:

Screen Shot 2015 04 22 at 2 11 48 am

And although I was tempted by the Retina I had to weigh up all the pro’s and con’s of going with the iMac 5K or the iMac non-Retina – the first thing I started to have a look at was all the benchmark comparisons from the CPU, SSD and GPU to see whether there was a massive gap between the two hardware. In terms of the ports the only difference is Thunderbolt in the iMac non-Retina vs. Thunderbolt 2 in the iMac 5K so in terms of the hardware I have the Drobo 5D is Thunderbolt 1.0 compliant meaning that it will run on a Thunderbolt 2 port but I’ll never gain any of the benefits of having a thunderbolt 2 port so in terms of the comparison the iMac non-Retina was ‘good enough’ for what I need. Internally the performance of the CPU when the maxed out for both were compared the performance difference in the Geek benchmark scores was a matter of around 400 points between the two 64bit benchmarks – is it worth the extra $800 difference between the two? for me I couldn’t justify it to myself. There was also an interesting benchmark a while ago where due to the constraints of the iMac design the CPU throttling also kicks in so even though its like, “wow, that is a power processor” there is much doubt as to whether it is possible to max out the CPU for long periods of time so even though on paper the iMac 5K has the capacity of having a faster CPU in reality I think one would be lucky if one could really max it out in terms of squeezing every last bit of grunt out of the machine.

The GPU was the other concern especially regarding the running of a very high resolution screen even on an upgraded GPU option being the AMD R9 M295X the performance of a gaming benchmark and it was a matter of 10-20fps that weren’t even noticeable when the video was running the two of them side by side. Where the AMD GPU does get some benefits is around the OpenCL performance – so it is around on par with the 780M and the strength lays in OpenCL performance but given how fickle OpenCL is and how almost none of the applications I have use OpenCL (video compression use the built in hardware acceleration provided by the GPU vendor itself). The temperature of the GPU was also a concern particularly in relation to whether there is enough ‘head room’ left over in the GPU if at a later date more of the GUI is pushed onto the GPU to improve responsiveness which might end up proving that it becomes either a bottle neck or running hot for long periods resulting in a shortened life span.

Regarding the screen, although it is higher resolution on the iMac 5K (double the resolution of the iMac non-Retina) I had to check it out myself at the local Dick Smiths just so I can find out first hand what it is like – and to he honest the experience wasn’t as ‘great’ in terms of wow factor when compared to moving from a non-Retina to a Retina laptop especially when you consider that with a laptop you’re closer to the screen where as with a desktop you’re further back thus the impact of having a higher resolution is a lot lower.

In conclusion if I did go for the iMac 5K I’d get a slightly updated internal specs, a higher resolution screen and the over all performance was going to be around the same as the non-Retina iMac which a price tag that would be around $500 more which made going with the non-Retina more convincing. I’m looking forward to it being delivered between the 1-8th May so I’d probably say that it’ll arrive somewhere around 4-5 May so I’ll be excited once that arrives. Btw, the one thing I didn’t go for was a large internal drive but instead a 256GB SSD and instead will use my Drobo 5D as the drive to store all my music, videos etc. on for long term storage – SSD for speed, Drobo for long term storage.

Update on how things are going

1) Just reading through the New Zealand subreddit (which once again reminds me why I don’t subscribe to it) – when there is the student allowance, accommodation supplement, interest free student loan for living costs, books and fees not to mention the many forms of assistance via ‘Work and Income’ along with various charities it is amazing how these opportunities in higher education are squandered. It is one thing to be born into poverty and there being little to no assistance of any form but when here is a system setup, a system that I’m more than happy to pay my fair share into the system via taxation, to help those who need assistance then not do I expect that the resources aren’t wasted I also expect people to use them rather than whine that their lack of success in life being due to some nebulous conspiracy against them.

As a student myself I bloody grateful that I was able to graduate university with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Religious Studies and Philosophy – I received the student allowance, an interest free student loan as well as accommodation supplement which helped me with my rent. With that assistance I was able to pay my way through university – working hard, focusing on what I wanted and working towards it. The success didn’t just decent down out of the sky because I was born into a middle class family but because I worked for it and made use of the opportunities that society offered me – I didn’t sit at home pissing at moaning about the injustice of it all.

You may have been raised a certain way but there are moments in your life where you have, what I’d like to call, ‘moments of clarity’ when you realise that you were raised a certain way but you also have an opportunity to re-invent yourself in an image that you have crafted for yourself. The question is, are you willing to look around at the world, look at your family, look at how you were raised and question whether who you are and the environment you were born into will dictate your future or whether you will take control of your life and dictate the direction.

The other problem I have is the insinuation by some that being poor has a one to one relationship with having a low regard for the value of an education – ignorance (and celebrating that ignorance) is the cause of people having a low value of education not poverty. My own fathers parents for example were always struggling but both parents always reminded their children that education is the one thing that cannot be taken away from you once you’ve got it. If you have a culture in which the boorish and brutish behaviour is not only valued but worshipped then are you surprised that those with the lack of a descent role model with in their own family will look outwards to the culture in which they’re born and raised to seek guidance as to the qualities that as a society we value? but alas, we have our good friend on Reddit wanting to gargle from the foundation of wisdom resulting in only a pithy post rather than something in-depth and worth reading.

2) I’ve finally got things sorted out with he bank – paid off the last of the ‘interest free transfer’ and updated my details with my job so that my pay goes into my ASB Bank account along with ordering a new Visa Debit. I was going to close off my GEM VISA card but given that I can get 6-12 months interest free (or more) along with an interest in purchasing an iMac in the future (whilst taking advantage of the 12 months interest free that Apple offers) so it is best to just keep it open and take the ‘payment insurance’ off the card to avoid additional costs. Oh, I’ve got to ring up State Insurance to update my details but apart from that I’m happy with how things are going.

3) I’ve decided to how things pan out but I’m deciding whether to hold off purchasing an iMac 5K or wait till there is a refresh after the WWDC conference that’ll include a skylake chip and maybe a M300X series GPU which will hopefully come with a move to a more efficient fabrication process that will translate into cooler running and more energy efficient. That being said the latest update with 10.10.3 has yielded some improved results, that the scorching temperates reported earlier on were the result of games running on maximum resolution – something I would never do and I’m sure any GPU, be it mobile or desktop class GPU, would struggle at remaining cool. That being said I don’t play high end games and most of what I do in terms of ‘stressing the computer’ is CPU bound in the case of video compression where I use ffmpeg and iFFmpeg as the front-end along with QuickTime for capturing video and audio.

4) My heater died last night – couldn’t work out why there was absence of heat coming out of the heater even though I had it turned on lol. I’ve looked online at Noel Leeming and there is a decent array of available heaters on sale because goodness knows when winter really starts to hit going into May and June I’ll need to keep my house nice and warm to avoid getting sick and having to take days off from work. I’ve boxed up my old heaters in a computer screen box and hopefully I’ll find a way that I can dispose of it without too much drama – maybe get my sister to pick it up so they can take it off to the dump. The decision is around the technology being used and ensuring that I get something that is energy efficient and can keep the house warm quickly without making my power bill go through the roof. The  Delonghi Slimline Panel Heater (HCX3220FTS) looks like the best combination but I wonder whether I should get two, one for my living room and then one I can place in my bedroom as to avoid moving the heater around – the movement might have caused damage to my previous heater hence it’s premature ‘demise’ that took place. I’m looking at putting bubble wrap on my bathroom windows as to hold in the heat and avoid it escaping – it worked at my flat in Trentham so it’ll work again where I live.

5) Still deciding when I’m going to use up my annual leave because it is almost two months worth so hopefully I’ll purchase the iMac 5K and take a month off to chill out, recharge and hibernate over winter not having to worry about any drama at work or around me. Most people take time off work over the summer to go away on holidays where as I have to admit I’m more of a homely kind of person who would sooner relax at home than go through the stress of going on a holiday and the cost that is involved. Almost finished re-encoding all my music again and it is all going well – XLD even after all this time is the best swiss army knife of transcoding on the market.

OS X 10.10.3 and iOS 8.3 Updates!

Installed both the updates – when it comes to OS X a lot of drivers and frameworks have been touched. The GPU driver for the Broadwell based GPU has been updated, Wifi driver has been updated along with the 802.11 stack because it appears that some of the issue people have faced crosses the divide between the driver itself and the stack on which the whole wireless networking operates. I jumped down into the terminal and it also appears that discoveryd service has been updated as well which will hopefully put to rest some of the complaints there have been regarding bugginess in Apple’s networking stack. When it comes to iOS 8.3 the first thing I noticed is that the modem firmware has been updated from 1.0.4 to 2.23.03, I’m unsure what that means but hopefully with some use whilst at work I’ll see whether it translates into better reception, longer battery life etc. All in all I’m pretty happy with how things are doing and will give a bit of an update after work tomorrow/today.

Chilling out with a day off from work

Siting here on the couch on a ‘Dexter’ marathon where I am up to season 3 and enjoying it so far – never really understood the appeal when I heard people going on about how awesome it was until I started watching it myself. Reminds me very much how I got into ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ then realising “Oh, these are pretty awesome”. The Acer computer I have hooked up to my television is going well with Fedora 21 installed but the one thing to remember is when you upgrade the kernel to uninstall the nVidia driver, reboot then reinstall it again or otherwise the computer becomes unusable (Linux doesn’t pick up the wireless mini-keyboard that comes with the computer). Apart from that everything is going well – love being able to chill out watching programmes that I want to watch when I want to watch them. There is a rumour though that Apple is going to release an Apple TV device that’ll allow installing of applications which will hopefully mean sometime in the future that Spark could release a Lightbox application for Apple TV.

I’ve signed up for a Sound Cloud account and i’m going to make podcasts a regular thing with videos being used for special occasions where I want to show off a new product I bought and given a visual review. The benefit of a podcast is that I can sit anywhere in the house and make a video recording – I can talk about things and not have to worry about what I’m wearing etc. so it makes life a whole lot easier. I’ll make a regular podcast where I talk about technology, politics, philosophy etc. so basically a free flowing conversation that’ll be a lot more interesting but it can be more spontaneous. I’ve been thinking about doing a podcast for quite some time but I’ve always thought maybe a video would be good enough but given how laborious it is to record a video the idea of a podcast makes more practical sense.

Waiting for UFB to be installed but the free modem has arrived but I’ll give that to my sisters partners family because their modem is ancient and buggy with poor coverage of the house. The replacement modem isn’t as good as the one I have (Huawei HD659b) but it is better than the technicolor one that was given to them around 5 years ago – the replacement one being a Huawei HG630b which is good enough for most people. The benefit of the HG659b is the support for 802.11ac, gigabit ethernet and being a pretty simple yet stable router for what I need to do. That being said, I’m going to use ‘power line networking’ from my router to my iMac once I get it so then I can reach my full internet connection potential by having a stable wired line back to the router thus avoiding the pitfalls of a wireless connection. Something like this ( link ) would do the trick and I’d say that the connection will reach 600Mbps given that I’ll be running it on its own circuit – reusing the one that I used to use for the heater which will hopefully translate into less interface given that they’ll be the one devices using that power line. I did investigate Vodafone cable as an option but given the customer service melt down that is taking place I’d sooner stick with Spark in the mean time and see how the merging of 2 Degrees Mobile and Snap Internet all pans out especially once the systems are merged into one and those 2 Degrees customers are translated over into Snap Internet customers as well – a full service telco being able to take on the big players.

Going to pick up a pair of plain black shoes tomorrow – skate ones because they’re comfortable to wear when at work especially when standing up for long periods of time. Globe plain black I’ve bought in the past and have lasted a good amount of time – comfortable at work and priced reasonable and something I can pick up tomorrow without too much fuss or bother. Get some banking done, complete the washing, hoover the house, purchase the shoes, throw out some rubbish and pick up some rubbish bags along with putting out the recycling. A busy day ahead of me so I’ll finish off the last bit of dexter then go to sleep.

Anti-Competitive watch dogs and letting the market do its thing

I’m old enough to remember way back when Microsoft was being investigated by the DOJ under the Sherman Anti-trust Act (a variety of issues were raised during the investigation) and it is funny how Microsoft was seen as this massively powerful organisation that had the industry by the ‘short and curlies’ who was always a head of the curb when it came to the ‘next big thing’. Were there moments that Microsoft were behind the curb such as being late to the internet? sure but when they did arrive they made sure that any marketshare wasn’t lost – keeping in mind that when Internet Explorer first arrived on the scenes Microsoft embraced the open standards of the web and added to the standards must requested features that developers wanted where as Netscape were hell bent on not fixing the chronic bugginess of their product but instead adding proprietary extensions to open standards in a vein hope that it would lock the developer to Netscape’s own products.

Same can be said for Microsoft Office where up to that point there were no ‘office suites’ but rather a disjointed collection of software that were not integrated together; Lotus 1-2-3 for spreadsheet, Wordperfect or Wordstar for wordprocessing, Harvard Graphics for presentations, DBase for Database and Microsoft bought it all together in Microsoft where everything seemed to ‘just work’ together – the killer productivity suite of applications. Microsoft comes along and provides an end to end solution for all the needs of a business (both big and small) as well as making an entrance into the home user market. Anyone from that era would remember the price tag of the individual applications and the price of Office, which included all of that, was a bargain and within the reach of consumers wanting to work from home.

When Windows 95 when it was released delivered the sort of technology never seen in the consumer space; 32bit protected memory, pre-emptive multi-tasking, built in support for TCP/IP etc. and for some it became the butt of jokes but back then it was a massive leap forward particularly when compared to the alternatives that existed which were either too expensive, too complex and/or too demanding when it came to hardware specifications. Combine that with hardware support that is deep and wide which opened up a wide variety of hardware that one could purchase at ever cheaper prices it allowed the ‘computer revolution’ to take off with computers being accessible at all variety of price points – from massive number crunches to ones that allow Joe and Jane to share family memories via email with loved ones.

I’m sure others can give more examples but the basic idea is this; Microsoft historically was either on the cusp of the change or the one making the change itself. This is what made Microsoft a threat and the belief by many (including myself) which necessitating the need for government intervention to ‘restore balance to the marketplace’ because the idea that the marketplace via a ‘knight in shining armour’ to slay the mighty Microsoft beast wasn’t going to happen. What ended up happening? The DOJ received less funding after GWB was voted in resulting in the DOJ having to cut its losses then combine that with Judge Jacksons comments which tainted his ruling which necessitated an out of court settlement. The settlement involving oversight was seen as pretty weak which meant that there was much expectation that Microsoft would hold on and then go back to business as usual once the oversight was taken off them but no one expected the growth of smartphones, tablets, iOS and Android not to mention the investment by Google beyond services into Chrome, ChromeOS, ChromeCast.

Here we are fast forward to today and there we have Apple taking down the high end of the tablet, smartphone and computer market with their own offers with Google coming up from the bottom end using Android and ChromeOS to eat into the low end of the market. Recent developments has been the ability to run Android applications on Chrome and ChromeOS (the current beta is missing features but they’ll be added I’m sure when the final version starts shipping) which leads the way open to end users eventually being able to run Microsoft Office for Android on ChromeOS. First it was Microsoft developing Office for more than just Windows by making sure that the Mac version wasn’t the bastard red head step child of the family along with supporting iOS and Android then secondly making sure that the rest of the organisation’s potential growth wasn’t being hamstrung by having it held by by Windows being propped up by making things exclusively Windows only – leveraging the dominance in one market to re-enforce the dominance in another.

Windows division at this stage is more or less being told, “mate, you’re on your own – you’re going to have to sink or swim based on the merits of your product rather than using surrounding products and services as leverage to propel your own sales”. Microsoft in their server and services division are doing some interesting things with Windows but outside of those two areas Windows is a complete mess particularly in the consumer space and the corporate section holds onto it because of legacy reasons and really a lack of a viable alternative that ticks all those main boxes that corporates want/need. That being said, if Google does work hard when it comes to Android and ChromeOS particularly in the context of Windows in many organisations is merely a means to access web services rather than it being a launch pad itself to run applications – a glorified thin client if you will.

Going forward are we going to see Windows pretty much relegated to the enterprise market leaving the consumer market to be fought over between Apple and Google? Android becomes the ‘the framework’ on which developers can get their Android applications to work on laptops and desktops running ChromeOS? Surface and Surface Pro bringing a larger amount of revenue to offset reduced Windows revenue from OEM’s and retail channels? It appears that Microsoft being delivering too little too late has done more to undermine their market position than any sort of regulatory oversight – that the marketplace is changing and Microsoft is having to sacrifice their Windows marketshare to allow the rest of the company to grow and thrive.

Something to be said about ‘the others': Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

Yesterday I went into Lower Hutt to pay some bills, have something for lunch, drive into Wellington to pick up a courier parcel (left a note on my front door about leaving it in the letter box but it appears reading a note on the door is too much work for some) then came back into Lower Hutt to organise being switched over from VDSL to Fibre 100 which involves Spark organising someone from Chorus (the company which owns the lines) to come over an evaluate how they’re going to install the fibre connection.

Whilst I was there it appears that Spark has already put up a Samsung S6 and S6 Edge display before the availability – I assume to give customers a preview and get them excited when it does eventually arrive. Anyway, I gave them both a go and the S6 Edge definitely feels very much like a premium phone – lovely to hold in the hand where as the S6 is very much similar to what the S5 was except with a metal band around the side like the iPhone 4/4S/5/5S but it doesn’t have the sort of premium ‘feel’ that one would expect for a phone priced around the same level. It fees like an S5 with some lipstick which is to say that it tries to be premium and it shows.

Regarding the software, both of them are running Android 5.0.2 and appear pretty snappy but I never really got into using them heavily such as the individual applications for long periods of time but the big problem that I think Samsung users will face is whether we’ll see Samsung release Android 5.1 in a timely manner or whether as usual they’ll drag their feet every step of the way because based on past actions it appears things will remain just as horrible on the software front. When it comes to Samsung Kies, still the same horribly horrific mess as always which cements the fact that now Google is selling the Nexus 6 into New Zealand from their Google Play Store there is very little incentive to keep purchasing a Samsung other than being able to buy it in person at a carrier store then put it on a contract for 12 or 24 months.