Almost there…

I’m concerned about recent news that my dad left his cancer (located at the back of the tongue) too late and it might have spread to his lungs do they’re going to run tests before conducting radiotherapy. I’m preparing for the worst but hoping for the best – that it can be treated and dad has a good quality of life without having to worry about it coming back. I’m going head over to my parents for dinner, offer them my support then drop into see my sister to organise her to pickup the screen I bought for my computer which has been recycled into a birthday present.

Courier Post came to pick up the XPS 8700 and XPS 13 (2015) so that is all sorted out with the promise that it takes around 7-10 days for the refund to be processed and the money appearing bank into my account. Once all the money is sorted out I’ll wait to see what happens on the iMac front but I’d say that it will be skylake that’ll be used in any updated iMac and iMac 5K. On a good side I was able to trade in my Lumia 830 and bought an iPhone 6 128GB because Windows Phone was driving me up the wall – I was going to hold off 6 months before the refreshed version came out but it became annoying enough to justify moving the timetable forward. I’m very happy with iOS 8.2 and having access to the Kiwibank application once again not to mention the great experience of Safari knowing that websites will work correctly.

I recieved an email confirming that my MacBook Pro (early 2015) will be delivered on 26 March which is an improvement on the initial estimated delivery of 30 March. I’m looking forward to getting back on the Mac platform after going through hell and back having been sucked into the marketing of Microsoft believing that long standing issues have been resolved when in reality they’re as prevalent as always.  On the good side the computer attached to my television I have replaced Windows with Fedora 21 – remembering to disable over scanning on the television (leaving it enabled results in the GUI being larger than the physical screen size) whilst installing the legacy nvidia drivers with hardware accelerated video deciding which makes full screen video decoding possible. The experience over all has been very good and getting used to using yum for system updates.

The sick feeling of buyers regret

Once again Kawaii you’ve made a fool of yourself – saying once before that you would never make the same mistake then and behold you make the same mistake once again moving to the PC world and realising that after convincing yourself over the doom and gloom of the Mac world that the PC world would be the land of milk and honey. I woke up this morning and two things were on my mind – first the annoying dog that keeps howling and the temptation to yell some abuse out the window maybe satisfying for my own sanity but doubtful that it would materialise in the dog shutting up. The second was the buyers regret of going with a PC running Windows when the reality is that I’m a dyed in the wool Mac user not to mention having to deal with the ‘issues’ that Windows has with high-dpi screen. I expect some iffyness when it comes to third party software because end of the day Microsoft can crack the whip and try to motivate third parties barring holding a gun to a developers head there really isn’t a way of addressing what third parties do. That being said, the experience was just horrible when coming from a Mac perspective – where I expect fit and finish in every aspect of the operating system what I found was a superficial top layer of ‘everything under control’ but underneath the hood you find that as soon as you go off the front and head around the back you find that the wheels are very much falling off the truck.

Then there is the lack of third party software that is up to the same standard that I experience in the Mac world such as when it comes to updating my blog I’m having to use the web based interface which lacks the flexibility of an offline WordPress blogging client but almost every blogging client for Windows is either abandoned, haven’t been updated in 2-3 years or woefully incompatible with the latest incarnation of WordPress to handle the templates that are in use (Windows Live Writer). Then there is the video capturing where your choice is either the built in one that comes with Windows 8.1 which doesn’t enable fine grain selection as to the rate of compression, resolution etc. given that when I upload videos I upload them to Vimeo (where I only have a free account) which means I have to keep it below 500MB. Transcoding the final file from its recorded format to a more compressed version will introduce horrible artefacts and lets not get started on the lack of an easy to use compression in the case of iffmpeg which serves as a nice front end.

On a good side though I’ve been able to return both the laptop and the desktop to Dell and refunded for the purchase price of both computers so this time around it has only been a matter of wasting time on my part rather than wasting a large amount of money. The monitor unfortunately is outside of the 15 day period but that is ok since I’m sure it can be useful for my brother, sister or mum if they need one. As for my phone, I am in no hurry and I’ll probably sell that off given that the sdcard is probably worth more than the phone second hand but that is in the long run. I’ll do one more video as part of the transition series and call it something along the lines “…and back again!”. If you don’t mind me I’m going to help myself to some humble pie.

Bring on the pain

Just reading through the latest ‘great idea’ from Republicans in the United States I wonder what is really required to give the lazy and apathetic public a boot up the ass is for them to experience pain on a scale they’ve never experienced before. What I mean by that is for the Democratic Party and the President to sit back and rubber stamp everything coming through congress up to the senate then over the president – let the public experience the Republican vision in its full undiluted purist form possible because at this stage I wonder whether the public need to hit ‘rock bottom’ before waking up and finally getting involved politically instead of looking for forms of escapism that allows them to bitch about things but never having to lift a finger to change them.

Another week come and gone

Don’t you just hate it when you think that you’ve got everything under control then it all turns to shit within a matter of few hours. One of the stores needed a manager for the night so I organised one of ours to go to their store, one of the managers (who was a crew that night) to cover the shift then get a crew member to come in to cover the crew working as a manager that night – well, everything turned to crap when I received a text message “Oh, I can’t start till 7pm because of tutorials” and I thought, “all good, shit happens” then I suddenly get told 6 hours after that text message “I can’t come because of my student allowance”. Honestly, this is the sort of shit that should have been said to me straight off the bat so then I could organise someone else to come in. So more drama at work that could have been avoided had the individuals involved realised how much of a pain in the backside all this actually is.

Something I noticed with Windows 8.1 and Internet Explorer 11 when it comes to HTML5 video and http live streaming when compared to Safari it is very smooth – none of the buffering problems I was experiencing before which makes me wonder whether it is the implementation by Apple via Safari (and AV Foundation) or whether the problem sits further down the stack into the networking and it relates to their resent changes that have cause much grief in the Mac orientated blogosphere and rumour outlets as much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the much the predicted decline of Apple (and slide in quality of OS X). One of the benefits with Windows is that it doesn’t move fast but when there is movement it doesn’t result in all hell breaking loose with each release – the regular breakage of Wi-Fi with each release of OS X comes to mind.

In my old age I’m becoming increasingly intolerant of people who are wound up ideology to the point that they’ll deny the blatantly obvious as so long as their understanding of the world around them fits their ideological narrative even if it requires selectively ignoring things that contradict what they believe. Neo-tribalism being an extension of that (the collective formed around an ideology/shared belief) is is even worse when discussing technology where interesting ideas are instantly slammed because they’re not part of the persons ‘tribe’ aka ‘I’m a Microsoft/Apple/etc man so therefore no one else comes to close to the awesomeness of my favourite business”. I read through various outlets relating to the new MacBook ultra-ultra-book that has been released and all the blood letting over the fact that there is only one port and if you want more devices supported at once then you’ll need to purchase a dongle to make that possible. Then there was the counter balance, well, an attempted counter balance over at iMore which only ended up turning into a giant game of ‘see the other as the enemy therefore destroy them’ aka ‘the holy warriors of Mac’ believing that they need to spend their spare time ‘defending the honour of Apple online’ as if a multibillion dollar company needs volunteers defending them online. Then again it appears the idiocy of man knows no bounds; from neo-tribalism around sports teams, car brands (Holden vs. Ford) and now we have people pledging allegiance to computer businesses or product line – finding meaning in ones life through a common connection shared with others over the internet. Le Sigh.

Oh thank god Microsoft ignore forum posts

Reading through a forum you get the good, the bad and the ugly all rolled into one when you read some of the comments relating to the Windows 10 look and feel. Honestly, the whining about wanting ‘aero’ and ‘glass’ effect back – the tacky faux futuristic transparency that falls into the vein as the tacky transparent computer cases, neon lights, transformer style decals etc. and those people are the ones believing that they should be giving ‘tips’ on how the future of Windows should look. Honestly, I’d hate to be the person having to look through these ‘contributions’, in the feedback section, to the future of Windows and how the UI should look. This goes onto a second thing I’m going to whine about – what is it with this addiction so many people have with ‘busy interfaces’ that seem to be an icon soup with icons that are attempt be ‘works of art’ rather than fulfilling the function of being an ‘icon’ representing something with the least amount of details that is absolutely necessary. The benefit of having a minimalist icon set is the ability to scale up and scale down, the icons don’t end up looking out of date quickly or looking like crap on a high DPI screen, a standard DPI or on a small screen like a smartphone. I have to admit that when I saw the icons for Windows 10 I was at first a bit sceptical but over the last several weeks they’ve really started to grow on me – even that very much flat and basic rubbish bin icon which is also used in Outlook 2013.

Whilst I’m having a good whinge and whine I’m sick and tired of firstly people complaining that a ‘technology preview’, shock horror, actually is buggy, features missing and all round problematic – it is a frigging ‘technology preview’ for a reason and to run it as your daily driver is moronic at best. Oh, and whilst we’re talking about missing features, please oh please don’t pat yourself on the back for things being added in future Windows 10 builds by claiming that “Microsoft finally listened to us derp derp” as if these features were some how never going to be added to the system until Microsoft heard the out cry and decided to burn the midnight oil to keep the great unwashed masses happy.

Finally got Ad-Blocker Plus sorted

Found where the HTML configuration files were and now I’ve bookmarked it so I added WordPress to the list of domains which has resolved the ‘slow typing’ when it comes to typing up a blog. I’ve added a few more websites to the exemption list that don’t use obnoxious ads and provide content but most other websites I’ll block because in all due respects ramming ads in my face with autorun video ads is a sure fire way of ensure that all ads are blocked. Honestly, do these web developers realise that rather than making more money they’re actually driving away their potential audience? imagine walking through the store and having someone consistently interrupting every 30 seconds, jumping in front of you and being a noisy nosy asshole – you wouldn’t want to hang around in that store let alone enter it yet web developers some how think that is ‘good business’ to be annoying. I for one am confused.

Finally back home, watching TV

Finally finished the shift at work, filling up the display fridge, organising the walk in, trying to work out why the order hadn’t been entered into the computer along with variances in the stock take so that was lots of fun dealing the problems meaning I wasn’t out until 3:30am but at lest I got those loose ends tied up before heading off home. Oh the drama of having to clean up organisational messes after only having a couple of days off from work.

Sitting on the sofa watching ‘Breaking Bad’ for the first time – I am up to season 4 and really enjoying it and it now makes sense when it comes to the new series ‘Better call Saul’ that has recently appeared on television but having started watching ‘Breaking Bad’ I’m now finding that ‘Better call Saul’ makes a lot more sense when seen within context. Supposedly ‘Better call Saul’ is meant to be a prequel to ‘Breaking Bad’ but you really need to see the later to understand the former so you could say it is more of a side project/off shoot given that a prequel can be viewed independently of the original yet still make sense.

Regarding my notebook, I updated my video card drivers to the latest one from Intel given that the ones bundled with the laptop originally was dated November. I haven’t noticed any performance improvements but then again I haven’t noticed any regressions but I’m going to guess that it probably has fixed up issues that I’m unaffected by such as OpenGL games, OpenCL performance however I have noticed a slight improvement in the battery life so maybe it has something to do with the ability to down clock. What I am impressed at is how snappy Windows is and how far Intel has gone in terms of improving their GPU design particularly how much grunt they’re able to get out of their CPU/GPU combo these days considering how little power is used and how much ‘horse power’ is being provided. It will be interesting to see what WDDM 2.0 delivers in terms of improved performance especially with the other changes under the hood, DirectX 12 of which the HD 5500 is compatible with.

Ever since my Dell XPS 8700 arrived I pretty much have stuck with Internet Explorer because for what I need to use it for it is ‘good enough’ for me and the fact that when it comes to memory usage, power efficiency, speed, reliability and integration in with Microsoft’s own cloud services however I am always open to using Chrome or Firefox if for example the 64bit version of Firefox yields improvements or that Google finally address the power sucking related issues pertaining to Chrome. With that being said however I’m open to use Chrome if I ever did make the leak to Android if it turns out that Windows 10 Mobile is in the same position it is today but next year. That being said the HTC One M9 is a very tempting device.

Random addition, I notice that the performance of Internet Explorer is absolutely horrible when I have Ad Blocker Plus installed – I guess that is part of the problem where there is a performance hit when it comes to blocking ads and Ad Blocker Plus isn’t hi-dpi compatible which means I cannot disable it on a per-website basis but then again it is a bit of a none issue given that I’m waiting for the big Windows 10 release and the revamped Windows 10 web browser which rumoured to have an extensions API that is comparable to Chrome and Firefox which should hopefully address the performance issues I have been facing. I’m looking forward to seeing Firefox 64bit appear soon for Windows but the Universal Application future of Windows is pretty exciting.

Interesting quirk with XPS 13 Wifi driver and no video tonight

So I booted up my notebook and found that I couldn’t connect to my WiFi network so I enabled the 2.4Ghz frequency just to connect to the network but as soon as I was setup I did a bit of a search on Bing and found that it is related to the driver itself. I took the advice and uninstalled the Dell provided custom driver and used the Broadcom wireless one instead which enabled me to connect to the 5Ghz network. The connection is incredibly stable and when I meet incredible, I’m sitting in my bedroom with at 866Mbps, full bars and enjoying the sort of stable connection that I could only dream of. All in all I’m one happy camper.

Regarding the video, I’m going to make it tomorrow after work but so far all I can say it is that I’ll be lavishing praise on Dell and how, although Windows 8.1 its quirks Microsoft is working on the issues relating to scaling for high DPI screens but then again it is very much a situation of software vendors making sure their UI code is scalable. Even on OS X there are scaling issues particularly when you’re dealing with third parties who abstract their UI layer using a go-between such as a custom widget kit or a third party one such as GTK/Pango/ATK or Qt. I think that is part of the reason why Microsoft is making the big push to WinRT given the mountain of perks you get by moving to WinRT: better memory management, hardware accelerated GUI, fewer ‘wake ups’ of the CPU, scalable UI from smart phone screens all the way to big high DPI 4K screens with the added perk of ‘write once, tweak then compile everywhere’ when it comes to the Windows offerings. It is going to be a long hard road moving from Win32 to WinRT but this is part of a long term plan that also includes moving .NET to a share common UI toolkit which should make sharing code between WinRT and .NET a lot easier – especially in the enterprise market where there is a tonne of .NET LOB applications that enterprise business use internally that I’m sure they’d love to get working on tablets and smartphones.