Random noise: bits and pieces

As most of you already know Apple has released their public beta of OS X 10.10 ‘Yosemite’ to the public and it is always interesting to hear certain people reply such as those who replied to the Arstechnica article ( link )  with the usual stomach churning displays of ignorance, stupidity and being straight out clueless. I’m all for different opinions but holy rollerskating shitballs there is a fine line between a difference of opinion versus something that is straight out stupid borderline “I’m wondering if this person is trolling the forum”. Take this quotation from the article:

The company’s primary goal with the public beta is to collect user feedback using a simple built-in reporting tool that we’re told will be included with the OS. Apple will evaluate this feedback and take it into consideration as it continues to fine-tune the software. However, don’t think that complaining will get you your old interface back—spamming Apple with “I HATE YOSEMITE” messages isn’t going to help anybody. On the other hand, if you want to tweak the way the new design looks and works, report specific bugs, or give feedback on new features, this will be your chance.

Yet some how those in the cheap seats such as fferitt25 who couldn’t quite work his head around the concept that spamming Apple with bitching and whining won’t magically get them change course – if you want to be useful in the public beta then provide useful feedback with constructive contribution such as “the new feature has been great however I am having problems in ‘a’ workflow when using ‘b’ feature, is it possible to add ‘c’ functionality so that I can better utilise the feature you have added” – how that is useful constructive feedback that gives Apple a real world glimpse into how people are using the new features and changes in the real world in the workflow they have when at the office or at home.

Then another person was whining about how they’ve kept with 10.6 since god was a teenager – honestly, chanting and whining as if he was demanding others in the forum to pat him on the back and re-enforce his decision – that he apparently needs the positive re-enforcement of others about his operating system version choice or otherwise he’ll collapse in a heap and start crying. Really? it reminds me of people bitching about Apple moving from PowerPC to Intel and idiots on Macrumors whining because they went and spend $5,000 on a brand new G5 PowerMac *AFTER* Apple had already announced their transition from PowerPC to Intel. The reaction by some on that forum was as though Steve Jobs had personally visited the poster’s mothers house and punched her in the face – is such a hyperbolic reaction required simply because Apple chose to move from PowerPC to Intel?

Then there is the usual debates regarding skeumorphism and apparently it is either everything is made skeumorphic or there is absolutely nothing in the operating system that has a hint of skeumorphism. What ever happened to this wonderfully noble idea called ‘moderation’? Why not have both? why not have modern flat and minimalist whilst at the same time using skeumorphism where it makes sense – no one of any sanity would expect the little disk to be removed from being used as a save icon given that we no longer use floppy disks so why get rid of tuning knobs because god forbid they look like real world knobs? sure, the faux leather look and torn paper on Contacts and Calendaring looked tacky at best but one doesn’t need to go in the exact opposite direction. Why is it every time there is a conversation we have idiots who take the extreme positions?

A few words: Meh

Just looking at the latest MacBook Air advertisement from Apple ( link ) and one of the complaints I’ve seen on forums is how they’re not doing the usual “this is what the product does” sort of marketing or some sort of scenario along the lines of “here are some end users making use of the different features in our product in an every day situation”. There are two types of marketing:

1) The type of marketing that focuses on winning over new customers which can include showing features but it can also do so by selling an aspirational lifestyle (“buy this product and show to others that you’ve made it”) associated with that particular brand or product. A good example of that would be car advertisements that bring about associations of freedom, speed, aspirational wealth, luxury and at times being invited into an exclusive club.

2) The other type of marketing is one that re-enforces the existing marketshare by reminding customers about the benefits of the product they currently own and why they should keep sticking with their product – that includes regularly mentioning that existing customers will receive updates to iOS (in the case of Apple) and that also incudes, where possible back porting and making guarantees such as HTC and their support guarantee which includes M7 and M8 phones receiving Android L upgrades 90 days after it’s launch which stands in stark contrast to Samsung (this guarantee actually does both re-enforce as well as grab new customers).

The second one is also employed by companies that are pretty much in a monopoly as well – not to win over customers but rather give them a nostalgic feel to the brand such as the NZ Post advertisement such as this one ( link ) ( link ) ( link ) where all the important moments have been bought together and tied in with the NZ Post brand as the entity that makes it all possible. Such ads existed even before the wide spread adoption of facsimile and email but again this comes back to nostalgia which also helps their non-letter business – first thing people think of when they think courier, parcels etc. they go straight to NZ Post so even after many years of many different courier companies emerging there is still a sizeable chunk of the population that’ll keep using NZ Post because of that brand loyalty created at an early age.

In the case of the MacBook Air the advertisement takes from both category one and two – firstly it wins over unsure customers that there are lots of people just like them out there running a Mac and just because you have a Mac doesn’t make you incompatible with the rest of the known universe. The second group has the re-enforcement that they’re part of a larger group of people who enjoy using and customising MacBook Air – that they’re part of a growing segment rather than dying, that their (the customer’s) investment is part of being on the ‘winning team’ rather than the one that is currently in the midst of a tail spin with the main company unsure as to the direction of the industry where as Apple has clearly articulated ‘the best tool for the job’. The old story of boosting morale at home whilst gaining ground outside the flock of the faithful.

A very lazy day at home

Relaxing at home and didn’t wake up until late today because, well, it was too damn cold to get out of bed and I just didn’t feel like doing anything more than relaxing all day without having to run around dealing with drama or sorting issues out either financially or with work so it was a good day for me. Funny enough I went out to check the mail, removed the usual junk mail and local rag but no Mastercard Debit card arriving yet – it’ll be as funny as a fart if by next payday I haven’t received that or the new credit card because it’ll be the quickest account opening and closing ever recorded.

Went off to Pak ’n Save and it was one of those nights when you’re hungry but can’t work out quite what you want to eat – everything I thought of came off as ‘meh’ or ‘oh, I guess so”. In the end I played it safe and had a pasta dish with tomato and mushroom sauce then I treated myself to a sticky date pudding for desert with butterscotch custard. I can thank Sara Lee and Puhoi Valley for making my life a whole lot easier because honestly I can’t be figged trying to do a sticky date pudding myself let alone the fact that given that I haven’t baked anything in my house yet the purchase of ingredients (flour, egg, milk, baking powder etc) would be more expensive than the one off purchase of a pudding that just needs to be heated up in the mini-oven I have. A nice bit of comfort food for a cold and rainy night but funny enough I left my washing on the line once again – two days raining with a third not exactly going to cause any more than the first two – maybe I’ll get lucky and wash it (again) then bring it over to my parents to get dried in their clothes dryer.

Just reading through the forums regarding the latest beta release of iOS 8.0 and OS X 10.10, and to be honest I’m pretty damn excited particularly with the movement forward in terms of developer features such as new frameworks and the launch of Apple’s new language called Swift which (to paraphrase the Apple engineer) takes Objective-C and gets rid of the C and all the parts of the language that make it overly wordy. What is interesting isn’t just the new blog that Apple engineers are using to communicate with third party developers but also the attention to features which bring iOS and OS X communicating with each other so that they can leverage the benefits of having both an iOS device and a Mac computer.

Just having a look through the latest rumours around the new Apple products and how delays by Intel are putting a spanner in the works but that is coming as a result of the decreasing size of their manufacturing process – something that TSMC, Samsung, Ti and others have all struggled at so it is hardly surprising that Intel is having some pains in the transition to 14nm in the form of Broadwell micro-architecture. To be honest I’m more interested in the skylake micro-architecture that’ll bring to the mainstream DDR4 (which in itself will bring reduced power consumption, higher memory density) along with Thunderbolt 3, PCI Express 4.0, improved GPU architecture that’ll drive a 13.3” retina display without any problems along with AVX and memory protection extensions to name a few. According to rumours there will be a release to manufacturing around the end of 2015 and maybe the beginning of 2016 but that is very much dependent on how things go with broadwell. Maybe that time we’ll see the next generation of AMD and nVidia GPU’s along with retina displays from top to bottom for all their product line up – when I upgrade I’ll probably either sell my computer or maybe donate it depending on how charitable I feel at the time.

Freeze the balls off a brass monkey

Just came back from the airport store an hour ago – damn it was cold and miserable with the roads getting a little icy and combined with the windy night I had to take it carefully as I almost went into the side of the roundabout but I was lucky in that I slowed down just in time (not too aggressively) and then straightened myself up. The car behind saw that I was having trouble in the windy evening so they held back till I got my bearings all sorted out because I was being blown everywhere. That is the first and last time I go out there again; it is cold, miserable and it costs a small fortune in terms of petrol.

I had a look at the fees with the Westpac kiwisaver and I’m going to stick with ASB because long term I’m going to keep my account open then once my credit card is paid back I’ll go back to ASB and close off my Westpac account. End of the day the only reason why I went with Westpac was to give myself breathing room of 0% for 12 months and once I’ve taken advantage of that I’ll then close it off and move back to ASB where I can go with the original plan of having a low interest ViSA card.

I’ve got Tuesday and Wednesday off from work so I’ll head around to my parents home for dinner and thursday I’ve still yet to decide – probably chicken wraps with lots of lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli and ‘rocket fuel’ sauce – omnomnomnom. Depending on what time I get up I might go and drop in and say hello to my boss but if the weather is atrocious (like it is now) the I’ll avoid going out and might get a ride to my parents by them picking me up as they come through Lower Hutt as they’re driving home from work.

Apple has released OS X 10.10 Beta 4 and iOS 8.0 Beta 4 – their public developer preview is apparently going to be launching half way through August. Looking forward to iOS 8.0 particularly centred around improvements to webkit which will feed into the many applications that rely on it for their rendering needs. iTunes has had an update as well – hopefully that’ll mean that Apple is going to clean things up because right now it doesn’t look all that pretty particularly when dealing with large libraries of music which in my case is around 200GB inside not to mention that a large number of the albums are gapless which adds a new layer of complexity to the mixture.

Oh, finally got the power bill for the month; I was expecting the worst but was pleasantly surprised when the bill $206 and that included running the heater for at least 18 hours straight. Oh well, only a 1-2 more months like this and then I’ll be back to the usual billing cycle of $50 per fortnight as I’ll no longer have to run a heater. On a positive note I’ve been looking through the idea of retrofitting some wall insulation primarily because if I end up moving to get a heat pump installed the last thing I want is in the process of getting a nice flash heater I find that the heat just disappears through the walls. I’ll need to investigate first of all the types and secondly the cost along with whether I can get a special grant from Energy Wise which might offset some of the cost.

End of the week? lol, good one mate!

Just as I thought my day had ended and my weekend begun the ominous sound of the phone rang – a complaining customer? a crew member who is sick and cannot come in? nope, my weekend coming to an end or more correctly never actually getting off the ground. I’ve been called to do a shift out at another shop because of their consistent lack of managers to cover shifts (and the stedfast refusal by said store manager to do anything more than Monday to Friday or god forbid him actually answering the phone on the weekend (one questions why pay and give someone a store managers position when one isn’t willing to accept the responsibility that comes with it) hence the situation that exists today). So I’ll be heading out there to start work at 4pm so I’ll need to get up by at least 1pm so then I can first of all head to the bank to sort out some odd bits and pieces then head off to work – kind of annoying that I have to start at 4pm given that I won’t be out till 2am at the earliest (assuming all goes well in terms of stocktake).

Just had a check of my power account and it appears that the bill for the month is generated the day after the end of the billing cycle – hopefully I’ve slid under the radar and it won’t be too expensive given that it has been damn cold recently and thus I’ve had my heater on for longer than usual.

Another day another pay

Damn tonight was boring, it was like watching the ice melting channel crossed with the grass growing channel – bugger all customers, too much product having been cooked before I arrived thus meaning for the whole time there we were working through the existing stock. Honestly, I wished the crew rubbed a few brain cells together and cooked less but more often as to avoid having to move heaven and earth to get something resembling a respectable raw waste result for the night.

I rang up IAG on the morning of Friday (last night) before heading off to sleep to find out what was happening; I owed some money due to the first payment not coming out of my bank account but since I cancelled my policy and the payment was due to come out on 20 July (which was a Sunday) I was wondering firstly whether the payment would come out on Friday or Monday since the payment can’t come out on a weekend and secondly what the new amount will be given that I’ll no longer be paying from June 20 going forward (basically I’m only paying for a month worth of coverage from the time I bought my scooter). Basically the long story compressed into a single sentence is that I no longer owe them any money since I cancelled my policy – I’ll be checking up post 20 July (half way through next week) to see whether that is the case – I don’t want them sending me a letter whining that I haven’t paid them and that they’re going to throw a paddy over it (I’ll point them to the person told me that I owed them no money since the policy is closed off).

Hopefully next week my Mastercard Debit card and Mastercard Low Rate credit card will arrive in the mail – I’ll need to head down to the bank to load a PIN onto it but I was thinking when I loaded the PIN onto the bog standard EFTPOS card that I’ve been using the same one that I was given when I was living in Australia and banking with Bendigo bank. With the online banking at Westpac it is pretty basic at best but from what it appears their existing system is pretty limited and they’ve developed it as far as they can and September 2013 they announced a $15 million investment which probably included not only front end but also bank end changes – moving completely to Mastercard for Debit, Credit and EFTPOS (Cirrus) which would have required a whole change to the back end, then working to develop their web front end with new applications for iOS and Android – they’re already beta testing the new online banking which apparently will launch towards the end of this year which (from what appears is built from the ground up on an entirely new platform which explains why they’re adding existing functionality as well as new functionality that the old system didn’t have). I guess it lesson to learn for future businesses thinking of getting a presence on the web – make sure you have a system that is expandable which enables one to cater for new demands in the future.

Just rocked out to check my letter box just then – just a letter from ASB confirming the cancellation of my home contents policy through them. Hopefully next week the debit card will arrive and I’ll rock down to the bank; throw some cash onto my credit card and then get my PIN sorted out for the debit card – might even give it a test run either at the store or online at the iTunes store. Oh well, lets hopefully keep everything going in the right direction – off to sleep I go then back to work tonight at 8pm for more fun and excitement.

More good news: things are progressing well

Had Westpac ring me up and everything is all approved and going ahead with the balance transfer and hopefully in the next couple of days my Mastercard Debit card will arrive in the mail which will enable me to make a payment to SkyTV. The information from State insurance has come through and everything is good when it comes to the premium each fortnight with the great thing being that my health insurance, scooter insurance and contents insurance will all come out on the same day every fortnight rather than the mish-mash of different payments on different days which leads to a tonne of confusion on my part. Another great thing that’ll paid for will be the VDSL 802.11ac wireless router (Huawei HD659b) which is all paid it – set me back $170+GST (around $200 incl. GST) thus my internet and mobile phone bill will go back to $105 per month. My power bill however is going to be nasty based on the fact that I left the heater on when I went to work – on the plus side I had a nice warm house but on the downside I fear that the bill I’m about to receive on 21 July isn’t going to be good. Oh well, I’m now $300 in credit with the energy company and hopefully the bill doesn’t gobble it all up – it has been colder than normal so I’ve had to have the heater on for longer that I have had in the past.