Android users getting screwed once again + something cool to listen to

It is difficult not to enjoy some schadenfreude when the likes of Motorola announce there will be a slew of customers thrown under the bus because “we can’t be screwed supporting you any longer” ( link ) which is now added to ‘incomplete list’ (funny now these ‘incomplete lists’ are never updated but fanboys keep reassuring themselves that the list will be updated – soon!) that Samsung released regarding its own phone range. It is difficult to keep hearing the same tired excuses – first it was “get a phone from a big name vendor” then when you get it from a big name vendor you get told “don’t buy the cheap crappy one” then you buy the top of the line phone and find you’re still thrown under the bus you’re then told “you should have bought a Nexus” but too bad Google has taken too damn long to serve end users outside of the US (Nexus bought through the Google Play Store only just came to NZ in the last year or so). At some point even the most ardent fanboy has to admit the the Android world is a giant clusterfuck that needs a size 12 lodged up its ass if it stands any hope of gaining back the marketshare lost to Apple in the mid to flag ship segments.

On a good side I found this wonderful video of a group playing classics but in ‘Jazz form’ – a real cool vibe akin to the “Modern Jazz Quartet’ ( link )

Well that was fun: OS X 10.11 and iOS 9.0.2 upgrades

Just upgraded my iMac and MacBook Pro to OS X 10.11 El Capitan but I’m going to hold off installing Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac given that there are some teething issues once again between Microsoft’s software and OS X unfortunately – I’d sooner avoid those issues until they release a set of updates (that being said though, Office 2016 is a disappointment when compared to the Windows version – an improvement over 2011 (not exactly a difficult challenge) but compared to the Windows version it always feels as though it is the neglected red headed step child of the family). On a good side I’ve purged Flash off my computer and hopefully that should mean that I’ll never have to worry about dealing with Flash and all the drama that comes with the territory.

So far things have been very stable and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what developers have to say about Metal on OS X but given the enthusiasm Adobe had for it at WWDC then I could imagine that it’ll gain traction. Although I lean towards preferring open standards based technologies there comes a time when one has to acknowledge that the ‘designed by the committee’ approach holds up development and ultimately in the long term undermines the credibility in the eyes of developers even with all the promises of multiplatformness that said framework promises to bring. Developers quickly embraced DirectX even though it would mean being wedded to the Windows platform so given the reach of iOS and the goals of tvOS it appears that Apple is hoping o scale up games to the desktop through the use of Metal and hopefully long term with Apple having control over the graphics API it should allow them to achieve better performance and efficiency when compared to the world of OpenGL.

Perfect system, imperfect humans

It is funny when I’ll jump online and hear ideologues go on about how their religious ideology (could be expanded to politics if you want) talking about how their religion is perfect and the prescriptive laws are perfect but when you point out some theocratic hell hole (Saudi Arabia, Iran etc. take your pick) you’re told that “humans are fallible but [insert ideology here] I perfect!” as if some how they’re unable to see the flaw in their argument. If their argument is that we’re imperfect then aren’t they claiming that their system is imperfect because a perfect system would taken into account humanities imperfections and include safeguards in place to ensure that those imperfections do not undermine the the system itself? for an interventionist all knowing God who steps in and out of his creation he seems rather clueless about his own creation or maybe God never created the system but instead it was created by a man trying to fix a shitty system who never expected society to become more sophisticated than what he saw in his own life time.

iPhone 6S, iOS 9.0.1 and OS X 10.11 Reviews: Week after next week

I’m going to write up a review of all three together sometime the week after next week as it’ll be a good way to review not only individually but how well they perform when working all together. I’ve just ran a device information tool called “Battery Memory System Status Monitor” and it is amazing how an extra 1GB (bringing the total memory to 2GB) makes when it comes to smooth operation, tabs not reloading, switching between applications without lag or delay. I loaded all my music onto the phone and the battery life is exceptionally good so the die shrink and efficiency gains with the A9 have really come through. Oh, and recent benchmarks have put the A9 in the iPhone 6S in the same league as the entry level CPU used in the MacBook. Although they’re two different architectures, RISC (ARM) vs. CISC (x86), it does serve as an interesting guide when it comes to speculating about the future direction of Apple’s relationship with Intel. I say that when you consider the difficulty that Intel is experience with die shrinkage which for many years have given them an edge when it comes to performance per watt but have we reached the point where fabricators will catch up with Intel thus the architecture will once again become a major factor in performance per watt with Apple’s ARM custom ARM design in the form of an A9X.

Regarding El Capitan, I’m running the public beta of 10.11.1 so when 10.11 finally ships I’ll move back to the stable version for both my desktop and laptop along with upgrading my sisters laptop to 10.11 as well which should yield improvements in terms of performance. It’ll be interesting to see how future software titles take advantage of Metal and whether we’ll see more system components moved to being based on Metal as the framework becomes more feature complete as a drop in replacement for Vulkan and OpenGL. In the case of Metal you have the Metal Framework which is the lowest level and the Metal Kit framework which sits on top of Metal that provides lots of higher level functionality that you could implement manually but to make life easier for programmers Apple chooses to provide a higher level kit. When it comes to Vulkan/OpenGL and Metal/Metal Kit then I’d say that over time Metal will remain very much a low level layer but Metal Kit will fill in that gap which OpenGL used to fill in terms of the more high level abstraction. Looking forward a few years it’ll be interesting to see what happens when it comes to third party adoption but given the benefits vs. OpenGL along with even Adobe, a company notorious for their slow adoption of new technology, saw merit in it when El Capitan was shown off at WWDC 2015 and it appears that we’ll be see updates soon which will take advantage of Metal based on the demos which showed significant improvements in terms of real time rendering.

The moment of truth: Power bill day

Well, checked Meridian Energy website and to my shock the bill for the month was $264 :-O oh well, I’ll have to tighten my belt for a few weeks and see this through – thank goodness the worst of winter is over and things will improve although I do have the heater on right now just to take the chill off the air but when I head off to sleep I’ll turn it off. A couple of months of ok electricity bills and I’ll be back on track to some sort of balance. On a good side with the installation pushed back over a month that’ll give me more breathing room till it is all finally hooked up and I’m being charged the UFB pricing each month. Oh well, that is all paid for and dealt with – off to work Tuesday, another day and another pay.

There is a reason for it: UFB installations are painfully slow

I remember reading not too long ago about how to speed up the rate of UFB adoption to make the whole investment into the UFB worth while but the experience over the last few months has been like getting teeth pulled out with pliers. The original order for a UFB installation occurred on the second half of July with all the permissions from the neighbours done fairly properly – it has taken over a month and a half for them to finally finish the installation of the conduits and now I’m told that they’ll arrive on the 14 October before they have a ‘consultation’ as to where they’re going to install the ONT device then they’re going to come back on 5 November (assuming there is no delays) to install the UFB. So basically it has taken 4 months for something that should never have taken four months to do – this is the reason why people can’t be bothered installing UFB. Something that should be a job that takes two weeks at max has drawn out to be a long painful process lasting four months. God knows there are people that need jobs and installations that need taking place so they can’t convince me that they don’t have the man power to dig a trench, drop a cable, push a fibre through then hook it up in short order. What it appears to me is cost cutting by Chorus because it is the only explanation for the whole process taking so damn long in the first place.

Crappy weather is back: There goes my electricity bill

Le sigh, I was hoping that maybe I’d be able to claw back some of the electicity bill as the weather improved but here I am sitting in my office with the heater cranked up to full keeping me warm on a wet 8°C evening. Oh well, hopefully this is the last death throws of winter before we finally see spring arrive in all its mediocre NZ glory but alas I’m not going to be holding my breath that it’ll happen any time soon. On a good side though, only another two weeks to go before I can go on a holiday for two weeks along with OS X El Capitan arriving 30 September and the iPhone 6S 128GB arriving hopefully around the 25th which will make for a great start to the build up to my holidays. Also, hopefully next week Chorus will get in contact with me so I can get the fibre installed in my home – the heavy lifting has been done so it is a matter of them ‘blowing’ the fibre down the conduit to the home which will give a nice consistent experience especially when watching movies and live broadcasts.

Once again we see that Trump is a nasty piece of work with his pandering to the xenophobic racist underbelly of the Republican Party:

And notice the complete absence of any high profile public push back (apart from appearing on a morning chat show that is watched by a handful of people who switch on the TV has background noise) from any of the major presidential candidates or high profile Republican Party officials. Really, this is where the Republicans have fallen to when compared to centre right parties around the world. Just look at the Conservatives in the UK, Liberals in Australia, National in New Zealand, CDU in Germany then compare those parties and their policies to what the Republicans have become. They’ve gone from centre right to far right to somewhere in the funny farm with crazy people who wear tin foil hats and believe their refrigerator speaks to them at night. We’re not talking about a centre right party that one would associate with William Buckley Jr. If you want to see how far the Republicans have strayed then check out the ‘Republican party Platform of 1964’ ( link ) – if that was the Republican Party today then it would be a different situation but alas here we are in 2015 and it is sounding very much like Trump would fit into the Democratic Party of the 1950s with the Dixiecrats and their support for the Jim Crow laws given how divisive Trump behaves.

As most of you have probably seen, the Chinese stock market has been going through a roller coaster of a time but what I thought was funny is the terminology being used for their anti-corruption effort – apparently they’re ‘purifying the market’ which seems to have all the euphemistic qualities of the Soviet style ‘re-education camp’ for those whose ‘minds have been corrupted’ or better still when being shipped away to a gulag in Siberia was referred to as ‘counting trees’ because it is the only thing you can do in Siberia.

And so the dollar goes back up again

Over the last several weeks/months there has been the drop in the value of many currencies when compared to the US but this as primarily driven not because of any sort of underling economic fundamentals but rather the promise by the Federal Reserve that they’re going to ‘raise interest rates in the near future’ and ‘get things back on a path to normality’ so the usual mouth breathing morons jump on that bandwagon by stocking up on US dollars even though no evidence points to an actual rate rise. In other words what we’ve seen is the Fed using words and authority to manipulate the market but the result is something happening but them doing nothing ( link ). This may sound great to them but eventually the market is going to stop believing resulting in them in the future actually having to do something if they want something to happen and any sort of ‘good will’ there might have been between the market and the Fed will rapidly disappear. The net result of ‘doing nothing’ has been a sharp rise in the NZ dollar compared to the US dollar ( link ) as I speculated when chatting to a friend of mine on Skype.

So the Fed have had the interest rates stuck at 0% for 7 years, are we getting to the point where the United States is gradually turning into a Japan? Over in Japan they’ve kept their interest rates at around 0% for over a decade and the likes of Paul Krugman and other economist have questioned whether this will actually stimulate the economy especially when you consider how highly leveraged the average consumer is with debt. In the US the consumer makes up 70% of the economic activity in the economy but the problem is that wages have stagnated and although private debt has been reduced along with an improvement in savings there still isn’t the ability to manoeuvre without taking on more debt and if more debt does occur then it’ll be a temporary boost to the economy until once again the consumer hits that capacity of being able to borrow.

So what is the alternative? the only alternative as far as I see it is the proposal by ‘Dr Doom’ aka Professor Steve Keen noted there needs to be a debt write off and better still we also need to get rid of ‘bullshit’ (for the lack of a better word) of formalised fraud under the guise of ‘financial instruments’ where elongated ‘bullshit’ is given the thin veneer of authenticity when reality very few people can actually nail down what these things actually do. Lets face it, finance isn’t difficult – you start a business and you want to grow a business so you can either go and look for investors, borrow money from a bank, issue bonds on the market, maybe even patricianly float your business to bring in cash to fuel expansion. Another type of agreement is one where a supplier and end user where there is an agreed price that smooths off the peaks and troughs where both side benefit; the user has a predictable costing for their inputs and the supplier has a steady long term client. These are incredibly simplistic examples but examples non the less showing that for the most part I have to ask whether these ‘financial instruments’ are needed or whether they’re a creation of the financial sector to make more money but have very little in the way of actual benefit to the real economy – the real economy where people make stuff, employ people and then sell that stuff to consumers.

Complaints and Grievances: Dear reader, we have a thing called a dictionary

This is a bit of a follow up to a few things that have been occurring in my life so far and a bit of a debrief of the Apple presentation that occurred on 9 September 2015 where the iPhone 6S, AppleTV, iOS 9.0 and El Capitan release dates were announced along with the new iPad Pro. Over the last week I’ve been putting the HTC One M9 through its paces and it is a great phone so I’ll hold onto it for my mum given that she has the old HTC One M7 and I think the HTC One M9 would be a great Christmas present for this year and couple it with the leather case that will be arriving soon I’m sure she would appreciate having something a little better. Although it is a great phone I saw the iPhone 6S and it is calling me back to the platform which has pushed me to put through an order for the iPhone 6S 128GB along with a Twelve South Bookbook so I’ll be pretty happy when it arrives. For the HTC One M9 I ordered a leather flip case through Etsy will probably arrive at the end of October given that the supplier is a ‘one man band’ where the process takes 2 weeks to complete. The iPhone 6S that I ordered will arrive on 25 September – Spark said that they’ll try to get it as close to that date as they can but I’m not overly fussy either way as long as it is delivered safe and sound.

The presentation was fun as always with the announcement of iOS 9 release date of 16 September and the release of the iOS 9.1 public beta which will put into the hands of developers the 3D touch API that’ll enable developers to take advantage of the new hardware in iPhone 6S. The improvements in iOS 9 were noted around 6-9 months ago when there was a leak that iOS 9.0 would be primarily a tidying up and optimisation release with the 9.1 release building upon it by formalising private API’s in 9.0 which came with a new device into public API’s that all developers could use. Although I’d love to see a ‘dark option’ for iOS like they’ve done with OS X I’m happy to live with what is on offer. Oh, and the icing on the cake is the fact that the iPhone 4S, 4 years after it shipped, is still receiving iOS updates and upgrades which is amazing when compared to the Android world where you’re thrown under the bus 12 months after getting a phone – and people wonder why Apple has such a strong customer retention over the long term.

The Apple TV was shown off with the best feature being the access to the apps store and specifically what it should mean is rather than online streaming companies having to come to some sort of arrangement with Apple to get their application bundled with the next update of IOS it should mean more services that can be accessed by the Apple TV. In the case of New Zealand there are two services that come to mind, Neon (SkyTV) and Lightbox (Spark Ventures) which will mean that in the future once it is all released and stabilised we’ll see an app being made for TvOS which should translate into more offerings and turning Apple TV into something with more content that is available. There is also another aspect shown off which is as a console that taps into the large number of casual gamers who aren’t addicted to max FPS or ultra high super duper resolution games but rather low cost fun games that the masses like playing. I wonder to what extent we’ll see the established players feel heat from the new competitor especially when you consider that as devices become more powerful and cheaper whether the likes of Sony and Microsoft find their console relegated to the same sort of niche that hardcore PC gamers occupy which is a lively community but rather one where they’re a minority in a sea of casual gamers.

The iPad Pro with the stylus bought out the usual suspects and the misquoting of Steve Jobs regarding the oft quoted, “If You Need A Stylus, You’ve Already Failed!” whilst ignoring the fact that the operative word in that quotations ‘need’ and the iPad Pro makes it an optional extra. What i think is rather interesting is how the iPad Pro has become the flag ship product on which Microsoft advertises their Microsoft Office offerings which will be interesting given the recent relationship that was started between Apple and IBM in relation to not only getting enterprise apps on the iOS platform but also deploying it in all manner of work places.

The release date of OS X ‘El Capitan’ was announced, 30 September, so hopefully by the time I get my time off (starting 5 October) the fibre connection will be all installed along with the arrival of the iPhone 6S (I’ll write up a review) so I’ll have a geek out bender – might top it off by watching some old school Sci-fi such as Babylon 5.

HTC One M9 and Android 5.1

Just looking through for reviews of the HTC One M9 after the Android 5.1 made its way out to the consumers given that many reviewers had major criticisms whilst running Android 5.0.x and many promises by HTC that the issues being discussed by reviewers would eventually be addressed in future updates to Android and the bundled applications provided by HTC. I finally found a good review on YouTube that gives the device a once over given that he had run the phone using the stock 5.0.2 and the updated 5.1 that has come out just recently (we’ve only just received the Android 5.1 update in New Zealand in the last month).

And it appears that although every where else things have improved there remains issues with the camera which is unfortunate but at the same time I wonder to what extent I’ve seen in the past where reviews (not this gentleman’s review btw) are so heavily camera focused that I wonder whether it is almost a process of ‘searching for flaws’ rather than reviewing the product as it is. Truth be told I’ve yet to use a phone or a webcam with an autofocus that doesn’t suck – reminds me of a Logitech top of the line webcam and the autofocus was so annoying I had to disable it when creating videos using it – the technology in and of itself is hit and miss thus I’d sooner take direct control over what is happening than leave it up to some algorithm to do the job for me. I’m also sure, if one had plenty of time, you could find flaws in almost everything but alas it appears that HTC cannot cut a break but hopefully with Android Marshmallow we’ll see future improvements. That being said, I had a look at the Nexus 6 and the big draw back as far as I see with the Nexus 6 is the lack of an SDCard slot especially for someone like me who has gigabytes of music and would find that even the 64GB limit as rather limiting. I understand the need for simplification but it is rather limiting when one his a storage brick wall then having to play ‘musical chairs’ with the stuff stored on the device just to squeeze some extra stuff in there.