Apologies for the slow response given that there was the massive announcement last week but it has taken a week to digest the announcements and some time to ruminate over what I think of thee products that are launched and in particular the larger iPhone 6 Plus that has been the most well know secret – something that was pretty much accepted as a give in before the presentation. The presentation itself was a complete debacle from a ‘live streaming’ perspective where one had to deal with a malfunctioning website, an overloaded server then the crappy management of the audio streams resulting in two audio streams coming through at the same time (the original presentation plus a translation being heard faintly in the background). In the end I gave up and instead followed the live commentary and photos uploaded on the Arstechnica live feed which was good enough especially since I was also checking out what was on TV at the same time – the joys of multitasking.
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were released along with the new CPU architecture promoted under the name of the ‘A8’ (I’m sure some point in the future they’ll come up with variants for their iPad and iPad Air in much the same way that the A5X and A6X) and the biggest interest I had was in the increase in storage space where you can now get up to 128GB of storage which for someone like me who has 200GB+ of music it is welcome relief – not that I’ll listen to every bit of music I load onto my phone but it is great to have a large selection so matter what mood I’m in I’ll find something I’ll want to listen to. Having that large amount of storage not only helps when it comes to music but also when it comes to applications – I’m not a big applicable acquirer but at the same time it is nice to have that extra bit of space given that once you buy the phone you cannot add extra space in the form of an sdcard some where down the line. It is one of the aspects of the new HTC product line up I really admire – the styling of the HTC One M8 really gives the device the feel and sense of a premium device whilst ensuring that the capability of sdcard expansion that it is a device that you can own for the long term.
The other interesting part is the support for more frequencies, specifically, the added support for LTE band 28 which covers the LTE APT 700Mhz spectrum which is incompatible with the 700Mhz that is in use in the United States. Before the arrival of the iPhone 6/6+ the only other two hand sets that supported Band 28 was the HTC One m8 and the recently updated Samsung Galaxy S5. The other benefit is apparently Japan and Europe are also working so that once they switch off analogue transition the 700Mhz spectrum freed up will either result in the adoption of APT 700Mhz or at least an implementation that is compatible.
As for the whole iPhone 6/6 Plus choice, I’ll be going for the iPhone 6 Plus with 128GB but the big question is whether I remain with Spark (formally known as Telecom NZ) or move over to Vodafone as they seem to at least have some sort of long term coherent grand design that doesn’t appear to be a chaotic ‘pick and mix’ of hardware and services from various vendors then praying that’ll all work together some how without it all turning to crap. Then add to that the cable internet network with speeds up to 100Mbps (and rumours of an upgrade in the pipeline to push up the speed even higher) along with Vodafone offering 12 month interest free deals like what Spark has to offer then combine that with a cheaper package if I move it all to one company then maybe the end of November is the best time to break free of spark and move to better and brighter things. As for the purchase time table – if the delays end up spilling over in reference to the iPhone 6 Plus then it might not be until maybe the beginning of December before NZ retailers (both carriers and retailers) are able to get sufficient volume to meet demand – and no, I’m not going to camp outside a shop to be the first.
Regarding Vodafone right now, the coverage is very good in my area where both they have a 1800Mhz LTE service along with 900Mhz and 2100Mhz 3G tower as well – they’re well and truly covering the area what they have to offer. Combine that with the recent issues I’ve been having with intermittent data connection and emails not always being sent even though my phone will say that it is all sent without any errors coming up. Honestly, Spark is trying their best but in all honestly you’d think at this stage they would address issues such as intermittent data connectivity issues because the problem was really chronic when I worked in Upper Hutt where there was a network connection (in many cases the signal was very strong) yet unable to load a website, send an email etc. and in Johnsonville you have to walk around the work place to find a strong signal. Oh well, what ever the case maybe I might just flip a coin and buy it direct from Apple and throw it on their 12 months interest free deal and then move forward.
With the debate I’ve continued reading through the various articles online particularly focused around childhood poverty but with the discussion there always seems to be a reluctance by the media and politicians to start to dissect the context of those claiming that they’re struggling. I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation in our life where we’ve come to our parents 3 or 4 days after receiving pocket money or after receiving pay from your part time job and saying, “I’ve run out of money, may I get a loan until my pay comes through”. Like any responsible parent I’m sure you heard the ominous question, “what did you spend your money on that left you lacking in money?” – the question isn’t to stop you from getting help, or trying to play the blame game but to educate you about the value of money and going back over what you’ve spent your money on and seeing whether the situation could have been avoided. The problem is that when ever poverty is discussed the question of the circumstances are never discussed; is it really smart to have four kids and a fifth on his/her way whilst struggling to pay the bills even before the first child was even born? was it really smart to go out and pay for fireworks before paying rent and power that week?
There is a tendency by politicians, after failing to analyse the basis of the problem to then turn around and start throwing money at the problem – drown it in enough money and eventually the public will believe that the ‘government’ (and in turn ‘society’) cares but whether it actually helps is a different discussion entirely. It is the same sort of belief when it comes to regulation and laws – “well, we’ve passed a law banning it so I guess we can wash our hands, walk away and believe that we’ve solved the problem” and thus you have the history of prohibition and the flawed logic behind such attempts to quash ‘undesirable behaviour’ without first recognising the cause, secondly questioning whether it is something that is a problem to begin with and thirdly asking the larger questions in regards to individual choice and the negative spill over effects.
Putting that aside, are there people that fall on tough times? sure there are, husband suddenly loses his job and the finances all turn to crap, wife is sick and the husband has to work fewer hours to take care of the kids, wife loses her job and a whole host of other issues but that isn’t what is being used as an example of poverty in New Zealand. out of the three families that were shown on the Campbell live show there was only one of them you could say “fallen on tough times through no fault of their own” whilst the other two were examples of people creating their own personal hell. Personally I find it, as someone who sits on the centre left, insulting those who are genuinely needy are lumped into the same grouping as those folks who create their own hard ship because of really stupidly bad decisions. That some how the poverty born out of events outside of ones control are some how equal to that of decisions people make based on themselves making decisions based on emotions and hormones rather than what is/isn’t affordable is quite frankly offensive.
What is the solution? I’m open to any new ideas ranging from mandatory budgeting classes, education at school about the cost of living and starting a family but throwing more money at the problem as some political parties have talked about isn’t the solution. I’m sympathetic to what the Labour Party is trying to do which is to boost the minimum wage and push up the value of our exported products so we move from a low cost to one where our products are sold on innovation and quality in much the same way Germany does but giving more money to people who can’t manage their money well isn’t going to fix the source of the problem. End of the day though the discussion about poverty becomes meaningless if the issue of irresponsible behaviour isn’t raised, when there is no effort to differentiate between poverty through events outside ones control versus poverty caused by irresponsible behaviour and thus there is an attempt a scattergun approach that lacks the nuance and subtlety required when diagnosing a problem and then finding a cure to the problem – ignoring all the information is akin to trying to diagnose an illness but ignoring all the symptoms you find uncomfortable dealing with.
Just looking at my bills and probably by the end of this year I would have moved over to Vodadone for their higher speed cable internet that’ll be flat rate along with cable television and mobile especially when one considers the lighting pace that Vodafone is upgrading their network where as Telecom seem to be lumbering along like an old fart with a zimmer frame when it comes to at least coming up with a plan for their 700Mhz network expansion. This map here ( link ) does a pretty good job outlining where the cell sites are and what their capabilities are (2G, 3G, 4G, 700Mhz, 850Mhz, 900Mhz, 1800Mhz, 2100Mhz, 2600Mhz) – although it doesn’t give an estimation of coverage one can get a good picture as to whether or not one is in a giant signal black hole. UFB (Ultra Fast Broadband) aka fibre won’t be coming to my area until July 2016 at the earliest so I guess I’ll just have to make do with a 130Mbps connection – ah, first world problems.
So after two terms of the National Party running New Zealand we’re told that things are going well but the reality is that we’ve now got stories where for two terms the debt of the government increased but now they’re getting into surplus gradually but the problem is this – we’re seeing a corresponding increase in debt after 6 years of deleveraging by the public as people moved to consolidated debt into something more manageable. The problem is, as Professor David Harvey pointed out when talking about Marx and Engels, is that capitalism doesn’t actually address the problem but rather move it around – in the case of two terms under National what we’ve seen is the government pretty much transferred the debt from the private sector to the public sector and now the process is reversing – the public debt is decreasing (debt per year rather than debt over all) and private debt is increasing; not just housing, which makes up the majority of New Zealand debt but also private debt when it comes to consumption (credit card, store cards etc). Housing debt is a problem and as long as house prices remain stable then everything is at least ok on that front but the big concern is the area of personal debt such as credit card debt, store debt, personal loans which tend to be provided on an insecure basis, higher interest rates (to offset a certain number who default on their debt) which leads to instability as the amounts become larger and larger. I’m not going to be the doom and gloom merchant because I believe these issues are addressable but unfortunately so far we’ve had the line from the right that private debt is good because it is the byproduct of rational self interest where as public debt is automatically bad because government is inherently wasteful with money.
The other part of equation is this; the belief in this idea that the market will magically will make sensible long term decisions because after all it is all propelled by this idea of individuals seeking out opportunities that benefit them – supply and demand. People are demanding something and an enterprising person will start up a business to manufacture, import etc. to meet that demand. The problem with that is that it assumes that firstly humans are rational all the time, it ignores the cumulative effective of large numbers of people gravitating towards one idea over another (see the ‘irrational exuberance’ where speculators used risk modelling only to find that they ignored the cumulative effect of everything turning to crap at the same time), it also ignores that you need people trained and educated as to provide a work force but there lies the problem because if you want to diversify the economy you’ll find that most will gravitate to the status quo unless there is direct intervention by the government in some way – allocating more funding to particular tertiary education courses, setting up a tax structure that favours a particular industry, for example, a tax and levy holiday to new businesses in the information technology sector for up to 5 years as to reduce the barrier to entry especially in the early years where most businesses are either making a loss or if they are generating a profit it is at the low end of the scale (very little room to making large investments to grow the business faster). The problem with National is that we’ve already seen almost two decades of extreme hands off approach to managing the economy (before Labour got in) and when Labour did get in 1999 there was a more hands on approach was taken to the economy which included a focus on diversifying the NZ economy beyond just a reliance on agriculture – and in many cases what we see today with names such as Xero, Fianz and other software vendors – they’re the beneficiary of those changes made. The problem is now with the current election we’ve seen National take their hands off the wheel believing that once again the free market will do what needs to be done with minimal intervention – something I’m sceptical as to whether it’ll work given that in the past it hasn’t worked.
I’ve just finished watching the leaders debate between Labour and National ( link ) and to be honest it is pretty depressing how on one hand we had John Key constantly repeating the same talking points which made the debate boring because there was no engaging of John Key with David Cunliffe. The end result was a debate where the two spoke over each other rather than to each other – critiquing, point and counter point so that ideas could be discussed and us the voters could see the ideas behind the the front men, the ideas that would be implemented once said party is in office and they can start implementing said ideas. It is the one of the reasons I don’t like debates – if it isn’t the respective participants repeating their learned lines then you have the candidates spend half their time trying to find technicalities or minor flaws in what the person says rather than actually critiquing the heart of the idea being promised by the opposition. So I sat back, watched the spectacle but then jumped on Reddit to see what other people were saying – although the Labour loyalists were adamant that David won the general consensus by those unaffiliated to a party was that the debate was pretty damn depressing to watch – there was no winner and the watching public were the losers in that nothing fruitful came of it.
Just reading this article ( link ) and funny enough OSNews.com linked to it as well with Thom, in his usual ground breaking analysis stated the following:
Companies like Apple like to boast about the ‘app economy’, but in reality, the situation is a whole lot less rosy and idealistic than they make it out to be. I think most smartphone buyers download the bare essentials like Facebook, Twitter, Candy Crush, and their local banking application, and call it quits.
Together with the problematic state of application stores, the ‘app economy’ isn’t as sustainable as once thought.
Small problem with that assumption is that firstly it assumes that Android and iOS play in the exact same market spaces when in reality that just simply isn’t the case – as I’ve stated numerous times in the past, 66% of Android device sales are at the low end, no, not the Nexus low end but the REALLY low end such as Alcatel, Huawei, ZTE and others where you can get such phones for NZ$200 off contract (to be honest, most of them are just above the classification of a feature phone). Also there are some other factors – for a large number of people who fall into the demographic you’ll find their main things they want to do can be accomplished either via the web browser such as online banking or they use the pre-bundled applications. For example, for a large number of Android phones you already get Facebook pre-installed so that will never be registered as a download because it came pre-installed – that is the case for many applications that Samsung users experience because all of what they need is already on the phone.
Now, I’m not slamming the low end entry phones (because for many, they’re more than adequate to do the job that needs to be done) but it is important that when analysing a given topic that a full understanding of the nuances is required before jumping to conclusions about the usage habits of those in that segment of the market. As for ‘App Store’ curated markets they have their issues particularly when we have the amount of crap that is sold and at times the number of titles make it difficult to find sorts of applications but with that being said one shouldn’t simply throw out the whole idea because of one or two problems – the focus should be on how one fixes the problem; better search algorithms, cracking down on vendors who put 100 variations of the same application that do all the same thing etc. because boasting about number of applications may sound great for a press release but in reality the focus should be on quality and keeping that bar high as to avoid the tsunami of crap that exists out there.
Well, after disconnecting my stove I find that things aren’t as simple as I expected so I’m having to get an electrician to come in an certify it – I’m knowledgeable enough about electrical stuff to be dangerous but you have to be certified to do the sort of things I did but on the good side I’ve disable (by pulling out the fuse) that particular circuit so it is all safe. I’ve decided to actually replace my old stove with something a lot nicer:
Which will look nice in the kitchen – the great part is the fact that I sold my old Mac mini server and a few other things – going to get it installed on Monday along with getting the other stuff certified by the electrician along with the old stove taken away. Paying off my debt is going well – on track to pay it all off by the end of November which will make life a lot easier.
On the technology front Apple has released new test versions of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.0 – I’m also looking forward to the announcement of the next iPhone which has been rumoured to occur on 9 September but keeping in mind that the announcement doesn’t necessary correspond to it being immediately available so it might not appear at least in NZ until October/November. I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing that both Telecom and Vodafone do their best to push the deployment of 700Mhz APT LTE nationwide with Vodafone talking about moving to VoLTE and Telecom is probably looking at some sort of grand unified solution for their fibre and wireless side so that they just one back end for both sides of the business as to avoid needless duplication.
As for Sky, right now I’m going to tread water and wait it out because the cost of cancelling my subscription is going to cost as much as if I were to stay with them till the 12 month contract is up so I’m thinking what the hell and waiting it out then I’ll cancel my subscription and I’ll sign up for ‘Light Box’ which is the TV on demand service from Spark (formally known as Telecom NZ) which will be officially launched 28 August with a price tag of $15 per month which is significantly cheaper than the $60 per month I’m paying now to Sky for their subscription service – truth be known I’d sooner not have to deal with watching television on their schedule but when I come home and at my own pace. When I do that I’ll move to flat rate internet as well – a good VDSL connection, flat rate internet, great 802.11ac router and video on demand service – I’m living the life as they say.