Thats sorted out, now onto more stuff

Finally got everything related to banking sorted out: VISA Debit arrived, picked up the EFTPOS card, my Low Rate VISA arrived pretty quickly and I learned how to use the automated deposit ATM which means that money I deposit goes straight into my account at the time of deposit – it is basically like one of those automated check outs where you feed your notes and coins then the ATM does the counting and crediting to your account. It is a great way when you want to put money into the account straight away so then you an pay a bill or purchase something online without having to wait 1-2 days for the old school money in the envelope method. My GEM Visa is on track of having it paid off by half before I go off on my break which will mean that I’ll have one less thing to worry about and Spark has been notified about the modem which I’ll drop off at the Courier Post- saves me from having to ring up a courier to come around and pick it up from home. I dropped it off and they were happy to have take it – I’ll remember in future next time when I do need to send something back that such an option does exist.

On a good side I’m now doing more cooking at home rather than purchasing take aways which helps the budget and also helping my health as well – getting off the fried foods and making improvements. I’m hoping that the 2 1/2 weeks I’m off in June will also give me time to focus on getting my diet in order to get life back on track – not because I’m unhealthy or anything but I realise that as I get older that losing weight and making a lifestyle change will become increasingly more difficult so if I start now then it’ll settle in to being a habit where I don’t have to consciously think these choices in every day life.

I’ve got Saturday off and my birthday is on 1 June but I’m more excited about the end of next week which is when my holiday will start – 2 1/2 weeks of relaxing at home, chilling out and not having to deal with the drama of work or any other obligations. Some people go alway on holidays when they get time off where as I prefer to keep it simple – watch some movies at home, maybe go for a day trip into Wellington for a walk along the waterfront on good day not to mention maybe chilling out around the local mall as well.

Checking out the cost of a 125cc scooter and I’ve still got to ring up RTNZ to find out what the rego and licensing cost cost each year given that their website is about as clear as mud – does it come under scooter or does it get pushed into the motorbike category given that it is over 50cc. On a good side the price is stayed at the same amount for the last few months so I don’t think it’ll be moving up or down anytime soon. Basically long term I really do need a larger bike considering I want to be able to travel further and going 100km on a 50cc would be just too slow and painful.

Sweet mercifuls but positive news

Just reading through the variety of posts on Reddit and it is amazing the number of people who write off replies without even bothering to read the thread to which they’re replying to – really, read through the thread and ask yourself, “the issue that I’m about to raise, has it been addressed, discussed or is there something new I can contribute?” if you’ve got nothing new to add or the issue has already been addressed then why are you replying? it seems to be a situation of people wanting to hear the sound of their own voice than asking themselves whether they should reply in the first place. I’ve been in the very situation where I’ve read through a thread starting post thinking to myself, “oh I can put my input here” only to read further down the page that my point of view has already been made in that thread so I don’t need to add more fuel to the already raging fire.

People trying to make out that something occurs because of some grand malicious scheme dreamed up in the deep bowels of a building filled with men in a smoked fill room when in reality the explaination for the decision is incompetence. This explanation is known as Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity” because you’d be surprised the number of decisions that are made by those in power based on the most rosy optimistic predictions only for it all to turn to crap within a short space of time. Far too often I see on /r/newzealand people trying to make out that John Key is some sort of illegitimate dictator who is doing his best to featherbed his ‘corporate buddies’ but never a single piece of evidence is shown other than the conclusions drawn based on, “well, he supports the TPP so therefore it must because he wants to help out his crooked mates” because apparently anyone on the right is the root of all evil and such individuals who level such accusations can’t seem to grasp the idea that maybe John Key were weighing up both sides and that he believes that although the TPP has its ‘issues’, New Zealand will benefit more from the agreement than any of the issues that might arise. Now, there is nothing wrong with disagreeing with the assessment but to slander someone via unsubstantiated innuendo really shows just how baseless their arguments are.

On a good side it appears that the recent fiasco with discoveryd means that it’ll be all coming to an end and a return of the mDNSResponder in OS 10.10.4 ( link ) which makes me wonder why there was a move away from mDNSResponder in terms of the justification given how much agony it has caused end users and I’m sure the mountain of grief it has also caused the engineers hunting down the bugs and trying to fix them up in a timely manner. As I understand, mDNSResponder has a large code base with lots of platforms supported so if the diversity of platforms is becoming a problem then why not trim it back to the absolute essential and focus on making sure those platforms that exist are being maintained rather than just existing in the code base more or less being ignored by those maintainers that should be looking after it. I also wonder how much ‘benefit’ was supposed to be gained from the new code base – if you need to fix something up because it is beyond repair I can understand (see my numerous rants about Windows and win32 as a good example) but if you do undertake a clean re-write then it requires accepting that re-writing introduces a whole new set of bugs and issues that will need resolving so big questions need to be asked whether the improvements are big enough to justify such disruption and whether those goals can be achieved in the existing code base without having to endure the disruption. I’m looking forward to seeing 10.10.4 eventually make it out but more importantly I hope that this works as a learning experience for Apple not to replace things that aren’t broken or replacing something because it isn’t ‘modern’ and ‘new’ because it’ll come back to bite you in the ass later on.


Complaints and Grievances

Reading through the /r/apple subreddit and it is always amazing when I see people complaining about the latest MacBook because it cannot run Firefox or Microsoft Office 2011 badly (in fairness to 2011, it is old and poor optimised so I’ll be fair to Microsoft). Firefox has always been a horrific mess because it pretty much recreates a large portion of an operating system all for the sake of portability so the net result is a piece of software so abstracted that you end up with what you have. If the software is designed to be multi-platform then the platform it is running on will always be an afterthought rather than a deliberate plan from the outset that the operating system was targeted from day one. The net result is that you have an application that runs but never going to be optimised or well integrated – it’ll always feel like a ‘fish out of water’ but all is good when you’ve got a grunty piece of hardware that is able to mask the inefficiencies in the software because “well fuck it, lets just throw more memory and processing power then eventually it’ll run acceptably”.

Now, the problem is that you’ve got super low power low clocked CPU in a fanless super thin notebook design which means if you have a well written application that is optimised and takes advantage of the built in operating system technologies then it’ll run well but if it is a piece of software written with your operating system as an after thought then it’ll be a crappy experience. The rumour has it that Apple has hit a wall – the ability to throw more hardware at a problem isn’t going to make up for inefficiencies in the operation system so in recent days the rumour has been going that the next release of OS X and iOS will be focused on optimising and bug fixing, a ‘Snow Yosemite’ that’ll hopefully give developers at Apple some breathing room to sit back and go back through the code to clean up some loose ends which will hopefully mean a more reliable experience not to mention those devices with low power CPU’s such as the newly launched MacBook will provide a new lease on life.

Making progress

Making progress bit by bit – contacted Spark to notify them that I have cancelled the UFB installation given the amount of fucking around required to get it installed it just wasn’t worth it for the modest speed improvement given that today I’m already getting connected to the exchange at 45Mbps down and 10Mbps upstream which is close to the maximum one can get at this distance from the exchange using a VDSL connection. Sure, if I purchased UFB I could download things faster locally but since most of what I download is from overseas I doubt I would get much higher. Most of the time if I’m download off a big name like Apple or Microsoft I’m hitting close to 1-2MBps (mega bytes per-second as apposed to the connection rate which I provided as mega bits per-second). I’m very happy with my service and given that the price of wholesale copper is going to drop over time there will be the added benefit of cheaper prices. I have looked at alternatives such as the Vodafone Cable network which is already installed but their crappy customer service, crappy speed, crappy billing system and just wall to wall crappiness pretty much necessitates me staying with VDSL for the foreseeable future. I am tempted though to get a power line networking and working out how to disable the ‘night store’ setting on the power board so then I can use the circuit that used to be used by the heaters and instead use it as a dedicated loop for networking – have a good stable connection from my desktop computer in the office to the router in the lounge room sitting on top of the bookshelf.

I’ve finally sorted out my banking with everything moved back to ASB Bank – Visa Debit card arrived but I’m going to pick up my EFTPOS card tomorrow as a back up to the Visa Debit then in the next couple of days the Visa Low Rate will arrive. On the Kiwibank side I’ve closed off my credit card and once that is confirmed I’ll contact them to close off my account. As for my ASB account I’ll get them to delete my two old accounts that I kept open just incase a friend of mine sent some cash from overseas but what I’m going to do instead is have a multi-currency account so then it avoids the conversion fees from Yuan to NZ$. Paying down that GEM Visa but I’m in now hurry since it is is interest free but I’ll have at least half of it whacked off by the time I go on holiday although at the beginning of June I’m going to take my scooter in for a 6 monthly intensive servicing and telling the guys at the workshop to replace anything that needs replacing or doesn’t look right along with tightening any screws, bolts and nuts that they see.

I finally used my oven and cooked some nice home cooked meal but I’ll be purchasing a roast chicken tomorrow for dinner along with some salad – something healthier than the fast foods I’ve become accustomed to at work. To be honest I am tempted to purchase some Complan (mix it with some Benifibre) and a shaker cup so then I can bring dinner from home to gradually ween myself off of fast food and get healthier. One of those things I noticed is that I’m becoming too reliant on eating quick food and god knows it can’t be doing good things to my long term health where as at least with Complan plus Benifibre I’ll get my vitamins, minerals and fibre required whilst also controlling calories which will help in reducing my weight over the long term and bring it to a happy medium middle ground.

Just realised that I’ve run out of spare oil so I’ll need to grab a couple of bottles from the REPCO up in Johnsonville – it’s a premium 2 stroke oil but it really does make the engine purr well combined with good 95 octane petrol the little 50cc beast is humming like a cat. I am tempted though to have a look at a 125cc scooter on Motorad which is the same brand as my existing one except it is a 125cc version of it for $3,799 ( link )  so after I pay down the GEM Visa I’m going to have a look at purchasing by throwing it on the card where I will automatically get 6 months interest free. That’ll double the power of the scooter meaning I can go for long journeys although the cost of the registration and licence is confusing ( link ) because I’m unsure whether the scooter would fall under the scooter/moped even though the cc amount has gone up given that if it falls below 50cc and a scooter than it is in its own category when compared to the exact same size motor but on a motorcycle form factor. There is this one that I’m tempted by because of the cool retro design  ( link ) but really what I want is a place where I can put my scooter that will protect it from the weather – out the back I’d love to put up something like an Archgola so then it provides some covering over the backyard so then I can put my scooter around the back whilst also providing a way where I can dry my clothes outside even on an overcast day – being able to have a decent size clothes horse. That being said, I also need to sort out that gate on the side because right now I’d prefer to have something a little more robust to provide security rather than the rickety lattice work thing that hangs there now. Whilst I’m thinking of upgrades – change the door that leads into the kitchen from having a frosted glass panel to a solid door – something more robust than the status quo today especially when it comes to security and keeping out drafts.

Regarding my current computer hooked up to the television, for some reason it is turning off each night so maybe it is getting to the end of its life – choc full of dust? highly likely so that will be another thing I can add to the ‘must do’ list where I’ll replace that with a Mac mini with a small SSD drive, wireless keyboard and a magic tough pad which should be fun when watching stuff online. I was ruminating over the idea of getting an Apple TV but the problem is that it is so restrictive in what one can do that the lifespan is limited and I’m more likely to get annoyed given that many of the shows I want to watch only show ‘previews’ on YouTube and a link to the full version of their website – PBS Frontline and Charlie Rose being two examples of that. Even if I went out to purchase a Mac mini and pay it all off it will still work out cheaper than having a Sky connection given that I have a flat rate internet connection combined with access to all the shows I want to watch such as France 24 which means I’m able to watch all the news online live but for free – good times and happy days for all.

TPPA and the Democrats

Just watching C-SPAN throw down between Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell – it is funny hearing Mitch McConnell quote word for word what Democrats have said in the committee after the Democrats voted not against the fast track bill voted against the very idea of having a debate! How can Democrats in committee claim they’re not interesting in scuttling the bill then turn around and vote against the very idea of having a debate in the first place – the fact that the bill never actually gets to the stage where these issues can be thrashed out and modifications made if need be? What is even more problematic is the narrative surrounding the ‘fast track’ as if it were an automatic approval of what ever Obama negotiates but what it really does is allow Obama to negotiate but the congress and senate still get to vote on the final version. The only gotcha is the fact that the final version cannot be amended – either members vote for or against it. If Elizabeth Warren is so adamantly against it then why not vote against it when it is presented to the senate? If it is such a bad idea then why not vote against it and then Obama go back to the TPPA working group noting the concerns of those who voted against it? Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of misgivings with TPPA but nothing is gained by blocking debate nor nothing is gained if you claim you’re against it and yet don’t have ‘the balls’ to vote against it when it is presented to the congress and senate.

Enjoying my day off from work, looking forward to the long weekend in June

Chilling out at home today and enjoying a game of Simcity 4 on my Mac although I am excited about the opportunity about giving the game ‘Cities: Skylines’ which every reviewer has noted that this is what Simcity 5/2015 should have been – single player, face, responsive, better game play etc. It is available via steam which should be fun to give a go keeping in mind that the price is pretty reasonable, $38.99 for the basic game but with all the add on’s it is something like $10-20 more but given all the positive reviews I’d be more than happy to plonk down the cash.

I’m looking forward to the WWDC 2015 this year and hopefully we’ll see some announcements along the lines of refinement rather than trying to ‘stocking stuff’ another release with a tonne of new features with parts that are broken. At this point looking back I could understand the need for a lot of what was added such as handoff and continuity not to mention the update of the iCloud service to the iCloud Drive model rather than the ‘Documents and Settings’ model which goes back to when iCloud was first made available. I’m hoping that going forward we’re going to see a greater focus on making life a lot easier for developers when it comes to fixing up bugs in the various frameworks but with that being said now that the transition from GCC to Clang/LLVM has been completed for quite some time so hopefully we’ll start to see improvements in optimisation for x86-64 and ARM.

What has been interesting is the discussion about ARM64 and the long term ‘dream’ by some in various quarters of the idea that Apple will eventually move to their own ARM design somewhere along the lines. In a certain light I can understand the rationale given that they’ll be re-using their existing core design and building upon it so in terms of developing, maintaining and furthering the basic design they have it wouldn’t exactly be an additional load other than scaling up and adding the sort of processor features that desktop, workstation and server CPU’s have. If they were ever to move I doubt they would split it between the MacBook and keep Intel for the rest in much the same way that when they moved to Intel they moved the whole line up over a period of around a year to the point that the whole line up was complete Intel based. Assuming they didn’t go down that road then it would involve pretty much the status quo design and in the case of an iMac 5K and Mac Pro the use of a discrete GPU from nVIdia (who have the best power/performance ratio) so in the end it would pretty much resemble a ‘normal’ computer but with a ARM processor.

As for whether Apple would go for it – I doubt it, why give up the ability to focus on the differentiation and let Intel focus on the drudgery where as brining the line up over to ARM will mean needing to bring all those functions in house with little in the way of any sort of benefit (one of the major benefits of moving away from PowerPC to Intel was that Intel and Foxconn made the boards, provided the chipset and Apple created the firmware with the necessary code to allow OS X to run on the device) – as for developers, there simply using the huge difference between ARM and x86 which necessitates the harmonisation to the point that even Microsoft is giving up on the ARM space beyond phones and small form factor tablets because the justification just isn’t there. Honestly, I don’t see it happening because unlike Steve Jobs, I get the impression with Tim Cook that he is a lot more conservative – the fusion drive for iMac being a good example where as Steve Jobs probably would have said, “fuck it, we’re going flash all the way!”. In the case of the Mac line up, it is working well, Intel is more or less sticking to the schedule and any problems that affect Intel will affect everyone else so they’re not in the same situation where they were before with Motorola and IBM where they were perpetually behind Intel every step of the way – Intel is the biggest player and worse case scenario Intel can put out a refreshed line up of CPU’s to deal with the demand until the new release is ready.

Regarding Intel, one of the things that annoys me is the half baked crap of people going on about Intel’s ‘unable to deliver’ and ignore the fact that Intel has been on the edge of chip product for years when it comes to the adoption and widespread use of technology which justifies Apple moving their Mac line up to their ARM design whilst ignoring that Apple is fabless and relies on third parties who are at best 1-2 steps behind Intel when it comes to die shrinkage. Intel not only has an architectural edge but they also have the manufacturing edge as well – then throw on a more sophisticated CPU design (assuming Apple went ARM) then I could imagine the sort of problems that Samsung/TSMC would have to deal with where as the exiting ARM design is pretty basic and isn’t something that has a high likelihood of being cocked up easily. For the foreseeable future Apple’s future is with Intel – the benefits of staying with Intel far outweigh the so-called ‘benefits’ that so many ‘ARM cheerleaders’ like to ramble on about whilst ignoring the larger picture which is what really dictates whether making a change is worth while.

Another updated beta build of OS X 10.10.4 has been released along with another iOS 8.4 beta as well which hopefully will mean a release before the WWDC 2015 and the conference being focused on iOS 9 and 10.11. I’m looking forward to also seeing what happens with Microsoft Office 2016 particularly around the move to 64bit for their OS X version given that they’ve put higher priority on their iOS build given that Apple has issued a deadline when applications need to be 64bit by. After that has been met it will be interesting to see what happens when it comes to Microsoft Office 2016 and when it’ll eventually happen to the OS X build – whether there is a long weight because they’ve still got a tonne of legacy code to deal with – which makes me wonder why they just don’t run the Visual Basic backend as a separate process so the it can remain 32bit and move everything else forward without too much drama but that being said I would have thought at this stage they would have at the very least moved to a point where 99% of the code is shared between Windows and OS X as to avoid these sorts of issues.

“I work here because being homeless would suck a lot more”

Finished work, picked up some breakfast and headed back home to watch ‘The Blacklist’ then maybe I’ll watch Law and Order SVU maybe tomorrow night but it’ll have to be after I wash down the lobby floor which should be relatively easy given that we have a hose extension which joins two hoses together.

Amazing how the moderation system of points is so regularly abused by people who use it as a way to promote ideas they agree with rather than the original intention which was to promote posts that added to the discussion regardless of whether one agreed or disagreed with the post. Trolling is bad enough when a conversation is completely derailed and a flame war starts because some smug prick believes what they did ‘for the lulz’ was oh so funny but what is even worse is when a insular circle jerk is created where dissenting views are missing from the conversation because those posters can’t be bothered dealing with their post down voted then disappearing from public view together not to mention that their contribution isn’t taken seriously. Reminds me of the usual trope about how Facebook encourages ‘bubbles’ where individuals will insulate themselves from alternative view points but such ‘bubble’ has become all too common on the net where individuals will seek out narratives that confirm there own bias – “I believe in xyz already so therefore I’ll seek out stories and forums that re-enforce what I already believe so then I feel even more secure about my position”.

Still trying to sort out the whole UFB installation so I’ll take another crack at chatting to the neighbours on Monday/Tuesday or Wednesday (my days off) and hopefully get that sorted out with the landlord/owner signing permission for the contractor for Chorus to come in and install the fibre optic cable into my premises. Regarding the location, I’d be ok if they did it on the wall where the single seat is given that there is already a dedicated power outlet there that I don’t use for anything else and then have an ethernet cable that can go from there to my modem/router that its on my shelf which gives good coverage for the whole house. That being said, I am tempted to upgrade it to 200Mbps since they’ve made that speed available as well as getting a power line networking device so that I can go wired from my desktop to the router so then I can get maximum performance and throughput particularly when uploading videos to Vimeo or playing back videos. I’ll be excited once it is installed because it is the future – any sort of speed/performance improvements will be all focused on UFB going forward so once I’m on it then it is all smooth sailing from there.

Back home and almost ready to go to sleep

I’ve got work tonight from 9:00pm to 6:00am which should be fun but on the good side I made another deposite and I’m $240 away from closing off the credit card then closing off the Kiwibank account once the Kiwisaver has all been confirmed to move I’ll close off my accounts with KIwibank. I’m all set for the extra day off next week then on the 27th with excitement I look forward to the break in June where I can chill out at home, watch the WWDC keynote and sessions videos – the first time I’ve had an extended time off where I don’t have to deal with anything interrupting my break. Oh well, off to sleep and up in around 9 hours.