A good week…things will hopefully get better

Things have quietened down with Apple over the last few weeks with the release of the 5th public beta for tvOS 10.2.1 but further public betas of macOS 10.12.4 and iOS 10.3.2 haven’t come yet which makes me wonder whether Apple is going to be releasing it within the next week or two. There are rumours that there will be a refresh with the Mac line up very soon so it’ll be interesting to see what happens especially with the launch of Kaby Lake CPU’s but personally I’m more excited about Cannon Lake which will be a die shrink to 10nm or even Ice Lake which has the rumoured new architecture ( link ) that’ll be delivered in 2019 which is when Ice Lake will be released and rumoured to having a new architecture which would then be followed by an optimisation. The rumour has it that with the new architecture that legacy parts of the ISA will be removed which date back 40+ years in favour of having 32bit ‘compatibility’ provided when in ‘long mode’ (the mode the CPU is referred to when the underlying operating system is running in 64bit mode).

It’ll be interesting to see what happens at the Microsoft Build conference from 10-12 May 2017 which has a lot of speculation about what will be announced – maybe some big announcements relating to Project Centennial and big software vendors getting onboard in the wake of the Windows 10 S announcement. It was interesting to note that Microsoft’s Alex Kipman opined that the smartphone was ‘dead’ and that ‘people haven’t realised it yet’ so does that mark a future direction of the mythical Surface Phone or is it sour grapes by Microsoft for failing to ever get their phone operating system off the ground? Maybe we’ll see hints at Build but that kind opinion held by Alex Kipman is at odds with what Microsoft’s other departments are concluding and that is to not fight the inevitable and jump on the Android train by reselling Samsung Galaxy 8 and 8+ devices with Microsoft software pre-loaded to get customers pointed to Microsoft’s own services instead of trying to do the impossible of getting people to give Windows 10 Mobile a chance. Tomorrow I’ll be working on the second episode of my podcast where I’ll focus on 5 subjects but I’ll try to keep it below 30 minutes for the sake of the listeners sanity but on a good side it has allowed me to collate some interesting titbits. 

Over the next 10 day it looks like the coldest it’ll get will be 7 degrees celsius although that is based on Wellington temperatures where as living out in the Hutt Valley the temperature can be around 2-3 degrees colder in many cases. Tonight hasn’t been too bad – it is around 16 degrees celsius so I didn’t need to put on the heater to keep warm which helps the old bank account. I’m having a look through the part time job section so hopefully with some extra hours – Monday/Tuesday or Wednesday then more available during the university holidays I can moderate out the earning cycle. Although it isn’t the most ideal solution and I’d prefer a more stable full time job, it is better than the current situation particularly when one considers that the university closes down for over a month and during that time I need employment to allow me to keep paying the bills.

Chilly outside but ok inside

One of the first things I remember doing when moving into the place I am now as to check the insulation – no use throwing good money after bad if the net result is a cold house because the heat is escaping to heat half the neighbourhood. I’ve got the dehumidifier going and to he honest the amount of electricity used is actually fairly small with the benefit of having a dryer house being a warmer house plus I dry my clothes inside so it avoids a build up of moisture in the air which leads to that yucky damp smell. Hopefully I can hold off from having to turn on the heater until maybe the first of July at the earliest because god knows I can’t afford to have high electricity bills at the moment although I might be able to get some assistance where possible.

Something interesting I came across is Samsung selling directly to the public so if you want to bypass having to sign up for an interest free deal with an open plan or a plan with a phone, you can order ( link ) and get it delivered by 28 April. I’ve had a look into it and I’d be lying to myself if I said that I wasn’t tempted but I’d sooner hold off and sleep on it. The other part of the equation will be setting up a new domain name that I’ll use strictly for email that will be detached from my WordPress webite. Once I have set up my new domain setup I’ll then set up Google Apps and for the aliases I am currently using I’ll use the aliases/mail redirect facility in WordPress. To recreate the same experience it’ll involve moving over to Chrome and buying a copy of HandsFree 2.6.1 so I can send SMS messages and answer the phone from my Mac. The big question after all that is whether I want to go through all that drama or whether I’m too lazy and at this stage although I’m sucked in by the new I am also rather lazy and can’t be bothered going through the drama to get there.

I’ve given the new WordPress 2.3 application a try and it is still a horrible train wreck – when I try to right click on words to bring up the spellcheck (after enabling it and then quitting/relaunching the application, the whole application freezes and I’m forced to force quit the application) not to mention how hugely inefficient it is when compared to a native solution like MarsEdit that can operate offline. Something I love about native applications is the fact that one isn’t dealing with the fickle nature of a Internet connection not to mention ‘web based technologies’ that start to become increasingly inefficient as the application becomes more complex – the WordPress application and Visual Studio for Mac being two examples of that general rule of thumb in action. 

Another day at home relaxing…remembering my childhood

Sitting at home watching the full MASH series – always great, even with a re-run, to have a good laugh and be reminded of when I was growing up as a kid where mum would put it on television to MASH at 6:00pm and we’d eat fish ’n chips on Friday like a picnic in front of the television. It is funny how I am reminded of when my old man told me not to get too hung up on the idea of wanting to grow up because I think he wanted me to real that once you get there you look back at your younger years having not cherished that freedom one has when one is young. I was a kid of the 1980’s and life was pretty simple and the most I had to contend with was deciding whether I would wear the brown or blue corduroys at school and whether mum had made up some fruit and custard to take to school for lunch. Oh what a much simpler time – I can see why many look back at the ‘good old days’ with nostalgia considering what the world has become and how life was so much simpler without the complexity, the familiarity of life not moving at a frantic pace and lack of disconnectedness that one can easily feel about the world today.

A lot of buzz since the pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ got started at 9:00am on 20th April (promised delivery being at 28th April) with a large number of reviewers showering praise on the device although there are concerns. One of the big concerns is the inclusion of Bixby but it is not only currently limited to US English and Korean it appears that Samsung has disabled the ability to remap the Bixby launch button. Yes, I understand that they want to get as many people using the Bixby service as possible given the amount they have invested into the technology but at the same time if it isn’t ready in a particular market, say New Zealand, then who is gaining by behaving like a douchbag in the mean time? It seems rather petty to punish a customer with reduced functionality all for the sake of preserving your brand but ultimately frustrating the customer resulting a bad taste being left in the customers mouth as a result.

I’m going to be waiting this one out – although there is the temptation there I am more interested in seeing what Apple has to offer especially if it means the rumours come true. The rumours so far have talked about something similar to what Samsung has released but the interesting part will be what will come in iOS 11 because iOS at this point is pretty feature complete and mature which leaves very few avenues to make massive leaps forward – maybe that is why there are rumours of AR are becoming more frequent? What ever the case maybe, I am so invested in the Apple ecosystem it would take something drastic to get me to leave the platform any time soon.

Enjoying the holidays…lots of fun in the world of Apple

Television seems to be pretty dead these days so I’ve decided go to back to watching MASH from start to finish – sometimes the classics are the best when one is in dire need of some entertainment. I wish that these episodes were available to purchase online – it amazes me how these old episodes are made available given that I’m sure there are many out there who would be more than happy to pay to get access to these shows.

When it comes to how my day was – went down the road for a quick meal at the local sushi place and had a look around at the store where I had a look at the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge ‘Special Edition’ – each time I’m not convinced that the hassle of moving is worth it in the end which makes me wonder how many are in my position in terms of iPhone users and whether Samsung is aiming their products to win over iPhone users or are they hoping that a growing market and them getting more of that growth for themselves.

Side note though, with the Samsung S8 and DeX it’ll be interesting to see what happens to the whole Windows 10 vision – ok, they’ve scaled back Windows 10 Mobile to a niche where your phone is like a mini-computer and now that Samsung has done something similar with the bonus of a huge selection of software then where does Windows 10 fit in all of that? What does it say about the larger UWP vision that Microsoft has put forward especially now that it appears that the UWP of Microsoft Office is now on the back burner? Then there is the larger issue that if DeX ends up getting back ported back into Android then could you imagine the eventual creeping of Android into the laptop market then desktop then workstation? More frameworks being added to fill in the gaps such as a full on OpenGL stack combined with Vulkan which will make it a strong competitor to Windows when you consider the large software portfolio that is available to anyone interest in using Android as their main operating system of choice.

Then again this has always been my ‘conspiracy theory’ regarding the direction that Nadella would like to take the company where the focus is on the middleware, cloud and servers with Android/Chrome taking the low to middle and the Mac taking the middle to high end with enterprise pretty much by the short and curls until there is a move away from the legacy win32 applications that many rely on. On the issue of legacy, it is interesting to see how new businesses are more likely to be using Google Apps and other non-Microsoft technology than more established businesses which have to taken into account legacy capabilities meaning we might find Microsoft in the same sort of situation that SUN and then later Oracle find/found themselves in where they’re maintaining the status quo but little or no growth other than moving customers from one kind of service to another, from one kind of product to another kind of product.

I’m personally looking forward to WWDC 2017 with the announcement of macOS 10.13 and APFS coming to the Mac platform which signs off on the last part of MacOS 9 to finally be replaced with something better, modern and plain well ‘not sucking’ as many have complained about for years. So as one of the last pieces of the old operating system is replaced it’ll be interesting to see what is opened up in terms of improvements going forward particularly how Apple will deal with fusion drives which, I suspect, is going to be the more difficult aspect of dealing with when compared to the iOS world which is a base flat partition structure.

Oh Samsung you tempter

I’m firmly in the Mac camp but even I have to admit that Samsung has really lifted their game they are becoming very tempting especially now that they’ve replaced Kies with Switch which is a lot less buggy and troublesome on the Mac platform. The other part of the Google ecosystem has been the necessity (as far as I’m concerned) of running Chrome to get the full cloud experience of having bookmarks and passwords synchronised with all devices. There is the rumour that Samsung is going to announce it at a special event on 29/03/2017 with an expected release date being a month later so it’ll be interesting to see which countries get it first.

The other one to keep an eye out for is HTC which is making a slow and steady comeback as they slim down their product line rather than having dozens of variations and permutations of the same product because some special snowflake at random carrier wants a special phone just for them with a ‘tramp stamp’ on the back of the phone. The Pixel XL, if I ever was going to move to the Android platform, would be the go to phone primarily because it’ll have the same level of support in terms of software updates and upgrades that I would experience with iPhone.

At this point I’m really spoilt by how well Apple takes care of its customers especially when it comes to the integration between macOS, iOS, tvOS and iCloud although if I ever went the Android route I’d probably sign up for a domain and sign up for Google Apps but too bad it doesn’t support aliases as with the case of iCloud email. Basically it comes down to swings, roundabouts and what one wish to use ones computer for and whether the flexibility of Android is worth the extra leg work. I always keep my mind open to alternatives when I looking at upgrading – what the competition has to offer and whether it is sufficient enough to make me convert away from the iPhone.

The AppStore isn’t a monopoly: Your analysis is bad and you should feel bad

Reading this article it appears that we’re now in the midst of yet another ‘only in America’ moment when god help us we have some oxygen thief taking it upon themselves to launch a frivolous law suit ( link ). I’ll lay down a few points:

    1. There is already choice in the form of competing platforms – if you’re not happy with the limitation/restriction or what ever other aspect of the iOS platform then you’re more than welcome to buy an Android, Blackberry or Windows 10 Mobile device. There might be some validity if there was no choice – but there is choice.
    2. If side loading was such an import feature that people were clambering for then there is nothing stopping people from buying an Android device (or derivative device such as the Amazon Fire) to do just that.
    3. You can already side load applications as long as you’ve got the source code or the code in some sort of intermediate state (aka someone compiled it into bitcode) given that you can side load without needing to have a developers subscription.

The way I see it, imagine going to a restaurant but you want to use your own sauce at the restaurant but the restaurant owner says that you can only use the sauce the is available at the restaurant itself. Is that restaurant behaving in a monopolistic way when there are numerous other restaurants out there that may allow you to bring your own sauce? Heck, they might even allow you to bring your own alcohol too! It seems that there is a cottage industry in the United States of people who go around suing whilst masquerading as ‘sticking up for consumer rights’ when in reality it is about a few lawyers trying to make their name known.

Secret Santa and lots more fun

Doing a bit of tidying up around the home by finishing up the folding of washing, hoovering the floor, sort out the recycling (I love the fact that Lower Hutt has free recycling unlike Upper Hutt) and finish weeding out the back yard now that the weed killer has done most of the work required.

Tuesday I’m off to the work Christmas party but I’m still deciding what I’ll get for my the person who was picked as part of the ‘Secret Santa’ (I guess that makes me, since I’m choosing the present, the Secret Santa) – I might just play it safe and get a box of chocolates and maybe some Christmas nicknacks such as Christmas decorations etc. I was hoping to bring some alcohol free beer, Clausthaler, unfortunately I couldn’t find a local retailer than actually stock it other than the 0.50% variety – I want to go for the alcohol free version since I’ll be riding to and from the party on my scooter thus I don’t want to take a risk no manner how small the risk maybe.

Still trying to get the AirDrop to work so I checked with a few forums and it appears that I’m no closer to an answer but I feel a lot better knowing that I’m not the only one with the issue – that it is a well know problem but it appears there is no solution in sight. What is rather strange is the fact that the iMac and MacBook Pro both see each other so it appears that it is the iPhone that is the odd one out when it comes to being able to see my iMac and MacBook. What is rather strange is the fact that it relies on ad-hoc Wi-Fi so it should require any sort of elaborate software running in the background other than it detecting that ad-hoc is enabled then it should all work.

According to this ( link ) it appears that the HTC One M9 will be receiving the Android 6.0 end of this year/beginning of next year with 6.0.1 and to make things interesting it appears that Spark has dropped the price by NZ$200 from NZ$1099 to NZ$899 so it’ll be interesting to see how all that plays out with the rumoured HTC One M10 code named ‘Perfume’  which has replaced the rumoured HTC One M10 successor called code name O2. The rumoured HTC One M10 will come with Android 6.1 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 which includes a die shrink to 16nm using the TSMC fabrication process which should hopefully translate to better performance, cooler running and better battery life.

I’ve had a look at the Nexus 6P and although the temptation to have the latest Android build there are also the niceties that one misses by not going with an OEM such as HTC which adds some finishing touches to the UI regarding the look and feel when compared to vanilla Android which I find rather bland – don’t get me wrong, I don’t want over the top bling but it is rather bland when compared to the OEM customisations HTC make using Sense. Rumour has it that if there is an announcement that it won’t be until next year around February/March/April which would put it within around 10/11/12 months after they launched the HTC One M9.

There is good news for HTC though with the launch of the HTC One A9 it appears that they’ve gaining back some ground on the middle tier which they had ignored for quite some time so the emergence back into the middle is great but I still have concerns over their low end and what appears to be an overly fragmented product line up that tries to be everything to everyone but end up adding additional costs in the form of testing, man power etc. all for the sake of catering for almost every niche possible. I understand the need to have a low end model for the developing countries but they really are going overboard especially if your goal is to give an user a good experience but it is difficult to do so because there are so many variations and permutations that exist. Have one entry level mode, offer it in a few colours, offer regular software updates and offer it at a good price point – no, you don’t need to have 3 different models all $5 apart nor do you need to offer one with 1/2 dozen SIM slots so some cheapskate can ‘get the best deal’ by choosing between 1/2 carriers. Apple is successful because they follow the KISS principe – Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS). HTC needs to focus on three tiers; entry, mid range and high end; a model at the low end with changeable panels for customisation, a mid range in a couple of colours then a high end in two models – a standard and a phablet model.

Things are starting to get rather interesting in the world of Android because up until recently Apple has more or less been pretty much given an open season on the market given the lack of a decent and viable alternative but with the launch of the Nexus 5X and 6P it appears that the situation is changing with hopefully the HTC One M10 and Samsung S7 (in its various forms) will result in stronger competition which will compel Apple not only to improve hardware but the software as well.