Windows 10, macOS and WWDC 2017

It’s that time of the year and Apple has announced that, as expected, WWDC which will be from the 5th to the 9th so there has been a lot of speculation but I think that some things are a given in such as the launch of APFS in macOS 10.13 although it’ll be interesting to see what happens when it comes to Metal, Metal Kit and the harmonisation of frameworks so that there is uniformity (or attempt at uniformity given that there are features in Metal which are only available on iOS because they’re hardware dependent such as Memoryless render targets) between iOS, tvOS and macOS so that all platforms share a common core and frameworks with the difference being what is presented to the end user – UIKIt on iOS and tvOS, and AppKit on macOS where the UI depends on the scenario in which the application is being used. Such an approach makes sense given that the each UI is designed for a particular scenario which is based on how one interacts with the device, what make sense on an iPhone which uses a touch screen won’’t make any sense on an AppleTV  nor would I take any sense with macOS – you develop a unique GUI which is dependent on how the application is going to be used.

Windows 10 appear to be developing however I am very much disappointed that long standing issues are either not addressed or at the very least some sort go guidance as to when one should expect these issues to be addressed. The best example of this is the lack of MTP integration into Music – yes, you can manually copy music using File Explorer but when you have a 200GB music collection which consists of thousands of songs then such manual management is impractical hence the desire to have MTP integrated with the Music application so then one can keep ones phone into sync and keep track of what is and isn’t on the phone. Then there is the lack of integration between what Windows synchronises with the cloud such a passwords, bookmarks etc. and Android/iOS devices especially if Microsoft long term have given up on Windows 10 Mobile as being a mass market mobile operating system then they need to bring Edge to Android to synchronise bookmarks and passwords, better integration between their Outlook application at Outlook.com plus the ability to send sms messages from ones computer along with answering phone calls too – something that can be done already using standard Bluetooth as Handsfree 2 does on macOS and Android phones without any additional software needing to be loaded onto the Android phone.

In good news Microsoft has released an Office 2016 for Office 365 users which includes support for the ‘touch bar’ that came with the new MacBook Pro’s that Apple released just recently. I’ve been rather sceptical about the whole ‘touch bar’ and how useful it is in the real world but so far the feedback I’ve seen online has been mixed but it seems to be mixed between those who don’t care about it and those who think it is is a great addition. One of the things I love about the new rolling release cycle is the fact that features are being held back but rather being released when they’re ready – getting features sooner while being able to hold back more complex changes to a later date when they’re ready to deploy rather than the usual arbitrary release dates would be normally associated with the traditional release model where all features have to be released at the same time.

The security woes of Flash keep on piling up which re-enforces the decision by Steve Jobs not to allow Flash on iOS along with pushing HTML5 technologies being the future direction of the internet. The infamous letter was penned it almost 7 years ago and with each passing day with the work that Google, Mozilla, Microsoft and Apple developers do the closer to the reality that we get towards what Steve Jobs had originally envisaged with their iPhone where web apps were originally seen as the primary way in which apps were going to be delivered to the end user. It’ll be interesting to see what new features are added to Safari when it comes to W3C standards but at the same time Apple is also moving what they can to being hardware accelerated through the use of Metal along with the launch of a new standard for 3D graphics on the the web ( link ) which is being geared as a replacement for WebGL which will be able to take greater advantage of modern GPU’s.

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.

tvOS 10.1.1, iOS 10.2.1, macOS 10.12.3 and iTunes 12.5.5 Released plus betas released

Well, woke up this morning for an interview and as usual I check my email along with reading some news and with that I saw that Apple had released a bevy of updates which I quickly applied to all my devices. Regarding my iMac and MacBook Pro, both devices had their Boot ROM firmware updated but I don’t see anything written in the change log so maybe it is just general bug fixes. Everything is going well so far and Safari seems snappy and reliable a usual but then again I don’t use Flash (I’m completely Flash free) plus I also use the ad blocker plus as my only extension. iTunes was also updated but I haven’t noticed any visible changes but then again I’ve never had any issues with iTunes on macOS.

Things are rocking along at top speed with the beta release of 10.3 ( link ) which includes the all important APFS that was announced back in WWDC 2016 and slated for release his year which makes me wonder whether its inclusion in 10.3 signals its maturity or whether Apple has decided that since it is one of the most widely installed operating systems that it is the best way to knock out any issues. Then there is the beta release of macOS 10.12.4 ( link ) which has introduced ‘Night Shift Mode’ but it appears at least based on 10.12.3 that APFS is still stuck at version 0.3 so if that I anything to do by I’d be surprised if Apple merged the APFS build that is in iOS 10.3 will appear in 10.2.4.

The big question is whether Apple will make APFS case sensitive as it is in its current form or whether Apple is going to add back case insensitivity especially given that it’ll end up breaking some applications in the process. There are benefits with case sensitivity which is, developers will be happy especially when dealing with open source *NIX code pulled from a CVS which whose structure automatically assumes a case sensitive file system and all the goodness that comes with the territory.

Oh, and side note: I’ve downloaded a few movies off iTunes that were good value: Blues Brothers, Airplane!, Blazing Saddles, Trains, Planes and Automobiles. Once I get back into work again I’ll hopefully get some lose ends tied up and everything back on track again – hopefully in the next few weeks and then I’ll put the savings left over to the side in my rainy day fund for the future.

Another week, another podcast

I’ve uploaded a new podcast outlining what I think will occur under Trump and the relationship he’ll have with Russia/Putin going forward. I’m under no illusion regarding Russia/Putin or Trump but what I do cover is what could happen based on the assumption that each party is guided by some sort of rational self interest aka ‘whats in it for me’ to explain their behaviour.

I’m currently working on an article that debunks the claims regarding the iPhone and AppStore – specifically the fact that to get applications on your phone you need to use the AppStore.

There has been another build for the 10.12.3 update which seems to be taking a good amount of time to get done so it makes me wonder whether we’ve got developers jumping between macOS 10.12 and 10.13 so that it is all ready by the time WWDC rolls around in June for the unveiling. When it comes to 10.13 it’ll be interesting to see what is announced now that the iOS and macOS teams have now merged – hopefully it’ll mean a harmonisation of frameworks so when one platform moves forward that all platforms end up benefiting from the improvements rather than having to wait for it to be ported across.

On reflection…oh, and the Surface Studio is rather nice

I’m sure everyone has done it – made a tweet, gone to sleep and then realised, “oh lord I look like a complete prat”, and I’ve done just that. One thing to remember which I forget so often is not to engage with trolls because ultimately the troll will drag you down to their level and soon enough you realise that you’re wallowing in the mud pit with them. A better way to put it was what Bill Maher noted in a monologue, “when they go low, we go high” and instead of going high I decided to go low – something I’m not particularly proud of. I’m always a person who believes in second chances and giving people the benefit of the doubt when they backing out (delete tweet, forum post entry etc) that they’re reflected upon what was made public and withdrawn it. I decided to delete some tweets because rather than simply making the one tweet and walking away I decided to engage with a fruitless argument that ultimately benefited no one in the end.

I’ve been looking through the Surface Studio videos lately and the more I look at the Surface Studio when combined with the work that Microsoft is doing to improve Windows 10 such as in the area of high DPI scalability through to adding support to a greater number of open standards in Edge such as RTC, Push API and Brotli Compressed Data Format to name a few along with de facto standards such as VP9, Opus, Vorbis and the upcoming AV1 will be supported soon as well. Where as in the past Microsoft has shunned open standards when it came to the web, we see Microsoft go all in to ensure that the experience delivered on Edge is at the forefront of embracing open standards rather than lagging behind as in the days of Internet Explorer.

For me the issue with the Mac platform isn’t so much the lack of revolutionary change but rather the lack of any sort of commitment to the platform. What I mean by ‘lack of commitment’ I prefer to how it has been neglected when it comes to OpenGL and OpenCL updates, bug fixes and optimisations not to mention lagging behind in such areas as open standards support to the point that Safari seems to be positively ancient when compared to how far ahead Edge, Chrome and Firefox are. Putting that aside though it certain isn’t enough to make me move and when we do hear the doom and gloom stories the one thing to keep in mind is that apart from a few who seem to persistently demand ‘teh dazzle’, most Mac users are pretty happy. Keeping that in mind, Apple needs to realise, just as I have noted in my recent podcast, that although the Mac community is small the user base does act as evangelists for the larger Apple ecosystem meaning the failure to address the linger concerns about the Mac platforms future will ultimately spill over into other products that Apple hopes will be the engine of growth into the future.

Some have asked my what my favourite applications and services on the Mac platform (not all of them are exclusives but I find they run better on the Mac platform) that I can’t do without, so here is the list:

    1. MarsEdit – Eding and uploading new posts to my blog without having to deal with a nightmare web based interface.
    2. iFFmpeg + ffmpeg – Transcode your videos to what ever format you want.
    3. XLD – Transcode your music from what ever format to what ever format that you could imagine.
    4. Pixelmator – Photoshop features without the Photoshop price tag.
    5. iTunes – yes, I am being serious, I like using iTunes on the Mac especially given the ability to manage my music and synchronise it to my iPhone without having to go through the laboured process of ‘dragging and dropping’ music in the case of Windows. Keep in mind that I have over 200gb of music so I don’t feel compelled to wade through directories finding what music I want when an application can take care of that – enter iTunes.
    6. Kid3 – For all your music tagging needs.
    7. Pages, Keynote and Numbers – Integrated with the operating system resulting in languages properly set rather than the mess that is Microsoft Office where I am forced to use either American or Australian dictionary even though I’ve made it quite clear in the system settings that I want to use British English.
    8. QuickTime – such a basic application but when I want to capture video or audio it is my goto application if for no other reason that it allows me to capture in an uncompressed format and so then I can feed it into iFFmpeg where as the configuration options on Windows 10 ‘Camera’ is pretty much non-existent.
    9. iCloud – I know it gets a lot of crap for having shot comings in some areas but everything just seems to work nicely – password sync, bookmarks, a IMAP mail server that doesn’t turn to crap by creating random directories like Gmail does because Google refuses to conform to the documented standard.

So given that situation I doubt I’ll be leaving soon but hopefully some pressure from Microsoft will give Apple a boot up the backside.

Things are looking better all the time (can’t get no worse!)

Well, so far I’ve had some responses back from people who are interested in interviewing me or at least have an interest in having a look at my resume which is a great feeling – at least I’m in the running of being considered rather than being rejected before even getting a chance to sell myself to the organisation. Hopefully the interview will go well in Monday and in the afternoon I’ll stop by Motorad to get my scooter services – the mirrors sorted out, new tyres and a few other things such as replacing the fuel line so when eventually I start my job that my form of transportation is all up to scratch and won’t cause me any issues.

It appears that the source of the consumer report bad battery fiasco has come down to a bug in Safari which has been fixed in 10.12.3. so hopefully that’ll be out soon but not too soon along with the usual updates for iOS and tvOS not being too far behind. As much as Windows 10 appears to be ‘exciting’ with all the ‘improvements’ and ‘new things’ that are coming in new builds I am reminded that although ‘new’ I exciting it can be a double edged sword of dealing with the byproducts of immature technology that is still having the bugs beaten out of it.

When it comes to Twitter, if you’re given a platform by your employer, your name is well known and by virtue of that your name is associated with that company then it is important to think very long and hard before opening up and giving your five cents on a subject. There is a reason why when I am using a public persona I am very careful about what I say (along with never mentioning where I work or live) – your reputation is all that you have and the moment you open up and say something stupid there are repercussions whether you like it or not. If you want to write something controversial then go ahead but remember that the way you present your argument will have as much impact as what you’re saying. The way you present your argument will dictate whether you come off sounding like an emotionally driven prat whose opinions are lacking coherency resulting in the output sounding something akin to a Alex Jones/David Icke like mentally deranged rant or whether the writing is devoid of emotions and focuses on a coherent will reasoned argument with evidence from reliable sources to back up any claims made.

A simpler life

Damn it has been cold – I though summer was already here but it has been a horrible 9 decrees celsius outside which makes the current weather more akin to being winter or autumn than getting into summer time. I’m all warm in bed watching NCIS and might watch some news before going off to sleep along with updating updating my blog.

Reading through some of the posts on /r/apple can be rather nauseating hearing the same doom and gloom because Tim Cook didn’t personally pay each of the posters a visit and ask them what they want in the next Mac refresh. Personally I the days of large and powerful workstations is quickly coming to an end as mobility takes primacy over having that slight edge in performance so it’ll be interesting to see how things line up with the iMac and whether the iMac will be the Mac Pro replacement or whether Apple is waiting on the AMD Vega GPU range which will be a huge leap forward particularly if Apple makes a major investment into Metal/Metal Kit and convince more third parties to adopt I beyond just simply gaming.

Anyway, this year with 10.13 will be an interesting release with APFS finalised and whether the movement to that file system results in some changes further up – abstracted services that were built on top of HFS+ are now integrated into the file system itself points to making some big changes coming soon. What will be another interesting point will be with the merging of macOS, iOS and tvOS development teams will hopefully mean a harmonisation of frameworks and features – will be great to see what happens once WWDC arrives in the 1st week of June this year.