Ok, I caved in, I bought an Apple Watch (plus other things)

So I had to order a replacement space bar for my MacBook and in that time I decided to go, “fuck it, I’m going to get an Apple Watch” – yes, I’ll use it, a great way to keep track of my exercise, stop me from having to get out my phone when I want to see the time etc.Screen Shot 2017 12 14 at 10 43 16 PM

Got the larger band because my wrist is a bit on the big side just in case but I’m happy with the choice. On a side note, I’m still trying to decide what to get my brother, sister and mum for Christmas this year so but knowing my usual plan I’ll probably get my sister and partner a Countdown voucher, an iTunes voucher for the niece, and for my brother and his partner I’ll probably get something from down the road that happens to tickle my fancy.

Pontificating over the purchase of an Apple Watch

So I’m waiting back from my boss whether it is all going ahead with the job I’ve got lined up – HR has to sign off on the letter my doctor sent through to the companies HR just to reassure them that I am not going to go loopy when I am at work. If everything goes according to plan I’m going to get an Apple Watch which will be great for my workouts so then I can keep track of my work outs, how my calories I am burning, ensure my heart rate is in the ‘fat burning zone’ and so on. Anyway, off to sleep I go and hopefully I’ll get good news tomorrow from work or otherwise I’ll need to print out bank statements and pay slips then head into WINZ to get a bridging benefit from now until I go back to the catering job.

Keeping up to date with Apple’s and Microsoft’s software improvements

One of the most underrated projects is LLVM given how much of a big contribution it makes to Apple’s operating system – whether it is the libc++ library, the compiler, the use of LLVM when it comes to OpenGL and Metal along with many other components. The following ( link ) is to the LLVM YouTube Channel where they upload the latest videos from the regular conferences they hold which includes engineers visiting from Apple to explain what they have been working on. The one I am watching right now is the following:

Where the Apple engineer is going into detail regarding how LLVM acts as a GPU compiler for the Metal stack that exists across their product range. It is rather disappointing that such videos aren’t propagated on Apple’s main website given how valuable they are to developers who are interested in understanding the reasoning behind the decisions that Apple made and how to write their own applications whilst keeping in mind that design decisions that Apple made.

I’m also having listen to a presentation regarding Windows 10 and the future of C++ development with the changes that Microsoft are gradually rolling out:

The presenter goes into great details talking about how there is an active programme within Microsoft to move away from proprietary extensions to a standards based implementation along with making sure that going forward the C++ stack on Windows 10 will be up to date and conforming with the latest standards. Although in an ideal world we’d all be moving to UWP but in the real world it appears that Microsoft is attempting to make Windows suck a little less by getting those fundamentals sorted out so that if win32 must hang around it would be nice if it didn’t suck as much (the use of the word ‘suck’ is not deliberate but merely as a by product of not being able to come up with something better at the time I was writing this blog post).

UniFi to Google WiFi then back to UniFi: Review

Introduction:

I’ve come back to the world of UniFi after flirting with Google Wifi. The original reason for moving to the Google Wifi was because I believed that first of all the mesh based network would provide better coverage. I bought the ’three pack’ Mesh network box which had three base stations, a ethernet lead to connect to the Chorus Fibre ONT box. There was also the fact that the base station I had, UniFi AP AC, had been transferred into long term service branch but I’m ok with that given that I got 3 good years from the device and when you crunch the numbers it works out to be $2 per week which is pretty good value when you consider it is a enterprise grade piece of hardware. I gave Google Wifi a chance primarily because of positive experiences with Google’s online services and using Chromecast in the past so I was left with a pretty positive impression. What I’ll be doing is talking about both devices and doing a summary as to the pro’s and con’s of each device and the suitable scenarios that one should use them in.

 

Setup:

Google WiFi depends on downloading and installing an app onto your phone off either the Play Store or the Apple App Store as well as setting up a Google account as well since it integrates into Google’s cloud services which might lay as the ground work for further integration and automated management but at the moment it is one step in the process of setting up. The other consideration is ensuring that your ISP doesn’t rely on using VLAN tagging or otherwise you’ll need to install a smart switch between your Chorus Fibre ONT box and the Google device so that the smart switch effectively creates a a VLAN session and the Google Wifi device ‘rides on top’ of it. The alternative is to move to an ISP that doesn’t use it, a good example would be Bigpipe ( link ) which is what I use but keep in mind that it doesn’t have telephone technical support, there are no special contracts and or special deals – it is a straight forward ISP for those of us who want a pipe to the internet and to be left alone (the same reason I have Skinny Direct where everything is done online). Regarding the mesh network configuration, once you have setup the first base station then what you do is go around and scan the QR code which brings it up where you can then add it to the mesh – so it is pretty much straight forward as long as you can follow the instructions on the screen as they appear. One thing to keep in mind is the limited conjuration options which unfortunately in my case since I am living in a place where there are 2.4GHz networks left, right and centre resulting in no free channels available I am required to use the 5GHz band to get a decent connection but the problem is that with the Google WiFi I am not able to specify that I want only 5GHz on and what channel I would like to use – yes in theory the device should choose the best configuration for my scenario but in reality automatic configurations never seem to work as well as intended.

When it comes to the Ubiquiti setup (USG (UniFi Security Gateway) and AP AC HD) the process is a little more laboured but on a good side is that there is a management application for iOS and Android however I have not tested it in regards to setting up the USG + AP AC HD from scratch. For my setup I used a fixed line that goes from my iMac to a switch which the AP AC HD is attached to which is then attached to the USG and the USG is attached to the Chorus Fibre ONT box (I remove the switch out of the equation once). The application is around 100MB in size but keeping in mind the Mac version comes with a bundled version of the Java runtime engine which avoids having to install Java at the system level but I’m unsure about what happens in the Windows world since I only have a Mac available for testing. Funny enough there seems to be a tonne of Mac people who also have Ubiquiti hardware – a preference to pay a little extra for quality hardware with less grief? On a good side, if you go with Ubiquiti they have updated there management tools so now you an easily setup a VLAN for your connection where as in the past you had to login via a ssh session to manually make the configuration changes.

 

Performance and reliability:

The coverage of the Google Wifi was fairly good (the main base station was in the second bedroom, the next base station was in my bedroom, and the third base station was on top of the bookshelf in the lounge room with the average distance between each base station being 8-9 metres with a minimum of one wall that the signal would have to pass through) where the connection in the lounge room was 585Mbps and the connection in the bedroom was roughly around the same. Regarding the latency – it was a lot higher than a single router configuration as with the case of the Ubiquiti setup due to hopping between devices and although the performance would be acceptable in a larger home, which is where the idea of a mesh network really has its strengths, but in a situation like mine where a signal access point does the job the idea of a mesh network is more of a burden rather than an asset. Although the latency wouldn’t affect most scenarios if you are into gaming or using Skype it can make an otherwise enjoyable night into a never ending game of frustration. Unfortunately I don’t have any speedtest numbers but what I can say it is that the mesh network did have a toll on performance even from my laptop which was the closest to the main base station – fast enough to surf and do casual browsing but if you’re really going to push the limits in the form of uploading large amounts of data to the cloud you might find that the reduction in speed will be frustrating.

On the Ubiquiti configuration that consists of the USG and AP AP HD with the setup of WiFi solely on the 5GHz frequency using Channel 52 (DFS) I can achieve from my iMac to the AP AC HD (located in the same room, attached to the ceiling in direct line of sight to the iMac) this is the performance that was reached whilst connected at 1300Mbps (the maximum theoretical connection speed one can attain using the chipset included as standard with the iMac):

Screen Shot 2017 11 13 at 11 49 28 AM

From my MacBook I am able to connect at 867Mbps with the speedtest being roughly the same as with the iMac although I do primarily use my iMac for heavily lifting jobs like compressing videos, writing articles (like I am doing now) and as for the latency it is roughly the same with a few extra ms added because of it having to go through a wall but when compared to the mesh configuration provided by the Google WiFi the connection is stronger and more consistent throughput. Side note, in terms of improving the consistency of the Google Wifi configuration, I did umm and arr the idea of running a ethernet cable from the second room to my room’s base station then from my rooms base station to the one in the lounge room which would make for an interesting hypothetical whether the outcome might be different or maybe using power line networking to connect base stations together particularly for a big house where the signal between base stations might be too week for a wireless mesh network but perfectly find for a wired mesh network.

 

Conclusion:

Google Wifi: Pluses being an easy to setup configuration for the novice especially when you consider the prevalence of smart phones these days so I’m sure some of the ‘Gen Y’ would be happy with that. But that simplicity comes with trade offs which include the lack of configuration options for control freaks like me who want to fine tune the router to do exactly what we want which most end users would find puzzling at best.

Ubiquiti USG + AP AC HD: Huge array of configuration options due to it being designed from the ground up to be an enterprise solution at an accessible price point (keeping in mind that ‘accessible price point’ is relative) so if you’re a technology enthusiast who wants to get the most out of your network then this would be the setup ideal for you. The other great strength is its ability to handle large amounts of data from multiple devices and provide a strong centralised signal over the whole house to ensure that all devices can take advantage of the capacity that is available with its support for 802.11ac Wave 2 MU-MIMO (assuming the wifi chipset in your device supports it).

Which one you choose really comes down to what you’re wanting; are you wanting one that is simple setup with minimal configuration options or do you want something you can tweak down to the most finest detail. There isn’t a ‘good or bad’ product given that they’re targeted at different which have different needs and priorities and choosing the one that suits your scenario best. For me my situation I’m happy with the move back to Ubiquiti, yes, it does come with a hefty price tag but it’ll be something that I can ‘set and forget’  with everything just keeps humming away in the background without having to worry.

A quiet week coming up, resting and relaxing

I finally got my AP AC HD installed hanging from the ceiling where the old AP AC used to be and everything is working wonderfully – I’ll be working on a review over the next few days and I’ll ensure that I’ll include lots of pretty pictures on the setup including the UniFi USG device that I have setup for the gateway which connects up to the Chorus ONT box. Everything is rock solid and stable – my iMac is connecting to the router at 1300mbps, USG is getting great performance with low latency which unfortunately in the case of the mesh network more latency was added due to the way in which a mesh network operates.

The iPhone 8 Plus is going great with the latest update to iOS 11.1.1 and I’m looking forward to future optimisations coming in 11.2 as the new code introduced in iOS matures and those rough edges are worked on by Apple.

The AppleTV 4K is working wonderfully – I noticed that both TVNZ and Mediaworks have put out applications which allow live streaming of heir respective stations which allows me to have access to mainstream television without having to install an aerial which is a neat improvement. With those two companies stepping up and providing live streaming over the internet I hope that SkyTV finally get their act together and offer their service via Apple TV with live streaming so then it’ll be something I can sign up to and cancel if I want without any penalty fees just like Netflix, Lightbox and other services. If SkyTV made such a step then I would be more than happy to sign up but so far they’ve been reluctant to join the 21st century.

The diet is going well but I have decided not to get scales at home primarily because it can be tempting to keep weight, get discouraged and then fall back into old habits where as I’d sooner use the clothes I have available which I no longer fit and see the progress as I can fit into those clothes once again. Right now I’ve got a pair of pants that are really lose but the ones that are smaller are slightly too tight so it’ll be a matter of a few weeks of sticking to the plan and I’ll eventually get back into those pants again along with some nice shirts that I have hanging up in my wardrobe.

A good day and I’m looking forward to tomorrow

My iPhone 8 Plus 256GB arrived today along side the re-delivery of the case from TwelveSouth (I originally thought I would have to go out to the Wellington airport to pickup) then shortly after my new Ubiquiti USG and AP AC HD arrived but attaching to the ceiling in the lounge room will be a project for another time. To top it all off I went down the road for sushi and seaweed salad then thought, “maybe Noel Leeming have the Apple TV 4K in stock”, and with my good luck it was available and in stock so I cancelled my order from Apple and decided to buy it from the store with the added bonus of getting Fly Buy points. I’ll be working on reviews of said goodies over the next week or two.

The long break between posts

There has been a lot of stuff occurring behind the scenes regarding the Nokia 8 and Spark but I’ll be doing a write up either Monday or Tuesday depending on whether I have time. That being said, life is pretty good, almost a month since I started my diet and there are signs of improvements – greater flexibility, easier to move around, more energy. Part of that is most likely due to the fact that I’m a lot more conscious about what I put into my body rather than just, “oh fuck, I’m hungry, lets just grab something and fill myself up”. I think the one thing I have gotten into a habit of doing is thinking before eating, “yeah, I’ll enjoy it then immediately 30 minutes afterwards I’ll feel horrible, I don’t want to feel horrible so I’m going to avoid eating that” – funny enough after turning it down I feel good knowing that with each day that I take beck control the closer I get to my goal. Oh well, better head off to sleep now.