Finance Ministers Debate – Queenstown

Lots of fun and excitement watching the leaders debate from Queenstown with the full stream available online ( link ) and it was patently obvious to see that Winston Peters was once again the crazy loud mouth uncle more concerned with ‘zingers’ and ‘one liners’ than actually coming with with a coherent vision let alone addressing what the other representatives actually said instead of using it as a Segway to talk about the things he wants to talk about instead. Steven Joyce was pushing the party line of the National Party which is all very well and good assuming you live in Auckland, Queenstown or some other hotspot but he failed to realise that actually if you live outside of those areas the job boom he talks about is simply non-existent. In Wellington there are tonnes of full time jobs but they’re all temporary contracts or they’re recruitment companies trying to harvest personal information rather than actual jobs that they can allocate to you. Where are the rest of the jobs? casual contract jobs with no guaranteed hours which is then made worse by the fact that the welfare system hasn’t been modernised to keep up with that new reality that is in place when it comes to the unstable employment market.

When it comes to the capital gains tax I thought the most eloquent response was from the Green Party leader James Shaw where Winston tried to claim that “it won’t work” and Steven Joyce mentioned the 2 year bright line test (Labour has noted that they will would increase it to 5 years since sitting on property for 2 years is relatively easy) but as James said in reply to both Steven and Winston, it was one in a tool box of available tools that when used in combination will have an impact. Personally if it were me I’d sooner see a capital gains applied across the board without exemptions and then reduce income tax rates so that we don’t have a distortionary effect of pushing people into asset inflation because of the skewed way in which we as a society decide what should or shouldn’t be taxed.

The tax working group was a bit of a laugh where Winston pushed and pushed over Labour not ‘coming clean’ and yet when Winston was answered straight up by Patrick regarding what the bottom line issues for NZ First would be he then turns around and starts waffling on and deflecting – got caught out once again holding others to a standard that he himself cannot hold himself to. If you’re going to go around lecturing about how other politicians should ‘come clean’ then be prepared for the same standard to be thrown back at you. That is the reason why I wasn’t onboard with Rodney Hyde’s ‘perk busting’ and going after Winston Peters because when things backfire they can backfire really badly especially for the person who claimed to have taken the moral high ground.

When it comes to income taxes I am disappointed that National has had 9 year and done very little to address the very real problems that John Key outlined in the ‘Free Radical’ article entitled ‘Creeping Socialism’ where ehe rightfully points out the flaws in the ‘Working for Families’ (WFF) policy passed under the Labour Party. Unfortunately here we are 9 years later and still nothing has changed apart from the ‘Independent Earners Credit’ (IEC) which is a bandaid for the larger issue of the state taking with one hand and claiming to be generous by giving back that money to select groups of people with the other hand. Sure, I wasn’t expecting things to occur maybe in the first term because the government was trying to build up trust and credibility with the New Zealand public but by the second term we should have seen a plan to replace WFF, IEC child tax credit and numerous other tax credits/welfare top ups in favour of a tax free threshold and maybe introduce a higher end bracket for income above $150,000 so essentially low income individuals/families would gain a tax cut, the middle would stay about the same and those at the top would pay slightly more for better services.

Keeping in mind that with the debate it was less about specifics and more about key points of difference along with broad principles and Labour’s spokesperson did a pretty good job sticking to the party line regarding the working group. Regarding the Greens, it was great to see James Shaw really come off as a pragmatic centrist politician that you would never known as a Green Party leader if one weren’t told at the beginning. ACT Party has become less radical than it was when I was in the party back in 2008 which make me wonder whether a more middle ground approach is the game plan that’ll win over disaffected National Party voters who want some change instead of voting in a watered down National Party (which in turn is a watered down Helen Clark Labour government). National was keeping the slow and steady with the promise of ‘more of the same’ because they believe they’re on the right track and wanted to convince the audience (and voters in general) that to change who is in power when the formula they’re using is producing results will result in a backwards slide after doing so much hard work to get to this place.

Sickness and progress on Apple software

I’ve been having a shocker of a winter this year where I have gotten sick twice – not just ‘sniffle, sniffle, cough, cough’ but both times really crippling sickness where I have been not only having a runny nose, sore throat, coughing up phlegm but the inability to focus with a clear mind, maintain my balance when on my scooter. Normally I would soldier on and get on with life but this past winter has really taken the stuffing out of me – maybe I’m just getting older but then again the weather has been colder than past winters where tonight the temperature has gotten down to 8°C overnight where as at this stage I was hoping that things would have started to warm up already.

Beta 8 of 10.13, iOS 11, tvOS 11, watchOS 4.0 has been released although it appears that there is still a lot of work that is still on going in hammering out the last major bugs but that being said however the release date could be anywhere from 20 September through to mid to late October depending on the progress. APFS seems to be a bit of a challenge to get right when it comes to the conversion process but that being said I tend to be a bit paranoid/old school where I tend to favour wiping the slate clean and starting with a freshly formatted storage device. There are two known issues that have stood out for quite some time:

  • HDD-only Macs cannot be converted to APFS.
  • Some iMacs with 3TB Fusion drives and BootCamp may be unsupported for use with APFS.

Such limitations have been noted over several beta releases which make me wonder whether known issues that’ll be resolved in a future release or a known issue that won’t be resolved because of technological limitations or if it is enabled that there is significant performance or reliability issues.

ACT Party, Freedom of speech and Stephen Berry

Before starting this blog post I have to make two points. The first point is that I am a former member of the ACT Party but I’m no longer a member but when I was a member I fit into the socially libertarian wing of the party (with other side being angry ex-National Party members/Maxim Institute fanboys/those who romanticised the tea party from the US). The second point is is to differentiate between condoning an action vs. passing a law to make an action illegal – if you view the legal system to fix societal ills then you’ll take one position where as if you view it (as I do) as way to ensure that one persons freedom does not impede another persons then you’ll take a different position. I’ll write in a point based post because it allows a clear set of statements I want to make without the messy interpolating that can occur when jumping between subjects resulting in ambiguity in interpretation:

1) The question that was posed to Stephen Berry was in regards to the scenario of a transgendered person being told to go ‘kill themselves’ on the internet and although I agree with the principle and underlying thrust of his argument the reply was said in a rather flippant and uncaring manner. Personally I would have started off condemning the action of the hypothetical person who said such a thing online but I would have then followed up with a carefully worded explanation of what I see the legal system is for, the problems faced when you start prosecuting people for ‘mean things’ said on the internet etc. That being said, having been at such an event when I ran for Parliament in Wigram in Christchurch the amount of time afforded for a exhaustive answer is rather limited – terse and snappy replies are sometimes the only way to get complex ideas across (see the abysmal interview with Sue Bradford over the anti-smacking bill – I’m no Sue Bradford fan but the interviewer spent no time actually unpacking a complex philosophical issues regarding the relationship that a child has to their parents vs. the state).

2) Regarding the critics talking about the ACT Party’s opposition to the Human Rights Act (or in same cases, the belief by some MPs that certain things shouldn’t be covered by the law such as sexuality or in 2008 where a business didn’t want mothers to breastfeed their baby in their establishment), it isn’t that the party supports discrimination but the belief that firstly as a private individual (and in turn, organisation you own such as a business) have a right to decide who you wish to associate with or serve, and secondly that the best way of dealing with such discrimination (we’re talking about within the private sector, anti-discrimination as so far as the public sector is something that pretty much most libertarian leaning people support) is allowing the private marketplace, through rational self interest, deal with it.

When I talk about rational self interest I am referring to the business owner’s desire to make money will override any prejudice because he or she values money over upholding their prejudicial views. Keeping in mind that it is ‘in theory’ – something I don’t agree with given that people are quite prepared to cut their own nose off to spite their face especially if there is communal retribution for failing to tow the generally accepted line by the community at large or simply that they’ll claim ‘religious beliefs’ as a mask in justification of their discrimination.

3) Although one should wary of the slippery slope fallacy (if we do X, what is next? Y? Z?) it is important to understand that you cannot just simply go after a person who makes a single ‘mean post’ on the internet or otherwise there will be hundreds of police hours wasted on something that quite frankly can be resolved by the complainant blocking the person in question. That was the question being posed – not an active campaign of harassment but a single once off remark online. When dealing with a ‘mean comment’ where is the line drawn? I don’t agree with your assessment of the so-called ‘earnings gap’ between men and women you then go Chanty Binx (aka ‘Big Red’) by labelling anyone as a misogynist and harasser? That the boundaries of freedom of speech are dictated by your feelings and whether your emotional instability makes you do something stupid which therefore makes the person posting the said comment responsible for the actions you take? is it uncaring to actually say that the receiving party in question also has responsibility for the actions they take or are they just automatons that run on external stimuli?

Crappy weather but things are looking better…gradually

Damn, it has been over a week since I updated my blog but I’ve had so many things happening in my life at the moment not to mention a small accident at home where I was thankful that I had insurance to get resolved. So lets start from the top:

1) I’ve got two interviews lined up on Monday so I’m hopeful that one of them will come off successfully but in the mean time I’m going to be looking into getting my managers certificate from the Wellington city council so I can finally put my LCQ to some good use – the challenge is finding an employer willing to be used as a reference for the process. The other bit of homework I’ll be looking at will be studying for the Food Hygiene 167 and 168 along with the possibility of taking a 4 day barista course to up skill myself in the areas where I am weakest at. Lets assume I get the call centre job then I’ll still look at getting those qualifications so then at least I’ve broadened my skill set so if I do move on from that job I have the necessary skills to enter into the marketplace.

2) I made a bit of a mess having spilled coke over my MacBook which resulted in my keyboard being totally broken – I’m still trying to work out how the coke got into the keyboard but it might have been a matter of me bumping my drinking and the drink slushed around and went over onto the keyboard rather than the result of it actually falling over on the keyboard. On Monday I’ll be sending it away to get an assessment and I’ll take it from there regarding what will be the next steps. The most likely scenario will be that the device is beyond repair and they’ll just issue me with a replacement – I’ll get the cash and buy it from Apple’s online store.

3) Diet is going well – lost a few kilos and one of my shirts are fitting me a lot better so I think in the long run as I eat healthier and in moderation that the benefits will occur gradually. I personally don’t want drastic over night changes because it is impossible to keep them long term so the main focus is making lifestyle changes that are life long rather than a flash in the pan and he effects are only temporary. The big thing is keeping away from sweet food – that is my big downfall.

4) Met up with this cute guy and things are going well – we’ll see how it goes from here but it is good to at least be with someone after a decade of loneliness caused by a schedule that made it next to impossible to meet people outside of work.  Maybe that is part of the reason why I’m losing some weight and sticking to the plan because of a rise in self confidence and self worth. Hopefully once I get over my cold and he sits his exam that there will be more free time to hang out more often.

5) My scooter is racking up a list of things I need fixing so hopefully once I get a few hundred dollars behind me I’ll head into the local and get the whole lot fixed in one go. Repair places are like electricians – they charge a flat fee straight off the bat so you might as well cram as much work into that allotted time to make the amount worth while.

Final thing: The election in NZ has been a shit-show, I’m still going to vote but I still haven’t made up my mind yet because the options are just oh-so-terrible so I guess it’ll be a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils.

Yay, weekend!

Checked my usual sources for entertainment and ‘Ray Donovan’ started a new season (season 5) along with a new episode of ‘The Strain’ and I’m looking forward to eventually seeing the season finale of ’12 Monkey’s’ once it comes back on again – oh, and to make the situation even more fun Real Time with Bill Maher has returned as well after going on holiday (or as they say in the US – ‘vacation’).

I’m fixing up my CV and making it more streamlined – focusing on the full time jobs I’ve had since graduating university rather than including every random part time job I’ve had since high school. I understand the need to include information but at some point one has to ask whether what is being provided is fluff, distracting and the potential employer looks at this proverbial thesis and moves onto the next CV without reading it. I’ll fire off some resumes tonight and hopefully I’ll get some responses but at the end of the day you can only do what you can do – no use getting angry at the world because in the end it just makes you feel even worse about the situation.

Anyway, going to grab something for dinner and start watching those episodes – a great way to enjoy some time off from work then everything gets back to normal on Wednesday.

macOS, iOS and tvOS updates

It’s a bit of old news but Apple released updates to all their operating systems but what I thought was interesting, and not mentioned in the Apple media ecosystem, was the firmware update that was also included with the macOS update which updated both my iMac and MacBook Boot ROM which, from what I understand, is preparation for the move to APFS that will be arriving in macOS 10.13. Another interesting improvement came with iOS 10.3.3 which adds runtime normalisation to the system which should address some of the issues of compatibility that some have outlined when transitioning from iOS with HFS+ to iOS with APFS (on iOS 11 the file system will be updated to provide normalisation as well (aka when you search for forté and forte the normalisation process will treat the e and é so that if you searched the system for forte it would also bring back forté as well).

On a good side I’m back to doing a 40 hour week so even through I do lose some assistance from WINZ in the process the upside is that I still come our better off at the other end even if the improvement is rather marginal. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this years election because at this rate I’m probably going to vote National given their tax plan to push the brackets up at the bottom end will help me considerably where as Labour has offered me nothing more than a kick in the face (thanks Andrew Little!) due to the fact that I’m single and not pumping out kids left, right and centre (sorry about sounding bitter but it does piss me off).  

So back to the original point..ah yes, working longer hours will mean more money and hopefully they’ll be able to find my jobs to do elsewhere in the company over the Christmas break since my contract is only seasonal (following the university schedule) but that being said I’m still looking for more permanent full time work. The big problem in New Zealand is the casualisation of the labour force which has resulted in employers parading part time jobs as if they were full having experienced it first hand. What I mean by that is the opportunity is given to me, I go to pick up the contract, read it, and then I find out that the contract only guarantees 8 hours per week but the employer promises that he can give me a lot more in reality – instability and a gentleman handshake (for whatever that is worth these days). So there is unstable employment then to make the situation more ‘fun’ there is a lack of a safety net if you take it upon yourself to get a job but find that for a period of time that you’re getting insufficient hours (and in turn money) to pay for bills but because you’re not in crisis mode then WINZ is unable to help you – your credit record and tenancy reputation basically have to be flushed down the toilet before any sort of assistance is provided.

We’re critical of Windows because we care, not because we’re haters

I’ll start off with good news (for those who want to see old crap removed from Windows), Microsoft has released a list of deprecated/removed features from Windows 10 Autumn Update ( link ) which has some interesting removals such a the TCP Offloading Engine which is surprising given that it was only just recently that it was ‘all the rage’ for operating system vendors to embrace such as Solaris with its ‘Project Fire Engine’ (it was merged around 7 years ago into the Solaris tree). There are also moves to harmonise the backend technologies which they provide to consumers and enterprise customer such as in regards to Synchronisation of Settings, just as they standardised on the Exchange Protocol as they moved all their consumer facing services over to a Exchange backend. It appears that Windows 10 is taking a gradual step forward with the move to rolling release cycle so lets hope that as time progresses and more legacy gunk is removed from the system that maintenance and improvements are easier for Microsoft to do. 

It may sound counter intuitive to say “we’re critical of Windows because we care, not because we’re haters” but we truly do care be it for the most of selfish reasons, a Windows that has its flaws addressed is a better operating system that forces Apple to improve their own operating system – healthy competition spurs on innovation and making a better product. There is a great article by Christian Cantrell (Senior Experience Development Manager at Adobe) ( link ) that points out the issues that Windows 10 has from a Mac users perspective and it wasn’t surprising that on the Windows 10 subreddit you had legions of ‘butt hurt’ fanboys throwing a temper tantrum because someone dared to write a coherent and constructive critique of Windows 10 instead of doing the usual duck, dodge and dive regarding Windows 10’s short comings by focusing on some obscure feature that ver few people actually care about.

The problems that are outlined in the article are legitimate the problem is that in reality they’re symptoms of a larger problem and that is the lack of any direction by Microsoft to clearly move the platform forward by laying out a firm time line of technologies being deprecated, support for being compiled against it removed, and then eventually the removal of support entirely. The lack of any sort of time line means that Microsoft is forever bending itself into a pretzel as it tries to move forward whilst maintaining backwards compatibility – something that isn’t always doable without risking that something will be broken in the process. Lets assume you make changes to GDI to improve scalability on high DPI screens then it is almost a certainty that some applications somewhere is going to break because the developer has made assumptions on how GDI is supposed to behave resulting in their application breaking when a change is made.

The other problem with a lack of a definitive timeline means there isn’t the ability to go, “ok, we can now break compatibility at X point because we’ll know that it has been removed so lets get things sorted”, it also means that third parties are never forced to update their code. When you’re a programmer and you’re told something id deprecated but given no actual time line then what do you do? Do you spend money on migrating to a new framework only to find that the old framework remains indefinitely thus you’ve wasted resources on something that wasn’t needed or do you focus on other things only to be given a rude surprise because out of the blue Microsoft decides that now is the time to remove that piece of functionality.

On a good side Apple has seeded the forth beta to developers of macOS 10.13, iOS 11, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4.0 – with Apple finally replacing HFS+ with something modern (APFS) it appears that one of the major long standing complaints has been addressed. It’ll be interesting to see the impact of APFS has on the operating system over all but I guess that’ll have to wait till it is released towards the end of this year.