More critics of the new Macbook Pro

https://marco.org/2016/11/05/world-without-mac-pro

http://scripting.com/2016/11/06/appleIsOnceAgainALovelessHouse.html

Once again, for normal browser-using and Office-using folks, the MBP is still way overkill, and very usable. If you want to pay the premium price for the nice hardware and stuff, it’s great.

For the power user, meaning the graphic artists, music artists, engineers, physicians, mathematicians, serious hardware is really important. That means more cores, newer cores, more ram, new ram, better rambus, better ssd speeds, better GPUs, more GPUs, still more GPUs, more screen, more storage, more network speed (not wifi, LAN!), and more everything. Even if it costs more.

But there isn’t more. There isn’t more of any of that that they can throw their money at. There’s no more significant upgrades other than price, other than some little speed tweaks here and there, no more new Mac Pro, new iMac. Only that precious Mac OS now with nothing to run it on. Oh dear, Apple you might as well go the M$ route and license out the OS to other hardware makers.

I think this is a focus problem. Apple is focused on improving their revenue, and Mac OS is not significant enough, with insufficient potential. So their talent and engineering and marketing and budgets and focus is all on other things. No talent and no focus means no progress. For sure.

The only good thing for many engineers, hey at least you can offload the heavy duty stuff to cloud servers. yay. In that case, you just need a linux terminal.

You know what, people who make software and people who make tutorials and guides need to make them for other OS. Make it such that everything works well also on Windows and Linux, and we’ll all have choices.

More critics of the new Macbook Pro

Overhaul

Oh man, that was one massive migration of Hypervisor, from Proxmox to VMware ESXi. Took me 1.5 weeks and it’s quite worth the improvement in local datastore functionality. Redid all my VMs in like a version 2 manner, since the Proxmox set was pretty noob. 

It wasn’t all smooth since I didn’t follow all the exact same settings and versions, but largely quite tolerable. 

Got a new reverse proxy up, which I’ve always wanted. And gave up on Observium and back on PRTG which I like much better. 

Well, here’s to hopefully a stable homeserver system that stays in place for longer than the previous set. Or until I run out of spare storage space and need to move things around again. 

Overhaul

Inspiration

Wow it’s been a extraordinarily surprising and inspirational Friday evening and Saturday. Totally unexpected. It’s been weeks and day in day out of work, office, home, home server, office, emails, requests, Civilization VI (yeah), Pokemon Go, work, etc. And normal people. I mean, they aren’t bad people, or evil people, or totally boring people. But I guess they are normal people, or perhaps I only see the normal side of them at work.

Friday evening. Another evening to myself and I go out for a walk to just get my eyes away from the crazy Civilization VI game (which I am exceedingly proud to have purchased at full retail price on Steam and played a crazy 29 hours so far). It’s killing my eyes by the way. I see a chance tweet by StraitsTimes (of all people) about Singapore Writers Festival, and hey that’s cool, I didn’t know or I forgot it’s on. And it’s on tonight! I quickly check the schedule on my phone while eating dinner in a restaurant with poor network connection and no free wifi, sigh the pain, and I realise there’s one of those poetry events that night. Awesome. I head straight over to Arts House, gosh I love that place so much, it’s got such a beautiful architecture, beautiful rooms, superbly done up for performances, and quite central and accessible. I love the SWF vibe, love the crowd, love seeing my favorite local poets, love seeing bookshelves of books on sale. As much as I normally dislike paying full price at a brick n mortar shop, I actually bought a physical book. Recently I’ve been deliberating about a Kindle again… Oh well but never got to it. So I have yet another physical book. Strange Weather in Tokyo, by Hiromi Kawakami. It’s been a great read so far, I’ve going slow to savour it.
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Damn I miss books, I miss reading, I miss writing, I miss listening to people talk about books, lit, themes, stories, their opinions of it, etc etc. It’s wonderful. It’s people with ideas, people with passions, people with stories they are trying to craft. People who aren’t really earning much money as poets or authors. People who try to do it full time, half time, part time, no time. People who have day jobs in normal corporates, or government bodies, or social companies, etc. I love how quirkily some of them dress, in their fancy clothes and fancy bags and fancy getup and fancy accessories. But no it’s not fancy like Chanel dresses or LV bags or necessarily tailored shirts or shiny shoes. It’s fancy in that it could be so cheap, so thrown together, so casual, so hipster, so not hipster, so all over the place. And that it’s so inclusive. I would say Writing and Lit is part of the Arts community. Part of Music, Drama, Dance, Painting, etc etc. Even as Sarah loves her Musicals, it is another art form that I respect, as much as I am unable to appreciate alot of it. I don’t like all poetry. I probably like only half of it. The quirky ones with strange rhyme, strange built-in music, strange sounds and strange stories are also cringe-worthy to me. Haha. And yet Arts being Arts, is all inclusive of everyone who wishes to express themselves in the format, differently. And that’s crazy. And good.

Friday night I heard Arianna Pozzuoli recite one about Romeo on Tinder. LOL, it was downright hilarious. It was just a “quick” “simple”, non-literary joke piece on the Shakespearean theme, but it was hilarious and one of my favorites. You gotta hear it for yourself, out loud.
I heard Shivram Gopinath tell a tall tale about William Shakespeare and how he really is from india and ran to England and changed his name to Shakespeare. Oh it was a tall tale and hilarious too.
Jennifer Anne Champion had a awesome line about “Television, films, and YouTube slam poetry”. Lol Youtube slam poetry is a thing huh. I gotta admit it is quite catchy, though often frivolous. But still entertainment great for any bar night.
Omar Musa rapped a piece about “Eh / Play On” – “Tomorrow isnt your friend / Never let the fire in the lamp burn low / For you never know / When today might end” Hot damn he is inspirational. The rest of the poem was equally impactful. Read it here.

I was really inspired. And I missed it all, so much. Back to the days when I read, and read, and read. When I wrote, and blogged and wrote. When I daydreamed day in day out. When we all had dreams. When we were students. When life in university meant classes in everything under the sun. It was awesome.

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Saturday Afternoon was GDG-SG Devfest. Although I work on IT stuff all the time, it’s still cool to see all the developers, who work on apps, cloud, machine learning etc etc. To be reminded again of Firebase, of GCP, of Search, of ML, of Android Run-Time. Makes me want to make yet another app again.img_20161105_173137img_20161105_161101

Saturday Evening we went for another Poetry reading together. This one was themed on Love. Poets from Japan, Taiwan, Iceland, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and some others. Very much an eye-opener into many, many, many, different styles of poetry. It was cool. Some were beautiful, some were cool, some were bizarre, some were shocking, some were boring. But it was a great and amazing diversity.
Iceland lady was stone-faced and sharp but funny in a sense. Taiwan guy was like cool surfer dude but writes well. German/Ghana woman was funny and also boring. Singapore malay guy was bemusing in fact. Japan man was crazy. It was real fun. And I enjoyed it so much.

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Inspiration

Hardware at scale

All the big guns have such impressive economies of scale at purchasing high end hardware. How do small companies compete? What’s 4 servers versus 40,000? I did not realise even LinkedIn had such a big demand.

https://www.wired.com/2016/10/ai-changing-market-computer-chips/

Intel understands that the market is changing. Four years ago, the chip maker told us it sells more server processors to Google than it sells to all but four other companies—so it sees firsthand how Google and its ilk can shift the chip market. As a result, it’s now placing bets everywhere. Beyond snapping up Altera and Movidius, it has agreed to buy a third AI chip company called Nervana.

That makes sense, because the market is only starting to develop. “We’re now at the precipice of the next big wave of growth,” Intel vice president Jason Waxman recently told me, “and that’s going to be driven by artificial intelligence.” The question is where the wave will take us.

http://www.businessinsider.co.id/how-linkedin-is-shrugging-off-the-175-billion-hardware-industry-2016-10/#3yKlC63K6uqihGy6.97

LinkedIn is designing and building nearly all the pieces and parts of software and hardware that it needs for its data centers, poaching away key people from Facebook and Juniper to do it.

https://techcrunch.com/2016/10/31/microsoft-open-sources-its-next-gen-cloud-hardware-design/

Microsoft today open sourced its next-gen hyperscale cloud hardware design and contributed it to the Open Compute Project (OCP). Microsoft joined the OCP, which also includes Facebook, Google, Intel, IBM, Rackspace and many other cloud vendors, back in 2014. Over the last two years, it already contributed a number of server, networking and data center designs.

Hardware at scale

Is it one of those inflexion points?

Fall of Year 2016, the year that the giants of Silicon Valley’s consumer tech – Apple, Google, Microsoft all made huge hardware and software announcements within a short span of a few weeks, and all made waves in the news, for different reasons.

Google started the ball rolling.

  • Under the new #MadeByGoogle moniker, they announced what they felt was a (secret) revolution
    madebygoogle_logo_banner

    • Google Pixel Phone – a first Google branded and fronted phone where they threw in all their chips, where reviewers are saying it is a pretty good contender in all aspects to the iPhone. It wasn’t super standout in features, but it didn’t seem to get anything wrong.
    • Google Home – a relatively small-ish product, actually made to show off
    • Google Assistant – their newfound Artificial Intelligence embodiment, their precious new baby which takes the entire (impressively large and talented) company worth of (world best) knowledge gathering, (one of the world’s best) machine learning, (again one of the world’s best) artificial intelligence and combines it into one singular entity called Assistant that for now spans the AI-assisted chat app Allo, the imbued Pixel Phone, the pure Home.
    • Daydream headset – a further push into VR after last year’s successful Cardboard surprise.
  • A reorganization of Google Apps for Work into a new G Suite brand, a new Jamboard whiteboard to bring all of G Suite into your brainstorming sessions
    screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-10-42-13-pmnexus2cee_google-jamboard-728x410

Microsoft put down some really good hands with

  • Windows 10 Creator’s Update – a surprisingly wholesome gang of 3D image capturing, manipulation and sharing. It brought a fresh new swiss minty breath to the Windows OS, as if Microsoft was forgiven for the Windows 8 debacle, the respectable Windows 10 steps. A Windows PC could now be cool again. It had a new function that it could not do before. And it tied so well with the darn Hololens they have been talking up for years but gotten nowhere, and it tied so well with the Surface line full of touch interface. surfacedial_10_imagepanel_v2
  • Surface Pro – already selling well and growing steadily since gaining momentum a year back hitting the right spots, now souped up with more power and more battery
  • Surface Book – continuing to impress with the fancy cool super suede design and computing power for engineers. This blew the crowd away last year.
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  • Surface Studio – this year’s mind blowing hardware which beheld so much attention in the design and form, which really really seemed to make you want to have one. It was just so dreamworthy, so perfect for what it was advertised for. It was the talking point of the year. And OMG the Surface Dial.
  • Xbox – nothing big this time round.

Apple’s cards were all flops

  • iPhone 7 and 7+ with some more camera tricks, CPU tricks and battery tricks. Nothing at all worth noting, year after year of performance and speed improvements with no useful real-life gain. Not in terms of hardware, not in terms of software. Oh and they took away the headphone jack without any discernible benefit and everyone hated that, and their wireless earphones are delayed.
  • iPad – lost in oblivion as people refuse to buy new ones
  • iMac – lost in oblivion and forgotten by Apple in the quest for better iPhones.
  • Macbook, Macbook Air, Mac Pro – again lost in oblivion.
    macbook-oled-side
  • Macbook Pro – this year’s stunningly bad reveal from Apple. A marketing disaster all told coming 24 hours after Microsoft’s mindblowingly and expertly delivered presentation by Panos Panay (Corporate VP of Devices) (a man who could move you to tears the way he talks about his Surface devices).
    The Macbook Pro took away all the needs of the programmers, the designers, the artists, the scientists – all the people who use the Macbook Pro and iMac with the highest end configurations at few thousands of dollars each, people who run the heaviest of applications that require tens of gigs of ram, xeon processors, the largest screens, the best screens to do their work. People who have budgets normal people only dream of and use applications that cost thousands of dollars.
    And the Macbook Pro fails at that. It is now a middling piece of hardware whose only redemption is that it is the only thing that can run Mac OS.
    Every other year it’s been “oh they added this other whatever thing, and now it’s more expensive, but it’s okay it still is useable”, and this year it is “where’s everything we need and why is it taken away when someone else is making super powerful and cool laptops AND a desktop”. People who buy $3000 laptops and $3000 monitors probably don’t care about having a slightly thinner laptop, don’t care about 10% more battery life. Not for an emoji strip.macbook-pro-touchbar-emoji-610x293

Other companies bring in new products that reflect the growing trends – awesome AI integration, 3D, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Touch screens (even Microsoft gets this), high end hardware for the serious people, and lower end accessible hardware for normal people.

Of course, Apple will still make a lot of money from the Mac ecosystem – from people who already use a very old mac and need an upgrade, from people who run applications that only work on mac, from people who don’t have time to switch, from people who just want the Apple logo (by the way it no longer lights up), from people who use iPhones, from people who have to make iPhone apps. But someone said it right, it will die, slowly, by programmers who no longer use a mac at home and start making apps for other devices, and slowly the software tide will shift.

Is it one of those inflexion points?

A different HK

A different work schedule and Pokemon Go made this into quite a different HK visit.

  1. Arrive at HKG. Sees a shadow on sightings, looks at tracker, woah nidoqueen! But I’m still in the immigration queue and it’s outside the airport! 8min timer! Finally gets through immigration, pick up bag from carousel, rushes towards different side of airport exit, and take a lift down, and catches the nidoqueen. That was a eventful arrival.
  2. Office is beside an Electabuzz spawn point, all day long. ^^
  3. Have lunch at a eatery in a industrial-like building beside the office. Woah, quite a bunch of interesting food places that are actually pretty nice! Need to take the cargo elevator up to different levels and go to different eateries. hm.
  4. Main target: get a Farfetch’d before leaving. Search online, after the recent nest changes, Signal Hill doesn’t seem to be a nest any longer. Discovers Signal Hill Park is a weird small park hidden behind between some buildings in the middle of Tsim Sha Tsui. Never knew of this place. It’s a fairly steep hill, and a few people climb up, but most people just hang around outside the front gate. Quite a large crowd. Lots of decent pokemons spawning here, hence the crowd. Walk around the neighbourhood, explore so many streets and so many new buildings. Like 75% of Tsim Sha Tsui. Then tracker shows a Farfetch’d and finally caught it. Yay. Now I can go do anything else. “Farfetchd seel wartortle machop dratini seel jigglypuff arcanine shelllder rhyhorn seel nidoran” crazy spree
  5. Breakfast at local cafe/restaurant thing across from hotel. Ended up with amusing sandwich, macaroni, tea. That’s what happens when I randomly order the first thing I see, and am kinda surprised at what turns up. Still blindly stumbling around in a foreign land. Milk tea here is so super crazy strong and unsweetened. wow.
  6. Goes to computer centre, go to wrong level which is full of laptops, find the correct level with parts, cables, chargers, find a nice charger and stuff.
  7. Goes across to another street – Apliu Street, which i have never heard of before this, and discover a wonderland of electronics, lighting stuff, home hardware, etc etc, crazy fun men’s stuff. wow. best street market ever. Goes into random eatery for dinner, shares table with a small girl and mother. Small girl plays with her kolo bun. me tries to order fried rice and pork chop, something turns up. And “dong leng cha”, ice lemon tea! The locals just love their lemons. four slices of lemon per cup. and not as sweet.
  8. Decides to go to Element Mall to catch Abra. Wow what a nice posh mall that is full of luxury goods, luxury restaurants, and probably for the mainland china tourists to go to Macau. Had to take a mini-bus from a weird busstop and end up at a basement bus interchange below the mall. Weird. Then the gps is horrible, cant catch pokemon properly. Give up, go back to Signal Hill.
  9. Goes buy a shoe. Wow the street shops close so early. Still did not expect that.
  10. Decides to go to Morse Park for Kabuto. Was kinda unsure whether to really go to such a “far” away park in the heartlands. Weird MTR stop, seems to have another mall. Walks through housing estate. A surprisingly crowded park with large sports facilities. Many soccer pitches, etc. Wow. Follows the lures. Follow the crowd to catch one hitmonlee! yay that was great. Then just chasing down the kabuto that keeps popping up. Fairly easy. This nest aint too bad after all. And also picked up machop+machoke. also crazy number of clefairy in hk.
  11. Have lunch at a “da pai dong”, some zhi-char / hawker like place with nice cooking. Fascinating.
  12. Goes to a Squirtle nest at Lan Kwai Fong Park. This is also fairly out of the main tourist areas. In some neighbourhood, behind apartments. Wow so many so many so many Squirtles. And it rains on me. and it stops raining. and I get more squirtles. And a Hitmonchan to pull me away from the park! yay. this is great.
  13. Pick up mooncakes from some shop at the basement of a mall. woah.
  14. Randomly goes to a restaurant on the 10th floor. It’s surprisingly nice and crowded. woah.
  15. Goes back to Signal Hill. Only one Charmander today. The crowd runs off for a Snorlax but I’ve got other things to wait for.

It’s crazy how I go to all these never-been-before places that are off the tourist track and really feels uncertain but thankfully the pokemon crowd makes it feel relatively safe and okay to be around. At least there are people, even at 10pm, 11pm etc. And I don’t feel like a crazy madman. And it really seems to show a different side of HK.

A different HK

Google Home

Problem with Google Home:

  1. It only works with one Google account. That’s like….how does this even pass first use scenarios. I have two main accounts myself that I use all the time, with a host of other google accounts that I use on and off. And of course, entire household means that number doubles. Phones are great at managing multi accounts, this device Needs to do that too.
  2. It works with a few category of services:
    1. Streaming music subscriptions – expensive monthly fees i dont have.
    2. smarthome lightbulbs etc – i think i cant hack this into my current lodgings.
    3. questions and answers. phone can do this fine.

…sheesh.

Google Home

Pixel

https://medium.com/@punitsoni/motorola-done-right-ba025a362765#.h27qzx7q5

  • A couple of people rightly mentioned that one of the key issues was the lack of marketing. Consumer hardware marketing is a different beast. Google did not really back the phones from Moto with real marketing dollars. Hopefully this is being fixed now with the marketing cost being baked into the cost of Pixel.

It is universally recognised that the Google Pixel (2016) is easily $100-200 higher priced than the Nexus series of phones, bringing it from great-value hardware and software, to top end priced hardware, seriously on par with Apple’s iPhones and Samsung’s flagship S7 series.

Still, it is definitely obvious that the Nexus prices were deliberately pushed down to make them super crazy affordable, much lower profit margin than any normal series phone made by HTC/Samsung/Motorola/LG/etc/etc. That’s why it made sense to order a Nexus phones import it from USA versus buying a local phone set.

Now, with the higher pricing, they can build in marketing costs, retailer margins, distribution etc such that the product that you buy off the shelf can be sold at that price. If you don’t realise, most off-the-shelf goods have like 30% shop markup compared to their costs. It’s all the brick and mortar shop rental, staff, ancillary costs. That’s why people went to buy things online where these costs can be taken out and discounted.

A higher Pixel price also means that it can go into telco plans, where telcos get some overhead, where there are effort and costs expended into licensing the phones for use in each local country etc etc. These things all cost money and we used to get around it. That will dramatically help the distribution, and more ‘normal’ people will be able to get the Pixel on their contract plans, from their telcos, instead of paying $1000 to order and ship a phone ownself halfway round the world, instead of buying it off a dingy mobile store. Yeah 99% of normal folk would not do that with an expensive phone. Also, warranty overheads.

Marketing is nice in some ways. Eg if I pay $1000 for a Pixel, people would recognise this phone, they would Know what this is when they see it and they would appreciate how good the software is, and how it compares to their bleh Samsung. (although I can appreciate how fast and smooth some of the new Samsung phones are.)

I hope people trade in their Note 7 for a Pixel, hahaha.

Pixel

Is Pokemon Go real?

The interesting question came up because Pokego differentiates itself from most other games because it is

  1. So visible: You can see people out there playing it. You see them walking about and running around. You see them on their phones and you see their phone screens and you see them flicking their fingers.
  2. Pseudo Augmented Reality (AR): There is a whole debate about whether Pokego is proper AR (much less VR), but one definite interesting thing about the game is that option of using the phone camera to find, display and catch the Pokemons. It makes it look as if the Pokemon is actually out there in front of you. A cool trick.
  3. So mobile: The players have got to move around, they got to move to different places on the map by walking, driving, taking public transport etc. It feels like the Pokemons are actually at particular locations. But are they really? Or are they just anywhere on the virtual map, on a virtual screen, no more really on location than they are actually on a real physical map.

So this begs the question of is the game real, are the Pokemons real, are they really there at locations around the world?

Or could you simply spoof (falsify your phone location) around and just as “physically” be there?

Frankly the answer is that it is no more real than any game out there. It is no more unreal than any console or PC game. You move your wii controller and the racket swings, you move your mouse a few inches and your gun raises, you press a button and you walk forward in game. Simply put the GPS-enabled location of your phone acts as one of the controllers of this game. The code calculates your movements in metres, tracks your location against the server map, calculates how far you walked and awards you points. The difference here is that you walk one metre in reality, you move one same metre in game. 1:1. No shortcut keyboard  button to amplify movements.

It would be a cool philosophical question: if someone made a fake map of the world, with fake things on it, what changes?

Is Pokemon Go real?