Awesomeness : A layperson's guide

The Trip

I’ve long held an opinion that the US makes the best drama TV, and the UK makes the best comedy*, I reckon I’m right, and I don’t really care what you think.

Anyway, The Trip is just brilliant, very funny start to finish. I find it quite unusual in the sense that it’s just two men bickering, but both are still very likeable.

After seeing Steve Coogan in this, and ‘Philomena’, the range of his acting ability is quite striking, he doesn’t need to scream and shout to have ‘range’, he just is.

Rob Brydon is as good as always, always very funny and worth watching.

*OK, the UK can do good drama, ‘The Fall’ is a good example, but it’s generally shit,  i.e. Doctor Who. Before you start shouting, it is shit, go away and watch True Detective or Fargo, then tell me your precious Doctor Who stands up to that.

As for the UK making the best comedy, Father Ted, The IT Crowd, Peep Show, I could go on, but I can’t be bothered. Apart from Seinfeld and Curb your Enthusiasm, nothing else is in the same league, and don’t say Modern Family, unless it’s had a wholesale cast and writer change since the last time I saw it, it’s still shit.

MacOS on ARM

Nah, making a desktop CPU is pretty different from a phone/tablet one, you don’t run RenderMan or Photoshop 500MB TIFFs on your phone.

Let’s say, theoretically, Apple could make an ARM chip that outperformed the best Intel chip, then what? Are people buying Macs for raw performance? Nope. Let’s say Apple could double the performance of Intel (they couldn’t), but let’s say they could. Apple would probably sell a few more machines into scientific circles, but that’s it, most people Just. Don’t. Care.

The above article suggest they could just stick a couple of ARMs in to make it faster, parallel processing and all that, ‘cause it’s just that easy. Parallel programming is difficult, very difficult, to get right, and some tasks just don’t suit it one little bit. Imagine for a second you want to parallel process the conversion of an image into black and white, one processor takes half the image, the other CPU takes the other half, simple, yes, pretty simply, no biggie. Now, consider you want to blur that image, just split the image in half, ask each CPU to do half right?

No, that won’t work, why? Because the activities are interdependent, blurring one pixel affects surrounding pixels, and the other CPU is doing that, but what if it’s not got that far, we are going to need to wait for that thread to catch up. It’s complicated.

So if Apple were to stick 10 A5 chips into a MacBook Pro..”

10 CPUs are fine if their tasks are independent, if they are working on the same dataset, it becomes a minefield.

Yes, there are computers out there that do indeed have that many CPUs or cores, but they are servers, or for specific tasks, take Sun (Oracle) ones for example, fantastic for a web server, but sucks the fat one for single thread operations, I’ve used one, for running 10 perl scripts at the same time, awesome, for OpenOffice, it’s awful.

Apple went down this road with G4 and G5 Macs, try to make up for poor CPU performance by sticking in more CPUs, for a few Photoshop benchmarks it works,in the real world, it doesn’t.

Like it or not, CPUs have become a component just like the hard disc, they aren’t headliners anymore.

More on Cortana and Windows Phone

I’ve been using Cortana a little bit more, sending texts mainly, as it’s quicker than using the onscreen keyboard, and less prone to error, if I used a Blackberry, I doubt I’d need it, but when you have a sub-optimal keyboard, it’s kinda OK.

The downside. The speech recognition is very good indeed, if I speak clearly, the accuracy is very good, most txts I send are 100% correct on the first try. However, it really only works on WiFi, it’s just far too slow on the mobile network to be useful. Maybe if I had 4G or whatever it would be OK.

I’d never txt while driving, I wouldn’t use Cortana either, it would be frustrating, and probably just as dangerous.

Of course, my Windows Phone itself is amazingly slow, it has to ‘resume’ almost every app when I switch to it, a model with more RAM would probably fix this, you really do get what you pay for. It’s laggy in everything it does, the shutter lag on the camera can be 5 seconds, I’m not kidding.

The more I use my phone, the more lacking it appears, the connectivity is very poor, I’m not sure what this is, but the email works perfectly, it syncs quickly even on a mobile network, the web browser takes many refreshes to open a page, it just fails, Facebook is probably worse, Twitter, that’s usually OK.

More on Swift

OK, I’ve been doing a lot more with Swift since my last post on the subject.

Integration with existing Obj-C code is damn near miraculous, I’m not sure how they did it this well, it generally behaves like native Swift code, the method calls are mapped very cleverly to the Swift-y way of doing it.

The syntax is clean, cleaner than Obj-C, it’s still a bit funny, the use of ! and ? can be a bit obtuse, ? make sense, but ! I’ve not quite got used to.

It’s like a scripting language, in a good way, but with the richness of Cocoa, it’s a good combo.

The whole build process is a lot nicer, linking with Frameworks just seems to happen.

Xcode 6 is still a little flaky, especially the syntax highlighting, but I’m sure this will get better.

On a slightly different, but related note, I’ve been using the Xcode ‘Assistant’ to make Outlets and Actions recently, once you get past it’s overbearing nature, it’s actually, really, really good, suits Swift much better too, as you don’t have a header file with that.

In my programming escapades, I’ve taken another look at the new constraint system in Cocoa, bloody hell, what a confusing mess, the old system, sure it might have been a little inflexible, but at least you could do what you need to do it in a few seconds, the constraints system is insane, doing it in code is ridiculous, wordy, and just impossible to get right without 100 tries at it first, with complex layouts, I don’t think I’d ever get it right.


I’ve been messing around with Cortana on Windows Phone, you know, it’s actually OK.

You can say stuff like ‘remind me about my pimpin’ and cruzin’ at 10am tomorrow’ and it’ll understand you, and make a record of it.

It has suggestions, some cheeky,  like ‘Should I get a Mac?’, I asked it that, and it said that it didn’t know what I was talking about, and would I like the weather instead, which is a bit like a standup comedian setting up joke, and slipping up on dog shit when about to say the punchline. Aww bless, it’s trying to be all sassy like Siri, but flops..

It’s a bit crappy, like I asked it for directions to a place, and it just does a web search, rather than use the built in Maps, which is a bit weird really.

You can create a text, just by saying ‘send text’ and the speech recognition is very, very good. You can’t say ‘Send Email’, that just does a web search.

Cortana can do a few things well, and every thing else is just a Bing search, it’s not ‘deep’ like Siri is.

I’ll never use it of course, as I don’t want to be that bellend talking at his phone. 

SumOfUs bullshit

"In a breathtakingly creepy invasion of privacy, Facebook is forcing all smartphone users to install a new messaging app."

It’s disgraceful, Mark Zuckerberg holding a gun to the users head and literally FORCING them to install an app. But hold on, that’s not happening at all, nobody is being forced to install anything, if you don’t like it, stop fucking using it, facebook isn’t an essential service, it’s not water, sewage, or the police, it’s fucking Facebook.

You didn’t need Facebook 10 years ago, and you don’t need it now, you don’t have a right to it, if Facebook wants to charge you by the second for using it, then they can, if they want to shovel adverts down your throat, they can, you don’t have to watch them, take yourself off Facebook and start living the rest of your life.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has also admitted that his long-term plan could be to ‘monetize’ the app,”

No shit Sherlock, Facebook isn’t a charity, Apps don’t write themselves, salaries need to come from somewhere, if you thought Facebook was ‘free’, then you need to think about that.

Crappy journalism (Headlines)

The article is fair, but the headline is just shit…

"Tony Abbott blasted for ‘ludicrous’ intervention in Scottish referendum"

Now, I hate Tony Abbott as much as the next guy, but was he ‘blasted’? Whatever that means… More than that, he didn’t ‘intervene’, he merely expressed an opinion, President Obama did the same thing, but it was kind of OK when he did it.

In fact Tony Abbott actually said this too…

“What the Scots do is a matter for the Scots and not for a moment do I presume to tell Scottish voters which way they should vote. “

Which is pretty reasonable, and certainly not trying to intervene.

There is enough real stuff to criticise Abbott for, we don’t need to make stuff up.

Daring Fireball: New Microsoft Surface Ads Take on MacBooks (and iPads) Directly 

A decent short article by John Gruber. Microsoft is directly attacking Apple, by doing this, they are tacitly admitting that they might actually be losing this one.

About the ads themselves, they are pretty shit, it’s basically saying, hey look! The keyboard of my laptop comes off! 

As a Surface user, this is exactly what they are, laptops without keyboards, they feel like Windows PCs, but without the crufty bits (well, some crufty bits). Is Surface any good? Not really.

You are doing exactly what they want.

I’m talking about stuff like this…

Basically, in a successful bid to get advertising without paying for it, American Apparel does a few adverts which are a bit near the knuckle, nothing overtly paedo, but close enough to garner some attention.

If you don’t like American Apparel doing this sort of thing, first, stop buying their stuff, second, stop facebooking, tweeting, blogging etc… This is their plan, to get the ‘twittersphere’ all up in arms about some barely dressed teenager, and for you to do the jobs that would normally be given to an paid advertising firm. If you like doing free work for a company you hate, then continue, if not, STOP.

The same goes for that Richard Dawkins, he’s probably got a new book coming out, so don’t go getting all uppity about a lazily written, infantile, boring tweet. YOU ARE DOING EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT.

The Worlds End

A pretty good film, much what you’d expect, if you like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, you’ll like this.

However… If you don’t know anything about this film, do not watch the trailer, like all modern trailers it just summarises the entire story and spoils any surprise.

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