Awesomeness : A layperson's guide

Apple and U2

I’m finding the alliance of Apple and U2 stranger by the day, and the uproar against the free album more understandable.

Apple has always defined themselves by difference, they are ‘different’, their users are ‘different’, how true this really is? Who knows, but Apple has always pitched what their users can create, Garageband, iMovie, even the old rip,mix,burn was about the user choice of music, not the Apple choice.

The U2 free album is not about being different, it’s about Apple deciding the hive mind of Apple users will enjoy the latest wailings by Bono and the crew, the Apple HQ enjoys it, and so should you.

There is a 1984 style undertone to the U2 giveaway, the tastes and opinions of the user doesn’t really matter, Apple says you like the iPhone, Apple says you like U2, Apple says you like a watch that looks a certain way. Of course, the main differences here is the iPhone was a choice, the Apple Watch is choice, the album was not.

It’s a pretty big marketing fuck up by Apple, more obvious by the fact that Apple don’t make marketing mistakes, I can’t think of another one anyway.

It may also have helped if the album itself was a little less… meh.

Scottish Independence

I’m a proper Scot, born there, to Scottish parents, I even have a bit of accent left despite living elsewhere for longer than I ever lived in Scotland.

Now, I don’t live in Scotland anymore, and thus cannot vote in the imminent, historic referendum. I’m not sure this is really fair, but that’s how it is.

I’ve got a bit back and forth on how I’d vote (if I could), but I’ve decided I’d vote Yes.

We could discuss for hours that Scotland would be better off, or worse off if independent, or whose statistics on oil reserves are correct, but does this stuff matter? I don’t think so, fundamentally you have a tiny Scottish population who have governments imposed by a 10 times larger English population.

Democracy has always been the tyranny of the majority (the referendum itself suffers this too.), Democracy is not a good or fair system, but so far, it’s the best we’ve come up with, and Scotland would be better able to decide it’s own path, for better or worse, if independent.


I was starting to think people weren’t making good films anymore, maybe it went out of fashion or something, but this is a great, spectacular movie.

It’s an interesting story, beautifully shot, and the acting is perfect, subtle, realistic. It’s moving, but it’s not a calculated tear jerker like The Notebook or something like that.

I loved this film, the best movie I’ve seen in a long time, it may even make my top ten.

I want to see more films like this.

Bad Neighbours

It actually surprised me how bad this film was, in the ‘Seth Rogan’ genre, you don’t expect much, but you expect a few laughs, and in the second half of the film, there are a couple, but it’s remarkably unfunny.

The problem with this film is Seth Rogan,he’s not really a naturally funny man, Zac Efron is the talented one in this movie, he’s likeable, charismatic and generally OK, his frat buddy, played by Dave Franco is also actually pretty decent, as is Rose Byrne, it’s Seth that lets the thing down.

If you want a few slo-mo walks to the camera, then you might like it. If you plan on eating throughout the movie, that’ll also work, as laughter won’t be getting in the way, no chance of choking.

What they needed here was a better leading main, Chris O’Dowd would have worked, someone with a bit more character, Jason Segal would also have been a good choice. People need to stop casting Seth Rogan in movies.

Geoffrey O’Connor - Fan Fiction

It’s a pretty good album, totally 80s, but not in a mocking way, in a loving way.

The album cover is just awesome.

How I met your Mother - Last Season

The last episode is the cat shit icing on a cake made out of dog shit.

HIMYM has always been that combo of schmaltz and humour, you put up with the the badly acted soppy stuff to watch the funny bits, the last season doesn’t have any funny bits, or at least, very,very few.

The ending is awful, apparently it was written around season 2 time, and it shows, it is based on the season 2 characters, and not the season 9 ones, who have actually grown throughout the life of the show.

I actually feel like writing to Apple and asking for a refund for my iTunes purchase.

It’s bad.

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.

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