Sunday’s Sunrise




Walls are actually pretty strange things.

Completely putting aside their structural properties it’s amazing how much we expect privacy from a walled room.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because of the places I’ve lived in for the last two (ish) years. The first was a big old convent hall that had renovated into eleven rooms and one house, and the current is a block of four flats purpose-built to look like a large townhouse with four front doors. In both those places I was separated from complete strangers by walls, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there. I could still hear their footsteps, the music from their sound systems, and the occasional argument. What I’ve been thinking about is how much privacy we think we have just because we’re hidden from sight (and in some cases earshot) by a physical partition. 

If You’ve grown up as an only child, or been the only boy/girl in your family then You know the joys of having a bedroom all to yourself. Somewhere you can just go to be alone, to play with toys, to listen to music. A place you might call your IRL MySpace. As a child, and through adolesence your room is an impenetrable fortress where nobody can bother You and You can do whatever You please, but it’s within a bigger structure where other people are doing the same oblivious to the whole life being lived out a few metres away, but separated form the conciousness of other people by the fact that they can’t see/hear You. As an adult it’s not that different. There’s more rooms, but there’s still that idea of having a place that is physically shut off from the rest of the world, attached to several other places that are physically shut off from the rest of the world. The lonely crowd model has never been so apt.

So, Apple brought out new iPods…

It’s like the surprise party You always forget about. You wake up in the morning and You remember reading on or that Apple are doing their traditional spring/autumn (I refuse to call it ‘fall’) music event. to introduce all the new iPods that all the tweenagers will be begging their parents for at Christmas time. I completely forogt about it until this morning until I remembered what I’d read online last night. I was immediately filled with the kind of excitement a 5-year old gets when they go to Disneyland, before I slapped myself accross the face and said “Keep it together, man. Apart from the new iOS updates, it’s just going to be the same old thing.” Little did I know that I was in for a surprise or two.

I did see the reports about the tiny touchscreen that apple was buying in bulk, but it still didn’t prepare me for something that looks like a brushed aluminium version of Philips’ GoGear Spark (… To me that was the biggest surprise of the whole show. Thinking about it, it’s a very strange device. I assume that the operating system is caught in the mutant hybrid stage of transition between the original iPod OS and the iOS we have on all Apple’s touch screen devices. It doesn’t appear to support app store apps yet, and because ofthe relatively limited connectivity of the device, I’m not entirely sure what apps would be suited to it. Thinking through my list of apps, I can’t think of any that would be useful on a device that has almost no interconnectivity, save it’s headphone socket and it’s USB plug.

The next thing that caught my eye was AirPlay. I’ve wanted to be able to have interoperable A/V streaming at my place for a while. I have been playing with it ever since I first got an iOS device back at the start of last year, and it looks like AirPlay will do pretty much exactly what I want it to do, with one little flaw.

I don’t use iTunes for media.

I try to keep a little music as possible in my iTunes library, instead preferring audio powerhouse MediaMonkey to look after all my Musical needs. I’ve got a nice setup going for controlling MediaMonkey from my iPhone, and a passable one for streaming media to my iOS devices over the internet, but I’d much prefer to do it over Wi-Fi, and I haven’t quite found the app to do that just yet. Granted I still use iTunes for app management, device backups, and buying most of my music, but when it comes to sending all our content around our house. I think I’ll be looking elsewhere. I did have a bit of a chuckle at the fact that Apple are partnering with several Hi-Fi houses to integrate this new feature, including the manufacturer of a certain ovoid-shaped iPod speaker that I had a love/hate relationship with when I first made the switch to Apple. Ah, Zep. Some days I do still miss You…

The third thing that got my attention was somehting that wasn’t mentioned at all. Another stalwart in my musical arsenal, the iPod Classic. As You may have gathered from my previous posts I have a hard time trusting corporations to truly be in the best interests of the average joe, so I don’t like the idea of shifting all my music to the cloud. That’s one of the reasons I still have a Classic. I can keep all of my music on it everywhere I go without being connected to the internet. In a country where cell coverage is a bit patchy and the costs of data are through the freaking roof a big ol’ HDD still makes sense. The problem is that while Apple don’t appear to be discontinuing the iPod Classic, it looks like they don’t care about it anymore, and if they discontinue the Classic before they have devices that can take over from it in terms of capacity then there are a lot of people who are going to be a bit stuck.

What to do there? Well it looks as if our dear old clickwheeled friend isn’t going away, it just isn’t changing at all, so Aple still have time to make a 128GB iOS device. While that doesn’t solve the Big Brother problem, it would definitely solve the storage problem. A 128GB iPhone would be quite the device, as would an iPad with that level of capacity. It took Apple two iterations to get to 64GB, and this is their second iteration of the 64GB iOS devices, so we may see some kind of shocking development next year.

Now, those new iOS’ I mentioned. I still have an iPhone 3G, and I’ve done everything I could to make it faster under iOS 4, and it’s still not great. I also have an iPad, for which I could really really use iOS4. What I got from the announcement was both good news, and slightly annoying news. The good news is what we laready knew. iOS4.1 will fix the speed bugs in the iPhone 3G. Best news I have heard all September. I’m not overly concerned at the news that iOS 4.2, coming out in November for the iPad, phone, and touch is probably not going to be compatible with my 3G, as long as it works with my iPad. Now, the slightly annoying news. Remember that AirPlay feature I talked about? It’s also going to support wireless printing. As someone who spent a relatively considerable amount of money on a printing app for my iPad, I’m just a little bit grumpy, but it remains to be seen if this new feature will integrate into my setup as well as the current one does.

So, Apple are trying to move everything to the iOS platform, they are trying to push the idea of streaming media rather than owning a copy (not good) and they’re still trying to beat developers at their own games. Unless You live in South Korea there aren’t many, if any media devices that can outdo the iPods right now, so as an observer it looks like I can sit back in my chair with a (currently imaginary) glass of lemon, lime and bitters and say “Steve, You’ve done it again.”

another rant to file under ‘the end of the world as we know it’

DISCLAIMER: If I didn’t post some of these opinionated rants I feel I would never blog at all.

“Mother should I trust the government?”

I’ve been reading a few articles about the revised Search & Surveilence bill that’s going before the select commitee in a few days time. None of the article’s I’ve read have anyhitng positive to say about it, and after doing a quick search, none of the articles on Google’s first page do either. I’m not surprised that the ‘aim’ of those pushing the bill forward is to combat organized crime. I’m just sad that they feel they it’s right to give some very invaisive, and suspecting powers to companies and consortiums who really don’t need them.
To quote from ‘The Standard:’

“- If they have a policy on strip-searching they may use it.  If they have suspicion they may conduct a warrantless search, and seize items of interest in plain view.

– They may hack into your computer and conduct fishing expeditions for crimes you may have committed.

– 24-hour video and audio surveillance (and any future sort of surveillance) gets classed the same as a search, making it much more easily authorised.  And where warrants are required they need not be obtained from a judge, but from a ‘registrar” or possibly a JP.
– Police trespass on private property?  It’ll now be fine.

Along with search and surveillance powers it introduces a new ‘Examination Order’.  This requires someone to report to the police for questioning and removes the right to silence.  The new version of the bill allows you to go before a judge to have them determine if you are incriminating yourself, thereby incriminating yourself…

Another new power will be Production Orders  this allows ‘enforcement officers’ to sit back and order you to produce documents that you have, or will have in future, on an on-going basis if they suspect that an offence has been committed.”

I simply do not buy the defence that ‘if you’ve done noting wrong, you have nothing to worry about.’ I don’t trust any organization run by human beings to use these powers in a completely upright manner. I wouldn’t be surprised if I woke up one morning to find that big content had hacked my computer and removed any music that hadn’t been purchased from the iTunes store because I ripped a copy from the CD I paid for. I wouldn’t be surprised if every car enthusiast in Christchurch had their cars and cellphones bugged (except for the Mayor’s V8 falcon, of course). I wouldn’t even be surprised if it was made legal or police to raid student flats because the purchase of a keg of beer came up on a student’s transaction history, or a text message about a friday night piss-up.

It’s not just this bill that bothers me either. Research In Motion received ultimatums from several countries in the middle east, as well as India to hand over the technology that has made Blackberry phones so popular. Their so-solid encryption. These governments are claiming that the terror attacks and insurgent activities that take place within their borders are being conducted on blackberries because of their encryption. Frankly, if I were a terrorist I wouldn’t be stupid enough to use the same phone twice. The problem with that logic is, because the smart ones use burner phones, eventually the search and surveilence will cover everything everybody says in a phone call or sends in an email, or types in a text message. And for that matter, what about Marion high school in the states turning on the webcams of the macbooks it issues out to studetns wherever they are? If that wasn’t a case of dirty old men, then I don’t know what is.

This is all enough to make me consider giving up electronic technology, the one thing that has been my bigest hobby for the majority of my existance, to go off the grid. Find a cave in fijordland and live out the rest of my days there, or disappear into the heart of Africa with my wife, (she would definitely like that idea) never to be seen by the west again. But really, does that help anyone?

I guess we’ll have to wait, pray and see.

I’ll keep using this stuff. I’ll give it exactly what I’ve been giving it up to this point. I’ll watch the news to see if this bill gets passed with unanimous applause inside the parliament house, or thrown out after a tsunami of outcry from the rest of the country. I’ll try, with God’s grace, to be as good a Christian as I can, and I’ll keep telling people that if they don’t want the world to know, don’t put it on the internet. But if I still see teenagers in Christchurch arrested for merely having a flash car, or see reports of officers bugging bathrooms to watch ‘suspicious individuals’ shower then screw it. I’m gone.

If You don’t see me on the internet again, I’m (probably) not dead. Just out the back of the back of beyond.