Not that analogue a life post lockdown.

Let’s get the basic stuff out of the way. I’ve already commented on the NZ Covid app, and the same dynamic is occuring in Australia. We now have had no cases for 10 days and over the last 48 hours the cast of Avatar have flown in while there have been black lives matter protests in a country where less than 1 in a thousand are black, so the kiwi cynicism is beating the technologists hands down. You can’t nag about contact tracking and 2 m separation when you allow this.

BLM oritests kiwi sytle
Photo: RNZ / Leith Huffadine

The woke have destroyed social distancing, and I prefer my privacy. This is from Canada. The bluetooth app won’t work here, nor will protestors saying we have everyone register for contact tracing. Methinks Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse were at the demonstration.

There are reports of hundreds of charges being laid across the country against people who don’t follow social distancing rules – with fines as big as $1,200. The cities include Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Regina, Calgary and even the little town of Cochrane in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.

Neighbours have been known to rat out others on their street who in their view aren’t following the rules. Could there be some spiteful quarrel behind some of these reports?

This aggressive enforcement is happening even though the actual rules for social distancing are vague and confusing. Looking at some of the examples, I wonder why I haven’t been nabbed for standing in line outside my local Canadian Tire.

Even more troubling, however, is the introduction of a “tracing app” in Alberta. If you voluntarily install it on your phone, you will be contacted if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or if you’ve exposed others.

This ABTraceTogether uses your phone’s Bluetooth to keep an anonymous log of other app users you’ve been in close contact with, the provincial government states.

Is it just me, or is there not something absolutely chilling about such an initiative?

If I were to use this app, I will have not only invited the state into my bedroom, but also my bathroom, car and just about any other place my ever-present mobile phone travels with me. Can we really believe that the use of such data will be totally benign?

DOug FIrby

I can, however, confirm the fines, from talking to my family. The question for the Canadian authorities is are they going to use cctv cameras to find everyon in their demonstrations and hit them with a $1200 fine for breaking socail distancing.

I would not put money on that happening.

So what’s been happening? I’m using macs more and more right now not because I like the OS but because I can read the screen without contact lenses in. The current fit of my lenses — hard over soft contacts, because my eyes are post surgical[1] and I am what is charitably called a “difficult fit” — is limiting the amount of time I can use the things, and I need to be able to see what I am typing to minimise typos.

The screen on my home laptop is getting old and slow — admittedly it is about the same vintage as the macpro i got from work over five years ago. But screens matter, and keyboards matter.

When I have the contact lenses in I generally use large screens and multiple tabs. I push machines. When writing I’ll have a reference manager and R and probably a couple of word processors working, and (now) zoom and slack up, because that is how you do teams. This pushes the geriatric CPUs I am using hard. Son two, who is the geek, tells me to wait until next year, when the Ryzen laptops have come out. I note that Linus Torvalds, who complies kernels most days, has switched to one.

(Though not as bad as what I first was given. A mac mini, that ran so hot you could use it to fry eggs. Put me off that size for a long time, though the modern ones appear to be a lot better).

Pet peeves, Apple. I don;t like your politics, I like your screens. Your OS needs work — my even older laptop with a positively ancient CPU manages a KDE version of Arch better than the mac manages Catalina. I don’t want ads for your new tablet — or the pro version, or the keyboard (at $549). I don’t watch their watch for the same reasons that I don’t want a WearOS or a fitbit.

But their displays are very, very good — five years ago. Now? with the speed things are evolving? Unsure. I refer to Tom Hogan on photography issues a lot (and I mean a lot) and his recommendations are old but probably still OK.

With one caveat. Do not buy refurbished. and back everything up yourself. The newest macs have ab better keyboard, and that does help — but I use an expansion port with mine and one of the USB ports leads to a mechanical keyboard. I also use a Bluetooth mouse[2]. Sorry mac, but touchpads and gestures no compute when touch typing, and if I’m processing photos I use a Wacom Tablet — and Kphoto, Darktable and Gimp. Which are all better optimized for linux.

FOr most people and most situations, a raspberry pi rinning the little backup box and a pinebook pro will work. But for production, at present, holding my nose, it is either a Mac or a Linux friendly (Dell XPS or Lenovo Thinkpad) that would cost almost as much — but the IT droids at work don’t grok Linux. Officially.

I have discovered that keeping the IT droids and work happy is a component of productivity.

Regardless, the hardware I have must last. It’s pretty clear that the COVID lockdown has precipitated a depression and a fair amount of non essential spending be slowed down. The equipment that is on tree year or five year replacement cycles will continue to be used until it breaks.

Which truly motivates me to back up this machine, and all my machines, in multiple ways, and to nurse it. If it goes, it could take weeks and rams of paperwork to liberate another box.

And I have found that paperwork slows down my productivity far more than annoying the IT droids.

Anyway, we are now under orders to go back to the office from the public holiday. That should make things a little easier, or at least less distracting.


  1. Keratoconus, with bilateral corneal transplants 30 years ago (in private), Prior to surgery without contacts I could not read the top line of the eye chart. Now without glasses I can see one eye, with glasses I am just able to drive legally, and when the contacts fit and work i am somewhat longsighted and use reading glasses for computers and books.

As I said, I am a “difficult fit”.

  1. Which would work with a new mac. Nothing else would because everthing is normal USB not USB-C. I understand that there are multiple versions of dongles, and finding a good one is a challenge.

One thought on “Not that analogue a life post lockdown.

  1. Why are earth are people marching for BLM in New Zealand of all places? The sheeple have gone rabid.

    The organiser, Paris Goebbels, is a hip hop choreographer — she did the last superbowl half time show. She identifies with the black culture of LA. For what it is worth, she’s German/Samoan (Samoa was German Colony once) and Chinese.

    Today’s paper has the head of a coalition party demanding the arrest of all the organizers for breaking the emergency lockdown laws. We will see.

    The sheeple are feral, yes.

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