I Don’t Know Who To Vote For

I’m voting in the Labour leadership election this summer. I’ve been watching the debates, reading the Guardian and listening to Owen Jones. But I’m lost. How does Labour win in 2020 and still keep to its core values? It seems impossible.

I’m happy to admit I was an Ed Miliband fan. The manifesto was unconvincing, but he campaigned superbly and many of his core principles mirror mine. Nevertheless I completely understand the need for change in the Labour party, a new direction and a fresh start to win back voters who now identify with the ‘nasty party’.

I thought this was Yvette Cooper. She’s Labour at heart, but is also willing to move more to the centre ground to win votes and keep the party representative of the people. Arguably most importantly, to me, she sounds how a Prime Minister should sound: earnest and honest, impassioned and caring. I wonder though, is she too much like Miliband? She’s not radical but her actions and policies are well considered. She may make a fantastic leader of our country, but if she can get there is a bigger question.

And then there’s Jeremy Corbyn, who is now a serious contender in the race. He’s a socialist, which is scary (although it shouldn’t be) for Labour, but this means he is a new face and a fresh start; he stands for a radical restructuring of the party. He wants an elected cabinet, he doesn’t want to lead from 10 Downing Street, and he would ideally take Buckingham Palace away from the monarchy. He is a change—not the change that some see Liz Kendall as bringing—but a sweeping, fair change. If Corbyn had a few terms in government, I can imagine a different, equitable, honourable, amazing Britain that we can be proud of. I know this is an ideal—an unlikely fantasy—but with five years of a harsh, evil Tory government, people could, maybe, be tempted by the true left.

It’s a risk to vote Corbyn. Maybe it’s a risk to vote Cooper when weakling Burnham has better odds and patronising Kendall is maintaining worryingly solid support. Whether I put Cooper or Corbyn as my first choice, both votes rely on the Tories continuing to ruin our country, and the rich noticing the injustice felt by the poor. Do I want a Labour party that’s stable and smart, or beautifully progressive?

Shame on the Reddit Community

A revelation from Reddit’s ex-CEO Yishan Wong today shook up what was already a complex, controversial revolt on the ‘front page of the internet’:

I’ve always remembered that email when I read the occasional posting here where people say “the founders of reddit intended this to be a place for free speech.” Human minds love originalism, e.g. “we’re in trouble, so surely if we go back to the original intentions, we can make things good again.” Sorry to tell you guys but NO, that wasn’t their intention at all ever. Sucks to be you, /r/coontown – I hope you enjoy voat!

It turns out Reddit was never designed as a place for free speech, as the community claims it was. It was always meant to be censored, and not at all a place for harassment, racism or trolling. It was meant to be fun, and silly.

When Reddit began (rightly) clamping down on sub-reddits encouraging harassment, users revolted, threatened and abused CEO Ellen Pao. Except…

…the most delicious part of this is that on at least two separate occasions, the board pressed /u/ekjp to outright ban ALL the hate subreddits in a sweeping purge. She resisted, knowing the community, claiming it would be a shitshow.

She was the one campaigning for free speech all along. Disillusioned, nasty users ripped her apart and forced her to resign for no reason.

And how about the firing of AMA organiser Victoria Taylor, which led to a blackout of the biggest pages on the site? Wong clarified this too:

Alexis [Ohanian] wasn’t some employee reporting to Pao, he was the Executive Chairman of the Board, i.e. Pao’s boss. He had different ideas for AMAs, he didn’t like Victoria’s role, and decided to fire her.

Who got the blame? Of course, Pao: The defender of free speech.

Ellen Pao was scapegoated for banning harassing sub-reddits when she defended them and was blamed for firing an employee her boss didn’t like. She may not have been right on any occasion, but the community was wrong. Despicable and disgusting and obnoxious. I’m ashamed to be part of them.

Rejoice, UK Government Backtracks on Encryption Ban

Business Insider with some relieving news:

The UK government will not try to ban encryption, a Number 10 representative has told Business Insider.

The denial comes after Prime Minister David Cameron suggested in Parliament at the end of June that he intended to crack down on encryption technology, saying he wanted to “ensure that terrorists do not have a safe space in which to communicate.”

The banning of encryption, and thus services like iMessage, WhatsApp and Snapchat, was a disgusting Tory policy that risked both our freedoms to converse in private, and our security.

If they had gone through with this, we would have been at risk of fraud, criminals snooping on our messages and bulk collection of our information from the government.

GCHQ have a job to do, but there are alternative ways to do it than clamping down on our civil liberties, and putting us at risk of cyber crime. This news is very welcome.

Apple to Announce TV Streaming Service, Looks Underwhelming

The New York Post have an interesting scoop on the next industry Apple is set to enter:

The Cupertino, Calif., tech firm is making broadcast networks the centerpiece of its cable-killer TV app — and talks with all four networks are rapidly gaining momentum, The Post has learned.

“The platform is ready and it rocks,” said one source.

Apple’s discussions with ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox initially foundered over the tech giant’s desire to offer on the soon-to-launch service local live TV feeds streamed on any Apple device, sources said.

Could this be the cable-killer that will shake up the TV industry? I doubt it. True, the Apple TV is well priced and has the potential to be part of millions more homes if deals with major networks pass, but it doesn’t seem as big an opportunity as Apple Music was.

What I want to see, is an international subscription service which allows me to watch new TV from all the major networks and premium channels like HBO. Cable will die when we can stream any show we want, whenever we want, just like we can with music. “Local live TV feeds” doesn’t cut it, and is somewhat underwhelming.

Understandably that may take time as network politics and licensing is inherently complex, but I’d rather see that as an end goal, than have Apple celebrate a mediocre step that will benefit just a few in the US.

Maybe we’ll have to leave it to Netflix to reach that fantasy. They have previously had deals with networks to broadcast shows internationally, such as AMC’s Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul in the UK; I’m sure they can take this even further in the future.

In Memory of Nintendo’s President, a Genius Programmer and ‘fun guy’

Yesterday was a solemn day as Nintendo’s President, Satoru Iwata died at just 55. The brief statement from the company appeared rather blunt:

Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.

But as the news filtered down, some charming stories began surfacing. There are light hearted and genuine ones, such as an ex-employee’s memories posted on Reddit:

I saw him up close once, when he came to NOA for an event promoting Wii Sports internally. He jogged in the room to some energy-infused music (might’ve been the Rocky theme?), pumping his fists high in the air along with the Wii Remote and nunchuk that he held. He got up in front of everyone and boxed against Reggie (the NOA president–I think he had just recently been appointed to the position) in Wii Boxing while a jam-packed room of employees cheered him on. I don’t remember the exact outcome, but I think Iwata-san won best 2 out of 3. He was a genuine, fun, and nice guy, and Nintendo will be hard-pressed to find another leader like him.

Most interestingly is the revelation that he was a genius programmer, perhaps one of the best in the company, before he was promoted to the executive team, and even during his role as president. This exchange between him and GameFreak programmer Shigeki Morimoto tells of how he repeatedly amazed his colleagues.

Right. (laughs) You decided to release Pokémon Stadium for the Nintendo 64 and the first task was to analyze the Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green battle logic and send it over to Miyamoto-san and his team. You’d normally expect there to be a specification document, but there was nothing of the sort…
I’m so sorry! (laughs)
No, no, it’s fine! (laughs) Studying the program for the Pokémon battle system was part of my job.
I created that battle program and it really took a long time to put together. But when I heard that Iwata-san had been able to port it over in about a week and that it was already working… Well, I thought: “What kind of company president is this!?”(laughs)
I was saying things like: “Is that guy a programmer? Or is he the President?” (laughs)

In Iwata’s own words:

On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.

Writing More and the Future of Remarked

I do love writing. I could be pretentious and passionate and talk about how writing is therapeutic and versatile and how it is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. But I would be a hypocrite—a liar even—because I don’t do it nearly enough.

Often it’s because of my sheer laziness. Sometimes it is because I’m fighting my taste and agonising discernment, or lack thereof. We all know how that feels. But I want to change that. It doesn’t take long to comment on an article or a news event; I do it every day on Twitter, so why not here?

I could post every day. That might be a stretch. But I manage to go to the gym on a schedule, and enough that it stopped being a chore, so I think I can do that here too. And then I’ll actually really enjoy writing again. Because when I get lost in my own words, it feels good; it is rewarding—a tonic for my frustrations.

That being said, I want this site to be focussed on technology and politics and at its best the intersection of the two. I want it to be digestible and full of opinion. Less of posts like this, more of what it used to be. Occasionally I’ll write something a little different, or something bigger and important over on Medium—that won’t change—but Remarked is my Twitter without a character limit and a with little more tact and perhaps a sprinkling of eloquence.

Wish me luck. And follow @RemarkedFeed.

On May 7th, Vote Labour

This could be the most important election of our lifetimes. Britain will change. Britain could fall back into its prejudice past. Or further into the hands of the undeserving rich—the bankers and Rupert Murdoch. Or Britain might, hopefully, finally, become a country run for us: the people. The hard-working and the deserving.

No matter who you are and how you are born everyone deserves to be safe, healthy and ambitious.  Labour understands that like no other party.

The Conservatives believe in a country where benefitting the rich is the priority. Ukip are not only anti-EU and borderline racist, but climate change deniers, homophobes and also prioritise the rich. The Greens, while admirable, deserve the seats they have but are too socialist to get any more; only vote for them if you’re in their targets. The Lib Dems can’t be trusted to hold their ground; they’ll change to suit whatever party will get them into power.

Labour, on the other hand, stand for:

Fairness. They will cut the irrational and harsh Bedroom tax that has claimed lives and freeze VAT, making the money back with a mansion tax, and by closing tax loopholes that benefit the underserving rich.

Education. They’ll lower tuition fees so everyone has the opportunity to a good education. And if university isn’t for you, they guarantee apprenticeships to school leavers.

A Stable Economy. Every commitment in the Labour manifesto is costed. There will be no additional borrowing in a majority Labour government, unlike previous ones who were, admittedly, wrong.

Health. Labour are the party of the NHS. They are the only ones, I believe, who can be trusted to keep it a top priority. Unlike the Tories who are busy making unnecessary top-down reforms, Labour will improve the NHS at the bottom, where it benefits you.

Under-Promising, and Over-Delivering. Miliband claims to be the first politician who will ever do this. I trust a man who doesn’t throw around unrealistic numbers for an election win.

Cutting immigration while remaining charitable. Immigration needs to be reduced. Our public services should only go to those who work hard in our country. But we must remember, and Labour do, that we are far better off than billions around the world. We aren’t always the number one priority.

Labour are the party of the people. They will help you and those who are in need. In a country led by Labour, everyone will have an opportunity to be who they want. Those who work hard, do well. It’s as simple as that.

Britain succeeds when working people succeed, not only when those at the top of society do. Don’t let the rich and powerful take away your rights and security.

Keep Britain fair. Keep Britain yours. Vote Labour.

And remember: it is your duty to Vote on May 7th, whoever it is for.


Last Minute ‘Spring Forward’ Predictions

The following aren’t solicited or backed up by too much evidence. But over the past months I’ve read pretty much every rumour and idea about what will happen later today and thus have some ideas I’m relatively confident about.

Apple Watch Pricing

Apple Watch Sport – We know this starts at $349, likely for the 38mm model, and the 42mm will come in at $399. It’ll come with a choice of sport band.

Apple Watch – I feel some of the estimations of this watch are too high. This is a fashion accessory, but I see it as the mainstream model. It’s always front and centre on Apple’s websites. I’m predicting a $549 starting price, up to $599 for the 42mm model, each with a choice of sport band. Other bands will be extra and cost considerably more.

Apple Watch Edition – $4999 is a good starting point in my head. It’s not too crazy, but it’s clearly premium. That would be a 32mm model, but as the sport bands don’t suit this model, I expect all bands to be sold separately — one won’t be included. Gruber hits the band price predictions head on, in my opinion but I really can’t see any combination that has currently been announced crossing the $5999 mark. Remember Apple are using 75% gold, to possibly save money as well as increasing hardness. This is a luxury watch, but not a Rolex.

Macbook Air

I can’t not believe 9to5Mac’s sources on this one. But if the change is going to be radical enough that all existing ports, including traditional USB, Thunderbolt and MagSafe will be removed it’s an entirely new product. The new ‘Macbook’.

But what if the new Retina Macbook was called the ‘next-generation Macbook Air’ much like the Retina pro was years ago. It’s very possible.

The rest is pretty much obvious or set in stone. There won’t be a TV or a car. And iOS 8.2 will be useful but buggy.

The Apple Car is Exciting, but Don’t Jump to Conclusions

Apple are secretly building a car, the WSJ reports:

Apple has several hundred employees working secretly toward creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle, according to people familiar with the matter. They said the project, code-named “Titan,” has an initial design of a vehicle that resembles a minivan, one of these people said.

The tech industry collectively turned their heads in a mix of bemusement and excitement when news broke yesterday that Apple could compete with Tesla and Google in the automotive market. But too many dismissed it as ‘un-apple’ and nonsensical for a company that relies on yearly release cycles. Those who did that are wrong.

There is no word on when or if Apple actually plans to release a car. It could be in ten years or more, or never. They have billions of dollars of cash doing nothing, so why not experiment behind the scenes?

And just because it is Apple it doesn’t mean they will need to dominate the market. They don’t need to be the new BMW or Mercedes or Bentley or Ford, at least not for a few decades. They can be a Tesla, a niche but profitable car company that makes luxury vehicles at premium prices.

The Apple Car is not the iPhone or the Apple Watch or the Mac. I wouldn’t be surprised if they called it a ‘hobby’, like they once did the Apple TV.

Don’t jump to conclusions based on some premature rumours. Let the people work.


iOS 9 to Focus on Stability Over Features: A Marketing Misstep?

9to5Mac, known for stellar sources, reports:

For 2015, iOS 9 is going to include a collection of under-the-hood improvements. Sources tell us that iOS 9 engineers are putting a “huge” focus on fixing bugs, maintaining stability, and boosting performance for the new operating system, rather than solely focusing on delivering major new feature additions. Apple will also continue to make efforts to keep the size of the OS and updates manageable, especially for the many millions of iOS device owners with 16GB devices.

This is welcome news, as a decline in Apple’s software quality, while exaggerated by some members of the media, has become apparent as of late; iOS 8 is unstable, but nowhere near as bad as Android 5.0, for example. It’s refreshing to hear Apple listening to their users’ concerns, especially as some of my ‘non-techy’ friends have been apprehensive to update their phones recently.

However, without a set of tentpole features I imagine that a large proportion of users will ask ‘what’s new’, and Apple won’t have a convincing answer. Many still are ignorant of iOS 8’s extensions and Today widgets, so why should they care about ‘bug fixes’, whatever they are?

OS X Snow Leopard, an under-the-hood update for the Mac, was a huge success for Apple, but this was a time before Macs were ‘mainstream’, they were just breaking out into some schools and colleges at the time. Now there is a more critical and yet more technologically apathetic audience to please, and it will be hard to do that with an stability focussed update.

I feel it could be wise for Apple to release iOS 9 later than usual. They could announce it in September and release it in early 2016. Most people won’t miss it, and then maybe they’ll have the time to add some exciting, ‘mainstream’ tentpole features as well as smoothing out operation. Whatever they do, Apple need to make sure as many users as possible update, and reducing the OTA file size is a promising first step.