Pragmatic 73: Everything Is Cyclic

29 May, 2016


Weighing up the cycles of driving vs public transport and Windows to Mac and back again.

Transcript available
Welcome to Pragmatic. Pragmatic is a discussion show contemplating the practical application of technology. By exploring the real-world trade-offs, we look at how great ideas are transformed into products and services that can change our lives. Nothing is as simple as it seems. Pragmatic is part of the Engineered Network. To support our shows, including this one, head over to our Patreon page and for other great shows visit today. I'm your host John Chidjy and as always today I'm joined by Vic Hudson. How you doing Vic? I'm good John, how are you man? I'm doing very well, feeling very transformative today and that probably doesn't make any sense. So yeah, I don't really know where I was going with that. I wanted to talk about, yeah, I wanted to talk about... It's a bit early to go off the rails. Yeah, damn straight it is. It is too. And when you say early, it's like late at night here. So depends. But anyhow, so I want to talk about something I wrote about a couple months ago. I did an article on tech distortion called everything is cyclic. I was having one of those moments where I was feeling very reflective and frustrated and annoyed by the cyclic nature of my decision making process. And I guess I wrote out a frustration about myself. And it was sort of like, yeah, I don't know, my attempt to explain to myself about my own cyclic habit, I guess. Anyway, so you read the article? I did. Before I get stuck into it, any opening thoughts before we dive into it? I thought it was a good piece and it was well written. Okay, well I guess that's something, thank you. You brought up some interesting points that I'm assuming you'll probably get to since you wanted to talk about it. Yeah, true. Well, okay, so I guess the whole point of it is that everything seems to be very cyclic. All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again? Yeah, that kind of thing, yeah, a little bit philosophical. sunrise, sunset, repeat, the seasons change, summer, autumn, winter, spring, or fall, depending upon how you want to think about that. But the point is that it just seems to go round and round in an endless loop. It's like wherever you are in that loop, it just seems to keep going around. And people's thinking and optimization, the way we try and optimize and life hack and tweak things that we do, just seems to go around in circles. and so we try this doesn't work out quite the way we like so that we hit reset and try something else and then we say oh it's not quite the way I liked it I like some of these other things from the last thing I tried so let's just go back and do that again and yeah before you know it you've just gone in a complete circle and you're back where you started maybe there's some minor iterative improvements I guess that's the point of it's they say iteration yeah it's a necessary necessary part of evolving and that's fine but I suppose the problem I've got is that what happens if it is just nothing but cyclic and there's no iterative improvement or anything and I guess that bugs me. It's like I sometimes think about the decisions that I make and the justifications that I tell myself and say, "Well, you know what? You're just doing that because you think you're going to have an iterative improvement. Things are going to be somehow a little bit better and they end up not being what you expected." So, then you hit reset, you go back to the way it was and you're like, well, this wasn't so bad. And the things that used to bug you, they don't bug you as much when you go back. You're like, oh, this wasn't so bad. I can handle that. I can live with that. You ever experienced something like that? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I guess in the article I talked about two things, one in depth and the other one I sort of alluded to that I've since taken a plunge on. So, we'll start with the one in the example I gave in the article, which is the one I've gone through for the last 10 years, maybe 15 of my life. And that's to drive or to take public transport. Yeah. Now, where you live, do you have those options or is it just because I know there's lots of parts of America where public transport is just terrible and you have no option but to drive. Do you have much of a choice where you live? I don't where I live, no. In some of the more metropolitan areas, there's public transportation, there's city buses and stuff. I mean, we have taxis here if you consider that public transportation. Could do that, but like my daily commute to work is 45 minutes each way, so. Yeah, that's driving, right. I don't have much choice but to drive for that, yeah. No bullet train between my little hick town in Lexington. Well, in Venice. Which is just a bigger hick town to most of the world. Now, don't be like that. The funny thing is where I am, I commute, it's 48 minutes without traffic. With traffic, it can be up to an hour and a half, but still, generally, it's about an hour ish, maybe an hour and ten. And that's a pretty long commute, even by Brisbane standards or South East Queensland standards. But irrespective, yeah, I do at least have a choice because I'm five minutes drive from the nearest train station to to to choose from about that sort of distance. And I can catch a train into the city. And I have also got options for buses. I could also catch a bus, take a heck of a lot longer, but I could still get into the city that way if I wanted to. So, I guess the thing is, you know, like that, like Neo said, the problem is choice. If you have if you have no choice, then there is no problem because you don't have a choice. It's like you said, you can only drive. So, of course, once you have a choice, you got to start weighing up those options, which one are you going to pick? And I thought over the years, I've gone back and forth in an endless cycle. Well, a seemingly endless cycle. So, let's start with the case for public transport. And the case of public transport is, I drive my car to the train station And for a time, I would ride my bike to the train station. So, it's either or, but either way, I still have to maintain a bike or a car or both. From there, I take the train into work and that allows me to do work on my laptop. I can read things on my iPad or my iPhone or whatever. The newspaper, paper newspaper, maybe. That's just crazy. Who does that anymore? old people, like older than me and you are older than you and me people older. Yeah, them. Anyway. Yeah, nevermind. Okay, so um, So always good to hear from a potential audience, John. Oh, God, you got a point there. I should probably edit that out. But I'm just totally not gonna. Anyway, I say that now. Dear listener, if you are older and you like reading a paper paper, that's awesome. I love it. Me on the other hand, I'm embracing technology and I read all of my newspapers on my iPad now. On my bit, my novelty-sized iPod Touch, which is, I think, is the best way to describe the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. It is a novelty-sized iPod. Anyway, so yeah, all right, but back on topic, I can do things on the train. And that can become productive time. I can do work, work, or I can do like podcast work or work on the website. I can do iOS development. I can do whatever I like on the train within reason. Yeah, I mean, I can't, you know, do somersaults or an acrobatic act or anything crazy like that or, you know, things like that. Yeah. Yeah. But there are limits, but I could do a heck of a lot more than I can if I were to, let's say, be on a bus perhaps, or especially if I was driving a car. So, the train has that big advantage. The train also goes, if you catch the right express train, it goes generally quite fast. There's no traffic congestion to worry about, but trains do break down sometimes. Then, of course, the last leg is you have to get to the train station and walk from there to the office. Final destination, I guess. So, all of that also requires walking outside for a period of time if it's raining, if it's really hot, so it can be quite uncomfortable. you can get to work in the middle of summer and you're all sweaty and that's not a good thing. So you got to then have change of clothes or blah, blah, blah. So the other thing about public transport is that it's on a set timetable. You come and go on the timetable. And if you miss your train, sometimes you end up on an all stations train, which takes even longer. Or sometimes trains are late and you're stuck waiting if you just miss one. Or, you know, if you're too early, the train could be late and you could still get home late. or to work late. The other thing, other factor is price. And in Southeast Queensland, it's quite expensive. So it takes me, it cost me $7.85. And that's each way. So that's every day commuting into the city. That's what that's who said 14, 15, 60, 15, 70, $15.70 Australian, which current exchange rates probably around about $12 US return to the city every day. So, that's at least three cups of coffee right there. If we're doing a cup of coffee cost equivalent, which is just all that, you got to do that because that's what the cool kids are doing. Yeah. You should buy my app because it's like the price of a cup of coffee. And I'm like, yeah, but is it the price of a train fare into Brisbane City? No. Anyway, they're my app. Actually, what I hear more than you should buy my app because it's the cost of coffee is, why do you buy your coffee, but you won't buy my app? See, that's just- that's just- that's needy, you know, no one- no one's going to buy your app if you're like pleading, guilting them into it. It's like, you know, how come you haven't bought it? Are you sipping a coffee? Are you sipping a coffee right now? Because that coffee, that's guilt. You're drinking guilt because you didn't buy my app. That's what you're doing. That's terrible. I don't think that's a valid marketing tactic, but anyway, never mind that. All right, sorry, back on topic. So, the train has a lot of advantages. You can sort of, if you want to kick back, relax and switch your brain off, you can do that, too. You know, you don't have to do things productive on the train, but if you switch your brain off when you're driving, that's probably going to have negative consequences. So, anyhow, all right. I welcome the self-driving car overlords. Because I'd like to switch my brain off and do other things during my 45 minute commute. I hear you, man. I hear you. I've reached the point that if we had a good train that I could take to work, I probably would. That is, yeah, exactly. So yeah, but there's a lot of pluses there. Another plus too, is I don't have to pay for parking. I'll park at the train station, that's free. If I park in the city, that's going to generally cost me money, generally. So. Okay, so that's the- How many cups of coffee? Yeah, well, this is the problem, isn't it? Too many. I can't, like, if I give up all my coffee money, then I'll just be an angry person. And that's just not good for anybody. So, anyway, alright, okay. You wouldn't like John when he's angry. To ask the kids, they see it most regularly. So, anyhow, never mind that. Alright, good, lovely. So, right, that's the train. And the train is really great, or public transport is really great for all of those reasons. reasons, but the cost can be a bit prohibitive. Okay, so now we're going to switch back. And we're going to think about the negatives of taking the public transport. So the negatives of public transport is you are not in your own space. And when you're not in your own space, it means that other people can get into your space. And yeah, that's it. You know how people have this, there's an effect where people have this concept of a personal space, and you're in my personal space. So I'm sorry, you are currently not in my physical space. My personal space is not 13,000 miles away. Just so you're fine. I mean, your head space, John. I'm just saying that may well be true, which is disturbing. But If you were within 10,000 miles of me, then that's just too close. Okay. So if you move to the West Coast, man, anyway, all right. So the problem is that they've got- I may move to like Australia in November, you know, after some election stuff happens. Man, you and half the United States are going to be moving here. I'm telling you, we got some great beaches. Anyway. Trump's right about one thing. They're going to pay for that wall because they're going to want to keep us out as we try and exit this country. This is not, yes. Okay, so moving on. Right. So yeah, personal space, personal space. Right. So in Japan, I believe that their personal space is extremely close to their body. So they don't mind if you're getting up in their face, like right in their face. But other countries and Australia's are on the other end of the spectrum where we actually have a personal space. It's a lot wider, a lot larger than that. So if you're an arms reach away, that's probably just right on the edge of personal space. And if you step inside that, it feels uncomfortable. And that's just because we're not used to big cities. We're not used to being crowded. And as our cities get bigger and bigger, people gradually get desensitized to that. Unfortunately, I grew up in a country town of sorts. I mean, Rockhampton is not a country country town exactly, but when rush hour lasts for about 10, 15 minutes, I'll call that a country town. I mean, a true country town is there is no rush hour. That's it. But you know, so yeah, so no, and having a population when I was growing up around about 65,000-70,000 people, that's still not small. But compared to Brisbane or Southeast Queensland's got three and a half million people. Well, that's obviously a much bigger, yeah, and therefore more people, personal space is different. But The reason I'm going rambling on about personal space is simply because from my point of view, being on the train, if anyone sits next to me, they're in my personal space. And if I don't know them, I don't like that. So if someone's in my personal space, you know, they could be playing like loud music through their headphones, which is like, bad for your hearing, go back and listen to episode eight, I think it was of the show. But yes, don't, yes, quite serene environment. And a train is not a quiet, serene environment. So, there's that. And there's also, so there's the loud people on the phone, they're shouting at each other. You've got teenagers are typically the worst offenders for just like having no sense of self, like just like, they're on the train, they were on the train, everyone else can just like suck on that and they don't care. And it's like, okay, I get that you don't care. That doesn't mean that we collectively don't care and that we, the grownups, would love to throw you off at the next station. Please stop talking. So, never mind that. Yeah. And then, of course, you've got the smelly people and it's like, yeah, the- So, yeah, it's like the last time I had a shower, we're not entirely certain when that was, but it was a significant time. So, yeah, those are the disadvantages. You're not in your own space. You're not in control of your own space. Okay, so those are the falls and against taking a train or public transport I guess in general. Buses are much the same in a lot of those respects. But now let's talk about driving, taking your own transport. And I suppose the same kind of works with motorbikes but I don't have a motorbike so I can't comment. Although they seem like a lot more fun than a car, they're also a little bit more dangerous. And I guess that's the whole point, that's what makes them fun. was no danger, there'd be no fun. Unless of course, someone says it's awesome fun riding a scooter, like, you know, I don't think I don't think anyone's ever said that. So yeah, I think it's definitely the danger that makes it fun. Oh, no, don't don't don't. Okay, so yes, driving a car. So one of the great things about driving a car is that it can be a door to door experience. You can literally drive out of your garage and drive along some roads or a freeway and some roads and drive into work and park and walk straight into the building or even park in the basement or underground parking and walk, catch the lift and you're at work. Now, working in a city where I do in the CBD, that's an expensive proposition, the end-to-end door thing, because my building, $5,000 a year if you want a car park in that building basement. That's a ridiculous amount of money for a car park. It's just not worth it. And unfortunately, if you- Why is it so high? Is the demand for the parking that high or- Yes, the demand is so high. I think the problem is that you've got a lot of executives in our building and where there are people with high disposable incomes that are looking to reduce their taxable income. They say, "Oh, five thousand a year, I can just use that as a tax write-off or something." And I don't know, something like that. And anyway, the per day rate of that is actually cheaper than if you were to go and park on an ad hoc basis in the car parkade, which is less than a block away. So, if you park in the parkade around the corner, it costs you early bird rate, $17 a day Australian, which you'll note is slightly more than the train. And that's just for parking. That doesn't include petrol costs, gasoline costs, running maintenance costs on the vehicle, which are significantly more because you're driving a longer distance than you are if you just drive to the train station, which is a five minute drive as opposed to nearly an hour. So, once you factor all of that in, it sounds like it's a losing proposition. But of course, if you know where to park and you don't mind walking, suddenly things don't seem so bad. So, what if I did street parking? Because street parking is still a thing. If you park far enough away from the CBD and you're prepared to walk for a little ways. So, you can throw your door to door idea out the window. It adds some commuting time because you're going to walk as well as drive. So, let's think about that then. So, if I could find a street park, the weather parking is free or at least they'll let you park all day for a minimal fee, then how far away is it worth my while? So, I've actually found a spot which is a 15 minute walk from the car to the office where I can park on the roads for free, provided it's not a game day. It's a stadium parking area. So, stadium parking areas, yeah. So, on a day of a game, once it hits 12 o'clock at lunchtime, you better move your car or it's going to get towed. Gotcha. So on game days, I'll spring for the $17 for the ad hoc parking in the park aid and every other day I'll park on the street and I'll walk. And that has another benefit because the walking is good for exercise. So I get a half an hour of exercise broken into two 15 minute chunks every day. So I'm not paying for parking now, I'm only paying for the running costs of the vehicle. So now, if you look at the price of petrol or gasoline and you look at the time it takes, the time it takes is on the way in less time than the train because the traffic on the way in is lighter in the early morning and of an evening it's about the same amount of time as the train. So let's just call it a wash and say it's the same amount of time as the train, same amount of exercise as the train and here's the interesting thing. So, I said it was about $15.80 or whatever it was. Well, it only costs $9 in gasoline, Australian dollars, each day for petrol. So, suddenly the car just got cheaper. Yeah. So, the thing is then... And you don't have any smelly people in your space. That's right. I have my own private space. If I want to sing at the top of my lungs in the car, I can. Mind you- I'm going to suggest podcasts. This is not a podcast, it's a car cast, quite possibly. I don't know, maybe I should look into that. I didn't thought of that. It's an interesting idea. I think that the coolest thing, though, is that I'm actually glad that the whole soundproof bubble dome thing in the car is good for me, and it's really even better for the rest of the world because they don't have to hear me sing. So yeah, anyway, nevermind that. Yeah, so you're in your own private space, no smelly people, you can do what you want. You can listen to whatever you want on the radio. If you want to listen to the radio, you can listen to podcasts, or I guess you could record a podcast. Interesting idea. You could do what you want in that respect. But what you can't do is you can't... What's that? Sorry? Jason Snow and Michael Hurley did a car cast, one episode of Upgrade. Interesting. Okay, so where was I? Oh, yes, that's right. So one thing you can't do in a car is you can't read, at least not in a sensible manner. You can't text message, you can't type on a keyboard or a phone, not unless you don't mind crashing your vehicle into the car in front of you, of course. I mean, if you don't mind that, then hey, it's a free for all. Well, it certainly doesn't stop people from trying, but you should not do all of those. Yeah, you really, really shouldn't. And I drive a manual car and, you know, stick shift and it's just like, oh, man. No, it just don't bother. So that's off the cards. I can't read the newspaper. I can't read Twitter. I can't do Facebook. I can't do any of that. I can't do any podcast preparation. I just can't do anything. And that's okay in some respects, because it means I get some enforced downtime for my brain. You know, I can just sit there and absorb. I can do the sponge thing and just suck it all up and not actually produce anything, which is, you know, has its benefits. It's about balance, right? So, but that's the big downside. So, I've lost that productive time. I had 10 hours of extra time every week when I was taking the train. So, this is all like well and sanitary, but what about the downside? The other downsides of driving is that you have car accidents, you know, like not hopefully not you, hopefully, definitely, hopefully not you, but you know, other people have car accidents and if the roads aren't designed well, then what happens? Things choke up and you're screwed. You're stuck in a gridlock and you just can't get out and all the side streets, everyone says, I know a shortcut. Guess what? So does everybody else. And then you end up in the side street with an even worse traffic jam and you're like, why did I get off the main road? Now I can't get back on the main road. And you just give up and you just throw your hands in the air and you start singing a different kind of song with expletives in it. But anyhow, so you know, that's the downside. And the Brisbane roads are horribly designed. I mean, a lot of cities have horribly designed roads and when it blocks up, it blocks up good and you're stuck in it. Yeah. Anyway, it doesn't happen too often, but when it does, you're like, oh, I finally I was taking the train. And sometimes if you're on a stretch of road that goes along the train line and you're stuck in a gridlock and you see a train go past, you're like, so angry. Anyway, so it sounds like I'm sold on it, right? It sounds like, yep, John's driving. But this is not the first time I've driven a car into work. This is about the third or fourth time in my life where I've done this. And I've had different economic equations between why I would drive, why I would take public transport. And it's usually a series of consecutive last straws. And this is what I've been thinking about that drives the cyclic nature of our behaviour. And it's like, why am I doing this? Why do I keep changing my mind? What am I looking for? I'm looking for the iterative improvement, or am I running away from a series of coincidental events that happened very close together that were considered to be the final straws and that nudges me back the other way. And the reason I sort of landed on this theory as to why people do the cyclic thing is because it's a, I think it's about like a consecutive stacked annoyances. Yeah. So, what's happened to me in the last... Geez. What's happened to me over the last six months on the train, the public transport has been getting steadily worse. And I talked about some of it on a special on a private episode of of causality just briefly about one of the incidents that happened. So for those who are not patrons of the show, you don't have access to that patrons got access to that. But anyway, if you're interested, go on Patreon, it'll be on there. Anyway, and it was about an incident where I got run over twice on a crosswalk and being verbally abused for not doing anything wrong sits badly with me. It's like, I didn't do anything wrong. I was just trying to cross the crossing. Yeah, that's never any fun. No. And it's like, I don't like getting abused for that. And sometimes you bite back and sometimes that really doesn't end well. So, you know, I had a couple of incidents like that. I had people walk up to me on the train and grope me in different places. I'm not going to mention all of them. But suffice it to say, that was not a pleasant experience. No, I would think not. No, it's not. And some would say, oh, well, maybe it depends on like, you know, who it is doing it, you know, I'm like, well, no, no, it really doesn't. It just doesn't. It's always an invention. That's it. It's like not only you inside my private space, you're like, like you're throwing up on my private space and then slapping me in the face at the same time. It's like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Stay back. I've had people essentially just like verbally abuse me, like call me different names, insult me to my face, try and bully me to get off the train. You know, it's been, there have been a couple of incidents, about three incidents, they're all very quite unpleasant. I've had a stranger walk up to me on two separate occasions and just rub my head, like just literally rub my head. Wow. Because one of the guys that one guy that did it, they were both guys that did it, Okay, I figure, I don't know. One of the guys that did it was obviously on some some kind of drug. I don't know what the hell it was, but he was not, you know, he was high on something. And he's like, I've never seen a head like yours before, man. And I'm like, okay, I'm going to cross the road now. What's that? It's not safe. I might get run over. I don't care. I'm going. - Good times. - Yeah, good times. Yes. So, I got to that point of discomfort where I needed my private space, my personal space and I didn't want to deal with that. Although, it's actually, hang on, there was another incident that also was kind of scary. I was at the top of the-- I was waiting for some traffic lights at the top of the hill to change and I was just standing there, minding my own business, And there are these two guys walking towards me, heading towards the... There's a backpackers hostel, just along one of the... One block away. You know where it is because you always see the backpackers come in. Coming and going. And they were heading for the hostel. Anyway, so this car literally comes around the corner and... He had... And the car had right of way. And these guys decided they would just walk. walk. They just walk anyway. Car barely slows down, beeps at them. And this guy was already having an argument with the other person he was walking across with. And I suspect he was also like, it was either ice or it was steroids or something. He was just beyond normal levels of angry, like really, really enraged. And he swears like so much at this car and swings around and he punches the glass in the rear window. He literally punches the glass. What person punches the glass on a moving car and screams abuse at him? It's like, wow. As you say, good times. So, I kind of had enough of it. I'm like, I don't need this. I don't need to be dealing with this. I don't feel like dealing with this. and I was just feeling really uncomfortable and I decided, you know what? I'm done. I'm done with it. So, I needed my own space back and so I just literally decided to try it. I said, I'm going to try driving and I'm going to try and find a street park and see what I can do. So, over the next few days, the following weeks actually, I tried a few different spots. So, I found one that worked, that had a reliable spot by half six in the morning, still had a reliable spot I could get generally and had a couple backup places and the walking distance was acceptable to the office. And this walking distance was through the suburbs and it bypassed the hostel, it bypassed the train stations, it just bypassed all of the ugly stuff. And that's it. So, but the funny thing is, you know, we remember or rather I remember what put me onto the train last time in the last cycle. So, you would think, well, you know, that's really convincing, you're going to be driving for the rest of your life. Well, am I? Since I've done this, I have essentially given up that extra 10 hours of time and I was using that time to do preparation for this show. I was doing editing for the show, preparation for causality and the new podcast I'm working that's just been released actually called analytical. And all of that, that time is now gone. I was doing programming for the website. I was developing my own podcast, like literally a podcast is add on, plug in whatever for Statomic, which I essentially decided to stop developing. So I developed it as what the engineer network runs on and a few other of my friends have used it and it's in use in a few places. But ultimately, I just decided, look, it's not a business I want to be in. Despite the fact I wrote it so that anyone could use it. I just don't want to be supporting that. So I let that go. Which is kind of a shame, but you know, there you go. It's all right. So that's where I'm at. I can't do that stuff in that time anymore. It's now enforced downtime. And I can see that bothering me, because it means that I've been doing pragmatic less. And ultimately, that's the trade off that I've made. I still find time to do causality, I think more regularly, and I'll be doing analytical regularly as well. But the truth is analytical has a lot less prep and causality also, probably similar amounts of prepto-pragmatic but still. So, you know what I mean? It's like I've given something up and I have to eat into my evenings. So, the thing is, though, that I used to drive and I saw this as a way of taking the train as a way of getting some more productive time. I also stopped driving previously because of all of the accidents and traffic jams. So, if I get like five or six really bad gridlocks, and it takes not one hour and a half or two hours and a half or three hours to get home. But one time I remember it took me four hours to get home. When I'm in one of those absolutely insane gridlocks where they shut down one of the major arterial roads heading north out of the city and I'm stuck for a stupid amount of time. And if that happens a few weeks in a row, that's when I get the you know, I get [censored] and I have to go and go back on the train again because I'm like, that's it, I'm done. I've had enough driving. I wanted to have some productive time back. I'm just I'm done, you know, and then I'll be back taking the train again. But the thing is, I've also been looking into other cost savings. And I've been looking into getting an electric car. I haven't pulled the trigger on it yet. But I'm looking at the Nissan Leaf because or Nissan Leaf, because the Nissan Leaf in Australia has been heavily discounted because the current model they've got four years old 2012 model is all they've got in Australia. They imported like 500 or thousand we'd no one knows the exact number. Or maybe they do. I don't, but anyway, and they didn't sell very well in Australia for a whole bunch of reasons but ultimately I think having driven one a few times, they're a beautiful car they really are lovely and I can't afford a Tesla so I don't have that kind of money I may do in coming years, but now I certainly don't but, you know, who knows what the future holds but for now I can't afford one, so it remains a pipe dream and that's fine, pipe dreams are good they keep us motivated and I don't know deluded anyway so there we go I'm looking at that and if I were to get one the actual cost of running is about two dollars it would cost me two dollars a day to commute in electricity costs and that's yeah and that's using that's charging overnight on low-rate tariffs. If I were to somehow find a way- And leave slots of coffee money left over. It sure does. I could get two extra cups of coffee. Yeah. Or one coffee and an app. Nope. Stuff that app. I want my coffee. Anyway, never mind. So yeah, you know what I mean? It's like there are further cost reductions to be had. Of course, the downside of that is that the Leaf costs more than a similar internal combustion engine car and you got to factor the repayments in and it works out over a five-year period to actually be about the same cost as a petrol vehicle but after that you save money. Yeah. Yeah. And the other thing is of course I got solar panels on the roof and I make a huge amount of surplus during the day. So on weekends I charge the car during the daytime, cost me nothing. So technically I'd be getting one day of the week driving to the city for free. There you go. So, it's cheaper again. So, that's the whole cyclic thing with driving and- What about solar panels on the roof of the car? Yeah. No. No. Just, no. Got to draw the line somewhere. Okay, this is pragmatic, so I'm going to answer you technically why that doesn't work. Okay, you asked for it. Okay. The actual surface area of the roof of a car is barely enough for using the highest end production solar panel, you would get maybe 200 watts, absolute max out of your maximum efficiency production panel. So you got 200 watts of capture area that you can produce. Now, the batteries in a Nissan Leaf 2012 model are 26 kilowatt hours. That's kilowatt hours. Yeah. If I'm going to charge this thing and assume perfect efficiency, which the charger is never going to be perfect efficiency, let's assume it is, in order to charge the battery fully with a 200 watt panel, I would need direct sunlight. Let's see. We got 26 hours. 26,000 watt hours. 26 kilowatts, so 26,000 watt hours. What's 26,000 divided by 200? That's 1,300 hours. 1,300 hours to fully charge the Leaf and that would get me a range of about 70 miles. So that's going to be a while, man. Um, yeah, so no, just no. And here's the other thing. Also, it also ruins the aerodynamics. If you mold the solar panel into the roof aerodynamically, then that solar panel will lose efficiency. So it also would increase drag and the mass of the vehicle. So, no, just no. Got it. Anyway, yeah, but they do have the top of the end leaf model does actually have a little mini solar panel at the back, which is there for people that like to say, hey, man, I got a solar powered car. It's like, well, no, you don't. It's trickle charging the battery, which I guess is kind of still helpful, but really not that helpful because it's not like you got to charge the battery. This is the thing I find bizarre about the Leaf is it actually has a lead acid battery in it, just like every other car. But it doesn't have a starter motor. So what's the point with the cold crank amps? You don't need it. It's there to power the accessories and stuff. And so the accessories don't drain the onboard battery. Yeah. Which is the drive battery, which is just a fascinating and crazy idea to me. But never mind that. All right. Okay. So what do you think so far? Good stuff. Okay. But wait, there's more. There's more, Vic. There's always more. Yeah, there's more. So the cycle's coming around again? Yes, it is. And this is a cycle that is going to- This is a cycle that's going to annoy some people, but this is where I'm at. One of the things that I said to you when we started recording tonight is that this is going to be an experiment. Now, why is... Could you... Would you explain to the listeners what we're doing differently in this episode or what I'm doing differently in this episode? I'm going to sum it up by poking at you a little bit and saying that you've become one of those iPad people. Technically, I was always an iPad person. The difference is I did not go all in and now I am. And we pay for it tonight. I- This is a learning curve and I am- I'm at the lower part of the learning curve. Yeah. Okay, so let me describe this evening's set up, dear listener. Through the magic of editing, you'll notice no difference. Hopefully. Yeah, yeah. But. OK, so here we go. I, I'm OK, the iPad, I have an iPad Pro, it's a 12.9 inch, 128 gig Wi-Fi only model. I've had this for quite some time now. I've had this since December last year or late November last year, and I use it every day for work for taking notes with good notes. I've done an episode of the show about it previously, and I've blogged about it. And I absolutely love it. I'm still using it every single day for that purpose. It is hands down the best engineering notebook I've ever had. It is just amazing. And I love it. As computers go, it's not the greatest, but it does the job. I can, I've recently, as in a few weeks ago, I bought the Lightning to USB 3 camera adapter. The one that Phil Schiller, I think it was talked about on stage. You can do like lots more into this than just a camera. And it's like, no kidding. So that I can plug in an Apple keyboard, the aluminum keyboard, a wired keyboard with keypad. And It is still my favorite keyboard of all time. I love that thing. And the D.I. Mini one, not the new one, right? And I can then plug into the USB hub that's built into the keyboard with the standard 12 watt adapter. And I can power my Onyx Blackjack USB interface. So I can actually listen. I can actually listen to I can actually record and listen to through the headphone jack, my recorded voice, because my voice is also going through I've got a dbx 286, which is independently fed from AC. And I've got the USB powered onyx blackjack, which then digitizes that for the for what was the Mac and now is my iOS device. And it works perfectly, except for one little problem. And that's Skype. So for shows like analytical and causality that I'm recording in this way, that's all I need. I don't need anything else. But when I'm doing Skype, I have a problem. The problem is that iOS, every time I go to background Skype and record Skype, it doesn't let me. Now, I'm not sure if I'm doing something wrong because I've read plenty of how-to articles that tell you you can do it. But I've tried every order, I've tried every setting I can think of and it just isn't working for me. So we're running tonight with a hybrid configuration. So I've got my iPhone and my iPhone is sitting on top of my Heil PR40 shock mount. So it's directly in front of my mouth just above the mic that I'm recording. I have my in-ear monitors plugged into my iPhone so that I I can hear Vic and it sounds isolated from the microphone. And Vic can hear me speaking through the iPhone speaker. I can also hear myself. I have a separate set of headphones over ear headphones, not in ear headphones, plugged into the Blackjack so I can hear my own audio coming back. And of course, because you're wearing two headphones. Yes, I am. I'm wearing IEMs on the inside for your audio to keep your audio separate. And I'm wearing over ear headphones over the top so I can hear my own voice. Now, I could refine I could I can refine this in future because I could pipe that audio into the spare input. So the second channel of my mixer and I could bring that in through the blackjack and then I could record both the Skype and this. But I'm going to require some adapters to do that, but that I don't have available at this moment. And I'm recording it using Ferrite, which is the podcast editing app that I'm using now. And Ferrite is pretty damned awesome, I have to say. I know I heard about it originally from Jason Snell and he heard it from Fraser Spears. And I think Zagzaiti may have mentioned along the way somewhere and so on and so forth. But I'm going to go to using Ferrite now as my editing app of choice. I am going away from the Mac. - There you go. That's the setup. So, yes, it's convoluted and yes, it seems as though... Yeah, and it seems as though I'm going a little bit overboard. But if Skype would background okay in iOS and I could record that audio that way, I would. Alas, it does not want to let me. So next time we do this, I will fix this up. I'll have the adapter and we'll just record from my phone. but I'll pipe the audio through the blackjack so I don't have to wear two sets of headphones because it's really uncomfortable and bizarre. It just sounds weird. Because the in-ear monitors are attenuating a lot of the sound from my own headphones. So it's just weird. Anyway, so you may think to yourself, well, that's a lot of trouble to go to, you know, and it's like, well, this is the only situation where the iPad can't do everything that I need in and of itself. And I'm sure that problem is going to be solved through alternative means. It's just a matter of finding those means. No, it's not ideal. I understand. But I'm sure that in iOS 10, they'll introduce something. Some people solve it by keeping their Mac around just for recording the podcast. Yeah, well... I just gotta float that out there. Yeah, stuff that. Okay. So now that we've bored the listeners to tears about the podcast set up for this evening, which is really exciting stuff, I'd like to talk about why I'm shifting away from the Mac. And people that listen to the show regularly and have done for a long time will know, it's not the first time I've talked about this, but I started out, as a lot of people did, as a Windows user, and I loved my Windows machine. I'm not ashamed to say it, I did. But then things started to really, really piss me off about Windows. And what really annoyed me was two things. One, viruses. And two, when I say viruses, I include malware, spyware and all that with that. And two, was the incessant amount of updates. Actually, there's a third one. and the lack of system stability. So those were the key reasons why I gave up on Windows and that was around about Windows XP. So I did play with Vista briefly, but Vista was just terrible. So at that time, I bought myself an E-Mac and it was a PowerPC G4 1.25 gig model with a gig of RAM. And I loved that thing. It was solid as a rock. I remember it had something like 180 days of uptime, and the only reason it crashed was because we'd lost power. It didn't crash, it just never crashed. It was solid as a rock. I would leave it on 24/7 and it was perfectly stable. You know what? I reckon you could have poured water on that thing and it would have kept going. OK, maybe not. But you know what? It was just an incredible piece of technology. It was so good. It was running Tiger and then eventually it ran Leopard. And it was just fantastic. Unfortunately, I decided it was time. Well, I say unfortunately, but I mean, I decided it was time to upgrade. So from that point on, I upgraded. I got myself a Mac Pro, the old cheese grater style. I had a MacBook Pro 15 inch in there for a while. Then I upgraded to a MacBook Air 13 inch. And then six, eight months ago, I bought a Retina 15 inch MacBook Pro, which is currently for sale. Now, that was supposed to be my audio video editing machine, you know, like home videos and so on audio editing for podcasts, podcasting, but also my work machine, because my work machine was a Windows laptop running Windows XP. and then for a while, Windows 7. But no matter what you did with my work laptop, it was a Dell, like, Latitude, God knows what crappy thing. And it was just terrible, just terrible. It was a typical IT supplied laptop. Atrocious. But it kind of did the job, but it was heavy, it's sluggish and it's horrible. So anyway, all right. So I was that was the intention. I got my iPad Pro initially instead of I couldn't find a place for me on my desk, I was going to return it. but turns out I loved it for note-taking alone. So then this USB adapter comes out and I'm like, I could do podcasting with this. And I tried it and it worked out and it was working. And that was the last thing I wanted to be able to do without a Mac. But that wasn't the final straw. It was sort of like the, I guess, the final question mark. But the final straw happened gradually over a few months. I got back from my holidays and on my desk was sitting a Surface Pro 4. Now, I'd made comment previously to my manager that the only reason I had my MacBook Pro at work and it was essentially hacked onto the work network, it was I'd extracted all the certificates I needed for authentication. I'd done everything I had to do in order to connect this thing to the network and make the network think that it was a genuine Windows machine when it wasn't. And it worked OK. There are a couple of things that were a little bit dodgy, but it worked OK. And no one ever really complained. Not seriously, anyway. So that was fine, and I could have kept doing that, but this Surface Pro 4, a few other people in the department had gotten Surface Pro 4 they weren't technically sanctioned by the IT department because they ran Windows 10, but they were still allowed to begrudgingly allowed by IT to connect to the network and all that other good stuff. And the Surface Pro 4 is the first Surface Pro that I would rate as a good machine. The Surface Pro 3 was close. The original Surface was terrible. The Surface RT was just even worse than terrible. But this is the first one I think that Microsoft has made that I would rate as being a good machine. And I started using it at work. And it was good. It was really good. It was pretty stable, relatively solid. It ran all the apps with no problems. It integrated with the corporate stuff a bit better than the Mac did. Ultimately, it was the first company supplied laptop that was actually any good. All the ones that happened in my life up until that point had been pieces of rubbish. And I suppose that it probably telling that this particular laptop was not generally IT sanctioned. So you had to get special approval for it. And I was just lucky that they took pity on me. Either that or they were trying to get me to get rid of my MacBook or something. I don't know. Either way, I decided, I'm going to try this. Let's just go all in. I'm gonna try it. And so I left my MacBook Pro home for a week to see if I could make it work. And there it sat. And it's never came back to the office. Because the because the Surface did a perfectly good job. It was reliable, it was stable, it ran what I needed, and it gave me slightly less grief. And so this is where it comes to the cyclic part and why this all came to a head. Marco, who's been on the show three times now, Marco Arment, he wrote an article a little while ago called The functional high ground, suggesting that Apple's lost the functional high ground in terms of their software quality. He got a lot of ribbing and a lot of like, it went, I think it went as high as to Bloomberg and it went nuts. He got a lot of attention for that piece. I think he's hearing about it now because he quote said Apple was turning into Blackberry. Well, see, the thing is, I agreed with him at the time and I agree with him even more so now. Yeah. And the steady decline in the quality of Apple's software. So, what's my story? My story is on ever since Tiger and Leopard on my eMac, I've been on the Mac now since 2006. So it's been 10 years I've been running a Mac as my primary machine and I have gradually watched. I think it started just after Snow Leopard. So Snow Leopard was the last most stable release of iOS X that I can remember. Oh, iOS 10. Sorry. And it's just gotten steadily worse. I've had errors come up on my MacBook Pro when I've gone to launch an app and it says Power PC apps are no longer supported. I'm like, no kidding. Yeah. I know that, you know that, we know that. And it's- Somebody doesn't seem to know it. There's no PowerPC binary in here. I know because I checked because I stripped it out. It's El Capitan. You know, it's like, are you kidding me? You try and install a PowerPC app that has a PowerPC binary on it, it'll tell you this app is not supported on this version of OS X. It has like a grey circle and a line through it, won't even let you open it. Yeah. Yeah. It's like, come on. And of course, you reboot the computer and the same app launches. No problem. And it's like, OK, so my MacBook Pro was having issues where you would put it to sleep, you'd wake it up, and then some of the apps would just like not not respond properly. So you'd open them and Windows would not move and you couldn't enter text in some of the windows. It was having the most bizarre problems. network connectivity was dropping out randomly on Wi-Fi and on Ethernet. My Mac had started to get kernel panics from time to time, not often, but it was happening more regularly. And I don't know if that's hardware or software related. It's very hard to diagnose the difference. And essentially, I was at the point where my MacBook Pro needed to be rebooted every day. I did a fresh install of El Cap and I put all the apps on that I needed to do my job. And I ended up right back where I was. It wasn't some kind of rogue app, or maybe it was a rogue app corrupting something, but I did all the usual stuff that you would expect to do, which is the whole, I'm going to fix disk permissions, like that's going to change anything. Yeah, you know, and you know, I did all the troubleshooting that I could think of. And it made very little if any difference. And I just found myself at that point like, right, I'm not in the train anymore. I'm not doing iOS development anymore. I'm more or less punched out of that game, I think. I've had ideas for apps, but every time I've started, I've just thought to myself, you know what? My heart's just not in this. And I have too many other things on in my life right now. So maybe someday I'll come back to it, but I'm done for now. And I have an Australian dollars, three thousand eight hundred dollar laptop. sitting on my desk not doing anything. I'm not using it. I have an iPad that's worth a fair bit too. But that iPad Pro is capable of doing pretty much everything that I want to do now. I can edit Word documents and Excel documents in it. They're really good. The Office apps on the iPad are fantastic. They are so good. And of course, if I didn't want to do that, I've always got Cloud Numbers and Keynote and they're all excellent apps. You know, they are really good. Ferrite is great for editing podcasts. It works well. You know, it's not an issue. I've got PDF editing on there and I can take any handwritten notes that I want on there. What do I need a MacBook Pro for? The other mistake I made with a MacBook Pro coming from a MacBook Air 13 inch is that thing is heavy. I thought the power, I'd use the power in that thing, like the graphics card and everything. Nah. - Yeah. wasn't using it, didn't need it. You know, if I need to encode video or edit video, the kids Mac mini, which is a three year old Mac mini, it does just fine. You just let it run for a few hours overnight, go to sleep, it's ready in the morning. Yeah. Who cares? You know, I cannot justify it. And that's why I'm selling it. Because it's like, well, that's a wasted piece of technology. Someone else should get used to out of this machine other than me. Yeah. So here I am, I am still running. I still love my iPhone. I still love my iPad. I love my iPad Pro. It's beautiful. I love the Apple Pencil. It's fantastic. But an Apple products now and my Apple Watch. I love my Apple Watch. I also wear that every day. So I'm fully connected with Apple touch interface equipment. But I am giving up my OS X because the reliability is terrible. And I'm just not using it anymore. So as far as I'm concerned, Apple haven't just lost the high, the functional high ground with our software quality on the Mac, they've torn it up and thrown out the window. Yeah, it's just it's ridiculous. And the number of updates that come out. It's not quite as bad as as Windows. Yeah, but it's like in terms of the number of updates, but in terms of stability, my MacBook Pro is now less reliable than my Windows 10 Surface Pro 4. That's where we're at. That's where I'm at right now with Apple and their desktops. So I don't know, I don't think there's anything wrong with the hardware on my MacBook Pro. Because all the glitches that I'm getting appear to be software related glitches. And I said it's been getting kernel panics. I've had two in six months of use. I used to get none on other machines like the MacBook Air. I think I had maybe two kernel panics and the entire time I had it was like three and a half years I had that MacBook Air. My Mac Pro, I think it never had a kernel panic. And I think the iMac may have had one or two in the couple of years I had it. So kernel panics notwithstanding, it's just it was just unreliable. So I'm I was done with it. I'm just done with it. And if I have to deal with rebooting my machine every now and then, because sometimes with the service pro is I'll dock it. And it doesn't quite get the screen screen scaling, right, because the service pro screen is high is high DPI, just like you know, retina. It's just you know, they don't call it retina. And when I've connected to an external monitor, and the external monitors 1920 by 1080, and it's like a more standard low res PPI. Sometimes it gets the scaling incorrect and things look funny sizes. And I found that you log out, log in or reboot, same effect and it fixes the issue, but that doesn't happen. Most times you dock it and it's fine. So I'm sort of at that stage where I'm like, well, if I've got to reboot my computer one way or the other and I've got a functional work computer now and my home computing needs are met by the iPad and the iPhone. Why do I need a MacBook Pro that's worth $3,800? I don't see the point. Bye-bye. It's gone. I'm going to sell it and put the money towards something that I'm going to use or that the kids are going to use or the personal use. What's the point? So that's it. You got to do what works for you. Yeah, I know. Absolutely right. I do. But the issue is that what were the final straws that led me to that? You know, it's like what pushed me over originally is that all the work supplied laptops in the past have been terrible. And notice I said laptops, I think the Surface Pro 4 is a wonderful laptop with a removable keyboard. That's awesome, because all I ever did with my MacBook Pro was I plugged in an external keyboard. You know what I mean? That's what I do with my Surface. Now, I knocked the Surface on episode 29. You'll never change the laws of physics, right? The, you know, you can't change the laws of physics. Sitting that thing on your lap, don't even bother. I've tried multiple times and it's just pointless. It works on a desk and that's it. But here's the thing. I don't use it on my lap because I'm not in the train anymore. I don't use it on my lap in meetings. I've got a desk. I just take the keyboard off all the time. The keyboard cover, I never use the keyboard on the Surface Pro. I just plug the Surface Pro into an external keyboard just like I did my MacBook Pro. You know, so I've got the best keyboard. I don't like that keyboard that much on the Surface Pro. It's just a cover. I'll use it in a pinch because it's better than the on-screen keyboard. The on-screen keyboard on the iPad is amazing. It's really good. I can touch type on that thing and kick ass. The Surface Pro 4 though, no. Pro 4 keypad, touchscreen keyboard is horrendous. Don't like it at all. But the hardware keyboard is actually usable. But that's not how I use it. So I'll pull it off and I'll plug in the external keyboard, plug in the dock and away I go. So I've got a dock at home, dock at work. So it's just one thing, away you go. It's wonderful. And the final straws for me were the reliability. And the fact that I now had an equally reliable or better or more reliable alternative at work, and everything else I had at home was working for me. So there was no longer an excuse. And in terms of Macs in the house, I still have my Kirsten still has a 13 inch MacBook Pro and of course, MacBook Air, sorry. And the kids have still got a Mac Mini. So I'm not I'm not walking away from Apple desktop. I'm just not going to use an Apple desktop anymore for me personally. Yeah. So when my Windows 10 Service Pro 4 starts to go wrong or it gets a bit long on the tooth, you may find me back on the OS 10 bandwagon. But I mean, Apple need to fix their broken operating system. Because I don't know what the hell they've done to it. Well, I do know what the hell they've done to it. They've just added too many features. They haven't regression tested it well enough across the hardware platforms that they supplied that support. They've tried to support too many older platforms rather than having clean breaks. And they essentially are not, as I said, I'll say again, regression testing it properly. Because if you were doing that, you know, and they're not putting, they're not putting their feature quality, sorry, they're not putting their system stability ahead of feature set, which is a big problem. It's they definitely seem to be spread a little thin and run in really, really fast. They are. And the problem that they have as a company is that they are forever chasing the Christmas rush. And it's always got to be ready for Christmas. So they have WWDC in the middle of the year, that gives three months for developers to get their stuff together. And then it's ready for the new iPad, iPhone release later in the year. And that's their big money spinner. But the problem is if they don't drag the Mac along with it, then how do they get the feature parity across their operating systems? So you want to have the whole cloud and everything is all on the same level, similar feature sets, what do you do? You don't have an option. One comes along, they all got to come along for the ride, staggering them becomes more and more difficult. And that then becomes an enormous problem because your support program is so your build strategy is forever cyclic, but the worst part of it is the peaks and the troughs are all at the same peak and trough time. So your peak development on all of your platforms is always going to be the same for all of the platforms. So you'll need the same feature set to be delivered on iOS and on the Apple Watch and on the Mac, all about the same kind of time. It all has to come together for release at the same time. Because otherwise, the way you should do it is if you had let's say you had 100 engineering resources and you got you could split into four pieces, 25 on Apple Watch, 25 on iPhone, 25 on iPad and 25 on OS X. Yeah. Let's say you did that just for argument's sake. So what are you going to do? Well, you're going to stagger those people. So you've got Apple Watch development, that's done. iOS development, say early in the first quarter, you know, iOS development for the iPhone in second quarter, and then iPad third quarter, and then iOS 10, fourth quarter. Because if you do that, suddenly, you can have 100 people in each team. But because you can't, you only get 25 on each, and they're all running all at the same time. Because you got to have feature parity and feature synchronicity between the four, the platforms and interfaces. I mean, okay, I skipped Apple TV in there, but they did TV OS. So you see Apple's dilemma. That's okay, I think they skipped TV OS too. Probably. And I don't want to make this all about Apple, but ultimately, I can see that this will change. Eventually, they'll reach another breaking point where either Android is taking too much of their lunch or Windows is making, is taking too much of their lunch or more lunch than they would like. And they have to focus on quality. The next snow leopard, when is that happening? The next build that is minimal feature set, cleaning up the rubbish and improving stability, when's that happening? Anyway, so what do you think? I think that you got to do what's right for you. And I'm glad that you're happy with your setup. Well, I'm refining it all the time, including fixing this iPhone propped up on top of my shock mount. It looks 100% stable. That's a two thumbs up and you can't see it. I'm sure it's the perfect complement to your overlapping headphones. So exactly. All right. Well, you know what, I think we should probably leave it there. Let's wrap this one up. Got it. Alrighty, if you want to talk more about this, you can reach me on Twitter @johnchidjie or you can follow Pragmatic Show to see specific show announcements and other related stuff. Pragmatic is of course part of the Engineered Network and it also has an account @engineered_net and that has announcements about the network and all the shows and you can check them all out at today. People are really loving Causality which is a solo podcast I do that looks at the cause and effect of major events or disasters in history. If you're a fan of this show, you may like to check that one out as well. I've also just launched a new podcast called Analytical. If you love Pragmatic, you will pretty much, a pretty good chance you'll enjoy it too. Both of those shows, I'm trying to keep them to about 30 minutes each so they're easy on the ears. Make sure you check them out. Let me know what you think. Now, if you'd like to get in touch with Vic, what's the best way to get in touch with your mate? They can usually find me on Twitter @vickhudson1. Fantastic. And if you'd like to send any feedback about the show or the network, please use the feedback form on the website. Now it's been fixed. Sorry about that. And that's where you'll also find show notes about this episode. And of course, if you are enjoying Pragmatic and you want to support the show, you can. Like one of our backers, Chris Stone. He and many others are patrons of the show via Patreon, and you can find it at, all one word. So if you'd like to contribute something, anything at all, it's all very much appreciated. So, as always, a special thank you to our patrons and a big thank you to everybody for listening. And again, thank you Vic. Thank you for having me John. [MUSIC PLAYING] (upbeat music) [MUSIC] (music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) [Music] (music) [Music] [Music] (thunder)
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Vic Hudson

Vic Hudson

Vic is the host of the App Story Podcast and is the developer behind Money Pilot for iOS.

John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.