The New MacBook Pro: A Missed Opportunity

It’s hard to avoid Apple announcements for new hardware and the introduction of the new MacBook Pro is no exception.

I live on both sides of the fence using PC and Mac. I don’t lean in one direction over the other, but when it comes to development, using a Mac is definitely less stressful.

I have been waiting for Apple to release a worthy new MacBook to upgrade my 13″ 2014 MacBook Pro which I use for all of my front-end development projects.

While the new OLED touch bar is cool, it’s not enough to warrant upgrading for me. Apple missed so many opportunities to step up to the plate and change the game.

Where is the touchscreen?

Apple added in a screen touch bar, but they should have taken a page out of the book of $500 Windows laptops and added in a touchscreen.

My wife uses an almost 3 year old $500 HP laptop which has a touchscreen and while you might assume it is gimmicky, it works really well and in confined spaces like bed, a train or on a plane: it can be a Godsend.

I think a touchscreen on a MBP might be more useful than people think. I find 13″ is a good size for a tray table on a plane, but typing means I have to contort my hands into a weird uncomfortable position.

Anyone who questions the usefulness of a touchscreen display on a laptop has obviously never used one before, because they’re incredibly useful and other vendors have shown they work well.

Beyond 16gb of memory

When it comes to working with large files, running virtual machines… the more memory, the better. MacBook Pro’s have notoriously been lacking in the Ram department. To make matters worse, Apple solder in everything, so you can’t manually add in more.

With the new MBP range, the maximum size memory you can add is 16gb. Welcome to 2012, Apple.

I think this is one of the biggest letdowns of the new MacBook Pro range. Memory is important and we can live without Core i7 processors and powerful graphics cards (for professional purposes), but 16gb of memory? Really?

The newly announced Microsoft Surface Book might be more expensive, but Microsoft offer far greater customisation options, a touch screen, more modern hardware like core i7 processors and 32gb of ram as an option.

R.I.P Apple

Well, the rumours were true: the iPhone 7 has been announced without a headphone jack. While nobody is truly surprised by this because, I wanted to believe it was only a rumour. Surely Apple wouldn’t kill off such a widely used feature?

I am all for pushing technology forward, but we aren’t talking about VCR and DVD here, we are talking about the classic 3.5mm stereo headphone jack which has no true replacement.

Apple has a pretty good record of ditching the right technology at the right time, like removing optical drives from their entire MacBook range. But in all honesty when Apple ditched the optical drive and ditched supporting Flash, those pieces of technology were already in decline.

I think Apple has really jumped the gun on ditching the headphone jack. I am not saying that the headphone jack will be around forever, but there isn’t really a reason to ditch it right now. It is more popular than ever.

Many cars manufactured in 2016 that support bluetooth audio, still have auxiliary headphone connectors. Third party payment services that have card readers like Square use the headphone jack still.

What makes this all even more surprising is during the announcement Phil Schiller said it “takes courage” to use the lightning jack for audio. He then went on to say that the original 3.5mm jack is 100 years old. Using this logic, are cars (except Tesla) outdated technology because we’re still reliant on fossil fuels and combustion engines?

It really is concerning the level of arrogance has reached. When announcing the removal of the headphone jack, Phil also claimed that only “some” people are still using wired headsets.

Has anyone at Apple ever experienced the pain of getting bluetooth headphones to work with a phone? The sync problems, disconnection issues and that is not even factoring in that the audio quality of bluetooth headphones is inherently low.

The problem with bluetooth (the current standard) is audio is digitally compressed and transferred across a frequency of 2.4ghz. This is a busy frequency that a lot of wireless devices already use in your home like wireless keyboards, mice and other bluetooth devices.

Heck even your microwave most likely produces microwaves on this frequency. These don’t have an effect really on audio quality, but are generally responsible for dropouts.

It really makes you wonder, was the headphone jack removed because Apple see’s it as this archaic technology or was it because the new waterproof capability of the phone meant they needed to remove it? There are plenty of Android devices including the S7/S7 Edge which have a headphone jack and are somewhat waterproof. There is definitely no technological limitation.

The iPhone will ship with lightning earphones, meaning that if you want to charge your phone and listen to music at the same time through wired headphones, you are fresh out of luck you’ll need to read some reviews of speakers instead. But don’t worry, Apple have announced you’ll be able to buy wireless headphones called Airpods.

The kicker is Airpods are $160 USD, so at the time of writing this $208 AUD for wireless headphones that you’ll easily lose, need to be recharged and if you’re a runner: when you sweat, they will fall out. Oh, and they won’t be shipped until after a month after the iPhone 7 releases.

Believe it or not the 3.5mm port is used for more than listening to music. There is an entire ecosystem of third-party devices that use the 3.5mm port from microphones through to barcode and credit card readers. The capabilities of this port are very understated.

Then there is Apple’s reluctance to support real standards, something they’ve always been known for. They are still pursuing their lightning port over USB-C which the rest of the industry is starting to converge on.

Will this affect sales of the iPhone 7? Probably not. Apple could remove the screen completely and people would still line up around the block for the iPhone.

Stan (the not quite Netflix competitor) Is Horrible

Shame on you Stan, shame on you Australia.

In the video streaming wars you have the king sitting on the iron throne: Netflix and then you have everyone else fighting for their chance to sit on the throne.

In Australia we have Netflix, we have Presto, we have Foxtel, Foxtel Go and we have Stan. I have been a subscriber to Netflix since it launched, I tried Presto and found it to be too expensive, Foxtel is a relic of the past and Stan is somewhere in between.

I have been trialling Stan for the last 3 months now and it is personally very disappointing. What appealed to me about it was the fact they exclusively had the latest season of Better Call Saul. But what is the point of having an exclusive if it is barely watchable?

The problem with Stan is buffering. While my connection is not the greatest, I sync at 18mb and save for local area congestion, it is fine for most things. Even if you have a strong connection, in my experience Stan will still buffer. Buffering is unavoidable with Stan.

Buffering on all VOD services is expected given the sad state of Australia’s internet infrastructure at the moment. However, I am able to watch Netflix fine. I get the occasional loading screen, but in most cases I see buffering on Netflix because of congestion or someone in the house is using up the bandwidth.

To kick Stan further while it is down, I watch Netflix via a US VPN to get access to a bigger catalogue of content and it still buffers less than Stan does. How is this possible? How is it my traffic can be funneled through to a server in another country and back, but still work better than Stan?

And then to top it all off, when Stan buffers it just freezes. There is no loading indicator that appears like you see on Netflix. Your TV show or movie just freezes. The first time this happened, I actually thought my Fetch box froze up, so I reset it.

The freezing is one thing, but when it freezes, it doesn’t even always resume from where it froze, but rather just skips. I regularly watch a TV show or movie and see it pause to buffer, then it starts playing from an entirely new scene and I am left to wonder what the heck just happened in those lost skipped seconds.

It seems everyone who uses Stan encounters the buffering issue at some stage. For an Australian company you would think they would optimise their network traffic for Australian viewers, less network roundtrips should mean there is no latency to stream. I think Stan needs to fire their network administrators or the company handling their streaming traffic.

The problems with buffering are one thing, but then there is the lack of loading/progress indicator when buffering comes into play. Whatever you are watching will just freeze and resume once enough has loaded.

Apple’s San Bernardino Conundrum

In-case you hadn’t heard, the FBI is trying to compel Apple to assist them in cracking open an iPhone 5c used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino shooting that took placed back on December 2, 2015.

While on the surface the demands to some might sound reasonable, “Please help us unlock this shooters phone, Apple, so that we can see if they had any other accomplices and try and find out what happened” – make no mistake, there is more than meets the eye here.

In an open letter to their customers, Tim Cook states his concerns for the situation.

The TL;DR of the current situation between Apple and the FBI is the FBI have asked Apple to created a custom version of the iOS operating system that removes certain security controls in place that prevent limits on passcode attempts and the phone wiping itself after 10 failed attempts.

Essentially the FBI wants software created which does not currently exist to be able to brute force a passcode on an iPhone to unlock it.

It does not take a genius to come to the conclusion this is a bad idea. If said custom iOS made its way into the hands of hackers, all iPhone’s in existence would be able to be unlocked. One of the best features of iOS is how it protects your phone data if stolen or lost.

I have seen some people suggest that Apple should comply with the request, because I mean, what is the worse that could happen? Apple can and could create a custom iOS version because they have the signing certificates and capability, but it would create a whole new problem entirely: legal precedent.

Legal precedent is wet dream material for lawyers all over the world.

A precedent is a legal case that establishes a principle or rule. Basically if a judge rules in favour of a certain decision, this case can be used for future reference during both sides of a trial.

The prosecution and defence in a trial can successfully use legal precedent to sway a verdict in their favour. Can you imagine if Apple is legally compelled to comply in this situation?

This precedent would be a tsunami. It would not only be used by the United States Government in future cases of suspected terrorism, but also in other situations as well from espionage to spying on dissidents.

Imagine being accused of stealing documents from a company and being ordered to surrender your iPhone to be unlocked to check for offending material to aid in the prosecutions argument? Precedent would allow this to progress further in the court system than previously known.

Not only that, but this means other countries could use the decision to unlock iPhones as well. If Apple indeed does create a custom iOS version, you can bet your bottom dollar everyone wanting to get access to iPhone data will be lining up to get it.

Apple would no longer be able to use the argument of, “this isn’t possible” or “this would take too long” – the moment such a backdoor becomes available, it is game over.

We need encryption. We need privacy. What happened in San Bernardino is incredibly sad and horrendous, but I think what is just as horrendous is using the shooting as a means of compelling companies to weaken their encryption designed to protect legitimate customers.

Why should people who commit terrorist acts be allowed to ruin encryption for the rest of us? If we weaken encryption, the only people who have won are the terrorists.

The New Sourcetree Design Is Horrendous (and broken)

When it comes to GIT clients, you can’t really fault Sourcetree by Atlassian. It handles the basics of Git, allows you to visually merge/rebase your repositories, handle conflicts like a boss and more.

But we need to talk about the redesign they just launched across both Windows and Mac OS platforms in version 1.8.1.

Given the previous design of Sourcetree was not exactly the prettiest application out there or modern looking, usability wise it definitely ticked all of the boxes for me personally. What happened?

Falling into the trap of everything must be flat, WHY CAN’T WE MAKE IT FLATTER trend of removing shape and definition from interfaces, Sourcetree finds itself entering a bad neighbourhood with new shoes on.

I realise I have a choice and I could use the command line (which I do) I work on multiple repositories and the convenience of being able to switch between them is reason enough to use Sourcetree, especially when it comes to merge conflicts.

Also worth noting that the design for OS X actually does not look bad. If you’re fortunate enough to be a Mac user, you get a nice polished looking app with a few UI quirks, still a dumpster fire on wheels, but better than the Windows version.

The Windows version is like the ugly step sister from a fairytale who wants to go to the prom, but nobody wants to take her.

Iconography

The latest version of Sourcetree sees the icons adopt this pseudo pencil drawn look where every icon looks thin and transparent. This in itself would not be so bad if it weren’t for the fact the background is grey, so you get these light grey outlines on a grey background. You can see them fine, but they get lost. The text is a dark grey at least.

Current version

sourcetree-icons

Previous version

sourcetree-icons-old

Yes, the old version looks like an early 2000’s software application, but at least it was usable. It is the simple things. The biggest for me is the push/pull notification icons.

Because the new icons lack any colour, it isn’t immediately apparent what is what. It is a minor nitpick, but the first thing that I noticed when I opened up the new version.

In the older version the colour and definition of the icons was an important part for me moving around the application, not things are just confusing. Not impossible, just confusing.

Typography

While typography has only been tweaked a little bit, to add to the confusion there is now a lack of true visual separation and hierarchy. Take for example the left hand branch pane which shows you your branches, etc.

Take a look what what one of my repositories looks like with one branch. Pay close attention to the active branch styling which is just bold text. Now look at the heading above it “Branches”

sourcetree-branch-pane

This just messes with my head so much. When I look at the following, my eyes don’t know where to focus. Even though the branch name text is smaller, because it lacks any kind of indent which gives it visual hierarchy my eyes focus on “Branches” or “Remotes” before finding their way to the branch.

Don’t get me started on the iconography in use here. The same washed out, colourless and thin icons make an appearance. The proportions of the icons also look way too big, especially the file status icon which looks like a giant monitor on a little stand.

Tabs

Yet another misstep in the design bastardisation of Sourcetree. The new “flat” tabs just look horrible. Maybe I am not the majority here, but it is not uncommon to have 2 or more repository tabs.

The previous design had visually distinct and separate tabs so your eyes could easily see what tab was what. With the new design they threw in their horrible dark blue branch colour, light font weight text and a pipe to separate the tabs.

Then it gets worse. The tabs have unproportionate padding on them so the pip rubs up right against the side of the button. The close “X” icon seems way too big so it throws off the vertical alignment of the button text slightly (only obvious on an active tab).

When the tab is not active, you see this stray looking orphan pipe sitting over to the right of the button. They even put a pipe separator on the last button which just looks weird (presumably to show the end of the tab bounds).

Conclusion

This is a classic case of some overzealous designers who wanted to pursue a design trend and execute it poorly.

Were the designers given only a couple of days to work on a redesign or was this something they planned for months in advance? It looks like an early stage development prototype.

I could literally keep going on, dissecting and performing an autopsy on Sourcetree, but I think I pointed out the obvious issues with the latest design. It isn’t even just the UI issues, for the first time in a very long time Sourcetree crashes for me either randomly or during certain tasks like merging.

I regret updating to 1.8.1. Until they fix the UI issues, especially in the Windows version, I guess I will explore alternatives and make do with the command line.

I can forgive the newly introduced crashing bugs if they revert that UI and then fix the bugs. You know a UI is really broken when bugs that cause the app to completely crash bother you less.

As per the official Tweet from Sourcetree themselves, you can download the older versions. The links are provided as follows for your convenience: OS Xhttps://t.co/kkmVfvKMxA and Windowshttps://t.co/j0tSDPZEmC

It seems Atlassian acknowledge the issues themselves openly on Twitter, but this is unacceptable. Considering how widely used Sourcetree is and Atlassian’s reputation for being the foundation of modern development workflow, it just is not acceptable. Who tested this? Who designed this? Who approved this for release?

Why Angular 2 Is DOA

With the beta release of Angular 2 in mid-December after almost 2 years in development, high hopes have been placed upon the framework who in its absence of release has seen other competitors such as ReactJS mature and Aurelia release into beta.

I have seen and heard some ambitious things being said about Angular 2. It appears as though everyone is making the assumption that because the Angular brand is so well known and people are falsely under the impression it is a first-class Google project (even though Google offers no support).

Just because Google provide some resources for the Angular project, they have another conflicting library called Polymer which they seem to be pushing for quite hard, even more-so than Angular 2. I am not saying that Google is snobbing Angular because apparently a few applications internally already are using it, but publicly Google’s stance seems to be very much pro-Polymer.

I think once upon a time the words, “Google quality” carried some weight, but historically Google have shown they have no qualms chopping something (like the beloved Google Reader) if it does not align with their agenda or business.

Firstly, lets put the facts out there. Angular 2 is a substantial improvement over Angular 1, by leaps and bounds. Architecturally because Angular 2 is a rewrite from the ground up, many of the poor decisions from the original incarnation are gone, more notably: transclusion and dirty-checking.

Learning Curve Trap

But there is one problem that Angular 2 did not address. The one pain-point of the original framework, which while did not hinder its success, was definitely a point everyone mentioned in most articles written about it: learning curve.

Even though Angular 2 treats TypeScript as a first-class citizen and like other frameworks, utilises features and API’s in ECMAScript 2015, it still suffers from a bad case of over-engineering.

The complexity of the templating language is enough to make me quiver. There is nothing intuitive about Angular 2’s templating syntax and after all of the complaints people had with the confusing terminology and abstraction in the original version, you would think that the Angular 2 team would have wanted to take a more intuitive approach to its design.

The truth of the matter is, there was a massive discussion on Github about this. You can see Rob Eisenberg (who was on the core team for a few months) now working on his own framework Aurelia, proposing a very reasonable templating syntax that closely follows Javascript. Unfortunately a confusing and VERY ugly looking syntax using a weird combination of rounded () and square [] brackets was used, as well as asterisks.

I think this is where it went wrong for Angular 2, but in the scheme of things, there are other missteps in my opinion that contributed to the long development time and issues in the framework.

Compare the getting started setup for Angular 2 to Angular 1 and a library like React. Considerable tooling is required to work with Angular 2 which to be honest is nothing new for a modern front-end web application.

It definitely takes more than 5 minutes to get everything setup once you factor in things like NPM 3 is slow as fuck and slower network connections mean dependencies take longer to download, even Aurelia can fall into this trap. This is where React has the advantage over most modern frameworks in that it requires no tooling and has the fastest setup time of anything else out there currently.

I realise React is being thrown around a lot here and I am well aware that React is first and foremost a library, it is not a framework. However, React is being used for the same purposes as frameworks like Angular are and therefore, it is a framework by association (in my opinion).

Wrong Time

When you look at Angular 2 non-objectively, it is at least one year too late. While some seem to claim that because of ECMAScript 2015 only being finalised in mid-2015, that Angular could not release any earlier, Babel support for the specification was there way before it was finalised. Even as it stands, you still need Babel (unless you are purely using TypeScript).

In the time it took Angular 2 to hit beta, ReactJS has all but matured and Aurelia which was in development for less time (around a year) beat them to beta (with a smaller core team and very little resources).

The reason Angular 1 became so popular was that it was ahead of its time. It was unique at a time when other choices like Backbone just were not that appealing (at least to me) and Javascript was not very mature as it is now. The landscape is extremely competitive now, the fact that Facebook seems to be throwing considerable resources behind React and React Native really highlights just how different things are for Javascript frameworks and libraries in 2016.

So while some have high hopes of Angular 2 becoming just as popular as Angular 1 did, I doubt it will happen. The simplicity of React for me personally is more appealing, I never have to look at any kind of documentation when I use it, but if I do, the documentation is great. And as many of you know, I have been working with Aurelia for nearly a year now and love it (I even use it with React).

I don’t wish harm on Angular 2, but I think some serious poor decisions and the fact it took so long to just release a beta, the odds are not in their favour. Everyone who isn’t still using Angular 1 or waiting for version 2 has since moved on to use React or other libraries/frameworks that have released and matured in the time.

Solving Americas Gun Problem

Firstly, I am not an American. Secondly, I hate armchair experts just as much as you probably do. I don’t claim to be an expert on anything nor do I think I have all of the answers. But, to any outsider who isn’t an American there are some obvious aspects to the gun control debate that Americans cannot see.

America has a gun problem. The guns themselves are not the problem, it is the people who use them incorrectly that have the problem. As is the case with pretty much anything, human beings are always the weakest link in any chain; security, safety, health and common sense.

The media likes to focus on gun violence perpetuated by ordinary citizens. Yes, this is the most common and recurring form of violence. But there is also the issue of police officers who lack obvious training in firearm use adding to the body count of gun violence.

So, what is the answer?

As with most things, education is first and foremost key to reducing deaths. We already push for education for domestic violence, drink driving, texting and driving as well as drug use, why not gun violence as well?

From the outside the answer is obvious: make it harder for people to get guns. Don’t make it impossible or ban them, make it difficult.

But once again, we come back to the people. The passionate second amendment rights constitutionalist crowd see any attempt to limit access to guns or even recommending them gun safes under $1000 as an attempt to strip away the rights of citizens. It is a delicate issue here. People are the problem here.

Sure, Obama could easily pass stronger gun laws tomorrow. He could use his power to push it through and for a brief moment in time the media would lap it up. People will laud it as a step forward. But shortly after things would descend into anarchy.

Any attempt to tighten gun laws would radicalise the diehard gun lovers. Obama knows it and so does every other politician with sway in the senate. Things didn’t change after Sandy Hook in which innocent children died in a massacre. If an event like that can’t rally people to demand change, what will?

What about Australia?

People love to use what Australia did in 1996 as ammunition for the gun control argument. The National Firearms Buyback Scheme kicked off after the horrible Port Arthur massacre in 1996 which instantly transformed gun ownership. In the shooting, 35 people were killed and 23 wounded.

The reason in Australia gun ownership laws were able to be tightened and things regulated a lot more is because we are a smaller country. We also don’t have the baggage of a constitution which dictates that citizens have the right to bear arms.

While what Australia did was extraordinary, a smaller population and sense of less entitlement to guns made it possible. The USA is significantly larger with some states and localities having stronger gun cultures than others.

Make it harder

The answer to solving gun violence is to make it harder. Like anyone trying to obtain a drivers license has to get lessons and then take a test, why don’t we do the same?

If you want a gun, you have to take a couple of tests. You have to submit to a psychiatric examination to make yourself deemed fit of owning a gun. You have to do a theory test and then you also have to do a practical test in which you will be tested on things like safety and certain scenarios.

Make gun owners attend mandatory firearm education classes (at their expense). In these classes gun owners will be taught how to use a firearm, how to clean it, how to store it and how to use it properly. You would then have to sit a test after these classes in which you would need to get a certain mark to pass.

No matter what the US does, not everyone is going to be happy. You’ll have a few of the survivalist nut jobs who try and take things into their own hands, but with a little luck things will change. Sure, black markets will still be around, but with the limited supply of guns, the price will go up and less guns will be on the street. Action requires action.

The Lacklustre Dick Smith “suicide” Mammoth Sale

There was buzz of a massive sale happening at Dick Smith on the weekend. Throughout the week there were rumours from media outlets and supposed store representatives.

Even calling up the stores, the staff seemingly had no idea of a massive clearance sale. They were either told to play dumb or legitimately did not know.

Then people were posting on Oz Bargain claiming to have purchased awesome deals. Someone even claimed to have got an Xbox One for $150. I even saw someone claimed to have gotten a 4k TV for a couple of hundred of dollars.

Then Dick Smith confirmed right before Saturday there was going to be a clearance sale. Dubbed the mammoth clearance sale, savings on clearance lines some upwards of 70% were promised.

What was promised and what actually materialised were two different things.

image

At my local store TV’s were advertised as only 15% off clearance. There were a few junk items like meat thermometers and expired ink cartridges. Some clearance items were a paltry $10 off.

It seems people saying they were getting good deals were probably just trolling. And anything good actually sold throughout the week before the official sale. Something tells me that Xbox One consoles aren’t being cleared out or display 4k TV’s.

The big sale was nothing more than hype. We all bought into it. Maybe if Dick Smith stopped selling $200 toaster and kettle packages, they might be in a better financial position.

Are Thrice Secretly Recording a New Album?

Update Just a few hours after this was posted, the band officially announced a new album. Who knows if the post was just good timing or perhaps they saw it and wanted to make it official.

Something is going on over in the Thrice camp. The band who is notoriously quiet on social media have been quite active the last few months. Not even after they announced they had ended their hiatus did they start being immediately active. The guys have notoriously kept a relatively small profile online.

Over on the official Thrice Facebook page the band have been running a #ThriceThursdays hashtag in which the band discuss mostly their favourite tracks and gives some insight into them.

The posts are not frequently done every Thursday, although the last two updates posted were. The band first starting doing this October 23rd, 2015. So this is quite a new thing. Clue number one.

Then there is the curious case of the band updating their profile and banner images seemingly quite frequently. You’re probably thinking, well that isn’t strange. But the situation gets even more interesting when you realise the band keep updating their profile with the same image.

Since April 25th, 2015 the band have been updating their profile with the same image. As you can see below the images have been chronicled from April 25th, 2015 until the latest posted on November 13th, November.

April 25th, 2015 - the slow tease begins...

April 25th, 2015 – the slow tease begins…

August 20th, 2015

August 20th, 2015

October 23rd, 2015

October 23rd, 2015

November 4th, 2015 (oh and they start uploading cover photos instead of profile photos)

November 4th, 2015 (oh and they start uploading cover photos instead of profile photos)

November 13th, 2015 (now only the cover image changes)

November 13th, 2015 (now only the cover image changes)

Upon closer inspection we can see that the band keep updating the same image, but the background keeps on getting lighter. The first image is black and the latest is way lighter. It looks like something is being revealed.

As a die-hard fan of Thrice, my fanboy assumption instinct is in overdrive. What are the band up to? One can only naturally assume that the band who have been active since the beginning of the year are working on new music. In-fact, it might even be eventual artwork for a new album being revealed? Most likely a self-titled album release slated for 2016 so if you want to hear the album in the best quality, is best if you look for the 10 best headphone amps for boosting sound.

Given the updates now appear to be happening more frequently coupled with the fact the band are more active on social media than they have been in a very long time I am going to make a bold statement and think the band will be announcing a new album in December, 2015.

This coupled with the fact that Dustin appears to have been massing a tonne of effects pedals, new amps and guitars since the beginning of the year seems to indicate activity for a new Thrice album. Yes, he has solo material, but for the most part Dustin’s solo material when played live is actually minimal.

Now that Dustin has finished his latest solo album and done some touring for it, Thrice is no doubt the current priority for the band. Teppei’s leatherwork business now has employees, so he is able to step away and do some recording as well.

There is also the curious case of the band (as of November 2015) having no upcoming shows planned. They’ve done a few festival style shows, presumably to dust off the cobwebs before entering the studio. This is not to say the band won’t do more shows before announcing anything and Christmas is almost upon us, so maybe they just want to be with their families.

Naturally the band would be recording this album themselves like the last couple of releases. They’ve got their own home studio, so they can be as secretive as they like and record on their own terms.

Either way, we will hear new Thrice music. They were only ever on hiatus which is akin to pausing a movie to go and make some popcorn. Except they paused the movie for a little while longer. Naturally being a band of creatives, they’ll want to make some fresh music as soon as possible to help keep those Deadbolt chants at bay.

You’re Living In A News Bubble

Recently there was some pretty tragic terrorist attacks in Paris which I am sure heard about and probably saw being shared around on Facebook.

Approximately 140 people were tragically killed, with hundreds more injured to varying degree. Even days after the event you would be hard-pressed to find a media outlet (online, print and TV) not talking about what happened in Paris.

In a show of solidarity the Sydney Opera House lit up in the colours of the French flag and Facebook made it so you could overlay the French flag on-top of your profile image (similar to what they did with the gay pride filter).

It didn’t take long for the negative crowd to start a ruckus. For you see a day before the events in Paris on November 12th there was an ISIL terror attack in which 40 people died. Another 200 or so were injured.

It’s okay if you didn’t hear about it because the news was being dominated by the Paris attacks. That didn’t stop some (especially on my Facebook) to start making remarks like, “Why isn’t anyone reporting on the Beirut bombings that happened the day before?”

In defence of the media (partially) they DID write about the attack in Beirut, the attack sadly just wasn’t shared around as much. Do you recall seeing anyone share news stories on the Beirut bombing before the Paris attacks took place? I don’t.

The brutality of the news cycle

The real issue with the 24 hour news cycle is unless the event is significant, the next day it is business as usual; newspapers have been sold and online advertising revenue has been generated.

The attacks in Paris got more media attention mostly because more people died which in turn makes more a more impactful story that outlets can sell. Does this make the attacks that took place in Beirut any less severe? Definitely not.

It is quite evident that major media outlets have a mathematical formula for determining the importance of a story which is something along the lines of the following:

Number of people dead + number of people injured + (was it ISIS or some other terrorist group) x (importance of location attacked)

Another sad fact in the way we consume news. The Paris bombings managed to stay in the spotlight and shadow everything else for a number of reasons, but the biggest one of them all was virality. A lot of us admittedly get our news from our friends in the form of shared news stories. I heard about the Paris attacks first on Facebook.

People were sharing news of the attacks everywhere on Facebook and Twitter. Due to how some news sites are structured, the popular content rises to the top becoming more visible and thus propelling itself upward and pushing everything else down.

France like most Western countries isn’t really subject to constant terror attacks. In countries like Lebanon, sadly bombings are not as uncommon. So when something happens in a place like Paris, it has a stronger emotional affect on us. You have either been to Paris as a tourist yourself or you know someone who has been there.

Then there is the other crowd who immediately started questioning why Facebook didn’t create a Lebanon flag filter to show solidarity for the lives lost in Beirut. If Facebook created a Lebanon flag filter, would you have honestly applied it to your profile picture? No. And you’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

We have become so desensitised to bombings in the Middle East. We assume that everyday lives are lost and that’s just how it is over there. But when a bombing takes place in an iconic tourist spot like Paris, the thought process is: “My aunt Mavis went to Paris last year, oh my God.” or, “I proposed to my wife on top of the Eiffel Tower, I can’t believe this has happened”

Unless a bombing happens in a country where either a) Bombings are not a regular thing b) It is a tourist hot spot c) Western lives are lost or d) Culturally appealing — we just do not care.

Just because you didn’t see news of something being shared on your Facebook feed does not mean the media did not report it, it means that you and your friends just didn’t care enough to share the news for it to hang around enough to be deemed a big news story.

You’re living in a news bubble: most of us are. Until we realise that an attack by Islamic State regardless of the country it happens in, is an attack on us all, attacks in less Facebook worthy locations like Beirut will continue to be cast into the shadows.