TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jan 97 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 13 (1997)
Issue Number: 1
Column Tag: Viewpoint

Viewpoint

By Eric Gundrum

To Be or Not To Be

That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of our existing technology or adopt an entirely new technology and embrace it as our own.

Apple and Be are reported to have been negotiating a deal for Apple to acquire the BeOS as a quick fix to Apple's delays in shipping MacOS 8 sometime this century. At least, this is what the community has been discussing. Apple has been silent on the issue.

On the other hand, during a recent international Mac developers' conference, Apple's CTO, Ellen Hancock stated that the MacOS will be built by Apple. Is that a bit of "not invented here" creeping through, or has Apple decided the BeOS is not up to the task? I expect we'll hear a more complete answer at the January Expo. Until then, you can decide for yourself with the included BeOS for Macintosh CD.

Everyone is quick to criticize Apple. Reading the many discussions taking place on the net one begins to see that people will complain no matter which way Apple turns. Damned if they do, damned if they don't. Apple can't rely on the developer community to provide a clear direction.

Can We Have Some Engineering, Please?

Call me foolish, but I'm willing to trust Apple on this one, knowing full well that my livelihood is closely tied to the success of the Mac. Frankly, I wonder just how important is it that we get a new OS. Sure, System 7 is getting long in the tooth. Sure, the industry pundits tell us we need preemptive multitasking, protected memory and whatever hot feature comes along next week. ("Will that be MMX, VMX or TriMedia, sir?") Preemptive multitasking has some benefits, but I'm not so sure I want to give up 10% of my CPU to managing the threads, nor do I want Apple to spend precious resources trying to make it work. A few simple OS-level developer tools could go a long way to help us tune our cooperative multi-tasking environment.

The improvement I want more than anything else is reliability. I'm sick of crashes, freezes and just plain bugs that prevent me from getting my work done. Many folks say protected memory will provide that reliability, but there are many things Apple could do with the current OS (not to mention hardware) to improve reliability. Start with redesigning the pieces that are most problematic, but do it one piece at a time, and take advantage of all that the software development community has learned about developing complex systems these past five years.

As a developer, I would love a few more debug versions of the various Mac managers. The debug managers would immediately notify me if I pass an invalid handle or other parameter. How about having those debug managers perform self consistency checks to notice when their data or code is mucked up? This would help us and Apple find and fix many more bugs than protected memory, and we could have it soon.

Despite the engineers at Apple being some of the smartest people I've ever met, they sometimes suffer a mob mentality. Sometimes they blindly pursue some grandiose idea because they believe they can build a better mouse trap. Rather than trying to redesign the entire world of Macintosh software, I would like Apple to provide some incremental changes that can grow with us. Fix the things that are broken, give developers OS-level tools to write better software, and enforce some better engineering practices inside Apple to ensure that what Apple creates does not have to rely exclusively on the QA group to find all of the bugs.

User Group Shake-out

One of my most enjoyable activities is joining a group of Macintosh programmers to talk tech for a few hours. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area I have the benefit of several formal and informal groups of Macintosh programmers. Such groups often need careful nurturing in other areas of the world, but the benefits of talking through difficult programming problems and of learning how others are using new technologies are still there.

A few user groups have been having some tough times these past few months, and it doesn't seem to be Apple-related. Macintosh users often take user groups for granted. We created many in the early years of Macintosh to help us band together and support each other against the strong forces of DOS. User groups are a great place to learn what isn't in the manuals, as well as how to program the Mac when there are more volumes of Inside Macintosh than one can read in a year. Windows users have had a far greater need for the support of user groups, but they never seem to develop that strength of community.

Now several user groups are in serious trouble. (User groups are better known for things other than being well run businesses.) Boston Computer Society (BCS), once the largest user group in the world, catered to many computing platforms from CP/M to Macintosh. Earlier this year they uncovered serious financial mismanagement leading to their permanently closing their doors. Some recent reports indicate at least one other large, metropolitan user group is traveling the same path. Hopefully their members have caught it in time.

Many folks working in the Macintosh industry got much of their training helping others in user groups. Many companies got their best user feedback from user group audiences. Now it is time to give a little back. Look into your local user group and see how they are doing. Make sure they are not falling apart while no one pays attention and see how you might help them a bit. You might find that they help you even more.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Cyberduck 4.7.1 - FTP and SFTP browser....
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more
PDFpen 7.2 - Edit and annotate PDFs with...
We're also offering PDFpenPro for 30% off! PDFpen allows users to easily edit PDF's. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even... Read more
Skype 7.9.746 - Voice-over-internet phon...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
Apple GarageBand 10.1 - Complete recordi...
The new GarageBand is a whole music creation studio right inside your Mac -- complete with keyboard, synths, orchestral and percussion instruments, presets for guitar and voice, an entirely... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.7.7 - Find and d...
Duplicate Annihilator takes on the time-consuming task of comparing the images in your iPhoto library using effective algorithms to make sure that no duplicate escapes. Duplicate Annihilator... Read more
OS X Server 4.1.3 - For OS X 10.10 Yosem...
Designed for OS X and iOS devices, OS X Server makes it easy to share files, schedule meetings, synchronize contacts, develop software, host your own website, publish wikis, configure Mac, iPhone,... Read more
Firefox 39.0 - Fast, safe Web browser. (...
Firefox offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals and casual... Read more
pwSafe 4.1 - Secure password management...
pwSafe provides simple and secure password management across devices and computers. pwSafe uses iCloud to keep your password databases backed-up and synced between Macs and iOS devices. It is... Read more
Kodi 15.0.rc1 - Powerful media center to...
Kodi (was XBMC) is an award-winning free and open-source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user... Read more
Coda 2.5.11 - One-window Web development...
Coda is a powerful Web editor that puts everything in one place. An editor. Terminal. CSS. Files. With Coda 2, we went beyond expectations. With loads of new, much-requested features, a few surprises... Read more

This Week at 148Apps: June 29-July 3, 20...
Into July With 148Apps How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the... | Read more »
Sonic Runners Guide
Despite its flaws, Sonic Runners' platforming action is actually quite fun. Though it can be a little more complicated than old-school Sonic games. Here's how to make sure you're up to speed when jumping in. [Read more] | Read more »
Rage of Bahamut is Giving Almost All of...
The App Store isn't what it used to be back in 2012, so it's not unexpected to see some games changing their structures with the times. Now we can add Rage of Bahamut to that list with the recent announcement that the game is severely cutting back... | Read more »
Adventures of Pip (Games)
Adventures of Pip 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** ONE WEEK ONLY — 66% OFF! *** “Adventures of Pip is a delightful little platformer full of charm, challenge and impeccable... | Read more »
Divide By Sheep - Tips, Tricks, and Stre...
Who would have thought splitting up sheep could be so involved? Anyone who’s played Divide by Sheep, that’s who! While we’re not about to give you complete solutions to everything (because that’s just cheating), we will happily give you some... | Read more »
NaturalMotion and Zynga Have Started Tea...
An official sequel to 2012's CSR Racing is officially on the way, with Zynga and NaturalMotion releasing a short teaser trailer to get everyone excited. Well, as excited as one can get from a trailer with no gameplay footage, anyway. [Read more] | Read more »
Grab a Friend and Pick up Overkill 3, Be...
Overkill 3 is a pretty enjoyable third-person shooter that was sort of begging for some online multiplayer. Fortunately the begging can stop, because its newest update has added an online co-op mode. [Read more] | Read more »
Scanner Pro's Newest Update Adds Au...
Scanner Pro is one of the most popular document scanning apps on iOS, thanks in no small part to its near-constant updates, I'm sure. Now we're up to update number six, and it adds some pretty handy new features. [Read more] | Read more »
Heroki (Games)
Heroki 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $7.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: CLEAR THE SKIES FOR A NEW HERO!The peaceful sky village of Levantia is in danger! The dastardly Dr. N. Forchin and his accomplice,... | Read more »
Wars of the Roses (Games)
Wars of the Roses 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple refurbished Mac minis available startin...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off... Read more
College Student Deals: Additional $100 off Ma...
Take an additional $100 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through August 8, 2015. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take... Read more
Sky Atlas Star Walk 2 App For iPhone And iPa...
Vito Technology, developer of educational apps for Android and iOS, is for a limited time offering free of charge their Star Walk 2, the next generation of the company’s best-selling stargazing guide... Read more
13-inch 1.6GHz MacBook Air on sale for $849,...
Amazon has the 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849.99 including free shipping. Their price is $150 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
Adorama has the 13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Updated Mac Price Trackers
We’ve updated our Mac Price Trackers with the latest information on prices, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers: - 15″ MacBook Pros - 13″ MacBook... Read more
15-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has new 2015 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $225 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1819 $180 off - 15″ 2.5GHz Retina... Read more
RamDisk4Mac App Helps Run Your Mac Faster And...
Ever use a RAM disk? If you’ve come to the Mac in the OS X era, likely not. The Classic Mac OS had a RAM disk function built-in, but that was dropped in the conversion to OS X. What is a RAM disk?... Read more
13-inch 1.6GHz MacBook Air on sale for $849,...
Best Buy has the 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849.99 on their online store this weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders... Read more
Apple Refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $380 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac – $1949 $... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
Senior Payments Security Manager - *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple , Inc. is looking for a highly motivated, innovative and hands-on senior payments security manager to join the Apple Pay security team. You will Read more
Sr. Technical Services Consultant, *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple Professional Services (APS) has an opening for a senior technical position that contributes to Apple 's efforts for strategic and transactional Read more
Sr. Payment Program Manager, *Apple* Pay -...
**Job Summary** Apple Pay is an exciting environment and a…devices in a simple, private and secure way. The Apple Pay Team is looking for an experienced Senior Read more
Project Manager - *Apple* Pay Security - Ap...
**Job Summary** The Apple Pay Security team is seeking a highly organized, results-driven Project Manager to drive the development of Apple Pay Security. If you are Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.