TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jun 00 Factory Floor

Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 6
Column Tag: From the Factory Floor

A Chat with Quinn "The Eskimo!"

By Quinn "The Eskimo!" and Richard Atwell, ©2000 by Metrowerks, Inc., all rights reserved

This months Factory Floor interview brings us back to Apple again for a visit with Quinn "The Eskimo!", co-creator of Internet Config. Quinn works in Developer Technical Support and took time out from helping us all write better code to sit down and talk about his world.

Richard: Who are you?

Quinn: Ah, a deeply metaphysical question, but for the moment I'll field it literally. I am Quinn "The Eskimo!" I do have a first name but I haven't used it for about 20 years. The epithet "The Eskimo!" is from an old Bob Dylan song, since covered by Manfred Mann amongst others. Listen to the words closely; it's a lot of fun.

Richard: Where are you from?

Quinn: Another deep question. I was born in Kenya and my folks are English. I grew up in Perth, Western Australia, and I'm now living in California. Perth is a big city (more than a million people) but by American standards it's very isolated. My friends and I often say that the definition of isolated is that if you travel for a thousand kilometers in any direction from Perth, the nearest big city is... Perth. Because of this isolation, the Mac developers are a close knit group. I was very active in two areas of the community; namely, Mac developers and university support staff. There's not a lot of shrink-wrapped software development in Perth, so there was a large overlap between the groups.

Richard: What did you do after school?

Quinn: My first job after graduating was at the Computer Science department at The University of Western Australia <http://www.cs.uwa.edu.au/>. I spent a third of my time running the network, another third running the student Macintosh laboratory, and the rest programming. It was a great place to learn about the Macintosh. I handled both the user and developer side of things. And writing lab management tools is an excellent introduction to the underbelly of Mac OS!

Richard: What are your responsibilities in Developer Technical Support (DTS)?

Quinn: Since late 1995 I've been working at Apple in the Networking, Communications and Hardware group of DTS. During the day I answer developer questions, code samples and write technotes. I also review documentation, firefight, provide feedback to engineering, go to kitchens, and so on. It's a very diverse job, which keeps me from getting bored. I would find spending all day cooped up in my office coding for a single project a drag.

When I joined DTS I was cast into the role of "Open Transport guy", somewhat harrowing given that I had never programmed for either MacTCP or OT before. Hey, I knew people who had programmed for MacTCP, but I didn't actually do it myself! Since then I've supported OT through its (and Apple's) ups and downs. OT work is still a large chunk of my job, although I also support mass storage, external file systems, virtual memory, driver services, and so on.

Right now my day job is to support these existing technologies while gearing up for Mac OS X. In my spare time I'm working on a cool little tool called SystemFolderDiff <ftp://ftp.quinn.echidna.id.au/Others/Quinn/Development/>. Actually, I've been distracted from that by "MoreOSL", a C framework for implementing AppleScriptability in an application. It's a much harder job than I thought, so the code will eventually end up as a DTS sample.

Richard: You're famous for being one of the co-creators of Internet Config.

Quinn: Mostly I'm famous for being friends with Peter N. Lewis. Peter, myself, and a mutual friend (Marcus Jager), were all friends in high school and then we went on to university together. After finishing our degrees, Peter started working on his shareware business (at first after-hours, and now full-time <http://www.stairways.com/>) and I helped him out with miscellanea — like keeping his user interface honest, editing the documentation, and so on — in my spare time. The only major collaboration between Peter and I was through Internet Config <http://www.quinn.echidna.id.au/Quinn/Config/>. That project has a long history all to itself and I still have trouble groking that I've been working on it for over six years! It's great to make something that helps both users and developers. Another fortuitous outcome of the Internet Config project was that it raised my visibility sufficiently, so much so that Apple decided to hire me into DTS.

Richard: They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Was Internet Config conceived that way?

Quinn: Yes. It all started with a discussion on comp.sys.mac.comm sometime in mid-1994. Basically everyone was sick of having to enter the same Internet preferences into a gazillion (yes, that is the technical term!) Internet applications. This was particularly irksome for me because I didn't use Netscape as my web browser. In the days before Internet Explorer there was MacWeb and I got really tired of having to change the default preferences in every application that wanted to launch URLs, and then reapply the change on each new machine and also every time I reinstalled system software.

The newsgroup discussion quickly got out of hand (as they are apt to do) so Peter N. Lewis created a mailing list and he unilaterally subscribed all participants to the mailing list. The time we switched everyone over was midday, Oz time, so the US folks got a shock when they showed up to work the next day and found hundreds of messages from a mailing list to which they'd never subscribed! Fortunately we didn't get too many flame-o-grams.

The recipient list reads like a Who's Who of early Mac Internet types. With so much talent, there were bound to be some contentious issues. Should the system support multiple users? Should the system support layered preferences (e.g. a user layer above an application layer above a global layer)? Should the system be an extension?

Peter and I had a strong opinion on all of these topics. We wanted to keep it simple while allowing for future expansion, so we answered no, no, and yes to the above questions. To cut short the discussion, we designed a strawman API and posted it to the list. After incorporating some feedback, we set off to implement the API.

The actual coding of the extension took very little time, probably a week or so of part-time work. The original plan was for Peter and I to write the extension while another developer did the user interface. After months of waiting for a UI, we eventually caved in and wrote that as well.

It's interesting to examine the core design decisions with six years of hindsight.

The lack of multiple user support was a problem, but I eventually retrofitted "sets" into IC 2.0 (Mac OS 8.5). Afterwards, Apple introduced Multiple Users (Mac OS 9.0) which provided another solution to this problem.

I still believe that layered preferences are too hard for users to understand and believe we made the right choice by not including them in IC.

I'm very happy that we shipped IC as an extension rather than a statically linked library. It has allowed us to update the system easily; a facility we've used extensively over the years.

I'm very disappointed by the fact that I failed to think clearly about international issues in the original IC design. For example, we should have had a clear policy regarding international-friendly text in preferences like the email signature.

For a further read about the rationale and the implementation details of IC 1.0, read my article in develop magazine. <http://developer.apple.com/dev/techsupport/develop/issue23/quinn.html>

Richard: How difficult was it to get authors of shareware networking programs to adopt IC?

Quinn: With a few exceptions, convincing developers to adopt IC was surprisingly easy. Mind you, we made numerous design decisions that smoothed the path. Our basic goal was to give developers no excuse to ignore the technology.

We started with a critical mass of Internet developers from the mailing list on our side.

IC was simple enough for both users and developers to understand. IC was usable from all the popular development environments. IC APIs could be used with or without having the Internet Config Extension installed. IC supported System 6. In fact, the first version without System 6 support (IC 2.0) was released in June 1998!

We offered individual support to key players to promote adoption.

Richard: Why did you choose to release IC into the public domain?

Quinn: IC source code was put into the public domain so that, if Peter and I were killed in a 747 accident over the Pacific on the way to WWDC, another developer could pick up the development. This also helped to alleviate any fears of the technology being orphaned.

Richard: What have been the most recent Internet Config developments?

Quinn: The big news for Internet Config is its integration into Carbon. Universal Interfaces now includes "InternetConfig.h"! On traditional Mac OS, CarbonLib 1.0.2 provides glue that calls through to the existing Internet Config Extension. On Mac OS X, Apple will provide a re-implementation of the API based on CFPreferences. This gets me off the hook for future Internet Config development, which is a relief. It was fun while it lasted, but our mission was always to get Apple to adopt the technology.

Richard: Now that IC is part of Carbon, what will happen to the IC Programmer's Kit? Is there a new version planned? Quinn: Before Apple decided to adopt IC as part of Carbon, I had finished the core code for IC 2.5, which included full Carbon support for traditional Mac OS (and some limited support on Mac OS X). Given Apple's decision to support IC in Carbon, I've had to revise my plan.

I do intend to ship a new IC that fits in with this new world order and will probably still call it 2.5. In the meantime, I would recommend that developers just use the interfaces and libraries from UI 3.3.1.

Richard: Can you tell us what about anything new regarding networking?

Quinn: In the networking space, Apple has made much progress over the last year but much of it is hard to see. Open Transport 2.5 includes many internal changes that should allow us to deliver new features more quickly.

The next year promises to be very interesting for Apple followers. It's time for Mac OS X to start delivering on its promises so it should be exciting to watch and participate in.

Richard: I know you're a staunch Pascal developer. How strong is the Pascal movement in the Mac developer community these days?

Quinn: I wish that I had some hard numbers on this, but alas I don't. Moreover, I'm not really at large in the Mac development community these days (DTS keeps me plenty busy with my real job!) so I don't even have a rough feeling for this. I can tell you that I'm regularly called in to consult on Pascal issues for Apple. For example, I've helped a number of significant developers move their large legacy Pascal source bases to Carbon.

Richard: How much longer can we expect Apple to provide support in their APIs?

Quinn: As a current employee, I can't comment on the future of the Pascal interfaces. I can say that the current situation for Pascal interfaces is pretty good. Apple creates the Universal Interfaces from an internal representation (something that looks like a C header file, but isn't) using a custom tool. This tool outputs C, Rez, Asm, and Pascal headers automatically. As long as this system is maintained, Pascal interfaces can be easily generated by flipping a switch.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Google Earth 7.1.8.3036 - View and contr...
Google Earth gives you a wealth of imagery and geographic information. Explore destinations like Maui and Paris, or browse content from Wikipedia, National Geographic, and more. Google Earth combines... Read more
QuickBooks 16.1.11.1556 R12 - Financial...
QuickBooks helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track money going in and out of your business, and spot areas where you can save. Built for... Read more
Google Earth 7.1.8.3036 - View and contr...
Google Earth gives you a wealth of imagery and geographic information. Explore destinations like Maui and Paris, or browse content from Wikipedia, National Geographic, and more. Google Earth combines... Read more
QuickBooks 16.1.11.1556 R12 - Financial...
QuickBooks helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track money going in and out of your business, and spot areas where you can save. Built for... Read more
FileZilla 3.24.0 - Fast and reliable FTP...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.24.0: New The context menu for remote file search... Read more
Bookends 12.7.8 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.8.3 - 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 detects... Read more
BusyContacts 1.1.6 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
MarsEdit 3.7.10 - Quick and convenient b...
MarsEdit is a blog editor for OS X that makes editing your blog like writing email, with spell-checking, drafts, multiple windows, and even AppleScript support. It works with with most blog services... Read more
BusyCal 3.1.4 - Powerful calendar app wi...
BusyCal is an award-winning desktop calendar that combines personal productivity features for individuals with powerful calendar sharing capabilities for families and workgroups. Its unique features... Read more

Super Mario Run dashes onto Android in M...
Super Mario Run was one of the biggest mobile launches in 2016 before it was met with a lukewarm response by many. While the game itself plays a treat, it's pretty hard to swallow the steep price for the full game. With that said, Android users... | Read more »
WarFriends Beginner's Guide: How to...
Chillingo's new game, WarFriends, is finally available world wide, and so far it's a refreshing change from common mobile game trends. The game's a mix of tower defense, third person shooter, and collectible card game. There's a lot to unpack here... | Read more »
Super Gridland (Entertainment)
Super Gridland 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Entertainment Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Match. Build. Survive. "exquisitely tuned" - Rock Paper Shotgun No in-app purches, and no ads! | Read more »
Red's Kingdom (Games)
Red's Kingdom 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Mad King Mac has kidnapped your father and stolen your golden nut! Solve puzzles and battle goons as you explore and battle your... | Read more »
Turbo League Guide: How to tame the cont...
| Read more »
Fire Emblem: Heroes coming to Google Pla...
Nintendo gave us our first look at Fire Emblem: Heroes, the upcoming mobile Fire Emblem game the company hinted at last year. Revealed at the Fire Emblem Direct event held today, the game will condense the series' tactical RPG combat into bite-... | Read more »
ReSlice (Music)
ReSlice 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Audio Slice Machine Slice your audio samples with ReSlice and create flexible musical atoms which can be triggered by MIDI notes or... | Read more »
Stickman Surfer rides in with the tide t...
Stickson is back and this time he's taken up yet another extreme sport - surfing. Stickman Surfer is out this Thursday on both iOS and Android, so if you've been following the other Stickman adventures, you might be interested in picking this one... | Read more »
Z-Exemplar (Games)
Z-Exemplar 1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.4 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
5 dastardly difficult roguelikes like th...
Edmund McMillen's popular roguelike creation The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has finally crawled onto mobile devices. It's a grotesque dual-stick shooter that tosses you into an endless, procedurally generated basement as you, the pitiable Isaac,... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Twelve South Releases RelaxedLeather Cases fo...
Inspired by the laid-back luxury of burnished leather boots and crafted in rich tones of taupe, herb and marsala, RelaxedLeather cases deliver smart, easy protection for the iPhone 7. Each genuine... Read more
Week’s Best Deal: New 2016 13-inch 2.0GHz Mac...
Amazon has the new 2016 13″ 2.0GHz non-Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for a limited time for $225 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro, Space Gray (MLL42LL/A): $1274.99 $225 off... Read more
Back in stock: Apple refurbished Mac minis fr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 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 MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Apple Ranked ‘Most Intimate Brand’
The top ranked ‘”intimate” brands continued to outperform the S&P and Fortune 500 indices in revenue and profit over the past 10 years, according to MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2017 Report, the largest... Read more
B-Eng introduces SSD Health Check for Mac OS
Fehraltorf, Switzerland based independant Swiss company- B-Eng has announced the release and immediate availability of SSD Health Check 1.0, the company’s new hard drive utility for Mac OS X. As the... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free: -... Read more
4-core 3.7GHz Mac Pro on sale for $2290, save...
Guitar Center has the 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro (MD253LL/A) on sale for $2289.97 including free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Their price is a $710 savings over standard MSRP for... Read more
128GB Apple iPad Air 2, refurbished, availabl...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 128GB iPad Air 2s WiFis available for $419 including free shipping. That’s an $80 savings over standard MSRP for this model. A standard Apple one-year warranty is... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina Apple MacBook Pro on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro (MF839LL/A): $... Read more
Laptop Market – Flight To Quality? – The ‘Boo...
Preliminary quarterly PC shipments data released by Gartner Inc. last week reveal an interesting disparity between sales performance of major name PC vendors as opposed to that of less well-known... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* macOS Systems Integration Administra...
…most exceptional support available in the industry. SCI is seeking an Junior Apple macOS systems integration administrator that will be responsible for providing Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Deer Pa...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Technician - nfrastructure (United S...
Let’s Work Together Apple Technician This position is based in Portland, ME Life at nfrastructure At nfrastructure, we understand that our success results from our Read more
*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**467692BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Location Number:** 000602-Columbia MO-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Mobile Master Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.