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From the Editor, August 2008

Volume Number: 24 (2008)
Issue Number: 08
Column Tag: Editorial

From the Editor, August 2008

Welcome to MacTech's first issue since WWDC 2008, where we can report on...nothing! That's right, WWDC promised us a new release of Mac OS X with no new features! Of course, that's far from true: there's plenty in the Snow Leopard release debuted at WWDC. Unfortunately, all of the really juicy stuff was presented outside of the keynote and is under NDA. The keynote was all about the iPhone, the hardware and the upcoming software SDK. Both of which will be released by the time you get this in print. Interestingly, the new hardware hasn't necessarily prompted pure lust for the latest and abandonment of the original model. Many people are simply going to hang on to their rev. 1 device. Others I know are going to sell it off - sometimes at a profit! Finally, many iPhone devs I know are going to buy a 3G unit, but keep their rev. 1 model for, you guessed it, development.

What about Mac OS X? Enough of the details are publically available on Apple's Snow Leopard page (http://www.apple.com/macosx/snowleopard/). Apple's Open Computing Language (OpenCL) will be a huge boon to anyone writing computationally intensive software. OpenCL allows a developer to easily take advantage of the computing power available on the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) of the video card, or cards, available in each machine. GPUs are tuned for different types of computations than CPUs, but make no mistake: when running an optimized computation, they are thousands of times faster than a CPU. Modern CPUs are good at branching - code that needs to make decisions. GPUs are good at taking a block of code and running straight ahead with it. Combine the two, and there's a powerful platform. I'm looking forward to seeing a mini-Cray by topping out a MacPro with RAM and GPUs. I'm also looking forward to Apple outright owning scientific computing thanks to this development.

Also of interest is QuickTime X. Think about this for a minute: QuickTime was rewritten for the iPhone. Now, that version is being ported to desktop OS X. That's pretty awesome. QuickTime X is being touted as being light and fast. It's a ground up rewrite, so, I'm sure it is. More importantly, it's a ground up rewrite. Unfortunately, QuickTime has been a source of security issues for Apple and OS X. It's Apple's Internet Explorer. QuickTime is an old framework at this point, and a rewrite makes a lot of sense. There's likely tons of code that can just go away.

Finally, WebKit has been swirling around my head lately. A lot. When Apple first announced its use of KHTML and the creation of WebKit, I thought, "oh, nice. Good for Apple - they'll have one more piece of the puzzle." I did not think that the adoption of WebKit would be what it is now. Naturally, developers on Mac OS X can incorporate the use of WebKit into their own applications (like Entourage 2008 does). Safari (WebKit) runs on Windows now, too. Don't forget, though, that WebKit is open source. A new browser named Opus Palladianum, designed for security (http://www.tech.com/securebrowser.html) will be leveraging WebKit. Google's Android smart phone OS is using WebKit (http://webkit.org/blog/142/android-uses-webkit/). Yahoo's Messenger renders IM conversations using WebKit. Even text editors like BBEdit and TextMate rely on WebKit somewhere. The list goes on at length. You should be reading the Surfin Safari blog (http://webkit.org/blog), using the nightly builds (http://nightly.webkit.org), and reporting bugs.

This month's content revolves around backup, and I'm thrilled to have long time Mac author Joe Kissell guide us through an important topic: creating a backup policy. More often than not, backup systems and schedules are chosen without truly defining the assets being protected and matching system needs to that of the organization being protected. Henri Stushak writes about Lbackup, open source backup program. Lastly on the backup front, I review two Take Control titles that serve two different beginning audiences implementing backup.

In addition to the other great content this month, please check out the MacTech Spotlight featuring Andy Lee. Andy is a "part-time" Cocoa developer. He's also the author of AppKiDo, an application that other developers love. It goes to show how you can get involved in OS X development and have an impact no matter if it's your day job or not. How are you getting involved?

Ed Marczak,

Executive Editor

 

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