By Rick Sutcliffe

Lulled into a false sense of security by Apple’s multiple successful OS X upgrades in the past, the Spy confidently installed macOS Sierra, expecting a treat. He wishes he hadn’t, and advises anyone still using El Capitan to refrain from changing (he can’t call this an upgrade, despite the inclusion of Siri) until Apple fixes some major bugs.

The main issue facing the Spy is Sierra’s failure (even after the first update) to run several programs he relies upon big time. See, besides teaching Mathematics and Computing Science at TWU (that’s Trinity Western University, not Texas Womens University) and writing assorted books, he also teaches Bible at Aldergrove Baptist Church, and is about half way through mining for diamonds in the book of Romans (ninth year so far, now at 8:31). To this end, he depends greatly on programs such as (listing in order of basic to advanced) Online Bible Macintosh, the Olive Tree Bible Study program, and the FaithLife Logos Bible Software package.

The first of these (his simple workhorse tool) freezes when attempting a search in Sierra. Quoting from the organization’s website: “The Online Bible app is crashing due to a new method (or function) Apple has added to Sierra. To be more precise, it appears to be crashing as Sierra calls an operating system method that tries then to call into a new method (or function) that has been added to Sierra, but one that, for some unknown reason, is not yet implemented by Sierra.  We have a bug report in to Apple and hope they will correct the issue soon, but Apple is known not to directly respond to bug reports so we just have to wait as see what happens with the next release of Sierra.” They will have to wait a little longer.

One workaround is to run their Windows version under Wine, but this seems overweight to the Spy, who prefers leaner, faster, and more reliable interfaces. (It does work that way, though.)

The second, Olive Tree Bible Study, starts and most functions work, but any search for multiple words crashes the program. This does not happen in El Capitan.

BTW, the iPhone version of Olive Tree has been his main Bible reading tool for years. The interlinear Greek and ESV is rapidly becoming his go-to Bible, displacing the NIV, whose most recent revision is too interpretive and not sufficiently faithful to the words of the original to suit him. The ESV strikes a reasonable compromise between the awkward literalness of the NASB and the free-flowing but sometimes too loose renditions of the NIV. Paraphrases, though easy to read, aren’t translations, and are therefore useless for serious study.

Third, Logos Bible Software versions 6 and 7 both appear on moderate testing to run without difficulty, but this program, though having many aids for deep study, is a little less useful for quickly transferring material to documents being created under other programs.

If indeed the OS is missing a method, this would imply extreme sloppiness on the part of the programming team, as it is possible to check for the presence of such, and in a project this large, such checks ought to be required, indeed automated.

In any event, as interesting as it might be to experiment with Siri–and its deep integration into the OS and Apple’s own programs may have something to do with the errors in implementation–the Spy has reverted to El Capitan for the nonce. His paranoia (backup everything, sometimes multiply) makes that easy, as he always has two bootable partitions available, and only upgrades one at a time. So, he now uses the older one, but can still boot Sierra, apply updates as available, and await its readiness for production use. Others’ kilometerage will undoubtedly vary. Most more common programs, by all reports, seem to work.

Potential adopters should also note that Sierra only runs on 2010 and newer Macs. His old once reliable MacBook Pro 17″ machine from 2007 is out of the picture, his tower Mac Pro barely in. Besides, the former appears to have succumbed to the common partial logic board failure that afflicts many of these models on the left I/O and graphics section, preventing booting most of the time, the rest crashing it shortly after. Judging from the number of online offers to fix or sell repaired A1229 logic boards with new graphics chips, the issue is pervasive for this and similar models. Make sure the GPU chips are actually replaced with new ones, however. Some “repairs” consist only of heating the balky chip in hopes it will repair itself. This apparently gives the appearance of working–sometimes, for a while.

Apple’s second treat of recent days is the new lineup of MacBooks with the touch bar. There’s nothing revolutionary here, especially since Intel is about to supersede the CPU chip Apple used, so it’s unlikely the Spy will buy in any time soon, given his workhorse machines are a MacBook Pro 2015 and a Mac Pro 2010 tower, both of which are adequate for his current needs, though the latter may get upgraded either to a discarded trash can Mac Pro or to a new model Pro–if one is ever produced. Indeed if there is no announcement this month, expect none for another year at least, and then it could be a discontinuation.

Speaking of scary tricks and and you knew the Spy could not resist commenting, he has been lightly following the U.S. election with mixed astonishment and dismay. OTOH, we have the sorry spectacle of two great parties producing candidates such as these (these are the best in a nation of over 350 million?) and the sad expectation that one such obviously unsuitable person will soon be President. The Spy offers condolences to those south of the border, for whatever the outcome, the divisiveness of this campaign cannot soon be overcome, and could well tear the nation apart. It’s a sad day when masks of the two main candidates have been banned in some places as too scary.

Mind, the most recent Canadian election was won by the party most successful in slandering the previous government, and not so much because it convinced the electorate its policies were superior. But at least both the last and the new government here understand the necessity of free trade in a world where philosophy, culture, ideas, and economics generate borders of a kind, lines on a map are mere historical artifacts, and prosperity depends on cooperation rather than underscoring differences.

OTOH, and more a propos to the regular meat of this column, he finds it astonishing, in the wake of assorted sordid revelations about the candidates and those near them, that modern politicians do not appear to have learned three critical things about this information age.

First, there are no secrets in the information age. Anything a person has ever said, done, or posted can be retrieved and made more public. A person whose current and past actions and activities might be embarrassing if widely revealed should consider whether it is worth running for office and having all their life’s dirty laundry (and that of their family and associates) hung out for everyone to critique. Have you made racist comments, approved of someone who did, sexted youngsters, made nude photos, used dope, been convicted of fraud, murder, or evading parking tickets, said or done something incredibly stupid? Who hasn’t done at least the latter? Run for office and the whole world will know. It’s a fact of life in this era.

Second, email is not private. Email messages may transit several machines from origin to destination. The sysops at all those machines can access it, and many make a habit of keeping copies. The originating and receiving machines, even if the only ones in the process, are generally required by law or institutional policy to keep messages indefinitely. “Ah,” you say, “but I encrypt my mail.” That would delay a government agency, some spies, and a few serious hackers for a while, but they will eventually decode it–whether it traversed a private server or a government operated one.

Moreover, essentially every machine gets hacked eventually, or could be if anyone with the skills bothered. One must assume that everything ever written in an email message will eventually be made public, then decide whether running for office is worth it. Oh, and posts in a forum or Facebook page are out there forever.

Third, promises are even more public, will be remembered, and used to all a successful candidate to account. The first horrible realization for the newly elected is that they actually have to govern. Consequently, the second is that keeping all the promises made on the election campaign is politically and practically impossible. Honesty should elicit from something like: “Look, here is my political philosophy and record.

These are the kind of things I think are worth working toward for the betterment of society, but money, political cooperation, and the public’s acceptance of specifics once the ideas are fleshed out, will all mean I can only settle for a few solid achievements, and on others at best only make small progress towards my goals. Give me a chance to provide good government and I’ll do my best, and be straight with you. If that means in the end you don’t re-elect me, fine, because that’s not my goal.”

Is anyone that honest? Do people with knowledge, practical skills and integrity actually run for office? If they do, do they win? Perhaps sometimes, but may their tribe increase, because if it doesn’t, we may be witnessing the implosion of Western democracy, hastened along by the very “success” of our technology.

BTW, the Spy has never before understood why people persist in using the melting pot metaphor for society. He’s run one. With a real melting pot, the sludge rises to the top. With a real melting pot, that sludge is then skimmed off and thrown away.

–The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a. k. a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and nine alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns or Rick’s SF? Check out the Arjay blog at

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises:

The Northern Spy Home Page: http: //www. TheNorthernSpy. com
opundo : http: //opundo. com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http: //sheaves. org
WebNameHost : http: //www. WebNameHost. net
WebNameSource : http: //www. WebNameSource. net
nameman : http: //nameman. net

General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books:

Author Site: http: //www. arjay. ca
Publisher’s Site: http: //www. writers-exchange. com/Richard-Sutcliffe. html
The Fourth Civilization–Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed. ): http: //www. arjay. bc. ca/EthTech/Text/index. html

URLs for resources mentioned in this column
Online Bible:
Olive Tree:
Faithlife (Logos):