Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer Spotted at Las Vegas Wedding Chapel
Operating Systems

The Slippery Road to Being Microsoft

Any fan of computer history will delight in the cycle of dominance & decay that each 800lb gorilla experiences as their niche becomes mainstream and then gets overtaken by newer, cheaper and better stuff. Burroughs begat IBM who begat Microsoft, father of … ?

Well who’s next is a topic of much discussion. Judging by the state of my MacBook I’m beginning to think it might Apple. Here’s why. But before we begin, a disclaimer: I’m a fully paid up member of the “Steve Club”. If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s an exclusive organization where you tithe Apple $395 every month and they ship you one of everything. As my friends would phrase it, I’m one of the biggest Apple fanboys out there.

Going back a bit, I well remember turning off my IIcx in the mid 90s and delighting in how crisp and useful Windows 95 was. I was lucky to fall in love again, returning to my old friend Apple in 2002. OSX was so fresh, so young, so pure… sigh…

OSX has gone through 5 major updates since then and with a sixth on its way, and each one has got faster, bigger, fatter… and more flaky.

While it’s not inevitable that more complex == more buggy (think 747 here, it’s way more reliable and complex than 30 years ago) it’s certainly understandable. And, to a degree, pretty depressing. Which brings us back to why Apple may be turning into Microsoft.

Below is an excerpt from the console log of a freshly installed MacBook Pro that’s less than a year old running 10.5.1.

12/27/08 12:58:46 PM[2] BootCacheControl: could not open /var/db/BootCache.playlist:
12/27/08 12:58:46 PM[2] No such file or directory
12/27/08 12:58:46 PM[2] BootCacheControl: could not unlink playlist /var/db/BootCache.playlist: Unknown error: -1
12/27/08 12:59:40 PM Dock[121] _DESCRegisterDockExtraClient failed 268435459
12/27/08 1:00:50 PM[104] ([108]) Exited with exit code: 1
12/27/08 1:01:38 PM Software Update[213] arguments=(null)

That’s 19 lines of useless error messages on boot. Even after applying the 10.5.6 upgrades, you get another 23 lines:

12/27/08 1:05:39 PM SyncServer[135] Handling SIGTERM in kqueue callback from runloop
12/27/08 1:05:39 PM[104] (0x108410.rcd[240]) Exited: Terminated
12/27/08 1:05:39 PM[104] ([116]) Exited: Terminated
12/27/08 1:09:15 PM System Preferences[121] unregisterClient: Status 0
12/27/08 1:09:32 PM[76] ( Path monitoring failed on "/Users/mellis/Library/Safari": No such file or directory
12/27/08 1:13:34 PM AddressBookManager[149] Could not get Me for ABInfo 0x16c570. Object may have been deleted in another process.

Windows trained me to keep e-mail & files on the network and wipe the local computer every time it started to thrash and slow down. Cutting over to OSX meant a lot less of this initially, but over the past 6 years or so I feel once more that my machine is regularly gumming up for no apparent reason, requiring seasonal rebuilds to un-gum it.

Which brings me, finally, to my point: deploying an OS that on stock, modern, unmodified hardware throws a dozen error messages on boot is a sin, but having it throw two dozen more after you apply a year’s worth of patches totaling 700MB in size is near unforgivable.

To be fair to Apple there is some PR about Snow Leopard being a bit of a tidy up. I certainly hope so, it’s about time that error messages returned to representing a problem you had to address rather than some annoying spam that fills your error logs.


24 Carat MacBook Pro
Interesting..., Operating Systems

Bling MacBook Pro

The Reg reports you can now get your precious MacBook Pro plated in 24 carat gold! Only $5,000 extra too. Wow. Just thinking about all the fingerprints gives me a headache. And how heavy is it?