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closets and apple

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Still cleaning out the closet. I've got three more eBay items to spam here.

If you haven't seen Pat's new spherical maze, check it out. It's seriously cool. I could think of a dozen games that could use this.

The Java project is pretty-much over for me except for some bug-fixing and training. I'll give you a link to it once the thing's online. Outwardly, it's not overly impressive, so don't expect to be blown away by it. Most of the interesting stuff is behind the scenes.

Thought I'd relate my two cents on the Ars Technica link about Aqua that I posted a few days ago.

For the most part, I think that the author is right on. As far as the OS itself goes, Mac OS X is a lot more like Windows NT than it is different. The real magic of the new OS seems to be the PDF-based screen-display subsystem, and it'll be interesting to see if it's a trend that goes elsewhere.

I, for one, would like to see somebody come up with a cross-platform and cross-language display subsystem that is robust and could be applied to various OS's. That way, graphically-intensive applications could still use the native windowing system for stuff like dialog boxes and controls, but the calls to draw stuff to the screen could be done in a cross-platform way. Apple and Microsoft had a good start with TrueType, creating a robust, good-looking, and cross-platform specification for text, but they should've taken the next step. Java2D is also an excellent technology that appears, on the surface, to have all the strengths or the Aqua graphics model, but it is Java-only.

While it wasn't addressed in the article, my only complaint with the whole model Apple has come up with is their handling of legacy apps. Old MacOS apps run in a sort of weird protection-box that is a bit like OS/2's full-screen Windows compatibility box, but has a transparent background so that it will appear that old and new MacOS apps are running side-by-side (which'll look good for magazine screen-shots). While I understand Apple not wanting to relegate legacy MacOS apps to their own separate screen-space, like the current Windows-emulators on Mac do, their model is going to prove to be nothing but confusing in actual use.

IMHO, if you're gonna do some kind of emulation and you can't make it completely transparent (like running Win16 apps on NT), it's probably better just to give the old apps their own screen-space.

I don't envy Apple. They've now got four completely different kinds of apps they are supporting with OS X:

  • "Cocoa" apps - Applications written to the OO NeXTStep Framework (Objective C or Java)
  • "Carbon" apps - Applications using an API similar to the old MacOS API, but with a slew of useless legacy calls removed
  • "Classic" PowerMac apps - Old MacOS apps from 7.x on
  • "Classic" 680x0 apps - dunno if MacOS X is gonna support this, but the current PowerMac OS still supports 680x0 apps from MacOS 7.0 and later

As an analogy, imagine if Windows NT had to still support not only 16-bit Windows 3.x apps, but also 16-bit OS/2 apps and 8-bit Windows 1.x and 2.x apps. It's quite a nightmare.

While I don't envy Apple, I think it's a problem they brought on themselves. They had a good 32-bit OS working three years ago with Copeland, but they dumped it in favor of spending a half-bil on Steve Jobs, owner of a company that made an OS that:

  • Had an almost nonexistent application base
  • Works best with a computer language that never caught on and would be difficult to convince developers to use
  • Did not run on Apple's machines, but ran on most of their competitors machines

Gotta hand it to Apple. They survived some colossal blunders that would've killed a dozen lesser companies.
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