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Tangible Risk for Luser Confusion

A tangible risk that's very tangible.

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What a way to respond to criticism. What a way to respond to bug reports.

Hush hush on the bugs please. Yes yes we're breaking things for no good reason but please oh please keep your voice down. File your bugs here. Get our official reply and after that you're contractually muzzled. You may not this and you may not that.

You may nothing. We're more comfortable with that. Thanks.

Get a ticket number. Get told your report is a duplicate and is being merged with another ticket number. Which means the original report is a year old or more. And still not fixed.

Do you want any more info on your bug? Such as what progress has been made in fixing it? You know what the acronym 'SOL' means?

You can write and inquire. You might get a reply. But otherwise you're out of the loop, dude. And any input you might have contributed is lost forever.

From now on your bug will be handled by someone else. Who represents but one POV. And who - together with the engineers - may or may not be able to fix the same bug you reported.

It's rough work sitting in bug reporting for Apple. And the wonder of it is that almost everyone has the same high opinion of this crew. They're top drawer. They're a breed apart. But they're very much apart.

It's an almost thankless job. Filter mail in front of a monitor all day long. Try to sort the reports, try to find who might be able to answer the query, get the answer back, write back to the person reporting, and so forth. Keep track of it all in that maze of a database of yours.

Those reporting bugs are namely given no contact with the people responsible for creating them.

And that actually stands to reason. There are no restrictions on who can submit bug reports other than one must join the ADC. And there are no restrictions on who may join the ADC. You don't have to send a facsimile of a rocket science degree from Los Alamos.

The number of people reporting bugs who actually know what's going on and have a hint of a clue what's creating the bugs can be very limited. The bug reporting team have to suss all this out. They have to - by trial and error presumably - find the right team to send the report to.

Now try to imagine what a workday in that job would be like. Want to switch jobs already?

Programmers lead a gilded life. That's one of the attractions. No ambitions to be superrich - just leave them alone to tinker and play with the things they love the most. Isolation and protection. A lot of leeway for being oneself and for having a lot of fun too.

It might not be suited for all but for those it suits it suits them well. Optimally.

Now converge this with an overbearing management and incessant complaints from disgruntled customers. And figure this: most conscionable programmers won't deliberately introduce bugs. Some programmers do of course - but they're hopefully the exception and are soon weeded out and sent to helpful career counselors.

And some are of course more gifted than others.

But all things being ideal and equal it's not the programmers who create the situations that result in the showering downpour of issues that should never have been.

One year ago Microsoft delayed the release of their new operating system and skipped the gold rush of the 2006 holiday market. They could have rushed things a bit more and made it in time. It's hard to say. People weren't exactly overjoyed with the product when they finally got to see it at the end of January 2007.

But with all the trillions at their disposal you'd think they could have made it - and what would be the sudden onslaught of ethics that encouraged them to not release a half baked product and then promise service packs?

A year later and most pundits and their aunties are agreed Microsoft have at long last had it. And now comes the new holiday rush and guess who's alone on the playing field?

So unfortunate then that so many pundits feel the Cupertino product is in approximately the same shape as Redmond's.

People poised. Sitting on the proverbial fence. Prepared to make a hardware upgrade. Now they don't know what to do. Long time Windoze lusers almost ready to leave the pack. And now they read what's being written about Apple's Leopard.

A quick primer. Certainly not the first.

  • Most of what you read here is - relatively speaking - rocket science.
  • Issues that matter here are not the same issues that matter to you. Nor of the same magnitude.
  • A wobbly Leopard capable of crashing several times a day and of letting in trojans and viruses and signing up for botnets is still no worse than anything Microsoft would sell you. Except no Leopard or any product Apple are ever selling will ever crash several times a day. Or let in trojans and viruses or sign up for botnets. And you normally won't even need to purchase extra antivirus software, extra firewall software, extra silly spy hunting doodad software. It would be a waste of money.
  • Leopard OS X has an action/object oriented desktop. You've never experienced anything like it. And although you may need some time getting used to it you'll never be satisfied with anything else ever again.
  • Almost all of the hilarious 'Get a Mac' ads you've seen actually hit the nail right on the head. Almost every one of them points out a significant difference between what you have today and what you can have tomorrow.
  • People are pickier with products that are better; they're less outspoken about products for which they never consider entertaining any hope.
  • Surfing the Internet is supposed to be safe. YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE WORRIED ABOUT YOUR SAFETY ALL THE TIME. Apple and Microsoft represent two in the seams diametrically opposite worlds in this regard.

OK that's enough for now. Write through our contact page if you have any questions. But please oh please do NOT repeat NOT buy a Windows box this holiday season - it'll be another in a long line of big mistakes you'd rather you never made - and go on regretting forever.

Apple have work to do on Leopard. The foundation is good; the interior decorating still needs work. They'll get there. There's no going back now; and no matter the bug or annoyance level they're not going to gut what they've done and start anew: they're going to build on it. And that's a Good Thing™.

The first release of Leopard's ancestor was eight years ago. It was a server edition. The first release for 'personal computers' was over six years ago.

That first release - that first 'cat' - was called 'Cheetah'. It wasn't ready for prime time.

The next 'cat' came out later the same year. 'Puma' hit the market in the fall of the year 2001. By this time a lot of clued in people - and the proprietors of this website - made the switch. 'Puma' wasn't really ready for prime time either - but it was good, it was promising, and it was a breath of fresh air getting away from the Misery™ that is Microsoft.

And this last point cannot be overstated: there are no words to describe or define what the difference is. You can't appreciate it - not until you've made the switch yourself.

Then finally on 23 August 2002 - one day short of a year and five months after the first release - Apple finally got it all together. Their new cat 'Jaguar' was very convincing. All the loose odds 'n' ends were finally picked up, all the minor snags had been addressed, and the system purred like the cat it was.

But time waits for no one and nothing ever stands still. And whilst 'Jaguar' was by far the finest 32-bit personal system of its day things were already moving to an architecture double that size. Through the new releases 'Panther' and 'Tiger' Apple pushed their system - a bit at a time - into expansive 64-bit country.

Apple and NeXT 'merged' in January 2007 - over ten years ago. Apple 'acquired' NeXT's stellar platform. Steve Jobs quipped he hoped the platform would last ten years. It did: Leopard is a new platform.

The playing field is wide open. Not only don't Microsoft have anything to compete with in this holiday season - they don't have anything to compete with in the world of 64-bit computing either. And the future arrived already yesterday.

Apple have already won by default. All that remains now is to clear the rubble and tally the final score. And in the interim let Apple be about their business and fix their bugs.

And maybe in a year and five months they'll have a new Jaguar ready for market. Most likely a lot sooner.

Apple aren't the first company to ever rush something to market. Despite the recurring delays many pundits feel Microsoft still rushed. Novell once got in a lot of trouble rushing to guard their flank against David Cutler's NT. And so forth.

The Apple programmers have had a rough life of late, seeing as they've had to get the iPhone out the door and at the same time juggle Leopard code. And Apple did in fact put off Leopard's release because of their iPhone.

And yes they could have hired on more programmers even if - as the grapevine says - their leader doesn't believe in it because it never helped Microsoft. But then again few things ever seem to help Microsoft.

At the end of the day you've got two systems to choose from this holiday season. Were we to not tell you the truth we'd be failing in our mission. And were we to not qualify what we write so you don't get confused the same thing would happen. So here's how it goes down.

We've turned a lot of people onto OS X. We have customers already today who've bought our software in anticipation of their computer purchases this holiday season - we've harped on this issue for so long they finally saw the light.

They're a smart lot, a mostly IT professional lot; they understand what we write and appreciate it - and they don't get confused. You can be the same.

On the one side: a 'Wintel' machine of questionable hardware quality and with an operating system infamous for its lack of security and other assorted woes. That today has gone even further downhill.

On the other side a system sold hardware and software together. Where the hardware can be blazing. And where the software, albeit new and in need of tweaks and fixes, is truly down the right track.

As Luc Teyssier might say: 'tough decision!' And after all: It's Only a Computer™. YOUR computer.

See Also
Red Hat Diaries: No.
Hotspots: Reader Comments
Red Hat Diaries: Leopard Isn't V*STA

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