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One Word

Or perhaps two.


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One word. Or perhaps two.

It used to be called 'OS X'. Before that, to cushion the transition, it was called 'Mac OS X', even though it had nothing to do with 'Mac', and leading books on the subject took pains to point that out - that there was no relation.

But legacy users mostly took little notice, and the switchers, the group Apple management said they were most interested in, didn't have a clue anyway.

Apple's first operating system, after the '][/DOS' era and into the 'Mac' era starting in 1984, was called simply 'MacOS'. This 'MacOS' continued through version 9.2.2 in the era when Steve Jobs returned to Cupertino with Avie Tevanian in charge.

David Pogue published his books for every iteration of the new system, and he turned over the reins to a guest writer for two chapters in each book, and the guest writer explained that the new system had nothing to do with the old system. IT pros and engineers took notice, but few others did.

Those were the days of Jaguar v10.2. And Panther v10.3. And Tiger v4.0. And then we're up to the point where Jobs & Co start working in secret on their smartphone. Once the iPhone was announced, the name of the corporation changed from 'Apple Computer Inc' to 'Apple Inc', and the official name of the OS finally changed to 'OS X'. An iconic name if ever. The letter 'X' in the logos and on the distribution CDs changed over time to reflect the name of the new feline - Jaguar, Panther, Tiger. When the 'Mac' part of the name was dropped, in conjunction with the announcement of iPhone, two well known pundits sat down in front of a camera and scratched their heads trying to figure out why the change. They claimed they had no clue.

Finally, in the era of Tim Cook, 'Mac' came back. Sort of. There'd now be separate names for separate systems for separate hardware platforms - the desktop/laptop, the mobiles, the watch. When the new name for OS X was announced as 'macOS', a cheer went up from the crowd. Vindication at last - for what wasn't clear.

Where are things now?

The core operating system, whatever it's called, was not mentioned a single time during the 90 minutes that Apple execs and friends took to the stage yesterday for the 10 September 'event'. The system didn't exist.

Many pundits don't even like talking about it. iPhone's the thing. The ultimate consumer device. Computers were always too complicated anyway. Even 'Macs' were too complicated. Don't laugh, don't cringe: Sun Microsystems had long been on that path, and today Google's Chromebooks are being pimped hard - minimal systems supposedly so much safer than Windows (but with Google there's always a tradeoff).

But smartphones (what a name, the allusion is to the devices themselves and not their users) are just about right. Here people can chitchat about megapixels and new features and stuff. They don't have to worry about Unix commands. Life is easier. Fewer professional challenges.

Sales reflect this switch. Try to remember where Apple had been in the autumn of 1996. Amelio decided not to buy BeOS for a quarter billion, Steve finally came back to town, with an entourage, and the price was almost half a billion, twice as much as BeOS would have cost. And although Amelio did get things going again, and Steve was able to do even more, Apple Computer Inc still hovered close to the red ink.

Today Apple can boast of being the richest company in the United States.

Apple's base OS and accompanying hardware didn't accomplish this. A single-digit market share was all they had. Along came the iPod - and pundits predicted a 'halo effect' that would boost computer sales, but that never came about. Back then, right after the new millennium, Apple had one operating system and one MP3 Walkman.

There's a problem with iPhone's dominance, and Apple's execs are aware of it. Much like IBM execs know of their own situation. IBM ventured into personal computing to shove DEC out of the market. They succeeded. DEC made the rounds, sold off and then sold off again, and was finally gone. IBM sold off their PC division and went back to mainframes where they've always felt most at home. IBM might not be biggest anymore, but they're arguably the most stable. 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' might just as well be 'Snow White and who cares if there's anybody else' today. The mainframe market belongs to IBM.

Apple had a foot in the server market, and even a toe in the supercomputer industry, once upon a time, hitting #5 in the list of the world's top supercomputers. They had a really slick and economically viable offering for that market. But that's 'no more' today. That's all been folded up. And packed away. Today it's back to the PC market - or, rather, the smartphone market. The PC market is a 'tether'.

The company who once brought graphical interfaces mainstream: they've morphed. So can the PC disappear completely today?

Some would have it so. Tim would have it so. He's said so. His ads say so. But can it, will it? There's the rub.

Can you develop systems on an iPad with a tethered keyboard? You can't really do development on an iPhone. The theoretical day when you dictate code into a machine hasn't arrived.

'Newline. Tab. If. Left parenthesis.' A way to go yet. If ever it's done.

And that's only if those boys don't mind or even prefer working on devices like that. Perhaps they don't even like developing on laptops. They'll like the desktop machines. Some might prefer laptops, but the dudes doing the graphics - they'll want more powerful hardware. iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, Mac mini even... Apple will prefer to opt to keep their desktop line, and their laptop line even more so. Also-rans, but still and all.

Then there's the sad news about peaking iPhone sales. Nobody wants to report on waning sales. So they won't. But they'll bring in Jennifer and Reese. Spielberg can help too. They'll use their mobile devices to sell up to new products.

Computer sales count for perhaps 1/3 of all revenues at Apple. Perhaps even less today. Where are the pros who use Apple desktops and laptops? If by 'pro' you mean graphics pros, then they can still be around. Apple always excelled in that field, and their clients know it. But if you mean computer science pros? They never came. They've had twenty years and they're not interested. Apple flirted with them for a long time, and some of us flirted back, but there never was a Watership Down as many predicted and hoped. Apple had a bad reputation in the industry and no amount of Redwood City dazzle could change their minds. Both Dell and WorldCom jumped the NeXT ship when they heard of the 1996 merger. Many retailers were reluctant as well: they'd been burned when doing business with Apple.

What Michael Dell and Bernie Ebbers thought, what Best Buy thought: that's all behind us now. iPhone has been a cash cow. A Belgian Blue. Everybody wants in. And the competition came, of course. But most of those companies have other ponies to ride. Apple made the tablet they'd started on before iPhone, then they made another, and then another, and then... They're up to iPhone 11 now. With small variations. They come in lots of exciting colours. Get one of each! They're not pricier than before, despite new trade tariffs coming in December.

Catalina has every sign of being a train wreck. They can't possibly make it work as they want it to work. Spare all the details, but if they now want to seal image files as they recommended at their spring WWDC, they have:

/Applications 
JPG files:    4631
JPEG files:   1564
CAR files:     529
PDF files:    1728
PNG files:   35849
TIF files:    6528
TIFF files:   3476
/Library  
JPG files:    151
--
--
PDF files:     76
PNG files:   2508
TIF files:     83
TIFF files:   743
/System
JPG files:     125
--
CAR files:     230
PDF files:    1025
PNG files:    4243
TIF files:      95
TIFF files:   1470

Then there's the frameworks. And the bundles. With extensions 'framework', 'bundle', and other variations.

There are 1086 frameworks in /System. There are 797 bundles in /System.

The image files have to be code-signed first. Then the enclosing bundle or framework. These in turn may be part of a parent bundle or framework. If that bundle or framework has image files, they're code-signed next, then their enclosing bundle or framework are code-signed.

And so forth. Do the math.

And don't forget that the reverse process has to take place on launch (and hopefully all throughout the run). You have to read the top section header in the top binary, know what it applies to, check the 'code resources' file, see if things match at that level, then burrow down through the bundle, to subordinate bundles, to JPEGs, other image files, and so forth. All to check if an application is to be run (or continue to do so).

Yes of course Apple will have a way to make this a bit easier - for themselves. For imagine if you have a bundle that in turn contains a bundle - a common occurrence with today's monster apps - and then this latter bundle has an image file. And your graphics guru tells you the graphics file needs to be updated. Think about it.

Will they really suffer such a procedure, gauntlet, each time, to make minor changes?

You can't just update an image file and then consider it done. You have to start your code-signing all over again - from the bottom up, and including everything, so you don't break the seal. You've got seals inside seals inside seals.

You want to change a line of code in one of the source code files for one of your frameworks? You rebuild the framework as before, then the framework must be code-signed again, and the enclosing frameworks need to be code-signed again. Most of this should be automated by Xcode, but still and all. Overkill is a condescending way to put it.

Regardless if whether this is needed for every update, it's needed for product submissions, whether to a location on an internal Apple network or for external use.

Check the above stats again. It's not known if Apple will move to code-signing all image files, but they did mention JPEGs (after which we stopped watching).

Someone suggested Apple should simply check software as it first enters the system instead of checking every product as it goes out. But eliminating the middle man isn't allowed.

All of this will please your new Mistress Catalina. And no 32-bit apps either. The API deprecations are still another topic - somehow Apple never got the point with backward compatibility when they went to computer science class. They keep changing things all the time. They keep changing macro definitions even before they come into general use. Yes, they can hire on noobs to take care of those odds and ends, but every developer still has to grapple with these issues.

What emerges out of Catalina and the path of Apple is a spectre where it's obvious that the small time developer is no longer interesting and it's only the major players with (tens or hundreds of) millions in the bank who get the red carpet. Apple's ideal world is a number of independent established vendors - and nothing else. This is turning into something entirely different, something that's getting people to think different.

Or what great software products for desktops and laptops did they announce yesterday? Did they unveil any new laptop or desktop hardware?

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