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Big Sur Morlocks

'Don't stand there like fatted cattle - answer me!'

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Funny, innit.

Apple's new underground conference centre's underground.

Just like the Morlocks.

And they're in lockdown now, Apple. And Tim's donating something like $100 million of the Apple fortune to Apple Lives Matter. Or something. His good deed of the day.

But whatever. Check this out.


Once you start that video, you'll see small tick marks on the timeline controls at the bottom, small notches. Hover over them and you'll see tooltips that tell you what part of the presentation they're in. Their OS X finally gets attention a little more than half way through. It's brief but informative. Alan Dye helped take over after Jony Ive left the building, and he makes it clear how dependent they all are on OS X - they need it to make the stuff that brings in the big Apple bucks.

Which of course makes you wonder. For with all the constraints of their totalitarian walled garden, how can they possibly get any work done?

The answer probably lies in the aspect of what work they're doing.

They're not breaking out of the envelope, they're not going where no fanboy's gone before, they're not venturing out on new ground. Their entire development environment - the Jabba of IDEs, Xcode, with its half million files on disk - is built like a tiny part of an elaborate assembly line. Here you go, son. Just put this do-thingie here, then plug this contact in here, and pull the lever. There you go! Contrast this if you want with the original Interface Builder where you'll see how open things were back then, with the entire desktop open to your disposal, where the sky was the limit, where there was no sky. And no Morlocks either.

That factory - that assembly line - has to run at full capacity. They don't want you to actually invent anything, of course. They, Apple, do the inventing around here, Tim you very much. Try to get inventive and they'll crush you. Like they did with Dan Wood. And Konfabulator. And anyone who tries to preempt their platform for their own uses. BAM, they'll make sure you disappear.

It is the role, the duty even, of an OS vendor to provide the best possible environment for developer and user alike. That role predicates stability - and not just stability with the current version, but stability over time. Application software that worked yesterday must also work tomorrow. The OS vendor's role is to provide the stable environment where such things are possible. That's how it works, that's how it's always worked, that's how it'll always work, with one notable exception.


Greed does something to people. Apple, the perennial also-ran, suddenly turned up on top. They invented the smartphone. And overnight they were market leader in a market where they were the only player. They invented the market.

New players came fast enough - toss enough plumbers pipe at it and you can achieve anything - but, through astute marketing and brutal price scheming, Apple could maintain a financial superiority even if they lost their market dominance to others. Apple fanboys will pay anything for their shiny devices.

Under the leadership of Sur Tim, Apple have created the ultimate cocoon. Just follow them down the stairs into their subterranean caverns. They might not eat you alive. Just trust them. Bring your credit card. And your willpower. And your discretion. Surrender to them. Trust them. They have your best interests at heart. They really do.

Were Apple to really care about preserving their environment for developer and user alike, then yesterday's software would run brilliantly on tomorrow's systems and hardware. Were Apple to do that, you wouldn't find the word 'DEPRECATED' splattered all over their API documentation.

Things got so bad there for a while that Ali Ozer, the guy who once invented TextEdit for NeXT, took to an Apple stage to declare that he was deprecating macro definitions that were only a few months old. They'd thought twice about the word order.

IBM mainframe software that ran fifty years ago will most likely run even today. The biggest crisis in mainframes happened back when the Millennium Bug was a big deal - because COBOL usually used only two EBCDIC characters for the year in WORKING STORAGE.

Microsoft MS-DOS (and IBM PC-DOS) software that ran 40 years ago will most likely run even today. Both companies went to great pains to preserve the interrupt vector table in Page Zero that had been used by Gary Kildall for his CP/M.

Microsoft Windows software that ran 20-30 years ago will most likely run even today. And FreeBSD/Linux software using Gnome and KDE will most likely do the same. All because the aim of all these people, all these projects, is to provide and preserve the best possible environment that's stable over time.

Sur Tim's only goal is to fleece you. To take more and more of your money. Tim does it with a smile. He's looking out for you. He's really fucking you over. But he'll never say that. No one at Apple will ever say that.

There's a distinct difference between Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. Steve Jobs may have been an asshole, and in fact himself thought of himself as an asshole, and he may have been a ruthless businessman, prepared to fuck over his best friend Steve Wozniak for a few hundred dollars if he could, but Steve had an obsession with gadgets. He loved them. Money took a back seat to the devices themselves. He was always demonstratively moved by them. You saw it at his keynotes. His fascination and obsessions were contagious. Steve was a tech freak.

Not so with Tim. Tim sees one thing only. Tim has X-Ray vision. When he sees you for the first time, he finds out immediately where your wallet is and begins plotting how to liberate it for his own pleasure. Tim is not obsessed with technology. He's gone on record to say that he, personally, cannot understand why anyone would own a computer. Computers? That's a developer thing, as Alan Dye said. They need computers at Apple in order to keep making the shit that really sells. That simple truth seems to have escaped Dame Tim.

Tim's good at making money. Steve was good at amassing a personal fortune, but nobody beats Tim at turning Apple into a corporate predator. You as an Apple customer will be treated well. Louis Rossmann will continue to point to the black cats in the Matrix, but most people won't see them. Tim will make you feel at ease. He wants your money again and again.

Nobody in the history of computing science beats Apple at fucking customers over. That sounds like a contradiction, but it's not. Nobody beats Apple at pulling the rug out from under existing software. Certainly there are occasional crises like this in the history of computing science - DEC offered a few choice examples - but no one goes after it with the zeal and blood hunger like Apple. Third-party development is welcome, but only to a limited extent. Don't get too good, don't get too big.

IBM used to be good at this too. They built their systems with way too many internal modules. If a competitor came along with a better product, IBM would just change their internal interfaces, put the competitor in a panic, drop their own prices to make the competitor sweat a little, then buy out the competitor for a song when things finally went tits up. And then revert to their original internal interfaces if they wanted. They got all that good new technology for free. The competitor was in the poorhouse.

Apple won't encounter competition like that. You can't run Rohm hardware on an Apple platform. Apple's concern is in software development.

You are not allowed to shame Apple. Apple's offerings are not always 'best of breed', and you can find cracks in their enamel, but you can't bring attention to those cracks. The Apple garden has no walls - it's a garden.

You're free to wander anywhere you like in that garden. In Seahaven. Just ask Truman Burbank.

What a lovely existence. Just don't look for the exits.

Creativity is dead at Apple. Apple can offer creativity - more accurately defined as the never-ending ambition to instantiate planned obsolescence over and over again - but no one outside Apple may come with ideas of their own. No one. Sit down at your Mac. Fire up Xcode. Create a new playground. Never mind that the technologies you use are wasteful. That's part of the plan. Follow the instructions. Use their new programming language Swift - it's great! Far better than that obtuse C or the offshoot Objective-C, both of which almost require you to be a computer scientist! Stick to Swift. Anybody can program with Swift - anybody! Especially minorities like women. They can do great with it!

Somewhere in the bowels of the earth, lost in the dark caverns immediately underneath the Walled Garden, a few select - and almost obsolete - so-called 'engineers' sit and toil in obscurity. It's their job to tinker with the Atlas of the Apple OS family. They work on new processor architectures. They go into the API vaults and rip stuff out almost at random. Legacy gets vandalised. There are no qualms. Apple can hire on flunkies who can deal with their own software that gets broken. Some titles, like FileMerge, may not make it, but there aren't many exceptions. And in the general rush of consumer hysteria that follows any major announcement, things like that won't get much notice.

It's all cool. Welcome to Big Sur.

But take a quick look down the list of grand things Apple did for you with Big Sur. Did they respect continuity? Does yesterday's hardware still work? How about yesterday's applications? Given that most third-party houses work with less than a tiny handful of titles of their own - given that they're not a threat to Apple - then they'll fare OK. You got one lone application that lots of people like? Does that application in any way compete with Apple or does it bring attention to an embarrassing shortcoming on Apple's part? No? Then you're OK. And your welfare is Apple's welfare. For now. And they'll help you. They'll be told, through the rank and file, that they should help you.

Heaven help you if that's not the case, of course. For they'll crush you. Even as Tim loudly broadcasts what a wonderful person he is, what a wonderful company he runs.

Believe it. Just believe it. You'll be happier if you do.

Remember: there are no walls surrounding this garden. You're completely free.


'Don't stand there like fatted cattle - answer me!'

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