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Planned Obsolescence is Evil

You know which wires you can cut, which boxes you can remove.

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VANCE PACKARD spelled it all out years ago. How the Big Wheels of Detroit met in secret in the Wild West to discuss and hopefully solve a common problem.

Their automobiles were too good.

Those Big Wheels solved it by introducing something called 'planned obsolescence'.

'Planned obsolescence' is a bit of a euphemism. What it means is you convince people that things they've bought are outdated and need to be replaced when in fact they're nothing of the kind.

The Big Wheels introduced new alloys to be used in automobile chassis so they'd corrode faster. They also ordered their leading automotive engineers to research ways to help bring about cracks in engine blocks - after which some three dozen leading researchers from multiple companies resigned together in protest.

Volvo and Toyota crept into the market in the US. Volvo had ads with farmers who'd had their cars for over twenty years. And so forth. Detroit countered by accusing those who bought 'foreign' of being traitors. And so forth.

Planned obsolescence is found almost everywhere today in commercial markets. Planned obsolescence thrives at Apple.

Don't Upset the  Cart

Following are screenshots from the new Spike from Rixstep. Spike is a network utility bundle, created first for Windows to offer a stark contrast to the crap out there.


That sucker - with all the features it has - weighs in at an amazing 13 KB. That's KILOBYTES, not megabytes. That's how it's done.

Spike for OS X is bigger because the architecture demands it, but it's very lean and mean by fanboy standards - unsurpassed even. 44940 for its binary, 164 KB for its bundle. (Yes, this is a YUGE difference, but compare with other things out there for Apple's OS - you won't find anything comparable.)

Spike for OS X is not as pretty as Spike for Windows because, for once, Microsoft has better doodads than Apple. (Yes. True.) You can see screenshots of Spike for OS X here.


Apple's Plan

Apple introduced a sort of Trojan Horse with their OS update 10.14. They called it 'Dark Mode'.

Those who remember will remember that Microsoft Windows, at least as far back as the 16-bit version 3.1, offered themes as well as the ability to set the colours for most all screen widgets, from scroll bars to title bars to everything.

Not so Steve Jobs, not so Apple. The Steve Jobs and Apple marketing approach is to divine ahead of time what consumers will like, and then force it on them until they embrace it.

OS X went from pinstripe horizontal lines (which were ergonomically sensible) to slippery smooth grey interfaces to... They change the appearance all the time. All commercial OS vendors do. But Apple stand pretty much alone in not allowing any user configuration beyond that.

Then came Dark Mode.

As with almost everything graphic, Apple's Dark Mode was sophisticated beyond what Microsoft or the Linux also-rans were capable of. Studying the gradients under a 'Zoom' application shows this. Hats off to Apple. Again.

But there was more to Dark Mode than a theme change. Dark Mode introduced radically changed APIs. You couldn't get a satisfactory Dark Mode rendition if you didn't bend and twist your application to those new APIs.

With some 74 applications in this category, Rixstep stood before a challenging task. Those 74 applications weren't all of the same category, but ran the gamut of most everything a computer is to be capable of, using widgets and other interface elements that also run the gamut.

After several months and considerable time and effort, most of those 74 made the leap. A few lagged behind, deemed hopeless at the time.

Some of those have been visited again, such as the phenomenal Xframe which finally made the leap only a few weeks ago.

Another that's been revisited, with somewhat different results, is Spike. Here are a few screenshots for Rixstep's Spike for Apple's Dark Mode.

Even with Dark Mode, Spike for OS X still can't match up to the original Spike for Windows: the widgets just aren't there. But it does look sexier than the old standard 'white' ('Light Mode') Spike. So what's wrong?

What's wrong is in the underlying network stack.

Apple mucked about in the innards of the OS as they were supposed to be creating Dark Mode. This is hardly new. They do this all the time. They did it with their notification system, prompting Rixstep to retool several long-standing applications from the ground up. They did it with their file management core and so many other things, effectively pulling the rug on many long-standing third-party titles. Suddenly background tasks popped up in their Dock, and so forth. Rixstep's CLIX is relegated to 'white' to this day for that reason - and it's a recurring blooper on Apple's part, and the situation is adjudged to be hopeless, as Apple systems development itself is hopeless.

The underlying logic to Spike has not changed. It's the same code that's run without a hitch for twenty years on OS X, and several years before that on Windows. It's standard sockets code. (It's not the kind of lame thing used by Apple with their 'Network Utility', discreetly buried now in 'System/Library' probably out of embarrassment, and no one at Apple wants to touch the sorry thing.) Spike is real code.

It's the underlying network stack in Apple's latest OS iterations that's screwing up.

Do Apple's own software titles work OK? Of course! They'd see that right away and would fix it if they could.

But does anyone at Apple care if they break anything else? No. That's another 'of course'. No one at Apple cares about breaking anything. They don't see, they don't look, they don't care.

Third party is not relevant to them anyway - unless you get too good, in which case they'll destroy you, eclipse you, fold you into their latest plan for obsolescence.

You rip apart the innards. You know which wires you can cut, which boxes you can remove. Your own stuff, of course. The rest can go its own way. If some things get ruined, that's all for the good. No one at Apple really likes third-party anyway. An Apple OS is not a platform - it's a hermetically sealed gadget from the planet Groovy.


See Also
Spike/Spike7: When a Tool's No Longer a Toy

About Rixstep

Stockholm/London-based Rixstep are a constellation of programmers and support staff from Radsoft Laboratories who tired of Windows vulnerabilities, Linux driver issues, and cursing x86 hardware all day long. Rixstep have many years of experience behind their efforts, with teaching and consulting credentials from the likes of British Aerospace, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Lloyds TSB, SAAB Defence Systems, British Broadcasting Corporation, Barclays Bank, IBM, Microsoft, and Sony/Ericsson.

Rixstep and Radsoft products are or have been in use by Sweden's Royal Mail, Sony/Ericsson, the US Department of Defense, the offices of the US Supreme Court, the Government of Western Australia, the German Federal Police, Verizon Wireless, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Microsoft Corporation, the New York Times, Apple Inc, Oxford University, and hundreds of research institutes around the globe. See here.

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