Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Core Rot at Apple

Lloyd Chambers:

Over the past few years a semi-conscious unease has been steadily growing in my mind: OS X is not getting more reliable and more stable, it is instead developing more and nastier problems that range from interference with getting work done to potential data loss.

We can quibble over the details—for example, I like Mission Control—but I agree with the general sense that something is going wrong with the development of the OS. There have been improvements in some areas, but it seems like technical debt is accumulating and Apple is shipping more stuff that’s half-baked.

Update (2013-02-11): He’s posted some reader comments.

Update (2013-02-27): Gene Steinberg interviewed Chambers about Core Rot on his podcast.

8 Comments

[...] Link. If not for iCloud I’d have said ML was a step forward. Alas, iCloud. by jgordon on January 23, 2013  •  Permalink Posted in share Tagged pinboard [...]

As always, Snow Leopard speaks on the topic. The greatest of all time...

I think that article is pure rubbish. My first thought was "hyperbole much?" My second thought was that he sure does have an awesome set of rose colored glasses to completely forget how every release of OS X has had its issues over the years.

Is ML perfect? Of course not, but it is better than anything else out there now,or in the past, including SL. People have short memories.

"My second thought was that he sure does have an awesome set of rose colored glasses to completely forget how every release of OS X has had its issues over the years ... People have short memories."

I have a reasonably long memory, but I don't even need to use my memory. I'm happily still on Snowy, and what are these "issues" of which you speak? Seems absolutely rock solid on multiple machines to me, and has for years. Everything works, unlike what follows. No unhappy surprises, unlike what follows. Much easier to GTD than the half-baked OS's that follow it.

Reliability is incredibly important. A solid foundation for 3rd party developers is important. A sensible workflow for GTD is important. Opinions on the shape of the Earth may differ, but issues like this are easier to determine.

"My first thought was "hyperbole much?"

No. Hyperbole would be to say that 10.2 was better than 10.8. That's not really true. But any sane non-dev would take 10.5, or 10.6 over the following 'bad news OS's" in a minute.

@Bryan: if you use your Mac for facebook, twitter, to organize a few photos, occasionally send e-mails and play casual games, then yes, Mac OS X Lion and OS X Lion are better.

Otherwise, features such as Restoration, Restorations, iCloud or the new Finder organization views, which were supposed to increase productivity, instead ruins it for a part of the user base.

I finally upgraded one of my main machines to 10.8.2 last week (from 10.6.8), and while I think the list of bugs in the linked article are a bit bizarre (and incomplete—he repeatedly mentions network copies without discussing the network filesystem in use, or the source/target OSes/implementations), I have already compiled a list of over 20 bugs and feature regressions that bother me every day. Now to try to find the time to report them.

On the other hand, I can think of a far smaller list of feature improvements that affect my day-to-day usage. (Probably my favorite is systemwide AirPlay audio support, including volume.)

The list of apps Apple has "improved" with gimmicky but less usable, and often less capable, user interfaces continues to grow, too. Worse is that it encourages third-party developers to do the same — 1Password and VMware Fusion are two of the first that come to mind.

Good TidBITS article, with the appropriate title of How Apple Doesn't Respect Its Users. The sum-up pullquote:

Great hardware, increasingly sloppy software.

"I finally upgraded one of my main machines to 10.8.2 last week (from 10.6.8) ... I have already compiled a list of over 20 bugs and feature regressions that bother me every day. Now to try to find the time to report them."

I do hope you report them, as is proper form. But I just don't hold out much hope on their getting fixed before 20 new bugs and feature regressions are introduced. Snowy ain't the greatest of all time just cuz of Lloyd's List, which is idiosyncratic, as almost any such list will be.

"On the other hand, I can think of a far smaller list of feature improvements that affect my day-to-day usage. (Probably my favorite is systemwide AirPlay audio support, including volume.)"

Snowy + Airfoil has been giving me this capability in a flawless manner for a long time now, though I obviously have a 'receiver' Mac hooked up to my audio system, which every user isn't going to have.

"The list of apps Apple has "improved" with gimmicky but less usable, and often less capable, user interfaces continues to grow, too."

Yup. Simple lack of respect for their users who actually want to use OS X to GTD.

It's the inexcusable corruption of the Alan Kay philosophy. In the post-Snowy Cupertino, the philosophy goes:

Simple things should be simple, complex things should be impossible.

"Worse is that it encourages third-party developers to do the same"

The massive disruption to the 3rd party ecosystem post-Snowy is arguably just as bad as Cupertino's OS and app software mistakes themselves. (Arguably, because a stable and reliable OS really does trump everything else at the end of the day, IMHO.)

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