Archive for March 20, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

Parallels Desktop Lite

Rich Trouton notes that Parallels Desktop Lite is now available in the Mac App Store. This is possible because it uses the Hypervisor framework instead of kernel extensions. So it runs in the sandbox, and you get these weird little alerts—which don’t look official, but I guess they must be—that it wants access to various parts of your system, such as “EFI”.

It’s free to run Mac and Linux VMs, and there’s a $60 In-App Purchase to run Windows.

None of the limitations compared with the Standard Edition seem to affect me. It was easy to install both macOS 10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11 by dragging and dropping the installer app—no need to create a bootable installer volume. After installing the Parallels Tools, I could copy and paste back and forth with the host OS.

It feels a bit slower than VMware to me.

Previously: VMware Fusion, Parallels Desktop 9 and Parallels Access, Turning Off Ads in Parallels.

Apple’s Next Big Thing: Augmented Reality

Mark Gurman (Hacker News):

Tim Cook has talked up a lot of technologies since becoming Apple Inc.’s chief executive in 2011. Driverless cars. Artificial intelligence. Streaming television. But no technology has fired up Cook quite like augmented reality, which overlays images, video and games on the real world. Cook has likened AR’s game-changing potential to that of the smartphone. At some point, he said last year, we will all “have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you.”

The technology is cool, but I just don’t see AR glasses being useful to most people most of the time.

People with knowledge of the company’s plans say Apple has embarked on an ambitious bid to bring the technology to the masses—an effort Cook and his team see as the best way for the company to dominate the next generation of gadgetry and keep people wedded to its ecosystem.

Too bad there’s no bloody ROI in an ambitious bid to fix their bug-ridden software.

But Apple really has no choice, says Gene Munster, a founding partner at Loup Ventures who covered the company for many years as an analyst. Over time, Munster says, AR devices will replace the iPhone. “It’s something they need to do to continue to grow,” he says, “and defend against the shift in how people use hardware.”

I don’t believe that.


Pierre Lorenzi (via Stephen Hackett):

HyperCardPreview is an Mac OS X application that can display HyperCard stacks, with an look very faithful to the original. It makes the stack files alive again in the Finder with their real icons, so they don’t appear as “binaries”, and provides a QuickLook plug-in.

It can only visualize the stacks: it can’t modify them, and it can’t execute them. But it lets the user inspect the stacks, backgrounds, cards, buttons and fields, see theirs scripts and get their text contents.

It’s written in Swift, without using any deprecated APIs.

Building a Hackintosh Pro

Dan Counsell (tweet, Hacker News):

If Apple made a mini tower that was upgradable and could take a full sized graphics card (or two), I’d have purchased it in a heartbeat. However, they don’t. There’s no doubt that Apple has a refresh for the desktop market in the works, I just don’t know if it’s going to be enough to satisfy the creative market who seem to be slowly migrating to Windows.


Building a Hackintosh is not for everybody. It’s not a simple process, there is an overwhelming number of parts to choose from, and on top of this you need to pick the ones that are compatible. When you’ve built the machine you need to get macOS running on it, it’s not a quick process. If you want to do it, do your research and take your time. I’d probably say this build took me around 8 hours from unboxing the components to getting macOS installed.

I’ve been running this machine for a couple of weeks now and I couldn’t be happier. It’s super fast and I can easily switch between Mac and Windows. I’ve switched off auto-updates in Sierra. While system updates should work just fine, I prefer to hold off until the community over at tonymacx86 have confirmed there are no issues. This is probably one of the major drawbacks to running a Hackintosh.

Michael Rockwell:

The performance this machine was able to achieve, at the price he paid, is staggering. On single-core tasks, it’s faster than any Mac Apple currently sells and, if you forgo all the bells and whistles, it can be built for about $1,800.

Previously: Video Pros Moving From Mac to Windows for High-End GPUs, Building My $1,200 Hackintosh.

Update (2017-03-20): See also: Stephen Hackett, Kirk McElhearn.

Update (2017-03-22): Dave Mark:

Have your heart set on a speedy new Mac Pro? Given that nothing appears to be on the horizon from Apple, your best bet is to build your own Hackintosh.


I’d also make your way through both of the Dan case studies above just to get a sense of the process and, most importantly, to understand the caveats that come with building a Hackintosh.

Update (2017-05-06): Joshua Nozzi:

I was considering a desktop. I didn’t want to wait (and pay premium prices) for Apple’s promised “sometime in a year or so” modular Mac Pro. I also didn’t want to spend a shit-ton of money on a still-highly-valued used Mac Pro from 2013 with specs easily outdone by a modern PC for half the price. So I “innovated” (by copying instructions read by more enterprising individuals.

Update (2018-08-16): Martin Hering (via Aaron Pressman):

After Apple showed us the future of professional hardware with the iMac Pro, I was fed up with the situation and I started to investigate the possibility of building my own Hackintosh. Putting all the hardware together was the easy part, making macOS work was tough, but I did it.

Looking back on 7 months working with, it I don’t regret it at all. I was able to put 2 extra SSDs and 2 extra big hard disks into it (imagine how fast Time Machine is), added a beefy graphics card and recently installed a Blackmagic DeckLink SDI 4K PCIe card. And all that internally in an unobtrusive tower case that sits under my desk and hides the bulk of cables inside it. PCIe… I can’t really understand, why Apple really has NO hardware in its line up that supports adding PCIe cards. There is so much great hardware available on the market that is inaccessable to Macintosh customers. Boggles my mind.

Complexity and Strategy in Microsoft Office

Terry Crowley (via Simon Willison):

Unfortunately, [FrontPage’s] Preview view ended up being a gift that kept on giving. The complexity it introduced had nothing to do with any failure in the initial programming of the feature. The challenges were that as we added new functionality, Preview required special consideration — additional specification — about how it should behave and interact with these new features.


When the Word team went to estimate the cost of these features, they came back with estimates that were many times larger than PowerPoint’s estimates. Some of this cost was because the PowerPoint code architecture was better structured to add these types of visual features. But the bulk of the growth in estimates was because Word’s feature set interacted in ways that made the specification (and hence the implementation) more complex and more costly.


What I found is that advocates for these new technologies tended to confuse the productivity benefits of working on a small code base (small N essential complexity due to fewer feature interactions and small N cost for features that scale with size of codebase) with the benefits of the new technology itself — efforts using a new technology inherently start small so the benefits get conflated.


The framework typically fails to evolve along the path required by the product — which leads to the general advice “you ship it, you own it”. This means that you eventually pay for all that code that lifted your initial productivity. So “free code” tends to be “free as in puppy” rather than “free as in beer”.


In fact, it was clear that [Google Docs was] using an asymmetric technical attack of leveraging their simplicity to deliver sharing and co-editing features. These features were clearly differentiated and would be immensely hard to deliver on top of the existing highly functional (large N) Office apps. As we started building the web apps, we needed to decide whether we were going to “walk away” from our own complexity like we had when we developed OneNote or embrace the existing complexity, with the costs and constraints that that would imply for future development.