g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
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Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Thursday, January 18, 2007
20:38 - Here's one Porsche that is like a porcupine
http://rantfilms.com:80/media/reels/sr_richard_dahl/display.asp?mv=2.mov&nos=2

(top)
Brilliant stuff, especially if it's a real ad.

Via CapLion.

UPDATE: More commercial fun: there was just a Sara Lee ad that consisted of a rapid montage of people happily eating food made with Sara Lee products. And the music? The "Happy Happy Joy Joy" song, straight out of the Ren & Stimpy episode.

And that rules.

(There's even a press release.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007
17:19 - What Would Jobs Drive?
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=2966

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Ahh, I love it when I can't decide which category to file something under. In this case it's The Truth About Cars' William C. Montgomery writing a response to an article in Yahoo Finance positing that the way the domestic automakers should save themselves is by imitating Apple.

Montgomery knows his Macs; his response points are spot-on:

Apple Lesson Number 1: Revolution, not evolution

When Steve Jobs returned to ailing Apple, he cut product lines into three core offerings, cut hardware licensing agreements with third party vendors, replaced Macintosh’s Operating System and orchestrated the ouster of the company’s CEO. AFTER Jobs consolidated power, stopped the bleeding and banked some cash, the company expanded its product line. Apple was then in a position to take a chance on a “game-changing technology” like the iPod.

“GM expects the Chevrolet Volt to be a breakthrough product.” Uh, I don't think so. Although GM has no shortage of engineering expertise, GM is far too sick to realize anything even half this ambitious. Unless the company transforms itself, it will not survive to see its electric cars wean Americans from Arab oil.

Detroit’s pattern of gradual tweaks to the status quo will not rescue the languishing leviathans. They must cut or sell superfluous brands, focus product lines, restructure supply and labor contracts, and defenestrate the senior managers whose neglect drove these once great companies into the ground.

That's only the first of four bullet points. The rest are equally good.

The automakers could indeed benefit from learning the lessons Apple teaches. So could a lot of industries. The problem is that everybody always seems to misinterpret what those lessons are, thinking they "get it" when they're only halfway through their Jedi training. Which is exactly the attitude that gets them killed.

14:42 - A Temptress in a Teapot
http://www.appscout.com/2007/01/linden_labs_perhaps_unintentio.php

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This is rather amusing:

On January 3, I told you about a bit of marketing subterfuge from Linden Labs, the company behind the online virtual world SecondLife. LindenLabs, it seems, has been dupping reporters into overstating the size of SecondLife's audience. Well, they finally gave me the real number--though they didn't exactly mean to . . .

So, this week, I gave them the run-around back. I told them that if the company ever wanted to release the real size of the overall audience, we'd love to hear it, but in the meantime, we'd also be interested in the amount of time the average user spends on the service. Yesterday, they kindly supplied the amount of time the average user spends on the service--which we can quickly translate into the real size of the overall audience.

If the number of current users is 20,000 on average, that means that the total number of user hours per week is 3,360,000 (20,000 times 168, the number of total hours in a week). Divide that by 10 (the amount of time the average user spends on the service--just supplied by Linden Labs), and we know the true size of the audience: 336,000. That's less than half of what's being reported across the Web.

I've heard a fair amount about Second Life, and from a business and technical standpoint as well as a content standpoint it's like a perfect storm of combined technological marvel and horrifying train-wreck.


14:26 - Engineering for the Future
http://hivelogic.com/articles/2007/01/14/regarding-the-iphone

(top)
Dan Benjamin of Hivelogic has an interesting take on the iPhone and its technical prospects. A lot of its thesis focuses on OS X and its UNIX pedigree, and while it's basically correct, I would be remiss if I didn't quote the following and expand on it pointlessly:

To really understand why OS X on Intel (and now on the iPhone’s CPU) isn’t such a big deal, we need to consider that at the core, OS X is UNIX. It’s based on FreeBSD, a great UNIX system built (primarily) for Intel CPUs and known for rock-solid stability. This is a big part of why Macs crash so rarely these days.

You’ll notice that I mentioned (above) that FreeBSD was developed for Intel. Later, it was “ported” to work with other CPU’s as well, but its primary focus has always been Intel. I believe that this focus played a big role in why Apple selected it as the basis for OS X. I think that Apple had been planning a switch to Intel all along, biding their time. The fact that the Apple had a complete version of OS X on Intel since day one is proof of this. So is the existence of Darwin (Apple’s open source version of the OS X core operating system) for Intel.

In fact, Apple had to port FreeBSD to PowerPC before they could really get started working on OS X. It’s even possible that Mac OS X 10.0 was an Intel operating system before it ran on the existing Mac hardware of the time.

Not only is it possible, it's historical fact.

Mac OS X is not, strictly speaking, "based on FreeBSD". Nor is Darwin, really. What they are is based on OPENSTEP, the successor to NeXTSTEP, both of which were essentially wacky polygamous marriages of the BSD userland, the Mach kernel, and the NeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP libraries (now called Cocoa, and the reason why all the functions in Cocoa have "NS" prefixed to their names).

OPENSTEP was always Intel-native, though versions for SPARC, 68K, and HP PA-RISC also existed. When Apple bought NeXT, it inherited OPENSTEP in its entirety, and Mac OS X isn't so much a whole-cloth redesign of classic Mac OS as it is simply OPENSTEP with a new display layer (Quartz), a new presentation interface (Aqua), and a tacked-on Mac OS compatibility layer (Carbon). Everything else is a direct descendant of the NeXT stuff. But he's right in that the PPC and Intel versions of OS X have existed in parallel for as long as Mac OS X has existed—more than that, they've both been there since 1989.

The relationship FreeBSD has with Mac OS X, as I understand it, is that the userland structure, libraries, and code for the system binaries (which are not cross-executable) come from FreeBSD, and keep getting infused into Mac OS X in periodic merges to keep it current. (Before FreeBSD was created in the mid-90s, OPENSTEP and NeXTSTEP inherited their userlands from 4.3BSD and 4.4BSD Lite; after those branches stagnated, FreeBSD became the de facto authoritative BSD source.) But the Mach kernel and the Cocoa libraries have always been non-BSD-specific, as have a lot of the additions to the basic BSD architecture that NeXT and Apple have engineered. If you look at the UNIX Timeline at http://www.levenez.com/unix/, you'll see how closely FreeBSD and NeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP/Mac OS X are intertwined—pretty closely, but not so closely as represented in Benjamin's article.

So the upshot is that it isn't so much that Apple selected FreeBSD to be the basis of Mac OS X. It's more like NeXT selected a BSD to be a basis of NeXTSTEP, and Apple inherited that decision ten years later.

Now, of course, none of that is to diminish the significance of the overall point, which is that OS X has always had an architecture-independent streak a mile wide. Indeed, that was the whole point of OPENSTEP—it ran on everything from SPARC-based Sun boxes to Windows NT. Similarly, Cocoa and Xcode today are platform-agnostic abstractions. But the fact that you can compile a Cocoa app for Intel or PowerPC by clicking a single checkbox at compile time is not something we ought to regard as a recent innovation; rather, it's something that's been inherent in the NeXT world since day one. That's the real core of Steve Jobs' ideal world, as illustrated by how he designed NeXT. It may well be that his designs on the world of technology still mirror what he planned with NeXT: that while whole-widget engineering is still the crown jewel, it doesn't preclude the software platform from being agnostic of the hardware it runs on, so that it can take advantage of whatever gear is most suited to the task at hand.

The real key to understanding OS X—and how ostensibly quickly it came to be—is realizing just how much of the work was done back in the early 90s, in a little-known backwater software and workstation concern, laying the groundwork for some then-unguessed future company that would one day reap all the benefits of NeXT's development efforts and deploy them in everything from servers to laptops to, well, set-top boxes and phones.

How proud Steve must be.

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© Brian Tiemann