Still at it, down here on planet Earth. Rockin’ and rollin’, right past my 10,000th day. Like I said earlier, I hit 10,000 days old on June 11th. Not fuckin’ bad, man. That’s quite a few days. I didn’t really have a party, but I did what I wanted to do; what more can I say? It was a tough day, like the preceding 9,999 days, but it was also rewarding and fun.
Now, how about a complete topic shift. Two things in the news lately, that have become linked in my brain somehow: Michael Jackson’s acquittal from child molestation charges, and Apple’s decision to move to Intel processors and abandon (presumably) the IBM/Freescale PowerPC. What do these seemlingly unrelated events have in common? Well, they’re both twisted and hard to understand initially. But if we look closer, we’ll see why they are reality when a more “sane” reality could’ve persisted.
So how much does justice cost? That’s a slanted question. Justice doesn’t cost much at all if your opponent is poor. The government is not poor, and Michael may be bankrupt, but in this case, having the best defense lawyers around can make all the difference. They wisely attacked the holes in the government’s story and smeared the credibility of the accusers over the wall like a fat mosquito on your arm in autumn. Let’s hope he didn’t really do it.
But would you let your kids sleepover?
Okay, next: Apple deciding to up quit the PowerPC for some weak-ass Intel shit. What were they thinking? Well, it sounds like they were thinking, which is actually pretty surprising for a corporation (in this case I think we can give props to Steve Jobs). They’ve had Mac OS X ported to Intel’s x86 processors since Day 1! Now they have a technology that should allow people to run their old PowerPC software on Intel, via Rosetta. And they’ve kept this all underwraps (codename: Marklar) for 5 years. Damn…. That’s pretty impressive.
Longterm strategic thinking is not easy to do in the computer industry; things change so fast, it’s hard to count on anything. But The x86 line of processors has been around for over 20 years and they completely dominates the personal computer playing field. Personally, I think the x86 line has too much baggage, but I think Intel finally got a clue after driving the Pentium 4 into a (very hot) wall. Apparently they can’t get any decent yields over 4 GHz. They spent too much time playing into the megahertz-based marketing. Bigger numbers are better right? Well, not always. The 2.7 GHz PowerPC can toast the 3.8 GHz Pentium 4 in many tasks. Chip design is important. But it sounds like Intel has a great chip in the Pentium M, a continuation of the Pentium III line.
Since Apple has been planning this awhile — and practicing, with the transistion to the PowerPC in the first place, and the recent Mac OS X transition. When Steve Jobs named his post-Apple company NeXT, he wasn’t fucking around, was he? He had the vision for where the Mac would go long ago, and his recent moves have simply married NeXT-based technology with the Mac’s traditional ease of use. Only now he’s making a frontal assault on Microsoft.
What’s that, you say? How can a company with 3% of the market take on a behemoth (with over 90%) like Microsoft? Well, first you start by making a vastly superior product, which Apple has done with OS X. Second, you get buzz on your side while the giant is attacked from every single angle, and stupidly tries to engage each attacker as he comes, losing momentum when the next strikes. Microsoft is under siege and their next generation operating system, Longhorn, is looking like a total disaster. They over-promised on its features, and now they’ve been hemorrhaging features ever since, while simultaneously pushing back the release date. XP was released back in 2001, amazingly, and Longhorn won’t be here for a year and a half — minimum. Could be longer. Well, that gives Apple enough time (it’s a huge amount of time in the computer world) to complete a transition that is terrifyingly bold. Jobs is betting the company on this one. He’s got the iPod, but the Mac is hugely important to Apple’s long term success. If the transition goes badly, he’s screwed.
Still, I think the movement is brilliant, but it does sever many advantages they’ve had. But I think they’re counting on people hacking OS X to run on regular PCs. It will actually help to spread the OS and solidify their marketshare. People want to try a new OS before they fork over a ton of cash for Apple’s hardware. But once they do they will get the advantage of running one box with both Mac OS and Windows on it; each running natively at full speed on the same processor (but not at the same time, of course). Apple won’t try to prevent people from installing Windows. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they started including 2 hard drives in their boxes to facillitate dual-booting. Once they do this people will have the chance to compare each OS side by side, and that’s not a comparison Bill Gates wants to make. He’s always relied on marketing and promised to add upteen million new features to each new version. But now the feature-bloat has caught up to him, along with the relics of old OS, hidden like the bones of a small mammal in your closet. DOS lurks deep within Windows (check the properties box for the old school DOS filename), complicating things while Bill tries to leap into the future. But he’s always been a follower anyway. He’ll wait for the Steve to make his move before striking back. Microsoft will need a corporate enema before he does so, though. From all accounts, the company is not its former self. It’s giant with cancerous gland problems.
Anyway, enough ranting. I’m just interested to see how this plays out. I think it really matters; history books will speak of it. Apple and Microsoft have vastly different cultures and values, and the decisions they make now will affect our world for years to come, for good or ill. Let’s hope we, the customers win out.