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July 21, 2006

Shirt Pocket Watch: Three Tufts

From All the Candy in the World:

Dave and Zabeth lost a friend last night. Ketzl was simply love covered with fur. A big sweetie. Our thoughts are with them -- every family should be fortunate enough to have a pet like Ketzl, and every pet should be fortunate enough to have a family like D & Z.

July 05, 2006

It's All^H^H^HOnly About the Apps

Much sound and fury has ensued as a result of Mark Pilgrim's announcement that after some twenty-odd years using Macs, he's now pitching all of that and diving into Linux. There's been lots of grandstanding, the usual insightful commentary from John Gruber, posturing from various industry figures, piling on, predictions of doom for Apple, and so on and so forth.

All I can figure is that it's a slow time of year, what with school being out, people going on vacation, and of course the national holidays celebrating our self-determinant overthrow of the tyrannical government, not to mention the miserably hot and humid weather in many otherwise civilized parts of the country, so maybe some guys just wanted to stir up some buzz to keep the rest of us distracted from all that.

I find many nits to pick in this whole affair (and the coverage thereof), but frankly I feel that I'd be wasting my time picking the obvious ones. There is, however, one thing I'd like to explore, because I think it's been missed in all the drama.

Mark's current complaints seem to revolve around the behaviors and data formats implemented by the Apple-branded application software running on the Apple-branded OS running on his Apple-branded hardware. And since those bundled, replaceable applications are unsuitable for his needs, he's decided that the entire platform is unsuitable. The problem I see with this line of reasoning is that it conflates the hardware and the OS with the applications that run on them. That's an easy mistake to make, since those bundled applications are refined to the point that they integrate closely with each other and the OS, and also because they form the basis of the first-run experience for almost every Mac OS X user, new or old.

However, the applications are not the platform.

If you're switching to Linux, you're probably going to be using Thunderbird, right? So then if Apple Mail isn't doing it for you, why not just use Thunderbird on Mac OS X? If iPhoto or iMovie don't do the job, why not find an alternative that will — or better yet, make the world a better place and write your own? Whatever you end up with will still run on the OS and hardware that you've become accustomed to, with which you seem to have no real complaint, and by virtue of having chosen your own solution, you will ensure that it solves the problems you find important, in the fashion in which you believe they should be solved.

Oh, and one more thing: Mark asserts that...

I specifically chose Mail.app because I knew that it stored everything in mbox format, and that that was the oldest, most stable, safest choice for long-term preservation.

Apple Mail on Mac OS X has never used mbox for its mail storage. The data files in which message data were stored prior to 2.0 did look a lot like mbox at first glance, but fail the "mbox test" (for want of a better term) and cannot be reliably parsed without the external index.

Oh damn, looks like I picked a nit. Email clients are of personal interest to me, so of course I found the remarks about Apple Mail's data formats resonant. However, in looking at Mark's updated list of software essentials, I observe that more than half of them are already available as-is for Mac OS X, and most of the rest have OS X counterparts.

So then what's all the fuss about?

Well, it looks like it's about saving the calories:

...all I could think was how much work it would take to twiddle with the default settings, install third-party software, and hide all the commercial tie-ins so I could pretend I was in control of my own computer.

But wait. How much work did it take to install third-party software, twiddle with the default settings, and hide all the commercial tie-ins so that you could pretend that you were in control of your own computer...?