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Apple's Trend Away From Tinkering 965

Posted by Soulskill
from the hey-what's-this-do dept.
theodp writes "Having cut his programming teeth on an Apple ][e as a ten-year-old, Mark Pilgrim laments that Apple now seems to be doing everything in their power to stop his kids from finding the sense of wonder he did: 'Apple has declared war on the tinkerers of the world. With every software update, the previous generation of "jailbreaks" stop working, and people have to find new ways to break into their own computers. There won't ever be a MacsBug for the iPad. There won't be a ResEdit, or a Copy ][+ sector editor, or an iPad Peeks & Pokes Chart. And that's a real loss. Maybe not to you, but to somebody who doesn't even know it yet.'"
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Apple's Trend Away From Tinkering

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  • It's true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:15PM (#30971816)
    What makes computers great are their flexibility - it's an entire world to discover to someone young and new. Are we going to be in the insane situation where our children will need to dust off the old C64 from half a century ago just to learn the basics for themselves?

    If all you've got is locked content on locked machines, you end up with mind firmly locked shut.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:17PM (#30971830)

    But Mac OS X comes with development tools right on the install CD. How expensive (or difficult, back before bit torrent) it was to get a development environment up and running on Windows was what drove me to Linux and I'm pleased that Apple make it so easy to get programming tools on your Mac.

  • by jhoegl (638955) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:18PM (#30971834)
    For a long time I was on the fence about Apple. I liked their strong sense of making sure everything works
    But then I encountered their users, snobby idiots really. Although it was not because they used Apple, more that those with a specific profession tend to use Macs
    Recently I havent liked Apple because of their DRM and crazy control they have over their products and markets. I mean IPods that you cant change the battery in? WTF!
    Now yet another reason I dont like Apple, these guys dont seem to realize what they are doing, stagnating their own products by being jackasses about their products.
    I have distantly wanted a Mac, just to toy with it... but why? No reason anymore.
  • Another One (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daveime (1253762) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:18PM (#30971836)

    I'm someone else who cut my teeth PEEKing and POKEing on Commodore and Sinclair machines. Hell, there were even magazines with "tricks-n-tips" for useful locations and what values would create what effects. Nowadays I suspect they'd just get sued under DMCA provisions for reverse engineering :-(

    Yes, a sad time indeed.

  • Buy something else (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ed Peepers (1051144) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:21PM (#30971850)
    It was nice to be able to tinker with early Apples because there were few alternatives. But as much as I enjoy a good rant against Apple, I fail to see the problem. Buy your kids something else. Either he thinks the latest Apple SHINY is more important than his child's opportunity to get under the hood or he doesn't, and there are (or soon will be) numerous alternatives that are not as tightly locked. Life is about decisions and trade-offs.
  • Evolution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Lawrence (1733598) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:21PM (#30971852) Homepage

    I think this is just a natural evolutionary process for most new technology. When personal computers were new, they were mainly purchased and used by hobbyists. Now they are mainstream and most people just want to use them to get things done, they don't care how or why they work. Cars were the same when they were first introduced. You had to know how to tinker just to keep them working. Now cars are everwhere and they are computerized and automated so much, it's hard to do the kind of tinkering that used to be common.

    It's sad to see things change, but there will always be room for those who like to tinker. We still have Linux and *BSD, after all. I love my Mac, but sometimes it's nice to play around with Linux.

  • by mozumder (178398) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:21PM (#30971860)

    They just separate that audience and give them OS X. Let them play with the iPad through the SDK on it, instead of on the iPad itself.

    iPads are meant for people that DON'T care about computers, but about real world activity.

    It's something hackers could learn from Apple: how to make a massively technical device usable.

  • by TwineLogic (1679802) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:24PM (#30971892)
    That was the spirit Steve and Woz began with: empower the hacker.

    Why is Woz not in charge of his own high-power company? The world is not fair, I suppose.
  • by DesScorp (410532) <.DesScorp. .at. .Gmail.com.> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:25PM (#30971900) Homepage Journal

    Woz was the tinkerer, who brought the spirit of the tinkerer to Apple. Steve Jobs is the anti-tinkerer; he just wants you to shut up and buy cool looking gadgets from him on a regular schedule.

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:26PM (#30971912)

    But Mac OS X comes with development tools right on the install CD. How expensive (or difficult, back before bit torrent) it was to get a development environment up and running on Windows was what drove me to Linux and I'm pleased that Apple make it so easy to get programming tools on your Mac.

    I think the article author was making a different point than the cost / availability of developer tools:

    Apple, way back when, made it easy to get into the inner workings of its systems. They didn't try to prevent people from finding ways to do things, indeed Beagle Bros. built an entire company around that. 1984 was the epitome of what Apple was about.

    Now, Apple appears to be more ideologically aligned with the "Big Brother" than the hammer thrower. While it's not quite gotten to the "Information Purification Directives" level yet; Apple seems to be much more inclinned to ensuring things are done there way and controlling how their products can be used tahn creating really cool stuff and watching what others do with it, as they were in the Apple ][ era.

    While Job's focus and control has been critical to their success as a company; the down side is a very tight controlled ecosystem. A very successful one, and probably the right way to go; but still controlled.

  • Garage sale. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:26PM (#30971922)

    I fail to see why a kid today can't learn programming on an Apple II or a C-64 or whatever simple computer form the 80s.

  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:28PM (#30971944)
    Don't just stop there. Spread the word and let people know when you don't like a product, and why. Eventually many people starting out don't need the functionality that they're locked out of, but will in the future. At least make them aware that there are choices. I'd hate to see all computing platforms go the way of the iPhone.
  • by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@NospAm.gmail.com> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:29PM (#30971954)

    How are "making a device that can be used by anybody" and "allowing open development" mutually exclusive? I'm pretty sure Mac OSX has shown that it's not. Charging $99 for the SDK does nothing to make the device easy to use for computer idiots.

  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:29PM (#30971958)
    I've seen the prices. 'Give them OS X' is not really the correct phrase.
  • by ultramk (470198) <ultramkNO@SPAMpacbell.net> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:30PM (#30971966)

    While this is certainly true for the iPad, iPhone etc, it's really not true at all for OSX. OSX comes with a bunch of dev tools on the install disk, in a way that was not true way back when. Those kinds of utilities existed, but getting ahold of them was non-trivial for someone out in the boonies.

    The iPad isn't a general purpose computer, although it seems like it's blurring the line a bit. Certainly no reason for doom and gloom.

    I always find it a little sad when I read something like this, though. Part of the joy of those days was exploring something new and interesting, finding terra incognita... the problem is that your kids probably won't get that joy in exactly the same way, and very well may not be interested in those things at all... they are actual individuals with individual tastes and interests, not a bunch of little clones running around. It seems like every time someone goes to great lengths to recreate his precise childhood for his kids, it's just doomed to failure, just because they're kids. Unpredictable.

  • by mikefocke (64233) <[mike.focke] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:30PM (#30971968)

    in machine language...

    Few people want to play at that level any more and few need to. Most want to create really cool apps and for them access to the GUI is enough. Heck, C isn't taught in many schools any more.

    But if a kid wants to play at low level, there are $25 or less offers on the web for the computers of yore. Or they can start reading code..it isn't like lots isn't available. And even for most OSS, the docs are so much more than the manufacturers manuals were in the 60s.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:31PM (#30971982)

    In the 50's and 60's hobby electronics was a huge thing - it was common to see people tinkering in their basements. It might still exist now in some manner, but it's far, far less popular and most people just want to come back from the store with an amplifier or radio that "just works".

    It's the same with computers. We're going through the phase now where hobbyists are lamenting that they're being "locked out of their own computers", but no more than the electronic tinkerers are locked out of their consumer electronics unless they're very good with surface mount soldering and miniaturization.

    The simple fact is that 98% of people out there just want their computer to work. They don't care about getting under the hood. If it plays their youtube videos, netflix streaming content, and lets them send some emails and play the latest game they bought from Steam or Best Buy, they're happy. That's all that's needed. So a company catering to that market instead of the 1 or 2 percent who want to tinker under the hood is just good business.

    Yes, it means that the kind of computing we all grew up with in the 70's and 80's will either die or come close. But that's just the standard life cycle of technologies - it happened with radios just like it's happening now with computers. It's a mistake to extrapolate our interest to the general public, which doesn't share it. Since there are 50 or 100 of them for every one of us, they form a FAR larger market, and that is the direction things will inevitably shift over time. It's a lost cause trying to argue things like "but you're locked out of your own system!!". They don't *care* - that's not what they want out of a computer. The sooner computer nerds realize that, the easier it will be to adjust to the direction the market will be moving over time.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:31PM (#30971988) Homepage Journal

    Apple isn't out to fight people that want to 'tinker', they are just going after a different market now, the 'consumer market'. Its where the real money is to be made, and the side effect are shiny closed boxes that 'just work'.

    If you still want to 'tinker', you still can, just you do it elsewhere. Give your kid a FPGA board and some books on basic logic.

  • Re:Chill out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@NospAm.gmail.com> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:32PM (#30971996)

    I understand not reading TFA, but at least read the fucking summary. One of his issues is "With every software update, the previous generation of "jailbreaks" stop working, and people have to find new ways to break into their own computers", and I must say, I agree.

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:34PM (#30972026)

    If all you've got is locked content on locked machines, you end up with mind firmly locked shut.

    Bollocks. Bullshit. Hyperbole.

    I.T.'s loss is the rest of the world's gain. The less time people spend fucking around with irrelevant I.T. wheels the more time spent on the real problems and solutions of the world.
     

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:35PM (#30972036)

    Even Linus readily acknowledges that the world needs more than the Linux model, that the Windows and OS X can all co-exist.

    And I hear people talking all the time that OS X is a joy to program for, and not particularly hard.

    The iPod/iPhone/iPad is in the form factor that's best suited to appliance. That is, most (90+%) just want them to work. Where even the most polished desktop is too complicated for their tastes and task at hand. Shouldn't their demands be met? BTW, I'm not covering for DRM or the like which only serves the content provider -- just that the appliance view of things is really useful to some people.

    Do we complain how the Kindle or past Nokia phones are essentially closed to the average person the same way? Why is this reserved for Apple?

    Really. I taught my 45 y/o uncle how to use a computer (Windows 7), his experience to computers limited previously to ATMs. It was painful. There is so much to learn that us geeks take for granted. The computer's behavior is so seemingly arbitrary at times, as are the solutions sometimes. These people don't want a "sense of wonder", they found it in other areas already and they want to have something easy to learn and use - should they be denied entrance into the digital world because they're not geeky enough? Geez, I'm glad when I don't have to fuck around with yet another relatives beige box for once.

    I hope that the open PC never goes away. But there should be room for other solutions without the endless complaining. (And yes, the steps Apple does to clamp down their devices from the users themselves, who want to explore and not through misuse, absolutely sucks and should be called on it every step of the way).

  • Re:Garage sale. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@NospAm.gmail.com> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:36PM (#30972042)

    I fail to see why we should force kids today to pick up decades old computers to learn how to program. Sure they can do that, and there are arguably advantages to doing that, but why should they have to do that? It's like expecting teenagers to learn how to drive Model Ts before they can drive a modern car.

  • Re:It's true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by countertrolling (1585477) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:36PM (#30972056) Journal

    Inquisitive minds are a danger to authority. Best to shut it down as early as possible. No need to seek out anything. It will be provided to you on a need to know basis. Curiosity should be confronted with great suspicion. If somebody asks a question, the only proper answer is, "Why do you want to know?".

  • Re:It's true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:37PM (#30972058) Homepage

    > But then it won't be nearly as user friendly!

    It depends on the tool.

    This whole "Mac goood", "Linux baaad" idea when it comes to interfaces and usability is just mindless propaganda. Most people aren't in a position to check this for themselves because Apple is a closed off product that's not really well suited for casual exploration. You need special hardware just to run their stuff.

    So "Mac Usability" becomes a myth bolstered by fanboys that need to buy into the cult and then justify their choices.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:37PM (#30972062)

    Nobody has held the device in their hands, so only speculation on how hard it will be to hack.
    I suspect that their own ARM based CPU is going to be pretty close to the Cell PPC (IBM: Sony PS3) in terms of security.
    It looks really cool, but I'm not going to wait 3+ years to do whatever I want with it.

  • Re:It's true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultramk (470198) <ultramkNO@SPAMpacbell.net> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:38PM (#30972084)

    Well... this is one device that isn't even for sale yet. I'll start to worry when nice, open, fidgetable devices aren't completely fricking ubiquitous anymore. I mean, look around you. There have never been this many machines to hack and play with in the entire history of computing, and it's just going up from there. All this "back in my day" stuff just makes a guy sound old and crotchety, and I say this as someone who is in fact old and crotchety. I don't think anyone will be forced to dust off a C64 any time soon, my local goodwill has a stack of P4-class machines stacked outside the back door to haul off... I bet yours does too.

  • by eieken (635333) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:40PM (#30972116) Homepage
    What we should be doing is trying to get the DMCA overturned; It is the bane of the tinker. It's ironic because I'm guessing many of the people working on this stuff over at Apple got interested in computers because of the creativity they could express by hacking away at computers.

    I should say though, that Apple is not the only company in town creating hardware, I mean honestly a lot of these articles seem to make some leap at some point about how Apple is representative of all hardware manufacturers, when I think that's just not true. They create some stylish products, people buy them, and then they miss out on hacking the hardware. If people really want the option to hack the hardware, don't buy this locked down crap. It's not like Apple is the only game in town, they live off this spotlight everyone creates for them. Just get that less stylish piece of hardware that offers tons of customization and hopefully at some point Apple will have to learn what they should be doing.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:41PM (#30972120) Journal
    The real concern, broadly speaking, is what happens to the kids whose parents don't know/care.

    Empirically, a fair percentage of engineer/comp sci./science types owe their trajectory(or at least believe they do) to childhood tinkering options. Some sanctioned by their parents, some a tolerated but wholly accidental side effect of parental decisions, and some outright clandestine.

    If tinkerability is default in all computers, all children in computer owning households, whatever their parents motives/level of interest/level of information get access to it. If tinkerability is a special feature, one that you have to trade off against shiny for, a much smaller percentage of children will have access to it.

    This isn't a "OMG, the iCops are violating your rights" thing; but it could easily be the case that the rise of appliances results in a reduction of children's access to tinkering and future motivation in certain directions.

    It's like chemistry sets: If you are really motivated, you can get your hands on home chemistry stuff, no real problem. The death of the (useful) home chemistry set as a normative childhood expectation, though, has vastly reduced the number of kids who get to play with one, and quite possibly the number of kids who end up going in a scientific direction.
  • by siloko (1133863) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:46PM (#30972184)

    I.T.'s loss is the rest of the world's gain. The less time people spend fucking around with irrelevant I.T. wheels the more time spent on the real problems and solutions of the world.

    Ha ha - maybe you think that the less time people spend fucking with irrelevant democracy the more time spent on doing what they are told ;)

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:47PM (#30972202) Homepage

    The current problems with Apple goes far beyond their products
    being hostile to "tinkerers". The problem with Apple these days
    is that they are hostile to non-morons. A system need not be
    actively hostile to the power GUI users in order for it to be
    usable by the total idiots. Infact, this was supposed to be the
    whole original idea of the Macintosh.

    Nevermind "tinkering". I just want to be able to use it and connect
    to it with any device of my choosing the same way I could with a
    proper Mac.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:47PM (#30972206)

    I mean IPods that you cant change the battery in?

    ... what iPod would that be? You can change the battery in every iPod, it just takes a little effort rather than a trip to walmart for a new 'pack'. Same for the iPhone. Its certainly possible for anyone who wants to put some effort into it, and since the mass of the people buying them will just replace it before the battery is shot anyway, its really not an issue. You want a replaceable battery, if thats a required feature, buy something else. You want the iPod, and its form factor, you don't get an easy to replace battery. There IS an engineering reason to it as well you know, its not just 'because they are assholes'.

    Apple's also lowering DRM in lots of places, and as far as DRM goes, they have about the best system out there to date. Yes, you have to authorize your PC ... ONCE, and assuming it continues to function the same you'll have no problems. You could also, of course, just buy MP3s from somewhere else like Amazon.

    I have distantly wanted a Mac, just to toy with it... but why? No reason anymore.

    Why is that? Macs are still the same way there were 20 years ago from any context relating to this article. If I can run Windows 7 on my Mac, I'm pretty sure you can do just about any sort of tinkering you want. Its not like you can't run Linux on one, its clearly open to screw with however you want. Nothing has changed on the Mac.

    Whine whine, moan moan, bitch bitch, nothing to see here, move along. Don't like Apple, don't buy one. Do you bitch about not being able to modify the ECU in your car? Do you bitch about not being able to change the picture tube/lcd/plasma screen in your TV? Are you mad that you can't upgrade the firmware in your digital thermostat in your home or office?

  • Re:It's true (Score:1, Insightful)

    by chibiace (898665) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:48PM (#30972212) Journal

    not so special hardware :P

  • Re:It's true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The End Of Days (1243248) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:48PM (#30972214)

    I have a stupid question.

    Why does every single computer need to be geek friendly? Is it seriously necessary for this whining to continue every time Apple releases a product?

    Here's how it goes: the iDevices are computing as an appliance. They are not meant for you. Why do you feel the need to bitch and moan about every little thing like you are somehow entitled to everything being your way?

  • Re:Evolution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:51PM (#30972256)

    Even on the most locked-down cars available, changing the battery is a trivial operation. You would think the iPad would at least match this level of technical sophistication.

  • by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:55PM (#30972294)

    I assume by "case" you're not referring to the physical case of any Apple product made in the past decade, because those are actively designed to make working in them as hard as possible.

  • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:55PM (#30972296)

    I think the problem people are having the iPad lockdown is that it is trying to straddle appliance and full computer. The iPhone I'm fine with being an appliance. It's made around a small screen and a very particular UI to deal with that small screen. The iPad on the other hand has this large touch screen and it feels like Apple may end up holding it back by keeping it closed. Only time will tell though, when the iPhone first came out there was no 3G, web apps only, etc...

  • by foo fighter (151863) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:59PM (#30972340) Homepage

    I almost completely disagree with you. Pay $100 for the iPhone developer program and you can do whatever you want to your own iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad.

    The only thing Apple is controlling is what you can do to other people's devices. Frankly, from my point of view having to try and defend an enterprise and friends' and families' computer from malicious software, I'm very happy about this. With the developer program you can share your work with up to 100 other people anyway, so I really don't think Mr. Pilgrim has made his point.

  • by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:01PM (#30972352) Journal

    I dunno, I usually find that the people "not willing to learn the in's and out's" are the same people who aren't willing to consider Mac as an option. They want to eat their cake and have it too: they don't want a machine that is considered "easy to use" as an affront to their egos, but they don't want to spend any effort learning either.

    There is also the money thing, but often as not I'll see them drop more bucks on a noisy beige box with too-small screen than they would have spent on the "low end" apple. And although there is much more variety of PC equipment, they will inexplicably end up with slower specs than the low end apple.

    Of course it's not helped that the stores put the ram capacity on the sticker, but the ram speed is unmentioned. Or the raw clock rate of the cpu, but not the size of the last level cache.

    Anyway, my answer is usually "get the one that feels right for you" and if pressed, tell them I have a apple because of the unix (and milled aluminum case, which although fashionable, is also comfortably rigid giving it a "not a toy" feel.). Also file vault, which windows still offers no equivalent to unless you buy the ultimate extreem mega costly edition.

    If they're willing to learn the ins and outs, mac actually has a lot to offer. But if they need excel macros, Windows is the only choice: office mac doesn't have 'em. (or doesn't have vbscript or something. It's not the complete ms office product) and mac's office suite doesn't understand 'em.

  • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:02PM (#30972362)

    But then I encountered their users, snobby idiots really. Although it was not because they used Apple, more that those with a specific profession tend to use Macs

    All groups have segments that are assholes. Many linux users are the same way thinking they are elite because they can click install. There was a time in the past when linux was hard to install but not anymore.

    Recently I havent liked Apple because of their DRM and crazy control they have over their products and markets. I mean IPods that you cant change the battery in? WTF!

    Apple removed all DRM off their music awhile ago. From what I understand you can change the battery in ipods with a replacement and a butter knife.

    There are lots of things to bitch at Apple about. For example, the iPad should be more computer and less iPhone than the other way around. Moaning about their users, DRM, or a 1 button mouse (I know you didn't bring it up but all Apple rants seem to end up there) is just dumb.

  • by wfolta (603698) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:04PM (#30972382)

    Exactly. You can still get a Macbook or iMac and program to your heart's content. Download Porticus and have a couple thousand open source apps available to you.

    If someday MacOS XI woud lock down Macintosh computers, then I'd scream bloody murder. Maybe even move to Linux. But for my information appliances, so what. I'll program on something with a keyboard.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:05PM (#30972392) Homepage

    Now, Apple appears to be more ideologically aligned with the "Big Brother" than the hammer thrower. While it's not quite gotten to the "Information Purification Directives" level yet ...

    When Apple issues an update that turns a feature off, they've issued an "information purification directive.

    He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past controls the future. - Orwell

  • Re:Another One (Score:2, Insightful)

    by The End Of Days (1243248) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:05PM (#30972400)

    You know, there are still a ton of general purpose computers that allow you to do pretty much anything you want. Vastly more than there were in the Apple heyday of the summary's recollection, in fact. There are so many choices now, at such a low cost, that the opportunity for people to indulge curiosity about computing is vastly larger than it ever was before.

    In other words, this is the opposite of a sad time. Unless you feel like you are entitled to everything being exactly as you want it, but if that's the case, there will never be anything but sad times for you.

  • by Dare nMc (468959) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:08PM (#30972424)

    The only issue is that kids are excited easily to develop for something they already have access to. IE the local high-school has a robotics class where only the geeks sign up for. And a class to write a program for the iPod, that has a lot more (initial) interest. So they get everyone with a ipod wanting to do something cool with it, but then they can't load it onto their own i-pod very easy, and have to have a mac, which they don't have at home and if they do, the $99 required fee is not cheap to the kids at this school... So they are very excited for about 3 days, then get more and more disappointed and many leave. If the iPod/iPhone/iPad development was open how many of these kids would have started playing at home as well, and felt challenged to out-do their friends?
    So nothing wrong with having some open options, and some closed options, but don't pretend that a popular platform for youth being closed has a up-side.

  • Re:It's true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Progman3K (515744) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:10PM (#30972442)

    Inquisitive minds are a danger to authority. Best to shut it down as early as possible. No need to seek out anything. It will be provided to you on a need to know basis. Curiosity should be confronted with great suspicion. If somebody asks a question, the only proper answer is, "Why do you want to know?".

    Ironic that this company once ran an ad based on Orwell's 1984 where Apple decries totalitarian control.

    I fixed the problem on my Mac-mini: I installed Linux on it.

    The cat is next.

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:12PM (#30972452)

    "should they be denied entrance into the digital world because they're not geeky enough?"

    Yes. Did stupid people see the potential of computers to change the world, or did geeks?

  • Re:It's true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MikeURL (890801) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:15PM (#30972482) Journal
    Granted that tinkering is fun but it is hardly essential that it be on any particular platform. Also, in terms of learning there are literally 1000s of colleges across the US that will teach you in-depth physics, chemistry, engineering, programming etc for a reasonably modest cost.

    Suggesting that Apple's closed platform is the same as living in a repressive nation that discourages learning and inquiry is just silly. If anything laziness combined with TV is in fact the greatest threat to having a population that can think critically--not Apple or some imaginary "why do you want to know" censor.
  • by Pojut (1027544) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:16PM (#30972494) Homepage

    Isn't that a bit like saying mathematicians should stop focusing on numbers, and instead focus on "real problems"? Calling software development "irrelevant" is pretty ignorant...this stuff doesn't just put itself together (at least, not yet.)

  • Re:It's true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:18PM (#30972524)

    It's just an OS. It's not a religion, form of government, or economic system.

    I find a Mac is useful for what I do. You find linux is better for what you do. Somebody else likes Windows.

    There is no one right choice. Each of us is right.

  • by That's Unpossible! (722232) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:25PM (#30972586)

    Reading the forums alot of the apple fans don't seem to like it.

    Have you considered that people that like something tend not to storm the web and write about it? Of course everyone bitching on the forums hates it... Does that mean it won't sell really well?

    I personally love it. I'm a programmer, I work on Windows mostly, but Macs more and more. All I've wanted a tablet for is surfing the web, reading books, and things like that. I'm not trying to do EVERYTHING on this device. I think Apple has reached a very good balance. (I would have liked a front-facing camera for video chat, but other than that I like it.)

    Tens of millions of people play farmville or watch hulu and you can't do any of that on the ipad.

    Uh huh. Until Hulu switches to HTML5 video embeds and Farmville writes their app in a standard format, like JavaScript + HTML5 canvas.

    Fuck Flash.

  • by InterStellaArtois (808931) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:26PM (#30972602) Homepage
    I think this is a very realistic picture. Products will always mature towards more polished, lower-maintenance commodities - that's what the market demands. But besides stifling curiosity and education by disallowing people from tinkering with their property, the consumer loses out big-time because the manufacturers have a monopoly on maintenance and after-sales.

    To risk a car analogy, most family saloons just "go" without needing much maintenance (perhaps changing the oil every now and then, I don't drive so I could be losing my credibility here). But you can still open the hood if you want to. So the enthusiasts can tinker, fixing problems themselves and souping their vehicle up if they choose. Or you can take your car to anyone who can fix it, at any price. But the way the computing market is going would be like sealing the hood of your car shut, so only registered dealers have access. This takes away the rights of the consumer and stifles competition. Sure, most people don't want to go at the guts of their car like a necromancer, but there's a difference between having a right and choosing to exercise that right.

    Look at the printer market. Printers will not work with an ink cartridge sold by a competing manufacturer. High technology is used to achieve this, so its clearly intentional. The reasons they will give is "so we can give you the best service .... ensure quality of operation ... blah blah blah" but there's too large a financial incentive to ignore. In this case its clear the consumer loses, because the market is closed and prices will rise as a result.

    Now the printer market looks bad, but the software market is worse. Not only is it impossible to pick and choose the components to use with your own property (in cases such as Apple's censored app store), but its probably also illegal (see the DMCA).

    Today, we have (generally) two alternatives: closed or open. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, but I dread to think what the closed-source options would look like if open-source wasn't there to counter-balance it. Fortunately, the roots of computing was always very much in the "hobbyist" camp, and the market rests on this fact. But after a couple more generations of Apple-toters, a computer will be like a policeman in the palm of your hand.
  • Re:It's true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@hotmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:26PM (#30972606) Homepage

    You need special hardware just to run their stuff.

    There are... ways around this limitation. *cough* [prasys.co.cc]

    But let me tell you, it's no myth: usually Apple gets interfaces near perfect. No one beats them in that aspect. Now, don't get me wrong... I admire the free software ideal, and many Linux distros are fine-looking and quite user-friendly these days. If I couldn't run OSX, I'd not mind too much moving to Mint, for example. (Windows, on the other hand... yuck.)

  • Re:It's true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ProfMobius (1313701) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:33PM (#30972670)
    There is a difference between being geek friendly and being antigeek.

    The author is not complaining that the iPad is not geek friendly, but overtly anti geek. Apple is now trying to prevent people from tinkering with their bought hardware/software by blocking all ways of access.

    It is the same mentally as the car makers who lock down all access to the internal working of their car by way of proprietary protocols/special screw, etc.

    For this whole locking down thing, most people are not complaining that it doesn't go their way, but that some random person decided that their way is not authorized or worthy anymore and they can't walk it.

  • by Rexdude (747457) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:35PM (#30972680)

    How's Nokia closed? They don't lock down their OS the way Apple does, anyone can download the S60 SDK and write applications for it, or even just use J2ME.
    Nokia phones have been customizable for ages, even the antediluvian ones like the 3300 or 5100 from around 12-15 years ago allowed you to change ringtones and wallpapers!
    More hardcore hackers change the region product code in the firmware when they're impatient for a new firmware update that's not yet available for their country/region.

    If you ask me, Nokia shows how you can provide a consistent and easy user interface (across all their handsets, not just smartphones) for the technically challenged, yet leave the platform open enough for the power users/hackers/modders etc.

    Case in point- I have both Opera Mobile and Skyfire [skyfire.com] on my N82, even though the built in S60 browser is pretty decent. Whereas Apple blocks any application that competes with or duplicates features they provide, so you can't have a separate browser application written for the iPhone.

  • Re:It's true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cnaumann (466328) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:42PM (#30972788)

    You are right, but you missed the point.

    Apple used to be one of the most geek friendly brands out there. My Apple ][ came with schematics! How cool was that? It is a little sad that Apple has turned away from this, much in the same way that it is sad that hp has gone from a premier instrument maker to a maker of commodity PCs and peripherals. Let us old guys lament a bit.

  • Re:It's true (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:42PM (#30972794)

    It's just an OS. It's not a religion,

    Unfortunately you are wrong. For plenty of socially inept permavirgin assburgers geeks, OS choice pretty much is a religion.

  • Re:It's true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pz (113803) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:46PM (#30972828) Journal

    I have a stupid question.

    Why does every single computer need to be geek friendly? Is it seriously necessary for this whining to continue every time Apple releases a product?

    Here's how it goes: the iDevices are computing as an appliance. They are not meant for you. Why do you feel the need to bitch and moan about every little thing like you are somehow entitled to everything being your way?

    Because Apple built itself, originally, with a contrarian approach that specifically included openness and revolt against locked-down boxes.

    If IBM (well, OK, Lenovo) created a locked-down tablet, no one would blink. It would be expected.

    Apple defined itself by being entirely against that sort of corporate behavior, and is now taking flack for having slowly inched directly into the same position. They deserve all of the criticism, every single bit.

  • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:46PM (#30972830)

    Apple has a ton of awesome tools out for developers. (http://developer.apple.com/tools/). Hell they ported DTrace. There is an OpenGL profiler.

    The iPad is an appliance. It is a coffee maker, microwave, or stove. It isn't designed or meant to be tinkered. Stop trying to make it a computer.

    I wanted to get one for my mom because I know I could set it up once and be done with it.

  • Re:Chill out (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JackDW (904211) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:53PM (#30972912) Homepage

    It's sad that jailbreaking is now considered normal by so many.

    You shouldn't have to hack into a machine that you own just in order to be able to use it. It's not normal. It's not natural.

    To have to download a grey-market third party hack just so you can install Java... do you never stop and think "What the fuck am I doing?" or "Do I really have to do this?"

    I really cannot get my head around the mindset of the jailbreaker who despises the restrictions imposed by the manufacturer but still votes for those restrictions with his wallet.

    If the restrictions are so bad, why don't you just stop fighting the manufacturer, and buy something that doesn't need to be "jailbroken" in order to be useful?

  • Re:It's true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OldSoldier (168889) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:58PM (#30972960)

    Seems some form of this comment comes up every few months... Usually it's in the form of finding the best language to teach kids, "because in my time Apple Basic was right there, ready to use".

    I agree that the PARTS aren't in the SAME CONFIGURATION they were 20 years ago, but the PARTS are still all there, maybe even better. Lots of 3D engines are available for download and public tinkering and open source is going a long way to allowing people to tinker meaningfully (as opposed to just for themselves).

    What would really move this overall conversation forward is if we could identify the WEAKNESSES of the current system. Lamenting something that's lost is pointless and just plain wrong. For example:

    • Learning a programming language 20 years ago was trivial. If you owned a PC, BASIC was probably staring you right in the face. Today if you want to learn a language you gotta go hunting.
    • Finding source code today is much easier than it was 20 years ago, problem is that that source code is also MUCH larger than it was 20 years ago. Related who wants to learn SVN before they first start tinkering for their own enjoyment?
    • Tinkering with hardware is also harder today than 20 years ago. True, there are hardware kits you can buy, but perhaps the point is that you gotta buy them? You can't just play with the latent ability inside your PC first to see if hardware tinkering is something you like?

    To my sense what was in the past isn't so much lost as it is scattered to the winds. What's lost is the ability to "discover yourself" by playing. Today you can play much more meaningfully, but you gotta go hunting for the things to play with and that IMHO is what we're complaining about here. Suggestions to fix it?

  • by cnaumann (466328) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:59PM (#30972972)

    I agree with everything you say except the part about personal computers programming being more complicated today than it was in 1982. You are not remembering what a PITA programing was back in 1982. In 1982, you either programmed a personal computer in BASIC or assembly language. You didn't do anything that needed to run very fast in BASIC, and writing a useful program in assembly with 48K or RAM (if you were lucky) was not trivial. Granted, expectations were much lower back then, and yes, back then I understood the machine down to the gate level. So while computers are much, much more complex today then they were 28 years ago, I actually find them much, MUCH easier to program due to the availability of very powerful programming tools.

  • So get a N900 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vadim_t (324782) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:03PM (#30973016) Homepage

    Most awesome phone ever. Completely open, runs a very normal Linux distro, and you can "apt-get install" stuff on it.

    No jailbreaking needed, the terminal is one of the applications in the default installation, and you can install SSH.

  • access denied (Score:2, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide (124937) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:05PM (#30973040) Homepage Journal

    "should they be denied entrance into the digital world because they're not geeky enough?"

    should they be denied entrance into the medical world because they're not willing to do med school?

    should they be denied entrance into the world of classic cars because they're not willing to spend their weekends cleaning, fixing and polishing?

    should they be denied entrance into the team sports world because they're not willing to shower with other people?

    there are a lot of barriers to entry in just about everything we do. And these days the barriers to getting a windows box online and working are very very low. If you haven't been able to get yourself up yourself or pay someone to do it for you, then yes you don't really deserve to be online.

    maybe it's because I'm in silicon valley, but a homeless many gave me his email address earlier this week. I dunno if I'm supposed to give him job tips, or just chat with him or what. so the barrier to enter the digital world is not a monetary barrier, at least not in my country where impoverished people live better than the middle class of other nations.

  • by brokencomputer (695672) * on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:16PM (#30973130) Homepage Journal
    I think the point is that a lot of people just want a device to consume media on. An iPhone is too small to do so. A computer has multiple purposes. I think a lot of people only use the computer for consumption and that's where the iPad will find it's market.
  • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:18PM (#30973160)

    So? Most other cell phone makers make it EASY to write & deploy applications.

    Really? I don't have any experience developing for other cell phones, but from what I've read, until the iPhone came around developing apps for other phones was a huge PITA. Android has since come out and provided probably the most open solution, but to say that other cell phone makers made it EASY (to develop, deploy, etc...) prior to the release of the iPhone doesn't go along with what I have read. Feel free to show me different though.

  • by Dahamma (304068) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:22PM (#30973198)

    The iPad is an appliance. It is a coffee maker, microwave, or stove. It isn't designed or meant to be tinkered. Stop trying to make it a computer.

    That's an absurd analogy. The iPhone or iPad is just as easy to tinker with as any computer. Apple themselves make that point all the time. It's just the distribution that Apple is limiting, and it has nothing to do with technical issues or applicances, it has to do with money and control.

    And despite whatever bullshit excuse Jobs comes up with, that's the same reason Flash is not on the iPad/iPod. A free platform for rich application development would decimate their game sales. Reduces battery life? If that was a concern to them, they should have improved the 3G battery usage in their own software before whining about Flash. Crashing the OS? Flash has caused a lot fewer OS crashes on my computer than the basic email app on my iPhone.

    Do they have the right to sell a closed platform? Sure. Does it show they are a long way from their roots as a hobbyist's platform and company? Absolutely.

  • Re:Whiney BS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FourthAge (1377519) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:25PM (#30973218) Journal

    When Apple decides that there will be no third-party development on Mac without a $100 developer key, we will be reliably informed that this is actually a great thing because it benefits the integrity of the platform against viruses and trojans. When Apple decides that all Mac software will have to be distributed through their App Store with their approval, we will again be informed that this will help to ensure that all software for Mac is of the highest quality.

    No matter what Apple does, no matter how heavily their platforms are locked down, their users will be telling us that Mac is still a great platform for everything that anyone could possibly want to do.

    It's hard to get people to leave a cult because (1) they've invested a lot of money and time in it, (2) all their friends are still in it, and (3) they are happy. The only thing that would make them happier is if you joined too. So, stop whining and buy a Mac, I guess, because who cares about freedom anyway.

  • by John Betonschaar (178617) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:33PM (#30973296)

    To risk a car analogy, most family saloons just "go" without needing much maintenance (perhaps changing the oil every now and then, I don't drive so I could be losing my credibility here). But you can still open the hood if you want to. So the enthusiasts can tinker, fixing problems themselves and souping their vehicle up if they choose. [..] But the way the computing market is going would be like sealing the hood of your car shut, so only registered dealers have access.

    Car analogies to support statements about computers are evil, which is probably why you said 'to _risk_ a car analogy'. The car industry has actually been going the exact route of closedness and non-serviceability for which you brought it up as a counter-example. Modern cars nowadays all have electronics and computer systems that are only serviceable by brand dealers or acknowledged garages. Reading out the ECU or diagnosing why the engine runs rough isn't a matter of shorting some wires and watching how many times the warning light on the dashboard blinks anymore, like it is with old cars. It's a matter of plugging in a laptop using a proprietary connector, running certified and closed software you can't buy or download yourself. Also replacement parts are more and more only throwaway parts now, if something is broken you replace it in whole, and only dealer parts will fit. Last but not least many of the tools required or fixings are often non-standard or not meant to be undone and redone except if you have dealer-specific tools that are not available for resale.

    The fact that the whole world drives cars without complaing much about these facts, and the fact that almost no-one likes to service their own cars (yes I know some people do, I actually like fixing overhauling my cars myself) should be a good indication why a company like Apple doesn't really have a lot to lose by opening up the platform completely.

    Ontopic about the article:
    I kind of get where this guy is coming from, but I think he's exaggerating a little. First of all I don't see computers being replaced by tablets at all, and second of all the barrier to writing you're own iPad software isn't that high. There will always be computers like PC's, and there will always be software for creating new applications. Kids that really enjoy writing software with free software so much that they would want to write software that runs on a tablet like the iPad, could just work for the $99 it takes to register as an iPhone/iPad developer, in the same way they would have to save for buying an iPad or a PC.

  • Re:It's true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:37PM (#30973348) Journal
    Because America and Europe want to have an information economy. That means that the biggest export in the next few decades will be ideas, and the people generating most of them will be the people who are teenagers now. If their parents aren't geeks, buying specifically geek-friendly devices, then they will never get the opportunity to tinker and will not develop the creativity and problem solving abilities that are required for our countries to remain competitive. Instead, we'll raise a generation of epsilons in a world that only wants alphas and betas.
  • by itsdapead (734413) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:49PM (#30973488)

    While Job's focus and control has been critical to their success as a company; the down side is a very tight controlled ecosystem.

    Yet the Second Coming of Jobs has also seen the move from the black box that was Mac OS 9 (limited proprietary applescript macros or pay top dollar for a SDK) to the infinitely more tinkerable OS X (posix compliant, includes a shedload of binary & scripting languages, most of the FOSS ecosystem available via MacPorts or Fink). Its under Jobs that Apple started giving away their industrial-strength development tools free. Even the Great Satan iTunes has the decency to mirror most of its metadata in XML so your programs can get at your playlists.

    No - Apple just has two distinct ranges of products: closed "iAppliances" which are locked down to protect their core functionality and general-purpose Macs, which aren't locked down.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:57PM (#30973588)

    Consume media? As in eating disks, CDs, memory sticks?

    The use of the verb consume in the context of information is completely unwarranted. If we start to use it, then it lends credence to the idea that we have to pay every time we access information.

  • by slim (1652) <john@hart n u p.net> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:57PM (#30973590) Homepage

    If you can't afford $100/year, you don't have an iPod/iPhone/iPad anyway unless you stole it.
    This is 2010, $100 is lunch money!

    But the scenario we're talking about is, a kid has access to a device, bought for whatever reason (in Pilgrim's case, for his dad to do word processing), and to fall into hacking naturally.

    Some kids would try a few lines of BASIC on their C64, then lose interest and play games for evermore. Other kids would drift from copying BASIC from magazines, to modifying it, to writing their own from scratch, to hacking assembly.

    Nothing analogous to that is going to happen, if you have to pay $100 just to see if you like it.

  • Re:It's true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vadim_t (324782) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:57PM (#30973594) Homepage

    Do you have an open API for your HD television?

    It runs Linux actually. And there is SamyGO, which is an alternative firmware for Samsung TVs.

    Your bank ATM?

    Not sure what this even means, since the ATM isn't mine to mess with.

    There exist open banking protocols, however, like HBCI.

    Please give it a rest

    No. When I was younger, TVs would come with the schematics. That's the way I like things to be.

    It's not a computer, and it's not meant to be a computer. It's an appliance.

    It's a computer. An "appliance" is a locked down computer.

  • by node 3 (115640) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:06PM (#30973692)

    So what? Most people not only do not want to tinker with their computers, but they see it as a undesirable. They want something that just works. And when it doesn't work, you take it into Apple and they either fix it or replace it, if it's under warranty, or you go get a new one. And then back home, you plug in the replacement and it automatically reconfigures itself with all the exact same files and settings that you had before.

    Now, you may wish to tinker. That's nice. The iPad is not going to remove the ability for people to tinker with their computer. All you have to do is buy one of the countless other computers that are tinkerable. And no matter how popular the iPad becomes (very popular, trust me, most people do *not* share the geek-centered criticisms), and no matter how much the rest of the computer industry follows suit (and believe me, they won't), no matter *what*, as long as there are computers, there will be tinkerable computers. Just buy one of those.

    You, the tinkerer, will *always* be able to buy a PC that meets your needs. Why not allow everyone else the opportunity to do the same?

  • by MpVpRb (1423381) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:05PM (#30974384)

    You, the tinkerer, will *always* be able to buy a PC that meets your needs.

    I certainly hope so...but the trend is disturbing.

    The new versions of Windows restrict driver development to "approved corporations" only.

    The mass market is being herded toward "appliances".

    Gamers are switching to consoles.

    Without large sales volume, the "fully programmable" computers will be a high priced, obscure niche product.

  • by Eternal Vigilance (573501) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:11PM (#30974438)

    Ironic that this company once ran an ad based on Orwell's 1984 where Apple decries totalitarian control.

    When one understands the nature of projection, which is where we attribute to others the behaviors and characteristics we can't see or can't accept about ourselves, one then starts to be able to see expressions like Apple's famous "1984" commercial as the most revealing indicators of the character of and the most reliable predictors of the future behavior of the speaker.

    Projection isn't an occasional occurrence; it's the way the ego functions. It's always operative. Every ego-driven activity - an observation, a statement, an action - one makes is a projection.

    It's true in personal relationships (both on the low side and the high side, it's how people fight and how people fall in love) and in group relationships (read any pronouncement from any country about their enemy and one knows exactly what's true about the country making the accusation).

    The important tell is the amount of emotional energy in the statement. The amount of emotional energy, the reactivity, associated with an action or observation or statement is a measure of the energy the thing to which the speaker is reacting has within the speaker. So lots of short-term energy (e.g., a quick, visceral emotional response to something) or lots of long-term energy (a thing on which one spends one's time and energy, over and over) both reveal that the thing to which the speaker is reacting is unconscious to them internally - and thus is actually what runs them. The same statement made objectively and dispassionately indicates the speaker has a conscious awareness and acceptance of, and thus control over, that characteristic within them.

    And because human consciousness is self-similar, projection works at every scale. It's really quite beautiful.

    Some examples:

    Corporations: Google's mantra of "Don't Be Evil"

    Politics: Bush's demonization of Saddam Hussein as a "brutal dictator" who "hates freedom"

    Nations: Israel's fear that Iran wants to "wipe their enemies off the map"

    Religions: The characteristics people project onto their chosen deity (e.g., Christ's compassion and love)

    Personal: What you're thinking about the writer of this comment right now. ;-)

    Of course, knowing about projection is not only useful in understanding others, it's essential for learning the truth about and becoming responsible for oneself. (The classic mistake made when first learning about projection is to see it only in other people, and not apply it to oneself: "Ha! That idiot has no idea they're projecting!" Oooooops....)

    I'd say the nature of projection is one of the most helpful things I've ever learned, easily the equal of any of my technical education.

    The sadly amusing thing about the "1984" commercial is how much the setting resembles a Steve Jobs presentation.

    "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984'.

    Give us until 2009."

  • Re:It's true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zuperduperman (1206922) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:21PM (#30974512)

    > I'll start to worry when nice, open, fidgetable devices aren't completely fricking ubiquitous anymore

    Umm, then you should start worrying. That is the whole point. The whole reason everyone is clammoring about this is that Apple is setting a precedent here. Don't you think Microsoft would love to be able to tell you what you can and can't run on Windows? They'd be ecstatic if they could just "refuse" to let FireFox or iTunes etc. run just by saying "it doesn't meet our standards" or even worse "it competes with our own application". So why don't they? Because they could never get away with it. Even if there was no legal problem, people would go absolutely nuts and protest about it. But if Apple succeeds in creating a hugely successful device here that is totally locked down, and if they further succeed in establishing that it's perfectly ok to refuse an application on the basis that it competes with their own one then do you think other manufacturers will hold back once the general public and industry has accepted the precedent with Apple?

    If you only start worrying about this when there are no other devices left than locked down controlled ones, you will have started worrying about 10 years too late. If you care about this at all, the time to worry is *now*.

  • Re:It's true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:49PM (#30974764)

    Why do you feel the need to bitch and moan about every little thing like you are somehow entitled to everything being your way?

    Beacuse the word 'Insightful' appears next to their name when they write that stuff.

  • by captjc (453680) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:50PM (#30974776)

    I think the article's point is that a machine that only satisfies the limited number of things that a already person knows they want from a computer is a machine that suppresses those unknown urges to tinker.

    So, a device that gives the user nothing that they want would do nothing but inspire creativity? Only a very small percentage of users will ever want to write a program or tinker with a device. We are looking at one out of a hundred people on the high end, most likely way less. Creative and technical people will always be creative and use their skills and knowledge to do cool stuff. Some of them may use this device, others will refuse to touch it. The only problem is whether this will be the object of that creativity. The answer to that is, "who cares?" Now, if this device is worth hacking, someone, somewhere will hack it. If it isn't, I guarantee that in a few months, a better device will come along. Maybe it will be more open, maybe not. Either way, if it is a good device there will be a respectable community built around it, ready to take it to the next level.

    Simply put, Hackers will hack and artists will create. It is just who we are. The only flaw is thinking that everyone is artist and a hacker. Most people just want to look at a few web pages, keep a simple calendar, watch movies, and play a crappy game or two. They don't care and never will.

  • by ALeader71 (687693) <glennsnead@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:54PM (#30974798)

    Apple provides free toolsets to developers. Yes they lock out some features. Features that if opened would prevent cell carriers, content providers, etc from supporting the device. These feature lockouts allow this conversation to occur in the first place.

    For those who want to directly access the hardware, we have the *nix distros, jailbreaking, and magazines like Make. Kids will find plenty of wonder, just in different ways.

  • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @06:06PM (#30974922)

    The over one hundred thousand apps speak otherwise.

    Some examples of truly innovative apps would be welcomed. 100k apps doesn't say much when I find a bunch of 'flip a coin' apps or flashlight apps or the typical example of fart apps. Those I would say are safe apps and thats' what is mostly in the store. GV is a great example of an innovative app/service that was thrown out of the store.

    I also love how Apple basically ripped off the 'classics' app guy, but that's another story.

  • by Udigs (1072138) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @06:07PM (#30974928)
    Dtrace? Terminal? The reality is that you can do SO MUCH MORE tinkering in OSX than you ever could. Ever used OS9? Black box magic. OSX, by comparison, is like a playground....
  • by isilrion (814117) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @06:10PM (#30974950)

    You, the tinkerer, will *always* be able to buy a PC that meets your needs. Why not allow everyone else the opportunity to do the same?

    And how I being able to tinker with /my/ device deprives you of your opportunity to not tinker with /your/ identical device?

    And no matter how popular the iPad becomes (very popular, trust me, most people do *not* share the geek-centered criticisms)

    And yes, that's exactly the problem. If it becomes very popular, then we geeks won't be able to "play" with the popular devices. I doubt may would bother if it were a useless piece of crap. Are you telling us that we can't play with our devices, unless we get a less popular/functional one, because you don't want to or know how to play with yours?

  • by toriver (11308) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @06:25PM (#30975064)

    VS Express cannot be used for Windows Mobile development; you need the $300+ version for that. At least according to Microsoft.

    And sure you can get the student version after some checking that you actually are a student, but you cannot then use what you build with it for any other purpose than those related to your education.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @06:50PM (#30975310)

    I'd like to see something like HyperCard on the iPad. Remember HyperCard? It's what made the Mac "the computer for the rest of us". But Steve Jobs has killed it. (Yes, some folks blame it on that Zoomracks jerk, but Apple could, and should, have fought that rotten patent.)

    Today, there's no real difference in functionality between a Mac and a Windows PC, or ftm, a Linux one. None has any end-user programmability that doesn't require significant education/training.

  • by bigtrike (904535) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @06:53PM (#30975354)

    Flash kills the battery life on my laptop. You can always tell when a simple flash animation is loaded because the browser's CPU usage goes up to 90% and the fans spin up to their highest speed. Browser crashes are far more likely on pages with flash. Safari even has its own special error message for when flash crashes it.

    Apple already has a platform with the hardware necessary to run flash. It's a laptop. It costs twice as much as an iPad.

    If Adobe wants Flash to run on the iPad, perhaps they should look into making it run efficiently in operating systems that aren't Windows.

  • by vadim_t (324782) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @07:24PM (#30975666) Homepage

    Uh huh. Until Hulu switches to HTML5 video embeds and Farmville writes their app in a standard format, like JavaScript + HTML5 canvas.
    Fuck Flash.

    Funny thing is that this seems a rather recent attitude. On any Linux related thread somebody is bound to mention that flash doesn't work well fullscreen, meaning flash is a good thing to have, and not having proper support for it is a weakness. Now when Apple fails to provide support for it, that suddenly goes away and it's suddenly "eh, flash sucks".

    It's an interesting inconsistency. Even more interesting since the N900 runs on an ARM CPU as well and plays flash perfectly fine, so it's not because there's no plugin.

  • It's my understanding that replacing the picture tube in TVs isn't difficult only on, say, Samsung TVs.

    Doesn't have to be, it can [...]

    Similarly for thermostats---firmware upgrades are hard on all thermostats, not just the $VENDOR ones.

    Doesn't have to be

    I trust you on that.

    The point was that the problems* on Samsung TVs are TV-specific, while the problems on iPods are Apple-specific, not smartphone-specific.

    (* limited to the problems named in your parent^n post; your own, and the iPod-not-particularly-loving one)

    By making them unchangable the price of the overall device is lowered and the form factor can be made smaller, its a trade off, and its a trade off that consumers wanted.

    Are you arguing that consumers wanted unchangeable batteries in their iPods? If so, what's your evidence? That it sold well? How do you know it wasn't because of the disk space? The Apple brand? The user interface (excluding the battery)? The battery lifetime? The rapidity and ease with which you could transfer music from your computer to your portable music player ("PMP")?

  • Re:It's true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coaxial (28297) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @08:27PM (#30976212) Homepage

    This whole "Mac goood", "Linux baaad" idea when it comes to interfaces and usability is just mindless propaganda. Most people aren't in a position to check this for themselves because Apple is a closed off product that's not really well suited for casual exploration. You need special hardware just to run their stuff.

    Well, anyone can go into an Apple Store, or ask to borrow someone's mac. Also there are plenty of hacks [lifehacker.com] to get MacOSX to boot on non-Apple hardware. So that's really a canard. Anyone can check it out, you just have to want to.

    So "Mac Usability" becomes a myth bolstered by fanboys that need to buy into the cult and then justify their choices.

    Nice try. Just because someone doesn't bother to take the effort to find out for themselves, doesn't automatically make it a myth. I've never bothered to go to northern Canada and see if the Magnetic North Pole and Geographic North Pole are actually different, but that doesn't make it a myth.

    Let me tell you my story. I ran Linux as my primary OS from 1994 to 2005. At no point during those 11 years did I ever have a system that supported all of my hardware. At no point. I used it because, I'm a unix guy. I like the shell. I like scripts. I like that everything is a file. Unix lets me do my work. That said, I am not a sysadmin. I do not like sysadmining. I do not like having to patch my kernel just let get my digital camera to work. (Incremented a hex value in a #define in unusual_devs.h so that my Sony DCF-707 would be mounted as a usb storage device.) I do not enjoy having to manually load a kernel module just to get my printer working, because it fails to be autoloaded. I do not like having a print driver that makes every photo come out pink, and then buy a print driver [turboprint.info], only to have the photos still come out pink. (Canon i850. Printed perfectly under windows. The only think I ever used it for, well that and Warcraft III.) I do not like having two(!) different sound systems being installed, and my system still not always have sound. (I loved how I'd get "No ALSA devices found" during boot, but could only adjust my volume through alsamixer.)

    Fuck. That. Shit.

    I got a 17" Powerbook G4, and all my hardware worked. And you know what? I got a terminal, and X11, and XEmacs, and gcc, and everything else I wanted too. It's quite simply a better unix. (I've since upgraded to a 17" MacBook Pro.)

    Linux usability? I'm sorry it sucks. It always sucked. I used GNOME during the 1x days, and it was full of incomprehensible and cutesy options. "Xyzzy Goodness = 0.42," and my personal favorite, "Clock," "Digital Clock," "Another Clock," "Clock with Mail Check." The GNOME folks couldn't say "no," and got a shit. Havoc Pennington and the rest of the GNOME "usability" team, took the message as "no options" instead of "too many options," and subsequently removed everything from the 2.x tree, in the quixotic quest to make it simple for people that have never used a computer before. (It's now 2010. It was 2001 when they started that quest. Even tribes deep in the Amazon and New Guinea had computers then. These folks simple no longer existed.) It still sucks, only now it sucks because you simply can't do the things you used to be able to. KDE? Well KDE4 is quite simply a clusterfuck [blogspot.com]

    The reason why Linux usability sucks, is two fold.

    1. It's hard. It's hard to do it right. It takes resources. It takes time. It takes expertise. Linux doesn't have the resources when it comes to interfaces, and everyday office software. It just doesn't. Sun is dead. Novel, never had much resources devoted to it. Usability isn't really something you can do right one weekend a m

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @08:39PM (#30976308)

    You've got it the wrong way around. Written language came after spoken language, and is basically a flawed attempt to capture sounds with symbols. Kids have no problem understanding the English their parents speak, no matter what the accent or dialect. Language evolves, and a lot of the bizarre spellings and rules we have to live with today are no more than accidents of history.

    It's only when children try to learn the standard written form that they bump up against the discrepancies and endless exceptions to rules which have been enshrined by prescriptivist grammarians. Don't get me wrong, "standard" English is a good thing--not because it's "correct," but only because it serves a useful purpose in making written language mutually intelligible across a wide swath of regional and cultural differences.

  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @10:27PM (#30976924)
    Apple has declared war on the tinkerers of the world.

    .

    Oh, give me a break. Tinkerers always find new things to tinker with. I used to tinker with vacuum tube electronics, radios and TVs, before personal computers were even around. Do I blame Sony for preventing me from tinkering nowadays? Absolutely not.

    It is the natural progression of humanity to turn new 'tinkerable' technology into 'non-tinkerable' commodities.

    So stop trying to hold back the progression of humankind, stop whining, and encourage your kids find something new to tinker with.

    And stop blaming Apple for your lack of insight.

  • Re:It's true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MidnightBrewer (97195) on Monday February 01, 2010 @12:14AM (#30977598)

    "Apple" is not a closed off product; their phone and tablet are. Their laptop and desktop lines are completely open and welcome tinkering, multiple OSes, and anything else you can think of. I don't see why we hold Apple to such a high standard of accountability (robbing our children of their futures, for example) that we exclude everyone else from. Anybody try to hack a Zune lately? Anybody care?

  • Re:It's true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by el_chicano (36361) on Monday February 01, 2010 @12:36AM (#30977730) Homepage Journal

    That said, I am not a sysadmin...

    You did not have to tell us that, it is quite obvious from your post.

    I do not like having to patch my kernel... < to yadda, yadda, yadda >

    I AM a professional Linux systems administrator and I have never had to do any of what you described over the last 15 years I have used Linux (Red Hat, Mandrake, Slackware, Gentoo, Ubuntu, Arch and various other distributions).

    Maybe if you chose supported hardware you would not have this issue? You don't seem to mind having to buy supported hardware to run your precious OS-X.

    I do not like having two(!) different sound systems being installed, and my system still not always have sound.

    Checks current systems -- ALSA works fine for me out of the box. Extra sound system? I am a control freak so I got in the habit of building my systems up from a minimal install which means that I don't install that POS called Pulse Audio. I will admit that there are little pieces of OSS lying around but they never seem to get in the way.

    Linux usability? I'm sorry it sucks. It always sucked. I used GNOME...

    That is your problem there. GNOME sucks, not Linux. KDE has gotten as bloated as Windows so it is starting to suck too. Fluxbox rules!

    1. It's hard. It's hard to do it right. It takes resources. It takes time. It takes expertise...

    Hmmm... I am currently running CentOS on most of my multimedia boxes, mainly because I support Red Hat servers at work. Let's see, minimal CentOS install, install the RPM Forge repo RPM, yum install [fluxbox, vlc, etc.]. Not exactly rocket science there buddy!

    As far as resources, if you are speaking hardware I have a P-II 300 running Fluxbox on Ubuntu in my workshop. The result is sweet, sweet music while I work on my carpentry projects. Can you even get OS-X to run on older hardware? I'll bet you need a CPU made within the last two to three years to get OS-X to install much less run.

    Linux doesn't have the resources when it comes to interfaces, and everyday office software.

    How many interfaces does the Mac have? One? There are plenty for Linux, it is the user's choice as to what to run. Choice is good.

    As far as office software, Open Office works great for me. I even put it on my Vista laptop because the stupid new MS Office ribbon menu UI sucks big time.

    There's no coherent feel, beyond shoddy. You'd think after all these years, someone would get it right, but they never have, because of #1.

    All my boxes have a feel that is exactly right for me, because I know how to set them up that way. They are all internally coherent, which is all that matters to me.

    I don't like having to run my computers the same way everyone else does because Jobs or Gates/Ballmer dictates that is how it has to be. And I sure as hell don't like having to pay for additional software to do simple stuff like changing the stupid Office ribbon menu UI into the old-school UI I prefer to use.

    Desktop Linux can go die in an alley and rot, for all I care. Anything beyond a server, and it's worthless.

    If you want to give Apple all that $$$ that is your business, I prefer to keep my $$$. Just because you are a major FAIL when it comes to setting up Linux does not mean that Linux is worthless to others.

    By the way, I checked out your hacks to get MacOSX to boot on non-Apple hardware [lifehacker.com] link. I don't have to perform ANY hacks to get Linux to work on my PCs.

    The procedures listed on that page ARE system administration tasks and relatively advanced ones at that. Besides, I th

  • Re:It's true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ToasterMonkey (467067) on Monday February 01, 2010 @01:06AM (#30977858) Homepage

    On Windows and Linux (KDE, Gnome...I can't speak for any other set up as I havn't used them. I'm pretty sure Xfce acts the same way though) you can scale windows from any edge or corner, but not on OS X. There seems to be no logical reason for this, and it causes problems if the scaling corner has been moved off-screen or underneath the dock. This is admitedly a minor gripe, but none the less present

    I understand the issue of the little resizing tab possibly being off screen, but the logical reason for not allowing other corners ad edges to be grabbed is that there is no window borders or dressings other than the tab in the lower right corner. They could add window borders or more corner doodads, but the one on the lower right fits right under commonly used vertical scroll bar widgets and keeps the interface clean. Upper left is off limits, up right is a possibility, and I'm not sure what the implications of sticking a widget in the lower left would be. Anyway, it might not be the best, but the reasoning is pretty clear.

    The menus for an application over-write the menus for the OS. Other than the Apple menu at the end, you either have the applications menus or the systems menus. On Windows, KDE and Gnome the applications menus are tied to the window, so not only can you use both system and application menus, but the menus are also visually tied to the application, giving a more obvious link to application functions

    The Apple icon IS a system menu, but what you might be referring to is Finder's menu that you get when a Finder window is active, or you click on your desktop. For those who don't know, Finder is a file browser, like Explorer in Windows or Nautilus in Gnome. In OS X, the file browser is treated like any other application except that your desktop is also a Finder window of sorts. This is identical to Explorer in Windows, and pretty damned close to Nautilus aside from the 'Places' menu. I do wish Finder's 'Go' menu had a permanent placement on the menu bar next to 'Window' and 'Help'!
    How does collocating menu bars with windows visually tie functionality to an application? You still have to click on a menu to discover it's functionality, which on any of the systems you've mentioned changes window focus and activates a different window, closing the current menu you have open. IF there was a windowing system that allowed you to keep open multiple menu's from different apps, maybe you'd be onto something, but the benefits of such a system are not immediately obvious, and I'm not aware of any that behave that way. So, if you can't use more than at a time, what use is it to display all those menu bars at once?

    The dock, to me, seems pretty broken. It is both an application launcher and task manager. Open apps have a little light under them to show that they are active. Other than that there is no visual identification for which apps are running and which aren't. Second, it gets in the way - it is all too easy to activate by accident, especially when the zoom animation is switched on. This also isn't helped by the fact that in between the icons is empty space, rather than a colid (or even transparent) bar - areas where you would expect to not activate the dock do. On Windows you have neither problem - running programs appear in the task-bar, and launcher icons in the quick launch. There is also the start menu which provides access to every installed program (with a few exceptions). It is also clear where the task-bar starts and ends. KDE is pretty much the same in that respect, and Gnome isn't far off. (I havn't tried Win 7 yet, so it should be interesting to see what that's like). As a side note, I hate to think what the dock would be like if it allowed multiple program windows like the other OSs.

    Obviously the menu bars/panels in Windows and Gnome also both manage active windows and launch applications. Neither actually manage running tasks, just active windows - I'll come back to this.

  • Re:It's true (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tknd (979052) on Monday February 01, 2010 @03:08PM (#30985906)

    the logical reason for not allowing other corners ad edges to be grabbed is that there is no window borders or dressings other than the tab in the lower right corner

    The logical reason for allowing all borders to resize the window is to make the interface more usable. Consider this use case: if a window is on the right side of the screen, a mac user must first move the window to the left, and then resize it. If all borders were resizable, the user would simply drag the left border and the "move the window" step is eliminated. So I guess you're saying "looks" trump usability in this case?

    How does collocating menu bars with windows visually tie functionality to an application?

    Because it is clear that that menu belongs to that window. In mac it is not always clear which window is focused. Suppose you have two windows side by side and both are displaying some kind of document. If you are not careful in this context, you may confuse which window the current menu is set to. Not that it matters much anyway since the mac standard is to avoid the menu and even on windows the menu concept is on its way out.

    Ok, I'm just going to stop, have you even used Expose?

    I've used expose and I think it is overrated. The good thing about it is it displays each window as it visually appears. That's great. The bad thing is it doesn't display and miniture queue as to what that window specifically and clearly is part of. So when you crowd up your system with tons of windows, expose's functionality gets less useless as the time for you to find your app grows and the pictures of the windows get too small.

    Squeeze a Mighty Mouse?

    All right, this is one area that really annoys me because Apple gets a big giant pass on using things like gestures and such even though they are not that intuitive and they're solutions to problems Apple created. For example for the longest time Apple never had more than one mouse button. You were expected to command-click to get that functionality which totally did not make sense nor was usable. Then they came out with multi-touch pads to address this and suddenly something Apple is now "golden" for something they should have fixed decades ago. So I guess the winning formula here is to start with something shiny or stupid (think puck-mouse) and then fix it so now everyone is thoroughly impressed with a fault that should have never been there to begin with.

    Those were your BIG issues?? To each his own I guess, some people just don't know a good thing when they see it. Personally, I think who borrows who's UI elements is a more interesting topic.

    My BIG issue with Apple and many interfaces is the interfaces are so dumbed down that an advanced user will find it very hard to gain efficiency. Their systems are generally designed for short learning curves but when you want to do something reasonably advanced with the GUI, it becomes a burden. To give you an example of this, we were once assigned evaluated usability for websites for an HCI class. One of the volunteers was a Mac user but all that we had in the labs were windows computers at the time. The user had no problem using the windows machine but I observed one interesting bit despite that this assignment was not intended to address the OS platform usability. Every time she (the user) opened a browser window, she would spend 3 or 5 clicks moving and resizing the window to her liking. The exact process went like this: click the browser icon to open the window, drag the window to the position desired, drag the bottom right corner to resize, drag the window again to center it.

    So when you poo-poo things like maximize as "lazy solutions" I think you have your own issues. Maximize may not be the most elegant solution but it works and it is fast. The problem with the "zoom" function in mac is that it is often hard or impossible to guess the optimal si

  • Re:bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday February 01, 2010 @04:36PM (#30987442) Homepage Journal

    You misappropriate the term "defective by design".

    "Does not contain the features I desire" is not "defective by design".

    Why don't they allow us to run multiple applications at once on the iphone and ipad, for example?

    On the iPhone, due to hardware restrictions mostly. I know a little about that, I happen to be an iPhone developer. While the device is able to multi-task (and does it to a degree), I am very, very happy that it doesn't allow apps to do that. Because if it did, people would have a random number of background tasks, and on that device you simply don't have the spare ressources to ignore that. Besides, the small screen makes actual simultaneous applications impractical anyways.

    If you don't know that restrictions are as much part of design as features, you need to read up on design. There's a great speech about simplicity and the tyranny of choice over on TED, I can recommend it.

    Because it ruins the user experience for the average user, and this could give apple a bad rep. As a consumer i do not want to be treated like that.

    Ah, you want your experience to be ruined? Not a problem, buy Microsoft, they have a guarantee on that part. :-)

    Computing devices should be open, and there should be rules for that.

    Why?

    I'm serious. Give me a good reason apart from "because I want it".

    And when you do so, please do consider that these days, practically everything aside from food and clothes has microchips inside, and could be considered a "computing device".

    In fact, if microsoft pulled apple's anti-competitive tricks, then they would be sanctioned by the EU before they saw it coming.

    You may not like it and I do in fact sympathize (not being able to install arbitrary software except through the App Store is one of the reasons I'll very likely not be getting an iPad) - but whatever you want to call it in your anger, I fail to see where it has anything to do with anti-competitiveness.

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan

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