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Apple's Trend Away From Tinkering 965

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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  • Whiney BS (Score:3, Informative)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:35PM (#30972040) Homepage Journal

    The Apple II was a computer. You cans till tinker with Apple computer.

    Apple also sells Appliances. More difficult to tinker with, just like your TV.

    You want a computer for tinkers? the Macs work great. OSX on BSD.

  • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:38PM (#30972086) Journal

    You can download the SDK for free.

  • Mod parent us (Score:5, Informative)

    by schnablebg ( 678930 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:38PM (#30972092)

    The iP* products are consumer electronic devices, not general purpose machines. It makes perfect sense that these are locked down for the sake of reliability and performance. Not to mention the Apple business model is based on the closed nature of these products.

    The desktop versions of OS X are incredibly flexible and powerful tools, with the usability bonus of a well thought out graphical shell. There is a reason programmers and IT people are migrating en mass to Mac--they are way ahead of the competition when it comes to power and flexibility compared to Windows, and reliability and usability for an end user compared to Linux.

    When you purchase a Mac, you are getting a full featured development environment and sys admin toolkit out of the box.

  • This is Dumb (Score:3, Informative)

    by foo fighter ( 151863 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:38PM (#30972096) Homepage

    Pay $100 for a developer's license and you can do whatever you want to you iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad.

    XCode and Applescript come with every "real" Mac for no additional charge.

    What is the problem here? That you can't program the iPad on the iPad? Sorry, but that is hardy worth the energy of his rant.

    Yes, I read the article. Well, I tried. It's a poorly written, confusing rant.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:41PM (#30972126) Homepage Journal

    Well, the explains using BSD and including tons of Dev tools and creating a case thats easy to work in~

    Please THINK.

  • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:48PM (#30972218)

    there are (or soon will be) numerous alternatives that are not as tightly locked.

    Sure. Like the Nexus One. Not only is the SDK free, easy to program (java), flexible (you can replace most of the built in apps) but the phone itself isn't locked. Watch this video if you don't believe me [] ... the shipping phone doesn't need a "jailbreak" because you can simply run an officially provided command and after informing you that you void the warranty, the phone will let you reflash to any OS (it changes the bootup logo to make it harder to resell trojaned/warranty voided phones but that seems reasonable).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:54PM (#30972290)

    That niche is well populated these days with the the number of lowpriced development boards like the Arduino, Beagle board, and so on. You can get these kind of things for MIPS, ARM, x86, and so on. You can even get FPGA boards and tinker with hardware level stuff. We have opencores now. Things are much more interesting, cheaper, and more wideley available than when I could even dream of when I was a kid. All of this stuff starts at less than a couple hundred bucks, and the amount you can do with them is pretty impressive. We have kids today soldering BGA parts and doing SMD work.

    Seriously, I remember being impressed with myself as a kid when I learned to etch my own boards, learned x86 assembly(mode X was awesome), and Motorola 680x stuff. Kids have much cooler toys these days from what I see.

  • From The Beginning (Score:5, Informative)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:09PM (#30972440) Journal

    Apple's trend away from tinkering predates the company. During the design and building phase of the ][, Woz was building in things which Jobs didn't want. Three specifically that they argued over were color (vs. black and white output), the lid (and by extension, poking around inside) and memory expansion past the max installed 16 K (this is the actual source of the often repeated and rarely correct "Who would ever need more than X-kb of memory?" -- It was Jobs and it was 16K). The second and third are both in the 'tinkering' group of features. In all cases Woz won, and we got a machine that ultimately was pushed to do things which by design it supposedly 'couldn't'.

    When Jobs decided to make his own machine, all three of the above limitations were built in. The first Mac was B&W, had no lid, and came with the only memory configuration that it could run. At the time I was senior/technical editor of The Road Apple, a 'zine for Apple ][, // and ]|[ users, created with the specific intention of trying to prevent Apple from dropping the ][ line. (As far as I have ever been able to determine, it was the first computer publication produced simultaneously in the US (Portland OR; Al Martin, Publisher)
    and USSR (Moscow, Russia); my co-editor was a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Academician Vladimir Fedorov). When Woz left, Jobs prevailed and we lost. Jobs' design choices for the first Mac and his acquiring complete control when Woz left, were the second and third major changes away from tinkering. Both were a direct result of Job's taking back those things he wanted done on the ][ that allowed tinkering (or were just plain neat hacks) but which Woz chose to do his own way. Simply put, this direction was based on the fact that Jobs lost those arguments. resented it, and when he got the chance, he finally got his own way.

    References for the historical stuff can all be located if one digs. Support for Jobs' tendency towards management techniques such as tantrums and verbiage bordering on abuse has also been documented up through the point where John Scully took over for 10 years so Jobs could grow up and gain some people skills. Collections of The Road Apple were available on some of the Apple ][ ftp sites. One that has been converted to webby stuff is at []

  • by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:15PM (#30972478) Journal

    another option is the nokia N900. Basically a linux box in your pocket, root and all.

  • by JoeBuck ( 7947 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:21PM (#30972554) Homepage
    Don't give your kids Tcl; of the scripting languages, Python will be a lot easier, and the fact that it has "advanced concepts" is a plus, not a minus, as they don't get in the way and solve problems that the programmer would otherwise have to deal with. Basic is good if you want to teach kids to write rats' nests of GOTO statements.
  • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:21PM (#30972556)

    I've also ordered a 130-in-one electronics kit for my daughter because I remember how much fun I had with mine. Alas, Radio Shack no longer sells them...

    Yes they do: []

    You're so busy being nostalgic that you forgot to actually fact-check your post.

  • by cvd6262 ( 180823 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:29PM (#30972630)

    Do we complain how the Kindle or past Nokia phones are essentially closed to the average person the same way?

    Yes. We. Do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:30PM (#30972638)

    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.

    You left out "per year" after the "$100".

  • by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:39PM (#30972744) Homepage Journal
    All Macs come with XCode and an extensive set of developer tools = for free! Schools can sign up for free rights for students to develop for the iPhone/iTouch/iPad and are encouraged to teach courses on it. Anyone can sign up as an iPhone developer on their own for $99/yr. (IMO the ads make it sound as if it's $99 for life but this is false.) To a large degree Apple has turned a blind eye to the jailbreak community. I hardly think Apple is trying to keep people from learning programming or doing cool new things.

    I'd love to see some development tools actually on the iPad. It appears that Apple has relaxed some of their rules with the announcement of the iPad so I wouldn't be surprised to see some user-programmable apps. I doubt you'll directly be able to create new apps die to security issues but maybe something like Scratch [] or maybe even Java or Python based programming. Also, there is nothing stopping anyone from creating a tool to develop web-based apps for the iPhone/iPad from the iPhone/iPad. You could do quite a lot with that given the capabilities of Safari.

  • Article is incorrect (Score:5, Informative)

    by lakeland ( 218447 ) <> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:42PM (#30972786) Homepage

    The iphone and macbook freely allow tinkering, so I expect the iPod will be much the same.

    If you recall all the peek charts did was give you access to system calls and variables, well... things are a little tighter now thanks to multitasking and you're expected to use an API to access them. Apart from that though, Apple is quite happy with you tinkering with your own computers to your heart's content.

    What apple tries hard to control is you sharing those hacks with non tinkerers. Say I wrote an awesome iPad game and distributed the source code over the net for anyone with the SDK (a free download). Well, Apple would not exactly approve but they wouldn't stop me. However, say I distributed the same game in binary form, telling anybody interested to email me their IEMI number... well, I suspect Apple would take action at that point.

    I had an Apple II. I didn't write any C code for it because I didn't have a C compiler, so instead I wrote assembly - in hindsight, how dumb is that! I mean, great, I can say I wrote 6502 assembly and sound geeky - but I'm sure I would've been more productive using C. Similarly, I had a Mac Plus and I had to copy someone else's compiler to be able to write software. Piracy because I wanted to write software... Then I got a 6100, and I shelled out I believe $150 of my hard earned student money to buy a compiler (Metrowerks). I couldn't afford the apple suite at the time. As I got a bit older and richer, I signed up for an apple developer account which gave me access to tech support (they were amazingly helpful in the days before you could get similar information off the internet or usenet).

    Lets compare that to now, where I can download the SDK for not only my mac but my iPhone completely for free (a colleague of mine would disagree on this point, noting that he wanted to develop for the iPhone but had to buy a mac to do so). Not only do I get an excellent SDK, but I get video tutorials, lots of example code and even a simulator! Sadly, I'm too busy to tinker any more but I do feel that Apple is bending over backwards to make it easy for me, completely unlike how they were twenty years ago.

    They could be better - If they embraced open standards a bit more so that say MobileMe could be connected to using LDAP - it would make it easier to do cool stuff in a similar way to how easy it is to do cool stuff in Linux. But to say they're less tinker friendly because they try and prevent jail-breaking is just... wrong.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:05PM (#30973038) Journal

    In response to your subject line, YES, Microsoft does give you dev tools for Windows. They're the Visual Studio Express editions.

  • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:16PM (#30973132)

    and the side effect are shiny closed boxes that 'just work'.

    Except they don't "just work" anymore. No flash means many websites won't work. The lockdown of the app store means things don't work as well as they do on other platforms. My wife's droid interfaces with google voice seemlessly, my iPhone doesn't.

    The fear is that Apple sees the iPhoneOS as the future, and OSX as the past. The iPad is just a stepping stone. I wouldn't be surprised if the next macbook runs iPhoneOS, not OSX.

  • by Swift2001 ( 874553 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:23PM (#30973200)

    Well, there's no more resource fork, so no need for Resedit. Now you right-click on the app, open it as a package, and there's all the same stuff inside the app folder that there used to be in Resedit.

  • Re:Another One (Score:3, Informative)

    by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:23PM (#30973202)
    The roms had various subroutines in them that were useful, but undocumented. People had to disassemble the roms in order to figure out how to access those routines, but if you wrote software that called address 02fc, you knew it was going to break when the next model came out.

    Apple provided commented source for their ROM, and IBM made it available for an extra cost ending with the AT machines. I don't think Commodore actually released the ROM source for the 64, but their programmer's reference manual (extra cost) gave all the information needed to effectively interact directly with the hardware.
  • by Eternal Vigilance ( 573501 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:25PM (#30973216)
    The old Apple which you remember so fondly was the Apple of Woz.

    The new Apple is the Apple of Jobs.

    Woz was a hacker. Jobs is an authoritarian.

    All the rest flows from that.

    "We're off to hack the Apple! The wonderful Apple of Woz...."
  • by supercrisp ( 936036 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:31PM (#30973266)
    I tire of the “won’t someone think of the children” rhetoric. This article is complaining about “lock-down” on media devices, not on PCs. If I wanted to, it’s even easier to tinker with a Mac today than it was 20 years ago. I’ve got Terminal, AppleScript, Automator, and the Developer Tools. If I want to look at the sort of thing I used to need Resedit for, I just control click an application to show package contents. Sure, I don’t have much access to specific registers of memory, but I don’t really need that to do very exciting things because of the level of horsepower I have at hand on a modern machine. Getting upset over the “closedness” of the iPad or iPod is like getting cranky because you can’t write software for your TV. It’s a device for people who want to passively consume. They don’t even have the most basic input devices of keyboard and mouse. That right there shows you that they’re for consumers, not creators.
  • Re:It's true (Score:2, Informative)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <taiki.cox@net> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:35PM (#30973330)

    My MacBook shipped with an X implementation and a full set of GNU tools.

    Name one OEM that has a Linux machine sitting in every electronics store in every state and nearly every town in America with as much mindshare as Apple? Dell provides Linux machines, but try buying one in store.

    Macs are still geek friendly. Yes, anyone can download Cygwin on their own, but given that Apple decided that every mac owner to be a potential Mac developer, with no borders to entry to their development environment, it shows a huge geek friendly side that geeks don't want to admit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:51PM (#30973526)

    Calling Apple's products user friendly is pretty obscene. "Dumbed down" and "treats you like the idiot Apple believes you to be" is more accurate.

  • by statusbar ( 314703 ) <> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:12PM (#30973764) Homepage Journal

    I agree - in fact besides OpenMoko (which never got out really) every other cell phone was more closed than the iPhone when the iPhone got the App Store.

    All sorts of phones had Java ME in it but being able to program the phone that I bought with my JavaME program I designed was never possible without closed agreements with my wireless service provider and Motorola or who ever.

    the current iPhone/iPad scheme is based on the Video Game Console model; And it is even better! If I buy an XBox, Wii, or PS3, I need special agreements to make a real video game and need to purchase very expensive development kits, and if I make a video game either Microsoft, Nintendo, or Sony has to approve it if I want to sell it.

    Apple's iphone/ipad dev tools are fantastic and cost $100/year.

    There is competition in all of these domains; people are free to make and buy and support microsoft or linux based phones and tablets. The Nokia N900 looks great, perhaps Nokia could make a tablet version!


  • by EastCoastSurfer ( 310758 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:27PM (#30973940)

    I wasn't even talking about the tinkerer specifically. I was more talking about how locking it to the Apple approved app store may prevent a lot of innovative apps from making it onto the iPad. First one that comes to mind would be some sort of touch friendly Photoshop (or any other photo management tool). Or how about web browser innovations? Apple tends to deny apps that 'duplicate functionality' that is already on the device.

    What you end up with a lot of 'safe' apps on the device that don't look to push it into new areas. People end up avoiding the risk of spending time developing apps that might get denied access.

  • by toriver ( 11308 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @06:33PM (#30974630)

    A small note, there is no "just" in J2ME, because to use any fancy feature on a phone you need to delve into the vendor-specific extensions, crushing any cross-device market.

  • by toriver ( 11308 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @06:38PM (#30974676)

    But can they use that cheap, full version for commercial purposes? Methinks not: "This software is the complete and professional grade versions of the tools, but you must use them in pursuit of increasing your education, skills, and knowledge in either science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or design.".

    And the Express edition does not support Windows Mobile development according to Microsoft.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @07:56PM (#30975370)
    Anon coward due to flame war...

    Come on man, do you do nothing but read what others parrot? You bring up a flip the coin and flashlight apps like that is all there are. You must have missed all the medical apps (yep, 10 buck app that will help you learn about arrhythmias). You must have missed streaming music apps, guitar tuning, music theory, complex graphing calculators, sophisticated audio sequencers. For frak sake there's even an enigma machine simulator I found in someone's sig
  • by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @08:03PM (#30975448)

    > 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.

    Er, ever hear about this obscure, fringe OS found on a few PDA phones called "Windows Mobile"? Granted, Windows Mobile phones have historically been dysfunctional as *phones* when powered up for the first time after purchase, but thirdparty apps like S2U2 and Winterface have done a lot to make them reasonably good. The day I decided to write my first Windows Mobile app, it took me maybe an hour to go from 'nothing' to 'running on my phone' (half of which was spent downloading the SDK from MSDN). A couple of days later, I had an app playing avi videos on my phone with a complete UI.

    Microsoft might be generally incapable of creating a phone UI for people who want to dial with their fingers (instead of a stylus) and carry the phone in their back pockets, but Microsoft's role in going to war with the carriers to ensure that we could have a phone with completely unrestricted API that was beyond the carriers' control is hugely under-appreciated. Not even Verizon could permanently cripple its Windows Mobile phones (Microsoft sighed and let them ship with features disabled in the registry... but anyone with 3 brain cells and the slightest bit of motivation could figure out how to re-enable them 10 minutes after purchase).

  • by OldEarthResident ( 1724062 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @08:56PM (#30975950)
    On the S40 series, and apparently on some S60 editions as well, you cannot self sign your J2ME MIDlets by loading your own certificate into your phone. This means you have to pay for a certificate to avoid been prompted every time when you want to carry out some security sensitive operations.

    I've only just found this out this evening, so the scope of this is still unclear (and hence I am open to been corrected), but it appears that the S60 2nd edition may have had the self sign capability and it may have actually been pulled by Nokia from the S60 3rd edition.

  • by ThrowAwaySociety ( 1351793 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @09:02PM (#30976022) []

    It's certainly possible that your .edu's lawyers are bigger asshats that most lawyers, but I can't imagine that this EULA is any worse than the one your .edu signed with Microsoft for Windows, or for the other proprietary Windows-only software that you said you use.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @09:11PM (#30976098)

    Well there's two things you have to understand:

    1) EULAs aren't legally binding. So if all there is is a "click here to agree" window, we don't have to care. We can click and the lawyers don't get involved. They've told us the only problem is when there's an actual, signed, contract.

    2) When we got Microsoft volume licensing, it was a major ordeal. The contract went back and forth multiple times. We'd change it, they'd change it, we'd change it. Finally both sides got one they could agree on. Apple flat out said "No negotiation, take it or leave it." Meant we had to leave it. Normally a contract, especially between large entities, involved negotiation. Apple flat out refused, which halted the process then and there.

    You can argue all you like that it is the fault of our lawyers, doesn't matter, there is nothing we can do to change that. The fact of the matter is that because of their attitude, the class is now being taught on Google Android, rather than iPhone. Also no matter how reasonable you may think Apple's license to be, that doesn't change the fact that they wanted a special signed contract when Google was ok with just a download.

    For that matter most of our software only involves contracts when there's a special volume licensing agreement. We never signed any contract for Windows back when we just got it with systems or per copy. It was only when we wanted a volume agreement that we had to sign.

    This is just the reality of our highly litigious society. Universities, in particular state universities (being governmental entities) have to CYA. That means that they carefully vet any contract that comes their way.

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

    by Alphathon ( 1634555 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @09:13PM (#30976120)

    usually Apple gets interfaces near perfect.

    I beg to differ. What I will say is that Apple are very good at making interfaces that LOOK nice. However, I don't find them all that functional. Here are some examples.

    • 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
    • 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 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.
    • Maximize on OSX is fairly useless. Often on Win/KDE/Gnome (which all work the same way) I maximize to get more area around a document. For example in Photoshop when scaling layer which are larger than, or go off the edge of, the document. Other times, it is simply because I don't want to be distracted by other apps. Of course this may be an artifact of the less functional task managment, app lauching and system menu access, as in the other three, you can more easily switch between windows, while on a Mac you have to have to leave the app to access anything else.

    So, these, along with other, smaller issues make this particular Apple UI far from perfect, and for me, far out-weigh the good bits. It should also be noted that I am yet to find any UI element in OSX that I prefer over Windows, KDE or Gnome.

  • Repeat of 80's (Score:3, Informative)

    by Enrique1218 ( 603187 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @09:30PM (#30976228) Journal

    One only has to look at Apples position in particular market to understand the contrasts in their developer policies. Apple's PC market penetration is very low. Apple cannot break 5% market share even after the Vista debacle. As a result, Apple ships the Developers tools free with every Mac, aids Windows installation with Bootcamp, and even takes an open source approach to the core of OS X. In contrast, Apple dominates the iPod market and is a strong contender in the iPhone market. Apples developer policy reflects that position. Apple forces developers through the iTunes and only Cocoa SDK . I also seriously doubt Apple is making any effort to put Android on the phone. This position is less developer friendly than the Mac. The powers that be at Apple must feel thar the developers need Apple more than Apple needs them. I believe this will hurt them in the long run. This policy is extremely short sighted given the rise of Android (think Windows in the 80's). iPhone OS may be better than Android now but Google is very flexible with their developers policy. Google will allow them to take Android devices a lot further than Apple will their developers go. Apple will lose out again just as they did with Windows.

    Case in point, I am absolutely in love with the iPhone. I would have one right now and would would pay the full price except for one thing. I have to purchase AT&T data plan for $30/month for as long as I have the phone. I have no need for a data plan. I am around wifi most of the time and I would rarely need to use AT&T 3G. If I were so incline to use 3g, I would probably download a tv show off of hulu with Flash. AT&T network can't handle that and Apple won't let me have flash. Moreover, even if they did, it would run very slowly because Apple is not friendly with it developers. I believe Apple is pushing me to buy content from them and pay for a service I will never use. The forced data plan is the same with Android but at least Flash for Android is around the corner. In the race to my pocket, Google may edge out Apple. That is a shame, I do love my Macintosh and would have loved the iPhone. This is bigger than tinkering and I hope Steve Jobs wakes up.

  • by jpmorgan ( 517966 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @11:15PM (#30976858) Homepage

    -1 Factually Incorrect.

    Windows Mobile is vastly more open than the iPhone, and it's been around a lot longer.

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

    by cynicist ( 1112505 ) on Monday February 01, 2010 @01:23AM (#30977646)

    Let me tell you my story. I ran Linux as my primary OS from 1994 to 2005.

    Ugh, I can feel a jaded old software user rant coming up soon.

    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'm not sure why you did that. The Linux kernel has had usb mass storage support since 2.4 (2001). Your camera was listed as supporting it around that time as well.(1) You were also able to transfer photos through the PTP protocol on that camera since 2002.(2) (this required changing a setting on your camera of course)


    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, 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 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.

    Your printer is partially supported by gutenprint, which is a collection of free software printer drivers for systems such as CUPS. What OS uses CUPS besides Linux? A relevent excerpt about gutenprint:

    "It was originally developed as a plug-in for the GIMP, but later became a more general tool for use by other programs. When Apple Computer brought out Mac OS X, it omitted printer drivers, claiming that it was the printer manufacturer's task to produce these. Many of them did not update their drivers, and since Apple had chosen to use CUPS as the core of its printing system, Gimp-Print filled the void."

    So until a driver was written for your printer, you would have had to buy a new one with your mac. OSX is the better unix? It doesn't appear to be as different as you think. By the way, for someone so comfortable with scripts and the like, I'm surprised you couldn't write one to load this module on boot, or I dunno, compile the driver with the rest of your kernel instead of loading it as a module.

    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.)

    Yeah, sound on linux sucked for a while. Just like blue screens sucked on windows. However just like windows blue screens, sound on linux hasn't been an issue for a long time.

    2. It's always pale copy. Free of over bearing commercial interests, you'd think that the Linux "community" would create some ground breaking new ideas, but they don't. Instead they mindlessly copy whatever Microsoft does. (Thanks unreorganizable taskbar!) And now whatever Apple does (Thanks no-typing-allow file-open dialog!) Even when they do it, it just feels like a cheap knockoff. 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.

    OS's tend to incorporate each other's features as it makes sense to do so. Just like how OSX just implemented spaces [], which has been a feature of Linux since 1989 []. Or how Windows Vista's Desktop Window Manager (part of Aero) introduced compositing to Windows in 2007, while Compiz [] had already done so in Linux a year prior.

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

    Maybe to you, but Linux continues to be the operating system of choice for millions of others.

  • by toby ( 759 ) * on Monday February 01, 2010 @01:44AM (#30977766) Homepage Journal

    As someone who read the legendary Inside Macintosh [] (1983 draft; I still have it) [] cover to cover before even touching a Mac (some time around 1985), I don't understand this contention that the original Mac was "closed" to developers. The *case* was not easy to open, but the programmer model was not locked up in any real way. Almost from the beginning, Apple offered assembler- and compiler-level toolsets. Initially these were Lisa-hosted, simply because the Mac porting hadn't been done yet. I personally used Macintosh Development System [] (1984) and Whitesmiths C in the very beginning, before reverting to Pascal for a while, using powerful toolchains such as TML and Lightspeed Pascal. Consulair C [] was available in 1985.

    From the first moment, third party developer tools sprang up like kudzu around the original Mac, most of them cutting edge in some way. Many innovative development technologies were pioneered on the Mac: interpreted Pascal with a sophisticated GUI (Mac Pascal), Object Pascal and MVC systems (MacApp), Neon, 4GLs, incremental compilers (Lightspeed/THINK/Symantec C), etc. Does anyone even remember that in the 80s, Apple pushed out several full releases of their own Mac Smalltalk-80 system, which Squeak is now based on? (Harvey Alcabes, I remember you.)

    And few now remember that the Lisa itself, despite appearances better described as a "minicomputer" than micro, ran about six different operating systems, including UCSD P-system and XENIX, and had several full-fledged language systems from Object Pascal through COBOL and Fortran.

  • by dcmoebius ( 1527443 ) on Monday February 01, 2010 @02:22AM (#30977914)

    ...To a large degree Apple has turned a blind eye to the jailbreak community. I hardly think Apple is trying to keep people from learning programming or doing cool new things.

    You must be referring to an Apple I'm not familiar with.

    Nearly every OS release for the iPhone has gone out of its way to un-jailbreak (re-jail?) its phones. Didn't look too hard, but wikipedia sums it up best with its "cat and mouse" [] description.

    And then of course there's the legal case [] where Apple argues that jailbreaking phones should be flat-out illegal under the DMCA.

    Seems to me that Apple has both eyes open on this one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:44AM (#30979058)

    "I agree - in fact besides OpenMoko (which never got out really) every other cell phone was more closed than the iPhone when the iPhone got the App Store."

    Sorry, but this is completely and utterly false.

    Windows Mobile allowed development in C++ and later on, .NET languages, and most Symbian devices allowed development in C++ and Java.

    "All sorts of phones had Java ME in it but being able to program the phone that I bought with my JavaME program I designed was never possible without closed agreements with my wireless service provider and Motorola or who ever."

    Again, false. Pretty much every Windows Mobile device and certainly every Nokia device had data cable/USB cable support.

    "the current iPhone/iPad scheme is based on the Video Game Console model; And it is even better! If I buy an XBox, Wii, or PS3, I need special agreements to make a real video game and need to purchase very expensive development kits, and if I make a video game either Microsoft, Nintendo, or Sony has to approve it if I want to sell it."

    Again, completely false. XNA on the XBox 360 is free, you need a subscription to publish, but that's peanuts (less than it'll cost you to publish on the iPhone/iPad in fact). You do not need any special permission from Microsoft but submissions are community rated. In contrast, you do need permission to publish from Apple on the iPad/iPhone. Whilst the Wii and PS3 are harder to publish for there are still options- I suggest checking out sites like who provide engines for reasonable prices that you can develop for, and if you produce something worth publishing, provide support to publish.

    "Apple's iphone/ipad dev tools are fantastic and cost $100/year."

    Maybe, but that's still $100 more than Visual Studio express which is far superior, or $100 more than Eclipse, Netbeans and so forth, which are again no worse, and allow you to build apps for Symbian or Android handsets. So even though I agree $100 is reasonable, it's still $100 more expensive than the competition. I believe you need to pay a fee to publish to the Android marketplace, but that's about it and iirc it's only about $25 or so.

    Just to prove my point, you could run a port of Doom on my Nokia 7650 all the way back in 2002 without any requirement for permission from Nokia, and without any 3rd party hacks or anything, this was more than 5 years before the iPhone was even released, and it ran perfectly well at a high frame rate. Your suggestion that the iPhone was the most open phone when it got the app store is completely absurd because it was quite the opposite- it was one of, or perhaps even the single most locked down phone on the market.

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