WWDC WAG

People put a lot of time and effort into reading the Apple (and Steve J.) tea leaves: what will be announced, when, and will there be “one more thing”? I’ve put next to no time into this, but wanted to document my WAG — wild ass guess — for WWDC this year. I should note: I use a Macbook, but these days Mac OS X is basically a run-time for Firefox for me (my primary machine these days is a Thinkpad running Ubuntu). I use an iPod Color 60GB, and haven’t seen the need to upgrade yet. I haven’t seen an iPad in person. In short, I’m hardly qualified to make predictions about Apple corporate strategy. But that doesn’t seem to stop anyone else.

I believe Apple will announce that you’ll be able to run iPhone OS applications on Mac OS X. Why? Well, it just seems like it fits.

  • Apple is obviously investing heavily in iPhone OS. One indication of its importance is that the Apple Design Awards are limited to iPhone OS applications this year.
  • As the iPad has launched, and developers have been crafting applications to watch video, read news, and listen to public radio, the question has been raised: why weren’t people creating applications that looked this good for laptops? I’m sure people using Macbooks would love to have some of those apps. (I really don’t believe iPhone OS has any secret ingredient that suddenly enables ABC to create a video player.)
  • Apple’s restrictions to the iPhone SDK agreement, prohibiting the use of third party development tools, will allow Apple to easily switch hardware platforms, ala PPC to x86 — or support an additional architecture if needed. You know, an additional architecture like x86.
  • Apple has experience with compatibility virtual machines (see: Rosetta), as well as LLVM. You can imagine these experiences informing support for running iPhone OS applications in a sandbox on Mac OS X, or re-targeting the application at compilation time.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it inserts Apple into the middle of additional software purchases, enables them to leverage the App Store further, and exert additional control.

So that’s my WAG for WWDC. I think it’ll be sold to developers as a way to reach new users, and provide an end-to-end, mobile to desktop experience (I won’t be surprised if they launch improved, wireless sync between your iPad and Mac at the same time — syncing documents between iWork for iPad and your Mac sounds like hell). I think it’ll be sold to users on security and stability: iPhone OS applications would almost certainly have limited privileges on the desktop, and if you replace your laptop, logging into your iTunes account would sync your apps back to the machine.

If I’m right, users will undoubtedly begin to see [beautiful] software stream onto their desktops from a single, tightly controlled pool, and developers will devote hours crafting tools with the hope they’ll pass muster, and make it into that pool. If I’m wrong, well, I’ve been wrong before. And this is just a wild ass guess.

date:2010-05-08 23:33:20
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slug:wwdc-wag
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category:geek
tags:apple, iphone, wag, wwdc

Laptop Rejuvenation

I’ve owned my MacBook for about 18 months now, which is coming close to a record for me. I was looking at replacing it with a new laptop — preferably something running Ubuntu that doesn’t totally look like ass. I started looking and saw things I liked from both Dell and System 76 (I really wanted to like Zareason, especially given that they’re local, but System 76 kills them on pricing).

But then I looked closer at the Wikipedia article on MacBooks, the System Profiler on my machine and just what I was paying for. It was then I realized that my MacBook already has a Core 2 Duo T7200, as well as 802.11n support. With most of the economical Dell options still using T5xxx series processors (with it’s 2MB L2 cache, compared to the T7200’s 4MB), it became clear I was mostly investing in more RAM and a larger hard drive. A quick look showed I could take my system from 1.5GB RAM to 4GB for $50[1]_ and could go from the 120GB stock hard drive to a 320GB model for $100. And with the extra drive space I could comfortably run Ubuntu as my primary operating system, retaining the Mac OS X partition until I have all the apps replaced.

So that was my task for yesterday. Unfortunately things didn’t go quite as well as planned. When I put the new hard drive in and tried to power things back on… nothing. No chime, no video, no spin up. Nothing. Sigh. I managed to get an 8 AM appointment at the Apple Genius Bar, but I was pretty bummed about it last night. This morning, however, things turned out OK. Not fantastic but OK.

Brian, my assigned Genius, suggested that the problem might be the “top case” — literally the top of the case, containing the keyboard and power switch. After pulling it off and putting on a new one, things fired right up. So another $150 later, all is well.

Brian was actually really nice and helpful about the whole situation (almost making me regret calling Apple the “corporate asshole du jour” on Saturday, but not quite). As I write this I realize how strange it is that I consider this a surprising exception. Next up: Ubuntu installation and configuration.


[1]I had one 2GB SODIMM already lying around in my Eee PC.
date:2008-08-11 09:49:42
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slug:laptop-rejuvenation
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category:geek
tags:apple, macbook, service