As You Were

Devin Coughlin's blog.
Styles: Serious Spare

June 20, 2005

IB for Walls

With all the picture hanging and molly-siting I've been doing over the last couple weeks, it really makes me wish there were such a thing as an Interface Builder for walls.

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Global Frequency

Just a note to say that if you can find the find the pilot to the now dropped show Global Frequency, starring Michelle Forbes (of Ro Laren fame) and based on the comic book by Warren Ellis, on BitTorrent (try torrentspy or isohunt, perhaps?) you whould watch it.

It's a pilot, with all the problems that entails, but it looked like it would have been a great show.

Also, if you're the TV watching sort, check out the new procedural The Inside starring Peter Coyote and Adam Baldwin. So far, at least, it has been more surprising than routine, which is quite an accomplishment for the genre.

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June 6, 2005

WWDC 2005 Keynote

So Apple is officially switching to Intel for its Macintosh line. They will have an Intel Mac shipping by June 2006 and expect to be fully transitioned by June 2007. They will use a dynamic translation engine (marketed as Rosetta) to translate PPC to x86. It doesn't sound like they will go the other direction.

This is big news, but as a practical matter it doesn't matter that much. Older, established companies will have to spend big bucks converting their programs to use the new build system, but newer projects should be a piece of cake to port. Most of my stuff should build on x86 out of the box, but my Unamed Compiler Project will need to be completely rethought. I've been thinking about targetting C (gross) or maybe Parrot. Grrrr. I'll be damned if I'm gonna learn x86 assembly. I've been totally spoiled by MIPS. Why the double-mint fuck can't we decouple process improvements with ISA? Goddamnit. That giant sucking sound down the hall is a crowd of Altivec wizards updating their resumes to apply for jobs at Microsoft and Sony.

So at WWDC 2005 there were no big hardware announcements, no big software announcements, nothing shiny to distract us with (although we were given an updated version of the backpacks they handed out last year -- now it has slots for pens, etc. in the small pocket), really nothing new but a Leopard timeframe (coincidental with Longhorn) and this Intel business. The keynote ran an hour short. iTunes' podcast support is cool, but I've been using NetNewsWire for that, anyway. I got totally radicalized by Democracy Now while driving here on I-80.

Onward and upward. Or — next year in Jerusalem.

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June 5, 2005

The Nuclear Option

The Nuclear Option

With news that Apple is switching its Macintosh computers to Intel chips appearing in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, it seems like it is time to consider the possibility that this is more than a bad rumor flashback. I've spent the last day and a half driving across the desert, without an internet connection, getting myself all worked up about this.

There are a couple of possibilities here:

1) the rumor is just plain wrong. Maybe Apple is trying to fuck with the rumor sites/ferret out a leak. This would be a highly questionable business practice, however, and if the stock moved on the info, it would likely get management in deep shit. (Although with Chris Cox helming the SEC, maybe not).

2) the rumor is about using non-CPU Intel components (WiMax, or other) in Apple products. This isn't a big deal, except as to what these components bring to the platform.

3) Apple has hired Intel to produce PPC chips. This would be so fucking cool. We'd have three PPC chipmakers, instead of two! Some have speculated that Apple has the rights to a shitload of IBM PPC IP and could contract intel to make the chips more or less as-is. Another intriguing possibility (I don't know how feasible), is that Intel could graft a PPC front-end onto the vaguely RISCish innards of its Pentiumish chips. I'd imagine the innards of the various Pentium lines are sufficiently un-RISC as to make this a potentiall hairy undertaking. This is the best possible outcome, assuming the rumour is true.

4) Apple will use Intel x86 chips in its Macs. Gag me with a spoon. This would a really big fucking deal. Most developers would have to recompile their apps. Most cutting edge video and audio stuff would have to be completely re-written. Apple would almost certainly need to provide emulators for PPC-->x86 and x86-->PPC. Getting PPC emulated, in software, on x86 is gonna be a fucking nightmare. Emulating a register-based ISA on a stack-based ISA is enough to make grown men cry. Seriously. If Apple goes this route, I'll have to either abandon a current project, or take a crash course in x86 assembly. Parrot's looking pretty good in this light, isn't it??

This would require quite a bit of under-the-hood work by Apple. They have a lot of ISA specific code (mostly vector stuff, but also simple byte-order optimizations and tricks) that would need to get rewritten at some point, otherwise x86 performance is gonna suck. Contrary to popular opinion, I think most Carbon apps should be very easy to get running on x86. Pure Cocoa apps should work without modification.

,p>It is also possible that Apple will restrict x86 chips to certain products (the rumored iTablet, a set top box [but Motorola would be the logical supplier for this], or x86 xServes for nervous IT types and Apps with heavy x86 assembly code-bases. Or maybe nifty new iPods?

5) Apple will announce that MacOS X will now run on COTS wintel boxes. This would be the biggest fucking deal, if it were available tomorrow. With Longhorn far off in the future, it seems to me now would be the best time to do this. This would be a big fuck-you to Microsoft and would be the ballsiest move in tech history. This is unlikely, but if there ever were a time to do this, now is it. I think this would make me happy, but I'm not sure it would be a good business move. It would have to be coupled with a big push in the office-type app space. Signs point to no.

6) ??? Got me. Something no one has thought of.

In any event, I'm writing this a block away from Moscone West. Hopefully, we should all know after tomorrow's WWDC keynote what the fuck is going on. I had thought WWDC 2005 would be booooring. Apparently not.

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The case of the $66 Nintendo64

On Friday I made a rare trip to Wells Fargo. Last week I bought a Nintendo64 on eBay (to fuel my Zelda habit) and also sold an old laptop battery. Unfortunately, I forgot PayPal was set up to use my Wells Fargo account.

The account is a relic of the z-edit days; I kept about $4 in it rather than go through the hassle of closing it, but with the Nintendo purchase, my account was overdrawn. Wells Fargo, ever helpful, called me the next day to inform me of the overdraft and the $33 fee they would be charging for covering the paypal payment. I quickly transferred the money I made from selling the battery from paypal to the account, but with the fee I was still about $4 short, so I had to physically go in to the branch to make a deposit.

At the teller counter I wrote myself a check for $20 and tried to deposit it, but it turned out that my account was inactive (I hadn't used it, except for this paypal annoyance, for about four years), and so the teller needed her supervisor.

Her supervisor, in turn, would have needed to call upstairs to customer relations in order to activate the account, just so I could deposit the $20. Instead of calling them, she waived the $33 fee: so my account was now in the black, and I didn't need to deposit any money.

It was easier for the supervisor to give me free money than to re-activate my account. Bad Wells Fargo. Bad bad bad!

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June 2, 2005

Dinosaur

My own damn blog just showed up in NetNewWire's dinosaurs list, so I figured it was time to post.

This is my first post on my new laptop, a 17" aluminum PowerBook, which I bought more than a month ago. It totally kicks my old 15" PowerBook's ass in all categories except aesthetics, and I've already been spoiled rotten by the gigantic screen.

Since I just bought a new laptop, I fully expect them to be updated at this year's WWDC in San Francisco, which I am leaving for on Saturday. Well, actually the rumor mills are so atypically quiet I don't know what to expect. Since Tiger has only just been released, it sounds like most of the sessions will be about taking full advantage of current technologies, rather than heads ups about what's coming down the pike. This is good, for me, as it will force me to understand things I've been ignoring for far too long (bindings, yeesh, CoreData, PyObjc). So I'll be happy even if nothing spectacular happens.

While I'm in the Bay Area, I'll get a chance to see Marco and Jessica, whom I haven't seen in a year (I think; it's certainly been that long since I've seen Jessica). Hopefully I'll make it up to Muir Woods, too, although that may be a little bit tough, schedule-wise.

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