Brutal Deluxe Updates Apple II Cassette Collection

Brutal-Deluxe-logo

Antoine Vignau has announced an update of the Apple II Cassette Collection on Brutal Deluxe.  The update includes the following new items:

  • Apple’s High-resolution graphics (002-0002-01)
  • Apple’s Checkbook-1 (002-0005-01)
  • Hayden’s Songs in the key of Apple

The new additions brings the total number of offerings in the collection to 623 tapes.  For more information or to download the items in the collection, see the Brutal Deluxe Apple II Cassette Collection website at:

http://www.brutaldeluxe.fr/projects/cassettes/

The Northern Spy — Much Ado About Something

northernspy3

May 2014

but, what are those somethings?
Rumours continue to swirl about Apple and its certain/probable/possible/mythical/impossible product introductions for 2014 (some may be all five at once). Given Apple’s recent history, and that we’ve made it this far into the year without any major introductions, the Spy is convinced (has managed to convince himself–Nellie) that WWDC will be the venue for some significant product announcements.
Our reader may recall that by delaying two minutes after 0900 on ticket sale day in 2013, he missed by nearly half a minute the “sold-out” state for the 5000 tickets. This year, he put in his name on receiving Apple’s kind invitation to do so, and was astonished to receive approval to buy after a random draw a few days later, so is one of the favoured ones–his first WWDC in several years. He anticipates interesting days in early June San Francisco. In what respect?
By all appearances Apple is focused these days on hardware rather than software, though the Spy opines that this perception is due to supplier and partner leaks on the hardware side providing the meat for a kind of speculation for which Apple’s high-security cloister on the software front throttles the fuel for any such rumours before they can exit the campus.
Immediate focus should be on new MacBook Pro models (likely introduced before WWDC and showcased there), a new and larger iPhone/iPod Touch (to be announced there but not available till later) the iWatch (mentioned tongue in cheek last month, and a definite maybe to join an increasingly crowded field in the next few months) and a new TV product–almost ready, and the best candidate for a blockbuster hardware announcement. Call it an iTV+/pro/s.
The Spy recently purchased one of the current models to supplement his video centre–not that he is even connected to a TV network, but as the only available window on the iTunes store videos. Not withstanding that Apple has made a billion dollars on these little boxes in the past year, they still are a hobby–as indeed appears to be the entire genre. Selection is limited, the interface unimaginative and awkward, there is no live programming, little older TV or movies, and some services, like Netflix, are available in many other ways (through the receiver, TV, or Blu Ray player software). It’s nice to have, it’s very fast, the store connection of course exclusive to it, and the iPod app remote convenient, but it won’t get used a lot here. Neither will his subscription to Netflix once the free month runs out. The Spy supposes one could stretch a point and call the offerings content, but like most television programming it’s repetitious, thin, hackneyed, and dull. You’d think there would at least be live news.
So a new TV product must be much more to be worthwhile and to fit iSteve’s enthusiastic descriptions–not likely just a software upgrade, but a whole new approach in a set top box and/or full blown large screen TV. However game-changing the interface and hardware, however, content is the key, and tie-ins to movie studios, TV networks, and/or cable providers to stream their content through Apple’s hardware the only way this product category is ever going to be more than a hobby–and it would take extreme doses of all those to persuade the Spy to open his wallet. More, he believes the delays in bringing the concept to market are due to a paucity of content agreements, not of engineers to instantiate Jobs’ concepts.
No doubt the current box would be downgraded to an iTV Jr/-/v1, though possibly with some of the new feature set so as not to antagonize the billions of dollars already spent. But unless Apple indeed raises the art to something far beyond the entire current set top box niche tools, the company is better off not bothering. Ditto very many more models of the iPhone or even a first model of an iWatch–Apple needs to give its imitators something genuinely new to copy rather than run merely to catch up with them.

Besides being more opaque
the software side of the Apple machinery is perhaps more interesting. It’s been a truism for some decades that software utility lags far behind hardware capability, and this remains true today. Indeed the lag grows yearly.
That leads one to ask what, besides the obvious iOS 9 and OS XI, the legions of Apple’s software gnomes are mining behind the multiple closed doors at One Infinite Loop.
Apple’s iWork is thus far kin to iTV–a moderately lucrative hobby for the home market, but scarcely a marketing threat in the professional workplace. The Spy, for decades an avid reviewer and consumer of word-and number-smithing products, uses none of its components except Keynote, a true upgrade on the Office suite, whose other components earn first, his best overall software product award (all categories) for Excel–he uses it a lot–and second, his worst of category raspberry for Word–never, never, never open it! There is, by the way, no single best-for-everything writing product. BBEdit and Alpha have their strengths for code, Nisus Writer Pro for general writing, and the incomparable Scrivener for books and scripts. This is probably the way it must be, though an alliance among the three could produce something amazing in a componetized product.
OTOH, FileMaker Pro is a superior product, OTOH the MS offering–what’s it called again?–not worth accepting even as free. The Spy is baffled over this. MS must know they have an eviscerated turkey (bad metaphor considering it never had any vis) in this category, yet never does anything about it. Why not? Because they can’t?
The bottom line on the number crunching front is no new opportunities, unless Apple decides to do an accounting product that includes fund accounting–a category not currently available on the Mac, and not well done elsewhere thus far either.
Now you would think that with WWDC showcasing the overwhelming plurality of Apple ecosystem developers over all others, Apple’s development software would be a shining example of how to do things right in enabling programmers to do things righter. Not. xCode could use considerable work. Indeed, the pre-OS X MPW, though primitive in some ways, was easy to use, more versatile and more customizable, especially when it came to dropping alternate languages into the environment.
The ideal programming environment has superb file handling (including multiple-user version control), program editing with multiple language keyword highlighting (think BBEdit or Alpha), has all the back end tools for building end products, low-end libraries of procedures and constants for binding, comes with a choice of two or three languages and plenty of current examples for starters, and allows for simple, easily integrated alternate language drop in support.
Apple’s XCode has Objective C. Nothing else. Worse, it makes it difficult (not impossible) to integrate other language packages, and increases that difficulty by changing and removing functionality from version to version instead of adding to a solid base. The Spy gets that this is supposed to be in the name of consistency, a closed ecosystem, and their ease of support. But convenience, versatility, and appropriateness are all being sacrificed. Apple does not get that no language is ideal for every problem solving domain–all have their strengths and weaknesses; some are better for some things, others for others.
For instance, the Spy would never dream of teaching beginners in either C++ or Objective C. Far too steep a learning curve, and too many inconsistencies in the language designs. Python and Modula-2 (the latter despite being older) are far better. Modula-2 can be made to run in XCode, but not easily. A combination of the commercial p1 compiler, the open source Alpha editor, and the RSMP/RASS back end utilities with gcc seems best, but without XCode’s unnecessary awkwardness. Coming up: Modula-2 R10, which incorporates many new programming paradigms and may turn out to be the easiest-to-use high level notation yet. (Disclaimer: The Spy is one of the designers.) And, on the gripping hand, many people in numerical analysis still prefer to use Fortran. Still others overlook the complexity of Ada for its elegance. Further examples abound. Why not encourage multiple language use. The linker doesn’t care. This could have been done much better, Apple.

But there is a software category
for which a dramatic re-think is possible, one Apple could exploit to move way ahead of the curve (again). Computers are touted as having the potential to make all aspects of life, community, and work simpler, faster, easier, better, and the Spy has been one such prognosticator for decades. Mind, he has worried equally long about the potential to empower destructive behaviour, but it is important to note for both evil and good, that computers are mere tools. They add no meaning, have no intentionality–both, for whatever purpose and end, reside entirely in the user. A hammer can both build and destroy. Computers are no different.
To some extent (though the tools are primitive compared with what they could and will be, this promise has been fulfilled by word processors, spreadsheets, database management and accounting software–all of which do make many work tasks far easier than they once were. However, the whole communications sphere is primitive and fragmented–one-purpose tools like social media, texting, instant messaging, notification, email, and voice telephone have their use-strengths, but the collection lacks the kind of integration and unity that would make it truly a communications game changer that even present day hardware could enable, were the software up to it. What we need, and someone will eventually supply, is a one-stop communications shop with all tools integrated into a single user experience. An iPhone goes partway there, but Apple can do better–much better–and it is unlikely anyone else could, except by way of slavish imitation.

And, as the Spy has mentioned more than once in this space
Tim Cook remarked to him at a previous WWDC that Apple had not yet figured out how to do a textbook reader right, and wouldn’t release a product until they did. The Spy knows as well as anyone that textbooks are not novels, and cannot be properly read in the same simplistic way. However, the clock is ticking, iTim. The first company to do it will hand the entire paper textbook publishing industry an instant death sentence and take over what is left. Why should a student pay $350 for an Abstract Algebra or Principles of Compiler Writing textbook instead of downloading it into a suitable reader for a mere  $10.
WWAD? WWDC will tell much of this year’s story, but the Spy anticipates the majority of the announcements will be hardware related. And, the Spy will be there. Thus, the June column will appear a couple of days late, and will be written on the floor of the convention hall as revelations are made. Indeed, as in previous visits, much of it may be written ahead of time, and only polished there. Likewise, there may be a second column later in the week. Stay tuned, and remember, you read it here first.

–The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a.k.a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several community and organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and nine novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to ArjayBB.com. Participate and you could win free web hosting from the WebNameHost.net subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe’s fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon’s Booksurge.

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises:
The Northern Spy Home Page: http://www.TheNorthernSpy.com
opundo : http://opundo.com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http://sheaves.org
WebNameHost : http://www.WebNameHost.net
WebNameSource : http://www.WebNameSource.net
nameman : http://nameman.net
General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books:
Author Site: http://www.arjay.ca
Publisher’s Site: http://www.writers-exchange.com/Richard-Sutcliffe.html
The Fourth Civilization–Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed.): http://www.arjay.bc.ca/EthTech/Text/index.html
URLs for items mentioned in this column
p1 Modula-2: http://modula2.awiedemann.de/
ETH RAMSES/RASS project: http://www.sysecol.ethz.ch/RAMSES/RASS.html
AlphaX programming editor: http://alphatcl.sourceforge.net/wiki/pmwiki.php/Software/AlphaX
Modula-2 R10–see the link at: http://www.modula-2.com/

Skype group video calls now free

Skype

Skype

Posted on the Skype blog is the announcement that group video chats are now free.

The blog goes on to say, “For the last few years, we’ve offered group video calling to Premium users on Windows desktop and Mac and more recently Xbox One. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re making group video calling free – for all users on these platforms. And, in the future, we’ll be enabling group video calling for all our users across more platforms – at no cost.”

Up to 10 simultaneous video exchanges are allowed on the Windows and Mac versions of Skype. Premium Skype accounts cost $5 per day or $9 per month.

ADTPro 1.3.0 Released

David Schmidt, curator of the ADTPro project, has announced the release of version 1.3.0.  According to the posting in CSA2, ”

Just a quick purge of CVS as I prepare to get going on the new wide protocol in earnest – this should represent the known bugs up to today of the “1-byte protocol” ADT-compatible ADTPro client and server.

There’s no new functionality, just a cleanup of earlier problems caused by yours truly.  There will be maintenance as required of the 1.x line going forward, but all new enhancements will go into the upcoming “wide” (as-yet-unnumbered) version.
1.3.0 – April 6, 2014
Bug fixes:
* Re-enable 19200 baud rate for serial client (removed in 1.2.8) – the Mac LC/Apple IIe card requires this speed
* [Client] Don’t bother turning the drive motor on early (introduced in 1.2.9) with Audio protocol”

First report on the new Uthernet II

Uthernet II

Uthernet II

As promised, the beta Uthernet II card has finally arrived for me to test out and share my feedback. Big thanks to Glenn Jones of A2RetroSystems for including me in his beta testing program and allowing me to give the Apple II world a preview of this exciting new technology!

My first impression after opening the box and removing the bubble wrap is that this is definitely a little card! If you thought the original Uthernet was small, the Uthernet II is around half the size, despite having more components on its face.

In less than 35 lines of 6502 assembly code, I was able to setup and configure the Uthernet II with MAC and IP addresses, and I could ping it from across the network. I think we’re going to see a lot more Internet-enabled programs for the Apple II once the Uthernet II is out.

Read my full report here

The Northern Spy — Don Your Computers

northernspy3

by Rick Sutcliffe
April 2014

Wearable computing technology
has been the “latest” buzz longer than most ideas (indeed longer than some ideas endure from conception to death), generating endless speculation about who will bring out what product in the genre and when. As often the case, the Spy has the inside track. Mind, he does not deal in speculation or rumour. However, he does keep his ear to the ground, his eye on the horizon, his nose to the grindstone, his hand in the industry, and his mind on the probabilities, which for simultaneity may be a literal anatomical improbability and for metaphorical use too much a melange merely to be termed “mixed.”
One new technology recently in the news was a means to read the brain’s diversified visual storage and reconstruct memories of faces–touted as useful in identifying perpetrators of crimes. Sounds quite interesting. Add this to a new manufacturing technique from I.R.C. for integrated circuits that strings out the components as hair-thin threads emanating from a flexible substrate rather than on fixed two-dimensional silicon surfaces, and to the more-than-substantial stories of research into wearables at Apple, and it is not difficult to forecast that the Spy’s long-predicted (since before 1990) PIEA (Personal Intelligence Enhancement Appliance) may soon be a reality.
For those new to the Spy’s work, and in particular those who haven’t read his “Fourth Civilization” text, or his novels in which the PIEA plays a prominent role, the basic premise was that of the Metalibrary (universal hyperlinked storage of everything informational, with devices called MTs (Metalibrary Terminals) that served for as information access, communication, computation, and reader combined as one. The PIEA is the portable version of an MT, with glasses or an implanted eye-screen for video, ear buds or implants for audio, a throat microphone, a belt-slung tablet that a user grips with one or both hands to code text and data for addresses, queries, and texted responses, and incorporating a diamond-coated screen for times when the eye-wear was deemed inadequate. Throw in an optional neural interface and you have the ultimate in what older SF referred to as the “pocket brain”–a true intelligence enhancement appliance to which can be offloaded computational tasks better done in hardware. Isn’t it interesting the extent to which his vision has been achieved by the busy boys and girls beavering away in the basement labs of academia and corporatia over these last twenty-five years?
How does the rest of it come together in the real world as an iPIEA? Not as a mere iWatch–that would be selling the vision far short of the probabilities, let alone the possibilities that Cupertino can dream of. No, the next announced product cooked up by iTim will be the ultimate wearable, consisting of twelve components, though with some twinning, only ten or eleven discretely different ones.
– a pocket or pouch unit containing the basic computer. Various trade names have been bruited about, including iPhone Pro, and/or iPadTouch+, but the Spy’s dark horse favourite is iCon (iconnect). After all, the Spy, being not bound in this case by a non-disclosure agreement, can freely admit to the rumour that Apple has not as yet signed a licensing agreement with Arjay Enterprises for the rights to use the designation iPIEA–for free. Neither will he admit even to negotiations.
– One or two wrist bracelets containing a wireless connection to the above for interface purposes. Think iWatch-enhanced, as these would be flexible metal with a polished surface acting as a touch screen. Each bracelet comes in five or 7.5 centimetre widths and has an effective screen height of up to fifteen centimetres, depending on the circumference of the user’s wrist. Rotating the bracelet on the wrist provides a brand new gesture, as does moving one’s entire arm about in one of several manners. (e.g. hand in the air to ask a question of Siri, hand out sideways to generate a communications handshaking protocol, hand behind the back to request that a web site respect privacy, and so on);
– the aforementioned eyeglasses (eye implants are a later iteration), but done in Ruby “glass”, not sapphire. Interviewed earlier this week by the Spy, iTim commented “I’ve always looked at the world through rose-coloured glasses, so why change now?” A thinly deposited diamond surface as in the Spy’s first novel, The Peace is a bit of a technological stretch as yet;
– the likewise aforementioned throat mike and ear buds, connected wirelessly to the main machine via a very personal LAN;
– Apple will release the package with limited, pre-packaged, and non-upgradable storage in 16, 32, and 64G models only, in a variety of screen sizes from zero to 22cm, with a price point comparable to current iPhones and iPads, and in 4G and Wi-Fi-only models. The base unit will be available separately for a discount, and all current iPhone, iPad, and iPodTouch devices will be dropped from the lineup. As AppleTV will be incorporated, that separate box may be dropped sooner rather than later. Personal proximity to one’s home theatre will be sufficient to communicate input and output over with it.
The Spy has learned that in addition to the base and enhanced configurations detailed above, two significant upgrades will be available–in case the reader’s appetite for this kind of thing is insufficiently whetstoned thus far.
First, purchasers will not be limited to the paltry memory Apple provides, as I.R.C. plans to release a wearable device with up to thousands of memory threads attached that can communicate wirelessly to the main box and serve as auxiliary memory–scaleable to multiple terabytes. These threads may be woven into shirt, socks, or slacks and fitted with a USB port so the whole thing can alternately be plugged into a computer. This ultimate portable storage will be used for the owner’s personal data store/cache, and to protect it from would-be thieves, it will be password protected to the DNA in the user’s sweat. However, apparently some very high-forehead early alpha-testers requested another alternative, so I.R. has promised to release the wearable solid state storage also as a dyed-to-order hairpiece–guaranteed to be a real head-turner.
Second, by purchasing four slave units to the wrist bracelet–a second bracelet without a screen (software switch for lefties to reverse orientation) two likewise for the ankles, and a belt buckle of the same material, the wearer will be able, in combination with the ear buds, to listen to music in seven channel surround sound.
Bass sound? Mens’ and women’s underwear from Joe Boxer and Stanfield in various sizes, with not one, but two wireless bottom-mounted sub-woofers. Skinnier people may need padded bits. Getting the subwoofers wet voids the warrantee. And what is I.R.C? The Irreproducible Results Corporation. Have a good April first.

–The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a.k.a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several community and organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and nine novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to ArjayBB.com. Participate and you could win free web hosting from the WebNameHost.net subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe’s fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon’s Booksurge.

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises:
The Northern Spy Home Page: http://www.TheNorthernSpy.com
opundo : http://opundo.com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http://sheaves.org
WebNameHost : http://www.WebNameHost.net
WebNameSource : http://www.WebNameSource.net
nameman : http://nameman.net
General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books:
Author Site: http://www.arjay.ca
Publisher’s Site: http://www.writers-exchange.com/Richard-Sutcliffe.html
The Fourth Civilization–Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed.): http://www.arjay.bc.ca/EthTech/Text/index.html

iOS 7.1 released with visual tweaks and CarPlay

iOS 7.1

Apple iOS 7.1

Apple has released the first update to iOS 7 since last September to the general public after a long beta test period. This update includes fixes for the TouchID fingerprint system, a fix for the home screen crashing issue, as well as the new feature for automobiles: CarPlay. Apple calls CarPlay “a better way to use iPhone while driving.” The system is only available on select new cars for 2014.

iPhone 4 users will enjoy improved responsiveness and performance with this iOS update.

Access the Software update area of your iDevice to update to this new version.

Visit the Apple iOS 7 site for more

A.P.P.L.E. Negotiates Discount for Option8 Joystick Shield

RetroConnector Joystick Shield copy

A.P.P.L.E. has negotiated a discount for A.P.P.L.E. Members who purchase Option8’s Joystick Shield or the Joystick Shield Kit.  These connectors allow users to utilize their original Apple II series joysticks with their current Mac or PC.  Many emulators will also recognize the Joystick Shield.

The discount code is available to A.P.P.L.E. members only through their login ID’s and is good for 10% off on the Joystick Shield and Joystick Shield Kit.  This discount does not apply to any other Option 8 products.  To purchase the Joystick Shield or the Joystick Shield Kit, go to
https://www.tindie.com/stores/option8/

This connector has been confirmed to work with the Virtual Apple II website during a variety of tests. — http://www.virtualapple.org

Apple’s Peter Oppenheimer to Retire

Apple has announced that Peter Oppenheimer, the Senior VP and CFO, will call it a career in September.   His retirement opens up a slow for the VP of Finance to move up.  Luca Maestri will replace Peter beginning in June.

For more on this story, see the announcement at apple.com — http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2014/03/04Apples-Peter-Oppenheimer-to-Retire-at-the-End-of-September.html

The Northern Spy — March (to) Madness

northernspy3

Being insanely proprietary
can be both a strength and/or a weakness. On the negative side of the leger, HP, Xerox, and IBM, by not being more particular about their in-house inventions and IP, all lost opportunities to dominate the personal computing market. Oh, yes, IBM did for a while, but because the software was controlled by Microsoft, and wasn’t exclusive, clones eventually turned their boxes into commodities, and they exited the market rather than compete on a consumer level–much to the Spy’s surprise and chagrin, for he believes it was and remains a mistake. It wasn’t a bad as Canadian Pacific exiting the telecommunications business in favour of Rogers, but of the same nature–abandoning participation in technological future megabucks for a handful of present-day dollars.
Yes, and one can scarcely count the number of technology companies that fell by the wayside due to complacency, failure of vision, lack of innovation, badly timed or marketed products, poor management, or internal disputes. The list is longer than this space, and grows by the year, with Blackberry and Sony in immediate danger, and Microsoft already on the deathwatch list. (PC sales are in steep decline, and Apple sales in equally steep increase–there are boing to be big casualties, and soon.)
Apple may be the ultimate practitioner of secrecy and producer of proprietary technology, and this has served the company well in most instances. The hardware is not easy to clone with any fidelity, the operating system is entirely in house, manufacturing is tightly controlled, vertical integration is the order of the day, and security rivals that laid on for a U.S. Presidential luncheon with the Pope at an Arab-owned restaurant in Jerusalem.m Look for more of the same–ventures into controlling entertainment content, delivery, and even the infrastructure for same, including big announcements this year.
Apple’s few deviations have been costly. The experiment with allowing Macintosh clones had the smell of desperation, but was terminated before it got out of hand. Licensing some IP to Microsoft allowed the latter to create Windows–an MS-DOS extension and cheap imitation knockoff of Apple’s OS–all too similar down to the programming interfaces, but fortunately for Apple, poorly enough executed to allow them to move on to much better, and now produced by a company that seems to have run out of ideas and lost its way. A Steve Jobs in charge of Microsoft would have eaten Apple alive when it was at the bottom of its cycle. His successors will do the same in reverse.
Keeping secrets has helped the marketing effort too. Months of speculation and rumours precede every product announcement, creating a pent up demand that results in a feeding frenzy on the day of introduction, and gooses publicity and subsequent sales to insane heights until the next round starts.
However (and you knew one of those was coming), the very proprietariness and NIH attitude that serves the bottom line in some ways can detract from critical mindspace in others. A case in point is Cupertino’s gradually tightening noose on developers. Yes of course Apple wants to protect users and keep the ecosystem consistent, so requiring all development to be in Objective-C, done in XCode, signed, and approved before going into the Apple store partially makes one kind of sense.
But it does discourage, even choke off, any other kind of development. Apple is gradually making it more difficult to do experimental work, program in other languages, or even do certain kinds of research that require the installation of tools once included by Apple, but now omitted. Up to recent versions of XCode, for instance, an install came complete with various command line tools, not all of which were essential to developing inside the narrow confines of the store system. These have been left out of XCode 5. At first, they could still be installed in the Terminal by typing:
xcode-select –install
but even this no longer works, as Apple has removed the command line tools from its server, and the command fails. At this point, ports or homebrew can still install most of what is needed. For instance, the following sequence installs homebrew, checks the installation, finds versions of gcc, and installs the (currently) most recent gcc.
ruby -e “$(curl -fsSL https://raw.github.com/Homebrew/homebrew/go/install)”
brew doctor
brew update
brew search gcc
brew tap homebrew/versions
brew install gcc49
Yes, Apple still has a C++ in the form of clang, but unless packages that depend on it are re-coded in many places their projects will not compile against clang without numerous errors. In the Spy’s case, he wanted a combination of the Alpha programming editor, the p1 Modula-2 compiler, XCode (and gcc) to work with the RASS library from ETH. All this was to test programs for a new dialect of Modula-2–possible because there is substantial syntax overlap. Each of these four products is under active development, but only certain version combinations play correctly together, and Apple’s constant changes to the XCode language environments and the APIs mean that developers require one environment to program within the Apple ecosystem, and others to do anything else.
Now the Spy fully understands that Apple wants things done a certain way for products it approves on its own OS, but for tools that, though Apple no longer needs them, developers may, and they do no harm installed, not installing them by default may make limited sense, but making it hard to obtain them at all just annoys developers. Programming environments are large and slow-moving. People who depend on them ought to be given more consideration and less grief. Developers are your friends, iTim, not your manipulatives.

Wasn’t the Internet supposed to lower barriers,
spread love and kindness,reduce prejudice, blur national boundaries, generally homogenize the human race, and put an end to war?
The Spy never thought so. After all, the nineteenth century goddess of progress in earlier technology was tasked with the same expectations, and eventuated only catastrophic failure. So, writing back in the 1980s, he opined that once the Metalibrary was instantiated and we were all brought virtually closer to one another’s penchants, opinions, religions, cultures, ethnicity, and warts, it was at least as likely that dislikes, tensions, and hatreds would be exacerbated. Indeed, he predicted that when the Iron Curtain came down, the ethnic groups in some of the eastern European artificial countries such as Yugoslavia, freed of the restraining Russian fist, would revert to their centuries-old hobby of cutting each others’ throats. That enforced conglomerate broke part in bloody civil war, the old Soviet Union fragmented in Russia’s economic and military exhaustion, Czeckoslovakia split more peacefully, and now it appears to be Ukraine’s turn, for the guns are out once again.
However the divisions that people grow to hate the closer they see them need not be historic, religious, ethnic or linguistic as they are in Europe. They may be political, social, economic, or cultural. Chat room, bulletin board, Twitter, and Facebook debates do not produce consensus–they heighten tensions and sharpen differences more rapidly than ever. Why? Because we no longer live in a civil society, don’t have a common code of ethics, behaviour, speech, or honour, and most people don’t discuss issues. Even our parliamentary houses host debates that are at best mere show–not intended to conciliate or forge consensus ideas, but to rub the noses of the minority in their loss to the majority.
Elsewhere, things are worse, for so-called debate is often mere mud-slinging vituperation, and ad hominem attacks bent on destroying the credibility of opponents without conceding the finest point. Does someone have the temerity to disagree with you, Oh great and grand high-poobah of Sala-ma-sond who can never be wrong about the smallest detail? Why not steal a database of your opponents’ associates, scour web sites for the email addresses of politicians, retail stores, churches, community associations and Internet businesses, then use it and any net forum you can think of to hurl mud, slander, false stories, disrespect, and vile names?
And before you say “Why not? It’s a free country,” stop and think. For how long? Are we in the west creating social, economic, religious, and political divides founded on the same kind of suspicion, ghettoization, vilification, and ultimately hatred that point us to the same fate as Yugoslavia and her imitators?
Sorry to decline participation, but the Spy would rather be out voted on the result of a debate or an election that he engaged politely, civilly, positively, and honourably, than “win” it with what have become the standard uncivil attack methods. Win what? Worse, such “winning” is pyrrhic–really a loss, and if we don’t want Western Europe, the United States, and Canada to follow in the Eastern Europe march of madness, we’ll step back from the rhetoric. It’s too late there (the west has no appetite to intervene, especially given experience in the Middle East and Africa), and we may even be seeing the re-assertion of bully Soviet Union to keep order by force.
Can us turn from our own course before our political, social, moral, and religious hatreds mean it is too late? Maybe. Communication technology, like all its siblings, is neither a goddess nor an end, but a means. The question is to what end? Free speech will only remain free if it is responsible, and no heights of technology can overcome its users’ incivility and penchant for hatred. Let’s turn this thing around. The alternative is playing out before us.

–The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a.k.a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several community and organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and nine novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to ArjayBB.com. Participate and you could win free web hosting from the WebNameHost.net subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe’s fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon’s Booksurge.

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises:
The Northern Spy Home Page: http://www.TheNorthernSpy.com
opundo : http://opundo.com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http://sheaves.org
WebNameHost : http://www.WebNameHost.net
WebNameSource : http://www.WebNameSource.net
nameman : http://nameman.net
General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books:
Author Site: http://www.arjay.ca
Publisher’s Site: http://www.writers-exchange.com/Richard-Sutcliffe.html
URLs for items mentioned in this column
p1 Modula-2: http://modula2.awiedemann.de/
ETH RAMSES/RASS project: http://www.sysecol.ethz.ch/RAMSES/RASS.html
AlphaX programming editor: http://alphatcl.sourceforge.net/wiki/pmwiki.php/Software/AlphaX
Modula-2 R10–see the link at: http://www.modula-2.com/