Chuckellania for October 30th, 2021

Published on Friday, November 5, 2021

If you're really into the outdoor laptop lifestyle, the 2021 MacBook Pros' display may not quite be bright enough, but an e-ink display could be.

Mac OS Classic had an app1 called Scrapbook. I never really understood its point as a kid at the time, but Uli proposes that it was an early form of multiple clipboards. With that, the name and concept suddenly clicks.

Modern macOS still has Finder's Edit → Show Clipboard menu item (is that where you would have expected it to reside?), but other than syncing the clipboard across devices, it hasn't changed much.

This 2004 e-mail thread between Microsoft execs, frustrated over the relative progress of Windows Codename Longhorn (a.k.a. Vista) compared to Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger is interesting, but it also raises some questions on whether the execs even knew what they were talking about. Longhorn, of course, was a troubled software project in some of the same ways Apple's Copland (the original, never-shipped Mac OS 8) had been decade earlier.

Vic bemoans Spotlight being a WinFS rip-off, but Spotlight's focus is on search, and WinFS at the time didn't even have search.

Vic also thinks Core Video and Core Image are an Avalon competitor, but Avalon (a.k.a. WPF, the Windows Presentation Foundation) is a UI framework akin Apple's Cocoa/AppKit, whereas Core Video and Core Image are libraries to help build video and image editors; apps like Acorn and Pixelmator build on Core Image.

In many ways, the thread seems to miss the point. What the Mac OS X team at the time did was this: they shipped, and then iterated, and then shipped again. The Windows Vista team, did not; instead, they kept expanding the scope. What was supposed to be a stop-gap release before Blackcomb instead subsumed all ideas and the kitchen sink, including pie-in-the-sky projects like WinFS. Meanwhile, Mac OS X was incomplete: it lacked major features. 10.0 did not play DVDs or record CDs.2 10.1 was extremely slow. 10.4 still did not have a good answer for "how do I backup?". And so on. But almost every year, Apple iterated, and delivered, and it felt to users that things kept getting better.

If the Vista team had shown some humility and focused on features that were actually ready and polished, much like the 7 team successfully did later on, its story might have been quite different.

Was Vic too far removed from the Vista team(s) to understand its features? Or, worse, should he have had a better grasp of them but didn't?

I genuinely think (and thought at the time) that WinFS sounds intriguing on paper. All it needed is a good user story.

The San Antonio, TX zoo is debuting a jaguar skywalk, and I feel like I've seen that movie in 1993.

What if Cyan made a game set between Myst and Riven and called it… Mydst?

Speaking of Mac OS X, at some point, its Help menu gained a search feature, which goes through the entire menu bar of the current application and helps you discover features. The usefulness is fantastic, and the way it looks is cute.

What if the notch on the MacBook Pro caused the mouse cursor to obscure the camera?

  1. Technically, a desk accessory, which was in one way a hack to allow mini-applications to multitask even though the OS had no multitasking yet, but in another way also a precursor to widgets.

  2. Hard to understand today, but this really mattered then.