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Voice of EED

Wednesday 27 November 2002

Macs, do they really suck piss? [vagga]

I'm sure you're aware we make all kinds of championship manager based football games here at Sports Interactive. One of the more popular is the Mac version. The poor old Mac does not get that many games made for it, therefore the few games that get made and get some attention do ok. We are lucky as we have one of the best 'Mac people' in the business working for us. He has a long past record of converting games for various studios, Black and White being the last before we b0rged him!

The bad side is that I have to test said game. We have a few crappy old iMacs running Mac OS 9 something and we have 2 beasts, one best you can buy iMac and one G4 with more features and ram than the average Cray super computer. Both have been gathering dust this last while, as we have been busy and don't have the time to learn how to use a Mac and get testing on it. But now that the Xbox game has shipped and testing is going ok I do have that time, and feel guilty and we have big blue in the corner of the testing room doing nothing. So I made a step into the unknown the other day and turned the iMac and the G4 on. {Cue oooooo'ing from the audience}

The first thing that struck me was how shite Mac OS X looked! To me it did not look as good as the 2 Linux GUI's and was trying very hard not to be Windows, and therefore changing some stuff, I'm sure they have a 'not windows department' where they look at every aspect of their OS and make it as un Windows as possible to please the bearded sandal brigade! We also use a product called code warrior, instead of Visual C ++. Now I'm only learning to be a programmer, so I can't speak as an authority, but as a user and a tester I like VC++. It does what it says on the tin, and it's easy to use. I donÂ’t know what an uber programmer type person would think. But Codewarrior is the spawn of the devil. Im not going to sit here for days and explain how CM4 is written and how Codewarrior's dev team seemed to have sat down and thought up ways of making life difficult for people on large projects. I can see them now, huddled around a bubbling cauldron {I'm thinking the witches in Roman Polanski's Macbeth here}, 'yea, if we make them have to re-input all the project settings for each page, that will really piss them off {evil cackle} Yea, and we will randomly forget the settings every now and again, that will really piss them off!' But the great thing is that I have no choice and I have to use it. Its typical of the Mac software I have seen, if you are wearing sandals and have a beard its very handy and has lots of good features. If you are a normal human being then you could be in trouble. This, I think, may be why Apple almost goes bust every few years, leaving aside the fact that all their machines look funny, and the horrible one button mouse. They have crap, totally not user friendly software!

I was looking forward to the fact that OS X is built on BSD. Now for those that don't know BSD is a type of UNIX. I have used UNIX all over the place in several previous jobs. To be honest I would rather do most things on the command line than use silly GUI's. I find it quicker to tar and then gzip a file and then ftp it, all via a command line. The great things is that you can open another (or 10 other) terminal windows. In Windows try and zip something and do anything else! But I should have known, they have suitably fecked it up. They have mutilated it, it's almost like they tortured it. Now maybe itÂ’s me, I have not used BSD before, but I presumed it could not be as messed up as Solaris. I have done a bit of reading and they seem to have forced the bit of Mac OS and BSD together, and forget about the consequences. That said I'm quite happy that I can do something on the command line again. Its annoying when I'm on one of the PC's in my test lab having to open Control panel, wait a few seconds, then open this file and that file to get the information I want.

On the positive, there are some good things. I like to listen to music during the day. I usually play them through my Desktop which has a SB Live and a set of Boston Speakers and a Woofer, Gateway style. I basically brought them over from Ireland with me. But with that Machine running CM4 24 hours a day I would rather not run anything else on it. So I took the horrible, frankly embarrassing, round Mac speakers out of the box and hooked them up, since I have a 40 odd gig drive on the Mac, and 3 gig of CM4 stuff and nothing else. Im almost afraid to say this, but I am really happy with the sound from them. I got the 7 CD GTA: VC soundtrack. The sound is crystal clear, and it just plays and then vanishes into the background. I'm well aware that PC apps do the same thing but it's just good that I finally have a use for the Mac :)

With all that being said, I'm not happy with OSX as an OS. But I'm not going to panic, and I will hold my hand up and say maybe I'm jumping to conclusions that I have only been playing with the Mac for a week now. I will do more messing as the days pass and see what the story is.


  1. I support a couple of macs. I don't really like them, but a lot of what I don't like is down to os 9 and the early versions of os x. 10.2 is a pretty big leap forward for os x, if you're not running that, well you should be fucknuts!

    But a couple of comments on what you said: fist osx is fairly loosely based on BSD, its been quite heavily buggerised. Most of your unixy things will work though, with a bit of faffing. Codewarrior isn't a mac specific thing, its awful on the PC too, so that's not really the macs fault. I've just started again with the macs here, nuking all the old versions of osx and os9 off em and going fresh with osx 10.2, and a lot of what was fucking me off previously is fixed now. Oh, and if you're integrating them with a windows domain in any way, download DAVE, it makes it a fuck load easier!

  2. Yea, they were running OSX 10.1.whatever, out of the box OS X and was the least stable peice of software since Tribes 2! Now they both have 10.2.2 and all seems fine, bar the odd Codewarrior crash (I blame that on Codewarrior sucking piss not the mac). Next on my mac list is to blow away 2 old imacs we have here and get them up and running, but neither of the CD drives work, so Im going to have to get creative!

  3. Mac hardware is really nice, but I didn't get along with OSX at all - not a beardy complaint about it or anything, because it seemed very stable and competent on a technical level; I just found it an absolute nightmare to actually get any work done on the damn thing! It's full of really annoying, overdesigned GUI quirks which manage to cover over the work you're doing if you move the mouse pointer to the wrong place or whatever - in fact in some respects I think the GUI is a step BACK from OS9 (although the rest of it is definitely a leap forward, because OS9 was up there with Win3.11 in a lot of technical and stability respects).

    I genuinely do think that KDE3 and current Gnome packages make a better stab at a useful GUI than OSX. Obviously this is a 'your mileage may vary' thing, since I do also have a fondness for the command line in terms of Just Getting Things Done... But I'm quite taken with the idea of buying a nice Mac, stripping the OSX GUI off and putting X and KDE on the top instead, something which I believe is possible with a bit of tinkering.

    Oh - and putting a proper mouse on the thing :)

  4. OSX is BSD with a nice Apple front end. :) If you're having problems with the unix side of things and you're ovbiously not unixy enough! So there! My wee ibook runs 10.1.5 (getting Jaguar this evening) with everything from mysql to python, from gpg to ghostscript, from sshd to apache to X11 perfectly. I've rarely had to do anything other than ./configure;make;make install with any unix app. Mind you, you have to download the dev tools from Apple before you do any of this trickery - much like installing redhat without any compilers would nicely fuck things up for ya. Jaguar bundles all this stuff.

  5. That's what he said teeth, except he thought the nice front end sucked. I agree too, its a pile of shite. Fucking daft big windows that do fuckall. The problem is though, you can't just put a linux distrib like yellowdog (think thats what its called) on because you lose the osx and os9 software that you probably bought the mac for in the first place. The ones I look after are running a mix of native osx and os9 stuff like Quark express etc, and there's no linux version of that.

  6. Vagga, would you believe that Codewarrior is the PS2 dev environment of choice in the US and Japan? Astounding but true. Europe prefers a system based upon visual studio naturally enough. This is just another example of no matter how shit something is, some people will stick up for it. Macs bieing a good example.

  7. And that's also an example of that no matter how much something gets better, some people will still slag it off. The macs are pretty good hardware wise, especially the lappies, and os x is based on probably the most stable os around, BSD. The main problems I'm having with macs is with legacy os9 stuff, the os x bits are quite impressive, wanky interface choices aside.

  8. If you really want to give OSX a go Joe, get Jaguar and install 'Fink' ( a Debian-style package manager for unix apps in OSX, it's really good. It makes installing and upgrading all your unix stuff very breeze.

    Slim, you can get a triple boot system going on Macs easily, do a search for a how-to about it. All Macs ship with open firmware - basically a bios/boot loader etc and more in one. I had Debian, OSX and OS9 going on my laptop when I bought it. I've since deleted Linux off it as OSX does everything it can do and a lot it can't (commerical dtp/graphics applications especially). Plus it's less wanky.. the hassle you go through getting all the hardware in laptops working with Linux is sometimes extreme - especially on new subnotebooks.