Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 16th Apr 2015 08:40 UTC
Mac OS X

Nearly 15 years ago, I wrote my first review of Mac OS X for a nascent “PC enthusiast's" website called Ars Technica. Nearly 15 years later, I wrote my last. Though Apple will presumably announce the next major version of OS X at WWDC this coming June, I won't be reviewing it for Ars Technica or any other publication, including the website you're reading now.

The best software reviewer in the business calls it quits.

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Yay
by onin on Thu 16th Apr 2015 09:17 UTC
onin
Member since:
2015-04-09

Not everyone liked Johns OSX reviews. My main objection is that his "insane level of detail" isn't really that detailed - it just seems like that because the average piece seems to be in the vicinity of 25,000 words. That's a lot of words, so it must be really detailed, right? Well, in some areas it is, but then it's often too detailed, like when he goes into depth explaining byte-ordering issues wrt performance. Totally irrelevant for the average power user. Then the next few pages touches on icons and colors, instead of explaining the functional aspects.

He's may be the best OS X reviewer, but clearly not the best reviewer.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Yay
by darknexus on Thu 16th Apr 2015 13:16 UTC in reply to "Yay"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Then you didn't have to read them, did you? There's no reason to be glad at this when all you need do to not see his reviews was simply to not click on them.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Yay
by No it isnt on Thu 16th Apr 2015 16:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Yay"
No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

With the exception of the title, I don't see any expression of joy at the thought of being rid of him. 'You didn't have to read them' is about as silly a response to his criticism as 'You don't have to use OS X' is to the reviews. The first tenet of writing reviews is to separate the relevant from the irrelevant: the latter may seem as 'detail' to an unrestrained blogger, but it's unneeded verbiage to a discerning reader.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Yay
by darknexus on Thu 16th Apr 2015 19:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Yay"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

The joy is in his comment title. Saying "yay" to something, in case your native language is not English, is an expression of joy, and I've never understood the kinds of people that are glad something is gone that they were never required to subject themselves to. It's the mentality that I don't understand.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Yay
by No it isnt on Thu 16th Apr 2015 22:06 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Yay"
No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

Yes, hence "With the exception of the title…".

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Yay
by Megol on Fri 17th Apr 2015 04:45 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Yay"
Megol Member since:
2011-04-11

The joy is in his comment title. Saying "yay" to something, in case your native language is not English, is an expression of joy, and I've never understood the kinds of people that are glad something is gone that they were never required to subject themselves to. It's the mentality that I don't understand.


Hmm? Yay is often used to express disinterest/detachment.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Yay
by Jbso on Thu 16th Apr 2015 16:18 UTC in reply to "Yay"
Jbso Member since:
2013-01-05

Agreed. I often find his reviews pay too much attention to superficial elements.

Another thing I dislike about his writing is the plethora of links. I feel like links should go to something that may be useful to the reader, whereas I often click a Siracusa link and find I'm at some pointless graphic.

Edit: I'm not against linking to the occasional joke, of course, just that I think Siracusa goes overboard with links that contribute nothing to the article.

Edited 2015-04-16 16:19 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Yay
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Thu 16th Apr 2015 21:52 UTC in reply to "Yay"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Well, in some areas it is, but then it's often too detailed, like when he goes into depth explaining byte-ordering issues wrt performance. Totally irrelevant for the average power user.


Wait what? Huh? And What's wrong with you? "average power user"? Is that slang for "someone who doesn't understand what bytes are"? In a world of dumbed down reviews, his was not. Kids today. Here have an ipad, enjoy the pretty colors.

Reply Score: 8

RE: Yay
by brichpmr on Fri 17th Apr 2015 08:44 UTC in reply to "Yay"
brichpmr Member since:
2006-04-22

Not everyone liked Johns OSX reviews. My main objection is that his "insane level of detail" isn't really that detailed - it just seems like that because the average piece seems to be in the vicinity of 25,000 words. That's a lot of words, so it must be really detailed, right? Well, in some areas it is, but then it's often too detailed, like when he goes into depth explaining byte-ordering issues wrt performance. Totally irrelevant for the average power user. Then the next few pages touches on icons and colors, instead of explaining the functional aspects.

He's may be the best OS X reviewer, but clearly not the best reviewer.


There would be a lengthy list of power users on Ars Technica and elsewhere who would disagree with you about the quality of the detail in Siracusa's reviews.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by satai
by satai on Thu 16th Apr 2015 10:14 UTC
satai
Member since:
2005-07-30

It's sad. Not only because that reviews were among the best one. A great advantage of them was continuity... you had a book of detailed (though not complete) chapters of evolution of one of major OSs.

Any future historian of tech development with specialization on early 21th century software will love it.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by satai
by spammesilly on Thu 16th Apr 2015 10:59 UTC in reply to "Comment by satai"
spammesilly Member since:
2011-10-15

Publish the reviews as a book

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by satai
by satai on Thu 16th Apr 2015 13:03 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by satai"
satai Member since:
2005-07-30

You can get it as ebooks. Print on demand would probably be prohibitively thick and heavy.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by hobgoblin
by hobgoblin on Thu 16th Apr 2015 15:24 UTC
hobgoblin
Member since:
2005-07-06

Meh, never understood the fascination with pixel counting.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by hobgoblin
by ebasconp on Fri 17th Apr 2015 15:32 UTC in reply to "Comment by hobgoblin"
ebasconp Member since:
2006-05-09

Because probably you never created a front-end thing.

Reply Score: 2

Good Luck John
by ezraz on Fri 17th Apr 2015 11:44 UTC
ezraz
Member since:
2012-06-20

His OS X reviews were legendary, I'd always read them through before deciding to upgrade or not.

Since everything is auto-update now there isn't as much draw to these huge software reviews.

He also was inspiration for me to post a massive review of the PonoPlayer here: http://tinyurl.com/qhp3smt

Good luck John, may you get paid by the word in your next position!

Reply Score: 1

RE: Good Luck John
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Fri 17th Apr 2015 18:31 UTC in reply to "Good Luck John"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Interesting review. The Pono was pretty controversial when it came out. It would have been nice to address that somehow.

Compare your review to Ars.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/02/pono-player-review-a-tall-re...

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Good Luck John
by ezraz on Fri 17th Apr 2015 18:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Good Luck John"
ezraz Member since:
2012-06-20

I've been banned from Ars more than once for arguing audio principles with those people. So many know it all jackasses on their forums.

Funny thing is that review ultimately says that the ponoplayer sounds really good. They just take issue with marketing and perceptions and other things outside of the player's realm.

The Ars types also believe that digital is clearly better in every case, like most tech types that are ignorant of professional production. They think in terms of data, not in terms of quality.

There are a few DSP experts up there but almost no one understands basic analog sound, hearing, perception, and music creation. I get frustrated, sometimes here too, because tech people seem to sound off on audio/music regardless of their ignorance, aka experience level with it.

Sound production and recreation is also counter-intuitive in many cases, which traps most logical thinkers into inserting their head into their rear.

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: Good Luck John
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Fri 17th Apr 2015 19:05 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Good Luck John"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Just a small critique on the review. It would have been more complete if it had addressed the common arguments against the pono. By ignoring them, it makes it seem as if you hadn't considered their critique. One hallmark of good reviewer is that they understand that their review isn't performed in a vacuum. Addressing other experts opinions makes it more valuable to the reader.

I'm not going to argue the pono player either way here. I did when the pono was released and there really isn't a reason to do so again here.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Good Luck John
by ezraz on Mon 20th Apr 2015 14:02 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Good Luck John"
ezraz Member since:
2012-06-20

Yeah I agree. I didn't want to take that strategy because I have spent a million words arguing other people's points on various forums, and wanted to bring the discussion to my world, my perspective.

I could do 100 more pages arguing down stupid attacks against PonoPlayer, against Neil Young, against musicians, against old rockers, against anyone in the music industry, against anyone who thinks there is better than digital audio @ 16/44, against anyone who thinks there are audio devices better than a samsung phone......

Too much credence is given to random internet poster, especially in threads about audio devices. You'll see random snark voted up and professional audio people voted down.

So I wanted to reset it back to my perspective, why I bought one,why I love it, why it's the best $300 I've spent on music playback, perhaps ever.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Good Luck John
by zima on Thu 23rd Apr 2015 23:57 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Good Luck John"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Or deep down you just know it that engaging in dialogue would simply reveal more readily what kind of crank and snake oil salesman you are ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Good Luck John
by zima on Thu 23rd Apr 2015 23:55 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Good Luck John"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

It would have been more complete if it had addressed the common arguments against the pono.

What, and more readily reveal himself as a snake oil salesman? ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Good Luck John
by ezraz on Fri 17th Apr 2015 18:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Good Luck John"
ezraz Member since:
2012-06-20

Interesting review. The Pono was pretty controversial when it came out. It would have been nice to address that somehow.

Compare your review to Ars.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/02/pono-player-review-a-tall-re...


It was never controversial to me, I heard 24bit masters 15 years ago and thought they sounded amazing. You need a decent rig to play them back with any advantage, though, so someone had to do the 24bit iPod, eventually. Apple or Sony wouldn't, so Pono/kickstarter jumped in.

The analog part of the PonoPlayer is where the magic really happens. They have a good but standard DAC, and everything else is android and open standards. The signal chain from DAC output to headphone output is pure magic, designed by Ayre.

Here's the beef, from the designer himself:
EVERYTHING from DAC to jacks is DC coupled. No coupling caps anywhere.

Everything is TRULY balanced from the DAC chip all the way to the output jacks. There is no virtual ground needed, as we have true +/- rails from the switching power supply. The raw rails go to SUPER low noise regulators, of which there are a TON.

The audio circuitry has their own dedicated +/- regulators. All of the digital circuitry runs off of positive voltage only, but three or four separate dedicated regulators there — one for the audio master clocks, another for the digital side of the DAC chip and a third for the rest of the digital circuitry.

NOBODY builds portable players that are fully-discrete, fully-balanced, and zero-feedback. This all makes a huge difference.

— Charlie Hanson of Ayre Audio, designers of the Ponoplayer audio circuitry



As far as the 24bit verse 16bit, or lossy arguments, Charlie has this to say:

a) Brickwall filtering creates massive time smear. b) The human ear/brain is already known to be exquisitely sensitive to time smear. c) DBT and AB/X are really only sensitive to differences in frequency response. Using these tools for anything to do with music is like pounding a nail with a screwdriver. Ain’t gonna work.

Specifically, one of the massive benefits of a higher sampling rate is not extended bandwidth. Instead, it allows for gentler filters to be used. In the case of the Ayre QA-9 A/D converter, the anti-aliasing filters have zero ringing or time smear for double and quad sample rates. (Only one cycle of ringing for single rates — something has to give somewhere…)

When Ayre designed the PonoPlayer’s audio circuitry, we held back nothing. We gave it everything that could fit within the constraints of the budget, physical space, and battery life. Every single secret we discovered went into the PonoPlayer. The digital filter is taken directly from our own products.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Good Luck John
by zima on Thu 23rd Apr 2015 23:51 UTC in reply to "Good Luck John"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

I'd always read them through before deciding to upgrade

that's insane & unnecessary, apple essentially forces you to upgrade anyway; surely you did just that every time eventually.

inspiration for me to post a massive review of the PonoPlayer

yup, with that level of emotional investment you brain is sure to colour the sound / placebo rampant.

Reply Score: 2

Not a serious review...
by t0nZ on Sat 18th Apr 2015 16:36 UTC
t0nZ
Member since:
2011-04-27

...when a lot of words is spent to describe things like aesthetics, wallpapers, graphics of buttons, bars etc etc... bah !
Or it's the OS made only for people with the time to admire the shadows of windows or counting the shades of grey in the dock ?

Reply Score: 2