posted by Jean-Baptiste Quéru on Tue 29th Jun 2004 17:40 UTC
IconLet me make it clear. I'm not a fan of Apple. I think that their products are overhyped, overpriced and underperforming. If you're looking for a fair unbiased opinion, you're looking in the wrong place. You've been warned. So, I was at Steve Jobs' 2004 WWDC keynote yesterday, attempting to take pictures for OSNews (an amazingly hard task, by the way, which really explained why people pay big bucks for big lenses equipped with image stabilizers). UPDATE: Stop reading right there, I have rewritten & updated the article here.

Editorial Notice: All opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of osnews.com

Not much to say about the Airport Express (nice little appliance, well thought, well executed, I found it funny that Steve Jobs would use the words "iTunes" and "lossless compression" in the same sentence). Not much to say about the iPod BMW connection (it's ironic that iPod and iDrive don't work together, and even though it's unrelated the gray plastic bumper of the X3 looks cheap and out-of-place on a BMW). Not much to say about to 30-inch monitor ("wow"), nor about its price ("damn").

Now, about some of the actual features of Tiger:

-Data syncing. Nice, maybe, but every single app needs to do some work, and I'm ready to bet that at least some of them won't (who wants to bet that my default JPEG settings in Photoshop won't migrate over). That's also a domain where interoperability with the PC world would be crucially important but seems to be sorely missing.

-64 bit support. Nice for those who have G5s, maybe. For those of us stuck with ancient machines (the G4 kind, which Apple still sells today on their web site) there doesn't seem to be any enhancement, and no indication that Photoshop CS will be able to use more than about 40% of the RAM on my 2GB dual G4).

-Dashboard. A plain, simple and blatant ripoff of Konfabulator. The kind that makes you think that software patents aren't a bad thing after all. The kind that makes Steve Jobs look like a fool when the big banners for Tiger read "Redmond: start your photocopiers". Shame on you, Apple, this kind of behavior really doesn't make me want to give you any of my money, if all you do with it is drive your own developers out of business. That being said the way the accessories slide in view over the existing apps is probably nicer than having them on the desktop.

-Safari RSS. Not overly impressed. I've worked on RSS as part of my day job, and honestly what Apple did is really not a big deal. If they don't improve the way they make RSS pages look (they currently all look the same), they'll have missed a big opportunity to really innovate. I'd much rather have learnt that they fixed some of the rendering bugs that Safari has, or that they did a better job at integrating PDF (actually, there's absolutely no integration at all in 10.3, so anything will be better), or that they improved direct navigation to images, or many other things where Safari has a lot of margin for improvement.

-Automator. Once again not really impressed. That reminded me a lot of the Khoros image processing system which I used in college almost a decade ago, except that the Khoros system allowed for non-linear processing chains. Also not really impressed by how basic the UI was when entering parameters. There seemed to be no way to enter parameters in advance (a script that takes a while to run can't be left to run unattended if it needs parameters in the middle of its execution, and no way to specify that a given parameter would be used in multiple places in the script.

-Spotlight. In 1997, as a Be developer, I got my hands on BeOS "Advanced Access" (also known as developer release 9). I wasn't a Be engineer yet at the time. It was the first release that featured Dominic's bfs filesystem instead of Benoit's ofs filesystem. bfs was a major step forward from ofs, but not a revolution. It was natural evolution. Spotlight is an evolution of a similar magnitude, which attempts to solve pretty much the same problem with a slightly different approach. Seeing Finder create complex queries gave me the illusion for a moment that BeOS' Tracker had been ported to MacOS.

-Core Image. Discussing the issue with other engineers who are more familiar with the image-processing capabilities of current graphics cards, it very much sounds like Core Image isn't gonna cut it for serious image processing (support for floating-point pixel formats as source or destination of pixel shaders seems to pretty much not exist, which is a veyr big issue if the processing chain contains in the middle a filter that can't or isn't implemented by Core Image, like a plain Median Cut noise-removal filter). I'm really curious to know how well Core Image will deal with very large images. Epson's rumored $500 F3200 scanner is able to output images that weigh 180 megapixels (4x5) or that are 21000 pixels long (6x17). With IEEE 754 pixel formats we're talking about 2GB per image, the kind of size that only the most carefully written software will handle (Photoshop barely manages). We're talking about file sizes that are unusual, but not exotic yet (exotic is a 30GB 8000dpi drum scan of an 8x10 sheet of film, and overkill is a 130GB 12000 dpi drum scan of a 9x18 sheet, typically cropped from 12x20), and I wouldn't bet too much on Core Image until I can be sure that it has the ability to scale to such sizes. Core Video sounds like it has a lot more potential, as speed is a definite issue there, and the expected SNR and pixel sizes that are expected in video are well within what I expect a GPU to be able to handle.

Table of contents
  1. "Thoughts on Tiger, Page 1/2"
  2. "Thoughts on Tiger, Page 2/2"
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