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Week of February 4, 2002
They're very happy at their end.

Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2002 09:24:59 +0000 (GMT Standard Time)
X-Priority: 3
To: risks@csl.sri.com,neumann@csl.sri.com
Subject: Third Party OS X Software


You might remember me. I hope you are well.

I got into the 'Bloatware Debate' back before the Millennium. I sent
in an article about Unix and Microsoft ways of thinking:


I got a response from Microsoft, and then picked apart a Microsoft
application called RegClean.


At the time, people suspected RISKS of being a Microsoft-basher, and
the word was 'we have to be careful'. Of course the people accusing
RISKS of being a Microsoft-basher were Microsoft fanatics, we all
knew that, but no one cared at the time.

(Then some nut from Canada started mailing everyone, including our
IPP and including you, and then things got really silent. For the
record, we did receive an apology from the nut, and it's been
published online all along. The nut claims he suffers from a medical
problem that leads him to do wacky things like that. Anyway, I


Lately I have been investigating the OS X platform (and not on a
bloat-hunt mind you, just as a serious alternative to Wintel) and
I've run into the same thing as on Wintel, only worse. It's like
your typical resort swimming pool area - at the one end you have the
regulation Olympic size pool, three feet deep at the shallow end,
eleven feet deep at the diving end, etc - and at the other you have
the small foot and a half deep kiddies pool. Do the little kiddies
ever notice what the grownups are doing? No, of course not.

I was perusing the Apple list of new software for OS X the other
day and came upon Spam Killer (line break inserted).


960KB on the download. (Early this morning the author renamed the
program and added another 40KB of bloat - now it's a cool megabyte.)

Please note what this application does - please note its 'limit'.

- It takes a mailto anchor tag HREF and changes it into something
spam crawlers supposedly can't catch. Thus


Can become (forgive the line break)


Let's forget the redundant semi-colons here - the program author
evidently doesn't know much about token separators. Let's meditate a
second on the fact that this killer app, to do the above and only
the above, needs a whole megabyte on disk.

Now I was genuinely interested in knowing how such a tragedy might
happen. OS X uses the standard GCC compiler in use throughout the
'larger world' and especially throughout 'open source', and here I
have no real experience to speak of. I wanted to know if this was
the compiler's fault, the linker's fault, or just bad programming.
There are applications on an OS X disk which boggle the mind with
their size, and there are others which have a size comparable to
reasonably well written Wintel applications. The OS X Finder, for
example, while nowhere near as smartly engineered as our X-file, is
still in the same size range as Wintel's Explorer. However, this
dinky little Spam Killer/Spam Stopper application was five times as
large as either the Wintel Explorer or the OS X Finder, and I
doubt anyone would dare argue functionality here. (This dinky little
application is also larger than the application which started the
bloatware debacle (RegClean), and its functionality even more
limited, it might be good to remember.)

Anyway, I wrote to the author of Spam Killer (now Spam Stopper, long
live the king) and asked why why why such a trivial app needed so
much space on disk. I deliberately clouded my understanding of what
may be going on in a willingness to interpret '960KB' as a typo,
where '9.6KB' was the correct size - and I was genuinely interested
in knowing why - in knowing what was going wrong with so many Apple
GCC applications.


   Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2002 08:31 +0000 (GMT Standard Time)
     To: Maury McCown <maury@railheaddesign.com>
Subject: Spam Killer

I am intrigued by Spam Killer. But all it does is convert an HREF to
an escaped string.

What makes it so big? 960KB? Methinks it should be 9.6KB?


Rick Downes


This morning I received the following reply.


Subject: Re: Spam Killer
   From: Maury McCown <maury@railheaddesign.com>
   Date: Sun, 03 Feb 2002 21:02:31 -0600

On 2/3/02 8:31 PM, Rick Downes spat forth the following:

> am intrigued by Spam Killer. But all it does is convert
> an HREF to an escaped string.
> What makes it so big? 960KB? Methinks it should be 9.6KB?

What difference does it make if it works?

Different compilers create different sized applications -- yet all
that matters is if the result is useful.

RAILhead Design: ≥Giving the planet a makeover≤
news | icons | desktops | fonts | software | more
< http://www.railheaddesign.com/ >


I am sure Brian W. Kernighan and all the rest who worked so hard to
create C and Unix and make them work efficiently would love to be
enlightened about this. All those years they struggled to get poor C
and Unix into 4KB/16KB of memory - but in vain. The size of the
application, the amount of memory, in RAM and on disk, that one uses
is totally immaterial. All that matters is whether the application
works. And bugs and bloat, we may guess, are not related after all.

Maury hath taken time off from giving our planet a makeover to
enlighten us on this issue.

It is truly like the resort swimming pool area. On the grownup side,
we have been arguing (heatedly at times) about the essence of bloat,
about bugs, about security - and in the process we have made the
other grownups much more sensitive to these issues. What a Wintel
newbie accepted as written in stone five years ago he would not take
with a dump truck full of salt today.

And yet on the kiddies side, where the younger generation seemingly
plays at pretending to be like the grownups, not much attention is
paid to what is going on elsewhere. They splash around, they smile -
they are very happy!

They're also not in tune with reality or the rest of world.


Rick Downes


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