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Back to the Wall

Week of November 23, 2002
'I'm effraid [sic] Apple can do nothing about sloppy programming.'
 - Marco Scheurer

'When my back's to the wall I might do anything at all.'
 - Christina Amphlett

There's been a storm in a teacup in the Apple Cocoa development community that's blown all out of proportion, and I'm the one who caused it.

It all started by my wondering if Unix had any advanced memory management functions like Win32, and if the Apple GUI controls were 'scalable'. I got a lot of wonderful tips from a lot of wonderful people; I also made a few new good friends; but I also unleased the repressive power of the Apple Dictatorship.

What is the Apple Dictatorship? It's something I'd been increasingly suspicious of. Somehow I'd known it was out there, even though the sensation was almost intangible. The Apple Developers mailing list is populated by both employees of Apple and rank amateur developers. A sine qua non for participating seems to be the willingness to wave the Apple banner. Another seems to be the willingness to wave the banner of object orientation. Yet another seem to be the willingness to lower one's eyes and bow when the dragons appear.

There are tons of examples of where object orientation is simply not good; you won't find any of them cited in the Apple mailing list. And behind the scenes lurk the dragons - those published authors and accepted authorities in the Lilliputian world that is Apple's. Their slumber must never be stirred. For if they wake, they breathe fire. Their job is to make sure no one gets out of line.

I got out of line. I asked a question which ripped apart at the fabric of their world. I questioned whether their methods in a very particular case were good enough, or whether I'd found a place in the OS X Jaguar framework where proper design was severely lacking.

I never got a direct answer. I got lots of helpful tips from people who the dragons regard as idiots. These people were very nice. Meanwhile, the dragons remained silent.

But the poor fool peons could not solve my riddle. And although the dragons could have waited for the storm to pass, they did not. They felt threatened. When two weeks of this incessant discussion had worn everyone else to a pulp, they emerged, breathing fire.

  • I was accused of deliberately rigging my own benchmarks to make Apple look bad.
  • I was called a sloppy programmer.

That's it: I have had it. I own a PowerBook, but will not be using it much, and I can tell you why. Because programming amongst the likes of these unpleasant people is not something anyone could enjoy. They terrorize and they intimidate. Their only known weapon to deal with the inefficiencies of their own operating system is to hurl insults.

I should have seen it - the signs were all there. I should have understood there is something wrong with a corporate politic if the boss mispronounces 'Jag-WIRE' and all the employees have to learn to say it wrong too. I should have understood, after all my years of witnessing these OO bozos scamper about, that about 5% of them would somehow have wandered off into Apple territory to make totalitarian societies of their own.

The only Jaguar I will be running after this has four wheels.


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