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Part 2 - Mac OS X Feels Sluggish To Me
Tuesday, September 26, 2000 — by Jon Bonner

Last Thursday I wrote a column in which I made the observation that my copy of Mac OS X Beta seemed sluggish. This was quite an honest observation on my part. In fact, few dispute my claim of sluggishness. Yet I received many negative e-mail messages in response, most of them referring to me as an unfair idiot.

I won’t try to refute the "idiot" charge. After all, I’ve written some idiotic columns before… I’m sure to do it again in the future too… so it’s quite possible my last column fit that description.

However I do take exception to those readers who felt my column was somehow "unfair." No matter how terrible or fantastic any of my columns might be, I always try my best to be honest and fair.

All of the readers accusing me of "idiotic unfairness" pretty much shared a single theme: "Mac OS X Beta is supposed to be slow - it’s a beta, stupid!" According to many of you, beta operating systems are slow on purpose, due to "debugging software" and "un-optimized graphics."

I guess I'll have to take the readers’ word on this, because I really don’t know one way or the other. I suppose it makes sense and is probably correct.

What bothers me is the fact that many of you took me to task on this, accusing me of shoddy journalism and false, unfair reporting (even though it was an opinion column). Most of you couldn’t believe I didn’t know anything about un-optimized graphics or debugging code. I can’t even begin to count how many times I read some form of the word "obvious" when you were pointing these things out to me.

I have a problem with that though. Why on earth should I have known about debugging code or un-optimized graphics? Why is this so obvious?

As far as I can tell, I met all of Apple’s requirements to get Mac OS X Beta–I have a compatible system and I paid them $30. I’ve never installed a beta version of a Mac OS before. I don’t know how the process works. All I know for sure is that I paid Apple a lot more money than they deserved for time-limited beta software, and got a CD-ROM shipped out to me. I read the included documentation, installed the software, and wrote a column about the very first thing I experienced in Mac OS X Beta (that it was sluggish).

Where in the documentation did Apple explain about common issues pertaining to beta operating systems? Maybe I missed a page or two… I’d like to know if I did. As far as I can tell, though, I read it all. Never once do I recall reading either the words "debugging software" or the phrase "un-optimized graphics." There were no warnings by Apple (for those of us unfamiliar to this process) explaining what we would experience and how that would differ from the final commercial product.

Maybe the readers are right and Mac OS X Beta is supposed to be sluggish. Perhaps this is because of the reasons you’ve written to me about - probably so in fact. More than likely Mac OS X (the final commercial version) will really fly when finished, optimized, and stripped of debugging code.

So did I really do some unfair, idiotic, harmful act towards the Mac platform by writing my previous column? I don’t think so. I–as a lay person–installed the software I paid for, and then commented on it based on the information available to me.

Am I making excuses? Definitely not! However if Apple wants people like myself (and I suspect I’m in the majority) to understand more of the issues pertaining to beta operating systems, then perhaps they should go ahead and start speaking. Otherwise, expect more uninformed commentary from folks like myself who "don’t know any better." After all, we paid our $30. We're entitled to share our opinions too.

jon@macsoldiers.com

 

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