03/23/2001

I’m looking for inspiration and having a terrible time finding any. That’s what happens when you only do one or two things all week. I’ve beaten Squid to death. There seems to be no incantation I can recite to make Office 4.2.1 run under Mac OS 9. And that pretty much sums up my week.

AMD released 1.3 and 1.33 GHz Athlons this week. They’re priced at around $320 and $350. For software development they’d be great. For video editing they’d be great. For emulating Amigas at wicked speed they’d be great. But what else would you do with that kind of processing power?

For me, the best thing about this chip is it means fewer people will want 800 MHz CPUs, so I’ll be able to get an 800 cheaper. That’s still insanely fast.

Reactions on the hardware sites are mostly predictable. The biggest surprise I saw was Tom Pabst over at Tom’s Hardware, once the most outspoken critic of the P4, is now calling it “certainly no bad product whatsoever.” Last year he made it sound like the spawn of Satan. But he still likes the 1.33 GHz Athlon better.

One nice thing about the hardware sites: when they overclock, you get a nice preview of what future CPU speeds will give you. The Athlon at 1.466 GHz severely outperforms the 1.5 GHz P4, not that most people will be able to tell a difference.

Apple releases OS X tomorrow. It will get mixed reviews. Finally there’s an Apple OS that has a prayer of being stable. Software compatibility is likely to be lousy. There are capabilities that are missing, such as DVD support–and wasn’t Apple the one who’s been saying DVD is so important all along that they made it next to impossible to buy a Mac without a DVD drive?

Chances are I’ll end up running it on a machine at work, and I’m sure I’ll like it better than OS 9. Whether I’ll like it better than Windows NT or Linux, I have no idea.

Historically, it’s always been better to wait for Apple’s dot-one releases. System 7 was an atrocity, while 7.1 was actually a decent OS for its day. OS 8 was promising but buggy, while 8.1 is probably the best version of the old-style Mac OS ever released. I never found anything to like about OS 9. I don’t have a whole lot of experience with 9.1 yet–we’ve still got a lot of machines running 8.6 at work because there wasn’t ever any reason to move them, and once I managed to get 9 working decently the last thing I wanted to do was go back in and change things.

I suspect OS X won’t come into its own until the dot-one release, or possibly even dot-five. This is a much, much bigger change than System 7 or OS 8 were.

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