My primary development machine has been a series of nicely specced MacBook Pros for about 7 years. Over that time I’ve grown to love these shiny boxes of aspiration. My current machine dropped out of AppleCare in 2016 though, so it was time to start thinking about a replacement for my main work machine - as usual the previous model would be downgraded to our casual machine and would stick around for a good few years afterwards (or so I thought).
I alluded in a previous post to the fact that I’ve chosen Mac for all my development activities. I’m aware that in game development (outside iOS games), this is perhaps not the most common choice. Apropos, I saw a tweet thread last week, not gamedev related, where a heated debate broke out about what platform/editor/language ‘real’ developers use. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen threads like this, where opinionated developers try to tell others what choices they should be making.
I’ve had a fair amount of experience with Windows-based installers in the past, including non-Microsoft Installer based systems like NSIS and the open source WiX, but most of the time I’d been working with one-off installers for native code projects, like the Ogre3D SDKs. I pride myself in not pre-judging the best toolset to use for any given problem - which is why I switch languages a lot - so when I came to write SourceTree for Windows, which is based on .
As soon as Macs started running on Intel, they became infinitely more attractive just because suddenly you had the option of using Windows on them too if you needed to. Because let’s face it, as lovely to use as OS X is, and as much as its popularity has grown, the majority of the world still runs Windows. Boot Camp is a great little tool provided by Apple which makes setting up a dual-boot into Windows generally a breeze, barring a few small niggles such as the slightly ropey support for the extended functions of the track pad (two-finger right-clicking and scrolling is very flaky).
I bitch about Windows on occasion, but I have to give it credit for System Restore, which saved my ass today. Some Cisco VPN software which I was trying to install to help a client completely f*cked all my network access on my primary workstation, effectively rendering it useless. Not only that, but it refused to uninstall (hang), or disable (hang) in any way, even from safe mode, and appeared to install no useful tools or documentation with which to diagnose said problems, while disabling all other useful diagnostics (ipconfig returned nothing, device manager claimed both Cisco and regular network devices were fine, all other configuration tools just hang).
It’s always fun to watch Apple and Microsoft slug it out in the advertising space - here in the UK we mostly have to do this via YouTube, since apart from a short stint of amusing Mitchell and Webb Apple ads and those pretty bland “I’m A PC” ripostes, we don’t really see the front-line assaults which take place on US TV screens. So I hear that MS have a new set of ads out, where “regular” people go and look for a laptop, whereby they look at the Mac and say “whoah, far too expensive!
There’s a lesson to be had in here about entrusting important, always-on, unmonitored systems to Windows: Yes, my flight details (this was Gatwick airport) should have been on that second monitor - it’s so nice to be reminded of the frailty of technology when you’re about to entrust your life to a tin box full of electronics and software. Still, it was amusing to listen to a confused couple trying to read & decipher the BSOD text, clearly thinking it was an official announcement of some sort.
A small bit of musing while I wait for another back-up to run… Reinstalling a server from scratch sucks. Obviously. Not being able to use direct dumps of the old system itself because of concerns of how far a malicious attack got, and how long ago (even though we’re running SELinux) means that everything has to be constructed afresh. How much fun I’m having. But if there’s one silver lining here, it’s that at least Linux stores every shred of its configuration in a simple, plain text format, and in one dedicated subtree of the file-system.
It’s formally the end of an era - even though Windows 3.11 (aka Windows for Workgroups) hasn’t been sold for PCs for some considerable time, Microsoft has still been licensing it to embedded device manufacturers right up until the present day. However, now they’re finally pulling the plug. I’m actually impressed they kept it up this long! Most serious enterprise software vendors will support product lines for 10 years at a stretch, but it’s been 15 years since WFW was released - that’s pretty impressive.
I had to chuckle at these comments from Microsoft’s VP for “Windows Consumer Product Marketing” Brad Brooks on what they’re going to do about Vista’s current image problem. He says all the bad things people are saying about Vista are lies: “There’s a conversation in the market place right now and it’s plain wrong,” he claimed. Ah, I see now Brad. As a paying customer I’ve bought several Vista licenses and been totally underwhelmed by what I got for the money, and have been far more engaged with OS X in almost the same period, but I’m just plain wrong.