LinuxWorld’s Paul Murphy
posted a follow-up to his recent “Take a Mac User to Lunch” feature, correcting some mistakes and offering some embellishments to previously offered information.
“My story ‘Why you should take a Mac user to lunch’ generated a lot of e-mail, most of it positive — a welcome change from the deluge of hate mail generated by my series on mainframe Linux,” said Murphy.
Calling it a “happy coincidence,” Murphy also noted that OpenOffice.org’s first OS X release appeared the same day his article did foretelling the release. He also mentioned in passing last week’s imbroglio involving comments from Sun, StarOffice and OpenOffice.
Murphy also admits to having his wires crossed about the complex way that Mac OS X’s imaging model function. “The more I looked into this, the less simple and obvious it seemed to get. The bottom line appears to be that Mac OS X started out with PostScript and changed to PDF for some mix of commercial and technical reasons.”
Apple’s use of PDF “works beautifully to unify the graphics model, and it’s free. I hope that’s right because it would nicely combine technical and business elegance in one decision — not something you see very often,” he said.
Murphy wrote extensively on the dangers of basing not just marketing but engineering resources on specious benchmarks like CPU clock speed — an effect he calls “regression to the dumb.” It is “the marketing tendency to focus on simple things that are easy to communicate in a volume market and elevate these simplifications to the level of de-facto standards. Engineers then have to accommodate these standards in product or process design.”
Murphy went on to provide practical examples of how Apple’s engineering has resulted in solid, quantitative performance improvements without resorting to “regression to the dumb.” A 5 to 10x improvement in Blast performance, for example, an important standard for genetic scientists; and Xserve performance twice as fast as that of a Dell server with a significantly higher clock speed.
“In both cases, better technology used in smarter ways wins. As in, duh? But managerially what [Apple has] done here is pretty cool because they’re standing up for excellence instead of collapsing the technical tent and going off in search of volume,” Murphy concluded.