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bar chartI don’t have much to add except that I wish to direct your attention to an important point. As our waistlines are increasing, so too are our wasted lines of code. As Hal Licino has pointed out in his article, “86 Mac Plus Vs. 07 AMD DualCore…” Apple’s System 6.0.8 running on a Mac Plus has a naturally smaller footprint and surprisingly faster UI than Windows Vista on a smokin’ fast PC. This relic from 20 years ago, it follows, is a better OS than Vista — well, duh. Can you run Firefox on OS 6 for the Mac? I’m IN!

As his graphs show, the experience of using a Mac Plus is positively snappy when compared to the Vista box in human terms. Of course, he can’t do Photoshop benchmarking because there’s no version of the software that would run on a Plus. But the cold hard reality is that where we used to make an OS that did everything we really needed it to do in a 1MB footprint, now we use 30GB. Why? Because we can. Vista et al are generally written in C, a high level language, because it’s convenient and efficient for the teams of programmers that it takes to build a modern OS. The Mac Plus ran on a simpler OS written in actual Assembler and by a very small but dedicated team. The Mac team used assembler, which is hard to work with and debug but is absolutely the most efficient way to address silicon, because they had fewer resources to work with.

Now perhaps the industry could use a few more constraints to rail up against. This is already happening in server farms, due to power supply issues driven mainly by heat. That’s not a good thing, and slowly the industry is taking steps to address the high energy cost of running server farms, but it’s unlikely that the benefits of server CPUs which run fast and generate less heat will trickle down to end users, nor will that affect the efficiency of software, which is the key issue.

Nope. The only hope is that we users rail against the rise of bloatware, and refuse to continually upgrade our computers. It’s worked before: the masses of lusers still running Internet Explorer 5 and Netscape 4 have hindered the progress of web development for years. But that’s another rant.

-Ian.

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