THIS ISSUE: 26 - Aug - 2019




State of "Innovation" [PART 4]


Finally, the last thing I usually get told is 'But it just works'often followed by 'you can go back to your complicated way of doing things if you want, I'll stick to this'
Great! You've found a way that works for you. Doesn't mean it works for others, so you don't really have to force your beliefs upon others blindly or be unwilling to accept that there are many ways to skin a cat – perhaps your way isn't the best. This is unfortunately starting to sound like religion..
Even though it may not sound like it, I personally enjoy making use of multiple systems and finding out what they do best for certain scenarios. As mentioned before, my day-to-day setup consists of Mac OS X, Windows and Linux and I routinely jump between each to make use of their strengths.
Code usually goes up on the 5k screen, split into 5 windows for each file that I'm working on.
Communicating with web servers usually occurs on the Linux machine (which happens to have a crap-tonne of storage on-board so I can rsync local copies while I'm at it). For everything else, it'll get done on the Windows box (usually office work and any desktop coding I need to do).
It means I get the best out of every machine at my disposal and unfortunately, also means I get the worst… daily.

The most recent issue I've faced happens to harken back to that Apple way of 'Thinking Differently'. While Microsoft spends a significant portion of their development time making sure that each new update won't negatively impact some random user that does something very niche, Apple will simply cut out things from the operating system that they no longer deem necessary.
With OS X Mojave, it appears there isn't support for certain absolute pointing devices (basically anything that isn't a standard mouse). I have a hefty and expensive secure KM switch that is designed to stitch multiple computers and monitors together into a seamless mouse and keyboard experience (like Synergy, but in hardware). Unfortunately, since this clearly isn't a 'standard' practice and most people will use the shitty tiny metal keyboard and rather useless 'Mighty Mouse' that can't be used while charging, Apple have dropped support for it entirely. Now to use my switch I have to move the mouse from the adjacent Windows machine to activate the seamless switching and move input to the Mac and then swap to the Mac mouse to continue mouse movement like an animal.
The switch apparently works just fine in older versions of Mac OS, but I fear will not work going forward. Since these devices are usually destined for use in control rooms, industrial plants or financial trader stations, they usually run around $1500. It also looks like Synergy is having problems with this update too, since I can't get that to work either, so I don't even have a software workaround. There are reports of other devices running into the same problem, so even if I were to shell out to upgrade to a newer one, there isn't even a guarantee that it would work with the latest Mac OS (or if it would even work with next years release for that matter).
Given it's worked perfectly fine on every other OS I've thrown at it, it's tiresome that I'm stuck with another instance of Apple simply saying that it's not a problem for a wide enough audience.

I could always change the switch so that it worked on relative mouse inputs (which might resolve the issue), but then I'd have to physical press each button to change the inputs – which defeats the purpose of having a switch like this in the first place.
Have a $30 printer from 2004? Whack some ink in it and clean the head and it'll probably work with just fine with Windows (even if the manufacturer hasn't released an update for 15 years).
It very much seems like Apple is content to make the coveted design piece but couldn't give two craps about whether anyone can use them. The form over function approach used to be compelling when they had ambitious design goals in mind, like 8-hour battery life back when everything else could only muster 3 hours before you had to reach for the charger or gorgeous display panels that can fit all your code at once.
Unfortunately for Apple, PC manufacturers have managed to beat that target and have made some compelling machines that are smaller, lighter and more useful (I use a GPD Win as my 'Portable' machine and an ASUS Zenbook as a slightly more capable semi-mobile workstation and I'm honestly impressed by them both).
It isn't so much a matter of everyone scrambling to catch up with Apple as it is now Apple scrambling to catch up with the rest of the world. Or at least it would be, if their pride wasn't firmly entrenched smack dab in the middle of the way forward.

Truly, a sad state of "innovation"

Quaid J. Leckey