The Dongola Times

(Anachronistic) Dispatches from the Kingdom of Makuria.
25th of October, 2013

Apple Inc., at the Limits of Certain Things

When Apple had to brag about the coolest new technologies in the latest desktop operating system, the tagline was “OS X Mavericks is more than powerful. It’s power smart.”
Right. Because, of course, the biggest problem Apple—any technology company—faces right now is how to fit more in what we have.

If you see the page, the list of the technologies, you will see what I mean. “Timer Coalescing” where in a previous profligate age they would have let the new processor fight with that. After all, “timer coalescing” is a very old concept in kernels (and an extreme of how bad that concept can be is with the Linux OOMKiller, for instance. Same thing.)

“App Nap,” to throttle your applications. This is also not new, of course, but now it is relevant—even worth bragging about on the page that AAPL labels as “advance features”. You should also note that in the HD features, they faced the same problem (power) and solved it differently (better processor). It seems that with graphics we have not yet reached where we will be tracking eyeballs and only rendering what is being looked at. What do I mean? I mean this:

“Safari Power Saver,” to “watch-not-waste-not”, where the web browser—where most computer life is lived these days—essentially disables the things on the sides of the pages, in the hope of saving energy. (Again, this is as bad an idea as the OOMKiller was, because they are the same concept. Still, a collapsing society doesn’t get its pick of things.)

“Compressed Memory” which compresses the files you no longer access. Fine solution, clear flag of a subtly-progressing case of diminishing returns. Back then, they would have released a laptop with an order of magnitude more disk space. But limits are limits.