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25 May 1999

Incidentally, last night your understudy
Finally got what you deserved
-- "Starting to Come to Me", Elvis Costello, All This Useless Beauty

Part of the promise of Rhapsody (now MacOS X) was always the Yellow Box, a set of technologies that would let a programmer write an abstract-enough program that it could be compiled for multiple platforms / GUIs simultaneously. I would love to write a program and have it automatically work natively and well on both MacOS and Windows (who wouldn't?), and would have been willing to put in the significant time needed to learn the Yellow Box framework.

However, as of this year's Apple Developer Conference, the Yellow Box (now renamed Cocoa) is no longer guaranteed to be available for Windows (or, frankly, on any other platform than MacOS X). It might show up (if Apple can come up with a workable revenue model for it) or it might not, since their strategy apparently has some elements of Apple's old, bad get-all-your-technology-from-us-or-else attitude again.

In bridge, someone could yell 'renege' and call the director over. In this, I'm not sure what can be done. One company issued a press release declaring their unhappiness and discontinuation of their plan to write a Cocoa version of their app, instead going with Java:

  • Yellow Box version of Chronographer killed [Stepwise]
    Apple claims that they are still looking for a business model for releasing Cocoa runtimes on Windows, however they had repeatedly stated at WWDC 97 and 98 that licensing would be free (WWDC97), and then low cost (WWDC98) for shrink wrap applications.

    "...I would be crazy to devote my resources to [only] the Macintosh market and ignore the Windows market. By going with Java, I can support both markets as well as Linux, Solaris, and every other system with a Java implementation."

Apple's doing many things right, but this is not one of them.

Castlewood Systems ( makes a very interesting removable-media drive called the ORB drive. It holds 2.2GB on each disk, similar to the JAZ 2 drive, but the media costs about $30 instead of about $100 (a difference which adds up very quickly). Add to that the fact that the ORB drive itself costs less than the JAZ and you have what looks like a winning product.

It comes in parallel port, SCSI and USB versions so far, but what I really want is the FireWire version - hot-pluggable with a high transfer rate. That version's supposed to be coming in either the second or third quarter of 1999, depending on where you look on their website...

Which brings me to my gripe: their website is a very poor advertisement for their product. Their information is inconsistent and/or out of date, they waste a huge amount of screen space with their top frame, and in general they're apparently going for the unsophisticated garish look.

If their website were better, I'd feel better about wanting to buy their product.
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