Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Apple's Trend Away From Tinkering

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the hey-what's-this-do dept.

Software 965

theodp writes "Having cut his programming teeth on an Apple ][e as a ten-year-old, Mark Pilgrim laments that Apple now seems to be doing everything in their power to stop his kids from finding the sense of wonder he did: 'Apple has declared war on the tinkerers of the world. With every software update, the previous generation of "jailbreaks" stop working, and people have to find new ways to break into their own computers. There won't ever be a MacsBug for the iPad. There won't be a ResEdit, or a Copy ][+ sector editor, or an iPad Peeks & Pokes Chart. And that's a real loss. Maybe not to you, but to somebody who doesn't even know it yet.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

It's true (5, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971816)

What makes computers great are their flexibility - it's an entire world to discover to someone young and new. Are we going to be in the insane situation where our children will need to dust off the old C64 from half a century ago just to learn the basics for themselves?

If all you've got is locked content on locked machines, you end up with mind firmly locked shut.

Re:It's true (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971818)

*is their flexibility. Ughh, just woke up and my spelling subsystem hadn't booted yet. C'est la vie.

Re:It's true (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971870)

Perhaps you should open source it.

Re:It's true (2, Funny)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971898)

But then it won't be nearly as user friendly!

Re:It's true (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972058)

> But then it won't be nearly as user friendly!

It depends on the tool.

This whole "Mac goood", "Linux baaad" idea when it comes to interfaces and usability is just mindless propaganda. Most people aren't in a position to check this for themselves because Apple is a closed off product that's not really well suited for casual exploration. You need special hardware just to run their stuff.

So "Mac Usability" becomes a myth bolstered by fanboys that need to buy into the cult and then justify their choices.

Re:It's true (2, Insightful)

chibiace (898665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972212)

not so special hardware :P

Re:It's true (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972108)

*is their flexibility. Ughh, just woke up and my spelling subsystem hadn't booted yet. C'est la vie.

Just prioritize the spelling subsystem above the French subsystem in your init.

Bullshit Bullshit Bullshit (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972026)

If all you've got is locked content on locked machines, you end up with mind firmly locked shut.

Bollocks. Bullshit. Hyperbole.

I.T.'s loss is the rest of the world's gain. The less time people spend fucking around with irrelevant I.T. wheels the more time spent on the real problems and solutions of the world.

Re:Bullshit Bullshit Bullshit (2, Insightful)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972184)

I.T.'s loss is the rest of the world's gain. The less time people spend fucking around with irrelevant I.T. wheels the more time spent on the real problems and solutions of the world.

Ha ha - maybe you think that the less time people spend fucking with irrelevant democracy the more time spent on doing what they are told ;)

But isn't there room for both? (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972036)

Even Linus readily acknowledges that the world needs more than the Linux model, that the Windows and OS X can all co-exist.

And I hear people talking all the time that OS X is a joy to program for, and not particularly hard.

The iPod/iPhone/iPad is in the form factor that's best suited to appliance. That is, most (90+%) just want them to work. Where even the most polished desktop is too complicated for their tastes and task at hand. Shouldn't their demands be met? BTW, I'm not covering for DRM or the like which only serves the content provider -- just that the appliance view of things is really useful to some people.

Do we complain how the Kindle or past Nokia phones are essentially closed to the average person the same way? Why is this reserved for Apple?

Really. I taught my 45 y/o uncle how to use a computer (Windows 7), his experience to computers limited previously to ATMs. It was painful. There is so much to learn that us geeks take for granted. The computer's behavior is so seemingly arbitrary at times, as are the solutions sometimes. These people don't want a "sense of wonder", they found it in other areas already and they want to have something easy to learn and use - should they be denied entrance into the digital world because they're not geeky enough? Geez, I'm glad when I don't have to fuck around with yet another relatives beige box for once.

I hope that the open PC never goes away. But there should be room for other solutions without the endless complaining. (And yes, the steps Apple does to clamp down their devices from the users themselves, who want to explore and not through misuse, absolutely sucks and should be called on it every step of the way).

Re:But isn't there room for both? (5, Insightful)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972296)

I think the problem people are having the iPad lockdown is that it is trying to straddle appliance and full computer. The iPhone I'm fine with being an appliance. It's made around a small screen and a very particular UI to deal with that small screen. The iPad on the other hand has this large touch screen and it feels like Apple may end up holding it back by keeping it closed. Only time will tell though, when the iPhone first came out there was no 3G, web apps only, etc...

Re:It's true (5, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972056)

Inquisitive minds are a danger to authority. Best to shut it down as early as possible. No need to seek out anything. It will be provided to you on a need to know basis. Curiosity should be confronted with great suspicion. If somebody asks a question, the only proper answer is, "Why do you want to know?".

Re:It's true (0)

sauge (930823) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972246)

Inquisitive minds are a danger to profit these days. Unfortunately it seems more and more performed for ripping people off with pirated music and software and less so for how things work to innovate off of.

Besides, with all the patents for software - can one really innovate anyhow without planning for the lawsuit when it becomes a success?

Re:It's true (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972252)

That's a better answer than I used to get when I was forced to go to Sunday school as a kid. "Because the bible says so."

Re:It's true (4, Insightful)

ultramk (470198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972084)

Well... this is one device that isn't even for sale yet. I'll start to worry when nice, open, fidgetable devices aren't completely fricking ubiquitous anymore. I mean, look around you. There have never been this many machines to hack and play with in the entire history of computing, and it's just going up from there. All this "back in my day" stuff just makes a guy sound old and crotchety, and I say this as someone who is in fact old and crotchety. I don't think anyone will be forced to dust off a C64 any time soon, my local goodwill has a stack of P4-class machines stacked outside the back door to haul off... I bet yours does too.

Re:It's true (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972292)

Exactly. A lot of old-timers like to complain that kids can't get into hacking like we did, but there's absolutely no truth to that. Xcode is still a free download, MS publishes tons of free dev tools, and of course there are thousands of BSD and GNU licensed tools available for tinkerers. it's never been easier to get started tinkering productively quickly.

You want to know about flexibility? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30972110)

Check this out:

http://www.tinyurl.com/ha56k0k [tinyurl.com]

Re:It's true (4, Insightful)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972214)

I have a stupid question.

Why does every single computer need to be geek friendly? Is it seriously necessary for this whining to continue every time Apple releases a product?

Here's how it goes: the iDevices are computing as an appliance. They are not meant for you. Why do you feel the need to bitch and moan about every little thing like you are somehow entitled to everything being your way?

Chill out (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30971824)

The iPad will get hacked, just like the iPhone. Cydia and all your friends will be there too!

Re:Chill out (4, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971996)

I understand not reading TFA, but at least read the fucking summary. One of his issues is "With every software update, the previous generation of "jailbreaks" stop working, and people have to find new ways to break into their own computers", and I must say, I agree.

Re:Chill out (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30972168)

I understand not reading TFA, but at least read the fucking summary. One of his issues is "With every software update, the previous generation of "jailbreaks" stop working, and people have to find new ways to break into their own computers" , and I must say, I agree.

That's the the whole fucking point!

God, you people are becoming a bunch of pansies!

Wah wah wah, they took away the ability to jail break...waaaahahahaha

It wouldn't be jail-breaking if you don't have to figure out how to do it!

God! I think I'll start a hardware company that will make devices that can be easily broken into for you wihiners. With little picture like Intel gives with their motherboards on how to install only my hardware will be about how to "break in".

"Move jumper over, remove capacitor C-21, remove ROm replace with E-Prom (included) after reprogramming with included code and burner."

True for the iPod, yes. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30971830)

But Mac OS X comes with development tools right on the install CD. How expensive (or difficult, back before bit torrent) it was to get a development environment up and running on Windows was what drove me to Linux and I'm pleased that Apple make it so easy to get programming tools on your Mac.

Re:True for the iPod, yes. (5, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971912)

But Mac OS X comes with development tools right on the install CD. How expensive (or difficult, back before bit torrent) it was to get a development environment up and running on Windows was what drove me to Linux and I'm pleased that Apple make it so easy to get programming tools on your Mac.

I think the article author was making a different point than the cost / availability of developer tools:

Apple, way back when, made it easy to get into the inner workings of its systems. They didn't try to prevent people from finding ways to do things, indeed Beagle Bros. built an entire company around that. 1984 was the epitome of what Apple was about.

Now, Apple appears to be more ideologically aligned with the "Big Brother" than the hammer thrower. While it's not quite gotten to the "Information Purification Directives" level yet; Apple seems to be much more inclinned to ensuring things are done there way and controlling how their products can be used tahn creating really cool stuff and watching what others do with it, as they were in the Apple ][ era.

While Job's focus and control has been critical to their success as a company; the down side is a very tight controlled ecosystem. A very successful one, and probably the right way to go; but still controlled.

Re:True for the iPod, yes. (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972162)

Don't get me wrong, I have a long list of complaints about locking users out of the systems they buy, but the iP* (Phone, Pod, Pad) aren't intended as general-purpose computing devices and aren't really suitable for learning to tinker with code. OS X is much less restricted. I think that Apple's exclusion of simple development software from base installs is more a reflection of computing coming into the mainstream than a real change in the ideology in Apple management. People don't want to have to tinker at the command line anymore (except /.ers) but development tools and learning tools still exist and they can be installed on a MacBook.

Re:True for the iPod, yes. (0, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972234)

Yes, they lock down there appliances. It's an appliance.

Do you bitch you can't tinker with the firmware in your microwave?
You can get all the information, specs, schematics, and get included dev tools with all Macs. You know there computers.

Re:True for the iPod, yes. (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972006)

Right. The iPod and (I think) the iPad are communications tools; they would be miserable development packages no matter what software was loaded onto them.

As for teaching tinkering to kids, I think that the situation has changed from when we (most of us) were young. Computers were as new to parents as they were to kids and there was more expectation that you had to use a command line to get things to work. The whole environment promoted either tinkering or giving up on the whole experience. Now that computers have more advanced interfaces and parents (often) know how to use them there need to be new sets of learning tools for kids.

Lego had an excellent, intuitive, graphical programming interface for programming their Lego brick robots; I imagine that by now it's even more advanced. Programming is a great exercise for kids and there are more and more accessible tools out there to make it possible. Now that more accessible tools exist, we should help kids embrace them rather than think it's such a shame that they don't have an Apple ][e because it was way more l33t than what's out there now. I'd love to see more open-source graphical languages designed for kids to learn programming.

Re:True for the iPod, yes. (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972176)

I think they are media consumption tools, not communication tools. That's obvious for the iPod, and we'll see for the iPad, though the fact it doesn't include a phone is already a sign.

As far as tinkering is concerned, I'm a bit puzzled about what today's young are left to tinker with. It used to be bikes/cars, then moved on to computers... nowadays that isn't even fun anymore because whatever one can do is so useless and ridiculous compared to the abundant commercial stuff. If you can't brag about we you do, especially at that age...

Mod parent us (4, Informative)

schnablebg (678930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972092)

The iP* products are consumer electronic devices, not general purpose machines. It makes perfect sense that these are locked down for the sake of reliability and performance. Not to mention the Apple business model is based on the closed nature of these products.

The desktop versions of OS X are incredibly flexible and powerful tools, with the usability bonus of a well thought out graphical shell. There is a reason programmers and IT people are migrating en mass to Mac--they are way ahead of the competition when it comes to power and flexibility compared to Windows, and reliability and usability for an end user compared to Linux.

When you purchase a Mac, you are getting a full featured development environment and sys admin toolkit out of the box.

Re:True for the iPod, yes. (1)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972264)

Right. I'm not even sure comparing hacking now to hacking in the 70s/80's is a valid comparison. A computer is a fairly unlimited device with no specific defined purpose. The whole point of it is to adapt it to your particular needs. iPhones and iPads, OTOH, have specific, defined purposes, they make assumptions about what the user is going to need, and their design goal is to deliver those specific functions simply and reliably. They offer a subset of computer functionality to an audience that is assumed not to be hackers.

Also, in the 80's networks were generally not the usual operating environment for the computer. Yes, there were BB's and such, but the standard operating environment was as a standalone machine. Today, the majority of content, and the programming to create the content, exists remotely on a server. The action, programming-wise, has moved away from manipulating the hardware of the local computer to manipulating the browser, or other client software.

I sympathize with the author's position, but I'm not sure the comparison is really valid anymore. You can still get a general purpose computer for hacking, if you want one, but these appliance devices aren't really designed to serve that audience.

I knew there was a reason I disliked Apple (2, Insightful)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971834)

For a long time I was on the fence about Apple. I liked their strong sense of making sure everything works
But then I encountered their users, snobby idiots really. Although it was not because they used Apple, more that those with a specific profession tend to use Macs
Recently I havent liked Apple because of their DRM and crazy control they have over their products and markets. I mean IPods that you cant change the battery in? WTF!
Now yet another reason I dont like Apple, these guys dont seem to realize what they are doing, stagnating their own products by being jackasses about their products.
I have distantly wanted a Mac, just to toy with it... but why? No reason anymore.

Re:I knew there was a reason I disliked Apple (5, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972206)

I mean IPods that you cant change the battery in?

... what iPod would that be? You can change the battery in every iPod, it just takes a little effort rather than a trip to walmart for a new 'pack'. Same for the iPhone. Its certainly possible for anyone who wants to put some effort into it, and since the mass of the people buying them will just replace it before the battery is shot anyway, its really not an issue. You want a replaceable battery, if thats a required feature, buy something else. You want the iPod, and its form factor, you don't get an easy to replace battery. There IS an engineering reason to it as well you know, its not just 'because they are assholes'.

Apple's also lowering DRM in lots of places, and as far as DRM goes, they have about the best system out there to date. Yes, you have to authorize your PC ... ONCE, and assuming it continues to function the same you'll have no problems. You could also, of course, just buy MP3s from somewhere else like Amazon.

I have distantly wanted a Mac, just to toy with it... but why? No reason anymore.

Why is that? Macs are still the same way there were 20 years ago from any context relating to this article. If I can run Windows 7 on my Mac, I'm pretty sure you can do just about any sort of tinkering you want. Its not like you can't run Linux on one, its clearly open to screw with however you want. Nothing has changed on the Mac.

Whine whine, moan moan, bitch bitch, nothing to see here, move along. Don't like Apple, don't buy one. Do you bitch about not being able to modify the ECU in your car? Do you bitch about not being able to change the picture tube/lcd/plasma screen in your TV? Are you mad that you can't upgrade the firmware in your digital thermostat in your home or office?

Another One (4, Insightful)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971836)

I'm someone else who cut my teeth PEEKing and POKEing on Commodore and Sinclair machines. Hell, there were even magazines with "tricks-n-tips" for useful locations and what values would create what effects. Nowadays I suspect they'd just get sued under DMCA provisions for reverse engineering :-(

Yes, a sad time indeed.

Re:Another One (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972044)

Things change. Once companies realized that controlling access to the hardware meant more control over their users, companies decided to close up the manuals and license them just like software.

Buy something else (5, Insightful)

Ed Peepers (1051144) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971850)

It was nice to be able to tinker with early Apples because there were few alternatives. But as much as I enjoy a good rant against Apple, I fail to see the problem. Buy your kids something else. Either he thinks the latest Apple SHINY is more important than his child's opportunity to get under the hood or he doesn't, and there are (or soon will be) numerous alternatives that are not as tightly locked. Life is about decisions and trade-offs.

Re:Buy something else (4, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971944)

Don't just stop there. Spread the word and let people know when you don't like a product, and why. Eventually many people starting out don't need the functionality that they're locked out of, but will in the future. At least make them aware that there are choices. I'd hate to see all computing platforms go the way of the iPhone.

Re:Buy something else (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972120)

The real concern, broadly speaking, is what happens to the kids whose parents don't know/care.

Empirically, a fair percentage of engineer/comp sci./science types owe their trajectory(or at least believe they do) to childhood tinkering options. Some sanctioned by their parents, some a tolerated but wholly accidental side effect of parental decisions, and some outright clandestine.

If tinkerability is default in all computers, all children in computer owning households, whatever their parents motives/level of interest/level of information get access to it. If tinkerability is a special feature, one that you have to trade off against shiny for, a much smaller percentage of children will have access to it.

This isn't a "OMG, the iCops are violating your rights" thing; but it could easily be the case that the rise of appliances results in a reduction of children's access to tinkering and future motivation in certain directions.

It's like chemistry sets: If you are really motivated, you can get your hands on home chemistry stuff, no real problem. The death of the (useful) home chemistry set as a normative childhood expectation, though, has vastly reduced the number of kids who get to play with one, and quite possibly the number of kids who end up going in a scientific direction.

Re:Buy something else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30972266)

I suspect, tinkerers will never go away. Especially when it comes to sw.

Mod parent up. Mod me down. (1)

Kludge (13653) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972194)

The reality is that life is much better than when I was a kid hacking on TSRs, Commodores, and Apple ][s, because we have internet and open source. We have all the source code and device drivers for Linux, the world's best operating system that runs on virtually any platform. We have the source code for many great programming languages, python, java, etc, etc.

Screw Apple. They're a shiny gewgaw company and have been for years. You couldn't pay me to buy something from them.

Re:Buy something else (4, Informative)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972218)

there are (or soon will be) numerous alternatives that are not as tightly locked.

Sure. Like the Nexus One. Not only is the SDK free, easy to program (java), flexible (you can replace most of the built in apps) but the phone itself isn't locked. Watch this video if you don't believe me [lifehacker.com] ... the shipping phone doesn't need a "jailbreak" because you can simply run an officially provided command and after informing you that you void the warranty, the phone will let you reflash to any OS (it changes the bootup logo to make it harder to resell trojaned/warranty voided phones but that seems reasonable).

Evolution (5, Insightful)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971852)

I think this is just a natural evolutionary process for most new technology. When personal computers were new, they were mainly purchased and used by hobbyists. Now they are mainstream and most people just want to use them to get things done, they don't care how or why they work. Cars were the same when they were first introduced. You had to know how to tinker just to keep them working. Now cars are everwhere and they are computerized and automated so much, it's hard to do the kind of tinkering that used to be common.

It's sad to see things change, but there will always be room for those who like to tinker. We still have Linux and *BSD, after all. I love my Mac, but sometimes it's nice to play around with Linux.

Re:Evolution (2, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972256)

Even on the most locked-down cars available, changing the battery is a trivial operation. You would think the iPad would at least match this level of technical sophistication.

Oh they support tinkering (3, Insightful)

mozumder (178398) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971860)

They just separate that audience and give them OS X. Let them play with the iPad through the SDK on it, instead of on the iPad itself.

iPads are meant for people that DON'T care about computers, but about real world activity.

It's something hackers could learn from Apple: how to make a massively technical device usable.

Re:Oh they support tinkering (3, Funny)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971924)

So you are telling me that Apples target consumer is the "valley girl", omg like, crew cut with striped sideburns, neon in their cars and bedazzled phones?
wait a second.... did it start with those "Neony" type MacBooks and iMacs?

Curse you Apple, you made people dumber!!!

Re:Oh they support tinkering (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972174)

So you are telling me that Apples target consumer is the "valley girl", omg like, crew cut with striped sideburns, neon in their cars and bedazzled phones?
wait a second.... did it start with those "Neony" type MacBooks and iMacs?

I would have said their target consumers are the hipster douchebags, but probably the valley girls, too. :)

(Technically, that's not fair -- although almost every hipster douchebag is an Apple consumer, not every Apple consumer is a hipster douchebag. If you live in a sizeable American city, you know the kind of demographic I mean.)

Re:Oh they support tinkering (0, Offtopic)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972210)

If they dont have a Mac, they damn sure have a guitar...

Re:Oh they support tinkering (3, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971954)

How are "making a device that can be used by anybody" and "allowing open development" mutually exclusive? I'm pretty sure Mac OSX has shown that it's not. Charging $99 for the SDK does nothing to make the device easy to use for computer idiots.

Re:Oh they support tinkering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30972078)

The SDK is free; getting your own signing key to sign your apps (and eventually put them on the App store, where everyone can get to them and use them) is not.


Re:Oh they support tinkering (2, Informative)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972086)

You can download the SDK for free.

Re:Oh they support tinkering (1)

ultramk (470198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972198)

I don't think anyone's implying that they are mutually exclusive, but... Apple's clearly got a strategy they are following on this device which pretty firmly puts it in the category of "not for general computing purposes." Does every device have to be easily tinkerable? Is it important to be able to get root on your cell phone? I don't know. YMMV.

I mean, there are craploads of tablets out there that run windows or whatever... totally hackable, run linux or w/e. why isn't anyone excited about those? I think what's scaring people is not that this thing exists or that it's relatively locked down, it's that most people just don't seem to care.

It's that it appears to be a successful strategy. The times they are a-changin'.

Re:Oh they support tinkering (3, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971958)

I've seen the prices. 'Give them OS X' is not really the correct phrase.

Re:Oh they support tinkering (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972228)

The point about going the extra step and, beyond the tinkering, thinking of making it usable is interesting.

Free Software may help... (3, Interesting)

dskoll (99328) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971888)

My kids use Linux. But sadly, even under Linux, there's no dead-easy kid-friendly way for them to learn programming the way I learned BASIC on my TRS-80 CoCo. I've introduced my one daughter to Tcl, but even that has advanced concepts compared to 1980s-era BASIC.

I've also ordered a 130-in-one electronics kit for my daughter because I remember how much fun I had with mine. Alas, Radio Shack no longer sells them... they've given up on tinkerers and hackers too.

Re:Free Software may help... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972136)

Radio Shack AKA "The Shack" hasn't been for tinkers for over 20 years. Even if they were I doubt they would carry the myriad of cool tools You can get online.

python? (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972226)

I think python may fit that bill better than Tcl

Think outside the box (2, Funny)

kentrel (526003) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971890)

Everybody knows that Apple computers are for creative people and that creative. You just have to think creatively. Think OUTSIDE the box. For example, I bought a PC.

Re:Think outside the box (-1, Redundant)

kentrel (526003) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971906)

Everybody knows that Apple computers are for creative people. You just have to think creatively. Think OUTSIDE the box. For example, I bought a PC.

Remember Apple II came with a circuit diagram?? (3, Insightful)

TwineLogic (1679802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971892)

That was the spirit Steve and Woz began with: empower the hacker.

Why is Woz not in charge of his own high-power company? The world is not fair, I suppose.

Inevitable after Woz left (4, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971900)

Woz was the tinkerer, who brought the spirit of the tinkerer to Apple. Steve Jobs is the anti-tinkerer; he just wants you to shut up and buy cool looking gadgets from him on a regular schedule.

Re:Inevitable after Woz left (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972126)

Well, the explains using BSD and including tons of Dev tools and creating a case thats easy to work in~

Please THINK.

Re:Inevitable after Woz left (2, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972294)

I assume by "case" you're not referring to the physical case of any Apple product made in the past decade, because those are actively designed to make working in them as hard as possible.

Never understood that. (0)

suso (153703) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971920)

I was 1 when the Apple II came out and grew up around them for a bit. Honestly, they never really struck me as a tinker's machine. I also had the impression that Apple was about trying to prevent people from tinkering with their stuff. It always seemed like a generic computer to me. I know that those who owned them will disagree and you are right too, I'm just sharing my opinion from my point of view.

So while you are saying that Apple has changed, I just don't see that.

You need to learn some more about PC history (4, Interesting)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972090)

The APPLE ][ was much more a tinkerers machine than the PET or the TRS 80. Having 7 slots for expansion cards was a lot in those days - a cool apple was one with an after market perspex lid so you could see the cool expansion cards. No ofense this is not a insightfull comment just lame

Very much for tinkerers (5, Interesting)

Tony (765) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972300)

The Apple ][ came with manuals that had the ROM listings. The ][+ (at least) had a mini-assembler built right in (Sweet-16, baby!). It had full schematics right there in the box. The default "shell" was a BASIC interpreter, fer cryin' out loud!

The Apple ][ was most definitely a tinkerer's machine.

There's a huge difference between the Apple ][ and pretty much any mainstream computer available today. The Apple ][ (and to a certain extent, the Commodore 64) was simple. Almost everything you did was related to the hardware. If you wanted to do anything but launch programs, you pretty much had to learn something about the computer, and how computers operate in general. Anyone nostalgic for those days is nuts.

Don't get me wrong. I really loved the Apple ][. (This was before the ][+ or ][e, you puppies.) I believe I am a much stronger computer geek because of it. I'd wager those who learned computing on the Apple ][ make up a good percentage of the alpha geeks today.

Computers today are far cooler than they were back then. Part of the reason is, they no longer resemble "computers" so much as they are now communications devices, or information handling devices. The downside is that kids starting out these days aren't learning about the true fundamentals of how computers work. Also, they're shielded from even the ability to tinker with them.

That's not as much of a loss as you might suppose. It's not like it'd be the old Apple ][ experience anyway.

Garage sale. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30971922)

I fail to see why a kid today can't learn programming on an Apple II or a C-64 or whatever simple computer form the 80s.

Re:Garage sale. (2, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972042)

I fail to see why we should force kids today to pick up decades old computers to learn how to program. Sure they can do that, and there are arguably advantages to doing that, but why should they have to do that? It's like expecting teenagers to learn how to drive Model Ts before they can drive a modern car.

Don't even have to leave the house. (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972104)

There are also emulators for such systems. Google brought this site up for Apple ][ stuff: http://www.thefreecountry.com/emulators/apple-2.shtml [thefreecountry.com]

You have to find a ROM, but that's not a big hurdle. :)

Even the apple fan boys hate it (3, Interesting)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971934)

Reading the forums alot of the apple fans don't seem to like it. They can't figure out what to use it for or they don't like the restrictions. A lot of tablets are coming out this year that are more open.

Tens of millions of people play farmville or watch hulu and you can't do any of that on the ipad. You can only buy more content from apple. I'm wondering if apple did any market research before they crippled it.

Re:Even the apple fan boys hate it (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971972)

they did cash flow research, and it was good.

A different world, a different audience (1)

haralds (49530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971940)

I agree, it is sad that things are changing in this regard, but the world has changed. It is more hostile, and almost every avenue for customization is also a path for malware and viruses. And most users are not savvy, and become victim of external attacks.
Unfortunately, no matter what the root cause, the vendor ends up getting the blame.

However, it would be nice if there was a switch that could be thrown, perhaps as part of the XCode install...

Re:A different world, a different audience (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972132)

So this means that MacOS is destined to turn into the iPhone?

That's terribly sad really. The iPhone/iPad is terribly limiting when compared to a real Mac.

Macs aren't THAT vulnerable. So clearly the idea that you need to turn the computer into a Speak-and-Spell is quite bogus.

Apple devices are locked down because it benefits Apple to restrict their customers and discourage them from understanding anything EVER.

Having a system that can eventually be discovered by a willing novice is contrary to the corporate bottom line.

seems like a mistake (5, Insightful)

ultramk (470198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971966)

While this is certainly true for the iPad, iPhone etc, it's really not true at all for OSX. OSX comes with a bunch of dev tools on the install disk, in a way that was not true way back when. Those kinds of utilities existed, but getting ahold of them was non-trivial for someone out in the boonies.

The iPad isn't a general purpose computer, although it seems like it's blurring the line a bit. Certainly no reason for doom and gloom.

I always find it a little sad when I read something like this, though. Part of the joy of those days was exploring something new and interesting, finding terra incognita... the problem is that your kids probably won't get that joy in exactly the same way, and very well may not be interested in those things at all... they are actual individuals with individual tastes and interests, not a bunch of little clones running around. It seems like every time someone goes to great lengths to recreate his precise childhood for his kids, it's just doomed to failure, just because they're kids. Unpredictable.

As one who cut his teeth toggling in values (4, Insightful)

mikefocke (64233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971968)

in machine language...

Few people want to play at that level any more and few need to. Most want to create really cool apps and for them access to the GUI is enough. Heck, C isn't taught in many schools any more.

But if a kid wants to play at low level, there are $25 or less offers on the web for the computers of yore. Or they can start reading code..it isn't like lots isn't available. And even for most OSS, the docs are so much more than the manufacturers manuals were in the 60s.

Parallel with hobby electronics (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30971982)

In the 50's and 60's hobby electronics was a huge thing - it was common to see people tinkering in their basements. It might still exist now in some manner, but it's far, far less popular and most people just want to come back from the store with an amplifier or radio that "just works".

It's the same with computers. We're going through the phase now where hobbyists are lamenting that they're being "locked out of their own computers", but no more than the electronic tinkerers are locked out of their consumer electronics unless they're very good with surface mount soldering and miniaturization.

The simple fact is that 98% of people out there just want their computer to work. They don't care about getting under the hood. If it plays their youtube videos, netflix streaming content, and lets them send some emails and play the latest game they bought from Steam or Best Buy, they're happy. That's all that's needed. So a company catering to that market instead of the 1 or 2 percent who want to tinker under the hood is just good business.

Yes, it means that the kind of computing we all grew up with in the 70's and 80's will either die or come close. But that's just the standard life cycle of technologies - it happened with radios just like it's happening now with computers. It's a mistake to extrapolate our interest to the general public, which doesn't share it. Since there are 50 or 100 of them for every one of us, they form a FAR larger market, and that is the direction things will inevitably shift over time. It's a lost cause trying to argue things like "but you're locked out of your own system!!". They don't *care* - that's not what they want out of a computer. The sooner computer nerds realize that, the easier it will be to adjust to the direction the market will be moving over time.

Re:Parallel with hobby electronics (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972202)

The current problems with Apple goes far beyond their products
being hostile to "tinkerers". The problem with Apple these days
is that they are hostile to non-morons. A system need not be
actively hostile to the power GUI users in order for it to be
usable by the total idiots. Infact, this was supposed to be the
whole original idea of the Macintosh.

Nevermind "tinkering". I just want to be able to use it and connect
to it with any device of my choosing the same way I could with a
proper Mac.

Over personalization (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971988)

Apple isn't out to fight people that want to 'tinker', they are just going after a different market now, the 'consumer market'. Its where the real money is to be made, and the side effect are shiny closed boxes that 'just work'.

If you still want to 'tinker', you still can, just you do it elsewhere. Give your kid a FPGA board and some books on basic logic.

One era ends, annother limps into being ... (2, Interesting)

DrogMan (708650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30971992)

I too cut my programming teeth on an Apple ][

I have a copy of the original "red book" with hand-written notes on shape tables, etc. I also had a plethora of other sources of information - the Wozpack, Disk Doctor, early copies of call-apple and coutless others which were hard to come-by in the UK at the time.

Kids of today, get off my lawn, etc.

So what we have now are "appliances" and lawyers.

And as they say; If you can't open it, you don't own it.

Apple products are for old people (1)

HycoWhit (833923) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972000)

I too grew up with the Apple IIe. I fondly remember the days of the computer problems being solved by ensuring all the chips were firmly seated. Ahh those were the days.

As I'm sure most folks are on this site, friends and family always come to me asking for computer purchasing advice. My advice is if the person still has a brain capable of learning--get a PC based computer. If the computer is for someone not willing to learn the in's and out's of computing--get them the Mac.

Re:Apple products are for old people (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972098)

Crappy reasoning.

You can do more in the realm of tinkering with a Mac then you can do with a PC.

I remember those days, good riddance. The tools to tinker that kids have today were unimaginable when I was a kid.

Silly article (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30972018)

The Ipad with it's overgrow screen is not targeted for the young, is an iTouch targeted for the elderly. When do those people start to tinker?

If they are already tinkerers they don't need that outlet, they have a computer.

boo hoo (-1, Flamebait)

feldsteins (313201) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972024)

Oh dear! Nerds have a device or two that isn't for them! That IS a shame.

Perhaps we could aim a few products at the non-technical people out there for once? Computers haven't gotten any easier to use in the last two frickin' decades. Maybe, just maybe, we could allow a few products for them without declaring that the goddamn sky is falling? Hmm?

Re:boo hoo (2, Funny)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972236)

Frickin' Macs with Frickin' laser beams on em... that would solve the problem.

Don't moan - just hit the silk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30972034)

Smash Linux onto a slapper or tablet and tinker away.

Windows and Apple are all about control - just think what the world would be like id the big studios *did* get their way...

Even if you're not a Linux fan you better be glad it's there - it keeps the rest honest(ish)

Dual boot, virtualise run Synergy - whatever it takes.

Keep your data on your server in your database then Google have to stay honest.


Whiney BS (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972040)

The Apple II was a computer. You cans till tinker with Apple computer.

Apple also sells Appliances. More difficult to tinker with, just like your TV.

You want a computer for tinkers? the Macs work great. OSX on BSD.

Tinkering isnt their market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30972046)

At least as far as ipods and iphones go, tinkering isnt really anything they any interest in, and for good reason. While tinkering and unrestricted access is great for the geek community, it tends to create a bloated confusing mess for the average user and also makes it more likely for the device to be exploited by those wishing to do harm. Geeks tend to forget that they arent the majority...they are a tiny fraction of a minority most end users just want their stuff to work and be easy to use and thats who Apple is marketing towards at the moment and is pretty successful with it.

This is reminding me of the arguments hardcore gamers make about the Wii and how it sucks because most of the games are geared towards the casual and family gamer, its in first place by a mile and they are happy there, there are other products that fit the bill but instead of just using those they would rather whine about what they cant do on a product that isnt aimed at them.

Yes, times change, but remain exactly the same ... (0, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972048)

and your childhood will always be something remembered as a time that was 'just better' CAUSE YOU WERE A FREAKING KID WITH NO WORRIES OR RESPONSIBILITIES.

You can still hack away on your Apple II, if you have one. You can also use any number of other computing products that are more closely matched to the Apple II than the iPad.

Not every product is well suited to what you want to do with it. How much tinkering do you do with your TV? Changed the firmware in it lately? Mine has a SD card slot for upgrades, but I have absolutely no inclination what so ever to screw with it. I have other devices for that.

Go buy a cheap netbook or a regular Mac if you want to hack. Stop this bullshit of complaining about how the product isn't what you want, go use a product that IS what you want.

There are alternatives to the iPad already on the market that are far more 'hacker' friendly. There are also regular desktop machines (Apple or otherwise), Laptops, the Apple TV, and all sorts of other crap you can tinker with.

Heres what you need to understand ... the world doesn't revolve around you or what you want. You are part of a bigger picture, and as such, not everything is going to bend to your whim.

There are plenty of other products to tinker with, Apple even has some, there are also products that are DESIGNED for tinkerers, why are you ignore them?

This is just another whiner remembering yesteryear, unfortunately tunnel vision and childhood memories are blocking out the fact that there were plenty of hacker-unfriendly devices back then too. You just didn't use those, you used the one that was hacker friendly. It may have just been by chance that you got the hacker friendly device rather than one that wasn't, or maybe it was by choice.

Either way, there are FAR more options for tinkering today than there were then. Times change, people change and so do product lines. The funny part about this post is that if you paid attention over the last week, you'd have already seen a device thats kind of like the iPad that is open to all sorts of hax0ring, but instead, you've decided to be a lazy bastard and not look, just whine, moan and bitch.

Finally ... someone will manage to turn the iPad into something hax0rable for hard hacks eventually, and for those who just want to do software hacking, if you can spend the money for an iPad, you can spend the money for a developers license and hax0rs to your hearts content without even messing with hacks for the OS. Hell, I'm tinkering and hax0ring with the iPad and its not even available yet thanks to the simulator.

In short, nothing has changed, except now you're old and bitchy.

Haven't seen nothing yet. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30972062)

Nobody has held the device in their hands, so only speculation on how hard it will be to hack.
I suspect that their own ARM based CPU is going to be pretty close to the Cell PPC (IBM: Sony PS3) in terms of security.
It looks really cool, but I'm not going to wait 3+ years to do whatever I want with it.

The appliance (2, Interesting)

Alioth (221270) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972072)

I don't really see the iPad as a "personal computer", but an appliance, a bit like a washing machine or a microwave oven (although that may be pushing it because the iPad does a bit more than "just wash clothes" or just "toast" or whatever). But it's clearly pitched as a consumer appliance, rather than a general purpose computer.

And no, I won't be getting one.

This is Dumb (2, Informative)

foo fighter (151863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972096)

Pay $100 for a developer's license and you can do whatever you want to you iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad.

XCode and Applescript come with every "real" Mac for no additional charge.

What is the problem here? That you can't program the iPad on the iPad? Sorry, but that is hardy worth the energy of his rant.

Yes, I read the article. Well, I tried. It's a poorly written, confusing rant.

DMCA and Buy Something Else (4, Insightful)

eieken (635333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972116)

What we should be doing is trying to get the DMCA overturned; It is the bane of the tinker. It's ironic because I'm guessing many of the people working on this stuff over at Apple got interested in computers because of the creativity they could express by hacking away at computers.

I should say though, that Apple is not the only company in town creating hardware, I mean honestly a lot of these articles seem to make some leap at some point about how Apple is representative of all hardware manufacturers, when I think that's just not true. They create some stylish products, people buy them, and then they miss out on hacking the hardware. If people really want the option to hack the hardware, don't buy this locked down crap. It's not like Apple is the only game in town, they live off this spotlight everyone creates for them. Just get that less stylish piece of hardware that offers tons of customization and hopefully at some point Apple will have to learn what they should be doing.

Bring back basic (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30972130)

I like the spirit of this conversation. Apple would be doing the next generation a great service to allows us to amateurs to develop in a scripting language right on the iPad.

Stupid argument (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972138)

Back in the day, a generation of tinkerers cut their teeth on radio and television sets. They would test the functioning of vacuum tubes in the drugstore, and buy souped up parts to improve the picture.

Nowadays, the kiddies can't do anything with these newfangled OLED tv sets! How are you going to learn about repairing broken TVs if the TV never breaks???

Good & Bad (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972154)

Maybe it's not the best computer to learn on, as you don't seem to learn very much when everything is supposed to be so intuitive and so task focused, but as a tool to get certain types of work done, it's great, because you don't have to worry about anything but the job you want accomplished.

Re:Good & Bad (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972248)

What can you accomplish if everything is handed to you and you cant modify it to make it more suited to your needs?

don't real hackers go wintel/unix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30972182)

by definition, anyone who is "hackign" an apple is an artistic type, for whome electronics is secondary, or a hacker wannabee

This is silly (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972190)

All this person did on his Apple ][e was write software. You know what? The mac comes with a sophisticated IDE for free! Any one can buy the computer and write software. It is not like writing software for the ][e because we know how to write that software. We are beyond shape tables. I thank the heavens that we are past the bastardized language called Pascal. PL is more popular.

When I was in grade 7-12 school, we had mainframes to learn how to program as well as the Apple. We did Fortran and C and Basic. On the Apple we burn EEPROMs for our embedded computer.On my Apple and peripherals I hacked the hardware and soldered in new functionality. In college we used every machine under the Sun to control experiments and analyze data. Such things taught me the difference between GPC and embedded devices and taught me that software is not all there is to computers.

There is nothing I did back then that I cannot do on the Mac. About the only thing that is missing is PLD software. The only difference is that software is much more sophisticated, so the learning curve is steeper, but the process is simpler.

Comparing an Apple][ to a iPod or iPhone is also silly. The later are embedded devices. It is like complaining one can't software hack a thermostat. Given no mention of Forth in the article(BTW forth was built into Macs until the Intel Mac) I suspect the writer could not hack it anyway.

If the writers wants to teach kids about tinkering, then most hardware is simply too complex anyway. There are too many levels of abstractions between the hardware and User. I suggest a subscription to circuit celler [circellar.com] . In this issue we have a teletext based tv interface.

ResEdit was what I first loved about Macs! (2, Interesting)

BanachSpaceCadet (1464109) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972268)

ResEdit was always my argument in Mac vs. PC arguments! (This was back in the good old System 7 days.) My PC friends could bring up right-clicking, software availability, etc., etc. all day. Then I would show them some of the stuff I'd done with ResEdit (e.g., remake Oregon Trail into a parody version of itself), and I would win the argument hands down. (OK, maybe you could do the same stuff on a PC, but none of us knew how.) These days, I'm a Linux guy, but it's sad to me that Macs are getting more locked up all the time. I guess someone has to satisfy the demands of the just-do-it-for-me consumers, but I'm sad that it turned out to be Apple.

Aurdino (1)

WilsonSD (159419) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972274)

If you want to do this kind of hacking go get an Aurdino. There's a whole world of home brew stuff cooler than we could have imagined when we were kids.


pwnedulongtime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30972276)

Apple's days are numbered...they will go the way MS has gone.

It's not Apple, but.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30972290)

That niche is well populated these days with the the number of lowpriced development boards like the Arduino, Beagle board, and so on. You can get these kind of things for MIPS, ARM, x86, and so on. You can even get FPGA boards and tinker with hardware level stuff. We have opencores now. Things are much more interesting, cheaper, and more wideley available than when I could even dream of when I was a kid. All of this stuff starts at less than a couple hundred bucks, and the amount you can do with them is pretty impressive. We have kids today soldering BGA parts and doing SMD work.

Seriously, I remember being impressed with myself as a kid when I learned to etch my own boards, learned x86 assembly(mode X was awesome), and Motorola 680x stuff. Kids have much cooler toys these days from what I see.

No Hacking Tools for iPad (0, Troll)

Your Anus (308149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30972298)

Of course there won't be hacking tools for the iPad. It's not going to be on sale long enough for hackers to get one. It's the new Apple Newton with less flexibility. Only hardcore iFags are even looking at it, and they think it sucks. I suppose someone will tear it down and start reverse-engineering it with a logic analyzer, but it's not going to be worth the effort. Even Apple has much better hardware already shipping. They should have made up a MacBook Tablet or some such.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?