The Apple an' Me
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Here's a fun rant I went on
after seeing the Apple commercials for the zillionth time and reading
MSNBC's article about making the Zune player "cool" too...
- the jist is:
If Apple is so "cool", why are their computers, Ipods, Iphones, etc
designed on PC's running Windows?
UPDATE TO THIS (2012-03-16): Eating lunch and I came across an ad
Matter Expert - CNC (cupertino)" in the SF Craigslist that
"If you see a MacBook Air and right away
you can tell it is machined, and you are thinking about the most
efficient ways to produce the different features, which tools to use,
how fast to go and how to fixture the part; we want to talk to you!"
So I go to the link at the
bottom, one of those " Click
Here " links (may still work - try it).
Guess what the URL is? http://jobs.apple.com/index.ajs?BID=1&method=mExternal.showJob&RID=95400&CurrentPage=1
Awesome!! Just as I thought. The actual
ad (I have a PDF I created from it if anyone wants to see it) contained:
NX CAM, Pro/E CAM, and Delcam PowerMill strongly preferred."
Guess what again? Pro/E
CAM ONLY RUNS ON WINDOWS ( you can see the System Requirements in the
current creo1_hw_notes.pdf [Last updated: October 5, 2011] from www.ptc.com )
the marketturd rolls... So F'ing cool their products are, eh? Not
cool enough to actually design and build one...
Back to the rant:
The only problem with Apple is that you can't use a Mac to totally
design an IPhone, an ITouch, even a new laptop Mac - there's no real,
mature EDA or for that matter, many CAD tools in general for either a
Mac or any of the BSD's/Linux-GPL OS's.
Believe me, we've looked.... I mentioned this to a higher up at Apple,
their response was as they get more market penetration, hopefully the
EDA/CAD vendors will begin porting to OS X ... but they (the CAD
vendors) have enough
problems getting the bugs out of their Winblows code and adding
features to justify their insane yearly maintenance fees....
Which brings up the point of mature; when I mean mature I mean CAD,
CAM, and EDA tools that have been tested by thousands and thousands of
users over many years/versions, so that when I run a Design Rule Check
(DRC), or actually cut a $40,000 tool steel mold, I can be reasonably
sure my NRE charges won't be toast. As mentioned above, it's enough of
a gamble using the existing code base.
Unfortunately, Apple has always been a bit right brained, with things
like cool graphics for nice looking art or commodity office apps, than
it has for any real world applications like, oh say actually designing
and fabricating a Mac.... Reminds me of the day when Intel used to have
all those cool Pentium commercials filled with intense (for the day)
video graphics saying how great their processor was for the emerging
multimedia market - when in fact, most of those commercials were done
using Silicon Graphics stations running IRIX....
The right brain is a fantastic part of human neurobiology, all
artsy-fartsy, it's just that the left brain needs tools to actually
build what the right side thinks up. (note
- thanks to Josh Mings at Solidsmack http://www.SolidSmack.com [a Solidworks user site] for pointing out
my flipped brains)
My guess is some of designers for the parts of the IPhones, Itouch, and
I know for sure Mac PC's have used suites like ORCAD/Cadence/Allegro,
Altium/Protel, PADS, Mentor, and other EDA tools for things like fully
DRC'd schematics, PCB layouts, SPICE sims for analog and power supplies
(probably a lot of LT or Nat Semi freeware) in addition to either
Altera's or Xilinx's FPGA/prog logic tools for VHDL and Verilog with
their respective simulation and synthesis suites only available
Windows PC's. Let alone any RF designs and simulations...
Now some of it may have been done on older legacy hi-$$$ unix platforms.
And the same holds true for the solid modeling/mechanical design as
I'm sure there's a lot of parts in that keyboard you have on your Mac
that were designed using Pro-E, Solidworks or the like for mechanical
designs. I'm sure most of the FEA and actual toolpaths used to actually
make the molds for the plastic parts was either MasterCAM, Visual Mill,
or similar as well as mold flow analysis tools again, only coded for
PC's running Windows. Hell, for years (may still be true) Solidworks
would only really run well on an Intel-based processor, with AMD
variants having issues with some of Solidworks low-level OS calls...
The reason we've been looking, besides the obvious dealing with MS, is
that majority of my real coders (guys with years and years of
experience that actually can code and understand low-level calls as
well as OS's) use mostly Linux, since a lot of the uC's and uP's have
GCC ports and these guys have years of proven, debugged libraries of
routines for various I/O tasks, etc. We've been looking for a decent
xNIX-based EDA tool, just so they can send me basic schematic info on
how they want stuff connected. There are some gEDA and KiCAD, but they
lack a lot of the features the other mid-priced tools do, as well as
the compatibility for me to import their work into my tool chain.
Say you want to use an Analog Device part for the RF section of the
IPhone, or say you want to design a small switching power supply for
the next Nano using Linear Tech parts.
Sorry, gots to use Windows - - AD and LT's simulation suites for
parts only run in Windows; much faster on a native WIN/PC box than
trying to use a Mac in PC emulation... and some, due to their use of
WINTEL oriented ASM calls to MMI/SiMD hardware functions, won't even
run...and again the issue of getting a reliable design is a major
factor (I don't like turning really expensive keychains).
The one thing Apple had going for it for years was the PowerPC core
with its linear address space, unlike the PC, crippled with it's paged
memory scheme inherited from years of limited resources and the ancient
MS DOS systems. One of my old timer engineers (actually was one of the
pioneers of the wireless mic industry at Vega Wireless) told me there's
a guy somewhere in CA that everyone should go have a word with due to
him being responsible for that mess.
And speaking of the wireless guy (he now does some of the best analog
designs for mil applications for D.C. based companies) he mentioned a
few war stories to me about his days at the forefront of Vega. One was
the story of how a certain guy won some sort of award for using their
products for Romancing the Stone. He mentioned after the award,
everyone in the major motion picture industry was clamoring for those
He wondered why, since it was not the best things they made.... so he
finally hooks up with the sound guy that won it, and asked him why he
used it. His answer - "I knew after the waterfall scene that I'd never
see the mic again, so I looked in my locker and found the unit that I'd
miss the least"
..... gotta watch that right brain thing....
speaking of right brained ideas for Iphone-like things:
I'd want is a web enabled phone,
but one that uses any surface (sheet of paper, light colored table top)
as a projected, touch area work surface. The phone would have little
pull out legs on the side; you simply lay it on its side and a tiny
LED driven DLP or similar projector projects the app/web browser
onto to the surface, adjusting for the trapezoidal. Use something,
maybe a small imager and possibly infrared LED source, to track
little screens suck after a
while - and I already look at enough small things (I know...) during
the day ...
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