Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Incompatible Mess

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I am usually known as an Apple apologist. But my patience is wearing thin as Apple screw up more and more things. I used to be amazed by the Mac’s simplicity and the ease with which it handled all sorts of situations. Back- and Foreward-compatibility, while never seeming like a big issue for Apple, often ‘just worked’ by virtue of having a reasonably solid design. Things just continued working.

But those times are over. As I recently remarked, current iBooks can’t even boot off USB drives ‘by design’, i.e. offering no kind of compatibility even to current hardware, so things are getting worse. And today I ran into another (well known) problem myself: Apple removed OS X’s ability to do file sharing over AppleTalk. Ah, wise move! Just kill a very useful feature that ensures communication with legions of old Macs. A feature that used to work perfectly and made me laude Apple’s software. And it’s not only retro machines like my Mac SE that are affected by this. IIRC even Mac OS 8 couldn’t to AppleShare over IP.

But Apple went even further. To ensure that everything is maximally frustrating, they did keep AppleTalk support around. But only for service discovery. Meaning that I can actually see the SE from my iBook but that I cannot access it. It first looks like I can… but then I get a useless error message:

Can't connect error message on trying to connect to Nibbler

… as if the machine couldn’t figure that out before pretending there’s something I can connect to. The misery is the same the other way round, btw:

Screenshot with connection error message from System 7.1 on the Mac SE

I’m not sure whether this error message is better or worse than its OS X counterpart. It does suggest that I should ask my admin to figure out the problem. Which sounds nice but doesn’t help at all.

In the end I managed to transfer the screenshot from the SE to my iBook by setting up TCP/IP – welcome to the world of internet sharing on OS X and manual IP address setup on the SE. Then I was lucky to have a copy of Anarchie on the SE which I could use – with manual IP address entry once more – to connect to the insecure FTP server which I had to start on the iBook just for this. This brought me to the hell that are dot-file filled folders on Unix systems, broken encodings for umlauts and having to upload the files I wanted one-by-one from the SE as that version of Anarchie doesn’t seem to support multiple uploads in one go yet and System 7.1 doesn’t have inter-application drag-and-drop.

Thus, by tacitly – at least I didn’t see any warnings about this on the OS X advertising pages – removing AFP over AppleTalk support from OS X, Apple turned what used to be a single movement: dragging my files to an alias of my shared home folder on my laptop – using all the nice, working and by now mostly ignored technologies from aliases to AppleShare to give a smooth and effortless action – into a lengthy and mind-boggling process that involves a lot of guessing, typing and clicking.

November 19, 2005, 0:54

Tagged as Mac OS X.


Comment by doug: User icon

Errr…time to move on in life, isn’t it? I mean sure, and SE was a great machine in it’s day…but those days are loooong gone. You’re making your life needlessly complicated, then complaining about the complication. Get with the times (even an old $100 iMac would do the job) and quit wasting your energy. Whine , whine, whine…

November 19, 2005, 18:51

Comment by A. Nony. Mouse: User icon

I recently tried to connect my Dual-core G5 to my Apple-IIgs and the damn things wouldnt talk to each other!!!

What was Apple thinking!?!

Forget Apple, im going to MicroSoft where i can still connect to my DOS version 1 machine from my beta-copy of Windows Vista.

November 20, 2005, 18:59

Comment by ssp: User icon

I think you’re missing the point here. It’s not like OS X.4 supporting AppleShare of AppleTalk is a ridiculous thing to expect as every previous OS X version did that just fine.

It’s also not just my old Mac SE that’s affected here - but the fact that without warning OS X’s networking support degraded from ‘magic’ to standard (at best) quality. The same problem will equally affect many Quadras if those seem more worthy than the SE and possibly even newer computers.

Reading the web also suggests that the killing of this feature makes it impossible for Mac running X.4 to connect to some Windows servers running Mac services.

November 21, 2005, 0:37

Comment by tim: User icon

gotta disagree with you doug. I manage a small network of 30 plus macs are our small company. Most of them used for office work, running Clarisworks. Anything from G5s to a 6100. Each staff member has their own ‘shared data’ folder and for years this has worked great. Everyone doing their work, shuffling docs off to whichever other staff member needs a copy. Now I got two Tiger machines that can’t talk to half of the other macs in the office. I’m supposed to toss a perfectly useable computer and buy a newer machine. Go through the hassle of migrating the user’s data? Add to some toxic landfill? For what? Just to use file sharing. The newer faster machine ain’t gonna help these folk type any faster — and they can’t out type the old macs they have now. I’m with Sven — peeved at Apple for breaking something that they could have kept going.

November 21, 2005, 1:00

Comment by Sören Kuklau: User icon

It’s not like OS X.4 supporting AppleShare of AppleTalk is a ridiculous thing to expect as every previous OS X version did that just fine.

Actually, to my knowledge, only 10.2 and 10.3 supported this. Not sure about Puma, but I definitely hear that Cheetah did not.

From a business point of view, I cannot fault Apple for this decision. It would be nice to have an installable package to resolve this, however.

November 21, 2005, 1:07

Comment by doug: User icon

I don’t know if it was oversight or a business decision…or perhaps the feature just wasn’t ready for release yet. I too have a Quadra…but as Tim pointed out “I’m supposed to toss a perfectly useable computer and buy a newer machine?” - which is the crux of the matter. At some point, Apple needs you to replace those machines. And I think one has to admit, Apple has done an extraorinary job of keeping their software running on those ol’ boxes. This was a bit ubrupt - and I am not convinced its the end of the end of AppleTalk - but…if not today, it may well be tomorrow. The day will come, so you’d best be prepared!

November 21, 2005, 11:06

Comment by Stan Bond: User icon

Let’s not forget that some software and some needed software versions only run in OS9, but communicating with those computers via AFP is as important as it ever was. We badly need a workaround. Anyone seen anything?

August 10, 2006, 0:05

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