Planned obsolescence is bad for you.

As you might have worked out, I use a mac at work. An old one: I don’t think it will handle (or it will just handle) the next variation of MacOS. Apple has announced a transition to ARM processors. This worries me, because they decided a decade ago that the Power PC was no longer their way forward and went intel… and though I understand there are bugs in the current intel processors, having current OS updates remains important.

In case you have no idea what we’re talking about, Apple just announced that it will begin a two-year transition to replace Intel processors in Macs with processors of Apple’s own design.

It’s a huge shift for many reasons. First, Intel chips use the x86 instruction set, while Apple’s chips use the ARM instruction set. That doesn’t mean much to you as a consumer, but for developers, this isn’t like Apple switching between Intel and AMD processors, or Nvidia and AMD graphics. The Intel and Apple chips run fundamentally incompatible code, so most apps are going to need to be re-built for the new Macs.

Apple’s doing a lot of stuff to ease that transition, as detailed here. But any developer making a Mac app that wants to run on new Macs sold in the next couple years is thinking about writing it for these new processors. Eventually, every new Mac app or update to an existing app will be first and foremost for the new processors, with Intel support taking a back seat.

There are several things that should significantly affect your decision to buy a Mac right now:

We know that the first Macs with Apple processors in them are coming by the end of the year.

We know that two years from now, every Mac will be powered by an Apple chip.

But we have no idea which Macs will make the switch first, or what they’ll be like.

Any time you buy a new computer, you can be sure that a faster, better one will be released before long. That’s progress. But these Apple-based Macs have a greater-than usual probability of being much better. Every Mac sold now is essentially in an “old Mac” category, and could be replaced by a “new Mac” in six months. Or in two years. Or anything in between.

My plan is to keep everything working as long as possible. Then look at what is the cheapest option: if Pinebook can fix their quality control, it may be a pinebook pro. If work can provide a replacement mac, I would go for it but that will only happen if the current machine breaks. I’m moving to as low a hardware spend as I can get away with and still process photos, write essays, and crunch numbers. But the current macs should be avoided. The plan is that they become obsolete next year.

I asked PC World’s Ung about Apple’s transition to its A Series processors.

“I would be concerned that longer term—even if Apple doesn’t dump Intel-based Macs overboard as quickly as it did PowerPC Macs—optimizations won’t flow as fast since it will be a legacy platform,” he told me in an email.

That bothers me too. There is little incentive for Apple to optimize going forward, i.e., less need to ensure Intel processors run smoothly, efficiently on macOS.

If I bought*, for instance, a 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro, there would always be that nagging feeling that a glitch or overheating or slow performance or buggy software would be due to a lack of support and/or focus from Apple.

I could be wrong. But, then again, I could be right. That doubt alone kills the deal.

Barring unforeseen snafus in the transition of the Mac to Apple’s processors, buying an Intel-based MacBook doesn’t make any sense.

“Intel Macs will soon be those curiosities sitting at the corner Mac Repair shop yellowing in the sun with the PowerPC macs,” Ung told me.

You can get linux to work on any of these things, and I use Open Source for a lot… but editors want word files, as do co writers. Word has a nasty habit of mangling files — even ones made in other versions of word. Most workplaces are now using Office 365 and Teams — and they can work on Linux but run natively on Windows. So, ironically, windows (which used to require you updated every two years because there is so much crud in the OS) is now more resilent.

Linux is very resilient: most low powered ARM machines — Raspberry Pi, Pinebook variants etc — run quite fast enough on Manjaro, Arch, or a lightweight Debian or Ubuntu derivative.

As far as the blog goes, wordpress seems fairly stable without jetpack and the traffic may have dropped away a little. In part this is due to life getting busy here.

The new editor is switched firmly off: I can write in html wordpress style, thank you very much. At present, I’m reluctant to change software (I am self hosting and you should too). Blogspot is an example of planned improvements making things worse.

As for why I’m doing this:

I’ve been on Blogger for 7.5 years and I’ve never had any major complaints about it. But it has become clear that the godawful “new” Blogger schema is going to become default very soon, whether we like it or not, and even though I could, and did, revert to the old setup, I figure that it’s time to move from this old and thoroughly outdated platform.

I’m also frankly very concerned that the SJWs who own Goolag are extending their slimy tentacles ever deeper into the very few non-converged parts of the company. Blogger was one of those few remaining parts, where you could still quite easily and happily post things that everyone else finds outrageous and crazy without fear of getting shut down the next day.

WordPress.com (the blogging platform, not the open-source software) has already proven itself to be even more converged than Google in some ways – they nuked Heartiste’s old site without any notice whatsoever for no good reason – so that was right out.

So I decided to start looking at hosting my own sites. I figured that it was well past time to do so.

Didact (who is moving all his sites slowly)