Larry’s in a curmudgeonly mood today, so…
Over the weekend, I noticed this post on Digg: “How I learned to break into Apple and Code for them without Permission“.
It’s an “interesting” story, and I have to say that I was aghast when I read it. And my jaw dropped even further when I read the Digg comments about it (yeah, I know – self selecting trolls, just like on /., but…).
For some reason, the people reading the story actually thought it was COOL!
Now think about it. These people were so dedicated to their product that they were willing to BREAK THE LAW to get it into Apple’s OS.
That’s cool (sort-of, if you’re willing to condone breaking the law).
But what does it say about Apple’s internal controls when the QA process on the final disks has things like:
Once again, my sanity was saved by the kindness of a stranger. At 2:00 one morning, a visitor appeared in my office: the engineer responsible for making the PowerPC system disk master. <snip> He told me that if I gave him our software the day before the production run began, it could appear on the Golden Master disk. Then, before anyone realized it was there, thirty thousand units with our software on the disks would be boxed in a warehouse. (In retrospect, he may have been joking. But we didn’t know that, so it allowed us to move forward with confidence.)
Wow. So the contents of the software on the FINAL MASTERS for the operating system can change on the whim of a single release manager? Doesn’t anyone ever check this stuff?
In addition, what was the state of Apple’s physical security? Admittedly this was 1994, and things were somewhat looser, but still… I’m sorry, but if you’ve got random ex-employees running around the halls spending HOURS with access to your CORPORATE NETWORK, what does that say about the level of security in your physical plant? Apple got hugely lucky that these guys weren’t bent on corporate espionage.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that Graphing Calculator is a SERIOUSLY cool app, and it’s clear that at some point there was a formal decision made to include it into the product, and it got the attention it deserved (as mentioned in the article, Apple eventually decided to include it in the product).
Think of what would have happened if Apple hadn’t: Once the decision was made to include it in the product, they got test resources, they got localization resources, they got usability testing, etc. None of this would have happened if they had continued as a “skunkworks” project, and they’d have shipped a product that had serious flaws.
And this is a model we’re supposed to admire?