Why Time Machine is more than rsync with a pretty face

When Time Machine appeared on OS X, it was met with a collective shrug among the Linux community : “It’s just a good-looking backup system, anyone can do the same with a cron/bash/rsync”. This is wrong and here’s why, in pictures.


When you activate Time Machine from the Finder, you get this :

Time Machine on the Finder


But here’s what you get when you activate Time Machine from Mail :


Time Machine in Mail


Yes, you stay in Mail. You do the lookup within Mail. You don’t have to drop into Mail’s guts and how it stores messages to restore one. The backup system is fully integrated in the applications it backs up. 

Same from the Address Book :

Time Machine in Address Book


Unfortunately it doesn’t work like this for all Apple applications yet (for instance ical or iphoto don’t support this at the moment, which is too bad since they’d be good candidates). Nevertheless, you can see that the intent goes way beyond providing a backup system with a fancy UI. The level of integration in the OS is unprecedented. Good luck ever implementing that on Linux.


iPhone vs. the Androids – OS/X vs. Linux redux ?

Right now the only serious competition the iPhone has is Google’s android platform. As with desktop OSes, what makes the winner is the available applications. Well, while the echoes from the iphone developers are, shall we say, rather positive, it seems the Android folks are having some tough time. Now let’s see, “Software providers finding it difficult to develop programs on a platform still going through revisions”, “Handset (i.e. hardware) manufacturers having a tough time integrating that software into their devices”… now where have I seen something like this already ?


So here’s a cheap prediction : android and the iphone will replicate the same pattern as linux and os/x, for the exact same reasons : unfocused bazaar community on one side, singled-minded well organised one on the other. Yes, android will likely go into a myriad of unexpected directions, appearing richer than the iphone.  But it will never be able to achieve the same level of quality as the iphone, and will be just as confusing an offer as Linux.


CDs as a luxury product ?

Despite the many predictions that CDs will soon disappear and be replaced by fully digital distribution, I’ve always thought that they would rather be displaced toward a “high-end product” niche. That is, mp3 is for the music you just like and listen to casually, but for bands and artists you really care about, you’ll gladly purchase a CD.

Back when the CDs first appeared, I was still mostly using audio tapes for stuff I didn’t really value but was interested in nonetheless. Then CDs became much more common, all stores started to have bargain bins, and lending CDs from friends or a library replaced the tape. Then came CD burners. And finally mp3s. Nowadays if someone tells me about this band he’s just discovered, the band’s name is usually enough for me to find out what he’s talking about.

So, it seems a study has somewhat confirmed my intuition. It’s surprising that a study commissioned by the British recording industry (British Music Rights) would reach conclusions which are (apparently) not totally biased.

Among other findings, 80% of the youngsters they polled claimed they would pay for “a legal subscription-based music service that would allow them to discover, swap and recommend music”. May be there’s room for this kind of service after all. While I still believe Jobs got it right when he said that people don’t want to rent their music, there could be a “don’t care so much about it” space where renting would be good enough. Time will tell…