Why I don’t want to upgrade from Mac OS X 10.14 Mojave – part 1

As the title suggests, I’m going to write a series of posts on —

Wait a second! You’re writing a series of posts on why you don’t want to upgrade? Isn’t that a waste of effort? You know as well as anyone the truth behind this xkcd cartoon:

You wrote a long series of posts on controlling an air conditioner Apple HomeKit and painting miniature figures. They were on niche topics, but they were worthwhile posts. Why write a series on something inevitable and trivial? Why not write a series of posts on 3D printing instead?

First, I only plan to write one post on 3D printing, for reasons I’ll explain when I eventually write the post.

For another, those other two series of posts involved hobby activities that cost, at worst, a couple of hundred dollars each. Upgrading my computer beyond Mac OS X 10.14 would involve spending thousands of dollars. Before I do that, I want to understand what exactly will become obsolete if I upgrade, and the consequences of not upgrading.

Also, some of my issues come from lack of foresight and care on the part of the big companies that make computer equipment. I strongly doubt my single voice will matter in their decisions. But a lot of small voices can add to one big voice. Perhaps someone will listen.

Besides, by making it a series, perhaps the posts will be short. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Reason #1: Entertainment

Konfabulator was a “Javascript runtime engine” written for Mac OS 10.4 in 2003. Basically, it allowed users to run small programs called “widgets” that performed simple functions. Konfabulator was acquired by Yahoo in 2005 and renamed Yahoo! Widgets.

Javascript is an easy language to learn. Although I never write any widgets of my own, I did edit some of the existing Konfabulator/Yahoo! Widgets to suit my needs. I already knew how to program by 2003, but sometimes it’s nice to back away from the complexity of C++ and work with something simple.

Then Apple came out with Dashboard in 2004. It was basically the same concept as Konfabulator, offering tiny programs for specific tasks. With the competition from Dashboard, Yahoo! Widgets gradually faded away. By 2012 it was gone.

Then Apple got rid of Dashboard. It’s been replaced by widgets within Apple’s Notification Center.

If all you want is to check on weather or the stock quotes, this doesn’t matter much. But some Konfabulator/Yahoo! Widgets were never adapted to Apple’s “widget ecosystem”. Case in point:

Konfabulator widgets

What you see in this screenshot are the different Konfabulator widgets that I’ve run on my Macintosh for the past 18 years. Some of them I can replace with programs available on Apple’s App Store: the mini calendar, the analog clock, the moon phase. But two of them I can’t: Widgetbox and Mastermind.

Widgetbox is an implementation of the old board game Black Box. There are no modern implementations of this game on the Apple App Store or anywhere else I could find. It’s fallen off the cliff of relevance.

Mastermind is another implementation of a classic short board game. There are many computer implementations of Mastermind available. However, they’re all bloated things that take up far more screen real estate than the Konfabulator widget, and have more elaborate (and useless) interfaces.

Why a fuss about these two games? They’re a quick break during the working day. It takes me about 45 seconds to play each game. When I need a brief distraction, I click a few times on one of these, then back to work.

As I’ve said, Konfabulator/Yahoo! Widgets has continued to work in various flavors of Mac OS X for the past 18 years. Mac OS X 10.15 breaks it. The Konfabulator engine is a 32-bit program, and Mac OS X 10.15 and higher will only run 64-bit apps.

There are other Javascript runtime engines out there, but they’re all obscure and none are one-for-one compatible with Konfabulator.

Upgrading above Mac OS X 10.14 will remove a minor pleasure of my life. Yes, it’s a first-world problem. Yes, there are other games… but none I found so far that are 45-seconds-and-done.

If Apple hadn’t completed with and driven out Konfabulator/Yahoo! Widgets, perhaps the developers would still support it today. If Apple hadn’t dumped Dashboard after smashing its chief competitor, perhaps there were would be widgets with a similar function.

Some lives are built up of small pleasures, and mine is one of them. It’s annoying and unpleasant to have one yanked away through corporate competition and neglect.

OK, I acknowledge all this is trivial. The remaining posts in this series will bring up more serious issues.

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