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The Marco.org Review of John Siracusa’s Review of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion (marco.org)
641 points by iSimone on July 25, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 118 comments

> "In my testing, reading the 10.8 review took approximately 128 minutes. But I walked my dog briefly in the middle."

> "At medium brightness, my iPad (3rd-generation) battery fell from 73% to 56% while I read the review on it."

I... I think I love Marco Arment.

A great way to start my day, thanks for the chuckles, Marco.

Funny - I've stopped reading every article from the marco.org site. I can't stand his style and I really can't stand his blind Apple - cult thinking. But to everyone his own's.

I can't stand his style and I really can't stand his blind Apple - cult thinking.

He is leap years better than Gruber and Daring Fireball. His posts are witty without being cynical, and he's frank without being rude.

He also has much more to say on entrepreneurship (given his first-hand experience with the App Store).

I agree; I've thought for a long time that as far as Apple Cult bloggers go, he's better than Gruber on a number of fronts: less groupthink, less cynicism, less David Foster Wallace fanboyism, and less irrational Google hatred. The only thing Gruber has going for him now IMO is his continued Stanley Kubrick advocacy.

Gruber does seem to have good inside Apple sources which makes some his predictions worth reading. He's almost an official Apple info release channel.

"Almost"? He clearly coordinates with Apple people. He's to Apple what a surrogate is to a presidential candidate: an attack dog free to say what the candidate will only think.

(Note: I don't dislike it, I just take him for the biased source he is.)

> (Note: I don't dislike it, I just take him for the biased source he is.)

This is the way to handle it. Gruber is what he is. The fact he spends so much time writing about Apple is both why you should read him if you're interested in Apple (because he's got the time, the knowledge and to a degree the access to have some genuine insight) and why you should be slightly sceptical about what he has to say (because it's almost impossible to spend that much time looking closely at something and not end up taking a side).

Plus he's not exactly secretive about his views. Anyone who has read more than 100 words he's written or quoted should be pretty clear about where he's coming from.

David Foster Wallace, for my money, is the best writer of the past 25 years, so I can't hold that against Gruber.

Sorry to take this further off-topic, but was your choice of 25 years arbitrary or do you actually have someone in mind who Wallace picked up the torch from around that time?

I didn't want to pick a period of time that included the '60s, so it wasn't entirely arbitrary, but I didn't have anyone specific in mind. I just don't like to pick arguments with people who like things from the '60s. :p

I don't know who any of these people are but if that was a DFW diss let me know so we can fight it out...

Anyone who behaves decently online [1] is leap years ahead of Gruber, who has admitted [2] to receiving fawning personal attention from Apple's PR people.

[1] http://lee-phillips.org/music/whoIsTheDick/ [2] http://daringfireball.net/2012/02/mountain_lion

I'm sorry, but in the first link, you basically bash a dude's music and then use that as proper grounds for him being sued; demonizing Andy Baio, presumably because you don't particularly like his music. This is not an example of 'behaving decently online'.

I wonder how Baio would feel if I downloaded Kind of Bloop and offered it here, free for the taking? Of course, I would put it through a little bit of filtering, to “transform” it first. Would that be fair?

You're using the rhetoric of a middle schooler.

(That being said, I agree with your point that someone who's unabashedly part of the Apple PR machine isn't a good source for unbiased Apple news/criticism/feedback.)

Nowhere do I even come close to saying that he deserved to be sued because I don't like his music (which is just a lousy interpretation of someone else's music). That's just silly. He deserved to be sued because he deliberately violated a photographer's copyright. And I don't "demonize" Baio at all; I just think he made some mistakes and was rightfully compelled to pay for them. I might come close to demonizing Gruber, because of the nasty way he attacked Maisel. (These escalating internet attacks on the photographer, who is in his 70s, actually turned into physical attacks on his house, orchestrated by another of Baio's supporters.)

My "middle school" passage that you quote was meant as a parody of Baio's arguments that, at least in my judgement, amount to the claim that a trivial modification of someone else's original artistic work gives you the right to distribute the modified work. Out of context it might sound juvenile, but it was meant to goad people into thinking about his claims of "fair use".

Just a reality check here: for someone asking for people to behave decently online, you're being argumentative, calling people names, assuming the worst possible motivations, and pretty much blowing off a - in my eyes - honest criticism. Never mind that you're basically spamming your site here and derailing the conversation.

"being argumentative": I felt I was misrepresented and thought I had a right to point that out. I replied to someone who put words in my mouth and claimed I took a position that in fact seems ridiculous to me.

"calling people names": Where in this thread did I do that?

"assuming the worst possible motivations": I'm puzzled by this; can you be specific?

"blowing off a - in my eyes - honest criticism": You actually read my piece and think that I said that Baio deserved to be sued because I don't like his music? Really? Because if you think the criticism is "honest" you must agree with this reading, which is off the wall. Since I never came close to saying that, how is the criticism "honest"?

"spamming your site here": I include a link to something I wrote instead of repeating it here to make my point. Is this against some kind of HN guideline? Is everyone who does this "spamming", or just me?

"derailing the conversation": I didn't mean to. I did not introduce these topics, but was replying to a thread started by others with something that I thought, in context, was relevant and interesting. But I can understand if it doesn't seem exactly on topic - neither was the thread, not started by me.

"reality check": Apparently your term for your opinion, in the form of a series of baseless accusations.

In your blog entry that you linked here - the one titled "Who's the Dick?" - you called John Gruber a scumbag, presuming that he dug for dirt instead of maybe following conversations where someone pointed info out, and then insisted that the music and artwork was both trivial and substantially transformative enough to, in your opinion, suck.

If you want to write about being decent online, you need to write more clearly and less muddled. And if you feel like something you've previously written is relevant, link it, but don't contort too hard for a connection, because non sequitur reasons - like the one about Apple fawning over him - read like spam rather than someone trying to be part of the conversation.

I misunderstood: I thought you meant I had called someone a name here in the comments. In my linked article I tried to lend some support to Maisel, whom Gruber had obscenely attacked, repeatedly calling him a "dick", by saying "If Maisel is a 'dick,' then John Gruber is a scumbag". You are welcome to characterize this as "calling people names", but I think that's an odd characterization. In the article I supply plenty of supporting evidence for "scumbag", which I nevertheless entomb in a contingent clause.

"presuming that he dug for dirt instead of maybe following conversations": I presumed nothing; he himself linked to the article that I claim he used disingenuously. He told us where he got the "dirt".

I notice that you don't seem to try to defend your other claims, but I'm having some trouble making grammatical sense out of a few of your comments. You seem to be complaining that my writing is "muddled", but I can't be sure, because the very sentence where you are trying to do that is a syntactical trainwreck.

I thought you might have had a point about me not being on topic, but the upvotes on the comments you are complaining about give me some reassurance.

He is leap years better than Gruber and Daring Fireball.

Or Jim Dalrymple, who in my opinion, took the on the role of official Apple apologist for the 5by5 Network when Gruber left.

He also has much more to say on entrepreneurship (given his first-hand experience with the App Store).

He was also the lead developer behind Tumblr during its rise, which I imagine involved some entrepreneurial thinking.

The Dalrymple thing doesn't surprise me--once Gruber left, he filled that role of communicating with ardent Apple fans.

As for Tumblr, Marco was also a co-founder! I think he has much more to say about businesses than Gruber, who often analyzes businesses by comparing them to Apple.

Matt Gemmel has earned himself a place among the great Apple apologists, too. http://mattgemmell.com/2012/07/23/closed-for-business/

To be honest - I can't stand Daring Fireball too. They both are not really interesting if you are not into Apple's products. I'm just interested in them from the standpoint of - let's look what's going no over there. And to give my Apple fanboy friends a little bit of grief.

As someone who's fairly ambivalent with respect to Apple, Daring Fireball is really good when Gruber is writing in-depth about Apple. It's from a certain perspective, but it's definitely insightful.

Sadly, he's utterly vapid and agenda-driven when talking about Android and Google, or writing snarky one-liners responding to criticism of Apple. I'd love to get a feed of Daring Fireball with just the longer pieces.

> I'd love to get a feed of Daring Fireball with just the longer pieces.

You’re in luck: http://daringfireball.net/feeds/

> A feed containing only the longer, feature articles (like the “old” DF feed) is available as a less-frequently-updated alternative: http://daringfireball.net/feeds/articles

>Sadly, he's utterly vapid and agenda-driven when talking about Android and Google

A big part of the element not being discussed is money. Less people who use Apple products probably means less page views for Daring Fireball. I don't think it was a coincidence that the focus of his enmity has turned from MS to Google since Android became a threat to Apple's most financially successful products.

The same goes for Marco. I expect him to have a bias towards Apple and developers because he makes his money off of Instapaper for iOS and he is a developer.

Gruber is a very talented writer but we all can be colored by how we get our paychecks. I will say that he amuses me which is rare among the blogging cynics.

Or, it could just be that they both happen to like Apple products.

Gruber was writing snarkily in a pro-Apple manner for years before it was his source of income.

Marco has written pretty intelligent posts about his decision not to pursue an Android app on his own, that would be a very good read for any entrepreneur.

Gruber seems to take politics in the US relatively seriously. I've seen posts where he supported the protests on the 1% within the past few months yet he has never written one post on how Apple keeps well over half of their profits overseas to avoid US taxes and how Apple is lobbying for a tax holiday. However he will talk consistently about Apple's financial success. These are very serious issues which he has sidestepped.

I don't want to hold Apple's feet to the fire since they're not alone. Google, Apple, MS and a whole host of other companies are doing the same.

>Marco has written pretty intelligent posts about his decision not to pursue an Android app on his own, that would be a very good read for any entrepreneur.

I understand Marco's decision and I may be wrong about him. The problem for me is that everyone I know will rationalize their opinions and how they make money. I have a hard time believing that Marco is the exception to the rule after reading his blog for two years.

Please stop assuming that those of us who want to do something about the growing income inequality and shrinking middle class are also those who think the government should get money from its citizens.

It's possible to think that the evaporating middle class is a bad thing, without thinking that the solution is "more tax revenue and more government {operations, spending, regulation, etc}".

Whenever you think the answer is "get the government to help fix it", you do not fully understand the question.

Why don't we just all agree that John Siracusa should have a frequently updated blogging outlet so we could just read his stuff instead :)

to sibling poster: He has written about the New York Times reporting on Apple’s taxes. You can say that he’s just being an Apple apologist here, but it’s not as if he has ignored the topic:


That was about Apple paying taxes on what profits they bought into the US. I'm talking about the offshore tax havens where most of their money is kept.

I'm talking about this:

Google Joins Apple In Push For Tax Holiday


White House Unmoved By Apple’s Offshore Cash Problem


Does Apple actually keep money in off-shore tax-havens? They are legitimately making tons of cash everywhere in the world (the majority of their revenue and profit) and that money is stuck there and they can’t bring it to the US. It’s not like they moved the money out of the US to flee some tax, they just didn’t make it in the US but elsewhere.

It’s seems to me that this is the main driver here for Apple.

>I expect him to have a bias towards Apple and developers because he makes his money off of Instapaper for iOS and he is a developer.

He also has an Android app for Instapaper.


It would be inaccurate to say "he has". Marco has stated on his podcast that he has had absolutely nothing to do with Instapaper for Android. If I recall correct he said it was an entirely-clean room implementation by Mobelux.

He didn't cut the code but he doesn't have nothing to do with it.

He wrote the code for the API the app uses and runs the servers (or hires someone to) that API runs on, plus it was developed in partnership and with his agreement so I'm guessing he was involved in the design.

I specifically mentioned Instapaper for Android, NOT the server-end. And your guess is wrong. As I stated, he mentioned on his podcast that he had nothing to do with the design and implementation of Instapaper for Android.

Did you even read my comment before clicking reply?

Well, given they're both in general Apple bloggers I'd be surprised if you weren't into Apple products you'd enjoy them. Kind of like I'm not into boats and find boat blogs really uninteresting.

If I could punch just one tech blogger squarely in the face, it would without a doubt be John Grubber.

Who would you choose?

Disclaimer: This is in no way meant as threat of any kind of harm to Grubber or anyone else. It is simply a hypothetical thought experiment.

Easy: M.G. Siegler

I agree but I think this is an unfair comparison. Marco is a talented entrepreneur and developer, his main effort isn't blogging as with Gruber.

I don't know whether he is for sure, but I have noticed that he tweets and blogs (and sometimes podcasts) throughout the day. And he's clearly being mentored by or adopting Gruber's blogging and advertisement style. If his main effort is, at this time, programming, I bet it won't be for long. He's clearly trying to build a Gruber-esque personal brand.

Notice how many times he links to instapaper?

I'm with you here. I had to stop reading Gruber completely because I find his arrogance difficult to swallow. Marco can be pretty funny and insightful though.

  > This is not a quick read, so it’s a good opportunity
  > to try a read-later method such as Safari’s Reading
  > List, which Apple invented completely on their own.
This bit of sarcasm is definitely not towing the Apple Groupthink line.

Toeing the line.


I take it then that it was invented by Marco?

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or just unaware that Marco is the developer of Instapaper.

I think he's just pointing out that "read later" style bookmarks/link sites have been around for a long time, much longer than instapaper, as a matter of fact.

I don't think there have been services like Instapaper around "much longer than Instapaper." I'm not sure Instapaper was the first of its kind, but it was certainly one of the first.

I've done the same. It's more so because he seems very passive -aggressive and often offers no support for his views. It's not that his views are necessarily wrong, but most everything he writes is an assertion with no evidence or something that he has determined intuitively. I care about people who are able to give insights through logic and data. That's why I read Asymco and listen to Hypercritical with John Siracusa. Those are both very logical, very objective people. Marco usually just throws out opinions and rarely offers real insight. There's just no reason for me to respect his writing when he offers nothing but his own thoughts and no support. This is especially true because the things he writes are often pseudo-correct or highly debatable.

But my real problem is how he responds to his criticism. On several occasions I've challenged his arguments or asked him to elaborate via Twitter. His response is usually to get angry, make some kind of sarcastic remark at me, and treat me as if I were antagonizing him. It's an incredibly childish response. It's as if anyone who tries to debate his points is not only wrong, but a dick as well. Frankly, if his is unwilling to accept critiques and entertain a discussion, why does he even blog? More importantly, why should I read him?

"blind Apple - cult thinking"

He treats us to this deadpan irony:

"it’s a good opportunity to try a read-later method such as Safari’s Reading List, which Apple invented completely on their own."

That clearly puts the lie to your assessment.

Hey, Engadget comments called, they want you back.

I expect him to have certain biases but I don't find it unbearable like I do with Benjamin Brooks and Matt Gemmell where I always get a sense of anger, contempt and general negativity in their writing.

Marco is far more negative then Ben Brooks. Whereas I think Ben plays up the negativity because it's his shtick, Marco is just genuinely very sarcastic, passive-aggressive and negative in general.

That's your opinion. I've read a post from Ben Brooks calling anyone who uses a stylus on an iPad an idiot. In that time frame, Marco bought a Cosmonaut stylus and enjoyed it. A month or two later, Brooks bought the same.

It didn't bother me that he was wrong. It bothered me that he called everyone an idiot for using a stylus on an iPad. This is the kind of person who will criticize sooner than give thought. I would not want to read what he has to offer or be around him for any length of time.

This is one of many posts of his site or his Twitter account.

"Funny - I've stopped reading every article from the marco.org site. I can't stand his style and I really can't stand his blind Apple - cult thinking. But to everyone his own's." So why even bother commenting? And if this is typical of your comments then I'm going to stop reading them because they are self-serving and content-free.

I like his Apple stuff, but on his podcast sometimes he wanders into Windows territory, despite basically not knowing any Windows users, and not using Windows since XP. Not surprisingly, he ends up sounding pretty ignorant and I just fast forward.

Wow, a Review-Reviewer-Review ^_^

Now, who reviews the reviewers reviewers reviewer?

>This is not a quick read, so it’s a good opportunity to try a read-later method such as Safari’s Reading List, which Apple invented completely on their own.

...was what did it for me.

I started laughing at the first graph of wordcounts, as I realized what he was doing.

Yes, very pleasant surprise, completely unexpected humorous side of Marco. Wonderfully dry humor.

Marco has perfected the followup blog entry HN spam. Even if it is hilarious and witty.

He jumps on a hot topic and gets the page views.

I would hate running a blog where every time I hit the "publish" button I have to think "someone might put this on Hacker News and some Hacker News guy will complain about me spamming". I don't think that this is "news"-worthy, but its the hacker news community that posted it here and upvoted it.

His site isn't ad supported–I don't think he's trolling for pageviews. Also, if you listen to his podcast, he's stated that he doesn't much care for hitting the front page of HN because we're such cynical dicks (paraphrased).

UPDATE: His site is ad-supported. It was just blending in a little too well.

He's on The Deck network, so it is ad supported. That's not to say I think he's trolling... I think he's just having fun.

Huh, I can't find The Deck ad on his site.

> Huh, I can't find The Deck ad on his site.

It's in the top banner, to the right of his header/nav. It's just that one of the current ads is a shade of brown almost identical to his own.

The ads run on RSS only, I think.

Nope, I can see it from my browser. You might have to pause adblock to see it.

Ad-supported, but not pay-per-pageview advertising, and not as a full-time job.

Right...HN spam, even though he doesn't even have an HN account? http://www.twitter.com/marcoarment/status/228137545396019200

How is it spam? A relevant developer writing something humorous and pretty insightful.

I agree it was funny but insightful?

If it really bothers you that much filter it out. I enjoyed the article, I'm glad HN directed me to it.

I loved the article. Spam was probably a strong word. He has perfected the art of getting his blog to the top of HN by writing a meta article.

I'm pretty sure he does not care about HN, he's just horsing around with his blog and having a bit of fun with his reviewer reputation.

He's said on podcasts he's not a fan of Hacker News comments, so I'm going to say he's not overly fussed on hitting the top of HN in general.

Not HN in particular, but all the viral news aggregators.

lukeholder has perfected the HN spam complaint spam. Someone makes a blog entry that gets posted to HN and he calls it spam and gets...something. No idea what. Sorry.

A lot of reddit-style comments on this post, too.

Not everything is about HN. It seems to me that he is just having fun.

"Not everything is about HN."

You're not from around here, are you?

It's just sad that the actual review, which is tremendously interesting and substantial, has noticeably fewer votes than this, the #1 link.

Is the oft-mentioned decline of HN a bunch of tiny cuts?

The actual review also is about half the minimum length of a novel[1], and as this review describes, takes two hours to read. In some ways I'll agree that it's appropriate because it "gratifies one's intellectual curiosity" or so, but it strikes me that we should amortize across the time spent on the subject. If you compare this to, say, spending two hours watching lectures from online courses, I am not sure the review of Mountain Lion really holds up.

In that sense, the review-of-the-review indeed packs much more density-of-gratification than the review did. If the gratification density is to be reflected in the points value, then the points are justly apportioned.

[1] I am basing this purely on the word count and the fact that NaNoWriMo requires 50,000 words to classify something as a novel; I have not checked to see how actual novels fare against this goal.

Siracusa's review is expected, and I'm sure a lot of HN folks saw it coming. Despite the fact that it's new and comprehensive, it's not nearly as new and exciting as Marco's blog post.

Plus, comedy will almost always do better than a review.

Christ does the HN community give Marco a lot of grief. He's like the LeBron James of this place.

I thought it was a rather funny post, but that is because I know and appreciate the Siracusa reviews, and I understand the references.

Satire and parody are generally reactionary.

Which does not stop the HN community from voting it to the top, this is currently sitting at #2 with 473 points and 89 comments where the actual Siracusa review thread is #4 with 327 points and 74 comments.

Make of this what you will.

If you are not really interested in Apple products - he's not a good source of information.

And this article (without reading it) sounds really like he jumped the shark.

Why have you commented three times about an article you haven't read, won't read, and about a topic you admit you have no interest in?

Unless you've read the article how would you know whether he's jumped the shark?

You're taking this way too seriously. Please, read the review. My interpretation is that it's Marco poking fun at Siracusa.

"which Apple invented completely on their own." priceless.

That one satirical expression was enough to get me a laugh and upvote it. I dont see how so many people here that are calling it, dont see it.

I am honest: I don't get it. Is the reviewed review focused on meaningless metrics or why is this funny? I skimmed through a couple of pages and did not see any of that, in fact it seemed comprehensive if a bit subjective and fanboyish.

If you listen to Marco's podcast, he'll occasionally say something like "I want to talk about this topic but Siracusa just talked about it on his podcast and did a great job so I'll be quick about it."

It think this review-review is Marco's way of saying that he knows he's expected to comment on the new OSX and everyone should just go read Siracusa's review. Plus it was funny.

edit: typo

It's also self-parody of Marco's exhaustively researched reviews - which are often focused on relatively mundane things like LED light bulbs, thermostats, and coffee gadgets.

I don't think it's parodying the use of metrics, it's parodying the extreme attention to detail.

No, it's a quite serious (and quite good) review. Marco Arment is only teasing Siracusa.

Love the graph comparing word lengths of previous OS X reviews.

Yes. But it kills me that he could present such a graph, and then fail to comment on the peak at 10.4. That'll have to be a big issue when the reviews of this piece come out.

I love the text right below it.

> This is not a quick read, so it’s a good opportunity to try a read-later method such as Safari’s Reading List, which Apple invented completely on their own.

Oh so sweet.

Has anyone reviewed this review review yet? I don't want to waste my time over here.

Yes: Content-free. Avoid.

I'm going to review your review of Marco's review of the review. Light on discussion.

"'"GOTO Considered Harmful" Considered Harmful' Considered Harmful?", anyone?

“Considered Harmful” Essays Considered Harmful: http://meyerweb.com/eric/comment/chech.html

meta-meta hey.

Best review of a review ever. A+++ would read again!

Thanks for the review.

Has anyone noticed yet in the real Siracusa review that marco.org is the first link in a screenshot of Siracusa's reading list?

Page 8

whoa, this totally breaks the space-time continuum!

"There have been a few architectural changes to John Siracusa’s OS X reviews as well. Siracusa has detailed the process in his separate explanatory blog post, because the review wasn’t long enough and he had more to say." HA

It's highly legible!

As amusing as the parody is, it's tough to beat the original. Honestly, who cares about an update to Chess?

I do. Apple pulled Texas Hold 'Em from the iOS App Store some time back and that was their only iOS game. Likewise, Chess is their only Mac game. I expected it to be removed from the OS.

Finding out that it got Game Centre integration is actually pretty interesting. Providing developers an example of the API in a working program is also a nice gesture.

I bet you anything most OS X devs reading this review that plan on integrating Game Centre in their own Mac game fired up Chess to see it in action.

I love the fact that his review included code, just something small and trivial like that. Made my day more than slightly better. Can go to bed with a giant smile on my face.

A review of a review?

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