Notes on Intel migration

So, I’ve finally taken the plunge and gotten an Intel Mac. I know I’m late to the game (I also only just now got a video-capable iPod and no, I don’t have an iPhone). I’ve been late to the Intel party for two reasons: one, I just got new Macs a few months before the Intel boxes came out, so my machines weren’t really out of date, and two, not all the software I use on a regular basis has been ported to Intel. Not that all software has to be Intel-native, the Rosetta environment seems to work really well. No, two of my mission-critical applications don’t run at all on Intel machines; those would be SPSS and Macintosh Common Lisp (MCL).

SPSS not running is just annoying. I’m also less than thrilled with SPSS’s response on this. Intel stuff was announced and available to developers years ago. SPSS is really expensive software developed by a good-sized company so any excuse in the “we don’t have the resources” is utter crap. SPSS originally said they’d have a Mac version available (version 15, skipping version 14) during “summer 2007.” What they’re saying here is that SPSS 16 for Mac will come out in the second half of 2007, which probably means April 2008 (if we’re lucky). Feh. I’d sort of like to take this as motivation to switch to R, but I just have too much legacy SPSS to make this easy.

The other major problem is MCL, which also doesn’t even launch under Rosetta. I know, Lisp isn’t the mainstream computer language even in AI anymore, but I’m dependent on it. Porting all my legacy MCL code to any other Lisp will be a royal pain, because lots and lots of it is GUI code for running experiments. Allegro is radically to expensive and free Lisps like OpenMCL and SBCL don’t have straightforward GUI support. That leaves LispWorks. LispWorks isn’t bad, and generates really fast code, but is clunky to work with compared to MCL. Actually it’s not even that clunky, but it’s different enough that porting lots of GUI code is a substantial amount of work.

The other thing I’m going to really, really miss when I move my main desktop machines to Intel Macs is Rogue Amoeba’s Detour. I love Detour, because I like channeling iTunes to a good stereo system and all other sounds to cheaper computer speakers. Detour makes that possible. I’m not sure how I’ll work around that. Anybody have any ideas?

Other things are way cool. Routine things are blazing fast (especially Quicksilver), booting Windows on a Mac via Boot Camp is a creepy experience, though not quite as creepy as running Parallels Desktop in “coherence” mode.

More notes as other things come up in the migration. Man, do I already miss MCL…