2 years ago 🥁 for day 96, 2020 with 537 words.

Is This The Real Life?

Days sheltering in place: 20

Spare rolls of toilet paper left: 5

Some people claim that we are living in a simulation. Somewhat like the matrix. How do we know all of this is real? How do we know we exist and aren't part of a complex computer program? I don't know. Maybe, we are. How do you tell what is real and what is simulated?

Whenever I go to the Computer History Museum I see all the famous computing inventions such as abacus', the differential calculator, pocket calculators, big iron mainframes, a PDP-1, Google's original set of servers, Xerox Alto, ZX-Spectrum, the original (wooden) mouse, palm pilot etc etc. Many still work today, for almost all of them, if you wanted you could find an emulator. Software emulators exist for almost everything. It was how Apple's PowerPC's could run Motorola 680x0 code or even emulating an 80x86 so it could run Windows. You want to run your own IBM 370? You can - you probably don't want to, but you could.

When Apple switched processors from the Motorola 680x0 chips to PowerPC they provided an emulator as part of the OS so that old programs could still run, until new updated versions are made available. When they switched from PowerPC to Intel 80x86 chips they did exactly the same thing again.

As Apple release new versions of the OS, sometimes they break existing versions of the software. If the software isn't being maintained or the authors have no interest in producing a new version it puts users in a dilemma. Upgrade to the new version and lose access to the old application, or stick with the old OS and get left behind. Even if you stick with the old OS eventually you'll run into a new problem. Apple will stop making hardware that runs the version of the OS stuck with.

The move to Catalina was this kind of problem. They killed all 32-bit applications, including a well known financial package that was deemed not worth fixing or updating. Then Apple released new hardware that can't run Mojave.

The solution to all this is - of course - emulation. If you can simulate an old Macintosh in software, you can install an old version of the OS and you can run your old programs on the very latest hardware. Yes, it runs slower than it would, but you can keep doing this for as far back as you want to go. You can emulate the old PowerPC based Macs, you can even emulate the original 128K 68000 based Macintosh if you really want - trust me, you don't but you could.

Which leads me to today. Today I installed macOS Mojave on my macBook Pro 16" which runs Catalina using VirtualBox. There is a package that I use once per-year that I still need to use and this will let me do it. Does the OS know it's not running on a real machine?

Does the software know that Mojave is being emulated and it's really running on Catalina? It probably knows just as much about the truth as we do about our existence or whether this is all just an emulation.

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By Yorick Phoenix 🥁

Chief WriteTogether Bug Finder & character stringer. Generally, to create computer code, but sometimes actual words and paragraphs. Listens to lots of music, takes lots of photos, & invests in stocks for the long haul.

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