Posted on October 28th, 2016
And so, after months of waiting to upgrade my MacBook, Apple unleashed their latest and greatest pro laptops at a special media event yesterday.
Except they're not. Not really.
They're not the latest or greatest. They're woefully underpowered. Embarrassingly underpowered compared to the cutting edge releases in Windows World laptops. The CPU is a marginal improvement in power and speed over previous models... but who gives a shit about "marginal" in a "pro" machine? The Radeon GPU is borderline ridiculous compared to Nvidia's more powerful mobile chips, so why is Apple using them in a "pro" anything? And memory is still maxing out at 16 gigs, not 32? Seriously? In 2016? I regularly work on files larger than 16 gigs! The idea that these are "pro" laptops is laughable to a humiliating degree for Apple. Remember when a MacBook was the absolute king of laptops? So badass that even Windows developers were buying them? Well, those days are over.
But, ooh... you get a "TouchBar" at the top of the keyboard! And, ooh... it's really thin!
Two things I could give a flying fuck about. I need... NEED... a beast of a portable machine that will allow me to work at peak performance with spec-crushing apps like Photoshop.
And while it would be nice to have an array of ports to handle all my peripherals without another fucking dongle... or, hell... even being able plug in my fucking iPhone without another fucking dongle... that's not a deal-breaker for me. And while it would be nice to have Apple's MagSafe power port that has saved my laptop from taking a header more than once when I tripped over the power cord... that's not a deal-breaker either.
I NEED A FUCKING MACBOOK PRO LAPTOP!
And giving me this "pro" machine that hasn't got cutting-edge performance IS a deal-breaker.
There is no reason whatsoever for me to trade in my 2012 MacBook Pro Retina for the new machine. Certainly not at the premium price tag Apple has slapped on the high-end 15-inch model (my preferred configuration runs $3099). And certainly not with a bezel on the display that is not even all the way around the screen... what an OCD nightmare.
Which leads to a question for Tim Cook, Jonathan Ive, and everybody else in charge at Apple... What in the fuck am I supposed to do now?
Switch to Windows so I can actually buy the tool I need to get my work done?
The MacBook Pro IS Macintosh. It has been for a while. So does Apple even give a shit that they are essentially killing off the Mac with what has to be the stupidest fucking move they could have made for the pro users who actually buy their OS X shit? I just don't understand. Did nobody working at Apple stop for two fucking seconds to think about what they were doing, then turn to Tim Cook and say "This is not what our pro users are needing"... nobody?
Apparently that's the case, and it speaks volumes as to just how badly Apple has lost their way. From all appearances, they haven't the slightest fucking clue what they're doing with OS X anymore. While this was somewhat apparent when they released their bizarre Mac Pro "tubes" that aren't really built for pro needs... it's deathly apparent with the release of their latest "pro" laptops.
When Steve Jobs died, I was never one of those people saying "Apple is doomed! They will never survive without Steve!" But more and more I'm thinking that I was wrong. Everybody at Apple seems to be obsessed with making things thinner and lighter with no regard whatsoever as to what that actually means to the end-user. Pro power requires a bigger, heavier form-factor to accommodate the chips, ports, and battery required. What good is a super-thin, super-light "pro" laptop if it's not powerful enough to do the job? Does Apple even give a fuck? Or is thin and light truly all they care about, even though it's not the top priority for their customers?
I am one of the biggest Apple Whores you will ever meet. I live and die by their products. A good chunk of my life is defined by their products... the Mac, in particular. Nobody wants to see Apple knock one out of the park more than I do. Nobody wants to spend money to buy the latest Apple laptop more than I do. Nobody loves the Mac more than I do.
And that's the problem.
I love the Mac more than Apple does.
Look where that's gotten us.
Posted on September 26th, 2015
Something pretty great is going on in my life right now, but I can't talk about it.
Which is kinda frustrating because I don't really have anything else to blog about.
Oh... except to say that I just spent an hour figuring out what went wrong with my blog, so I can actually post all the stuff that I've been sitting on all week.
I guess that's something.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try and figure out what Apple has done with the "Secure Empty Trash" command in the MacOS X El Capitan beta...
Posted on September 10th, 2015
And so... I've been using Mac OS X "El Capitan" Public Beta for a full day now.
Not terribly impressed. Some things I've observed in the past 16 hours...
A lot of things I'd liked fixed/changed, to be sure. But the biggest is my laptop fan going off and on all day long. It just sucks to have to listen to it all the time when I rarely had to with previous OS X versions. If this is the cost for speed bumps I barely notice, then no thanks. Hopefully Apple is on the case.
UPDATE: After futzing around with the CPU monitor, I think that it's Mail that's the culprit. Even when running in the background, it's pegged at 138%+ CPU usage. Quitting Mail lets my laptop run much, much cooler. Guess I might be needing to find a new app for email.
Posted on December 23rd, 2014
Virtual desktops have been around for a very long time. But it wasn't until Apple unleashed their version of the virtual desktops in 2007 (called "Spaces") that it became a seamless experience on Macintosh computers.
And essential. At least to me.
By creating multiple desktops using Apple's "Mission Control," you get clutter-free workspaces that you can switch between with a flick of the mouse or trackpad...
Being able to give each of your Spaces a different background image so you can tell which desktop you're looking at is pretty cool. But the killer feature that makes Spaces so compelling is being able to anchor different apps to a specific desktop...
So now when you click on an app icon in the dock, you are sent to the associate desktop automatically without having to keep sliding between all your Spaces. Nice. I've become so accustomed to using Apple's "Spaces" desktops that I don't even think about it anymore... it just The Way Things Are.
Until this morning when they stopped functioning for some reason.
I tried working without virtual desktops, but was quickly driven insane. Instead of effortlessly switching between Spaces I was having to hide and unhide apps... sort through piles of windows... constantly resize app panes... it was a nightmare of inefficiency and trauma. So much so that I wasted precious time Googling a solution (had to kill some prefs) so I could get back to work.
And now I'm a little paranoid... wondering which technology I take for granted every day is going to be the one that gives out next. We've let tech take over our lives bit by bit, and now it has become so integrated into how we function that we don't even notice it.
Until it's gone.
Holy crap don't let Angry Birds be next.
Posted on October 21st, 2014
As a Certified Apple Whore I'm probably more critical of Apple than their harshest detractors. I don't know why that is, except I'm so used to things being awesome when it comes to Apple products that I'm pretty upset when things go wrong.
And it seems as though things go wrong more often than not lately.
As an example... I'm positively outraged that I still can't stream my iTunes movie and television purchases to my laptop or iPad/iPhone. Unlike every other media content provider on the planet, Apple doesn't allow streaming (except to their Apple TV device) and forces you to download video content in order to watch it. This is stupid as hell, makes no damn sense, and means iTunes is grossly inferior to alternatives like Amazon, Google, and Ultraviolet by a huge margin... but Apple simply doesn't give a shit. You do it their way or not at all.
You would think that past idiocy like this would prepare me for any new failures that Apple racks up, but I assure you it does not.
This was only confirmed today when I flew into an apoplectic rage when the two new features I've been waiting, waiting, waiting for in the just-released iOS 8.1 update don't actually work as advertised...
The idea is an intriguing one. Instead of using a credit card to pay for purchases, you use the credit card information stored on your iPhone 6. Why bother? Well, there's three very good reasons, actually...
Adding a credit card to Apple Pay is pretty easy. You type in the card info (or take a photo of the card to enter it automatically), then confirm the added card via email, text, or phone call. When it works, it's pretty painless. My Chase Bank Disney Visa even brings up a photo of my physical card design so I recognize which card I'm using...
Once added, credit cards appear on PassBook along with everything else...
Except... it's not a flawless process by any means. For reasons unknown, my Citi card added just fine, but all subsequent attempts to verify it have failed. I've been trying for two days now...
Needless to say, unverified cards are unusable, even though they show up in PassBook just the same. I don't know if this is an Apple problem or a CitiBank problem, but it doesn't matter... in the end it's an Apple problem because they obviously didn't test this crap as thoroughly as they should have.
UPDATE: Eventually I just deleted the card and started over. This time, the only option I had for verification was to call a toll-free number and tell a computer the name of my favorite teacher. Alrighty then...
And then, of course, there's those credit cards that aren't supported, like my US Bank FlexPerks account...
Now, I'm assuming this is not Apple's fault. I'm assuming that they presented Apple Pay to USBank along with all the other major credit card issuing banks, and USBank decided not to make it a priority.
Which is insane.
A major, major player like Apple comes up with a new method of making payment that DOESN'T cut credit card companies out of the picture... and US Bank is not onboard for launch? Like I said, insane. But hardly surprising. Do you know how long it took USBank to add chips to their cards? Years. Years of waiting for them to get off their asses and add a chip so I could use my card in Europe. Here's hoping that Apple completely removes credit card companies from Apple Pay within five years. Like record labels, they will NOT be missed, and technology will proceed much better without them.
According to Apple's FAQ, if a merchant requires you to give them your credit card number, you are to instead give them your "Device Account Number." Problem is, if you have "Display Zoom" turned on, you can't see the number and can't swipe to get at it. Most times when this happens, I am able to copy the information and paste it somewhere to look at it. Not with Apple Pay. I guess the only way to get my "Device Account Number" is to turn off Display Zoom first...
Now, I gotta ask... who the hell is beta-testing this shit? ANYBODY?!? Because every damn time Apple releases something, I find a half-dozen bugs within a day or two. Every. Damn. Time. Surely Apple can't be this inept, so the only conclusion I can draw is that they know about most of the bugs they ship, and just figure they'll get to them when they damn well feel like it. In the meanwhile, their customers have to put up with this bullshit. But anyway...
Once set up, how is it to actually use Apple Pay? Easy. Just hold your phone next to the NFC (Near Field Communication) terminal and your iPhone 6 will automatically come alive and ask you to approve the transaction with TouchID (and allow you to change to a different card than your default, if you wish). You then get a confirmation that the payment was made and a confirmation of the transaction on your card's "info" panel...
All of this is, of course, is entirely dependent on whether the merchant in question A) Has Apple Pay. B) Know what it is and how to process it. and C) Has it up and running. I tried four locations that were listed as Apple's "partners" and the result was a mixed bag...
So... 50/50 with only one of the two successful transactions working exactly as intended. Not bad for second day after launch, I guess. The one thing I didn't do was attempt to return something to the store, which is supposed to be a real mess. I can imagine that may take a while for stores to train their employees how to handle.
UPDATE: One interesting thing... as I mentioned above, my Device Account Number doesn't show up because I have Display Zoom enabled. But on both my Walgreen's and McDonald's receipt, it says "VISA ACCT" followed by four digits that are not from my credit card. I'm guessing this must be my DAN, so I've made note of it.
Ultimately, Apple Pay has amazing potential. If every transaction could be as utterly painless, seamless, and blazingly fast as my experience at Walgreen's was, I would never pay with any other method ever again. Which, of course, can't happen until all the bugs are worked out and every merchant gets off their ass and implements a NFC processing system... so we're a ways away on that. But still, the future of payment is here, it's really great, and it's Apple Pay.
AIRDROP & HANDOFF/CONTINUITY
For quite a while now, Apple has had a technology called "AirDrop" on their Mac OS and iOS devices. This wonderful feature allows you to transfer files between machines with very little effort. Except... not really. Despite being named the same, AirDrop on Mac OS was an entirely different system than AirDrop on iOS, and they were completely incompatible. This was stupid with a capital D, and Apple should have waited until they got Mac OS/iOS interoperability before unleashing unfinished shit. Well, that day has finally come with Mac OS Yosemite and iOS 8.1. Except not really.
I'm just going to set aside that since my iMac doesn't have Bluetooth LE, it is incapable of connecting in any way with my iOS devices...
I can, however connect with other, newer Macs, but this involves entering an "Old Mac Compatibility Mode" on a more recent Mac to work. And once you are in that mode, you have to dump out in order to use the current AirDrop with "iOS devices and newer Macs" again...
About as elegant as buttering a slice of toast with a hammer, but I'm assuming there's some kind of technical reason for it. But, hey, at least there's an option here. When it comes to getting files from an iOS device, I'm back to emails and DropBox.
But what about those Macs which have Bluetooth LE and are compatible with AirDrop 2.0? Well... I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that it works. Except... not really.
Connecting my MacBook Pro (mid-2012) with my MacBook Air (Early 2014) and iPhone 6 works nicely. Though there was some confusion at first as to what I was AirDropping with because all it shows is the device's owner. In order to know which device you've got a connection to, you have to connect to two or more devices at the same time, then the information pops up...
No. I have not one damn clue as to why Apple doesn't help you out with that info when there's only one device connected. Maybe it's aesthetically displeasing to the spirit of Steve Jobs or some crazy shit like that. With Apple, you can never tell. But anyway...
Going Mac OS to Mac OS works perfectly. Going Mac OS to iOS works as expected. But going from iOS to Mac OS? No joy...
AirDrop is clearly connected... I can verify that on the Mac side in two places. But iOS simply will not acknowledge that it's part of an AirDrop network no matter what I do. I've rebooted my phone. I've disconnected and reconnected various devices in every order I can think of. I can send files TO my iPhone... but can't send a damn thing FROM my iPhone. At least to a Mac. To another iPhone 6 it works fine. I have verified in Apple's support forums that I am not the only one having problems. A lot of people are having problems. To which I have to say (again) who the hell is beta-testing this shit? ANYBODY?!?
Oddly enough, "Handoff" or "Continuity" (or whatever the hell Apple is calling their iPhone to Mac to iPhone to Mac app transfer service) only works in the opposite direction... I can hand off composing an email or looking at a web page from my Mac to my iPhone with no problem at all. A little icon of my current Mac activity shows up on the lock screen of my iPhone 6 (opposite the camera icon), I swipe up on it, login with Touch ID, and I'm picking up exactly where my Mac left off, as advertised...
But the opposite direction? No joy. No matter what I do, nothing will ever handoff from my iPhone to my Mac. To which I have to say (again) who the hell is... well, you get the picture.
So Handoff, like Apple Pay, has some problems that need to be ironed out. Why Apple doesn't test thoroughly enough to iron them out before release is a complete mystery to me, but here we are. You'd have thought that Apple would have learned their lesson after the utter disaster that was iSync, but... well... apparently not.
The frustrating thing here is that Apple is developing these awesome technologies that are actually useful. Apple Pay, Air Drop, Handoff... all terrific, terrific stuff. On paper. In order for me to be impressed, Apple needs to make this shit work in reality. Apple Pay is close. AirDrop/Handoff isn't even in the ballpark.
I'm confident that one day things will get hammered into place. Apple has too much to lose if it doesn't. The only question is... how soon?
I want the future now.
Posted on August 28th, 2014
I've had more that a couple people ask me if I've joined the Apple Mac OS X Yosemite Beta program. Of course I have, which always leads to the question "Well? What do you think?
The answer is not so easy to pin down... mostly because the beta is very much work in progress. And a lot of the more compelling features, such as all the nifty new iPhone integration, can't be tested because I don't have iOS 8 installed on any of my devices. So about all there is for me to comment on is A) How it runs with my existing stuff, and B) What it looks like. Those answers are as follows...
A) Seems to run fine, though I've noticed there is some lag when typing with a few apps.
B) I think it looks like shit. Garish, dated, and inexplicably messy on anything less than a Retina Display... which is a lot of people still have.
First of all, the new "flat" icon aesthetic isn't bad... it's the ugly day-glow color pallet that makes it appear that way. Even worse, the "flatness" is applied inconsistently. The icon for Mail, for example, isn't truly "flat" at all. It's got a lot of photo detail on it plus a watermark, which looks inconsistent next to all the other Apple icons that are so minimalistic...
The Mail icon is new, so I'm guessing that's pretty much what it will look like when Yosemite is released. Unfortunate.
Even putting the garish app icons aside, there's an even bigger problem with folders. No longer a subtle element that recedes into the background so you can focus on what you need to, folders are now about as subtle as a slap in the face. They're like a plague of distraction...
Get a grouping of them and it's almost worse...
Compare and contrast to the much classier presentation of the older folders...
Also note the trash can, which no longer looks like an actual trash can... but instead like a frosted shot-glass filled with cigarette butts. Far more Windows-like than Mac-like in my opinion.
And it doesn't stop there... every single control element has been flooded in 80's day-glow colors which looks almost manic in it's distraction...
YES! WE FUCKING GET IT! WE CAN CLICK ON THOSE CONTROLS!! Praise be to Jobs that you can tone it down by switching the appearance controls to "Graphite"...
Unfortunately, there's no way to do that with the folders and icons. And, this being Apple, it's not like they're going to offer any skinning options so you can replace their shitty 1980's color scheme with something more sensible.
I haven't played much with the Apple apps that come with the system. Notepad and Contacts have been updated, but not noticeably so. The Calendar app looks a little different, but is still the same flaming pile of shit when it comes to usability. The only difference is that they've moved the laughably absurd and confusing month labels from the right to the left...
For the life of me, I don't understand Apple's new design mantra. It used to be that design was functional first... then that functionality was made beautiful. Now it's apparently design over function... which is made a hundred times worse because it's shitty design that's being painted over shitty functionality. Exactly the opposite of what Apple is supposed to be about. At least it's consistently shitty, which means they're still ahead of Microsoft. But for how long?
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the gimmicky transparency crap they've injected everywhere is much more subtle than I feared it would be. I still think it's entirely unnecessary, but at least it's not distracting me from getting things done. Even so...
John Hammond: I don't think you're giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody's ever done before...
Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.
That classic quote from Jurassic Park pretty much sums up my feelings about how Apple is operating now. Yes... yes... it's cool that the QuickDraw engine of Mac OS X allows effortless transparency to be added to any element... but just because you can do a thing doesn't mean you should do a thing.
One thing I rather like about Yosemite is iCloud Drive. It's basically DropBox integrated into the operating system. I am hoping... hoping with all my might... that this will make data sharing with iPhone have some semblance of sanity. If not, then DropBox it is. DropBox is not only dead-simple to configure and use... they just upped everybody who pays for their pro service to a whopping 1 terabyte at no extra charge. That's probably cheaper than what Apple will offer, which means the iPhone quackery you have to put up with is suddenly not the deal breaker it once was.
More random things to like...
And that's about all I have to say, really. Everything else is pretty much as it's being reported on every Mac website in existence.
While I think Yosemite has some interesting things going for it, ultimately it feels as if Mac OS X is taking a step backwards in functionality and design. Whether these things will be fine-tuned and improved before release is anybody's guess. I certainly hope so.
Posted on May 9th, 2014
For the longest time I've been dismissive of those who say that Apple has gone downhill since Steve Jobs left us (praise be unto His name). As a Certified Apple Whore, I pretty much have to, right? And besides, as great as His Steveness was, Apple has always been more than just one man. Steve Jobs didn't do it all alone, and the people who helped to make Apple into such a remarkable company are still around. So, yeah, Apple isn't going to be the same... but it couldn't possibly be the horrific disaster that all the nay-sayers keep insisting: "APPLE IS OVER!" "APPLE CAN'T SURVIVE!" "POST-JOBS APPLE IS DOOMED!" What nonsense!
As time goes on and the user experience with Apple products degenerates to complete and total shit, my opinion has been changing.
Don't get me wrong... I firmly believe nobody is doing it better... but the detail-oriented Apple that made me commit my eternal servitude over the past decade simply doesn't exist any more.
Let's walk through an example, shall we?
I perfectly understand the need to prevent random people from walking up to my computer and charging a bunch of crap to my Apple ID. Really I do. But having to enter my password four times? What kind of sadistic fucking asshole made that happen? And how badly would Steve Jobs explode over what a shitty user experience that is? I'd rather just buy a physical book at Amazon with their One-Click shopping.
This problem goes much deeper than just inconveniencing customers to enter their password over and over and over and over again... it encourages people to pick simple, short, easy-to-remember, passwords. Which is pretty much the opposite of what you want, because those are the passwords that are easiest to crack. What you want is people using heinously complicated passwords that are very difficult to crack. But to get this to work, you have to make it so the password only has to be entered rarely. The password should be remembered by the system and auto-populate whenever you want to buy something. Of course you have to secure the system with a password... otherwise you're back to square one. But THAT is the kind of stuff Apple figures out so well. Like the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone, for example.
So where is it?
And since one example doesn't build a compelling case, here are a few more things off the top of my head that have been bugging the shit out of me with Apple's "User Experience"...
Holy crap... and that was just the stuff off the top of my head. Had I put some actual thought into this list, it would be ten times as long, I'm sure.
And there's my problem with Apple. In the past, I would expect that insane shit ruining the Apple experience would eventually be fixed. Now? I honestly don't know. There's obviously people in charge of these problem areas. But is Tim Cook obsessing over making sure these people are getting things to work exceptionally well like Steve Jobs was? Or is he being distracted by shiny things to buy with Apple's massive bank account? Early after his take-over, I was willing to give him the benefit of doubt. But now? We're going on three years and I'm starting to worry.
I want... need... Apple to be insanely great.
Anything less isn't Apple.