I’m Dying Here

Thanks, Apple, for rekindling my appreciation of you and making me lust in my heart.

I admit that I am not thrilled about the loss of the MagSafe connector (it’s saved my ass on more than one occasion) or the glowing Apple icon on the lid, but damn…that thing is fine. Unfortunately, at $2399 for the configuration that comes closest to what I have now, it’s not in this year’s budget or probably even next year’s, save for a winning lottery ticket.

It’s probably just as well I can’t go out and get immediate gratification anyway; there are undoubtedly kinks to iron out in this new hardware and by the time I can afford to buy one, they will hopefully long be taken care of.

At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself.

Bitching and Moaning

Or, as I like to call it, further adventures in Apple, Fix Your Shit!

I honestly don’t know why I do it. Every time there’s a new OS available I immediately jump on it. It’s not just an Apple thing; I used to do the same thing with Windows. In fact, as I’m sure I’ve written here before, it was a misbehaving Windows 7 Beta that sent me into the arms of Steve Jobs to begin with.

Sadly, Steve is no longer with us, and perhaps more importantly, Apple’s signature truism “It just works!” also apparently died with him.

Having learned my lesson with the Yosemite Betas a couple years ago, I eschewed loading either El Capitan or Sierra on anything more than an external hard drive until the final product was released to the public. With Sierra I actually jumped the gun a bit: I loaded the Gold Master Beta right before the public release and had no issues whatsoever (beyond the ones I’d been having with every OS since Mavericks).

The public release of Sierra however brought a slew of new glitches. They aren’t work-stopping or kernel-panic inducing, but they are annoying as hell.

The most visible one is the fact that no matter how many times I check off boxes in any of the System Preferences panels to show their particular icons on the menu bar, they won’t stay turned on. With each reboot, all the icons have disappeared.

In fact, the only way I was able keep the icons appearing on a consistent basis was by doing this:

Yes, I had to manually add every .menu item to the Login Items panel that I wanted to actually reappear when I rebooted.

The next problem was the inordinate amount of time it would take to shut down or log off. We were talking minutes—something that all previous versions (including the Gold Master Beta) did not suffer from. I traced that glitch to something with File Vault, Apple’s whole-disk encryption scheme that I’d been using without incident since Mavericks. I solved that issue by turning it off.

I tried using the new Photos app—going so far as to import all my personal photos because it was nice to see everything arranged in time and space in an easily-accessible format. But damn if it didn’t send my MacBook’s fans into overdrive (much like Adobe Bridge, but that’s a rant best saved for another time) even when it wasn’t actively loaded. (It apparently does its piss-poor facial recognition and indexing on the database when the application isn’t running.)

Then there’s iTunes, the bloated Frankenstein monster that Apple apparently has no intention of breaking apart into separate components as much as it needs to be done. “Slap another coat of paint on it and call it a day. No one cares about the Mac anymore. Aren’t you needed over in iOS?”

I’m sorry, but that’s the feeling I’m getting from Apple lately. Everything is about the iPhone. They stopped being a computer company years ago; those devices are just a sideline to their phone business.

And that’s sad, because as much as I like my iPhone, it will never replace my laptop.

But who am I? I’m in a demographic that doesn’t even register on Apple’s radar any more.

And yet I’m still not ready to jump ship and return to Microsoft. Supporting that nightmare if only on a professional basis still sends my stomach acid churning, and for all the bitching and moaning I do about Apple, it’s still far and away my preference for my own computing needs. I have thought about reverting my OS back to El Capitan, Yosemite, or even Mavericks, but even that process has become unnecessarily cumbersome, basically requiring that an entire day be set aside for the OS reinstall,  reloading of every single application, and manually transferring all my data. I’m sorry, but that’s one of the many reasons I gave up on Microsoft…

“It Just Works!”

No it doesn’t, Apple. NO. IT. FUCKING. DOESN’T.

I got the bright idea to do some desk cleaning last night, and I ran across three file folders worth of pictures, floor plans, and miscellaneous documents that I wanted to scan. My plan was to do that first thing this morning and then move on to normal my Saturday chores.

So much for those plans.

It has been a day of Apple/Adobe/Canon ROBO-PSYCHOSIS.

I knew that Photoshop had supposedly lost the ability to use a TWAIN scanner driver somewhere between CS6 and the first iteration of CC. (Even with CS6 it required a bit of finagling to get working, but by and large it worked fine.)

I haven’t thought much about it since the arrival of CC, since all the scanning I’ve had to do since that time has been document or line-drawing based. Not exactly rocket science. Apple’s own built-in image capture worked fine for that.

So when I went to scan some magazine photos today, imagine my horror when they came out looking like crap. Apple’s built-in software has no ability to “de-screen,” so everything came out with horrible Moire patterns and no way to get rid of them. FUCK ME SIDEWAYS IN TRAFFIC.

So after doing some Googling, I discovered that there is a fix for even the latest version of Photoshop CC: a TWAIN driver supplied by Adobe themselves! Downloaded, installed where it was supposed to be and…Photoshop immediately crashed when invoking scanning directly from our Canon printer.


Further Googling suggested a clean reinstall of the printer/scanner drivers. But Apple, being Apple, doesn’t provide ANY mechanism for actually removing old printer drivers. (Just making them disappear from the Scanners and Printers preferences list doesn’t actually delete any files, so you’re left having to go digging all over the hard drive to to rip them out.)

Well, apparently I deleted something I shouldn’t have, because even after reinstallation, not only did TWAIN still cause Photoshop to immediately crash—the scanner option itself was only showing up in the printer configuration when it was physically connected to the laptop via USB—not while it was wireless.

I wasted a good three hours this morning trying to fix this and finally said fuck it and wiped the hard drive, knowing full well that this time I couldn’t just grab my Time Machine to do a full restore; the files had already changed on the latest capture. I could restore my profile, but all my applications would have to be manually reloaded and I was now looking at spending the entire day at this desk and not getting much of anything else accomplished.


And you know what? When all was said and done and I finally got everything loaded from scratch—the fucking TWAIN still didn’t work with Photoshop. Oh yeah, it worked with Canon’s own proprietary scanning software—a piece of psychedelic-colored crap that looks like it was designed by a six-year old.

And unfortunately, that is what I’m stuck using if I want to get decent scans from magazine or newspaper photos.

At least the scanning option is once again showing on both the wireless and USB versions of the printer, and I have a “clean” install of everything else on my Mac now. BUT GODDAMNIT ALL TO HELL, Apple. THIS is NOT supposed to be how APPLE works!


And Once Again…

iTunes has scrambled all the music on my phone.


The latest is duplicate playlists…but not exact duplicates.

I noticed this evening that I had “iTunes Sync” and “iTunes Sync 1” on both the phone and in iTunes. Where the fuck did iTunes Sync 1 come from?! Looking at each list, it was obvious they were not identical; one had several dozen songs that were not present on the other list.

I tried manually deleting the duplicate list, but with each sync it returned. But then for some reason the last time I deleted it, not only did iTunes Sync 1 delete, but it also cleared out the contents (but not the playlist itself) of iTunes Sync!


Thankfully I had a paper copy of what was in that playlist, so it was just a matter of dragging and dropping it back into place, but to be sure the glitch was gone I elected to wipe the phone and reinstall from scratch.

This shouldn’t be happening. Remember Apple? It Just Works.

Yeah, I can no longer say that to people with a straight face.

I realized the other day that it all started going to hell the minute they started playing in the cloud. Prior to iCloud, everything did (for the most part) just work.

Yes Please

Mockup of Apple’s rumored next-generation MacBook Pro with a dynamic OLED bar replacing the standard row of function keys…

When I first read about this I thought “Oh hell no!” but now that I’ve seen it, me likey!

Some Thoughts About Apple

As I have made abundantly clear in this blog I have been having ongoing issues with Apple’s Magic Mouse maintaining connection with my MacBook. Lately my entire system has been simply randomly locking up (even if the mouse isn’t even connected), forcing a hard reboot.

This kind of behavior is new to my experience with Apple. In fact, the lack of having to constantly reboot was one of the perks I enjoyed after the continual rebooting I had to do with Windows; lately all that is changing.

But my problems are nothing compared to what Ben is going through. Between his phone, his watch, and his Mac I’m expecting one of them to be violently thrown against a wall any day now. And multiple trips to the Genius Bar have solved nothing. Their standard response to any of these problems? Wipe and reinstall. Wipe and reinstall. That’s a Microsoft response, Apple; not something we expect from you.

I used to enjoy going to the Apple Store. Now I dread it.

As I wrote earlier, I’ve all but given up any hope of getting my bluetooth issues resolved. But this raises the issue of that legendary Apple quality that prompted so many of us to join the church to begin with. How many iterations of an OS do we have to go through before any of these issues are addressed—if at all—much less resolved?

I’m not about to abandon Apple; returning to Microsoft would be a nightmare in my opinion, but it looks to me like Apple is going through a rough patch. It’s not as profound as in the 90s, but there’s trouble afoot. Whether the folks in Cupertino are aware of it and simply choosing to ignore it is a question that’s up for grabs, but based on the steadily declining quality of the software side of the house over the last several years, it’s obvious that too many lines of business are taking their toll on quality control. I hate to haul out this old trope, but if Steve Jobs were alive today, none of this shit would be happening.

At this point, I’d even be willing to forego the now expected yearly updates and pay for OS upgrades again—as long as these ongoing, lingering problems were finally cleared up.


I could’ve written this myself.

Dear Apple,

It’s me, your biggest fan, Ben. Technically we have’t met, although I’ve been to your Genius Bar a few dozen times. I also stood outside the Moscone Center eating a burrito during WWDC once, so maybe you saw me then.

Anyway, in case you’re wondering who really I am, I’m that guy who won’t shut up about you, who preaches about you to his friends non-stop, so much so that they swear I work for you (but I don’t). Who meticulously sells off each old Apple device so as to subsidize each new one, losing money every time. I’m the guy who has owned every iPhone, every iPad, every Macbook. Who bought a freaking car just to experiment with CarPlay (and what a bad decision that was). If my complex lifestyle doesn’t fit the minimal design of one of your stock apps, I try rearranging my lifestyle, convinced that there is wisdom in Apple’s simplicity. I’m that rare specimen—or perhaps not so rare anymore—who believes in the marriage of art and science, who has faith in the magic of technology. Oh, and I’ve spent a quarter of a million dollars on Apple products since 2005.

In other words, Apple, I’m not just a fanboy. I am the fanboy. Which is why it kills me to admit that, as of this moment, you are seriously starting to piss me off. I’ll explain why, but before I do, hear me out.

I came to you in my darkest hour. A freshman in college in 2005, my clunky IBM laptop had just been stolen, and I needed a new computer. Rather than buy the same computer again–minus all my photos, software, and journal entries, which were gone forever–I decided to convert this crappy ordeal into a fun learning experience, so I bought a Macbook Pro instead. It was my very first Apple computer, and the first Macbook Pro model you made.

But that Macbook–that sweet, cherubic Macbook–changed everything forever. All of a sudden, there were no error messages, no popups, no annoying warnings or scary alerts. I literally had no idea what to do with all the free time I saved as a result of not fixing things. Occasionally, I’d be using my Apple computer and just burst into spontaneous laughter out of sheer joy at not having to troubleshoot yet another ungodly error. Your customer service was “uh-mazing” said my Mac friends, but I had no way of knowing because I never had a single problem with anything.

At first it was weird: what did all these buttons do, and where were all the other buttons? Also, what the hell was a Finder? But pretty soon, something changed: I fell madly, head-over-heels in love with this machine.

In fact, it was more than that: it was like discovering that I had been in an abusive relationship with Microsoft and PCs for the better part of two decades, and you, Apple, were my salvation. You see, the thing I had always loved about PCs was that whenever something went wrong (which was generally about once every 30 seconds) I knew how to fix it. I was the troubleshooting king. I prided myself on knowing what every error message meant and how to get around it. With enough Googling, the right workaround, and some perspiration, I could solve any PC problem.

In other words, it just worked.

Flash forward to 2015. A decade later, things are still looking promising for Apple. Despite the loss of Steve Jobs, you guys are the most valuable company on earth. Hell, you’re worth twice as much as the next-richest company, Exxon Mobil. iPhones are literally more valuable than oil shooting out of the ground.

But Apple, despite your incredible success, I have noticed an unsettling increase in bullshit that I have to deal with as a user of your products. What first began as a trickle has become a veritable flood. Just yesterday, I counted twenty-two errors across four devices, some of which (according to your support forums) have been known problems for three years.

Twenty-two. That’s way more than zero, which is how many problems I had with my Apple devices as recently as a few years ago.

A lot of this has to do with cloud services. When I bought my first Macbook Pro in 2005, people still did many things offline. We stored music on our hard drives, had Netflix send us movies in the mail (Jesus Christ), and occasionally even bought software at the store. I still remember driving to Best Buy to purchase Microsoft Office like a nincompoop, which for many today is a non-issue. In that environment, Apple was king. You made dynamite software

But the days of software are waning. Now, the average tech user is probably connected to the Internet 24/7. As a result, cloud services have become far more important than traditional software.

And Apple, let’s be real: you are terrible at the cloud. Even to say that is such a ridiculous understatement that it would be like saying “zombies are mammals.” I mean, yes, they are, but that doesn’t cover the half of it. It seems as if every time I try to use any cloud-related service of yours, whether it’s Siri or the new Photos app or just plain Pages, something goes wrong. Siri has a stroke, Photos hasn’t uploaded the photo I took 10 minutes ago, and Pages can’t save my document to iCloud. Imagine that: not being able to save a fucking document. What is this, the Paleolithic Era?

The saddest part of this is that unlike me, many people have taken forever to switch to Apple, which means they are only just now switching from the error-filled PC world to the error-filled Apple world, and they won’t even notice the difference. They’re prone to abuse by their evil tech overlords. But I know better, and so do others. There was a time when Apple products were unlike anything else on the planet. They were simple, elegant, and they just worked.

Now, they just don’t. Hence the existence of this website, which serves as a testament to all the awful crap Apple users have to deal with nowadays.

For instance! Apple Music is an utter travesty, full of cumbersome UI, cloud syncing issues (surprise), bugs that will eat half your music library, and the list goes on. iTunes on the Mac is a loose and baggy monster full of random crap that no one needs, making it impossible to do the simplest thing such as–gasp–play a song. iMessage is barebones to the extreme and unintuitive to use, with 90% of people I know having no clue how to set it up across multiple devices and email addresses (it’s not hard, but it’s not obvious either). Apple’s Mail app is atrocious on both the iPhone and the Mac, with limited functionality and constant account verification problems. The new Photos app syncs poorly or not at all, and it’s utterly dumb compared to Google’s Photos app, which does magical things like allow you to search for objects and people automatically. Siri is Siri. Apple Maps is cow dung. CarPlay, which I have in my car, is a buggy piece of trash that infuriates me on a daily basis.

Now, Apple, I want to make something clear: I’m very good with computers. Despite all these stupid glitches and questionable product decisions, I make it work. I’m getting better and better at troubleshooting Apple problems and bending finicky products to my will.

But here’s the thing: I shouldn’t have to. That’s the world I left to join you, Apple. That’s the crap I abandoned ten years ago when I decided never to buy another PC. Is that really where we’re at now? Did we really trade Cheech for Chong?


I’ve Given Up

I’ve given up on thinking that Apple’s Magic Mouse is ever going to work reliably with my MacBook Pro again. It’s just one of those things that’s broken and apparently can’t be fixed no matter how much Apple mucks around with it. While it worked flawlessly and the Bluetooth connection was rock solid under Snow Leopard, I can say with certainty that it hasn’t worked properly since Lion, and the problem has become insufferable since Mavericks. I keep hoping that with each new OS release/patch that the obvious bluetooth issues are going to go away, but nooooooo

At first I believed (based on what I’d read online) that the issue was the batteries flopping around in the battery compartment, causing the mouse to lose power for a moment and drop connectivity. Who knew at AA batteries weren’t all the exact same size? Sure enough, different brands did fit differently, but the issue never resolved itself no matter what brand I bought. Even when I gave up on AA cells completely and bought the rechargable Mobee power pack (which fit very snugly in the battery compartment of the mouse) it would still drop connection.

And by drop connection, I don’t mean that it would disconnect and reconnect a few seconds later. I mean it would disconnect, and the only way to get it talking to the laptop again would be a complete reboot. Until it happened the next time. Ad nauseum.

So when the Magic Mouse 2 with it’s integral rechargeable battery came out a few months ago, of course I jumped on it. And to be fair, the problem did clear up for the most part. But lately it’s come back and it’s as infuriating as ever.

(This problem happens even with a fresh, virgin load of the OS, so it’s not some other piece of software interfering with the functionality. And BTW, there are reams of discussion online regarding this issue.)

So why do I insist on sticking with the Magic Mouse? Because—ironically—while I hated how it felt in my hand when I first got one all those many years ago, I now prefer the ergonomics. I also like the inertial scrolling, which Apple only seems to make available with that particular model.

“So why are you using a mouse at all? Why aren’t you using the trackpad on your laptop?”

Because even with as excellent as the Apple trackpads are, I’ve used a mouse most of my adult life and far and away prefer it over the pad. I will use the trackpad if I’m away from a hard surface, but using a mouse is still my preferred method of moving around the screen.

Pray For Me

So I’m going to try for my certification again. No ETA yet, but it is a goal for 2016.

The difference between now and when I had the formal training and still failed the test spectacularly two years ago is that I have that much more experience with OS X under my belt and it’s something I actually want to do (instead of it being something that I had to do).  I’m also realizing that as I make my way through the lessons that I already know most of this stuff.

I have no need of a Mac cert for my present job, but it builds my own knowledge for knowledge sake, looks great on a resume, and I would still like to move into supporting a Mac environment at some point. For that, it will be a necessity.

I told my boss the other day (who’s also a OS X user at home) that now—more than ever—after fighting with Windows 10 every day (even keeping in mind the problems inherent in OS X that I’ve written extensively about here) that I want nothing more than to go home every night and kiss my Mac.

Like A Tweeker High on Meth, Furiously Masturbating…

…but just can’t cum:

A Florida congressman has introduced a new bill that would forbid federal agencies from purchasing Apple products until the company cooperates with the federal court order to assist the unlocking of a seized iPhone 5C associated with the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

In a statement released on Thursday, Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) blasted Apple.

“Taxpayers should not be subsidizing a company that refuses to cooperate in a terror investigation that left 14 Americans dead on American soil,” he said. “Who did the terrorist talk to? Who did he message with? Did he go to a safe house? Is there information on the phone that might prevent a future attack on US soil? Following the horrific events of September 11, 2001, every citizen and every company was willing to do whatever it took to side with law enforcement and defeat terror. It’s time Apple shows that same conviction to further protect our nation today.”

Last month, Apple was given a controversial court order to create a customized firmware that would enable investigators to brute force a seized iPhone 5C and get past its passcode. Apple has vowed to fight the order in court, and the company is set to appear before a judge later this month.

At least for now, Jolly’s bill is unlikely to advance very far in a Congress that can barely agree on the time of day; GovTrack gives it a 1 percent chance of passage.


Here We Go Again

It’s official. Apple has become Microsoft.

One of the things I really appreciated about Apple’s OS is that you didn’t have to reinstall it multiple times a year because something got screwed up. Apparently with their new all-encompassing focus on iDevices, no one in Cupertino really gives a rat’s ass about OS X any more—beyond giving it a shiny new coat of paint once a year so Tim Cook & Company can waltz out on stage and tell the faithful how magical it’s become.

Since upgrading to El Capitan some time ago, I’ve been having nothing but trouble with Apple Mail—to the point where I got Apple itself involved trying to troubleshoot why syncing wasn’t working with any regularity between the cloud and my Mac.

As mysteriously as the problem started, after several weeks it just disappeared, only to be replaced with Apple Mail using ridiculous amounts of CPU cycles and sending the laptop’s fans into overdrive while sitting idle. Fed up with these ongoing issues (and in no hurry to give up my iCloud email address because my life is tied to it),  I opted back into Apple’s public beta program, hoping against all odds that maybe this issue had been addressed and corrected in the latest beta since apparently I wasn’t the only one experiencing it.

Thankfully, after updating to OS X beta 10.11.3, Mail’s CPU gorging disappeared. I was a happy camper.

Then, about a week or so ago, I woke one morning to discover that an OS update had automatically downloaded, installed, and was prompting me to restart the computer. WTF?

Somehow, the developer (not the public beta, which to my knowledge still isn’t out) version of 10.11.4 had decided it was going to install itself on my Mac. I am not in the developer program, and after installation there was no record of it installing, other than the version number changed in “About This Mac.” AND NO WAY TO UNINSTALL IT.

It didn’t seem to break anything, so I just accepted this and resolved to live with it until 10.11.4 was officially released.

Well, lately my Mac has been randomly locking up—to the point where it requires a hard power cycle. I realize that using beta software comes with risks like this, but this particular beta I never signed up for.

When 10.11.3 was officially released last week, I attempted to install it over this bastard 10.11.4. Apple was having none of that. Apparently you can’t go backward unless you wipe everything and reinstall from scratch—which is exactly what I find myself doing this morning.

Thanks, Microsoft Apple.


All I wanted to do was buy Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk and listen to it on my phone while I napped this afternoon.

But nooooooo! As is becoming more and more common, Apple was having none of it. The album was purchased and showing as downloaded on the phone, but where? It was nowhere; not under “recently added” or—god forbid—even under “Fleetwood Mac.”

This led me to say “FUCK IT,” and I got out of bed, giving up all thoughts of a nap.

On my Mac, Tusk was shown as available for download. So I downloaded it and plugged in my phone to sync.

Tusk still didn’t show up on the phone after the sync.  If that weren’t enough, for whatever fucking reason, all the album artwork on the phone disappeared as well—as has been happening with increasing regularity of late—and I’m getting really tired of it.


The only way to fix the missing artwork is to delete all the music from the phone (75GB worth) and then resync it. Do you know how long it takes to transfer 75GB over a USB connection?

Fuck, Apple…with each passing day you’re turning more and more into everything I hated about Microsoft, and it’s obvious you don’t give a shit. You’ve got more money than god and can live off the interest for the next thousand years, so why should you even?

I used to look forward to going to an Apple Store or receiving OS upgrades. Now I dread both experiences because I know at the store I’ll be met with attitude at best or insouciance at worst and OS Upgrades have become a question of “What is this going to BREAK?” (Much like it became with Windows.) Hell, I used to want to work for Apple, but no more!


Just opening mail sends my Macbook’s fans into overdrive. I can’t tell you how much I miss the days of Snow Leopard when everything actually WORKED.

Apple Is Right To Stand Firm On Encryption However Much Terrorist Attacks Ramp Up The Pressure

From 9to5Mac:

Nobody who watched the news coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris could fail to be moved by the scenes and the stories emerging from it. It was undeniably a horrific series of events, and it’s only human nature to want action to be taken to reduce the likelihood of future such atrocities.

But there is always a danger at such times that emotion, rather than rational thought, will drive government policy-making. I won’t get into the broader theme there, as there are more appropriate forums for that, but there is one aspect that is very much on-topic for us: the battle between Apple and governments over encryption.

There have already been unattributed reports that the terrorists in Paris used encrypted communication. I have no idea whether there is any specific evidence for that, but it would hardly be damning were such evidence to emerge: it would be frankly astonishing if they hadn’t.

There are three reasons why Apple is right to maintain that it will continue to offer end-to-end encrypted communication no matter how much governments in the USA, UK and elsewhere may protest… 

But let’s begin with a reminder of Apple’s position. Apple uses end-to-end encryption for both iMessages and FaceTime. As Tim Cook told Charlie Rose last year, this means that it would be impossible for it to decrypt the messages even if a government insisted.

“We’re not reading your email, we’re not reading your iMessages. If the government laid a subpoena on us to get your iMessages, we can’t provide it. It’s encrypted and we don’t have the key.”

The company also introduced strong encryption for iPhones and iPads in iOS 8 so that it would againbe impossible for the company to break into the device locked with a passcode.

So Apple is going further here than most companies. It is not just saying it would push back against government pressure to reveal user data, it is saying that it has deliberately arranged things so that it is completely unable to do so.

That’s a strong position, and there’s some pretty heavy-duty opposition to it – including the United States Attorney General, the FBI, the DOJ and other law-enforcement agencies. Among the claims you’ll find in those links are that Apple is putting people beyond the law, risking the life of a child and that the iPhone would be the terrorists’ “communication device of choice.” Since the Paris attacks, the Homeland Security Committee and CIA have joined in.

So what are the three reasons that I still think Apple’s position is right?

First, there is nothing new about having to balance out the conflicting demands of freedom and security. Or, to use Benjamin Franklin’s terms, liberty and safety.

“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

We live in a world where it would be technologically feasible to ensure that virtually no crime could go undetected. We could fit CCTV cameras on every street, in every home, in every building. We could all have trackers embedded beneath our skin. We could force everyone to provide both fingerprints and DNA samples to hold in a global database. We could make it illegal to fit curtains or blinds to windows. And so on.

We don’t do any of these things because we value freedom and privacy, and we consider that the risks involved are a price worth paying for the ability to live our lives free from tyranny and surveillance.

The Snowden revelations woke the world to the extent to which we’d already headed down this slippery slope, and the general view of the population has been that indiscriminate mass surveillance is a step too far. We take the view that wiretaps and other forms of electronic surveillance will of course be necessary to facilitate investigations by police and security services, but that such surveillance should be both targeted and subject to judicial oversight.

Second, Apple is absolutely right to say that the moment you build in a backdoor for use by governments, it will only be a matter of time before hackers figure it out.

You cannot have an encryption system which is only a little bit insecure any more than you can be a little bit pregnant. Encryption systems are either secure or they’re not – and if they’re not then it’s a question of when, rather than if, others are able to exploit the vulnerability.

Couple a deliberately weakened form of encryption to laws requiring Internet service providers and telecoms companies to stockpile large volumes of user data and you’d create the biggest goldmine the world has ever seen for criminals to commit identity theft and other forms of fraud. Not just private enterprise criminals, either, but rogue nations too.

Think how cautious we have to be today. We’ve all received convincing-looking phishing emails in amongst the laughable ones. Most of us these days, when we receive a phone call claiming to be from a bank, take their name, hang up and then call them back on the main switchboard number. Just imagine how much more paranoid we’d have to be if a fraudster could ‘prove’ that they are the claimed bank or other company by providing some transaction data.

A world in which all of our data is ‘protected’ by encryption systems with loopholes would be a nightmare.

Third, it won’t work. It’s technological illiteracy to imagine that breaking encrypted messages is any kind of solution.

Do governments seriously imagine that if we pass laws banning fully-encrypted communications that terrorists would suddenly abandon them and use the new, deliberately weakened versions? Or if doing so drew too much attention to them that they wouldn’t find other ways to hide their communications?

Steganography, for example. It’s technically trivial to embed hidden messages inside what appears to be a perfectly ordinary family photo in such a way that it’s almost impossible to detect. There are literally scores of apps to do that, and that’s just a single method. There are almost endless numbers of ways to disguise messages.

As Tim Cook has said:

“We shouldn’t give in to scare-mongering or to people who fundamentally don’t understand the details.”

So weakening encryption would mean sacrificing core principles of civilized societies in the name of security. It would provide not just our own government but foreign governments and criminals with access to our data. And it would do absolutely nothing to prevent terrorists from communicating in secret.

There is not one single reason for Apple to give in to government pressure to abandon its stance on customer privacy, and three very good reasons for it not to.

Do you agree? Or do you think that governments are right to insist that security must take precedence over privacy?

El Capitan

My review, if anyone cares…

I got smart this time around. While I still had access to Apple’s Beta program, I didn’t actually install El Capitan as my main OS until the Gold Master had been released and all of the major bugs had been squashed. I’d jumped the gun a year ago with Yosemite and lived to regret it. (Yeah, yeah, I know…never install a beta OS on your main system, but not all of us have multiple pieces of hardware to play with.)

In addition, I didn’t feel the need to rush to El Capitan. There were no new features or design refinements that I felt were worth the hassle of upgrading.

That being said, there were still a few small issues when I did upgrade. Four applications I use weren’t fully compatible. Thankfully, those four (Fantastical 2, CleanMyMac 3, iStat, and cDock) had betas of their own while El Cap was in the testing phase, and for the most part they all worked without a problem. When the final release was available, so were the final upgrades for these apps.

Even after the upgrade to the final release, cDock (a great little app that lets you completely alter the appearance of the dock including returning the look to previous OS versions as well as making it completely transparent) was still a bit of a stickler to get working. It involved disabling the new SIP feature in El Cap, running the app, and then re-enabling SIP. Just this morning it auto-updated to Version 2.0 and it’s a huge improvement over Version 1.0, adding several new options and themes. (I don’t know if it still requires disabling SIP to get it running or not since it was an upgrade.)

Much like with iOS 9, I don’t actually use most of the new features in El Capitan. I came to the realization recently that despite my delusions to the contrary, I’m really not a “power user.” As long as basic functions work, I’m happy. At work, in the Windows world, I require dual screens. On my Mac at home, not so much. I’ve never even used Spaces, so Split Screen (having two applications running full screen on one display simultaneously—one of the bigger features of El Capitan) isn’t something I ever foresee myself needing.

The new incarnation of Spotlight is much more useful to me than it had been previously; I actually find myself using it now. But being able to move it around on screen? Again, not a big deal.

The improvements to Mail, like swipe-to-delete, are welcome, but again—not earth shattering. With Mail, I’m just glad nothing was broken.

Notes is now a content catch-all, allowing almost any type of data to be saved. You can save documents, web links, photos, map locations, PDFs, and videos with a simple drag and drop. I’ve already found this incredibly useful.

I don’t use Photos.

I love San Francisco, the new system font.

But more than all this, the most noticeable change in OS X has been the increase in speed and that alone is definitely be worth the upgrade if you’re a Mac user and haven’t taken the plunge yet.

Why I Don’t Use Apple Pay

About a week ago, for some reason 90% of the album art for the songs on my iPhone disappeared. I tried removing all the songs and then adding them back in with no success. Nothing worked, so I finally chose the nuclear option and did a complete reset on the phone.

It fixed the album art problem, but it also wiped out all the cards I’d so meticulously put into Apple Pay.

I can’t say I’ve ever used Apple Pay because the credit union where I have my checking account still does not support it, but I think the concept is awesome and someday I’m sure it will be the norm, rather than the exception, for making purchases.

That being said, I did have my credit cards loaded into the system, and considering what a pain some of them had been to add, I did not look forward to adding them again.

But I did.

And Apple fucked me over again.

For the past few days, mail has not been syncing between my phone and Mac. A message will show up on one or the other, but not both. Additionally, I’ve been unable to delete emails, getting only a cryptic message that iCloud was unable to move the selected items to the trash folder.

So this morning, after finding a recommended solution from the Google, I logged out of iCloud on my phone.

BIG mistake.

When I logged back in, the mail was working again, but I also immediately got a message from Discover, telling me that I’d removed my card from Apple Pay.


I opened up Apple Pay—excuse me, Wallet—on my phone, and to my horror saw that not only had the Discover card disappeared, but all the cards.


Y’know, it would’ve been nice if Apple actually warned you that this was going to happen as part of the notification that that pops up when you’re about to log out of iCloud. But no.


At this point I’m not going to bother putting the cards back in again because in all likelihood, I’ll have to sign out of iCloud or reset the phone again to fix one of Apple’s other issues sooner rather than later, and they’d all just be wiped out. It’s not worth the hassle.

It doesn’t help that there’s no uniform method among the banks to actually add their cards to Apple Pay. Some just automatically add the them. Others send you a verification text. By far the most annoying are the ones that require you to call in, navigate a labyrinthine phone tree and then wait on hold for ten minutes in order to speak to a human being because there’s no option to just activate the card with Apple Pay. (I have two different cards from a single bank; one sends a text to activate, but the other one requires a phone call. ABSOLUTELY INSANE.)

I swear—and being a fanboy I hate to admit this, but—Apple seems to slowly be turning into everything I hated about Microsoft. They are in such a hurry to do a yearly refresh of everything that the multitude of things that get broken with each “upgrade” are never addressed and just carry forward into the next iteration (see: Windows, Office).

Here’s a thought for the brain trust at Apple: you don’t HAVE to upgrade everything every year! You’re not going to lose market share for not putting a new coat of paint on OS X or iOS every twelve months. Your long-time fans would much rather appreciate that you take the time to kill the damn bugs that are infesting your software and fix what’s obviously broken before putting out a new release! There is no shame in admitting that you screwed up and put something out before it was finished cooking!


Apparently I’m Not The Only One Feeling This Way

To say I have mixed feelings about Apple is putting it mildly. On the positive side, I love most Apple products — the MacBook Air is my go-to laptop, I think the iPhone 6 is the best all-around smartphone on the market, and I’m seriously pumped about the prospects of the new Apple TV. Apple also has a well-earned reputation for customer care that is part of why it enjoys such strong loyalty among its customer base.

But unfortunately, Apple isn’t just about making great products and having terrific customer service — it’s also about feeding us gigantic piles of bullshit that it expects us to swallow without question.

What really drove this home for me yesterday was the ridiculous way that Apple went about describing its new Apple Pencil, the stylus it’s designed for the new iPad Pro tablet. Even if we leave aside the fact that Steve Jobs infamously trashed styluses on two different occasions, the hyperbole that Apple used to describe the $99 pen was practically Samsung-esque. Phil Schiller called Apple Pencil “one of the most advanced technologies we’ve created,” while Jony Ive narrated a silly two-minute video dedicated entirely to explaining why the Apple Pencil was the most magical stylus the world has ever seen.

Let’s be honest: If Samsung had dedicated an entire two-minute video, complete with drippy New Age synth music, to explaining the game-changing features of the Galaxy Note 5’s stylus, the world would still be laughing at them. And that’s especially true if Samsung decided to sell the Note 5’s stylus as a separate accessory that cost 99 freaking dollars.

And speaking of $99 styluses, is there any other company that does so many ticky-tack things designed to extract more money from its loyal fans than Apple? It’s well within Apple’s means to offer a 32GB iPhone 6s as the entry-level option but the company figures it will offer a mere 16GB entry-level model to push fans to pay an extra $100 for the 64GB version. This is despite the fact that Samsung and other major smartphone rivals stopped selling 16GB smartphones generations ago.

And you know that cool new Apple TV remote control that also doubles as a Wii-style game controller? Well if you want a Wii-style loop that you can attach to the controller and wrap around your wrist to prevent it from flying into the TV, you’ll have to pay extra. And remember when Apple switched from a 30-pin dock connector to a 9-pin dock connector and it didn’t include any adapters with new iPhones but instead sold them separately for $29 a pop?

Oh, and who can forget last year’s iPad mini 3, which had the exact same specs as the iPad mini 2 and was different from thee earlier model only because Apple gave it Touch ID functionality?

This has turned into a much more negative rant against Apple than I had originally intended. As I said earlier, I love many of the company’s products and I think they are worth the money Apple charges for them. However, I also feel that the company’s reality distortion field often blinds people to the fact that it is often embarrassingly full of shit.”


Some Initial Thoughts

Being the fanboy that I am, I wasn’t going to let the fact that Apple’s unveiling of its new shiny a week ago left me nonplussed stand in the way of an opportunity to take said new shiny out for a test drive.

This time however, I was going to do it the right way. After a crash and burn disaster I experienced with one of the Yosemite betas last year that forced me to wipe everything and reload from scratch (I went into it with my eyes open, so I have no one to blame but myself for loading it onto my main partition), I swore I wasn’t going to run any more…at least not off my main drive.

So says the guy who’s currently running the 10.10.4 beta as his main OS. (But hey, that’s different. Right?)

Anyhow…that being said, at first blush El Capitan is wicked fast; so much faster than Yosemite—even running via USB3.0 on an external SSD. There’s none of the screen lag that permeates Yosemite. Safari pages come up instantly. I’m very impressed. It will be interesting to see how the system matures over the next several months.


Even though I am an unapologetic fanboy, Apple’s WWDC keynote today—unlike in years past—left me unenthused. I saw nothing that had me screaming, “I need this now.”

I’m glad, however, that this year they aren’t adding another 200 features to OS X. I’m relieved to see them finally focusing on under the hood fixes and improvements. But El CapitanReally? With the entire state of California to choose from, this is the best name they could come up with?

Whatever. After being plagued with problems big and small in OS X for the last several years, Apple could really use some Snow Leopard stability at this point, and I hope this release finally addresses that. I want to be able to tell people again, “it just works” and actually mean it.

As for iOS, I’m pretty nonchalant. Unlike OS X, there isn’t really a whole lot I’ve found myself getting excited about during its the various iterations. It runs my phone. As long as it works, that’s good enough for me. Unlike some people who are absolutely dependent upon their phones for their entire online existence, I’m still very old school, preferring to do all my serious work on my laptop. Maybe that explains it.

As for the Apple Watch and it’s upcoming OS upgrade, all I can say is I’ve yet to find a single compelling reason to buy one. Perhaps a few years down the road I’ll get one and find myself saying (like I have with other tech) “OH MY GOD, WHY DIDN’T I GET THIS YEARS AGO?!?”

We’ll see.