It Seems I’m Not The Only One

MacOS is starving for attention. It is stagnating. It is falling apart. High Sierra is in many ways pathetic and scary in how sloppy things were done with it how many bugs there still are in many areas. The security bugs are embarrassing. I mean, it’s getting worse. Every release seems like it’s getting worse. Sierra was a terrible release also. Very unreliable, lots of bugs, lots of problems, lots of subsystems and things that were seemingly rewritten for vague reasons and then were worse and more buggy. This is increasing over time because they are not putting the resources into the OS that it needs to be stable and secure and to be moved forward.

I’ve found myself just more and more annoyed that things that used to reliably work, don’t work anymore. And then I see these software issues that are just disheartening and it makes me just feel like I want to throw my hands in the air and plop them down on the desk and say, “Now what? Now what do I do? Cuz I’m just screwed. Where am I gonna go? It’s just frustrating because it used to be this was my happy place. And maybe the problem is because I’m clinging to the Mac and the Mac is dead, but I don’t know where the issue is. Is it me? The Mac? Is it Apple?” ~ Casey Liss, speaking on this week’s Accidental Tech Podcast

Fixed. For Now.

Well, it’s fixed. It has been for a couple weeks now. I just haven’t bothered to write about it because I know y’all are tired of hearing me bitch.

As expected, the entire top case was replaced. At minimum that included the keyboard, trackpad, and battery. I suspect that the system board was also new, since the SSD (hard wired to said board) was returned with a clean install of Sierra (unfortunately not High Sierra as it had gone out with).

The keyboard (as evidenced by the new markings on the control and option keys) is from the mid-2017 line, even though my original was a late-2016 model, leading me to believe that the entire machine was swapped out except for the bottom cover (where the serial number is engraved) and that the serial number itself was transferred from one machine to another in firmware. I understand there are some minor internal changes in the 2017 keyboard design (there have been far fewer complaints of keyboard issues), so hopefully this will be the last trouble I have with this laptop for however long I end up keeping it.

Robopsychosis

If you’re tired of hearing me bitch about Apple and technology, you might want to just skip past this one because it’s gonna be a long one.

“It Just Works!”

Except when it doesn’t.

As I wrote a few days ago, I’d decided to bite the bullet and take my six-month-old MacBook Pro into the Apple store so that the wonky keyboard could be replaced. I knew it was going to have to be sent out because the entire top case would have to be replaced. I went ahead and made the appointment.

I’d upgraded Ben’s old MacBook with a 512GB hard drive and bumped the RAM to 8 GB—the same configuration I had on my new machine which would allow me to effortlessly move all my data onto the old machine while the new one was getting fixed and not have to pick and choose like I did the last time I had to use the trusty old warhorse.

I’d initially wanted to get my data transferred before I took the machine in for service in case I ran into any glitches, so as I’d done dozens of times before when restoring my entire profile onto a different machine, Friday night I installed a fresh copy of the OS on the old machine, logged in with a Temp Admin account, and then ran Migration Assistant. It kept crapping out. Even though everything was properly checked off, the first attempt transferred everything except the Applications. What the hell? I attempted to go back and just select “Applications” at that point, and after churning away for another hour or so it informed me it was finished. I logged in and nothing had been transferred.

At this point I wiped and reinstalled again. This time I selected only Applications. Success! But when I went back and attempted to restore everything else, it crapped out each time it got around to discovering “Other Files and Folders.” After banging my head against the wall for the better part of the evening, I decided to attempt a peer-to-peer restore from my new machine to the old one. Once again I wiped and reinstalled the OS. Set up the peer-to-peer option for restore and waited. And waited. Because it was going over our wireless network, it was going to take hours, but it seemed to be working. That was fine. I was ready for bed anyway.

Saturday morning I woke to find it hung at “51 minutes remaining” on restoring just my profile (it hadn’t even gotten around to the Applications or “Other Files and Folders.” No problem; my appointment wasn’t until 11:45. It was only 7 am. I had plenty of time.

Except it never changed. Finally at 10:45, I pulled the plug and wiped and reinstalled the OS on the new machine before taking it in. Call me paranoid, but I don’t trust Apple that much with all my data. I figured I could sort out the Time Machine issue one way or another when I got back. Little did I realize it would literally take all day yesterday get up and running again. Flashback to 2009 and Windows HELL.

Upon arrival at Apple Biltmore, the concierge  gave me more than a little attitude when I approached her. I don’t know what the problem was, but she was anything other than smiles and welcoming vibes. In fact, the whole energy level of the place was vile. I remember when I used to enjoy going there, whether it was to buy something or get something fixed. Now I dread it.

I explained my problem to the “Genius” and he whisked the laptop to the back for several minutes, finally returning to say that yes, he was able to verify my issues. He said it would be 3-5 days for the repair

Upon returning home, no matter what I did to restore the data, it wasn’t working. I wasn’t too worried; I knew all my data was safe, and most importantly I had multiple manual backups of my photos and music in case something was really seriously out of whack. Everything could be restored. Finally, somewhere around 9 pm I did a deep dive on Google and the overwhelming recommendation was to run a repair on the Time Machine. I started that as I went to bed.

Yesterday morning, finished, it reported multiple errors, none of which could be repaired.

FUCK.

“The data is safe. The data is safe. Your important stuff is backed up multiple places.” Nonetheless, my anxiety level was rising.

So once again I wiped and reinstalled the OS. At this point I knew i was going to have to reinstall all my apps either by moving them manually from the Time Machine or worse—from scratch—and then manually pull the rest of my data from the Time Machine. While I didn’t look forward to it, it was probably well past time for such an endeavor. Multiple installs and uninstalls of apps and multiple OS upgrades over the years since I last did a clean install probably guaranteed there was a lot of sludge on the drive that needed to go away. It would also afford me a new, good backup to use with Migration Assitant when I got my machine back from repair. And if nothing else, philosophically it was a good way to start the new year. My two main concerns however were restoring my mail folders (I store pretty much everything locally, and based on past experience, moving Apple Mail from one machine to another is a pain in the ass, unlike Windows and Outlook where it’s generally just a matter of copying a .pst file.) and my Chrome Bookmarks. I hadn’t bothered to export them before all this started, foolishly thinking everything was safe and sound.

By late morning I’d located the mailboxes. Each one had to be individually imported back into the new instance of Mail I’d set up, but everything was there. I know it’s a silly, first-world problem, but I like to keep that stuff. My anxiety level dropped a bit.

When I fired up Chrome, I logged in and—braise the baby cheebus—all my bookmarks were there. The same went for my RSS Reader. Since I switched to Feedly some months ago it was simple to reattach it to the Reader. Anxiety level continued to drop.

The rest of the day was still spent in robopsychosis, but at least my anxiety had bottomed out; I copied all my apps over from the Time Machine backup, knowing full well that more than just a couple of them wouldn’t work properly at first. That proved to be the case, and a simple uninstall and reinstall from the Mac App store solved 95% of the problems. The remainder were licensing issues, solved by contacting the developers who—amazingly—were actually working yesterday and able to help me get everything sorted out.

Ben and I headed out yesterday afternoon to do our usual Sunday grocery run and prior to leaving I started manually copying the +150GB worth of music files back from the Time Machine. When we got home, everything was transferred, and firing up iTunes verified that everything was present and accounted for.

As if I hadn’t experienced enough Tech Hell this past weekend, Ben and I decided to switch cell providers. We’d been with Verizon for years and were very happy with the coverage and service, but in the interest of saving money, a few months ago we switched to T-Mobile. BIG mistake. The old adage of “you get what you pay for” could never be more true. Coverage was spotty (Ben had no service at his school), customer service was a joke, and while we still owed $1000 on the two new phones, we knew we had to get out of the contract.

So back to Verizon we went. Unfortunately, we had to buy two new phones because T-Mobile phones are locked to the carrier. Supposedly our numbers were ported over (we got these at Target), but as of this morning, all the phones are still active with duplicate phone numbers, and it’s causing nothing but grief for sending/receiving calls and SMS messages. We’ll get it sorted today, but damn…really?!?

Anyhow, before we went on our Verizon run, I set to copying the ±150GB worth of personal photos and um…”other” pictures from the Time Machine. It was still running by the time we got back, but eventually everything came through.

By the time 2018 arrived last night, the Mac was back in order except for the issues caused by two different phones with the same number trying to link to the Messages application.

Lesson learned? I really do have a lot of stuff on my laptop that I can’t afford to lose. Multiple Time Machine disks are necessary and I need to run disk repair on a regular basis on each of them to prevent this from ever happening again—because having to go through all this is exactly the kind of shit that sent me fleeing Microsoft, and as much as I bitch about Apple, I could never go back.

 

The Ongoing Keyboard Saga

I know y’all are probably as tired of hearing me bitch about the keyboard issues on my six-month-old MacBook Pro as Ben is, but this is my blog and I’ll bitch if I want to.

This week I finally reached the end of my rope with this fucking keyboard. I got a little cash for tending my sister’s cats over the holidays, so I bit the bullet and ordered a larger hard drive and more memory for Ben’s old MacBook so I can transfer all my data and then take mine in for service and comfortably be without it for however long it takes Apple to replace the entire top case—because just the keyboard can’t be replaced. No, the entire top case and battery (because it’s  glued in place) has to be swapped out as well . The hardware I ordered is due to arrive from Amazon today and tomorrow, and I have an appointment at the Apple Store on Saturday.

It’s as if the machine knows what’s going to happen. Now all of a sudden I have not one wonky key, but five that either won’t type without pounding on them or type double characters. I’ve followed Apple’s ridiculous keyboard “maintenance” instructions and now in addition to the aforementioned keys still not working, two of them are brighter than the others. (Obviously the compressed air loosened and blew away something under the keycaps that controlled the brightness.)

I swear this is the worst MacBook I’ve ever bought from Apple. Every day I regret not purchasing last year’s model when I had the opportunity. I pray to the gods that the keyboard is fixed/reverted/redesigned on the next iteration of these machines because at that time this one is getting replaced as soon as possible thereafter.

Call Me Crazy

…but this non-Apple mockup of a future MacBook Pro certainly seems to be the direction Cupertino is heading. I’m not sure how I feel about a touchscreen keyboard since I hated the one on my old iPad, but as was pointed out by JP earlier today in a conversation we were having, if Apple provides some sort of haptic feedback to simulate actual key presses, it might not be such a bad way to go

And getting rid of mechanical keys would certainly do away with their current crop of keyboard problems that stem from Jony Ive’s fanatical drive to make the thinnest device possible. I mean, you can’t get much thinner than a touch screen, can you? It would also alleviate my own personal bugaboo about keyboards in general, the way the most used physical keys get worn down and shiny from constant use.

What do you think?




Apple Teaches Us To Accept Being Inconvenienced

“It just works!”

If you buy into the Apple ecosystem, something you need to know is that you’re going to be inconvenienced…a lot.

When I got my latest iPhone, I knew going in that I’d be losing the headphone jack. No problem, I thought; it comes with an adapter that I can use to connect it to the head unit in the car (sadly, Anderson is not bluetooth-equipped). What I didn’t forsee were those rare instances when I wanted to listen to music through headphones as I fell asleep. I have bluetooth earphones, but they’re impossible to sleep in. And yeah, I could pull out the crappy lightning earbuds that came with the phone, but for me they’re also incredibly uncomfortable, fall out, and sound like crap. So I’m faced with either bringing the stupid headphone-to-lightning adapter in from the car every damn day on the off chance I might want to fall asleep to music, or dropping $10 for another fucking adapter that I can keep bedside.

And then there’s the ongoing issue with my nearly-new $2K laptop and it’s goddamned keyboard. When you buy something from Apple, it comes with the expectation that—at least hardware wise—you’re getting the finest engineering on the planet. That used to be true, but lately it seems that in Jony Ive’s quest to make everything no thicker than a sheet of paper, that has fallen by the wayside. While I figured out how to safely remove the keycaps and blow compressed air into the butterfly mechanism to clean out dustI shouldn’t have to. And last weekend as I was blowing out a non-responsive N-key, a little bit of black plastic something went flittering into the night. Turns out it was part of the dome mechanism that blocks out just the right amount of the LED light from underneath to ensure all the keys are equally illuminated.

I found the piece of black whatever-it-was, but I couldn’t reattach it because it had torn. I opted for a miniscule piece of black electrical tape in its place, but—of course—it was thicker than the original light shield and they key was now even more fucked. For some reason adding the black electrical tape in its place diminished the already tiny amount of key-travel to next-to-nothing, sending me on a hunt to find a replacement key mechanism.

Yesterday, the N-key just stopped working altogether. The replacement mechanism was supposedly sitting at home in my mailbox, so I pried the top off the key again and gave the whole thing another good dusting. The functionality returned to what it was prior to yesterday, and after getting a really good look at what’s going on under there I decided that I would live with it until I absolutely had to tear the key completely apart to replace the dome mechanism.

I shouldn’t have to do this, Apple.

Yes, it’s obviously still under warranty, but taking the machine back to Apple is also an unacceptable solution because for some reason the key can’t just be replaced by their Geniuses like I was about to do. No, the whole thing has to be sent out for a complete upper case replacement because the keyboard is glued in place and I’d be without it for one-to-two weeks. And even then there’d be no guarantee another key wouldn’t get fucked up.

What the hell, Apple?

There are rumblings of a manufacturer recall. My fingers are crossed.

Finally, there’s the issue of my Apple ID. Last week Apple finally started allowing people to change their main Apple ID to an icloud.com or mac.com address (something that you haven’t been able to do ever). When I set up my account back in 2009 on my very first Mac, I chose voenixrising because I was new to the this untrusted environment and didn’t want to use my real name because reasons. Over the years, that of course changed, and now I use my realname@icloud.com (an alias I set up under the main account) address for pretty much everything.

So when news of this change became known, I was ecstatic. I could finally ditch the otherwise unused g-mail account I’d been using as an Apple ID. I logged in, went through all the steps, sent up all the offerings to the Apple gods, did the proscribed incantations and…”you cannot use an icloud address as your main ID.”

WHAT THE FUCK, APPLE?

And that error only occurred when attempting to use the realname@icloud.com account. Every other alias I’d created could be used.

I called AppleCare the next day, and to his credit, the guy on the other end of the line was incredibly helpful. Unfortunately, we still couldn’t get it switched over at that time because apparently if you have been using an @icloud.com address as your emergency backup address in the Apple world, you can’t use it as your main ID for thirty days after you unhook it as the emergency contact. And my realname@icloud.com was the backup.

Inconvenience, thy name is Apple.

UPDATE: Late this afternoon the H-key started acting up. Again. So I gently pried the keycap off and dusted it out. I noticed when I replaced the cap it was loose on one corner. It turns out one of the little pins on the butterfly mechanism had broken off at some point.

So now I have two wonky keys. They work, but not without issues. I’d take the damn laptop into Apple tomorrow if Ben’s old backup machine was usable enough for me to transfer everything over, but it isn’t. It needs both a RAM upgrade as well as a larger hard drive so I don’t have to pick and choose what to restore from Time Machine when restoring to it. Until I can afford to make those upgrades, I guess I’m just going to have to carry the little Apple bluetooth keyboard I bought back in 2010 with me.

This is BULLSHIT, Apple.

“At Least Make It Reliable!”

My thoughts exactly.

I haven’t had any further issues with the keyboard on my MBP—only because it’s been covered with a silicone keybaord skin, preventing anything from actually coming in contact with it.

And I hate it. The things never fit properly (I’ve tried four so far), always tending to bunch up on one end or the other, and much like putting a case on an iPhone, what’s the point of Apple going to such lengths to create something that you want to touch, but is obviously so prone to damage you never actually get to?

After living with this computer for three months now and knowing what I do, if I had a chance to go back to last May, I definitely would’ve purchased the 2015 model—with the old keyboard design and no Touchbar—when I had the opportunity. The Touchbar remains of dubious utility and the fact that I have to put a condom on the keyboard to ensure that it works when I need it to work is ridiculous.

(audio source)

WTF?


A new photo of the alleged “iPhone 8” engineering validation test codenamed “Ferrari” has been published on social media, with the image showing the locations of the charging coil, the stacked main board, and a void for where the L-shaped battery goes.

I’m long past the point where my entire existence revolves around the next iPhone rumor to hit the newsfeed—especially since they start appearing the moment after any particular current iPhone model is released. Yes, I own one, but for me it’s just a phone. I appreciate its technology and while as recently as ten years ago I didn’t even own a mobile, today I can’t imagine leaving the house without it.

That being said, what struck me about this latest “leaked” image is that FoxConn—one of the biggest, most sophisticated electronics manufacturers on the planet—is still using Windows XP?!?

“It Just Works!”

Except, of course, when it doesn’t.

Shortly after that post bemoaning my continuing keyboard woes, the situation worsened. One key was consistently typing double letters and another wouldn’t type at all unless I pressed down really hard.

Reluctantly, yesterday afternoon I made an appointment to take the machine into the Genius Bar, resolving myself to the fact that I’d be without my Mac for a few days.

With little else to do this morning however, I started poking around YouTube. Even if it wasn’t obvious from Apple’s own forums, the sheer number of videos posted about these keys not working properly was confirmation that my problem wasn’t by any means unique. Also, it seems these new keyboards aren’t as unfathomable as I’d feared.

After watching the video I figured I had nothing to lose by trying this. After all, I already had an appointment scheduled at Apple. Taking a deep breath, I slowly pried off the first keycap. I got out my trusty can of compressed air and gave the mechanism in the key socket a good dusting and carefully snapped the key back on. Viola! No more double letters. I repeated the procedure with the other offending key and afterward it was once again fully functional.

I haven’t cancelled my 5:45 pm appointment just yet; I’m waiting to see how this plays out the rest of the day. But right now, things are back to normal.

While I still feel this is a huge design blunder on Apple’s part (the tolerances are now so tiny that the slightest bit of dust or dead skin cells or whatever can apparently muck up the mechanism), it’s nice to know that the fix is relatively easy and straightforward—and while I sure don’t look forward to doing this again, it certainly beats Apple having to send the fucking machine out for an entire top case replacement.

I bought a silicone keyboard cover right after I got the laptop because my anal-retentiveness hates the way the keys eventually wear down and get all shiny. But wasn’t a perfect fit, it bunched up, and I didn’t much care for the way it felt while typing. But if it prevents stuff getting down into the key mechanism, I may just have to live with it.

#firstworldproblems

Stepping Into The Matrix

We went out to Arrowhead Mall yesterday because Ben needed new shirts for work and JC Penney was having a huge sale. He also wanted to go to the Apple Store to look at MacBooks; he has become increasingly disenchanted with his decision to leave the Church of Jobs earlier this year and wanted to check out the new models.

While Arrowhead has had an Apple Store forever, they have remodeled and now have one of the new designs:

That’s right. The new stores are like stepping into one of the “artificial constructs” of the Matrix. I even had to look to find the iconic Apple logo outside the store.

Anyway, the model Ben wants is the 15-inch 2.9/16/512 Touchbar, that even with his education discount comes in at $2500—twice what he paid for his Lenovo Yoga with similar specs a few months ago—so it’s not happening any time soon.

Even then I’m in no hurry for him to switch back. While Ben loves technology, Ben is also one of those Technology Cursed. He has issues with pretty much every piece of gear he buys, and with my own ongoing problem with the keyboard (yes, it’s happening—albeit with different, random keys this time—on the replacement machine I got) on my new Mac, I don’t want him jumping into that shark pool until Apple fixes this mess. (If I could do it over, I would go back and get the 2015 pre-butterfly key model because this is really starting to piss me off. There’s no logic to it; like with the first one I had, the h-key went wonky. Then it cleared up and the g-key lost its mind. Now it’s the n-key. Hardware? Software? Sun spots? Apple will repair it, but from what I understand it will have to be sent out because the entire fucking top case needs to be replaced and I’ll be without a machine for a week—and there’s no guarantee the problem won’t recur. I’m not yet to the point where I’m ready to go without but if it gets any worse I may reconsider that stance.)

Why I’m Still a Fanboy

Let’s face it: Apple has issues. It’s a company that has grown from a single garage to a multi-national behemoth. And like all mega-corporations, it has its share of problems.

Less than a week after getting my new MacBook, one of the keys stopped working. Or rather, I should say it worked intermittently. Sometimes it wouldn’t register at all; other times it would produce a double character. Annoying, to say the least, and not expected from a brand new two-thousand dollar machine, much less one from Apple.

A quick search revealed numerous complaints surrounding the new butterfly keyboard on these Macs. I followed the recommendations, from blowing compressed air into the affected key to the wholly ridiculous procedure of reloading the OS.

Blowing air seemed to alleviate the problem to the point that I canceled the Genius Bar appointment I’d scheduled for Friday evening.

Of course the moment I canceled the appointment the key started typing double characters. (Hey, it wasn’t not typing any more!)

Fuck.

I made another appointment and took the machine in today, expecting the worst and gearing up for a confrontation. (After all, it was barely a week old.)

Imagine my surprise then when—after explaining what was going on to the Genius and mentioning it was only a week old—he said, “Oh heck, we’ll just swap the whole thing out.”

This is the outcome I was going to fight for if it had not been offered. After all, I was still in Apple’s 14-day no-questions-asked return/exchange window.

After verifying my educational pricing purchase (I was never asked for Ben’s education credentials when I picked the machine up a week ago), the machine was swapped out and the old one wiped of my data as I watched. The Genius then offered to help me set up the new one, but by that time he’d already sensed I was more than capable of doing it myself.

I set up the machine with a temp account (something you need to do if you’re planning on restoring from a Time Machine backup), verified that all the keys worked normally and that there were no dead pixels on the display, and was on my way less than a half-hour after arriving at the store.

Many things can be said about Apple’s Quality Control these days. No longer under the watchful eye of taskmaster Jobs, I believe that the company’s attempt to adhere to what are now expected annual multi-platform hardware and software upgrades isn’t allowing much opportunity to squash every software bug and hardware glitch before new product rolls out the door. This is what’s most frustrating because you don’t expect to encounter these type of issues with an Apple product. “It just works,” after all.

But based on my own experience—and despite some horror stories from friends and others posted online—Apple’s Customer Service is exemplary and what I still strive to emulate in my own professional life (when I’m not cussing out my customers under my breath, that is). This, more than anything else is what keeps me a loyal customer.

 

Back to “Normal”

They weren’t the circumstances under which I wanted this to happen, but since it did, I’m going to make the best of it—even if it means #backindebt again.

Say hello to my new Mac.

I’ve had it less than 24 hours, but I have to say that everything I’ve read online about this machine is true. It’s beautiful. It’s responsive. The display is awesome. But what do I like the most?

The keyboard.

I’d been a little worried about how it would “feel” in relation to all previous iterations of the Apple keyboard because of all the negative press the redesign initially received, but at least for me, it’s an absolute joy to use. The keyboard illumination is uniform and has no light leak at all.

You know what I like second most? The fact that encountering a page full of animated gifs online or using Adobe Bridge no longer sends the fans into overdrive. That is wonderful!

Yeah, I kind of miss the glowing Apple logo on the case, and I still think the Touch Bar is more gimmick than anything else, but there’s no denying it’s a cool gimmick, and maybe some day I’ll actually use it for more than just changing screen brightness or playback volume…

Since this time I was able to restore from my last Time Machine backup in full—in comparison to having to pick and choose what to leave out because Ben’s old MacBook couldn’t hold it all—bringing this machine online and have everything work from the get go was a breeze.

And now there’s a new rule in this house: NO LIQUIDS ANYWHERE NEAR OUR TECH!

First World Problem

Conundrum

Since it doesn’t make fiscal sense to have my Mac repaired—the estimate being only a couple hundred dollars less than the cost of a new machine—I am now faced with finding a replacement.

At the time I bought it four years ago, my machine was the top of the line: 3 GHz i7, 8GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD…so obviously I’m going to want something similar.

Apple is still offering all models of the 2015 MacBook Pro (MagSafe, multiple ports, retina display), but with a refresh imminent, it’s hard to say for how long they’ll be available. With Ben’s education discount, I can get a 2.7 GHz i5/8/512 for $1559. If I want to bump that up to a 3.1 GHz i7, the price jumps to $1829. Both of these are custom orders, so I can’t just walk into an Apple Store and go home with one.

And this is where the conundrum comes in.

I can get the 2016 non-Touchbar model (2.4 GHz i7/8/512) for $1899. This would also be a custom order.  For the same price I can get the Touchbar model with a faster processor (2.9 GHz i5/8/512)…and it’s in stock.

When the Touchbar Macs came out last year I was immediately enthralled, but despite the “cool” factor, I still do question the ultimate usefulness of the feature. And then there’s the whole loss-of-ports thing. How much of a problem that would ultimately be for me is probably overblown since the only items I connect via USB A/B are my Time Machine and occasionally my phone—and USB C to USB A/B adapters are readily available.

It’s all kind of academic at this point since I can’t do anything about this for a couple weeks. Let’s just call it a birthday present to myself.

Thankfully I have Ben’s old 2010 MacBook to use in the meantime. After several extremely frustrating hours I think I’ve finally beaten it into enough submission that it’s now properly syncing messages with the phone and only occasionally prompting me to enter my Apple password to validate a piece of purchased software.

Best Case/Worst Case

At Ben’s recommendation, instead of taking it to Apple, I took the Mac into a local, highly-recommended shop today.

Worst case scenario is the system board. $900 including labor. (Better than what I was reading about Apple.)

Best case, $50 to simply clean the thing out.

The tech told me it might also be a simple matter of the power button being hosed. If that’s the case, it’s an upper case/keyboard replacement (because both items are apparently sealed to each other) at around $300, including labor. (The fact the charging light came on was a good indication the system board wasn’t fried.)

Should hear something from them within 24 hours.

Fingers crossed.

UPDATE: Worse than Worst Case. Pretty much everything except the display is shot and needs replacement. Time to buy a new Mac.

At least Gazelle is giving me $185 to offset the cost of a new one a bit…

I Knew It Had To Happen Sooner Or Later

Angry Mac is angry.

I’m going to blame Sonic and their goddamned thin-as-fuck Route 44 styrofoam cups.

Last night I went to pick my drink up. As has happened a dozen times before, the top came loose, my thumb went through the side of the cup, and 44 ounces of iced tea exploded. Unfortunately this time, it exploded over my open and powered on Macbook.

I suppose I’ve been lucky. I’ve been a laptop user going on nearly ten years now and have never had an accident like this.

I immediately powered it down, drained the liquid out and removed the back.I propped it up in front of a desk fan overnight, hoping against all odds that I got it turned off quickly enough. Apparently I didn’t. This morning it’s completely dead.

So tomorrow night it’s off to the Apple store and probably a thousand dollar repair, since I can’t afford to buy a new one.

In the meantime I thankfully have Ben’s old 2010 Macbook to use. It has no battery, it’s got half the RAM and hard drive capacity of my machine, but at least it will get me through until mine is repaired. I was amazed that when I went to do Internet Recovery it actually loaded (and is running) Sierra. My most recent Time Machine backup was yesterday morning, so I really didn’t lose much of anything, but I wasn’t able to restore iTunes (too big for the size of this hard drive), and I’m belatedly discovering that not all settings get transferred when doing anything other than a complete restore.

 

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…

A Real Headline

25 awesome iOS 10 features that will change your life

Yes, that is a real headline. 25 awesome iOS 10 features that will change your life.



“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.

GODDAMNIT!

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.

THIS IS THE EXACT REASON I GAVE UP ON WINDOWS; THIS SORT OF ROBO-PSYCHOTIC-FUCK-YOUR-ENTIRE-DAY BULLSHIT!

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.

Apple, FIX YOUR GODDAMNED SHIT!

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!

Apple, FIX YOUR GODDAMNED SHIT!

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.