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 lower 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 or 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 (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.”


And that error only occurred when attempting to use the 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 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 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)


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.


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!)


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


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.


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.


Quote of the Day

There have always been ‘warrant-proof places’ containing information inaccessible to law enforcement: our minds. I support the right to use unbreakable encryption for the same reason I support Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, especially the right to remain silent.” ~ John Gruber in response to James Comey’s comments at yesterday’s Congressional Hearing