Other posts related to apple

Glass Houses and Stones

 | October 6, 2009 4:24 pm

Apple Store - Glass Cube Regular readers of this blog might accuse me of having a deep seated resentment against iPhone, Mac OS X and Apple in general.  The only problem, of course, is that resentment is the wrong word.  Disillusionment and disgust are much more accurate.

You see, purchasing a Mac computer was one of the single biggest disappointments of my young technical life.  I had been promised so much!

If you read the ramblings of online pundits or dedicated Apple purists, you will know that switching to a Mac brings a Zen like state to your computing.  It will make you more productive, more creative, more organized, more intelligent and possibly even more attractive.

Except after nearly three years of owning one and using it more or less daily, I’ve come to a simple conclusion: my MacBook Pro, in addition to being a lovely paperweight, is a computer.  Nothing more, and quite possibly a whole lot less.  (Were it just a computer, I might even be able to use it the way that I want, instead of capitulating to the desires of a mega corporation.)

In fact, I’ve further decided that there is only one possible way that you can possibly claim that a Mac is easier to use than a PC (short of using mind altering chemicals, that is). You must  choose to stay within Apple’s suffocating glass greenhouse and allow Apple to decide what you can do and dictate precisely how you will do it.  The Apple experience demands nothing less.

Want to use Time Machine to back up to a network storage unit different than their ticking time bomb?  Sorry, you can’t do that.  “It’s not supported.”

Want to run that piece of software that worked just fine until you installed Apple’s latest glorified service pack?  Sorry, that isn’t going to happen, either.  “Backwards compatibility prevents us from creating innovative and utterly amazing (tm) new user experiences.”

Or want to use that iPhone program that was approved at the highest levels, and then rejected without explanation?  “We just can’t allow that.  It could result in user confusion.”

It’s either Apple’s way or no way, even when Apple’s way is pathologically stupid.  Yet, there is no lack of iCult members who are positively giddy to be treated like iTools!

In contrast, when something goes wrong on a PC, people – rightly, might I add – blame Microsoft.  Microsoft makes a disgusting amount of money from their software; and in a sane world, money buys accountability.  We pay the CEOs of large corporations obscene salaries and even more ludicrous bonuses to fix problems.  If there’s a malfunction, someone is reassuringly responsible; if there’s a disaster, someone is handily available to be lynched.

Except, reality breaks down within the Church of Apple.  If a Mac user has a problem, you can rest assured that she will blame herself.  You just know that a technical glitch couldn’t possibly be because Apple made a mistake, or the product contains a flaw.  Apple merchandise is loving crafted and precisely engineered!  And the omnisicient Steve Jobs thinks of absolutely everything!

Is it really so hard to see that Apple’s technical accomplishments represent the pinnacle of human accomplishment? Or that every contact with the Holy Church is divinely sublime?

It is positively convenient to drive 50 miles to the nearest Apple store, wait for more than an hour because the iDisciples can’t keep to their appointment system, and lose your computer for a week and a half because a computer repair service doesn’t stock hard drives.  You get to talk to a human being, who will insult you to your face rather than over the phone!  simpsons-mappleIf you can’t get it to work, that’s your problem.  You’re obviously not smart or cool enough to be an Apple person.

In Apple’s pristine little world, it’s just inconceivable that Apple’s products might not be nearly so desirable as the punditocracy claims.  It’s blasphemy of the highest order, requiring that thorough penance to be administered by the all-too enthusiastic congregation of assorted hippies, losers and online freaks.  Any individual who so much as implies something negative about Apple deserves the accusations of bias – defined as anything less than a total willingness to sacrifice their firstborn’s blood on the iAltar – that will plague them for the rest of their public life.

After all, Apple has never done anything to encourage resentment or anger.  They’re far too busy voiding warrantees, sabotaging relationships and having a party to promote the thousands of invisible (albeit refined) features and APIs of their near-perfect operating system.  As a result, it’s simply incorrect to assert that I resent Apple.  Until such time as they do something improper, I’ll just have to classify my feelings as disillusionment and disgust.

Backup, Sync and Share – Part 4: Apple Time Machine and Samba

 | June 9, 2009 9:58 pm

Mac OS X - Leopard - Disc At it’s World Wide Developer’s conference in June of 2006, Apple released a product that changed the way that a great many people think about backup: Time Machine.  While I cringe at the thought, I need to descend into the fawning adoration public relations speak that masquerades as critical coverage of Apple Products.  (Actually, forget that, here’s how Apple describes their backup system.)

Time machine is a breakthrough automatic backup that’s built right into Mac OS X.  It keeps an up-to-date copy of everything on your Mac – digital photos, music, movies, TV shows, and documents.  Now, if you ever have the need, you can easily go back in time to recover anything … Time Machine takes care of it … Automatically, in the the background.  You’ll never have to worry about backing up again.

General sarcasm and bitterness aside, Time Machine really is a spectacular piece of kit.  Sure, you can very successfully imitate a Time Machine experience using the tools within Windows Vista or Linux (or via third party tools such as Norton Ghost).  Even so, Time Machine is just just about the perfect combination of simple, powerful, and integrated.  And like most Apple products, when used within the Apple eco-system is  a lovely experience.

However, if you migrate too far out of the walled garden, Time Machine isn’t quite so nice to work with.  Actually, it can be a bit demanding and temperamental.  For example, it requires its own formatted hard drive or the ready availability of a specialized Apple router (called a TimeCapsule).  Alternatively, it can be a bit flaky; when I was backing up to a local hard drive, it would often quit with an indecipherable error.   Luckily, however, these limitations are pretty easy to overcome.  In this article, I will look briefly at how to setup Time Machine so that it works with a simple home server running Samba and Subversion.

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Some Alternatives to MobileMe

 | February 27, 2009 7:37 pm

MobileMe.jpg MobileMe (the email, contacts, calendars and file service from Apple) is something that seemingly everyone loves to hate.  It’s too expensive, doesn’t work right, and doesn’t really offer anything that you can’t find for free.  This winning combination of traits have lead to more than a few articles detailing how to sync, share and publish without handing even more money over to Apple.

Even with the plethora of articles explaining how to save time and money, however, it is possible to find happy users of Apple products.  Users which will "vigorously" share their "carefully considered" opinions.  One user from MacWorld raises the following (somewhat legitimate) points:

Are you the pot or the kettle?  First you say don’t expect the rest of us to have the same needs/wants, and then you make a blanket statement … [which] is full of assumptions that are not necessarily correct ...

  1. “It’s way to expansive.”  If you only use web hosting, then maybe.  MobileMe is $8.25/month.  how much is hosting?  Does hosting give you automatic sync of photo galleries, contacts, ect.  How much is Flickr pro on top of regular web hosting.
  2. Alternatives are not that hard to find, set up or use.  Really?  It seems that not everyone knows of alternatives.  And then why did the commenter have to make suggestions and corrections?  It seems to me [that] it’s not as easy as you say.

This happy MobileMe user has essentially laid down a challenge.  He implicitly (and others explicitly) state that they are willing to pay good money for their time.  And in the same bravado common to members of the Cult of Cupertino, he almost dares someone to disagree with him.  Since this topic has become a bandwagon and I’ve decided to generally hop in its direction, I accept this challenge. You might even say that figuring out ways to avoid using Apple’s signature web service has become a bit of a hobby.

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