Apple #$&(*

Building up to a master list of things that I hate and things that I don’t I wanted to take a moment out to talk about my second generation Ipad and my experiences with it in 2015.  Yes, it’s an old tablet.  I got the thing used when it was the current model.  At the time, I also had an Iphone (4 or 4s maybe) and was still open to the idea of adding even more apple products to my life.  Remember the logo at the top of this page?  This was the apple I grew up with.  I got my start on an Apple IIe with a 1mhz processor 64k of ram and a floppy drive.  This was before hard drives, multi-core cpus and multi-tasking.  The machine ran would run 1 program at a time which was limited to what could be stored in the 64k or accessed from the 5 1/4″ floppy.  While a lot of kids were playing with logo, i started with applesoft basic, a fairly capable (for the time) interpreted language which sufficed for most typical programming tasks.  From this I graduated to assembly language and macro(lumping several commands together in to one call) assembler.  The big rivalry at the time was between the Apple II and the IBM pc.  Up against the monolithic IBM, Apple was anything but the choice of the conformist.  For the time, the II was a great machine; the perfect way to explore computing at home.  It was a high end solution for sure with  a price tag many times that of it’s less capable competition.  However, you did get what you paid for.  I was blessed to have gotten such an introduction to the field as provided by this (for my parents, oddly extravagant) purchase.  My how times have changed.  Well, eventually I got tired of my Iphone.  It had a terrible habit of hanging up on people when it touched my face, had a screen so small that most of it’s “smart” capabilities were difficult to use and, as with most apple products, had a price tag much higher than competing products.  When it was time for a new phone, it just did not make sense to pay 600-800$ for something I could get for under $200 running android.  In the meantime I also had a chance to try out a macbook air for a few months while on a contract job.  The hardware was great and the build quality unmatched.  It was amazingly portable and felt very durable due to it’s forged aluminium frame.  Unfortunately, I was never able to get used to it’s shoddy, pieced together OS.  I can’t understand how osx is viewed as “easier” by so many people.  Most standard tasks (installing a program for example) seemed to take several more steps than in windows or linux.  These additional steps were never that intuitive to me either.  While I don’t use windows that often and spend most of my time in linux, when I do boot up to windows, most everything makes sense.  When I don’t know something, I can usually click around and figure it out.  Not so in osx.  It feels like things have been made simpler by removing important options.  When you still want to control options that have been deemed superfluous by Apple and thus removed or hidden, you usually have to do a lot of digging.  It is like having a stereo for which the manufacturer has simplified the front panel by deciding what volume you should listen at and removing the knob.  Other people hit the power button and all listen at volume 7.  They rejoice in the simplicity of no longer having to decide what volume is best for them and having to adjust it with an antiquated knob.  I, on the other hand, break out my screwdriver and sort through schematics until I finally find the tiny rheostat hidden behind the transformer, change the volume to 8 and then put things back together, leaving the screws out so that I can with less trouble go in and modify the configuration again.  In fact, even on a day when volume 7 would have been my choice, I still cannot accept it.  I will still disassemble my Apple stereo so as not to have to listen at a volume that has been imposed upon me.  Meanwhile, the confused folks at Microsoft, as baffled as I am that the market is embracing the Steve Jobs’ edict of less options for more money, are scrambling to duplicate Apple’s success by removing options themselves.  They are having a tough time as they, like me, really just don’t get it.  The results can be seen in clicking the mail icon in windows 10.  It is a mail client, at least it is part of a mail client.  It has a very clean interface whether you are looking at your inbox or its sparse configuration panel.  How have they achieved this?  They have removed options.  In fact, they have removed almost all of them.  It sends and receives mail and that’s about it.  Gone is all the confusing flexibility of a typical modern email client, the panels of configuration options that only a few people might need to do their job, and the pages of help necessary to describe all of this annoying functionality.  There is a frightening paradigm emerging here.  A product that does less and offers less choice is now somehow better.  Is this the future?  God I hope not.  For Apple though, it appears to be working.  People will stand in line at the release of each shiny new brick, rejoicing over it’s simplicity of design and embracing the revelation that we are all pretty much the same.  It’s kindof like high school fashion.  If you all choose to not conform in the same way what do you have?  This pretty much sums it up.  And it is working really well for them.  They definitely seem to understand the consumer better than they understand themselves.  Otherwise selling $200 pieces of hardware for $400 simply by removing most of the buttons and painting an apple on them would be impossible.  The one thing I do appreciate about Apple products is the quality of this overpriced hardware.  And this brings me to my final issue.  The macbook air was a great machine from a hardware perspective.  So is my Ipad 2.  They are both lighter and more durable than the competition.  The one thing you do get for your money when buying a high priced Apple product is excellent build quality and design.  After years of abuse, my Ipad still turns on and the battery still lasts quite a long time.  This has created an issue for Apple and they are working to resolve it.  For me, as long as my tablet serves my needs, I see little need to replace it.  It still works great so why get a new one.  Apple hasn’t come up with any new ideas that would compel me to upgrade so how will they get me, and the millions of others happy with their Ipad 2, to consider making another $800 purchase in the near future.  Apparently, the retina display wasn’t quite a big enough change to elicit the buying response they were looking for.  One thing they could have done would have been to not continue to upgrade the operating system on older models.  They could have abandoned the Ipad II as being too old, end of life.  For me, this would have been fine.  I still would have been able to web surf for a few more years and the major pieces of software I use (like kindle) would have been upgraded regularly for the older OS regardless.  Instead, Apple does continue to send new operating system updates.  And here in lies my final problem with an Apple product.  With each of these updates, my Ipad gets slower and slower.  This is not unheard of in the computer industry.  Typically, this has been an acceptable way of encouraging people to upgrade their hardware.  It is simple.  People don’t replace things unless they have to.  With a product that has moving parts, like a car for example, these parts are engineered to wear out at a certain time which eventually leads to a new car purchase.  It would seem though that Apple Ipad customers were not responding to the slowing down of their tablet by replacing it at an interval that fit with revenue projections.  They were just dealing with it.  Waiting longer for something they clicked to do something, setting it down and going to get a cup of coffee while it started up, etc.  Basically, the company needed for something to break, for example, wifi.  And this gets to why the only Apple product that worked for me, no longer does and has been replaced by a non Apple product.  If you have an Ipad 2 and innocently upgraded to OS 8 or 8.1 or something about a year ago, you may have noticed that your wifi performance has become unacceptable.  Whatever was done to the code that previously worked since you bought the thing has made it perform terribly.  Mine drops the connection if i am farther than 20 feet from the router.  Even in the same room it can have trouble holding a connection.  I am not sure what specific decision was made in regards to compatibility with certain routers and certain wifi technologies.  That is, I don’t know what the specific excuse was for no longer allowing the wifi hardware of the Ipad 2 to communicate with certain routers effectively.  However, apparently something has changed and as of my upgrade to OS 9.1 last night, it still hasn’t been repaired.  Whether or not this bug was inadvertent at first or not, from the online chatter it is clear that a lot of people are experiencing it and that nothing has been done to resolve it.  My complaint is not that Apple should still be supporting my old Ipad with bug fixes but that they should not introduce a bug that was not there when new that effectively cripples the device and then not revert to the working code or supply a patch.  If you are having this problem, don’t bother with the answers you find online.  Short of a solution that involves jailbreaking the tablet and hacking the drivers, nothing works.  I’ve wasted time turning it on and off, airplane mode, reseting wifi, resetting the whole OS, etc etc.  There is nothing you can do within the confines of the standard operating system to resolve this bug that has for whatever reason been deployed to your machine and maintained through several updates spanning over a year.  I really wanted to like Apple.  Hell, I started on one.  Even though most of their products simply do not work for me, the one that did, my tablet, worked great for me.  I even tried to overlook some of their questionable business decisions such as their requirement of mac ownership to deploy ios apps or their attempt to crush adobe by not implementing flash on their mobile products.  However, this recent move to eol of my otherwise perfectly functional Ipad is unacceptable.  I can only think of one motivation for installing a crippling bug on your customer’s tablets and not bothering to repair it and I refuse to play along.  I bought a kindle.

 

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