Reply to post: Rotten Apples

Apple drops dongle prices to make USB-C upgrade affordable


Rotten Apples

As a designer and media producer, I am a long term Apple user. I wouldn't describe myself as a fanboi (others may) - I use Macs as they are the best tool for my job, and I do - personally - find OSX a much nicer place to work than Windows. Recently though, my patience with Apple, and willingness to pay their premium, has been waning rapidly...

- I needed a new Mac Pro. I looked at their "dusty bin" models and realised that however clever the design, they are fundamentally flawed because the internal storage is so small (and eye-wateringly expensive), factory upgrade options so limited (and eye-wateringly expensive), and after market upgrading impossible. This forces anyone with serious data storage needs, such as myself, into hooking up a plethora of external drives and breakout boxes, making that sleek dusty-bin look like a sleek dusty-bin on life-support, connected by innumerable cables to piles of boxes, each with its own wall-wart, and contribution to the noise and heat in my studio. All of that external stuff is also expensive thanks to the thunderbolt premium. I figured it would be like buying a Ferrari to look good in, but then putting a tow bar on it and dragging a caravan around everywhere I went! So I ended up buying a refurbed mac pro tower with easily as much grunt in it as a fully upgraded (and pant-wettingly expensive) dusty-bin, but for less than the cost of the base model dusty-bin (which is blown away performance-wise by my refurb). I was pleased to not give Apple money for their stupid little dustbin.

- I have the last MacbookPro model before they went unibody*. Since they went unibody they have not released a laptop that I would spend the money on: lacking the required connectors, no ability to upgrade RAM or storage, and no prospect of repair in the event of a failure. This is a £2K+ computer with "Pro" in its name, yet the biggest "sell" Apple can make is to try to give me, a pro user (who is presumably the sort of person a "Pro" computer is aimed at) a hard-on over a touch strip with emojis on it? And a voice assistant that I don't want on my phone let alone lurking within my workspace? And no support for current connection formats? Get real Apple, you've just released an expensive and overpowered toy, not a pro computer.

* I.E. filled with glue

- I needed to download their previous version OS (El Capitan) for one of my machines because some of the software and hardware I rely on is not compatible with the the latest OS (Sierra). Couldn't find it anywhere; contacted Apple only to be told that since I had not downloaded El Capitan previously (even though I had) I couldn't download it now - it was just not possible to provide me with access, the assistant insisted. So I figured I'd look at Sierra, just to test what did and did not work - the Mac in question would not download the installer because Apple had dropped support for the model in Sierra. So I contacted Apple again, only this time I was told that yes I could download El Capitan, no problem at all, and was given the link to the download. So if my chosen and required 3rd party software and hardware doesn't support their latest OS - tough shit, I'm on my own and can't have access to the previous OS; they'll only do that where they have artificially ceased support for hardware (see below). The refusal to give users a free choice, even between current supported OS's, is just stupid in the extreme, and very user-hostile.

- There is no fundamental difference between the last two tower MacPro models. Yet the last tower MacPro (the 5,1) will install Sierra whilst the penultimate one (the 4,1) will not. The difference between a 4,1 and 5,1 is so insignificant that a firmware hack can be done to upgrade one to the other. Apple do not provide a tool to do this; the website that hosted the firmware hack tool has been (it would seem) taken offline (I wonder who by...?!) and it is now extremely difficult to hunt down. This proves that Sierra's lack of support for the 4,1 is entirely artificial, and that Apple could - if it so wished - allow 4,1 owners to squeeze a bit more life out of their expensive hardware either by allowing Sierra to install on it, or by officially releasing the firmware update tool to lift a 4,1 to a 5,1.

- Tied in with the El Capitan / Sierra thing is the ridiculous rate at which Apple now release new versions of their OS. What most would consider a point upgrade, Apple now releases as a full new version, replete with artificial lock-downs and deprecations that have been deliberately designed to cost people money. And the rate of release now seems to be every 9 months or so - it's fucking ridiculous! I'm a pro, not a rich fashion victim! Plus, it means that by the time my software and hardware support the current OS version, Apple are on the verge of releasing yet another new version. This is making Apple's platform untenable as a pro working environment.

It's damned frustrating - there is no viable alternative for me: Windows is out of the question due to its enforced updating and slurping (not to mention its incessant popups and interruptions). Linux is great if you just want email, browser and office (and dev tools too), but the software and hardware support is still not there for the sorts of things I am doing.

With a bit of luck, when my current Macs reach EOL, either Apple will have realised (or decided to care about) how hostile they have become to their pro users, and will once more release a proper computer (and hell freezes over), or the developers of the software and hardware I use will have decided to support linux. I'd actually prefer the latter, cos I'd love to walk away from Apple for becoming customer-hostile, just like I've walked from Microsoft and Adobe for the same reason.

And the real irony? It is pro users such as myself that kept Apple going in the 90s and early 00s - nobody else was buying their stuff! As thanks we get a low-to-mid powered "pro" desktop computer that looks like dusty-bin on life support, and a "pro" laptop computer whose biggest feature is that it makes infantile emojis easy to add to documents. I posit that the Earth has developed a slight eccentricity in its orbit, this being caused by the speed at which Steve Jobs is now spinning in his grave.

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