Apple & Me, Part 2: Cracks In The Foundation

Note: This post is a continuation of a story I started to tell in an earlier post, so if you haven’t read the earlier one yet, you might want to do that, as this probably won’t make much sense without it!

By the time the trackpad on my first Mac broke, I was deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem and loving every minute of it. I replaced my first iPhone with the iPhone 3GS, which I used for the next four years. (I actually still have that phone. It’s docked to an iHome and it plays music to wake me up every morning.) I didn’t have an iPad yet, but I’d started to secretly want one.

When I took my laptop with the broken trackpad to the Apple Store the day after it broke—this was 2010, dear readers, which meant it was easy to get a next-day appointment with Apple—they gave me bad news. Because the computer was out of warranty, it would be over $200 to fix the trackpad. I left with the trackpad still broken and started using a USB mouse.

My faithful old Mac

A few months later, just in time for the new semester, I got a brand-new shiny Mac laptop. It was a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a 500 GB hard drive, 8 GB RAM, and a 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. It also had plenty of ports: USB, Ethernet, FireWire, and an SD card slot. It even had a CD/DVD drive, which I used many times over the years. It was a nearly perfect laptop—its only flaw was the glossy screen. Sometime between the time I bought my first Mac and this second Mac, Apple had stopped making matte screens. In typical fashion, the company decided it knew better than we customers did about what we needed on our computers. Keep in mind glossy screens are by no means an industry standard, since the computer I use for work has a lovely matte screen that I rather like. Therefore, I think it’s rather silly that Apple doesn’t sell matte screens at all. But I digress.

The new laptop came with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard installed. I didn’t know it at the time, but Snow Leopard was to be the last truly great (and stable!) version of Mac OS X. Since 10.7 Lion, it’s been downhill ever since. (Seriously, don’t get me started on the monstrosity known as “macOS Sierra.” Just don’t.)

Right away, as soon as I opened the box that the new laptop came in, I noticed the computer didn’t come with a bunch of random free accessories like the first Mac I had. I didn’t get a nice black cleaning cloth, a remote, or a DVI to video adapter. Just like the matte screen, these had somehow vanished in the intervening four years since I bought my first Mac. Unlike the matte screen, they were still available—for a price. Luckily, I already had them from buying my first Mac, so I didn’t think much of it at the time.

I still have that Mac I bought in 2010. That’s how I was able to precisely give the specs above. In fact, I’m typing this very blog post on it. It’s still my main computer and even though I’ve been forced to upgrade the operating system a few times, I still love this computer.

It was joined by a third Apple device in 2013: a 4th-generation iPad I got in graduate school. I still have that iPad, too, and it’s been very helpful with my Russian studies since I’ve had it. I got a new iPhone shortly after the iPad, which means I’ve owned a total of three iPhones.

Over the years, as I acquired my devices and Apple sold more and more iPhones, I slowly began to feel less passionate about Apple. I certainly didn’t love the company anymore. I liked it. A mild to somewhat enthusiastic liking was all I could muster up. Despite its faults, I reasoned, the products and software were still better than Windows or Android. At least I didn’t have to pay for expensive antivirus software—and then still get viruses anyway. That’s what made me stick with Apple products, despite a growing list of complaints.

My complaints mostly centered on the operating systems, both mobile and desktop/laptop. Once Apple made them free (yes, my dear friends, you used to have to pay for the operating system on your Mac computer!), the quality went downhill—big time. You know that saying You only get what you pay for? Never was it so appropriate than in this situation. Honestly, I’d rather pay $30 for an operating system (this was how much an upgrade to 10.6 Snow Leopard cost when it came out) and get something with a minimum amount of bugs than get it for free and feel like an unpaid beta tester due to the bugginess. That’s basically what people who use Apple products are nowadays: Tim Cook’s unpaid beta testers. Based on the quality of the software I see coming out of Apple, the company must have fired their entire quality control department between 2010 and now.

And those are just my complaints with the operating system for Apple’s computers. The mobile operating system, iOS, is exponentially worse. I’ve disliked it for a while now, mainly because Apple keeps it locked down under such tight control that you can’t do anything with it. If I want to delete the caches for applications on my laptop, that’s quite easy to do. If I want to do that on the iPhone or iPad, I either have to delete the app and reinstall it (if I’m lucky and it’s something I downloaded from the App Store) or I have to reset the entire device to factory settings. Think about that for a minute. Isn’t it absurd? There is no way to access a cache file or a preferences file for a default iOS app such as Weather. (Okay, there might be if you jailbreak. But jailbreaking is a big hassle and I’ve never done it. As far as I know, you can access such files on Android without having to go in a root the device! Though if I am mistaken on this, please correct me.) It also seems like there are major bugs whenever a major version of iOS is released. That happens way, way too often, if you ask me. There shouldn’t be that many bugs in a product released that isn’t a beta version.

It wasn’t until recently, though, when I researched the newest Mac laptops, iPhones, and iPads that I came to a very surprising conclusion, one that will shock everyone who knows me personally: I am not going to buy Apple products anymore. Yes, I know that means returning to the warm, virus-laden fold that is Microsoft Windows. But this is my decision, and I came to it due to three reasons: the latest version of iOS, the latest version of Mac OS X (excuse me, it’s macOS now—gag), and the new Mac laptops Apple is currently selling.

Stay tuned to the next post for more…

Apple & Me, Part 1: Love At First Sight

The first computer I ever owned was a Dell laptop. It was big, fat, and clunky—but I loved it.

It was kind of a horrible computer. It had a tiny hard drive and not even 1 GB of RAM. It ran Windows XP. The trackpad didn’t always work right and the display quality was terrible. But it was a decent price. My parents bought it for me for school and I thought it was the greatest thing ever.

Pretty much everyone in my year at school had the same laptop, with the exception of a classmate named Brittany. I sat by Brittany in English class, which allowed me ample time to admire her gorgeous PowerBook G4. After I’d spent a lot of time admiring her computer, mine didn’t seem so great.

It was a thing of beauty, that PowerBook. The casing was a beautiful aluminum. It had a matte display and a smooth trackpad with a single fat button to click. It won’t surprise you when I say that when offered a computer upgrade, I asked for a Mac.

My first Mac. Isn't it gorgeous?
My first Mac. Isn’t it gorgeous?

I was lucky. My parents bought me my first Mac shortly after Apple began offering Intel processors in their computers. I had a 15-inch MacBook Pro with a 200 GB hard drive and 1 GB of RAM. It had lovely matte display—something Apple doesn’t offer anymore, but more on this later. Not only did it look nice, but it ran the most excellent operating system I’d ever used up to that point: Mac OS X 10.4, Tiger.

It wasn’t a perfect computer, looking back. In the time I had it, I experienced kernel panics every so often. A kernel panic is the Mac equivalent of the “blue screen of death” on Windows. According to research I’ve done since, this probably meant the computer was underpowered, i.e. it didn’t have enough RAM and/or a good enough processor.

The computer also went through batteries like nothing I’ve ever seen before or since. The batteries kept going bad—but back then, Apple’s warranty plan actually would cover the cost of a new one. The display started buzzing like a fluorescent light burning out. The warranty plan helped with this, too, thank goodness. By the time said warranty plan expired after three years, I’d gone through four batteries and two screen repairs.

The first iPhone. It may look dated now, but it was totally ~*hot stuff*~ back then!
The first iPhone. It may look dated now, but it was totally ~*hot stuff*~ back then! Also, despite its faults, IT HAD A FREAKING HEADPHONE JACK, OKAY?!?

In the meantime, I’d fallen in love with Apple. I raved about my computer to fellow students, which led some of them to get their parents to buy them Macs, too. I had the first iPhone. I worked as a freelance tech journalist while in school and covered the iPad launch in 2010. Everything was good.

Then, the trackpad on my laptop broke.

To be continued…

A Blogiversary

I recently renewed my domain name for this site, so that means my blogiversary is coming up. Honestly, I wasn’t sure the blog would make it to this blogiversary. For the past year or so, I’ve increasingly been thinking that I should stop blogging. Not many people read this blog anyway (though the few who do are pretty fabulous) and blogging just isn’t what it used to be.

I also sometimes wish I had chosen a different name for this blog. (Though what else I would have chosen, I don’t know.) Sometimes I feel like the current name doesn’t really describe what it is anymore—or what I want it to be. Yes, I know I could change the name, but that’s a pain. I’d have to come up with a new domain name, put in a redirect for the old domain so I don’t lose all of my traffic (not that there’s that much anyway!) and readers, and who knows what else. So I probably won’t change this blog’s name, but who knows.

Anyway, I think my proper blogiversary is in March (I wrote two posts for a new blog in January 2011 and saved them on this blog, but I didn’t properly start blogging with this domain name until early March 2011). If I do have any blogiversary celebrations, March will be the time. But don’t count on anything, because I’m feeling decidedly unenthusiastic about this.

A Cute Bird

One of the local library branches near where I live has parakeets. Yes, you read that right. There are actual parakeets at this library and they are adorable. They live in a cage in the children’s section and surprisingly enough, the kids seem to behave around them. The librarians help keep an eye on them, from what I’ve seen.

One of the birds is so adorable that I had to take a few pictures of him. He chirped the entire time.

Isn't he cute?
Isn’t he cute?

One of the many reasons why I always go to this branch is so I can see this little guy. Seriously, if the librarians didn’t keep such a close watch on him, I’d be tempted to slip him into my pocket and take him home with me! Too bad I need to get some writing done today—otherwise I’d go visit him later!

I Passed My Exam!

Dear readers, I am back. I hadn’t intended to take a week off from blogging, but something came up. I registered to take part two (out of three) of a professional certification exam back in August. The registration is valid for six months, during which time you have to schedule and take the exam, or else forfeit the exam fee.

I’d been putting off studying, but at the end of last year, I finally started on it since I realized my registration window was running out. After I started getting most of the questions right, I knew I had to register.

So I logged into the testing system to schedule my time and saw there weren’t many good slots left. There were some very late ones this week and some decent ones in mid-February, but I didn’t want to wait until then. On Wednesday night, I registered for the one remaining Thursday slot. I think that’s the most last-minute planning ever. Since our department at work really wants all of us to get this certification, I was allowed to take a day off to study and take the exam on Thursday. And I passed! Seriously, I was a bit surprised. I had studied, but some of the questions were really hard. There were quite a few that I could narrow the answer choices down to two possible answers, but I wasn’t sure which was correct.

Anyway, I didn’t do much writing (either on this blog or my fiction) last week. I was too busy studying and then feeling relieved that I passed. I spent the weekend reading and watching a movie and crocheting. It was quite nice. Especially since we have unseasonably good weather right now. Unfortunately, it’s back to the usual grind tomorrow. At least I squeezed in some decent writing time today!

2016: My Year in Books

A couple of other bloggers I read, K.M. Weiland and Kiera, wrote posts about the best books they read in 2016. Usually, by the end of the year, I forget which books I read that year, but thanks to Goodreads, this is no longer the case. 2016 was the second year I tracked my reading on that website. This year, there’s even a convenient little page that sums up all of one’s reading.

I read a lot in 2016—126 books to be exact. It was actually fewer than 126 because some of those were short stories that tied in to series I’d read. But still, even without counting those, I still read a ton of books. Here are some of my favorites.

Read more

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! С Новым годом! I have returned from the Balmy Tropics to the Frozen Tundra (okay, it actually isn’t cold here at all, but it’s very gray outside and looks like it’s about to snow) and have some photographic evidence of my vacation to share. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with endless streams of vacation pictures—just a couple of highlights.

Click to see larger.
Click to see larger.

We attempted to go to a sushi place, but were unsuccessful. The refusal to bring us water or anything to drink or even a menu convinced us to leave. Bad reviews online have convinced us we weren’t missing anything.

We made Martha Stewart’s one-pan pasta (we left out the pepper flakes because we don’t like spicy pasta) and it is fantastic. Seriously, you should try it. It isn’t complicated to make and tastes excellent. In fact, it is on the menu for dinner tonight after I write this post. You can click on the photos above to see them larger. I tried to do a fancy WordPress gallery thing, but I don’t know if I succeeded. You’re also supposed to see captions for the photos if you put your mouse on them, but I don’t know if that works or not…

My afghan! Click to see larger.
My afghan! Click to see larger.

Finally, there was much crafting done—mainly crocheting and knitting. Above is a picture of my pink afghan. I’m hoping to finish it soon because I’ve been working on it for ages.

That, in a nutshell, was my Christmas/New Year’s vacation. Now I’m back and ready to get blogging again. I’m also happy to say I’ve written fiction every day so far in 2017 (that sounds a lot more impressive if you don’t talk about the fact that it’s only the second day of 2017!).