Apple, Inc. Review

I am a PC guy.  I am also a programmer (.NET, C#, JS/HTML/CSS, PHP, CL).  Although the first computers I used were Macintosh computers as a child in school, I eventually became a PC user.  Things may have went differently if, in around ’88 or ’89, my family had got an apple like we saw in an advertisement and talked about briefly (and which I still remember to this day [I don’t remember many advertisements]).  Later, when we did get a computer, in probably ’94 or ’95, it was a Packard Bell PC (120 MB hd with compuserve preinstalled although no modem was included).  Like gender, it was a seemingly random outcome between two alternatives that has ruled my fate ever since (around ’98-’99 I flirted with Linux but it didn’t go anywhere), or at least some would have you think that way.

A while ago I bought an iPad but returned it.  However, today I received my iPod and I don’t have any intention of returning it unless the hardware is broken.  I wanted an MP3 player with good battery life.  I got a mini tablet.  That’s impressive.  I can browse the internet (slowly) over wifi.  And the packaging was great.  Everything on the surface is just wonderful.  It’s amazing that the industry has seen Apple doing this for 10 years and has done very little to emulate them (the big players).

But I had to dig a little deeper.

After my fling with the iPad, my AppleID had become disabled.  I searched on the net and was directed to reset my password at iforgot.apple.com.  I received an email from appleid@id.apple.com that enabled me to reset my password.  I was happy with the self-descriptive identifiers.  The page I went to required me to craft a difficult password.  It offered red/green status bubbles next to descriptions of password requirements.  As I updated the password these bubbles would turn green or red.  Nice.  I got them all green and my password was rejected.  I had chosen a “common word”.  Please combine several words or such and such.  Try again.  So I did and all the bubbles turned green and tabbed over to the Continue button and hit the space bar.  Nothing happened.  I hit the enter key and I was immediately redirected to http://www.apple.com.

Okay.  So I went back to my iPod to complete setup.  I touched Next.  My AppleID was still disabled.  I looked in my inbox for an email.  Nothing.  I putzed around for a few minutes figuring it took time (amateur) for the reset to take effect.  Still, disabled.  I go back, click the reset link again, type the password twice, tab to the Continue and hit enter.  Bam! back at http://www.apple.com.  No email confirmation.  iPod no worky.  I try again, this time I click the Continue button with my mouse.  Confirmation page!  iPod worky.  Continue button only kinda worky.

I finally get my thing set up.  It’s a beautifully crafted device.  I take some pictures.  Pretty good quality.  I know it’s time to start interacting with the device at a higher level.  I want to connect to its file system.  I’d like to put some pictures on it to use as the wallpaper.  Plus, I want to get familiar with the device.  It’s a 64GB model, and so will probably serve as my portable USB storage (speed permitting).  I look in windows explorer and there’s “Jerome’s iPad”.  Nice.  I open it up, get to a DCIM folder like on my camera and find thumbs of photos I took.  That’s all very nice and easy.  I want some pictures on the iPod so I find them and drag them over to the DCIM folder, but I see a red circle with a line through it.  Hmmm…  Read Only.

Bogus.

Do I want to install iTunes bloatware?  No.  I check out fileapp.  I install it.  It requires iTunes.  Sigh.  I acquiesce, since I read somewhere that it only needs a couple .dlls.  It requires DiskAid.  Fine, I install it, too.  Camera Roll keeps taking forever (1.33 mins) to load.  And finally, never loads anything.  I move to photo library and try copying files over.  I keep getting some error (can’t remember).  Finally, after missteps and switching between programs, I create a directory and then copy the file.  The file successfully transfers.  I go to my iPod and the files aren’t there.  They show in DiskAid, but not iPod.  I’m frustrated.  I consign myself to iTunes (my experience with it is negative).  I close DiskAid and uninstall it.  Something about applying unapplied changes.  I click out of it.

iTunes quickly lives up to my expectations.  I want to transfer photos.  After finally getting to my iPod “section” or whatever it is and I see the “Photos” tab

jeromes ipod touch

I click on it only to be confronted by absurdity.  I cannot simply navigate folders like I expect.  If I had been able, through some feat of UI gymnastics, to reach a file system like user interface, I would have forgiven it and never written this blog post.  However, I was instead led on a goose chase towards an app or a desktop application that enabled me to transfer photos between my iPod and my Windows 8.  iTunes content to simply sync entire folders.  But only for photos.  Apparently, with music and videos, you can use a file system like UI for transfering files.  Just not photos.

And anyway, the syncing is broken.  I was purchasing some MP3s from Amazon and using their mp3 downloader to download but that whole process hinged on clicking on these “.amz” files that were registered with the downloader.  Each click of a single amazonxxxxxxxxxxxxx.amz causes the downloader to queue the album or song an additional download.  Conveniently, the downloader allows no further interaction with its queued items (for instance, to cancel a download).  And in a perfect storm of billion-dollar-company failes, iTunes got out of sync when I deleted the duplicate the files that I couldn’t prevent from downloading.  So now, every time I try to sync, or I even connect my iPod with iTunes open (many computer restarts later), I see something like (the number of “total problems” from attempt to attempt):itunes 100 total problems

Worst of all, there are albums on my iPod with only some of all their songs and iTunes will not sync the missing files from my music folder.  So I have incomplete albums.  I may have to restore the iPod to factory defaults but I’ll try uninstalling and reinstalling iTunes, first.  I don’t know what hope there is for Amazon’s MP3 downloader (fix it, please [reminds me of how, for 6 months, their Unbox player that would throw an error every time I clicked to play a movie the first time.  The second time I clicked to play, it would play just fine.]).

Big fail Apple and Microsoft and Amazon.  Is my experience unique?  Do these companies not care about this consumers experience?

I just want to put some photos and music on my iPod.

In fact, the file system gymnastics resultant from the lack of an inbuilt cross platform file system in iTunes or some successor [Apple, hint hint, polish your reflection, fill this lacuna] was what caused me to return the The New iPad (incidentally, I think they refrained from marketing it as iPad 4 because they didn’t want to have to keep numbering continuous revisions in the beleaguered adopters eyes 4.5, 4.75, 4.87).

For an iPod I’ll deal with it and find something, eventually, that will probably work for me.  I mean, this is great for an MP3 player!   I was unwilling, however, to accept the situation for a tablet.  I expect more from a tablet.

I want to register on the web’s seismograph these complaints.  Let iOS 7 have a native file system browser and let iTunes be replaced by a svelt, useful, revenue generating iTunes replacement.

Soon I’ll get a Microsoft Surface Pro and gripe about it’s inevitable inadequacies.  However, lack of a file system UI won’t be one.

90 billion bucks in the bank?  I expect better software.  Your hardware seems best in class.   But don’t milk my money for basic functionality.  Provide the file system UI!  Your products are expensive enough!

Or am I missing something?  In which case, I criticize the ease of use.  I don’t know what’s easy to use for someone who doesn’t know desktop computer metaphors well because I do.  I don’t criticize putting a simplistic(?) interface on the surface to appeal to the majority of use cases.  However, for the love of all potential purchasers, provide deeper bug free dependable access to traditional metaphors and power.  Apple could critically attract the whole PC market right out from under Microsoft’s influence if they but accommodated the advanced desktop UI user to the same degree throughout their integrated product interface experience.  Nearly all of us would accept our interface being one level deeper to accommodate the newbs where necessary.  In fact, we’d probably like it.  The fusion of Apple and Microsoft.  But wow!, if I’m going to start that sort of alchemy I’m going to begin adding dabbles of IBM’s research emphasis, too.

I would ditch PCs in an instant for something truly better.  Although, truthfully, I’m quite attached to C#, LINQ, WCF and SQL Server (MONO).  Visual Studio?  Eh.  I’m probably not going to bother learning a new IDE in depth until said new IDE is far superior in both subtle polish, extensibility, and malleability.  Visual Studio is powerful but buggy, bloated, and heavy with the cruft of growth.  Like iTunes, but amplified towards the development crowd.  Like Windows.  Its greatest feature is its pioneering some aspect of the human/information frontier.  Deep into the wild, it’s gone (‘long with SmallTalk and LISP).  But I still like the promise of LISP for an IDE.  An efficient graphically (optimized++) text interface for truly tightening the thought-to-expression loop and ease of evolvable interfaces to meaning represented in whichever way.  I await a new OS {I’ve styled it: (Operating [SYstem) Language] Osyl.  Or, (O[S)L]O.  Or, Oslo.  Or Osyl} that is an interface that optimally drills down layers of abstraction seamlessly to machine code.  The surface would be an intuitive powerful interface into meaning.  Overall, the OS would be more perfectly integral and continuous in the ease and depth of use (haha, a contradictory use to yesterdays post on “integrity“).  Ultimately, the OS is a prime candidate for the first AI.  We would interface with the OS like a neoneocortex, directly thinking through the interface.  But that’s some ways off.  Probably 30 years.  Maybe we could get there by creating metaphors and natural metaphor engendering perspectives around meaning structures themselves through some central, relevant core ecosystem of metaphors that includes some kind of whole-organism sign language.

Long live Psychlotron.

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