Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Low-Hanging Fruit

Brent Simmons:

So we have Apple Watch and Apple TV now. What I’m hoping for — what I’m nearly begging for, more as a user than as developer — is that Apple spend a year making things better. Nothing new. Just make things work better.

John Gruber:

When the upgrade to El Capitan finished on my iMac, three of my email accounts in Mail were missing. They happened to be the accounts for my three most important email addresses. Two of them were still configured in Mail’s settings, but had been disabled — I just needed to toggle the “Enable this account” checkbox for each of them. The third account I had to reconfigure from scratch. All three accounts needed to re-download all of my mail — about 280,000 messages all told. These are IMAP accounts, so the mail was (and remains) on the server. I sure hope this bug doesn’t affect POP accounts (where the mail is only stored locally). This sort of bug would be terrifying for normal people, who don’t understand how IMAP works. If this happened to my parents, I’m certain they would just assume their email was gone, forever.

Nick Heer:

Meanwhile, on my Macs at home and at work, twitter.com and t.co links regularly fail to load in Safari. It’s only those URLs, only since upgrading to El Capitan, and only in Safari — Tweetbot works fine. Baffling.

But I hold out hope. Earlier this year, Apple released an update to iTunes that made any database edit last about a minute. Change a straight prime to a curly quote? That’ll cause iTunes to hang for a minute. Making sure A$AP Rocky is listed as “ASAP Rocky” by editing the sort artist? Another minute of hanging. Deleting a track? That’ll cause another hang. Though this bug is at least five months old, I was very happy to discover this weekend that this bug has been fixed.

Accidental Tech Podcast mentions a German video claiming that the impetus for finally reverting discoveryd to mDNSResponder was a phone call from Vint Cerf to Tim Cook. ATP also recalls the previous story of Logic bugs getting fixed because John Mayer would e-mail them to Steve Jobs. It’s scary if true that it would take one of the inventors of the Internet contacting the CEO to get the company to fix probably the most widely reported networking bug in its history.

Nacho Soto:

Apple may have unlimited cash in the bank, but they’re close to technical debt bankruptcy.

It seems like there are a large number of so-called P2 bugs that have been building up over the years. Individually, most of them could be ignored or worked around. And they are probably eminently fixable. The problem is that, though some of them do get fixed, the overall list seems to be getting longer rather than shorter. Each major new OS version brings new bugs, while leaving some from the previous release unfixed. This cannot go on forever. Either Apple will change course to make software quality a priority, or Mac users will wake up one day and find that their OS is just as buggy and unreliable as the software that Microsoft was once known for.

The bugs also affect third-party software. I spend a huge amount of development time working around OS bugs rather than adding features or fixing bugs that were my own fault. This is bad for business and for customers.

Update (2015-12-09): The after show of that ATP episode discusses brokenness with Pages and iCloud Drive, and even saving to the local disk.

Update (2015-12-10): Lloyd Chambers:

[Upgrading] to 10.11.2 destroyed my mail accounts; I had to delete the accounts and set them up again.


On my desktop, to this day the VIP accounts do not function (destroyed by El Crapitan), even if deleted and recreated. The VIP accounts list feature is utterly non-functional.


My local Contacts and Calendar are destroyed. If I jump through hoops and restore them from iCloud (a convoluted process), then I get duplicate entries for all of them on my Mac and my iPhone. It’s a sick joke.

8 Comments RSS · Twitter

Wasn't El Cap supposed to be the update that tackled these sorts of bugs?

@Clark Not officially, but that’s what some rumors said. (He ended up being completely wrong about Swift.)

Mail.app got rid of my local mailbox/folder structure upon upgrading to 10.11.2 today and threw most (but not all) of the messages formerly inside those folders into a single Recovered Messages folder. The old mbox folder structure was still there within my user Library, so thankfully 'all' I had to do was re-import everything manually. Still looking into an alternate email client though...

> Still looking into an alternate email client though

I like Airmail. It's not perfect, but it's reasonably fast, its UI can be minimized into a pretty non-intrusive view, and it supports Markdown.

Thanks for the suggestion! I already have a license for Postbox, so I'm giving that a try first. Account/data import from Mail.app seems to have gone through successfully, so I'll see how it goes...

[…] still encountering many of the original El Capitan bugs. And I’m continuing to run into new issues. This week it was AppleScript in Numbers, AirDrop […]

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