Monday, October 5, 2020



The Mac gets a lot of flack from people who are nose deep in technical specifications and price matchups. What they don’t see — or aren’t interested in — is the intangible: the culture that people with big dreams and small means have made the unconventional available, the complex seemingly simple and the advanced accessible. This culture doesn’t live or die by Apple in particular, although the original Macintosh being a product of a similar mindset helped set the tone. This culture produces things that are hard to find elsewhere, not because it’s technically impossible to do, but because the values that drive those other platforms produce different outcomes.


The culture and the people and the shared values and what it all comes together to produce. That’s why I’m still here. You can live in many houses, but not all of them will ever feel like home. I’m upset with the landlord and the building manager who ignores leaking pipes and oiled floors catching on fire while upping the rent and turning a blind eye to hustlers running Three-card Monte, but aside from that, I love the neighborhood, I love the surroundings, I love that they value the things I do and I love what it can build over time.

9 Comments RSS · Twitter

One thing I would add to this analogy: The landlord randomly and haphazardly threatens the livelihoods of tenants who try to make a honest living by following their rules and respecting privacy, while letting tenants who operate surveillance-based business models live rent-free.

Jesper is right that "this culture [of people with big dreams and small means] doesn't live or die by Apple in particular". But I would argue that this culture's values and Apple's values are very much in opposition right now, and have been for some time.

If we are to judge corporations — and more specifically the people who run them — we judge them by their actions. How do they use their positions of power and privilege? Who benefits from their use of that power and privilege? Right now, Apple extracts significant rents from "people with big dreams and small means", but lets surveillance-based megacorporations use the exactly same platform essentially rent-free. An environment where the people with power and privilege use that to help the wealthy and hamper "people with big dreams and small means" fundamentally does not feel like Home to me.

And it's frustrating because I was on the Mac for 16 years up until last month. The reason I'm still commenting here and participating in some Apple-centric Slack channels is because I feel the same thing that Jesper feels... I have very few qualms about the Mac dev and user communities. But, over the past decade, Apple have made it so hard to do good work on their platforms. Apple have made it clear that they don't value people like us making stuff for their platform.

Apple moved everyone on Catalina to a flood plain right in tornado alley, and (at least for me) every 3 days the house catches on fire & I have to cut the power for the flames to go out. I’ve had more trouble with macOS in the past year than I’ve had…. ever, and that’s since System 7.

I value the culture and values that Apple once embodied. If I didn't, the way Apple is today wouldn't bother me.

Yes, it was a fun ride! The community around the Mac and in theory, Apple itself was pretty swell, but man, it really took a hard right to "StockCorporateGreedville" somewhere in the 2000s, probably after the iPhone, not that the iPod years were fantastic. Certainly 2010 and the iPad release and rent seeking App Store changes was the obvious no turning back point.

This is a squishy and evasive subject, and often I write about the things the change in attitude ruins, which makes me feel like a dottery, negative old man incapable of productively contributing to the discussion. But once I realized for myself that the culture, community and surroundings are what I value, I thought it would be a good thing to write about, and some people seem to be agreeing.

I don't think Apple is "corporate greed" personified. They do a lot of things that are the antithesis to it. But they have become dulled to what really matters in their products, and made expedient decisions in many small ways that undermine what's important. Almost every decision is made in favor of themselves, and never in favor of the user or the developer.

I opened up Jetpack Joyride yesterday because I saw the App Store (which I only opened to fetch updates) feature it with a big image and it reminded me that I had it installed. I opened it up, and not only had it lost all my scores from playing it quite a lot a few years back, but the game was completely driven by "watch movie to get free whatever" mechanics. That's what the App Store and its ilk of closed, walled-off platforms incentivizes and rewards.

I totally feel this. After 30 years using nothing but Macs, last month I switched to a PC running Windows 10 (built it myself for 1/2 the price of an equivalent Mac). I still wish I could have stayed on the Mac because it's what I know, but Apple has pushed me away with their their insane fetish for making products look good at the expense of functionality (they used to have a good balance of both). No more user replaceable batteries, RAM, disk space... no more ports that I need (I still don't have a single USB-C device)... still no "prosumer" tower option... still crazy high prices even though PC part costs have plummeted in the past decade (sorry no, 32GB RAM does not cost $600, especially not for a huge wholesale buyer like Apple)... it was all too much.

Now I wonder why I waited so long because really the differences between Mac and Windows are super small now. Other than being a bit awkward at knowing all the Windows keyboard shortcuts, I haven't found a single issue with switching over. And the Mac is heading in the wrong direction anyway -- at least Windows is predictable, has ALL the apps instead of 3rd-rate ports (even 1Password is better on Windows, ha!), and can run apps that are 10+ years old unlike the Mac which keeps shutting out developers, disabling apps with every annual update, and making everything harder to use.

Sucks for Apple because on average I've spent $1,000/year on their products since 1998. When I feel like I need a new smartphone (prob 2022) I'm definitely going to look at Android. None of the Apple stuff that's been released in the past few years appeals to me at all (Watch, AirPods, iPad Pro, CarPlay, HomePod, etc) so I have no incentive to stay in their ecosystem. I used to be a die hard Apple fan, the guy that tried (and often succeeded) to convert all his friends and family to Macs. Now I wouldn't recommend one to anybody, because there's no difference to just buying a decent PC. Apple squandered all of the advantage that they had.

[…] [Via Michael Tsai] […]

> last month I switched to a PC running Windows 10 (built it myself for 1/2 the price of an equivalent Mac)

The difference is even greater at the higher end. If you want something with 12 cores, 96GB RAM, a fast 1TB SSD, and a current-generation GPU, you can get that for ~$1700 by building a PC, but would have to spend ~$9200 for an equivalent Mac Pro. That more than a 5x price premium. And with the PC, you can open up the case without having to unplug everything...

64GB of RAM can be had for under $210 at retail, but Apple charge $1075 for the same amount. And Apple will give you 4x16GB DIMMs at that vastly inflated price, whereas the $210 retail price is for 2x32GB DIMMs, leaving more room for future expansion.

I object to the apparent condemnation by the OP of Windows, for one simple reason: at least you can fix it. You can't fix Catalyst in a world of ecosystem lock-in and quick ports to Mac--but you can easily replace your "Start" menu on Windows and replace every app with a useful alternative without consequence (even iTunes, for goodness sake, and iCloud for Windows, which both provide a more reliable if less joyful experience on Windows than equivalents on Mac). That's the difference. I do feel that Mac users are increasingly in denial about this. You really can wrestle Windows into a usable/useful state, and either patch up or ignore the ugly bits. (And yes, I'm typing this in Safari on Mojave and dearly love what macOS was, and not what it is fast becoming, too.)

Leave a Comment