A General Apple Rant_

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February 14, 2020 @22:40

I have not really had the time to sit down and have a good rant about Apple lately. I swear that I try not to get too emotionally invested in products but since I end up using one Apple product or another just about every day the annoyance just seems to pile up and eventually I just need to let it out. I will start on a somewhat nice note by remembering that since switching to OSX back around Snow Leopard and iOS back in 2017 it has mostly been a decent experience. At first I really liked having simple access to Unix style tools in an OS that I didn't need to screw around with. I also appreciated the privacy features and consistent user interface in iOS.

More and more though it seems like Apple's famous engineering and design talent in both the hardware and software world has... diminished...

Your hardware sucks

There are several YouTube channels run by independent repair shops / techs that will expound heavily on the awfulness of Apple's hardware design. I was hit by the 2011 GPU issue, have had to replace several keyboards, and several batteries in my two personal MacBooks. For work I have had a late 2015 MacBook Pro and a 2019 MacBook Pro and while the 2019 has been OK so far the 2015 had the screen cable fault and was finally replaced because the battery decided to expand so much it bent the bottom plate of the unibody.

I still hate the touchbar keyboard, even though the 2019 is supposed to be better than the first generation and frankly it seems like the touchbar was a feature that nobody was asking for.

Speaking of features nobody was asking for, in what I gather were attempts to shrink the thickness of their devices I'll point to the deletion of the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone and the MagSafe 2 connector as some of the more heinous decisions made by Apple in the hardware design space. Of course the headphone jack might have been less about shrinking the phone and more about getting people to buy AirPods, HomePods, and Beats headphones since it seems that the iPad maintained its jack to the current generation.

But ohhh boy that MagSafe 2... I really liked the original MagSafe connector. It saved my 2011 MacBook Pro several times but I swear if you look at the MagSafe 2 sideways it will just fall out of the laptop. I can't tell you how many times I have been away from home trying to connect into my laptop only to find that it was asleep because a strong gust of wind or the cat bumped the cable out. Useless.

Your software also sucks

I don't even know where to begin here. I mean, it's just getting appalling and sadly predictable that every release of every OS from Apple is going to have some inane brokenness that is completely new and unique. Sometimes they get fixed (for example, you couldn't scroll the screen in iOS mail while it was animating the selection in 13.0, but thankfully it was fixed around 13.1, though the animations still make selecting messages to delete take noticeably longer), but like my bug reports on home control sometimes they don't get fixed. Some of the issues like CarPlay requiring Siri are easily ignored but some are not. I have a couple of recent experiences below but a really quick search seems to turn up several other posts bemoaning some of the same things I've experienced. This one even includes several links.

32-bit apps

Post-Catalina upgrade Steam library I'll just leave this here.

Catalina and External Displays

At work I have a 2019 MacBook Pro with 2 external screens. It seems like starting with Catalina the OS no longer remembers which display goes where when you disconnect and reconnect them. This is really disheartening because this used to be something that macOS did really well. It also means that any time I take my laptop to a customer site for a meeting I will likely have to screw with the display preferences upon returning to the office. Do they not... test these things?

automount bizarreness in Catalina

I have been using automount(8) in macOS for years now. It lets me have a folder on my laptop contain virtual connections to my various NAS devices. The nice thing about this is that they are only connected to when needed, so if I am using my laptop outside of my network the folders will just fail to open, but once I get back home they will work just fine. This is super easy to setup and a very convenient way to extend the capacity of your device without using cloud services. In my case my automount master map (which describes what maps connect to which virtual folders) looks like this:

# Automounter master map
+auto_master        # Use directory service
#/net           -hosts      -nobrowse,hidefromfinder,nosuid
/home           auto_home   -nobrowse,hidefromfinder
/Network/Servers    -fstab
/-          -static
/System/Volumes/Data/Users/mernisse/Shares  auto_nfs

The /System/Volumes/Data bit is a new location cooked up by one of Apple's hair-brained schemes wherein they make the OS read-only during operation and stuff the user's data into a separate partition that is read-write. In general this sounds like a good idea but in typical Apple fashion the present implementation is half-baked at best. One of my favorite side-effects of the change is that if you change any system configuration files, like for example your automount maps, they will overwrite them during the next update. So right out of the gate this means I have to keep restoring the automount maps every time they push an OS update.

After figuring out that particular gem, I noticed that my automounts would disappear randomly and that any large copies to or from those folders would crash or fail for no reason. There was no information in the log files or in Console.app.

Even more troubling the fact that after 12 days there were over 1600 copies of the same automount map showing 'mounted' by the system.

kitsune@21:21:08 ~ >mount | grep -c auto_nfs
kitsune@21:22:17 ~ >uptime
21:22  up 12 days,  2:10, 2 users, load averages: 2.06 1.96 2.00

On a normal system you will have a mount line for each map on my system it would usually look like:

map auto_nfs on /Users/mernisse/Shares (autofs, automounted, nobrowse)

About a day after I noticed the above the laptop basically stopped doing anything other than beach-balling for minutes at a time. Quality.

iTunes.app Music.app

I'd also like to take a moment to point out that their splitting of iTunes into a bunch of different pieces somehow only made the festering pile worse.

Your attitude sucks

I wrote about this a bunch before, but since I am ranting I feel the need to once again point out that it is not in the least bit reasonable that I cannot write and install software for a device I own without jumping through some unreasonable hoops set forth by the manufacturer. I also can't give a friend a copy of that software without even more hoops. I understand the privacy and security hand waving excuses but at the end of the day I bought this thing, I should be able to do whatever I want with it. I can install a self-signed CA that lets me browse to HTTPS websites, potentially man in the middle SSL connections from everything including the OS, but I can't install a binary that I made. Yeah, that's secure. People don't do anything over SSL using certificates. Frankly, this is Apple using their monopoly position over their hardware stack and their duopoly position in the mobile device and personal computer market place to harm their customers. They force their users to use their App Store so they can then turn around and force developers to give them a cut of their revenue. They continue to produce less reliable, less durable, and less serviceable hardware, and every software release seems more rushed and user antagonistic than the one before it.

It is either corporate malfeasance edging their products towards planned obsolescence or terrible management driving unreasonable schedules and cost reductions. Either way it boils down to ineptitude at every level.

The sad fact is that in a lot of ways they remain the best option on the market today, so I feel stuck, however I fear that if they continue down this road they will end up back where they were last time they didn't have Steve Jobs at the helm.

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