Why do people like Apple?

Discussion in 'Computer Science & Culture' started by Saint, Jul 8, 2011.

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  1. river-wind Valued Senior Member

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    Jobs is megalomaniacal. He's not the CEO anymore, though that doesn't excuse previous actions. Apple is a company, no question. They get much of thier hardware from the same factories as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, etc, so there isn't much corporate benefit they can claim there.

    They have put pressure on manufacturers previously to improve worker conditions - usually only after media coverage of the issues involved however. Their push towards removing heavy metals from their screens and motherboards was accelerated by calls against Apple by Greenpeace - not because Apple was the worst offender RE: pollution (they were much better than Dell and others at the time), but because it got the most press to call out Apple. Getting all the coverage they did, however, pushed apple into being better about its environmental practices, which other manufacturers have benefited from as well - since they all deal with the same factories.

    Take a look at the new planned Apple headquarters in Cupertino. An old HP campus, they will be reclaiming tons of surface space in the name of grass and trees, getting more office space and parking through better design than the old building plan.

    http://9to5mac.com/2011/08/12/cupertino-releases-detailed-drawings-of-mothership-applehq-building/

    Apple's not some great anti-company out for the good of mankind. It's a company which exists to make money by making computers. If we as the consumer base can pressure them (or any company) into doing a better job of taking care of their workers and the environment, it's up to us to keep the pressure on them by voting with our dollars.
     
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  3. Kittamaru Now nearly 40 pounds lighter. Staff Member

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    *reading along in the thread*

    *reads this post*

    *goes to next post*

    *double takes and re-reads this post*

    Wait... what?!?

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    :bugeye:
     
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  5. river-wind Valued Senior Member

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  7. CptBork Robbing the Shalebridge Cradle Valued Senior Member

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    Been a Windows XP/Vista/7 user for over a decade, and at school our machines use Debian and Scientific Linux. Been considering switching to Mac for a long time but there's still a few deficiencies I haven't been willing to overlook- the one-button mouse and lack of tablet notebooks were the major irritants for me.

    I like the comments about Apple being a fashion company more than a computer company. I've wondered what it would be like if you took the Bill Gates look alike and the cool, hip young adult from the Mac vs. PC ads and put them in a real life situation... They start off arguing about who's better/cooler, Bill Gates is way out of his league and getting tossed around like a ragdoll, then some dude shows up complaining that he installed something a couple of weeks ago and now he's getting a critical error message about missing core library files.

    Cool, hip young adult takes a look at it, gets a puzzled "what the" look on his face, then suggests "just back up all the important files you've added since your last system restore, do the restore, then replace your files. Easy as mac n' cheese!"

    The customer complains "But it'll take me days to reinstall everything and I'm not even sure I'll be able to find all the relevant data to backup!"

    The Apple kid looks flummoxed, thinks for another moment, then suggests with a confident smile, "Well you can take your machine to the nearest Apple Store, and if it's defective they'll happily replace it with a brand new one free of charge! Have an awesome day, dude!"

    Bill Gates lookalike steps in: "Uh here, I'd better have a look at this." In a couple of minutes he reproduces the error and notes the missing library file, which he promptly downloads from the internet and places in the proper location." Customer: "It's a miracle, everything works great now and I don't have to do any stupid backups! Hey Apple kid, your solution was worthless, but you have a very nice haircut so thanks for letting me stare at it!"​

    I have an iPhone 3G which recently (~6months--1 year ago) lost a bunch of photos upon a routine firmware upgrade via iTunes. I went on the web and researched the symptoms, figured out what the most likely problem was and how to recover the photos, before going to the Apple Store. The whole point of even bothering going to the Apple Store in the first place was just so I could make sure I wasn't doing something Apple didn't want me to do, and I assumed the technicians and sales reps would know more about their own products than I would from 10 mins of research. Since I'm a Windows user, I can't browse the contents of the iPhone's hard disk without downloading third party software, whereas I understand such abilities are native to the Mac OS, so I knew what needed to be done and figured they could plug it in there and take care of it in less than 5 minutes.

    I get to the Apple store, it's nice and clean and the staff are well-dressed and chirpy, blah blah blah. I explain my problem and the potential solutions I found, get a bunch of blank stares, then I'm fed the usual "restore from most recent backup, lose tons of important data, we can't perform that service" rubbish. I ask if they can advise me of a good third party utility to download so I can do it myself on Windows, no can do. So they were completely useless. I went home, found some good third party iPhone disk browsing software for Windows, browsed directly onto my phone's HD and found all the missing pictures, then backed them up. The actual solution involved deleting an index file which was (presumably) routinely corrupted worldwide by a specific iOS update, resetting the phone and allowing it to rebuild the index- 5 minutes and I had all my pictures back.

    I can only guess how many poor victims were told by the cool Apple store kids to just restore from backup and give up this silly notion of learning about computers so you can fix the problem without throwing the whole thing in the trash and ordering a new one from China. The solutions to problems like mine which Apple seems to provide will not only fail to recover missing photos and files that should be completely routine and simple to recover, but these files and photos will probably still be sticking around on their phones eating up memory, so they get this false impression their iPhone hard drives aren't big enough and they need to buy the higher-end models next time.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011
  8. river-wind Valued Senior Member

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    to illustrate what was being said earlier about Apple's shifting focus to electronic devices and away from computers:


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    And this is where your analogy fails. You don't need to reinstall everything on a Mac when doing a system restore like you describe - the system software and application software are not so tightly twined together as with windows (and the hated registry). You don't reinstall everything for that sort of an error, you do an archive and install of the OS only, which doesn't touch your user files or applications. Your user-level system and app preferences are even preserved, making the "I don't know where library .plist is corrupt, reinstall the OS" a 20 minute job with 1 step. On windows it's a 2 day backup everything, wipe and reinstall everything, including hardware drivers process; that is not the case on the mac side.

    Or someone who knows Unix can play the Bill gates roll, and fix the individual problem file. This is what I normally do, but I never recommend it for others.

    As for the Apple store helpers, I agree, as time has gone on, their level of technical knowledge has dropped; I usually know more than they do and rarely bother going to the Apple store. iOS devices like the iPhone are much more closed garden than OSX, I have yet to own any of them so I can't speak to specific examples. As for your specific problem, I have a question:
    firstly, that sucks. secondly, since you have connected your iPhone to a machine in order to do the firmware update, didn't the iPhone sync to iTunes, downloading those pictures before it started the update? Or do you have automatic syncing turned off?
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  9. CptBork Robbing the Shalebridge Cradle Valued Senior Member

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    Ok that's good to know. I'm basing my opinion on the level of tech support I received in person, as well as what I've read on several tech support forums dealing with Apple stuff. Definitely not trying to promote any alternatives here- I hate the Windows Registry, it seems to be the biggest deficiency in Microsoft's entire arsenal and I'm still waiting for the big announcement when they finally scrap it. Microsoft tech support is loaded to the hilt with suggestions to just give up and essentially reinstall/restore the whole system for a wide variety of problems. If Mac does a better job of making its programs portable and self-contained, that's excellent, but based on my experience with the iPhone issue, I still wouldn't be going to those Apple Store folks expecting a competent recovery that doesn't wipe something important in the process.

    Until recently I had automatic syncing turned off, because I found it utterly stupid how iTunes threatens to wipe anything off your phone that isn't already found on the host computer (they really need to make it more clear exactly what is and isn't transferred/erased by the syncing process- I had to dig all over the web just to get a sniff of an answer about this). The host machine was running Vista (recently transferred to a new Windows 7 machine), so I don't know if iTunes behaves differently on the Mac, but in Vista and Windows 7 it doesn't automatically sync photos from the phone. It leaves the Camera Roll folder untouched, but otherwise it just makes sure all other photo albums on the phone match with whatever was already on the computer, deleting and copying as necessary.

    AFAIK, you have to manually transfer photos taken on the iPhone to the host PC, there's no option for two-way syncing. In Windows, it seems that's the only "direct" iPhone drive access you get without installing third party software. You only get access to the photos section, and there's not even an option to use the iPhone for storage like my old iPod offered (the "use my iPhone as a hard disk" option is greyed out). I just do a copy/paste every now and then, otherwise the only other option I know of is the autorun prompt Windows gives you when you plug the phone in, offering to transfer its photos to Windows Gallery. From what I've read (if memory serves correctly), your music isn't saved by the iTunes backup utility but it does save your photos, but since I hadn't made a backup in a couple of months, anyone making that suggestion to me in lieu of the proper fix would just be patronizing me (which is what the Apple Store guys did, even though I walked in having already researched the problem and solution). I think the phone might have made an automatic backup before the software update, but I had no way of knowing how flawed that backup might itself have been and how it might have further messed things up to use it.

    Do things work fundamentally differently on the Mac? Punishment perhaps for buying an iPhone but choosing an unapproved OS for my home PC?

    BTW despite my frustrations with the emphasis on appearance rather than substance with the Apple Store tech guys, the biggest things that kept me away from getting a Mac this go-around were the lack of a right mouse button and the lack of a tablet with full laptop functionality (I like taking math notes on the computer rather than scribbling it in some drink-stained notebook and crossing out huge sections every time the lecturing prof makes an error on the blackboard). Familiarity with Windows and the wider selection of products were also deciding factors, but I'm still open to trying new things now that grad studies forced me to learn lots of Linux-related stuff. Again, not trying to defend the Bill-Gates lookalike in the ads, so much as note that Joe College Student will throw a young rebellious adult tantrum if he plugs in his guitar and his Mac doesn't detect the input.

    Last edit: R.I.P. Steve Jobs, a true visionary
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  10. river-wind Valued Senior Member

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    Absolutely agreed. Taking a machine or iOS device to the Apple store for any work other than "I need to upgrade MS Office" generally requires signing an agreement that all data may be lost in the process. They do attempt to back up data from computers before doing any potentially damaging work, but I'm with you - don't trust them with irreplaceable information.

    Let me use the opportunity to remind everyone, no matter their platform, to backup often. Like this weekend. And keep a copy off-site in case a fire hits your computer area.
    There shouldn't be any difference in behavior between OSX and Windows versions of iTunes and its syncing.

    However, I checked in with some guys over at Apple and they confirmed that pictures taken with the iPhone need to be imported to the computer via iPhoto or other picture management tool - they aren't automatically sync'd like I had thought they would be. On a Windows machine, the camera roll drive would, as you point out, need to be manually copied to your host PC or imported into your local photo managing application such as Windows Gallery just like any other camera. But at least with other cameras, you can take out the memory card and use a USB reader.

    So, as you found, if something goes wrong with your iPhone, photos taken since the last backup or manual copy would be lost. In your case, there should have been an auto-backup made before the firmware update (and you mention there was), but you're correct that you can't preview the contents of the backup easily, in case *it* is corrupt. The easiest method for getting your pics back is restoring the backup; the safest is exactly what you did with the third-party tool.

    This sounds like a problem Apple should handle better It is resolved via iCloud's free photoroll behavior - send your photos over the air and copy them to your home machine's iPhoto instance automatically, but I'm not yet sure how that all works with a non-Apple machine at home, if you don't want to sync a photo over the air, or if you don't have internet access at home for a few days. I'll see if I can find some documentation, but in the meantime I've submitted a design bug request to see if there's a better way of handling this issue (like doing a backup of the photos and video folders separate from the full device backup, and in an accessible format).
    Again, an unfortunate misnomer; Apple machines have supported third party mice with right buttons and scrollwheels out of the box for more than a decade. Apple branded mice have right click as well, though it's not a physical button - it's a touch sensor which tells the mouse where your fingers are when the button is clicked. This allows for the multi-touch behaviors to be used more easily - right click, two-finger document scroll, three-finger app switch, four-finger desktop or widget switch, pinch zoom, etc.

    I love multitouch for browsing documents or scrolling around drawings I'm working on, though I carry a gaming mouse with me for when a simple right click is the best solution (like when playing Starcraft):
    http://cyborggaming.com/prod/rat7.htm
    Agreed completely. I ended up getting a MacBook Air for that reason, after nearly getting a Dell Alienware M11x. The portability&functionality/price ratio was the deciding factor; the m11x being more powerful and cheaper, but twice the weight and three times the volume. Once the new spate of ultrabooks set to be released before Christmas are available, and with AMD's ultra-low wattage cpus available in march of 2012, I bet the best option will soon be a thin and light Asus w/ Win7.

    Computers are just tools; if there is no benefit from using a different tool, there's no use in switching. Using Windows now because you're familiar with it, and learning Linux will be the best in the long run. OSX is a UNIX without as much maintenance as Linux, but given the past decade Linux ease-of-use may very well surpass OSX soon enough. I've got an Ubuntu setup on one laptop, and it's not on-par yet RE: ease of usability and recovery from problems - but it's getting so close I'm almost ready to use it for non-dev stuff.
     
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    That's like saying the new Fiat is better than a 1959 model.

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    I agree, it's better, for example, it's been a while since any of my files have literally disappeared. But still, on my workstation at the office, a couple of times a day it just freezes and I have to hit CTRL-ALT-DELETE, then TASK, then ESC--which I only know because our tech support guy showed me. He says he'll have to rebuild my system in order to (maybe) solve the problem.
    At my current job, and the previous one, the company has stayed with Windows XP. Apparently, with the steady accrual of fixes, it has become more reliable. I have the same version at home so I don't have to know the difference, much less pay for the upgrade on a machine that I only use for tasks the Mac won't do.
    I was a bits-and-bytes guy back in the 1960s and 70s, even wrote an operating system for a small mainframe. But I also used to rebuild carburetors. Now I just want the car to get me where I'm going and I feel the same way about my computer. So I drive a Mercedes and have a Mac on my desk; but only the former is currently living up to its promise. If I can ever figure out how to make the Windows partition work, I'll start using it.

    However, I still appreciate Apple's philosophy of completely rewriting the operating system with every major hardware release, instead of trying to make it downward compatible by simply patching the patches on the old OS. Yes they force you to buy all new software, but it's not full of trapdoors that every hacker on earth has found.
    Yes, the growing electronic infrastructure has not done away with the need for us to keep track of what we're doing. In fact it's made the consequences of a mistake much more dire. Having once been the data security manager for an organization with 80K employees, I developed the discipline to save my work after every major change (which for a writer means every couple of paragraphs--whatever your memory horizon is), AND to also save it to the backup device about every second time.

    When my wife was writing her thesis back in the days before Windows, she called me once and tearfully explained that there had been a power failure and she lost almost an entire page of writing. I said, "That means that you back up your file every hour or so?" "Yes of course, that's what you taught me." I reminded her that in a situation like that many people would have lost a whole day's work.
    You're telling me! I just don't have any resources for Mac troubleshooting. I have a Windows guy who only charges $35 an hour.
    Thanks for the tip!
    Somebody just gave me a cheap little MP3 player to try to wean me off my Walkman and my tape library. Is there any way I can download to it from iTunes? The instructions that came with it are minimalist.
    I have often pointed out that the "more advanced users" are a shrinking minority. As prosperity continues to spread and the technology price curve continues to plummet, when people in Burma, Borneo and Bolivia start getting computers they're not going to settle for Windows boxes--assuming that Apple doesn't give up on the computer market and rebuild itself as a trendy gadget store.
    No, our old Macs ran OS/X. My old PowerBook was a 1999 model and her old desktop machine was from 2004. There wasn't much of a learning curve to Sabretooth or Black Panther or whatever they call this new version.
    There are plenty of after-market mice that you can hook up. Mrs. Fraggle has one of those things that looks like a Klingon weapon for ritual battles and it interfaces just fine. What pisses me off is the lack of a forward-delete key. Fn-Del is a big pain, especially since that's one of the most common things I do and I keep switching from the Windows box at work to the Mac at home and having to remember which one it is.
    One of the benefits of living in the Washington DC region is that every conceivable resource is a short drive away. There's an outfit named "Mac Business Solutions" just down the road so I don't have to rely on Apple employees to solve my problems.
    Ah, the joys of being old. I have a Stone Age cellphone with no options that sits in the glove compartment being recharged regularly and waiting until I need to call 911 or the AAA. I still live by my favorite quote from "Boondocks": "Nothing worth reading was ever written by a man who was typing with his thumbs." My generation does not EVER want to use the phone while we're driving or sitting on the pot.
     
  12. CptBork Robbing the Shalebridge Cradle Valued Senior Member

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    I actually was aware of the right mouse button availability, but my Mac user friends never seemed to bother with this option, so I just assumed the functionality wasn't really integrated directly into the OS, or only to a limited degree. I didn't know about the multi-touch feature, that actually sounds really awesome and convenient, kinda getting into the Minority Report era. I haven't had a chance to play around with my Windows 7 touchpad features much, so I'm not sure how much it's capable of, but I haven't seen anything to indicate it has the kind of functionality you're talking about.

    My touch screen is supposed to support multi-touch, but I haven't seen anything to indicate that Windows 7 lets you do much with that feature either. I know there's a few nice finger swipe gestures you can do, but I tried using two fingers to resize a window and it didn't do anything (still need to spend time learning exactly what can be done with it). My decision when I bought my latest machine was to give Windows one last chance while I spent more time learning about other systems (and again, I haven't seen any Mac products that give you pen and touchscreen functionality while also containing the full power and capabilities of a regular laptop- the pen feature is extremely important to me for note taking when it involves equations and diagrams, and it's awesome for applications like Photoshop).
     
  13. river-wind Valued Senior Member

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    I was going to say that you'd have to handle the files yourself like it was a thumb drive, but according to these documents:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/ht2172
    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2698

    iTunes supports a number of third-party mp3 players. What model is yours?
     
  14. fiction_is_science Registered Member

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    I'll always use Windows. Its much more program friendly. Meaning I don't get any compatibility issues. People like mac cause it looks cool I think.
     
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