I Hate Apple!

Not long ago I wrote a post about not “liking” dinosaurs, and a crucial caveat there was that I also do not dislike dinosaurs — that I was essentially neutral on the subject of dinosaurs. To me they’re seriously old news. Not on my radar, as it were.

What certainly is — unavoidably — on my radar is modern technology, and in particular the ubiquitous touchscreen device and its myriad apps. After being subjected to an Apple iPad for over two years now, I’ve come to have a deep loathing for almost every aspect of the whole thing! And, because of my issues with it, I see no reason to ever own a “smart” phone (although I fear an eventual lack of choice in the matter).

Now be warned: this is me venting. I have very little positive to say here.

So I’ll start with what little good I do have to say:

¶ I’m totally down with ebooks. I get the love of physical books (and I still have many shelves full of them), but ebooks are better in almost every other regard.

OTOH, physical books still have some advantages: The sheer physical experience. Easy to share. Leaving one behind, or losing one, isn’t that catastrophic (versus losing the device your ebooks are on).

¶ As with reading books, browsing blogs and websites, watching videos, scanning the news articles, checking the weather, there is some pleasure in being able to do these things from your couch, easy chair, or auto mechanic’s waiting room.

OTOH, many of the apps that enable these things drive me crazy for being, at least to my eye, very badly designed. In all cases, the PC versions are far superior.

Plus, they seem very passive to me, for browsing, viewing, or reading, only. I find that serious participation requires a real keyboard. Writing at length on a touchscreen is absurdly irksome.

¶ Instant Messaging can be kinda fun and occasionally actually useful.

OTOH, I’ve found I’ve become far less likely to write long thoughtful emails to my friends. (Maybe they’re fine with that!) Again, though, one big problem is the touchscreen keyboard.

§

And that’s kind of it for me.

I don’t play games — certainly not on small devices, I can’t quite fathom why anyone would — so that’s a large category of uses that means nothing to me. The Apple App Store, in fact, sees “games” as distinct from “apps” so there’s a whole section of the store I never visit.

I’m an old fan of maps and navigation, so the GPS and map apps don’t do a great deal for me. They’re okay, and I do use them although probably not as most do — as real-time navigation aids.

I use them to look up locations in novels I’m reading or to explore a city I’ve never visited or to get a sense of a location I’m about to go. I have never once followed some talking robot’s directions (nor will I ever — I’d feel like an idiot).

My iPod library is huge, so streaming music isn’t much a draw, and I’ve not been able to get into podcasts or audio books.

I’m just not a fan of talking to machines, and I don’t much care for them talking to me. (R2-D2, fine, but C-3PO? Oh, hell, no.)

§

Part of this has to do with my strong opinion that spoken language is generally a horribly inefficient way to communicate information. That’s especially true when it comes to the way most people use language — very casually, let’s say.

With little regard for information content and structure, let’s say.

Speaking is great for sharing and bonding and experiencing, but when it comes to disseminating information, it takes a trained speaker with a prepared speech to significantly reduce the signal/noise ratio.

For information, written text, with pictures, is best. It’s self-pacing and unless very poorly written has a far superior signal/noise ratio. (It also has the advantage of longevity. Consider the Rosetta Stone.)

Some very well thought-out and produced videos I’ve seen can equal this, even exceed it in some cases, but most videos don’t come close to leveraging the medium effectively.

[Full disclosure: I have a severe hearing deficiency, so I’m quite visually biased and far more a fan of the written than spoken word. Even so, my points stand.]

§

A bigger share of my growing disdain comes from how different the same application can be between its PC and touchscreen versions.

The touchscreen versions seem brain-dead to me, and I suspect a big part of the problem is the whole technology of touch screens. But even so, I still can’t believe how bad some apps are.

A few examples:

Google Earth on my PC is freakin’ awesome! I love this application. I’ve used its features a lot, particularly the ability to make paths and place markers. When I needed an outline of the Big Island of Hawaii recently, Google Earth provided.

But the iPad version is a brain-dead piece of junk. It’s a viewer with almost no capabilities. Almost completely useless to me except for idle browsing. (Which, honestly, I’d just as soon do on my 22″ PC monitor, thank you.)

YouTube. I have a lot of problems with their interface on all platforms, but the app version is worst of all. The design of the app is just plain horrific, and it’s hugely lacking in consistency.

For example, it shows the red “seen” underbar in some contexts, but not others, which drives me crazy. And why can’t I add to Watch Later from the notifications? Why do I only have two options (Hide and Share, and “hide” is a stupid, stupid, confusing, wrong term).

Google… kinda in general. Their user interfaces, to me, are very bad. I’ve tried to figure out Gmail repeatedly, and it makes no sense to me. It’s far too complicated for an email program.

I’ve tried their Gmail app several times and deleted the damned thing every time, in huge frustration, after only minutes. One of the worst apps I’ve ever used.

§

That touchscreens suffer from lack of precise user input is a big part of the problem. It does put some limits on what’s even possible in terms of user input. It’s a bit like every simple electronic clock you see these days: a small set of buttons accomplish all tasks the clock can do.

Apple apparently gave up on their attempt at “3D touch,” which may say something about the fundamental limits of a touchscreen. It is, after all, essentially finger-painting.

On top of the lack of precision, touchscreen keyboards add a complete lack of tactile feedback for your fingers. (Plus such a small size, it makes for whole new fingerings. The thumbs dance, or the one-handed taps.)

And always, always, always keep an eye on auto-correct.

But on top of the touchscreens, the fact that apps are seemingly designed to be used by three-year-olds seems also a contributing factor. I understand the value of making an app easy to use, but why can’t apps have “power user” features for, you know, power users?

The obvious answer, of course, is that power user almost always involves complex inputs — “user gestures” — and touchscreens just don’t have the capability.

§

This rant, perhaps, is mainly about how annoyed I am with touchscreens and their simple-minded apps, but it’s also about Apple, who is getting on my last nerve. In part for their role in all this, but also because of their behavior and attitude in general.

The only thing Apple ever did that I hands down like is the iPod. That was the one place the Apple “appliance” philosophy actually works for me. A simple widget I can carry around to listen to music with.

I’ve had and enjoyed my iPod Classic for many years. I dread the day it dies (and I have to use something far more complicated than I want or need).

My iPad, though in our mere two-year life together has barely survived a brief experience as a Frisbee followed immediately by a flying object meets wall experience.

For example, big, huge stick in my craw: Why doesn’t Apple believe in the [Delete] key? They know about the [Backspace] key, so they do know text needs deleting. But they apparently only feel people delete from the right?

Seriously? That one thing alone makes me hate Apple. They also don’t know about the [Escape] key, which is a crucial tool for real computer users.

It’s a bit like their simple-minded one-button mouse, another truly dumb idea for dumb computers users. That second button is one of the more powerful daily use tools in Windows.

(In my work days, when I used to introduce people to using computers, a key piece of advice was, “Right-click on everything!” So much power in that second mouse button.)

Apple sells dumb computers for dump computer users.

And because we let all the dummies in, now the internet is a shit pit — literally a fucking latrine. And we can see where all this dumb crap has led: directly to the current political hell.

As I’ve said many times before: It’s not that people are any worse than they ever were. It’s that our culture has become mind-numbingly stupid. We’ve brought the movie Idiocracy to living color.

With our stupid movies, and our stupid televisions shows, and our stupid video games, and our stupid simplistic tribal views, we make ourselves into a stupid society.

And end up with exactly the sort of situation, politically, socially, economically, you would expect when society goes stupid in the head.

I’ve given up hope in the human race. We’re a proven failure, and the few bright lights among us are dragged down by sheer inertia of the stupid.

Oh, well. Maybe some other species on some other planet, perhaps in some other galaxy, will do better.

But we don’t have a prayer. The world will fail around us while we don’t even notice because we’re heads down in our stupid tiny screens.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

10 responses to “I Hate Apple!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    And don’t get me started on the whole fingerprints all over the screen thing. Touchscreen devices suck!

  • sean samis

    Being an Old Fart (Really!) I’ve been immersed in the whole technology thing for decades. I’ve never been a fan of Apple, but I’ve been working with computers since the mid 1970s.

    I have a smart phone (android), a Kindle, and several laptops (work and personal) and for all their pain, I can’t imagine going back to the Bad Old Days before they were here.

    Just my $0.02 worth …

    sean s.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Certainly! It’s not the technology I deplore; it’s how we implement and use it. I also deplore the growing gap between what a technological society ought to know versus what most people actually do know. (There’s a great Carl Sagan quote about this. I used it to begin my Carl Sagan post.)

      I, too, belong to the Old Fart’s club. I started working with software back in the 1970s (and retired in 2013, yay!), so I know what you mean. I’ve watched the personal computing era from the beginning, and it’s been quite the ride! Remember when seeing a URL on a billboard was very strange? How far we’ve come!

      My relationship with computers is such that mobile computing (especially touchscreens) really doesn’t do anything for me, and I wouldn’t miss it at all. I use the computer a lot, but it tends to be active use that requires a large screen and a keyboard (and two-button mouse). I still write a lot of software to amuse myself, and I putter around with 3D ray-tracing and image generation, so I need a real “workman’s” computer.

      As a kind of active, connected ebook slash emagazine slash news-reader slash web-browser and quick weather checker, I quite like my iPad, but it’s so much a passive device compared to my “real” computing needs that I don’t even think of it as a “computer,” per se. (I found Apple’s “What’s a computer?” commercial both tragic and on-point.)

      I know that, as usual, I’m not just an outlier but way the hell out on the bell curve flats. And my irritation with touchscreens and dumb apps is just that, irritation. My fears about the social issues are far greater, and those fears find proof in the current POTUS and USAnian political climate.

      I do see a direct connection with how we’ve embraced and used technology and the cultural situation right now. I do see some pushback — a growing awareness of the dangers — so it’ll be interesting to see what prevails.

  • sean samis

    I’m not sure what you mean by our “cultural situation right now”; if you mean the political discord in our nation, that’s not due (imho) to technology but to the libertarian thought prevalent in our society. There’s nothing we can’t fix if we don’t show respect and work together; two ideas that are very unpopular right now.

    sean s.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      First, I gotta ask, how is “libertarian thought” responsible for Trumpism, the general rise of authoritarianism, and the growing currents of sexism, racism, popularism, and anti-science (if not anti-thought)?

      …if you mean the political discord in our nation…

      I meant, as I said, our culture, which is much bigger than our politics (USA or otherwise). I’ve written a lot of posts about my perceptions. (One good example, aligned with that Carl Sagan quote, is “No Serviceable Parts Inside”.)

      It’s not just that knowledge gap, but the growing rejection of science and rational thought over perceptions and tribalism. It’s our growing ignorance of cultural norms established over 2000 years of western (and other) thought. It’s our growing distance from our own supposed American values.

      There’s nothing we can’t fix if we don’t show respect and work together; two ideas that are very unpopular right now.

      Maybe, but how do we manage incompatible world views? Many social situations don’t have a single “right” (or even “best”) answer.

      For example, how do we “fix” a problem like the right (or not) to abortion when some folks view is as murder but others view it as an acceptable (if unfortunate) medical procedure? Or fix issues regarding guns when, again, some view them with horror while others embrace them?

      Certainly now it’s worse than it’s ever been, but the seeds were planted long ago.

      I don’t know about libertarians, but from where I sit, the right has led the way when it comes to political dishonesty and lack of respect. It’s culminated in the POTUS, a thoroughly dishonest, disrespectful excuse for a human being. (Not to mention all the undermining of knowledge, science, and rational thought.)

      But I don’t see our politics as a cause but a symptom of a culture in potential collapse. (Definitely in change… the question is, into what?)

  • sean samis

    Sorry for the delayed response. If my html tags don’t work, my apologies.

    … how is ‘libertarian thought’ responsible for Trumpism, the general rise of authoritarianism, and the growing currents of sexism, racism, popularism, and anti-science (if not anti-thought)?

    The core of libertarianism is selfishness; individualism taken to an extreme. Those “growing currents” come from an inability or unwillingness to seek accommodation or agreement with others. When you believe you are entitled to whatever you want (i.e.: selfish) then compromise becomes a dirty word. Hence the currents favoring sexism and racism. It’s not hard to make the leap to “anti-science” because science challenges the self-deception selfishness is prone to.

    It’s not just that knowledge gap, but the growing rejection of science and rational thought over perceptions and tribalism. It’s our growing ignorance of cultural norms established over 2000 years of western (and other) thought. It’s our growing distance from our own supposed American values.

    Exactly. Those norms and values did not emphasize individualism the way it is now valued. Selfishness does not lead toward a realistic understanding of what is actually good for you or not, it leads to the unrealistic goals set by mere wants.

    Libertarians actually debate whether slavery is evil, whether caring for the poor or the needy is virtuous or foolish. There are libertarians on both sides of that question, but in the 21st century there’s no rational justification for even wondering about those things.

    … how do we manage incompatible world views? Many social situations don’t have a single ‘right’ (or even ‘best’) answer.

    By accepting that some world views will always be incompatible; but we still have to live together. Many social situations don’t require we have the “right” answer or even the “best” answer, just that we don’t harm each other, that we protect each other from harms, and otherwise let others be.

    For example, how do we ‘fix’ a problem like the right (or not) to abortion when some folks view is as murder but others view it as an acceptable (if unfortunate) medical procedure?

    By recognizing that the child’s life and interests do not begin or end at birth.

    I regard myself as pro-life. It simply is a scientific fact that human life begins long before birth (tho’ there is no moment of conception; conception is a process that begins at one moment and ends at another)

    However, I also regard myself as pro-choice. I live in a society that, for better or worse, has decided that once a child is born, their life is no longer society’s problem. That’s the libertarian view in action. If our society chooses to punish some parents by ignoring the welfare of their children, then I think the decision regarding whether those children are born is up to those same parents.

    If abortion is murder, so is not ensuring that children get the care and education they need to thrive.

    We “fix” this problem with a fearless, honest evaluation of what is going on. Pro-lifers are mostly just anti-abortion; they take this position only because it’s free. Make them pay the taxes necessary to care for these children, and suddenly they’ll all become pro-choice.

    … the right has led the way when it comes to political dishonesty and lack of respect.

    True. And the right embraces the ideology of libertarianism (even if they mostly deny the label).

    … I don’t see our politics as a cause but a symptom of a culture in potential collapse.

    “Cultural collapse” is always a political process. Always.

    sean s.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “The core of libertarianism is selfishness; individualism taken to an extreme.”

      We have very different definitions of libertarianism, because I don’t agree with that at all. I do tend to agree about selfishness, though, so I’ll to start a fresh thread about libertarianism.

      “Those ‘growing currents’ come from an inability or unwillingness to seek accommodation or agreement with others.”

      Agree very much that is (at least part of) the problem!

      “Hence the currents favoring sexism and racism.”

      Disagree. I believe the roots of those problems are much deeper. Sexism, for instance, is a problem as old as humanity, so it can’t be blamed on libertarianism or even just selfishness. It’s not nearly that simple.

      “Exactly. Those norms and values did not emphasize individualism the way it is now valued.”

      Exactly, back! 🙂 I quite agree that is a big part of the problem. I’ve complained about the “Me Decade” (the 1970s) pretty much since the 1970s. I’m old enough to have been a member of the “Hippie Nation” and I watched the gentle and generous ideas of the 1960s fade. In part because they weren’t workable — too ideal — but in larger part because people. (Are people.)

      It has nothing to do with libertarianism (which is purely about liberty), but that people are selfish little monkeys.

      “By accepting that some world views will always be incompatible; but we still have to live together.”

      Easy to say, but (A) how do you get there, and (2) some views insist on the opposing view’s invalidity.

      For instance…

      “By recognizing that the child’s life and interests do not begin or end at birth.”

      (Well, they certainly don’t end! 🙂 )

      The problem is that many don’t think it’s a “child” until it’s born. Medically, it’s a fetus.

      “It simply is a scientific fact that human life begins long before birth…”

      I agree that something living begins at conception (which I’m fine defining as the sperm entering the egg), and that something often turns into a human being. Eventually. I do not grant it much humanity during the first few months of its existence.

      (FWIW, I do not consider human life, per se, particularly “sacred” (not with over 350,000 new units created daily), but I do have a high regard, even reverence, for human consciousness (as in sapience, not mere sentience), and that is something I perceive as growing over time. A fetus, especially in the first few months, doesn’t have it. At all.)

      “I live in a society that, for better or worse, has decided that once a child is born, their life is no longer society’s problem.”

      What?! Surely you meant something else? Are you aware of the parents who got in legal trouble for letting their children walk to the playground unescorted? Society is very concerned about children. The whole idea of public education is about the children.

      “If abortion is murder, so is not ensuring that children get the care and education they need to thrive.”

      No, granting your “if,” that’s a false equivalence, a category error.

      But it does point out the core problem in resolving this. Some do believe that abortion is murder. Others find that conclusion absurd. It may be killing a living thing, but we do far worse putting meat on our tables.

      How do we reconcile a belief that people are committing murder with a belief in a (regrettable) medical procedure? One side loses badly — there is no middle ground.

      “Make them pay the taxes necessary to care for these children, and suddenly they’ll all become pro-choice.”

      That’s very disdainful, and I would say utterly incorrect, view of some people’s deeply held personal beliefs.

      “‘Cultural collapse’ is always a political process. Always.”

      Is it? Or is there a chicken-and-egg situation? And I suppose it depends on how one defines “political.”

  • Wyrd Smythe

    “The core of libertarianism is selfishness; individualism taken to an extreme.”

    No, it really isn’t, although in the mid-1900s some did usurp the term. Ayn Rand gets mentioned a lot, which is weird because my (vague) understanding is that she rejected libertarianism but preached a kind of objectivism and laissez-faire approach to economics.

    Neither of which is libertarianism.

    Consider that the long Wikipedia entry for Libertarianism does not once mention the word “selfish.” It does start off with a pretty good definition:

    “Libertarianism is a collection of political philosophies and movements that uphold liberty as a core principle.”

    But selfish people can corrupt libertarianism — or any other social ideology — to their own purposes. What’s called Right-Libertarianism is a corruption of the libertarian view. (Note how that article also doesn’t use the word “selfish” even once, but does mention Ayn Rand multiple times.)

    There is also that few identify politically as “Libertarians,” yet the social problems we face are massive. So it can’t be self-identified Libertarians that are the problem. There are a lot more people involved. (I’d argue: nearly all of us.)

    “Libertarians actually debate whether slavery is evil,…”

    Not that I’ve ever heard! Certainly not real libertarians. It would be in direct conflict with the core libertarian value of freedom.

    “…whether caring for the poor or the needy is virtuous or foolish.”

    Again, not that I’ve ever heard. Moral principles are not particular to any political view.

    I did Go Ogle to see if I could understand why you’d equate libertarianism and selfishness (a linking new to me, and I consider myself, in part, a Libertarian, so it was a puzzle). From what I could see, it comes from people asserting that libertarianism opposes charity.

    What libertarianism does oppose is being forced to charity; it opposes being forced to anything by the state or anyone. There’s nothing special about charity in the opposition. (And note that opposition is not rejection.)

    Indeed, charity the expectation of any moral person.

    FWIW, I do diverge here from classic libertarian views to the extent that I believe living in a society, advantaging myself of all it offers, does impose on me a legitimate “tax” — a “chipping in.” And I’m not really sure that’s even a divergence; political views are one thing, but ethics and morals supersede them.

    I doubt any true libertarian would sponge off society, as that would infringe the freedom of others. A true libertarian who didn’t want to participate in society would be more apt to leave that society (something I’ve considered several times in my life).

    “And the right embraces the ideology of libertarianism (even if they mostly deny the label).”

    They may embrace something they call libertarianism, but it’s usually a corruption of the core values of that philosophy (of liberty). The right tends to oppose gays and people of color, which violates their liberty. The right constantly tries to deny people the ability to vote, again violating their freedom.

    It’s objectivism and economic materialism, is what it is.

    Consider Rand’s definition of objectivism “of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute” (bold emphasis mine).

    There was a change to our culture in the mid-20th century. Rand was part of that. Increasing post-war prosperity and technology (color TV!) was part of that. The Vietnam war and Richard Nixon were part of that. The hippie ethic got lost when marriage and kids required food and a roof. We became material, even greedy.

    But libertarianism, it’s core principle, dates back to the late 18th century, long before our cultural materialism.

    I would even argue that these days most people lack any coherent or intentional political philosophy other than “I want mine!” That’s not anywhere close to being libertarianism!

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