Also, Fridays: Strike three! You’re out! I can only hope this Friday doesn’t bring another dark storm cloud. That would be four in a row, and the only hope would be to skip Fridays going forward. I’m retired (ten years this June), so it’s not like Fridays really mean that much anymore.
Realistically, of course, skipping Fridays is impossible (without a time machine), and at this point it would be almost as impossible to skip Apple Corporation — I’m too invested in my iPad and my iPhone (and my iPod). But most tech companies make me angry and depressed. Especially Apple tech support.
Warning: This is a rant, but I’ll throw in some winter wonderland pictures from our recent major snowstorm to lighten things up.
I planned to write this post last Monday — Apple’s third strike occurring last Friday, but over the weekend, and since, a medical issue has preoccupied my mind. I won’t get into it but suffice to say I saw a doctor on Wednesday. If you know me, that’s a clear indication it isn’t something trivial.
It does have a way of making less important things like tech support issues. Last Friday, though, I was very unhappy with Apple tech support. It was the third time I’d tried to use them and the third time I got no satisfaction and walked away angry.
Icing on the cake: third bummer Friday in a row. But there are snow pictures:
The Friday angst begins four Fridays ago (Feb 10). My best friend, BentleyMom texted me about an injury Bentley had just suffered. Long story short, during a visit with her usual neighbor playmate, Bentley got into a fight with another dog that happened to be there. Bentley got one of her dewclaws ripped off (I won’t subject everyone who reads this to a picture, but here it is if you want to see it).
BentleyMom has a high stress job, and like everyone else these days, is feeling all sorts of life pinches. She was really looking forward to a relaxing Saturday to recharge. Instead, she had to deal with Bentley’s injury, get her to a vet, and face weeks of keeping an eye on Bentley.
The perverse universe. Got plans? Guess again!
Bentley had a follow-up vet visit Wednesday (coincidentally the same day I had a doc visit), and she’s apparently out of the woods. Don’t know if the dewclaw will grow back, it’s just a red nub now.
Poor dog. She broke her ear last year (see this post), and then her other ear shortly after, and now this. Lotta stress for both Bentley and BentleyMom. Sometimes if feels like it never ends. As they say, one damned thing after another.
[There’s a Gahan Wilson cartoon that illustrates that famous phrase as well as one by… Gary Larson or possibly by Nick Kim.]
So, that was Friday, Strike One.
The following Friday, as already posted about, I reached my limit with YouTube TV and my formerly favorite TV show NCIS.
[The irony is that I had a problem with my taxes, which I’d done earlier that week, turn into a very positive experience with customer support from H&R Block, my bank, and the Minnesota Department of Revenue. See this post.]
And that was Friday, Strike Two.
Which brings us to Apple.
Some background: I started writing software in the late 1970s and started doing it professionally for The Company in the late 1980s. Most corporations then used IBM computers (or knockoffs) and ran MS-DOS (and eventually MS Windows).
My company was diverse enough that it dabbled in Apple Macintosh computers and, in some segments, used a lot of Unix (usually in Sun “pizza boxes”). But mostly it was IBM and Microsoft. I used them at home for my personal computing, too. Made it easier to work at home.
So, I was primarily a Microsoft guy, secondarily a Unix guy, and was only vaguely familiar with the Macintosh (although I’d played with them from the beginning when they only had MacWrite and MacPaint).
It wasn’t until around 2004 (or later?) that I bought an iPod (Classic) for music on walks and trips. In 2016 I bought my first iPad (now I have two). It wasn’t until 2019 that I bought my iPhone.
I don’t have many complaints about Apple hardware. As a long-time Microsoft user, I saw Apple as, perhaps a bit obsessed with style over substance, and maybe over-priced, but, like Disney (back then), and like my own company, one of the best. High priced, but also high quality. Finestkind.
My, how the mighty fall (especially Disney).
Apple’s first strike involved my subscription to Apple News. I subscribed to their news service for the express purpose of having an ad-free newsfeed. I hate the constant barrage of ads we seem unable to escape from.
And, indeed, for the first year, my Apple News subscription was ad-free, and I loved it. Raved about it. Told my friends about it. [See this post.]
Then the ads started showing up. I figured it was a mistake, so I contacted Apple support… Who seemed to think that was perfectly normal. Desired behavior. I couldn’t get anyone to even acknowledge that it had been ad-free for a year.
Round and round we went. They treated me like I was crazy. A problem to be dismissed. [See this post.]
So, I cancelled my subscription, gnashed my teeth at Apple, and decided that the news was usually bad anyway, so the hell with it. (In other words, those grapes were probably sour — which is a phrase frequently misused, but that’s another rant.)
So, that was Apple, Strike One.
The next involved an obvious software bug in their browser, Safari (although the strike involves, once again, Apple support).
I don’t think much of Safari. I only use it because it comes with Apple computing products. As with Apple stuff in general, it’s oriented towards those who aren’t terribly computer savvy. But whatever, it works okay.
[That said, the FireFox app for iOS is unusable. An atrocious user interface.]
As do all browsers, Safari has Bookmarks and History. It also has something called Reading List, which is a secondary bookmark thing for stashing links to pages you want to come back to.
A while back I noticed my Reading List was blank. No links! Poking around, I discovered those links in the top-level of Bookmarks. I found that any link I sent to Reading List might show up there briefly, but quickly moved itself to Bookmarks.
This was a most unwelcome development, so (with painful memories of last time) I once again ventured Apple support.
And once again couldn’t get anyone to even understand what I was talking about. I couldn’t even get anyone to attempt to duplicate the problem. Apparently, their call-takers don’t have Apple devices available. WTF?
In an attempt to get rid of me, they told me I’d have to take my iPad to an Apple service location. To solve an obvious software issue. They wouldn’t even look into it, wouldn’t even pass it on to someone with a clue. (And the same thing was happening on my iPhone, so it clearly wasn’t a hardware issue.)
Just relating this story makes me angry all over again. (And I’ve noticed they fixed the bug in recent updates. Reading List works as expected again.)
And that was Apple, Strike Two.
Which brings us to last Friday. And Apple’s iCloud for Windows software.
This software provides access to the Apple iCloud on Windows machines. Older versions worked tolerably, but I noticed that it changed when I loaded it on my new HP laptop (see this post). I lived with it, because what choice was there?
[As it turns out, there is one: Firstly, do not load iCloud for Windows on your PC. Ever. Secondly, use your browser to access the iCloud. Not perfect, but infinitely better. The software has a lot of bad reviews in the Microsoft Store. And no good ones. It’s crap software.]
The main complaint has been how mind-bogglingly slow it is. Open file explorer on iCloud Photos… and then go grocery shopping, take a long walk, make a few phone calls, read a novel, binge a few TV shows… and by then file explorer might have stopped thrashing, might have finally settled down.
Last Friday, no matter what I did, no matter how long I waited, it wasn’t updating with my latest photos. I really wanted to post some snow pictures. Like this one:
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. [sigh]
My first chat session went on for 39 minutes and, because the front-line people aren’t very technical, resulted in an escalation to “Senior Advisors” — who only call you back at a scheduled time (or in two data points last Friday, 15 minutes late).
I’m very hard of hearing, so phone calls are frustrating for both sides. I could not make out what the gal was saying. Her accent didn’t help, and her diction wasn’t good regardless. She (I think out of frustration) put me on hold… after five minutes of dead silence I hung up.
My second chat session went on for 89 minutes. I let the new guy know how unhappy I was, so he took me more seriously (or was just better than the first guy). We checked version numbers and some other things. All good. But no joy, so he escalated to the “Senior Advisors” for a callback. I’ll give him this: he stayed in the chat until I got the callback (15 minutes late) and to make sure I got someone I could hear.
On the phone, we again checked stuff like versions and whatnot, and he eventually bumped me to a tech expert. Still no joy, so he decided to check into this more deeply. He’d get back to me. He thought maybe it would eventually sync. By this point I’d realized that nothing (photos nor files) on iCloud was syncing to my PC, to or from.
I’d given them my iPhone number for both callbacks, and I gave it again to him.
That evening my landline rang and, because I was expecting a callback, I looked at the phone. I usually don’t. No one I know calls my landline. I only have it in case of a long power outage. Only spamming robots call the landline. But since I was expecting a call from Apple, I did look.
Sure enough, Apple Inc. What? Why? I picked up the phone, said hello, and a recorded voice announced this was my callback from Apple (same as the previous two calls to my iPhone; first the automated announcement, then the person comes on the line). But this time, there was only dead silence. After a minute or so of saying hello, is anyone there, I hung up.
Figured maybe they’d try again. Maybe even try my Apple iPhone.
Nope, and I’ve heard nada since then.
Which is three strikes for Apple, and three strikes for Fridays. In both cases, three in a row with nothing good between to mitigate things.
I wish Apple stuck to making interesting hardware with decent software to run on it. I have mostly positive feelings, although I think both their hardware and software (especially their software) has gone downhill in the last years.
The iTunes software for Windows used to be a great way of curating my Apple iTunes, but it’s become more and more useless over the years. Other Apple applications show signs of inattention, too. Always stuff they don’t sell, so they don’t seem to put much effort into it.
They’d rather sell you subscriptions to Apple services (like News, TV, Music, and whatever). At this point, there is no Apple service I’ll ever spend a dime on, and I’ll be very picky about buying more Apple eBooks or iTunes. I’d rather give my money to Amazon Kindle. And I have subscribed to Amazon Music and quite like it.
[Yes, I know, Amazon has issues, too, but they provide the goods. Beyond some vague moral objections, they haven’t pissed me off, and that matters.]
So, you see what happens Apple? I no longer have respect or regard for anything you do, and I’ll always consider other options first.
I get the impression Apple support, certainly the front-line folks, might be good for helping your grandparent realize their computer is unplugged. No doubt they’re fine for the Scout “what’s a computer?” level of user. But when it comes to savvy, literate computer users, they suck all the balls in the ball bin.
The punchline is that restarting my laptop restored iCloud for Windows to its impossibly awful performance, but at least I was (eventually) able to sync my photos.
As a tip for Windows users, putting your PC into sleep mode, hibernating, or even shutting down and starting up, all cause the operating system to restore some of the system state from a special file. Only an actual restart gives you a clean slate. (If you have an SSD, you’ll see a big difference in boot time.)
Stay swinging, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.
March 3rd, 2023 at 4:19 pm
Feel better, buddy? Love the 2019 selfie. Time to update!
Hope y’all have a good weekend, cheers,
March 3rd, 2023 at 4:27 pm
Oh, I haven’t changed much in four years. That selfie is still pretty accurate.
You, too (have a good weekend). For what little a “weekend” means to us retired old farts!
March 3rd, 2023 at 4:30 pm
I meant your profile pic. Young nerd to sage. 😉🍻
March 3rd, 2023 at 4:38 pm
Oh, that. Yeah, it’s pretty old. Taken on our honeymoon Caribbean cruise in 1998. I like the pic too much to change it. Reminds me of a happier time before my world turned to mostly shit. (I do not like this century. And it just seems to get worse and worse.)
March 3rd, 2023 at 4:32 pm
I also had an encounter with WordPress tech support this past week, but other than that they haven’t yet fixed the bug I reported, I commend them on their feedback and taking me seriously (which hasn’t always happened).
In the process, I referenced two previous bugs I’d reported long ago [see WP: Classic Editor vs Reader and The WordPress Reader] as well as something new I’d noticed — that linkbacks weren’t working anymore.
Again, I’d commend them on their engagement. They acknowledged one of old ones (the CSV issue) and said the developers knew about it. They also acknowledged the linkback one, and that one is now fixed! Yay!
I even reference my issues with the WP Reader Conversations section, and they acknowledged my input. Which may mean nothing, but who knows. Regardless, kudos to WP Tech Support!
March 3rd, 2023 at 4:41 pm
Yeah, I get it.
March 3rd, 2023 at 7:41 pm
Marriage died, dog died, nearly all the fun and joy of work died (forcing early retirement), my folks died, friends died, my youth died…
March 3rd, 2023 at 5:13 pm
By the time I read to the end of your post and commiserated with your tech support woes, I had totally forgotten about the unplug/restart option—which in my long-ago, lower-tech past life seemed to solve like 90% of all my electronics issues!
March 3rd, 2023 at 7:36 pm
I’m a bit embarrassed I didn’t think to do that myself until after a morning of interacting with Apple support, but I’m surprised not one of the five tech support people I interacted with so much as mentioned it. Maybe we all thought that sort of thing was in our pasts. 🤷🏼♂️
I will say that the sort of software issues that can be fixed by that always indicate programming errors. Memory leaks, infinite loops, etc. Well-written code can run indefinitely. Whatever the glitch was, I shut down all my devices Sunday night and restart them all Monday morning. In particular, once my Windows laptop is up and running, per that last bit I wrote, I then restart the O/S. So, iCloud for Windows had a clean slate Monday morning.
I only hope Apple comes out with a new version of it ASAP. No money in it for them, plus rival product, so probably not.
March 4th, 2023 at 5:50 pm
Typing on a Lenovo ThinkPad here – wicked fast (32G) and came with Win10 and a 2T SSD HD! Windows my whole life. Until…
My current job required I use a MacBookPro. Ick. It’s OK, as I pretty much use it to write code and Git into/outof repos. But, I’d much rather have my ol’ Windows NT OS back. Or my favorite Windows 2000.
March 5th, 2023 at 9:08 am
Yeah, I liked Win 2K, too. NT was good at the time, but not sure I’d want to go back to it. I don’t have any complaints about Windows 10 — something that hasn’t been true of a Windows version since 2K.
I expect, if you’re like me, the Apple stuff seems “remedial” somehow. The whole Scout “what’s a computer?” thing. Almost insulting to those who really know what a computer is. It’s the “hands off, you don’t know what you’re doing” thing that’s annoying.
March 5th, 2023 at 11:21 am
And, that’s OK, as long as it works.
But then there’s terminal.
It’s like, there’s this beautiful living room, but down the hall, down in the basement is a creepy area where you may have to venture to actually (>Brew Install XCode) get shit done.
March 5th, 2023 at 1:47 pm
Yeah, one often finds oneself poking around in the basement dealing with plumbing or the electrical (and the spiders and centipedes). But that’s only for us plumbers or electricians (or pest control specialists). I just hate it when the basement door is locked.
Terminal? Don’t follow the reference…
March 5th, 2023 at 2:14 pm
MacOS has Terminal. Shell script, bash, zsch?
March 5th, 2023 at 2:24 pm
Ah, entiendo. I understand iOS has a Unix kernal, so sounds like their equivalent of a MS-DOS window in Windows. Never used it on the Mac, but I did a lot of shell scripting (mostly ksh, some csh, less bash; never used zsch) and Unix programming back in the day. (Wrote some simple server/client software. Was kinda into TCP programming at one point. Sockets, and ports, and select, oh my!)
March 6th, 2023 at 6:21 am
I don’t mind the rant as the winter wonderland pics (seeing all those super white snow) are always a pleasure to look at. Ah, and this time there’s this delightful surprise of you finally sharing your most recent selfie (never mind that it was from 2019). You looked good, Wyrd. I’ll demand Apple to make you happy once more so you’ll take another photo of yourself to share with us. 😊
March 6th, 2023 at 9:15 am
Glad you liked the pics. (Just wish it wasn’t such a pain to sync them to my laptop.) Not sure if Apple will pay any more attention to your demands than to mine, though. Twice tiny is still pretty tiny… 🤷🏼♂️
March 10th, 2023 at 11:05 am
[…] the bulk of my word count. But, in contrast to the negative experiences with most tech companies (cough, Apple, cough), it was a good story to […]