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Friday, September 23, 2011

What happened, Apple?


I want to love Apple. Maybe I even did for a bit. They were trendy, kind of sassy, and made the coolest stuff. James Bond Q-Branch-type stuff. Music players the size of dust motes that held every song ever sung since Grog beat out a stuttering rhythm on caveman skulls. Electronic pads the likes of which Star Trek have been yearning for since The Next Generation aired. Laptops so slender you could slip them into envelopes and mail them Regular Mail, if you were disgustingly rich and insane. I liked their commercials, too. Who didn’t get amusement out of pudgy “I’m a PC” guy sparring off against the young, mildly goofy-looking “I’m a Mac” dude?
It helped that I hated Windows. I grew up with computers that used MS-DOS, long before the Pablum of windows-oriented interfaces became common. If you wanted to get it to do something, you typed it in. “Copy X file to Y location.” Then it did it. I never experienced a crash, a hang-up, or a delay. There were no viruses then; we lived in the computer-equivalent of the free-love hippy era. How could there be viruses? It took even a tiny file three days to download on a dial-up connection: there was no time or room for hitchhikers. My first copy of Word took up less than a single megabyte of disc space, if memory serves, unlike the enormous memory-hogs of today’s versions.
I’m not claiming those times were better, but they were certainly simpler. There were only a handful of commands to learn, so if you took twenty minutes to figure things out, you were set. We didn’t get updates three times a minute, so it was still possible for the casual computer-user to keep up with current events. Now you have to be a dedicated “hobbyist,” akin to the Civil War buffs that endlessly debate Grant v. Lee.
So when I switched to Apple, I was expecting a learning curve to present itself. It was steeper than I hoped. Nearly thirty years of short-cuts I’d learned were all based on Windows operating systems, so everything was just a little bit different. I don’t blame Apple for that. They aren’t Windows, I don’t want them to be Windows, the whole point, frankly, is that they aren’t Windows. (I hate Windows, did I mention that?)
I blame Apple for suddenly getting full of their own hype. The iPod Touch, iPhone, and the iPad are probably the three coolest things I’ve played with in terms of technology, maybe ever (though being able to shoot at the TV screen with Nintendo’s Duckhunt is also a frontrunner). Instead of treating these wonderful gizmos like the slices of coolness that they are, they’ve gone corporate with their marketing campaign.

No more “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC.” Instead we get a simple picture of the device being used, screens swiping by, to a maudlin overlay of sappy music and a voice saying “If you don’t have an iPhone, you don’t have...” whatever app they’re hawking at the moment. It’s crap. It’s dull, it’s boring, it treats me like an idiot, and it turns me off from wanting to buy any of their stuff. This is a majorly impressive thing to do, since as I’ve said, their stuff is AWESOME.
Come on, Apple. For a dedicated loather of Windows, you’re sort of the only game in town (no, I’m not going to learn Linux. I don’t care how sweet it is, I just can’t do it). I’d even respect them more if they acknowledged it. Ads that proclaimed “Yeah, we’re not perfect, but believe us, we’re a helluva lot better then Windows,” would really work on me. I think they’d work for any Apple users, actually. That kind of honest attitude I could respect.
You make some fantastic stuff, Apple. Try and act like it. Jeez.

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