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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Macbook died

Apple Evolution-Sharple by atomicshark from flickr (CC-NC-SA)
Hard drive in my Macbook died. One of the most annoying things about laptops is that there's no way of fixing them on your own, even if it's something trivial like replacing a hard drive with a new one. I'm going to see how good Apple customer support really is.

Frankly I have been disappointed by pretty much everything Apple. Their hardware is underpowered relative to price, comes in weird configurations, and doesn't even look that pretty after some use because it's so easily scratchable. For example Macbooks don't have a real GPU, but they have a totally useless FireWire port instead of a third USB. Even iPods which seem to be the most popular Apple product all come with crappy earphones and no USB port.

Apple software also ranges from very bad like Safari (why couldn't they simply bundle reskinned Firefox ?) through really horrible like OS X to iTunes which is able to define its own category of suckiness way beyond any other program I know. I haven't ever touched iPhone and I do not intend to, so I'm not going to say anything about it. The only piece of Mac software that I actually liked was TextMate, which obviously wasn't created by Apple. If it was it would be an AppleScript Editor.

Basically Apple sucks and no amount of TextMate bundles and "cool" marketing are going to change that.

12 comments:

Eridius said...

I don't even know where to begin. You seem to be a sole voice echoing complaints that either affects nobody else or nobody else cares about.

I'll try and address your points in order.

1) Macbook HD died - You're right, it would be nice to have this as a user-serviceable part, but doing so would cause problems for Apple as people would demand service after accidentally breaking their computers while trying to fix them. And honestly, problems crop up so infrequently that it's not really any more trouble to leave my computer at the local apple store for a day or two than it is to order a new hard drive and try and replace it anyway.

2) Hardware underpowered - what makes you say this? That may have been true a decade ago, but Apple hardware is very competitive these days. Generally the way it goes is when a product line is bumped, the Apple hardware is cheaper for the same power, then 6 months down the road it's slightly more expensive (as it hasn't changed price but the competition has bumped their own products). It all evens out in the end.

3) Weird configurations? What's weird about Apple's BTO system? Seems like fairly standard configurations to me.

4) Scratches easily - what systems are you buying, and what on earth are you doing to them? The only scratches on my Apple products are a couple scratches on the back of my iPhone, and that's because I wore it on my belt, back facing out for a month.

5) MacBooks don't have real GPU - well yeah, it's a consumer-level small laptop. If you want a GPU you need to shell out for the more expensive products, and that's not just an Apple thing. Gaming (or graphics workstation) machines have always been expensive.

6) Useless firewire instead of third USB - useless? I guess you don't buy good-quality external hard drives, or use good DV cameras. FireWire is a better technology than USB, and if you had a good external hard drive you'd appreciate the port. As for a third USB, how many different USB devices do you need to plug into a laptop? Hell, I have more firewire devices plugged into my desktop than USB devices.

7) iPods - crappy as they may be, they're relatively cheap, iconic, and most people don't mind. If you care that much about audio quality on the go, you've probably already invested in a pair of good headphones or inner-ear earbuds, so bundling higher-quality earbuds would just be a waste. As for a USB port, as long as you have your iPod cable with you, that big horizontal port on the bottom functions as a USB port. Adding a second "real" USB port to the device would a) be impossible without sacrificing something else, and b) go almost completely unused by 98% of the users.

You seem to have abnormally high expectations of Apple hardware. Maybe your usage patterns are extremely atypical, I don't know, but whatever the case, every aspect of the iPod was designed deliberately, and "fixing" it would require sacrifice somewhere else that I bet would impact you even more.

8) Software bad - are you kidding? Surely you are. You couldn't be this wrong, could you?

Safari is a wonderful browser. The only reason to use Firefox instead of Safari is for support for addons, and I doubt you're claiming Safari is "very bad" simply because it doesn't have addons. What's your beef here?

OS X is by far the best operating system out there. However, you detailed your issues in a separate post. As misguided as you are, if you're interested in my response to that post let me know and I'll comment there.

As for iTunes, I'd like to know why you think it's bad. Most people seem to prefer it, even over other well-known Windows music players.

Basically, you're insane.

phil bernstein said...

Hard drives are so 'last century', aren't they?

Not a number said...

> nobody else or nobody else cares about.

So they are problems, but through the magic of group think we should just ignore them and bask in Apple's core.

Tool.

taw said...

> how many different USB devices do you need to plug into a laptop?

Mouse, keyboard, external hard drive and iPod make four. And I'd still like to beable to connect extra devices every now and then without having to plug them out or to use an external USB hub. 2 USB ports is really horrible.

Lack of USB port on an iPod is a big problem, because you have to carry a nonstandard cable everywhere, and most people don't. If they at least had mini USB socket which uses standard cables it wouldn't be half the problem it is now.

Jay said...

The Macbook HD is definitely a serviceable/replaceable part along with the memory. In fact it's arguably the easiest laptop to service.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c6ckjy-gdY

al3x said...

I was extremely frustrated with Apple's corporate behavior and the state of their hardware and software before the release of Leopard. However, after shopping around for a competitive laptop and an operating system that delivered much of the same functionality, I was at a a loss.

PC hardware isn't competitive in price or performance; even PC magazines rank the MacBook Pro as one of the best notebooks to run XP or Vista. While Ubuntu has eased much of the pain of mobile Linux, features like solid wireless support, easy printing, and suspend-to-disk aren't universal on even the most Linux-friendly hardware. You can pay a premium for a fully-supported Linux notebook, but they're bulky and unattractive.

I understand your frustrations, but I'd just suggest taking out a few hours and seeing what your alternatives are. You might find a renewed appreciation for OS X and Apple's hardware.

Eridius said...

> Mouse, keyboard, external hard drive and iPod make four. And I'd still like to beable to connect extra devices every now and then without having to plug them out or to use an external USB hub. 2 USB ports is really horrible.

Why are you plugging a mouse and a keyboard into a laptop? If, like my mom, you do this when you're at your desk, then why not get a hub so you only have one cable to plug in when you sit down? Alternately, most keyboards act as hubs, so just plug your mouse into your keyboard - I do that myself.

As for external drive, unless it's a portable drive, you really should be using a firewire drive (I haven't seen any firewire portable drives yet, I guess people just aren't as concerned about performance with those drives).

That said, you described 4 different devices, and complained that the laptop had only 2 ports instead of 3. Even 3 ports wouldn't have been enough for you. Go buy a hub.

taw said...

I'm plugging mouse and keyboard into the laptop because Macbook does not have a builtin mouse or anything comfortable enough even for simple web browsing. It has a keyboard, but unless you have child-size hands and don't type much it's very uncomfortable.

No keyboard I've ever used, and right now I'm using one of the best keyboards in the world, was an USB hub. I don't think it's a very sensible thing to do adding more cables to the keyboard, as it's a device that should be freely movable within reasonable range from the computer.

USB external drives are much preferable to FireWire drives. For one they work with every computer, because vast majority of computers have USB ports, but relatively few have FireWire. And I'm not sure what kind of performance issues are you talking about - FireWire 400 in MacBook has slightly less bandwidth than USB 2.0 (400 MBit vs 480 Mbit), and in any case line transfer is not the bottleneck - the bottlenecks are actual hardware speed and OS-level filesystem caching (which by the way is much better on Linux than on OSX, on operations involving large number of small files I was getting speedups of 100:1 on the same hardware by switching to Linux. OSX isn't really a server OS, so for most people it isn't a big problem).

3 USB ports would be a big improvement over 2 ports because two devices (mouse and keyboard) must be connected all the time. Other devices (external hard drives, iPods, pendrives, printers and billions of other USB devices) can be plugged in and out without too much trouble. I wouldn't mind even more ports, but 3 is the smallest number that can be comfortably used without requiring an external USB hub (which I obviously have, as I use a Macbook).

Eridius said...

> And I'm not sure what kind of performance issues are you talking about - FireWire 400 in MacBook has slightly less bandwidth than USB 2.0 (400 MBit vs 480 Mbit)

I take it you aren't aware that while USB 2.0 is rated at 480 Mbps, that's burst speed, and steady throughput shows a performance drop, but FireWire's 400 Mbps is a steady rate.

Similarly, in FireWire the devices can negotiate among themselves to control the data transfer, while with USB 2.0 the computer has to act as the master. This means adding devices to a USB 2.0 bus slows everyone down, but adding devices to a FireWire bus does not.

In real-world speed tests, FireWire shows a marked improvement over USB 2.0. If you google "FireWire versus USB 2.0" the top several hits all contain performance comparisons with FireWire coming out the clear winner. Sure it's unscientific, but it hardly needs proving given the documented performance characteristics.

divide said...

> One of the most annoying things about laptops is that there's no way of fixing them on your own, even if it's something trivial like replacing a hard drive with a new one.

That's only true about some laptops (major brands mostly, had the same problem with a friend's Sony and guess what, the service center actually ruined the laptop totally (though it wasn't an authorized one and they warned that they could break it)). My Acer even has a separate flap on the back, so you're just three screws away from the HD.

kathy green said...

Man I love Macbook's but I feel for you. All notebooks suffer problems, my Dell's screen is f**ked right now. I am get a new MacBook Air as a replacement.

Chimbles said...

Jeez that thing is riddled with problems. Fortunately for me the hard drive didn't crap out yet… but the plastics are cracking, screen is flickering, power cord malfunctioning, and audio jack has a mind of its own. If it wasn’t for AppleCare I would say this is the worst product for its money, and that is unfortunate enough because Apple does put out some nice things.
Check out my blog, and you will thank your lucky stars that this is the only problem you have.

Take care,
Chimbles