3.4 Megabytes. That’s all. From your laptop to my laptop. It isn’t so much to ask, is it?
Here’s the hilarious[?] story of how the latest and greatest in Apple innovation prevented me from acquiring one MP3 file.
I was on my way out of my client’s house – van already packed with equipment and phone plugged in with directions going. I went back inside to grab my backpack and say farewell, and remembered the MP3 needed for the concert the next morning that was still on my client’s laptop. No matter, I’ll just pop in a USB drive…
USB-C only. And no dongles to be found. Hmm okay, I’ll use one of my SD cards… oh wait there’s no card reader either on the new MacBook Pro. ONLY USB-C and a headphones jack. No matter, that’s why they created Air Drop…
AirDrop doesn’t work very well for me and never has, with any of my various computers or phones on Mac OS nor iOS. I don’t know if it works for any of you, but its success is inconsistent for me. It has worked enough times to tease me into thinking of it as an option, but has never pulled through in a dire circumstance when I really need some data. So what does the monkey do? Try it: My computer appeared on AirDrop for a moment, feigned a connection, and then disappeared again. My phone showed up though! Not that I asked it to, nor that the “best iPhone ever made” is capable of storing MP3’s outside of proprietary Apple software. Maybe Google or Apple Drive would have worked, but that would require a login in which case I might as well just email it to myself. But first let me try…
File transfer via internet to my remote computer. I have it powered on during the day so that I can access a computer from my phone and backup my personal data offsite. It comes in handy for all kinds of things. So from my client’s computer I did a quick AFP connection, which always works for me, except today. It connected to my machine just fine, but wouldn’t show me any directories beyond the User folder, so I couldn’t initiate the file transfer. (Mac OS 10.13 showed me full WiFi bars but in retrospect it seemed that the connection was actually weak.) So when all else fails, emails!
Email is simple and easy! I opened private window to login to my email, to email the file to myself. HOWEVER. I signed in from my client’s computer where the file existed, and Apple wanted to verify it was truly me. Thank goodness nobody had stolen my phone from my van during the debacle or else I wouldn’t have been able to run back outside to access my special verification code. Meanwhile, “turn left on…”
Once I was back in the house with the code, it took a good 5 minutes to upload the massive 3.4 megabyte MP3. I’m pretty confident that this whole endeavor would have taken less time had I no other options than a 56k dial-up modem. Said another way, if this had been 1996, it would have been faster and easier to acquire the MP3. Granted, that the weak WiFi signal strength isn’t Apple’s fault, but I did learn that their continuing standard of providing less information is now encompasses WiFi signal display that showed me full bars.
20 minutes after I had begun, I finally [mostly] had the file… in the cloud, ready for me to download later.
Here’s a great photo from a later session, and what was required to transfer 15GB of audio recordings to my client’s computer, via UNIVERSAL serial bus. We waited 30 minutes for it to transfer at 8MB/sec. So happy to enjoy 1998 speeds on a 2018 MacBook Pro.
Part Two – Apple Don’t Care ‘Bout You
It’s not just that I want to rant and feel indignant; there is a real degradation of functionality that fuels my piss-poor attitude.
I have a theory about Apple in particular – but it extends to the entire tech industry, and it is this: They are no longer selling function, they are selling feeling. And by feeling, I mean dopamine. Dopamine is the fast-acting feel-good drug that your body supplies for instantaneous pleasure. For over a decade I have felt that the functionality I enjoyed and relied upon in my computing experience has been limited or removed entirely. I’m talking about workflow, predictability/repeatability; minor efficiencies that add up to big time, and the like. Take it for granted that as a pro-user of Apple interfacing and workflow, my ability to perform efficiently has been compromised over the past decade of their “developments”. And why?
• keyboard takes about 300ms to become functional after changing windows, applications, or Spaces. Resulting in copy, paste, and typing errors.
• Window open and close graphics making it difficult to work fast with multiple files.
• Age old commands being re-allocated: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to “Make alias” instead of “make aLias”, and ended up minimizing the window, which requires cursor-input to undo.
• Removal of flexibilities: user library hidden; “Save As…” functions limited, and then severely limited; Windows media codecs; MIDI tone generator;
• iTunes – don’t even get me f***ing started
• File label colors becoming dots that don’t display prominently
• File system search (why is it so goddamn hard to just search file names? Stop hiding results in “delicate” directories, stop searching the web!!). I sure miss Sherlock.
• By default, not allowing applications I’ve installed (i.e. not installed by App Store) to run? Get bent.
Apple didn’t become engorged with riches by developing superior products for professionals. They were certainly doing that successfully in their earliest days through the early 2000’s. But when a corporation must serve first the demand of quarterly profits for shareholders, it no longer can serve the consumer. And if that’s the case, then what’s the best method to secure continuous profits? Ask your local drug dealer – get your clients addicted. Addiction is fueled by dopamine, and your iPhone is riddled with hundreds of fun little tricks to make your slave of a body squirt it out – from the plethora of delightful sound effects signaling social interaction, the haptic feedback from your home button, and the swirly swooshing of ever-less intuitive interfaces; to the allure of even-bester technological capabilities, greater tools for self-glorifying image generation, and being sexily slimmed down with even fewer tactile buttons and connections than was ever reasonable in the previous generation. It is my genuine belief that they are engineering to stimulate our pleasure senses – not to make a great product. If making an addictive product happens to turn out a good or useful feature once in awhile, then that’s a happy coincidence. But it’s no longer a guiding principle.
I use Apple products almost exclusively in my computing needs, though I have entirely lost the Neomania I used to feel for them in the 90’s and early 2000’s. I think they, like so much of the capitalist regime, have become entirely disingenuous and hungry only for profit; no longer hungry to better the world. The computer user-interface has changed functions: Apple is the user, and we are the used.