kung fu grippe

  1. In Nomine Jobs, et Woz, et Spiritus Schiller

    Maybe it depends on the pew you’re sitting in.

    To developers, uber-nerds, and sundry people I love and admire (Snell and Siracusa and Gruber and Neven and on and on and on), Snow Leopard must feel like a game-changer. Because it IS. It literally is.

    In addition to adding lots of the infinitesimally small, near-non-existent tweaks that only hyper-nerds notice or care about (and which helps us Apple dorks each feel extra special for “noticing”), 10.6 introduces a handful of unbelievably useful things that will help smart people make the next generation of applications on the most promising OS platform that exists today. Taken as read. Done. Boom.

    But there’s also the sad, sorry bastards like me. The laity. The “Power Users.”

    I’ve lived on a Mac every day since January of nineteen hundred and eighty-seven, and I know how to make this thing do some shit that would curl your hair. But, I’m NOT a developer. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t know an NSWhateverTheFuck from a Nib from a .plist from a .DS_Store. No idea. And THAT’s how I likes it.

    For better or worse, I AM several other things.

    For one, I’m a guy writing a book on deadline. Which guy dislikes it when his right hand crashes unexpectedly with a generic memory error for 2 or 3 days.

    I’m also a ham and egg graphics guy who dislikes that (a supposedly up to date copy of) Photoshop CS 3 crashes on save. That one was hilarious.

    I’m also a demi-nerd user of Quicksilver — an app that, I’ll stipulate, lives out its final days in palliative care, more dead than alive. Still. It’s responsible for a giant amount of how I do what I do and now it’s not working. It’s basically dead unless I upgrade and wipe the App Support folder whose 5 years of usage == what makes QS useful at all. And, YES! You are correct. I cannot, by any reasonable technologist’s point of view, blame that on Snow Leopard. And I don’t. But it’s true. It worked before, now it doesn’t, and the Lord giveth as the Lord taketh (my triggers) away. Dominy, dominy. Peace be with you.

    Plus, I’m other things too. Including a 1-person IT staff who accepts that he has to stop doing real work for a day and a half in order to make sure that a new point-something OS upgrade is working properly on five (5) computers in two locations.

    Nota bene: That is just so much more difficult than it sounds. Believe me. Taking into account Dot-Me, Back to My Mac, Dropbox, and on and on and on. It’s…nuts. The no-maintenance “cloud” is a myth that only holds up under the influence of the heady radon fumes in your Mom’s basement. Even when everything’s working flawlessly: safe, secure, AND dependable multi-box maintenance is crazy, quantum, fractal hard.


    I accept the catholic, mediated experience of being a Mac and OS X user with unapologetic gusto. Partly because all of this sect’s ecclesiastical asterisks are big and clear and printed in Myriad Pro 10,000 on a giant, wall-sized placard that everybody sees and understands:

    • Here’s what this does
    • Here’s what this doesn’t do
    • There’s no catches or weasel words
    • You pay us a little more for
      • impeccable design,
      • insanely great build quality, and
      • an assurance that you won’t find your iDick in a door on day zero

    So, my problem right now is that my beloved church and I aren’t seeing eye to eye. They want me to see a big update that has ramifications beyond the “Yeah, yeah, something, something, press release” stuff like “Innovative Chinese Character Input.”

    Whereas I want what I’ve always wanted: a computer that fucking works. Without asterisks. Or (and this was so okay with me in 10.5) I want a feature set that is so distractingly gorgeous and giant-nippled that I’m not noticing that every dot-something upgrade is precisely as enjoyable and carefree as inserting one-third of a Tic-Tac into a fresh anal fissure.

    Also. Amendment: I want five computers that fucking work. Without asterisks. (Ibid re. fissures, etc.)

    Thing is, when I try to mention how this latest little codicil of Vatican II has inserted some batshit insanity that’s so not working for me, I get the stink eye from all the big boys in the red robes and coney hats.


    "Yeah. A lot of stuff is suddenly broken for me."

    "Did you know how much time and effort was put into making this OS innovative and subtly enhanced?"

    "Yes. I read about that. But my apps keep crashing. Like, a lot."

    "What apps, Mr. Mann?"

    "Lots of them. Ones I use a lot. Almost seems like the developers of some super-popular apps were testing against a different build. It’s weird."


    "Yes. Totally. Crashy crash crash crash. It’s bananas."

    "Did you know how much innovation and subtle refinement this new release represents?"

    "Like I say, yeah. It’s fast. It’s efficient. It’s slightly prettier.”


    "Yeah. Very slightly. It’s fine. But a bunch of my shit is broken (on 5 machines) so now I’m blowing time trying to track down updates (on 5 machines) plus miming through all the usual dot-something kabuki of re-entering serials (on 5 machines) and re-okaying launchd preferences (on 5 machines) and re-approving firewall permissions (on 5 machines). It’s a tremendous amount of hassle given that I’m mostly doing it just to stay up to date (on 5 machines).”


    "Yes. Really."

    "Have you tried rebuilding the Desktop and trashing your MacTCP prefs?"

    "Why are you fucking with me, Cardinal Cupertino?"


    I’m glad the OS X platform is thriving. I’m thrilled that many of the most talented developers have flocked toward a tree that used to feel utterly leafless and lonesome (As late as 1999: “What? Print from your ‘MacinToy?’ Here? In an adult’s office? Hippie, are you fucking high?”).

    I’m dazed and delighted every day to see millions and millions of people using products by a company that nobody I knew but me used to patronize.

    That’s all swell. So swell.

    What’s not swell is being hazed into agreeing that this has been a smooth release that benefits end-users as thoroughly as developers and nerds. That’s fucked up.

    Stuff is broken. And companies are still scrambling to push out half-finished updates to help their users keep the lights on. Is no one else but me seeing this? (Reeeeeeeeallllllllly?)

    As I’ve said, I hate arguing about software, But, I also hate being shouted down for having the temerity to say something that doesn’t happen to benefit my friends whose living turns on Apple’s public reputation and success. That’s not a slam, but it is a warning shot, and I’ll tell you why.

    Because when you start ignoring the boring, positively eye-rolling problems of dumb users in favor of supporting a party line about “Enhanced Features,” you move a little bit closer to the tone of a company outside Seattle that a lot of us love to rag for employing exactly the same kind of scalable nonsense. (“Did you install the Service Pack then reinstall all your applications then circumcise a newborn ram on the registry? WELL? Well, there’s your problem. Asshole.”)

    Yes, I will update my apps on five computers. Yes, I will buy or borrow as many rubber chickens as I need to return all my preferences that have magically albeit subtly disappeared. Yes, the new Dock is pretty. Yes, I can’t wait to see all the cool apps people build using the extra gigawatts afforded by the 64-bit flux capacitor.

    But, fucking A, guys. I realize you’re having a big, beardy lemon party about all these homeopathically non-obvious new features, but come on.

    Don’t wag your finger at people like me for pointing out shit that shipped empirically broken. Let’s not conduct an auto de fe on the heretics who pose sensible, relevant, and acceptably reverent questions about whether parallelization is literally the body of Christ. Even when the screen hangs for 40 seconds for no Godly reason.

    Cardinal, sir: your communion has bugs in it. And while that doesn’t mean I won’t eat it, you damn sure better not put all the rosaries on my penance. That’s just…not Christian.