gpollice

Is the Apple core starting to rot?

In Software, Technology on March 17, 2012 at 7:18 pm

After restarting my MacBook Pro for the third time today because the screen didn’t turn on when I opened the cover after shutting it for a while, I’m beginning to wonder whether Apple has jumped the shark, so to speak. This isn’t the only “wart” that has begun to show up since I installed OS X Lion last week during term break. There was the time that I shut the cover and the processor didn’t go to sleep. By the time I got home and took the fan was humming and the processor temperature was up around 180°F.

Installing Lion was simple. Download it from the App Store and in about an hour the system was up and running. Now, Apple has always been the epitome of systems that are intuitive and just do what you expect of them. But somethings just don’t feel quite right or work as well as one would expect. None of these are big things, but the little things that start to go wrong can often be harbingers of bigger things to come.

First, when I got to school I had to re-approve the use of the wireless certificate. That’s the only certificate that I have had this happen with. I’m not sure why.

Next, I had to set up my desktop background photo selection and the rate of change several times before it “took.” When I say that it “took” I mean that some of the desktops that I use would suddenly show a background from the Apple set of images rather than the APerture album that I had selected. And, no matter what I did short of deleting the desktop, I couldn’t get it to change back until I rebooted the system.

One of my colleagues at work has a MacBook that he’s starting to use to do some development. He has Lion installed on it. We had to install Xcode on it so he could get the C compiler needed to install Ruby. This used to be pretty simple. Now, installing Xcode doesn’t seem to be sufficient. You have to also go through a few gyrations to actually install the command line tools. No big deal, but once again annoying.

The system just doesn’t feel quite right. There are just these small things that make me wonder whether the care about details has lessened since Steve Jobs isn’t there to browbeat the company into submission over the details. One final example is the look of the Finder sidebar. There used to be a little bit of color applied to the special folders, like Applications and Downloads. Now, the sidebar is color-free. Searching the Web located several articles on ow to restore this using the SIMBL plugin. One problem is that you have to kill the Finder and restart it every time you want to have the color icons in the sidebar.

There may be over 200 new features in Lion, but they took a step backwards on some, in my opinion. When I worked for Digital Equipment Corporation for a couple of reasonably unhappy years of my career, I remember Ken Olsen, the CEO telling us that we’d tell the customers what they wanted. He was wrong. DEC told them, but it wasn’t what they wanted, nor needed. DEC had been wildly successful, but started to believe their own press and ended up not giving customers what they wanted or needed and the world overtook them.

Now, I’m not saying that this is what’s happening with Apple. Certainly Steve Jobs told the customers what they wanted. Usually, he was right. He definitely understood the customers they were going after. Developers, like me, are not the main customer base for Apple. But, they have done a good job of giving us developers a good set of tools; especially now that they have a Linux-based OS. Jobs had a vision and he carried it out. The music world, mobile platforms, and many other things changed because he said that it was what people would want—and he was right. I hope Apple can keep doing this.

But, with the Lion experience that I’m having, I just have this nagging feeling that there a little bit of rot creeping into the apple. I hope they can stop it from expanding.

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  1. The basic element of Greek tragedy is that our greatest weakness is also our greatest strength. Apple’s hubris is deep in its DNA, just as DEC’s engineering orientation was in its.
    For Apple, the things that it decides to do well, it does really, really well. If something isn’t on the To Do Well list, you’re in trouble. I spent a long time on the phone with an elderly Mac user who couldn’t find the Enter key on her keyboard. For a time, Apple decided that the Return was the proper name, forgetting that many novice computer users might not know how to equate the two functions.
    The cliffs are steep along the edges of this happy path.
    For example, my Air wouldn’t automatically reconnect to my home wireless network. Help wasn’t helpful. A bit of Googling turned up this solution: (http://is.gd/KqOIO6)
    Open System Preferences.
    Click Network.
    Select the Wi-Fi interface and click the Advanced button.
    Click the TCP/IP tab.
    Click the “Renew DHCP lease” button.
    Sleep and wake the computer to test.
    Click the Wi-Fi tab of the advanced AirPort interface (in System Preferences -> Network -> Wi-Fi -> Advanced).
    View the customer’s Preferred Networks list.
    Remove each Preferred Network from the list by selecting that network and clicking the minus (-) button.
    Remove stored AirPort network passwords using the Keychain Access Utility.
    Open Keychain Access from /Applications/Utilities.
    Remove all AirPort network passwords from the login keychain.
    Remove all AirPort network passwords from the System keychain.
    Note: The above steps will remove your customer’s Wi-Fi network passwords. If the customer does not know them or if their network does not use passwords to restrict access, have the customer contact their network administrator before performing these steps.
    Navigate to /Library/Preferences and move the System Configuration folder to the desktop. Important: Do not move this folder to the Trash and do not delete this folder.
    Restart the computer.
    Join the Wi-Fi network. The customer will need to enter their password for their network again, if it requires one.

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