When the Faith Falters

I’m in trouble.

It’s been seven years since I committed myself to the cause. In that time I have been transformed, seen incredible new things, and brought others to an understanding of the true way while rejoicing at their accepting this wonderful rebirth.

But now, it seems, my walk is faltering…inside are doubts I can’t suppress or ignore…my faith is beginning to fade.

How did it come to this? Oh Apple, why have thou forsaken me?

I think it began with the iPad.

The future, today!

Thanks to a generous birthday gift I was able to experience the new technology sensation shortly after it launched here in the UK back in 2010. I was immediately in love. The elegant dance of information beneath my fingers beguiled my skeptical mind and left me with the profound sensation that I was engaging with the future. It seemed a million miles from the Sinclair Research ZX Spectrum that had initially filled me with wonder all those years ago.

All was well until the release of it’s younger sibling twelve months later. I saw no need to upgrade as the addition of a camera was of no interest and the speed of my original iPad was more than satisfactory.  Then I tried to download the newly released iMovie and discovered that it was not available for my tablet. Surely there was some mistake? I was on the cutting edge – probably for the first time in my life – how could my hardware already be redundant? Then other non-iPad 1 apps started to appear…it had begun.

I comforted myself with the thoughts that I probably wouldn’t have used them anyway, and my iPad was still the brilliant machine that it always had been. The pain subsided, I learned to live within my reduced but still rich digital environment and the hurt passed into memory.

Then Apple did it again.

The future, once more...

iOS 5 sounded wonderful. The ability to have my documents synced between the iPad and my MacBook without any kind of fiddling around with importing or exporting was the kind of seamless thing I expected from the Cupertino boffins. And now here it was, all for the princely sum of nothing at all!

Only things weren’t quite how they seemed.

Within a short time of upgrading I noticed that my once very stable tablet was now crashing…a lot. Once it even locked up and required a reboot – something I’d hardly ever experienced in my time among the fruit people. The cause? iOS 5. Forums were alive with similar stories and the only fix it seemed was to wipe the disk and start again, then disable the iCloud settings. I duly did this and, in a fashion, it worked although my machine does still crash more than it used to – plus I can’t use the syncing feature for fear of the whole thing breaking again. I wasn’t even given the option of returning to the previous version of the iOS that worked perfectly with the iPad 1 because Apple don’t look back, only forward.

Then I discovered that upgrading my Macbook to the newly released OSX Lion would be problematic because its limited 2gb of internal memory means it will struggle to cope, plus the trackpad only supports two finger gestures which means it will miss most of the benefits that Lion offers.

So instead of a brave new world I was given a slightly more broken one. Not quite what I had hoped for.

Now I find myself in that awkward time when my main machine (the aforementioned old white Macbook) is beginning to show signs of age and will possibly need upgrading within the next year. But for the first time in a long, long time I’m actually finding myself question whether I want to pay premium prices for something that might be reduced to second-class citizenship a damn sight faster than I’d like. I’ve never regretted buying anything from Apple. Since my conversion I’ve bought and used heavily an iBook, Macbook, iPod touch Gen1, iPod  Gen5, iPod Shuffle, iPad, and Apple TV. All of which have been brilliant. But as times get tougher my eyes are starting to wander.

The problem I’m faced with (and I realise that in the grand scheme of things it’s a trifling one) is that buying something new from Apple these days has the strange effect of making you feel obsolete so very quickly. I fully accept that the thing that makes them great is that they push forward all the time, but if you’re like me and only earn a modest income that precludes you from buying a new model every two years then it can get strangely depressing. Has it always been like this? I don’t remember it as such.

The thing is I can’t go back to Windows. I just can’t. So where does that leave me?

The fabled 'Third' way...

In recent months I’ve started exploring the idea of Linux….and it’s quite interesting. Sure it doesn’t have the simplicity of OSX, nor the beauty. But it does actually work, is free, and because of it’s home-brew nature doesn’t leave you in the dust only months after you’ve paid a fortune for something. I don’t know if I’ll be able to withstand the constant fixing that it will no doubt require, but I’m finding the fresh environment, the surprising fun of reconnecting with the workings of a system, and the frontier attitude genuinely refreshing. How long this will last I don’t know. Those MacBook Airs are mighty tempting. But at least here I can enjoy the idea of salvaging old machines rather than saving for new ones…

What do you think?

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9 thoughts on “When the Faith Falters”

  1. I coundn;t agree more mate. I’m so angry with apple that iCloud wont work on OX 10.6 (Snow Leopard). I’ve been using MobileMe for last 3 yrs and it has been perfect – it will cease to work form June and I will have to use iCloud.

    I would like to upgrade to Lion but the cost of uprading the software that my business relies on to be Lion-compatible would be around £2000!

    Apple used to have a policy of maintaining both the current and the previous OS but in its greed to force people to purchase new hardware it seems that if you cant afford to Upgrade to Lion you are left in the cold. Part of the attraction of Apple hardware is that it lasts far longer that cheap PCs so Apple is shooting itself in the foot. However Linux or Windows is not a serious option – Apple (and Adobe) will eventually be getting my cash but losing the love.

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    1. Running a business that requires expensive software must be a bit of a nightmare. I’m only dealing with home-level stuff – one of the advantages of being a writer for a living is that basically all tech works for my essential needs.

      It does seem to have become some kind of crazy arms race in that last few years though. The iPad feeling obsolete within a year left me stunned. I still love it, but have begun to suspect that Apple is deliberately adopting this policy to make you upgrade. The iPhone 4 can run Siri (hackers have made it run) and whereas it won’t be as good as on the iPhone 4S they could at least offer a lite version for their customers. The same stands for iMovie.

      I wonder what the release of iPad 3 in March will bring?

      Strange days for Apple fans…

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  2. Wow. I haven’t had Apple tech for a while, but it sounds like they’re starting to follow the same path that PC hardware and software have both been on for ages: a constant upgrading as the new model becomes what everyone needs mere moments after they’ve purchased the old model. Granted, he was still alive for some of this, but I have the feeling that at this point Steve Jobs is spinning in his grave.

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    1. Does sound rather familiar. I don’t know if it’s just a particularly transitionary time due to the advent of tablets and new low-power chips. Maybe things will settle down again once the hardware begins to plateau for a while?

      My mate and I recently bought a second hand Mac tower to finish our latest album but discovered afterwards that it was a transitional model as Apple moved from PCI connectors to PCIE. Trying to get our soundcard working with it proved impossible. We took it to a specialist and they told us that this was a ‘lost generation’ machine that no-one bothered to develop drivers for and has thus become somewhat useless – at least for the task we needed. Of course we should have researched much deeper than we did, but we trusted in the brand and the fact that it was a model a couple of years on from our current one.

      Technology changes at a great pace, and innovation goes with it, but I think consumers should be protected from this pace a bit more than they currently are. Especially when you’re paying premium prices.

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  3. I’ve only just found this blog (from your tweeted link to the newest post).

    I’m not clear from you article on whether you’ve already installed Linux on a PC, of if you’re just toying with the idea, but at this point I’d recommend it for a non-geek in a way that I wouldn’t have a few years ago. Ubuntu is the way to go — scores highest on the It Just Works meter. And as you know, you can get a very powerful machine for much, much less money than the equivalent Mac.

    Only word of caution would be this: hardware manufacturers typically provide Windows drivers along with their devices, but not always Linux drivers. So if you install on a whizzy new laptop, it may have a video chipset or network adaptor or something that doesn’t work out of the box with the standard Linux drivers. If that happens, you’re in for a world of pain doing the sort of low-level grubbing around that we used to do on Linux laptops all the while back in 2001 🙂

    But if you buy non-bleeding-edge hardware — anything a year old or more — you should be OK.

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    1. Hey Mike,

      I did indeed dabble. I ran Ubuntu 11.10 for a few months and really liked it. I’ve had to change the machine to a Windows one for the moment, but it will go back to a dedicated Linux box in the near future – 12.04 this time.

      There’s no doubt that the whole system is very user friendly. Installing was easy and the software centre is a brilliant way to get new programs. Google Chrome also gave me access to lots of apps that can replace many of the dedicated ones I use on my Mac, opening the world up even further. I ran into trouble with tar.bz files but the forums helped me work it out. The issues with laptops is a little daunting, especially as they rarely let you test anything in shops, but Leo Laporte experimented with Ubuntu on the new Dell XPS Ultrabooks and said everything worked fine….shame it’s still so expensive.

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      1. Oh, yes, of course — I’d forgotten that non-Linux people aren’t used to Ubuntu’s Software Centre and similar. Also relevant are high-quality free desktop applications such as GIMP (which I use in place of PhotoShop), InkScape and of course LibreOffice. All of those are available for Windows, but more of a pain to install.

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