Sour Apples


I’m a huge Apple fan. I love their products. I drink the Kool-Aid. I sometimes wander in to the Apple store just so I can drool.

But lately the effects of the Kool-Aid are starting to wear off.

My biggest beef is with Leopard, Apple’s new operating system. Leopard’s new features promised to bring a new level of productivity and flexibility to my computer experience. I’m a sucker for anything that saves time or makes me more productive, so I upgraded to Leopard almost immediately. I should have known better. Apple has a nasty habit of releasing operating systems before they are truly ready. I knew the upgrade would be klunky at first and I was prepared to encounter a few annoying bugs. I never expected this much disappointment.

Some examples…

Leopard was supposed to finally allow me to do screen-sharing between my studio computer and my laptop, from anywhere, with Apple’s trademark ease and elegance. It’s a new feature called “Back to my Mac”. Problem is, it doesn’t really work yet. Many users are reporting major problems, and I’m one of them. Currently screen sharing only works when I’m at home on my wi-fi network. It doesn’t work over the internet. Once I leave my home network, I lose the ability to access my studio computer wirelessly. Apple is apparently aware of the problem and they are working on it. But for now, screen and file sharing over the internet (at least for me) is a dud.

Leopard also has a new feature called Time Machine, which promised to automatically back up my computer quickly and easily, every hour with no hassles. That would be great….if it worked. Every time I launch Time Machine it backs up about 10GB of data, veeeery sloooowly, and then just quits. I’ve been hunting around online and a lot of other people are experiencing the same problem, but to my knowledge Apple has yet to offer a solution.

The third Leopard feature I was excited about is called Spaces. If you have a lot of windows open on your computer screen, Spaces helps cut down on the clutter by letting you organize the open windows by project. Hit a key and see only the windows related to one project. Hit another key and swoosh, you only see the open windows related to your next project, and so on. You can move back and forth between spaces with ease. Supposedly. I can’t get it to work. I can set up the spaces, but when I try to switch from one application to another I get bumped into another space.

I’m not the only one experiencing problems with Leopard. A glance at the Apple forums tells you there are an awful lot of Mac users wringing their hands.

If it was just Leopard, I’d shake my head and say, “Oh, that Apple.” But I’ve got other gripes as well. Safari, for instance. Apple’s web browser has a lot going for it. It’s easy to use, has great features, and syncs seamlessly with my other computers and my iPhone. But for some strange reason I’m finding more and more websites that Safari can’t handle. Adbase, the company that does my email promotional campaigns, doesn’t work with Safari. I have to use Firefox. I recently switched my website to a popular web hosting company and found out their site also doesn’t work in Safari, they recommend Firefox. Lately I’ve been listening to webinars from HOW magazine, but again they only work in Firefox. Even my blog posts have to be written in Firefox. Are all these companies going out of their way to make their websites incompatible with Safari, or is Safari just falling behind in the browser race?

Finally, even my iPhone is acting up. For some strange reason one of my email accounts suddenly stopped working on the iPhone. The iPhone is supposed to use port 110 to check my email, but for that one account it keept mysteriously resetting itself to port 26. Very strange.

To solve this bizarre mystery, I tried calling AppleCare (Apple’s tech support division). Guess what? AppleCare is only open between the hours of 6am and 6pm. How can a company with as many customers as Apple justify closing their tech support department at 6pm? Maybe Apple thinks their customers stop using their products after dinner. (I did eventually solve the problem, but I had to wipe-and-restore my iPhone to do it. To Apple’s credit, iTunes did automatically back up all my data first so I didn’t lose any photos, notes, etc.).

I’m sorry to rant like this. I know no product is perfect (especially in the world of computers), and in terms of ease and convenience Apple still has Windows in a half-nelson. And I’m sure that Apple will fix these bugs over the coming months, and I’ll probably go back to singing Apple’s praises. But my confidence in Apple is waning a bit.

Maybe it’s just me, and the rest of you Apple users aren’t having much trouble. I’m really not trying to bash Apple. Overall I still think they make the best computer products available anywhere, and I’m happy to see that they are gaining in popularity.

But Apple, please don’t sell me an operating system that only sort of kinda works, some of the time, maybe. Take the time to get the major kinks ironed out, THEN I’ll gladly fork over my hard-earned cash.

For now, I would advise Mac users to wait a few months before upgrading to Leopard. Unless you enjoy banging your head on your computer desk.