Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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iPod / Apple woes

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I recently observed my iPod doing some ‘disk check’ thing. That’s even documented as some looking around revealed. But why did the iPod need to do this? In which situations is this check invoked? Do I need to worry? In particular as said check happened again yesterday. Anything wrong with my hard drive? (Is it normal that an iPod resets itself, i.e. displays the Apple logo for ages when wanting to use it, frequently, btw? After which period of inactivity is that supposed to happen?) – All questions which should be answered in the manual which once more appears to be a rather pointless waste of tree.

Browsing around Apple’s fora for a bit, I could once more indulge in the utterly competent community of Apple customers. Apparently the iPod skips tracks when it is shaken too much (a behaviour I saw as well). Mostly this seems to happen when people are jogging. And it only seems to 3G iPods. But despite many people reporting the problem, Apple once more prefers to ignore the problem. What’s the point of having a (expensive even) MP3 player if you’re not allowed to shake it? [Funnily the typical zealots were quick to suggest ‘bad running style’ as a cause for this problem - tssss]. I want to shake my iPod as much as I like and still have good playback.

Reading a bit more, people seem to have observed that Apple seem to have covered their asses by simply not using any references to using your iPod while doing sports in their promotional material anymore (which they did before). Now that’s clever! And pissing people off. Personally I’d still take the stance that I saw those people jump a lot with their iPods in the ‘silhouette’ ads, and that’s exactly what I want to do.

And while I am at it, let me do some additional whining. Another thing frequently driving me mad about the iPod is the following: Playing an album, the iPod will only be able to cache a fraction of it, which is fine. But when skipping forwards, it will have to spin-up the hard drive to load the coming songs. And while spinning up the drive it freezes. In particular this means it will register all of your input for a few seconds but not give any feedback on it. Surely it could display the title names of forthcoming tracks even when the songs themselves aren’t loaded – thus enabling you to skip to wherever you want to go immediately without waiting once more for oh-so-fast gee-whiz high-tech to keep up with your puny human input speed.

Everything I describe here may be little glitches, but seeing that the iPod is all about being polished and nice, those are important. Some broken windows if you wish. Or as John Gruber could be rephrased – if your computer has a ‘network neighbourhood’ it’s most likely a bad one – claiming that many of the annoying problems on Windows are due to the users not caring while on the Mac, people care much more and thus software vendors don’t get away with equally grave bugs or annoyances.

John plays with a few of the typical apologies made by Windows-zealots. About market share and such things. On the market share point two things can be said: First, it’s likely that market share is a liability for Windows. Not only can viri spread more quickly. It also has many users, in corporate offices say, who couldn’t care less about their computers. If it’s broken some tech-bloke will come and fix it. If you’re having more people who consider their computers as personal computers, however (which can also happen in offices, but most likely not when you’re only using them for dull accounting activities), people will more easily feel personally insulted and more personally threatened by bad software. And hence they care more. Of course it also has to be made clear that just because Windows and its user base being a more fertile breeding ground for bad and even malicious software isn’t an excuse for software to be bad. Just because you know you can get away with speeding in a residential area, still doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.

Second, while the Mac may not have the same problem of a huge indifferent user base, I wouldn’t say that Mac users are a priori care- and clueful. Why should they be? Everyone can buy a Mac. You don’t even need to be rich to have one these days.

John closes by saying And Mac users don’t tolerate shit. I think he’s wrong on that. While there may be more vocal people around in the Mac community who closely watch the quality of software, I’d say that most people don’t care as long as they’re not inconvenienced too much. And the fact that Apple is not only notoriously tacit or in denial about potential problems but has been getting away with it for the past decades suggests that Mac users tolerate shit rather well. There are more than enough broken windows around on the Mac.

Music for the occasion (WTF?! The best songs are missing on iTMS’ ‘partial’ offering of the album.)

June 5, 2004, 18:50

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