My love/hate relationship with Apple.

2003-06-01 21:06

I love Apple. Their computers “just work” most of the time. OS X is more stable than anything I’ve ever used except NetBSD and BSD/OS. OS X is pretty, for all that most of the time I’d rather it wasn’t.

I hate Apple. When a Mac doesn’t work, you are fucked. No documentation. No help. The “help” is so embarassingly, painfully, stupid and irrelevant that I sort of wonder if it’s intended as a joke. There IS no real documentation; on the rare occasions when there’s man pages, they’re out of date, and laughably so. Most things just aren’t documented.

Right now, I’m using my spouse’s powerbook as a drive on my desktop system; I booted it as an external firewire drive so I could run the commands I need to run to make the system bootable.

Behold the synthesis: It just works. I plug it in, turn it on, hold down ‘T’, and it comes up as a firewire disk. That’s wonderful.

But I only have to do it because the documentation on how to make a “bootable” disk is so unbelievably sparse, and the OS install CD’s won’t let you actually RUN THE SYSTEM – they’ll only let you run the Installer. No way to get a shell prompt and run the single command you need, for instance.

This is, for the record, my third hardware failure in just over a week. My laptop’s hard drive blew. Beautiful, perfect, catastrophic failure, drive utterly unusable. I got all my data off of it – and, amusingly, it actually failed after full weekly backups of the important stuff. On further study, it worked fine except when it had been on for more than about 20-30 minutes; just overheating… but that’s unusable, so in under warranty service it went. Then my spouse’s laptop started acting up – similar symptoms, but I think it’s actually sticking, because at least once I’ve gotten it to move by tapping it right next to the drive. :) And finally, my Mac crashed – twice. I think I’ve isolated that to a heat problem.

See, my Mac lives in a cabinet which is clearly designed to hold a tower-style computer. And of course, there are slight ventilation issues… The shelf above it is about 3/4” less deep than the whole cabinet, so if I keep it flush with the cabinet face, hot air escapes easily, and the Mac stays running. But our stupid cat, Bacchus, loves to jump up on that shelf… and, as you would guess, ends up pushing it back in. I hope that’s it; it could also be new memory, or related to the mysterious “if I install the new dev tools, I get internal compiler errors” problems I’ve had.

As they say, a love/hate relationship. When it works, it’s beautiful. When it doesn’t work, it’s awful.

Peter Seebach



  1. Love is a path to the heart that knows its own way.

    — Lamar Cole · 2005-10-15 10:01 · #