waffle

Waffle is a weblog.
The author of Waffle, some guy in Sweden, also occasionally writes stmts.net.

Lately on Waffle

Mace Slipup

Mace Slipup is what you get if you rearrange the letters of Apple Music, and that’s just about what it feels like to use it too, sometimes. Burning, itching and meant to save your life but instead making it messier.

I will admit to being a late convert to the benefits of listen-to-anything-at-anytime-without-playing-the-DMCA-“no-Copyright-intended“-YouTube-lottery. Spotify is headquartered not too far from where I live, but I have tried to avoid streaming services in general and ones owned by labels in particular.

It is fun, convenient and still gives me a bit of the sense of living in the future (or, as some would have it, in 2011) where nearly everything is available in a celestial jukebox. And then it turns out that this is still something 1. somewhat hastily thrown together by people who 2. build iTunes, 3. have forgotten most user interface usability principles and 4. under the auspices of people who are artists but not kept in check. Apologies in advance to anyone in the Apple Music team who reads this and had to butt heads just to get it to the point it is right now.

People normally sold on more or less everything Apple – people, indeed, through which Apple leak their event preannouncements – have tried and simply given up. The thing eats people’s files. I keep backups and I avoid turning on iCloud Music Library, so I thought I was safe, but in the year I’ve been using it, it’s been pulling down duplicates of things I bought on iTunes ages ago and inserting them as new entries at the top of my library (sorted descended by Date Added). On iOS, it has “very helpfully” restored some ugly-as-fuck album art that I “Got Info” on ages ago and deleted the album art from. And just a few days ago, it seems to have re-checked a bunch of albums and songs that I for various reasons have unchecked through the ages. (Every song in iTunes has a checkbox, and if you uncheck it it won’t be played unless you manually start playing it. If iTunes is to Winamp/VLC what Excel is to TextEdit/Notepad, imagine silent data loss in the form of formatting, value or formula changes in spreadsheets. Heads would roll.)

Volumes have been written on iTunes’ steady decline. The only reason I persist in using it is because it’s still mostly the good jukebox app and acceptable podcast player it’s been for years. But if it’s news to anyone inside Apple at this point that the moss of complexity and mounting demands to become a fridge—freezer—toaster—shower—18–wheeler–balance—ice–dispenser has eaten the app and shit out the slow-loading, rotund 302 MB memory hog currently in my Applications folder, a pink slip should be contemplated, and the phrase Reality Distortion Field could find new relevance.

Someone needs to sit down and note the 40 or so good ideas about iTunes and build it over again from the ground up. Someone needs to smoothly extend it to where it can also play music from Apple Music and the iTunes Store (with “Buy to keep” buttons on all songs where licensing so allows, and it is ridiculous that it sometimes won’t), and someone needs to take to heart the firm principle of Just Keep My Fucking Music Library Intact or I’ll Fucking Cut You.

I think the odds of this happening are slim to none. It would make me happy and both preserve and restore the utility of a once well-made app, so it seems like the usual asking Apple for a unicorn. Watch as this year’s WWDC is about doing the exact opposite of these things instead.

Hard Ware

It turns out that hardware is not software.

iPhones bend, although not easily, They crack and stop working and some don’t come off the assembly line right. The first iPhone 3G I bought could take five minutes of touches before becoming unresponsive and had to be swapped immediately.

But iPhones do not melt in people’s pockets because the Apple Aluminium service is experiencing downtime or when you, horror of horrors, leave continental USA. If something is wonky you can generally tell just by holding them. Jony Ive and the design team fondle them (their iOS devices, that is) in their hands for thousands of hours before they say go.

Hardware is not easy, but it is simple. It is set in one shape and doesn’t change, except for accessories on the outside and software on the inside. And of hardware and software, only hardware determines the indomitable schedule. Work your asses off to ship what needs to be shipped, and then it’s off to the races with the next product. I’m not going to say that every product is handled like this all the time, but it probably doesn’t help.

Ever since I upgraded (cranks are reminded to add their air quotes here) to El Capitan, dragging something towards the top of the screen is an exercise in frustration, and dragging something to the menu bar in order to cancel the drag is a gesture set in muscle memory that I’m struggling to unlearn. Whenever you get close, Mission Control springs to life. Mission Control is great, if you have five windows open. If you have between 10 or 20 apps open and several of them have state-restoration, let’s-restore-everything, Quit-doesn’t-mean-clean-slate endless amounts of windows, it is an exercise in chugging. It takes half a minute, then you get one frame. It takes ten seconds more for the next. This is a MacBook Pro Retina (Early 2015), so it’s not a 2011 Mac mini with low memory and a slight limp.

This is still better than in various versions since Mountain Lion, where occasionally loginwindow would come crashing down of exhaustion. This. Swiping between full screen windows. Attempting to use full-split-screen. It just doesn’t work. It’s a marquee feature and it doesn’t work if you actually use the thing too hard.

Add to this iCloud Photo Library fucking said library right in the butt on numerous occasions, even though I waited until it was out of beta until I started using it. Sorry, can’t find that file. Sorry, taking fucking forever to upload this. Sorry, here’s a god damn thumbnail the size of a petroleum molecule with body image issues.

Add to this storing all these Numbers documents in iCloud because I might need them one day on my iPhone. Then I do need them, and I open Numbers on my iPhone, and 30 documents start syncing now for the first time, and none of them get anywhere, and there are several duplicates, and I can’t even tell it which to download first, not that it matters because like I said, none of them fucking progress in the slightest.

This is not Haxies. This is not jailbreak. This is not unsandboxed, unencrypted, uncryptographically signed. This is Apple’s own software running on Apple’s own OS, running on Apple’s own hardware, talking to Apple’s own fucking internet services the way Apple pretend it just works if you do. And it just. Plain. Stupid. Fucking. Doesn’t. Work.

I’m not even the only one I know to have half of these problems.

So yes. Hardware is not easy. But apparently, mastering magnetism, CNC machining, sub-millimeter precision tolerances and gold metallurgy is nothing compared to loading up your own software beyond where you think it should be used – or not even beyond sometimes.

Rosyna

Some people are anonymous or pseudononymous for fun, some for convenience, some out of absolute necessity. My last name has never been an absolute secret, and I can’t claim keeping it so would ever be absolutely necessary.

However, Rosyna Keller, this guy I’ve seen around for years, from back in the day where Unsanity and Haxies and the Cocoa-Carbon wars were a thing, uses one out of necessity. He’s on the run and the subject of extreme misfortune and hardship that makes me feel really titchy about my own problems.

Rosyna needs our help; your help, my help, everyone’s help. I would not wish the treatment he has received on my worst enemy and I can’t imagine being so torn down that you feel you have to explain your own personal disorders in an attempt to build credibility.

Please help him out; I did.

You’re a smart guy, you were a pillar of our community and you deserve better than your current situation. Godspeed, Rosyna.

Thanks to Brent Simmons for the link.

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