Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Coping With What Apple's Become

A few years ago, I got annoyed with my iPhone for some reason. It might have been that the center button died, or it might have been the design catastrophe known as iOS 7, but either way, I'd had enough. I switched to a 1990s-style flip-phone which I bought at Best Buy for maybe $10. People kept giving me funny looks, so last year I bought an iPod Touch to see if I could tolerate iOS. The good news: I can tolerate it, on a $200 device. The bad news: I wouldn't pay a penny more. The 90s flip-phone is less irritating, to me. No tragically broken design, and no iTunes. The flip-phone's design is crap too, of course, but it's not tragic crap from a company that should know better; it's just cheap crap. My phone cost me less than a visit to my local comic book store usually does, so I don't mind.

Also, I use the iPod Touch as a social media quarantine device; its main purpose is to isolate social media onto just one machine, so that, if I want to concentrate, I can put that machine away, or go somewhere else and leave it at home. I still occasionally use Twitter on my laptop, but only because I've got a new project where I'm tweeting images I've created in Cinema 4D once every day. I've ordered a Lightning SD card reader for my iPod Touch; when I get it, my plan is to use an SD card to transfer files off the laptop onto the iPod Touch, move the Cinema 4D project off of Twitter and onto Instagram, and permanently hosts-ban Twitter on my laptop.

I prefer this nano-sneakernet approach to Dropbox; I won't use Dropbox because of their privacy policies, their irritating interface, and their connection to the prominent war criminal Condoleezza Rice. And I don't use iCloud, either, not just because of all the horror stories on Twitter and elsewhere of it destroying people's music collections, but also because that happened to somebody I know personally.

Recently my external hard drive for iTunes died. As a result, my music ownership fractured across several devices. I'm scared to sync anything to or from the old iPhone, because it means I'd risk iTunes doing something stupid to my music in the absence of the expected drive. (In fact, that's the real problem; Apple software's gotten so aggressively stupid that I just don't trust it any more, not even with utterly unremarkable, basic tasks.) So I'll probably have to write some software which manually removes the audio files. That software will also have to rename the files as well, since Apple obfuscates the names, but that's not hard; I've solved that problem before. Meanwhile, though, everything I buy on Beatport is on my main laptop; everything I buy on iTunes is on my iPod Touch, or at least one of my two iPads. (Both iPads run iOS 6, btw, because I just haven't been able to get over the awfulness of iOS 7 and up.)

Consequently, I'm just about guaranteed to pick up a ten-year-old iPod on eBay and switch to Swinsian.

About a year ago, I discovered that a guy I know in Los Angeles had switched from Apple to Linux — I think Ubuntu — and taken his whole company with him. They have just one person using OS X now, and that only for QA reasons. I worry that sooner or later, I'll have to make the same move. But I can't — not really. It would only solve my OS problems in dev work and social media. I make music using Ableton Live, I do 3D modeling and animation in Cinema 4D, I make videos in After Effects, I make images in Photoshop and Illustrator, and I make books in InDesign. Moving away from Apple isn't feasible for most of these areas.

I'm really not sure what to do about this, and it's very frustrating.

Update: I have an old MacBook Air running Snow Leopard. I keep it on Snow Leopard, because it's got an old 32-bit app that isn't good enough to upgrade, but is good enough to keep. Just needed that box today, for the first time in months; the recent App Store certificate expiration fiasco broke the app that I needed. The new version doesn't support Snow Leopard, of course, because it's ancient. It also carries a price of $30, and what I get for that $30 is the restoration of functionality which Apple improperly disabled. If Apple robs me of this money, I'll carry on living, but I can hardly call it a consensual exchange.