Thursday, September 13, 2012

I'm Not Trendy

In October of 2011 we had a Burning River Developers meetup that I unfortunately missed (because I was on a plane returning from Europe!).  I learned from people who attended that during his presentation Dan Shultz said that I am "not trendy".  I guess he was saying something about how Knockout is not as trendy as Backbone, and that I'd appreciate that.

Here's the thing, he's right!
When I bought my mac, it was probably one of the few examples of a time where I allowed the popularity and trendiness of something to sway to my decision.  And I've given it lots of time and lots of patience, but last night I finally admitted that OSX is rubbish.

  • Everything about Finder is broken.  EVERYTHING.
  • Window management is garbage.  How do you minimize and restore w/ out the mouse? (I know about command-H, it's no good either)
  • The only app I like is chrome.  Guess what, it runs on every OS!
  • is sluggish and ugly
  • iCal can't sync correctly with google
  • iPhoto doesn't scale and doesn't organize in a way I find useful
  • iTunes music file management is totally inflexible, to the point of unusable
  • The dock is dramatically inferior to Windows 7's task bar
  • Lion is slow to boot, and has worse battery life
  • I see no compelling reason to upgrade to Mountain Lion at all (except to remove the stupid skeuomorphic stich graphic from iCal, which as mentioned above, I don't use anyway)

The only thing I like is the swipe motion to switch spaces.  But the only time I use that is when I'm running windows in a VM, so if I was in windows I WOULDN'T NEED IT.  The only other rare time I use it is to maximize a window, which just goes back to how crappy window management is on OSX.

I thought I might like that it was a unix, but the truth is it's a crappy incompatible unix (and it doesn't even have a decent package manager that doesn't break across upgrades).  And any time I've wanted to do something unix-y, it's just been a headache.  

The hardware is pretty though!  And the trackpad is the best I've ever used, so it's certainly got that.  Also the keyboard is pretty great.  So bully to the hardware.  But, I'm being honest here, that's all I can give it.

So why is the mac so popular right now?  Just because it's popular.

Even as I write this, I'm aware of how unpopular this opinion is.  But it's just my opinion, and you should be skeptical of it.  Especially because like Dan said, I'm not trendy.  

Everyone likes Dynamic Languages?  I prefer static and functional.
Everyone's excited about Node?  Looks like an immature waste of time to me.
Backbone is all the rage?  I'll stick with Knockout, thanks very much.
IPhone?  "Meh" at best, I'm happier with Android.
Pair programming?  Code reviews.
Startups want to cash out quick?  Nonsense, build a sustainable business that tackles hard problems and makes an actual difference!
Pop music? Techno? Dubstep?  It's jazz for me.  And even within jazz, I don't like bee-bop (arguably the most popular right now), so I'm totally fringe there too.

This is totally a rant, and if I have a point at all, it's this:  1) I'm not trendy 2) OSX is garbage.  And I guess my other point is just that it's OK to not get caught up in the trends.  You don't have to join the Lemmings, you're allowed to have you own taste and opinions!

I reserve the right to change my mind about all opinions contained in this blog post at any time without notice.


  1. I don't disagree with some of your points, however I think you could provide some more details. For instance, when you say the Finder is broken. What *exactly* are you referring to? (Now you sound like Dan Shultz - he says everything is broken)

    While my iCal syncs with Google, it isn't always the quickest and does have it's fair share of connection errors. To be fair, I am not sure that's always iCal - I have seen the same with people using Outlook or other calendar software to connect to the calendars.

    I want badly to love iPhoto, but you are right - it doesn't scale. It falls down once you have a certain amount of photos. It also locks up while trying to connect to the devices I plug in and their cloud photos, which is a nuisance. I don't want to even open it up anymore.

    Booting Lion on my Air is quick, not so much on my iMac. Coming back from sleep state is really slow with my Air.

    For years there have been no reliable package management systems for it. However, working on Linux servers I can say their package management systems suck as well and constantly need patched or updated. Otherwise you live with dated packages. Curious - what are the unix-y things you have tried that have failed?

    Everytime someone says they use Knockout.js: baby Jesus cries, kittens die, and angels lose their wings. Have you no respect for a clean DOM structure and organization of client side code? ;)

    Also, I am responding to this post at 4AM, right after I finished pre-ordering a new iPhone. ha.

    We need to grab coffee and chat more sometime :)

  2. I am not a power user at all, but I do blog. I need access to my pictures (iPhoto hides them somewhere) and that along with Finder not letting you move files efficiently is enough for me to be annoyed. I use Picasa for pictures and store them in the places *I* designate. Unfortunately I don't have a work around for the file moving.

    But yeah, I don't think I actually use any Apple only software.

  3. Seems like, as in anything, familiarity leads to preference. I've been working on macs pretty much full time for about 6 years now. I was reluctant to switch, and now I find elements of Windows 7 frustrating and baffling. I'm learning an editing package different from the one that's made my living since I switched, and it's like I've had a stroke; I know what I want to happen, and don't always know how to make my hands do that thing.

    What's interesting to me about your list is how I've never noticed most of these issues. It's a litany of stuff I've never tried to do.

    The part where I agree: I'm a Snow Leopard user and see almost no good reason to upgrade to *Lion. However, the Mountain Lion upgrade is probably specifically there to help people having speed or power issues with Lion. For me, the only incentive to upgrade (read: "boot from an external drive with lion") would be to use the iBook authoring tools.
    Also, skeuomorphic leatherbound calendars are only slightly less absurd and unhelpful than the hand stitched GPS Friend Tracker.

    The part where I draw unhelpful distinctions: The apps aren't the OS. (And iOS is not OSX) For the most part, OSX offers an environment where folks without a lot of savvy or interest can do stuff without breaking everything. Increasingly with each version, you have to opt in to deeper control. I recall from my brief Lion experience that this is more true and more of a hassle than ever before. It seems to me that OSX community does a very nice job of building small apps that fill very specific roles in better ways than the factory-installed options. Some of them are even free, and these supplements are popular with the more 'power user' types. I use a handful of such things although I understand that the a la carte method of building your system might seem bizarre.

    The part where I might be helpful, but I'll somehow feel like a jerk for doing it:
    • There's a shortcut to move focus to the dock. I found it by looking at system prefs-> Keyboard, and by default it's the improbable ctrl-f3, but you could set it to anything, and that would be a way to restore minimized windows. I have never minimized a window in OSX.
    • I don't use Mail, Chrome, or iCal. I have no advice about them.
    • iPhoto seems fine at 9000 photos here, but I don't spend much time in it. Photos are stored in the 'iPhoto Library' which is just a package, and you can navigate in finder. You can right click any photo and choose 'reveal in finder' to go straight to your image. That's also in the file menu.
    • If you don't want itunes to sort your files, there's a checkbox to ask it not to. I mainly use it as an iDevice manager.

  4. At the end of the day, it's a tool to be used for solving problems. Same can be said for everything on your list: programming languages, rich client libraries, smartphones, application servers, development techniques, etc. The problem comes first and the tool should only be chosen based on how well it solves that problem. Too many people get this backwards. They choose a tool for one or more erroneous reasons then try to shoehorn that tool into a viable solution. No surprise when it doesn't work.

    "Trendy" is not a goal to strive for.

    Which is a long way of saying that, philosophically, I agree with you 100% (even though I have made some different tool choices than you).


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