Thursday, November 3, 2011

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

This post is in no way endorsed by Boss Alien, and is entirely my own mini rant.

Boss Alien has had the pleasure over the last six (count em!) months to be developing some really splendiferous products for iOS. Mobile hardware (including phones and tablets) is an obvious growth area in the next decade - if you think that smartphone is cool, just wait until they are that good but cost 50 bucks and everyone else on the planet can afford one. THAT is a market to aim for.

I am a lover of technology, have been for pretty much my entire life. I've mostly been a Windows PC user for the last decade, but before then I followed the path most of my geek generation followed - Spectrums, C64s, the Amiga vs ST wars - all fantastic bits of hardware which had flaws but you could forgive them. And the best part was that the fanboi-ism normally had some sort of counterpoint - you point out a flaw in your friends' device, they implicitly acknowledge it by coming-back-atcha with a flaw in your gear.

iOS requires you to use Macs to do development on (sure, I could hackintosh, but there be dragons). So I've had the "pleasure" of using a Mac Mini and a Macbook Pro at work and at home now pretty much exclusively for the last six months, and for the most part I think they are capable machines with many excellent features, but ...

Oh, but. Where to start. I can list off a litany of absolutely shit design flaws in this hardware, but it seems like any mention of Apple design issues is simply met with a criticism-swallowing black hole - no acknowledgement, no rebuttal - the best I can ever hope for is the occasional sideways "Oh, Timothy" look from my beleaguered colleagues when I go off on a rant.

Here's a few for starters, so you can see where the wrath rises from. My macbook pro has a small divot on the front to let me open the machine, which requires TWO HANDS to use. That divot is so sharp, I have actually cut my wrists on the points before while opening the machine. Yes, that's right - opening the laptop lead to blood.

Then there's the keyboard layout, which has cost me days in retraining my muscle memory, and how it's utterly non-trivial to switch keyboard maps, and how the hash key has moved entirely off the primary key set - great for coding Python.

Then there's all the fun and games using Finder, which is such a badly named utility it's untrue.

That's without even stepping close to the cost/performance curves, or the requirement for extra hardware just to plug in a monitor with DVI, or the hideousness that is iOS development profiles, or ...

Now the point of this post is not to rag on the hardware and ecosystem - but rather to highlight that it is valid and just to rag on the hardware and ecosystem. Apple are good at what they do, but by god they are a long way from perfect. If I read one more post this month anywhere on the internet where the reality distortion kicks in on changes like the Mac App Store sandbox proposals, how Kindle "just isn't quite as Apple-y as Apple" or similar, I'm going to melt down. I'm really getting tired of seeing how otherwise rational people get subsumed into love for these products to the point where all else suddenly becomes a non-viable choice.

I guess I'll look back at this post at some point (when we begin Android development, no doubt) and laugh at myself, but it feels great to get this out.

End of rant!