« Don't Forget the Kids of the Pine Ridge | Main | ANOTHER Turnley Sale! (No, Wait, Read This) »

Saturday, 05 December 2015


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Note that it only takes two minutes of charging on the Magic Mouse 2 to get a 9-hour day's worth of charge back on it[1]. That's not much more interruption than a battery swap, and perhaps a good excuse to get up and move around a bit.

I fully expect that the situation with the iMac's ports will start to resolve in 2016. With USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 arriving, I expect that we'll see almost all other ports kicked out into more-easily accessed (and upgraded) breakout boxes like OWC's Thunderbolt 2 Dock.

[1]: per iMore's Magic Mouse 2 review

Yes, why did they have to put the SD card on the back!! At least my desk at home puts the computer at the right height, otherwise I'd be screwed.

For extra dollars, you can buy your iMac with a VESA Mount and use a 3rd party stand or desk arm.

But now I'm just proving your point.

I think Apple under Ive's design leadership frequently goes astray for the sake of looks. Take the iPhone: so slick you need a case for it. A case that will immediately mess with the original design.

They say the Magic Mouse 2 gets 9 hours worth of charge in two minutes. So I don't think you'll have to endure a lot of down time.

My first desktop Mac, was a 2009 27" model, and I spotted most of those design quirks that you mention Mike... Along with that, I had three new/replacement display panels during the three years of ownership, when I gave it to my daughter, it was a bit grim looking again... I don't think she cares too much, she is generally mainlining her iPhone!

So anyway, come replacement time, I didn't go for another iMac, instead I chose a "Dustbin" 2013 MacPro, and I bought an NEC 27" PA272W monitor.

I don't use a mouse and when I looked in the Apple Store at the new keyboard and trackpad, I decided that I liked the profile of the old ones that I already have. I use Apple's rechargeable batts and I am happy...

I plug my camera directly into the Mac, don't bother removing the SD card.

Whether that is any help to anyone, I don't know, but the MacPro dustbin is a wonderful thing and the NEC display (with a lovely matt surface) knocks anything made by Apple into a cocked hat!

I agree that Apple can do design badly. There was an early iPod design, with click buttons around the wheel, that came, went and was never mentnioned again. And the Apple ear pods keep falling out of my ears, which I have to admit are not standard sized (ears I mean). It made me wonder if people in that Apple Campus place are allowed to say out loud "These ear phones are rubbish", or would a horrible hush descend on the canteen. But, I put it with a lot of it because the essentials of their computers are so good.

I've always thought my next Mac would be a Mac Mini. Looks like a good choice :)

Certainly seems to be the case with the latest design trends from Apple. The lack of after sale upgrading further adds to the frustration level with current design. It has me looking at Windows (Oh no!!) again for future upgrades of the PC (Or possibly going the hackintosh direction).

Design should mean more than appearance. Look at the edge of your iMac screen. It is unprotected glass, top and sides.

I'm looking as I type at the seashell-shaped chip missing from the upper left, about three inches in from the side. It's the size of a small fingernail. Will it spider out across the screen? All of the light-making components are bonded to the other side. There is no replaceable cover glass. If it goes, it really goes. And unlike your iPhone, that AppleCare policy we paid for does not cover accidental damage.

Something hit the edge, apparently. I know not what. It must not have been much, as neither I nor my wife remember anything like that happening.

All of which poses a question: why does slick design for its own purpose completely outrank common sense in building such an expensive and vulnerable item?

Too glossy. If you were in a room with a window behind you, it would be unusable for for photo editing.

Mike, do you have a case for your 6+, if so which one?

[I do, and it's really perfect IMHO. Unfortunately it doesn't have a single identifying mark on it so I don't know what it is or who makes it. I've sent you a picture of it. --Mike]

Yes to the title. Agree 100 percent. SD card on back!. Other connectors on back. Want to confuse your house guests—put the start button on the back. Maybe someone will build a port extender. At least they couldn't hide the SD card on the back of the laptops. But on mine the USB ports are asymmetrical—on the left in the fourth position from the back and on the right it's the first. Looks "cool" from the sides, but is it practical? Form over function.

Oh and in the apps, don't show the options unless you roll over them.

As you can guess I could go on.

I've gone back and forth between various generations of Apple and PC hardware (starting with an Apple II+ in 1979). The Apple hardware is generally well built and aesthetically appealing. The last few generations are just too sealed up for me to consider them. Unless they produce a reasonably priced open machine I am staying in the PC side of things. I have not seen a software advantage of OS/X over Windows since at least Windows 7.

I do have an iPad already, actually, the first version that had retina displays. It is now on its last legs, hence the interest in the Pro version. And I'm afraid I couldn't find much use for it indeed, it often goes weeks without being turned on. I prefer reading on my Kindle Paperwhite (easier on the eyes), looking at photobooks in print, writing and browsing on either my Macbook Air or my iMac. And I don't like to idle in the bathroom.

For me, some aspects of the iMac tell me that it's designed towards style over function. I bought the 27" recently, and customized it towards being functional for me:I use the Apple Numeric Keyboard(which has a spare USB Port on each side), a card reader, and a Wacom Pen&Touch Tablet. I also have it on a rotating turntable(Rain Design i360) to rotate it on the side.

So yes, you can have it become functional - if you can spare a few more bucks to customize it towards your tastes.

But to be fair, this is also with my photography gear - I've got a sling strap, filter adapter(which admittedly, should not be an optional add-on), hood&fast cards for my X100/T.

GAS is dating AAS(Accessory Acquisition Syndrome) which you shall meet soon after acquiring GAS.

Alternates to an alternate. None of the Apple telephones will allow me to strike the keys as I want, my hands are too large. Mind no other mobile device does either. I have tried and then traded or sold to others too many iPads. A computer they are not. My 15" MacBook Pro with
16 gig of ram is connected as required to a large monitor, actuall an LED TV. It works quite well for my needs.
My local Apple reseller has been asked to keep an eye out for aa used early iBook Air;
with or without warranty. If the MacBook Pro is thethered to the ouboard LED screen, I sometimes need a second machine, on the road...used would be ideal; am too cheap to purchase new.

Then too aside from the geek factor of handheld devices; why do you require such?
Really, ask yourself. Or is this a case of once acquired then look for useful purpose for the money spent on a flat screen with its own interface?

I've always been a fan of the Bauhaus movement.
Everyday objects, beautiful everyday objects, that where made to be used in the real world.

Today, they'd make an iMac with ten USB ports on the front and a larger than average keyboard with a complete number pad.

The previous generation had the property that if the power cord was not free to run (e.g. pinned behind the desk) then adjusting the tilt of the monitor could unplug the computer.

I *think* this is fixed in the newer design? At least partly?

Reading this inspired me to reach up and give my very functional Charlie Brown Christmas Tree of a computer a thank you pat on the bezel.

And rumor has it that on the next iPhone they will eliminate the headphone jack. Why? So they can make it thinner! Then everyone who wants to use a good set of headphones will have to buy new ones that use the lightning connector, or pay Apple for an overpriced adapter.
I hope it's not true.

I don't even like the magic mouse 1. I always hit some magic spot on it and all hell breaks loose. When I worked in a Mac based school I replaced the battery powered mice with corded usb ones. Imagine that, they always work. Think different.

We are a 100% Apple house, but it's not hard to change, easier than switching camera systems. I have no problem with Windows and I could then buy my old favorite printing software, Qimage. Most things are Google and the internet. It'll be interesting to see if they more or less kill the Macbook Pro in the next iteration by removing ports in an attempt to make it thinner and lighter.

In reference to Scott L's comment that "the power button is mostly annoyingly on the back! Where you have to feel around for it," I've solved that problem on my iMac by sticking one of those round silicone feet - roughly the shape of a Reece's Peanut Butter cup, but the size of an M&M - onto the power button (with apologies for my food fixation).

So instead of groping around for a slight, hard-to-find depression on the back of the computer, I just reach around and press the little silicone foot, which I easily find by feel.

You can find these silicone feet in any hardware store; they come in a variety of sizes on die-cut sheets, in dark brown or frosted clear, They have a strong but easily removable adhesive on the back, and one of the sizes fits perfectly.

I love my 27" iMac. I've had Macs exclusively since 1988, when I got my first computer, a Mac SE (soon upgraded to an SE30), and this is the best one yet (I have the previous model with the SD card slot on the right edge). Despite its several shortcomings, it seems awfully like a good friend.

I am typing this on a shiny new iMac (my first ever and unpacked yesterday.) While I agree with everything you say, I still felt that this was the best option when my other choice was a PC running either Windows 10 or Linux.

Maybe after a month or two I will change my opinion, but after a day of mucking about on it, I am very happy with my decision.

Soon all cameras will have WiFi which will facilitate photo transfer but also help keep camera SD card slot doors from being broken off. Who actually turns off their computer? Putting it to “sleep” is easy, quicker and makes start up faster. USB? Hell, even Epson is putting WiFi in their professional printers.

Personally I prefer having a clean front that doesn’t distract rather than having a bunch of wires, slots, and whatnot challenging my peripheral vision while concentrating on creating my masterpieces. For that I thank Apple :-)

I rather like the on/off button at the back, muscle memory copes with that, no problem.
But I'd happily have the edges a few mm thicker to accommodate the I/O and SD ports. And I don't think I could face going back to Windows.
Eventually I even got addicted to the Magic Mouse after 3 or 4 years of hankering after proper buttons.

I switched to Apple a decade or so ago, because I wanted machines that worked like toasters (well, not Mike's toaster, but my toaster.) That is, I wanted it to perform a few basic functions well, with simple interfaces. But Apple has become obsessed with looks, rather than function. I think they dumped the side-loaded CD drive and the SD port on the new iMac because they thought thinner looks better. But does anybody really think the older iMacs were too thick?

I need at least three or four more USB ports on the back -- so I now have to run a powered external port unit to accommodate my thumb drives. I often rip CDs to put in my iTunes; now I have to have an external unit to do that. I take photos -- now the SD port is almost unreachable. These last changes, I think, were done purely to make the new iMac (I have a new 27" retina) prettier, and screw the function.

Some might say, "Three or four more USB drives? What are you doing, running a corporation?" No -- because I'm a writer and take photos, I need to plug in a (1) dedicated photo printer and (2) a standard office printer. I need to plug in (3) speakers for the sound system, and (4) either the CD drive or an external hard drive, which I switch back and forth between. I also use a wireless keyboard/mouse combo, and need to plug in the (5) bluetooth receiver. I have a (6) scanner which would be nice to have plugged in, but which I keep unplugged because I don't have the requisite ports. Then, because of my writing job, I always keep the current work on (7&8) two separate thumb drives which I carry back and forth from my office to my house.

Frankly, that IS a lot of USB ports, but I don't think any of those uses are either odd or rare. If I could have bought an old-style iMac with a retina screen, I would have done it in a minute. I do like then screen, but you can get those with PCs, too.

I have been a Apple user since the Apple II and a Mac User since the SE30, qw have at least a dozen Macs in our household, and I completely Agree with you about form over function.
As a long tme Aperture user, I'm stuck at Mavericks because Apple has ceased supporting it in newer OS's
Last I checked the App store U hd 5 or 6 "Incompatible Updates" waiting, ALL Apple software that won't run on Mavericks --Things like Pages, Numbers, iPhoto,iMovie---no other software developer would even want to get away with that.
To be sure there are many wonderful things about Apple products but often we use them in spite of their design tather than because of it.
Yesterday we were in an Apple store, my wife who has a watch and a phone asked why her new message tone on the phone stopped working. I stood there and sent her text messages. We had 3 Apple geniuses huddling, the first two couldn't figure out why we couldn't get it to ring.All 3 had used the words "There HAS to be a way". They called someone. They came back with an answer.......That's a feature.... My skinny wristed wife said, but I don't always feel the tiny vibration, I just want to turn the Beep on.....You can't, it's a feature. Perhaps, but it didn't make sense to 3 Apple Geniuses or to the customer. How is that good design?
I asked the same 3 fellows why I cn't update so many apple applications? The answer was, because they are part of the New OS.
I said OK but certainly Apple could write a Patch to allow updates of things like word processing and spreadsheet apps ....
You Need to update the OS,... I said I have been ipdating Mac OS's since OS 6, but I'm an Aperture user and it will not work on newer os's
Guess their Answer...... You could buy a New Machine and keep your old one for Aperture. I said Thanks. We left Beepless and dejected.

I don't think you are supposed to plug anything into the iMac anymore. Aren't we all using Air or iCloud or whatever to transfer files now?

Mike, how dare you? You must be using the product incorrectly—don't you know everything Apple has touched embodies the pinnacle of good design?

But seriously, my impression is that Apple products as a whole have been sacrificing usability for aesthetics for quite a long time. Combine that with the price they command and what we are left with are almost more fashion statements than tools. Don't get me wrong, "good looks" are important in design (see Don Norman's book), but they are only one aspect of design—and for an impatient, pragmatic guy like me, far from the most important.

I feel priviledged not to be under Apple's spell, as I don't have to pay the Apple tax every once in a while. But even if Apple's products were cheaper, I would still not choose them over what I'm using right now.

Its something, isn't it, that with all the flaws and bizarre decisions in mac hardware and software and accessories, the sales, well, they just keep going up : http://tinyurl.com/pl5lqmh

Aren't there USB ports on either side of the keyboard? But I agree that failing to put ports on the front or sides of the main part is pretty irritating. I use the ones on my huge PowerMac all the time.

I am no fan of Ive's design a lot of the time, the white plastic era was particularly ugly to my eye. As bad as Chris Bangle (and I just bought my first example of his work)

As an AAPL shareholder I admire Ive's work, but only viewing the bottom line.

Dear Mike,

I am in substantial agreement about the design deficiencies of the new iMac, but the old (rectangular cross-section) design also had major flaws. That “convenient” SD card slot on the side was right below the slot for the DVD drive. Several times, when I wasn't looking, I almost shoved the card into the DVD slot, which would have been a very bad thing. The only thing that saved me was it went in a little too easily. Not good placement! Under the bottom would've been a lot better.

As for the internal DVD drives themselves, I never owned a machine of any make or model with an internal slot-loading drive where the drive did not fail in fairly short order. On my Macs, I had it replaced under AppleCare warranty. At least once on every machine. Since my laptop is been out of warranty, I've pulled the drive, disassembled it, and fully cleaned it at least three times. On my old iMac, that was a nonstarter; disassembling that machine was way too difficult. Within half a year after falling out of AppleCare I had to go buy an external DVD burner, which has proven quite reliable. I used to be a big fan of internal drives, now I say good riddance.

There was another gotcha, which probably didn't affect you, but a lot of emergency boot CDs assumed that the drive would be on the internal drive bus of the computer; I've got some important utility programs that simply won't boot from an external USB drive. Yes, poor software design, and it's not Apple's fault, but now at least the programmers don't have the option of screwing up that way.

Regarding the ports-on-the-back situation, what you say. But, unless you've got only USB or Thunderbolt peripherals, and very few of the former, you run out of slots on the back. In which case, you're going to need an external dock. That's why I got the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock, which fits very nicely on the foot of the iMac and looks quite stylish. Yes, most of its myriad I/O ports are on the back, but it has two USB slots on the right side where you can get them easily, and they are even high-power 10W slots, so you can charge an iPad off them without it taking all day. Nice!

If you are not inclined to go the dock route, and you really need an easily accessible USB port, I have a very simple and super-cheap solution for you. Buy a six-inch USB extender cable. Plug it into one of the ports on the back, and let it hang down below the screen. When you need to slap a thumb drive in, there it is!

Not so incidentally, USB3 works extremely well and has great performance in all applications (unlike USB2). It is definitely not the same beast as the old interface, and folks should not be reluctant to get USB3 drives even when they need high throughput. It'll keep up with anything except a high-performance array or SSD.


The regular sized iPad is big enough for me, thank you very much. The screen is almost the size of a bordered 8 x 10 print, and yes, photographs do look bloody gorgeous on it!

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

Dear Mark,

As a rule, I have one recommendation for people who ask me if they should switch platforms (between any platforms).

Oh, hell no!

The amount of grief and expense is considerable. It is almost never worth it.

On the other hand, if you're even willing to consider a hackintosh/Frankenmac, you are willing to endure a lot more pain than most people. So, go for it.


Dear Dave,

Umm, if you try using one of those matte “nonglare” screens with a bright window behind you, that ain't gonna work for you, either! The diffuse backscatter from the screen will really clobber whatever you're trying to do.

I am a long-time hater of glossy screens. On the new bonded-glass, anti-reflection iMacs, the problem is so diminished that they are no worse than a nonglare screen if you have bright light (like a window) behind you.

But the real answer is that you should never, ever be working that way! Whatever it takes to rearrange your workspace so that you don't have bright light behind you, make it happen. Even if it means putting a blackout curtain in the window and turning on a room light (a nice, modern LED room light will eat up all of 11W and generate negligible heat).

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

Re the iPad Pro , All the Retina displays are eye catching. I use an iPad Retina with the "Portfolio" App. Was at the Apple store today and it looks a least as good and is obviously larger than previous iPad
I don't know if it has the ability to display 10 bit color like the newest iMacs, or if it's super glossy display will be a hinderance, but it is lovely to look at.
In adition there is a new AstroPad App that along with the apple pencil should allow some Editing Application control and some graphics tablet like functions, which if it works as advertised would be helpful.

For me it's just a portfolio display tool, for others in my family it's their preferred device.
For certain things the pencil is helpful, and so is a real keyboard, but there is no Desktop or a way to make a folder to put stuff in.
I'd still call it an improvement though

It's unfortunate that Apple seems to be going further and further down the shiny toy path. My 2009 iMac has the lack of USB slots, so I have a bunch of wires all over the place. And I have it on a 4 inch thick wooden platform on top of my antique desk which really looks horrendous. The original "Magic Mouse"---or was it "Mighty"---went away within a day of buying it as I saw no benefit in it over the mouses I had used for years before. And now, you gotta recharge it? Wonder what problem that solved? But at least mine was still repairable at home. The newer models, less and less so.

I am still on Snow Leopard, since every time a I figure the bugs are worked out of a newer version and get ready to update, Apple releases and even newer one. With new bugs.

I've long been a proponent of "form follows function" design. I find little of it in the world today to satisfy my need (MY need, MY definition) for good design.

Some years ago I read a fantastic book about design, that you recommended, titled The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance. Sometime later I read the equally good in a different way, The Design of Everyday Things. I recommend them both to my fellow TOP readers.

The current mouse annoys me in that I suspect the designer has never had to use one, or maybe moves it by telekinesis or something, because it's certainly not designed to be moved by hand, as you can't rest your hand on top of it, and moving it about occasionally causes it to think you're trying to scroll the window because your grip shifted slightly on the edges. Sometimes a very minor finger movement when clicking triggers a scroll so you're no longer clicking on what you wanted to click on.

Nobody who designed that mouse has ever had to use one, or they'd realise how bad it was to use.

I still think that it's only a matter of time before Apple abandon the mouse, and the keyboard too, and replace them both with a OLED touchpad - and given how Apple have this ineffable belief that they know what is best, that's going to happen despite any complaints from regular people as opposed to fanatics.

Mike's comment that camera designers should read Norman and Tognazzini's diatribe about how usabiity has lost its central position in "appliance" design is right on target. I'm struggling to convert from a decade of understanding the menus necessary to put the functions needed most often onto the 6-8 external programmable buttons on Olympus (or also Sony, Fuji, Nikon) cameras to the new Bauhaus world of the Leica SL and before that, the S. Modality reigns, and it reigns without accepting any obligations to its subjects. The first users of the new Leica SL report that RTFM is a unique experience. Some are grateful that they didn't.


@Michael Perini, first comment: Aperture works on Yosemite and El Capitan, there is an update version of Aperture when you install them. IPhoto also works though "Photos" tries to conceal this fact. "Photos" is probably a better app (much faster) than iPhoto for personal/family stuff and for accessing system wide for email etc. If you use Pages for anything other than single letter writing you won't like the new version. There is, for example, no mail merge and no 2-page view. Fortunately even if you "upgrade" to new Pages the old one is still there though it seems impossible to set as default if the new one is present and beware if you open an old document in new Pages it won't open again in the old version if if not saved.

I bought my 5K iMac with a wall mount and use it at a standing height desk. I'm cheating though. I use my laptop for most "real" work. The desktop is a music and photo archive storage engine, so I don't generally stand in front of it for long periods of time. I could though.

That said, I have one at work too (for software development) and the display is just outstanding.

My only real gripe about the machine is that the ports are on the back ... or maybe that the ports are needed at all. Everything should be some kind of wireless. But I hedged at home and bought a thunderbolt hub/dock thing that is OK.

Dear Ctein, you wrote "I almost shoved the card into the DVD slot". Well, my wife went past the "almost" on her iMac, and the DVD unit had to be replaced. Really a bad design.

So let me get this straight. :) You want holes and slits on the front with wires, thumb drives and other odds and ends dangling from it because through some Herculean effort on your part you have managed to block of access to the back of your iMac.
Thanks for making me grin this morning.

[The back of my computer isn't blocked except by the COMPUTER. Why in the world would you want your headset jack and your SD card slot on the back of your computer? How does that make any sense at all other than to make the front look more stylish? --Mike]

Re: the article about Apple losing its way, Apple has always been this way, even when it expressed its goals differently. I remember Apple II's, so it's not my memory. Apple has always been this way. My first encounter with an iPod, I couldn't get the thing to turn on. Why? No power button. I tried a few things and eventually my friend came and pressed the stop button. Because of course, stop means start, under whatever design gestalt. Oh, and one button mouses. Or whatever it is with the mouses they do now.

Regarding "the power button is mostly annoyingly on the back! Where you have to feel around for it" — That's exactly where the power button should be. They put it where the power button is least likely to be pressed by accident.

Such complaints remind me of complaints about cameras that have don't have the power switch right by the shutter release. Put it right by the shutter release and you have a recipe for accidentally shutting down the camera.

Likewise the ports should be in the back. I don't want USB cables coming forward toward over the keyboard or mouse, or sticking out from the sides. In the back is where they are most out of the way.

[Then there should be more of them, so I don't have to unplug one thing to plug in another when I want to use something. --Mike]

I, too, hate the fact that I am always reaching around, feeling for the right port.
Apple has historically made decisions like this in order to encourage development of lucrative products from third party vendors to ensure that there's a cottage industry around every Apple product. This allows them to keep the look of the out-of-the-box product clean and minimal, albeit less useful.
There are quite a number of external multiple-port devices that include not only USB and SD slots, but also CD/DVD and storage drives in the same unit.
Yes, it's an additional cost. And yes, yet another thing on your desk. While it might not be as nice as having front access from the get-go, it does the trick more-or-less and, more importantly for Apple, it gives each of its products deeper reach into the retail ether. "Made for Apple iMac!"

Re: design.

It's really easy to complain about design. There's lots of things on my camera that I'd like to see moved to a different, more logical placing. Same thing with my car.

The thing is, design is hard.

I'm not saying that moving the sd card to the back was necessary. It's entirely possible that the designers were uninterested, apathetic, or clueless.

But another possibility is that the SD card ended up having to go to the back, due to design requirements that were further back in the pipeline.

Apple's number one design priority for their devices over the past few years has consistently been lighter, thinner, and quieter.

The problem is, once you adopt those design goals, other things have to change. You might not have space for the really big cooling fan, for example, so you have to redesign how waste heat gets emptied out of the box. Or you have to move or redesign a power supply and cabling. Any of these changes may affect where external controls go.

Power button on the back, btw, has been status quo for iMacs for a very long time. (My gooseneck iMac had a rear power button back c. 2002. That's another longstanding Mac-as-an-appliance design decision.)

@Richard Parkin
Richard, re Aoerture and Yosemite and El Capitan
You are correct that there are reports that some folks have successfully run Aperture on newer OS's, and Apple did provive an Aperture library conversion in a Yosemite update.
But Here's the rub: If you do it, you cannot undo it and your library will not run on older versions. Since Aperture is now officially unsupported, you have no recourse if an update breaks it. There are tons of users who have tried it and are having many issues.
I use it professionally and process thousands of files.
While I realize I WILL have to pick a new application at some point I've been trying to keep it going as long as possible.
So it is stable under Mavericks, and quite uncertain and unsupported on newer OS's (They are not writing Aperture Patches when something they do breaks it)
So that was my defintion of" doesn't work." but I clearly could have said it better. Thanks

iPad Pro: I have one. It's wonderful.

Yes, it's all about the screen and I love it.

I'm away in the middle of the coming week and I intend to take it with me rather than my MacBook Air: that will be acid test for me as to whether it is a laptop killer or just a very nice screen from which to read.

[Please let us know when you get back. --Mike]

Dear Mike (and John and others),

If you only need a small handful of just-USB ports and USB2 will do, then this will do the job very nicely:


$19, four front-facing low-power USB2 ports. Takes up minimal space.

OWC has all kinds of hubs. The phrase to look up is "expansion hub." "Dock will get you the much more expensive and capable stuff, like the Thunderbolt 2 I recommended earlier.

pax / Ctein

It was the "design over function" aspect of Macs that always put me off; my computers are tools, not fashion accessories, and I value functionality over appearance by several orders of magnitude.

There is another way in which Apple's 'Always Less, Always Lighter, Always more Beautiful' philosophy is creating negative side effects for power users, and that is heat related problems.
Search any professional video forum and you will find threads on overheating and dropped frames when rendering video.
You can find plans for adding fans and heat sinks quite easily.
But that won't cause Apple to make them more robust , because
Most people never have these issues, and that's who Apple designs them for. Professional users are more of a mildly accommodated annoyance for Apple.
Mainstream and high volume is where they make all the money, and they are very good at it.
I'll be the first to say that they have brought us amazing technology that I use and enjoy. That's been true for a long time.
What has changed most however, is that they used to revel in demonstrating power users- remember the supercomputers built out of MacPros- or X-seve Raids ---THAT's what is gone, and it is gone by 'design'.
As a stock holder I get it, as a user, I miss it.
I don't think t will change either because Apple views me and folks who think of Computers First, as business and creative tools and art objects second as dinosaurs--- who will become extinct soon enough.
I'd really love to be wrong here, but that is what it feels like to me.

@Michael Perini: "As a long time Aperture user, I'm stuck at Mavericks because Apple has ceased supporting it in newer OS's"

Apple ceased supporting Aperture but that doesn't mean Aperture stopped working on later OSes. Aperture 3.6 works in 10.10 (Yosemite) and 10.11 (El Capitan). Apple even said it would work fine in 10.10.

Back up your library and your old system (to another disk with SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner) before updating so you can return to your previous untouched system and Aperture library.


There is one issue in 10.11.1: you can't use "onscreen proofing". If it's turned on the image will look "washed out". Turn it off in the View menu. The root problem causing this issue is in ColorSync not Aperture and can be reproduced in other apps. If you can deal with that then Aperture will continue to be able to use RAW updates for OS X 10.11 and support new cameras.

This leads to another problem. If you want to use 10.10 to use Aperture without any on screen proofing and get some RAW updates too you could but if you haven't downloaded 10.10 before 10.11 came out then you now can't get a copy (even though you want it for a very good reason) because Apple removed it from the Apple Store along with 10.9. This applies to other applications like Aperture and iPhoto too.

I got caught out by this too. I though I'd downloaded (but not installed) the 10.10 update but I only had downloaded 10.9 installer. I missed the 10.10 installer. The only way to get 10.10 now is to look for a copy on the Internet (and then verify the InstallESD hashes to make sure it hasn't been messed with) or persuade a friend (who has downloaded it) to loan you his AppleID so you can authenticate as him on your machine. Is that a dumb way to treat your customers or what?

This is all part of a trend to "Apple products as fashionable consumer electronics" rather than a "bicycle for the mind". If you haven't heard of a "bicycle for the mind" watch (a pre-NeXT) Steve Jobs talk about it here. Apple (and even Jobs before he died) moved on from that idea.


Both maintainability and upgradeability have suffered mostly for the sake of thinness. The most recent Macs, including the iMacs, minis and Macbooks, have a poor repairability scores at iFixit . The most recent Mac minis have DRAM soldered to the logic board so you can't upgrade the RAM after buying the device.


On iPods there was a chronic issue with small drops displacing a pusher pad in push buttons rendering the button non-functional: I've had this happen in a iPod nano 6G and iPod touch.

They have also preferred form over design for longevity. Power adaptors die because they cook their electrolytic capacitors or they have badly designed strain relief. Same with the Airport Express devices. WiFi failures on the iPhone 4S seem to be related to either bad flow soldering or bad heat sinking but the WiFI won't turn on. Video failures on the Macbook Pro have been caused by the video controller detaching from the logic board.

A common thing about all of these failure modes is Apple's refusal to acknowledge them until a class action suit is filed.

I'm typing this on a used late 2009 white unibody Macbook running 10.6 that cost me $300 used (with a new battery thrown in!). It'll run 10.11 and has upgrades to RAM and hard drive it still works well for me for a while (I hope). I will upgrade it to 10.10 (at least) but not yet.

I don't see an Apple product made after 2012 that really appeals to me (except perhaps the iPhone 6 and corresponding iPod touch and maybe the regular iPad). I've been a Mac user since 1986. I guess there are more of the new type of purchaser than the old type of Apple user.

Hi Ctein—
Yes. Absolutely. With a bright window behind you, any screen is going to have a problem. In the case of the non-glare screens, it's a veiling flare that makes it difficult to judge contrast. In the case of the glossy screen, it's actually reflections that can be even more distracting.

My workspace has windows on four walls. I face the north, with high windows behind the desk/counter. When I'm doing my architectural work, they're unobstructed, and I've got task lighting from above, allowing me to work with paper along with the computer. This works great for me. I'm able to refocus and look out at the trees and sky when my eyes need a rest (my studio is in the forest).

Behind me are two identical windows. Under normal working conditions, they're not a problem either. They're far enough away so that direct sunlight never penetrates anywhere near where I sit. Because I've got a non-glare screen, they're not an issue. The veiling effect is negligible. If however, I had a glossy screen, I might be seeing very distracting reflections of the windows.

When I'm editing photos, things are arranged differently. The blinds come down on the windows on three sides, and I black out the windows in front of me.

I'm glad to hear you report that much of the glare issue on the glossy screens has been solved. I haven't seen any of the new bonded screens yet, so that's encouraging news—I've been kicking around the idea of replacing my older Mac Pro and 30" Cinema Display with an iMac when the time comes...

Thanks for the response.

I volunteer as a demonstrator at a science museum. Right in front of me where I demonstrate is a set of ipads, which kids head straight for. We have some specially written apps for them to use. I never need to tell them how to use them, they just do it instinctively. Same goes for the older visitors. I'm not an apple user myself but there must be something to their design that works if even toddlers can work it out.

El Capitan also means that every time you load a formatted memory card into the Mac it auto starts Apple Photos. Very annoying with no way of disabling it.

Think they make the sides slimmer so its more pocketable?

There are some people that feel that Apple and its design department have gone astray since the passing of Jobs. I tend to agree.

Recent models have prioritized design over function.

In some cases this has not only resulted in an inconvenience to the user (ports on the back of the iMac), but also compromised the functionality and reliability of the machine itself. The iMac lacks adequate ventilation and the CPU / GPU will easily hit in excess of 100 celsius and throttle back so it doesn't fry itself. Why? Because the vents that used to be at the top of the machine have been eliminated and instead they now try to suck all the of the hot air out through the bottom (note to Apple: hot air rises). As a result the internals get very hot and the cooling fan sounds like a hair dryer. All of this because Apple design decided it would prettier if the machine did not sport those 'ugly' vents on the back of the machine (where no one can see them in the first place). Fail. Somewhere Dieter Rams is shaking his head.

Here is a very interesting article in regards to this subject.


Maybe Apple should take a refresher from Dieter Rams. Here are his 10 principals.

On how many counts does the iMac fail?

This is redicoulous. Apple should be at least cutting edge design (at best combined with cutting edge hardware). The latter has become impossible due to the sort closed shop design, combined with lightning fast development (especially in the video department, damned a 12 Gb VRAM Titan X sure puls it's weight). But if using a Mac at work I was flabberghasted by three things.

1) Why the hell can't I just pull out a USB stick without corrupting the data....(any Windows machine can do that).

2) Why do I have to take the Mac of my desk (cramped desk and short person) in order to insert the stick in the first place.

3) Who thought it a great idea to create a 18 x 10 cm phone with a verry breakable glass plane as work surface......damned these phones suffer from gravity....I still use a Nokia sports phone that can bounce if needed.

Greets, Ed.

Design is both difficult and complicated, rather than complex.

First question you have to ask is, if there are so many hindrances, why are you then sticking with the Mac environment?
Honestly, as with cars, there are no longer "bad" computers.

Regarding the articles, there is an untold truth that the articles are not even highlighting: nobody buys ugly design. The first objective of design is not making things easier to use, or function. The first objetive of design is to sell the producto or service.

After that, after making the first sale, comes all the rest.

Never liked the Mac environment, to be honest. From the very get go when you couldn´t use two fingers of your right hand, that sistem went out of my radar. I don´t understand why I am being imposed to use a single button. It is similar to be forced to play the piano with two fingers. Results might be wonderful, but always with very few dimensional outputs.

Regarding the "niceness" of design aesthetics [and it is a very important distiction: aesthetics and fuctionality are part of the design brief]: to put it simply, perhaps you are not the target customer any longer. So sadly, your opinion does not count.

Look at the other way, perhaps. Dell computers are supposed to be reliable, and therefore, the looks are those of a reliable/efficient machine. Dell´s do not have to look the way they look [there are other very many options for that kind of aesthetics].

Dell is as well another aesthetic option. You want a "reliable" looking machine, there is Dell to answer your requirements. The moment Dell is [and unfortunately, aesthetics are linked to a certain brand along a certain period, ask Leica about it] trying to sell a "cool" product, it won´t catter to dell´s audience.

In response to other stuff hinted on the comments:
It is funny that the "design" critics are posting on such a badly designed site on it´s own: difficult to read, with too much of a spacing between the letters, and wrong font choice.

The Retina displays are no longer that good: while it is true that the colour response is good, they are lagging behind the current screen champions: Microsoft and Samsung on Tablets, and almost any other smartphone brand on the smartphone side.

Pixel density on retina displays is actually not as good as even a modest Sony. Not to talk about the champ on density: the Galaxy S6 has a 571 ppi versus 326 from the Iphone 6. When putting both together side by side, the difference is truly staggering. By the way, I don´t have neither of those phones [currently sporting a Z5 Compact]

So, to sum up: aesthetic is an aquired taste. However, that taste evolves, and sometimes users and clients turn to be captive clients hoping to change something that is not going to change.


The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007