Lion Spotted! RAMming Speed! Ahead Full!


Mac OS X 10.7 Lion (aka "Dummed Down iFoney Stile Addishun") arrived this morning while I was at work, which is just as well because my 8GB upgrade of RAM hadn't been delivered, lost somewhere in the corporate mail room.

I finally got fed the hell up with the pokey-ass pokey Spinning Beach Ball of Death nonsense with only a few apps open. A Mac fanchimp whom I was smacking around at The Escapist was burbling that he had no problem running a zillion programs, but said perhaps I needed more RAM. Now I know that more RAM = better - I have 12GB in my home PC, DIRK V® - but I thought the magic thing about Mac OS X was that its lean Unix underpinnings meant it would run better on comparable hardware. A Windows PC with 2GB of RAM is fine for most users and substantial loads (i.e. short of heavy multimedia authoring or gaming).

I wasn't in the mood to spend too much more upgrading this silver elephant, so I was surprised to see that an 8GB Corsair upgrade kit (two 4GB sticks) was only $74 shipped. There were less expensive options, but the reviews weren't as favorable and I don't want to trade system instability and kernel panics for the $14 or so I'd "save."

Here's what the inside of the MBP looks like with the stock RAM out and the new stuff waiting to go in (click to embiggen):

It's too soon to tell, but it does feel peppier. I was able to load Lightroom, Safari, Firefox, and Steam and launch Plants vs. Zombies, a game that loads almost instantaneously on DIRK V® but could be timed with a sundial on the MBP, without much SBBoD activity. The first launch was as slow as ever, but quitting and relaunching was nearly as fast as on a real computer.

The point of all this upgrading is to prep the battlefield for the arrival of Lion. The reviews have been natural laudatory with fanchimps peeing themselves with glee at what Lord Jobs has bestowed upon them, with slightly saner ones (itching for hate mail) actually faulting some of the iOS conventions slathered onto a computer OS. As soon as I get the screws back in, I'll be throwing another $29.99 at this thing and I'll let you know how that REALLY goes.

The Never-Ending Dim-Bulb Brightness Saga Continues


I've posted about it before, but the saga of the random brightness settings on the MacBook Pro continues unabated. Despite multiple patches in the past six months, this heap of fail is still incapable of remember how bright it should be. It's just stupid.

Because it's impossible to set the dumbed-down controls to a precise level - like Windows nVidia control panels allow - I had to guesstimate a ballpark brightness setting (i.e. the third box to the right past the bottom ray of the on-screen sun icon) when I calibrated it and due to the defective Whack OS(u)X crapware, must be vigilant about what my settings are before working because there is no reason to trust the lousy thing. I just opened the lid from the previous session and the screen brightness had maxed out from my previous session in Lightroom. What if I started image editing again without realizing how it had changed in silence.

What is most appalling about the crazed Mac fanchimps are those who burble about how, "it's the only serious choice for graphic artists; nothing else can do what it can do." If they meant that no one can match the sheer crapitude of the Mac for critical work, I'd agree. But these poor sods actually think that Mac is superior when it's clearly broken and they're either too stupid or drunk on the Kool-Aid to recognize how busted their junk is.

Since the fanchimps still try to deflect my criticisms as "hating", I must restate the purpose of this blog and remind you dear readers that when I started the Dirk® vs Mac Project, I was looking to be convinced as to the merits of the over-priced Apple hardware, but as I ran into one usability hassle and performance nightmare after another, the unexpected Truth has come out that this stuff is generally craptastic and the fanchimps are not just stupid, but insane.

Another thing fanchimps yammer about is how superior the hardware is - as if Apple gets the "good" CPUs and components - and how the efficient UNIX-based OS runs on the hardware. Well, that's a lie, too. As I watch the Spinning Beachball of Doom whirl when I try to move from Chrome to Safari and change tabs, it's like using a five-year-old single-core PC with a gig of RAM, not a Core2Duo w/2GB RAM. I've had defenders blame Apple's poor performance on the apps, but that's just more fanchimpism in which all flaws are blamed on third-party applications. These same people happily ascribe third-party app problems on Windows machines as being Microsoft's fault. They're hypocrites on top of their madness and stupidity.

What Do Shortcuts Have To Do With Sydney Bristow?


Another aspect of Apple's broken UI is how difficult it is to do something simple in Windows: make a fraking shortcut. I've been using Guitar Rig a lot lately and figured it'd be convenient to have a shortcut on the Desktop or the Table (aka Dock).

In Windows you can do this by right-clicking any program icon and selecting Create Shortcut. Simple, huh? It's even easier in Win7 when you can pin apps to the Start menu or Task Bar with a right-click or just drag them off the menu.

Well, none of these simple steps are available on the Mac. Dragging doesn't work. There's no shortcut or pin option. Stumped, I asked Google and found this tutorial which lists the four steps to duplicating what a right-click can do in Windows:

To create short cut in Mac OS X, follow the steps below:-

* Launch your Finder, look for the program that you want to create shortcut for.
* Highlight the program by clicking once on the file
* Control + Click on the file (or Right click on the file), and select “Make Alias”
* Once the alias being created, you may drag the alias to desktop or to anywhere you wish
* Done. you’ve just created a shortcut in Mac OS X

** In Windows we call it shortcut, in Mac OS X we call it Alias.
In the upside-down world of Apple, having to do all these steps to do what Windows can do with a right-click is hailed by the Kool-Aid besotted fanchimps as another reason why "Apple just works."

Wrong. It's how Apple makes you needlessly work four times as hard to do the simplest thing. And pay a premium price for the abuse.

Seeking Help From The Helpless Help


With iLife installed (see previous post), I fired up the new GarageBand and was presented with the New Project window. One option is Songwriting. What does that do? I dunno. It's not as if Apple includes manuals with their products. (Because their customers are illiterate morons who can't read, but like to pay a lot to feel special with their shiny gnawed fruit logo products?)

So I fire up the GarageBand Help - which is a usability nightmare because it forces itself to be the top window so you have to minimize it to get it out of the way of everything. (Is Apple afraid their users are too stupid to know where the window went if they clicked on another window and Help disappeared, thus confusing them like a baby from whom you hide an object?) Since I want to know what Songwriting mode is, I typed...wait for it..."songwriting" into the search box. My result?

No help topics were found for 'songwriting'

Just lovely.

Just went ahead to see what it was and was greeted by this screen:

Now what? I'm waiting for it to just work, but it's doing nothing and there's no help available from the Help. I'm starting to hear Johnny Rotten taunting me.

A Trip To Jonestown


Apple announced iLife '11 at their Lion and pony show last Wednesday. The latest updates to iPhoto (which I don't need because I'm a real photographer who uses Lightroom) and iMovie (ditto, because I use Premiere on my Prime-class Win7 desktop) didn't interest me as much as the new GarageBand, the old version I found impenetrably unusable, probably because I foolishly expected it to be capable of doing something useful instead of countering my every effort with layers of candy-coated fail. Seriously. The UI of Mac is such shite that whenever I see people burbling about how easy it is to use, I feel there should be some hotline I can call to have these people snatched and placed in a quarantine zone while awaiting euthanization.

In keeping with Lord Jobs' philosophy of inconvenience and artificial scarcity to provide some allure to the overpriced claptrap - the Apple tax on hardware isn't enough, you have to spend money right and left on software to make it useful - iLife was available only at Apple's stores and site. Amazon, Beast Buy, Micro Center (where I bought the MBP) all had the old version, even after a couple of days. There are only four Apple Stores within an hour of Detroit, but luckily the one closest to my home is only 5-1/2 miles away. Off to the mall I went.

If you aren't familiar with what the Somerset Collection (i.e. upscale malls) is, it's a beautiful glitzy shopping place where people from 90210 or Gossip Girl would buy expensive stuff. Of course an Apple Store would be there. Who else can afford their shiny, overpriced crap? I walked thru Macy's to get to it and since it was about 10 minutes before closing, expecting to blaze in and out.


I wish I could've snapped a photo at the teeming masses of open-mouthed sheeple clustered with glee around all the pretty things, but I figured some anti-non-Apple death ray would zap my EVO. The place was packed and since Apple wasn't releasing some new iGiveSteveMoneyForANewPancreas, it was crazy. As I commented on my Foursquare checkin, "I haven't seen this many stupid sheeple in one place since watching the 2008 Democrat National Convention." I guess the recession hasn't hit everyone yet.

Anyhoo, I found the iLife box - which is 2/3rds air so that it seems substantive when it's just not very green - and looked around for something that looked like a place to pay for it so I could escape this Kool-Aid bar and in keeping with Apple's "never let usability get in the way of looking pretty," couldn't spot anything. I finally found an unoccupied drone, er, "Genius" and he asked, "Would you like to make an appointment?"

"No, I'd like to pay for this (and get the f*ck out of this joint before the Human Millipede assembles itself.)" OK, I didn't say the part in parenthesis. He directed me to the one "register" at the Genius Bar and while waiting to cash out, it gave me a moment to look around at what passes for organic life in a cold aluminum, glass and plastic area.

First, when did they allow fat, slobby people to work at an Apple retail outlet? There were at least three tubby bobos who made Kevin Smith look dapper behind the counter. I always figured Apple would have Armani-clad sales associates in model shape, but these lardbuckets made me look like someone on Mad Men in comparison. Does Steve know who's working his stores or is he too busy calling the Foxconn factory to order new organs and tell them to "make it look like another suicide"?

After waiting five minutes to pay, I beat the retreat, only stopping to look at the iMacs for a friend whose 7-year-old PowerBook G4 was on the edge of death. The Magic Mouse that was with it was another sad chapter in Apple's inability to make a simple f*cking mouse. Sharp, uncomfortable edges; a low-profile that screams, "Next stop, the Carpal Tunnel"; and a slick finish that makes gripping difficult. As the infamous G3 "hockey puck" mouse indicates, to Apple ergonomics means the economics of selling bootleg DVDs of Urgh! A Music War, not making comfortable gadgets.

A zaftig Genius sidled up to me and asked if I had any questions. I contemplated asking her if she had any shame, but figured that'd come off as slightly rude. She was very friendly and personable; it's not her fault she's working for Dr. Evil's Haus o' Glitzy Crap. Well, it is, but people gotta eat and need money for food, so, desperate times lead to blah-blah-woof-woof.

iLife is installing now while I write this on my REAL computer. Stay tuned for joy.

"It Just Works," My Arse!


Last weekend, I've got the following programs open:

* Firefox
* Lightroom

I'm copying photos into Lightroom off my CF card when the screen goes gray and a message says that I need to shut down the computer. Lovely.

That this happened within a couple days of the 10th Anniversary of the OS X public beta beginning and seeing all the articles about all the wonderfulness that was supposedly ushered in by the arrival of the cat-named operating system. I especially enjoyed the supposed feature that if one program crashed, it wouldn't take down the entire system.

Yeah, right.

As I type this, I'm experiencing SBBODs* and lags in characters appearing on the screen in Firefox as the computer lurches and hangs. Awesome.

I've run into a few people at work who have Macs at home and, since they lack the Dark Force-resistance that I do, are utterly convinced they've bought the Greatest Technology Ever. It's all I can do to restrain myself from punching them in the face and calling them stupid. iChumps.

* Spinning Beach Ball of Doom

Stand By For Standby Battery Failure


Sorry for the lack of updates, but since I barely use this barely useful MBP, there's been nothing much to write about it. It's turned into a $1000 netbook for light writing and web surfing. I'm contemplating selling it because it has little functional use that my armory of PCs can't cover.

What prompts this update is its sudden inability to hold a charge while in standby. For as long as I've had it, the one thing I have unqualifiedly enjoyed was the ability to keep it in sleep mode for days on end and open the lid, having it ready to use in a few seconds. However, a couple of weeks ago, I pulled it out, opened it and it didn't start. Hmmm. Tried the power button; nothing. Pressed the battery level test button and got one LED. The battery was dead and needed charging.

After a full charge and sitting connected to the power the whole time at home, I tossed it in my duffel for a weekend at the girlfriend's and other than a brief web surfing session, I didn't use it. Well, tonight, after a week of disuse, I pulled it out, checked the battery and, pfffft, it's nearly dead again.

There was a software point-release a couple of weeks ago, but I don't think it had an effect on sleep mode efficiency (or lack thereof) because the first rundown happen prior, but I'm not sure. A quick Google search was inconclusive, but a battery failure on a less-than-six-month-old laptop would be right in line with Apple's expanding reputation of shoddy workmanship and design, especially with the botch that's been the iPhone 4 (or as I call it "iFone Fore.")

Anyone got any ideas as to what's whacking the battery? Thanks.