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.