My Life With a MacBook Pro – 3 Years In

Hmm  … where to start?

I had to buy a MacBook, I need to write and compile apps for iPhones and iPads.  I would have preferred to spend the extortionate cost for it on something else, like keeping it as inheritance for my kids or buy a house.  But well, my hand was forced by Apple.

I’d love to be able to say it’s been a pleasure to own but frankly it hasn’t.  I know it’s fine for the average user who wants to browse the web, send a few emails and “facetime” but trying to use it for my needs and it a pig frankly.  I’ve had more weird issues with this one laptop than I’ve had in previous 18 years of Windows based PC ownership, I’m not exaggerating.

It just works? If it “just works”, why the need for genius bars?

I’m a power user, a software engineer and I build desktop PCs and mission critical servers so I know stuff about hardware as well as software.  I just do not rate these machines.  They look pretty but my god when something goes wrong you end up in a mess.

Hardware Issues

Great hardware I hear people saying?  In these three years I’ve had to replace the power supply twice (£65 a pop – £195 on power supplies!!!).  I’ve never replaced a power supply on anything in my life, let alone a laptop.  I’ve also never had a port on a machine die.  This is a £2000 laptop and I’ve experienced both multiple times.

The first Thunderbolt port became less than reliable after the first 12 months, now this weekend the one that did work also suddenly stopped working.  Now to continue using my Ethernet network connection I have to purchase some more hardware just to keep using what has been a computer standard for decades – the RJ45 connector.

Add to those problems the completely unserviceable build methodology and it seems I’m slowly cruising towards owning a very expensive brick.

I’ve also got to make an appointment with the “genius bar” folks as this laptop is also afflicted with the screen coating issue Apple have issued a recall over.  Luckily my MacBook Pro doesn’t seem to have the issue with the video card (which also effects early 2013 MBP).

Remember, this is a PREMIUM £2000 laptop … I’m really not impressed to be honest.  Two major recalls (there may be more I don’t know about) on a product like this isn’t good.

Bluetooth has also been a constant source of hate for me.  For the majority of the time I have owned this laptop I couldn’t use the Magic Mouse & W-Fi at the same time.  The Magic Mouse, at the best of times, drops it’s connection for a hobby.  How dare I expect to use the mouse and internet at the same time!  But it doesn’t matter since I stopped using the Magic Mouse completely because it would make my Wi-Fi either painfully slow or not work at all.  So there’s another £59 pissed up the wall.

Software Issues

OSX is horrific.  I hate it.  I hate it’s design and I hate the way it operates.  Loads of things hidden in the UI until you press the option key is a usability disaster.  The finder is a joke of disk navigating tool.

When I first got my hands of OSX (Mavericks) I was literally blown away by what it couldn’t do out of the box.  Finding that I had to buy additional software tools to do proper window management was a joke.

But OSX doesn’t get viruses I hear everyone yelling.  Well, in the past 20 years I’ve had … lets see … 2 viruses on a PC that I had to deal with.  Both back when I was using Windows 98SE.  So shut up, this is moot issue.  If people will click on every link or dodgy web site they’re sent they should expect them to get viruses.  A bad workman always blames his tools …

Every time I’ve done an upgrade on the OS I’m left with crap to deal with.  Resetting the PRAM or SCM or both because some issue has crept into the system.  Either Wi-Fi not working or the Bluetooth connectivity going nuts.  For the longest time after the Yosemity update I couldn’t use my UEBoom at all as the audio was never in sync with the video.

One of the reasons Windows is so pervasive is backwards compatibility.  I had programs from 1995 that I can happily run on my Windows 10 box.  It seems with every update of OSX something stops working.  The classic example is Parallels.  They seem to capitalise on this fact with their marketing and will scare users into upgrading, even when their app will carry on working.  But for me Parallels 8 stopped working on El Capitan, so I switched to using VirtualBox (which is free).

All in all, I won’t be recommending Apple stuff anymore.  To those that I have recommended they get an Apple product, I apologise.  The problem is that now I’m an iOS developer I’ll always need a Mac around for code compilation duties.  But, no more MacBook for me, I’ll get a Mini and hide it away somewhere so I don’t have to look at it.

Crisp Retina displays on the MacBook are no compensation for the issues I have.  Particularly when the hardware is all glued together.  That fact renders this gadget as basically throw away tech.  £2000 throw away tech.  How Apple can boast of being green is beyond my comprehension.

As for developing software for the Apple platforms?  I’ll leave that to a future post as that is even worse than dealing with their hardware …

The one thing that Apple gets absolutely correct – marketing.

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