Print 20 comment(s) - last by Tony Swash.. on Jun 17 at 6:49 AM

Apple unleashes a new update for its desktop/notebook operating system

Yesterday was a big day for Apple. It announced a new Mac mini complete with an $100 higher price tag which is leaving many bewildered and pre-orders started for the iPhone 4.

However, there was one other bit of news from the Apple camp yesterday that slipped under the radar screen: OS X 10.6.4. The following fixes/updates (among other things) are included with this release:

  • improves compatibility with some Braille displays
  • resolves an issue that causes the keyboard or trackpad to become unresponsive
  • resolves an issue that may prevent some Adobe Creative Suite 3 applications from opening
  • addresses issues copying, renaming, or deleting files on SMB file servers
  • improves reliability of VPN connections
  • resolves a playback issue in DVD Player when using Good Quality deinterlacing
  • resolves an issue editing photos with iPhoto or Aperture in full screen view
  • resolves an issue with Parental Controls Time Limits for Open Directory or Active Directory users
  • resolves a display sleep issue with MacBook Pro (Early 2010) computers
  • resolves an issue with MacBook Pro (Early 2010) computers in which the right speaker may sound louder than the left speaker
  • includes Safari 5.0; for more information about Safari 5.0
  • security improvements 

Apple's last update for OS X, 10.6.3, was released back in March.

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TAC hegemony continues unabated
By Tony Swash on 6/16/2010 6:24:25 PM , Rating: 3
I posted this elsewhere but reading the comments here I thought it so appropriate I decided to post it again.

The Techie Apple Conundrum (TAC)

The TAC arises often on sites such as Daily Tech because the attraction of Apple products, and hence Apple's huge success as a company, is dependent on features and aspects of product design invisible to almost all Techies. Thus Apples success is mysterious, vexing and ultimately challenging.

Techies for example often focus on feature lists and technical specifications and compare one such list to another and look at comparative prices and cannot understand that someone would pay more for an "inferior" spec.

This of course misses a critical aspect of Apple product design, one of the keys to the success of Apple in the consumer market, which is that for many (perhaps most) consumers having fewer technical features is a positive thing. This seems paradoxical to Techies but this is because they fail to comprehend what the actual experience for the vast majority of consumers of hi-tech products actually is - which is bad.

Consumers constantly encounter products that don't work as advertised, products that squeeze so many functions into an item that using it for its main purposes is dreadfully complex, products that even when their function should be simple (i.e. to play music, to play a DVD, to surf the web, to write emails) require a thick user manual (many of which which are often written by engineers and are thus unhelpful).

Most hi-tec products are user-unfriendly for most consumers. But not to Techies because they have technical knowledge and so can cope with poor/arcane design. In fact Techies like such products because they find technical challenges fun and because it makes them useful (they are always helping people solve their technical problems) and thus boosts their self esteem.

Some kit, almost all non-Apple desktop computers for example, are not just difficult and poorly designed but are positively scary for almost all consumers. Many non-Apple desktop computers seem very complex to operate, go wrong for no clearly understood reasons and worst of all seem to be under constant attack. Watching someone move from a non-Apple desktop computer to a Mac you can often see them slowly losing their awful, and most of the times paralysing, fear of infection and attack. As the fear fades the pleasure of using their computer increases dramatically and people start to love their computers rather than secretly hating them. Thus another mac-head is born.

The emblematic product for TAC is the iPad. Here is a product that comes on instantly, looks and feels gorgeous, feels fast, is easy to operate and does (in a fantastically convenient form factor) most of what most people do most of the time on their computer (ie browse the web, send emails, watch movies, read stuff and look at and share photos). Plus it has two huge benefits for most consumers. First it doesn't feel like a computer - this is a good thing for most people because most people's experience of using computers has been bad. Secondly it feels very safe because of Apple's curated computing model, and most users of computers have previously felt unsafe most of the time.

The very reasons that make the iPad such a huge success are the very reasons that Techies don't get it. If one product above all induces TAC its the iPad. Techies say "but Apple has an iron grip and is killing our freedoms" (people want safety much more than some obscure technical freedom), "the iPad doesn't have [insert any number of features that consumers don't care about]", "its not a real computer" (exactly).

So the continuing, relentless and accelerating success of Apple seems almost inexplicable to most Techies, "how could such products be so successful?"

The answer Techies come up are fairly predictable:

- Apple's voodoo marketing: Apple is pulling the wool over the consumer eyes (sometimes this is blamed on media hype).

- Apple's evil lock in: Apple has a locked down and closed platform, once sucked in people can't leave.

- Apple consumers and users are idiots: Fooled by marketing and glitzy packaging the sheep can be sold everything.

Because Techies believe that these are the real reason people buy Apple products (other than the more obvious reason which is that consumers actually like them a lot) Techies also believe that this state of affairs cannot possibly last and therefore the final piece of the Techie response to Apple falls into place. Deranged by TAC Techies often come up with the most delusional statement of all - Apple is doomed.

RE: TAC hegemony continues unabated
By petpeeve on 6/16/2010 7:51:11 PM , Rating: 2

That was very well laid out and well said.

Interestingly enough, the techies who do not bash Apple with every breath own MacBooks and MBPs and absolutely love developing on them, whether it's the hardware, the UX, or the UNIX underbelly that is just a away.

RE: TAC hegemony continues unabated
By fsardis on 6/16/2010 10:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
I happen to own a Mac and it is the worst thing I have used since Win98.
It constantly crashes, the UI is horrible to use and gives me no real control and I am constantly in fear of getting infected because there is no protection on the damn thing at all.

A very nice article on the UI written by the very man who designed it.

As for security, I will not add any links. Anyone reading these forums should know how badly Apple is doing in hacking competitions.

I would take Windows any day over a Mac. I have owned Apple products twice in my life. Never again. By they way, why can't the iPhone open MIME attachments but the "horrible" Windows phones can? Why does the battery last a few hours but my cheap Samsung goes for a whole week without a charge? What is the price premium really for? Just a nice wrap and lots of marketing hype?

RE: TAC hegemony continues unabated
By gcor on 6/16/10, Rating: 0
RE: TAC hegemony continues unabated
By fsardis on 6/17/2010 2:56:58 AM , Rating: 2
And I love that you have no arguments. It is typical for fanbois to preach about the quality of the hardware all the time. When people prove to them that the hardware is just bog standard PC equipment, then they start preaching about the package. It happens that my package is overheating. I am in a 22c room and my core2duo mac idles at 60c. Nice package, congratulation on the highly advanced engineering. After they face defeat on that front, they start arguing about the superiority of OSX and the user experience. I showed you what the man who created the user experience thinks about it. A further example to prove my point:
currently my Mac will bring the dock to the top of the GUI whenever I place my mouse on the bottom right corner. The problem is that I have disabled the hot-corners so it has no reason to do this. I am not using any GUI modding tools either so this is clearly a bug that god knows how it started.

It is true I will never discover that OSX works because it doesn't work. The GUI is crap, the stability is horrible, it has half the features that Windows has had as standard for many years now and there is just no real advantage to it over windows. As an added bonus, here are a couple more points about the Mac "experience":

For years Windows has allowed a fully customisable GUI theme. With OSX I have a choice of silver, silver and silver. Think different huh? More like think the same for everybody.
Since Vista Windows has supported shadow copies. It is fully integrated to the system and needs no special hardware. In OSX I need to set up Time Machine and on top of that I need a separate hard disk. Cool huh?
For a long time now, Windows has automated the update process. In OSX I gotta run it and it always bothers the users because it has to run as a separate application that jumps to the front all the time. With windows it only bothers you occasionally if it needs to restart.
In Windows I can instantly see how many windows I have open by any application just by taking a glance at the task bar. In OSX i have to right click on the application in order to see if there are any windows hiding behind the main window.

I can do this forever really. I have a very long list of things to bash Apple for. But then again I shouldn't expect better from a company who is incapable of making their own OS and has to borrow large and crucial parts of it from open source. Yea, keep enjoying your Macs, as the saying goes: a fool and his money are easily parted. I am never falling for their marketing again.

RE: TAC hegemony continues unabated
By gcor on 6/17/2010 6:32:52 AM , Rating: 1
What I like about Mac hardware is that there are so few models and the same company sells the hardware and the OS. Together, these things make it LIKELY to be much more stable than the alternative.

By having a limited set of hardware combinations, it's practical for Apple to regression test all OS updates with all their supported h/w platforms. MS on the other hand has absolutely no chance of this. The permutations and combinations of hardware in a PC make it utterly impossible to test like this with any degree of coverage. For MS, the problem of stability is vastly harder and it's simply not feasible to get it 100% right.

Also, because Apple provide the h/w and the OS, when something doesn't work, complaints only go to one group instead of two or more. When a complaint goes to two or more, the companies frequently then finger point at one another and nothing gets resolved. With Apple, if you can reproduce the fault, they have to acknowledge they have a problem.

So, the few h/w models and single h/w & OS vendor really work toward a more stable platform. Yes, the hardware tends to be out of date compared to the latest, but frankly that would only matter to me if I needed the fastest machine. For me, games are the only thing this is a problem for.

For games, I used to build PC gaming rigs and spent a ton a money getting the latest and greatest every 6-9 months. Now a days, I choose not to afford this and use consoles instead for gaming. They cost about one decent video card each, last many years, are very stable and I can start up a game much faster, which is great when your time is limited.

By Tony Swash on 6/17/2010 6:49:05 AM , Rating: 2
All you sufferers from TAC seem to have missed the point of my post. I am merely pointing out that, given your detailed critique of Apple and your expansive defence of alternative products, you don't seem to have any really coherent explanations for why Apple is so successful.

Avoiding the the silly "voodoo marketing", "Apple lock in" and "Apple consumers are stupid/sheep" arguments (let's at least try to use the old noggin guys) I am interested in your explanations of why Apple is so successful.

My explanation is pretty simple - they make products that people really, really like. How Apple does that is very complicated (although oddly Apple products are often perceived as being very simple - an intentional feature by the way) and every other tech company would love to be able to copy them.

My proposition is that the characteristics that make Apple products attractive to tens of millions of consumers are essentially invisible to the techie demographic represented so amply on the Daily Tech forums.

One specific response re:

For a long time now, Windows has automated the update process. In OSX I gotta run it and it always bothers the users because it has to run as a separate application that jumps to the front all the time.

If you open System Preferences in MacOSX you can set the update process to happen to any schedule you want and to download updates automatically. The display and downloading of the updates is modeless - that is you can let it run in the background whilst doing other stuff in other windows in the Finder.

With windows it only bothers you occasionally if it needs to restart.

Maybe I have been unusually unlucky but I have been at several meetings where the speakers were using Windows and their Powerpoint presentation has been rudely interrupted because they have automatic updates turned on. It always made me giggle.

RE: TAC hegemony continues unabated
By B3an on 6/16/2010 11:58:44 PM , Rating: 2
"Some kit, almost all non-Apple desktop computers for example, are not just difficult and poorly designed but are positively scary for almost all consumers. Many non-Apple desktop computers seem very complex to operate, go wrong for no clearly understood reasons and worst of all seem to be under constant attack."

Yeah because Win7 is just so hard to use isn't it. And so scary, and always breaking down... it's so bad for consumers... it's not like it's the fastest selling OS ever...

And yes it's under attack constantly - for doing so well. But atleast it has the ability to fend off and deal with attacks, and is not left wide open like OSX.

Typical fanboy Tony post.

By themaster08 on 6/17/2010 4:48:19 AM , Rating: 2
Something that really pisses me off is how those that are biased towards Apple seem to have the mind set that Windows needs to be configured/tweaked to suit the users' needs.

Windows works perfectly out-the-box. If you purchase a computer from a store, all of the necessary drivers are installed and will more than likely be updated automatically via Windows Update (which has absolutely tremendous support for drivers by the way). The system is ready to go from the moment you purchase it.

Configuring/tweaking is not necessary, but is an option if the user desires. That attracts a larger market.
I find it quite humourous that they're quick to point out that the enthusiast community is a niche, yet try to push that configuration is necessary on every Windows machine. Rather hypocritical, wouldn't you say?

They seem to be stuck in the dark days of Windows 95. Windows has advanced tremendously since then. They seem to have a one track mind where only OS X advances whilst Windows gets left in the dust.

As for malware... if Apple aplologists have a batter way of securing 1 billion+ computers from attacks I'm sure Microsoft would absolutely love to know. Until then, be quiet.

So whilst our good friend Tony Swash yet again gives us another lecture on how we are unable to fathom Apple's success, we'll just quietly laugh as he yet again repeats the same old naive Windows jibes such as "they have 10000000000's of malware, always crash and are user unfriendly because they need to be configured/tweaked properly".

We can fathom Apple's success as clear as the blue sky. That doesn't mean we have to like their products! If that was the case.

The only misunderstanding here is that Tony is the one unable to fathom Windows' success.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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