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[dupe] ‘MAYBE IT’S a PIECE OF DUST’ (daringfireball.net)
63 points by AlexeyBrin on Oct 18, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments

HN thread on the linked blog post: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15496745

I've also found the new 2017 MacBook w/ Touchbar keyboard to be extremely problematic. Many of the time the keys that I press don't work and I have to press them again. Tried compressed air, but to no avail :(

Meanwhile my 2012 MacBook still has a perfectly functional keyboard and has never had these sorts of issues before...

All on a brand new $3k laptop. This computer has caused me so many problems.

Out of curiosity, have you tried the cleaning guide Apple published? https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205662

What on earth would cause you to buy a $3,000 laptop? Are you a mechanical engineer?

Well, if he works at a place like I do - my company pays for all of my hardware and software so I never take cost into consideration. My boss wouldn't approve it if I got too outrageous though ($3000 would not be considered outrageous).

All factors considered, that's like the cost of one week's work. And you'll probably use it for 2-3 years, 5 days a week, so around $20 per work day.

By that math, many companies would save hundreds of millions of dollars a year if they could save $14 per employee per day in laptop costs.

Heh, I work for a Fortune 150 company and almost everyone has a macbook pro (at least judging by what I see in meetings and walking around campus). I can't even imagine how much would be saved if everyone used cheap Wintel machines.

Docker. I need/want 64gb in my next laptop, so that I can run deployment simulations.

I figured there was a use case for it. The price for a laptop goes up exponentially when one of its resources reaches an upper limit. But keep in mind that for that price you could build three desktops with the same RAM and run CI/CD on a redundant distributed cluster (which become necessary for long running simulations, unless you want to keep your laptop at the office all weekend). It's also a more realistic simulation due to system resource and interconnect bottlenecks.

We seem to be at this awkward stage in the simplification of technology. Consumers no longer want to engage in maintenance and minor repairs—peterwwillis above points out using compressed air on your keyboard and taking care of your mouseball used to be standard, and I remember slightly-but-not-very tech-savvy people adding RAM, swapping a hard drive, replacing a keyboard, etc. However, the reliability of devices hasn't quite reached the point where we can get away with zero maintenance.

Improving reliability is hard and this is HN, so I'm in favor of gently reminding consumers that a basic understanding of how things work is useful—in laptops, in cars, in home improvement. And I wish companies would make more maintainable and repairable products. I've been using old Thinkpads for years since I can replace individual parts that fail. I also bought an old Jeep Wrangler to learn how to do the same with cars.

I have never had to use compressed air on any of my keyboards to keep them working. Only to clean them up. And over the >20 years I've spent interacting with keyboards more or less daily, the only issues I can remember were direct results of fairly long use: broken keys (on the flimsier keyboards) or gunk buildup below the key. And those took years to happen.

The keyboards TFA discusses are all under 18 months old, some under 6.

I'm currently typing on a wireless Apple keyboard I bought in 2009 which I don't think I ever did any maintenance on aside from changing the batteries. I'd be aghast if I had to "do maintenance" on a keyboard less than 2 years old.

I think that's a big part of the issue here, Apple's previous keyboards[0] worked and were reliable (possible dislike of short key travel aside), the replacements were not exactly appreciated when released, that they also turn out to be pathologically unreliable compounds the problem.

[0] which IIRC they used from the first polycarbonate macbook up until they replaced it in the first-gen touchbar MBP, both on laptops and on "standalone" keyboard products

I think the issue is that the new keyboard is turning out to be significantly less reliable than the previous generation. No keyboard should require cleaning with compressed air after only a few months of normal usage, that is simply poor design.

While there may be some degree of "laziness" or whatever on the part of the consumer, I think more if the issue lies with the manufacturer.

Why don't people change their car oil on their own anymore? Probably because you need expert knowledge and a few hundred dollars worth of equipment to do it, depending on your car make/model.

Changing ram and cleaning your keyboard isn't what it used to be. You need tiny spudgers and tiny tiny screwdrivers with non-standard heads and (occasionally) willingness to void your warranty.

> Consumers no longer want to engage in maintenance and minor repairs

Those aren't the same consumers. There are more of them now.

Casey Johnston writes for The Wirecutter and used to work for Ars Technica. She did a review video (which I won't bother digging up since this thread is dead) surveying different keyboard technologies. She doesn't need a reminder to learn about how her keyboard works.

Edit: in retrospect, that's why the "original sources only" rule is important. Half the comments here wouldn't even have been made if people had started there.

People never wanted to do that maintenance. Steve Jobs had advocated for "plug in and use" sealed boxes almost since Apple was a thing. We're just much closer to that dream than ever now, so anything else becomes less tolerable.

> I remember slightly-but-not-very tech-savvy people adding RAM, swapping a hard drive, replacing a keyboard, etc.

I'd argue those were still early adopters, a part of the 10% or even 5% of the world that owned a computer at the time.

It's getting increasingly difficult to swap those things as they are more and more soldered on or the case cant be opened.

The thing that's notable here is that it's Daring Fireball calling Apple out here...

That aside, I'm glad I put one of the silicone skins (from Uppercase) over my keyboard from day 1 and leave it on 100% of the time. I mostly use an external keyboard anyway, but at least I feel somewhat protected.

Agreed. Rarely has a negative word about any Apple product been written on Daring Fireball.

Normally the only reasons to read it is if you want to feel good about an Apple purchase you've already made.

> Agreed. Rarely has a negative word about any Apple product been written on Daring Fireball.

I pulled these from the front page of DF today, 2017-10-18. While John Gruber clearly writes an abundance of positive Apple stories, your charactarization is inaccurate.

THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM OF USB-C > USB-C is a dual disaster… Now that all modern Apple MacBooks are USB-C-only, USB-C’s problems are MacBook problems, too. https://marco.org/2017/10/14/impossible-dream-of-usb-c

IOS IS RIPE FOR PHISHING PASSWORD PROMPTS https://krausefx.com/blog/ios-privacy-stealpassword-easily-g...

IPHONE CHARGING TIMES BY CHARGER > I’m on the side that this is Apple cheaping out. https://twitter.com/dwlz/status/917443870509715456

Cultural Insularity and Apple TV > It’s not enough to make a better set-top box. It has to be obviously better. I don’t think Apple TV’s current lineup makes that case. https://daringfireball.net/2017/09/cultural_insularity_and_a...

To be fair, he's called out Apple before, especially on software quality.

Ironically: "Maybe we expect too much from Apple’s software. But Apple’s hardware doesn’t have little problems like this."


He's starting to be more critical of them. He sort of called them out on USB-C, as well as saying they cheaped out by including such a dinky charger with the new iPhones.

Retire Ive, I've had enough with thin. There is no point in going further with this guy. I want a laptop with a mechanical keyboard.

I like thin. When I pick up my gf's previous gen MBP it feels heavy and bulky. I imagine that's also what the majority of the market feels, hence Apple's design choices.

I don't think there is any sense in shrinking laptops any further, it's just compromising repairability, thermal management capacity, battery capacity and input device haptic feedback.

I miss socketed CPUs on laptops, I've upgraded the CPU in many of my old ThinkPads over the years to get some more life out of them. Of course, disposable computing is more profitable...

The only reason to stop shrinking laptops is that the physical UI can only get so small before UX suffers - and that includes making it thick enough to hold onto. Leverage that limit by continuing to shrink components so we can fill the remaining space with more battery.

They physical overhead (size, weight, cost) of socketed CPU/RAM/etc just isn't worth imposing on 99.99% of users who will never make use of that capability. This is exacerbated by the increased synergy of the components: a major part of Apple's success comes from managing the interconnectedness of all things, all carefully balanced for exact purposes - not generalized for 3rd-party parts swapping (for which failures get blamed on Apple, not the cheap POS part you thought might work).

You want a lightweight high-quality device with long battery life? You're not going to get it with CPU sockets and access panels.

By now, most users have learned that computers ARE disposable: come end-of-life, vanishingly few will want to futz around with upgrading parts at cost of time spent, only to extend the life of a machine straining into obsolescence. We all dearly want to hang onto those old familiar machines, but fact is by the time a product hits that point you don't want something running the best of 5-year-old+ tech, you want the next generation with better everything.

I keep coming back to a rule of thumb: for something used heavily, daily, is it worth $X/day? An iPhone X over 3 years is $1/day. A robust MacBook used for work is certainly worth $3/day. Come practical end-of-life, it has more than paid for itself. ...and that's why Apple has made it so easy to switch up to a new machine, and abandoned notions of component upgrades. If coffee costs more during that time than the hardware in question, get a new one and sell/donate the old (making the switch even cheaper).

System modularity allows me to be self reliant when it comes to my hardware conking out a day outside the warranty period. I simply will not be beholden to a third party for servicing. I will get the component next day delivered to me, or I will pull something out of my parts bin.

I'm grateful for the fact that if my motherboard kicks the bucket I can just unplug my SSD and read it in another computer, my data isn't lost.

This rat race of planned obsolescence and software bloat lighting a fire under consumers asses is getting very old. A piece of hardware is obsolete when I decide it is, not the manufacturer.

Its not really Ive, it's the hardware engineer in charge of making sure the final specs are bug free and thoroughly tested....

I found it worrisome that Gruber's post is on top of HN rather than the original, much more informative post.

The original post is a day old now - it was discussed on HN in depth: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15496745

I'd agree though that this Gruber post doesn't really add anything of note to the original post. I suppose the fact that even an Apple diehard like him is drawing attention to is worth noting, but that's about it.

I've had my TBMBP for just over six months. Already had to flush out the keyboard with compressed air twice because of stuck keys. Apparently I'm one of the lucky ones, because that actually worked. I've had at least a dozen laptops before, every one more than twice as long, and none of them have ever had this problem even once. Not even the super-cheap super-tiny netbooks so don't blame the technology. The technology to do better has existed for years. This is either shoddy design or shoddy manufacturing, and if I had to pay for this thing myself I'd be livid.

If my $5 keyboard started inserting double spaces (without being flooded, or otherwise damaged), I would blame (and check) software, down to BIOS, before I thought it's a mechanical failure.

That's what ya get for blindly buying everything Apple makes. The moment I checked out the keyboards on these new laptops in the Mac store was the moment I switched to Linux on Thinkpad.

I'm in no way a Apple Hater. I follow Apple blogs and listen Apple podcasts, I never get any work done during an Apple keynote and I've had 4 Macs, and Apple //e, countless iPods, iPhones, and iPads over the years.

But I can't for the life of me find anything appealing about any of Apple's Computer offering aside from the Retina iMacs.

The MacBooks just feel limiting to me compared to a good Windows laptop with multitouch trackpad. Currently I'm a fan of Dell's midrange and high end 2-n-1s

I've actually had far more problems with my previous keyboard for my previous MBP (which was amazing for the 5 years I had it aside from a dead pixel I got 3 years in and the keyboard woes).

I would constantly break keys. Especially the arrow keys which were smaller. It was mind boggling to me that I was typing enough to have to replace keys. The new keyboard feels so much more robust and solid. I just wish I could put the touchbar into emoji mode after pressing a touchbar shortcut.

Isn't it important that we have like the number of failure out of the total? I mean, given a few millions laptops, it is almost guaranteed that some of them will go terribly wrong. If those who go wrong are very vocal, this might gives the impression that the Macbook Pro sucks.

I'm typing from the 2014Pro and it is the best keyboard my hands have been working on. I tried the 2016 at the Store but I don't think that is eligible for a review.

I have macbook pro with touchbar. My letter B started behaving just as his space. Sometimes it would print twice on one hit, sometimes 0. I removed the button and cleaned everything and now it is fine.

So buy a different computer?

I can't be the only person who remembers when a can of compressed air was a part of performance tuning, or when your mouse ball got its regular maintenance.

If a can of compressed air could have fixed the problem, this wouldn't be a problem. You should read the linked article, it's good.

> I can't be the only person who remembers when a can of compressed air was a part of performance tuning, or when your mouse ball got its regular maintenance.

These things are solved problems now. Regressions are bad. If they've made the keyboard less reliable, they should fix it.

Well apple has been cruising on past successes ever since Steve Jobs died in my opinion and it seemed to work just fine for them but they seem to be getting a bit lax in their QA these days.

Well that's the story of almost every major company though. They make a great splash become famous and big then they start slacking off and cutting corners to increase their profits as much as possible.

It takes quite a lot of conscious effort to not fall into this pitfall and not many companies can do it.

Every time I see news like this one about Apple products and what seem like obvious defects, I can't help but imagine the same situation with Google or Microsoft as the party at fault.

I'm not sure what you mean, but when you pay through the nose for "the best quality", this stuff matters.

> I can't help but imagine the same situation with Google or Microsoft as the party at fault

Well, check out the response to the Google Home Mini, where they had to disable the activation button in firmware because some units were constantly activating.

people don’t pretend google or microsoft are without flaws, while apple has that reputation.

You can't just criticize Apple. Have some respect.

I just manually fixed my mouse's scroll wheel middle click functionality from doing this 'double click' problem. You can take apart the switch and bend the spring a bit manually to get it back to shape. I don't know how the Mac keyboards work, but I'd be taking to Google to find a similar solution. Then again, my mouse was long out of warranty. Sad that the store assistants have to stupidly run through the diagnostic tests when that's obviously not the kind of problem here.

You should read the linked article. You can't remove the spacebar without breaking the mechanism. The solution to a broken spacebar is to replace the whole "top" of the computer which will cost $700 when out of warranty. That's why they ran so many diagnostic tests first.

Okay, sorry I read the article linked and not the article linked by the linked article that was hidden in the title of the first article. It was completely unclear to me that there even was a second article; it looked like just a few paragraphs of mini-rant.

Yup, a good reason to observe the rule to only post original articles, and kill this one.

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