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I really want to like Apple (but they don't like us) (dieblinkenlights.com)
61 points by rbanffy on July 27, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 42 comments

The cable nightmare should be enough to open up anyone's eyes. There's a line somewhere that companies should not cross in their willingness to protect their investments.. Apple trying to disallow other gadgets from using iTunes is one thing. You may or may not agree with it but it does not sound too weird. Standard cables are far, far beyond that line that should not be crossed.

I'm not ready to jump on this one.

For one thing, I have an iPhone, and I have a car with Microsoft Sync. Every time I plug the iPhone into the car's USB port, it pops up "this accessory is not made to work with iPhone". And then it works anyway (except for the part where something is a little overzealous about reindexing the music on the phone, and I'm not yet sure which side that one's on).

For another, the DRM point may be more important than the author makes it out to be: there are plenty of systems where using the "wrong" cable will still work, but with significantly degraded access (I still remember the first time I had to buy an adapter box to use a DVD player with my TV). I'm not sure that "sorry, you can't do that" is any better or worse than "you can do that, it just won't be useful in any way".

The author can assure you the video halts while the iPod displays that dialog ("monologue" would perhaps be more appropriate) box saying the cable is not compatible. It usually does so after a random period of time (between a couple seconds to a couple minutes) playing the video on the TV. Any subsequent attempt to play the video with the same cable results in the video being shown on the iPod screen. One workaround is to reboot the iPod and restart playback, but it is more hassle than I am willing to put up with.

It may be called "degraded usability" for some...

Not just on their Ipods either. You also get a goofy cable on their macbooks and on the shuffle headphones. And now they cut the firewire from the macbook line (I think the mackbook pro still has it). One hand gives and the other takes.

All MacBooks have Firewire. Not really an issue though, Firewire isn't exactly standard on consumer level laptops.

Except for the 15" Macbook Pro, the only MBP that anyone actually would want to buy. ;)

The 15" MacBook Pro has Firewire.

Every current Macbook Pro has Firewire, according to http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/specs.html

The white ones always had Firewire 400 too (http://www.apple.com/macbook/specs.html). There was a brief period when the 15 inch Macbook (later renamed Pro) had no Firewire.

The Air, predictably, doesn't have Firewire. It barely has USB...

Oops... Jstevens85 got it right. It was the 13 inch that had no FireWire before being renamed a "pro".

Yeah, I got mixed up. The Macbook (not pro) is lacking firewire, right? And the 15" MacbookPro lost expresscard.

All Apple laptops (except the Air) have Firewire. The 13" Macbook was briefly without Firewire, but that was reinstated at WWDC.

I got my first Apple product - a MacBook - in December. The only way to connect it to an external monitor turned out to be purchasing an additional Mini DisplayPort[1] adapter for something like $45 - from Apple, of course, since no one else was selling it.

The ONLY product in the entire world at the time that used the Mini DisplayPort, as far as I could tell, was the MacBook. (well, maybe some of Apple's new displays). Of course the adapter wasn't included with the MacBook, and it's expensive as hell.

Not quite as bad as the linked article, but that was my first experience with Apple as a company - left a bit of a bitter taste.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini_DisplayPort

I don't think that's Apple being evil, that's Apple being ahead of the curve. They've always done that and I've thought it was generally admirable, although sometimes it puts you as a customer further out on the bleeding edge than you'd like. (E.g., I was very much unready to give up PCI when Apple decided to ditch PCI-X for PCI Express. However, it was clearly where the world was headed.)

They've done the "lead, don't follow" thing consistently since Jobs came back. Ditching ADB and serial for USB; ditching SCSI for FireWire---I groaned at each one of those calls, but they turned out to generally be the right ones, just a year or two in some cases before the market was quite ready.

However, all that is quite different from the bullshit with the iPod video cable discussed in the article. That's just outright consumer-hostile behavior, and it's not traditional Apple ... it seems to be something new, which has only started to happen in the last few years, and mostly in the markets where they are dominant.

I still like a lot of Apple's products (I'm writing this on a 15" MacBook), but it's as much evidence as I need to not want to ever have Apple dominate the PC market. They're a wonderful company when they're the underdog, but a harsh mistress when they're in charge.

They did the "lead don't follow" thing before Jobs came back too when it came to hardware (indeed all the way from the beginning of the company to the present, from mice and "plug-and-play" ADB connectors to 3.5" disks to the first real consumer laptops (remember the Duo Dock anyone?) to really embracing SCSI, laser printers, and then in the recent Jobs age, USB and firewire and ethernet and DVD writers etc. etc.), it’s just that their software stagnated for quite a few years and none of the next-gen software research projects they dumped loads of cash into in the early-to-mid 90s really panned out.

They ditched floppy drives years before anyone in the PC world too, and it did us a lot of good. There were far more useful replacements at the time (Zip drive, CD-R etc.) and the floppy really was something that needed to be abandoned.

(Mini) DisplayPort is probably going to be the standard for video interfaces, so I don't think Apple is being evil here. The standard is royalty-free, after all, so anyone can make a Mini DisplayPort cable. Right now, there's just no market; being an early adopter sucks.

(It seems that Lenovo and Dell put regular DisplayPorts on their laptops. So you are paying the Apple tax -- a more beautiful outline, but the cable costs $30 more.)

Right now, there's just no market; being an early adopter sucks.

Sure. I'm just annoyed that, out of the box, the silver MacBook delivered less functionality than the slightly cheaper white MacBook. (what, exactly, was I expected to plug into that port, if at the time 99.9999% of the world's displays didn't use it?) I certainly don't feel that Apple had an obligation to include an adapter, but it didn't make a first good impression.

The white MacBook instead uses mini-DVI cables, which aren't included and cost $30 from Apple.

Monoprice.com already sells Mini DisplayPort adapters of various types.

Mini DisplayPort isn't widely used yet, but it is quite impressive technology--a tiny cable that can drive a 2560x1600 display. Apple has always charged fairly exorbitant amounts for accessories, but a simple search on monoprice [1] shows an adaptor (to HDMI) with great reviews for $10.

[1] http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=104&c...

Thanks for that link - I think part of it was simply unfortunate timing. Mini DisplayPort was introduced in November and I got my laptop in December, I don't think there were third party adaptors on the market yet.


The point is, as much as I like Apple's attention to detail, its outstanding industrial design, I can't justify buying a product that's not really mine. Call me spoiled, but using stuff like Linux made me feel I am really in control. The netbook is mine, and nobody will make my computer do something I don't approve. If it ceases to work, it will be my fault.

This is exactly why I switched from XP to Linux rather than to OSX. I'd rather tinker with my own system than be passively impressed with the feature set of Apple's system.

I can't justify buying a product that's not really mine. Call me spoiled, but using stuff like Linux made me feel I am really in control. The netbook is mine, and nobody will make my computer do something I don't approve.

This should be enshrined as a sacred principle of programming, not unlike the medical profession's Hippocratic Oath: "I will not build user-betraying systems." It is not enough for us to swear not to buy them: the sheeple will. And they have the most dollars/votes. We, the programmers, must refuse to participate in their creation.


"Ethics for Programmers: Primum non Nocere" http://glyf.livejournal.com/46589.html

"The "you don't own your computer" paradigm is not merely wrong. It is violently, disastrously wrong, and the consequences of this error are likely to be felt for generations to come, unless steps are taken to prevent it."

It's a cable! How incompatible with something can a cable be?

Quite. Analog or not, cables carry a lot of technology these days.

To attribute this to some DRM effort is quite a large assumption. I wouldn't recommend writing off a company like Apple based on an assumption like that, considering it is almost certainly not true.

Granted, Apple does not usually go out of their way to make sure 3rd party accessories are supported on future devices. They can be a bit reckless about modifying interfaces, which tends to accidentally break 3rd party products (which Apple doesn't even always know exist). Heck, they frequently break compatibility with their own older products.

I think there is a tradeoff here, though. MicroSoft is actually darn good at backwards compatibility, and Apple is good at innovation. Striking the balance is tough.

Apple don't support non apple cables anymore, they do sell a cable that does what you need. Either buy the dam cable or go back to firmware 2.0. I didn't like it either, but they do have a reason to that (the octopus cable mentioned in the support forum) and they are probably going to stand by it.

Its like asking for microsoft to support their new bluetooth mice on windows 95. If I had windows 95 I would like them to, but it is not their obligation. I really wish they would support their freaking ABNT2 keyboards on macosx (which they don't, although the box says so).

There is no guarantee that something that worked before a soft/hard upgrade will continue to work, specially between major versions. Linux for christ sake dropped support for a lot of things between 2.4 - 2.6 and no one was whining about it. I mean, there is always someone whining on a linux forum...

"Its like asking for microsoft to support their new bluetooth mice on windows 95"

Actually, it's like Microsoft checking whether the mouse is made by Microsoft and then refusing to work with it despite the fact it would work perfectly.

Its not that, they check to see if the cable is an octopus cable, the problem is that just apple make those right now.

What I don't see here is any corroborating evidence that this is anything other than a bug or a faulty cable. Did the author call AppleCare? Did they tell him this was a DRM issue? Has he tried it with protected and unprotected content? Has he tried a new cable of same make and manufacture? Has he found any other users with this same problem (seems like there would be many)?

This is all basic troubleshooting that we would normally perform (or insist on being performed) before passing judgement. And yet for some reason, if it's an Apple product and you're new to the brand, you're somehow expecting to be screwed. So you blame any and every error on Apple and their evilness.

"What I don't see here is any corroborating evidence that this is anything other than a bug or a faulty cable."

As for the faulty cable, unless the fault is really small, there is no reason to believe there is one. The cable works flawlessly with other iPods that have the 1.x software. I could not find any other cables from the same manufacturer and, since it's just a cable, I threw out the box it came in without much thought of that.

I contacted Apple support, but since the cable is not made by Apple and the iPod's warranty is expired, they said I am pretty much on my own.

As for being new to the brand, I own (and have used then extensively in the 80s) a couple Apple IIs and a somewhat large collection of Macintoshes. Sadly I don't have a Lisa or a NeXT cube (working on that and gladly accepting donations), but, if that's not enough to make me a non-Apple-newbie, I certainly don't know what would.

Did you even read the article? It's all written in the first paragraph...

I read your article. I wish you'd have done my comment the same courtesy. You address none of my points. You haven't tried another cable. You haven't had the issue confirmed by support. You haven't tried with protected vs. unprotected content. You haven't found other users with the same problem... You can makes excuses for why you haven't done these things. They may even be good and reasonable excuses. But until you rule out the obvious and likely, your explanation of "my cable doesn't work because Apple doesn't like us" sounds like something of a conspiracy theory.

Also, for what it's worth, I'm comfortable labeling any new iPod/iPhone user who's most recent Apple hardware hails from over a decade ago as "new to the brand".

I did speak with Apple support. The rep told me that Apple does not support any non-Apple cables. I asked her if she meant "made for ipod or iphone" cables purchased at a legit retail store. She confirmed that they do not support any non-Apple cables after the 3.0 update.

No you didn't. Had you read the article, you wouldn't write what you did.

As for your points:

Another identical cable: I don't have two cables

Another iPod: worked other 1.x

Protected/uprotected: they were unprotected podcasts

Users with the same problem: didn't look for them. Assume my cable is "weird"

The cable ceased to work on the nigth the device was updated. Worked the night before. It would be incredibly weird if the cable broke by itself while hooked up to the TV the same time the iPod was updated, wouldn't it?

And while I didn't mention any hardware that is not part of my rather extensive collection of interesting Computers (not limited to Apples, of course), there is a rather new Macbook at home and a couple Macs at the office. Why would you suppose my newest Mac is a museum item?

And just to be thorough, about other people having the same problem:


This is not news. In 2007 it was already reported that video out stopped working in iPods unless you used a new cable with an authentication chip: http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/news/comments/apple-locks-t...

Why would anyone want to like a company?

Because capitalism is built on a series of MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL transactions. So when I buy a product - I gain something because I now have the product and the company gains because they've sold me that product presumably at a profit. The reason I buy something is because buying it makes me better off.

I like things that make me better off - therefore it is perfectly reasonable to like companies - esp ones that make important/complex things that I derive a lot of benefit from.

Because capitalism is built on a series of MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL transactions.

It's not only that: capitalism is also built extensively on explicit or implied social norms that cultivate customer loyalty to a company that makes and keeps ethical as well as contractual promises.

Market norms and values are what they are, but people live in social and ethical worlds, and most people expect their business transactions to be ethically as well as economically acceptable.

That's a pretty neat question. It's not "Why would anyone like a company," but "Why would anyone want to like a company". An example of why one might want to like a company is for when he or she is buying stock. One doesn't have to like the company, but it can influence the decision of buying if one doesn't like the company. I'm not saying that I would never buy stock for a company I don't like, but the decision of spending my money comes much easier if I like the company. However, there are flaws with that argument seeing as my liking the company could potentially cause me to over-invest and lost my money because I thought I would buy stock for the company I liked. There are pros to why someone would like a company; however, like in the example I showed above, there are equal cons. But if you own the company. I see reason to want to like it =]

Why would anyone want to like a brand, a product, an ideal, a religion, a soccer team?

Why would anyone want to dislike a company? Why would anyone want to dislike anything at all?

I suppose it's to avoid the conflict between short-term personal gain (X is making a good product) and the more general long-term global loss (X actions go against my personal principles; X makes the world a worse place to live).

because they make (for the most part) nice stuff.

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