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  • Wacky Comments from Our Readers

    November 10th, 2016

    It takes all kinds of people to make a village of blog readers. Some like what you do, some don’t, and some are smack in the middle more or less. Regardless, I’m happy to receive comments, because I know people are reading. Some arrive via the Comments panels on the site, while others are sent via email. Either way, I make a good effort to respond when I can.

    But it’s also true that some readers want to stir the pot, sometimes a little too eagerly. So I see messages where someone wants to make a contrary point, but when you engage them in a conversation, you find they’re merely egging you on for an online flamewar.

    This reminds me of the days in the mid-1990s when I was working as a Mac forum leader for AOL. I was providing support for a beleaguered platform, and I also ventured out to those old Usenet message boards. They were rambling, large, and usually uncensored, except for a few that were moderated. But the uncensored boards could be both enjoyable and infuriating.

    So I remember responding to someone who wrote a scathing piece about AOL. Now the core of the complaint was mostly correct, since  AOL offered a simplified online experience, highly curated, and didn’t always allow you to wade into the ditches. This is the sort of thing that was useful for newcomers, but power users resented the situation, referring to the service as “the kindergarten of the Internet.” Well, after replying to that poster, he made a response trying to goad me into an online argument.

    I refused, and simply corrected his misstatements. His response? Well, I didn’t understand the way things worked out there in the Internet wilderness. He said, “I flame you, you flame me.” But I was having none of it. I simply made my point and went elsewhere. I actually had a life.

    In recent days, the launch of the Late 2016 MacBook Pro has generated a lot of discussion, more so than any recent Apple product, other than perhaps the Phone 7 and the loss of the headphone jack. But that chatter more or less died when it appeared the new model was — and remains — surprisingly successful. Also, it doesn’t appear that this long-expected feature change, or removal, is really so big a deal for most people.

    Now Apple has done quite a few things in redesigning the MacBook Pro to keep people talking, and not all of it is favorable. The 16GB RAM limitation has become an issue, even though no previous model has supported more RAM. The complete switch to USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, other than a headphone jack, has also proven to be polarizing. It has received even more discussion, it seems, than the release of the 2015 MacBook, which had a single USB-C port.

    Then it was all about worrying what to do if you needed to connect a few devices. It was clear from the start, though, that Apple’s intent was to provide a notebook computer meant to do most of its work online. Indeed, the main purpose of the lone peripheral port was probably charging the battery, and if Apple had a working wireless charging scheme, it might not be there.

    Four ports is a good thing (it’s two ports on the entry-level model without Touch Bar). But having a port design that is not yet in wide use is bad, because it means you may have to buy a bunch of dongles to connect your stuff. At least Apple got the message and made the adapters cheaper, at least until the end of the year. But maybe it would have also been a good idea to provide a couple of the most popular configurations in the box, free of charge. It wouldn’t be the first time Apple provided an extra accessory connector or two with a new Mac.

    But cable makers with compatible adapters will love Apple’s decision.

    The Touch Bar, also predicted in advance, remains controversial. Some of the complaints are extreme, such as the possibility mentioned in one reader’s email that it might cause RSI. Forgotten was the fact that there was already a row of keys there, the venerable function keys, so why would a touch-only keypad be such a big deal anyway? Indeed, it appears to me that if any PC-based display with touch capability had the potential to cause a wrist injury, it would be the so-called convertible PC, those 2-in-1 models.

    You can test this for yourself if you just raise your hand while typing and attempt to touch something on your Mac’s display, particularly at the top. Do that a few dozen times in a few second’s time and tell me if it’s a comfortable move.

    And one more thing: Where does Apple have the gall to increase prices by upwards of $300 on the new models? At a time when PC makers are struggling to sell product, you’d think the price should be lower, not higher. Or at least that’s what the critics say.

    Now I’m not going to guess how much it cost Apple to design and build the new MacBook Pro. It may well be that the price is commensurate with the costs, although it might become cheaper in a year or two. That is what’s happened before.

    More to the point, Apple VP Philip Schiller claims that online sales are at record levels. That pronouncement seems to be confined by a report from Slice Intelligence, a survey firm that evaluates purchase receipts to compile its numbers. If you can believe the survey, the new notebook has generated seven times more revenue than the 12-inch MacBook when it was released.

    So it may be the fact that there’s lots of demand for the MacBook Pro that’s generating so much chatter and controversy. If you can believe the early sales reports, lots of people are buying them. So if you want a model equipped with a Touch Bar, you’ll be lucky to have to delivered in time for Christmas.

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    2 Responses to “Wacky Comments from Our Readers”

    1. DaveD says:

      I do enjoy reading comments, wacky ones, no. For example, on AppleInsider there are a lot of good, knowledgeable commentators and the few troll ones. Whenever Daniel Eran Dilger, a guest on your radio program, have his editorial piece on the site there is a lot of traffic in the comment section. As always in his article there are a lot of good points and a few I may not agree, but it was worth my time and look forward to more future editorials. In the comments, there will always be a few that are disparaging to Mr. Dilger. Why bother? One should make a comment on the article and not on his character. There is always a simple choice, post intelligently or just move on. On the MacRumors site, I skimmed over the few and mostly bad comments on the main page. My conclusion is there are no longtime Mac users or users of Apple products posting on that site.

      You made a good point by noting the 2015 MacBook with its flat keyboard, no MagSafe, single USB-C and pricey which Apple made some internal upgrades for the year and moved on. I haven’t seen much commentary recently on it and of course, the missing headphone jack on the iPhone 7.

    2. David says:

      The new MBP required a lot of expensive design and engineering work to fit and cool everything in a much smaller, thinner case. But I believe the smaller, thinner case is the result of putting form before function.
      A Mac spends more than 99.9% of its life sitting on a horizontal surface. Once it’s small enough and light enough for anyone to move around then further size reductions are not only unnecessary they can be detrimental.

      Why doesn’t the MBP offer the well loved keyboard anymore? Because Apple made it thinner.
      Why doesn’t the MBP offer 12 hour battery life like the MacBook Air? Because Apple made it thinner.
      Why doesn’t the MBP offer better CPU or GPU options for people willing to trade battery life for performance? Because Apple made it thinner.
      The list goes on and on.

      Finally shipping a computer with 2016 components now that 2016 is almost over doesn’t justify a price increase.
      Shipping a computer with a row of icons instead of keys doesn’t justify much.
      Shipping a computer that’s unnecessarily small and light explains the price increase but doesn’t justify it.
      Shipping a computer with a downgraded keyboard is grounds for a price cut, not an increase.

      The fantastic sales figures simply don’t make sense to me.

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