Let it be known that on this day Tyler Frisbee officially completed his metamorphosis into an “Apple Fanboy.” Many people who know me will probably cringe upon learning of my new found faith, especially since the majority of my friends are coders/hackers/gamers wielding tricked out Windows/Linux PC’s and Android phones. I share in these aforementioned hobbies, have been dual-booting Windows and Linux for as long as I can remember, and had been running a Samsung Galaxy S6 as my daily driver since January until switching back to my old iPhone 5 just the other day. So, what could have pushed me toward macOS? What could have possibly forced me to abandon Android for a phone that is now four years old? I’ll break down my explanation into two parts: my switch to Mac and my return to iPhone. This is probably going to be a pretty long-winded rant, so buckle yer seatbelts. But first, a brief disclaimer. Too many consumers engage in passionate arguments over technology, especially when it comes to Mac vs. PC and iPhone vs. Android. To be honest, it's childish. Both perform great when used for functions within their design parameters. Duh. You can’t hammer a nail with a screwdriver … well, maybe you could, but it wouldn’t be ideal. This is certainly not an endorsement as Apple has its faults just like anything else. In the end, just use whatever makes you personally happy and screw everyone else. If you haven't already, click the title or "Read More" to continue reading! Onward!
The Switch to Mac
To sufficiently explain why I’ll be switching to a Macbook Pro and everything that's led up to my new-found Apple religion, let's start at the very beginning: my first computer. I have very bittersweet memories about the machines I ran back in the early 2000’s. My first was a Dell desktop running Windows 95, and the second was another Dell running Windows XP. I have fond memories of playing a Super Mario ripoff and a cheesy slot-machine game off of floppy disks and, of course, it was these builds that introduced me to the Internet. However, both machines were second-hand, riddled with viruses, and were far too slow to make one excited about technology. In fact, I mostly avoided having to use my computer unless one of my friends coaxed me into playing Runescape or Club Penguin as we talked via a landline … God, I sound old! Things began to change when I got my first laptop in middle school; an HP G60 laptop running Windows Vista. Again, Vista wasn’t exactly the OS that’d evoke childlike wonder, but it was fast enough to serve as an improvement. So, it was through this machine that I discovered coding, developed my insatiable interest in hacking, and began to fall in love with computers. It was even the first computer I used to boot into Linux. When I eventually ditched that machine for an Alienware M14x laptop with Windows 7, I had a pretty powerful build that’d even satisfy a brief appetite for gaming...not to mention the pretty lights!
However, in the Fall of 2013, I became disillusioned with the field of coding and decided that becoming a programmer was no longer the path for me. Instead I set my sights on Graphic Design, a longstanding hobby that soon became a passion. Suddenly, I found myself struggling with a case of psychological dissonance: the hacker mentality vs. the designer mentality. I was intent on “re-branding” myself as a designer, but I wasn’t about to abandon my techie roots. Hell, I even penned my Hacker Perspective article for 2600 Magazine: The Hacker Quarterly after deciding to pursue design. At times I almost felt like a hypocrite. In my senior year of high school, I enrolled in the Digital Media program at Hudson Valley in hopes of pursuing graphic design, and it was becoming increasingly apparent that it would be time to retire my exhausted Alienware after graduation.
This would be the first time I’d consider a Mac, simply because my needs were evolving. I was rarely ever gaming anymore, one of the main arguments for a Windows based PC, so that wasn't a concern. One of the things I always loved about computers was breaking them and subsequently learning to fix them. However, I was spending less and less time installing questionable software onto my harddrive, experimenting with obscure Linux distros, attempting to build malware, coding weird applications nobody would ever use, gaming, or spending late nights toiling in incandescent terminals. Instead, I wanted to hit the power button and have easy access to the Adobe design suite, Opera, and iTunes. That was pretty much it.
A Macbook was sexy, would rarely get a virus, and was streamlined for what I needed. Sure, Macs are overpriced for the hardware packed inside, but perhaps the refined user experience was enough of a trade-off. A car commercial featuring Jon Snow recently proclaimed that “the only measure of a car should be how it makes you feel.” Perhaps that same philosophy applied to computers. Besides, I could still boot into Windows and Linux, so wouldn’t really be losing any potential. However, the current Macbook Pro was already long-in-the-tooth and, upon learning of the crazy specs that could fit into a Lenovo ThinkPad W541 (32 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, NVIDIA Quadro graphics, 3K 2880 x 1620 display, X-rite Pantone color sensors, and an Intel i7 vPro Extreme Edition processor)... well, I was simply overwhelmed. My friends would crucify me for going to the dark side anyway, so ThinkPad it was. MISTAKE!!!
One of the first things I noticed about the machine was its bizarre 3K resolution. Rather than being a feature, its high resolution display was clearly not supported by Windows and caused most programs to scale way too small and others to become grossly pixelated. And before you suggest it, flipping on “display scaling for high DPI screens” in the compatibility options for a program does not fix the problem. This was a clear example of lack of coordination between software and hardware developers as the software was not equipped to handle such a strange display.
In addition to a troublesome screen, I also had to contend with routine crashes followed by an error message proclaiming that my Windows 8.1 Intel graphics driver had failed. Alright, that's typically indicative of outdated drivers, which was expected as I had hastily upgraded from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. I knew that Intel supported Windows 10, so I checked out their drivers page, and attempted to install the one in need of an update. What to my wondering eyes should appear but an error message proclaiming that I’d have to get the Lenovo approved Intel driver from their site, rather than installing it directly from Intel’s site. Reasonable enough...right? Alas, Lenovo hadn’t released an updated driver yet, so the only remaining option to avoid routine crashes was to roll back to Windows 8.1 which the Lenovo approved Intel driver did support. Before rolling back, I booted 8.1 from an external harddrive to confirm that it would fix the problem. It did not! It still crashed! I thought the problem would only persist in graphics-intensive games, but the same issues began to arise running Opera or Photoshop. I’m the guy everyone goes to to fix their computers, but eventually I even have to throw my hands up and turn to a support forum or technical pages from a manufacturer. But who exactly do I turn to? Microsoft? Intel? Lenovo? I eventually found a way to throw duct tape on the problem by almost entirely eliminating any dependence on Intel graphics in the Windows registry and Lenovo’s crapware, opting instead to rely on NVIDIA for everything 24/7. While things don’t run as they should, I have found ways to cope over time. In the long run, this is a pretty decent machine, but one should be able to pull a new computer out of the box and it should just work. To this day, Lenovo still hasn’t released an updated graphics driver and my machine is no longer supported, so I don’t expect it to ever happen.
I wish I could say I’m finished, but this is far from over. Several months ago, another problem arose which is incredibly serious as I am now facing legitimate security concerns. Its relatively routine for Windows to force updates upon you, so I wasn’t surprised when it began installing some without my consent upon powering off my device. It went through the installation process as intended and shut down. When I powered on my PC the next day, it began to run the configuration process before presenting me with a cryptic error message stating that Windows had failed to configure updates and was subsequently rolling back to the last version. Every time I’d try to shutdown my computer, it would force me to install updates again, only to have them fail the next time I’d turn on my laptop. I was stuck in an infinite loop that’d take up to half hour every time I’d reboot my machine … just in time for The Eleventh HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth) conference … perfect. To avoid the constant nuisance it presented, I used the Microsoft “show or hide updates” utility (wushowhide.diagcab) to block any and all Windows cumulative updates. I managed to eliminate the constant harassment, but in turn created a major security hole. Those Windows updates are typically chock full of security patches that I’ll no longer be receiving. So, for any hackers reading my blog, please go easy on me.
Almost all of these problems are probably due to the fact that the hardware and software aren’t designed to be specifically compatible. On a Mac, both hardware and software are developed in-house, and while you can technically do more on a PC, at least it’ll work correctly on a Mac. Perhaps you’d call me lazy, but I’d rather spend my time designing rather than fixing a new machine. Regardless of these virulent trials and tribulations, I recently decided to apply to Sage in Albany to continue my graphic design education after graduating from Hudson Valley. As it turns out, purchasing a Macbook is actually a mandatory part of Sage’s program! There’s probably two reasons for this: (A) Like it or not, almost everyone in the field of design uses a Mac; and (B) The Adobe suite for Mac runs far more smoothly than its Windows counterpart. So in the end, I don’t really have a choice either way, but I couldn’t be more happy about the switch.
My Return to iPhone
So I’ve covered my switch to Mac, now for my return to iPhone. Around the time that I had gotten my HP laptop in middle school, I had also picked up my first Apple device: an iPod touch. A friend had purchased one, and needless to say, I was jelly and followed in his footsteps. When it was time to get a cellphone, the natural choice was an iPhone 4, which I’d follow up two years later with an iPhone 5. Computers were really what I cared about, but not so much my phone. I wanted something that “just worked” and an iPhone was just that. However, once I started college last year, I quickly realised that almost everyone I knew was using an Android … and they certainly weren’t shy about it. When it came time to upgrade to a new device, the Samsung Galaxy S6 was a pretty compelling choice. With features such as an edge display, wireless charging, Ultra Power Saving Mode, a far superior camera, the ability to actually navigate the file system, the freedom to install whatever you wanted, an app that lets you hijack people’s TV’s - it sounded too good to be true. I’ll never lose the hacker mindset, and this kind of freedom on an iPhone was simply unfathomable. So, when Christmas break rolled around, I finally decided to break free of Apple’s chains!
At first it was really cool. The display and camera were amazing and screwing up TV’s and running Windows 7 in an app was all really fun. But then the Spring semester started and suddenly I had to use my phone for real life. Unfortunately, the Samsung texting app was atrociously glitchy and all of those “wonderful” options you can use to replace it suck just as bad. I’ve yet to find some method of texting an image without the phone lowering its resolution so that it looks like I used a potato to take the picture. As for video? Don’t make me laugh! Well, at least I could still use email to send photos and videos to friends and family right? Wrong! Any email I’d attempt to send using the Gmail app would get stuck in my outbox and, if I was lucky, finally send the next day. I then tried the Samsung email app, which never updated properly and had the same problem. It was absolutely baffling. The awesome wireless charging didn’t even work as the base was rarely ever recognized by my phone. Whatever, I primarily use my phone to listen to music, so at least it can still do that, right? Wrong!
First, some petty annoyances, and then real problems. On most headphones and earbuds, there’s this little remote on the cord that allows you to easily change the volume on an iPhone or iPod but, of course, that’s not compatible with Android. Even worse was the hunt to find a music app. The default app would randomly stop, switch songs, crash or hang up, and organized music in a bizarre, nonsensical system. The only vaguely acceptable solution was to use the Google Play music app, but that was difficult to navigate, glitchy like everything else on Android, and wouldn’t transmit song info to my car’s system. These all sound like petty, negligible problems, but why put up with them when an iPhone is bereft of these issues?
Now matters get worse. Buying music on Google Play is absurdly annoying. After purchasing an album and coaxing it into finally installing, it would only ever get recognized by the Google Play app and, if you wanted to transfer it to your computer, you’d have to login to your Google account and download every album individually a second time in little .zip files...how convenient. I pretty much stopped using Google Play and returned to iTunes for purchasing music. I am also quite a fan of the Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents (R.I.P.) and Youtube to MP3, and I do still burn old-fashioned CD’s on occasion. After amassing quite a bit of music on my computer, I’d obviously like to be able to transfer it to my phone. To complete the task on an iPhone, I’d merely copy everything to my iTunes directory, import it all, plug in my phone and click the “sync” button. Five minutes later, it's all there. Theoretically, it should be just as easy on my Galaxy S6, right? Wrong again! You aren’t very good at this game, are you?
Whenever I plug in my phone and go to “This PC,” will the little Android phone icon pop up? Nope, nothing. I’d go into settings, enable developer options (apparently you have to be a technologically gifted developer to sync the new Black Stone Cherry album to your phone), turn on USB debugging, and check the USB options to see that it was stuck on “charging” rather than “MTP” (media transfer protocol). So, I’d then select “MTP” from the dropdown menu, and did it switch from “charging” to “MTP”? Nope, because that’s exactly what you’d expect to happen! Instead, the menu would close and continue to display “charging.” You can keep trying to change it all you’d like but it’ll never do any good. After about a half hour spent trying different USB ports, rebooting the phone, re-selecting “MTP,” and contemplating how short life really is, eventually a window will pop up announcing that Windows is installing driver software for your phone, even though it's done that on the same USB port every single time you've plugged it in before! Typically, during the first several attempts, the installation will inevitably fail because your phone got bored and decided to disconnect.
After a few trials of repeatedly unplugging and plugging back in, rebooting, and re-selecting “MTP” for the thousandth time, the installation will complete and that stupid little phone icon that doesn’t even resemble my Samsung will pop up in This PC. Thank the old Gods and the new! And the Lord of Light. (If you didn’t get that Game of Thrones reference, leave my blog. Now. Go. Goodbye). However, clicking that stupid icon is a mistake. If you do, there’s a 75% chance it will disconnect your phone and you’ll have to repeat that maddening ritual ALL OVER AGAIN. But if you don’t click it, you can’t transfer your music. This wasn’t a problem on other crappy Androids because, while I’m sure connecting an old Samsung to a computer was just as impossible, at least you could simply unplug its SD card, pop it into your PC and transfer the music that way. Of course the S6 was the only Samsung to eliminate the SD card, making this workaround impossible. So, you’d have to click that stupid icon, find the Music folder, hit Ctrl+V, and pray to Zorgar the Almighty Lizard God that your phone doesn’t decide to disconnect again whilst transferring the files I wanted.
The other day, I finally reached my limit. I stuck with the phone for eight months, a true testament to my self control that I didn’t harm myself or anyone else throughout that timespan. The real reason I stuck with it for so long was that I had a life to live and simply didn’t have the time to worry about music. Just like a computer, you shouldn’t have to fix a brand new phone. Once Samsung, a company which actually markets itself as an alternative to Apple, finally wore me down, I navigated to my Verizon account and switched my number from my eight month-old S6 back to my four year-old iPhone 5. Sure, the S6 has far superior technology, but that superior technology doesn’t work! Sure, Samsung currently has wireless charging (faulty as it may be) and the iPhone 7 probably still won’t have that feature. When Apple inevitably adds it, everyone will scream that Samsung had it first! The only difference is that once Apple implements it, it’ll actually work.
So sure, you can push out Android updates that’ll be incompatible with 90% of supported devices to say that your software is newer than iOS. You can try to cram iris scanners, fingerprint scanners, wireless charging and crap that isn’t ready to be released yet into a phone so you can claim that you had the idea first. And fine, whatever, that’s cool, but if you can’t even send an email in 2016 and your tech savvy customers are reverting back to a phone released in 2012, then there are some serious problems with your product.
I don’t necessarily regret getting the S6 because now I know exactly what I was missing: nothing. When people try to give me hell over having an iPhone, I can point them to this blog post that nobody will ever read and give them an itemized list as to why I switched. All this said, if it wasn’t for my struggles with music, maybe I’d wait for my contract upgrade to switch back rather than paying full price. Perhaps I’d get used to routine crashes and glitches. My friends and I are used to fighting with tech, and when things explode we rarely bat an eyelash. Most of them want to install Ubuntu and screw with TV’s far more than they want the ability to send an email or listen to music. If that’s the case, then great, the new Samsung S7 is the way to go. It even brought back the SD card slot. As for me, I’m fortunate enough to have the means of getting the new iPhone 7 speculated to be announced and released this September and will happily continue to use my iPhone 5 until then.
On an Apple device, it's clear that every pixel was carefully considered, the radius of every case bevel was painstakingly tweaked. Both the software and hardware are crafted in-house, and they are guaranteed to be compatible with one another. Not to mention the fact that all updates are guaranteed to be compatible and, if a new release of macOS hits the market, it’ll be absolutely free, making Windows the only OS you still have to purchase. Macs just work and are a pleasure to use rather than a pain. The same applies to the iPhone. Maybe a lot of their ideas are implemented on an Android before they make it to the iPhone, but at least Apple will ensure that they work perfectly before making it onto their flagship platform. I can make due with faulty technology and constant repairs better than most, but should I?
Wow, that was an epic amount of ranting! Well, now that I’m back to iPhone and switching to Mac within the year, I guess I can officially proclaim that I am, in fact, a bona fide Apple Fanboy. Is the Mac right for you? Maybe, maybe not. Is the iPhone right for you? Maybe, maybe not. Only you can answer that question. Some people need a Commodore 64, some a Dell desktop, some a glowing Alienware, others a humble HP laptop, and some can get by with a simple Chromebook or tablet. Diversity can be a strength rather than a weakness, so always use whatever makes you personally happy. However, I hope you’ve somehow benefitted or learned from my explanations for why I’m converting to Apple.