Thursday, January 19, 2017

About Windows, MacOS, and computer design. Plus, secret revealed - Why did Apple create Magsafe 2?

Long time, no blog. Look what adulthood, board certification and chief neurosurgeon position did to my blog. No posts for years. All the fun has gone.


So I've been a Mac user since the early 2000's, when I switched from Windows, which I had used since the very beginning, MS-DOS since 1981 and Windows ever since it came, and for years, I couldn't figure out why my best friend was using a Mac because it was so unorthodox and confusing and... well, just different.

Back then I was making music and using Logic and Cakewalk and whatever, and I had had to dig very deep into Windows to be able to manage all my audio devices, inputs, outputs, drivers, sync problems, etc. I've also been an amateur coder for most of my life, so I was able to dig deep into the secrets Windows and its inner workings and considered that my platform on which I was comfortable. But it was like a comfortable platform 3000 ft up from the ground, at which you had to keep continuously working very hard just no not have it break apart and have you and all your work plunge into the abysss....  Then came Macbook or iBook or whatever, and GarageBand and I couldn't believe everything could actually be so easy, I was just flabbergasted by GarageBand, iMovie, everything, and I bought a little iBook and it blew my mind that here was actually a computer that would double or triple or quadruple my work output both at real work and making music because it worked and didn't have viruses and didn't crash and didn't need a restart when things went BSOD and just simply did everything I wanted it to do, and just made life for me so much easier (of course, there was a 2-day learning curve until I got a grasp of all the beautiful features a Mac has). It took "computer problems" out of my workflow, and to boot (no pun intended), allowed me bash terminal access, which as an old Unix nerd I liked very much.

Well, mostly I've been happy with their expensive but wonderful products. Especially - oh the good old days - Mac OS X Tiger. After that it's been kinda going downhill, especially iMovie, which these days I don't even bother to open as a video editor, because you need a Ph.D. just to figure out how to use it. Wait - I do have a Ph.D. too, so it doesn't help. It's just very complex and hard to use now. It won't even import Apple's own .mov format because it can't handle it? I mean, what the hell? Used to be you just imported video from your camera, dragged and dropped and added some text and effects and it was all very very productive and gave you a way to make high quality little video presentations and even your own little movies, whether they be brain surgery videos or a holiday movies.

OK, so in so many words, I'm a Mac user. I haven't been happy recently with the Mac OS developments, but it's still the best OS out there in my opinion, for work efficiency. Apple has always prided themselves on their design. So they designed MagSafe, this wonderful magnetic invention that made it like magic to attach your power cord to your computer.

So, Why did Apple create Magsafe 2? The previous (latest) version of the MagSafe one was gold - magnetic magic helped to attach it to the MacBook fast and easy. Its low profile fitted nicely with everything and didn't bother anyone. It was not easily detached, but it would detach if someone, say, tripped on the power cord, and saved a lot of bypassers from brain trauma, I'm sure.

I was in love with MagSafe. Such a brilliant design. So why in God's name would they change that perfect design? The MagSafe 2 keeps detaching my computer way too easily, it needs but a poor excuse and it will pop right out. It does not tolerate any movement or changes in the laptop position or basically anything else. I have spent a lifetime (of some 2-year old kid) looking for the answer. None of the answers satisfied me and obviously there HAD to be some reasoning behind this downgrading of perfect equipment. Apple engineers and industrial designers are clearly very smart people and they would not have done this if there hadn't been some good reason, would they? Who's responsible and why don't they speak out? Apple, as far as I know, has not commented officially, even though this question has been posted everywhere, even on the New York Times by David Pogue.

Well, I guess I figured out the answer now. Turns out, for many people, the previous MagSafe was a little bit too tight. And people don't bother to use the little pull force reliever (I'm trying to think of the technical term for that, but I can't, please someone put it in the comment section if you know) that is attached to the cord. There were quite a few complaints about cable fray etc. So they made the magnetic attachment a little bit weaker, or the connector itself larger so every touch and tug would have a bit more leverage on the actual connection, just to make the cord last longer. OK, I accept that. Durability is a very good reason. These days, it's hard to find things that were made to last. And people don't really respect their things. They pull on the cord, they pack it in tiny coils, etc. If people had used the pull stress remover and handled their MagSafe with at least a modicum of respect, it would have lasted, but Apple had to give up and give people a more durable one. The MagSafe 2 is a worse design, but from a durability point of view it's better, so there you have it. They did try to improve it and felt that durability was more important than form and convenience. I can live with that. So I'm gonna stop wondering about that and move on in life ;)

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