1. On the Acceptance of Reality

    brian on 2009.09.02
    at 10:38 am

    Do you like Merlin Mann? I sure do. But something he wrote last night irks me, and I’m going to tell you about it, at length. That’s what blogs are for. I hope that you the reader can learn some valuable lessons from his recent situation.

    Let’s recap said situation. Merlin, Mac user since January 1987™, is writing a book on a deadline. He owns 5 Macs, uses things like Quicksilver, TextMate and Photoshop and considers himself to be a “power user.” I think it’s clear form those three apps that he qualifies.

    Regardless of the fact that he’s on a deadline and the fact that it’s widely known that when you install a new operating system (you know, something critical to the running the machine and all its software) there will be incompatibilities with old software, he decides to hold everything and install Mac OS X 10.6 (aka Snow Leopard) on all of his Macs. Not just one to see if it’ll work for him, he runs out and installs it on all his Macs.

    Isn’t this the same man who tells us about how not to distract yourself from your creative tasks? And he takes his most critical tool for his creative task and spends a day to put a new OS on it, the day it’s released without testing his critical apps out first? And he expected this to go well?

    You can scream from the hilltops that when software is released to the public it shall be free from all bugs and be completely backwards compatible with every piece of software ever written, no matter how hack-y and non-standard they may be. Sure, that’s your right. But as a Mac user since January 1987™ you know better. That’s just not reality. Lawmakers should be able to have civilized debate and make good laws and not bullshit or earmark, too. But the rest of us live in the real world.

    I want what I’ve always wanted: a computer that fucking works. —Merlin Mann

    Lesson #1: If you make your living on a computer, rushing out and buying then installing a new operating system on to a mission-critical machine on the first day it’s publicly available is not a good idea. You just don’t need it to accomplish the task you’re already accomplishing. Your computer already fucking works.

    For one, I’m a guy writing a book on deadline. Which guy dislikes it when his right hand crashes unexpectedly with a generic memory error for 2 or 3 days.

    […]dislikes that (a supposedly up to date copy of) Photoshop CS 3 crashes on save. That one was hilarious. —Merlin Mann

    Lesson #1a: If you’re a power-user and you must buy the shiny then you need a second, non-critical machine to try the software out on. But even before installing the new OS, how about a cursory Google search to see if your old, critical apps will work with the new, made-after-your-old-software OS. You know applications rely on the operating system to get their work done. Why would you pull the rug out from underneath them then act surprised when they fall over?

    Sure, Macromates should have had their shit together and perhaps tested against the 10.6 pre-release. I can’t say they didn’t, can you? Either way, bugs happen. Had you stuck your nose out of the window and took just one sniff, you could have easily learned that TextMate wasn’t working right with 10.6 and CS3 might also have trouble. This was public knowledge. And do you really expect Adobe to update out-of-date software just because you didn’t shell out the decent-used-car-price for their latest über-bundle?

    But really, it’s not a good idea on your production machine because that should always be functional for you.

    Just because something is advertised as amazing doesn’t mean you should buy it right away. Use your will power.

    I’m other things too. Including a 1-person IT staff who accepts that he has to stop doing real work for a day and a half in order to make sure that a new point-something OS upgrade is working properly on five (5) computers in two locations. —Merlin Mann

    Lesson #2 if you have multiple machines, install new software onto just one machine and test your setup with it. If it doesn’t work out so well, don’t use the shiny new software. Certainly don’t go and install it on your other four computers. Go back to what has been working for you.

    No one made you “stop your real work” to go screw around with your already-fucking-working machines. No one. Don’t go pointing fingers.

    One last thing that really bugged me.

    I’m also a demi-nerd user of Quicksilver —Merlin Mann

    Any user of QuickSilver is a full-bore nerd. The ways I know you use it, calling your self a “demi-nerd”, that means you’re a hardcore geek. Don’t go around calling yourself a “dumb user” because that’s just baloney. You knew you had a 1-in-10 chance of that really useful tool called TNT going off in your hands, (you know, BOOM. ) because that’s the nature of the game. Dumb users did not pre-order Snow Leopard. Dumb users don’t have five Macs in two locations. Dumb users don’t type the words “auto de fe” (which I cannot even find a definition for). Dumb users don’t appear on Apple-enthusiast podcasts. Dumb users still think Snow Leopard is an animal.

    Don’t suddenly pretend you’re a dumb user and expect sympathy. You blew your own right-hand off! (you know, BOOM. ) Luckily I’m sure you have a great backup. Just wipe your system and return to the moment in time before a software release ruined your life. This blaming the victim thread you have going is pure BS. After all, isn’t this the kind of shout-down you deliver to people doing dumb things?

    You are responsible for your actions. Not Apple, not other software developers. You put a new OS on your system (all your systems) and you have to accept the good with the bad. This time you got burned. I bet you don’t do it next time.

    Postscript: Normally I wouldn’t write one of these shout down pieces, especially about someone I appreciate as much as Merlin. But his woe-is-me piece just screamed “I blame everyone else but me”. But his whole ethos is “Take control of your own shit”, and in the midst of his ill-concieved techno-exploit… he’s really forgotten that.

    Posted in: Apple · Software · Technology


    Comments (2)

    1. Hank said on 2009.09.02 at 12:14 pm

      The other thing I walk away from the article with is this sense of Apple lying to him – they said that for most people it would be a fairly seamless transition, but since he had problems (using out-of-date software and Quicksilver, which hacks just about every part of the system), this must mean that everyone else is having major issues and, therefore, Apple has been lying to us.

      I installed Snow Leopard on my primary machine on Saturday after researching the programs that I use. GrowlMail is not working, I had to recompile a commercial-skipping utility for my Mac-based DVR, and… Well, that is about it.

      From what I have read online, most people are having little to no issues with the update. Apple certainly did not “lie” to us.

      And maybe this is just a long-time Mac user, but I was using BBEdit back in 1995 or so. To this day I use TextWrangler. Why would a long-time Mac user be using TextMate? And how is TextMate having issues with an OS? It is a text editor?!?

    2. Beau Colburn said on 2009.09.03 at 01:17 pm

      The whole rant didn’t sit well with me either, and you nailed exactly why.

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