Zombie Apple

Apple’s heart and soul was, and remains, that of a computer company.

Unfortunately, with nothing but (very) old hardware on offer, they look like they are dying to the people who cared about them the most, and in the most enduring manner.

Apple has lost enormous ground here: The trashcan styled, massively outdated Mac Pro. The intentional crippling of the Mini. The dysfunctional locking out of fairly recent hardware from the most recent (minor-ish, admittedly) updates to the operating system. Of course, there’s also the persistent and wholly inexplicable failure to bring out an affordable, decent performance mid-tower — something that would sell a lot of Macs.

I strongly prefer OS X (sorry, MacOS) to linux or Windows, both of which I also have around (I’m a software developer, I have to deal with everything.) This led me to using Apple’s computers as my daily drivers; I can’t say I minded. My old Mac Pro is extremely well built. The OS is very good (I didn’t say perfect… there are some deep holes in it, such as the limited functionality of Finder, and inexplicably poorly thought out glitches masquerading as features like “App Nap”, but that’s a story for another day.)

Given my strong liking for working with the OS (and the applications that run on it), inasmuch as Apple artificially obsoleted my fairly snappy 8-core computer by forbidding the new OS X to run on it, I went out and got myself a “new” Mac Pro.

Why the quotes? Because I bought my “new” Mac Pro from EBay, choosing a fairly well loaded instance of one of the latest versions of a proper tower Apple made. This, because the trashcan has no internal expansion worth mentioning, dooms owners to working surfaces full of wall warts and desk cancers, and yes, looks outright stupid.

This, in addition to the fact that the core hardware design — the CPU and associated digital goodness — is extremely long in the tooth in the trashcan. I mean, seriously, if they’re going to charge a premium for a machine, they expect me to bite when they’re literally years behind the CPU curve? If “years old” is the description of the selection available to me, then why not EBay and save several thousand dollars? No, I couldn’t find an answer to that one either. Even if I could get past the other problems the trashcan has. Which I can’t.

If I were wanting to rack mount the thing, that would be another serious problem, because the trashcan’s cooling system and form factor are both significantly rack-unfriendly. This is amazingly short-sighted. But not my particular problem. Just worth a mention to point out another market segment they lost because they were stupid.

Even so, Apple’s OS and computers have a new lease on life around here. In fact, as I am not a young man, this may be the last Mac I ever buy.

But I didn’t buy it from Apple. I wasn’t even tempted to. It probably looks to Apple like I’m no longer a Mac Pro buyer. But I am. It’s just that Apple no longer makes a Mac Pro worthy of purchasing. I can even manage the admittedly steep pricing of the latest Mac Pros, and would be willing to. But… not for a machine that arrives on day one with all the problems I described above.

Apple has lost its computing heart and soul. I would love to see a resurrection, but I have little hope of any such thing. Apple’s idea of doing good work these days seems to be to take away your headphone jack, throw apps out of the app store that might possibly compete with them, and remove the function and ESC keys from laptops. They call these things “courage.” I call them “zombie-like behavior”, by which I mean, they’re still obviously up and moving around, but there appears to be no mental activity going on.

So… the upshot of all this that sometimes I am painfully grateful that EBay exists, and that people will put up usable hardware at fire sale prices. I just paid about $1500 for a 12(24)-core, ~3 GHz, 64GB ram machine with three one-TB drives, in one of the best tower configurations to ever hit the market from any manufacturer. Nice graphics card, too. CPU capacity is nearly the same as the most recent and very expensive trashcan. Shipping was free and the seller offered thirty days of return privileges if there was any kind of a problem.

Buying that machine rather than a new Mac Pro was not a difficult decision to make. Not even close. And you know what? The responsibility for that is entirely on Apple’s plate. I’d love to tell them so. I’ve even tried to. But they’re dead between the ears. Zombies.

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