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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
This story about Jony Ive and the changes at Apple since Steve Jobs's death offers quite a bit more insight into what's been going on at Apple behind the scenes... and post-Jobs Apple management....
WSJ said:
Jony Ive is Leaving Apple, But His Departure Started Long Ago

... Apple’s association with Mr. Ive will continue; the company will pay his new firm millions of dollars a year to continue to work with Apple, people familiar with the arrangement said.

Yet his departure from the company cements the triumph of operations over design at Apple, a fundamental shift from a business driven by hardware wizardry to one focused on maintaining profit margins and leveraging Apple’s past hardware success to sell software and services.

The story of Mr. Ive’s drift is based on conversations over more than a year with people who worked with Mr. Ive, as well as people close to Apple’s leadership.

Mr. Cook, an industrial engineer who made his name perfecting Apple’s supply chain, sought to keep Mr. Ive happy over the years, in part with a pay package that far exceeds that of other top Apple executives, a point of friction with others on the executive team, people familiar with the matter say. Apple doesn’t disclose Mr. Ive’s pay. But people in the design studio rarely saw Mr. Cook, who they say showed little interest in the product development process—a fact that dispirited Mr. Ive.

Mr. Ive grew frustrated as Apple’s board became increasingly populated by directors with backgrounds in finance and operations rather than technology or other areas of the company’s core business, said people close to him and to the company.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Naturally, Tim Cook...
is spinning his response with the cleverest possible wording, which echoes similar responses I’ve seen in the past to unflattering portrayals of Apple. I didn’t see any specific factual corrections in Cook’s response. I will be interested to see how Apple’s PR/RDF plays out, but the real test is its real products, and we can all see for ourselves how Cook and his team have been managing and executing those....
 


is spinning his response with the cleverest possible wording, which echoes similar responses I’ve seen in the past to unflattering portrayals of Apple. I didn’t see any specific factual corrections in Cook’s response. I will be interested to see how Apple’s PR/RDF plays out, but the real test is its real products, and we can all see for ourselves how Cook and his team have been managing and executing those....
But Tim says they have some wonderful news coming. I was hoping for Tim to resign, a.k.a. "retire for philanthropic reasons" (gig at his alma mater or something). Historically, any corporation that loses a founder/leader like Jobs only has about 5 good years left.

All the product issues (late to market, over-priced Homepod, keyboard issues, display issues, battery/topcase issues, 2018 MacBook Air "small number of logicboard issues", drastic OS changes, and over-priced systems compared to market...) will just keep at it.
I was hoping Apple would split up to some premium designed outfit (think Toyota/Lexus) and separate cloud services. Instead, their lead designer is aiming to go solo. Good Luck Sir Jonny Ive... "Love From." What does that mean??
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Naturally, Tim Cook disputes this story...
Then Cook might want to dispute this story from Bloomberg's extremely well connected reporter, too:
Mark Gurman said:
Inside Apple's Long Goodbye to Design Chief Jony Ive
  • Company’s close-knit design team withered in recent years
  • Future breakthrough products need new tech, not just design
... Initially, not much will change, because Apple has been operating with partial input from Ive for a few years, someone close to the team said.

But challenges loom. And some people familiar with Apple are already worried about the new design leadership. Now that Ive is officially leaving, longtime studio manager Evans Hankey will run the hardware design group, Apple said. Hankey is a great team leader, but Apple now lacks a true design brain on its executive team, which is a concern, a person familiar with the design team said.

Hankey and Dye will report to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. While Williams is a talented executive, some people familiar with matter believe the shift is another sign of Apple becoming more of an operations company. Apple declined to comment.

“The design team is made up of the most creative people, but now there is an operations barrier that wasn’t there before,” one former Apple executive said. “People are scared to be innovative.”
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Yes, that is the big question....
The Verge said:
There’s only one important question to ask about Apple’s future
Will it compromise user experience to sell services?

... It’s not like Apple is going to put Intel stickers on Macs, or preload some silly virus scanner on the iPhone. But will Apple degrade the user experience in order to push its own services? It’s a conflict that’s playing out as iPhone sales flatten out and the company explicitly shifts its focus to paid services across news, TV shows, games, payments (even a credit card!), and music. The temptation to boost those services by littering the iPhone with crap is growing stronger every day, and you can see some clear examples of Apple compromising user experience to drive them already:
And then there’s the big one, the data point that looks great on investor decks and miserable when you’re holding an iPhone in your hand. Apple Music is an objectively worse music app than Spotify (trust me, I use it every day), but Apple’s carrier promotions, rule-breaking promotional notifications, and lock-in with the Watch and Siri have led to more than 60 million users. From one perspective, that is a huge success. From another, it’s a clear example of Apple bending the user experience of its platform to drive its own ancillary services.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I just benchmarked a Dell laptop that cost less than half the price of a similar MacBook Pro, and the Dell blew the Mac away in graphics performance (thanks to a discrete GPU), while keeping pace in CPU performance, providing super-easy access to the internals and upgradability, more useful ports (including Thunderbolt 3), very good reliability, and more cooling... but in a larger package. Others have been noticing some of these issues, too:
Business Insider said:
Apple's latest laptops are the worst the company has ever made for 4 major reasons

Recently, Apple blogger John Gruber blamed departing Apple designer Jony Ive for the keyboard issues on recent MacBook Pro, saying it was Ive's obsession with making thin devices that led to a poorly designed keyboard.

In his post, Gruber also said "today's MacBooks are worse computers but more beautiful devices," and I couldn't agree more — my 2016 MacBook Pro is better to look than it is to use.

It's all well and good that Apple's laptops are powerful, beautifully designed, and that macOS is a great operating system. But there are four things that put Mac laptops towards the bottom of my wish list. Three of those things can actually be attributed to the thin design of Apple's recent Mac laptops.

Recent Mac laptops, starting with the MacBook in 2015, the MacBook Pro in 2016, and the new MacBook Air in 2018 are the worst laptops Apple has ever made. Here's why:

1. The "butterfly" keyboards and faulty keys....
2. Repair costs can be astronomical for the tiniest problem....
3. They only have USB-C....
4. For the most powerful models, the design is too thin to cool them properly, and owners don't get the most out of their laptop....
 


I realize we are kind of bashing Ive for Apple's design issues, but I think the bigger target should be Tim Cook, as he was leading operations and COO during the time of Macbook Pro flaws, GPU issues, flex cable failures, screen issues, top cases, flexing, battery issues... and he was the one who had outsourced parts and suppliers during 2007 - 2011.
 


Tim Cook ... was the one who had outsourced parts and suppliers during 2007 - 2011.
Please don't forget who hired Tim for just that task and who was given credit for all those Apple innovations - iPods, iPod Touch, iPhone - that set the model for how to maximize profitability by selling very expensive proprietary devices that are difficult, if not impossible, to repair.
 


Who would've predicted that Apple would be the company that seems to be doing the most to remove the "personal" from personal computing?
Technically, Steve Jobs did have a "post-PC" vision. The company dropped "Computer" from its name in 2007 (and I hated that). Although they still make computers, is it really that surprising (sad as it may be) that "Personal" doesn't seem to be all that far behind on their eradication list? ;-)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Technically, Steve Jobs did have a "post-PC" vision. The company dropped "Computer" from its name in 2007 (and I hated that). Although they still make computers, is it really that surprising (sad as it may be) that "Personal" doesn't seem to be all that far behind on their eradication list? ;-)
Apple is obviously no longer a personal computer company but now is building and leasing us all vending machines for media, games, subscriptions, “services”, accessories, apps, and personal data collection.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
The disillusionment is strong in this one…
Well, yes it is, and the concept came up with a friend who is also a long-time Mac support provider. And, to be fair, it's hardly Apple alone, though Apple seems to be doing the best job of integrating hardware and software for the purpose. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and, to an extreme extent, Facebook, are all as bad or worse on the software front, while beginning to dabble in hardware, too, especially AI devices ("smart speakers" et al). Linux seems like the sole hold-out. I hope it can continue to do that.
 


Linux seems like the sole hold-out. I hope it can continue to do that.
As do I. Your previous post, unfortunately, is spot on. In a very close second-place position on my list of Linux hopes is the hope that I can one day somehow wrap my head around it as well as I have around Mac OS X. What do I mean by that?

Every time I go to use it in virtualization, I quickly realize there's some basic task that I have no idea how to do, whether it's installing the VM tools (which, oddly, has been the easiest in VirtualBox, a program that's not otherwise particularly well known for its ease of use) or installing the latest version of some other app because the one-click-installation repositories are out of date.

The tutorial instructions from the seemingly very well-informed Jack Wallen usually begin with:

"Install program name by typing string of command-line arguments I would never have guessed in a million years"

and they may be prefaced by similarly un-guessable preparations for dependencies, etc.

Then there's the fact that there is a distinct lack of familiar software available for Linux (let's just say that, compared to Affinity Publisher, "ease of use" and Scribus don't belong in the same volume, let alone the same sentence. 1Password is another example. They do have the 1Password X extension, but they have no desktop app for local storage. I hope that these concerns change as Apple becomes less desirable.

As bad as it's getting on the Mac, OS X still runs rings around Linux for ease of use, even though (strictly from an ease-of-use standpoint, mind you), Mac OS 9 still runs rings around it.
 


Well, yes it is, and the concept came up with a friend who is also a long-time Mac support provider. And, to be fair, it's hardly Apple alone, though Apple seems to be doing the best job of integrating hardware and software for the purpose. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and, to an extreme extent, Facebook, are all as bad or worse on the software front, while beginning to dabble in hardware, too, especially AI devices ("smart speakers" et al). Linux seems like the sole hold-out. I hope it can continue to do that.
It is with me, too. I agree with Will M, Linux isn't there for most people. I have given Apple up, for anything new. I do hope something changes my mind, but I'm not holding my breath.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
... Every time I go to use it in virtualization, I quickly realize there's some basic task that I have no idea how to do...
Using a virtual machine seems like a way to make the inherent issues of Linux just that much worse. A fairer test is probably installing a friendly didtribution (e.g. Mint or maybe Elementary, or even Ubuntu) on basic, inexpensive/free used PC hardware (e.g. Dell Optiplex 360). Or get an inexpensive new Dell laptop for it . :-)
 


Using a virtual machine seems like a way to make the inherent issues of Linux just that much worse.
While I both appreciate and agree that actual hardware will smooth out (many if not all) driver issues and obviate the need for potentially problematic guest additions, it still doesn't make the task of manually installing the latest version of an app from a developer's website (a piece of cake on the Mac) any easier. I realize there are AppImages, Snaps and Flatpaks that aim to correct this, but as of now, they don't seem to be as widespread as they need to be.
 


Linux isn't there for most people.
And I dearly hope that changes. When I was evaluating a new computer for a 97-year-old (who has since passed on) coming from Windows 7, there were a great many things in more traditional distros that she would have found more familiar compared to Windows 10, but several other issues ultimately led me to Windows 10. She did much better than I thought.
 


Using a virtual machine seems like a way to make the inherent issues of Linux just that much worse. A fairer test is probably installing a friendly didtribution (e.g. Mint or maybe Elementary, or even Ubuntu) on basic, inexpensive/free used PC hardware....
If you want to give Linux a fair try and don't want to spend a lot of money, I have a system running Linux Mint Cinnamon 19.1 attached to my home media center. With an Intel Celeron N4000 at 1.1 GHz, chosen for silence, not performance, it is nonetheless rather snappy and does well with browsing, email, LibreOffice, and even the Darktable photo editing application. It's not for gaming, and if you do want to try its advertised 4K ability, you'll need to do that from downloaded content, if at all. Mine's connected only to standard 1920 x 1080 HD through a stereo receiver.

The Asus PN40 supports both M.2 SATA SSD and a 2.5" SATA laptop drives. I have all my "local" media on a 2.5" SATA SSD and thus don't need to Plex or Kodi.
  • Asus PN40 Fanless Barebones Mini PC with Intel Celeron and Integrated Intel 4K UHD Graphics: $159
  • Crucial 8GB Kit (4GBx2) DDR4 2400 MT/S (PC4-19200) SR x8 SODIMM 260-Pin Memory - $37
  • ADATA SU800 128GB M.2 2280 SATA 3D NAND Internal SSD $27
Total system price: $223
(bring your own monitor, keyboard, mouse)

While I both appreciate and agree that actual hardware will smooth out (many if not all) driver issues and obviate the need for potentially problematic guest additions, it still doesn't make the task of manually installing the latest version of an app from a developer's website (a piece of cake on the Mac) any easier.
If you're in an Ubuntu or derivative (e.g., Linux Mint), it's very easy to install software from the distribution's software center. (I recently installed the new Fedora 30, and that's less easy: had to find terminal commands to install the Gnome software center Fedora version.)

Back to Ubuntu derivatives (and Ubuntu itself is a Debian derivative), installing software in .deb packages from developer sites (including LibreOffice) is point-and-click easy. From a security sense, there's danger in installing .debs found on third-party sites not curated by
Canonical or the developers of your distro. (That's said to be one of the problems of Arch and its derivatives - Arch User Packages (.aur) packages are unverified in any way, though Arch users can avoid installing them. What's the fun of that?)

My experiences with AppImages, Snaps, and Flatpaks is less satisfactory, mostly because applications delivered in those "systems" don't integrate with the UI settings of my system. That's supposed to be changing. Currently, the ones I've installed often look like old DOS programs, though some, which have their own theming, can look quite good, just different than my desktop.
 


Another [Linux hardware] option in the sub-$200 range (sub-$100 at times via eBay) is the HP Elite 8300 series desktops — third-generation Core i-series CPUs, USB 3, plenty of ports and expandability. And they are among the easiest OEM PCs for running [hackintosh] macOS. (Dell 7010/9010 is another option, but I'm not as familiar with them.)
 


If you're interested in something cheap for the purpose of learning Linux (not so much for running productivity apps), consider a Raspberry Pi. A basic starter kit (e.g. a CanaKit - $80) will include the computer board, case, power supply and an SD card pre-loaded with "NOOBS" - so you can just pick your OS (most likely Raspbian Linux) and let it install itself.

Provide your own display (HDMI-based), keyboard and mouse (USB-based).

If that's too expensive, you can also get a Pi Zero-W kit which offers all the basics (including Wi-Fi networking, but not Ethernet) for $35.

I wouldn't use a Pi for productivity work, because they have limited memory (1GB for a 3B+, 512M for a Zero W) and are a bit slow (especially since the file system is an SD card), but they are just great if you just want something to play with for learning/hobby purposes. And because Raspbian Linux is based on Debian, the skills you develop can translate directly to a PC-based Linux distribution.
 


If you're interested in something cheap for the purpose of learning Linux (not so much for running productivity apps), consider a Raspberry Pi.
There's a place for the Raspberry Pi, and, yes, it is possible to run Linux on it. Martin Wimpress, who's the Canonicial employee and also head of the Ubuntu Mate "flavour" has adapated Mate for the Pi.

But I submit it isn't fair to evaluate Linux as a serious option for the desktop on a device which boots from an SD Card.
 


But I submit it isn't fair to evaluate Linux as a serious option for the desktop on a device which boots from an SD Card.
You're right, I would never use the Pi as a way to judge if Linux is suitable as a desktop replacement.

But it is a good platform to learn the basics of Linux administration - install/remove software, configure peripherals, users, network services, etc. You can practice stuff like this on a dirt-cheap device and get enough information to determine if you want to set up Linux on a real computer (for a proper evaluation) or decide that it isn't worth the effort to find out.
 


As bad as it's getting on the Mac, OS X still runs rings around Linux for ease of use, even though (strictly from an ease-of-use standpoint, mind you), Mac OS 9 still runs rings around it.
Anyone remember when Andy Hertzfeld and a few other first-generation Mac software luminaries formed a company - Easel? - specifically to make a user-friendly Linux distro that would compete with the Mac?

Oh, yeah: Wikipedia article
 


If you're in an Ubuntu or derivative (e.g., Linux Mint), it's very easy to install software from the distribution's software center.
This is true, but my original comment was in reference to the fact that many software centers offer a version of LibreOffice that is somewhat behind the latest.

Back to Ubuntu derivatives (and Ubuntu itself is a Debian derivative), installing software in .deb packages from developer sites (including LibreOffice) is point-and-click easy.
That wasn't my experience when I last gave Ubuntu a shot. Unfortunately, I can't say exactly when this was, apart from sometime in 2018, with whatever was then the latest version. The instructions I found looked more like this:

How to install LibreOffice 6.2 on Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Debian…

While there may well have been a much easier way to do it (even back then), as long as that easier way is consistently overshadowed by "the hard way" then Linux will not catch on with the general computing public. And that's a shame.

While I have been using computers since 1985, I still get the feeling that the overall vibe (not referring to anyone who has posted here) from the Linux community towards those less knowledgeable remains "If you have to ask, you shouldn't be using it."

In an effort to make sure I have the most basic of foundations to wrap my head around (and then build upon), I have even looked to Dummies-style books, but those, of course, are hopelessly out of date by the time they are published.
 


This is true, but my original comment was in reference to the fact that many software centers offer a version of LibreOffice that is somewhat behind the latest. That wasn't my experience when I last gave Ubuntu a shot. Unfortunately, I can't say exactly when this was, apart from sometime in 2018, with whatever was then the latest version. The instructions I found looked more like this:
While there may well have been a much easier way to do it (even back then), as long as that easier way is consistently overshadowed by "the hard way" then Linux will not catch on with the general computing public. And that's a shame.
While I have been using computers since 1985, I still get the feeling that the overall vibe (not referring to anyone who has posted here) from the Linux community towards those less knowledgeable remains "If you have to ask, you shouldn't be using it."
In an effort to make sure I have the most basic of foundations to wrap my head around (and then build upon), I have even looked to Dummies-style books, but those, of course, are hopelessly out of date by the time they are published.
The easy way is to just accept that the version of LibreOffice your "distro" has in its repositories may fall somewhat behind the latest LibreOffice release. One of the "features" of Linux Mint is the Mint team gives software a bit of time to age and show the update doesn't break something. I tried the rolling Arch-based release Manjaro and, from that experience, gained more appreciation for Mint's willingness not to be out on the bleeding edge.

If you're willing to live closer to the bleeding edge but not take out paper cuts, the Ubuntu not-LTS releases (e.g., the current 19.04 and 19.10 due in October) update software more rapidly.

I've installed LibreOffice on my work machine following the instructions you linked. Perhaps my description of that as "easy" shows growing familiarity with Linux? I've also tried LibreOffice as Flatpak and AppImage. Again, seems easy, but I prefer the "old fashioned" install system using .deb

One thing I did learn when removing the "stock" LibreOffice from a system and replacing it with a newer direct download: it's possible and seemed useful to add a download of local help files. I wasn't able to figure out how to do that in the Flatpak / AppImage installs I tested.
 


The Raspberry Pi 3B+ can boot from a USB drive with little fuss as long, as there is no SD Card in the slot. I'm currently running the current Raspberry flavor of MATE from a low-end 240GB Kingston SSD in a cheap plastic Sabrent USB 3.0 enclosure with no problems.

Boot time is a bit slow, given that the 3B+ board only supports USB 2.0. The 1 GB of memory is a bit limiting, but for causal word processing using LibreOffice, emailing with Thunderbird, or web surfing with Chromium or Midori (as long as I don't go beyond five tabs), it works just fine.

It runs even better under Raspbian Buster (the current Raspberry-flavored Debian port). The Buster distribution comes with a plethora of educational programming tools, including Wolfram Alpha, Scratch, Minecraft: Pi Edition, and my kids' favorite, Sonic Pi (a Python-based music sequencer).

The new Raspberry Pi 4 announced last month looks like it will be a better desktop machine to learn Linux on, once they patch the USB-C power issues (they used non-standard firmware,so many USB-C cables don't supply power). The RPi 4 comes with up to 4 GB of RAM, and there are references to an 8GB board in the manuals and online help files, so that might be something coming down the pike. MATE hasn't been ported to the RPi 4 yet, though.
 


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