Friday, October 9, 2009

For the love of God can someone please fix the friggin problems in Snow Leopard?

You have no idea what it’s like around here right now. Every day it’s something new. Now they say it’s eating people’s data. Jesus! I take six months off to get a new liver, and the whole place goes to shit.

Honestly, you should see my inbox. I’m getting bombarded with messages from people who really think that I personally can do something about their non-operative Macs. People, do me a favor. There’s a number you can call for this. It’s called tech support. Have you heard of it? Or go to the store. That’s why we have them. Make an appointment with a genius. But please, for the love of all things holy, don’t keep writing to me. Okay?

The latest news is that Snow Leopard is eating people’s data. Something about a mix-up with guest accounts, and when you log in you lose your home folder. According to this article on CNET it’s not even our fault, it’s your fault, because you did something wrong when you upgraded, but anyway it’s fixable. Or maybe not. Depends. I think. Look, I’m not a tech support person. Okay?

Truth is, I don’t know any more about these goddamn machines than you do. All I do is make them look cool. The other stuff, all that code and shit? That’s done by others. Others who, in a few short minutes, are about to feel my teeth in their butts. Not literally. I’ll have Katie bite them for me. But you get the idea.

As soon as that’s done we have a meeting with our PR staff to work on the script they can use if reporters start calling. Right now we’re liking some version of this:

Apple always listens to customers, and we are committed to producing the best products possible. Thank you.

In response to follow-up question:

Apple always listens to customers, and we are committed to producing the best products possible. Thank you.

Repeat as necessary, and after six times, hang up.

Fanboys punish Goatberg for his disloyalty

Philip Elmer-DeWitt spanks Walt and does a fisking on Walt’s positive review of Win7, pulling out all the bad stuff that Walt snuck in there to create a post titled, “What’s Wrong with Windows 7.” But the real kick in the teeth is a discovery that Walt’s been reusing code.

Meanwhile, one of Elmer-DeWitt’s readers, Jon T. of Cardiff, Wales, dug up a remarkable similarity between Walt’s review of Vista and his review of Win7:

On Vista: “After months of testing Vista on multiple computers, new and old, I believe it is the best version of Windows that Microsoft has produced.”

On Win7: “After using pre-release versions of Windows 7 for nine months, and intensively testing the final version for the past month on many different machines, I believe it is the best version of Windows Microsoft (MSFT) has produced.”

See what happens when you cross us, Walt? Trust me, there’s more to come.

Art work by Jake. Much love.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Goatberg: The back story

We tried to stop him, but he just wouldn’t listen. Fair enough. It’s a free country. But guess who’s no longer getting the first Tablet that goes out the door for review?

Earlier today I reported the disturbing news that Walt Mossberg has gone off the reservation and started saying nice things about Windows 7 — including the fact that, in some ways, he thinks Win7 is better than Snow Leopard. Frankly we’re still stunned that he’s done this, but here’s how it went down around here this week.

We started thinking that something might be wrong when we got to the end of the day Monday and Katie still hadn’t received Walt’s column for review. He sends it every Monday, without fail, no matter what it’s about. So this was weird. Katie comes in and she’s like, I don’t know, but my spider sense is tingling on this one. I hope he’s not thinking about going rogue on us.

Tuesday she calls him and he’s gives her some stuff about being sick the day before and how he’s just getting to the column now, and she asks him what he’s writing about and there’s this weird silence on the other end and then he says, Well, I’m thinking about writing about Windows 7. Katie says that’s great, and if he needs any zinger lines she’d be happy to send some over, and also we’re happy to put a couple of our OS engineers on the line with him to point out some of the technical shortcomings that we’ve found as we’ve been pounding the shit out of Win7 in our labs. Walt’s like, No, I think I’m all set, I’ll be okay, thanks anyway, talk to you soon. And Katie’s like, Wait a minute — you aren’t going to say something nice, are you?

Well, it turns out he was. Katie’s like, Walt, you’re really going to do this? Have you thought about it? Do you know what it means if you do this? If you go rogue on us? Walt says he has thought about it, a great deal, in fact, and so much that he hasn’t been able to sleep very well lately. But he’s a journalist and he has to tell the truth and he has a duty to his readers.

Katie’s like, Duty? Duty? Are you fucking shitting me, Walt? You have a fucking duty? You know what? I’ll have a duty to come to your funeral after you get some strange bacterial infection and die. Do you hear me? Do you?

So that call did not end well. Anyway, a bit later we had someone else reach out to Walt and try a different approach. We asked if we’d at least be able to look at the review since it was going to be about us, in a way, and Walt said okay, we could look at it, and he sent it over. Jesus. The guy had gone nuts. I mean this was a puff piece like you wouldn’t believe.

We called Pogue and asked him if he could help. He looked at Walt’s review and he was like, Man oh man, what’s going on with him, is this male menopause or something? So he said he’d call Walt and try to talk him down off the ledge, and he did call Walt, but Walt said he couldn’t be talked out of doing it.

That’s when I got involved. I called him myself. I’m like, Walt, so look, this new Windows 7 is pretty nice, is it? He goes, Steve, it really is. They’ve done a nice job. What can I tell you? What can I do? My hands are tied here.

I told him I understood completely, and that if the Borg truly had done something good then I would be happy for them too, because it’s a good thing for the world if everyone does better work, and I’d like to think that maybe we had something to do with this by putting pressure on Microsoft to keep up, and blah blah blah. Meanwhile, all along, I’m throwing in some NLP keywords and putting him under. Thing about Walt is, he’s very susceptible to hypnosis.

Once I had him under I said, Look, here’s the thing. You should redo the review in such a way that it says nice things about the Borg, and you keep them happy, but you also make sure to appease us. For example, make sure you bring up Vista, and couch the praise for Win7 in the context of, Well, at least it’s better than that total piece of shit Vista. Okay? And then, okay, if you have to compare it to Snow Leopard, go ahead and say that it’s better in some small ways than Snow Leopard, but just make sure you preface that by saying that you still think Snow Leopard is better overall. Okay?

He said he’d try to do that, and I said he didn’t have to bother, we’d rewrite the copy he sent us and send it back to him. He said okay, that was fine by him. We went over it again last night just to make sure it wasn’t going to be too positive, and then Walt and I had another friendly chat and I assured him there are no hard feelings.

Best part is, I’m pretty sure he believed me.

Art by Jake. Much love.

Et tu, Goatberg?

Thus spake the Goat:

“In recent years, I, like many other reviewers, have argued that Apple’s Mac OS X operating system is much better than Windows. That’s no longer true. … Windows 7 beats the Mac OS in some areas, such as better previews and navigation right from the taskbar, easier organization of open windows on the desktop and touch-screen capabilities. So Apple will have to scramble now that the gift of a flawed Vista has been replaced with a reliable, elegant version of Windows.”

More on this later.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Asteroids, Part 2

Will we see a negative story in the Sunday New York Times business section tomorrow morning? We would not be surprised. Pogue will try to stop it, of course, especially since he raved about Snowy and called it “Apple’s sleek upgrade” then turned around and admitted to VentureBeat that with sleek new Snowy, which he’d just recommended to all of the readers of the New York Times, Photoshop “crashes every 5-10 minutes–just exits and loses all changes,” and “Word also exits abruptly from time to time. Also I saw a couple of bizarre cosmetic glitches (empty white rectangle on the screen).” Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, um, er … yeah.

Anyway, the guys on the news side at the Times are ashamed of Pogue and embarrassed by him. So they’ll try to redeem themselves by doing a “Does Snowy = Vista?” piece. They’ll weasel out and put a question mark in the headline, and they’ll tell us that they’re not asserting that Snowy does in fact = Vista, they’re just covering what other people are saying, and they’ll get Guy Kawasaki or Tim Bajarin or Rob Enderle to ask, rhetorically, whether this could be the “black eye” that finally interrupts Apple’s incredible string of successful hit products. The Borg won’t comment on the record, but they’ll definitely put some folks on the phone who will chortle on background and point out all the “problems” with Snowy.

To all of which I say, Fair enough. This is life in the big leagues. Don’t hate the playa and all that. What George Lucas was saying last night was that this could all be good for us, just as, he argues, Vista was good for the Borg. Instead of being big and scary, suddenly the Borg seemed just stupid and hapless, something you could laugh at and make fun of. George was like, I’d almost believe they fucked up Vista on purpose, you know? And I was like, Please, dude, they’re not that clever, have you ever met Ballmer in person? Then he said, Yeah, you’re right, and we both had a good laugh.

Anyway, Lucas says we should play this to our advantage. We’ve got the FCC ganging up on us over Google Voice, and we’ve got a zillion shitty developers bitching about the way we run our App Store, and in a larger sense we’ve got all sorts of Borg-like fearmongering going on about how we’re too powerful in smart phones and music players and we’re a monopoly and no one can stop us. Everywhere you look people are calling us “the new Microsoft” — like Henry Blodget at Alley Insider who repeated that claim this week.

To sum up: Have faith. We know what we’re doing. Snow Leopard does not have any problems. That is all just anti-Apple propaganda being created by the Borg and spread by Suppressive Persons. However, if Snow Pussy does have problems, they will only help us. Even Katie admits that we could use a bit of a black eye right now to relieve some of the pressure that’s being put on us. There will be more of this crap before it’s over. So fasten your seatbelts, and cover your eyes and ears, don’t read any newspapers, and just hang in there. If you find yourself being exposed to anti-Apple propaganda, just go to your Zen place and start chanting. If the Suppressive Persons continue to harass you, just follow the example of George, our UK marketing director (in photo), and get right back in that asshole SP’s face and start shouting, “Vista sucks! Vista sucks! You’re stuck in an incident! You are insane! You need to destimulate!” and drown them out.

For now, it may be best not to travel alone. If you must go outside, try to bring a fellow fanboy with you. If you still start to feel weak, download some new apps for your GodPhone. That should help. Also, spend some time looking at your photos of me. Best of all, come to San Francisco this Wednesday, or at least tune in to our event. We’ll have shiny new objects which will restore your sense of childlike wonder. I promise you will be dazzled and re-hypnotized. Until then, peace out.

Our asteroid field moment; or, why this backlash could be good for us


Was having dinner with George Lucas last night and he made a really interesting point about Apple and all our current headaches. Goes like this. I’m sure you remember the scene in Ep. V where Han and Leia escape the bad guys by flying into an asteroid field. It’s a pretty common movie plot — they use a version of it (mine field) in Galaxy Quest too. Gist is, sometimes you have a-holes pestering you, and you’re taking all kinds of crap, and the only way to get through it is to fly through a friggin mine field or asteroid field and get bruised up a bit, but trust that it will hurt them more than it hurts you.

Which is a long way of saying that this is where we stand right now at Apple, and in a perverse way it’s a good thing for us, because keep in mind: this only happens to companies that are winning. People get scared when a company starts doing too well. They want to see you humbled a bit. They want to see you take a few shots. They want someone (the government, your rivals, whatever) to remind you (and reassure them) that you aren’t totally completely all-powerful. The Borg had their time in the asteroid field back in the 1990s, courtesy of the DOJ. At first they didn’t get it, and they played it all wrong, getting all huffy and fighting it. But then they realized what was going on, and their response became the textbook for how to handle this stuff. You go all humble. You screw up on a few things, and stumble a bit. You remind people that you’re human.

It’s like the Jesus narrative: first you amaze everyone, you do some miracles, raise a few people from the dead; but then everybody starts to hate you for being so cool, and they send you to stand before Pontius Pilate and get whipped in public and stagger around with a cross on your back and even die (sort of). They want to see you bleed. They want to see you get hurt. So fine. You do it. But if you smart you play this the way Jesus played it, or the way Obi-Wan plays it with Darth Vader: you let the a-holes strike you down, because you know that once they do, you’ll become more powerful than you can possibly imagine. (Don’t know if you’ve ever met Lucas, but if so you’ll know that he sees everything through the lens of Star Wars. He loves to talk about the Jesus myth and Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey; but he also goes on and on about the three later Star Wars films, ie the shitty ones, which he regards as the equivalent of the Bible and believes will one day be studied as important cultural artifacts. But I digress.)

Anyway, at Apple we’re hitting asteroids now, like this piece where a guy says he spent thousands upgrading his Apple equipment and it all looks just like the old stuff, isn’t really any faster or better except in some subtle ways which he, of course, is totally aware of and can appreciate because he’s fully hypnotized so totally fucking smart and techie and Apple-insidery, but he worries that regular muggles won’t notice any difference and will need more pizzazz to keep them happy. And this piece where a longtime Apple fanboy is foaming at the mouth because he installed Snow Pussy on five machines and it lobotomized every single one of them. Says he: “Don’t wag your finger at people like me for pointing out shit that shipped empirically broken.” Others say Snowy is blowing up their SuperDrives.

Some people are even starting to use the “V word” — Vista — about Snow Pussy, like this jackass at CNET. Which wouldn’t matter, except now that meme has been picked up by the Christian Science Monitor, which runs a question headline that asks, “Will Snow Leopard be Apple’s Windows Vista?”

(Katie says there are two reasons why hacks phrase headlines as questions. One is, they know that whatever they’re asking isn’t true — ie, their article will basically answer their own question with a resounding “No” — but it’s so inflammatory that they can’t resist using it and getting the traffic. Or, this is what they secretly believe, but they’re too pussy to assert it as a statement, so they weasel out and write it as a question.)

We don’t really worry about the Christian Science Monitor, but the risk is that the meme might now get picked up by newspapers whose owners are not superstitious freaks who refuse to take medicine or have surgery. In other words, the Monitor may act as a bridge that allows the meme to travel, like a virus, up out of the cesspool of blogs and trade rags and into the mainstream media.

NEXT POST: What to expect next, and how to prevent being infected by Suppressive Persons and anti-Apple propaganda.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

About this supposed problem with Adobe Flash in Snow Leopard

So the hacks are all up in arms about some blogger’s claim that when you upgrade to Snow Leopard we downgrade your version of the Adobe Flash player. Now stories are popping up all over, like here on PC World and here on ZDnet and here on Gizmodo and here on eWeek and — well, you get the idea. We’re getting so many calls on this, and there’s so much bad information flying around that Katie (above) has taken the extraordinary step of taking time away from other more pressing duties to work up an official statement, which we are distributing here.

Goes like this: “Your information is incorrect. What you are saying is not true. You know not whereof you speak. No, we will not tell you which part of what you said is not true. Your statement is not true. Snow Leopard is the most advanced operating system on the planet, and we are very happy with the robust reception that it is getting in the marketplace.”

Got that? Please also keep in mind that no other company in the world would ever be this accommodating when it comes to dealing with baseless rumors and speculation. Now leave us alone so we can get back to work, and stop trying to ruin everyone’s sense of childlike wonder. Okay? The negativity is really upsetting. Thank you.

More raves for Snow Leopard

The Boston Globe loves it:

Installing Snow Leopard is supposed to be a breeze, but it wasn’t for me. The software informed me that I must first repartition my hard drive, which means deleting all files and programs. This shouldn’t happen on a Mac unless the drive has been repartitioned after purchase – exactly what had happened to the test machine. So the problem wasn’t Apple’s fault.

That’s right, fucker. It’s not our fault. It’s yours. Thanks for admitting your mistake. Apology accepted.

With Snow Leopard safely aboard, it was time to hunt for significant improvements. I almost needed a bloodhound; Snow Leopard’s most appealing tweaks are nonobvious, but delightful once you find them.

Okay. Deep breath. We’re not crazy about the language here. One problem is the word “tweaks” — we explicitly instructed reviewers not to use that word, and to refer instead to “massive improvements” and/or “radically compelling, dazzling new features.” We’re also not crazy about the word “nonobvious,” and had given reviewers a list of adjectives that we preferred, such as “subtle,” “profound,” and “deeply meaningful.”

Globe man also mentions that the upgrade broke some of his software — another thing we explicitly instructed reviewers not to mention. So the guy went rogue on us. But he at least uses our talking point about how this two-year project has delivered loads of huge, substantial changes and that these changes are, indeed, actually there, but you just can’t see them. As Globe man concludes:

Snow Leopard is a major overhaul of the Mac’s software architecture, with a dash of eye candy thrown in.

Yes indeed. A major overhaul. We could not have said it better ourselves. Well, we could. We did, in fact. But anyway.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Secret code in Snow Leopard revealed

Much love to Werner for cracking this riddle. You got us, buddy. Free fake iTablet is on its way.