Saturday, February 25, 2017

computers are like old testament gods; they suck



I have been having my what great-grandma Maudie would call "a time" with my computer. It turns out that those random, continual restarts it kept insisting on, for months, were its shy, understated, El Capitan way of performing a kernel panic. Like, it was constantly kernel panicking. Ten times a day, sometimes, and because I hadn't been reading the Apple Support site for fun since OS X became "macOS," I had no idea. By the time I figured it out, the System had become Corrupted. So I started backing things up, but during that process I discovered that my elderly FireWire drive was, in some subtle way, completely (as Great-grandma Maudie would say) borked, and had been quietly eating all the files I sent it. So, I had to go buy a new one (mine is silver). I slapped my entire user folder onto the new drive without enquiring further, and I made a bootable Sierra volume, thinking I would do a clean install and save myself a lot of grief trying to figure out what exactly had been fucking with my old system. That was when I started really having fun. First, I couldn't get the iMac's built-in HD to erase. Disk Utility said it was too full to work on (?), it wasn't a hard disk, it wasn't writable, whatever. I had to zero it out completely, twice, which took days. Then, there was something wrong with the copy of Sierra on the boot volume (still don't know what), and because my HD had been wiped I couldn't get in to download it again. I finally managed to borrow an old Macbook, redownload Sierra, and make a new boot volume (a week), but because the Macbook was so old it had limited available real-estate, so Sierra had just put the installer in the boot drive, to save space. So then I had to wait while the boot drive downloaded Sierra onto my computer (two days) before actually installing it. I ended up finally getting Sierra installed, and my electricity went out for three days. I was feeling really cheerful and relaxed at this point, as you might imagine, so when the time came to turn my iMac back on I was happy as a fucking clam to find myself continually rejecting the advances of Siri, a completely useless product feature Apple has decided to saddle their new desktopOS with for reasons that remain opaque to much of the marketplace. I would like to point out, here, that despite what you may have seen in various creatively-lit Apple commercials, Siri is completely useless for any purpose besides LARPing Star Trek: The Next Generation. Siri is also, even now, trying to turn herself on all the goddamn time, even though I keep telling her no. Siri is a PUA.

Anyway! After doing all the annoying set-up that any system would require, and requesting a PFA on Siri, Sierra asked me if I would like to host all my files and my desktop environment on iCloud (this would require me to pay money to Apple every month for the privilege), and I said HAHANO, but I allowed as how putting my iBooks library and my Notes and Mail and some other shit on there would be a good idea — and we are approaching Part Two of the narrative now, if you'd like to get up to refresh your beverage — and I sat still for hours playing mah-jongg while Sierra transferred files. Aaaaaaaaaand! And! Can you guess what happened next, Reader? iCloud destroyed my system. It fucked up every aspect of Safari, intermingled my bookmarks/Reading List with shit from my mom's c.2004 iTunes account (I don't even know how!), and destroyed by iBook library. And when I say "destroyed," I mean "first it refused to put the ebooks on my iPad, then it ate them and they disappeared, except for the ones I'd bought in the iBooks Store." We're talking about hundreds of books, here. We're talking about notes on hundreds of books. We're talking about my painfully close reading of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I spent another entire week trying to fix iBooks (none of the Apple Support solutions worked), before finally giving up, getting my old iBooks library out of my backed-up user folder, and turning iCloud off forever. I also retired Safari rather than waste further hours of my dwindling lifespan trying to figure out what happened to it and how to stop it from continuing to happen/happening again. I'm now using Chrome (business) and Firefox (party), and I sync my iBooks manually, just like it says to do in the Bible. After I got through all that, though, I began to have lots of peculiar, random click problems that basically made my freshly-waxed computer unusable, but I eventually figured out that my legacy Wacom drivers (I used a Bamboo tablet as a mouse) were causing system-wide instability. So I uninstalled every part of the driver architecture, got out the Magic Mouse that shipped with my iMac, and discovered that... it no longer worked. Cleaned it out with a can of air and a microfiber cloth, changed the batteries: nothing. So I conscientiously, despairingly navigated to Apple's website using a pink Hello Kitty mouse borrowed from my niece, and discovered that everyone hates the new Apple Magic Mouse because it has sharp edges that you can cut yourself on and you have to flip it over to charge it. So I bought a "like new" used old one, and it works fine and arrived, indeed, in out-of-the-box condition. (One.)


And that is why I haven't been posting.

Also my electricity cut out five different times in the last seven weeks.

The comprehensive, underlying problem with Sierra is that much of the system proper — and nearly all of the actually-useful parts of what's left — is oriented entirely toward forcing you to use iCloud, and the whole Apple ebook library concept is given over to making you download books from their overpriced and understocked iBooks store. Everything is like that. Everyfucking petty-annoyance of a thing. For example, Notes usefully syncs across all your devices, but you only get fancy styled text on the Notes kept in the iCloud account. Which: whatever. But, iCloud Notes go into a "recently deleted" folder when you hit the trash button, which is really easy to do because it's less than a finger's-width away from the "new note" and the "share" button, but Notes in non-iCloud accounts are instantly gone forever if you accidentally tap that little trashcan. No "are you sure about this, moron?" dialogue or anything. I had about 700 words on a YA novel called Six of Crows written up on my iPad a day or two ago, and I deleted it all because I clumsily brushed the fucking stupid little trash button while sitting my iPad down on the counter. I like Six of Crows a lot, don't get me wrong, but that was 700 words of outline that I don't want to try and recreate. Rage.

To be honest, I would love to put Apple behind me. I've found their desktopOS increasingly hostile for years now; around the time they introduced location-pinning and face-recognition to iPhoto (immediate forever quit) and introduced Time Machine, which is a fantastically devious way to make regular users purchase heavily-branded 6TB backup drives for no real reason and which I've never used or even wanted to try, progressing on through the retirement of the "Save As" command because "Versions," up through Siri and the new iCloud nationalism, I've been thinking that desktop Macs are becoming specifically irrelevant. The OS is being obscured by a bunch of bloated, overthought, cloud-based features software designers imagine the core Apple user, who is apparently a real asshole with a major narcissism problem, would want. And perhaps the modal Apple asshole does want all these new, absolutely terrible features to crowd out all the plain utility that makes a person keep a desktop around — but I don't want them. And I'm the only person whose opinion matters when it comes to the desktop computing platform in current use in my own house.

Here are my options:

  1. Go to Windows. Haha! I will fuck Siri on a velvet couch in Hugh Hefner's soggy rented Playboy sexdungeon first.
  2. Go back to Snow Leopard. Lots of people have, apparently! I don't remember what Snow Leopard was like, but I wouldn't be able to use iBooks, which is my primary reason for living. Or, I mean: I don't give a fuck about iBooks, specifically, but I have many odd vision problems and ebooks have allowed me to read constantly again. For awhile there I was limited in my reading time — down to, like, "an hour a day if you're lucky" — because the poor contrast and paper-glare of actual books gave me mega-headaches/fizzy eye artifacts/nerve pain that debilitated me. And also you have to dust real books. And they start decaying the moment they're made, just like people, and they make me sneeze (also like people).
  3. Some kind of Linux OS. This option seems the most promising, to be honest, but it's not without its own pitfalls. There are four-hundred million different "distros," as they're called, and they're organized along various parent branch-lines whose proponents all despise and insult each other constantly. Also, they seem for the most part to be pretty complex; even allegedly user-friendly distros require end-users to download programs via the command line. I can definitely handle working with the command line if I have to (and I have some good instructions), but I don't prefer to do it all the time. It also seems like most Linux OSes are semi-functional works in progress, which is fine if you love coding and developing and being on the bleeding edge of things — but I just want a nice, boring, functional desktop that won't slip me some GHB and try to put all my content in the cloud while I'm knocked out. Also most Linux distros are ugly as fuck. I was thinking about auditioning elementaryOS, maybe, but I looked up some tryout footage uploaded to YouTube by experienced users working with earlier betas, and none of them could get it to function even moderately.
I'd also have to say goodbye to some of my favorite Mac programs — Transmit and Coda especially, as well as my Japanese Rosetta Stone program. I don't know what to do. It's disheartening. If you're a Computer Person out there reading this, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment offering your opinion on various OS options. Anything anyone has to say on the matter will be greatly appreciated, in fact.

Well, anyway. Who cares. It's all over now (PLEASE CHRIST).

Next comes Uprooted, and then immediately after that my new boyfriend (who is very like my old and best boyfriend), Jack Glass.

See you then.

9 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness. That sounds like a nightmare! Whenever I have even the smallest issues with my computer I feel like my world is ending D:

    At least you have your books back, even if your computer isn't up to full speed yet.
    We're talking about my painfully close reading of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
    I actually gasped out loud in sympathy. What a thing to lose!

    I'm not a computer person, so can't give you any advice (I'm currently on that velvet couch in the sexdungeon) but I hope you're able to get it all sorted out and that you find something usable!

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    1. Wow, I did two comments and Chrome refused to publish them! Very weird. Let's hope this one goes through.

      I didn't realize how long this post is while I was writing it. I actually left stuff out because I wanted to streamline the narrative :[

      I actually gasped out loud in sympathy. What a thing to lose!
      What a kind person you are. A less wonderful human might've been excited to see me finally shut up about it.

      I'm currently on that velvet couch in the sexdungeon
      It's not that I hate Windows; it's just that I had to use it in various dumb jobs for several years, and I always felt like it was oriented more toward the people writing it than the people using it. Also its attitude toward viruses made me paranoid. Also it seldom worked right. Also it was ugly. All right, I hate it.

      Thank you for your comment, Windows User!

      Delete
    2. A less wonderful human might've been excited to see me finally shut up about it.
      PLEASE NEVER SHUT UP ABOUT IT. I'm not kind, I'm just a) happy to talk about this book until the end of all time, b) happy to read anything you write; your writing is always so insightful and funny.

      Delete
    3. your writing is always so insightful and funny.
      Yes, you are clearly horrible. Ugh get out of here, you monster.

      Delete
  2. Oof...

    It fucked up every aspect of Safari, intermingled my bookmarks/Reading List with shit from my mom's c.2004 iTunes account (I don't even know how!), and destroyed by iBook library. And when I say "destroyed," I mean "first it refused to put the ebooks on my iPad, then it ate them and they disappeared, except for the ones I'd bought in the iBooks Store." We're talking about hundreds of books, here. We're talking about notes on hundreds of books. We're talking about my painfully close reading of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I spent another entire week trying to fix iBooks (none of the Apple Support solutions worked), before finally giving up, getting my old iBooks library out of my backed-up user folder, and turning iCloud off forever.

    Now, THAT is a bibliophile's nightmare... a horror story the equal of Time Enough at Last. I swear by Calibre for my e-book management and use the conversion feature to make PDF backups of e-books, which then get saved to a flash drive.

    I'm not a Mac user, so I can't help you with the OS dilemma, but I swear by Calibre for my e-book collection. Good luck.


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    1. a horror story the equal of Time Enough at Last
      Well, I certainly felt like I was in the fucking Twilight Zone.

      but I swear by Calibre for my e-book collection. Good luck.
      I already use Calibre, but only for conversion. Probably I should look into expanding my expertise with complex programs, especially if I'm thinking about moving to Linux. "Difficult but functional" beats "pretty and useless" any day (take that, patriarchy!).

      And thanks.

      Delete
  3. WHAT IS UP WITH THIS GODDAMN REPLY FORM TODAY

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  4. PLEASE NEVER SHUT UP ABOUT IT. I'm not kind, I'm just a) happy to talk about this book until the end of all time, b) happy to read anything you write; your writing is always so insightful and funny.

    It's true, it's true. I am still marveling at your 'Nerdygirl in Chanland' comment at my blog. It was hilarious, informative, and a much-needed corrective to the 'gamergate' and 'fake geek girl' idiocy that has been festering in nerd culture. I would suggest that you expand that into a series, it would be a fascinating window into an earlier internet culture. I'd even suggest shopping it to one of the tech/entertainment blogs, you have a perspective that is much-needed if nerdery is to be saved from the worst sort of gamer-bros.

    You have a knack for self-deprecation, but you really shouldn't undermine yourself. If you were as boring as you claim to be, we wouldn't be reading. I could even picture you telling your tale of chan-ing during a 'Moth' event, to much acclaim.

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    1. This is probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. It's definitely the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me on the internet. Thank you!!! I'm really, really sorry I didn't reply earlier; I had the flu :[

      Delete