Sunday, December 13, 2009

As long as I'm venting

Wow, this is a first. I'm bored. I'm actually bored. Not to say my life is normally the most exciting there is, but it's raining outside, the wife and Thing #1 are out, while Thing #2 has vanished into the playroom with her new Barbie dollhouse. It's cold and rainy outside, my cabinet project is currently in midst-glueup so I can't work on it right now, and I don't feel like watching TV, exercising, or in any way improving my life.

I know! I'll vent some more!

As you could see by my last post, major consumer goods have annoyed me lately. So as long as I'm walking down that path, maybe I'll take some time and bitch a little bit about Apple.


"But Mike," you say. "Aren't you, like, a total Mac lover? I mean, don't you want to MARRY your Mac?"

Well sure. Our house has gone all Mac, as we currently has two Apple iMacs no PC-based machines, three iPods, an iPhone, an Apple Time Capsule, and an Airport Express. After all, I use PCs all day at work and, much like a gynecologist, do I really want to take my work home each day? And all of it works together just so bloody well. So why would I complain?

Because Apple seems to have failed with two simple, basic home computing rights: The right to keep a to-do list and the right to print an address correctly.

I'll explain. First, Apple has done a very nice job on integrating a To-do list application into their Mail and Calendar programs. Since users are always in Mail anyways, it's easy to click one button and add an item to a to-do list in a separate window of the Mail program. Those To-do items also synchronize with the Calendar program, so you can easily see in the calendar what's coming up on the To-do list.

But there's one huge flaw with the whole To-do list feature. It doesn't exist on the iPhone. You can sync your mail, calendars, addresses and notes between the computer and the phone. Why THE HELL can't you sync To-do lists? It seems like a basic human right. And come on, Apple, people have been complaining about this since the day the iPhone first came out. I mean, I can point my iPhone at a star in the sky, and it will automatically tell me what star that is. I can hold my phone in front of me, and it will give me the name, menu, and reviews of the restaurant in front of me. I can even update my Facebook status. Why the hell can't I keep a decent to-do list on it using Apple's own to-do application?

The second issue I have is that, apparently, the developer of Apple's address book application came from a very broken family. There's a seemingly nice intelligent feature in the address book, where if you enter the name of a contact's spouse in the "spouse" field, that spouse's name will magically appear when you print an address label. Great, so if my buddy John Smith is married to Jane, I just put Jane's name in the Spouse box, and as a result I can print a mailing label and it will state "John and Jane Smith". Great. Almost.

The first problem is that you must put Jane's last name in the Spouse box as well. Otherwise her name will not appear. Okay actually, once I managed to figure out this extremely poorly documented feature, I began to realize it actually makes sense, because if Jane keeps her own name of "Jones" then the system is smart enough to print "John Smith and Jane Jones" rather than John and Jane Smith.

But wait. There's more. It turns out that if there is ANY other "Jane" in your address book, her name will not print on the mailing label unless you create an address book entry specifically for Jane Smith, with exactly the same address as john's, AND enter her name in John's Spouse field. Huh? Why? I get the feeling that this is because the address book is trying to handle the concept of divorce elegantly. Perhaps Jane moved out, got a new address, and therefore needs her own Christmas card.

But wait, it gets better. The same process is true for kids. If John and Jane have a little boy Joey, and you want to address their Christmas card as "John, Jane, and Joey Smith", then you must put Joey's name in the Child field and include his last name. but if there's any other Joey in the address book, then little Joey Smith needs his own address book entry too, or his name won't print on the Smith's address label. Why in the name of Steve Jobs would I want to create a separate address book entry for every child of every friend of mine in order to get a working mailing list for our annual holiday cards?

Oh and speaking of which, there's no way to toggle the feature on and off. So if I want to send an Xmas card to the entire Smith family, great. Do the above. But then if I only want to invite John and Jane to the Bar Mitzvah, without the kids, I have to completely redo their address entry.

I have a hunch that Steve Jobs doesn't send out his own Christmas cards. Otherwise this would never be a problem.

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