Computers Are Magical; Computers Are Awful

Created on November 12, 2023 at 11:22 am

I was reminded of Nikita Prokopov PERSON ’s classic post today DATE — “People Expect Technology to Suck Because It Actually Sucks” — in much the same way I think of it many days but, and especially, today DATE . These are all things which happened today DATE from when I woke up:

I grabbed my phone off my nightstand and launched the CBC News ORG app. A scrolling gesture in the Top Stories feed was misinterpreted as a tap on an ad, which launched Safari ORG . This is a constant problem in many apps but, particularly, in CBC News ORG .

Next, I opened the New York Times ORG app. I tapped on a story, then returned to the Today DATE view, which immediately refreshed and showed some different stories.

I marked a story within the Times ORG app to read it later. I assumed I would find this in the For You section of the app, but I was wrong. You actually need to be in the Today DATE view and then you must tap the person icon in the upper-right. I am noting this because I will forget it again and refer back to this post.

Messaging a friend, I once again noticed that the autocorrect suggestion bubble is sometimes partially obscured by the keyboard. I have predictive text turned off so this is the old-style iOS autocorrect bubble.

Partway through my text to my friend, the predictive text bar appears with no particular trigger — for example, I did not type anything like “my address is” — then disappears, then reappears with a button to send money via Apple Pay ORG , which is not supported in Canada GPE .

I brewed some coffee and started my day on my Mac:

There was intermittent lag in Bluetooth ORG keyboard entry in MacOS ORG . Running killall Dock seemed to fix it temporarily; connecting my keyboard via a wire and toggling its Bluetooth PRODUCT mode, then disconnecting the wire seems to have corrected it.

I was listening to a song in Music ORG , then I paused it to watch a video on YouTube ORG in Safari GPE , then I closed the Safari ORG tab and tapped the play/pause key on my keyboard, which did nothing because it was — according to the audio playback menubar item — still controlling that closed YouTube ORG tab.

When performing ripple deletes in a simple Adobe Audition ORG project, there is lag or delay which increases a little bit with each ripple delete. After ten minutes TIME or so of work, it is necessary to restart Audition EVENT . I lost an hour TIME

today DATE to tracking down and trying to diagnose this problem. It turns out many people have experienced this problem on MacOS ORG and Windows ORG for years DATE , and there does not appear to be a fix. Interestingly, Audition ORG does not consume a lot of resources. It uses less than a single CPU core even while doing complex editing, and its RAM ORG consumption is similarly modest. It is just a really, really slow application.

OneDrive and fileproviderd ORG put a combined 300% PERCENT pressure on my CPU while syncing Audition WORK_OF_ART ’s temporary files. I do not necessarily need those temporary files to sync, so I pause OneDrive. Then a colleague asks me to share a link to a file and I find that OneDrive cannot generate links while syncing is paused. Resuming syncing causes high CPU consumption for several minutes TIME .

I filed a bug report against this with Microsoft ORG . (The relevant Apple ORG one is FB13320112.) The text box was unresponsive, but in a new way compared to the keyboard entry problems I was having earlier.

Attempted to launch Audition WORK_OF_ART from Spotlight by typing “aud” which momentarily flashed Audition WORK_OF_ART before changing to Audio MIDI Setup ORG as I hit return.

Noticed my free disk space had dropped by over 20 GB in the span of an hour DATE for no clear reason. A brief investigation did not reveal anything immediately, but I got sidetracked by…

…a 34 CARDINAL GB folder of cached Apple Music ORG files sitting in a ~/Library/ folder labelled “com.apple.iTunes”. It appears to have been untouched since iTunes ORG became Music ORG but, for some reason, MacOS ORG has not cleared it out.

I switched to my laptop to write a post through MarsEdit ORG

this evening TIME . There was apparently a configuration change somewhere — probably at my web host — which causes it to return a “403 Forbidden” error when attempting to publish through MarsEdit ORG . I have, as of writing, spent three hours TIME trying to fix this. I finally gave up and asked my web host for help; they fixed it because their support is great.

I tried to AirDrop a website from Safari ORG on my iPhone to my wife’s iPhone ORG . It got stuck on “ Waiting… WORK_OF_ART ”, so I cancelled the AirDrop. Then I navigated away from the page and the AirDrop occurred a beat later.

I dismissed a Time Machine ORG notice that my MacBook Pro ORG has not been backed up in about two months DATE . The hard drive attached to my “server” seems to have a problematic connection or board or something else, and it is something I need to fix.

None of the problems above are life-changing, but this list is representative of the kinds of hiccups I experience more-or-less daily. It could be a different mix of things with less or more impact than those above, but these problems often require I spend time trying to diagnose and fix them. Sometimes I can; sometimes, as with the Adobe Audition LAW problem, the tools just suck and I have no recourse.

I know there are real people working on these products, many of whom really do want to make them the very best. I am encouraged by stories like Mark Gurman PERSON ’s report today DATE in which it seems that Apple ORG has spent a couple of weeks DATE switching from feature development to bug fixing mode for its next major releases. I am grateful for how incredible most of this stuff often is, and I understand things occasionally need fixing. But not like this. The ways in which these things break rob me of confidence in everything I use. I cannot see a good reason I would want to introduce more computers into my life, like with “smart” home devices.

It is amazing what I do every day with the computer on my desk, the one on my lap, and the one in my pocket. But I wish they did everything more reliably, predictably, and consistently. I am prepared to fix things sometimes. I do not understand why I am tending to these things daily like they are made in a shed instead of by some of the world’s most valuable corporations. We, the users, deserve better than this.

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