For years when we were selling Macs at Apple, our mantra was that "Macintoshes just work." It was an easy thing to say for much of Apple's history. There were a few times that Apple shipped products that weren't deserving of the Apple label, but by the late nineties Apple definitely had its mojo back.
I have slowly been working towards this conclusion and it is painful one. There is a lot of stuff on the Mac that no longer just works. I have tried really hard to like Apple's Mountain Lion operating system. The weekend before Thanksgiving 2012, I came to the conclusion that Apple is trying to do way too much stuff with the result that Macintosh software is not getting proper attention.
I'll be expanding further on this in later articles, but I will offer up a few examples. I would love to hear what others think.
My first issue is Photostream. I have complained a lot about Photostream being designed by an engineer who only shares a few photos from his phone and who cannot imagine someone taking one thousand pictures a day. The problem is worse now.
I had Photostream going when I first installed Mountain Lion but I quickly turned it off. I didn't want hundreds of photos daily pushed to my Windows laptop. This weekend I read that I could chose to share just certain photos with others so I decided to give Photostream another try.
I have to admit making Photostream work was like beating my head against the wall. Eventually I did a Google search for "photostream keeps turning off" and saw that I was not alone in having Photostream problems. I finally found this comprehensive set of steps to fix the problem. I tried them without any luck. Actually I tried the steps multiple times.
I keep getting a message to sign into my iCloud account. I have already done that and I have checked that the email addresses all match. I'm sure there is a solution, I can't figure it out, and I am to the point of not being sure whether or not I care if Photostream ever works.
The one thing that I know is that I spent more time trying to get Photostream to work that evening than I have spent on uploading thousands of photos to my Picasa web albums accounts which have never given me a single problem.
By the same token, my Drop Box account works perfectly as does my Microsoft Skydrive. Neither have ever been a problem.
I find it amusing that I can see my Google Drive, Dropbox, and SkyDrive when I click on the finder in Mac OS X Mountain Lion. However, I don't see my iCloud there. I guess it is supposed to be so seamless that it is invisible.
For years I have complained that Apple's problem is that it tries to tie data to a specific piece of hardware. If you ever used iWeb, you know the difficulties involved in working on a single website from multiple machines. I still am trying to figure out how to get my music off my original iPod which seems to be married to a Mac that has long ago expired. I suspect my Photostream problem might be related to having to switch my iMac to an external boot drive since my internal drive died, but I don't know how to fix it.
Photostream is not the only problem. I got a comment on my recent post, Is Apple a Prisoner of its Design Decisions? regarding my complaint on the disappearance of the email option on the file menu of Preview. The comment brought to my attention the system wide addition of a "share button." There is now a little share button on Preview. Unfortunately, it is no longer on the file menu where it has been for a while.
However, the system wide share seems to have been implemented in enough different ways to make one wonder what they were drinking out in Cupertino.
If you go to any of the current iWorks 09 Apps including Pages, you won't find a working share button. The apps have been rumored to be in line for an update, but I guess getting the small iPad out is more important or at least more profitable.
I was beginning think the intention to be consistent could be there until I looked at "share" in Safari. Instead of being a little button, "share" is in the file menu where it used to be in Preview. Then I had the thought that maybe iPhoto would have "share" implemented in the file menu like Safari. It was there years ago. Of course I was wrong. The iPhoto share buttom with menu is on the bottom on the far right corner. I'm pretty sure including "Order Prints" in the share menu is just another way to make money.
I would never expect Apple to have a share to Picasa web albums since Google is their competition and they would rather cut their nose off than make it easier to use another company's products. That in itself is amazing since that used to be one of the main things that Apple did. Our system and software engineers were famous for making Apple stuff fit with other products. I gave up paying for the little extension that made it easy to share photos from iPhoto to Picasa web albums. It seemed to get turned off with every iPhoto update.
Of course indecision on how to handle "share" and "export" is nothing new, I first wrote about Apple's indecision on the commands in 2005.
Apple is certainly not the only company to play around with the share command. Google's decision to force the sharing of photo albums through Google+ if you have a Google+ account is not one of my favorite decisions. However, it was easy to create a work around by have a second "free" Picasa web albums account which isn't tied to a Google+ account.
I know Apple's focus is on iPhones and iPads, but they have enough money to make Macs work right. We certainly pay enough for our Macs to work nearly perfectly. Mac software apparently is just not a priority. Why do we still have Pages, Numbers, and Keynote with non-functional share buttons? When it comes to user interface, Apple used to be the standard that others hoped to emulate. I think Mountain Lion might have changed that forever.
Folks love to complain about Microsoft apps, but it you use their apps on Windows, you get a pretty consistent interface for sending things to others. It is hard for me to admit this, but right now things just work on my Lenovo laptop running Windows 7. Things don't just work on my iMac running Mountain Lion. The loss of productivity from the bone-headed move to remove "Save As" along with Apple's refusal to be even in the same ball park as other hardware companies on prices just might be enough to get me off the Mac platform.
I'll be interested to see if Microsoft has gone forward or backward on Windows 8. When I give it a try, it will be on a new machine because I really like having one machine where things just work and I don't plan to mess with my Lenovo.
I'm looking forward to some peace and quiet and perhaps some good weather during the holidays here on the Southern Outer Banks. I definitely won't be wasting any more time trying to use Photostream. Still Apple technology is still very important to me even if some folks have a hard time understanding that.