Apple atrocities Dark musings Fuck you, Adobe TurdPress

Software on fire

I’m having a tough morning.

Last night I realized that a bunch of the contacts on my iPad that I thought had been added to iCloud were actually in my Google contacts. I want them all in one place. So I dragged each of them over into iCloud. I confirmed each of them showed up in my iCloud list, before deleting them from Google. Then I disabled the Google account, because when you add a contact to Apple Contact it does not give any indication where it is going, nor does the contact record say where it is stored. In other words, the user lacks all visibility and all control, which is a vice endemic to Apple, who has long kept users on a need-to-know basis with their own software. When “it just works” this opaqueness is welcome simplicity. But when it doesn’t actually work much of the time, it is hard to relax and trust that no news is good news. Nope. No news means what you’re hoping is happening is probably failing to happen. But who knows?

This morning I discovered that the contacts are all gone. They did not actually stay in iCloud. I don’t know what happened. I rarely know, anymore. I just know this is typical and that there is nothing I can do to make things better. It used to not be this way. These things used to work and now they don’t.

Same with WordPress. I used to love using it. Now every single day, without fail, I’m trying to write something and something just fucking idiotic happens that makes me forget what I was writing.

Today, I was trying to make a word in a block quote italic. But when I selected the word and tried to italicize it, the entire text block selected itself and became italicized. I also ran into another problem where it is impossible to place a cursor at the end of a paragraph. The cursor instead puts itself at the start of the next paragraph. Luckily, I did not encounter another annoying problem, where the cursor appears to be on the line above where it actually is. I start typing and the letters appear on the line below. It is infuriating. And these are just a few of innumerable problems.

In all these cases, you can’t get help. The help desk is not trained for these kinds of complaints. They are trained to walk users through features they do not understand. They cannot take interaction design feedback. Least of are they equipped to take general UI design system feedback.

If 911 operators were trained like software help desk agents, here is how a “my house is on fire” call would go.

Agent: “This 911 emergency services. Thank you for your call. How can I help you today?”

Caller: “Help! My house is on fire!”

Agent: “Ok, I understand. Your house is on fire. Can you help me understand specifically what in your house is on fire?”

Caller: “The whole house is in flames! Help!”

Agent: “It sounds like many things in your house are on fire. Let’s walk through the specific items that are burning. When did you first notice flames in your home?”

Caller: “It isn’t just things inside my house that are on fire. I’m telling you, the entire house is burning to the ground. Can you send a fire engine, please?”

Agent: “I am happy to transfer you to someone who can talk to you about your house, which I understand is on fire. Please hold.”

Robotic Voice: “Thank you for waiting. Your call is very important to us. This is why we understaff our call center to save money. Estimated wait time: 37 minutes.”




Caller: “Hello…? …HELLO???”


So much established software that used to work beautifully — which won market dominance through its superior user experience — is now deeply broken. No competitors have emerged to compete with them on UX.

I really miss being able to just use my software and being absorbed in my work. Now, invariably, I am interrupted and distracted by bugs, usability issues, unexpected UX “improvements” that require me to relearn stuff, and just trying to get the software to do what I am trying to get it to do.

And there seems to be nothing to do or say about it. These companies are just big, blank, subscription-sucking machines with nobody at home but ambitious young product managers — which is worse than nobody.

Dark musings Fuck you, Adobe

Moron’s Law

I’ve been using Adobe’s products since the late 80s, back when they were good.

The products all started out pretty lean, by necessity. The hardware could only support so much, and Adobe had to use what resources they had judiciously.

For awhile, as hardware grew more capable, upgrades were real improvements. We all upgraded enthusiastically.

Somewhere in the mid-2000s, the hardware got good enough that Adobe was able to do everything useful that a user could want. In an ideal world, this is where Adobe would have stopped adding stuff.

But this is not an ideal world — so this is exactly when Adobe’s product managers went into manic overdrive. They used up every resource at their disposal, to do something new — anything — even things few people needed or wanted. At that point, upgrades became mixed-bags. The toolbars and menus and palettes grew numerous and cumbersome. They were all over the place. Basic interactions were dicked around with and changed arbitrarily, requiring relearning and inflicting needless usability friction. But there was usually something there that we couldn’t do without. We grudgingly upgraded.

But it went further downward from there. The tradeoffs began to neutralize the benefits. Upgrades became entirely worthless. Then they became worse-than-worthless. Tradeoffs dwarfed the benefits.

Finally they were just flat depressing. There was no benefit. Everything was just slower, more burdensome, more confusing, more crappy. You just had to do it to maintain compatibility with those asshats who cooperated with the scam, and forced the rest of us to go along. It was insulting to pay for these “upgrades”, and we tried to postpone it as long as we could.

That is when Adobe went to a subscription model.

So now each time a user opens an Adobe product, they get to wait while the software checks to ensure the user has paid the extortion fee — slowing the software launch-time to late-90s speeds.

Looking back there is a clear trajectory to this story. While hardware has maintained its Moore’s law pace of miraculously doubling its speed every two years, Adobe has always managed to neutralize all gains with its own uncontrollable urge to add new processor-hogging, memory-hogging, attention-hogging nonsense to its feature set.

It might be that Adobe itself changed. But I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t Moore’s Law-like law at work. Think about it: what software hasn’t grown like goldfish to whatever size their hardware fishbowl can contain?

This phenomenon needs a name. And you know, I’m sure someone has already observed and named this phenomenon. But I’m too lazy to check, and besides, everything’s better when I invent it. So here you go:

  • Moore’s Law is “the number of transistors on a microchip doubles about every two years, though the cost of computers is halved.”
  • Moron’s Law is “the number of features in any software product doubles about every two years, and as the feature set bloats to ever more grotesque proportions, both the performance and the quality of the user experience is halved.”

I never claimed to be above venting my anger with the cheapest of cheap shots.

Anyway, this is partly why our digital lives get worse every year, not despite better hardware but because of it.

Dark musings


Well, I finally got Covid.

I haven’t gotten all the way through it, yet, but I’ve experienced enough of it that I think I have the basic idea and feel ready to write a review.

Covid is a totally slapdash, ill-conceived, feature heap of an illness.

There is no cohesion to it. It is just a stupid, random sequence of torments.

“Let’s make his skin hurt. No, wait, how about body aches? Wait, wait, let’s make his ears ring. Throw some flaming headache in there. How about dulling his taste? Ok, let’s do that. But what about his guts? Shouldn’t we make things go horribly wrong there for at least an hour? Yeah, sure, why not? But don’t forget about exhaustion — he needs to be really, really tired. Let’s keep him tired. Oh crap. Almost forgot. Aren’t we known for being a respiratory condition? Don’t we need to make him cough, just to maintain brand consistency? Naw, make his nose run. And profuse sweat, how about that? And chills, probably. Yeah, chills. No wait, we’re sick of chills. Overheat him, now. Eh, I liked chills better. Add back the chills, and torque up the aches.”

Don’t get me wrong, Covid is doing a solid job of making me feel like total crap. But that doesn’t even begin to make up for the garbage design of this disease. It is like Covid is making it up as it goes along. It clearly has no plan, or even a guiding theme.

I hope it was produced by human beings in a lab, because if it wasn’t, nature totally jumped the shark on this one.

1.5 Stars