Thursday, September 30, 2010


Once upon a time I was a loyal Apple user. The school was chock full of them and when it came time for your family to buy one for home, it was the obvious choice. Ed was the only person I knew who had a PC and DOS was frankly frightening. We started with the ridiculous Apple 2GS which became immediately obsolete due to the introduction and adoption of the Mac, rendering all Apple models about as useful to home computing as a toaster. College arrived, and with it, a Mac whose name I don't remember. This computer was fine until I started noticing devoted partner's PC. There was something, well, strange about it.

It was really really fast. It didn't need to allocate virtual memory to programs to keep them running at anything approximating reasonable levels. And while it was confusing to learn at first, I soon go the hang of it - what with the confusing start menu and such.

Then after college when my Performa (I just remembered) was more useful as a heating element than a computer, it was time to buy my own computer. Using my own money. And here's where things got interesting. For $1500 I could get a bottom-of-the-line Mac. Double that amount would get me a usable one. For $800 I could get a faster-than-the-usable-3k-mac Dell. Start taking guesses what arrived at the house!

That Dell lasted a good 5 years or so before it was time for an upgrade. This time, under the expert tutelage of devoted partner, I built my new computer. And continued to upgrade it with orphan parts until the present.

In the meantime, though, the folks at Apple had found a way to re-ingratiate themselves with me via the indispensable iPod. Sure, I was a late adopter because I couldn't countenance a $300 walkman, but the price came down, I had a birthday, and devoted partner swooped in the fill the MpVoid in my life. That was around 2005.

By 2008, the iPod was behaving very strangely. As in not working all the time. And then not working at all. But I really didn't want to buy another. When the nanos came out in all those pretty colors, I debated one, until I saw them in person. The colors were icky and shiny and not at all as lovely as they looked on TV or in print ads. Eff it, I said, I don't NEED an iPod, it's just nice to have.

When the DuYos moved out west, they had a sale of their old crap, including their first generation iPhones. I swooped one up thinking I could just use it as a replacement Mp3 player. That was a mistaken assumption. You see, without the AT&T contract, the iPhone is merely an ineffectual paperweight. Devoted partner again came to the rescue and spent the better part of the weekend hacking the iPhone so that I could use it to listen to music without paying AT&T for the privilege.

It also ran apps.

Delicious, unnecessary, and yet quite addictive apps. The iPhone and I had a good 6 months or so. And then the screen stopped working. Not entirely, just enough to make typing impossible. Apparently I had dead pixels. That's ok, it still plays music. But those apps were fun. I'm totally missing out on the cultural phenomenon that is foursquare.

So now what?

I could buy the silly new Nano for $179; the midrange touch for $299; the boring, app-free classic for $249; the monopoly-friendly iPhone for 50 bucks a month for the rest of my life; or the shiny and utterly useless, memory-insufficient iPad for $499 and up - unless I want to also give AT&T $50/month, in which case my iPad suddenly costs a minimum of $629.

Now, in a vacuum, some of these are not so much money that I would have to forgo food or rent, but while discussing it with devoted partner, I realized something: since 2002, he has owned 4 separate iDevices. FOUR. IN EIGHT YEARS. He has needed to replace his iThing every two years because the bloody things are totally unreliable. Funny, though, because the extra 60 bucks Apple asks you to shell out for extended warranty protection is good for how long?

2 years.

So I'm putting my foot down. I will not be buying a new iToy. Yes, I will snoop around the internet to see if there's any kind of wild scheme that would enable me to cure my current iToy of its dead pixels but, as cool as they are, I will not ante any more money into the gaping maw that is Apple. I didn't buy an American car because of the horror stories associated with planned obsolescence and my suspicions that Apple, too, employs that savvy strategy are going to prevent me from adding to their coffers either. I had my first digital camera for about 6 years before it stopped working, and I wasn't exactly gentle with it. The nice folks at Canon offered me a new camera for the same cost as the repair. You bust your iToy after 2 years (or 1 if you don't pay the extra 60 bucks) and it's another $300 out of pocket.

Canon will continue (and has continued) to get my business; Apple...we're breaking up.

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