Start using tools again

6 minute read Published: 2021-09-22


I realised that my life while using Apple products is controlled by Product Managers/Owners who want to get a raise, rather than by technology people who share the same passion as me. And I wanted to change that.

Around 10 years ago, during my studies, almost all of my CS colleagues had Windows laptops. A few installed Linux on it, but literally no one had a MacBook. People made fun of MacBooks as overpriced computers for "Noobs". I had a MacBook, and their short-sighted thinking made me furious. So I started an Apple Blog, which grew so much over time that people sent me their iPhones, unlocked, plus 50 bucks to jailbreak them. But that's another story.

The blog got big, and I mostly wrote responses to the day-to-day life in University. Blog posts like:

This articles were inspired by challenges my Windows-friends had, and I was happy that everything worked so flawelessely on OS X. I published a book on "How to get started with OS X Lion", and wrote for several Apple magazines in the past years. But, my love affair ended in 2018.

Everything happening today in Apple-land was actually the things I was hoping for back in my university times. I wanted a small laptop, I wanted that all my files synchronized across my machines, I wanted a smartphones capable enough to let me do all my work on-the-go instead of on my iMac. What I didn't realise was, that all these solutions are baked into a bigger service industry, which tries to squeeze out money instead of solving problems of creative professionals.

The demise of Aperture, iPhoto, good keyboards and the introduction of the touch bar were just a few signs that product owners were in charge who rather wanted a raise by trying something "new" instead of technical owners who wanted to help creative people getting work done. Apple was never good in being an "internet company". MobileMe was a joke, but iCloud tried to solve this. However, if iOS was never a tool to be used as one wishes, but rather being used in the limited ways Apple foresaw, iCloud never reached the potential like replacing Goolge Mail or Google Drive. Never open, never as powerful, no API.

In 2018, I started a new gig as a freelancer and more and more macOS was an obstacle rather than a tool which empowered me. So I bought a Thinkpad, installed Arch on it with a tiling window manager (i3wm) and I was immedietely (after 1 month of setting everything up...) more productive. My latest company which hired me however mandated a company MacBook, and since it was a 2019 16", I sold my Thinkpad, hoping I can get back on the Apple train.

But using an iPad, iPhone, MacBook Pro 16", an Apple TV and AirPods Pro (so the whole ecosystem as intended...) I felt more and more constrained by my choices. The Photos app makes decisions for me where (and how) to store my photos. Apple Music didn't let me own and control my own Music, the Files app didn't let me delete App folders I didn't want or let me easily browse through the files. The target audience switched from professionals to every-day-users. Which is fine, because 50% of the time I am als an everyday user. But Apple forgot to built in tools for the other half of my time. More and more power tools got deleted, options removed and each choice put you more in control of Apples services.

So I tried something out again:

I basically went back 5 or 10 years and replaced every "modern" technology solution. I pay now way more than I did with iCloud, but I am back in control. I am more productive.

I realised that my life while using Apple products is controlled by Product Managers/Owners who want to get a raise, rather than by technology people who share the same passion as me. And I wanted to change that. Therefore I use services which share the ideals I do:

The last step is going to replace my Thinkpad with the Framework laptop and find a replacement for my iPhone X. That's probably ending up being an older OnePlus with lineageOS on it.

I am still somewhat with that company which gave me the MacBook, and I have to use it from time to time. But for the first time, like ever, I don't want to open it. Everytime I really have to use it, don't like it. In the earlier years, whenever I tried to swtich from my MacBook, I missed pieces of it, and everytime I used my wifes MacBook, I somewhat wished I still had one. Not anymore. I don't know what changed, but like a smoker leaving the cancer behind, I am now happily "Apple free" and feel good about it.