Weary of Trying to Defend Apple

truck slide that showed during apple eventFirst there was streaming of the Apple event, which will forever go down in history as the Truck Slide event. I defended them for the disaster saying that just too many people were trying to watch, but then later found out it was a mistake they made in their coding of the website that caused the problems. I had trouble defending the Chinese translation overlay, that was just a n00b mistake that was an utter embarrassment made more shocking by how long it lasted – I think it was a half hour, wasn’t it?

Then there was the disaster of trying to order phones. Sure 6M people succeeded at pre-ordering but one wonders how many tried and failed to get in or lost patience? Again I apologized for Apple – it was just a sign of how hard their servers were getting hammered. Odd that for 2 straight hours their site never resolved at my house though. Odd that AT&T’s site was actually functioning the same time. But still, I defended them.

Now photos and videos of iPhone 6 Pluses bending under pressure are surfacing. It even made the national news. I laughed it off and talked of how much I’m looking forward to how Saturday Night Live will spoof this: “Look! I put it in a vice and bent it with a sledge hammer and it actually bends! This is a terrible design!” I pointed out that when I put my glasses in my pocket and sit down, they bend and break too. What do they expect from Apple? To defy the laws of materials science? Sheesh, it even made the national news when there are huge crises in the world to talk about.

But then my apologies and explanations ran out. They pushed out iOS 8.0.1…and iPhone 6/6 Pluses lost cellular connectivity and their TouchIDs failed. Seriously? Your flagship phones. The ones you just sold 10 million of over the weekend. You didn’t TEST this update on them? Really? Somehow you found the time to test on iPhone 5s and below, but you forgot about the new ones? This botched update was so bad they had to pull the update back. I don’t think they’ve ever had to do that as far back as I can remember.

This is an inexcusable failure on Apple’s part and I’m done apologizing for them.

And for a more forgiving point of view (thanks to Louis Trapani for sending):

12 thoughts on “Weary of Trying to Defend Apple

  1. Joel - September 24, 2014

    Not to pour salt on this, but…..

    Is the hacking of iCloud not worthy of a mention?

  2. Sue Bready - September 25, 2014

    Allison, I’m in your camp. It’s just inexcusable for a company like Apple. If Steve were still around, heads would have rolled long ago and I’m sure he’s turned over in his grave many times with recent events. I personally think the issues surrounding this iOS is worse than the Mobile Me disaster. The only positive is that someone at Apple had the common sense (and power) to pull iOS 8.0.1 quickly. I’m not sure who’s manning the QC process these days but this is just sad and utterly disappointing and you can be assured that when Yosemite arrives, I will be very, very, very cautious about upgrading.

  3. Bart Busschots - September 25, 2014

    My take is that you should only defend Apple when they deserve it, and you should call them out when they get things wrong. Apple is a company run by humans, very skilled humans, but still humans. They will get things wrong.

    Apple made mistakes under Steve Jobs too, so I don’t buy this whole “this would never have happened under Steve” thing.

    This bad update is not breaking every device, just some devices. That kind of intermittent bug can easily slip through testing. It happened Micorsoft just a few weeks ago too! It’s not good, but it’s not a catastrophe. Bad updates happen, and they always will. Apple did the right thing and pulled it.

    Like I said on Security Lite when MS flubbed their recent update, not updating puts you in more danger than updating – yes, there MAY be a problem with the update, but there is DEFINITELY a problem with not updating!

    Given the day that’s in it with the big BASH bug, Apple’s failure to patch promptly is on display yet again – that’s something I will not be apologising for Apple on – they need to get better at patching, and they should have done that years ago!

    Finally, a wee correction, that post claiming apple did something wrong in the coding of their website was horse poop – the Chinese translation though, that was definitely operator trouble on behalf of Apple or a contractor working for Apple, but either way, Apple’s problem.

  4. Sandy Foster - September 25, 2014

    I agree with Bart. Apple is run by humans, and humans will make mistakes; it’s the nature of the beast. It’s unfortunate that so many mistakes seem to be clumped together lately, but it happens. I suspect that, no matter who is at Apple’s helm, people are paying for any carelessness that led to these latest gaffs.

  5. podfeet - September 25, 2014

    Perhaps calling it horse poop without knowing which article I was referring to is a bit rough, Bart. The one I meant was http://blog.streamingmedia.com/2014/09/why-apples-livestream-failed.html

    What part of that is poop?

  6. Tim Robertson - September 25, 2014

    Ugn. Can we PLEASE stop using the tired “If Steve Job’s were alive” B.S. yet, please? Seriously, enough is enough of that. You know, if Sam Kinison were alive today, he would agree with me on this one.

  7. Tim Robertson - September 25, 2014

    Also, Alison, what’s with all the video ads popping up on your site, I can’t even read anything until the video stops playing. Having ads is one thing; annoying readers is another.

  8. Steve - September 25, 2014

    Tim, Allison does not include any ads on her website and I am seeing no video ads at podfeet.com. That may be an issue with your browser. Try a different browser and see if it still occurs. Anyone else seeing ads at podfeet.com?

  9. Tim Robertson - September 25, 2014

    Yeah. This is odd. Something got into my Chrome. Not your site at all.

  10. Bart Busschots - September 26, 2014

    Hi Allison – that is exactly the article I assumed you were referring to.

    I don’t know much about Amazon EC cloud stuff, so I won’t state that he’s wrong on that.

    But, I DO know a lot about web servers and web sites, and the stuff he says about JSON affecting the video, and making the page un-cachable is such nonsense I can’t even begin to figure out which wrong end of which stick he grabbed on to. It’s like saying the turn signals on the car didn’t work because he put the wrong oil in the lawnmower!

    A web page is not a unit, it is not delivered in a unit, it is not cached in a unit, and it is not served by a CDN (content delivery network) as a unit. A web page is a collection of separate resources pulled together by the browser from many different URLs, and many different servers and CDNS, and then assembled into a seemingly coherent whole by the browser.

    Every image, every stylesheet, every JavaScript file, every video, every JSON request, they are all totally separate and totally independent. Each can be separately served, separately cached, and come from other ends of the planet. Apple’s page had two dynamic components, a video, and a live blog. The live blog was driven by Javascript (AJAX+ JSON to get technical for a moment), and the video by HTTP streaming. Those two are as independent from each other as the lawnmower and the car. They are two separate streams of information coming from two separate servers via and potentially distributed two entirely different CDNs. If either connection fails, it has no effect on the other. Both update independently, and both update WITHOUT the page refreshing. Everything on that page apart from the video and the live stream text was cacheable, and cached. There were no extra page refreshes because of the inclusion of the live blog. Avoiding page refreshes is literally the point of the AJAX+JSON technique Apple used, and it’s the technique used by all the other live bloggers as well. Why? Because it’s a great solution to this technical problem. It’s not a bad idea, it’s not a blunder, it’s actually industry best practice!

    A good analogy would be your live show page. It sucks in a number of different dynamic sources of information, there is the video, the audio, and the chat. None of those cause a page refresh each time they are updated, and each of those is entirely separate from the other. If YouTube goes down, or gets slow, Borgchat is unaffected. If my IceCast server falls over in a heap, YouTube keeps playing.

    Anyway, when an article tries to make out that doing the technically correct thing is proof Apple got it wrong, I’d say is fair to classify that as horse poop.

    Now, if he’s so far off base on the stuff I do know about, why should I trust his assertions on the stuff I don’t know about? He might be correct in asserting that they used Amazon’s cloud badly, but I want to hear someone else make that argument, because I simply don’t consider this chap a credible source of technical analysis.

    Hope that makes sense,


  11. Donald Burr - September 29, 2014

    Re BASH bug – to be fair, this bug is only a catastrophe (and is only exploitable) if someone has a path into your machine, the most common being an open HTTP (web) server. But most Macs aren’t configured this way, so they probably figured that this isn’t that high on their priority list, compared to, let’s say, something like GOTO FAIL which affects ALL configurations of OS X (i.e. you don’t need to do anything special like run a web server to be vulnerable to it)

    Re BendyFlexyiPhone6PlusGate – it is unfair to call Apple on the carpet on this one as well. Apple admitted that out of the millions and millions of iPhone sold, they only received, what was it, NINE – NINE – complaints about this issue. Apple went out of their way to quickly address this PR disaster, going so far as to invite news outlets into their ultra secret iPhone testing facilities, to show that, yeah, they really did test these things for bend ability. (BTW, what a refreshing change from Steve Jobs-era Apple – remember AntennaGate, when Apple PR took FOREVER to respond, and when they finally did, Steve’s first response was “You’re holding it wrong”) This has been independently corroborated by Consumer Reports’ own testing. It’s only thanks to the amplified voice that social media gives the rank-and-file idiot, combined with less-than-reputable news sites that are more interested in garnering clicks than providing accurate, timely news, that bent this thing WAY out of proportion. (You see what I did there?)

    Finally, it is also unfair to call them out on the whole iOS 8.0.1 fiasco. Yes, they probably pushed this thing out before it got enough testing. (By the way, did you know that Verizon/Samsung also recently pushed out an Android update to its Galaxy phones that killed their fingerprint sensors? Bet you didn’t – that issue received far less press attention than Apple, the whipping-boy-du-jour among the press these days.) So Apple doesn’t have the monopoly on poorly-executed/insufficiently-tested software updates. Stuff like this happens ALL. THE. TIME. in the industry. Remember back in the bad old days of Windows XP, when you would regularly have software patches that would break core functionality (internet access, etc.) – this is the whole reason why corporate IT departments insisted that Microsoft adopt a regularly scheduled “Patch Tuesday”, to give them time to test the patches and make sure they don’t break anything before deploying them across their enterprise.

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