Confronting my technological prejudices

I have always been superficially prejudiced against all things Apple. When a seasoned technologist friend announced switching from Android to iPhone, I was curious. I asked him why. It was illuminating for me to hear his reasoning, which I present to you below.


When I saw that my friend Bill Dollins — a long-time Android and Linux guy — is now an iPhone user, I was somewhat surprised. I wondered why he switched. I swiftly jumped to my own conclusions about his reasoning. Then, realizing that my conclusions were probably colored by my own biases (they were), I decided to just ask him. Bill agreed to entertain a few questions.

AT: Bill, why did you switch from Android to iPhone? I thought tech people use Android as a badge of honor. I thought Apple products were for artists, celebrities, and the VP of Marketing.

Bill: Working in an Apple shop allowed me to learn more about their products than I would have on my own. My primary reason has become privacy and security. The contrast on these issues between Google and Apple is stark. Apple takes these issues much more seriously for individuals than does Google and it is evident in technical and business choices they have made. 

For example, Apple’s smart home technology, HomeKit, doesn’t specifically require internet access, though some individual devices may. They do things like video processing via a HomePod, which can be disconnected from the internet. These are functions that Google or Amazon offload to the cloud, so connectivity is required. This design choice means that HomeKit doesn’t yet have a video doorbell option, so it can “slow down” feature development when compared to Google or Amazon. I’m okay with that.

The iPhone takes a similar approach. Like Android, it has a location history feature. Unlike Android, the history and all related processing remains on the device. There’s no centralized Apple cloud where it’s being stored along with everyone else’s to train some machine-learning algorithm.

I should note that I haven’t done anything yet with HomeKit myself, but I am considering it. My information comes from my Apple consultant, James Fee.

Having said all of this, I know that no technology is perfect. Zealots of Googlism or Amazonism will certainly nitpick anything that I have said here. That’s what block buttons are for.

AT: Where do you stand on the Windows / Linux / Mac divide for desktops and laptops?

Bill: My primary desktop machine, which I use daily, is still a System76 Ubuntu machine. My MacBook is company-issued and mainly used for specific work tasks and for when I travel. Windows has been the big loser for me.

AT: I used a MacBook once, years ago. I remember apps performing an elaborate dance on open and close. It made me dizzy, and I thought it was childish. I haven’t touched one since. Do Macs still do that?

Bill: I haven’t noticed that since I have been using a Mac. One thing I did notice is that some Mac idioms, such as two-fingered touchpad scroll, exist on more modern Windows machines alongside the older Windows idioms. I have an older Windows laptop that doesn’t support it, but I haven’t looked closely to see if that’s because of the generation of the hardware or of Windows. I’m not really concerned about it enough to investigate.

AT: Don’t tell anyone, but I have been thinking about an iPhone for a while, mainly as a means to distance myself from Google. I haven’t done it yet because I am concerned that my reputation will take a hit. What say you to that?

Bill: I will defer to the expert on this topic: Joan Jett.

Why did Bill Clinton attend the Federer-Millman match at the 2018 US Open?

The following is a work of fiction.

As soon as ESPN showed Bill Clinton arriving at the US Open for the Federer match, I instantly knew something was wrong. Why would a VIP, who could choose to attend any match during the tournament, not go to the US Open on Wednesday to watch Federer play Djokovic in the quarter-final? Why would he instead go watch Federer play an unknown journeyman from Australia in an earlier round? Did Bill know something the rest of us didn’t? Did Bill maybe know that there wouldn’t be a Federer-Djokovic match?

Bill Clinton at the Federer-Millman match at the 2018 US Open

Bill Clinton at the Federer-Millman match at the 2018 US Open

As soon as Federer hit the court, all sorts of alarms went off. Federer wasn’t himself. Commentators kept saying this. Fans kept seeing this. Federer kept missing easy shots. Federer kept making double faults. Federer kept making unforced errors (77 total for the match). Something was clearly, horribly wrong. But what?

Background: In 2015 Taylor Swift publicly criticized Apple for cheating artists out of royalties. This generated a lot of buzz and bad publicity for Apple. Apple made Taylor pay for her sin by making an Apple commercial (published on April 1, 2016) in which she *literally* falls on her face. As a reminder to her, but mostly to others, of who is boss.

In 2018 Roger Federer switched from Nike to Uniqlo, because his contract allowed him to do so. Nike warned him that he should stay, because there are other, much stronger contracts in place. Roger ignored the warning. Nike put an end to Roger’s career by making him throw the match against John Millman at the US Open.

The Colin Kaepernick / Nike controversy was a carefully-planned distraction from the real story — Nike putting an end to Federer’s career to punish him for his insubordination and show him, but mostly others, who is boss. Nike tipped off Bill Clinton: “Do you want to see Federer’s last match? Go to the US Open tonight.” So Bill went.