Tech I Can't, or Won't, Invest In...

I've got about 35 years of hands-on experience with various types of tech and programming of same.  So, I guess, the time investment alone qualifies me as something as a pundit with respect to the value, or suitability-to-task, of a particular piece of technology.

Over the last three-and-a-half decades, I've seen a lot of tech come and go.  Some of it stays, most of it evolves, and some of it Darwin's itself out of existence.

As a deep investor in tech, and as a programmer, I expect things to work to my expectations, all of the time.  Computer programs aren't malicious - they work or they don't.  (Printers are the exception to this.  Printers are flat-out evil beasts that harbor a malicious sense of humor in their twisted little souls.)  When a piece of tech is well-designed, it becomes an extension of yourself, your life.  It integrates and evolves and, if it's really, really well-written and behaved, becomes almost invisible.  You expect it to be there, you expect it to work, and it never lets you down.

Newer tech, aka bleeding edge, is unproven ground.  There are various adoption rates ranging from enthusiastic (iPod) to disdain (Vuze).  People embracing tech vote with their wallets and their votes culminate in either immortality or obscurity.

Lately, it seems like a lot of formerly-stable tech has slipped it's tracks.  Some re-designed tech has taken a large step backwards, and newly-introduced tech is just, well, awful.  Let's begin.

#1 Apple OSX

I flipped over to the Mac-side on a Cherry iMac, using Finder version 7, I believe.  I'd been a staunch PC user for about 15 years, and while I lusted after Apple computers in my heart, my budget prohibited acquisition.  Apple enjoyed screaming success in the early 80's with the Apple ][, and then the MacIntosh.  It's proprietary hardware, combined with a hefty price tag and some really mysterious senior management decisions nearly caused the company to implode until they resurrected Steve Jobs as their CEO.  

From that point, quality was paramount and quality, be it software, firmware, or hardware, was the deciding factor in product release.  Apple products worked.  More, they worked well, without a fight, without having to result to hours stuck in a manual, or online looking for esoteric solutions.

As in the 80's, an Apple without Steve Jobs at the helm, product quality has been sacrificed for maintaining an aggressive release map.  Software patches are more frequent and, while they are not at the rate of Microsoft's weekly critical patch release schedule, the near-constant updates requiring restarts are becoming interruptive instead of anticipated.

One of the more annoying bits of OSX is the finder program.  It's absurdly slow, semi-retarded, and absolutely does not play well with other network protocols.

I've never been a big fan of finder, and I actively disabled the search tool whenever I could simply because it's a resource pig.  Even for someone used to searching at the command line with the find command, the OSX version of search has always been horrifically obtuse and inexplicably slow.  Even searching a local directory, the search utility + finder seem to spin off into some hard-drive hell, eventually returning control to you once it's completed whatever the hell it's been doing.   And the search results are just, well, bad.  

As a developer, the other thing I really dislike about Apple is the fact that you need to hoop-jump in order to install the simplest FOSS applications.  Even though OSX is basically Unix, the OSX layer requires special handling for installing a simple LAMP stack.  Trying to install other contemporary packages, like RabbitMQ, nodeJS, etc., approach nightmare level difficulty.  Further, this software-stack model isn't sustainable.  Package tools come and go.  What you installed this year may not be upgradable next because the package tool is either no longer available, or you have to wait on someone to update the installation manager scripts.

Every day I'm closer and closer to blowing away OSX on my 27" iMac and just replacing it with Ubuntu Linux.

I will not invest in another Apple computer without compelling evidence that performance, networking interoperability, stability, and the proprietary requirements for FOSS installations have been addressed.

#2 Amazon Kindle / Phone

I love my kindle fire.  It's the one device that I can say is most likely to be drained of battery (from usage) by the end of any given day.  Between my voracious reading appetite, to mindless games of Spider-solitaire while watching TV, my Kindle is my go-to device for casual tablet use.  More so than my Nexus 7 and certainly more than my thanks-for-it's-3-years-of-support iPad 1G.

Why I won't invest in Amazon's mobile tech is for two reasons.   The first being that they don't allow you to integrate their device into your electronic life.  Google Hangouts, anyone?  Good luck.  Any devices that waves some sort of "I'm proprietary!" flag thereby refusing to integrate with my pre-existing digital life is going to stay on the store shelf, thank-you.

Second, and this mostly involves the Kindle - is the Carousel user interface.  It's horrible!  Miss-taps and errors interpreting your I/O requests are the norm instead of the exception and, worse, there's no way to disable the clunky interface in favor of something simpler.

#3 XBOX

I've owned several Xbox consoles.  I've got my RROD badge.  When the Xbox One was announced, I checked it out.  When it was pre-announced, dripping with typical Microsoft Hubris (tm), I was turned off.  I don't want a kinect in my home and I especially don't want an input device always on.

Exacerbating the problems with Xbox is Microsoft's implementation of Xbox Live.  Shudder.  I know that the lowest common denominator is the 14-year-old adolescent armed with Da's credit card.  However, getting anything done, administratively, on Xbox Live is a nightmare.

At one point, I ended up deleting my account because they couldn't accept who I said I was, despite email validations, and would require 1-2 weeks for an account reset/re-enablement.  When I told support to go ahead and delete the account, I would create a new one on my console, the tech was horrified - you have years and years of point accumulation on this account.  Yeah?, I replied,  What good is it if you won't let me login with it?

The website for Xbox Live is also horrible.  Constant re-validation, verifications both on the website and every-single-fucking-time I turn on the console just drained the happy out of my soul.  I cancelled my Gold account, bought a PS4, and really haven't turned the damn thing on since.

#4 Smart Watches

Let me disclaim this section by stating, first, that I use a FitBit.  Let me also state that the FitBit, I've been a user since the first-gen, is not always accurate.

For example, while riding my Harley, when creeping through traffic, I accumulate a significant number of steps, usually number in the thousands.  (Whoo-hoo!  Goal met!)  Even with the latest generation device, the ChargeHR, I can rack-up about 300-500 steps an hour just from working on my laptop, typing.

Using a smart watch, to me, means that you're strapping on a small screen to your wrist who's function, apart from letting you know what time it is, is to alert you to tell you to look at a slightly large screen.

Apple Watch has some product distinguishers, like the tapping, but it's not enough for me to invest in.  Although I have an iPhone, I've literally zero interest in investing in an Apple Watch as I don't see the ROI.

In other words, it's redundant tech.

#5 Microsoft Windows 10

I really don't care if it is free.  

I don't care that they've made the Start menu/button easier to find.

I don't get the whole tiling interface or why people think it's "hawt".  To me, the tile interface represent the ultimate in lazy programming.  It's a step backwards in the UI in both form and function and is a thinly-veiled repackaging of OS/2.

I don't trust Microsoft.  With anything.  Their software has to be written to the lowest-common denominator.  They invent proprietary protocols just to fuck with the rest of us and make our daily lives a hellhole.  (Sync?  AD?)  They obfuscate the inner works of the OS and disable feature sets based on tier pricing that are freely available in literally every other operating system.

I loathe their 31-flavor attitude towards OS packaging and their price-gouging attitude towards the individual consumer.  When I buy a Microsoft product, the company makes me feel like an overfed bovine being death-camp marched off to their quarterly-earnings bar-b-q.

Everything, in Microsoft-land, is a fight.   

#6 Java

As a PHP developer, I have to install Oracle's JRE and JDK.  This gives me my first taste of how miserable of an experience Java is.

The only Java app that has successfully worked for me, in the entire history of Java apps, is PHPStorm and, even that, hasn't been without the occasional scuffle.

 Even so, PHPStorm is predicated on particular release version of the JRE/JDK - it won't work with the latest libraries (or whatever they're called in demented java jar land) which tells me that they don't really give a lot of thought to backwards-compatibility issues. 

As a developer, the fact that the majority of my ramp-time with a new programming language is spent learning how to set-up and configure the environment (on a scale of hours, minimally) tells me I need to avoid the language like a case of clap.

To me, Java is a programming language that crashes on all platforms and I genuinely pity the developers that have to code using Java.

 

Well, that's enough cathartic ranting for one session.  What techs are you avoiding like the plague?  What's the one tech you won't invest in, even if there's a gun being held to your head?