Top 10 Apple Gripes – Attack of the B-Team

Apple's B-team

When the clocks go forwards or back, people from New Zealand to New York miss their appointments because their iPhone alarm does not go off on time. Every time I complete a 10km run using my iPod nano, TIger Woods congratulates me on having completed another 500km. And as you read this, thousands of backups are failing because Time Machines are freezing in time.

What do these seemingly disparate events having in common? They’re all presumably the handiwork of Apple’s “B-team”.

Apple sets incredibly high standards of excellence, and employs some the world’s most talented developers and engineers. Steve Jobs famously has an “A-team” of exceptional talent that he puts to work on his priority projects. As a result, most of Apple’s products are incredibly reliable. Mac OS X and iOS are both rock-solid. They “just work” as the saying goes.

But by definition, the existence of an A-team implies the existence of a B-team, and these are the guys who work on everything else. So where should we look for evidence of the B-team’s handiwork? Where are the glitches, bugs, lemons and gremlins? Apple has fewer of these than most tech companies, but as you look more closely, evidence of the B-team’s work is not so hard to find. Here’s my top 10… What do you think? Add your own suggestions in the comments.

1. iPhone Clock
The B-team surely couldn’t screw this up, right? How could they go wrong with the clock application? Hmm…

2. Time Machine
If you only have a couple of pics in iPhoto, and a handful of messages in your inbox, Time Machine will be fine. But for everyone else, this solution is only good for a month or so, before your backups will stall… Forever lost in time. After four years, the B-team still haven’t managed to get this working. (Update: many CoM readers are reporting good experiences with Time Machine in the comments below, so perhaps this one’s just me!)

3. iDisk
One word. Sloooow. Two more words… syncing sucks. Move or rename a folder at your peril… Or try Dropbox instead.

4. AirPort
Almost every AirPort device I’ve ever owned stopped working altogether after about 12 months – almost exactly to the day that the one year warranty ran out. And even when they are working, they’re extremely needy – requiring a restart every week or so.

5. Mac OS X Server
The cute “Server Preferences” app implies that configuring your Mac server is going to be super-simple. But if you succeed in setting one up, you deserve a PhD in computer science. Something that the B-team apparently doesn’t posses.

6. Dashboard loading time
With the introduction of Dashboard, the B-team achieved the impossible – a calculator app that takes over a minute to launch. Every time.

7. Nike+
Each new iPod nano comes with a new version of Nike+ software, and a new set of glitches. The B-team pushes out one or two firmware updates that solve some of these, before they eventually lose interest and start working on the next iPod nano.

8. Bulging Batteries
I’ve owned many Apple notebooks over the years, and most of them have eventually succumbed to bulging battery syndrome. Don’t ask me why it happens. It just does. Don’t ask me if it’s dangerous. Who knows. But now that batteries are no longer removable components, the ones inside the current crop of MacBooks, iPads and iPhones could be a ticking time bomb.

9. Mac Display Drivers
It’s got to the point where I actually try to avoid plugging my MacBook Pro into an external monitor, because I just hate the way it screws up the machine’s default resolution afterwards. The only way to stop it booting in low-res mode after that happens appears to be zapping the PRAM.

10. iPhone 4 Proximity Sensor
“We’re tracking some problems with the proximity sensor and we’re working on it,” Apple said last year. The B-team have been on the case ever since. It’s a little better than it was, but it still doesn’t work as well as previous iPhones.

  • Chris

    what exactly is your problem about the Proximity sensor? I have an iPhone 4, but it works fine imo … i’ve never had an iPhone before that, though. Was it working that much better back then?

  • blondepianist

    6 made me LOL! First-time loads on Dashboard are bad…
    I’ve noticed 3, occasionally had 4, and have also experienced some nightmares with 5 – thank goodness OS X Server doesn’t take long to rebuild.

  • RB

    Your comment about TimeMachine kinda freaks me out…? I’ve been backing up my graphic design files for about a year, how would I test to see if all OK? Seems fine.

  • RB

    Your comment about TimeMachine kinda freaks me out…? I’ve been backing up my graphic design files for about a year, how would I test to see if all OK? Seems fine.

  • Ta

    “If you only have a couple of pics in iPhoto, and a handful of messages in your inbox, Time Machine will be fine. But for everyone else, this solution is only good for a month or so, before your backups will stall… “

    20g of pics and 2,000+ messages (in seperate maiboxes), and TM has never stalled, and I’ve successfully restored once and migrated once. just becauce YOU have a problem does not mean it has happened to EVERYONE else

    “AirPort”
    3+ years on my Extreme

    “I’ve owned many Apple notebooks over the years, and most of them have eventually succumbed to bulging battery syndrome.”

    You just have very bad luck, you should change you name to “Joe Btfsplk”

    Tony

  • grahambower

    Hi Tony. Glad to hear you’ve had a good experience with Time Machine – this is the first positive feedback I’ve ever heard about this product. I’m writing not only from my own experience, but that of many friends and family that have exactly the same problem. Anecdotal, admittedly, but notable nonetheless. Just curious – what are you backing up onto? I’m guessing it’s not a Time Capsule.

    I think AirPort Extreme is better than AirPort Express. I’ve only had one AirPort Extreme, and so far, no problems with it. Time Capsule, however, is another story altogether…

    I think there’s something more than bad luck going on with batteries. My company has purchased around 15 PowerBooks / MacBooks over the past 10 years, and most have had this problem. So far no problems with the non-removable batteries though. Fingers crossed.

  • grahambower

    Hi RB. Sound like you’re OK. You’d know if a backup had frozen, because it just gets stuck and never completes. The backup arrows spin on the menu icon, and it says “preparing to backup” or something similar, and this can go on for days or even weeks if you let it, but nothing happens. Sometimes, after about 48 hours, a backup completes – but then the next backup will take just as long or longer. I’ve see this happen on many different users machines and different setups. It is especially a problem with Time Capsule, but not isolated to this alone.

    I think you should count yourself lucky – but I would recommend doing a test restore at some point, just to confirm that the backups really are working. It’s not a product I’d trust with live production work.

  • adamw

    Happy Time Machine user here for all my Desktop Macs. Never once bothered me on my old iMac, and my new machine already has 1TB of stuff backed up into it without issues. Of all the Mac users I know, I’ve found exactly one for whom Time Machine hasn’t worked (and I’m pretty sure that’s the fault of an iffy external disk).

  • grahambower

    When I put the iPhone 4 to my ear, sometime my cheekbone or earlobe inadvertently activates a button on the keyboard, such as mute. I’ve had 2 iPhone 4s (my first was stolen) – and they both had this problem. I had every previous iPhone model, (OK, call my a fan-boy), and none of those had any proximity sensor problems.

  • Andrew

    you forgot MobileMe syncing calendars totally botches up any entries that have to repeat.

  • cwc3d

    I have had both Airport Extremes and Time Machines for years. I have not had any problems with either of them. I have one Airport Extreme that has lasted me for 4 years without a single problem. And, I reglarlry backup my 500GB laptop harddisk wirelessly to my Time Machine. If you are having such problems with these devices, maybe you are the B-Team?

  • Ta

    >Just curious – what are you backing up onto?

    I have a Mac mini that I use as a server. I have an external drive attached to the mini that I use as a Time Machine drive. I use Time Machine to back-up my MacBook Air wirelessly to that drive (I also back-up the mini to a separate partition on the same external drive).

    >this is the first positive feedback I’ve ever heard about this product.

    Well, I see that someone else has posted positive feedback on Time Machine, so that’s a 100% increase positive feedback :-

    Tony

  • Luckyduke24

    Yeah my proximity sensor sucks as well. This is my second iPhone 4(first one had a broken home button. Kept getting stuck) and it does it as well. My cheek will hit the FaceTime button or the mute. This is my first time owning an iPhone and will probably be my last time to be honest.

  • grahambower

    Touché :)

  • Rscribe

    Some of these I have little experience with, so I won’t comment on those.
    But Airport, Time Machine, display drivers, never have screwed up. My current MacBook pro has a (proven) backup that’s survived 2 OSs (Leopard to S Leopard). You just have to give it room.
    As for Airport, I’ve had 2 going for years. I want (don’t need) a current one but can’t justify replacing a perfectly functional one.
    Re dashboard. I’ve removed the Dock icon and never use it.
    re Batteries: there are 6 MacBooks around the house, various vintages, no battery issues.
    R

  • Yellowcows

    I have 13 PC , 3 MAC 3 iPad and numerous iPod and iPhones… Your comments about TimeMachine, DashBoard and BulgingBatteries do not relate to my experience in any ways…
    “a calculator app that takes over a minute to launch. Every time.” Maybe your 1999 iMac G3 need a refresh!

  • reneMAC

    Some good points, others totally opposite to my experience(s).

    Time machine works great for me here. Back-ups to a original 1TB Time Capsule. Some a few hundred gigs each. They go back a few years for a couple machines. I have also upgraded my iMac from an older one to a newer one and it took over the back-up as it should without a hitch.

    MobileMe iDisk, abysmal. No longer use it though Finder. I access it via Transmit and it works great.

    AirPort. I respectfully disagree there as well. Knock on wood, not had an issue with a single device yet. TC 1TB, AirPort Extreme Base Station, Airport Express, and AirPort Express n version. All rock solid and with great network performance. I run two separate wireless networks with this setup. One n only, and one a/g/b for legacy appliances. Rarely if ever need rebooting of any device. And since Apple finally got on the wagon with not having to reboot the device for configuration changes, they are rebooted even less now.

    Dashboard. Mine loads instantly on several machines. ?

    Bulging Batteries. 2 1/2 year old MBP just starting to experience this :(

    iPhone proximity. Originally I had it mildly. The subsequent updates seem to have fixed it for me. My wife’s iPhone is slightly more problematic in that regard though. Seems its particular phones themselves as opposed to every one.

    The rest are “serious” issues that should have been addressed by now.

  • CharliK

    While you have had some shitty luck, there are thousands that haven’t had any of those problems, ever. Including myself.

    What dismays me about your list is that you make some very uninformed comments in a few places that could be taken out of context and be very dangerous. Like your battery comment. Your ‘could be a time bomb’ would only be true if the composition of the batteries is the same. Something you don’t bother to address. Nor do you address that this ‘issue’ isn’t really an Apple issue at all. So their ‘b-team’ as you call it isn’t to blame. Bulging battery syndrome hit all notebooks that used the same type of battery during the same time period. Apple is probably the only company that still replaces even barely separating batteries despite them being as much as 5 years old. sure as hell know that Dell didn’t when I had that issue with one of their machines. Heck they didn’t replace it when it was just 3 months old. They said I must have done something to the battery myself and they wouldn’t cover it.

  • 80sfan

    Time Machine has been great for me, (easy to use and reliable for backups and restores), but the Airport Extreme we got a few months ago was a big disappointment. It worked, I suppose, but performance was miserable and it emitted a strange crackling noise during wireless activity.

    Speed Tests from my iPads and MacBook Pro ranged from 0.5 Mb to 3Mb on an (up to) 25Mb cable connection. Wired performance also chugged if more than two devices were active. Upgrading and downgrading the firmware made no difference. I’ve since swapped back in my Linksys E3000 and average speeds are nearly 4x what they were with the Extreme. We love our iOS and OSX devices, but will think twice before picking up another Apple network component.

  • Sailing dude

    Really? You personally experienced all these problems? Really? Or out of the millions of devices out there, there are a few bad ones that you read about on the blogs. So you project those few problems onto every device or setup out there? Really?

  • CharliK

    While I feel like Graham is being very hyperbolic with his comments, if these files are for work and you aren’t doing at least two backups you are asking for something to go bad. Doesn’t matter if you are using Time Machine or another software, a time capsule, another wired or wireless drive you can not be too careful when it is your livelihood on the line

  • Baldrel

    Does it matter if Apple’s B team is useless. Look at what the A team has done! Compared to every other product line out there Apple’s is by far the best.

  • ryu wink

    wow, widgets loading in 1 minute?! maybe it’s time to cleanup your mac a little, or do a clean install.

  • Oskar

    Thank you so much for bringing this to more people’s attention! I cannot say anything about Nike+, the display driver problems or the iPhone 4 proximity sensor, but:

    - The alarm clock fail is terrible and made me oversleep once. Now I never trust it as my sole alarm when I have important appointments.
    - I also have a bulging Macbook battery! This is one of very few posts I have read about it so far. Mine is out of warranty but the capacity is quite good so far. The only annoyance is having to worry that it might spontaneously explode with all the energy stored in it.
    - My Airport Express requires a restart about two times a week!
    - OSX Server setup was a mess when I used it on 10.4 a few years ago. Hopefully it has improved by now.
    - The dashboard loading time has made me stop using it.

    I used to be very pro-Apple, but things like the alarm clock error has got me much more neutral and now I’m considering a Acer TimelineX to replace my Macbook.

  • jnjnjn2

    1. Clock, never had a problem, using it for years.

    2. Time machine, never had a problem with large amounts of data, using it for years.

    3. iDisk works fine, using it for years with lots of data. Don’t know what your doing?

    4. All my Airport devices work excellent, never a hiccup, and using them for years. Don’t know what your doing?

    5. I have no experience with this myself, but everything I read about it suggest otherwise.

    6. No problem with dashboard at all. Widgets load time is fine for most. Calculator widget loads fast. What hardware are you using?

    7. No experience with Nike+. No need to, lots of other solutions and fazed out by Apple.

    8. No problems with batteries. Notebook is fine and 5 years old. All my iDevices are fine too and I have 7 of them. Using them for years.

    9. Monitor resolution switching is extremely reliable and I use that constantly. MacBook, iMac and iPad all switch excellent and have no problems at all switching back. Never had a problem. What are you doing?

    10. Not using an iPhone 4 (I use a 3GS, and I have no problems at all with that more than excellent device), but from what I read this isn’t a problem at all for almost all iPhone 4 users almost all of the time. Strange your not complaining about reception.

    So if Apple has a B team of programmers, it’s damn good.
    But I highly doubt Apple has a B team, it just doesn’t work like that.

    J.

  • Alan Sawyer

    BLU-RAY!!!!

  • grahambower

    I agree. I hesitated to write this article, because I didn’t want to give any ammo to the Apple-haters. But to pretend that all Apple products are perfect I think is to do a dis-service to the core Apple products that actually are!

  • grahambower

    Yes – I have personally experience all of the problems listed above. Not only that, but with the exception of Nike+, all the other issues have been independently verified by friends and family with their own differing setups.

  • Scott

    I also have had no troubles with Time Machine with any PowerBook or MacBook Pro in the family (four MBPs and two PBs running TM so far). Two of us are real power users with (for example) many thousands of professional Photoshop projects and multiple virtual machines on external disks of their own. TM has reliably backed-up (and restored, and migrated) in all cases. I’ve had backup drives wheeze and die, but never TM, knock wood.

    (In my own case, after that wheeze-and-die experience, I have two 2TB external drives that I use in alternating fashion. TM accommodates this without a hitch… so far.)

    I suspect that in the author’s case, his issues with TM relate to his issues with AirPort. That’s not to say the situation is acceptable, but he may wish to try backing up to a USB drive to narrow down the problem. It’s faster, too. SuperDuper is, of course, another thing to try.

  • Scott

    Oh and by the way, never a bulging battery here. I did once experience the spontaneous downrating of the default graphics setting after connecting an external monitor but forget how it was resolved, perhaps the PRAM zap, dunno. Dashboard does take a little time to initialize, but a minute?! Not hardly. Too many widgets, would be my thought. No prox sensor issues with any of the three iPhone 4s in the family. And so on.

    The author’s gripes do seem to be atypical, judging from my family’s experience.

  • Scott

    I do agree that Dropbox FTW. http://db.tt/Me4yRjt ;-)

  • Saint Nubkilla

    I hope you don’t get paid to write this anecdotal garbage… Seems like you’re probably a sucker for buying problematic hardware as opposed to the problem actually being Apple’s fault.

    There is not so much a “b team” as a collective of SJ favourite coders who are trustworthy (leaks = bad!) who have lovingly/jokingly been dubbed the ‘a team’. Happens in tech work all the time.. Definitely glad to be considered an A team’r versus the alternative!

    In summary, cult of mac has their ‘a team’ on contributors.. Guess who isn’t part of that crew?

  • Blake

    Bulging Batteries are a result of always keeping your machine plugged in. I asked an Apple tech this at the store a couple weeks ago. He explained that b/c of how Mac’s are designed to charge, it’s better to drain the battery on a daily basis than to always keep your machine plugged in.

  • hikeeveryday

    I have four Airport devices and all of them “just work”. They are the older Airport Extreme space ship model, 2 Airport Express G units and a 500GB Time Capsule. I have fully been expecting the Time Capsule to die because it’s among those with known issues but so far it’s solid.

    Also, no issues with iPhone clock, dashboard, Nike+, batteries or displays. The others don’t apply to me.

    However, the B team was definitely in charge of creating the iPhone bluetooth headset. That piece of junk was replaced three times before the fourth one finally died. I ended up just getting a Jawbone.

  • Geshirk

    I’ll calling BS

  • TGIFurry

    Is Preview a B-Team thing? Punch them for me. It’s SO UNSTABLE it quits if you crop or select or key down ever so slightly wrong it crashes.

  • iHate_Is_Back

    If nobody minds I’d like to throw in my two cents. My two gripes with Apple isn’t so much with their products, truth be known I think their products are quiet stellar compared to other companies offerings, but concerns a business practice and the less then stellar public comments made by a certain key figure who in my mind and many others embodies the heart and soul which has become Apple.

    1)My first and biggest gripe with Apple is Foxxconn. Until the Foxxconn suicides were exposed by the local media I saw Apple as a shining example of an international tech giant who wasn’t a faceless entity that served it’s users. After the press brought fourth the truth and I realized how Apple was just another corporate entity feeding the meat grinder run by communist hooligans that is China. It became clear to me Apple had fallen far from my oh so gullible perception of what Apple really was.

    2)My second gripe involves a key figure in the company which is Steve Jobs himself. Don’t get me wrong I think that if it wasn’t for Jobs Apple would have ceased to exist years ago and we would be forever stuck with Microcrap software for the rest of our lives. What angered me about Jobs was the comments made at the D8 interview pertaining to the Foxxconn suicides. When he openly denied there was a problem and then went on to insult the worlds intelligence by throwing out a series of smoke screen comments only meant to cover up the problem I lost all the respect for the man. Steve Jobs is a brilliant business man with incredible vision that I will readily admit but as a human being he’s a heartless prick.

    Final Summation

    If Jobs at D8 had openly admitted that life in the factories of China was brutal and said we will be looking further into the subject and try to improve the working conditions of these people I would have thought OK the guy is going to try and do something about the problem within the parameters of his ability to effect change. If Jobs had even said we cannot help but do business in China due to the fact our competition produces products there and we need to stay competitive but we will try and do what we can and put pressure for better working conditions against Terri Gou and Foxxconn I would have thought OK he has no choice but to do business with Foxxconn but he’s going to try and do something about it. Unfortunately he said nothing of the sort and his obvious lies became the lynch pin as to why I lost all respect for Apple and especially the man who is Steve Jobs.

    The old Apple which is the Apple created by Jobs and Wozniak died long ago. The Apple which was all about the funky rainbow colored Apple logo and the Lisa and Lisa II which were labors of love is long gone. The new Apple has become another faceless corporate entity no better then Acer, Microcrap, Hewlett Packard and many others. In short when Apple stopped becoming the Apple of heart and soul and became the Apple geared toward making money at all costs even if it means ignoring human rights violations the tech world lost something special. Apple you have so disappointed me.

    Sorry about my long winded post. I just had to get that all off my chest.

  • Tydock

    No problems with time machine here 100GB of data backed up, even did a restore last week to a new hard drive no problems at all. Time machine is one of the best features of OSX

  • Andrew

    No problems with Time Machine here, and I have a lot of stuff…

    Never tried AirPort and I’m still waiting to see what happens with my battery.

  • Clydeskid

    If these affect you too bad. If they don’t great for you. I’ve only owned Macs since 1995 and my PowerBook 5300. My main grip and now that my MacBook Pro has died a horrible, untimely death I am going with Dell or Lenovo. The extra 1200 dollars I’m paying for Mac portables just isn’t worth it any longer. Ives designs beautiful hardware that just doesn’t last. Apple has turned into the Tommy Hilfiger of the computing world.

  • Jack

    “AirPort”
    3+ years on my Extreme

    Same here. Two + yrs and never a glitch.

  • androo79

    I also have not had any problems with Time Machine and I have 3 Macs backing up to a 3 year old Time Capsule.

  • androo79

    I agree Graham that there are some issues with Apple products, for instance my Apple TV 2 constantly cannot find the movies on my Drobo connected to a Mac mini until I reboot either the Apple TV or the Mac mini, but for the most part I am extremely happy with all of my Apple gear. Oh, my proximity sensor does completely suck on my iPhone 4, good thing I rarely ever make a phone call.

    On the other hand things like AirPlay and other advanced technologies make everything worth it.

  • androo79

    This seems a little unfair, if you don’t agree with the writing, don’t read it.

  • Robbflynn

    Wow, all that pushback! Timemachine is a very limited and often frustrating app and I no longer use it. Airport devices, on the other hand, are the smartest and most reliable I have ever used – and I have used them all. It will even set itself up as an extender when plugged into a long run ethernet cable from the address serving router. I have found no other router that smart.

    They are truly plug-and-play units and work almost totally trouble free. Expensive, yes but worth it.

  • androo79

    I agree, and batteries do not last forever. I did have to replace the battery on my MacBook Pro recently but that was after almost 3 years. Before switching to Mac’s I bought Dells and the last one I had to throw the whole computer in the trash after 2 years. I feel like this MacBook Pro will work another 3+ years but I am definitely getting a MacBook Air once they update the processors.

  • androo79

    Same here but I never bothered to try to return it, I rarely make phone calls and everything else is perfect.

  • John

    I haven’t seen most of these problems, but that doesn’t help those that do have them. The battery problem is endemic to Lithium battery technology used at the time. Presumably the newer batteries are better. Time will tell.

    What’s interesting about this sort of list is why it only happens to some people. Clearly Apple (or most other companies) would not ship a major product if it failed spectacularly very often. If every Airport device required restarting once a week that would get fixed before it shipped. And yet, digital technology should work like clockwork so why is it that only some machines have these odd problems? My guess is that mixed up plist files, slightly bad memory, marginal power supplies and electrolytic capacitors losing capacity are at the root of a lot of this.

    The problem is we can’t visualize the problems in our complex machines and software. If your car gets a flat tire you can clearly see that and fix it. If your wireless network runs slow what do you do? Replace the cables? Replace the router? Reinstall drivers somewhere? Having worked in engineering for a long time I know that the developers of that product could come to your home, hookup the appropriate diagnostic equipment and eventually track down the problem. The rest of us have to make do with our magic incantations (reset the PRAM and power manager) or keep swapping out parts till the gremlins depart.

    Long ago we had a lab computer that would lose its mind regularly requiring a service visit. Finally when we got a new one I unplugged the old one and noticed that there had been a lot arcing in the AC power connector resulting in all sorts of corrosion. I cleaned the connector and it worked perfectly after that.

    We have a lamp style iMac which won’t take additional memory. It works perfectly with the original memory. I can add RAM and it will pass all the memory tests for hours and hours. However, once we start running OS X it will crash within 15 minutes. Never did find the reason for that one.

  • London Snoward

    The writing has to be read first before it can be agreed or disagreed…lol

  • pickme2

    3, 4 and 6 are spot on. I either haven’t experienced problems with the others or haven’t experienced the others at all. The Airport thing is especially galling. I thought the Dashboard was a fabulous feature…until I tried to use it.

  • Bryan Dobson

    Another vote for having used Time Machine on a large HD with many, many photos and videos without a single problem. In fact, I just used Time Machine to restore content to a new larger HD that I installed in my Mac Pro. No issues.

    I’ve found it to be reliable, easy to use, etc. This is not to say I would not mind a few options built in like scheduling when backups occur, etc. I know there are numerous third party programs to get around that but I shouldn’t have.

  • Nathan

    With the exception of iDisk, AirPort, Mac OS X Server, Nike+ and Mac Display Driver, all of which I either don’t have or haven’t used, I have not noticed any of these problems.
    I’ve been using my Time Machine with a Seagate hard drive for about three years and not once have I had a problem.
    I haven’t had the alarm clock not wake me up, but it’s possible I wasn’t using it at the time the problem persisted.
    My dashboard pops up immediately and I have immediate access to the calculator.
    I haven’t noticed a bulging battery.
    And I haven’t noticed a problem with the proximity sensor.

  • FenTiger

    What really annoys me about the iPhone alarm is… it used to work and they’ve done sweet FA to fix it.

  • Enoch Cincotta

    how old is your Mac?

  • prof_peabody

    whine whine whine. a lot of these issues have never struck me or anyone i’ve ever known. perhaps the author is just doing something wrong.

    the Time Machine “problem” is especially ridiculous. if it was really happening the way he phrases it (to almost everyone who uses it, and continuing for several years), I think we would have heard of it before.

    also, like many folks, I’ve set up innumerable OS-X servers and never had a problem with it being too confusing.

  • 5imo

    I’ve had an airport extreme for about 5 months. it was sooo worth the extra “Apple price” not lost any speed on my connection and never lost signal. I went through about 4 different routers from numerous manufactures they all where crap. Daily freezes, coincidentally when I was in the middle of a COD game on my Xbox. my airport extreme has never had to been reset or messed with to “Just Work”.

  • obamapacman

    Completely BS. Time Machine works perfectly. If you keep a backup it’s your own fault.

  • obamapacman

    2. No problem with time machine.
    4. No problem with AirPort devices here. Rarely have to reboot.
    6. Not usual. Sounds like something is broken on your end.
    8. Not usual.
    9. Never seen this happen on various Macs.

  • GaryREM

    wow. I’ve been using Time Machine on a 1TB drive for a couple of years. Never had it stall, got back my files when needed, and at one point did a complete system restore when I had a drive go bad. It’s done everything it should have. It’s worked flawlessly. Have a separate Time Capsule taking care of MacBook’s and it just seems to work.

    Wondering why you’re having such issues.

  • grahambower

    I’ve actually been surprised by all the comments in support of Time Machine. It’s never worked for me, and most people I’ve spoken to have had problems with it. There are a lot of problems reported on Apple’s discussion forum on the topic. But given all this positive feedback, I think I’ll give it another go. Who knows, maybe Apple has finally fixed it with a recent update.

  • Allan Cook

    I love my Time Capsule and have set up two laptops with it without losing a bit or byte. I’ve also been using one or another version of the AirPort devices for seven years without a single problem.

  • edteck

    Let me add #11: The Address Book “note section.” Be sure your cursor is in the right place or you can lose your address card’s note. And an “Undo” won’t bring it back.

  • Jim

    A few comments on your article.

    First, there is no “B-team” at Apple. Bertrand specifically forbid the creation of such an organization, despite some compelling arguments for such a thing. In Software Engineering, they try to hire only “A players.” Most other software engineering organization have several teams. The so-called “A-team” works on all the new, cool stuff. The “B-team” works on maintaining existing code, or legacy code. No really talented engineer wants to only work on maintaining the legacy stuff, you end up with the hotshot coders on the “A-team,” and the bottom of the barrel on the “B-team.” Since a large portion of Apple’s software engineering organization, particularly upper management, came from NeXT where the concept of a “B-team” was considered harmful, there is no such thing at Apple.

    In working on very large, complex software development projects, such as an OS, you never really get every bug fixed. There are priorities. Not everything is a P1 bug. There are only so many engineers, and so much time to be spent. Within the team, engineers have a particular part of the project that they own (Core OS, Networking, etc.). They are responsible for developing the new features in that area for the next OS, as well as fixing bugs in the current one. Those are two big, competing priorities. Sometimes that means some things don’t get fixed until the next major release. That can be a year or more away at times.

    Sometimes, a broken feature is going to be completely replaced in the next release. If it isn’t a show-stopper, sometimes they push the fix to the next major OS release. This is especially common where the fix requires major architectural changes, which can have a cascade effect across a wide range of other features and processes that are dependent on that code.

    Specific comments on your points:

    1. The clock code has changed quite a few times. Some bugs got in, especially with complex global DST variances.

    2. Time machine works well for me personally, as well as a number of other people I know. Maybe there was something particular to your configuration?

    3. iDisk. They know the Finder integration piece has issues. It has for a long time. It appears that may be OBE

    4. AirPort. Other than a bad batch of Time Capsules, I haven’t heard anything on this in a while. It works for me, and a number of family members and co-workers who use them.

    5. Apple got some feedback on some of the annoying things about 10.5 and 10.6 Server. Lion has changes. Sign up for the Apple Developer Connection and download the developer preview. Then you can file bugs directly with engineering if you find things you don’t like.

    6. Dashboard calculator. Over a minute? I just tried it on two machines running 10.6.7. It took less than 2 seconds. It sounds like something on your machine.

    7. Nike+ app, as far as I know, is written at Nike, not Apple.

    8. The bulging batteries were designed and fabricated by Sony, if memory serves, not Apple. The new design in the Unibody MacBook Pros are an Apple design, and so far haven’t shown the same problems the old Sony batteries did.

    9. Mac Display problems. That sounds like something with your machine. My co-workers and I plug into projectors and other displays regularly, mirrored and expanded desktop modes, and don’t see this problem. As soon as I unplug my 15″ MacBook Pro from the lower-res projector, or external display, the resolution goes back to the original setting. Were you referring to layout of desktop icons, or the actual display settings being stuck?

    10. I don’t know enough about the iPhone 4 proximity sensor issue to comment on it.

  • Daibidh

    Sna’ap!

    Love Apple but there are a few things that need changing… like my macbook’s bulging battery! LoL

  • freerange

    Oh no, not iHate again. When are you going to learn that you have no credibility and are totally delusional? Once again I need to point out your misguided and moronic rants. The Foxxconn location with the mentioned suicides employees over 400,000 workers, and has a MUCH LOWER suicide rate than that of the US. Even a lower suicide rate than for high school students in the US. So what does that say about conditions in the US? I’m an American living in China and working for a humane organization and know what I’m talking about. Although there are severe and well documented problems at many factories in China, Foxconn is actually a pretty good operator and tries hard to give its employees a good working environment. If these employees didn’t like working there, they would quit. So please, crawl back into your little hate filled hole and come back out when you actually know what you’re talking about. You obviously seem to know nothing about modern day China and the people who work here. It is you who disrespect them.

  • bughunter

    Your experiences are more anecdotal than statistically valid. It’s irresponsible for you to generalize your experiences to entire product lines, or even brands. A true geek should be numerate enough to know better.

    For instance, my original Airport Extreme (the UFO model) lasted 8 years, and the new 802.11n model has been going strong for 2.5 years here. (About half of the four Airport Express units I’ve bought, however, seem to have issues… though one of the problem units was kept outside on the patio for AirTunes duty.)

    Similarly, I’ve owned dozens of MacBook Pro batteries, both for home and work MacBooks, and not ONE of them bulged. I have *seen* a bulged battery. One. One in a company of 300 people, all of whom use MBPs and have at least two batteries each.

    This article is an example of poor logic and questionable integrity.

  • grahambower

    HI Jim. Thanks for your comments – you make interesting points – especially about how Serlet runs/ran things.
    Coming back to you on the specifics:
    2. Time Machine – I’ve been genuinely surprised by the number of comments on this post that have said this is working well for them. I’m going to review this again – but the issues I’ve encountered are not limited to one machine, and it’s also well documented in Apple’s support forum. I think a lot of the problems are to do with notebooks, Wi-Fi and interrupted/partial backups. Also possibly to do with permissions – running as a standard user versus admin.
    3. iDisk. Yes – mostly problems with Finder, I agree – but access to MobileMe outside the US is also a problem.
    4. Airport – I agree that Time Capsule has been the main glitchy AirPort device, but AirPort Express has also let me done on many occasions – especially the earlier versions (I don’t have experience of the 802.11n version – maybe/hopefully this is better.)
    5. Server. I really hope issues with server are resolved in 10.7. I’ve had endless issues with DNS, Open Directory and the admin apps not configuring things the way they say the do. You really need to be handy with a shell, and familiar with DNS, LDAP, Postfix, Kerberos etc to use this product right now. Nothing like what that pretty Server Preferences app implies!
    6. Dashboard. OK, a minute might be an exaggeration, and I must say it’s faster on my MacBook Air with Flash storage. But on a hard-drive based machine, with a reasonable amount of widgets and several fonts installed, it can take almost a minute on first launch, before the widgets become responsive.
    7. Nike+. As I understand, Apple develops the iPod nano functionality – it’s supported by them, not NIke. Nike does also develop its own iOS app (called Nike+ GPS) and this has plenty of its own problems…
    8. Batteries. I didn’t know that the built-in batteries are a different design – hopefully that solves the bulge!
    9. Resolution. It doesn’t change the resolution initially. You see the problem next time you re-boot, on the Apple cog screen, and the login window. I’ve seen this behavior on various PowerBooks.

  • grahambower

    HI Jim. Thanks for your comments – you make interesting points – especially about how Serlet runs/ran things.
    Coming back to you on the specifics:
    2. Time Machine – I’ve been genuinely surprised by the number of comments on this post that have said this is working well for them. I’m going to review this again – but the issues I’ve encountered are not limited to one machine, and it’s also well documented in Apple’s support forum. I think a lot of the problems are to do with notebooks, Wi-Fi and interrupted/partial backups. Also possibly to do with permissions – running as a standard user versus admin.
    3. iDisk. Yes – mostly problems with Finder, I agree – but access to MobileMe outside the US is also a problem.
    4. Airport – I agree that Time Capsule has been the main glitchy AirPort device, but AirPort Express has also let me done on many occasions – especially the earlier versions (I don’t have experience of the 802.11n version – maybe/hopefully this is better.)
    5. Server. I really hope issues with server are resolved in 10.7. I’ve had endless issues with DNS, Open Directory and the admin apps not configuring things the way they say the do. You really need to be handy with a shell, and familiar with DNS, LDAP, Postfix, Kerberos etc to use this product right now. Nothing like what that pretty Server Preferences app implies!
    6. Dashboard. OK, a minute might be an exaggeration, and I must say it’s faster on my MacBook Air with Flash storage. But on a hard-drive based machine, with a reasonable amount of widgets and several fonts installed, it can take almost a minute on first launch, before the widgets become responsive.
    7. Nike+. As I understand, Apple develops the iPod nano functionality – it’s supported by them, not NIke. Nike does also develop its own iOS app (called Nike+ GPS) and this has plenty of its own problems…
    8. Batteries. I didn’t know that the built-in batteries are a different design – hopefully that solves the bulge!
    9. Resolution. It doesn’t change the resolution initially. You see the problem next time you re-boot, on the Apple cog screen, and the login window. I’ve seen this behavior on various PowerBooks.

  • Dilbert A

    great post.

    mostly actuate, but damn Graham, your cold!

  • Tom

    Time machine works beautifully for me, and my first generation airport extreme is still working after 7 years. Dashboard widgets can be slow to load after a restart, but after they were launched it was almost instantaneous. But who restarts their macs anyway?

  • iHate_Is_Back

    You know it’s one thing to act like a complete fool on the blogasphere and its completely another to wear and display your self centered self involved ignorance like a badge of honor. You can scream all you want about Foxxconn being Eden like the hard truth proves otherwise. There’s enough human rights organizations who will call you a lying ass and back it up with documented proof of worker mistreatment involving Foxxconn, Pegatron and the list goes on. Don’t even get me started with Chinese govt human rights violations. If you truly do live in China you should be more then aware of it and know better then anyone else that those people financially can’t quit because their hooligan run communist govt has economically stacked the odds against them.

    In closing if you don’t like what I have to say I DON’T GIVE A SHIT. Unlike the people of China I can say whatever I choose whenever I want whether you like it or not. If that bothers you then you truly have become a Marxist bitch who deserves to share the fate of the hooligans who run China. If this is the case I truly pity you for being such a fool.

    I’m going to say this to you direct uncensored and straight to the point. Firstly go ahead and parrot Jobs to your hearts content it doesn’t matter because the dirty little secret is out and there’s nothing anyone can do to hide the truth anymore. Secondly I WILL COMMENT ABOUT FOXXCONN ABUSES WHENEVER I CHOOSE if that bothers you that’s your problem and I couldn’t care less. Finally I couldn’t care less what you have to say to me so STOP BOTHERING ME WITH YOUR ASININE REPLY’S BECAUSE I’M NOT INTERESTED. In short what I’m telling you to do is go chew your cud in the corner like a nice little isheep and SCREW OFF.

  • Dave Leyland

    Nothing said about the light leak with the new iPad 2??

  • Jugney

    Time Machine has been great for myself and a roommate at home (who once had to restore from a backup after a hard drive failure) and it’s been solid for almost a year in our office.

    I’m only seeing positive feedback about TM in the comments here so you might want to reconsider the strength of your anecdotal evidence, and the inclusion of this feature in your article. It would be a shame for a new user to avoid trying something that could really help them because they read this article and believed it.

  • grahambower

    Hi. I think you’re right – I’ll make an update now.

  • Z25MN6

    Jim,
    Very efficient rebuttal. The exact kind of non-response response that used to give me fits in my working days as an operations manager (member of the B-Team) for a Fortune 10 company. I was the guy who had to keep the duct tape and baling wire on the “hot, new” stuff that my “A-Team” colleagues kept sending out 95% complete. I had to deal with the tears, ulcers, and burnout that it caused in the tech support shop – they didn’t. I had to take the phone calls from the irate execs who couldn’t get their correct business results – they didn’t. I can’t tell you how many of these “it’s not as bad as you think it is” brushoff memos I got from developers when I had the hard statistics in my hand from user calls to illustrate that they were full of it. It never ceased to amaze me that they – like you here – could spend hours and hours arguing how shortcomings didn’t exist (or weren’t as bad as I was making them out to be) but didn’t have the minutes it would take to simply fix them. (And actually, it’s kind of fun, now that I’m retired, to have the time to indulge in the same with this reply!)

    Graham may have based the article a bit heavily on anecdotal evidence versus empirical evidence. Pity he gave you the opening to drive through, because guys like you ALWAYS find a way to exploit any narrow opening you can find to justify the attitude that “it’s good enough” – don’t complain to me if it doesn’t work. I only created it.

    Wanna know how a perfectly reasonable, ambitious young manager gets beaten down over time and turns into a bitter old retired curmudgeon like me? Re-read you rebuttal above. Unfortunately, it’s a CYA tactic as common as dirt in today’s business community.

    PS: Amazing how money talks. As Graham avers, Nike+ may be buggy, but since this is a “corporate partnership” instead of just some Joe Doaks developer submitting an app to the App Store, bugs are tolerated. Taking the “it’s not my problem” approach, as you did in #7 above, still leave USERS out in the cold, and hurts both companies’ business.

  • John T

    I certainly agree about the iDisk critique. Let’s hope the NC data center includes a solution to us long suffering iTools/.Mac/MobileMe users.

    As for the Airport comment, we had very similar experiences in one office we occupied for many years. One pattern I noticed was that a reset was very common after the office being closed during the weekend; many Monday mornings required a reset. It wasn’t until speaking to a visiting power company tech one day that we learned a squirrel infestation was resulting in chewed-through power lines and causing power fluctuations. Once we moved out of that building, the Airports did not exhibit that behavior. Still, everyone should still be leery of the presence of microwave ovens in the proximity of your WiFi network and be only gingerly push the paperclip in the back of your Airport when trying to do a hard reset.

  • Carlos Spicy Weiner

    Several people have asked and but no answer has been given about what year and models of equipment that you are having these problems with.

    I have been owning using Macs since 1984 and I haven’t had any problems since 2004 when I spilled a cup of coffee onto my iBook G4 at work.

    I haven’t had a hard drive, display, motherboard, connector, power supply or anything else fail since that self inflicted incident. and even before then up until the time I sold or traded my Macs I never had a problems not to say that after being sold or traded that they remained perfect because I just don’t know that.

    Currently I have an iPhone 3G(2008), iPhone4(2010), iPod 40GB (2003), iPod Nano 16GB (2009), Airport Extreme (2007), Time Capsule 1TB (2008), iBook G4 (2005), Black MacBook (2006), MacBook Air (2008), Macintosh 128k (1984), Macintosh Classic (1990), 20th Anniversary Macintosh (1997), iMac 20″ (2003), iMac 27″ (2009) all just humming along with no issues.

  • grahambower

    Here are the details on my kit…
    4th and 6th generation iPod nano all exhibited (different) bugs with Nike+
    3x Airport Express 802.11g models have died on me, and another one requires constant restarts. (I also have an 802.11n Extreme, which works fine).
    1x original model Time Capsule died on me.
    Time Machine set up encountered problems backing up to 2 different Time Capsules, including a brand new 802.11n model – from various Macs, including a 2009 iMac, and original MacBook Air, and a new 2010 MacBook Air. Had the same issues with Time Machine running on a Mac mini server running 10.6 Snow Leopard Server. Backups using Time Machine Server have also failed.
    Dashboard is very slow to load on my 2009 model 17″ MacBook Pro. It’s actually a little faster on my flash-based MacBook Air 2010 model. I have quite a lot of fonts installed on the 17″, which might explain it, but still…

  • Willis Pam A

    I have a Power Mac G5 10.4 and it will power on but not off. dock is missing, about me dont work, my Pro Tools wont come on. my click is not working. Anybody had this problems before. Please Help

  • Jim

    Z25MN6,

    My point was to help those that have never been on the other end understand what it looks like. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience at that job. Just because you had that experience there, doesn’t mean it’s the same everywhere.

    Most good software developers try to deliver the best product they can. I’ve worked at places in the past where that wasn’t always true. I can tell the difference.

    That said, there are realities you have to deal with, especially on large projects. A modern OS is an immensely complex thing underneath. Lots of un-anticpiated interactions between features and functions can occur, and some things aren’t caught in internal testing. When you sell many millions of devices, people are going to find things you missed. You can’t predict every possible use case.

    On a large project, you are never going to be able to fix every bug. There simply isn’t enough time or resources to do it. When bugs are reported, you have to rank them based on impact. Security bugs are very high, and get a lot of attention. Small, intermittent bugs that are rarely reported don’t get the same level of attention.

    That’s just reality. The old adage of “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” applies to software. If you find a nasty bug that has a big impact to you, complain loudly to the vendor. It greatly increases the chance of it getting fixed.

    You can call this a “non-answer” or whatever, if applying a negative spin to it makes you feel better. I was just trying to help people understand the reality of the situation. Nobody says you have to like it.

    P.S.: I was referring only to the Nike+ app on iPhone/iPod Touch. I wasn’t commenting on the Nano. My bad for misreading that.

    (Disclaimer: I speak only for myself. My comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any particular company or organization)

  • Dual

    The problem about Dashboard is that it has to load at all. Think about it: if it’s part of the OS it should just -be there- ! I have no patience for waiting for it to load.

    I view Dashboard as having been abandoned by Apple after its first year. Sadly my envelope printer lives there: otherwise I’d never be there at all.
    —-
    I didn’t know that TIme Machine had issues with WiFi, but honestly: why trust your backups to WiFi???

  • Michael

    You are absolutely correct about Time Machine, It works, but not for archiving data and files. even in TM your files may not be correct especially those Mail Mailboxes that somehow get barfed on and get lost. Airport really sucks. The trick I have found to reset Airport without having to do a cold reset is to use Renew DHCP lease in your network system preferences, works almost 90% of the time, I think I got that trick from you-alls. Bulging battery, Check, iDisk, Check. Dashboard, Check. Seems we’re in the same ballpark. Some things Apple really does right, but for some reason anything that has to do with using the Airport, iDisk, TM, printing, is really iffy. I am going to seriously look at Linksys the next time I purchase a router.

  • David Shanahan

    I’ve never had such problems with Time Machine, I’ve only had one (out of three) Airport basestations die, and that was after 4-5 years of 24 X 7 running (though I never bought a Time Capsule), they’re incredibly reliable in my experience. My Dashboard calculator loads in a fraction of a second, every time.

    I do agree however, use DropBox! And I’ve recently started having “This iTunes Library is empty” messages from Apple TV at random times when connected to a perfectly fine and non-empty copy of iTunes. Rebooting ATV via the rather inelegant and un-Applelike ‘unplug the power cord and replug it’ method and the problem goes away. Seems to have started happening since the latest ATV software update. That’s B team.

  • freerange

    Once again iHate shows his true colors and what an ignorant buffoon he is based on his reply above. He’s probably never left his parents basement let alone traveled to China first hand. In his initial posts he tries to come off as some heartfelt caring intellectual but his ignorant and verbally abusive responses prove otherwise. Seriously, you really need to get out and see the world for yourself.

  • Icyfog

    Of that list I have only had a problem with the proximity sensor and that was just once.

  • Dilbert A

    great reply.

  • iHate_Is_Back

    Jackass are you really that ignorant? Take your stupid little lies and shove a sock in it. It doesn’t matter what you say anymore the truth about worker abuse in China is out and the public with brains in their heads now knows whats going on. It no longer matters what you say on the blogasphere little man. The abuses have been observed and documented by other parties and with any hope just maybe enough people will react with their wallets just enough to force Acer, Apple, HTC, Microcrap (the list could go on and on) to make changes.

    And you know what you little fool. I hope it causes the whole white collar hierarchy to be shaken up enough so those greedy fat cats behind the desks get thrown out of their offices, out of China, and back into the west. Enjoy your little cubicle while you can freerange. If there’s truly a God in heaven its only a matter of time before your ass gets kicked back into the good old US of A and you’re hitting the pavement looking for a job cleaning toilets for minimum wage. Considering so many of your fellow Americans had their jobs eliminated by people of your caliber the only thing I can say to that image is ” oh it would be so delicious to see”.

    Now f#%$ off and stop replying to my posts you f%@#ing moron. I don’t believe nor give a shit about your lies so shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

  • freerange

    Ah, another brilliant post from the mentally and emotionally incompetent!

  • Mike Rathjen

    My launch-day iPhone4 had terrible proximity sensor problems, but to Apple’s credit, it was 100% fixed by a software update since then. Is that still a problem for others?

  • iHate_Is_Back

    Fuck off and die you greedy cunt rag

  • freerange

    Please accept my sincere apologies. I meant to say mentally and emotionally disturbed.

  • Mike

    TM is awesome!! It has saved my butt big-time. I have 568 items in my inbox and about 2500 photos in iPhoto. It has also saved friends too.

    I’ve had two AirPort devices and they have both worked great. My current one is over a year old and my previous one is owned by a friend is working great. I know two friends who own AirPorts and are working great.

    I just timed my Dashboard calculator to come up. 3 sec.

    My son has a MacBook Pro plus I take care of at lease nine others owned by friends. I have never seen or heard of the battery problem you describe off.

    I haven’t heard of complaints from friends of mine who have iPhones 4’s since Apple come out with the proximity sensor fix. I don’t own one myself so I can’t comment first hand.

  • Mike

    Your not talking about the Sone recall of bad batteries going all the way back to 2006 are you?

  • iHate_Is_Back

    (FACEPALM)

    Incredible, just freaking incredible. Exactly what part of this conversation don’t you understand? Your little Steve Jobs parrot show doesn’t impress me or anyone on here yet you still choose to post the same gibberish post after post after post. Every time you post your nonsense I rip you to shreds and you keep coming back for more. Is there some sort of contest amongst you and your co workers on who can make himself look the stupidest on the net going on? Right now I’m thinking it’s either that or your momma must have dropped you countless times on your head when you were a baby. The level or stupidity you’re displaying has gone far beyond a case of drinking to much of the cool aid and has entered the realm of being downright scary. It’s a miracle you’ve lived this long and haven’t wandered in front of a speeding bus or fatally injured yourself by stabbing yourself through the eye with a fork while eating. WOW…..is all I can say right now. I never realized a human being could ever shove their head so far up their own ass and actually live. You should seriously consider a career change and get a job in a circus freak show. People would come from far and wide to view the man whose head is completely shoved up his own anus. Give it some serious thought you’d become a millionaire overnight.

  • freerange

    The pharmacy called. Your meds are ready. The bad news is the doctor suggests you take twice the normal dose until your condition stabilizes. He estimates that will take at least 12 months. And even then only if you cut back on the drinking.

  • iHate_Is_Back

    God your stupidity is painful to read

  • subdubba
    One thing the Cult of Mac B-Team got wrong was deleting my comment after I clicked Post Comment and created an account. Good thing I copied it first…

    I think the Apple  A-Team got an F when they forgot/stuck-their-noses-up-to a “Play Next” feature in iTunes. I don’t want to create a playlist, I don’t want to figure out how iTunes DJ is supposed to work, I just want to be able to pick a song to play immediately after the current one is done playing.

    P.S. iPhoto organizes photos in such a cryptic, convoluted way you have to wonder if they’re hoping that after years of uploading them, re-organization of them on a PC or other application will be the only thing holding you back from making the switch.
    P.P.S. Also, get rid of control click doing what right click has done intuitively on PCs for as long as I can remember.

About the author

Graham Bower

Graham Bower is a digital strategist, writer and fitness fanatic. An Apple-obsessive for over 20 years, Graham's company, Polymath, uses Macs to create ad campaigns for the likes of Nickelodeon, Starbucks and The Economist. Graham is the geek behind MacPredictions, a blog with an uncanny track record for anticipating what Apple will do next. Follow Graham on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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