Things Don't Work Like They Used To

Things Don't Work Like They Used To

Two dead and 20 injured after an in-construction collapse of a hotel in New Orleans.

You can read up if you like, but the upshot is that this is the second time in several years a major construction project literally came apart before it was even completed.

I understand "shit happens", but due to the circle of people I work with, I also have a passing lay familiarity with the kind of review that is supposed to happen. The kind with rules based on painful experience.

Obviously it didn't.

Now. I for one don't entirely blame the shift on minorities for their own sake over competence, and similar drek we've seen in an era where companies are castigated for being too white, too male, too whatever that is not currently trendy. I've long pointed the finger at short term profit over steady development and growth, and how Apple used to be a company that would iterate, develop a platform that would be the basis for cool stuff down the road, etc., to the point where an entire major OS update was effectively "no features" but instead refactoring and backend platform/stability/speed improvements. They didn't rest on their laurels, and didn't just release features to have features. They were willing to postpone when something wasn't right yet.

Like I said. used to. I've also documented the trend toward a number of screwups that show Apple is losing their focus on what made them popular.

In short, companies chasing short term gains instead of long term optionality and antifragility. More to the point, paying lip service but mistaking diversifying for redundancy, and so forth. We also have companies chasing short term growth to satisfy their creditors and dumping perfectly good, reliable products, not because they aren't very profitable, but because they aren't profitable enough.

So what’s wrong with the Wiggle-Bob? Why did we need to kill it, and why did we need to terminate the people who supported the Wiggle-Bob? Profitabilit,y or the amount of margin, wasn’t enough for us to make our numbers for “growth”. The Wiggle-Bob had a profit margin of about 50%, so if it cost you about $10,000 to make the Wiggle-Bob, you could sell it for $15,000, earning you a nice $5000. That’s pretty darn good for a product that takes next to nothing to maintain. But 50% apparently isn’t enough.

“I know it sucks, but we gotta make our profitability numbers or else we lose out on next year’s budget!” he retorted.

Here is where the grand deception of “growth” gets laid bare. Like most tech companies, we rely heavily on being able to borrow money. Borrowing money is a complicated game, and is heavily reliant on whether or not you can demonstrate if you are a growing company. Solid and steady is an anathema to lenders, who want “dynamic” returns on their investments. In laymen’s terms, the more “growth” you can demonstrate, the lower the interest rate you will get on a loan.

But like a crack whore hooked on that bit of white rock, every company that takes loans will do anything short of illegal to boost that growth number, and a fair portion of them will dip their toes into the illicit from time to time. And just like every crack addict can tell you, it takes more of the rock to just break even, thus chasing the “growth” number for loans is a never ending pursuit. The addiction just keeps demanding more and more.

This kind of short sightedness in the name of marketing, growth, feature creep, what have you is endemic. It also goes a long way to explaining the utter mess that OSX 10.15 "Catalina" has been.

Let’s start with my now infamous tweet from the other day. (I’m an influencer!) This screenshot has absolutely been manipulated to make a point, but everything in it is real. It’s all of the security warnings and permission dialogs that I ran into (and screenshotted and arranged for maximum effect) during my iMac’s first startup after installing Catalina as well as about ten minutes of poking around and launching a few apps.

Hoo, boy.

Hoo, boy.

The point I was hoping (but probably failed) to make, is that there are many thousands of way smarter people inside Apple than me, and a frightening, pop-up frenzy that will absolutely condition non-technical users to blindly click “Allow” is the best solution they could arrive at or ship in time?

Maybe they did countless user studies and determined this really is the safest and best approach. But I doubt it. I think it was a combination of poor management, hard deadlines, and probably a cavalcade of upper management and C-level executives who only use iOS as their daily driver and simply lack the imagination, experience, and technical vision to realize a modal pop-up flow that (kind of) works on a touch device does not scale to an overlapping, multiple-window, keyboard and cursor driven interface, i.e., the desktop computer.

I've run into those very issues, as well as inexplicable issues getting reminders that are shared to sync properly in the iOS updates (no, no-one had upgraded reminders), issues with the crappy new-style shallow keyboard and sticking keys, the endless annoyance of the escape key being in the touch bar and constantly getting tapped, and yes, even more Catalina security issues and bugs.

I'm looking harder and harder at the newer Razr gaming laptops. Or a PopOS machine.

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.