Wireless devices are always troublesome. I prefer to avoid the trouble and just use wires.
This is not the week to convince me wireless is the future.
Wireless is pretty shit. Wifi, bluetooth, cell phones, toilets. Yes, a wireless toilet is convenient and you can move it whenever you want and you don’t have to rip your walls open to make a new bathroom, but … it’s a bucket.
Good things need to be to connected to other things with physical things in order for them to be good things. A quality install is rarely a simple install.
This week at work was a prime example.
We have a lovely office but it is far from the ideal setup for consistent, fast wireless anything. It has stone construction from the 1920s, domed ceilings, massive stone pillars, brass walls and plenty of other things that interfere with wireless transmissions. And even in the best of circumstance, wifi breaks and blips for lots of reasons. I’m sure you’ve experienced it at home or in an airport or … everywhere you’ve ever been connected to wifi. And for us, when there’s a wifi anomaly, we can’t sell things because our cash register is, you guessed it, on an iPad.
(If you ever open a store, here’s my #2 piece of advice: wire in EVERY mission critical piece of hardware. Your wifi will go down. Someone nearby will turn on radar. Or a microwave. Or flood the airwaves with devices from a conference next door. The power will go out. Your UPS won’t be enough. The UPS man might trip over a cable. Have backups and contingencies.)
A few nights ago, we waited for the cafe to close at 10pm and we wired in everything we could. 100s of extra feet of cabling not in the original plan were run. Access points were moved for the things we couldn’t wire in. It’s still a work in progress but wires are getting us closer to stability.
Wires are just better
Another example: my car has bluetooth for calling and listening to music from my phone. But it also has an AUX port. Guess which one I use? Pairing bluetooth sucks more than life itself. I actually did pair my phone with my car once so I could call someone while driving. It seemed like a cool idea, actually. Quote my friend, “What? I can’t hear you.”
Home, with my headphones plugged into my phone, I called her back. “That’s so much better!”
Another example: Keyboards and mice. Bluetooth or RF, these are horrible without wires. The batteries die, the Apple ones all look the same, they have to “pair” and never seem to do it properly. “The light is blinking – is that good? The thing on the screen won’t stop spinning.”
You can figure it out, sure. Or you could just plug in a wire and use your precious brain-space elsewhere.
My point is that wireless anything is an unnecessary pain in the ass. It wastes time and causes frustration and all for vanity. “I don’t like the look of wires.”
Yeah, well I don’t like the look of your face.
Everyone loves the idea of the clean look of wireless devices. I must admit, I used to as well. But that association changed a long time ago. Now when I see a “clean” desk I associate it with the frustration of pairing everything and having devices disconnect all the time.
Guess what, life is messy. Cables are very important to devices that use electricity. Air was not designed to support the transmission of the massive amounts of data we shove around in it now.
It’s like expecting your soup to teach a biology class.
“I’m totally qualified to teach this class. I’m part chicken.”
Designing for the ideal, not the real
So this is all old hat to me. I love wires. My keyboards and mice have wires. Bluetooth is disabled on all of my devices. My home is even about to get the same wired-network treatment we gave to the office. Goodbye, wifi.
And then this week Apple releases a new iPhone with no headphone jack.
I’ve mentioned a few times in the recent past my newfound appreciation for brand loyalty. I had the first iPhone and I’d be happy to have iPhones as long as they make them and I need them. It’s an easy choice to just get the newest version every now and then. But without a headphone jack? I’m not even sure how I’d use my phone.
I use my headphone jack all the time. Bluetooth is not reliable. And while I can choose not to get the new iPhone, there will come a day very soon when I try to make a phone call or conference call and I will have to wait while the person on the other side figures out why their headphones won’t pair. As if video conferencing needs another variable to complicate it.
But say I do get an iPhone 7 with no headphone jack and a dongle and wired headphones with the new lightning connector. I don’t have to go wireless.
Sure, but, like, I’m the most cautious, well-planned, hyper-prepared person you’ll meet. I won’t lose the dongle. I will always have the right kind of headphone connector. But even I don’t trust that I won’t find myself in a situation needing to use headphones and the only ones around have a standard plug. That I can’t plug in. And I will be angry. It will happen.
So I guess when my iPhone 6 is outdated I’ll switch to an Android? I don’t know. But it led me to a bigger thought about more than just a headphone jack.
Bite me, Apple
I’m pretty sure I was suffering from some sort of Stockholm Syndrome. And this week they pushed me too far and now I’ve finally snapped and realized I’ve been held captive. Why do I follow or care what Apple does? Why on earth do I read macrumors.com regularly? Why do I buy their new products right away when I don’t need them? What an insane thing to do.
I don’t want to do what you say anymore. I wanna do things the way I wanna do them.
I don’t want this iPhone or this Apple Watch or even this iMac. You did great things for me but you abused your power and now I don’t want to live with you anymore.
This morning I went to put on my Apple Watch but it was like looking your wife in the eye after she beat you with a table leg. Instead, I strapped on my Skagen watch that I haven’t worn in a year. The battery was dead in the Skagen but my Apple Watch had a full charge. How’s that for irony.
And though I said there was a ‘snap’ this week, the de-appleflication of life is somewhat of a trend, now that I think about it.
I loved iTunes but then it got terrible and Spotify was better. No more iTunes.
I loved the wired Apple Mouse and Keyboard of the early 2000s but the bluetooth ones? Nooope. I switched to a Razer mouse and an old wired keyboard from eBay.
Those white cables were so nice at first but they get so gross and dirty and they break at the seams. I’ve started buying nicer cables like those from Anker.
The new iPhone docks look ridiculous. Much nicer ones can be had from Moxiware, a company here in Quebec.
The Photos app, though I still use it, is a problem. You can’t even drag a photo from Photos into a file picker. Like when I add a photo to this blog for example. It’s such an Apple thing to be able to drag a photo from one app into another and you can’t do it anymore! You have to export the photo first. I backed Monument on Kickstarter.
The idea of an Android that just gives me image files that I can feed into another device seems like a breath of fresh air.
And then there’s the money thing
My iPhone 6 was $949 after tax. So much! And sure, the Jet Black iPhone 7 looks shiny and pretty and sexy but the cheapest one is $1138! That’s giant-spider level of nope for me.
From an alien-looking-down perspective, there’s no easily explainable reason to spend twice as much for an iPhone vs something like a OnePlus which’ll let you live exactly the same life. And you can pick an Android with the holes that fit your lifestyle.
Of course, there’s a lot of things you couldn’t explain to an alien very easily but I assume their vastly superior wireless technology to ours would have them asking, “That’s how you do wireless? Really? You should use wires until you get more advanced.”
Yes, bluetooth works 95% of the time. Yes, your wifi only goes down on a occasional rainy Sunday when all of your neighbours are home watching Netflix at once. But is that how you want to live? Waiting for the next eventual frustrating moment? That’s not good enough for me when there’s a more consistent, stable alternative.
I mean, it’s nice that you can drop your iPhone 7 into your wireless toilet and you can just wash the excrement off of it and move on with your day. But I’m going to remain a champion for wires.
Wires are the new Mac. They just work.