apps

SORDID CONFESSIONS

HOTMAIL SUCKS SO I HAD TO CHANGE TO GMAIL, WHICH ALSO SUCKS

A few years ago, I wrote a piece for CRANK entitled EMAIL IS JUST EMAIL OK. I explained why I still had a Hotmail email address, against all the advice of my hipster friends, administration gurus, and IT professionals. It wasn’t so much that I vehemently argued for how great Hotmail was (let’s be frank, it really isn’t), but that I just couldn’t be arsed getting a Gmail account and I didn’t want to have Google RUN MY LIFE.

Last week, however, it was time to make a change.

It had been nine days since Hotmail’s POP3 servers had forwarded a single email to my iPhone. NINE. DAYS. A quick google (LOL) of the problem came up trumps, in part because Hotmail had just redesigned its Outlook platform and everything was different. I mean, why would you bother redesigning your whole platform WHEN YOU HAVE ABOUT 100 USERS LEFT IN THE WORLD? (Other than spammers). In fact it occurred to me that perhaps Hotmail did it intentionally to try and increase their advertising revenue. Because now, instead of being able to read your emails through Mac mail, you have to download their crappy app or, worse still, log on through your browser and then deal with headlines on msn.com such as 'Kaley Cuoco reveals her new look' and 'Is this the end of the McNugget?'

I can tell you now, ladies and gentlemen, it is NOT the end of the McNugget, but it is the end of Hotmail for me. What a stupid, glitchy, inoperable piece of s--t, and yes, I know I’m years behind the eight ball, but at least I saw the light eventually.

The fact I have now defected to Gmail, however, does not mean I think Gmail is great. Do you know how much tax Google paid in Australia in 2013? Less than $500,000. Let’s just let that figure sink in. And the fact that I had to google Google to get those tax stats just shows how terrible this situation really is.

Then, when I had to create a Gmail address, I laboured over what my email name should be (not least because most varieties of my very unusual name were already taken, oh the regret!). It was also because I was thinking: wait, this is the email address that will be tied to my entire Google profile, my youtube account, blog... will this be my 'forever' email name? Will I change my home address ten times, but never change email addresses again? Will I be trapped in the world of Google until I DIE? I nearly chose “f--kyougoogle@gmail.com” as my new email address. Fortunately I didn’t, because after I decided on my address I realised that you can NEVER CHANGE IT. [1]

As my techie friend told me, 'welcome to the dark side…'

CHANLET B, MELBOURNE

  1. This is, however, a great thing for feminism. No taking of the husband’s surname in Gmail land!
The dark side. Our digital future, in which we bind ourselves to Mammon (aka Google), as it sucks the lifeblood from the world. For ever. [ An angel leading a soul into hell . Oil painting by a follower of Hieronymus Bosch, c 1540. Wellcome Images L0030887]

The dark side. Our digital future, in which we bind ourselves to Mammon (aka Google), as it sucks the lifeblood from the world. For ever. [An angel leading a soul into hell. Oil painting by a follower of Hieronymus Bosch, c 1540. Wellcome Images L0030887]

WHINGE

THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE BUGS

The “don’t you worry about that” philosophy of a former Queensland pollie seems to be the mantra of some software companies. Would it hurt them to show a little message saying the latest (inevitably bloated) version of their operating system is being downloaded automatically? The mouse and keyboard suddenly working spasmodically is a bit of a too-little-too-late giveaway that something is happening.

A long time ago, we decided that our ISP’s plan with 8 GB of downloads per month would be sufficient. And so it was, with no problems until an iPhone entered the house. We immediately came perilously close to being shaped as all the apps we had somehow managed to survive perfectly well without made their merry way onto the phone. [1] Fortunately, for exactly the same cost, our ISP had a “medium” plan that allowed us 20 GB of downloads plus uploads. Calm was restored and there were only occasional warnings about impending shaping, usually after the arrival of a new iDevice or iApp. 

Every now and again, the data usage had an unexpected blip. A blimp would be a better word, actually, as a tenth of our monthly allowance could be devoured in a single day! It finally dawned that upgrades were the cause, with the blame shared between Apple, Microsoft and others, probably in that order.

This month saw a particularly large number of “blimps”: we faced the (unbearable) prospect of three days of shaped internet usage. We bought the 10 GB top-up rather than the probably-not-quite-enough 2 GB option, rationalising that we could use some of the excess to install iOS8 earlier than planned. A foolish strategy really: “update in haste, repent at leisure” as the proverb goes.

A little Google research suggested that moving to iOS8 wirelessly was not without its traumas and that the via-iTunes-on-a-computer approach was prudent. The iPhone was plugged in and the grand updating began. While we did wonder what was going in, we knew there was no need for us to worry about it. And sure enough, after an hour or so, it was the iPad’s turn to be connected. During which time iOS 8.01 was released and probably recalled, but not before it had been downloaded to but not installed on the iPad. 

8 GB of data trundled into our house that night! 8 GB—God only knows what it was! Mind you, He probably chuckled 'well, I did warn them about apples' before becoming more reflective and thinking that the parable of the wise and foolish virgins might have been better expressed in terms of the five late and the five early updaters.

As many of you will have noted, the release of iOS 8 was not without a certain amount of drama. The hoped-for emergency replacement iOS 8.02 was released before our remaining 2.5 GB allowance expired. Both the minor updates were touted as being 70 MB, which made the 8 GB even more puzzling. Taking Euripides advice from 428 BC, "try first thyself, and after call in God”, a hypothesis was developed: if an OS update is installed wirelessly, the system is patched, but if the update is installed via iTunes, the whole bleeping lot (2 GB in this case) is downloaded. And, based on a statistically valid sample size of 1, this was confirmed. 

The iPhone was updated wirelessly and quickly. The iPad was nagging “install me!” But iOS 8.01 couldn’t be installed because it couldn’t be verified because it was a disowned OS. And there was no obvious way to remove it so the iPad would find the newer update. We didn’t worry about that—we had Plan B. The iPad was plugged into the computer; iTunes found iOS 8.02, and an hour or so later the download finished. Oh yes, and gobbled up the remaining 2GB plus of data allowance. The timing was almost perfect: we were shaped a quarter of an hour before the witching hour when the slate is wiped clean, a mere 25 MB over our 50%-greater-than-normal limit. 

As one of the songs from Cabaret says, every story should have a moral: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. A fool rushes in to update where angels fear to tread. Let the early birds find the bugs; there’ll still be worms enough for you.

SERENDIPITY, WARRNAMBOOL

  1. Shaped: a less ominous threat than the “throttled” used by some ISPs to describe a considerable reduction in internet speed.
Early operating system upgrades required much longer and more disgusting download times than those described by the author. [An extremely long parasitical worm being extracted from an emaciated linen draper. The man's doctor can be seen on the right measuring the worm and resting it into a jar marked 'Esprit vin'. Plate to:  Album comique de pathologie pittoresque , Paris: Ambroise Tardieu, 1823. Wellcome Library no. 16254i]

Early operating system upgrades required much longer and more disgusting download times than those described by the author. [An extremely long parasitical worm being extracted from an emaciated linen draper. The man's doctor can be seen on the right measuring the worm and resting it into a jar marked 'Esprit vin'. Plate to: Album comique de pathologie pittoresque, Paris: Ambroise Tardieu, 1823. Wellcome Library no. 16254i]

REPROACH

THE NIGHTMARES BEFORE CHRISTMAS: A COMPLAINT IN THREE PARTS

As you read this, the festive season will be but a distant bad memory of ill-judged gifts, family fisticuffs, and drunken embarrassments; but since the deadline of this esteemed publication is the day before Christmas, I am, at the time of writing, mired in preparations for the end of year, including downloading seasonal editions of my phone apps, taking advantage of the public library fees amnesty, and braving shopping centres. While doing each of these activities, I have been irritated and outraged by one thing or another and would like to share them in order to raise awareness, so we can all improve ourselves and make a better day, just you and me-e-e.

White Noise

Ever since the release of iOS7, it seems like every day I have at least eight apps to update. I dutifully undertake this chore—for it has become one—and open each app afterwards to inspect the latest iteration of the flat aesthetic, which to give Apple credit is a whole lot better than all that digital wood veneer of yore. Anyway, some of the more recent updates I’ve downloaded have seen the apps reappear encrusted in ice, dripping with icicles, and dribbling with faux snow. As a Crank reader, no doubt you reside, like myself, in the southern hemisphere, so will agree that the presence of all these motifs of a northern hemisphere winter are disconcerting, to say the least. To say the most, it is seasonally inappropriate, makes everything seem even hotter and more humid than a summer in the sub-tropics is already, and I shake my fist at the tyranny of the global north.

Bile Beans

I’m anticipating that you’re reading this some time after your Christmas day dinner, so I ask you to cast your mind back to the fare you enjoyed. I’ll probably have had some chicken and ham, a variety of salads, and generally eaten enough sweet things to go through the motions of making a New Year’s resolution to eat fewer sweet things. At around this time of eater’s remorse too, I’ll probably reach into my cupboard and bring out the tins of baked beans to serve to my over-indulged self and lecture myself on the merits of frugality. Of course, if I have any baked beans in my cupboard will likely depend on whether I donated my year-old cans to the public library’s annual food-bank drive in lieu of paying any fees I accumulated over the year. Because, as I noticed when I was checking out a DVD just last week, baked beans seemed to be the main canned goods beneath the library’s Christmas tree, with the local supermarket’s recent $1 special on corn and chickpeas making up the bulk of the remainder. Who gives baked beans to a Christmas food appeal? The library is being generous waiving your fees; what’s wrong with you that you can’t extend your canned goods purchasing to food for a Christmas time meal?

Shut Up and Shop

Calm down, hippies! I’m not advocating mindless consumerism here. Whatever your budgets, I just want you to consider the merits of doing your shopping without complaining about the presence of other shoppers.  I mean, seriously, when did you become Moses and expect Jesus to part the waters for you? Yes, Christmas shopping can be stressful: there are many more people at the shops than usual and getting from one end of the mall or department store can be an obstacle course in negotiating, ugh, PEOPLE. But that’s the good thing about shopping in a first world country: there’s always a pit stop in the form of a coffee shop or similar nearby, where you can sit down, breathe deeply, and replenish your energy and mood with a drink or a bite to eat, before heading off into the crowd again, to rub shoulders with your fellow, gift-giving human beings.

Belated Seasons Greetings.

KIRSTY L, BRISBANE

The Middlesex Hospital: a party in a ward, with a Christmas tree and other decorations. Note absence of baked beans and the inversely proportional degree of good cheer. Except for the man with the gammy leg. Wood engraving, 1874. V0013608 Credit: Wellcome Library, London, ICV No 13895.

The Middlesex Hospital: a party in a ward, with a Christmas tree and other decorations. Note absence of baked beans and the inversely proportional degree of good cheer. Except for the man with the gammy leg. Wood engraving, 1874. V0013608 Credit: Wellcome Library, London, ICV No 13895.