How Can Communication Be So Difficult?

My very full Computer Desk
My very full Computer Desk

We have a multitude of ways to communicate with each other.   Yet so many people just cannot communicate effectively. Communicating starts with listening and trying to understand the other person’s perspective.  Few people make the effort.

Unfortunately so many people jump quickly to conclusions.  If you want a lesson in how harsh the Internet can be, just write an article suggesting that Apple is less than perfect.  I’ve been involved with several articles about Apple in the last couple of weeks.  The most recent one at readwrite suggested that Tim Cook and Apple could do better.

My perspective comes from being a former employee of nearly twenty years and a current Macintosh user.  A very few of the people commenting cannot get beyond the point that I was asked to leave Apple in 2004 after a very successful career.  By only being able to see that event as it would effect them they cannot understand what I write.  Because they themselves would be bitter and unforgiving, they expect that is the only way that I could possibly see Apple and they are absolutely positive that everything that I say about Apple is colored with that.  Even the article on Business Insider where I credit Tim Cook as being one of the three people who saved Apple makes no difference.

While it is only a few people, as a writer trying to communicate some information, it is troubling even when a couple of people just don’t get it.

Trying to understand my writing through their preconceived bias is impossible.  They cannot conceive that I would write about Apple for any other reason than I am a “bitter” ex-employee.   It is actually a little pathetic on their part since I have managed to have a very good life since leaving Apple.  Apple is still important to me but not in the way they might think.

I actually smile each time I hear from an Apple employee who is envious of what I am doing. I live in an absolutely fabulous place where I have a boat on a lift behind our home.  In ten minutes I can be in the Intracoastal Waterway. Another ten minutes puts me in Bogue Inlet by the Atlantic Ocean.  I can slide my kayak into the water from my backyard.

It is not that unusual for me to catch our lunch within sight of our home.  Most mornings I spent forty-minutes walking and taking pictures. I often get a chance to go for a beach hike which sometimes stretches to five miles.  A year ago this spring, I walked over one hundred miles on Emerald Isle’s beaches.  The first year we were here I kept track of the hours the temperature got below freezing.  It was only nineteen hours.  I usually get my first homegrown ripe tomato of the year on June 1, and it was only a week ago that I pulled up the plants.  Our life since Apple has been a very good one.  There are some very important things that money just cannot buy.

Not surprisingly I write mostly about North Carolina’s Crystal Coast which is where we live. My first book published this summer was a travel guide for Emerald Isle.   If you measure what has occupied my time over the last eight years by what I have written about in my blogs, Apple loses big time.   I would guess that I have close to seven or eight non-Apple posts for each Apple post and that doesn’t even include Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you measure Apple by the number of websites dealing with non-Apple things, the gap is even greater.   I have eight different blogs on Typepad and only one, Applepeels, is about Apple.  View from the Mountain, which is my main Typepad blog has close to four times the posts as Applepeels.  None of the rest of my blogs deal with Apple. I have one on Squarespace and this one on WordPress.  Then I have my own WordPress site plus my site and two sites on blogger, CrystalCoastLife and Ocracokewaves.  There are three other sites that I maintain including . On that site alone there are more posts than I have ever done on Apple.  On top of that I have thousands of photos on Picasa and Flickr sites.  Then of course there are the hundreds of posts that I did on ActiveRain and the over 700 posts that I did on City-Data Forum before I retired from there.

I did just write a book, The Pomme Company, about my career at Apple. It is one book.  I don’t have any more Apple books in me, but I still care about Apple and will continue writing about the company and its technology.

Apple technology has been an important part of my life since 1982 when I first used an Apple II+ to write a newsletter for the Maritime Angus Association.  By the time I left Apple in 2004, I was very dependent on Apple technology.  One of the first things I did upon leaving was to buy a Aluminum G4 Powerbook.  Four months later, I bought a dual G5 tower and an Epson 4000 printer that only worked with software that I had on my Mac tower.  At the same time I purchased Photoshop and Dreamweaver.

Fortunately I also decided to dip my toes in the world of Windows and Linux at the same time.

Still I came to depend on Macs except when I had no choice but to use Windows.  Being a real estate agent for four years made me a Windows expert.  I came to be the Windows support person for several people in our office.  For the first couple of years, I brought two laptops to the office when I was on duty.  One was my MacBook that I bought in 2006, and the other was my HP Vista laptop.  Eventually Windows 7 let me leave my MacBook at home.

I still do my web work with RapidWeaver and Coda.  Most of my graphics are handled by Pixelmator.  I prefer to write with Nisus Writer Express.  I even bought a new I5 iMac in October of 2010 for a project that required Microspot’s MacDraft PE.  This summer I spent hours working with Quicktime and other Mac-based software to get some video on-line for our church.

Anything which I do on the web beyond interfaces I can access with a browser is done with a Mac.  That said it should be clear that with my extensive web presence,  the Mac and the software I use on it are very important to me.

So here is my great frustration with the Mac and of course with Apple. It is as much with the technology as it is with the company.

Last summer I tried to hang onto an older version of iPhoto because the new versions were so slow.  I wrote about my experiences with Picasa and iPhoto.  I tried the latest operating system and iPhoto on my MacBook.  It was a disaster as far as my workflow was concerned.

I kept Snow Leopard and an older version of iPhoto on my iMac.  This spring my MacBook hard drive started making noises.  It had previously been replaced with a larger one so I just ordered another new one.  Unfortunately there seemed to be something more wrong with the MacBook.  The new drive transplant didn’t really work, and I soon had video problems so bad that I had to retire the MacBook.  At the same time I had some challenges with slow Snow Leopard and the disappearance of Mobile Me which forced me to migrate to Lion.  I detailed those issues in this post on Applepeels.

Then this fall the internal hard drive on my iMac started to get flaky which gets me to my current status.  I am running my iMac from an external hard drive with Mountain Lion.  It has not been a positive experience.

So here I am over twenty-eight years after starting to use a Mac, and I feel like my Macs are letting me down.  I am not sure where I could put blame but Apple.  A less than two year old iMac should not have this many problems.  It is a lemon.  I saw several Apple lemons in my career at Apple.  Mostly I was able to get them replaced through Apple’s executive relations.  Somehow I doubt if that is an option for me.

It has been eight years since I purchased a Mac that was trouble-free.  Even my beloved MacBook had to go back to the factory for overheating.  Hanging with a vendor for eight years in spite of negative experience is a stretch, but I have done it.  I once wrote that when choosing between a Mac and a Windows machine, you had to factor in 45 minutes a week in system maintenance for the Vista box. I am spending far more time keeping my iMac going than that.

Most of my digital life has been created or enhanced by Macs.   Macs are expensive especially if they die in less than two years so I am less than enthusiastic about buying another expensive product that might not last.

The situation really puts me in a tough spot and has more to do with my recent comments on Apple than an event over eight years ago that is done and can never be changed.

At one time prosumers like me were the most valued of Apple’s customers.  Perhaps I am grieving that the company that I trusted so long with my digital assets doesn’t seem to care.  They blew up .Mac and Mobile Me with little consideration of my digital life that I had entrusted to them.

Now as I am re-install iPhoto for the third time on this iMac, I cringe every time it tells me that it has to rebuild one of my libraries.

So if I come across as grouchy when I talk about Apple’s failings, realize that I counted on Apple to give me long lasting tools, hardware and software to take care of my digital assets.  Right now I feel like Apple and Tim Cook have let me down.

Author: ocracokewaves

An escapee from the world of selling technology, now living on North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks where life revolves around sun, sand, and water. I work at WideOpen Networks helping communities get fiber to their homes. In my spare time I am a photographer, writer, boater, fisherman, kayaker, swimmer, and walker of the beaches.

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