When making decisions that might affect my working environment for the long term, I like to think carefully. I’d hate to rush into something, only to end up changing my mind after a few months and having to undergo the hassle of switching from one system to another, importing data from one format to another, or having to re-install data and apps from backups.
(Although ask my friends about my habit of changing weblog CMS every six months or so, then show them the paragraph above, and they will laugh out loud.)
It was lack of trust that stopped me buying an iMac G5 the other week. In terms of specification and price, the iMac was exactly the right computer for me to buy, fitting my needs perfectly.
But I couldn’t help Googling around and finding a lot of complaints. At MacInTouch, there are dozens of reports, over many long pages, of iMac G5 machines overheating, crashing, and simply ceasing to work. Lots of people describe the midplane (essentially the motherboard) of the computer starting to show signs of getting too hot. Specific parts are described as “leaking” or “blistering” shortly before the machines die. Similar reports have popped up on many other web sites, causing some to suggest a recall of the whole product line.
I doubt Apple will do that, but it would be nice if the company could reassure customers, given the large number of problem reports. Was there a problem? Has it been fixed in recent production models? We trust Apple with our money, Apple should trust us with straightforward answers.
It’s also lack of trust that has stopped me dealing with my vacation photos. Let me explain why.
About three weeks ago, just before I went on vacation, I bought a new Mac mini. This was the machine I decided I could trust (and so far, that trust has been very well placed).
One of its main roles was to handle all my digital photography from now on. For some years I’d used Graphic Converter on my iBook G3, but with the new G4 machine I was prepared to consider switching to different software.
“Great,” I thought. “With the G4 power I’ll finally be able to put iPhoto to use. Now that it has some editing oomph too, it’ll be just the thing I need. Editing and management in one app. Perfect.”
But once again, I Googled around, and found disquiet in many places.
Among the comments I found (lightly edited for profanity and clarity) were:
- “iPhoto continually crashes, even on a dual G5.”
- “I’ve got about 20,000 photos and I can’t get iPhoto to work any more.”
- “I’m not looking forward to recovering all my images from iPhoto’s demented file structure.”
- “I’m tempted to bury the Mac mini in the garden and reach for my old Dell.”
- “Arrrrgh! iPhoto is driving me nuts!”
I’m drawn to iPhoto because it’s so easy to use, because it combines editing and managing in the same app and interface, and because there’s a host of clever and useful plugins for it. But I find the numerous reports of trouble too numerous to ignore; they’ve undermined my trust in the application, and left me unwilling to commit myself to using it.
I spent several hours trying alternatives. I looked at Photoshop Elements, and Shoebox, and fired up iView Media Pro, which I’ve used in the past and know to be incredibly fast; but in the end, I came back to my old system of organizing in the Finder and editing in Graphic Converter. The act of using GC on a faster machine made me see it in a new light (and I discovered a hugely useful, time-saving tip as well), and I smiled. “This works,” I said to myself. I can trust it.
How does software earn your trust?