Off topic: a creative frame of mind

IMG_8789b
Not conducive.

This post will not make any sense at first, and certainly not the title image – but I’ll get there. As a photographer – and a person trying to find something different and visually/aesthetically pleasing under sometimes challenging situations, it’s important to be aware of things that can limit or aid us. From a general life standpoint, the things that inspire us also tend to be the ones that put us in a good mood – and in what way is that bad? Having spent time in a wide range of places which cover all portions of the inspiration scale, there are definitely places that stand out as being better than others – but often for reasons that aren’t immediately obvious. But you do notice it in the way the locals smile, have a spring in their step, tend to be encouraged and happy to run their own small businesses, and generally seem happy. In contrast, places that stifle or are not conducive to creativity tend to be missing that ‘zing’: everything is transactional ends at the next buck.

I got that screen on my new – well, two month old – 13″ Macbook Pro Retina a couple of days ago. Not only did it come at a bad time in the middle of various travel, but it was also the culmination of about a month of bad luck and entropy. Firstly, the machine started to have odd UI lag issues. Then wifi started to drop and be impossible to restore. And then when I put it to sleep by shutting the lid, it would intermittently turn itself into a space heater: after a few hours of sleep, the computer would be so hot you’d need a towel to pick it up, it wouldn’t boot because it was in thermal shutdown and of course the battery would be completely dead. Since the screen wasn’t on, it was basically converting all 6500mAH or however much juice was in there into heat. Aside from being a fire hazard, it completely destroyed my confidence in that machine – and left a very bad taste in the mouth given the cost of the thing. Apple support suggested I take it in, which I did – only for the local service centre (we have no Apple Stores here) to find nothing wrong with it. After wasting four hours on the phone trying to convince them something was very wrong and I didn’t want to be a news item – ‘photographer found dead in house fire started by laptop’ – I went home with no solution.

They offered to keep the machine until the problem recurred – which it almost certainly wasn’t going to do without somebody using it in a similar pattern to me. And there would be a 3-4 week wait until they could even do the diagnostic. Needless to say, I was not happy. In any other country which actually has consumer protection laws, I’d be able to get a replacement under goods unfit for purpose or frankly, hazardous to health and safety. After another thermal shutdown in sleep that afternoon on the way home, it finally gave up. Firstly, it couldn’t find the OS – and then it wouldn’t go into internet recovery via wifi or ethernet cable, citing the error you see above.

Computers are highly complex machines and a necessary evil of modern life: there’s no way to avoid them, unfortunately. And it’s understandable with the nearly infinite combinations of hardware and software and network configurations that at some point, something is going to break. But when it does, it’s the frustration of having to deal with really poor customer service that kills the experience – and puts you in a bad mood. Though admittedly not as bad as having to buy another computer because a) your nearly-new one is a fire hazard and now a brick, and b) there’s no solution for a month and c) you have to travel. So I handed over more money for a temporary solution to something that should have worked properly out of the box to begin with. That is not the kind of experience that puts one in a good mood, or does it endear you to the company.

A sensible person would have bought something else. I consider myself sensible but landed up with a 12″ Macbook of all things – yes, the one with one port. The one I have to get another adaptor for just so I can use my Wacom whilst plugged into the wall. Because it was the only machine they had in stock that a) was a Mac*, b) had 8GB of ram, c) wasn’t the same model as the one I just sent in and thus not at risk of overheating, d) wouldn’t require me to buy new bags to carry it, too. Whilst I admire Apple for pushing innovation, and creating objects that really push the sense of want more than anything, I don’t admire them for their extremely poor customer service and monopoly pricing. To make things worse, their service agents in Malaysia (Machines) are completely incompetent: not only did they have the cheek to ask for money to fix something that should have been repaired under warranty, what they were fixing wasn’t the problem!

*Some of the mission critical tools and software I use are Mac-only. Or I’d have bought a PC this time. As it is, I’m pretty sure this will be my last Apple computer, and I definitely won’t be buying one from this reseller. 

Judging from the line at the service centre, there were a lot of people having issues with their hardware. And many of them were clutching second Apple devices for use while the broken ones went in for service. I can only wonder how many of those were repeat visits – judging from the faces, more than one. That got me thinking: what differentiates a company that makes an undesirable product from on that does – aside from the hardware itself? I’ve never heard of anybody lusting after a Toshiba, for instance. Or a Gateway. Why does more definitive and recognisable innovation come out of say California than Malaysia? It isn’t a labor cost issue. Given there are a huge number of Malaysians educated overseas at top institutions too, I don’t think it’s an education issue. It isn’t a capital issue, given how much black money there is floating around in the country looking for a home (and presumably more friends). Why do ‘creative parks’ fail?

There’s the mistaken impression in a lot of places in Asia that a ‘business park’ or a ‘tech park’ or a ‘creative incubator’ is a series of empty buildings, a sign or two and perhaps some tax incentives: it doesn’t work that way. The politicians who put those incentives in place then come to the conclusion intellectual capital industries don’t work, and start to offer subsidies for raising cattle instead**. The net upshot is both the public perception that there’s no money in it, which means nobody wants to invest or spend on procuring those services, and talent that might have been anchors instead land up in say, insurance. Or worse still, politics – much to the great loss of everybody.

**True story, at least in Malaysia.

I actually think what makes for a creative society isn’t incentives, or business parks, or tax breaks, or universities. It’s tolerance of failure. The rest can come later – if people are afraid of the societal consequences and negative judgement following a failure, then they’re never going to try simply because the penalties are too great. I’ve been told by several Silicon Valley funders that they’re nervous of anybody who hasn’t failed or filed bankruptcy at least once; in Malaysia, if you file bankruptcy as a company director, you’re not just barred from having any similar positions in future, but you’re also not even allowed to have personal debt like credit cards and mortgages. Employers ask whether you’ve been declared bankrupt in their interviews and questionnaires – and you can be sure you won’t be able to get a job, either. All because your burger truck didn’t make it. A lack of tolerance of failure leads to a systemic fear of it, which in turn leads to extreme aversion to risk. A fear of change means an inability to adapt, and being left behind because free markets tend to select the best (or at least the most readily marketed) solution.

If you think about it, the rest of the ecosystem follows from here. If the idea of a gallery was met solely with disdain and lack of commercial success and society then punished the founders in other ways, there would be no galleries. On the other hand, if there were a few people willing to support the idea – then at least somebody else might try it. And before you know it, there’s an ecosystem which in turn encourages more experimentation and growth – it then becomes normal to try tangential ideas; society is at least receptive.

Unfortunately, a lot of the developing world tends to value success – or at least the illusion of it – over everything else. Failure is met with shame. And that is what will prevent developing countries from being developed – how many people would be a) confident enough of success to try, and b) willing to live with the fallout? Even changing careers from something corporate to photography is viewed here as being a massive risk. It’s not as though I’m trying to sell sand in the Sahara, either. It is no wonder then that the gallery scene is undeveloped; creative work like design, photography, copywriting etc. is viewed solely as a commodity. You can’t sell the products you can’t create – or something like that.

We end where we started: I suspect the reason Apple does so well, even with products that are never quite fully sorted – let alone perfect – is because the ecosystem exists to support and encourage them; enough users (i.e. idiots like myself) are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt – which in turn leaves enough economic encouragement to do it again. Do it enough times and something is bound to stick. I suppose there’s a lesson for all of us in that somewhere. MT

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Comments

  1. Hi Ming, read your Macbook 13″ “space heater” travails with interest. I had a 2008 Macbook 15″ which did exactly the same on a fair number of occasions… What I discovered (assumed), after much angst, was that it occurred when I put the macbook in my shoulder bag together with the Magic Mouse … the mouse was switched on. My bag was being lugged around and the mouse would be inadvertently”pressed/activated” which in turn would “trigger” the Macbook. I took to turning the mouse off when carrying the two together and the problem abated… not conclusive, but maybe a reason that Apple cannot find anything wrong, (if this is indeed the underlying cause), as they will be in a static environment. My 15″ Macbook never became a “space heater” when desk-bound. (BTW the 2008 Macbook 15″ is still going strong with my niece being the “hand-me-down” recipient and she is merrily editing photo’s and creating videos etc on it).

    • Thanks for the suggestion, but the computer always had BT off and was never used with any mice or trackpads, so that can’t have been it.

    • I also have a similar issue that occurs once a while with my work-issue MBP 13′ 2011.

      Instead of going to sleep when you close the lid, it still runs and get extremely hot in the protective/cushion bag. When you pull it out, it’s very hot (since there is no air circulation) and the screen will remain off even though the light is on. The only way is to force shutdown and restart. Thankfully so far there is no problem with the software.

      I did some googling, and what I found is that you before closing the lid on the laptop, disconnect all cables (even the charger/adaptor). Any cable can potentially prevent it from going to sleep mode properly. So pull everything out (including a wireless mouse usb key if you have one), and the final step is to close the lid.

      And shoutout to Malaysia – alas, so much wasted potential there. And finally, if this MBP was not work-issued, I would never jump into getting one. Even right now on my MBP, I prefer to use non-Apple and other cross-platform software so I don’t get locked into the ecosystem.

      • I did try that, but mine still displayed the same behaviour unpredictably. They landed up refunding me after nearly two months of fighting various levels of ‘customer service’. In the end I had to buy another computer – but there’s no way I was buying another 13 retina.

  2. Samuel Jessop says:

    Have you had any news about the failed RMBP?

    I am also curious as to how you are getting on with the keyboard on the 12″ MacBook. I presume you’re using it quite a bit for writing while travelling.

    • It’s been four weeks, and they still can’t find a problem. They have offered me a refund, which takes…four months. 😦

      No choice but to use the 12″; I’m not buying another 13″ (or probably another apple product). It’s good enough, you’ll eventually get used to the keyboard, but it isn’t as nice to type on as their bluetooth desktop keyboard, for instance. Oddly battery life in the field is much better on the 12″ than my 13″, and there are fewer UI lags.

  3. Peter Bowyer says:

    A very interesting post Ming. What you wrote here is a gem:

    > “Having spent time in a wide range of places which cover all portions of the inspiration scale, there are definitely places that stand out as being better than others – but often for reasons that aren’t immediately obvious. But you do notice it in the way the locals smile, have a spring in their step, tend to be encouraged and happy to run their own small businesses, and generally seem happy. In contrast, places that stifle or are not conducive to creativity tend to be missing that ‘zing’: everything is transactional ends at the next buck.”

    I have noticed that, but never identified the reasons or if there’s a pattern. Have you thoughts about what the reasons are?

    > “Unfortunately, a lot of the developing world tends to value success – or at least the illusion of it – over everything else.”

    I think it’s much, much wider than the developing world. I don’t know how familiar with Europe you are, but it’s definitely present here. There’s a real stigma attached to failing with a business in the UK, and (having been burned by an American ‘client’ folding their business) I quite like it that way. Being in a culture which says it’s OK to burn money and then let people down and think only of yourself, and move on and start another business — that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Does the stigma mean I have taken less risks, grown less, and made less money than I could (or should) have done? Assuredly so. One of my goals is to be able to fail and get up and carry on again; it would be a good life lesson.

  4. Interesting. While you obviously have every reason to complain, I believe that you are overblowing the issue. Just my opinion, of course. This is entirely a customer service issue (still Apple’s to fix) and I don’t see how it necessarily reflects on Apple’s products as a whole.
    Apple really hasn’t changed at all. It has always had this same way of pushing things forward and I definitely disagree with its products being more affordable in the early 2000s. In reality, today they are only slightly more expensive than the competition (with very few exceptions) when all features are considered and a proper comparison is made (which nobody ever does). I’ve had my share of experiences with Apple and tried on many occasions to switch to PCs, but Apple’s issues paled in comparison to what I’ve seen on the other side. In any case, I really hope the switch goes well for you, but given your high expectations I seriously doubt it.

  5. Kristian Wannebo says:

    ( A bit late, I’ve been off the ‘net a while.. )

    “I actually think what makes for a creative society isn’t … It’s tolerance of failure.”

    I believe that is *very* true!

    An example to illustrate :
    The education of pilots in the Swedish airforce has long been known for it’s quality.
    How? The main reason is tolerance of failure.
    Everybody has, since long, been encouraged to report his mistakes, no matter if big or small, so that all could learn from them.
    I’ve heard of foreign airforce military visiting to learn.
    There are rumors that some civilian airlines try to implement this system.
    There are attempts to make Swedish healthcare develop in that direction. (Instead of having each doctor personally reponsible, the hospital would take on the responsibility.)

    • Actually, I’d imagine healthcare and aviation are two places where you really don’t get second chances at all by the nature of the work?

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        True,
        but nevertheless such tolerance of failure decreases the risk of making fatal mistakes
        as it makes everybody more aware of what to be observant about.

        • True. And that also translates into hierachy etc. for instance in airplane cockpits – supposedly the cause of that Asiana crash at San Francisco airport a couple of years back…

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            The good sea captain consults his mates (…also for their education.)
            There is, of course, less time in an airplane cockpit.
            But hierarchy without the possibility of braking it leads to disaster sooner or later,
            as I supose the crash you mention was an example of.
            Also in e.g. a hospital operating theatre, and traditonally hospitals have been very hierarchical.

  6. Unhappily I totally agree with you. Apple has lost it’s focus. I used to run a G4 with 10.4 Tiger server , it would run for years without rebooting. I would reboot just to have something to do. 10.5 and 10.6 were even better. Yosemite? Not so much. It’s tolerable. Barely. Their equipment and software have failed. They kept getting rid of things and not really replacing them.
    No innovation. Next laptop will be something completely different, like Lenovo or Dell. I bought a used Dell desktop, works flawlessly on Win 7, I’ll wait on Win 10, too many security holes and bugs yet. It seems in IT these days free means crap. Go to HK, they have real Apple stores.

    • Flying to another country to buy a computer isn’t really practical.

      • I’m sure you have friends, associates and busyness partners that would be glad to make purchases for you from any where in the world. A bit of shipping cost a a short delay – Poof!
        The same solution would have offered you more choices when your P0 blew up…
        I dumped Apple quite a few years ago and I have been nothing but happy, yes Apple’s have some intermittent advantages (Retna displays), but they often burn users, leading them into box canyons (ADB, SCSI, PowerPC Chips, devices with no ports, new plugs for old usages…) I just found the entire ecosystem obnoxious. I hung onto a MBP simply because I owned it, but the mother board died not long ago and now it is e-waste.
        Have I missed something or have you contradicted yourself? The reason Apple dominates in “the creative” sphere is that it has become part of the UNIFORM of the ‘creative professional’ – No one ever got criticized in a creative endevour for choosing Apple – No matter how often the machines lock up it would never reflect on the user or purchasing agent! All Apple users know these are “normal” occurrences when they use their computers, of course if you choose an alternative and it hiccuped, it would be on you.
        The ‘market pool’ of commercial creatives have spawned a product line that no longer needs to be “sorted out” as you so kindly put it, because even if the product is garbage or fits like a pair of hand cuffs there are so few in the creative “business” who are willing to take responsibility for having made a choice. Conforming is safer, regardless of the cost.
        I don’t like changing hardware all the time, and I dam sure don’t like to change my OS or “Mission Critical” software with out some COMPELLING reason. The Fruit market is one that has fetishized “freshness” and so people captured by that eco-system need to keep up with the fashion as much as the function (or lack of it in your case)…That in turn creates a lack of “sorting products out” and poor CS and a huge market cap for Apple. Apple turns around and says thank you with a capitol F…
        The market doesn’t work to help improve anything if the buyers are already sold on what ever Apple says, does or makes…They are simply followers with no real choice to make and Apple puts leg manacles on you guys anyway – So it is almost imposable to get away once your hooked, I guess you never noticed because you’ve been “all in” for years…It’s a closed eco system, a box canyon and who do you blame now – You gave them even more money? Again!
        I shake my head and chuckle. You exemplify “the problem” – They screw you over and you give them more money – You have to admit, that is pretty dam funny. I’ll bet you’re not even looking for ways to get your critical mission liberated either…
        Just waiting for the next Apple to fall?

  7. Samuel Jessop says:

    A worrying situation, and one that I hope finds you with a workable conclusion.

    I appreciate your insight on computers, as elsewhere the trend is towards benchmarks rather than workflow. I have been saving towards a new laptop and had narrowed the selection down to the 13″ MacBook Pro Retina or the Dell XPS 13. The Mac seems to have the best colour out of the box in tests and the student discount on Apple Care is good enough to be an essential purchase, but nevertheless the machine cooking itself is a major concern.

    I would be interested to read a review of the MacBook you have bought as a replacement if you ever have time, again the feedback from photographers is non existent.

    • I think the computer situation perfectly mirrors the camera one: more is better, but sometimes there’s a sweet spot that’s ‘good enough’. I think that is probably represented by the 11″ Air and the 2012 Mac Mini; I regret selling the former and no longer have a ‘good enough’ laptop solution for several reasons – reliability and weight on the 13″ Retina, which is now in for a service with indeterminate conclusions and no response from Apple, and the 12″ Macbook – which is mostly fast enough but is crippled by the single port.

      Aside from the single port, it’s actually a very good machine. It has none of the UI lag issues of the 13″; I run it in 1440×900 mode and have a good amount of real estate that actually feels quite similar to my previous 15″ Macbook Pro of the same resolution. The machine itself is surprisingly fast for most PS tasks because PS doesn’t really use multiple cores that well and this machine can turbo boost to 2.4GHz when required; add to that 8GB of ram and a very fast SSD and it seems to punch far above the spec sheet would suggest. However…the keyboard has almost no travel at all, and I remain somewhat on the fence about it. It seems that there are days when I can get on just fine with it and type at normal speeds or even slightly faster, and there are days when I seem to get every second word wrong and have to curl my fingers into fatigued claws to reply the shortest of emails. I put that one down to user physiology more than anything.

    • Not sure what you mean, SJ, when you say feedback from photogs is ‘non existent’; photographer posting here. I use a MacBook Air 13″ with the i7 chip, max. RAM, and an OWC after-market SSD for editing images on the road, and it works very well. As Ming said PS does not use multiple cores well, and the Airs (depending on the chip you select) have faster Turbo boost modes that are automatically self-selected when needed. Definitely fast enough for me. I use a 150GB external USB 3 SSD for the scratch disk, and this helps, too.

      And I use a three-year-old matte hi-rez screen 15″ MacBook Pro (quad core, optioned up, also with after-market OWC SSD) and it scores 11,500 on Geekbench—and I use that to edit multi-cam video streams on the road, using the same type of SSD scratch disk, and it never limits this activity, and I really appreciate the matte screen. Colours are excellent.

      Only at home do I use the third machine, the 5K Retina, which scores 18,000+ on Geekbench. The 13″ mid-2012 MacBook Air is overall the best computer I have ever owned, and it’s three years old. I would buy used from a reseller like OWC, so with warranty, and optioned to the max—and pay peanuts for it.

      • Samuel Jessop says:

        I had in mind reviews, but hadn’t made this clear. Sites like Anandtech are very useful for things like disk performance and colour performance compared to most, but for my useage normal reviews have very little value. Ming’s post “Apple PC hardware choices for the photographer” is from the objective of someone living and working with the machine and had confirmed my thinking that the Retina 13″ was the way to go.

        Your reply is also very useful and similarly speaks of relevant use. In terms of sufficiency and weight I am leaning towards a MacBook Air 13″ and making sure I get Apple Care. I have been really lucky with my current ThinkPad, but the X1 Carbon is even more expensive and I can’t try one out or take it back to a physical store if I have a problem with it. The support side of the customer experience is a big part of the appeal with buying the Air, and I think it could be the best choice for my uses.

        • I thought the 13 Retina was the way to go rationally – but it seems not to be the big boost expected. If you can live with one port, or find a suitable USB-C hub, the 12″ Macbook is actually not a bad choice. Now to find that ^&*!! hub…

  8. of course apple should support people with hardware problems all over the world, if the issue is not user generated.
    so, you cannot send it back, if the machine has such hardware issues? are you using the mbp under very hot weather conditions?
    in such case, any pc laptops would suffer from these weather conditions, too. i thought, if ordered at apple online store, you have the same rights everywhere, worldwide. i am buying apple products since 20 years, and of course some of them were shipped with defective hardware, so i called apple online store and sent it back. i guess thats kind of standard that hardware can be faulty.
    good luck!

    • It’s being used in a 23C air conditioned room. Weather isn’t the problem. You send it back…they say they will look at it, and that’s the end of it. I was promised an update today but still nothing.

  9. What you say about fostering creativity, innovation, and fear of failure got me thinking that you would probably enjoy Nassim Taleb’s book Antifragile a ton. It goes into the systemic issues and explains (among other things) very well why, as a whole, entrepreneurship and the subsequent necessary failures is the engine that spurs economic growth, better products and services, and overall better quality of life. It’s also one of those books that lends inspiration to a plethora of things, and in my opinion one of the most important philosophical works that has come out in decades.

    This is actually the area (designing innovative organisations) where I make my living these days, whereas I do photography purely for fun 😉

    //sami

  10. After 20+ years of working with and supporting Macs both personally and professionally, I’ve finally given up and am in the slow process of removing myself and my family from the Apple ecosphere. My perception is that Apple hit peak just before Jobs stepped down, and that everything that Apple offers to customers — innovation, hardware, software, services, and support — has been in decline since then.

    The final straw for me was the recent screen failure on my wife’s 5-year old MacBook Pro; we took it into the local Apple store and were told that it would be $900+ for the repair. We considered the alternatives and decided against having the repair done. Why? We were able to find a brand new Toshiba laptop with better specs that sold for $100 less than the Apple repair cost did.

    Good luck with your computer.

    • Thanks. I too fear I’ll be leaving the Apple ecosystem fairly soon at this rate.

      • I wrote a post about the status of all things Apple back in January, and it’s surprising how much of it is still current. If you’re interested, you may find it here: http://exploratorius.us/2015/01/25/apple-has-jumped-the-shark/

        • 😦 Why innovate when there are people still giving you money hand over fist?

          • True enough.

            My coworkers and I were stunned when our Apple reps told us that they were no longer interested in the enterprise environment, due to the fact that they were now a consumer-oriented mobile-platform company. And — to the best of my knowledge — they have never addressed any of the bug-fixes that we have submitted over the years, some of which date back the better part of a decade.

            Additionally, we’re seeing that they aren’t fixing major enterprise issues with Yosemite; instead, they’re addressing them in El Capitan. So Yosemite is not being made available as a general roll-out to our user community and we’re waiting for El Cap to go gold.

            What a way to endear yourself to customers…

            • Peter Boender says:

              We can complain all we want about Apple and their OS bug fixes guys, but the bitter truth is that the Microsoft Windows community is far far worse. Or are you telling me with a straight face that the entire upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 10 has been bug and glitch free?

              • Nope. Vista was a disaster, and Win8 wasn’t much better.

                However, Microsoft does have extensive enterprise resources available, in-depth training for Tier 1-3 levels of IT staff, and far better response to business customers.

              • Many ‘actual’ PC users skipped some of the upgrade steps – So the OSes that turned out to be less popular never really got installed on lots and lots of PC’s…Was a real problem for MS when no one wanted to get off XP. I am quite happy with Win7 and I know MS would love to sell me a new OS (so bad they offered to upgrade us all for FREE) but why on earth would I give up what is invisible, has no limitations and works flawlessly? As an added bonus I know a lot about the system because I’ve been using it a number of years…
                So I don’t know anything about “bugs and Glitches” Win2k, WinXP, Win7 didn’t have any – I think if more Apple users had real knowledge instead of mouth breath many would be surprised at just how good the most successful operating system in the entire world actually is – Me, I’m keeping it a secret. 😉

                • Peter Boender says:

                  Jerry, I’d like to think I had real knowledge about the MS OS products starting with MS-DOS (can’t remember which version, but it was in the early 80’s) up to and including WinXP. Especially when I counted the length of my bookshelves filled with books and magazines about them. Unfortunately, and I hate to break it to you, they were not without bugs and glitches. After the umpteenth “blue screen of death” in WinXP I decided to give up and switched to OS X. Since then, I never ever encountered a problem, and used computers for reasons they are actually there for: to accomplish things without getting in the way.
                  Let’s not make this into a pissing contest. Microsoft, Apple, Canon, Nikon: to each their own I suppose. If you’re happy with Windows: fine, excellent. But no reason to belittle Apple users (“if more Apple users had real knowledge instead of mouth breath“), is there?

        • Mitch, a sober analysis; thank you. I will be looking outside the Apple ecology too, as time passes; in the content creator-verse, Apple was king, but is now in decline, as you say. I have shared your article; thank you.

          But, to Ming, IMHO the MacBook Pro (with Final Cut Pro X, for me) is still the best choice for editing multicam video productions, the core of my present work, and Aperture still works, for now.

          • And that is the crux of the problem: it’s becoming an increasingly flawed and unreliable tool but it is still the best one…so I bought another Mac. Am I happy about it? No, especially given the cost, but what choice do we have at the moment?

            • You said you had mission critical Apps that needed IOS – So with that as a basis, what do you mean by the term ‘choice’ and the use of ‘we’ in this context? Don’t we all (who are not running Aperture) have the unlimited freedom of the market from which to choose?
              Adobe works both sides of the fence – What “mission critical” App could you possibly be running..? I have both flavors of most software because I had been supporting two platforms ’till my MBP died…
              But you mentioned not being able to make any choice – What software were you talking about Ming?

          • Things can change. Apple still has the deep pockets and talent to turn itself around. We’ll just have to see.

    • Peter Boender says:

      I wonder which message Toshiba Support (does that exist?) has when that laptop dies in 5 years from now…

      • Most laptops are considered disposable within 5 years (or less) by their respective vendors, including Macs.

        • Peter Boender says:

          So, that MacBook wasn’t so bad after all??

          • When it was working, yes. But when the screen connector failed, Apple wanted over $900 to replace it, and told us that we had to hurry because our 2010 laptop was only four months away from being declared obsolete — at which point they would no longer repair it.

            • Peter Boender says:

              My point is Mitch, that what happened to your Apple laptop is unfortunate but at around the expected lifetime. Your quote: “Most laptops are considered disposable within 5 years (or less) by their respective vendors, including Macs.” But you make it sound like Apple is being unreasonable, and therefore you escaped the ecosystem (like you were held hostage?). Do you honestly expect Toshiba to respond differently in a situation like this? Or when the same thing happens in 5 years from now?
              The thing is, we live in a highly technical consumer world. The pace of upgrades is enormous. How long do we expect brands to support their (older, obsolete) products? Also, stuff hardly gets repaired anymore. Instead it gets replaced. All this not only applies to computers and peripherals, but to mobile phones, televisions, audio-video equipment, kitchen utensils, you-name-it, too!
              I have the feeling that Apple, for some reason, is always held to a higher standard than all the other brands. And if they don’t live up to that higher standard, even if that is not actually true, but only so by perception, the bashing begins. The funny thing is, I do think they are of a higher standard than most other companies. Not only with their products, but with their service too.
              But that’s just me. I am not an Apple employee or representative, I don’t own their stock. I just don’t believe that running away from them (from any brand in that matter) will suddenly result in finding a holy grail somewhere else. Your mileage may vary. Peace and good luck!

              • With proper care, computer equipment can last a very long time.

                At work, I’ve had to deal with computers so old that they were driven by 286 processors (yeah, they still worked but not very good, and yeah, we had to support them because they were part of an instrument package that would cost hundreds of thousands or more to replace). The oldest running Macs I’ve had to spin up were the 1992 PowerPC versions in the beige cases and that was recently.

                At home we have a Dell Latitude Xpi CD laptop that was purchased in early December of 1997, and it still runs fine (it runs Windows 98, isn’t connected to the Internet, and collects radon counts for my wife). What’s more, I can still find support and downloads for it from the Dell website. The same is true for IBM/Lenovo, HP/Compaq, Toshiba, and other enterprise-supporting vendors out there; they all still offer support and downloads for their long-discontinued hardware, and you can usually (and easily) find someone to repair them if you can’t do it yourself.

                So yeah, I call out Apple for only supporting their computers for five years, especially when they charge such a premium for them. And yeah, I call out Apple for abandoning the enterprise space that they used to own — the medical, educational, and research fields. And yeah, I call out Apple for making their gear so proprietary that they can’t be repaired by anyone other than a certified Apple repair center, which then ends service and support at just five years because that’s what the mothership dictates.

                I’m not an Apple employee or rep, nor do I own their stock. But I have worked with them and thousands of their products for the past 20+ years as a Tier III IT guy, and I’ve never seen them act so arrogantly as they have since Jobs stepped down. The only way that an arrogant company can be brought to heel is through their financials, so if enough people vote with their wallets, Apple will be humbled and change both their behavior and their policies.

                Peace and good luck to you as well.

  11. Filipe Brandão says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your problems with Macs. I’m a long time PC user (about 30 years) but I’ve recently bought a iMac and the main reasons were support and quality of the product. For the last 7 years, while I had two laptops and loads of problems with hardware (Sony and Asus), my wife had a MacBook. It still works perfectly. 4 years after the date of purchase she took it to support complaining about some cracks in the cover and they replaced the plastic shell for free. I had similar issues with another laptop one year after the date of purchase and the brand support refused to repair it.
    Here, in Portugal, Apple support isn’t done by Apple either, but customer protection laws are tighter (product warranty is at least 2 years). So either Apple made a better choice of resellers here or it all comes down to stronger laws. In any case I think that for professional use a computer is only as good as its support service. Any computer fails, and if Apple support is bad in Malasia you are probably better of with a PC.

    Recently a friend elaborated an idea about why innovation in the US was stronger that in EU and it boiled down to the same reasons you pointed out: lack of fear of making mistakes or failing.

  12. I am a life-long Apple user. Like any other product manufacturer, they don’t produce flawless products. What sets them apart (aside from build quality), at least in the United States, is their customer service. The GPU failed on my MacBook Pro this year. The computer was out of warranty. I brought it in to my local Apple store and they replaced the computer for free with a brand new computer. No questions asked and I didn’t pay a dime. The motherboard in my wife’s MacBook failed last year. Again, they replaced the motherboard (and screen) for free. The computer was five years old at the time.

    It sounds like this option isn’t available for you in Malaysia, but Apple’s customer service is second-to-none. I hope that Apple brings their stores to Malaysia so that you’re not stuck dealing with retailers.

  13. It isn’t Apple or the device has a problem. It’s the Apple support staff that were more likely incompetent to reproduce or find a hint of the problem. True Apple wouldn’t let your experience happen in anyway. I reckon there was politics in the hiring process and not due to merit of support staff as working for such as Apple is lucrative. It is a problem in most, if not all, developing countries.

    • The device most certainly has an overheating problem, in addition to the support staff and representatives. I can’t imagine a 120C CPU and 70C bottom enclosure is a ‘feature’.

      • Sorry to comment on an old post, but I can’t help but think that that gives the term ‘blazing performance’ a whole new meaning XD

  14. Whatever the product or company, there are always lemons. It could be that you were the one who got stuck with the one-in-a-million lemon this time. If it’s a recurring theme with Apple products, perhaps it’s a sign to change.
    Personally, I’ve used Apple desktops at home and PC desktops at work since 2000. I’ll never spend money on a PC again–I constantly have problems with them…and not too long after the purchase. For me, Apple computers are not perfect, but have FAR less issues and the problems I do have are more easily fixed. And it’s more user friendly than any PC I ever met.
    You’re right about service–most of the time it sucks from EVERY company. Sad but true. We’re at their whim.
    I hope you get your problems sorted out to your satisfaction and without too hard a hit to your wallet.

  15. I have been happy with my Macs since the Centro years. Every 5 years or so, I “re-enlist” (buy upgraded one). I am on my fifth one. OTOH, I am not a power user nor am I a pro with deadlines for images. It doesn’t kill me if the ingestion takes two minutes instead of one.

    The freedom to fail is wonderful, and it is only selectively available in the USA. Upper class well educated white guys with connections can fail, and re-invent themselves – as president of the US (that’s George W. Bush). Others have a harder time.

  16. Just curious, is your Macbook Pro using Yosemite…? I heard there were a lot of wifi issues with Yosemite. Should be cleared up by now though….

    • Yes. Both 10.10.3 and 10.10.4 had the same problems. And then them machine went boom, so I have no idea what they reinstalled on it now. The 12″ macbook came with 10.10.3, which appears to be stable – I’m leaving it that way.

      • Hmmm… I just got a loaded 2014 11″ Macbook Air for a good deal at roughly $1k. It is currently non-Yosemite. Any thoughts on whether I should take the risk to upgrade…? Or wait? It is a shame that Apple seems to have gotten a little bit lax in their quality control recently… Seems par for the course. Successful companies at some point rest on their laurels… Too much money!

        • If it works fine, leave it. I never upgraded the previous 2012 Air and it ran just fine…

          • Appreciate the advice! I think I’ll go ahead and wait for the upcoming El Capitan OS X version (coming out this Fall) to stabilize.
            Like you said “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it….”

  17. I’ve owned 2 Apple items in my life. The very first computer I ever bought was an Apple II+ ( I know that really dates me). The other item is Apple stock. I was an electrical engineer and my very first stock purchase was Apple Computer Inc back in 1980 or 81 while I was in college. I still own both the computer and the stock. Never sold a single share. Every time Apple introduces a new item and people camp out overnight to replace the Apple item they bought 18 months ago, I have this urge to shake their hands and thank them. When I turn the shares over to my kids, they will thank you too. Sometimes it’s better to own the company than the product.

  18. Funny how a lot of photographers like and use Macs whose OS does not even support 24bit color yet. PC and windows support much higher color bit depths. Also, paying so much more for simialar computer components as in PCs is too ridiculous to me.Proprietary systems suck and allow a company like Apple to ream the customer. Doesn’t take a “Genious” to understand your problem with your machine and it either fix it or replace it right away.
    Ming, where’s your Apple watch?? Lol! Since you like watches and Apple Steve Mobs products? 😉
    If the copyright laws are very weak or non-existant in a country, then expensive tech startups will never flourish .

    • The apple watch is a disaster. It’s both quite useless since it doesn’t add any fundamentally new functionality, nor is it an attractive watch. It’s fundamentally antithetic to anything a serious watch lover would appreciate. Can you see that working in 5 years, let alone 50? No. But your Lange probably will be just fine in 100.

      You can’t print 24 bit color, nor can the rest of the world see it. Whilst you don’t want to be using a 40% gamut monitor, there’s also no point in creating something that only looks good under a very narrow set of output circumstances that is seldom achieved. I actually have to proof client images on a reduced gamut to make sure that their monitors or their customer monitors aren’t going to throw up strange clipping or posterisation, even if things look fine on wide gamut calibrated screens. Remember that a lot of consumers view content on Apple products to begin with – it makes sense to check the output on those devices since that’s how your images are going to be consumed…

      • Apple fundamentally miscalculated with the iWatch, IMHO. Their crucial mistake is that they failed to take into account that a wristwatch is also worn as jewelry for many people.

        A mechanical objet d’art worn on the wrist carries prestige; an electronic one does not. Witness the proliferation of electronic watches that began in the 1970s, beginning with Pulsar. How did they fare through their various iterations? Turns out not so well in the grand scheme. Casio G-Shocks aside, it turns most people still prefer to read a face than a digital display (because it offers context).

        Also, you can only make a screen so small before it becomes a bit useless as a communicator / tricorder / recorder / [insert application here].

        Sorry, Dick Tracy.

        • That’s the other problem: if you wear a watch as jewellery or an expression of personality – which has to be the case to some extent with everybody given there’s so much choice – wearing the same one as everybody else rather defeats that…

          • You hit the nail on the head. There’s a reason why we have so many successful luxury watch manufacturers — I’m sure you’re very familiar with many of them — because they’re considered a luxury adornment for a great many. None of the luxury manufacturers I am aware of were even remotely worried about the iWatch. Wearing an iWatch says, “Look, I’m a follower.”

            I also think that watches represent one of the last bastions of fine mechanical engineering. And luxury buyers appreciate this, both intrinsically, and for its lasting value.

            I know I would never replace my Sinn U1 with an iWatch, and the U1 isn’t even a luxury watch.

            • Ahh, another Sinn fan! 756S UTC here – perhaps the ideal travel/hard use watch…and you can time your long exposures with it, too! 🙂

              • 756 S UTC. Nice! Yeah, big fan of most of the Sinn watches … and they have some tech (like the tegimenting) that no other manufacturer offers. A bit teutonic, but that’s par for the course with German engineered products (and some of us like that!). 😉

                • It’s probably the only watch I own that I’d consider effectively indestructible. It’d be my pick if the world was about to end and for some odd reason I needed to time my zombies. 😛

                  • LOL!

                    Yeah, they’re pretty bulletproof, and probably one of the best values for the money in a higher end watch.

                    What I REALLY want is the Sinn Meisterbund III … but there don’t seem to be any floating about anymore.

                    • Wow. Those are scary expensive…but purely cosmetic changes, right?

                    • I THINK it’s all cosmetic, yes. Only 80 pieces were made for the Japanese market, I believe. But to my eye it looks aesthetically amazing [and offers the rarity factor].

                      Meisterbund III is definitely on my watch bucket list … along with a 90s GMT Master II (Pepsi).

                      Ok, now we’re going way off topic… 😉

                    • Did you see the Solebox U2? Another JDM…but 10 pieces. I stopped after discovering Ochs und Junior…

                    • Yeah, I did see the Solebox U2. The thing about watches is that you never quite really stop. One day you end up picking it up again. 😉

                      Actually, coincidentally, there is a Meisterbund up for sale right now >> http://forums.watchuseek.com/f29/sinn-u2-meisterbund-iii-box-papers-excellent-condition-2123346.html

                    • Nah, you stop. There’s your Unicorn right there…it’s only one German lens unit equivalent! 🙂

                    • Yeah, I agree … the Meisterbund probably is the one German lens unit equivalent. Then, of course, there’s the fact that you can only WEAR one watch at a time [well, if you don’t want to look a bit odd, that is].

                      Interestingly, I remember seeing a promotional video a few years back that showed Leica and Sinn [along with a couple of other German companies] apparently under the umbrella of a larger corporate entity. Can’t remember what that was now, though.

                    • You can also only shoot with one lens at a time. I don’t recall Leica and Sinn ever being part of the same group though; I thought Sinn was always independently owned to some degree.

      • I understand what your saying but I like to see as much of the 14bit per channel color that my camera’s sensor records. Monitors are getting better at covering most of the Adobe RGB color space.
        But its s a mess out there as many consumers don’t use color space aware browsers or have them configured right to do that.
        Unfortunately, I need to shop for a high end graphics card to support both 4k resolution and have to wait for hdmi’s next generation to get enough bandwidth to also support 30 bit color at the same time.
        An unrelated question, have you or Wesley printed B&W images using Piezography K7 inks?

        • Not yet, we’re looking for another printer to convert to K7 only.

          • Wondering which K7 ink set you will get for your work? I’m trying to decide between the Special Edition and the Selenium ink sets.
            I really like Colbert’s work done with the Special Edition ink set. Would like to hear you and Wesley’s thoughts on these inks when you try them out! TIA

  19. Can you comment on the performance of your 12″ MacBook, particularly with regard to using imaging software? There seems to be much dispute about whether it can handle Photoshop. Thanks.

    • Seems to handle it just fine so far – much the same as my mid-2012 11″ Air, which was adequate even for 50MP RAW files but not speedy. I think it boils down to PS being pretty much single core – this machine will overclock to 2.6GHZ, I believe, which isn’t that far off the 3.4 of the 13″ MBPR or 3.2 of the previous 11″ Air. I have not done anything heavy duty on it (e.g. stitching) and wouldn’t do so anyway; most of the time the laptop is just for making field checks, teaching, and showing rushes to clients. The heavy duty PP always has to be done on a larger screen back home.

      What IS missing is more ports – you have no choice but to buy the clunky dongle if you want to have a USB port (say for a Wacom) in addition to power. That’s going one step too far, in my opinion.

  20. “A lack of tolerance of failure leads to a systemic fear of it, which in turn leads to extreme aversion to risk.”
    I’m fascinated by this; what causes people / countries to change, innovate, develop?
    I didn’t grow up in the US, but was shocked at how “positive” the whole culture is here in the US compared to where I grew up (Ireland). When you think about it though, if you go back 100 years, or 150 years ago….and imagine a poor laborer in Italy, or Ireland, or Germany or wherever…it was the risk takers, the optimists who left and believed, or willed, themselves to a better life in the US. The country is populated by optimists and risk takers, so it’s no wonder it has developed the way it has. I know there are many terrible things about the US but it still amazes me how there is a tolerance for innovation, risk taking (and failure and starting again) that doesn’t exist in a lot of other countries.

    • The same thing struck me when visiting the US. Very optimistic attitude.

      Having joined my share of startups in the UK (London) I found a real stigma attached to the founders who ‘failed’. In the US it felt like it was almost a badge of honour, here quite the opposite. Damned shame.

    • Arguably, the same could be said of Australia, New Zealand, and other migrant-dominated countries (I can’t think of any) – basically, they had to be willing to take the risk to leave, and that mindset probably stuck. Where the indigenous people have been comfortable for centuries or millennia…why bother taking the risk when you don’t need to? Serves those idiots right for thinking they knew better…

      • As a UK expat living in Australia I can assure you Australia is much more risk averse than the UK. I think that’s why company’s such as Harvey Norman chose a franchise model to expand as opposed to opening more wholly owned stores which obviously would require more borrowing of capital with the associated additional risk. As for computers I am on my third Dell desk top and I have owned Toshiba and at present HP Laptop. My second Dell desk top came with a one year warranty but after three years problems began however amazingly Dell still provided warranty service in my home at no cost to me. They replaced almost everything in the box but the intermittent problem persisted so in the end I purchased another one. Dell on site service in Australia is provided by Unysis (after the Penang based Dell telephone tech support requests their intervention) who also provide in home and business service for Apple. I asked the tech from Unysis about Apple he advised they suffer the same number of problems as PCs. By the way the Dell telephone support in Penang is also first class in my opinion. Sure apple computers look nice and have sturdy body’s which we all aspire to but under the hood its all the same Chinese made electronics. In the end I just cant justify the additional cost. I believe many Apple followers feel they are buying in to an exclusive club/image just like Louis Vuiton hand bags.

  21. Well as far I can remember thermal issues seemed to be the main achilles heel of nearly all modern mac book pro. Ah yes and the Imac Glass Screen Condensation Problem… a lot of issues with the customer service… and so on… so why the hell I keep that brand…
    Oh yes I remember now… I liked the stable operating system. So what does I expect from a tool? That it works properly? That it looks nice?
    Ok, I admit it I love the clean and orderly architecture of apple and the “prestige” from this brand but when the design reduces the functionality makes me wonder if it’s still worth to be loyal to this brand.
    I rely on portable options and I had already two mac books pro 15-inch, Mid 2014 with overheating issues and waiting months to get a replacement is quite frustration. From this brand I expect quality and a acceptable customer care.
    It was once a professional quality brand of weight (or as I was led to believe) but now it has become a simple massive consumer brand. Is Apple losing its quality magic?

    Best regards from Spain

    • I don’t think they were ever any more or less reliable than the competition – I had earlier machines with other problems – but I do remember it being much easier to get support and there were far fewer issues getting things fixed. The issue isn’t that things break or are faulty, it’s that you have to do so much jumping through hoops to get rectification because there is no Apple presence in this country, only agents whom you are forced to use.

  22. It sounds like you’re doing a equivalent of blaming B&H for bad Nikon customer service (although in my experience B&H has stellar customer service). Isn’t the problem with your reseller? You’re kidding yourself if you think any manufacturer is not going to send out bad hardware occasionally.

    And I fully expect another Apple rant in the not too distant future when you discover that the 12″ Macbook that you bought it basically an iPad with a keyboard. There are no fans in that thing so the only reason it may not overheat is if the processor is too anemic to do anything quickly enough to get warm.

    I went to the Apple store to check them out when they first became available. I told the Apple store employee that I run Photoshop, Illustrator, Xcode, etc., and they were quick to tell me that this is probably not the laptop for me.

    I’m a full-time iOS developer/UI designer and have been an Apple user since long before “switcher” became a noun. At the same time our company was purchased by a very larger PC manufacturer and in my small development group of 10 guys only two of us do OS X and iOS development. What is telling is that 7 of the other 8 Windows developers have 15″ MacBook Pros as their laptop of choice–even the rabid Apple-haters. They simply wipe the disk and install Windows. This is a company that allows you to purchase the computers of your choice–one desktop and one laptop.

    I completely agree that you can get windows machines as reliable as Macs. More reliable? Doubt it. If you’re able to get excellent support from a PC reseller than that’s probably a wise thing. Also, long lines don’t mean more problems than usual anymore than they means they are very popular computers and poor customer service.

    Buy what suits your needs and that can be supported locally. But every accusation you throw out at Apple is equally true of the other companies. Selling products not fully sorted? Have you installed Windows 10? Windows 8? I think 10 a vast improvement over 8 but fully-sorted it is not and 8 was like a bad joke. We could play this game all day.

    At any given time I have 8-10 iOS devices on my desk for testing and 3 or 4 Macs. iMacs, MBPs, and MBAs. I’ve had issues–bad batteries, a screen that went out. But in almost every case the device was swapped out the same day and only once have I had to leave a machine overnight (and it was caused by a lightning strike). It sounds like my customer service experience has been very different than yours.

    I also have two PCs that I use to test against and although the PCs have been pretty solid I’ve burned up many hours with Windows upgrade problems, driver problems, and those lovely issues where Dell blames Microsoft and Microsoft blames Dell.

    As they say… your mileage may very. 🙂

    Good luck whichever way you choose to go.

    JerryR

    BTW, this whole reality distortion field, fanboy, cult thing are simply the tired cliches of those too lazy to bring facts to the table. One reason Apple is popular is because there is a part of the population who care about things like typefaces, layout, consistency in the UI, and generally thoughtful design. There is also a large part of the population who will never notice these things and that’s fine, too. Fortunately we are all free to pick the platform that suits us best.

    • The issue here is Apple does not give us a choice. They will sell us a machine direct but force us to go to a reseller/agent for support. You can’t have it any other way in this country because Apple has chosen to let the third party represent them. We can’t buy from overseas because they other sellers aren’t allowed to ship outside of their own distribution areas. Read my article carefully. I am well aware of the difference between the principal and the agent. The principal has made them one and the same here.

  23. Wow. What a discussion. All over the place, but in my opinion in the right places. Hard to know what to respond to, however. First, it’s very possible that Apple is not really Apple at all (illusion). Depends on how many components in your laptop are outsourced to less reliable providers, and over time, how much “Apple” is giving in to that quick way to increase profits, one switch at a time. It may only take one small $ 2.95 component to cause a system failure of some sort. Automobile manufacturers have made cars for over 100 years. How then can brand new breaks, airbags, and even ignition switches start failing? The ignition switch in GM cars was made in China, had one small mechanical error, and cost the company tens of millions of dollars. And so it goes. Globally. And yet, Apple is the most profitable, cash-rich company in the the world (in history?), so where’s the pressure to cut corners?

    Social environment. I have a close friend who worked in investment banking before the 2008 crash. Investors made extremely risky and illegal actions “because their peers/rivals/competitors were cleaning up by the $ billions, so what kind of idiot would stand by and not do the same?” That friend told me 3 months before the crash that it was coming that Fall; I moved my pension funds out of the stock market. Afterwards, his colleagues in the same firm wondered out loud why they didn’t tell their friends and family as well.

    When this friend applied for better employment, the recruiters–as are many or at least the most enlightened ones–only wanted to know in detail about his failures. What did he learn? How did he deal with it? What advice for himself and others? How the company culture handled it as well. Your initial comments about willingness to fail–okay, where success could be possible–is crucial to all kinds of innovation and creativity and business deals that follow from them. Since its beginning, the US has been the easiest place in the world to fail, go bankrupt, create a new legal entitiy, and try again. Decades ago, someone tested this by trying to set up a legal, tax paying corporation/business in a developing country. After an unbearable number of bribes, official stamps, and delays, he gave up after one year. The alternative is to operate without legal basis (and protection) and avoid taxes altogether. In the US, it only took 3 days or a week to set up a legal entity, if I remember right.

    And yet, as you say, their are cultures that are risk adverse (as are most individuals, according to research). You’ve pinpointed the key issues for Malaysia. It’s not lack of money. A recent analysis revealed that some $ 30 trillion dollars of wealth is being hoarded away right now by the super 1% rich, and some $ 9 trillion is by those in developing countries, which would include Malaysia. So, money is not a problem. It’s the other issues you raise, not to mention avoiding taxes which has literally destroyed Greece economically, right down the ordinary Greek family that leaves the top floor of their house unfinished (steel rods sticking out) because you don’t start paying taxes–by law–until the house is finished. Drive around, you’ll start asking what’s going on. And why should they pay taxes or change the law if the rich don’t pay and the rich make the laws? And so, there they all are wondering what to do next.

    I greatly admire the family and cultural cohesion you desire as well. It’s very hard to maintain it in the US culture. I’ve worked in Indonesia and have worked with Malaysians. It impressed me greatly that you’d would hardly ever expect a huge out emigration from Indonesia, and I’ve never seen one, because the culture is as think as molasses and seemingly cannot be replaced in any other location. By comparison, US culture seems to be about as thick as a spray of water droplets into the air. And yet . . . here’s the paradoxical rub . . . that same intense family cohesion exists at the highest levels of government that you correctly complain about. Decisions by leaders are not made by individual action alone–as most Americans simply assume (falsely, even here)–but within a web of personal and family relationships. The thicker they are, the more difficult to undo their negative effects. So, appreciate the positive ones. What’s sad is that there has to be such an undesirable trade-off of one for the other? Why not the best of both? We all have choices, but hate the tradeoffs.

    Meanwhile, this is the first negative comments I’ve heard about the new Leica Q, which I have on order. So, what kind of camera buying advise to you have for us for this one?

    P.S. Like others, I enjoy your site because you always back up your opinions and observations with outstanding photographs of your own, and offer web tutorials for us to improve our own. But I also appreciate essays like this one that go beyond equipment and even images to the environment in which they are used.

    • “that same intense family cohesion exists at the highest levels of government that you correctly complain about.”

      You may have hit on something very critical here: objectivity is missing in the places that need it most. And that definitely creates a problem. I suppose it’s not possible for most people to separate business from friendship/relationship even if it is in nobody’s best interests, including their own.

      I still like the Q. As far as I know, it probably has the fewest issues of any Leica I’ve heard about so far – one missing rubber O ring in a cap preventing secure installation and a cracked screen. Software correction on the lens is known and not necessarily a fault, but obviously not ideal. The internet would be alive if there was anything else – there hasn’t been. The lugs haven’t fallen off, the sensor hasn’t corroded, it hasn’t corrupted cards…but it still remains an excellent camera to shoot 🙂

  24. Sorry to hear of your troubles with Apple Malaysia. In the U.S. I’ve found their service to be pretty good, which is why I continue buying their products even though they tend to be behind the curve in specs. However, I recently decided to save some money and buy a Lenovo X-series Thinkpad instead of a Macbook, and after upgrading to Windows 10 my Bluetooth adapter stopped working, and all of the various drivers I’ve tried don’t solve the issue. Whereas with my wife’s Macbook Air I’ve never had to worry about that sort of thing.

    Buying electronics (and camera gear in particular) has become less and less enjoyable for me due to the testing & troubleshooting involved. Part of it is due to the increasing complexity and sometimes tighter tolerances required with each new generation. Another part of it is due to the cost-cutting of manufacturers for quality control and warranty service Buying new gear online (my only option since there are no decent camera stores in my area) is a lottery and a significant minority of them come with issues (bad decentering, etc.) not caught at the factory.

    I suppose it’s a sign that I should just buy once/cry once from a company with good service, even if the price is higher, and just use that product until it breaks (hopefully in the distant future).

  25. Ming, firstly your comment re Toshiba and Gateway; you are half right. Amongst PC “Wintel” users, Toshiba ( along with IBM (now Lenova) Thinkpad ) are DEFINITELY brands highly sought after, in terms of numbers/market share more so than Apple.

    As you well know, I am something of an Apple hater ( even though as of last year I now almost have a complete Apple kit ). However, unlike your experience of VERY poor customer service, I received sensationally good service from my local Apple Store. I tried to install an OS update on my MacBook Pro (MBP) and in so doing trashed the system ( no longer bootable ); took it to Apple Store, where it was placed on their diagnostic bench; the MBP passed all diagnostics; they offered to reinstall and update OS as well as fix a sticking trackpad for FREE; additionally I had to pay for a new battery which was clearly faulty ( due to misuse ); it’s important to note here that the MBP is four years old and I am not the original purchaser ( which Apple knw via their own records); a few days later I get a call telling me that the machine is ready for collection but they had to replace the logic board coz it too was faulty ( they, like me, simply couldn’t get the OS to install ); the icing on the cake was when they told me that because my machine passed their initial diagnostics and I was therefore quoted for just a battery replacement, they are going to, as a goodwill gesture, waive the charge for the new logic board ( which would be over £40o incl. tax and labour ); this was just two weeks ago.

    So yeah, like you and I have discussed on many occasions previously, poor customer care, greed and incompetence can surely kill business enterprise and brand reputation. To be perfectly honest, the reason I went to the Apple Store ( 30 minutes bus ride ) rather than go to an independent local ( perhaps 10 minute walk ) Authorised Repairer/Service Centre is that I feared I would get a crap service ( as is often the case with independents, and they sure as hell wouldn’t ( even if they could ) waive a circa £400 bill).

    I still detest Apple’s “walled garden” approach to their products (e.g. The bullshit habit of crippling a universal wireless system ( Bluetooth ) so that it works only with their iPhones! Dumb dumb dumb ) but my recent great customer service experience has, if I am honest, endeared me to Apple a little ( tiny ) bit.

    • After several generations of Thinkpads – seemingly a necessary tool to be perceived as a serious consultant – I can’t say I ever liked them. Every one but one of five machines failed in a year or less and had to be replaced for one reason or other. Their much vaunted keyboards were so-so and battery life was a disaster. And to top it off, they were heavy bricks. Or maybe it was the negative association to corporate shackles that did it in for me.

      As for customer service – it seems fine if you’re dealing with Apple direct, but not if you’re dealing with an agent (and you have no choice, because it seems even B&H etc aren’t allowed to ship Apple products out of the US).

  26. Ming, I’m neither pro-PC or pro-Mac — I’m pro-whatever is dependable. I’ve found Apple products to be often innovative — and even more often fragile — too fragile. I have PC’s that I used in college almost 30 years ago that are in working order and still prefer for word processing. But because my wife is a teacher, we also had Macs (at the time, MACs were widely used in many school systems). They were very nice to use — but every single one stopped functioning after only a few months. This isn’t just a computer issue — I know many iPad and iPod owners with cracked screens — this is beautiful, but poorly thought out design (contrast this with a Kindle Fire which Amazon designed to be dropped repeatedly without breaking).

    Also, as a painter/photographer I’ve always been drawn to Apple’s emphasis on catering to creatives (which it of course no longer does — just look at recent versions of Final Cut Pro and their abandonment of a very loyal Aperture user base). Apple users have more loyalty to Apple than Apple has to them.

    Ironically, I still find myself being drawn to Apple products (that new 5k monitor comes immediately to mind). But I just don’t have time to deal with Apple’s customer service. The one time I had an issue with a PC, not only was I able to send it back with no questions asked, they sent me a new one that was faster, more advanced and with more features — no charge at all, not even shipping.

    I know this can be a pretty divisive issue — PC’s can have their own issues. But as much as I admire their design aesthetic, I just will no longer pay a premium for the Apple sticker.

    • I agree, they cater to those who want to be seen as creative even if all they do is consume content. The iPads and iPhones are designed solely for that – creating content on them is nearly impossible. I’ve used both PCs and Macs though it’s not so practical to support both environments if you are running a home network/system. It was easier to consolidate around apple at the time simply because that required the least spend. That said, I am now wondering why I didn’t get the Intuos Companion 2 instead…

  27. My wish for you as that in a few months time – if not sooner – all of this will make a good tale of the sort of bad luck that one laughs about with friends and shares with strangers one encounters along the way!

  28. To me, the issue isn’t with Apple hardware, you got a lemon, these things happen (in both the Mac and the PC world). The issue is with support. Apple should have replaced the machine immediately, end of story.

    But, what puzzles me is that a well known, professional photographer like you only has one laptop yet no doubt would never bring just a single camera body to a shoot. And, it seems that many of your cameras cost a lot more than even a high end MacBook Pro. Maybe the thing to do is to have a second laptop that’s a clone of the first. I know, extravagant and most people (me) just have a backup HDD or SSD. But, given your experience and the importance of this particular tool to your workflow maybe having just one is too risky.

    Just a thought.

    • I agree: the issue is with support and customer service. I don’t even mind they can’t replace it without diagnostics – fair enough – but having to keep it indefinitely definitely isn’t acceptable. They couldn’t even supply an expected repair date let alone a loan machine as a replacement.

      Whether I’m well known or not doesn’t have anything to do with it. The economic reality of the industry is that it doesn’t make sense to have one on hand. Whilst a spare body can keep a shoot going or be used as a second body to get stuff you may have otherwise missed (and thus not be able to bill for) you shouldn’t buy a computer until you need it since prices are always falling, and they are not as instantly time critical. It is not difficult to obtain a replacement machine in most parts of the world nor is it slow to restore it to minimum functionality if you have a backup to work from, either. But the backup will also go obsolete and you’ll have to put that on a 3-year replacement schedule too, which means in reality nearly a thousand dollars a year in ‘insurance’. In short, it doesn’t justify the cost. Surviving these days as a photographer is as much about economic efficiency as anything else. I do already have a desktop in addition to the laptop which does cover 99% of contingencies. Having another laptop would be like having a third camera body…but it does seem like I have no choice now (and once the 13″ is fixed, I will have three computers).

      • I have a 15″ MacBook Pro (last year’s retina model) with a 1TB SSD. I have two sub-$100 1T 7200rpm USB 3 HDDs that I use SuperDuper! on for backup. One a day, swapped into a firebox in the basement. I have a 1TB external SSD that I back up onto as well just in case the internal dies and I need to boot off of something fast. That cost me $300. I also have a 2TB Time Machine backup.

        All of that backup is considerably less than $1000 and does not need yearly replacement.

        I agree, if you can get another machine fast enough then there’s no point in having it on hand. If you have a bootable backup of your main computer you’re set; you can walk into a store anywhere in the world, buy a new one and use your backup to boot it immediately, then migrate the backup onto it as you sleep.

        • Backing up isn’t the problem, nor has it ever been. But none of that makes for a working production machine, either. So my solution is the same as yours – have the minimum of what you need, regular backups, then buy a new one if you have no choice. But the point is…for a 3 month old machine of this price, this level of service is terrible.

          • I think that level of service is unacceptable for any age machine. Apple should treat its customers, especially those with AppleCare, with respect. I’ve had it in the past but lately as Apple has grown it’s been spotty.

            • I suppose you now have to own every single product to qualify for ‘good’ service – I guess I am not fanboy enough, just like with Canon (they decided I was unworthy of CPS membership – I suppose I am not ‘professional’ enough).

  29. My OH swears by (and frequently at 😉 her plethora of Apple products, I understand her attraction to them, and as a creative worker sat in front of a screen all day (translation) for sure, the thought that has gone into the ergonomics and the user interface is very welcome. At least one of the apple devices has been nothing but trouble, buggy, laggy and parts of the hardware have stopped working. She has the extended warranty, and apple have generally made good against their warranty, but always with caveat that somehow they’re doing her a favour by fixing it…

    Personally I’ve been very surprised and a little shocked at what I consider to be basically a shoddy product. I’m not a creative worker, I work in IT. I’ve managed massive deployments of windows devices, devices supplied by dull as dishwater companies that you’ve all heard of, but never really aspired to own. I can tell you these banal business focused machines, aimed not at people creating art, but people running businesses (not that there is always a distinction between the two) quite often hit a fault or DOA (dead on arrival) rate of about 0.002%.

    As I say, these machines are not inspirational, you don’t give them a second glance in store as you breeze past them, but they’re there, silently getting on with doing their job and doing it well.

    They actually offer what you want, yet the inspirational nature of other OEMs means you don’t want them….

    This got me thinking about photography and specifically trends in what amateur photogs like me dump on flickr, 500px etc, see the trends in ‘explore’ etc? Are we being inspired by what inspires us, or are we inspired by what has apparently inspired others? Are we making decisions based on our actual needs and desires of what we want to photograph, or merely taking a short cut to thinking be that when we buy the must have device, or subconsciously replicate that shot we’ve seen with so many views and favs and likes?

    I digress…

    I see a few posts above, someone tells their story of their Leica Q, and how it was replaced. Should that poster have had to go to that much trouble to get a working high end, high value product?

    Do companies making such products (no matter the genre) really have such strong brand presence that we’re grateful they acknowledge and resolve our issues, issues that are so much at odds with their corporately crafted image?

    Well…. My wrist watch started playing up… Running really quite fast. It was 7 months outside of it’s warranty. They fixed it for me. Free of charge. While I waited. Thank you. The watch was of course a famous brand (the one that starts with the letter R)

    So it can be done, a strong brand, a strong product, but still the guts to help the customers that ‘dare’ to have a problem.

    Great post Ming, provoked my little brain anyway.

    • I’ve generally had good luck with Apple stuff. No DOAs that I recall, and this is the first serious problem that hasn’t had a straightforward resolution. My 2012 Mac Mini server isn’t sexy or aspirational but also just does its job.

      I think the problem is the image they create, and want us to believe, and probably try to uphold themselves to the extent of their control is one thing – and what gets pushed to partners is quite another. Sadly though, the disastrous customer service mentality is endemic in Malaysia: people don’t tangibly pay more for that, so why should we train/staff/etc.? Result: nobody does it, and it’s the start of a slow, painful decline.

  30. David Wilson says:

    Bad luck with the Mac. Apple can be great with customer support depending, I suspect, in which country you live. Here in the UK, my 3 year old MBP developed most of the problems you describe, including “space heater mode”. Took it to my local Apple Store, tech guy immediately accepted there was a problem, asked me to leave it with him and return the next day. On returning a smiling tech guy handed it back and said “all fixed, no charge”. He said they had replaced the logic board. So, great service from Apple here. Disgraceful that the same doesn’t apply where you are.

    • I get the impression Apple itself isn’t the problem, but the local agents. I’ve had similarly good turnaround in the UK – send it in to the store, and either replace on the spot or back the same day. The agents here are a disaster though.

    • I get the impression Apple itself isn’t the problem, but the local agents. I’ve had similarly good turnaround in the UK – send it in to the store, and either replace on the spot or back the same day. The agents here are a disaster though.

  31. Interesting, very observant, and other comments missed the point! I lived in KL as a child (went to Highgate hill army school) and dad worked on Padang tengara planning study to prepare the infrastructure for economic growth – which is why you have real wager and sewerage and Dubai does not! Even then as a child from Canada, the hierarchy and social pecking order was extreme, and dysfunctional. Aged, I should have done sociology at age 10! Do you feel the country suffers through this?

    • Damn Apple autocorrect Pahang Tengara!

    • The country absolutely suffers through this. It is why Singapore has far overtaken us in every way despite being in the same boat at independence. That said, they have their own issues, but nowhere near the same limitations. I almost feel as though you have to live in a country like this as a local to understand just how different it is to the ‘developed’ nations.

      • A shame. I loved my few childhood years in KL, compared to Montreal and then the UK, it was magical – but this was 1970 to 73. I see now at Jalan Guerney Dua the house is overlooked by a condo, and Highgate Hill is gone, and Batu caves once had a view of countryside…. this is one place from childhood I should not return to as the memories would be destroyed. Singapore felt cold and sterile, KL was vibrant and alive – and the countryside and people! We once stopped the car in darkness and walked over and were welcomed to share an evening’s Wayan Kulit on the drive back from Kuantan – we just preyed mother would not buy another durian to keep in the car on the way home! I hope some of the magic still exists.

        • It does, but you have to look hard for it and definitely not in the cities. It feels as though people just want to make a fast buck, integrity be damned. After all, if the politicians can do it…why can’t I be rich too? Why do I have to work for it?

  32. Rotten luck on the MacBook Pro Ming. Total failure of such a new machine should lead to immediate replacement.

    Sometimes these things require going over some heads. When the rear screen on my Leica Q failed on Day 1, I asked people for senior contacts and Wetzlar and then lobbied them. Result – immediate full replacement, no questions asked, not even an inspection.

    Good luck finding those people in Apple – but perhaps some people in your readership might know some people at Apple who can help you go ‘over’ the Malaysian franchise?

    I also bought the top spec Apple MacBook Pro 13″ at around the same time you did. Did all the latest software updates, and I find Excel slows to a crawl on it (nearly one second delay between pressing the tab key and the cursors moving to the adjacent cell – how’s that!?). I will take it in to Apple here in Hong Kong sometime soon. In comparison my mid-2011 MacBook Air 13″ never had a single issue.

    And yes, societies need to find the right balance between risk for customers/suppliers (wearing losses through bankruptcy), and risk of stifling innovation and entrepreneurship (not allowing those who fail to try again). Sounds like Malaysia has that balance wrong.

    While we’re on the subject of business failure, and bringing this back to the art market context, you might find this interesting:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-30/why-do-so-many-art-galleries-lose-money-

    • Well…I happen to know a very senior person at Apple (who is also one of my clients), but I don’t want to abuse that privilege over something the normal channels should be able to handle. But if it gets to that point, I will have no choice.

      Sorry to say that they will tell you software is not under warranty (and fairly so, because you could delete something by accident and brick the machine). Especially not microsoft software…I would suggest using an older version of Excel actually; they seem to have far fewer issues. (I’m running 2008.)

      Many art galleries are also fronts and cash washing machines for other businesses. Those are meant to lose money by design 🙂

  33. Harry DeYong says:

    Ming, if you go back to a PC, you’ll regret it within hours. I gave up on them about 5 years ago, and have never had a problem with any Apple product. Yours may have been damaged in shipment, and obviously your local retailer stinks. Because of security issues, I use 2 computers, and it happens to be a Mac and a PC. Running the two side by side has demonstrated perfectly just how horrible Windows is. Of all the delays, glitches, reboots, lock-ups, errors, and general frustration with both, the PC accounts for about 98%.
    I agree with a previous poster, by your stuff from a reputable retailer like B&H. Forget the local idiots.

    • That’s strange Harry. I have used piles of PC’s throughout many years without major problems. Seems bad luck exists in both camps.

      • I had pretty good luck with my Sony Vaio hardware, but my brother didn’t. And Windows wasn’t great but most of the time it was reasonably usable. Macs definitely look better and can be easier when they work, but when they don’t everything is so ‘closed’ in both hardware and ecosystem that you’re SOL or back to the home base.

    • Using an international reseller isn’t going to help because all warranty support is through local agents. I bought mine from Apple direct – had to, it was a custom configuration.

      That said, is windows 10 that bad? So far I’ve not heard anything but good experiences which has made me curious to try it again. You’re giving up something on hardware sexiness, but if the machines cost half as much, I can live with that.

    • Very strange Harry. I have used piles of PCs too. From Windows 7 to Windows 10 they have been rock stable. Had a Lenovo Yoga that had a hardware problem that could not be fixed and I got all my money back after 1,5 year. Now I’m using a Surface Pro 3 and it is a great machine that is both a real computer and a tablet with touch interface. Have had a MacBook a few years ago and was not impressed. Nice design though.

  34. When Steve jobs was still around, the talk about Apple was the “reality distortion field”, because Steve Jobs was as much a showman as he was a very good decision maker. After Jobs died, there was still a feeling that future Apple product releases were somehow curated by Jobs. The Apple Watch is the first product very much not connected to Jobs, and quite oddly appears to be languishing in lower than projected sales. Apple has become the iPhone company, and there is only so much good-will spillover that gets people to buy other Apple products.

    I ran into a similar situation when purchasing my last Apple laptop, a 13″ MacBook Pro, and the last series that could be opened to upgrade the RAM to 16GB. My mom got my even older 15″ MacBook Pro. I nearly bought a Wacom tablet computer, and I looked for a long time at the Microsoft Surface. Software was the main issue for me, and when it comes time to upgrade, that will again be the determining factor. I tend not to buy on the bleeding edge of technology, and wait until each new machine has been around for close to a year. I don’t upgrade as often as Adobe and Apple would like me to do. Because of this, I’ve become much more open to other directions. I would even consider a Google Chromebook, if that could run reasonably good image editing software. In the future, I would rather place my funds into better lighting, better lenses, and newer cameras.

    Tough for me to say much about Silicon Valley culture. There have been some good successes, but there have been some horrible processes, and some shoddy people getting money for poorly developed ideas. Too much of that idea now is a few wealthy venture capitalists looking for financial unicorns. There’s also too much emphasis on valuations, over sustainable businesses. I don’t think any place in the world should feel bad about not emulating Silicon Valley, because the reality is a bit distorted, and not in a Steve Jobs Apple good sort of way. 😉

    • I wanted to keep the existing production machines, but one of them started becoming limiting because of screen gamut issues – the 11″ Air is known for having the worst of all Apple screens by a long margin – so had no choice. I’m still running 10.8.6 on my 2012 Mini though…and that’s the way it’s going to stay.

      • 10.8.5 here for stability. I’m running an external NEC monitor connected to my MacBook Pro. As good as the screens are on Apple laptops, they just don’t quite display images as well as a quality desktop. I don’t have the money to put towards an Eizo, so for me the NEC is a great compromise for the price.

        Problem of upgrading has always been the lag of learning the nuances of the changes. I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop since version 2.5 in 1994, and every change has involved some aspects of relearning. Of all the versions, I found 3, 5, and CS 4 the most useful, though the bloat of other features has been substantial. In comparison, Adobe Illustrator has been incredibly functional through almost every upgrade cycle, and the same goes for Adobe InDesign.

  35. I have only tried one in the store on several occasions so I do not know about reliability etc.. However this is a beautiful machine: http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-systems/razer-blade

    • My problem with PC is that a lot of the mission critical stuff I use is mac-only, and the screen sharing utilities for workshops only exist with that level of integration and simplicity on a mac. I’d also have to buy the software again for the cross-platform stuff. When I switch, it’ll be a complete migration across the board.

  36. You talk about tolerance of fear as the reason for lack of creativity, but you fail to recognise that on this occasion it is you that is displaying the lack of tolerance. Just because a person becomes bankrupt doesn’t mean their next business won’t be a success and just because your last MacBook Pro had heat issues, it doesn’t mean the next one will either. Opting for a first generation 12 inch MacBook puts you at greater risk of overheating issues!

    • No, it’s not a lack of tolerance. You’re paying a premium for a product that doesn’t work, then you’d be stupid to pay more again for the same product when a) of the 6 people you know who have the machine, 5 of them have some problem of some description. That suggests the issue is systemic. B) there are almost no issues noted with the 12″ Macbook except for the lack of one port, which isn’t so much an issue as it is a design limitation you know about when you buy it. C) I gave them another chance by buying another machine, didn’t I?

  37. Ming, why don’t you buy your computers from a big on-line seller, like B&HPhotoVideo, given your understanding of how the local sellers are likely to respond in a situation like yours? B&H’s return and warranty support is outstanding; and setting up a new machine is fast these days. And Apple pricing is like Leica’s: world-wide (apart from GST and local taxes). Shipping is reasonable, too.

    • Shipping is not entirely reasonable. I live in Indonesia, was ordering Ona bag, and the delivery cost about the price of the bag. (Not to mention 1 month of waiting too).

      • And the disastrous fall of the Malaysian Ringgit means pricing has lost parity. This has prevented me from buying my lusted after Zeiss Toiut which is currently on sale at B&H for $499 + about 60 shipping. A mere 18 months ago this would have been at a conversion of 3.1, now at a horrendous 3.8 pushing overseas purchases out of reach, especially when combined with a very arbitrary import tax “system”.
        On bankruptcy, unfortunately 2 close family members are bankrupt. One here in Malaysia, and one in the US. In the US , he has been given much assistance and more opportunity to maintain his retirement. Fortunately he lives in Washington State which has laws that are not as punative as some others. Here in Malaysia, my family member has lost everything, and had to surrender his passport. At 78, he is now prevented from travelling, in what may be the end years of his life, to visit family abroad. I find that to be a distressingly inhuman measure to take.

        • I have to keep reminding myself the only reason I’m here is because I want my daughter to know her extended family. There is no other reason to live in Malaysia anymore.

          • Can always visit your extended family after emigrating to somewhere with better, school, health and opportunities for yourself, your wife and daughter.

            I’m facing a different dilemma where my wife is from the US and I’m from the UK (originally came over from Pakistan when I was 2) so family is all over the place and we’re facing a move from the UK to the US (soon-ish) on top of that.

            Whilst being near extended family is wonderful the most important thing is the cohesiveness of the primary family unit. Your daughter (congrats btw.), your wife, and you.

            Of course if the cohesiveness depends on living near your extended family then I guess the decision is made for you. Of course if living in KL means you’re slowly going mad then maybe give a stint abroad a try. Emigrating doesn’t get easier with time!

            • I think beyond the emigration issue there’s also the question of identity: having grown up all over the place, I don’t really feel like I belong anywhere. That leads you to both a nomadic mindset and a somewhat unsettled existence. I suspect at least spending some quantity of your formative years in one place might to be a bad thing for that reason…it isn’t a nice thing to not really know how to answer somebody when they ask where you’re from or what nationality you are and then face some confusion in your own mind.

              • Oh, do I relate to that! Having been born in the UK, moved all over it, then lived from 13 onwards in the Netherlands, before family emigrating to the US, me moving around some more, settling in London to make my career, then emigrating to Malaysia where I have lived for the last ten years…when people ask, I just say that I’m a Malaysianiest European, it’s the closest, culturally, to what I am.
                Very, very sad to read your gravely negative assessment of living in Malaysia. 😦 since I had originally chosen this to be my “last port of call” but sadly have to agree that much of it’s huge potential hasn’t been, and doesn’t look like being, realized. If anything, it seems to have entered a period of regression, and my (Malay) wife and I may still have to consider whether better options are possible. I went through a hell of a lot to be able to live and work here (you will know the religious and cultural challenges of marrying into a Malay family, and getting a work permit/visa etc. Not trivial) but I *can* see the need to keep other options as open as possible. I still prefer living here to being in the UK though! Not going back there…
                *tries to shake off gloomy thoughts 😉

                • I wanted to believe there was hope left, I really did. I even moved back here in 2005 from the UK – things were looking pretty good then. But with the missing 42bn, the PM seemingly being in charge of everything and reshuffling his cabinet to ‘value loyalty over intelligence’…I’m afraid it really isn’t looking good.

                  Perhaps we should meet up for a coffee to talk about less depressing matters if you’re in KL. I’ll even settle for ‘which camera should I buy’ at this point (though perhaps I shouldn’t have said that 🙂

                  • LOL! Got more tips about what camera to buy from you than I have ever had from any photography site…and I don’t read your site for reviews, I’ve expressed my view on that, 😉
                    I moved here in 2004, from the UK, believing that Malaysia had more to offer, and it did. At the time. And now the dream seems to be eroding, much to my distress. My sister-in-laws husband works for ISIS, (which we do *not* refer to as Najib’s pet PR agency, 😉 ) and is still a “booster” for Malaysian progress for the future, but I cant agree with him from the level at which I’m standing.
                    Yeesh, getting depressing! I’m up for a coffee anytime, regale you with my Stanley Kubrick story (again!) and promise not to make you critique my photographs! 😉 That, I would spare you. Gear talk, maybe not. 😉

              • I can certainly relate. I faced a good deal of racism as a boy here in the UK in the 80s – I often felt an outsider when in London or in Pakistan. Fortunately I’m blessed with a surprisingly large ego which seems to insulate me from any pangs of identity crisis! I don’t think I’m unique in that respect either, it takes a lot of confidence and bravery to willingly leave your home country to make a new life elsewhere.

                Diverse places like London, New York, San Francisco are such a hodge podge of cultures that if anything they’re nearly as welcoming to immigrants willing to leave their home countries as they are to natives.

                Best of luck no matter what you make of your future, so far it’s been enjoyable reading about your photographic one at least 🙂

                • I can’t say I found London particularly welcoming – NY is downright hostile, SF was guarded, and both of the US cities are academic since I hold a passport from a terrorist state anyway…ah well.

                  • I don’t think Malaysia can trump Pakistan in that respect 😉

                    I get a hard time too when visiting the US. I think a city is what you make of it. I find NY, SF and London quite the opposite.

                    That said, I must concede that I cannot speak as a photographer in those cities since I leave my heavy DSLR at home and take my pocket cam with me when abroad.

                    I’m sure the experience is very different then (just try setting up a tripod in Washington DC…you’ll have a police officer on you pretty quick!)

                    • Probably not – I can imagine Pakistan would be even less tolerant of anything unconventional.

                      I don’t have issues as a photographer so much as if you’re trying to get introductions or entries to clients or other businesses…there is still very much a cliquish mentality which works against you if you don’t have the right connections. I’ve experienced it in both directions, but I can’t say it’s a good thing.

              • I’m a product of one country, so I don’t share that kind of experience, but I find such diverse backgrounds interesting and would argue that people in our generation have a generally positive attitude towards international mobility (at least those who are worth talking to). It may get tiring to repeat the story instead of having a short answer, but it may also create positive attention and help to avoid stereotypes.

                • It’s not our generation that’s the problem, nor is it our generation making decisions about immigration and employment – it’s our parents’ generation.

              • I know the feeling. I was born in Germany, grew up part of my life in France, and have lived in many places in the US, along with travels to a wide variety of places. I once joked that since I don’t belong in any one place, that means I belong in all places. 😉

    • I buy them direct from Apple because anything shipped in attracts extra import taxes and GST, and the Ringgit is now about as valuable as toilet paper. However, ALL support is done through the local agents/ resellers – and that is the problem. Even though the case is going through Applecare you have no choice but to send it to a reseller because there is no local presence at all.

      • Ming, I understand your points re. the costs, but if you had paid them, sending that lemon of a MBP back to B&H would have got you a replacement; that’s how they work.

        • I shouldn’t have to pay another 15% for the same product and warranty service which is supposed to be the same all over the world, PLUS shipping. And besides – three months later they’d send me back to Apple anyway.

        • Turns out that’s not even possible because B&H won’t ship Apple stuff out of the US – not even a charger!

          • Thanks for that info; that’s an excellent reason for not following that suggestion! Interesting too, because all CaNikon products can be shipped from B&H, and both have a strong local distributor network in Australia. Perhaps it is time to contact that client/friend in Apple and ask him/her to intercede. The fact that things to do with Apple are not working well in Malaysia is unfortunate, and you have to get your equipment working properly—that is justification enough, IMHO, to go through the back door.

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