Cory Doctorow still hates the iPad

While I do think there is a niche for the mindless iPads, I still mostly agree with the spirit of this post:

Where my opinion differs is that, after all, hundreds of thousands of developers wrote some incredible apps for the iPad. A lot of those apps teach STEM to kids who are very young (and arguably younger than the kids who played with Apple ][e / ][c). I got my Apple ][e around age 11~12, but it wasn’t until I was 13~14 that I started opening it up and playing with the internal components.

Now my daughter who is 6 can practice visual coding on an iPad, which is something I wish I could do when I was her age.

She also plays with a Raspberry Pi based computer with Linux on it, and uses Scratch from MIT, and the awesome games on but there are edge cases on the Raspberry Pi that require intervention/help from a teacher.

USB-C’s dirty (little?) secret!

It’s been a number of years since Apple stripped the Macbook Pro from its array of useful ports. This was a gradual process, it didn’t happen overnight. The first to go was the ethernet port, along with the wonderful battery indicator lights. The most painful of them all was the MagSafe port, without a doubt. Not only did we lose an incredibly useful port, but there’s no longer any kind of visual indicator for your MBP’s charge state.

All that remains is 2 USB-C ports for the 13″ model, or 4 USB-C ports for the 15″ model, and by some crazy miracle, a headphone jack.

When Apple unveiled this new scheme, they sold a vision where USB-C is this magical universal port that works with everything.

The ugly truth

The USB-C MBP model was unveiled back in 2016. However it wasn’t until recently (literally the last couple of months!) that you could find a USB-C hub that took a single USB-C port and allowed you to connect multiple USB-C devices to that port. So it took 3 years for someone to come up with a port multiplier!

Even with this new hub (sold by some no-name Chinese brand on Alibaba) only one port is for charging your laptop, the other two ports won’t provide power to your devices – they are data only.

So if you have a 13″ USB-C MBP which only has two USB-C ports, you’ll sometimes find yourself using a combination of adapters and port multipliers.

To add insult to injury, the USB-C ports on the MacBook Pro are notoriously problematic. There was too much space around the port in the first USB-C MBP model, and this meant that as USB-C cables move around, they caused the solder to break between the connector and the logic board.

This seems to have been fixed in the 2019 MBP model, you can feel the USB-C port feels really snug as it goes into the port. Unfortunately, countless users are paying the price for Apple’s poor design decisions.

Dongle Gate

Just look at this thing of beauty:

Related image

There’s really no other way to describe this other than “Dongle Gate” because even now in 2020, there are still very few native USB-C devices you can buy (other than some external SSD based storage drives, and the USB-C based Yubikey). You still need dongles for everything. In fact the most popular USB-C devices on the market are adapters/dongles. The USB-C vision is taking way too long to materialize.

I work in a workplace where Apple dominates in the hardware department. Nearly every person in the company has some type of Macbook laptop. The dongle issue is very prominent, and the collective pain is palpable throughout the organization.

Our conference rooms are littered with these adapter rings:

Liberty AV Solutions DL-AR Universal HDMI Adapter Ring

Uniquely Apple

Although the USB-C sham is not unique to Apple products, it is primarily Apple laptop users that are enduring Dongle Gate because most PC laptops kept their HDMI & Ethernet ports, as well as an SD slot. Most of them also have indicator lights to indicate charge status, network activity, etc.

TL;DR: Apple gambled on USB-C and lost. And we all lost as a result, with inferior laptops that cost more than any other laptop in the market.

Apple Developer Enrollment Clunkiness

In order to publish an app to the App Store, Apple requires developers to enroll to a developer program. This program is tied to your Apple ID, and in order to qualify for enrollment, that Apple ID has to have 2nd Factor Authentication turned on. It works fine if you’re either developing as an individual, or you’re using your main Apple ID as your corporate Apple ID, and you have a single corporation.

If however you are a member of multiple corporations and you are developing multiple apps, things got complicated. In the past this forced developers to have multiple accounts on the same computer, and they would have to switch between those accounts.

The good news is that starting with Mac OS X Mojave, you can now open System Preferences -> Internet Accounts, and add a secondary iCloud accounts.

You still have to create a second account on your computer (or use another separate machine), so you can create your Apple ID and enable 2nd factor authentication for it. However once you’re done with that process and you add this account as a secondary iCloud account as described above, you can delete that secondary account and keep a single primary account as before. This allows you to have as many iCloud / Developer accounts as you need.