The First World Problems of Being a Mac Pro Owner

So I’m doing some housekeeping in DEVONthink, and it’s in the process of indexing and creating thumbnails for a folder I just relocated and want to re-index.

And I watch the progress bar move along at this leisurely pace, and then I go and check out DEVONthink’s CPU usage, and it’s sitting here politely sipping at my CPU as it gently moves through the work it has to do:

a CPU chart showing DEVONthink only using 117% CPU while doing some batch work. Meanwhile, Docker, which I'm not even using, is taking up 127% CPU.

Umm, no, DEVONthink.

I want you to pound these CPUs.

I did not spend ten freaking grand on Apple’s highest end computer for you to try to be polite about resource use. I’m not on a laptop here.

I appreciate you being polite, but look at Docker over there! I’m not even using any containers right now and Docker is happy to consume even more processor cycles than you! And even Slack is putting in a good effort while not even being visible on screen.

Tear through these files, please! Use up the memory! I have almost 100 gigs of it just sitting right here. There’s 45 gigs not even being used right now! Come on, what are you waiting for?

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Space and Rich Dudes

I share a little bit of the bitterness that visiting space has transitioned from being something that countries did, to being a hobby of wealthy people with the funds to end world hunger but instead are like “nah, I want to spend billions on a rocket to send me up into space for a couple minutes.”

Of course, it’s important to watch for those rose colored glasses. Space exploration holds a special place in the heart of many a nerdy type (myself included), and indeed those who were around to see us set foot on the moon remember it as a point of national pride.

Of course, our interest in going to space was mostly a glorified dick measuring contest with the Soviets, and the nobility of our exploration kind of got retconned in there after the fact. And when the narrative we were taught in grade school was being put together, the history lessons left out the fact that it was a number of brilliant black women like Katherine Johnson who were performing important calculations to support NASA’s mission, even though they were treated like second class citizens and their work went unacknowledged for decades.

Exploring space is a worthwhile endeavor, and humankind should be doing it. It’s not inherently bad for someone to be really rich and have the cash to go into space for fun. It will never stop being sad to me that we culturally have set up capitalism so that it is wants so badly for billionaires to be able to exist and go on these adventures that we insist on letting people go without homes, healthcare, and food, and we do it largely on the principle that we want billionaires to become billionaires.

The Economics of Scale (or, the high cost of low prices)

I often see tweets like this decrying wealth inequality:

It follows the formula of “big company keeps large chunk of money to itself, but workers don’t get raises.”

But this is just scratching the surface. Dig more into the math and it’ll start to really enrage you.

Kroger has upwards of 450,000 employees. Just doing some back of the napkin math, it would cost a lot of money to give all these workers a raise. With that $1 billion, they could give each worker roughly a $1/hr raise for a year and that would basically burn through all that money.

In other words, Kroger has about half a million employees, and they only were able to turn that into profits of $2.8 billion (source), and the best they can do to generate wealth is just give a third of that money to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks.

Walmart takes this to the absolute extreme. They made a profit of about $13 billion in FY ’21 on gross revenue of almost $560 billion. Sure, that sounds big, but factor in that Walmart has 2.3 million store associates, meaning that if Walmart wanted to raise wages from $11/hr to $15/hr, assuming their workers work an average of 30 hours a week (I think it’s actually more but let’s be conservative), that would cost $13.8 billion. Walmart’s working on very slim margins here. That $13 billion profit sounds great but it took minimizing pay for literally millions of people to scrape up that profit (and I’m just thinking of store associates, not even the employees of Walmart’s thousands of suppliers who they notoriously pressure for lower prices).

In fact, there have been past years where US taxpayers spent more money on assistance programs supporting Walmart employees than Walmart earned in profits for the same year.

This is the vicious cycle of pursuing scale. Walmart literally fueled their growth over the years with aggressive price reduction. You couldn’t run a small, independently-owned grocery store if you were only making about 5 grand in profit for each employee. But a behemoth like Walmart can because they can make it up in volume.

So in reality, scale isn’t really that good at generating wealth; it’s just good at generating wealth inequality. The amount of resources Walmart and Kroger need to earn their profits is massive.

These companies (Walmart especially) love to tout their low prices, and to their credit, they do work hard to keep prices low (again, Walmart is super good at this). But low prices, especially at scale, are bad at generating wealth. Maybe a few Walmart execs and shareholders might disagree, but millions of non-wealthy employees sure won’t.

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Windows 365

This announcement is one of those things where I look at it and I’m just like:

Hank Scorpio of The Simpsons saying why didn't I think of that

It’s funny, it used to be that you’d have a browser tab open in Windows, and today, you can have Windows running in a browser tab!

This also comes at a perfect time for the people who have enjoyed using Intel Macs over the years to run occasional Windows apps and were wondering about their future of doing that in the world of Apple Silicon.

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Tech Companies and Competition

(Disclosure: my current employer is a subsidiary of Microsoft. I’m not a journalist or anything, and I don’t think that really influenced my writing, but it would have felt dishonest not to mention it.)

Daring Fireball, weighing in on a recent IBM executive shakeup:

I don’t offer this observation as an argument against any and all regulation and antitrust investigations of big tech companies. I’m simply arguing that regulation and antitrust lawsuits should be wielded with surgical precision, not broad strokes. Competition and progress work.

If you listen to his podcast Dithering you quickly pick up on the fact that John generally is in favor of letting the market do its thing, and his point is well taken that IBM spent decades being dominant only to have a much more diminished role in tech today. But the dominance of today’s tech companies feels substantially different from the dominance IBM had.

IBM Was Big When Tech Was Small

IBM was dominant in the world of tech when computers were something that only businesses owned and used. IBM did make some consumer tech in the 80s, 90s and early 00s, but their ability to be big was mostly due to the fact that they were big fish in a relatively small pond. That’s not true for the biggest tech companies today.

Entrenchment is Deeper

Social networks had relatively short lifespans before Facebook came along. They’d often fizzle out after a couple of years. Facebook has managed to reach an escape velocity that’s kept them from having that same issue. They were wildly popular in the aughts, and they’re even bigger today. They measure their users in billions, and they’ve been known to buy up companies achieving dominance in areas and markets they didn’t (see: Instagram and WhatsApp).

In a similar vein, there was a cottage industry of search engines before Google came along. Whereas Facebook got more powerful as a social network because social networks get more useful the more people are on them, Google largely earned their dominance by making a great search engine. But in doing this, they also became deeply entrenched in their position at the top and it’s structurally really difficult to unseat them.

Big Tech is Big With a Capital B

At press time, there are five companies with market caps above $1 trillion, and four of them are tech companies (Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet; Saudi Aramco is squeezed in there at #3). Facebook is worth nearly a trillion.

Tech is big business now, and not only are tech companies now our biggest companies, they wield a massive amount of control over our daily lives in a way that IBM never came close to achieving.

If you participate in the modern world, you almost certainly are being served directly or indirectly by servers in a cloud run by one of these big tech companies. If you use a computing device, you almost certainly are using an OS made by one of those trillion dollar companies.

IBM’s unseating

Gruber’s right that IBM lost dominance, but let’s remember how that happened.

IBM’s downfall was in not anticipating the PC revolution. They falsely assumed that mainframes were where the big money was at, and when they made a PC, instead of buying exclusive rights to DOS from Microsoft, they licensed it. Dozens of other companies started making IBM-compatible PCs, and PCs sold like gangbusters, easily eclipsing IBM’s business selling mainframes to big companies.

But that only was possible in an age where there weren’t many computers. Today, most every person, home, and business has a computer, and often several. There’s not really any new category of device that can come along and eclipse the computers and mobile phones that Apple, Microsoft and Google power, or the servers that Amazon, Microsoft and Google power.

A side note: IBM didn’t really suffer a downfall so much as it ceded growth to other companies. Even in their diminished role, IBM continued growing throughout the 90s and aughts, with their market cap peaking in 2017 at just under $175 billion.

IBM missed out on a fundamental growth wave, but what fundamental growth wave is there for today’s tech companies to miss? Billions of people own a smartphone now, and Apple and Google have a technical head start of well over a decade of building mobile OSes. Even if you can imagine a newcomer coming along and taking over that market, there’s no longer much room for that market to grow a lot higher.


Assuming no major new policies that might shake things up, the big tech companies we know today are almost assuredly going to be the big tech companies we know in a decade or two. The last 20 years of tech have seen advancements comparable to the last 50 years of the 20th century. And not only that, the biggest tech companies are now in far more businesses than IBM ever was.

Competition is a powerful thing, but once your market cap is measured in trillions and you have almost no peers, it’s a lot less meaningful.

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This is Not a Filler Post

I haven’t posted a ton lately.

It’s not for a lack of writing! I’ve drafted a lot of things up, but even after rounds of edits, the posts aren’t something that sparks enough joy that I want to post it (and seeing all the posts that have made the cut, you probably can imagine how bad these are).

I write about a bunch of things, but I never really want to post something that feels like I was just going through the motions; for each thing I post, I want it to have a spark to it that I feel passionate about.

For my Apple-specific writing, I’ve been struggling to write stuff that’s worthwhile. I’ll either be too inside-baseball for a casual observer, but for the crowd that likes the Apple inside baseball, my stuff is way late to the game and I’m not really offering that many good or new insights. A lot of the Apple stuff in my Drafts app read like I breathlessly weighed in on a current Apple event without really having anything particularly interesting or novel to say.

I’m still challenging myself to get to 100 posts this year, but I’m not going to just grind my way to 100 joyless posts. I want to post 100 posts that each sparked some joy.

I kind of liked my Sweet Setup series earlier this year, not only because it was a steady source of new content, but also because I was sharing about a bunch of tools I’m passionate about.

I’d like to expand on my Case Against Scale talk from 2020 with a series of short essays this summer, making the case against massive tech companies through the lens of current events in the tech sphere.

I also wrote up something about Pride, which I should have posted during June, but it was kind of a busy month. I think it’s also subject to a total rewrite.

Ultimately, I think of writing on here the same way I think of cooking: it’s a really enjoyable hobby, but as an endeavor it’s only worth it if the end product is something really enjoyable. I suppose theoretically I could just be writing and posting into an echo chamber and that is somewhat therapeutic in itself, but that’s what my journal is for.

Mr Rogers drawing a house saying he's not very good at it, but it doesn't matter

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The Nerve of the Developers of Audacity

So a few days ago, the new owners of open-source audio editor Audacity pushed out a new privacy policy, and according to this policy, the app became permitted to collect enough data about users that people under 13 years old would no longer be legally able to use the app in the US.

This caused an uproar as you might expect, and Muse Group, Audacity’s new owner, is trying to walk it back.

“We believe concerns are due largely to unclear phrasing in the Privacy Policy, which we are now in the process of rectifying,” said Daniel Ray of Muse Group.

Why do tech companies have to be so predictable? Every time they get called out on doing something shitty, they never apologize for doing the shitty thing, they always apologize for how they communicated it, subtly implying that its customers’ opinions aren’t valued feedback from valuable stakeholders, but instead are just a reaction to be managed and herded. It’s a mentality that subtly robs people of their humanity.

And to really add insult to the dystopian injury here, look no further than some of the takes from people trying to downplay this: mocking people for what they considered an uproar, and the general sentiment that we need not panic because this is “pretty standard modern application telemetry” (source).

Maybe, and I’m just thinking out loud here, maybe the problem isn’t that FOSS enthusiasts are freaking out over standard practice, but that we’ve come to accept some relatively invasive surveillance as standard practice in the software we use and rely on every day?

My audio editor shouldn’t need to know my IP address to function normally.

There are lots of tools in place in most every app nowadays serving a variety of functions like this. Some are simple things like libraries to support easy automatic updating, and some tools will send up stuff like crash data to developers so that they can learn about bugs and fix them without even needing to interact with users. That’s potentially useful! But it’s very telling that when you actually tell users what you’re collecting about them, they are “freaking out”. Maybe if users are that uneasy about the level of surveillance they are living with, “this is standard telemetry!” isn’t the great defense you think it is.

Purveyors of surveillance capitalism love to lull themselves into these delusions that the surveillance is super common and that consumers are a-ok with it because they know that in exchange they get some free products on the web or sometimes interesting offers or even just relevant recommendations. Except when users are actually being told about the surveillance side of the deal, they aren’t that cool with it. In the case of iOS users who recently started getting the option to ask apps not to track them, most have opted out, and it’s causing changes in advertising spend between iOS and Android.

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Apple and China

Apple has a China problem.

Apple’s dependence on China runs very deep. Not only is China a lynchpin of Apple’s supply chain, but they’re also a huge market for Apple to sell its wares, second only to the US. But China isn’t a particularly great partner for a company like Apple. Sure, they had their allure in the 90s and 00s with the incredibly cheap labor and growing middle class, but the Chinese government is highly authoritarian and its human rights abuses are getting harder and harder to ignore. China has no problem meddling in the affairs of private businesses, and it’s already started to encroach on Apple to the point where one of its major selling points (privacy) is no longer something that can be counted on for Chinese customers now that a company owned by the Chinese government operates iCloud servers in China.

The issue comes up a lot in Apple-related blogs, but they mostly come with a shrug and a “what are you gonna do?” Sure, it’s a complex situation. If Apple were to move past dependence on China, it would take years of sustained effort and a willingness to lose out on a huge market. But it’s not the bloggers’ job to come to Apple’s defense on this situation; it’s Apple’s.

Let’s be 100% clear on this: this dependence on China isn’t just some unfortunate situation Apple ended up in; Apple played a prominent role in architecting the mass exodus of American tech manufacturing to China, and Apple made the decision in the 00s to make a push to also sell its products in China. From a moneymaking sense, this was a great decision and it’s made Apple quite wealthy.

Journalists will sometimes grill Tim Cook, asking why Apple isn’t making things in America and he’ll throw up his arms and tell them that Apple just can’t; the talent and infrastructure is all in Asia. What Tim Cook won’t mention here is that he personally played a primary role in moving Apple’s manufacturing out of the US and into Asia, and in the following decade China became a powerhouse of high-tech manufacturing. Apple helped make that happen!

Apple talks a huge game about privacy being a human right, but for all their interest in human rights, they don’t seem super interested in addressing the Chinese government being the source of so many of these[1]. And that’s hardly a surprise; tech companies knew about China’s human rights issues when they made the decision to move the supply chain, but I guess those concerns may have gotten drowned out by the glaring reality that there was money to be made. And I’m sure there was an assumption that through trade, less authoritarian countries would rub off on China and they’d soften up on these issues and start to run more like Western democracies.

That didn’t happen. China’s taken the capitalism of the west and grown its middle class with one hand, but they’ve been ratcheting up their authoritarianism and surveillance tech with the other hand. By trading with China we made the country richer and more skilled, and their ambitions have grown substantially. And while I don’t fault a country for wanting to grow and become a bigger player on the world stage, but if that country is also oppressing an entire group of people and putting them in forced labor camps, that’s a huge fucking problem.

Apple is a deeply principled company, and their relationship with China increasingly stands out as antithetical to the company’s ethos. And I know many who would point to Apple’s relationship with China and say “see? Apple’s just like any other corporation.” And it’s true; Apple does plenty of corporation-y things. But they are deeply principled; you don’t just accidentally end up with the kinds of high-quality products Apple makes without being a company full of people who really care about that kind of thing.

It’s okay to expect a lot of Apple. They have ridiculous resources. It’s okay to expect a lot of their leadership. Tim Cook’s a big boy, he can handle the criticism. Apple can handle the challenge of removing its entanglements with China and pushing on them to be better. But they’re not going to take on that challenge if they don’t think that their customers care.


  1. China is hardly alone in these human rights abuses, and I’m sure their propaganda is full of whataboutism that points out the US’s historic track record here. And they wouldn’t be incorrect, but it doesn’t make their current human rights abuses right.  ↩

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WWDC 2021 Keynote – Impressions

an overhead view of an iPad running iPadOS 15 from Apple's WWDC keynote
This keynote weighed in at just under an hour and 45 minutes, but by being pre-recorded, it was a tight keynote, jam packed with announcements.

I think my wish list was too highly focused on a couple small areas and not thinking broadly enough about the vast array of things Apple makes and could have added new features to. It probably is also a sign that I’m a little too focused on my own use cases and feature requests and not thinking quite enough of the big picture. Overall, 5 out of the 32 bullet points in my wish list were announced in the keynote (it’s possible a few other wishes came true but weren’t announced; I asked for a few bug fixes that I haven’t been able to test yet). However, there were a number of things announced that I didn’t know I wanted.

Hardware

There wasn’t any! Developers are super eager for some so that’s a bummer, but also I’m guessing that these pro-level Apple Silicon chips are taking longer to get to market because they have really different characteristics from the M1 chip. It’ll need to support more RAM and larger SSDs for one, and also offer support for more high-speed ports.

Whenever Apple does release these higher end laptops, they’re going to sell like gangbusters.

iOS

I didn’t get the things I wanted most, which were a split view version of PIP instead of a floating PIP window, and revamped view of Messages app history (unless Apple silently made it work better and it didn’t get an announcement). Some changes were announced around showing things that were shared with you and surfacing them in other apps, but my much more common use case is one where my fiancé tells me he shared a link with me two weeks ago, and I need to dig to find it because our message history is huge.

FaceTime is getting some welcome quality of life improvements. The spatial audio changes coming to FaceTime sound particularly Apple-like, and I have a feeling that when you hear a call with these audio improvements it’ll just have a certain je ne sais quoi that will lead people to just feel like the quality is better, even if the bitrate is the same. These are exactly the kinds of details Apple loves to obsess over, and it makes a difference.

FaceTime is also catching up to Zoom with a couple features like grid view, the ability to blur your background, and the ability to share links to a call. Also, it’ll finally be possible to have a FaceTime call with someone on a non-Apple platform.

One wish I didn’t expect to see fulfilled but it was: relay servers via iCloud+. That wish was really a long shot for me, but I think it’s a great feature for Apple to be offering. I’m also glad to see that iOS will show you exactly what domains your apps are talking to; it’s reminiscent of Little Snitch and I think it’s a tool with more teeth than just asking the app not to track you.

Wallet

I was excited to see that you can now put your ID card into your Wallet app. Apple was pretty hush hush about which US states are supporting this, so I’m guessing the details are yet to be hashed out.

Support for unlocking your home’s doors looks exciting. I currently use a keypad but I’d love to see a world where I can swipe my Apple Watch or phone to the door to unlock.

iPadOS

The most important thing I wanted to see from iPadOS was for it to replace its current clunky multitasking model with a new one that is consistent, doesn’t require guessing, and where the various bits of functionality are composable with one another. Honestly, I think the end game for this will be for iPadOS to support app windows, but Apple apparently wasn’t willing to go quite so far this year. But they are making some nice improvements to the interface to using the existing multitasking support, and that is welcome. I find split screens to be really inflexible personally (it’s so annoying that if you have a split screen and you want a third app you literally have to cover one of the split screens up), but it’s something.

When iPadOS didn’t get widgets or App Library support last year, I assumed it was because Apple had something bigger in store for iPadOS. Turns out, they didn’t, and they just released those features a year late for iPad. Those should have been added in an iOS 14 point update.

The Files app and underlying APIs didn’t really get any mentions, but I hope they improved this year. The Files app is flirting with being completely unusable.

There was no word about multi-monitor support on iPadOS. I’m guessing we aren’t seeing this for the same reason iPadOS isn’t switching to full-blown windows as its multitasking model–it’s a lot of work to implement.

The least Apple could do is throw in Thunderbolt Target Display Mode on iPad so the Thunderbolt port doesn’t completely go to waste. I would love for my iPad to double as a high quality portable Thunderbolt display when I’m on the road, and Sidecar doesn’t cut it (seriously, for all the finicky things Apple goes to great lengths to get right, I can’t believe they are okay with the kinds of washed out colors and compression you get from having your Sidecar display be an H.265 stream).

iPadOS is a decade old now and frankly, it has little to show for it. Most of iPadOS is just riding on iOS’s coattails. Especially now that iPadOS is its own separate thing, I expect to see it make major progress each year to becoming its own computing platform. The first two years brought a handful of features each, and this year we’re getting something a little more substantial (and in total fairness Apple added cursor support last spring in a point update which was huge), but will we see another leap next year? In five years I hope to see iPadOS living up to the ambitions that the iPad’s hardware designers clearly have for it.

watchOS

I’m not usually wanting for new watchOS features. I mostly just want every interaction on watchOS to become faster and I’d be happy (and I’m not sure if there are any improvements on that front but if there are, they weren’t mentioned).

I was particularly interested in the HomeKit doorbell integration. If I can’t get this working with my Ring doorbell via HomeBridge I can see myself trying out a competitor’s doorbell just for the ability to see a live video feed on my watch (and given that I used to work for Ring and love their products, that’s saying something).

macOS

In past WWDC keynotes macOS would be the first thing talked about so I had kind of forgotten about it when Craig brought it up near the end of the keynote.

Much like watchOS, with macOS I wasn’t expecting much. I really just wanted bug fixes more than anything (Big Sur left a lot of new bugs in its wake), but Apple had some surprises up its sleeve.

I have been pining for something like Universal Control lately. I used to use apps like Teleport and Synergy to be able to control other computers on my desk with a single mouse and keyboard, but Teleport got discontinued while Synergy’s developers seem not to give a crap about a usable UI. But Universal Control doesn’t just let me control two Macs with one keyboard and mouse at my desk, I can even control an iPad. That looked pretty awesome and it was a delightful surprise. Similarly delightful is the fact that Macs can now be an AirPlay target.

Automator is now retired and is being replaced by a macOS version of Shortcuts. I haven’t dug much into that but I’m hoping that it brings new capabilities. I’ve never found Automator style shortcuts to be that useful to me (and the same applies to the Shortcuts app on iOS; it’s always felt to me like die hard iOS users just make them because they can).

Safari

Safari on macOS got a really neat looking makeover! I keep finding myself on the verge of making Safari my main browser and I think it could happen one of these days.

I am particularly excited to hear that WebExtensions API extensions will be supported on all versions of Safari. Long term I look forward to a day when I can switch freely between browsers and not worry that I’m going to lose an essential extension. And given that Apple has formed a consortium with other browser vendors to move the WebExtensions API standard forward and ensure interoperability.

Parting Thoughts

This keynote was a stark reminder of the sheer breadth of OSes and services Apple is actively managing. I didn’t even get into other stuff like Health app improvements or App Store changes. But also, the Venn diagram of my wish list versus what was announced was kind of odd to see; I’ve been focused lately on a lot of pain points and bugs because these are mature platforms and I mostly have the features I love, but I need them to be reliable.

As with last year, this year’s WWDC comes on the tail end of a lot of bad developer relations PR. I didn’t expect Apple to address that stuff head on; they always prefer to address that in WWDC by showing us all the cool stuff they’ve built for developers, but one slide stands out to me: the slide that says Apple has paid out $230 billion total to developers.

Setting aside that this also means developers paid Apple 30% of that over the years, that number bothers me because Apple just tries to show us that as a big number that’s supposed to amaze us, but $230 billion is the total amount of money Apple has paid out to all of the hundreds of thousands of developers since 2008, But in just the last three quarters, Apple took in $265 billion in revenue. I bet if you subtract out the money paid out to Candy Crush-type game developers for in-app purchases, the picture looks even bleaker. That size differential can’t possibly mean a healthy relationship between Apple and the developers dependent on Apple. And as Apple’s gotten bigger, growth has been getting harder and harder to find; Apple’s saturated the market with iPhones and other devices so we’re past the days of explosive hardware growth. And at Apple’s size, it has to grow revenue a ton just to keep the healthy growth percentages that investors expect. It’s pushed Apple in recent years into pursuing services revenue, which includes App Store revenues and other subscriptions Apple sells, and this Apple looks different.

Overall, though, these are going to be some great new OS releases this fall.

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Apple: Working remote, or remotely working?

a desk with a mouse and keyboard on it
I’m glad to see that Apple employees are speaking up and pushing on Apple to embrace a more remote-friendly environment.

Apple absolutely has a culture that has enabled them to create incredible products over the years, but being colocated to get work done isn’t one of those things.

Executives love coming back to the office because they spend their time in meetings most of the day and remote meetings kind of suck in some ways. When it comes to focused work, though, a sizeable chunk of Apple’s team can benefit immensely from the flexibility afforded by remote work. Running a remote company lets you have team members from everywhere. It makes possible a more accommodating workspace for a wide range of people, from parents to people who are neurodivergent and find an open office to be a torrent of stimuli.

It’s really frustrating to watch a bunch of Apple bloggers who have never worked at Apple maintain this “how dare they” attitude toward Apple employees, sometimes implying that these employees don’t get Apple culture if they’re asking for this.

I’ve reported dozens of bugs to Apple over the years and I run into dozens more that I couldn’t even report. A tiny fraction of them ever get fixed. Apple is one of the most valuable companies in the world, and they have more cash on hand than any other company in the world, and they can’t fix their bugs. Hiring and retaining talent is a huge challenge for Apple, and if employees are speaking up and giving Apple a clear way they can better retain talented people, Apple ought to be listening.

There’s a quote attributed to Steve Jobs: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Now I know for a fact Steve didn’t live up to this himself (he kept engineers working over the holidays so he could demo custom wallpaper on the iPad), but it would be nice to see the Apple community at least aim to live up to that standard. There are smart people at Apple telling leadership that there is a better way to do things.

Remote work works. People are equally or more productive when remote. The best defense of staying colocated is usually the same type of fuzzy feel-good argument that brought us such hits as “open offices make us more productive because they create serendipity.” Executives love onsite work for the same reason they love the open office: they love that feeling of power of watching all the worker bees together in the same place working on something, and actually saying that out loud would sound callous, so they come up with other excuses as to why it’s better.

Remote work saved our asses when pandemic struck. It kept the economy from grinding to a halt while keeping millions safely in their homes. And not only did we get to enjoy the perk of “being able to keep your job in a pandemic,” we also got to experience the other advantages: losing the commute, ability to set up a private workspace (space at home permitting) and not being coupled to being in a certain city or location to get work done. We don’t need the threat of a deadly virus to keep reaping those benfits; people can do great work remotely when well-supported, and the fact that executives have been saying for years that it can’t be done only for us to have done it this past year shows that maybe we should be a little skeptical when these same executives tell us that we really need to get back into the office.

As for me, I was working remotely before the pandemic. I had to leave my last job because my boyfriend and I bought a house in another city and my company didn’t do remote work. And after doing it full time for awhile, I’ll be sticking with remote work for the foreseeable future.

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