A question of trust

by Giles Turnbull

When making decisions that might affect my working environment for the long term, I like to think carefully. I'd hate to rush into something, only to end up changing my mind after a few months and having to undergo the hassle of switching from one system to another, importing data from one format to another, or having to re-install data and apps from backups.

(Although ask my friends about my habit of changing weblog CMS every six months or so, then show them the paragraph above, and they will laugh out loud.)

It was lack of trust that stopped me buying an iMac G5 the other week. In terms of specification and price, the iMac was exactly the right computer for me to buy, fitting my needs perfectly.

But I couldn't help Googling around and finding a lot of complaints. At MacInTouch, there are dozens of reports, over many long pages, of iMac G5 machines overheating, crashing, and simply ceasing to work. Lots of people describe the midplane (essentially the motherboard) of the computer starting to show signs of getting too hot. Specific parts are described as "leaking" or "blistering" shortly before the machines die. Similar reports have popped up on many other web sites, causing some to suggest a recall of the whole product line.

I doubt Apple will do that, but it would be nice if the company could reassure customers, given the large number of problem reports. Was there a problem? Has it been fixed in recent production models? We trust Apple with our money, Apple should trust us with straightforward answers.

It's also lack of trust that has stopped me dealing with my vacation photos. Let me explain why.

About three weeks ago, just before I went on vacation, I bought a new Mac mini. This was the machine I decided I could trust (and so far, that trust has been very well placed).

One of its main roles was to handle all my digital photography from now on. For some years I'd used Graphic Converter on my iBook G3, but with the new G4 machine I was prepared to consider switching to different software.

"Great," I thought. "With the G4 power I'll finally be able to put iPhoto to use. Now that it has some editing oomph too, it'll be just the thing I need. Editing and management in one app. Perfect."

But once again, I Googled around, and found disquiet in many places.

Among the comments I found (lightly edited for profanity and clarity) were:

  • "iPhoto continually crashes, even on a dual G5."

  • "I've got about 20,000 photos and I can't get iPhoto to work any more."

  • "I'm not looking forward to recovering all my images from iPhoto's demented file structure."

  • "I'm tempted to bury the Mac mini in the garden and reach for my old Dell."

  • "Arrrrgh! iPhoto is driving me nuts!"

You get the idea. Reports that iPhoto makes further edits the moment you click 'Done' or, put another way, messes around with color profiles are unsettling to say the least.

I'm drawn to iPhoto because it's so easy to use, because it combines editing and managing in the same app and interface, and because there's a host of clever and useful plugins for it. But I find the numerous reports of trouble too numerous to ignore; they've undermined my trust in the application, and left me unwilling to commit myself to using it.

I spent several hours trying alternatives. I looked at Photoshop Elements, and Shoebox, and fired up iView Media Pro, which I've used in the past and know to be incredibly fast; but in the end, I came back to my old system of organizing in the Finder and editing in Graphic Converter. The act of using GC on a faster machine made me see it in a new light (and I discovered a hugely useful, time-saving tip as well), and I smiled. "This works," I said to myself. I can trust it.

How does software earn your trust?


2005-07-13 19:28:09
It's Simple...Quit Surfing
You should know by now that you'll only find complaints. When people are content, they're silent. When they're not, they bitch.
Just buy and enjoy. If for some reason you run into a problem, solve it then.
2005-07-13 20:26:05
Applecare should be free
Now the proud owner of 3 Apple machines (G4 17" P'Book, iMac G4 15" & iMac 20" 2Ghz) - I am a convert to Apple. After using PC's for about 15 years; moving to Apple when we started our graphic/web design business has been nothing short of a breath of fresh air.

Sure, there's been problems but aren't there always?

I think Apple has two reasonably easily solvable problems - one is the constantly touted ultimate reliability image professed by Apple and its legions of fans, the other is the extreme cost of Applecare.

Mac's are great machines but they're far from perfect - particularly when they're plagued by seemingly innocuous problems related to fonts etc - in the past year almost all the problems we've had across several machines have all been font related.

Applecare tell me the 'font' folders are 'very senesitive'.
Time someone looked into this do you think?

Secondly, our recent problems with our brand new iMac G5 were reasonably quickly resolved with a call to Applecare (on the free 90 days trial). Now, given how much we're paying for these machines - would it hurt Apple so much to provide Applecare free for 12 months? Certainly that would be a huge plus point for me. The cost of purchasing Applecare is frankly, ludicrous.

So, on the whole we love our Mac's and the new iMac 20" is a dream machine to work on now it works, so don't be put off. I for one have never had any problems with iPhoto though then that may be luck, who knows. What I do know, is that so far I have lost nowhere near the amount of working days I did when running WinTel PC's.

2005-07-14 03:44:07
Weird way to investigate a product
There are millions of people on the Internet. It doesn't matter what you're looking for, you'll always find dozens of people for whom it didn't work. I've never had a problem with iPhoto and don't know anyone who had one. Besides, you do backup regularly, don't you? Searching the Internet for complaints about a product and then not buying it if you find some just seems, you know, weird.
2005-07-15 10:09:11
iMac 20": So far, so good
I did the same research you did, but found very few complaints from people who own recently-made 20" iMacs. The heat and capacitor issues seemed to have been avoilded with this model, in part because it is bigger and seems to handle heat dissipation better.

After a week of owning one (with 1-gig RAM and wireless keyboard/mouse) I have to say that it's been a wonderful, trouble-free experience, and the 20" screen is a pleasant change from the 17" Apple LCD I had on my dual-800MHz Powermac.

2005-07-18 17:46:18
iPhoto 5.0.3
The recent update to iPhoto claims to fix the problem where images could be color shifted after editing on Tiger.


2005-07-18 17:47:43
Can't trust the Internet
If there's anything I know, it's that I can't trust the Internet! Every single product I've ever used by any computer company, hardware or software, sounds like a complete piece of dog**** going by Internet forums and support sites. People rarely write in to say "Wow, my new XYZ iThingamajig is working so well! It's problem free! It's the best thing I've ever used! I will never use any other product again!"

I have two iMac G5 17" models, the original one (middle-end) and the latest one (low-end) -- both at 1.8GHz. Both of them are just fine. No problems that I know of other than I've had an occasional "external speakers don't work after I unplug the headphone cord" problem which I think might be OS-related. Anyway, YMMV.