Joel Spolsky’s new Computer

Joel Spolsky made a splash on Twitter:

Sorry Apple. After 10 years loyalty, this latest MBPro with useless touchbar and unreliable keyboard was last straw. Switched to Dell XPS13đź‘‹

I am using a Dell Precision 5510 (which is basically a rebranded XPS15) at work for more than a year now.

My only minor complaint is that Dell doesn’t seem to care about fine-tuning the hinge such that it is possible to open the lid with one hand while the machine is lying flat on the table.

Apart from that, it’s a solid hardware with modern components that has a Skylake processor and that supports being loaded with up to 32 GB of RAM1.

Even as a Mac user for more than 20 years, I wouldn’t hesitate giving money to Dell for an XPS 15 (or 13) to run my my private stuff if only there was an officially supported way to run macOS on it.

Joel, for what it is worth, does not seem to care much about the software aspect. While many will agree with Joel on the hardware choice, I bet that the question of the operating system is not as unequivocal.

Windows has gotten better with Windows 10. But in my personal experience, it is still way behind macOS in many measurable ways. Plus, for people heavily invested into software based firmly in the Apple ecosystem the idea of switching to Windows is still a scary idea2.


  1. I have personally no experience with this option or the implications on battery life. 
  2. Especially the prospect of having to keep a Windows installation that is not maintained by a corporate IT department free of malware would give me nightmares. 

App Store Adventures

It all started with a mistake, that’s fully admitted. I was browsing a web site that had some app recommendations. Tapping one app icon on the site opened the App Store app that in turn told me that the item was not available in the German Store. Oh, and whether I wished to switch to the U.S. store.

Thanks, no. Somehow (and here comes the mistake part) my tap was a bit too much off-center and registered with the “yes, switch me over” button.

Welcome to the U.S. store.

At least, that’s what it looked like. Instead of naming the price of an app in € the labels all had a $ on it. At this point, it was totally safe for me to assume that the switch actually happened.

I struggled with a faint memory of a similar incident a couple of years ago: there had to be a way to switch back immediately, and got confirmation by the fast-reacting @AppleSupport Twitter account. Kudos, I was really impressed by the prompt reaction.

Unfortunately, I was still unable to follow the advice: In order to proceed into the “Country/Region” section of my Apple Id properties dialog, I was told that first I would have to cancel my ongoing Apple Music subscription and then wait until it expired. Which would not happen before (you guessed it) end of February.

Great!

As an aside, I really don’t understand why tapping on “Country/Region” results in the information that I can’t switch without cancelling Apple Music instead of just telling me what my current region is. If this were the case and Settings.app had informed me about my current region the whole issue would have been over by then (I have filed a radar).

Frustrated, I called Apple support on the phone and was quickly connected to a support person who, after listening to my story, confirmed to my surprise that the switch had actually never happened. According to the support person, I was positively still on the German Store.

And yet, this information was somehow at odds with the fact that the App Store app on my phone insisted on app prices in $ instead of €.

So I did what I was supposed to do in this situation: reboot the phone. Still: $.

I went to my iPad, launched the App Store app and watched all the little € appear in the place where they are supposed to appear. This was another reassuring indication that the switch really never happened. But how on earth would I be able to get my phone back to my native currency.

After some time, I wondered what would happen if I tried to purchase an app on (what still seemed to me) the U.S. App Store.

Here’s the thing: after confirming my intention to buy a random app I was informed that this app was not available on the U.S. App Store and, hallelujah, whether I wanted to switch to the German App Store.

Yes, sure. Please do it. Can’t wait.

Now that everything is back to where it belongs I’m still struggling to understand what was happening. It seemed that the App Store app initiated the switch which, however, was immediately deflected by my existing Apple Music subscription.

But somehow the App Store app had convinced itself that the switch went through and it would only be able to get back on track when an actual purchase transaction was attempted.

Whatever, I’m pleased that this adventure turned out well. Apple support in Ireland (yes, you apparently get connected to Ireland if you call from Germany) deserves an honorary mention for the crucial confirmation that my account was never actually moved.

I can’t help ending with the clever conclusion that if you want your iOS devices to prevent your account from inadvertently switching to a different App Store: buy an Apple Music subscription!

Pocket Casts Notifications, reloaded

I had this struggle with double notifications in Pocket Casts. First, I seemed to have found a solution by signing out and into my account again, but after some time the pair-wise notification were back.

Tired of this issue, I eventually deactivated notifications within Pocket Casts. After that, you’d expect that notifications would stop popping up altogether going forward, right?

Wrong.

Here’s the thing: I still got notifications, only the notifications din’t come in pairs any longer. Weird.

OK, time for more radical measures. I deleted the app, and reloaded it from the App Store. Unfortunately, I did not even make it to the first notification when I realized that the audio effects were simply not available.

The buttons were just inactive, and it was not possible to use these features. This was no good.

After taking a deep breath, I was willing to give it one additional shot. If that worked I would stay with Pocket Casts, otherwise it would finally be time to leave.

Again, delete the app. Reload. Launch. Try audio effects. Wait for incoming notifications. Phew.

The tentative conclusion is that the last install seem to work according to my expectation. However, I have to say that this job stretched my loyalty to the product dangerously close to the snapping point.