In 2009 I hosted a Windows 7 Launch Party. It was a fully sanctioned, fully supplied by Microsoft Windows 7 Launch Party. I received two copies of Windows 7 Ultimate Edition: one for a giveaway and one for myself. I had party favors and a list of suggested games and feature demonstrations. I watched the Pre-Launch Video designed to prep us for the merriment, and which has also been parodied all over the Internet over the past decade. I played honest and true geek.

In 2009 I was all in on Windows 7, and that was even after being part of the testing team for the preceding Windows Vista fiasco. I had Windows 7 installed on my MacBook Pro at the time. For the most part I really liked the platform and user experience.

When the iPhone, and later the iPad, came out I went all in on Apple products; the integration was just easier to manage. After writing code and doing network things all day long (and through long hours of on-call nights), I wanted a home setup that just worked. Microsoft products still needed fiddling, Linux required a LOT of time and energy that I just did not have, and Apple made promises of It Just Works. For the most part, it did.

As a geek I’m happiest when I’m all in on one computing platform. The OCD side of my brain has a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of using Microsoft Word on Mac OS or the Google Chrome browser on my iPad. Storing my files on Dropbox and then working to sync everything together to work with dissimilar operating systems just runs contrary to the way my brain thinks.

But being all in on one platform in 2019 is really not feasible.

Over the past several months I’ve tried to make all of our home automation magic run on Apple’s HomeKit. We can yell into the air, “Hey Siri, turn on the lights in the dining room”, and Siri will do it around 65% of the time.

“Hey Siri, turn on the lights in the dining room”. Three of the four lights come on.

“Hey Siri, turn off the lights in the dining room”. All the lights go out.

“Hey Siri, turn on the dining room lights”. All the lights come on. We then enjoy a nice meal.

“Hey Siri, turn off the dining room lights”. Siri replies, “I don’t know how to help you with that.”

“Hey Siri, turn off the dining room lights”. One light goes off.

“Hey Siri, turn off the lights in the dining room”. The lights in my office come on and then a HomePod starts playing profanity-laden rap music. I suppose it’s Siri’s way of tell me to f*&k off.

Needless to say, Siri and her HomeKit are not reliable. Not even close. Luckily, I still have a couple of Google Home Minis so I fired them up, waved to KellyAnne Conway through her microwave, and asked Google to do some home automation magic.

Google Home did everything it was told to do and probably told the NSA, CIA, and the FBI about it, but by God the lights in the dining room were finally off.

In 2019 I can’t be all in on Apple. It doesn’t “just work” anymore and iOS 13’s release has been a disaster. I remarked on Twitter today that the IMAP protocol used to handle email has been around for a couple of decades but Apple has somehow figured out a way to break it for the iPhone and iPad. I can no longer reliably fetch email on my iPhone, even though it’s been fine on this exact phone for two years prior to iOS 13. Folks online suggest wiping the phone out and starting over.

That hearkens back to the days of reinstalling Windows 98 every other week. It’s like iOS 13 is the Millennium Edition of Apple software.

Because my mind works best in “computing canisters”, I’m making a private list to define what constitutes my computing ecosystem. I’m still working out the particulars. The family is all on iMessage and FaceTime, so that’s not going anywhere. Over the past year I’ve paid for subscriptions to iCloud Drive (again with the 80% reliability rate), Dropbox (plenty o’ security holes, enough to resemble Swiss cheese), and Google Drive (works natively on everything but Linux and will prolly guarantee my pictures ending up on a billboard someday). These three will be narrowed down to one by the end of the year. I’m leaning toward the billboard risk. I’m using my existing hardware, tying it together with some of the Google sauce (still waving to KellyAnne through the microwave!), and hoping for the best. Once I have my methods documented I’ll feel more comfortable about this whole arrangement and I guess I’ll just have to apologize to Steve during my next prayer session.

As the 21st century progressed technology was suppose to become more reliable, safer, and cheaper. Yet mediocrity is the name of the software game, people are losing millions to scams, everyone lives their life on horrid social media platforms, and it’s becoming common place to spend over $1K on a cell phone. Expectations are so low that folks are pleased when their phone lasts for a year. Imagine swapping out your rotary wall phone in avocado green every year.

Madness? You betcha.

I’d love to hear where others are living in the computing ecosystem game. Are you all in on one platform? Do you mix and match? Are you a little Jamesway and a little bit Bradlees?

There’s a McDonalds at nearby Woodfield Mall that has a mix of cash registers made by Panasonic, NCR, PAR, and IBM. The dated, dissimilar systems work together in harmony. As a retail computer geek this absolutely fascinates me.

Perhaps they have the right idea.


  1. Why are you inside my head!?

    I literally have a life crisis about this once every 3 months.

    I want nothing more than to be completely loyal to one brand – the best brand. But it just doesn’t work yet.

    I’m usually 75% in on Apple but iOS/MacOS rollout this year put me off and my AV (Cylance) didn’t even support Catalina until TODAY. So a couple weeks back I went all-in on Google and moved over to my Pixel 3a XL phone. Of course I can’t live on a Chromebook so that meant also using my Surface Pro laptop – which was fine. I’m actually loving Windows 10 and don’t mind living in that ecosystem all day either – but Microsoft no longer makes phones so that doesn’t work for 100% all-in either.

    So then this weekend I bought a GoPro. Installed the app on my Pixel only to find out the app isn’t supported on the Pixel 3a XL. So back to Apple I go. And mind you it takes about 3 days to fully migrate back between phones (thanks Authenticator apps).

    So – I’m back on Apple now. Typing on my MacBook Pro right now, Surface Pro once again just a show piece on my desk.

    But CAN One fully go Apple? Not really.

    See, we have a family domain here in the ElmoreBarnes household and Troy and I both love our vanity domain email. Well, Apple doesn’t do bring-your-own-domain email. So already – not 100% in on Apple.

    So now we have to figure out who’s going to host our email, and that really comes down to either Google (G Suite) or Microsoft (O365).

    Another factor – Troy MUST have Microsoft Office on whatever computer he’s using. He absolutely refuses to use any online Word or Excel alternative. And we have several computers each – so there’s a yearly cost for Microsoft Office at a business level that allows for multiple computers.

    So here’s where we are currently:

    Phones – iPhones XS Max (we’re waiting for the 11s thank you very much)

    Computers – I’m all in with my MacBook for personal and I have to use a Surface Pro for work. Troy is mostly a Surface Pro with an iMac on the side.

    HomeKit – I’m really pushing for Apple but we have a Google Home Hub Max on the bedside that Troy and I just love so in reality our HomeKit (when the house is built in a few months) will likely involve us yelling at both Siri and Google to do things.

    Everything Else – Office 365. 2 licenses in our own little Microsoft playground gives us each 5 installs of Office 365 and hosts our email with the most secured back-end I’ve seen out there. We also try to live in the 365 apps because the data is (theoretically) secure there. We use OneDrive for data, Teams for collaboration (coming in REAL handy while buying and building a house), OneNote for notes, etc. Microsoft has made tremendous efforts in making their apps cross-platform compatible and available online as a last resort. If you’re a family of more than one person I highly recommend considering this.

    So, to recap – yes, I get the struggle.

    The other night after the GoPro incident I was almost on the verge of tears in the living room. Troy asked me what was wrong and I explained the predicament. I explained it like this: between Apple, Microsoft, and Google I feel like my brain is being pulled in 3 directions at once and it’s literally driving me crazy. And this is an ongoing battle.

    (sorry for the long reply)

    1. You get it! This is exactly how I feel! I didn’t even talk about work; the company I work for has gone all in on Microsoft products so I’m using Windows 10 on a really cheap laptop provided by work. (I would love a Surface for work). We have O365 at home so Earl can work on spreadsheets for the Home Owners Association. I’d go in on OneDrive but I didn’t have good experience with the iOS versions of the software. Maybe I should re-evaluate that.

      I’m happy to read of someone else that gets my struggle!

      1. It’s also interesting living with someone who really couldn’t care less about this stuff. Troy thinks I’ve lost my mind. He just doesn’t understand why someone would even care. My guess is 95% of the world is like Troy and just doesn’t care. “As long as it works who cares?”

        The OneDrive app, specifically on MacOS, has really come a long way. It’s very stable now and works great as my daily driver.

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