MacBook Keyboard Failure Rates

AppleInsider: 2016 MacBook Pro Butterfly Keyboards Failing Twice as Frequently as Older Models

All data has been collected from assorted Apple Genius Bars in the U.S. that we have been working with for several years, as well as Apple-authorized third-party repair shops.

The 2014 MacBook Pro model year saw 2120 service events in the first year, with 118 related to keyboard issues necessitating an upper case replacement —5.6 percent of all MacBook Pros serviced in the first year. The 2015 has 1904 service tickets, with 114 relating to the keyboard, making 6.0 percent.

The two numbers are very similar, which is to be expected. The keyboards were essentially unchanged since the 2012 Retina MacBook Pro, and should have failure rates similar to each other.

Apple released the new keyboard with the MacBook, and moved the design to the 2016 MacBook Pro. In the first year of the 2016 MacBook Pro, our data gathered 1402 warranty events, with 165 related to only the keyboard and not including the Touch Bar —11.8 percent.

We don’t have a full year of data for the 2017 MacBook Pro yet. But, since release in June 2017, our data set has 1161 captured service events with 94 related to keyboard issues also not including any Touch Bar issues —8.1 percent.

Failure rates across all four models are relatively static, with no appreciable increase or decrease in events reported at any time after release. Percentages of failures were comparable between the third-party authorized shops, and the Genius Bar data.

The title is a little misleading, but that data is still troubling. To add to the frustrations of this issue, repairing a MacBook Pro keyboard will set you back around $700. When you pay north of $1,000 for a computer, it should be reliable. Apple should be doing better than this.

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Taking Control of Your Facebook Privacy

The Verge: How to Use Facebook While Giving It the Minimum Amount of Personal Data

Facebook has found itself embroiled in yet another colossal controversy related to how its sprawling, multibillion-person social network has been abused by bad actors. This time, the culprit is Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm used by President Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 US election to target election ads on Facebook. It turns out, Cambridge Analytica misused the user data of as many as 50 million Facebook users via its affiliated behavior research firm Strategic Communication Laboratories, which violated Facebook’s terms of service by acquiring said data from a third-party app and reportedly lying about when that data was deleted and how it was used.

So now is as good a time as ever to remind you that — beyond deleting your Facebook account for good — there are some precautions you can take to protect your privacy and make use of Facebook as a utility without compromising your personal data. No single user can prevent a company like Cambridge Analytica from lying to the public and lying to Facebook about where its data came from and how it’s using it. But you can make sure that a significant chunk of your data is never out there in the first place.

Since I help manage a couple of business pages, it’s impractical for me to delete my Facebook account. These tips are helpful for increasing privacy while still using the platform.

Much of a Universe

NPR: Stephen Hawking, Who Awed Both Scientists And The Public, Dies

There aren’t very many scientists who achieved rock star status. Stephen Hawking, who has died at the age of 76, family members told British media early Wednesday, was definitely a contender.

“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” the family statement said, according to The Guardian. “His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him for ever.”

One of the things that always impressed me about Hawking was his future. Despite any physical limitations he faced, despite skepticism for his ideas from some corners of the public, and even occasionally ending up in political crosshairs, Hawking never let bitterness or cynicism take over. He was funny, likable, and brilliant.

Choosing Between Android and iOS

Gizmodo: Why Choosing Between Android and iOS Still Matters

Gizmodo has a nice overview of most of the basic difference between Android and iOS devices that still matter. It’s a good read if, like me, you’re finding yourself torn between the benefits and drawbacks of each platform.

Android and iOS might have borrowed enough features from each other over the years to make the superficial differences not so great any more (iOS even has widgets these days), but dig a little deeper and you’ve got three main ways that Apple’s mobile platform differs from Google’s. This is what you need to know about them, and why your pick of smartphone OS still matters.

One of the big differences in choosing a mobile device platform rather than a desktop or laptop system is that the mobile choice is a far smaller commitment. With the ability to upgrade your device after a couple years, it’s not as daunting a prospect to jump from iOS to Android (or vice versa) as it is Mac to Windows.

Designing Windows 95

Socket 3: Designing the Windows 95 Interface

This link contains a recovered paper that Microsoft UI Researcher Kent Sullivan authored regarding the development of Windows 95’s now famous interface. Two notes about this paper:

  • It’s fascinating to see the evolution of elements — like the Start Menu and the Taskbar — many people have taken for decades.
  • Stick around for the comments after the article. The original author joins in and responds to a few questions.

Although we abandoned the idea of a separate shell for beginners, we salvaged its most useful features: single-click access, high visibility, and menu-based interaction. We mocked up a number of representations in Visual Basic and tested them with users of all experience levels, not just beginners, because we knew that the design solution would need to work well for users of varying experience levels. Figure 5 shows the final Start Menu, with the Programs sub-menu open. The final Start Menu integrated functions other than starting programs, to give users a single-button home base in the UI.

Compel the Reader to Read the Next Sentence

The Writing Cooperative: 10 Unusual But Critical Edit Checks Before You Hit Publish

There’s some incredibly good advice here.

Each time you read your piece focus on one checklist item. In your first pass, read your copy out loud. See where you stumble. On your second pass, move to the second checklist item. With each pass, look at your piece through a different lens.

I know that I can really benefit from the edits suggested in this article, and I hope you’ll find them useful as well.

Reflecting on #MeToo

We have to do better. Not simply for the sake of our daughters, our wives, our sisters, or any other woman we may want to define by relationship. No, we have to do better because women are *people*. We have to be willing to listen and break the pattern of victim-shaming that has permeated our culture when it comes to sexual aggression. We have historically put all of the attention — largely negative — on the victim. In doing so, we suggest culpability.

When I was ten years old, an elderly man approached me in a toy store and attempted to molest me (true story). If he had succeeded, no one would have blamed me in any way. But if it had been a girl or woman of any age in my place, we might question what she was wearing, why she was alone, how she had led the guy on, etc. We infer culpability. And we have to stop it.

Victim-shaming only leads to victims being hesitant to speak out because they see it as easier to deal with the consequences of being assaulted or coerced than dealing with the fallout and shame of coming forward. Victim-shaming only makes the problem more pervasive. It makes life easier for sexual predators.

I know that I’ve unintentionally created awkward or uncomfortable situations for women in the past. I never intended offense, but intentions mean nothing. Instead of leaning on intentions, I had to listen without judgment, without ego, and without self-justification. That’s how we learn to do better. It’s not easy to hear you wronged someone, especially when you thought you were helping; but it’s better to hear and change than to continue a harmful pattern.

Guys, let’s be self-aware and self-critical. Be honest. Listen. And always strive to be better. If anything good has come from such public figures being outed for their flagrant mistreatment of others, it’s that it should make us all deeply self-reflective of how we can be better.

Because we can do better. We can be better.

 

Treating You As a Product

Fast Company: Apple Explains How It’s Making Siri Smart Without Endangering User Privacy

Joswiak argues that Siri can be every bit as helpful as other assistants without accumulating a lot of personal user data in the cloud, as companies like Facebook and Google are accustomed to doing. “We’re able to deliver a very personalized experience . . . without treating you as a product that keeps your information and sells it to the highest bidder. That’s just not the way we operate.”

How Siri learns—and how much personal data it needs to be effective—is of utmost importance to Apple: Future updates to Siri will give it an increasingly central role in our interactions with all kinds of Apple products.

Craig Federighi, the company’s senior vice president of software, wrote in an email to Fast Company that “Siri is no longer just a voice assistant . . . Siri on-device intelligence is streamlining everyday interactions with our devices.” Apple teams have “worked to make it a core part of all of our platforms”—iOS, MacOS, tvOS, watchOS, and HomePod.

I don’t know that I’d claim Siri is as good as, say, Google Assistant, but she’s almost as good. And I’m willing to trade that minor gap in helpfulness for more control over my privacy any day.

For Subscribers

Just a quick note that, along with trying to be more active with this site again, I’m going back and restoring a bunch of posts I’ve archived for various reasons.

If you subscribe to this site, that means you’ll be seeing email notifications about things published in the past. Thanks for your patience, and I apologize for unintentionally spamming your inbox.

Thoughts on Apple TV

The last couple of years have seen a strange transition in my home. We’re watching more TV than ever thanks largely to Netflix. I also own a ton of iTunes content — mostly BBC and Pixar stuff — but I don’t watch those as much simply because we don’t currently own an Apple TV. And connecting my iPhone to the TV is never the best experience. I’ve thought about getting one before, but I keep holding back primarly because Apple TV feels so stuck in the past.

I’m apparently not alone. The Verge recently reported that Apple TV has dropped to 15% of all streaming devices sold while Roku has been gaining marketshare. Some possible reasons include:

  • Price
  • Lack of 4K HDR content
  • Lack of Amazon Video

It sounds more and more like we will be hearing about how Apple will address these shortcomings in their September 12 media event. I will be genuinely surpised if Apple touches the price, but I do expect support for first and third-party 4K HDR video as well as the possible launch of Amazon Video on Apple TV. (We already know that Amazon Video should be coming this “summer.”)

These might be enough to sway me at last, but we’re also in the market for a new television. Our current display is a 40″ Samsung we got in 2007.  That gets me wishing for another possibility.

My Pipe Dream

I think Apple’s best way into the living room is not through a box, but through a TV. If your TV has a smart platform built in, chances are that’s already how you get to Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, and the like. However, I’m not advocating Apple build their own TV. I’m advocating that they, like Roku, find a partner or two.

Immediately, I would cross Samsung from the list for obvious reasons, not the least of which being they already build their own TV platform. I would knock TCL and Hisense off for having too much of a low-end reputation that would not fit Apple’s image. LG seems a great fit at first glance, but they already have a solid home-baked smart platform built on the resurrected WebOS.

That really leaves two major players I see as possible contenders: Vizio and Sony.

The Case for Vizio

Vizio is the harder of the two to sell because they largely compete on the budget end of things. However, they do sell a more premium line of TVs called their P-series. They have a design philosophy of minimalist sophistication. Their internally-developed smart platform has been problematic, and they also have the advantage of being headquarted in the same general part of the world as Apple.

In this scenario, I see Apple and VIzio developing a variation of the P-Series displays. Let’s call it the A-series, where, instead of SmartCast, the TV would be built around tvOS and built around an A8 or better chip. Apple handles the form factor and software while Vizio handles the display technology and actual manufacturing.

This could be a mutually beneficial relationship. Apple gets to be in a position where they have a good amount of control, but they don’t have to worry about building out a new manufacturing process. Vizio finally gets a solid smart platform and some much-needed name recognition attached to their products.

The Case for Sony

Potential partnerships between Apple and Sony have been floated for years, going all the way back to reports that there were prototype versions of macOS (née Mac OS) running on Sony hardware at one point. It makes sense. Sony has solid indistrial design. They have a reputation for high-end products, and they have good reliability. All of these fit Apple’s established brand well.

Right now, Sony uses Android TV as their built-in platform, software in which they have no investment or stake. It’s also a system criticized for being complicated and slow. Almost every review I’ve read of Sony TVs will criticize Android TV. It could be easily replaced. Here I see Sony potentially licensing tvOS for varients of their higher-end existing lines, say x900 and up, and moving those varients to Apple’s A-series architecture.

This partnership may not give Apple as much control, but it does give them a partner with a large, already loyal, base. Where they would have to build a customer base through Vizio, that legwork will aready be done with Sony.

The Reality

Do I really think any of this will happen? No, I don’t. Apple is not one for partnerships like this. The last one I can even think of is the abysmal Motorola Rockr, an experience that I’m sure left Apple executives with a bad tase. I do believe licensing tvOS — a platform that already embraces the unique needs and limitations of televisions — would be far more successful than shoehorning some iTunes functionality into a flip phone.

The likliest case is that Apple will just update the box called Apple TV. If they ever move into the market for actual sets, they’ll almost certainly go it alone. If they do, I’m sure they’ll be fine. After all, they have a habit of successfully moving into established spaces. They just need to feel they have a game changer. In the case of the iPod, it was iTunes and ease-of-use. The iPhone put a multi-touch computer in your pocket. Apple Watch made wellness tracking mainstream. If Apple is going to “walk in” to the TV market, they will have something to set themselves apart from the pack.