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Big Tech and the Big Sur Update

I have been a Mac user for decades. From the time that I even learned to use a computer, it was on a Macintosh II. My dad was a Prof. in Computer Science and so I was exposed to computers and the internet at a young age. He used to create math games for myself and my sister to help us learn. My father to this date is probably the best teacher I have ever had.

Why am I explaining this? Well it's because I was an Apple user before being an Apple user was "cool". All the cool kids had a "PC" and I had a Mac. I am also explaining this because Apple has a heavy dose of personal nostalgia with me, which has also likely blinded me for a long time to their many many flaws.

My husband Kevin has disliked Apple for a while, and so we have a two device household in the sense that I have an iPhone and he has an Android. This is just personal preference and I am so used to the UI on the iPhone that using an Android just feels like an alien experience.

Up until about a month ago, we had a 2013 Macbook Air that worked totally fine. I actually even loved it more than the Macbook Pro that I had for work that one time. (More about Macbook Pros and "dongle life" in a later blog post.) This 2013 Macbook Air was listed as being compatible with the latest Big Sur update. Unfortunately, this latest Big Sur update was also our poor Macbook Air's downfall.

If you check out the developers forums on Apple, you will find that many users have complained of a battery drain issue once they updated to Big Sur 11.0.1. The fact that this update is a whole new version number - ELEVEN; it was a major update. And as someone who works in digital, I know that when updates like this happen it comes with some major risk as well. In our case, unfortunately, it killed our trusty 2013 Macbook Air.

When we first updated, we found that the battery would no longer charge when it was plugged in. Eventually it drained so much that it went down to 1% and then could only be used when plugged in. We were hoping for an update to patch fix this obvious issue caused by the update, as well as tried all of the fixes in the book. Eventually it hit a point where the battery was so low that it could no longer boot up when we accidently knocked the charger off. It was then that I contacted Apple Support who stated that I had a "legacy" product and as such she would only be obligated to spend 30 minutes on the chat.

Regardless, she gave us all the same fixes that you could find in the forums and we resigned ourselves to the fact that we could bring in the laptop for service but the best we could likely do is to ensure we pulled all important data off the hard drive. Luckily enough, my hubby (which is much more tech savvy that he gives himself credit for) got it to turn on long enough to pull all backups onto our external disk drive. And then my sister did us a solid with helping us out with a spare laptop until we got a new one. It is an HP and we love it.

It was then and there I decided moving forward I would try not to purchase Apple products. Apple does have this way of trying to create a self-contained loop of tech and product. What do I mean? You have to have all Apple everything for things to work seamlessly together. Oh and you can code an Android app on a Mac but you can't code an Apple app on a PC ... funny quirks right?

What this also brings up is I think a more ethical question towards Big Tech anytime they roll out a new update, a new algorithm or a new feature. What is their responsibility to their users (more so if they are paying users) when they roll out something that has defects? In this particular case, Apple has not acknowledged this issue. This update has caused pages and pages of complaints from their userbase which they do not seem to care about. At least my Macbook got 7 good years of no issues because it was killed by Big Sur. There are users with 2017 or 2018 Macbook Pros that can not longer use their laptops without it being plugged in - in which case, entirely defeats the purpose of a laptop in my opinion. Even users that were told by support to replace the battery - out of their own pocket no less - still had battery draining issues.

The excuse given is that this update was a major one, and perhaps the onus is on us and we should not have updated. But then why was our version listed in the list of compatible models?

As with all frustrating and problematic scenarios, there is always an opportunity to learn. And what did I learn here? (Besides never ever buying another Apple product again?) You as a user need to do your research, because unfortunately there currently doesn't seem to be any mechanism in place to hold Big Tech accountable for mistakes that they make. This type of learning can permeate beyond just updating your devices, it is with anything that is presented to you. Also, you have rights as a paying customer!

Apple has long banked on their past track record of innovation and forward thinking design and created fans of the brand. However as with all relationships we have to ask, and I quote Janet Jackson here: "What have you done for me lately?" And if the answer is something like anxiety and feeling blamed by the company you just shelled out 2K for a laptop that is now a desktop now? Maybe it's time to leave that relationship and move on.

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