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Lawrie McFarlane: Nothing about the new iMac is simple or easy

Holding back on bad language to describe miserable new-computer experience
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The machine comes with a miniaturized keyboard, shrunk to the point where you continually hit both the key you're aiming for, and several on each side, writes Lawrie McFarlane.

This is one of the more difficult pieces I’ve written, principally because the Times Colonist, like most newspapers, frowns on bad language. And really, there’s no other way to do justice to apple.com’s most recent offering.

I’m talking about the execrable 2021 iMac computer. In days gone by, anyone who came up with junk like this would have spent time in the stocks. Against this ­admittedly distant possibility, I’m ­maintaining a supply of suitable projectiles.

I’ve used Mac computers for years, because they’re less vulnerable to viruses and malware infections. And the early ­versions were a pleasure to work with, in part because they were easy to use and ­simple.

Along the way, though, I’ve suffered silently through endless software “updates,” each one needier and less intuitive than the last.

But no more. It’s time to speak out.

Over the holidays, I bought a new iMac — the old one had grown slower with time. When I tried setting it up, were it not for our needlessly restrictive firearm laws, I would have taken it out back and shot it.

The driving philosophy appears to be, if it’s not broken, break it.

Let’s start at the beginning. This ­hellhound is packaged in a box with key information, like the serial number, printed cunningly out of sight on the underside. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, font size 0.0005.

Even with a magnifying glass, I couldn’t read it.

And you will need that data when you call Apple support to navigate what lies ahead.

In no particular order, the machine comes with a miniaturized keyboard, shrunk to the point where you continually hit both the key you’re aiming for, and several on each side. And that’s when it’s working.

Some idiot installed a shutdown button one sixteenth of an inch above the delete button. Mis-hit “delete” and the screen shuts down.

I typed the piece you’re reading using the iMac Pages program. Every time I try to open it, I’m invited to choose a format.

I’ve done that several dozen times, but Sisyphus had an easier task. And when I do get started, suddenly, in midline, the format reverts to the machine’s preferred style.

Want to open a bookmarks bar? In theory you can, but there’s a secret code you have to crack first. Clicking on “add bookmark” doesn’t do it. Voldemort designed this ­feature.

Want to connect the computer to your TV screen using an Apple TV device? No problem. So long as you know your “Airplay code.” And this to be found where? Not ­telling.

Let’s say you want to attach thumb drives, camera link-ups, or most critically the hard drive you saved all your old files on.

Tough luck. Some Silicon Valley ­necromancer changed all the (formerly) standard USB-A communication ports at the back of the machine to USB-C. None of your existing hookups fit these new ports.

There is a solution. You can buy an adapter at the Apple store for $79. And that, dear reader, was the whole point of this piece of effrontery.

I could go on and on and on. But you get the idea. Unless you’re an especially ­good-natured chimpanzee, this machine isn’t for you.

So what’s the answer? We need an Apple Grey series, designed for aging users who don’t have 20/20 vision, the manual dexterity of a brain surgeon and the patience of Job.

Luckily this exists on some dusty Apple shelf. It’s the 2011 version, unsullied by a decade of tomfoolery, luddite upgrades and studied disregard for computer ergonomics. Re-issue it, and I’m willing to bet it outsells the current dog’s breakfast.

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