I’m grateful to John Gruber, a great tech writer and proprietor of the popular blog DaringFireball, for linking here the other day and sending lots of traffic to my post criticizing him. I’m also super grateful to the Quick Cache plug-in for WordPress which helped my blog handle all the added traffic without being, as they say, “Fireballed” (I wanted to make a donation to the developer, but couldn’t find the correct link on his current home page, sadly).
The added traffic brought a lot of new commenters, as well, which, as anyone with a blog can tell you, is sort of a mixed blessing. The reason you want comments is to get new perspectives and new information into the mix of whatever you’ve just written about. Blogs with really great commenters, like Fred Wilson’s AVC, create a whole new community that adds even more value. But comments can also bring trolls and idiots and worse.
After reading through the dozens of comments from Daring Fireball readers on my retina Mac post, I guess I can see why Gruber doesn’t allow comments on his own blog. Bada-bing! Just kidding…sort of.
Some I let go. The most egregious I simply didn’t approve. I won’t go through all the stupidity, expletives or b.s. but there was one point worth addressing. More than one commenter questioned why I was even writing a post about someone else’s review. This was typical:
Your article completely went overboard and misses on a major point. Gruber’s MBP Retina review is no different than you would be giving glowing review to the latest version of Android OS or Windows even when most of the third party apps haven’t up updated their software yet. The Retina is pretty much closely tied to Apple OSes. So yeah, it’s the developers’ responsibility to upgrade their software to Retina.
Setting aside the fact that I frequently write here about the various Macs, iPads and other Apple gear we own, there’s the underlying notion that it’s fine to leave out critical parts of a review for some reason or other, or no reason at all (it’s not Apple’s fault? Who cares whose fault it is).
But out in the real world, where I’m looking for which laptop to buy next, which phone will best meet my needs or how to avoid an overpriced, underperforming dud gadget, I want reviewers to be more critical, more discerning and more helpful.
And that need is visible in some of the other comments and later links back to my piece. People who bought the rMBP were surprised to discover an important current failing which very few reviewers felt worthy of mentioning: if you use non-Apple software, the text could look really bad, horrible even and super-distracting.
Here’s one of the comments I saw linking back, for example:
None of the pieces of Software I use day-in-day-out stand any chance of being updated to “retina” display quality anytime soon – so my Retina Experience was terrible – and led me to procrastinate more in Safari, just ’cause it looked “pretty” unlike the utterly ugly pixely-garbage look of Final draft and MS Word. This isn’t Apple’s fault – it’s the app makers taking too long to catch up. And yes, it’s like PPC to Intel where Office took forever – but Rosetta made the transition bearable at worst – the pixely-grossness of the Retina screen in Word/etc… is like using a blown up iPhone app on the iPad 24/7. No one wants to spend $2200 to do that. So my Retina MacBook Pro went back to Apple.
The one mainstream review of the retina MacBook Pro I saw that actually got under the hood and highlighted several key problems was over at Anadtech, perhaps not coincidentally a site with no allegiance to any particular company or operating system or niche in Gadget World. Here’s the page describing the text display problems in various programs. No axe to grind, no blinders, no conflicts of interest. The funny thing is that it’s still a very favorable review overall. And I would have had no problem with Gruber’s review exactly as is if he had just added a few sentences of warning. Not too much to ask, I’d say.