Mac Power Users 463: All Good Things


#21

I’m happy my “MacBook Deplorable” monicker was picked up.

I also appreciate @katiefloyd answering my question about what she loved.

Good episode, and a good sendoff!


#22

IMO, Scansnaps are excellent scanners. I probably purchased and supported 10 or 12 desktop models over the years. As recently as last year I was running 3 or 4 obsolete models using the latest ix500 software.

My Mac mini is in good shape, but it won’t run Mohave. While we may wish our hardware would be supported forever, eventually manufacturers stop supporting older models. It’s not a shortcoming. It’s business. Doesn’t mean I’m going to tell people not to buy Apple products. Or Fujitsu.

The fact that a company doesn’t support obsolete models isn’t a factor when I am recommending new hardware purchases. Is the current product a good fit for the user? It is reliable? Is it reasonably priced? If so, I’d probably recommend it. Or advertise it if that was part of my business.

I encourage you to stay active in the forum. Helping to solve problems like unsupported hardware is the kind of things experienced users can do for others.


#23

Bon voyage, @katiefloyd. Thank you for nearly 10 years of wonderful insights and banter, and wishing you much success in your future endeavors!


#24

Hrm… I have to disagree.

What’s new today will be “obsolete” at some point in the future, but if the company decides that point is 2 years and I think it’s more like 5+, that’s a factor.

I also think that’s part of the question of “is it reasonably priced?” because “How long will it last?” is part of that decision-making process. $400 for a product that I can use for 5 years is a different calculation than $400 for a product that I’ll only be able to use for 2.

The extreme version of this is the iSCSI driver that Marco Arment has mentioned he uses for his Synology. It costs ~$200 and they release a “new version” for each version of macOS and charge a lot of money for it. Largely (but not only) due to that, he doesn’t recommend it to people, especially now that macOS releases a new version every year.

Similarly, Fujitsu’s reputation for not having great support is definitely part of my (re)buying decision, just like it would be for any significant purchase. If I’m shelling out that amount of money, I’d rather it go to a company that’s going to be more supportive of the Mac.


#25

I’m in the same boat as Katie, my 2016 has seen a few issues (battery and top case replacement, now it has a screen issue). “Deplorable” is a good way to put it.


#26

@tjluoma,
There was no accusation. I simply pointed out a potential conflict of interest, that of recommending sponsored items while discussing them on the podcast. My main focus, and my primary problem with the Mac in the last two years, has been with the Fujitsu scanner problems and PDF files. The Fujitsu scanners have been repeatedly recommended without disclosing the problems.

Thank you for pointing out the MPU podcasts containing PDF file topics, including mention of PDF Expert. I completely missed those or didn’t remember them. The obvious answer to my question is, “Neither” - Katie and David did not overlook the competing app or fail to mention it. It was I who overlooked mention of the other apps in the podcasts. I will correct that portion of my post above accordingly.

Partly true, but hardly the whole story - see below. And … this misses the point, which is: Known, significant issues with ScanSnap scanners for Mac users should be disclosed if those scanners are recommended.

Fujistu scanners are not perfectly suited for Mac users for two reasons: 1. MacOS updates “break” Fujitsu software, and Fujitsu is slow to respond with software updates. 2. The newly-released Fujitsu Home software contains substantial use restrictions that are not typical for this type of device; these should be clearly disclosed if the scanners are recommended to Mac users.

The full version of this saga is that Apple re-wrote PDFKit framework (and the Preview app) during the macOS Sierra release, specifically version 10.12.2, in late 2016. Various bugs related to pdf files surfaced, most notably in the Preview app and with scanners (especially Fujitsu) creating pdf files for macOS. Note that Apple is notable for its frequent public releases of beta versions of macOS updates. Despite the availability of the beta releases, Fujitsu has been quite slow for at least the last two years in responding and releasing software fixes to ScanSnap Manager. These various problems have been widely reported.

Because my primary use for the ScanSnap is converting paper documents to OCR’d digital pdf files, I encountered these problems immediately in late 2016 and diligently searched for solutions or work-arounds. Fujitsu finally released software updates after several weeks’ delay. Fujitsu software relies on portions of macOS to function, yet Fujitsu does not adequately keep up with and respond to Apple’s widely-publicized and pre-released OS updates. This is a significant problem for many ScanSnap users - macOS updates repeatedly “break” Fujitsu software; Fujitsu can’t keep up, or isn’t keeping up.

Now … fast forward to December 2018. Fujitsu finally released its updated software (ScanSnap Home) to comply with the macOS requirement for 64-bit software going forward. There are serious problems with this software for ScanSnap owners who are Mac users:

  1. The software is not compatible with older but perfectly functioning expensive scanners. The older, but functionally similar scanners, are now obsolete and cannot function with Fujitsu software under macOS that requires 64-bit software.
  2. The new software (“ScanSnap Home”) features unusual (for this type of device) software licensing and use restrictions. I could be wrong on certain details, but my understanding is that the software license for newly-purchased scanners is limited to one user and five computers. You must register or “activate” a license, and you will eventually run out of licenses if you install the software on other computers, move the software to another disk drive on the same computer, or upgrade the OS software (“clean install”) multiple times on your same computer. In other words, you are not free to use your expensive scanner freely - you must abide by Fujitsu’s unreasonable (in my opinion) software restrictions. Other users in this forum have described difficulties encountered with the license hassle - for example running out of licenses due to installation of new versions of macOS on the same computer.
  3. It gets worse for those who already own more recent (and still sold by Fujitsu) scanners like the iX500. New software is available, but there is apparently only one computer license available and no way (at least for now) to buy or obtain additional licenses.

This forum is replete with other ScanSnap users describing these problems. To my knowledge, David and Katie have said very little about these significant issues in their podcasts - despite the repeated sponsor messages that come across as personal recommendations for Fujitsu scanners. (I’m counting on @tjluoma to correct me if I missed any disclosures that David or Katie may have made :grinning:)

All considered, I stand by my comments above related to the Fujitsu ScanSnap issues. If David and Katie recommend Fujitsu scanners, disclosures should be made related to problems with those scanners for Mac users.


#27

Your comment is not completely true. Although they did mention applications like PDFExpert this was only briefly and with a strong bias towards that other pdf editor. Just googling shownotes doesn’t tell the whole story.


#28

I’ll agree with you here: I’m not aware of any conversations about those problems on the podcast. (That being said, I skipped Sierra entirely, so I missed most of that whole fiasco, and might not have paid attention.)

This forum does have lots of people who have talked about the “ScanSnap Home” and it does sound like a terrible “solution”. I’ve only recently become aware of it, and I wonder how much David has seen about it. I think on this week’s episode, David said something about needing to look more into that, so hopefully he and Stephen will address that.

I’ll also bang my particular “drum” again about TextExpander: I can see why David finds the improvements to TE6 are great because he has an assistant, but (as I have written elsewhere) I think Smile hasn’t come close to justifying the move to a subscription service for “normal” people. So that’s where I come down, and fairly strongly. That being said, I don’t really expect MPU to talk about my opinions about TE6 when it doesn’t match up to their experience of it. I don’t think that’s because TE is a sponsor, I think it’s because they see TE as providing value for the subscription service.


#29

As I quoted in my reply, the original statement that I was replying to was “there has been no discussion (that I know of) of other competing apps”.

To reply to that with: “Well, they didn’t mention it as much as they mentioned others” is the very definition of “moving the goal posts.”

Now, having said that, if you want to make that statement that MPU has talked more about PDFpen than PDF Expert, I’ll agree with you.

But is that ‘bias’ because of sponsorship, or is that ‘bias’ based on actual usage and experience?

I’m not surprised that David and Katie would talk about the app they actually use more than another app that does something similar that they don’t use.

What do you expect them to do? When they talk about a review of PDF apps, they have included PDFExpert. When guests mention PDF Expert, they talk about it.

They have also been very up-front by saying they don’t think apps should be ‘punished’ for sponsoring the show. The underlying suggestion is that they haven’t talked about other PDF apps because PDFpen is a sponsor. I think it’s equally understandable to say “PDFpen is the app that Katie and David actually use because it was the first (or close to it) ‘professional’ PDF app on the Mac, and it does everything they need it to do.”

That would explain the ‘bias’ – for the same reason that I talk more about Keyboard Maestro and never mention QuickKeys: I use Keyboard Maestro and never used QuickKeys. If we were talking about an overview of automation apps, I’d mention QuickKeys, but there’s no way it would ever be as in-depth as my comments about Keyboard Maestro.

Now, imagine that Keyboard Maestro sponsored something that I did.

Would that mean I’m ‘biased’ because they’re a sponsor? Or am I just a long-term user of Keyboard Maestro? Would people accuse me of not talking about Automator because Keyboard Maestro was a sponsor, regardless of the fact that the truth is I just never liked or used Automator?

(Spoiler alert: yup. They totally would.)


#30

But it will continue to do what it has always done running Sierra. In that sense nothing has changed. My daughter has an old MacBook Air that also cannot upgrade to Mohave, but it still functions just fine.

When you are talking about an ancillary piece of hardware like a ScanSnap, it is not the same. it is linked to a computer and the only solution is to either not upgrade your computer and condemn your entire computing life to older software or buy a computer dedicated to remain on older OS’s so that it will run your ScanSnap.

It feels a little different. And I would not mind being charged by ScanSnap for a software upgrade so that I could run my “old” ScanSnap on modern Mac OS.


#31

It is difficult not be be biased. At the time they became a sponsor, your relationship to the software might be as you described. Then it is no problem.
But what happens if Keyboard Maestro languishes and QuickKeys becomes more attractive to you. Are you going to start saying to your listeners/readers that QuickKeys is better? Perhaps not, particularly if the difference is not too great. And that is what bias is all about.


#32

Thanks to @katiefloyd and @MacSparky for their great work together – a weekly source of enjoyment and learning for me for many years. The appeal of their show transcended the topics that they covered together each week. I usually felt like I was listening to two intelligent siblings share their likes, dislikes and differences in a manner that was respectful, comforting and engaging.


#33

I do understand your point of view.

I am someone who had to deal with obsolesce as a normal part of my job.

Businesses rarely do things that don’t make money. Some of us may be willing to pay for software upgrades that allow us to keep running our old hardware, but not when the cost is too high. (i.e.$200 for an iSCSI upgrade).

When Apple dropped support on the Xserve, I had to replace $50,000+ of hardware that would have otherwise given up many more years of service.

Many times supporting old hardware just isn’t practical for the vendor (and/or the customer).


#34

" . . . I have to disagree" - that’s what keeps things interesting around here :slight_smile:

In my defense of Scansnap, I failed to mention another reason why I used them for so long. I was able to give them to ordinary users, who are not tech savvy, and they rarely needed support. I found the scanners to be rock solid for my Mac and Windows users, needing only the occasional software upgrade when we replaced a computer, or moved a user from Windows to Mac (or vice versa).

I admit few here would find that a requirement.

I have seen support for Macintosh Computers used in business rise from the days when it was nearly non-existent to what we have today. But Apple has always had an “our way or the highway” attitude that has required vendors, and users, to find workarounds for various problems. Like those faced by programmers in the App Stores or the problem with the Synology NAS you mentioned.

I’ve never used Synology hardware, but I did use multiple iSCSi Drobo’s at work. Drobo used to provide iSCSI software with their systems but stopped a few years ago when the software vendor they used raised their price. iSCSI support is included in Linux distributions and, ASAIK, is still included in all versions of Windows. Apple doesn’t support iSCSI, and I suspect Synology doesn’t write their own software for the Mac. Whether they do or not, Synology just passes on the extra cost to their Mac customers.

I think the problems we face as Mac power users are likely to increase as we go forward. Apple’s primary focus is not on the Mac, they are interested in high volume. They aren’t the scrappy “Think Different” company of old, they are the new 800 pound gorilla.

Apple apparently sees no reason to worry about making changes that break third party solutions. Businesses that run Macs have always just rolled with these changes.

I think we will have to do the same.


Mac Power Users 464: Stephen... Who?
#35

True, and I would add … Businesses that sell to Mac users must also roll with these changes.

Because that’s the way Apple operates. Just Apple being Apple.

Look for a moment at the IOS ecosystem. IOS developers constantly update their IOS apps. Almost daily one or more IOS apps are updated on my iPhone or iPad.

For Mac app updates … not so much. I contend that Mac app developers must follow the IOS app paradigm: consistently keep up with OS changes and update the apps. This is a part of the reason for the ongoing switch to subscription-based software - apps need continued development, thus justifying the subscription charges.

Fujitsu’s situation with its ScanSnap line is a bit more complicated. For starters, the hardware is quite expensive. Customers who pay a high price expect the scanner to work in its intended environment - which changes frequently, because Apple is just being Apple, replete with macOS updates. Next, Fujitsu has chosen a software driver software strategy that uses and depends on critical parts of macOS, rather than software that operates independently of macOS changes. You might view this as “riding on macOS coattails”. That’s OK … as long as Fujitsu is nimble enough to update its software to stay on the ever-changing coattails.

So what exactly is Fujitsu selling? An expensive scanner that breaks with macOS changes. And stays broken until Fujitsu gets around to updating its software. Fujitsu’s track record on this is not stellar. Witness its latest software, ScanSnap Home. It permanently breaks older (but really not so old) perfectly functional scanners. And it substantially restricts the use of newly-purchased scanners though onerous licensing/registration restrictions.

Maybe Fujitsu should really be selling Scanning-as-a-Service, payable through ongoing subscription charges, with timely, ongoing software updates to keep up with macOS changes. But that’s not what it is doing. It is selling in the old-school manner, charging a high price for hardware, with almost nonexistent (or at least inadequate) disclosure to customers of the limitations and issues with operation in the macOS environment.

Serious Mac users need tools (e.g., scanners) that continue to work when Apple updates its software. If Fujitsu can’t provide that, others will.

That was probably true at one time, but I would hardly describe Fujitsu’s scanners now as “rock solid”. Maybe the hardware is, but not the software required for the hardware to work.

We live in interesting times, as the saying goes. I will enjoy observing how this plays out over the next few years (i.e., macOS upgrade cycles). But it will not be with an expensive new Fujitsu scanner, despite MPU podcasters’ recommendation.


#36

Fair enough … but be careful what you ask for.

There is new software available, but it works only on specific models. And there are onerous registration/licensing restrictions that (in my opinion) have no place in hardware of this type, marketed in this manner.

Details are posted above (post #26) so they won’t be repeated here except to mention the additional restriction described by another MPU forum member @tomalmy in this MPU thread:
https://talk.macpowerusers.com/t/does-anyone-use-scansnap-home-software/8582/4
Apparently the new software is even more restricted when obtained for a previously-purchased scanner such as the iX500.

Think about that. If you recently bought an iX500 scanner, still currently marketed by Fujitsu, and “upgraded” to the new software … you are stuck using your expensive scanner on just your one current computer.

Fujitsu is displaying a stunning disregard for its customers. Not acceptable.

What if you want to get a new computer? Or simply “nuke and pave” the macOS software? Or replace the disk drive? Or use the scanner on another computer in your home - maybe on a MacBook laptop in the TV room temporarily while you watch TV?


#37

Katie will be missed and I am especially sad to see a woman host leave the tech scene… and Katie was one of the best. David – lots of women guests then!


#38

“Maybe Fujitsu should really be selling Scanning-as-a-Service . . .” Yes, that would be one way to go.

A lot of companies are looking for a continuing revenue stream rather than one time purchases. Or they are moving to the cloud to reduce the need for constantly updating their software. My church recently upgraded their primary software package to a cloud based solution. (“The cloud” was their software vendor’s solution to constantly having problems caused by Windows Updates).

There are several major vendors now offering direct to cloud desktop scanners that can work with any OS. I’m starting to think this might be the best way to go.


#39

With Google Cloud Print there are already ways to use Scanners from Canon and others to save directly to Google Drive, and there are some entities offering GoogleDocs OCR services, but I don’t know how secure or reliable (or trustworthy) they are. I’m just surprised Google, Amazon, Xerox, etc haven’t yet put together affordable SOHO packages.


#40

Interestingly thread with a lot of different points of view. I don’t usually comment on the less technical threads, but here I go on this one… Just a few thoughts running through my head on this.

— I repeat the near-OP’s point of view that he is moving on from MPU. I have stopped listening to padcasts in the past when I found the contact focus had shifted outside my interest zone or when I found that new ground was not being covered. I also respect his concerns re Fujitsu sponsorship and failure to call them out regarding their software/hardware obsolescence policy.

— However, I plan to continue to be a constant listener to MPU, as I continue to find the content relevant and useful (not to mention entertaining), and while I join everyone else in sadness that Katie is leaving and wish her the best in her new endeavors, I am hoping change in leadership will lead to a new era for MPU.

— That said, I do wish that Katie and David had taken a more supportive role in the Fujitsu situation. As a longtime user of Fujitsu scanners (that predates my discovery of MPU), I am very disappointed int he company’s decision to obsolete a unit that so many of us still use regularly. I do NOT expect Fujitsu to make a business decision to suit our needs or wants, however, and for whatever reason, they have decided to move to a different licensing model for their software and to sunset hardware that many of us still use. In truth Apple does the same thing in its own way. Have fun loading High Sierra or Mojave on your old PPC G3! As in any other consumer circumstance, the company whose products I have used for many years happily has made a business decision that hurts my use case, and that means that I am going to have to look carefully at other vendors when it is either time to replace one of my two current ScanSnaps (ix500 at home and S1500M at work) either because they stop functioning well, or because MacOS does not support the older units and I decide to upgrade to that version of MacOS. Since Katie and David continue to accept Fujitsu as a sponsor, and continue to promote their products, I do feel that they owe listeners the courtesy of also acknowledging this major issue we are all facing, not in any sot of legal sense, but rather out of responsibility to a viewership that they know rely on their opinions to make purchasing decisions.

— There have been comments that Katie and David are not objective in their views due to sponsorships, and while I agree with others that they tend to very reasonably promote products that they use personally and less so products they have less direct experience with, I will state that I am certain that they ARE influenced by sponsorthips. I do NOT believe there is any evil intent or dishonesty on their part, but rather it is an inevitable part of human nature to be so influenced. In my own day job as a physician, there was a time when we doctors were often plyed with various trinkets and handouts such as note pads, post-it notes, pens, flashlights, etc by drug and medical equipment manufacturers. Today, with those handouts having been drummed out of the industry, many of us earn fees as consultants or speakers. As someone who is often asked to speak by various medical device manufacturers in my field, I can tell you that I and my colleagues will vigorous defend the impartiality of our medical prescribing, and while I feel strongly that my prescribing is driven by patient need and not by any affiliation with vendors, it would be naive, if not dishonest, to fail to recognize both that human nature is such that it is a rare physician who remains completely unswayed by even the smallest of corporate affiliations, and also that the companies would not be spending money if they did not have reason to believe it impacted behavior. In fact, a recent medical journal carried a report analyzing the relationship between money earned through corporate consulting and medical practice and found a clear linear, if not provably causal, relationship. As a physician, I can tell you that we medical practitioners are certainly not worse than those in any other field, but I doubt we are any better either. Therefore, I do not fault our MPU hosts for bias that may be unconsciously present as a result of sponsorships, but rather commend them for the efforts they have gone to over the years to reveal such affiliations and be as transparent as possible. That being said, I am surprised that they haven’t more aggressively reported the issue with ScanSnap, as they have always been in my opinion very fair in their product evaluations.

This has come out much longer than I intended, for which I apologize to those who have suffered through reading it.

Again, best wishes to Katie in her new endeavors, to David and Stephen in the new incarnation of MPU. I remain a loyal listener; look forward to the new shows; and of course hope that Katie will return as a guest and keep as informed as to her successes.