Earlier this year, I took my 15-inch Macbook Pro to the Apple store for a repair. For the past two years, the screen has been showing blobs of yellow - exact same issue as described in [this thread](https://discussions.apple.com/thread/8622078), [this thread](https://discussions.apple.com/thread/8495089), and [this thread](https://discussions.apple.com/thread/8067475).
![Screenshot of my own computer screen discoloration.](https://www.google.com)<br>
*Screenshot of my own computer screen discoloration.*
This was not my first trip to the Apple store to address this issue. Back in 2019, I stopped by a different Apple store in Holyoke, Massachusetts to have it looked at, but the employee there told me that I would need to leave it with the store for 5-10 days, which was not possible at the time because I had a lot of projects that required setup on my computer. The store employee then told me that she had noted down the visit, and that I could come back any time in the future.
Fast-forward to earlier this year, I finally had some time off from computers during the winter break, so I stopped by the New Haven, Connecticut Apple store to have it fixed. However, the Apple store employee told me that since my computer was 18 days past the AppleCare warranty, I would have to pay close to $800 to fix it. Furthermore, the Genius at the store told me that the battery on the computer was defective and that would be another $100-200.
![Slap in the face.](https://i.imgur.com/13MN3Bq.gif)
*Slap in the face.*
I told the employee about my previous record and asked him to look it up, as this has been an issue since a year ago but I just couldn't find time to part with the computer. He simply deflected my request with indifference - "Sorry, there is nothing I can do", which I think is one of the worse thing a person in customer service can say.
I was livid and at a loss for words, because I was always under the impression that Apple produced high quality products, and when things did break, that Apple had the customer service to back the price tag.
**Well, I was clearly wrong.**
While going through blogs and YouTube videos related to repairing Apple products, I came across [Louis Rossmann](https://www.youtube.com/user/rossmanngroup) and his "[right to repair](https://www.theverge.com/2016/6/8/11875096/right-to-repair-new-york-fair-repair-act)" movement against Apple in both the U.S. and Canada. The gist of it is that many electronic repairs groups are claiming that Apple intentionally makes their own products hard to repair by using tactics such as [proprietary screws](https://www.treehugger.com/the-pentalobe-screw-and-apples-war-against-self-repair-4857481) and non-replaceable battery.
![Cost of iPhone batter replacement.](https://imgur.com/JUAiLD7.png)
*I can get 32 rechargeable 2000 mAh Energizer batteries with this much money. By comparison, iPhone batteries are around 2000-3000 mAh. Is the special form factor worth the 30x markup?*
Since then, I have decided I have had enough with Apple, and have been looking into phasing out of the Apple ecosystem. Here are some of the tools and alternatives outside of the Apple ecosystem that I have found to be extremely helpful - let me know if you have more!
## Operating System - [Pop!_OS](https://pop.system76.com/)
One of the initial allure of the Apple ecosystem was the OS - I had a Macbook Pro way before I got my first iPhone. If you write any code on the computer, Windows does not provide good user experience, and a Unix environment is a must. However, the alternatives to MacOS had not been attractive - while the various Linux distributions worked, they often required at least some configuration, which was annoying and sometimes frustrating.
In late 2017, a company called [System76](https://system76.com/) released Pop!_OS, a Ubuntu-based operating system that just worked. It has all of the attractive features of Ubuntu, such as being Debian-based, low energy consumption, highly customizable, but more user-friendly. Way more.
As an example, I got a new desktop computer with an Nvidia graphics card earlier this year, installed Pop!_OS on it, and it just worked with the graphics card without any configuration changes from me. Furthermore, I was surprised to see that not only did my screen work out of the box, I was also able to run PyTorch on the graphics card as well.
## Web Browser - [Firefox](https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/exp/firefox/)
While there is nothing too special with Safari, one really nice feature of Safari is the ability to store passwords, which was handy. I know this feature also exists in Google Chrome, but the problem with Chrome is that I have to login to store the passwords with an account, and I don't like to keep my Google accounts logged in because of the prevalence of Google Analytics and how easy it is for Google to track my every move on the general internet.
I have since switched to Firefox, the web browser supported by the non-profit organization Mozilla that I consider to be a better alternative to both Safari and Chrome.
First of all, Mozilla is a non-profit organization, so I would like to think that they are not as crazy about monetizing on user data as say the likes of Google and Facebook.
However, the most useful feature I have discovered on Firefox is the[Firefox Multi-Account Containers](https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/multi-account-containers/) extension. Without getting too much into how it works, the extension basically allows you to create different "tabs" for different accounts. For example, I have multiple Google accounts - one for UMass, one for myself, and one throwaway account that is used to create other accounts that I don't care about. Normally what I would do when I am logged into one of those accounts, but I need to access an E-mail from a different account, is that I need to log out of the first one first, then log into the second one. With this extension, I can simply create a container tab for my private account, a container tab for the UMass account, and I can simply open those accounts simultaneously side-by-side in different containers.
Besides the convenience of not having to constantly login and logout to switch between accounts, I also use this feature as a privacy protection measure.
Ever wonder how after you Google some product, or go to a website for selling cookies for example, then when you log into your Facebook account, cookie ads start showing everywhere all of a sudden?
Most websites use analytics software to track visitors to answer queries like how many people visited my site, what is the age distribution, what is the gender distribution, what is the geographic distribution, etc., so the site owner can maximize their goal. For example, if I was an owner of an online cookie shop, and I see that a large number of kids visit my site, I may want to come up with more colorful cookies to entice my audience and increase sales.
So how do the analytics software know the age or gender of the visitors? While I do not have conclusive evidence, I believe it is because when people log into their Google or Facebook account without logging out, they leave behind a site-specific cookie. A browser cookie (not the delicious kind) is basically a string of text that uniquely identifies a visitor. When you perform a login action on a website, the server sends your browser a browser cookie, and any subsequent clicks you make on the website, the browser makes the request with that browser cookie, which help the servers identify as you as you.
The problem with this is that Google's suite of analytics software is so prevalent, it dominates the market. That means that when you log into Google, then you go to a site that has Google Analytics installed, Google basically knows that you went to that site, and can both send you targeted ads and provide the data to the site owner.
![Market share of different web analytics software](https://i.imgur.com/yuQ2wp2.png)
*Market share of different web analytics software. Credit: [Dataenze](https://www.datanyze.com/market-share/web-analytics--1).*
This multi-container extension can counter this problem (if you don't like to be tracked while online) because the containers separate the different browser cookies. For example, if you have a private Google account, but doesn't like Google to track your every move, simply use one container for accessing your Google account, and another container to do other stuff that won't be tracked by Google.
For the more paranoid/conspiracy-theory drive people like myself, this feature really gives me a peace of mind and gets rid of this feeling that I am constantly being watched.
## And Many More
While I originally intended this post to be a rant against Apple, this is definitely turning into a showing-off-cool-features-I-have-found-in-ecosystems-outside-of-Apple post.
Before I end the post though, I would like to mention that these apps have also been really wonderful and that you should totally check them out - [Signal](https://signal.org/en/download/) is a privacy-focused messaging alternative backed by a non-profit that is available on ALL platforms, and [Lutris](https://lutris.net/) makes your games on Linux go ZOOM.
What are your favorite applications/setup outside of MacOS? Any good Apple alternatives to recommend? Leave a comment!