found drama

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re: ComputerWorld’s 15 Things…

by Rob Friesel

One of the links in yesterday’s link dump was this article in ComputerWorld titled “15 Things Apple Should Change in Mac OS X“. As I noted in my del.icio.us comments, it looks well thought-out on the surface but also seems to be more of the same (at least w/r/t/ this breed of article). I’ll now take a few moments to respond:

  • re: #15 & “No Date Display” – – It takes a little international hackery but you can do this under 10.4. Observe:
    zz03feb3b0.png
  • re: #14 & Widgets on the Desktop – – I’m half-and-half on this one myself. This may be a nice improvement for some widgets (their example was decent) but as I have Dashboard turned off 99% of the time. (Luckily, there’s DashOnOff for that.)
  • re: #13 & “Inconsistent Use of Context Menus” – – I’m not sure what they mean here. I cannot think of an application that does not have exactly what I need in the context menus. That said, two points of clarification are in order. First (full disclosure). I’m really more of a keyboard shortcuts and Quicksilver kind of guy. Second, I would agree that the Services menu needs to be in all context/right-click menus. Egads!
  • re: #12 & The Dock – – This is one of those “tip of the iceberg” things, isn’t it? So much discussion on what the Dock is/not and what it should/not be… I’m afraid we have neither time nor space for that discussion here.
  • re: #11 & “Managing Window Size” – – I partially agree with this but their stated position is one that is a strong echo of folks well accustomed to Windows’ window management. Being “stuck” with only the bottom-right corner and/or the Zoom buttom (it’s not “Maximize”, you XP/Vista clowns!) is a bit frustrating at times. But I also don’t find myself cursing this behavior on a daily (or even weekly) basis. In fact, I think that would be such a radical shift in the UI behaviors that it the consequences (w/r/t/ unexpected changes in existing applications) far out-weigh any perceived benefits.
  • re: #10 & “Accessing Applications” – – Again: Quicksilver!
  • re: #9 & “Backspace and Delete Keys” – – This one is almost preposterous, it reeks so badly of “Woe is the Stranger in this Strange Land”. The fact that there is a discrepancy in the delete/backspace nomenclature aside, the key in that physical position on the keyboard performs exactly the function you expect it to. On your laptop, Fn+Delete performs the opposite-facing delete you expect it to. Their argument about laptop keyboards makes no sense to me because the above keys are in the same place (re: Fn; re: Delete) on every Apple portable while their mysterious and coveted PC Delete key is in a different (and increasingly inconvenient) position on every other laptop I’ve used (Dell, IBM, Gateway, &c.)
  • re: #8 & “Printer Setup” – – For local printers, I’ve never had any problems. For Rendezvous Bonjour printers, I’ve seldom had problems. For network printers … well, it can be a little Baroque sometimes.
  • re: #7 & “Inconsistent UIs” – – There is something to be said for that. A common-enough lament.
  • re: #6 & “Laptop Screen Dimming” – – Energy Savings out-of-the-box vs. battery-draining out-of-the-box…?
  • re: #5-3 & Finder’s Column View – – #5 I would flag “irrelevant” because we say “yes” to #4; as for #3… “What…?”
  • re: #2 & Finder’s “Cut” – – I find I like this behavior. More secure. You’re less likely to lose a file this way. I guess that’s what Time Machine will be for?
  • re: #1 & Finder’s display refresh issues – – I’d settle for Spotlight windows that “sat still” while I tried to navigate their virtual contents. Because really, isn’t that more important than an unreasonable “100% of the time”?

The “Reader Peeves” are also pretty amusing. My favorite:

2. Renaming Isn’t Easy. The process of renaming files is highly mouse-centric on the Mac. There’s no F2 option (as there is on Windows) that lets you select the file and press F2 to expose the filename-editing mode. The mouse process requires very precisely timed mouse clicks. Anyone who has ever been forced to rename a long list of files under both Windows and Mac operating systems will likely agree that the Windows way is easier.

  • “…no F2 option…”  When navigating with your keyboard, feel free to press “Return” or “Enter” for this one.  Don’t worry, it takes Cmd+Down to open those apps and documents.  Also, Cmd+i into the “Get Info…” dialog works pretty well for this.
  • “…rename a long list of files…”  It’s called Automator, my friend.  Now shipping!

While I won’t waste folks’ time with 15, I will drop in a quick Top 5 (in no particular order) to counter the above:

  1. Built-in on/off switch for Dashboard.
  2. Fixes for FileVault.  (E.g., do it at the directory level instead of the whole Home folder…)
  3. Get “Services” into all of the context menus!
  4. Spotlight, Spotlight, Spotlight!  (Stabilize my Smart Folders and give me a “bezel” interface similar to what Quicksilver has.  Also: search operators would be nice…)
  5. Cleaned up Finder.  (There’s plenty of discussion out in the wild about this one.  I’ll save my “What’s in a Desktop?” discussion for later…)

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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