Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life
Jumping Directly from OS 9 to Jaguar
Recently I decided it was time to bite the bullet and upgrade from Mac OS 9.2 to Mac OS X. I had been procrastinating due to my early experiences with OS X which were, shall we say, less than encouraging. The beta was frightening, and I wasn’t a big fan of the first release either. I applauded Apple for pushing forward, and every application (operating systems included) must suffer that oh-so-buggy version 1.0 release. But that didn’t mean I was about to install it on my computer and deal with the resulting chaos.
While I had not actually played with Jaguar, a number of folks I trust seemed enthusiastic about 10.2 and declared it a major improvement over previous releases. I was optimistic, and finally took a leap of faith. A little over two weeks ago I installed Jaguar on my G4 tower. A few days later, to my delight, I installed it on my TiBook. I am now running it exclusively on both of my main home machines—the Mac on my desk at work will be next.
I am pleased to report that the upgrade was relatively painless. I expected chaos, frustration, lots of cursing (those who know me well understand that I am at my most crude and vile when my computer refuses to obey my command) and other such nightmares. To be quite honest, unless my memory is failing me, I recall the upgrade from OS 8 to OS 9 being more problematic and fraught with angst. Several utilities stopped working such as ATM, and a number of extensions crashed on bootup, or otherwise created problems. Tracking them down was a nuisance (made easier by Conflict Catcher) and it took a while to get compatible replacements or upgrades in some cases.
Upgrading to Jaguar was, on the other hand, pretty much smooth sailing. There were some small adjustments to be made for sure. Some menu items had moved around, a lot of keyboard equivalents for menu items had changed (but using MenuMaster I changed them right back—so there!) But overall learning Jaguar is easy enough for all but the most green of Mac users.
And what surprised me even more was that once I had the latest version of OS X up and running, I found it to be far more mature than even the previous version. I finally believe OS X is ready for prime time. I don’t see myself booting into OS 9 again any time soon, if ever. And I’ve been a curmudgeon, complaining about OS X being an abomination, since the beta release. I suppose I’ll have to tone down my rhetoric a bit.
But not completely…
Don’t get me wrong, I like Jaguar a lot—as I said, I like it enough to run it full time now. But it’s not without its problems. So let’s get right to the chase and get the gripes out on the table.
I hate to come across as irate, but this thing drives me absolutely batty. I cannot stand it. I find it truly obnoxious, decidedly superfluous, painfully unintuitive, hopelessly unorganized, and generally counter productive. But let’s not mince words…
My chief gripe with the Dock is that you cannot turn it off. There should be some provision for removing it altogether. But even if you could come up with a hack to ditch the Dock, you would not be in the clear. Apple has made it an integral part of the OS, and this was a big mistake. For example, if you ditch the Dock, what happens when you minimize a window?
Other software developers have nailed this sort of concept in the past—DragThing is an awesomely indispensable utility that I ran on all my machines under OS 9. But now it seems somewhat difficult to incorporate with the Dock stepping all over its toes. DragThing is still a vastly superior solution, particularly because it provides for multiple “docks” but also for a variety of other reasons I won’t go into.
For example, when you try to drag and drop a file to the Dock so you can launch it with a specific application, the Dock starts rearranging itself to make room for the document on the Dock. This is not helpful behavior. As another example, the fact that the Dock constantly rescales itself and remains centered may seem cute but it’s functionally braindead. It’s never the same size, and nothing is ever in the exact same place as a result.
It would be ideal if you could segregate applications, documents, minimized windows, and open applications. But no…Apple has thrown it all together in one gigantic virtual depository (well, applications are separate). As a result, using the Dock as an application switcher is frustratingly pedantic.
Don’t even get me started on the Dock notification behavior—having an icon bounce up and down like a digital jack-in-the-box is just plain obnoxious. There’s no two ways about it: the only more obnoxious behavior I have ever endured on a computer is that horrific dancing paper clip courtesy of Microsoft. Apple should not be following Microsoft’s lead in software development, particularly when it comes to interface design, and I am sure most ATPM readers can appreciate why this is so.
The other thing about the Dock that drives me up the wall is that it obscures the resize handles for windows that are sized to be full screen height. Again, this is indisputably braindead behavior.
Apparently I am supposed to refer to them as “extensions” as if that somehow mitigates the fact that their use is a gigantic step backward. Yes I realize that most other operating systems use file suffixes as a manner of determining file “type,” or at least associating files with applications. But it’s an antiquated method of doing so, and it has been so for some time now. Apple’s solution was infinitely more elegant, and functionally sound. What Apple has done with OS X is essentially join the throngs of unevolved lemmings who still use file suffixes. Note to Apple: just because you’re now also doing something stupid doesn’t make it any less stupid. In fact Apple’s file “extensions” make for more headaches than the absence of them in years past. Now we have useless file suffixes like .colorpicker or .framework, etc. You get the picture. These are not going to translate to any other operating system smoothly. They will get truncated or otherwise be ignored. So what is the point? Let’s just go back to using the type/creator paradigm which worked better on the Mac, and created no more problems on other platforms.
Now I do realize that for those of us who are forced to function in a cross-platform environment, dealing with suffixes is an unfortunate and frustrating aspect of our cyber-lives. But there has to be a more intelligent way of dealing with this issue than simply adopting file suffixes wholesale, and then ignoring fundamental rules such as the number of letters in the suffix.
No Application Menu
This gripe follows on the heels of the Dock rant. There should be an application menu, as there was in OS 9. Using the Dock to switch applications is contrived. More to the point, if you’re like me and prefer to avoid using the Dock at all possible costs, you’d like to see another provision for switching applications. Yes you can cycle through apps using Command-Tab, but I’d like some visual feedback without resorting to the Dock (whose visual feedback is hardly discernible). I find LiteSwitch X to do the trick nicely. It provides a Windows-style (sorry!) application switcher that pops up when you hit a user-defined key combination (yes you can steal Command-Tab) and lets you resize, reposition, and customize the display style of this window.
No Apple Menu
There is no “real” Apple menu in OS X either. Yes it actually exists, but it provides little, if any, real utility. The Apple menu has been a source of somewhat heated debate since the beta. The reality of the matter is that as it comes, out of the box, the Apple menu is virtually worthless. Thankfully with a utility like FruitMenu you can customize it, add items to the menu, and enjoy hierarchical navigation of your files, as under OS 9. Thanks to FruitMenu I use the Apple menu all the time.
No Desktop Printing
I was sad to see Desktop Printing absent from OS X. For some users it may seem like a small point, but Desktop Printing was a great invention by Apple in my opinion. For those of us with multiple printers, it was invaluable. Under OS X the Print Center is a fine program, and it does the job. But I can’t glance at my desktop anymore to see the status of a printer. Keeping the Print Center in the Dock provides some level of feedback, but if you have multiple printers it doesn’t give you the same degree of feedback, and without launching it you can’t easily manipulate jobs, or printers.
Then again some folks probably found Desktop Printing to be a nuisance and unappreciated use of desktop real estate. Fair enough—I think it should be an option. I always have felt that it should be, but under OS X it definitely ought to be the sort of feature you can turn on or off. If you have only one printer or simply do not care to have a printer on your desktop, use the Print Center exclusively. But some of us would like our Desktop Printing reimplemented, in addition to the Print Center.
No Internet Config
Another noticeable absence is Internet file mappings in the System Preferences. The only way to configure these mappings, as far as I can tell, is to use Internet Explorer. That makes very little sense to me, and it’s especially bothersome if you don’t want to use IE as your Web browser. Thanks in large part to the file extension gig, Internet file mappings have become even more important under OS X than they were before. How Apple managed to leave this configuration panel out of the System Preferences is totally beyond me.
Minimizing can be pretty cool I must confess. Initially when Apple introduced the feature I thought it was a mere gimmick, especially because the emphasis was on how pretty it was, and how neat it was that the minimized window in the Dock was “live”—great, that’s wonderful but does it add to my computing experience or just look cool? In truth I have found minimizing to be very useful and I enjoy being able to hide a window entirely without actually losing its contents. Simple enough—but sometimes I don’t want to minimize, I want to WindowShade, as in OS 9. There’s no way to do this…without WindowShade X, another great little add-on I enjoy because it still allows minimizing, but also enables WindowShade behavior, and also one other behavior which alters a window’s opacity to a user-defined level. I am not sure how useful this last behavior is, but it looks cool and maybe some people will find it worthwhile. I’m just glad to have the WindowShade ability again.
The Keychain was another one of Apple’s wonderful inventions that made our lives easier. Apple is great at this sort of thing—novices and geeks alike totally dig the Keychain. It just makes life so much easier, and provides an easy way to retrieve passwords we’ve forgotten. I was outraged to find that I could not import my OS 9 Keychain into OS X.
Let me rephrase that: I was outraged to find that after stuffing all of my passwords into a single file, that I could not take that single file with me to my new operating system. So in other words I have no access to those passwords unless I manually retype them into my OS X Keychain or use the Classic version of an application dependent on that password, which will pull the info from the OS 9 Keychain. That’s really a boneheaded oversight on Apple’s part. Guys—you invented the Keychain. It’s not like I’m asking you to import some obscure file format from the late 1980s created by a software developer now out of business. There is no good reason the OS X Keychain manager shouldn’t be able to open up an OS 9 Keychain file and be in business.
There are some folks out there on the Net who are going berserk over the new Finder and villainizing it as a travesty. I am not sure if I feel quite that strongly, but I will say that the new Finder is not much of an improvement over the OS 9 Finder in most respects. Overall it is an inferior design, and I wish Apple would have simply taken the OS 9 Finder, given it a facelift, and made it OS X-native. Instead they have done some pretty silly things, as have been discussed at length in a variety of well written articles.
I don’t see the need to repeat these grievances or discuss them in depth but I will reiterate that the Columns view behavioral quirk is pretty braindead. The fact that you cannot change the font is equally so.This does not mean that the new Finder has nothing to offer. I’ll get to that later when I discuss the good stuff (had you fooled for a minute there—you thought this article was going to be all bad, eh?).
Power & Performance
The main impetus behind the development of OS X was the provision of modern memory management (real virtual RAM, memory protection, etc.) and improved performance (preemptive multi-tasking, better use of system resources, a fully native kernel, etc.) OS X does deliver on these promises, sort of.
Modern memory management is certainly there. You no longer have to allocate RAM to each application, which is nice. You also no longer need to concern yourself with how many programs are running, how many documents they have open, etc. Most importantly memory is protected, so if one program crashes or otherwise misbehaves it doesn’t affect others, nor does it take down the entire computer.
Protected memory is a big plus, and a welcome and long overdue addition. But apart from that, modern memory management isn’t really blowin’ my skirt up. When you load up a bunch of applications and/or open a lot of documents, the computer still starts to get pretty sluggish unless you have an awful lot of RAM installed. I have a gigabyte, which is sufficient for most tasks. But if you push the computer too hard, the swap file kicks in and then it’s all over. So while you don’t need to allocate RAM and aren’t forced to quit one program to open another, you would still be advised to do so in many cases.
The solution to this is simply to pile on the RAM. It’s pretty cheap these days and it can make an enormous improvement in performance. I wouldn’t really suggest running OS X with less than a gig unless you tinker around most of the time and don’t do much serious computing (in which case I applaud you for reading this far!)
On the performance end of the spectrum, OS X has a little ways to go. Carbon programs are, for the most part, slower than under OS 9. Not inordinately, insurmountably slower—but slower. Put a number on it? OK, 5-10%. That’s arbitrary and totally unscientific. Sometimes it’s subtle differences in speed, like a window taking a split second longer to appear under OS X. Other times it’s actually more of a performance issue involving real “computing” as it were.
Classic is slower than OS 9 too, although I can understand that and frankly I have no beef with Classic. It works and it works surprisingly well.
But Carbon programs should run faster under OS X than OS 9. That they don’t is one solid reason a lot of folks are not upgrading. If time is money and money talks, then by the law of transitivity time talks. Are you listening Apple?
Due in large part to the multi-user nature of OS X, files can be organized in a somewhat cryptic manner. You cannot simply drag your System folder from one disk to another to create a bootable copy, for example. Also you will find a lot of duplicitous files and folders in the root and a specific user’s folder. This can be very misleading for novices. I also maintain that for the vast majority of installations, multi-user capability is entirely unimportant. Yes it is useful for some environments and I am glad to see that OS X provides this functionality. But you should be able to turn it off, or at least make it more transparent to the user so that somebody with a lesser geek factor (smaller propeller?) isn’t thrown off by the file system’s organizational methods. This isn’t a gigantic problem or a major gripe, but it’s worth mentioning. Finding files is not as straightforward as it was under OS 9, and that’s not due entirely to the fact that users are accustomed to looking in a specific place.
Sheesh—Is There Any Good News?
Absolutely; I saved the good news for last so we could end the article on a high note. But being the painfully thorough gent that I am, I refused to simply affix my seal of approval on Jaguar without covering the handful of behaviors that drive me particularly nuts. Now, onward to greener pastures.
The Feel of Modernity
This is going to sound trite and goofy, but OS X feels like a modern OS. Using it is a delight in many ways as a result. It’s not so much what OS X does but rather what it doesn’t do that contributes to the overall enhanced user experience.
One thing it doesn’t do that I particularly appreciate is allow an application to commandeer my computer. Under OS 9 I would constantly start cursing (see there I go again) at Internet Explorer while loading a complex page, or QuickTime Player loading or saving a large movie file, for example. These applications would take over the computer, rendering it useless for sometimes substantial periods of time. Now under OS X I can just switch into another application. Perhaps it will take longer for IE to draw that page, but I don’t mind because I can go back to reading my e-mail or performing some other task. I also don’t have to worry about whether IE actually crashed or whether it’s simply taking a long time to draw a page (something it is very good at, especially when compared to the other Web browsers out for OS X).
The Look of Modernity
There are some other intangibles that make OS X seem more “modern,” and many are aesthetic. The anti-aliasing of text, the shadowing of windows, the new fancy icons in the Finder, and the extensive use of opacity throughout the OS are all good examples of the generally more up-to-date look and feel of the OS. Do these things really, truly matter? Perhaps not at the most utilitarian level of computing, but they do enhance the experience of using the computer, and that is not to be trivialized.
The Mechanics of Modernity
So what is at the core of this “modern” OS that makes it so appealing? I’ve covered some of this already, but protected memory gets a big fat bag of brownie points. I like being able to load up a slew of applications without dealing with allocation. I didn’t deal with it much before, but then again I have had a gig of RAM on my machines for the longest time being the super geek that I am. On a more fundamental level, the user really shouldn’t have to concern himself with allocation, so it’s good to see that we’re moving into the 21st century with modern memory management on the Mac.
Pre-emptive multi-tasking that actually works is also a plus. This works pretty much the way you’d want it to, and the way it should. Applications crank along and play together without hogging the CPU, with remarkably few exceptions. The kernel also allows you to force quit an application safely if it should lock up or for some other reason start acting strangely. There’s no need to worry about a force quit taking down the whole machine, or causing that application to be unstable if you relaunch it without a reboot.
Jaguar has been exceptionally stable on my machines. I have not had cause to reboot in over two weeks. I have also experienced very few unexpected quits or similar errors from applications, and have only had to force quit once or twice. The beauty is that these sorts of interruptions are far less intrusive or problematic than in the past.
Yes, all of these features should have been incorporated into the Mac OS eons ago. They weren’t. Well now you can have them on your Mac. And guess what? It’s pretty heavenly. These modern touches alone are worth the price of some of the nonsense I griped about earlier on, and I haven’t even discussed the rest of the perks in OS X.
While Carbon programs in general may not be as peppy under OS X as they are under OS 9, one thing is certain: network activity is much faster. Thanks in large part to its Unix roots, OS X sports much faster bandwidth when transferring data over a network. I don’t have any hard data, but after two weeks of transferring files via FTP, HTTP, AppleTalk, Timbuktu, and practically every other protocol imaginable I have definitely observed at least a 10-15% increase in overall throughput. And latency seems to have been reduced—Web pages pop up faster, for example.
Mac OS X has traditional Apple File Sharing over TCP, Windows File Sharing, Web Sharing, FTP file access, printer sharing, and remote login. Best of all these services are easy to turn on and configure. Personally I am elated by all of these services because they really open up a world of possibilities for Mac users without installing all sorts of potentially expensive third-party software. Certainly there will still be a place for industrial strength Web servers and the like, but having most every network service accessible at the click of the mouse is definitely very nice and really helps to bridge the platform gap! The built-in firewall is similarly a welcome addition, as is Internet Connection Sharing.
I really like what Apple has done with the Network configuration panel. First of all, PPPoE is now built-in. Anybody who has had to deal with Mac PoET or EnterNet will dance around the room upon reading that last sentence. In addition, OS X allows for multiple connections to the Net. This is a very powerful feature that was lacking under OS 9. AirPort is also better integrated into the OS than before, and it also seems to be speedier than under OS 9.
I appreciate that OS X can “Detect Displays” without a reboot, or in the case of a laptop without a sleep. A small point perhaps, but for those of us with laptops it is nice, especially since in the past we had to reboot in order to activate the S-Video output for projectors and the like—a sleep didn’t cut it.
Full Keyboard Access
Another small addition I like, though I do not personally use, is Full Keyboard Access, which provides a facility for controlling the computer completely from the keyboard. There are a variety of circumstances in which this could be useful or essential, and it’s nice to see that Apple had the foresight to include the ability.
Elementary My Dear
The new Sherlock in OS X is a big improvement over past versions. It is no longer used for finding files, or searching by content (more on that momentarily) but is instead something of an Internet portal. Personally I won’t be using it that much, but for novices or users for whom the Internet is still a big and overwhelming place, Sherlock 3 provides a quick and easy way to accomplish a variety of basic tasks: booking airfare, translating between languages, checking stocks, buying movie tickets, or just searching the Web.
You can, of course, add channels as well. One channel, Calillona, searches Amazon. Even if you aren’t a novice, these channels have their value: they are fast. It is definitely the case that searching via Sherlock 3’s channels is faster than going into a Web browser, pulling up the appropriate page, punching in the query string, and awaiting the results. Because the channels ignore superfluous content (and hence don’t present you with ads or popups, etc.) they are an efficient way to conduct certain Web-based activities regardless of your geek factor.
Hopefully They Won’t Go on Strike
Thanks to packages in OS X, installing and uninstalling applications is for the most part a real snap. In many cases you can simply drag an application (really a package) onto your hard drive, and you’re done. Uninstalling is equally straightforward. Sometimes an installer is required, and occasionally you will be advised to logout and log back in. But no more rebooting, and often times you can just drag a program over and start cranking away. Slick, simple, and painless.
No it’s not a new television network—FBC stands for “find by content,” a feature which was added back with the original Sherlock. Unfortunately FBC required that disks be indexed, and indexing took an eternity. Under OS X, indexing is at least an order of magnitude faster, if not more. I indexed my entire drive (same size drive as under OS 9, with all the extra OS X junk on it) in what seemed like about half an hour, in the background while goofing around on the Web. Also, FBC under OS X will index on demand as it searches. What all of this boils down to is a real, usable Find by Content. It’s much faster, and the sort of feature you’ll find yourself using much more frequently as a result.
As I mentioned in my gripes section, minimizing is a cool feature. Yes WindowShade provided some manner of keeping things tidy when oodles of windows were crowding the screen. But minimizing gets rid of the window altogether without losing its contents, and helps to keep things even tidier. At times, as I mentioned, I miss WindowShade but with WindowShade X I have the best of both worlds. And I do think that the minimize concept works very well with the Dock. If the Dock weren’t so otherwise infuriating, or if there were a dedicated windows dock, I would be even more enthusiastic about minimizing. The fact that you can move a window without making it active, can quickly zoom it to full screen, and otherwise manipulate windows in useful ways is also a plus. The toolbar hide/show button is also convenient as often times the toolbar is just a superfluity, but it’s nice to have it available at the click of the mouse.
Speaking of the toolbar, it’s one of the additions to the Finder that I really dig. I like that I can add a folder, file, application, or virtually anything to the toolbar for quick and easy access, especially where dragging and dropping is concerned. It’s smart, and customizable. I wouldn’t mind a little more freedom in the customization department, but even as it stands it’s pretty snazzy.
The Columns view, despite some counterintuitive behavior (such as letting you browse the same directory in two different windows) is otherwise a welcome addition.
When Apple gets something right, they really get it right. There are times when the guys at Apple just make me want to scream because they seem so clueless. And then other times—most of the time—they make me feel genuinely proud to be a Mac user. Rendezvous is a classic example of how Apple makes our lives easier and how they “get” user friendly computing like no other. Novice and turbo-geek alike will appreciate that network devices seem to figure things out for you, thanks to Rendezvous which simplifies the process of setting up a network, printer, and communicating with others on a network. It doesn’t remove any degree of flexibility in network configuration, but it can help to automate and simplify setting up one’s computer or entire network. Admittedly not every printer on the market is Rendezvous savvy. That will come in time. But the concept is a good one, and it renews my faith in Apple’s ability to make computing more pleasant for all of us.
It may be in large part because I cannot stand the sight of the word Microsoft, and generally feel that the world would be a much better place if the company were removed from the face of the Earth, but for some reason when Apple bundles all sorts of useful applications with their OS it doesn’t come across as forced or manipulative in the same way as it does when Microsoft insists that IE cannot be uninstalled from Windows, for example.
In any event, my point is that the applications Apple has included with OS X are, for the most part, great. Of course by now we are all familiar with iTunes, iDVD, and so forth. There are many others included with OS X, and while they aren’t all total hum dingers, virtually all of them are useful, elegant, and well conceived. As the OS comes, out of the box, you can get quite a lot done and in fine style. And a lot of what you can do, you’d be hard pressed to do on another platform—in some cases at all, or at the very least without spending a pile of money on hardware or software. Apple has provided a consistent user interface for a variety of small applications that will really make life easier for novices. And even those of us who are geeked out appreciate the fact that we can burn DVDs with iDVD, rip MP3s and listen to Internet radio with iTunes, and organize all of our hot dates with geekettes (is that a word?) using iCal. The addition of Bluetooth support and inclusion of iSync makes life easier for those of us (myself included) who are so geeky that we can’t stop using a computer for even one waking moment and carry Palms with us all day long.
So What’s the Deal?
Where does all of this leave us? As I said I’m running OS X full time now, and enjoying it. Jaguar is far from perfect, but it’s a gigantic improvement over previous versions of OS X. I have been using it for two solid weeks now without booting into OS 9 once, and I believe that for the vast majority of users Jaguar is ready for prime time use. I certainly could not have said that about 10.0 or 10.1!
Apple has some work cut out for them. For one thing, they have to get the speed up. OS X needs to run Carbon programs faster than OS 9. I’m not asking for miracles—I don’t care about huge speed increases whereby OS X is twice as fast overnight, but let’s get it faster than OS 9 so we can really move forward and give everybody an incentive to make the switch.
If I had my druthers 10.3 would allow you to turn off the Dock and let you minimize windows to another application like DragThing. This will probably never going to happen, but it would sure be nice if I could hide the Dock entirely with an F-key and bring it back when I need it to unminimize a window. Then I’d yank everything else off of it and use DragThing for program/document launching and LiteSwitch for program-switching.
Of course I’d love to see file extensions abandoned in favor of a more elegant and intelligent system. But that seems fairly unlikely as well. Never hurts to ask though…
Other than that, let me import my OS 9 Keychain, and fix some of the braindead Finder behavior. Many of my other gripes can be resolved with third-party utilities, which while not the ideal solution, provide some talented programmers with an opportunity to make a few bucks and strut their stuff, and allows Apple to focus on something more important than enabling hierarchical browsing in the Apple menu (like improving speed, etc.).
So I’m turning over a new leaf. Instead of bad rapping OS X at every opportunity I’m making an effort to spread good cheer and convert some of the stubborn OS X nay-sayers I used to call comrades. Do not worry, the Mac is as much a pleasure to use as before. If you doubt that, play with Jaguar for a week or two, and then tinker with a Wintel box. OS X has most of what you’d want from Windows or Unix, but it preserves a lot of what we love from OS 9. Sure some concessions were made, and I’m not 100% behind all the decisions Apple made. But OS X is more stable, and in many ways gets us past some of the baggage the antiquated OS was burdening us with.
I hate to sound like Mary Poppins, but I do believe that the future of the Mac is bright as ever if Jaguar is any indication. There are bound to be some bumps in the road, but if I am running Jaguar full time and enjoying it, there’s no reason most ATPM readers shouldn’t be too!
Also in This Series
- About My Particular Macintoshes · May 2012
- From the Darkest Hour · May 2012
- Shrinking Into an Expanding World · May 2012
- Growing Up With Apple · May 2012
- Recollections of ATPM by the Plucky Comic Relief · May 2012
- Making the Leap · March 2012
- Digital > Analog > Digital · February 2012
- An Achievable Dream · February 2012
- Smart Move? · February 2012
- Complete Archive
Reader Comments (35)
There is no universally agreed definition amongst human beings about what should be in an "Apple menu." In particular, there is nothing that says that an Apple menu must be customizable. Mac OS X is a different OS for goodness sake. Deal with it!
With regard to a few of your points about the Dock, first of all, you say that "Apple has thrown it all together in one gigantic virtual depository." Fair comment, one might think, but then, quite rightly, you qualify this by adding, "well, applications are separate." This, unfortunately makes your subsequent claim that "using the Dock as an application switcher is frustratingly pedantic" seem rather unbelievable.
You also discuss the Dock's notification behaviour, describing "an icon [bouncing] up and down like a digital jack-in-the-box" as "obnoxious." You conveniently fail to mention, however, that APIs are available in both Cocoa and Carbon to make the Dock icon bounce once, rather than repeatedly, when an application wishes to notify the user of something, and that is, therefore, the fault of developers, and not Apple, if applications fail to take advantage of this behaviour.
Moving on, you say that the Dock "obscures the resize handles for windows that are sized to be full screen height". I chuckled particularly at this one. In Mac OS X, if the Dock is visible, windows are not meant to be sized to the full height of the screen! You may not like that, but, given the existence of the Dock, it is a sensible decision by Apple in order to ensure a good user experience. Again, if application developers fail to take advantage of the APIs which provide them with the usable area of the screen, that is their problem and, presumably, free market competition will soon sort them out.
Finally, what exactly do you mean when you say that using the Dock to switch applications is "contrived?" How is it any more contrived than using a menu? I personally hated the application menu in Mac OS 9, if for no better reasons than that it didn't allow you to see, at a glance, what applications you were running and the fact that it required two mouse clicks (or, before you say it, a click and hold whilst moving the mouse) rather than one simple click to switch to a different application.
What I was getting at was not that the Apple menu is totally useless. Rather, Apple removed a huge feature when they decided to elminate hierarchical browsing from tha Apple Menu. You can no longer browse your hard drive from an application outside of the Finder. For example if you are in Microsoft Word and wish to load up another app you must go into the Finder, navigate your way through the windows and double click it. OR you must put lots of applications in the Dock, the result being a huge Dock with very small icons. And, realistically, you cannot put everything in the Dock, especially when you consider documents, etc.
It is true that there are other ways to accomplish what I'm talking about, such as Tiger Launch, or other third party utilities which add an entirely separate and new menu to the menubar. Or a utility like Launchbar which provides a totally different (but excellent) solution to the problem. But my point was that Apple provided no way to do this out of the box.
You are also correct that there is no universally agreed upon definition for what should be in the Apple menu. But a lot of users are accustomed to seeing certain items there such as the Calculator, etc., and most users have become accustomed to quickly booting up apps or loading documents via the Apple menu. Imagine if suddenly Apple removed Cut, Copy, and Paste from the Edit menu. The Edit menu is still there - with all kinds of other stuff under it, but those commands have been removed. The only way to use those features is to install a utility called "Clipboard Assistant" or some such thing. I am sure you would find that pretty obnoxious. Well, for many of us, the Apple menu provided a feature that was just as important those of the Edit menu (perhaps more so because you can Cut, Copy and Paste from the keyboard - but you cannot browse hierarchically from the keyboard).
2) The Dock's notification behavior is obnoxious. The Dock itself is obnoxious. I do believe it is Apple's fault for providing an option at all. Applications should bounce once, not indefinitely. That there is a choice is in fact the problem. Developers may or may not be aware of the choice. I definitely see your point, but I think the problem is the Dock itself and there is frankly no way to make it less obnoxious short of removing it altogether.
As for the Dock and full screen size windows. Are you telling me that I should be pleased that Apple has decided to remove a significant portion of my screen real estate so I can have a feature I don't want? Sorry, I think that's lousy. Either I could make the Dock tiny and virtually useless as a result, or I could do what I do which is make it hide and show on demand so I don't have to deal with it infringing on my screen unless I am forced to use it for some reason (to unminimize a window for example) but, of course, whenever you go to resize a window that is near the Dock, it pops up. This is silly. Why didn't Apple allow for hiding and showing the Dock with an F-Key rather than having it sense when the mouse is near. That way, you could leave it hidden all the time, enjoy more screen space, and then show it quickly to do something and hide it again. Alternatively, and perhaps preferably, it could simply be an application (like DragThing) which would allow you to quit it altogether or hide and show it as you please. Of course, if it were an app, you could probably rig up multiple Docks too which would be a better solution, a la DragThing.
Furthermore, I don't think developers should prevent me from resizing my windows to the full height of the screen. If Apple thinks that's a good idea and a developer disagrees, I'm coming down on the side of the developer. I should be able to resize my window any way I like. I can resize it off the screen if I so desire, right? So why can't I resize it to infringe upon the holy ground of the Dock? The Dock is not sacred on my machine - quite the opposite.
As for switching applications in the dock - why do I find this contrived? That's easy. Currently running applications that are not normally in the dock are shoved over to the side of the applications you keep in the dock. Fine - but applications which are normally in the dock do not move when they are active. So you have to look in two different places. And, the only indication of which applications are running is this silly little carrot like symbol which can be very small and hard to see for some users if the Dock gets full (or if you reduce it in size to keep it out of the way). Moreover, the Dock does not show you which application is currently "in front" nor does it show you which is brought to the front when you use Command-Tab. So, if you are cycling through a series of applications, you cannot tell which is currently in front. This is particularly troublesome if you have windows minimized or simply don't have many set up.
The application menu, archaic as you may have found it, was much more intuitive. First of all, it only displayed active applications, not other applications (such as those in the Launcher). Secondly, it indicated which application was the frontmost. Thirdly, if you tore off the app menu to generate the application switching windoid, it provided visual feedback as you used Command-Tab to cycle through the currently running applications. Also, it still provided Drag and Drop functionality and, if you used the Windoid, you have one-click access, just as you did with the Dock.
3) Yes Mac OS X is a different OS - I am dealing with it. I am using it full time. I like it a lot. But, I think Apple made some unnecessary and somewhat foolish changes that only serve to confuse novices accustomed to the old OS and force the rest of us to install utilities which may or may not make the OS less stable, consume more memory, etc. I might also point out that I see no real benefit gained from these changes - only drawbacks. It's not as if there was a gain in performance or obvious improvement in user interface as a result of these changes.
That said, if you want to do hierarchical browsing, drag a folder into the dock.
Being a submenu, the Favorites menu is less convenient to get to than the Apple menu was, and it's not available when you aren't in the Finder.
1) Yes the Apple menu does let you log out.
It lets you access all of the important system-level commands from one menu, regardless of program. This is a massive usability step FORWARD. You can still have your most commonly used programs in the Dock.
What I was getting at was not that the Apple menu is totally useless. Rather, Apple removed a huge feature when they decided to eliminate hierarchical browsing from the Apple Menu.
That feature is now in the Dock. Put the icon of whatever folder/disk/partition you want to browse in the Dock, and click-and-hold or control-click on it and browse hierarchically to your heart's delight.
Of course, you run crying from the Dock like a petulant child, and refuse to give it a real chance so you don't know about this basic OS X functionality.
You can no longer browse your hard drive from an application outside of the Finder. For example, if you are in Microsoft Word and wish to load up another app, you must go into the Finder, navigate your way through the windows and double click it. OR, you must put lots of applications in the Dock, the result being a huge Dock with very small icons.
All of this is untrue. Put /Applications in your Dock, and be done with it.
It is true that there are other ways to accomplish what I'm talking about, such as Tiger Launch, or other third party utilities which add an entirely separate and new menu to the menubar, or a utility like Launchbar which provides a totally different (but excellent) solution to the problem. But my point was that Apple provided no way to do this out of the box.
More useless ignorance from ATPM.
2) The Dock's notification behavior is obnoxious. The Dock itself is obnoxious.
How do you know? You haven't truly engaged it, because your every sentence oozes ignorance about the Dock.
As for the Dock and full screen size windows. Are you telling me that I should be pleased that Apple has decided to remove a significant portion of my screen real estate so I can have a feature I don't want? Sorry I think that's lousy. Either I could make the Dock tiny and virtually useless as a result, or I could do what I do which is make it hide and show on demand so I don't have to deal with it infringing on my screen unless I am forced to use it for some reason (to unminimize a window for example) but, of course, whenever you go to resize a window that is near the Dock, it pops up.
If it's that much of a pain, move it to the right side of the screen.
The Dock is not sacred on my machine - quite the opposite.
Of course not, like most X-haters, you're a fanatical, illogical, anti-Dock bigot. You clearly know nothing about how well it works, so you ridicule it. All your problems with the Dock and lack of an Apple Menu for hierarchial browsing can be solved by putting folders in the Dock, moving the Dock to the right hand side of the screen, and hiding it.
Moreover, the Dock does not show you which application is currently "in front" nor does it show you which is brought to the front when you use Command-Tab. So, if you are cycling through a series of applications, you cannot tell which is currently in front.
Which app is currently in front? The one whose name is by the Apple Menu. Which app will Command-Tab to the front? The one that is highlighted when you are Command-Tabbing.
Thirdly, if you tore off the app menu to generate the application switching windoid, it provided visual feedback as you used Command-Tab to cycle through the currently running applications.
So does the Dock -- it highlights as you Command-Tab. Is ignorance about the topics of your rants something that you pride yourself in?
I might also point out that I see no real benefit gained from these changes, only drawbacks.
In your opinion, in your mind, and nowhere else.
It's not as if there was a gain in performance or obvious improvement in user interface as a result of these changes.
I would argue the exact opposite: the Dock is far more intuitive and discoverable than the Apple Menu for a new user. It is far more efficient than scattering all these functions across a half-dozen different widgets in the OS. It, like OS X, is all around better than the OS 9 items that preceded it in almost ever single way.
I am aware of the fact that you can drag folders or even volumes into the Dock. But, as Michael points out, this is not really that great a solution. And, as I will point out yet again, it requires me to give up screen real estate because, even if I don't have it visible at all times, it will pop up and obscure some important part of my desktop. There is simply no place where the Dock does not, in some way, interfere with my workspace. At the bottom, it screws up full size windows. On the right, it covers up part of the row of icons my desktop. On the left, it covers up one of any number of windows in a given application. The whole concept is just bad. I have no interest in giving up screen real estate to a stupid Dock and, unless I shrink it to the point where it is totally useless, it takes up enough space that I find it intrusive.
But, I will repeat myself - the worst part of the Dock is that you are forced to use it. If I could make it disappear entirely, I would be happy and then folks like you who seem to have a love affair with it would be free to use the Dock to your heart's content.
I do not think it is really appropriate to characterize my feelings on the Dock as ignorance or childishness. I do not see any benefit to the Dock - it's that simple. And I know I am not alone. A lot of ATPM readers have e-mailed me saying, in effect, that they agree 100% with my remarks concerning the Dock. If you find it to be a major perk over OS 9, more power to you. But I do not see how that makes you more enlightened - less critical perhaps. I am not sure if having lower standards for software design really qualifies as a more evolved state of being but, if so, you may have a genetic leg up on me.
Personally, I think that giving up screen space for something like the Dock is a massive step BACKWARD. I have a huge monitor and I usually have it stuffed full with windows and tool pallettes and so forth. I have no interest in a system level "Dock" interfering without any constraints whatsoever.
I, too, belive that OS X is in many ways better than OS 9. I wouldn't go so far as "almost every single way," but some substantial improvements have been made and I feel that, overall, it is worth upgrading to because the improvements outweigh the shortcomings for most users.
Some of you are implying that I simply refuse to accept change or that I am unwilling to modify my own computing habits to accommodate a superior and more modern operating system. This is really not the case. Personally, I had no problems going from System 6 to System 7, or System 7 to OS 8. In fact, aside from some growing pains related to software updates, I had very little to complain about from OS 8 to OS 9. Granted, the changes between OS releases in those cases were admittedly smaller. But the point is that I am not one to complain about changes in applications (the OS included) from version to version. In fact, not only do I tolerate them, but I encourage them. So long as they are sensible and contribute something of value to the computing experience. It may sound trite, but change for the sake of change is worthless and often undesireable.
When Photoshop made a big paradigm shift to layers, I didn't throw up my arms and write an article complaining about it. Why? Because in every conceivable way, this fundamental change to the way in which the program operated was vastly superior and the features users gained (such as multiple undo/redo, history, etc.) were so incredibly valuable and worthwhile, that the small learning curve required by novices to adjust to the layers "concept" even for small projects was clearly a moot point.
But the Dock doesn't make the Mac easier to use, it doesn't make Mac users more productive, and it isn't nearly as well-executed as many of Apple's past developments in various OS incarnations. At the same time, there are several perfectly valid reasons to dislike it, such as the fact that it infringes on screen real estate and has icons bouncing around, etc. It may be cute but, otherwise, it offers little in the way of improving the user's experience. In short, it's a NeXT-ism of the worst kind.
Honestly, I don't find it as horrific as Evan finds it yet, at the same time, I don't find it to be a revolutionary aspect of OS X. Yes, something is afoul with it, but I couldn't describe exactly what it is about it that bothers me.
What I've done is make the best of it. First of all, with the wide displays that are sported on most Apple machines (I have a 15" G4 PowerBook), it is extremely seldom that I use an app that takes up the entire width. I generally size my windows to an approximate 4:3 ratio and keep them on the left edge. This leaves plenty of room to see my oft-used folders sitting along the right edge of my desktop. Naturally, I've pinned my dock on the right side and also keep it at the end position—a feat that makes the trash can always remain in the same physical location. Additionally, I happen to like the Finder setting that places the icon labels to the right side instead of underneath. This not only keeps icons from ending up underneath the dock, but also permits a bit more real estate for the filename as well as the item info which I also like to enable (the feature that shows how many items are in a folder, the length of an audio file, the dimensions of some graphic files, etc.). I've also got TinkerTool set to allow 3 lines instead of 2 on the side of the icon, which gives more text space. Going to 4 lines causes the icons to space wider apart, so 3 it is!
So, I feel as though I've got a reasonable handle on my Dock. I use DockExtender to organize my oft-used apps into three categorized menus instead of having all these apps fill up the Dock. In fact, the only apps I have set to remain in the dock are the ones that I immediately launch every time I turn on my laptop when I'm at home—Entourage, Safari, Proteus, and NetNewsWire.
Do I still feel like the Dock is a pain in the butt sometimes? You betcha! As I said early on, though, I feel as though I've tamed it as well as can be expected—to the point that it is occassionally useful and doesn't get in my way all that much.
I won't get into the other "Dock"-ma except to give one handy tip not mentioned by others (read the other posts because they are quite good). Learn Command-Option-D! If you an old Mac-head then you should have probably used QuicKeys to bind that to an F-Key. I watch people use the Mac all the time (they're the ones who leave the Dock centered on the bottom) and Cmd-Opt-D would save them a world of hurt. What happens is, they drag their window down or do a resize where they have room on the right (they're Dock is centered, remember) and now their scrollbar or some stuff is blocked by the Dock. If they want to grab the resize handles, it's invariably blocked by the Dock.
What I've watched them do is go through very strange contortions to move the window, resize the bar, and then drag it back. What they should do is hit Cmd-Opt-D, resize, Cmd-Opt-D. It's very, very handy.
BTW, "Cmd-Opt" is used differently than "Cmd-Shift" in a very sensible way.
As for the Apple Menu. If you understand the paradigm (left-to-right is decreasing scope from System (Apple Menu) to Application to File to stuff in a file, things make a lot of sense. It does create a bit of a moving target for the File/Edit menu, but there is a gain there in now being able to guess where a menu item should be (vs. the random, "by convention, violated everywhere" placement of Application preferences in the Classic Mac days).
Finally, instead of turning magnification off, try having magnification set to the same size or smaller than the Dock size. This way, magnification only kicks in when you have too much stuff in the Dock. Personally, I like the Dock magnification and can live with the "moving target" nature, but I know some people who can't stand that aspect, so this might help.
Plus, with Cmd-Opt-D you won't be as inclined to worry about Dock real estate. You can leave the Dock in the "hidden form" and bring it up with a key.
Hope this helps.
But folks - this still doesn't solve the fundamental problem. Even if you use Command-Option D to hide the Dock, when the mouse gets near where the Dock is stowed, it will pop up. I want a command key combination that hides the dock for good until you use the same command key to bring it back. Otherwise what's the point?
I've got things like DockExtender, TinkerTool, FruitMenu, etc.—all of which do something or other to perform some small adjustment to the Dock's properties.
How utterly patronizing.
I am aware of the fact that you can drag folders or even volumes into the Dock. But, as Michael points out, this is not really that great a solution. And, as I will point out yet again, it requires me to give up screen real estate because, even if I don't have it visible at all times, it will pop up and obscure some important part of my desktop.
How is this different than the Apple menu, which would obscure parts of your desktop when you used it? The Dock doesn't appear willy nilly and without provocation if you have it hidden. Hide it and scoot it to the right hand side, and you should never see it except for when you want to use it, just like the Apple Menu. Only better.
But, I will repeat myself - the worst part of the Dock is that you are forced to use it. If I could make it disappear entirely, I would be happy and then folks like you who seem to have a love affair with it would be free to use the Dock to your heart's content.
You're also forced to use the menubar, and other core components of the UI. The Dock is a core component of the UI. There would be no way to make Mac OS X work like Mac OS X without the Dock.
You want OS 9 with Unix underneath. That would have been a travesty. A waste of an opportunity for greatness with instead just another steaming pile of more of the same.
I do not think it is really appropriate to characterize my feelings on the Dock as ignorance or childishness. I do not see any benefit to the Dock - it's that simple.
Yet your initial, poorly-scribed rant also made statements that betrayed ignorance of the Dock's abilities. You made claims about limitations that simply were not true.
And I know I am not alone. A lot of ATPM readers have e-mailed me saying, in effect, that they agree 100% with my remarks concerning the Dock.
Yes, the Mac market is sadly polluted with backwards plebians who worship OS 9's hodge podge UI like some sort of golden calf in the desert and thus refuse to learn their way around OS X. They try to force OS X to work like OS 9, and are unhappy with the results. As they should be. It's not OS 9. You must learn how the new OS works. You must engage its new tools, truly experience them, and not just toss them aside because you miss the stupid pseudo-configurable Apple menu of the halcyon days of the cooperative multitasking era.
But I do not see how that makes you more enlightened - less critical perhaps.
I'm an extremely critical and cynical person. I am neither easily impressed nor easily swayed. But I also don't worship the past, don't idolize the Classic OS nor think that all UI problems have to be considered from a worldview that dates to 1984. The Classic Mac OS had become a tower of babel, composed of dozens of bits and pieces that were not designed at the same time, which didn't work exactly the same, which weren't a coherent whole. They'd been tacked on and spliced together. OS X fixes all that by taking all of those functions and building them into a new, better UI that is coherent, clear and accessible to everyone -- except, of course, those who cling to the Platinum interface like it was divinity incarnate.
I am not sure if having lower standards for software design really qualifies as a more evolved state of being but, if so, you may have a genetic leg up on me.
Again with the patronizing.
Personally, I think that giving up screen space for something like the Dock is a massive step BACKWARD.
Then don't give up screen real estate to it, hide it.
Some of you are implying that I simply refuse to accept change or that I am unwilling to modify my own computing habits to accommodate a superior and more modern operating system. This is really not the case. Personally, I had no problems going from System 6 to System 7, or System 7 to OS 8.
Why should you have? Nothing really changed, at a fundamental level. They just tacked more incongruous junk atop the 1984 interface. Apple never had the nerve or character to tear down everything and rethink it until OS X, and they should be applauded for finally doing so.
It may sound trite, but change for the sake of change is worthless and often undesireable.
Nothing in OS X is change just for the sake of change.
But the Dock doesn't make the Mac easier to use,
Yes, it does -- particularly for novice users. It gives them one tool, generally always visible, that lets them start their programs, move from program to program, swap through window and throw things away. New Mac users only have to learn clear and obvious tool to do all that, as opposed to OS 9.
What was discoverable about the Apple Menu? Very little -- it was tucked away in a corner, and difficult, compared to the Dock, to configure. What was consistent about the Applications menu that turned into a floating pallette if you dragged too far down it? Not much. Windowshade left debris scattered across your screen and switching to the Finder was often required to reach the Trash can. OS X improves on each and every one of these situations.
Silly. Using the menu bar interface only obscures the desktop when you use it. The Dock has the potential of obscuring your desktop even when you're not using it.
I liken this your own physical desktop. Suppose you have some photo prints laying around that you're sorting. Obscuring these in the manner of a menu bar use is like you intentionally taking a moment to pick up a manilla folder, laying it on your desk on top of the photos, looking through some papers, then putting the folder away. If it behaved lock the Dock, you'd be forced to keep that manilla folder on your desk instead of in a drawer—probably having to set it somewhere else every now and then to work with the photos you've been laying on your desk.
The Dock doesn't appear willy nilly and without provocation if you have it hidden.
Baloney! I tried on a couple occasions (both before and after I moved my dock from the bottom center to the right bottom) to use my Dock in auto-hide mode and I constantly found myself accidentally popping it up.
I'm a long-time Mac user and have had this problem. But it also frustrates newcomers to the Mac experience. I finally convinced a coworker of mine that Final Cut Pro on Mac OS X is far better than Adobe Premiere on either platform. He now fully agrees. Yet I've personally observed him wince a bit with a sort of silent "oh, man!" type of response every time he went access something on the bottom of the time line and moved his mouse in the region that popped up his hidden Dock.
You're also forced to use the menubar, and other core components of the UI. The Dock is a core component of the UI. There would be no way to make Mac OS X work like Mac OS X without the Dock.
But the menu bar is a thin row at the top of your screen that does not change its physical dynamics at any time. The Dock has to be a fair bit bigger to be useful, it frequently gets wider and narrower (or taller and shorter), and it constantly has little icons that bounce into your workspace even if you're positioned your windows in a manner that don't go underneath the Dock, but only next to it.
Here's the deal for those of you (Richard) who still aren't "getting" the difference between the menu bar and the Dock. The issue is not Apple menu vs. Dock. The Apple menu is not perfect and I prefer to use something like DragThing instead of the Apple menu most of the time. However - DragThing is far more elegant than the Dock. If Apple had integrated something along the lines of DragThing I would be much more enthusiastic. But the Dock is an abomination by comparison.
The issue is Dock vs. no Dock. On my system, and on the systems of many ATPM readers who are writing in, no Dock is clearly preferable.
The Menu Bar is an integral part of the OS in the sense that no application can function without it. It is the fundamental operating basis of all Macintosh applications, much like a window or cursor. The menu bar takes up very little space, and menus do not move around on the menu bar, or change size, etc. as menus are added. You are not constantly dealing with a moving target. The Apple, File and Edit menus are always in the same place. The menu bar is not center-aligned.
More importantly the menu bar is NOT an active part of the desktop (let's ignore the occasional video game, etc.). You cannot set up an application such that windows can obscure the menu bar. You cannot drag a window on top of the menu bar. You cannot end up with the menu bar covering up an icon on your desktop, etc. Yes menus do obscure windows momentarily but it's not like when I go to the top of the screen to move a window using the title bar, a menu drops in my face to prevent me from doing so. That would be obnoxious.
This is why menus are so slick. They only add to the user experience, they do not detract. Because they are a core part of the OS, all applications work well with the menu bar. You don't end up with some applications that have windows covering it up while others take that small strip at the top of the screen into account and size windows accordingly. You always know where to look for something on the menu bar. It's always the same size, etc.
If the menu bar hid itself, was centered, constantly resized the font used to raster menu titles, and had menus that automatically dropped to alert you of applications that needed your attention, it would suck, like the Dock. But it does none of these things, thankfully.
There is no way to make OS X work like OS X without the Dock? I beg to differ. I can do anything without the Dock. The Windows menu lets me access minimized windows and I can minimize them without the Dock showing. Every other function of the Dock can be accomplished elsewhere via some other means.
This is not true of other components of the UI. There are certain menu actions which have no command key equivalent, or which perform a different action depending on the context of your selection, etc. I think we can all agree that the Mac experience would be substantially degraded if menus were removed from the OS - in fact, forget degraded, how about rendered unusable. This is simply not the case with the Dock.
Now, if Apple would let me hide the Dock PERMANENTLY using an F-Key (when I say permanently I mean so that it doesn't show itself when I move the mouse near), I would be less of a grouch about it. But the fact that this is not possible is really at the heart of the matter.
I use my computer for work as a designer. I need to have a clear desktop with a neutral, mid-grey background on which I can manipulate photos and graphic images, calibrate color, develop logos, motifs typography, etc. I do not want ANYTHING else on my desktop to distract and interfere with the decisions I am making while going through this creative process - least of all a useless piece of brightly colored tat springing up, dancing around, and generally making a nuisance of itself.
In terms of human interaction, it is WRONG. If I bought a real physical drawing board (remember those?) to work on and the manufacturer insisted that part of the actual work surface MUST be taken up with an ever-changing, spring-loaded, pop-up box full of distracting and unwanted/irrelevant gadgets. I'd tell him 'no thanks.' If he went on to insist that it's integral to the drawing board's function and I really, really would grow to love it, I would think he was mad.
If the Dock is so special, why doesn't Apple give users the option of quitting from it so that mature Mac users can go take a look when they have some time to spare and decide for themselves how beneficial it is to their own particular ways and methods of working? I've downloaded many bits of shareware in the past which were designed to hide off screen and pop open whenever the mouse went close. I can tell you that each one became such an irritation and OBSTACLE to my working that the programs were dumped in a matter of days.
The approach Apple has taken to the Dock is surprising because it's so uncharacteristic of every principle the company has ever stood for. Richard is right, computers have matured since way back in 1984, but Apple loosing sight of the underlying fundamentals of GUI just because they have the computing power to do so, would be a grave mistake.
What fundamental rule? UNIX never required file extensions or limited the length of file extensions.
Do you think file extensions should be limited to three letters? That's a fading Wintel convention based on an old MS-DOS FAT file system limitation. Win95 supported long file names on FAT and NTFS never had issues with file names like foobar.framework.
But the two facts you point out (UNIX and Windows supporting long filenames and not limiting suffix length) simply add to my argument which is that adopting file extensions in OS X serves no real purpose and is unquestionably a less elegant way of associating files with applications. It's medieval at best.
I'll defer to the ATPM editor's final decision, but I think it's time to put the brakes on this thread or at least take it to direct e-mails. As I said, the usefulness of the Dock is a matter of opinion and, unless Apple receives thousands or tens of thousands of letters from users who promise to never buy Apple products again as long as the Dock lives, debating about whether or not it should be there is a little pointless. Those who feel strongly about the Dock one way or another aren't going to be convinced otherwise simply by an e-conversation.
I never criticized personally held views that the Dock can be a nuisance or that the Apple Menu should have shortcuts. Yet I was jumped on by two ATPM staff members in three separate replies.
Personally, I do wish the article mentioned what is redeeming about the Dock--it does have a number of features in its favor compared to the Apple Menu, HP ToolBar, and Windows Toolbar--in addition to highlighting its weaknesses. But, since this is almost an editorial, I'm not going to criticize.
BTW, Trent and I mentioned this, but never explained. You can uncenter your dock using a program like TinkerTool or Cocktail, among others
The more people report these in as bugs, the better the operating system will be in the future.
For speed fixes, visit this MacMaps site.
Most of the speed issues are with the way it is installed and/or optimized. Like Mac OS 9, there are equivalents for rebuilding the desktop and running Disk Frst Aid to repair the computer and get it optimized.
For those of us who switched over to OS X years ago, this is just plain boring. Stop the whining with "bring back this or that from OS 9." It's dead and it ain't coming back!
Long live OS X!
To the anonymous comment immediately preceding this one—laff. You seem, however, to have forgotten that System 6 was color blind!
To finish up, anyone wishing to return their Mac to a clean and powerful work tool - instead of looking like a children's toybox - should read "Killing the Undead, How to get rid of Jaguar's Dock" by Kevin Schmitt.
OB System 6.
I found this page that helps clear it up even more.
The reason I thought otherwise was because I associated System 6 and before with all the old Macs that had monochrome screens. Naturally I'm mistaken because I do now remember when System 7 paraded its way into the Mac lab at my college way back then. The lab was full of IIci machines which, of course, had full color screens and had originally come with System 6.
But one thing I can correct you on was that there actually were numbered System versions all the way back to 1. The link, above, outlines them.
Within an HTTP transaction, data is typed by MIME. File suffixes don't matter. MIME doesn't define file suffixes, neither does HTTP.
Yes, a typical web server may depend on the file suffix of the file it is serving to determine the MIME type to send in the HTTP header but it doesn't have to be done this way.
BTW, if the use of files suffixes like .html, .shtml, .java, and .class on Windows is driven by web-related work, then the web is contributing to the demise of the three letter suffix.
Both Panther and Longhorn are supposed to offer enhancements for supporting meta-data about files, but typing by file suffix is unlikely to go away soon in either OS.
Wow! Dock-itus! Vitriol! Flames! Now just stop it! We're Mac users...not barbarians!
Why is the Dock such an issue? Not because we're luddites, but because many of us "veterans" feel forced to move forward into interface behaviors and mouse locations that not a part of our hard-earned skill sets; forced to cope with this or that new feature, with imprinted body memories which simply don't want "features" like the Dock in our faces when we try to get work done.
(The Dock doesn't appear willy nilly and without provocation if you have it hidden. Hide it and scoot it to the right hand side, and you should never see it except for when you want to use it, just like the Apple Menu. only better.)
I'm not here to patronize anybody, but this is not correct. I work as a professional editor in Avid and Final Cut Pro and I max out my screen real estate for very practical reasons. My timeline runs edge to edge. Believe me when I tell you the exquisite annoyance I experience when the Dock makes its vaudevillian pop-up appearance from its hidden state -- often with clients present ("Hey, what the hell was that?" "Nothing, just a feature.") -- when I least need entertaining distractions.
Sure, not everybody uses their monitor space so intensely but, for all its obvious function, this is not a well-behaved Apple interface feature for two major reasons: 1) it's discontinuous with past operating systems, and 2) it's plain RUDE. Bruce Tognazzini at asktog.com analytically trashes it--better than I can. He helped invent the Mac interface. With any luck, the Dock will be optional in Panther and beyond, the way Simple Finder is an option also used by nobody.
Until then, there are some elegant published solutions to remove the Dock, to shrink it into a tiny square, or otherwise modify it. In 2001, I started a thread on MacFixit.com : Forums : Utilities Mac OS X : "Collected Refugee Utilities Here!" and one of the many participants-- folks just like all the intelligent and opinionated readers here--posted a GREAT solution which has saved my day.
The premise of the Refugee Utilites is captured in everything I've read above this post. It is simply to take back your particular Mac in the new world of OS X. To cope with change, help create it. Migrate to whatever new features you like about OS X, but be aware that you can now restore fully 90% of whatever you loved in OS 9 and earlier, everything from your Apple Menu to Labels. Really, let me see you folks there once in a while, rating the interface apps dedicated to that aim.
The energy level here is terrific. I've bookmarked the site.
Fighting the Good Fight against mediocrity...
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