Thursday, February 02, 2006

Dashboard things on an Apple notebook

After my initial contacts with Apple OSX from my 12'' iBook (described in the first, second and third special posts) not a huge amount of surprises have remained to be discovered but there are a few other things that might be worth mentioning for any other newcomer to the Apple world.

One first observation on the pre-installed applications - there are quite a few, some of them might be of some use for most people (like the Dictionary/Thesaurus or the Calculator, maybe AppleWorks or Stickies ... but mostly for beginners), some might like parts or all of the iApplications (but I am not one of them - iTunes and iCal are usable and probably nice but you can never know when they will spy on you - in case you do not know Apple can probably build a very precise log of when each Apple user has started each iApplication, how many times per day, at what hour more often and so on) and there are some other which are there only for the "feel good" reason - how many people have ever used GarageBand for something real ? (but of course that people will feel good about their artistic side so ...)

Two other programs that everybody will probably need to install - one I certainly like - Adobe Acrobat Reader - the other I HATE but there is not much that I can do - StuffIt Expander - just another company that has somehow managed to impose a standard tax on stupidity :(

One interesting thing is the (new) Spotlight - while normally on a system with a better and more effective design I would have no need for it I was not able to stop it when I made my first steps on the iBook so I left it there for a future research - and while at times I certainly can hear the HDD working in the background (and sometimes even slowing me down) I have discovered that for a keyboard lover it might actually be the next best thing after a console or file manager with a command line - most often if you remember the name of a certain program it is much faster on a notebook to press COMMAND+SPACE , then a few letters from the program (or document) name, a few times on DOWN and then ENTER !!! But it remains to be seen if the tradeoffs are worth it on the long term so I am still researching that ...

Finally a few words on the Dashboard - the TYPICAL expression of the Apple philosophy - but you will have to read to the end to find out which is that :)

I admit that I liked the look of it - and I have placed quite a few nice widgets on my dashboard - but in the end:
a) it is simply an idea mostly stolen from Konfabulator (with only small changes so that it might be difficult to sue);
b) it can also be considered a virtual desktop manager for less brilliant people (you know, the same people that can not handle TWO mouse buttons);
c) the memory usage is HUGE and the benefits are rather minor most of the time.

So in the end something just like all Apple stuff - nice for the eyes but shallow and in the end mostly useless :(


Anonymous Matt Hoult said...

While I appreciate that all people have different opinions it has to be said that there are some references in here that just shock me. For example; saying that Dictionary, Theasaurus, Calculator and iApplications (specifically GarageBand) are useless is just insane. They are tools, they are used and more than anything they are something that makes the day easier for millions of people across the planet. I for one could not live without GarageBand anymore, and I know at least 100 other people personally that feel the same way.

Adobe Acrobat Reader is null and void in OS X, plain and simple while Stuffit Expander is very useful. More over, all pre-installed applications can be removed and even when formatting you have the option not to install them (or printer drivers among other things) simply, effectively and fool-proof during the OS re-intallation process.

I also fail to see how searching a million files and folders could be faster than Spotlight under and circumstances. I agree that sometimes it can make a noise when my external HDD spins, but hey... come on.

The on thing I would agree with is the Dashboard. I don't think it's worth the payoff when compared to the resources it hogs, but I know many people that can't live without it. That is a very personal choice.

I have been using OS X for around 6 months now and I don't know how anyone could deny that the "eye candy" is also helpful (viz: video playing in the dock/application switcher). I don't know how anyone could shoot down such fine points of OS X, and this is comming from a heavy Windows user. I am a power user on many different OS' and regardless of where my personal preference stands it has to be said that OS X caters for power users and new users alike in many ways; some of which you have discussed and shot down here. This confuses me.

3:16 AM  
Blogger cool_stuff_or_not said...

1. If you were not a zealot you might have noted that "Dictionary/Thesaurus + Calculator" are listed as useful;

2. well, probably you know about 100 people that like to believe about themselves as "composers";

3. Acrobat Reader is VASTLY superior to the pathetic "Preview";

4. Stuffit Expander is only needed since there are too many morons using Stuffit instead of open / documented formats ... just as with using the closed M$ formats - it is an "invitation" for a new "tax on stupidity";

5. A real geek KNOWS where most of the stuff is and uses a smart way to organize things anyway so background indexing is NOT needed (or at least not until the number of files really gets into millions - of course that most Apple users feel that their notebook has millions of files but most often we speak about 10k or so ... and probably only about 1k of user files - but as in many primitive cultures anything that is over 1000 is "infinite" :) ); and just to clear things on "innovation" - M$ had a similar 'indexer' since at least Windows 2000 if not before - I am stopping it ever since :)

6. "video playing in the dock/application switcher" IS just useless eye candy - when a 'power user' wants to go to another application he knows quite well where he wants to go - only the 'newcomers' and the 'artists' are lost with two mouse buttons or more than two applications :)

7. if you were indeed a power user and you were using an Apple notebook (without an external mouse or keyboard - when you do that you don't have a notebook, it's just a slightly more mobile desktop) you should have noted that things are optimized for 'simple users' - and I am afraid that type of optimization can NEVER be done at the same time with optmizations for the real geeks - the problem is usually that around 50% of the Apple users somehow like to think about themselves as 'power users' and since they are very happy with the current optimizations they somehow created the myth of Apple being optimized for 'power users' :))

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a knob! Your three pages of crap are as useless as windscreen wipers on a submarine. Your review reads: "First things to do on an Apple notebook: take it back". Was your point to help Mac users or really to question why Mac users bother.

Just to think that MS has needed to introduce all the same eye candy to Vista to finally bring its oppressed Windows zombies into the 21st century. I for one like the whole Mac paradigm. I like using a 21st century UI. I'm not afraid of single-button mouses. I like that there are applications for noobs while providing access for power users to get under the hood. I like that as a power user I can still get into Darwin and do what I need to. It sure beats installing Cygwin to get a decent CLI.

9:30 PM  

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