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Mac-geeking

This entry is not beautiful, nor is it about me. You have been warned.

I got a 15" Powerbook for Christmas. It is quite the sexy machine. The UI design mission seems to have been to make mac users as irrationally attached to their computer as possible. And I am. I turned on *all* of the silly special effects. I minimized windows just to watch the cool whooshing motion. I made my shell transparent. I turned on the screen saver just to watch it. For a while, I even had it set to change the desktop background picture every five seconds. I love how the little icons jump up and down to get my attention. I made another account and turned on fast user switching just to watch the rotating cube motion.

However, I have actually been surprised by a few incredibly irritating design choices.

1. The trackpad is not centered with respect to standard hand-position on the keyboard, so that while I'm typing my palm occasionally brushes the trackpad and causes the cursor to move unexpectedly. It seems the only Apple-endorsed solution is to turn off tap-clicking, but I *like* tap-clicking. I found SideTrack which allows you to filter trackpad input while typing.

2. You can't turn off the start-up sound without muting everything (which is already too late, if you're starting up your computer in a gigantic lecture hall). I found an add-on startupsound.prefPane which allows you to do this. But seriously, this really needs to be available in standard preferences.

2b. There needs to be non-aural feedback when I press the start button, so I know that the computer is actually booting without informing everyone in my general vicinity of this same fact.

2c. It seems that Apple subscribes to the same "too many preferences available to users is bad" philosophy of UI design as Mozilla. I would think that having to hunt around in obscure config files or download third-party software would be less user-friendly than an extra checkbox, but I guess not. This applies to help files, too. I want an index of all topics. I've resorted to searching for common words just to have an easy listing of things I can do with some software.

3. I want a hibernate option. Sleep takes up battery power.

3b. I like that the computer goes to sleep when I close the lid, but I don't like that it goes to sleep if it's in the process of shutting down and I close the lid before it's off.

3c. Is there a way to turn off the "Are you sure you want to shut down?" box? Is there a way to shut down the computer (nicely) that requires fewer than three mouse clicks?

4. The python interpreter that is installed by default seems not to have a command history. A few other unixy things I'm used to have been handicapped (apropos?). I'm installing fink, though it seems to have just given me an error.

4b. Mac things use the Apple button where I'm used to 'ctrl', but in the shell it's 'ctrl' for 'ctrl'. Gah.

5. Safari doesn't show the address of a link before you click on it. Mail doesn't seem to have a way to mark a message as spam without opening it. So I'm back to Firefox and Thunderbird. Why is the option to set your default web browser in the Safari preferences?

6. iPhoto doesn't seem to have any way of making trees of albums. I have 6000 photos over the last three years organized in folders by year, month, and day. I assume iPhoto is designed to help me with this, but I don't see how it does so without putting hundreds of albums at the top level. I also have some pictures that I would rather not show up in the general library, but want to keep.

7. Why is the plug on the long power cord grounded? There's an ungrounded plug that connects to the box, but still. It's a laptop. People take laptops to places with ungrounded sockets.

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