Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Things I Don't Like About the Mac

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

May 27, 2007

I have said many nice things about my new MacBook Pro, but I would like to dedicate this post to the braindead things that really annoy me about it.

  • No way that I can find to terminate individual programs when they crash and freeze - and contrary to the hype, programs do crash and freeze on the Mac
  • That 'apple function' key that you use instead of 'ctrl' (which is two keys over) to do things like cut and paste and to start and stop bold and italics - especially since in many online forms, like this one, you use the ctrl key, even on the Mac.
  • Missing first letters. For some reason when you focus on a text field (by clicking in it, in order to type some data) it has to stop and think about what it's doing, or something, so I very frequently lose the first letter in what I'm typing
  • No separate tab (or icon, or anything) for separate windows lanched by the same program - no wonder Mac users loved tabs - working with separate windowns on a Mac is a royal pain. Especially small windows, like, say, the compose window in Thunderbird. I am constantly moving windows around to find a window that has been buried and which has no icon to maximize it.
  • 'Close' that doesn't quit programs. When you click on the little red ball (equivalent to the Windows 'x') it closes the window - but leaves the program running. The processors are very powerful, but I don't want to leave major applications running after I've closed all their windows.
  • 'Delete' that only woks in one direction. The 'Delete' key works like the Backspace key on a windows keyboard - it deletes whatever is in front of the cursor. But there's no obvious way to delete whatever is in front of the cursor. Oh I'm sure there's some way. But it should be a separate key - like, say, 'Delete'.
  • Doesn't connect to my iRiver. There's no hack, download, etc. It simply won't work. Ever.
  • Proprietary audio formats. Thank goodness the iPod and MacBook play MP3s. Otherwise they wouldn't play anything. I had to buy an applicaton (an exhaustive search revealed no free app) to convert WMAs. Moreover, CDs I rip using the Mac won't play elsewhere. I find myself using the Windows machine to rip them, converting the WMAs to MP3s, and then porting them to the Mac. Loads of fun.
  • TIFF images in Powerpoint. Why oh why would the computer store images being used PowerPoint in TIFF, knowing that it will never play on any Windows machine (and again, there is no way to fix this). Yes, apparently Grab can export in GIF and JPG, but this involves an extra step, and moreover requires that you launch and run the application using Preview. I mean, huh?
  • Windows that don't resize properly. Like, say, the 'Applications' window, which won't resize when icons are outside the viewing area. I am always forgetting to scroll horizonally (as well as vertically) to find icons. Worse, new icons are by default added to the window outside the viewing area. That threw me for a real loop before i discovered it was braindead design.
  • Windows that don't resize properly, part two. The only way to resize a window is to grab it at the lower right hand corner. What about the sides and other corners? Dead. This is a real problem when...
  • Windows that open under the menu bar at the bottom of the screen. You can move your mouse over that area without the icons expanding to twice their size and moving about, and you can't click without launching an application. So why are windows displayed under those icons? Especially windows that can only be resized from the bottom?
  • No decent FTP application. I finally found Cyberduck, which is free and at least works. But it only shows a single pane, meaning you're always moving windows about and resizing them (and trying to find them because they've become hidden under other windows. As for the other FTP applications, like the unlamented Fetch, the more left unsaid, the better.
  • No decent drawing application. Paint Shop Pro was my workhorse in Windows. It let me edit photos, it let me make diagrams - anything I wanted to do with images. No such application exists for the Mac. Trying to draw with Photoshop is nightmarish. I tried Inkscape, but it was unusable. I still have no solution for this.
  • Keyboards that won't stay lit. I like the lighted keyboard; a fantastic invention. But when it is at low light, it is constantly urning on and off. I think the sensor is in the keyboard, which means it is constantly being shaded by my hands. Off and on. Off and on. Ack! Put the sensor somewhere else. Add a governor that delays it's lighting and unlighting.
  • Flash and cameras. Flash appears not to work with the camera or audio input device.
  • Popunders. I remember, Acrobat Reader use to launch and then freeze, refusing to perform unless you answered a popup query. Fine - except the query appeared under the reader, so you could never get to it. Some Mac applications function like that. How can you tell? When the yellow 'minimuze' button stops working.
  • Slow menus. Some of the menus are inexplicably slow. For example, clicking on the wireless access ion. It always takes a second or two to open. A second click closes it (ack! when would I ever want that? Anywhere else on the entire computer could close it, why also the one spot that opens it).
  • Letters skip. I don't know what it is, but every once in a while the letter won't register when you type it. No, it's not my typing. It's as though it's doing something else and didn't catch the pressing of the key.
  • No decent text editor. I've tried a few - an Emacs editor, which reminds me why I don't use Emacs, a couple simple text editors, Text Wrangler, which doesn't ask for permissions properly (it tries to guess my user name from my name - silly silly program).
  • Preview - which displays PDF files - preserves the page position when you advance from one page to the next. Which means that when you finish reading one page and start on the next, it displays the bottom of the next page, because that's where you were on the previous page. Argh! I have to scroll back ujp for every page. No way to just scroll through, either - you have to hop from page to page. Very annoying. (Also, of course, when you enlarge text size from the default 'too tiny to read' to something like legible, the window doesn't adjust to the new page width - so you always have to resize the window. It never remembers your text size either.
That's about it for now, all I can think of off the top of my head. I may encounter some others; if so I'll add them.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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