TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Apr 97 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 13 (1997)
Issue Number: 4
Column Tag: Viewpoint

Viewpoint

By Eric Gundrum

Just How Easy Is It?

With all this talk of a modern OS for Macintosh, I am becoming concerned that we may be forgetting what made Macintosh so successful in the first place. Sure, we have many state-of-the-art, interesting technologies, but the single most defining attribute of a Mac is that it is so easy to use it is fun.

Unfortunately, as Apple piles on new technologies, our Macs become less easy to use. I find that I, like many users, spend a significant amount of time configuring and tweaking our systems to make them work better, or keep them working.

Everyone says this will be fixed in the new OS, Rhapsody, but I don't think Rhapsody will be the second coming for the Macintosh world. No operating system, including NEXTSTEP, is as easy to use as the MacOS. No other OS truly supports plug and play at its core. With many years of brain drain, has Apple's ease-of-use expertise drained away?

What's in a name

Do you recall the origin of the name "Finder"? The Finder was so named because, when we double clicked a document, the Finder located the application that created the document and use it to open the document. Macintosh users seem to take this for granted, but no other OS does this, even today. All other operating systems rely on filename extensions such as ‘.txt' and search paths which tell the OS in what directories to look for applications. This capability of the Finder was a big revolution in ease of use since the advent of personal computers; possibly even bigger than graphical interfaces.

What the Finder does for applications is very much like the plug the play capabilities of Macintosh hardware. Just drop a new application on a disk, and it is ready to use, no configuration required; at least, that's the way it used to be.

Plug and play software

Over the years Apple's plug and play approach to software has eroded. Some software, such as OpenDoc part editors, Apple Guide files, and system extensions, must be placed on the appropriate "command path" for the OS to find and activate them. If that description sounds a bit DOS-like, that's because it is. DOS and Windows require the "PATH" variable contain a list of directories to search for applications; so does unix.

Application developers are no better. Many applications won't run if their necessary files aren't found in the Preferences folder, or some other part of the Mac that doesn't belong to them.

What ever happened to plug and play? What ever happened to this being my Macintosh, configured the way I like it, with files organized in a way that makes sense to me?

Make it easier

I'd like to see Apple assign some engineering and design resources to making the Mac easy to use again. The rumors I've heard about the upcoming MacOS releases are not encouraging. The idea that I will have to use a multi-button mouse, or control-option-command-click, is horrendous. It makes sense as a little-used menu short-cut, but not as the primary interface.

Printers should be plug and play. If I connect another printer to my Mac, it should automatically appear as a choice in the Print dialog; even if it is a serial-based printer. Forget the Chooser, and forget other configuration files. I want it to just work so I don't waste any more time on the phone talking my friends through setting up their Macs.

Most of all, I want a plug and play file system. If Apple were to design a system-level mechanism to link all files sharing the same signature, we could have some significant improvements. When I trash an application, the Finder could automatically delete all support files related to the application, or it could warn me if I still have documents that require that application, and it could warn me to not trash any necessary support files. Application developers could keep their stuff out of my System Folder if the OS would automatically find the files for the application. OpenDoc part editors, or even fonts, could be placed on any volume and still be found by the OS. Gosh, it would be so Mac-like.

Has the ease-of-use of the Macintosh degraded in these past thirteen years? On balance, probably not, but overall it doesn't seem to have improved much. Apple certainly has their work cut out for them to bring this new OS to market. I hope they don't lose sight of how important ease-of-use and plug-and-play has been to the success of the Macintosh and will be to its continued survival.

So Long Old Friend

For many years Symantec's Top Ten has been a part of MacTech Magazine. Through this column, Symantec's support staff have provided us with tips and suggestions to help us get the most out of Symantec's development tools. With the emergence of the Internet as such a strong vehicle for communicating with customers, we found it difficult to keep the Symantec Top Ten filled with timely information. After many years of service, we bid adieu to the Symantec Top Ten column. This will be its last issue. We are working with the Symantec staff in hopes to find new ways to provide you with more interesting information from this long-standing Macintosh developer tools publisher. Thank you, Symantec.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

BusyCal 2.6.6 - Powerful calendar app wi...
BusyCal is an award-winning desktop calendar that combines personal productivity features for individuals with powerful calendar sharing capabilities for families and workgroups. BusyCal's unique... Read more
MegaSeg 5.9.6 - Professional MP3 DJ appl...
MegaSeg is a complete solution for pro audio/video DJ mixing, radio automation, and music scheduling with rock-solid performance and an easy-to-use design. Mix with visual waveforms and Magic... Read more
KeyCue 7.5 - Displays all menu shortcut...
Need more than one license? Get KeyCue Family for just $15.99. KeyCue lets you view available Command key shortcuts. Simply press and hold the Command key to view a list of all available keyboard... Read more
Apple Pro Video Formats 2.0.1 - Updates...
Apple Pro Video Formats brings updates to Apple's professional-level codes for Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5, and Compressor 4. Version 2.0.1: Support for the following professional video codecs Apple... Read more
Maya 2015 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
EtreCheck 2.2 - For troubleshooting your...
EtreCheck is a simple little app to display the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support... Read more
OmniOutliner Pro 4.2 - Pro version of th...
OmniOutliner Pro is a flexible program for creating, collecting, and organizing information. Give your creativity a kick start by using an application that's actually designed to help you think. It's... Read more
VLC Media Player 2.2.1 - Popular multime...
VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It... Read more
Nisus Writer Pro 2.1.1 - Multilingual wo...
Nisus Writer Pro is a powerful multilingual word processor, similar to its entry level products, but brings new features such as table of contents, indexing, bookmarks, widow and orphan control,... Read more
Tinderbox 6.2.0 - Store and organize you...
Tinderbox is a personal content management assistant. It stores your notes, ideas, and plans. It can help you organize and understand them. And Tinderbox helps you share ideas through Web journals... Read more

Lifeline... (Games)
Lifeline... 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Lifeline is a playable, branching story of survival against all odds. Using your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, you will help... | Read more »
Pandemic: The Board Game Has Gone Univer...
Don't let the virus win! Now you can download Pandemic: The Board Game, by F2Z Digital Media, for all of your iOS devices. The app is based on the fantastic board game by Z-man games. As employees of the CDC, you and your friends will have to work... | Read more »
Get Ready to Read Bloomberg Business on...
Fans of Bloomberg Business will soon be able to get all their news on the Apple Watch. The app lets you get the top headlines on your main screen and bookmark stories to read later. Using the motion detection in the Apple Watch, the headlines are... | Read more »
Watch This Homerun is Batting for the Ap...
Eyes Wide Games' Watch This Homerun is purportedly the first sports game coming to the Apple Watch, where you'll be up to bat as the pitcher tries to out-manuever you with fastballs, curveballs, and changeups. Using one-touch controls you can try to... | Read more »
Field Trip Can Take You on a Guided Tour...
Field Trip, by Google’s Niantic Labs, is an exploration app that gives you details about the awesome places you can discover wherever you find yourself. The app can show you local history, delicious restraunts, the best places to shop, and places to... | Read more »
Watch Your Six - SPY_WATCH is Infiltrati...
SPY_WATCH, by Bossa Studios, is a new game designed for the Apple Watch. Runmor has it your spy agency has fallen out of favor. To save it, you'll need to train-up a spy and send them on missions to earn you a stunningly suspicious reputation and... | Read more »
Both Halo: Spartan Assault and Halo: Spa...
Halo: Spartan Assault and Halo: Spartan Strike, by Microsoft, have officially landed on the App Store. Spartan Assault pits you against the Covenant with missions geared to tell the story of the origin of Spartan Ops. In Spartan Strike you'll delve... | Read more »
The Apple Watch Could Revolutionize the...
It’s not here yet but there’s that developing sneaky feeling that the Apple Watch, despite its price tag and low battery life, might yet change quite a lot about how we conduct our lives. While I don’t think it’s going to be an overnight... | Read more »
Mad Skills Motocross 2 Version 2.0 is He...
Mad Skills Motocross 2 fans got some good news this week as Turborilla has given the game its biggest update yet. Now you'll have access to Versus mode where you can compete against your friends in timed challenges. Turborilla has implemented a... | Read more »
Kids Can Practice Healthy Living With Gr...
Bobaka is releasing a new interactive book called Green Riding Hood  in May. The app teaches kids about yoga and organic style of life through mini-games and a fun take on the classic Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Sale! 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros for up to $...
 MacMall has 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $255 off MSRP. Shipping is free: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1794.99 save $205 - 15″ 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $2244.99 save $255 Adorama... Read more
New 2015 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $75 o...
Save up to $75 on the purchase of a new 2015 13″ or 11″ 1.6GHz MacBook Air at the following resellers. Shipping is free with each model: 11" 128GB MSRP $899 11" 256GB... Read more
Clearance 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros availab...
B&H Photo has leftover 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.6GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1129... Read more
Clearance 2014 MacBook Airs available startin...
B&H Photo has clearance 2014 MacBook Airs available for up to $200 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 11″ 128GB MacBook Air: $729 $170 off original MSRP... Read more
16GB iPad mini 3 on sale for $349, save $50
B&H Photo has the 16GB iPad mini 3 WiFi on sale for $349 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more
Mac minis on sale for up to $75 off, starting...
MacMall has Mac minis on sale for up to $75 off MSRP including free shipping. Their prices are the lowest available for these models from any reseller: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $459.99 $40 off - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Taichi Temple First Tai Chi Motion Sensor App...
Zhen Wu LLC has announced the official launch of Taichi Temple 1.0, the first motion sensor app for Tai Chi, offering a revolutionary new way to de-compress, relax and exercise all at the same time.... Read more
CleanExit – Erase your Hard Drive Quickly, Se...
CleanExit works on both Macs and PCs, securely and permanently deleting all files from any type of hard drive, flash-based drive or camera media card making the files permanently unrecoverable.... Read more
250 iPhone 6 Tips eBook Released for $1.99
Bournemouth, UK based iOS Guides has released 250 iPhone 6 Tips, a new eBook available in the iBookstore that reveals a wealth of tips and tutorials for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Priced at $1.99,... Read more
TigerText Introduces First Secure Enterprise...
TigerText, a provider of secure, real-time messaging for the enterprise, has announced the launch of TigerText for the Apple Watch. TigerText for the Apple Watch enables users to securely send and... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
DevOps Software Engineer - *Apple* Pay, iOS...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
*Apple* Pay - Site Reliability Engineer - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
Sr. Technical Services Consultant, *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple Professional Services (APS) has an opening for a senior technical position that contributes to Apple 's efforts for strategic and transactional Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.