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

DiskCatalogMaker 7.2.7 - Catalog your di...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast Finder-like intuitive look and feel Super-fast search algorithm Can compress catalog data for... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 7.2.7 - Catalog your di...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast Finder-like intuitive look and feel Super-fast search algorithm Can compress catalog data for... Read more
Iridient Developer 3.2.1 - Powerful imag...
Iridient Developer (was RAW Developer) is a powerful image-conversion application designed specifically for OS X. Iridient Developer gives advanced photographers total control over every aspect of... Read more
BusyContacts 1.2.7 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
MegaSeg 6.0.5 - Professional DJ and radi...
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
BusyContacts 1.2.7 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
MegaSeg 6.0.5 - Professional DJ and radi...
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
Iridient Developer 3.2.1 - Powerful imag...
Iridient Developer (was RAW Developer) is a powerful image-conversion application designed specifically for OS X. Iridient Developer gives advanced photographers total control over every aspect of... Read more
iFFmpeg 6.6.1 - Convert multimedia files...
iFFmpeg is a comprehensive media tool to convert movie, audio and media files between formats. The FFmpeg command line instructions can be very hard to master/understand, so iFFmpeg does all the hard... Read more
Tor Browser Bundle 7.0.11 - Anonymize We...
The Tor Browser Bundle is an easy-to-use portable package of Tor, Vidalia, Torbutton, and a Firefox fork preconfigured to work together out of the box. It contains a modified copy of Firefox that... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Reigns: Her Majesty guide - how to use e...
Ruling a kingdom isn't easy--doubly so for a queen whose every decision is questioned by the other factions seeking a slice of power. Reigns: Her Majesty builds on the original game's swipey tactics, adding items that you can use to move the story... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
Friday has crept up on us once again, so it's time to honor the best new games we've played over the past few days. This past week was a pretty exciting one, with the debut of lots of beautiful new indies and some familiar faces returning to the... | Read more »
Portal Knights guide- beginner tips and...
Portal Knights is finally making the jump to iOS and Android, and it's already climbing the ranks to become the next big MMO experience on mobile. This sprawling sandbox game will let you pursue any adventure you wish, whether you want to sling... | Read more »
Reigns: Her Majesty guide - how to swipe...
Reigns: Her Majesty is storming the App Store this week, bringing more tinder-esque kingdom building to eager players everywhere. If you've played the original Reigns, you'll know that leading a kingdom is never easy. It's a careful balancing act... | Read more »
Getting Over It (Games)
Getting Over It 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A game I madeFor a certain kind of person To hurt them. • Climb up an enormous mountain with nothing but a hammer and a pot.•... | Read more »
Reigns: Her Majesty (Games)
Reigns: Her Majesty 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Pocket Legends Adventures guide - how to...
Pocket Legends Adventures is a fun action adventure RPG that takes control when you want it to, but also opens itself for player input, too, if you're looking to tkae a more active role in combat. Regardless of play style, the game can be quite... | Read more »
Portal Knights (Games)
Portal Knights 1.2.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.2.4 (iTunes) Description: Craft your adventure. Forge your hero. Become the ultimate Portal Knight! | Read more »
Ashworld (Games)
Ashworld 1.3 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.3 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
Another week means another roundup of quality bargain games. This week's list features a few games we haven't featured before in our weekly roundups. If you're on the prowl for new games, now's an optimal time to try something completely new for... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Beats by Dr. Dre – BeatsX Earphones on sale f...
Best Buy has BeatsX Earphones on sale for $109, $40 off, on their online store. Sale price for online orders only. Choose free store pickup, if available, or choose free shipping. Read more
10″ 64GB WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for $59...
MacMall has 10.5″ 64GB Apple iPad Pros on sale for $599 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP and among the lowest prices available for these iPads from any Apple reseller. Read more
15″ 2.2GHz MacBook Pros on sale for $200-$300...
B&H Photo has the 15″ 2.2GHz MacBook Pro available for $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 15″ 2.2GHz MacBook Pro (MJLQ2LL/A): $1799 $200 off MSRP Apple has... Read more
Holiday sale: 15″ MacBook Pros for $200-$420...
MacMall has 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for $220-$300 off MSRP, each including free shipping: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2179, $220 off MSRP – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Silver (... Read more
Holiday sale: 13″ MacBook Airs for up to $150...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP as part of their Holiday sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 13″ 1.8GHz/128GB MacBook... Read more
The best Holiday sale prices on 13″ MacBook P...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Pros on sale this weekend, with models available for $100-$150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz... Read more
Holiday sale: 27″ Apple iMacs for $150-$200 o...
MacMall has 27″ iMacs on sale for $150-$200 off MSRP as part of their Holiday sale, each including free shipping: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2099 $200 off MSRP – 27″ 3.5GHz iMac (MNEA2LL/A): $... Read more
Save on clearance 2016 15″ MacBook Pros, up t...
B&H Photo has clearance 2016 15″ MacBook Pros available for up to $700 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: – 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro... Read more
Apple offers Certified Refurbished 9.7″ iPads...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 9.7″ WiFi iPads available for $50-$70 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each iPad, and shipping is free: – 9″ 32GB WiFi iPad: $... Read more
Save $200-$240 on a 12″ Apple MacBook with Ce...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $200-$240 off the cost of new models. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Information Security - Security Data...
# Apple Information Security - Security Data Analyst Job Number: 113119545 Austin, Texas, United States Posted: 10-Nov-2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** This Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.