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

Capto 1.2.9 - $29.99
Capto (was Voila) is an easy-to-use app that takes capturing, recording, video and image editing to the next level. With an intelligent file manager and quick sharing options, Capto is perfect for... Read more
Opera 51.0.2830.40 - High-performance We...
Opera is a fast and secure browser trusted by millions of users. With the intuitive interface, Speed Dial and visual bookmarks for organizing favorite sites, news feature with fresh, relevant content... Read more
GarageSale 7.0.13 - Create outstanding e...
GarageSale is a slick, full-featured client application for the eBay online auction system. Create and manage your auctions with ease. With GarageSale, you can create, edit, track, and manage... Read more
1Password 6.8.7 - Powerful password mana...
1Password is a password manager that uniquely brings you both security and convenience. It is the only program that provides anti-phishing protection and goes beyond password management by adding Web... Read more
Evernote 7.0.1 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
MacUpdate Desktop 6.2.0 - $20.00
MacUpdate Desktop brings seamless 1-click app installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on... Read more
HoudahSpot 4.3.5 - Advanced file-search...
HoudahSpot is a versatile desktop search tool. Use HoudahSpot to locate hard-to-find files and keep frequently used files within reach. HoudahSpot will immediately feel familiar. It works just the... Read more
EtreCheck 4.0.4 - For troubleshooting yo...
EtreCheck is an app that displays 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 Communities to... Read more
WhatsApp 0.2.8361 - Desktop client for W...
WhatsApp is the desktop client for WhatsApp Messenger, a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for... Read more
iClock 4.2 - Customize your menubar cloc...
iClock is a menu-bar replacement for Apple's default clock but with 100x features. Have your Apple or Google calendar in the menubar. Have the day, date, and time in different fonts and colors in the... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Alto's Odyssey Guide - How to Tackl...
Alto’s Odyssey is a completely stunning and serene runner, but it can also be a bit tricky. Check out these to try and keep your cool while playing this endless runner: Don’t focus too much on tasks [Read more] | Read more »
Here's everything you need to know...
Alto's Odyssey is a really, really good game. If you don't believe me, you should definitely check out our review by clicking this link right here. It takes the ideas from the original Alto's Adventure, then subtly builds on them, creating... | Read more »
Alto's Odyssey (Games)
Alto's Odyssey 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Just beyond the horizon sits a majestic desert, vast and unexplored. Join Alto and his friends and set off on an endless... | Read more »
Vainglory 5v5: Everything you need to kn...
Vainglory just got bigger. [Read more] | Read more »
Check out these 5 games that are a lot l...
So you're in love with Minecraft, but you're looking for something else to play as well? You've come to the right place then, because this list is all about games that are a bit like Minecraft. Some of them, more than others. [Read more] | Read more »
Our top 5 characters from casual RPG Cre...
Creature Quest definitely lives up to its name with a host of collectible creatures based on fantasy tales and world mythologies. To celebrate Creature Quest’s first birthday, we’re going to lay out what we think are the five best characters in the... | Read more »
Around the Empire: What have you missed...
Did you know that Steel Media has a whole swathe of other sites dedicated to all aspects of mobile gaming? Sure you'll get the very best iPhone news, reviews, and opinions right here at 148Apps, but we don't want you missing out on a single piece... | Read more »
All the best games on sale for iPhone an...
Oh hi there, and welcome to our round-up of the best games that are currently on sale for iPhone and iPad. You thought I didn't see you there, did you, skulking behind the bushes? Trust me though, the bushes aren't where the best deals are. The... | Read more »
The Battle of Polytopia Guide - How to H...
A new update just released for The Battle of Polytopia (formerly Super Tribes), which introduces online multiplayer. For all the fans of Midjiwan’s lite take on Civilization, this is certainly welcome news, but playing online isn’t as easy and... | Read more »
The best games that came out for iPhone...
Another week, another bunch of new releases on the App Store, another update to our big list of new games. It's not a classic lineup this week, but there are some really good ones in the mix all the same. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Amazon restocks MacBook Pros with models avai...
Amazon has restocked 15″ and 13″ Apple MacBook Pros with models on sale for up to $251 off MSRP. Shipping is free. Note that stock of some Macs may come and go (and some sell out quickly), so check... Read more
Lowest price of the year: 15″ 2.8GHz Apple Ma...
Amazon has the 2017 Space Gray 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro on sale today for $251 off MSRP. Shipping is free: – 15″ 2.8GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2148, $251 off MSRP Their price is... Read more
Apple restocks full line of Certified Refurbi...
Apple has restocked a full line of Apple Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ MacBook Pros for $200-$300 off MSRP. A standard Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Lowest sale price available for 13″ 1.8GHz Ma...
Focus Camera has the 2017 13″ 1.8GHz/128GB Apple MacBook Air on sale today for $829 including free shipping. Their price is $170 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for a current 13″... Read more
21-inch 2.3GHz iMac on sale for $999, $100 of...
B&H Photo has the 2017 21″ 2.3GHz iMac (MMQA2LL/A) in stock and on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Apple refurbished Mac minis in stock again st...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished Mac minis starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: – 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP – 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Tuesday MacBook Deals: $250 off 15″ 2.9GHz Ma...
Adorama has the Silver 15″ 2.9GHz Apple MacBook Pro on sale today for $250 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax for residents in NY & NJ only: – 15″ 2.9GHz Silver MacBook Pro... Read more
Save up to $350 with these Apple Certified Re...
Apple has a full line of Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $350 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: – 27... Read more
B&H offers $200 discount on Silver 15″ Ma...
B&H Photo has Silver 15″ Apple MacBook Pros on sale for $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 15″ 2.8GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Silver (... Read more
12″ Apple iPad Pro Sale of the Year! Models u...
B&H Photo has 12″ #iPad Pros on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 12″ 64GB WiFi iPad Pro: $719 $80 off MSRP – 12″ 256GB WiFi... 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* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 113523441 Orange, CA, California, United States Posted: 21-Feb-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Are you passionate 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
Sr. Experience Designer, Today at *Apple* -...
# Sr. Experience Designer, Today at Apple Job Number: 56495251 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 18-Jan-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.