New Apple Keyboard

So the new Apple keyboard has got the character engraving ever so slightly offset to the right, and maybe a bit up too.

And the engravings don’t even align along the bottom properly – keys like “J”, “G”, “6” and “2” are slightly lower than the others in the row.

How do you manage to break something like that!

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Windows 8 – It had to come

Don’t get me wrong – I actually like Windows. There are quite a few things it does better than OSX. And I have managed machines with almost every incarnation of the OS, by the way.

And while we are at it, there are a lot of things that Androids do better than IOS.

But starting to use Windows 8 really pisses me off.

Not so long ago I bought a new Mac; as best I recall, I fired it up, it understood (sorry about the anthropomorpism) I probably had an old one I wanted to move from, offered to help me do that, and a bit later I was up and running.
Similarly, every time I have upgraded the OSX system, I could work out how to do the basic things, even if I didn’t always like the changes (see blogs passim).

But Windows update, every time, takes the feckin’ biscuit.

I switched on the new laptop. Basically, I couldn’t actually get it to do anything without googling.

Let’s try email, I thought. There’s a button there, that’s exciting! Clicking on it actually took me into a Black Hole. It now wanted a MS email ID (which the owner doesn’t have); there was in fact no way out of this – WTF? Cancel and OK both did the same thing of suggesting I try and put the MS email ID in again.

Back to google – apparently if you push the mouse to various corners, things happen – thanks for being so obvious. Well excuse me, but there really should be visual cues somewhere that things can happen. So finally I get back to the button screen.

Let’s try some of the other exciting buttons. Every single mother’s son of them does the same thing as the Mail button. The whole thing is set up so that MS can get all he user’s login data and see the whole scope of the user’s online identity, through the MS ID.

In this respect it is just like Android – everything is linked to your Google email ID. And if you don’t have one, or want to let them link up all your online IDs, then it doesn’t work very well, and in fact keeps telling you how it could be working better.

And in this respect, both of them are unlike Apple. The “rapacious, closed” Apple devices just work fine without an Apple ID, and everything that can, does work and integrate well, and apps are fine that you don’t have an Apple ID.

Oh, I forgot, before all this it offered me the chance to install a bunch of browsers – the user likes to use Firefux, so I clicked on that. It installed it, but I couldn’t for the life of me find out how to get back to install other browsers, or even run the Firefux I just installed.

So I am still looking at this brick that I can’t actually get to do anything.

After a while, I realise that the Desktop button actually gets me a view that looks bit like the old windows thing. But no, I still can’t find Firefux or Control Panels, or anything useful.

More googling.

I finally find out the magic incantation. Apparently, what you do is go to the screens with all the buttons and *start typing*. Well stab me sideways with a laptop. That was completely obvious – I should use the *keyboard* to interact with all these buttons.

I interact with my computers (other than Unix command line) using a mouse for anything except text. That is what the mouse is for – my view of having to type to launch an app on a modern system is just – I am actually at a loss for words to describe just how brain-dead that is.

Actually, this is all a bit like a Unix command line. It gives you no help as to what to type, but if you do know, then you can drive it quite efficiently.

So now, remember that I will want to migrate from the old laptop? Fortunately I am sensible enough to realise that there really must be some way of doing that. But it did take quite a lot of googling (the system’s Help was no help) to find it. It was about as easy to find it as to find the right flags to tar to perform a similar function.

Since no-one will have read this far, I can report that in the end I did manage to get the apps the user needs installed.

Oh sorry, no, it turned out the the Skype button led me to one of those Black Holes, with no way to actually login using anything other than (you guessed it) the MS email ID. More googling found me the Skype for Desktop app that I had to download and install, which worked. Of course, I did try to put in the email associated with the Skype account, but the Skype app kept simply saying that the login had failed, which made me assume that the password was wrong – any half-way moronic programmer could have checked and actually reported that the email ID it was being given was not a MS email ID.

So, as I was saying, it seems pretty good now, with the data nicely migrated, and the apps the user wants installed on the button screen, as short cuts on the desktop, and pinned to the task bar, no password on login, etc.. (On the other hand I have resisted the temptation to hack the Registry to get rid of the splash screen with all that stuff on which is only suitable for tablet machines).

And of course it is a nice machine, costs a third of what a Mac would have cost, and Windows 8 works very nicely.

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Apple is just so messy nowadays

Let’s look at the iCal that came with Lion.

Does that look like a Mac app to you? I think not.
Yes, I know it is a take-off of the Calendar on the iPad. So why do they piss about with where the buttons are?

Let’s find the “+” button to make a new entry. That’s right, it’s at the top-left. Except it isn’t – if you are using the iPad, it’s the bottom-right. Never mind, I’ll just click “Today” to find out what I’m doing. You know what’s coming: Top-right on the Mac, bottom-left on the iPad. Arrows to move though the screens: let’s spread them around differently.

Oh how are the mighty fallen – this was a completely new app for the Mac and they could have done anything they liked, but they chose to take the iPad App and then make it harder for people to move between them.

It actually beggars belief. When I first tried to use the Mac one, and found myself looking for the buttons, I had to check on the iPad that I was not imagining it.

And yes, I know this all happened a long time ago, but it still pisses me off.

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Mac Lion’s fiddling

I am just so racked off with the useless fiddling they have done.
Apart from the known Mail-Exchange bug and the fact that Safari crashes, and now iTunes and Mail are crashing on me…

What is with the Address Book and iCal – they were perfectly good apps; now I can’t see overviews of my contacts on my 30″ screen, and can’t even see the appointment times easily in month view.
And since when did Apple encourage applications with non-standard titles bars?
Jesus wept.
My Mac is not an iPad, just as my iPad is not a Mac.
It is like they actually don’t want people to have large desktop Macs.
I am even starting to use Windows 7 apps (in a VM) as they are sometimes less annoying than the Apple ones.
The interactions should be different between a little 1024×768 screen with touch and a 2560×1600 screen with just a mouse and keyboard.
Oh sorry, they are.
On the iCal on the iPad the Today button is the bottom left; on the Mac iCal it is the top right.
And the “+” is bottom right and top left.
Let’s make sure I can never find anything.
Why not shuffle the buttons all the time so I always have to look for them?

And what is with shaving a few pixels off the scroll bars as a great big advance, making it harder to hit them?
While at the same time wasting huge amounts of pixels in the aforementioned Address Book and iCal.
Yeah, I want pictures of silly bits of torn paper and staples instead of actually being able to hit the right bit of the screen.
And then they even switch off the simple things that I expect in the HCI.
Can I hover over an appointment to get details? No.
I used to be able to right-click on an email address in the To list of Mail to remove it – not any more. Click on the silly little arrow to bring up the context menu.
On and on.
Why would you actually remove things like that? They weren’t harming anyone.

And what about “Restore windows when quitting…”?

I close the document, then I quit.
But it still insists on opening the closed document the next time.

Apart from having to wait while a 10 MB word document opens before I can see the 100K one I double clicked on, it can be entirely inappropriate.
I fire up Excel to show some project plans, and it begins by displaying the sheet with my bank account transactions on.
Not what I would want on the screen in a large project meeting.
Sometimes I can imagine that people legitimately look at documents that would constitute a disciplinary offence if they were to find their way onto a public screen at an inappropriate time 🙂

And all that greyness – everyone knows that colours help to give me visual clues. And actually for some buttons I can’t even tell whether they are active or not, the shades are so similar.

I sort of vaguely hope these things will be sorted in 10.7.2, but somehow I think there will be more of the same for a lot of it.

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The Post Office hasn’t worked out there are Mac users out there

I wanted to open a Cash ISA.
When I clicked on the Download Application Form button on http://fixed.postofficeisa.co.uk/isaapplication.aspx it downloaded a windows .exe self-extracting archive.
I moved it to a windows box, and it extracted to the expected pdf.

But for dog’s sake!
There are any number of other self-extracting formats that are less platform-dependent.
And for a 1.3M file, do you really need to compress it nowadays?

And it gets worse, it turns out.
If you let the page time out on you you don’t get a nice message; you get a Server error:

Server Error in ‘/’ Application.
The resource cannot be found.
Description: HTTP 404. The resource you are looking for (or one of its dependencies) could have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please review the following URL and make sure that it is spelled correctly.

Requested URL: /Timeout.aspx

Stunning.

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Apple screws up iTunes zoom box

I am always finding that my iTunes window is too big for the laptop screen, since it usually gets resized on the big monitor. So the resize corner is off the bottom of the screen, and somehow I need to get it back.

Every other app I know lets you hit the zoom button (the green +) to get an (possibly) ideal size.

Not iTunes – you get a stupid little mini-browser if you do that. So maybe I can get the window to resize by moving the window (as in Safari)? Not a chance.

I finally had to read the Shortcut Keys in Help (if all else fails RTFM). It kindly and politely informs me that I should Option-click to get the normal behaviour.

FFS.

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Autocomplete in Safari doesn’t backspace right.

Type a few characters in the address or Google bar; realise you got the last two wrong so do two backspaces – you might have thought you got back to where you were, but you didn’t or maybe you did!

If it did an autocomplete, then the first backspace cancelled the autocomplete, and the second cancelled one character;
If it did not do an autocomplete, then you lost both characters (probably what you wanted).

This just can’t be right – I have to look at the screen to find out what my typing has done.

The number of times I type a search term and press go, only to look up and see that there is an extra character at the front really pisses me off.

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