Oh look, another blog about design and technology.
Just a few notes about taking apart an Intel Mac mini.
When you're taking out the corner screws, loosen one at a time and flip the Mini over to shake them out. One of them is longer than the others and it matters where it came from.
After you take the Airport antenna off its post, when you take the carriage out of the base, it may come loose from where it connects to the motherboard. Just let the shape of the cable be your guide to where it should connect to and then snap it back on when you're putting it back together.
And when you put it all back together, be sure to reconnect the little fan control cable, or else the fan will run on high all the time. :-)
One little thing: the lack of a Quick Launch bar sucks. Instead, you now "pin" items to the taskbar. You can't just drag a program or shortcut to the taskbar, you've got to launch it, then pin it. And the icons are spaced out--they have enough room between them to store a whole other icon. And they turn into the program, so if you click one, it gets wide--and consequently pushes the next one down. So if you've got a few, and you launch them all but the rightmost one, the rightmost one is now a few inches over. Or if you've got one, and open a few windows, it does the same thing. (I have 'group windows' turned off.) This is, of course, Microsoft trying to copy OS X's Dock and failing hugely. Also, if you want to, say, launch a second instance of Notepad, you can't--the 'launch' icon is now the program itself. So you've got to go to Notepad and make a new window. Except you can't. If you're in Notepad and you want to make a new document it asks "do you want to save changes?" and it will re-use the same window. But if you go to the Start menu and choose Notepad it'll open a new window. Same with Wordpad. Un... effing... real.
(Mostly negative, good things are in bold.)
Number one: tabs across the top? Don't like'em. The rationale you hear is "but that makes the URL box part of the page, which makes sense." But then it also makes the bookmarks bar a part of the page, which it isn't... so it's B.S. Why don't I like it? 1) I have no problem with the concept of the URL box. I've been on the WWW since 1995. I don't need any hints about what this box does. And for me, it makes perfect sense to see the tab directly connected to the page's content. 2) It looks cluttered. And when I want to grab the title bar to move a window, I now have to be careful where I grab it lest something undesirable happen. [Later] The more I use it, the more I dislike it. With a few cascaded windows open, and multiple tabs in each, it really looks messy.
Speaking of the URL bar, I like a standalone "reload" button, not a shrunken one tucked into the corner. Being a web developer I use the reload button a lot. And the "New bookmark" button being tacked onto the URL bar looks kind of ugly.
Other gripes about the new tab system: I prefer each tab to have a default width, getting skinnier as needed, rather than the new full-width/50%/33%/25%/20%/etc scheme it uses. Camino used to do that. (Maybe it still does, I don't know.) I didn't like it 5 years ago and I don't like it now. Left-aligned + standard widths = consistent placement == a good thing. The "lock" icon in https tabs also adds to the clutter, and I don't like the "close" button being hidden except for a) active tabs (which, strangely, includes the active tab in an inactive window) or when you hover. Hiding UI elements is almost never a good idea. Also: diagonal lines mean "resize," not "move."
Waah! I thought there was some kind of "tabposé" or CoverFlow feature for open windows/tabs but the only time you get the cool grid is for the main view. Which I hate. It's a waste waiting for it to load, and they move around based on usage, so what good is that? (Update: you can click 'edit' and then 'pin' certain sites so they don't move around.) Also: 12 sites, no matter how big or small your display is? Dumb. (Slightly less dumb: click 'edit' and you can change this to 6, 12, or 24.) In any case, I don't like this feature in Chrome and I don't like it here. As for CoverFlow in bookmarks and history... eh. I never use bookmarks, and when I'm looking at history, good text searching would probably be more useful. (Which it apparently has. I'll have to check that out.) And I like that you can set your history to be longer... mainly because (as far as I know) the "Restore All Windows From Last Session" option works on history. I've used it several times when a weeks-long browsing session ends and I've lost plenty of windows. (Unlike when I was using Saft, which always worked.)
Safari 4 is fast. But I still prefer an actual status bar to just a "something is happening" spinner. And, actually, speed has its price. I'd rather have a short delay and a nice page than the "jittery" effect you get with Safari's new way of drawing each DIV or TD as it gets it and then moving it a bit (sometimes repeatedly) as new content comes in. Opera works (or worked) this way and I never like it there either. Draw content in chunks and shift it as you need it... but not multiple times in less than one second.
I don't much care for the Awesome Bar in Firefox and I don't care for Safari aping it here. Their implementation of it is cleaner than FF or Chrome but I still prefer the old system better... especially since their algorithm for deciding how to order the sites (weighted based on frequency of visits and time since last visit, and the include bookmarks too) is great.
Happily most of what I don't like can be turned off in preferences or with the commands shown here.
Over the years I've amassed a collection of old software and machines. This is just my list of what runs well where and why, and occasional other notes about apps.
Written January 2009, updated December 2009, June 2010, September 2010, March 2011, November 11, 2014, September 28, 2015, and possibly other dates.
Overall, there is an interesting new matrix: some things require a new OS, some require Intel, some both. For example, some things will run on 10.4 but require Intel, some will run on 10.5 on either platform.
Also: EOLs. It interests me greatly to see when Apple in particular quits doing things for their old OSs. Safari tops out at 1.3 for 10.3 (abandoned long ago) and went up to 4 for 10.4. Safari 5 is 10.5-only, as is iTunes 10.
Mac OS X
LOL. I lost track of what I was writing and made TWO entries per OS for a while below. :-/
0.7.1: First Universal binary (i.e., native on Intel)
~0.9.x: requires 10.5
0.9.4: last version for PPC
Safari - maxes out at 1.3.2 for 10.3. 10.4 goes up to 4, 10.5, and 10.6 get Safari 5. 10.5 is limited to 5.0.6. 5.1 (with "Downloads" as a popover list instead of a separate window) requires 10.6 (and, by extension, an Intel CPU.)
Firefox only goes to 2.x for 10.3 (12/2009 - I've only got one 10.3 Mac left. :-( ) and 3.6 or so for 10.4. Firefox 4 runs on 10.5 and newer.
VirtualBox: Great, except that its performance extensions don't work in W2K--only XP and newer.
iDVD: I had a G5 with 10.5 and iMovie 6 but I needed to make a DVD so I installed iDVD 5 from my iLife 05 disc (the first one I came across) and when I try to launch it, it tells me "You cannot use this version of the application iDVD.app with this version of Mac OS X." I ran Software Update to bring it up to 5.0.1 (the only update available) and it still doesn't work.
Google Chrome: Requires 10.5 and Intel.
Other than a few Finder bugs, and the fact that Safari got been left behind, my favorite setup for a long time was a dual G5 with 10.3.9, Adobe CS, and Office X.
WOW it's been a long time since I've updated this. :-) And, sad to say, 10.5's Dock still sucks out loud. I found a new annoyance: the "Open in Finder" option shows up at the BOTTOM of a menu, so if you just want to open a folder that's in your Dock but you've got a lot of things in it, you have to click, scroll to the bottom of the list, THEN you can finally see the magic "View in Finder" option. But that's not what I'm here to talk about today.
I've seen a lot of articles about launching apps on a Mac and a lot of people, when hearing about QuickSilver, say "Well I just use Spotlight. Why use QuickSilver?" Here is my response.
First of all, let me concede that yes, QuickSilver is much more limited than Spotlight. QuickSilver is NOT a systemwide search tool. It is primarily an application launcher. (It also does many other things, but general search is not one of them.) This is strictly in response to people who say "Why use QuickSilver? Spotlight is good enough for me."
QuickSilver is much, much faster. Even on a new Mac, Spotlight can lag. On an "old" Mac (like my 2 GHz G5 with 1 GB RAM) Spotlight is painful. And I put "old" in quotes because by any measure, a machine with two 2 GHz CPUs and ONE GIGABYTE of memory SHOULD be fast. On anything with, say, a single G4 CPU (which is not necessarily all that old--my Mac mini is only 3 years old, and my friend's PowerBook G4 is just a bit older than that) using Spotlight is just absolute misery. Part of why it's fast is because it is searching through a small prebuilt catalog. Spotlight indexes your hard drive so it is searching through less data than the old (10.3 and earlier) "Find" which did a live search across the entire drive every time you called it. But it is still a big index. QuickSilver's is very small, so even if you just finished doing something disk-intensive, like working in iMovie for a while, QuickSilver launches fast. Even if it has to read its catalog off the disk, that loads in a second or two, and then the app is very responsive after that. Usually the catalog is small enough that it can be held in RAM forever and the interface comes up literally at the same moment you finish the key combination to invoke it. Compare that to Spotlight, which has to grind its way through a large catalog on disk, and if the disk is busy... forget about it.
Besides being faster to launch, QuickSilver is also faster to use because, unlike Spotlight, the first option is already selected. For example, in QuickSilver, if you want to launch Safari, you press (keyboard shortcut), SAFARI, enter. In Spotlight, it's (keyboard shortcut), SAFARI, down, enter. One extra keystroke. Not a lot, but why use 4 keystrokes when you can use 3?
Both can autocomplete--so Safari might come up as soon as you've gotten as far as SA--but QuickSilver LEARNS. "IC" might bring up iChat and iCal, but Spotlight will always list them in the same order, so you might have to go down a few times to get the one you really want. QuickSilver, on the other hand, gives more weight to things you use more often, to the point where your most common apps can be launched with a single letter--T for Terminal, S for Safari, etc.
Besides LEARNING, QuickSilver is SMART to begin with. It recognizes initials and can search for letters ANYWHERE within an app's name. So it immediately suggests "Chicken of the VNC" if you type in "VNC", "Remote Desktop Connection" if you type in "RDC", and even "Photoshop" if you enter "PS". And like I said, it'll learn. If you decide you want to launch iTunes with NES, just do (keyboard shortcut) NES, find iTunes on the list, launch it, and the next time you type (keyboard shortcut) NES, iTunes will be at the top of the list.
There are also a lot of other things I like about QuickSilver, and it can do a TON more than I use it for. These are just the few high points of why it blows Spotlight out of the water. (Just google for "quicksilver tutorial" for lots of info and videos.) And it's free and open-source so it'll always be around and will never cost anything.
The Dock in 10.5 still sucks, even after the 10.5.2 update that brought back hierarchical folder menus.
Let us recap:
10.0-10.4: you drag a folder into the Dock.
Very nice, neat, and efficient. Useful features, few clicks, mouse motion is only required if you want to activate items or dig into subfolders.
10.5.2: you drag a folder to the Dock.
Let's look these 3 things in a little more detail.
I prefer StuffIt over BOMArchiveHelper.app because StuffIt shows a status bar. Who cares if it's a little slower (which StuffIt seems to be), I prefer to know how long it's going to take. What's better: knowing it'll be a minute, or sitting there with NO clue for 50 seconds?
Just wanted to jot down one thought while it's in my head.
The 4 GB iPhone costs $100 more than the 8 GB iPod. For that, you lose 4 GB, but you gain...
The iPhone needs...
Leave a comment below.
Just a few random notes re: things shown in the Keynote. This isn't commentary on every single point, just the ones that matter to me--mostly with regard to UI.