David Heller  

OK, I Made the G-d Damn Switch!

May 27th, 2005 by David Heller :: see related comic

_David Heller is the Principal Product Designe of Intralinks and a Steering Committee Member of the Interaction Design Group._

I have to admit, I was really, really excited when I finally got approval to upgrade my entire design group of 3 to new 15″ Apple PowerBooks:

“Just look at them,” I thought. “They ARE GORGEOUS!!!” And besides, I have been sitting on the sidelines for years as designer after designer raved about how much better Mac OS is than Windows.

I did come up with more official rationales, some of which actually make sense and I want to list them here as the bulk of the article is negative and I want to make sure people understand that while this is trashing the whole “switch” experience, this is not a full-on trashing of Apple, MacOS X, or PowerBooks.

So my rationale for making the switch:

1. PC laptops quite honestly are just not as good with graphics at the same weight, battery life, etc. Gaming laptops and workstation laptops are HUGE bricks which are meant to be moved from your desk to the conference room, and not back and forth from home to the office nor on the occasional flight on the Boston Shuttle once a month.
2. Oh, they are thin. very thin and light. I needed light personally because I have back problems … then see #1.
3. Believe it or not power per dollar, the PowerBook is a great deal. Of course that deal goes out the window when you add in the 20″ Cinema display, and the bluetooth mouse and keyboard.
4. Having my team be outside the normal IT culture as software designers is a good thing, as it keeps our minds fresh. For me personally it makes a big difference because I have been living in the Windows world for so long that the switch is just the change of perspective I needed to really help me open my mind to new possibilities in interaction and presentation design.
5. I assumed that a majority of designers would have actually preferred working in the Mac environment based on my experiences at conferences. I actually found this not to be the case as much as I had theorized.

So it has been over 3 months since I made the “switch” and here are the results:

Ok, the mundane stuff:

  1. I had to buy all new licenses of software, so it was also a bit more costly than originally estimated, or advertised.
  2. Connecting to our IT infrastructure continues to be a nightmare as our support team knows nothing about Mac. There are many parts of our system that actually can’t run on the Mac and relying on Virtual PC (VPC) has it’s limitations. Obviously, a lot of these issues is because we are buying Macs after the infrastructure was put in place, but anyone thinking of switching will have to deal with these realities.
  1. our VPN system until recently couldn’t work without specific Windows software.
  2. Visio is a piece of software that just can’t be easily swapped out.
  3. Domain based networking system
  4. Blackberries are completely unsupported by RIM on the Mac.
  5. many of our internal corporate applications don’t run on Mac: Test Director, Telelogic DOORs are the 2 big ones, but we also have payroll, 401k and expense reporting hosted web-apps that don’t run on Mac either.

The rest of the switch is in the details of the software of the OS and the way that applications are built for that platform. For some issues, Mac loyalists will argue with me till they are blue in the face that I’m wrong. Some other issues, I talk to same or similar people and they are just as confused as I am.

##Web Browsing
Yup, I’m going to start VERY basic here. Tabbing in forms. Why can’t you tab focus onto a form element other than a hyperlink or a text input? Ya see this isn’t even browser specific because IE, Firefox, Netscape and Safari all do it. And they are all a bit weird about jumping within a select list, too.

##Dual Monitor Support
I live for dual monitors. Macs have supported dual monitors since the very first Quadra, if not earlier. I remember my first studio job where I was so jealous of the “designer” who was working in director who had his stage in one screen, and his score, cast, and scripting in the other window. So I have to ask for the love of all things great, why doesn’t Flash work well in Dual Monitor mode? The behavior of the actionScript panel when it is in the secondary window is just horrible. It is actually unusable.

Now in all fairness, this is an app deficiency and not the Mac’s, and there are specific applications that do not take account of dual monitors on Windows either. But a Macromedia app should be completely programmed for the dual-monitor experience, especially on the Mac side.

What really gets me is that my Windows experience of dual monitor support was just so much better. Especially (and this is OS level) around using projectors. I don’t like the limited modes. Once detected, you can’t “detach” from that monitor, w/o doing something radical, like closing the lid and re-opening and stuff like that. Then there is the resolution in mirror mode on a projector. I am always forced to resolutions much much lower than I had to have when I was using Windows on the same projector.

BTW, the best use of a dual-monitor on the Mac by a software vendor is Microsoft!!!! The PowerPoint feature that puts the presentation output to the secondary monitor and puts notes, a clock, inset next slide, and the slide itself on the primary monitor is just GENIUS. I don’t remember this in PC land, but I’m told it is there if you try. Me, PPT was one of my dual-monitor pain points on Windows. (There were others.)

##Where are those darn menus?
How in the world can you take advantage of a dual-monitor or high-resolution single monitor when your menus area always at the top of the primary screen? Sometimes even the toolbars are stuck up in “no man’s land” as well. Someone told me this is a cultural thing. Bullsh#t! Once you up the size of the resolution and/or have a dual-monitor situation the “cultural” thing goes out the door in favor of a real usability/productivity requirement. I don’t care how many years you have used a Mac, but if you put your e-mail window on your secondary monitor and had to go to the primary window for the menu item to re-direct a message over and over, you will STOP using that 2nd monitor for that reason. Anyway, this is a huge personal pet peeve of mine.

##Taskbar+Quickbar vs. Dock
Well, I know a lot of people seem to really like the dock. I must say that to have “hide” as well as minimize both available is very useful, and combining behavior for launching the application into the same icon as unhiding it is very useful. But on the flip side, it is really hard to manipulate multiple windows that are part of the same application using the doc, UNLESS you actually minimized that window.

So many times I have an e-mail open (either reading or writing) that ends up getting hidden behind the primary application window, like the “Inbox” and the only way to pull that child window forward again is to either minimize the “Inbox” or go to the “Window” menu. I find both of these to be very inconvenient, especially if all I want to do is move from a different application directly to the now hidden compose window. Basically, unlike in Windows there is no inventory of the total number of windows open. Even if it enhanced the doc, by making these available through a context click on the app icon, would go a huge way in helping people manage multiple windows.

##Clicking on the Finder (the desktop) has a bad effect …
This is mainly a topic for people who use applications that have palettes. A palette is a permanently displayed dialog usually floating beside a work area like a stage or canvas. In the Mac world Adobe, Macromedia and even MS Office thrive with these.

The problem is that sometimes (and I can’t imagine this is only me) I accidentally click onto the desktop while using one of these applications. Well, that means in Mac world that you are not focused on the old application now and the focus should be on the desktop. I get it. Remove the palettes so that you can see more of the desktop. I mean why else would you click there, right?

Well, mice are playful by nature and not always practical, so SOMETIMES clicking on the desktop is like a writer just playing with their pen by flipping it around their thumb during rest periods. It is a meaningless action indeed. Well, since the palette’s are not officially part of the work area, nor are they contained in it, it is assumed that on blur of the application window that they have to disappear. This disappearing act though is very disconcerting.

##Why doesn’t Apple make a docking system?
I really miss my dock for my Dell. It is such a pain to constantly have to plug and unplug all the cables every time I have to go to a meeting. A port replicator or a docking station would be most ideal.

##What about ergonomics? put some angle on that keyboard!
Everyone knows that you need to put a bit of angle on the keyboard to make it more ergonomic. Why not do the standard plastic legs under the chassis to help with the ergonomics. Speaking of ergo, why isn’t there an ergonomic keyboard and mouse for the Mac made by Apple?

##Another obvious one, but there are fewer options
Less people are making peripheral options that work well with the Mac. What I’m really looking for are Mac-compatible bluetooth mice and keyboards. As I noted above, an ergonomic keyboard and a mouse (2-button) would be awesome (especially if in style).

##Applications I miss
This will just be a simple list:

* Trillian: This is an IM aggregator that just rocks. I have not found anything nearly as good for the Mac. AdiumX is OK, but it just isn’t nearly as good behind the better paint job.
* Visio: Yup, I love my Visio and I’m having a really hard time giving it up. What I miss most of all is the Windows widget library. For someone doing application design, it just makes sense to have this library handy. If someone has a library for Fireworks and or Flash, please let me know. I know Flash has it’s components, but I think they are ugly.
* Firefox on the PC: As noted above Windows web browsing is just better.
* I like SnagIt to be better than Grab. It gives me more options.

##What I do love about my PowerBook:
- It looks awesome. I bring it into a room and I get stares. It is great. I especially love the cylon eye on the lid release when I have it in sleep mode. Damn! that was awesome design!
- I do have more fun using the OS. I even barely miss my 2nd mouse button.
- Hardware management and Network management both rock. Setting up a Wifi or making a bluetooth connection are both so beyond easy. Adding drives (like flash drives) is a snap and messing with monitor settings is also really easy.
- I LOVE MS Office 2004. And I can’t imagine living without the Notebook template in Word. PowerPoint is a gazillion times better. I really like the List Wizard in Excel. Entourage vs. Outlook is a tough call, but I do think I like Outlook better. It just feels more taken care of and I do miss that I can’t use a Domino connector like I can with Outlook for Windows.
- Preview and in general PDF and image support. Nothing more to add here. Preview is a great quick tool perfect for most viewing of image related docs. There are moments when I have to hit the Adobe Reader directly for annotating and stuff like that.
- The .dmg files that create these “disk images”. That plus drag and drop application installing is really the best thing in the world about the Mac.
- It took me a while to find it, but being able to switch primary monitor in dual-monitor support mode. + easy “mirroring” mode. I have had a bunch of dual-monitor supporting laptops, that didn’t do this switch quite as well (especially right when you had to do a demo). There still aren’t enough options for dual-monitor support as I mentioned above.

##Conclusions
All OSes/platforms have their criminal offenses and none of them are worth the religious hype that is oft afforded them by their zealot fans.

The real question is would I do it again? Would I ask for a Mac? The answer is it depends. If you don’t have good IT support in house, I would say no way! You think you support your own system a lot more than you actually do.

When I was thinking about this purchase, I had a Windows option. I’m not sure I would go with it at this point now. I think that I’d have to start the research over again. Here are my minimum requirements if people want to make suggestions:

* fast processor
* long battery life (close to 4 hours; dimmed screen)
* dual-monitor support
* 128mb VRAM on an otherwise kick ass video card
* bluetooth
* under 8 pounds WITH a burning optical drive (CD-RW/DVD-ROM minimum; DVD-burning is much better)
* 14-15″ … biger than that, and you will probably lose the previous one. It also doesn’t fit as well in cases.
* Wi-Fi G or better.

I think Sony comes the closest. another company that is supposedly pretty well know for being about design.

62 Responses to “OK, I Made the G-d Damn Switch!”
Jesper wrote:

Tabbing to form controls can be enabled in Safari at least. Dig around in the Preferences scanning for a checkbox named “Press Tab to highlight each item on a webpage” (in Safari 2.0 it’s in Advanced, but I think it’s been moved).

A good screen capture application (instead of Grab) is Snapz Pro X ( http://www.ambrosiasw.com/utilities/snapzprox/ ) and it can also record movies.

OmniGraffle is a good progam in the same vein as Visio that can in its Pro version ( http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnigraffle/pro/ ) import and export Visio files.

Ben Scofield wrote:

For a Visio replacement, try OmniGraffle. It’s got a pretty comprehensive set of shapes and is reasonably priced.

Simon Willison wrote:

For the window problem you mentioned, try setting up Exposé so that you can activate the “see all windows for this application” function by mousing in to one of the corners of the screen. I use this all the time.

Jim McCusker wrote:

A few things, from someone who has been doing IxD and software development from a powerbook for 2 years:

I second OmniGraffle. Making custom palettes is really easy, and I’ve used it to prototype several times. It also includes a pallet for Garret IA.

A great IM aggregator for OS X is Fire (http://fire.sourceforge.net).

You can move the menu bar from one screen to another by dragging it in “Displays Preferences”.

David Heller wrote:

Guys, I just want to say real quick thanx for all the suggestions. They are very helpful. I think the point of the article is to say that none of the above is very obvious and thus the alure of MacOS X being the easiest thing to use in the world (compared to Windows) is just a bit overstated.

Now to the details. Anything that requires a user to go to “advanced” settings to look for it is well, uh, not a solution when you have to manage multiple new users to a system, even 1 new user it’s a pain. Meaning, I have to know who to ask, who was lucky enough to find it in the first place, right? Not really the best design. Basically, why doesn’t it do it in the first place?

As for the menu bar. i dn’t want to keep moving the menubar from monitor to monitor. I was saying outright that the menubar at the top of the screen doesn’t make sense once:
1. your resolution on a single monitor is too high.
2. you use multiple monitors b/c I will have application windows on both screens so moving the menubar isn’t useful, b/c I’ll move it for one app, but then the other apps won’t have the menubar there anymore.

Omnigraffle. Comparing OmniGraffle to Visio is like comparing Paintshop Pro to Phototshop … totally different animals. the Windows GUI stencil in Visio is so complex and filled w/ so much wonerful IxD detail, that the only tool set even close that I have seen (please point me to something remotely comparable that I don’t have to build from scratch) are the components in Flash, which is why I now use Flash as just a straight forward prototyping tool.

I’ll definitely check out Fire when I have a chance (I’m actually on vacation right now). And I’ll check out hte screen capture tool above as well.

BTW, the whole fingerprints on the titanium case is totally right on!!!! I spend so much energy and time thinking about the scratches and marks on my case. It is so funny! Thanx Kevin!!!!

Jesper wrote:

“Anything that requires a user to go to “advanced” settings to look for it is well, uh, not a solution when you have to manage multiple new users to a system, even 1 new user it’s a pain.”

Good point. Apple has two accessibility options in Safari (Apple seems to consider heavy keyboard reliance accessibility, even if it’s a valid categorization for people who can’t use a mouse) and they placed them under Advanced. One of them is the tab to everything option. Would your answer have been any different if the section under Preferences was named Accessibility or even Keyboard instead of Advanced?

Why it doesn’t do it in the first place is anyone’s guess. OS X as a whole doesn’t tab to individual controls, although there’s a global setting in System Preferences - Keyboard and Mouse - Keyboard Shortcuts (tab) - Full Keyboard Access which can be changed via Control+F7.

daniel wrote:

Actually, the “tab between all controls” function isn’t found only in Safari, but can be system-wide as in Windows. System Preferences -> Keyboard & Mouse -> Keyboard Shortcuts. In that list (which you can edit until you can’t find any shortcut anymore) you’ll find the “Toggle focus for any control within windows” option which has the shortcut ctrl-F7 by default (I think).
Yes, it’s buried and has a weird name, I agree, but it’s there. There’s also the option of “Full Keyboard Access”. It requires that you memorize a couple of extra shortcuts, but then you’ll be able to access, for instance, the menu bar and everything else from the keyboard. Just so you know.
I don’t use either of the above features as a mouse or trackpad is just as fast (for me).
But I do use two-button mice despite being an mac fanatic and never having owned a PC, and I think you’ll come to miss them soon enough. Just swipe.. er.. borrow one from a PC somewhere - they’re all plug’n'play in OS X.

And lastly: http://www.photo-control.com/bookendz/
For all your docking needs

daniel wrote:

two things
1) jesper beat me to it with the whole Full Keyboard Access thing.
2) If you (David) like powerpoint in Mac OS X, try Apple’s Keynote… yes, ok, powerpoint is way more advanced in many ways, but for just getting a very nice-looking presentation built fast, Keynote’s the way to go (in my opinion). Plus, if you get stares by carrying a PowerBook, you’ll get even more by using those ever-so-smooth Keynote transitions. You can pick that up for $79 bundled with the pretty useless (IMHO) ‘Pages’ app in the iWork package.

Ben wrote:

This is good: a rather neutral assessment on the Switch, based on justification instead of on pure emotion. I got my Powerbook back in August, and leapt to The Switch (by selling my PC a week after I got my Mac). I feel the Switch was right for me, and though I gush about Macs and recommend it to most people I know, I’m also smart enough to realize it’s not for everyone. (Though most people might not have the same requirements as you would in your work.)

I actually found that, for the features on my Powerbook G4 17″, its price was pretty competitive and not overpriced as was the big impression in most people. And that extra $100 premium for buying this Mac … I chalk it up to paying for incredible industrial design. And the stares I get from all over.

Not every piece of software is available on both Windows and Mac, so it took a while to find things to fill in the “gaps” that I didn’t like in Panther (10.3). Here are a few little add-ons that I found really helped my experience with Mac, and I hope you find them useful too.

- Less on the productivity side, you might like the added utility of Quicksilver, which is a few-keystroke launcher at your fingertips. I found that it really changes my usage of my Powerbook — I’m almost kind of lost without it.

- Growl is a neato add-on which is gaining lots of momentum — it provides a simple method for other applications to display notifications on your screen. So iTunes can just popup a tiny semi-transparent note when it flips to the next song, or your IM can show you when users come online (or whatever). All in the same UI style (or different, if you prefer).

After trying Fire and AdiumX, my personal preference for an IM aggregrator on MacOSX is Proteus X. I just like how clean the interface seems compared to the other ones, though I’m sure they all have loyal followings.

I second the OmniGraffle application to fill the lack of Visio.

I prefer iTunes, but if you’re a Winamp user, you’ll find that Winamp doesn’t have a Mac version (unless they’ve come up with one lately).

Having used MacOS since August 2004, and exclusively for the first half of 2005, I’ve found that now I’m looking for replacements in Windows for all the little apps and features that I’ve become so used to in Mac! Expose, for instance, is Entbloess. And the Dock (into ObjectDock) and Dashboard (Konfabulator) and Quicksilver (). My first experience using Windows after 5 months without, I really didn’t like it.

But in fairness, there’s no replacement for the fast hotkey combinations that I used to be able to do (for instance) in Microsoft Office programs under Windows. For example, ALT-F-S is Save in Windows … but in Mac, you practically have to use the mouse to select menu items for nearly all commands. It’s slowed down my productivity a fair bit.

I suppose the issue is (to me) that muscle memory and habits are tough to break, so though I think my parents would love using a Mac, it would be difficult to convince them to forget nearly everything they’d come to learn in Windows in order to Switch. That learning curve is pretty rough for them, and I don’t see the point of making them go through it all over again. (But heck, I just might. ‘pends on how bored I get.) For someone (like my grandma) who would be starting their basic home computing experience from scratch, I would definitely recommend a Mac — there’s no Windows to unlearn. Even for me, the daily shift between Mac (home) and Windows (work) sometimes has me hitting the wrong hotkeys.

In August, I did write some bits about my switch from PC to Mac on my blog, but I’m too lazy to find you the links. I’d swear I had written about it elsewhere, but I can’t find it now.

My question is, given that neither (or none of the) platforms are perfect, what would your decision be if you had the same IT choice to make today?

Paul wrote:

There is a great little (free) application called Witch. When you press the option and tab keys together all open applications plus the open windows in each application appear and you can switch between them with great ease. The URL is
http://www.petermaurer.de/nasi.php? thema=witch&sprache=english
There is also another great application called KeyCue - when you hold down the Apple key, all of the keystroke commands for the application that you are using appear. The URL is:
http://www.macility.com/
Try them both

julian wrote:

Macromedia’s products are definitely rather unusable on the Mac. I don’t really know what they were thinking when they made every single window a palette. When I go to save a file, the save dialog appears behind the ActionScript palette because the ActionScript palette is, well, an always-in-front palette!

I think Apple would have a lot to gain by convincing Adobe and Macromedia to get their act together on the Mac.

If you like Trillian, I’d suggest Adium on Mac OS X.

As for taskbar+quickbar vs. the Dock: Managing windows on Mac OS X is just different. Some people like it, some people don’t. I’d suggest attempting to learn to make more use of Exposé (if you have a multi-button mouse, make one of the buttons an Exposé button), cmd+tab, cmd+` (cycle through the windows for the current app), and cmd+w. Once you get used to that style of window management it may become more comfortable. But I’m willing to grant that some people never really like it. Personally, I love it and could never go back to using the taskbar.

Tim Ostler wrote:

I too love Omnigraffle Pro which is mind-bogglingly beautiful (the new beta 4 brings round trip outline view as well which is even better than Inspiration). However iif you’e looking for a Visio clone complete with the equivalent of shapesheets, try ConceptDraw. Every time I look at it I’m amazed Microsoft hasn’t taken them to court.

The ideal of course is to have both a PC and a Mac. I find a compact Vaio and an IMac G5 are complementary, each best in different ways.

Mark wrote:

While I can agree with your concern that the menu bar sits on only one monitor, I am stymied by what is in effect the reciprocal of that: on the PC each program opens into a window within a single monitor which child documents are tied to (photoshop being an example that comes to mind). This means the user is unable to separate child documents out into separate monitors to easily compare them side-by-side without the combersome process of expanding the main program window across the multiple monitors or firing up multiple versions of the program.

I’m thinking it’s time for a new *third* option which borrows from both systems.

David Heller wrote:

The MS Office on windows option is one that I like. Whee each document is treated as a completely new iteration of the program, but in the kernal you see only one instance of the program running.

And I do have to say that seeing all the documents open in separate windows (word style) is overrated. Probably the best option I have seen/experienced is Macromedia’s suite for windows (well it all started w/ Homesite WAY before Macromedia bought them) where they have a tab for each document.

As for the single screen part, I had been using dual-monitors on my PC systems for ages.

BTW, What I DON’T want is a Mac vs. PC war here. The key here is to express that “the switch” as advertised is NOT painless. I had been asked by many on different e-mail lists how can they switch to Mac from PC or visa versa. I’m sure someone switching from Mac to PC would feel just as painful. I’m sure someone switching from Photoshop to Fireworks would feel a lot of pain as well. Switches are difficult.

I am however in this particular instances challenging one of the very core aspects of the traditional MacOS (X or older). I feel that at the new level of resolutions and with the proliferation of dual monitor systems that the toolbar/menubar at the top of the screen is a hinderance to usability.

Westacular wrote:

I’m not a Mac user, but I am contemplating the purchase of a iBook or Powerbook in the coming months; I find your analysis quite timely. It would be for personal use, and I don’t have any need/dependence on a corporate network or proprietary software, so those problems are moot for me.

A few comments:

-Yes, I’ve used the dual-screen support in PPT2003 on WinXP; it’s there but finding the option and turning it on the first time was very unintiutive and very inconvenient. The situation was basically, “I know dual-head is common enough that MS *must* have put something like this in here, and I’m going to keep looking through options menus until I find it.” It’s pretty good but could be better; still, I don’t know why MS hasn’t this feature more visible.

-As others have mentioned, wasn’t Expose supposed to address the “window inventory” problem?

-I agree that, as screens have balloon in both size and resolution, the effective “distance” from active workspace in the centre of the screen to menus at its edges is increasingly cumbersome. I say this as someone who tends to run everything maximized-in-screen on a dual-head system where one screen is 21″ @ 1600x1200, and the other is 15″ @ 800x600. Any time I need two complementary things displayed at once, I tend to leave one maximized on the primary screen and dump the other over to the secondary. It’s … effective, but a lot the time much of the primary screen feels like ‘wasted space’.

Greg wrote:

If your a looking for Mac apps don’t forget the list at osx.hyperjeff.net/apps. As to app development Mac OS X is some light years ahead of MS Windows (at least in my view). The reasons: First your have the BASH, a really powerful system management and scripting environment; Windows just has no equivalent (see such sites as www.osxfaq.com to learn more about shell scripting). Second, you have full-grown cross-paltform scripting languages preinstalled on your Mac: man perl, man python, man ruby, … And third your have Cocoa! And last but not least you may use such Mac OS X gems as smultron.sf.net (text editor) or www.calmxav.com (free virus checker).

Greg wrote:

Sorry, it’s www.clamxav.com!

Tim wrote:

A Flash library that claims to support Mac OS X is www.chromelib.com, but you may also throw a look at ming.sf.net, www.anfyflash.com or Magic Bullet (www.theorphanage.com; for more see www.macweb3d.org or .com). An interesting Flash replacement is Axel (www.mindavenue.com). For Java there are such tools as javaplugin.sf.net (for web browsers) and Quaqua Look and Feel by www.randelshofer.ch/quaqua/download.html. For a Cocoa intro tutorial see maczealots.com.

R.O. wrote:

To use the cursor on two displays check out the tool wraparound (www.digicow.net). For alternative cartoons see www.userfriendly.org

Garrett wrote:

Visio is the one program that’s holding me back from switching completely as well. Omnigraffle is indeed a better application in my opinion, but there is no easy to pass files back and forth between Omnigraffle and Visio. It requires an export to a Visio 2002 XML format that drops a lot of the metadata of Visio 2003. I’d love for an Omnigraffle upgrade to fix this.

Larry wrote:

David Heller wrote:
“Everyone knows that you need to put a bit of angle on the keyboard to make it more ergonomic.”

This is *sooo* wrong; where do you get this disinfo from? One wants to minimize the bend angles of the wrist.
A quick google search on the topic resulted in this link: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=22781

Scroll about half-way down the page or search on the phrase: “Do not use the feet provided on the back of most keyboards”

David Heller wrote:

Larry, the article you point to doesn’t talk about teh specifics of laptops at all. Laptops are different from a standalone keyboard. why? b/c you can’t put it under the desk, where you can create a negative incline which as the article describes is MUCH better.

the main point is how to create a 0 bend on the wrists, up or down. when you have to be ON the desk as opposed to under it, the incline changes so that your elbows are below the keyboard and not above them.

Lastly, I know what hurts, and the harsh edge and the lack of the ability to get an angle when I need it HURT! Pain bad, no matter what an article says. When I compare that article to my reality. I’ll take my reality. I’ve spoken to others about this as well.

ALSO, the wireless mouse is not that ergo friendly either. It causes an unnecessary break/bend in the wrist as well. AND there is NO erogonomic keyboard either that breaks the board in half w/ a good curve. Yes, other manufacturers make them, but not bluetooth like I wanted.

— dave

Neil wrote:

For a developer the best solution is to choose Cocoa to design the GUI. Using Xcode or such GUI design tools as cocoadialog.sf.net a developer can even give Unix-based tools a nice, functional Cocoa-based GUI wrapper. Examples: iDownload and Graphviz (www.pixelglow.com/graphviz/; btw, for some further mindmapping tools see www.i2brain.de and www.thinkmap.com).

Grok wrote:

Well, I’m no OS war guy as well. However, there are such websites as www.xvsxp.com www.systemshootouts.com or www.macnewsworld.com that may be helpful to see the big picture. For lively Mac discussions alse see such sites as macslash.org or inessential.com

L.M. wrote:

An essential Mac app list can be found at macspecialist.org Yet another mindmapping app is www.inspiration.com For some technical advice also see www.askdavetaylor.com

Michael wrote:

regarding screenshots, try:

http://www.macdevcenter.com/pub/a/mac/2003/02/28/screenshot.html

and

snapclip: http://www.pixture.com/macosx.php
(assuming it still works with Tiger)

Reinoud wrote:

The fun! The pain! The remarks of fundamentalists at both sides ;)
Here are the most-used keyboard shortcuts of me after going PC->Mac

apple-` switches through windows within an app
apple-Tab same as alt-Tab

The thing that bugs me a bit on Macs is that there are no file-paths in the finder. Not a pleasure if you’re working in a network environment. Yes yes, apple-i but those you can’t copy, not even to mention pasting. On a Unix base, that should’ve been possible I think.

Thanks for the tip on ConceptDraw. Omnigraffle might be beautiful but I do miss my Visio power

Joseph Huang wrote:

Something preventing you from using the Mac Firefox port?

Olly wrote:

Here’s Apple’s take:

http://developer.apple.com/ue/switch/windows.html

They certainly seem to think they’ve thought about it and have the better solution.

Is particular:

“Use A Single Menubar:

A Microsoft Windows application instantiates itself in a “main window”, and creates its own menubar within that window. If three applications are open in Windows, three “main windows”, with a unique menubar in each, appear on-screen.
In Mac OS X, a single menubar is always visible at the top of the screen, in a consistent location. That menubar always reflects the currently applicable commands for the active application. In addition, the Mac OS X menubar has a very specific format and layout, which should be respected by all Mac OS X applications, so that the user knows precisely where to find frequently used commands, such as Quit, Copy, Minimize, and Help.

Mac OS X Doesn’t Use MDI:

Microsoft Windows-based applications often implement a Multiple Document Interface (MDI), which displays document windows within the bounds of their “main” windows. If multiple documents are open, they exist within the parent application’s window.

The MDI tendency directly contradicts Mac OS X, in which windows are document-centric rather than application-centric. No parent application “main window” exists–the menubar and other interface elements, like palettes, are used to constantly indicate which application is active. Document windows are only constrained by the user’s desktop size (which might span single screen or multiple monitors).

In Mac OS X, users can freely manipulate and interleave their document windows; simultaneously viewing multiple document windows (which may belong to several applications) is easy. This behavior allows easy exchange of data, especially by way of drag and drop, between documents.

In your Mac OS X application, use the menubar, palettes, and toolbars as a holistic replacement for the “main window” in Microsoft Windows-based MDI applications. Document windows should open as individual entities, unconstrained by a parent window.”

Nick Godwin wrote:

Windows users may use their shortcuts even on Mac OS X (cf. the tool WinShortCutter by www.lobotomo.com ; i also think there is a shortcut-related article at www.it-enquirer.com ).

To copy complete Unix-style file paths to clipboard check out PathSnagger by www.bergenstreetsoftware.com If you work in Terminal.app you may also just drag&drop a file into the Terminal window to get the complete filepath. To use multiple clipboard items I can recommend the tool shadowClipboard.

And for those eager to try out something completely different there even is a complete Finder.app replacement called PathFinder (www.cocoatech.com).

Nick Godwin wrote:

Windows users may use their shortcuts even on Mac OS X (cf. the tool WinShortCutter by www.lobotomo.com ; i also think there is a shortcut-related article at www.it-enquirer.com ).

To copy complete Unix-style file paths to clipboard check out PathSnagger by www.bergenstreetsoftware.com If you work in Terminal.app you may also just drag&drop a file into the Terminal window to get the complete filepath. To use multiple clipboard items I can recommend the tool shadowClipboard.

And for those eager to try out something completely different there even is a complete Finder.app replacement called PathFinder (www.cocoatech.com).

Nick Godwin wrote:

Windows users may use their shortcuts even on Mac OS X (cf. the tool WinShortCutter by www.lobotomo.com ; i also think there is a shortcut-related article at www.it-enquirer.com ).

To copy complete Unix-style file paths to clipboard check out PathSnagger by www.bergenstreetsoftware.com If you work in Terminal.app you may also just drag&drop a file into the Terminal window to get the complete filepath. To use multiple clipboard items I can recommend the tool shadowClipboard.

And for those eager to try out something completely different there even is a complete Finder.app replacement called PathFinder (www.cocoatech.com).

David Heller wrote:

Regarding the whole MDI windowing methodology. I think that Mac OS X overstates the case.

MS Office for example has whole document based windowing structure, but it includes the menuing and toolbars WITH the document window. To me you get the best of both worlds in this example.

Also, while they talk very well about moving freely between documents of various types, they do not speak so well to the sovereignty of certain application types that don’t readily require movement between different document types let along different documents of the same type.

for the latter there have been better metaphors for example Macromedia’s use of tabs and palettes in Studio MX.

Lastly, in the above quoted article they do not discuss the many ramifications as I described them once you get into high resolutions and multiple monitors. If Mac OS X was only for an iMac I’d be game to their ideas, but w/ everything else that is out there using OS X, it just feels rigid and short-sighted. This is probably my biggest complaint w/ Mac OS X and I honestly don’t believe it to be the “opinion” of a windows user. I would like maybe to hear from someone on the Mac side of things speak to the the issue of large monitors at high resolution and multi-monitor displays while having a single menubar/tollbar location. (notice how many applications put the toolbar in the document window) and also notice the prevelance of tabbing in browsers. Even Safari puts the toolbar on the document window. If my toolbar is so important to the individual document, isn’t the menubar, since there is such redundancy between the two?

Randy wrote:

“But in fairness, there’s no replacement for the fast hotkey combinations that I used to be able to do (for instance) in Microsoft Office programs under Windows. For example, ALT-F-S is Save in Windows … but in Mac, you practically have to use the mouse to select menu items for nearly all commands. It’s slowed down my productivity a fair bit.”

Maybe I’m missing something, but one thing I especially like about Macs is the consistency of keyboard shortcuts. Command-S is always “save”, Command-N is always “New”, Command-Q is always “quit”, etc. (The “Command” key is the key with the Apple and the whirlygig symbol.)

Randy wrote:

“What really gets me is that my Windows experience of dual monitor support was just so much better. Especially (and this is OS level) around using projectors. I don’t like the limited modes. Once detected, you can’t “detach” from that monitor, w/o doing something radical, like closing the lid and re-opening and stuff like that. Then there is the resolution in mirror mode on a projector. I am always forced to resolutions much much lower than I had to have when I was using Windows on the same projector.”

I usually just unplug the monitor, and the laptop automatically notices, just as it noticed when I plugged it in. Also, in ‘System Preferences’, under ‘Displays’, there is an option “Show displays in menu bar”. That puts a monitor icon on the meny bar that you can click to change resolution of primary or secondary displays, detect displays, etc.

As for the resolution of the projector, if you haven’t already, you might try unchecking “show only recommended modes” and see if that gives you more options.

Randy wrote:

“So many times I have an e-mail open (either reading or writing) that ends up getting hidden behind the primary application window, like the “Inbox” and the only way to pull that child window forward again is to either minimize the “Inbox” or go to the “Window” menu. I find both of these to be very inconvenient, especially if all I want to do is move from a different application directly to the now hidden compose window. Basically, unlike in Windows there is no inventory of the total number of windows open. Even if it enhanced the doc, by making these available through a context click on the app icon, would go a huge way in helping people manage multiple windows.”

Maybe I misread what you typed, but the applications I use do indeed make their windows available via a contextual menu on their Dock icon. I use this all the time, such as when I’m composing an email and want to attach a document I was just working on and that I have visable in the Finder. I control-click the Finder’s Dock icon and select the window I was just in (which helpfully has a check mark). This brings up just that window. I can then drag the file to my composition window in Eudora.

Noah Iliinsky wrote:

Garrett wrote
> Omnigraffle is indeed a better application in my opinion, but there is no easy to pass files back and forth between Omnigraffle and Visio.

The pro version of OmniGraffle 4 (now in free beta) claims to have much better import of Visio documents. I have not tried it.
http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnigraffle/4/

olly wrote:

“I would like maybe to hear from someone on the Mac side of things speak to the the issue of large monitors at high resolution and multi-monitor displays while having a single menubar/tollbar location.”

I have to admit its nasty. Apple do a good job of sounding deliberate, but it smacks of theory not practice.

I frequently use a mac with two monitors. It is messy. Having to move your mouse from the window containing your document over to the other window to acces a menu is clunky, no debate.

Intuition tells me that the menu bar should chase the document: ie, if your document is showing in your second monitor then the main menu should chase the document and display in the same window. But then thats just an intuition, you could probably find many users who say “no it should staya where i expect it to be: namely where it is”.

Hal Taylor wrote:

Great points, Dave.

When you’re comparing the ease of use that you should perhaps consider the amount of time you’ve spent learning (and adapting to) the quirks and ins-and-outs of the Windows paradigm with the amount of time you have invested getting to know the Mac OS.

Pete Gordon wrote:

From a Mac guy… (had the 15″ tibook for 3 years)

I like IBM Thinkpads T series for windows laptops. I believe the T42P has bluetooth, and the M processors are fast. Don’t know how the acquisition by Lenovo will impact the laptops, but I have always thought Apple PowerBooks and IBM Thinkpads are the best pro laptops available for weight, performance, battery, and misc. features.

I second many of your comments on the Mac. At least there are only a few OSs to “really” choose from
(Win XP Pro, Mac OS X, Linux–any flavor–hopefully someday soon)

Best regards!

Jean wrote:

A Mac tool that supports multiple screens is Sticky Windows ( www.donelleschi.com ). A pro&con-review of Visio can be found at www.boxesandarrows.com

Bob Singer wrote:

Well, the best shortcut utility for Mac OS X is very often Terminal.app. Examples: pmset -a spindown 0 (hard drive will never go into sleep mode); sudo passwd root (set up the root account). If you want to add/delete a user you may also use a shell script: download.1dot1.com/unix-executables/admin-panther/ And if you have a two++ button mouse feel free to use contextual menu plug-ins (by www.naratt.com, www.balance-software.com, freeware.abracode.com, …).

John wrote:

‘Command-S is always “save”…’
Except in VirtualPC, where it is SHUTDOWN.

graeme wrote:

wacom Graphire3 series
• Easily achieve perfect results thanks to the powerful software
• Edit photos and videos more precisely with less effort
• Create drawings and graphics conveniently
• Operate graphics applications more naturally and intuitively
• Access menus and palettes quicker than ever before

Digital imaging goes wireless – Graphire Bluetooth
The first-class solution for digital image editing without any annoying cables: The new Graphire Bluetooth pen tablet works with Bluetooth Wireless technology. You can’t get much more convenient than that.

Jeff Croft wrote:

This is a fair and balanced write up, but you are sort of forgetting a bit of common sense: switching from something you’ve been using for many, many years to something with a number of major differences will always be somewhat painful, even if those differences are for the better (which, of course, is debatable).

My point is this: I believe Mac OS X is overall an easier operating system to use than Windows. However, it’s obvious that it’s not going to be easier for someone who is a Windows expert and has never used Mac OS X. A Mac OS X user who’d never used Windows would absolutely have just as much trouble, if not more, making that switch.

Kim Gammelgård wrote:

Learn and use Exposé and setup hot-corners for it ASAP. I miss it every day on my work-PC.
On dual monitors, I always move the menu to the main monitor, but there is a shareware or freeware thing out there that will give you the menus as a contextual menu. It was review in Macworld about a half a year ago. That should fix a lot of your dual monitor-problem. When I change numbers of monitors, and the OS doesn’t get it straight away, I have the monitor preferences to show monitors in the menu bar and just refresh screens, if there are any problems. I have less problems on my Mac with dual monitors than what I have on my PC, but the default setting for mirroring could be better, I guess. But do get used to Exposé and upgrade to 10.4 and get rid of Adobe reader alltogether as you can annotate etc. in the new Preview. (and Spotlight is soooo huge you won’t believe it.) I use Launchbar from http://obdev.at btw. a great launcher with a lot of other capabilities that enhance my productivity daily.

Kim Gammelgård wrote:

Did I mention Exposé. Don’t miss out on that. Really!

eade wrote:

As was mentioned above, the great menu bar debate was considerable and finalized at Apple early on. AND most folks weren’t thinking about the kind of real estate we are coming to expect to do our jobs, although multiple monitors has been around for a very long time. The concept that your menus would be just too physically far away from objects didn’t emerge; some of Apple’s early OS X concepts even had the Apple logo plunked right in the middle of the menu bar. For symmetry (!). Apple has had to continue to overcome its “you’re just a toy” tag from the early 80’s but also has a very clever and clear development doctrine: set the example, don’t take away interesting opportunities for the development community (well ok, except for the Office Suite, apparently). So all those utilities and little conveniences (that are, incredibly, free) take advantage of what you can do with the system. Combine utilities with the power user features you can get to know and love, you can have a seamless and un-annoying user experience. But then, with lots of learning curve and a certain patience for the encumbered way of doing things, the same is true of the PC.

Having just installed Tiger, I see they still don’t have item navigation and back-naving quite right; check out the little lurch of the selected back-nav item as it changes from disabled to highlighted. Ewwww. Even us zealots can and do whinge about things.

Kevin E. wrote:

To increase the usability of iBooks or Powerbooks there is a must-have touchpad utility: SideTrack ( www.ragingmenace.com ) In addition you might check out such tools as: MaxiMice ( www.catchysoftware.com ); ClickScroll ( www.macgu.net/clickscroll/ ); SmartScrollX ( www.marcmoini.com) or www.cocoasuite.com. And there are of course also hardware-based solutions available: www.fingerworks.com/TS_PowerBook.html or www.kinesis-ergo.com .

S..L. wrote:

A great menu customizing app is MaXMenus which is located at www.proteron.com/products.php. My favourite context menu actions (if you right-click on a file in Finder.app or such apps as EasyFind): move to trash, unmount disk, show in Finder, open with app, …

Jean wrote:

Two more very useful freeware apps: Spark (a shortcut manager; chezjd.free.fr/Creation/ ) and IC-Switch (lets you easily switch your default e–mail client, web browser etc.).

reggy wrote:

Don’t forget that you can plug a ‘normal’ mouse into a mac to get all your buttons and scrolly wheel back.

Greg wrote:

A Flash Optimizer for Mac OS X: www.eltima.com/products/mac-flash-optimizer/

Rob wrote:

I found the window-switching a bit odd at first (coming from using mostly older X-Windows window managers) but am now used to it.

I find the presence of at least three styles of interface (Aqua, Carbon and the other one) jarring to this day.

Some babble about switching here.

sxtxixtxcxh wrote:

you should unify: http://gui.interacto.net/ :D

Jon wrote:

Does this mean the name will soon be changing to Cancel/OK :)

The Apple stuff is very nice indeed, just be mindful to keep up with standards (yes, that still means Windows).

Signs that your team needs to get their heads out of the “Apple box”:
-Putting Aqua style title bar buttons in a design for Windows users.
-Telling everyone how great feature X is on a Mac, not realizing its also on WinXP
-Spending so much time making your Mac work in a PC world that you get no real design work done

zsffofycm wrote:

ignztqbyfq

zxltlmhkw waptnumls qrnjmngcw pewukcki

a-nonymous wrote:

I know this is a very old webpage, but perhaps someone will come upon it later via search, as I did…

To answer the question of “Why do macs always put the menubar at the top of the screen?”: When the Mac was invented, it came with a teensy 9 inch monitor. Putting the menubar anywhere else would have been nearly impossible, given the ultra-precise mouse movements that would have been required to click anywhere else but at the extreme edges of the screen. Also, given such a tiny screen, the app window would most likely have been close to fullscreen size anyway, making the difference between “top of window” and “top of screen” pretty small.

In short, Apple continues to hobble modern users with the design decision made when it offered only a paperback book sized screen.

a-nonymous hater wrote:

“In short, Apple continues to hobble modern users with the design decision made when it offered only a paperback book sized screen.”

What an ignorant statement! It’s Fitts Law, you utter tool. And it works even better on large screens that it did on small ones. It’s even more important now that there’s a large amount of laptops.

Get back to your Vista box and enjoy all your DRM-WMV files, loser.

Ray V wrote:

I think its so that the user always knows exactly where the menu bar is - on a mac, you can jam your mouse to the top left and know that thats where the applications menu stuff will always be.

Victor Panlilio wrote:

“In short, Apple continues to hobble modern users with the design decision made when it offered only a paperback book sized screen.”

Yours is a typically ignorant comment - study Fitts’ Law and why the fixed menubar (as specified by Bruce Tognazzini) is superior to the multiple menubars of Windows. You don’t have the courage to use your real name, either, which means you’re not willing to be held accountable for the views you express.

Jonathan Boutelle wrote:

Victor,

You’re the ignorant one if you think that using an app running in monitor two and having to go back to monitor one to access the menu bar is a good solution.

We all know about Fitt’s law and Hick’s law … don’t think you can win an argument just by dropping those terms. For running one app at a time, the mac approach is superior. For multiple screens the approach seriously blows. Run the GOMS analysis numbers yourself for the scenario described above if you don’t believe me.

For my take on the “switching” process see the following:
http://www.jonathanboutelle.com/mt/archives/2007/07/top_10_things_i.html


Leave a Reply


OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?