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

Capture One 14.1.1 - RAW workflow softwa...
Capture One is a professional RAW converter offering you ultimate image quality with accurate colors and incredible detail from more than 400 high-end cameras -- straight out of the box. It offers... Read more
Google Chrome 90.0.4430.72 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more
Backblaze 7.0.2.494 - Online backup serv...
Backblaze is an online backup service designed from the ground-up for the Mac. With unlimited storage available for $6 per month, as well as a free 15-day trial, peace of mind is within reach with... Read more
MYStuff Pro 2.1.4 - Create inventories f...
MYStuff Pro is one of the most flexible ways to create detail-rich inventories for your home or small business. Add items to MYStuff by dragging and dropping existing information, uploading new... Read more
Day One 6.1 - Maintain a daily journal.
Day One is an easy, great-looking way to use a journal / diary / text-logging application. Day One is well designed and extremely focused to encourage you to write more through quick Menu Bar entry,... Read more
Vivaldi 3.7.2218.55 - An advanced browse...
Vivaldi is a browser for our friends. We live in our browsers. Choose one that has the features you need, a style that fits and values you can stand by. From the look and feel, to how you interact... Read more
Macs Fan Control 1.5.9 - Monitor and con...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more
Dragon Dictate 6.0 - Premium voice-recog...
With Dragon Dictate speech recognition software, you can use your voice to create and edit text or interact with your favorite Mac applications. Far more than just speech-to-text, Dragon Dictate lets... Read more
OmniFocus 3.11.7 - GTD task manager with...
OmniFocus is an organizer app. It uses projects to organize tasks naturally, and then add tags to organize across projects. Easily enter tasks when you’re on the go, and process them when you have... Read more
rekordbox 6.5.1.0009 - Professional DJ m...
rekordbox is the best way of preparing and managing your tracks, be it at home, in the studio, or even on the plane! It allows you to import music from other music-management software using the... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Pokemon Masters EX's latest update...
Two new Sync Pairs have made their way into Pokemon Masters today. Both pairs hail from the Alola region, Elio & Popplio and Selene & Rowlet. Their arrival coincides with an event called Trials on the Isle. [Read more] | Read more »
Shrouded Citadel: navigate your escape i...
Having been cooped up over the past 12 months due to winter and covid, Pifer is encouraging gamers to start enjoying the great outdoors again with its recently launched AR adventure epic, Shrouded Citadel. | Read more »
Moonlight Sculptor is an upcoming MMORPG...
Kakao Games and XL Games – who you might be familiar with from their previous game ArcheAge – have announced that their MMORPG Moonlight Sculptor is now available to pre-order for iOS and Android devices. Moonlight Sculptor has previously launched... | Read more »
MU Archangel is now open for pre-registr...
MU Archangel is now open for pre-registration in Southeast Asia following its massive success in other territories. Players from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines (except Vietnam) can now join in on the fun by applying... | Read more »
Compete, a new social media app you can...
Whoever told you you can’t get rich making videos has obviously never heard of Compete, Competitive Media Technologies Limited’s hot new social media app where you can rake in all the dough just by doing what you love. Video monetization that... | Read more »
Bethesda has released a new DOOM mobile...
Bethesda Softworks has released a new DOOM game out of the blue exclusively for mobile devices. It’s called Mighty DOOM and is currently only available as an early access title on Android but will be expanding to more users in the future. [Read... | Read more »
Anagraphs is a word puzzle game with a t...
Cinq-Mars Media has released its word puzzle game Anagraphs for iOS and Android devices. The game released last week after a short delay in getting it onto the appropriate platforms. [Read more] | Read more »
These are the top 5 best iPhone games li...
Fortnite has been the big hitter in mobile gaming this year, and it's not hard to see why. Thanks to some excellent marketing, and a polished experience that almost anyone can enjoy, it's really taken the App Store by storm. But there are other... | Read more »
The top 5 best iPhone games like Pokemon...
Pokemon GO is still the, if you'll excuse the pun, go-to game if you want some AR action on your phone. But it's not the only choice out there, and if you've got a hankering for something a bit different, then your eyes might already have started... | Read more »
The top 5 best iPhone games like Starcra...
Starcraft sits at the top of the RTS tree for a number of very good reasons. It also isn't on mobile, again, for a number of very good reasons. But that doesn't mean you can't find a way to indulge your sci-fi, competitive, massive, or engaging RTS... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Roundup of Today’s Best 13″ M1 MacBook Pro De...
Apple resellers are offering sale prices on Apple’s M1-powered 13″ MacBook Pro ranging up to $230 off MSRP. Here’s where to pick one up today, and as always, keep an eye on our 13″ MacBook Pro Price... Read more
Roundup of Today’s Best M1 Mac mini Prices an...
Apple resellers are offering discounts on new M1 Mac minis ranging up to $140 off MSRP this week, with prices starting at only $589. These are all the same Mac minis sold by Apple in their retail and... Read more
New at Verizon: Apple iPhone SE for free with...
Verizon is offering the 64GB Apple iPhone SE for free for customers opening a new line of service with a Verizon Unlimited plan. Offer is valid for a limited time. Price is credited monthly over a 24... Read more
B&H is offering clearance prices on lefto...
Apple reseller B&H Photo has clearance 2020 13″ 1.4GHz Intel-based MacBook Pros on sale today for $200-$300 off Apple’s original MSRP with prices starting at only $1099. Expedited shipping is... Read more
Roundup of Today’s Best MacBook Deals: M1 Mac...
Apple resellers are offering sale prices on Apple’s M1-powered 13″ MacBook Airs ranging up to $190 off MSRP. Here’s where to pick one up today, and as always, keep an eye on our 13″ MacBook Air Price... Read more
Apple AirPods Pro drop to new low price of on...
Amazon has Apple’s AirPods Pro on sale today for a new low price of only $197 shipped. That’s $52 off MSRP and the lowest price currently available for a set of AirPods Pro from any Apple reseller.... Read more
Apple restocks clearance 13″ Intel-based MacB...
Apple has clearance, Certified Refurbished, 2020 13″ Intel-based MacBook Airs available starting at only $809 and up to $280 off original MSRP. Each MacBook features a new outer case, comes with a... Read more
OWC drops prices on 2020 Intel multi-core Mac...
Other World Computing has clearance 2020 Intel-based Mac minis on sale starting at only $499. Both 4-core and 6-core models are in stock today. These are new, unopened, factory-sealed minis: – 3.6GHz... Read more
Save $50 off Apple’s 10.9″ iPad Air today at...
B&H Photo has new 10.9″ Apple iPad Airs in stock and on sale today for up to $50 off MSRP. Expedited shipping is free to most addresses in the US. Note that some sale prices may be restricted to... Read more
Rare Apple sale: Get a HomePod mini for $10 o...
Apple reseller Expercom has the Space Gray HomePod mini on sale today for $89 shipped. Their price is $10 off Apple’s MSRP, and it’s currently the only sale price available for a HomePod mini among... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Repair Technician - Randstad (United...
Apple Repair Technician **job details:** + location:Roseville, CA + salary:$13 - $15 per hour + date posted:Thursday, April 8, 2021 + job type:Temp to Perm + Read more
Systems Architect, *Apple* Production Engin...
…package beginning on your first day? If so, we hope you'll keep reading! The Apple Sales Engineering and account team is looking for a stellar presales engineer with Read more
*Apple* / Macintosh / ADM Systems Administra...
…Administration **Duties and Responsibilities** + Configure and maintain the client's Apple Device Management (ADM) solution. The current solution is JAMF supporting Read more
*Apple* Mobility Specialist - Best Buy (Unit...
**800895BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobility Specialist **Job Category:** Store Associates **Store Number or Department:** 001776-Woodmore Towne Centre-Store **Job Read more
Geek Squad Advanced Repair *Apple* Professi...
**802113BR** **Job Title:** Geek Squad Advanced Repair Apple Professional **Job Category:** Store Associates **Store Number or Department:** 000399-Wausau-Store Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.