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Journal: Why I don't use a Mac

Journal by zsau

I recently posted a comment about why I've switched back from Mac OS X to GNU/Linux. I've been thinking about it a lot since I did it, and I'm pretty happy with the comment, so I include it here. Slightly edited, and will likely change over time.

I type this on a rev-a iMac G5 healthily running Debian with almost all the hardware fully supported, including the Airport Extreme wireless. It was a bastard to start doing, but from June 2005 having used Mac OS X for about six months (I got it in December 2004) till when I had it finally acceptable some time later, it became very important to me: The Mac OS X UI simply doesn't work for me.

The Finder keeps opening up in that stupid space-wasting sidebar brushed metal mode; it remembers my settings for old folders, but for new ones it falls back on its default. It uses file extensions to determine type: On Debian, I use ROX-Filer, which uses a file's contents to determine type whenever it can. I don't recall the Finder as having a way to create files from a set of templates in a menu: This means that if you're in a folder, and want to make a new file there, you have to (a) stop what you're doing (!!!); (b) go to the applications folder, (b ii) remember the name of the program you want to use, (b iii) find it, (b iv) and run it; (c) choose to save the new document; (d) find the folder you already have open once again in the save dialog box; (e) resume whatever you're doing. (This list, and any others I include, are based on how the process feels to me. So I get to include steps like "stop what you're doing". And any usability guru will tell you this means there's a serious problem!) It has other nasty habits.

I'm used to X11's selection clipboard, where middle-clicking pastes whatever's been selected, so I keep forgetting to choose to copy. Major cut to my productivity!

Windows are grouped by program, not by task. I might have one browser window open for work, and another for play; if I'm using Terminal and Preview also for work, I don't want to have to keep pushing the play browser window out of the way. (Actually, I found different programs behaved differently with regards to this. I can't remember which or why.) Relatedly, there's no decent virtual desktop programs out there. Or perhaps, because most programs don't expect to use virtual desktops, they don't behave properly when they're asked to.

There's only one menu for every program. This makes it really hard to keep track of where I am. Exposé makes it worse; if I'm busy with Camino, and use Expose to show my desktop, Camino's menu still shows up. So I go to the "View" menu and get really confused by why "Clean up selection" doesn't show up. Apparently this makes going to the menu faster for some particular use cases, but the way I operate, it doesn't help much; aside from the fact I prefer context menus (which help me associate actions with objects), I'm usually using more than one program to do a task, so using a menu becomes a multi-step process: (a) Work out which app is focussed; (b) If necessary, (b i) go find a window for the app whose menu I want to work on, (b ii) and click on it; (c) Use the menu.

Actually, it probably makes me sound stupid, but I find this whole business of "the focussed window" really hard to keep track of. On the Mac, it's the topmost window, it's the only one you can operate (most) widgets on (most of the time), it's the only one whose application menu is visible, the window itself looks different (brighter, more contrastive), and it's got a shadow round it. Only ... on a 20" screen, it's really hard to compare the brightness, shadow, and height of non-overlapping windows when one's in your peripheral vision and the other's in your direct line of site. When I'm running Debian, I don't think my computer has the concept of "focus", only "keyboard focus": keyboard entry goes into the window that the mouse pointer is over, regardless of it's stacking order or whatever (it also has a purple titlebar, instead of a grey one, but the mouse location is more important on a 20" screen). The focussed window = topmost window thing also means that if you mis-click when using the scrollbar or whatever, you have a major problem with your windows rearranging! I never really thought—as a power user, capable of using (and happy to use!) GNU/Linux—I never really thought that a computer's UI could make me feel stupid, but when I felt tempted to throw the computer out the window for the nth time, I knew it was never going to work out.

Missing is heavily penalised. I mention above the problems with missing the window's edge by a pixel or two, but there's more. The Close, Minimise and Expand buttons are so small that I keep missing them. And then click again, thinking the computer just didn't hear me. And so the window minimises. Not so bad if I'm going for the minimise button, but usually I'm not... Another way is that clicking on the separator in a menu causes the menu to close. Without exception, every time I clicked the separator I was actually going for the option right above or below it. Considering the separator takes up an invisible amount of space above and below it (the line itself is only a few pixels, but the height that causes the menu to close is the whole size of a regular menu item), I found I could do this two or three times before I got the actual menu. This could be easily solved by doing what every other operating system does nowadays: Highlighting the menu option underneath the pointer.

The Dock sucks. In more ways than I can count. It's pretty, but confusing and stupid. It's divided up into two groups, but it holds five completely distinct things: Application shortcuts; running applications; document shortcuts; minimised windows; deleting stuff and ejecting media (leaving aside the question of why launching programs is different from opening documents anyway!). It's either invisible, or it's in the way. Even if there's plenty of stuff to work with next to it, it still insists on preventing you from making a window taking up all the rest of the vertical space from taking up the space next to it. (I've heard other complaints about parts of the dock, like the magnification. Actually, I love the magnification. I've run the Mac with it turned off, and I've found the Dock even harder to use.)

Oh, also, I couldn't get any decent program to play my collection of Ogg Vorbis files. I still don't think there's any decent program that can play Ogg Vorbis files. This is a real downer!

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Journal: I hate people who gratuitously swear (Pt. 2)

Journal by zsau

Whereas the Overlord is stressed by swearing:

And whereas this stress interferes with the good Government of the Whole World:

The Overlord therefore enacts:

  1. All those who gratuitously swear, or who use swear words in a way deemed to annoy the Overlord, are deemed guilty of a most grave offence.
  2. The punishment for this most grave offence shall be death in a mostly humane manner.
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Journal: I hate people who gratuitously swear

Journal by zsau

Whereas it is inevitable that I will become Indisputable Overlord of the Whole World:

And whereas this means that those who defy my will now will be punished just the same as if I had my powers:

And whereas it is desirable to simplify the complexities of government early:

This article therefore serves to declare the Overlordship of the World, with Zsau (by this as other names) as the Overlord.

  1. The Overlordship of the Whole World is the Sovereign Government of all the Earth and any colonies of the Overlord's subjects which may be settled beyond the Earth.
  2. The Overlord is Zsau (by this or other names).
  3. The Ovelord's successors shall be determined according to cognatic primogeniture. No person may be an Overlord who has killed another Overlord, nor who has plotted, aided or paid for or otherwise assisted the murder of an Overlord.
  4. The full title of the Overlord shall be "His Majesty Felix, of the Whole World Indisputable Overlord".
  5. The first symbol of the Overlordship shall be the Cassowary. Further symbols and accepted depictions of this symbol may be declared in future legislation.
  6. The executive, legislative, judicial and other branches of the government are vested in the Overlord. Further bodies may be created to assist in good government.
  7. No law is forbidden to the Overlord.
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Journal: 'Made me Hard' by The Whitlams

Journal by zsau

It all seemed alright at school, but then I go home and there's no-one here but me (and my parents and siblings, but they don't count) and it gets worse. It hurts worse and worse.

Now playing: 'Made me Hard' by The Whitlams.

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Journal: And after much pain

Journal by zsau

And after much pain, I still don't know if it's ended, but there's been some sort of close now. Even though there's something I realise I want to know the answer to, even if I don't want to ask it. Something oh so very important which would probably change the way I feel about everything and might really be an end.

Incidentally, how does four an a quarter hours sound for someone who rarely talks on the helpdesk calling device?

Tristan

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Journal: Not so bad

Journal by zsau

Now that I understand, life perhaps isn't so bad. But it's still a looong way from what it was on Friday afternoon when I was in blissful ignorance because of the changes in the last twenty-four-or-so hours. Come and cheer me up.

Edit: But like everything else, it didn't get better. Although I guess that change was inevitable. Crypticism rules OK.

Humans have got to be the only thing in the universe where a new piece of information can have a direct and immediate physical change.

Tristan

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal: The day that wasn't the first day of school

Journal by zsau

Well, guess what. After checking our last years' school calendar and talking to a friend, I decided today was the first day of school. I wake up at 6.30a.m., earlier than I had in nearly two months! I have brekky and a quick shower. I realise I'm going to be late for school. I convince Mum to drive me to the station, rather than taking the bus, so I'm not late. I get to school, and there's only Year 9s. Apparently, they forgot to clearly tell us that school didn't start until 31 January to the Year 12s! Fortunately, I wasn't the only one. I came across Patrick while still at school, and as we headed back to the station we kept collecting people. It was quite funny, seeing the looks on other people's faces, with them incapable of laughing at themselves. So it seems that MHS is even less well organised than I thought it was...

So I get home and go to where else but Whirlpool Forums and find, much to my disgust, that Wireplay will no longer be putting up new ISOs. Fortunately, however, they'd put up XFree864.2, so I wasn't completely unhappy and now have the latest version of my guying system. Not, of course, that Panu cares.

While mindlessly posting at Whirlpool Forums, I discovered that I'd probably downloaded about 5.6GB this month. Eat that Telstra! You shove on a cap, and I start becoming a heavy user! MUAHAHAHA

The Leopard actually doesn't have a plot. Don't ask me why it's such a good book when you consider this.

Oh well, school tomorrow. Today is a good day to die.

GNUStep

Journal: This day too!

Journal by zsau

Okay, then.

GNUstep works! I've got GWorkspace and Calculator to compile so far! It took a reinstall of Linux, but my partitioning is now better, and I've got free space for FreeBSD and something else.

On the other hand, my CGI is not working yet. No idea what's wrong. Not happy, Jan.

The Leopard is still a good book.

I'm tired, so I'll go to bed shortly.

User Journal

Journal: Grrr 1

Journal by zsau

If I had a working CD-rom drive, I'd be spending now re-doing my Linux installation with the intention of getting two things to work: GNUstep and the nVidia drivers for my nVidia video card.

Medea is just plain evil. She should've died at the end. There is no justice, is there? Sure, Jason wasn't faithful, sure Euripedes was a feminist, but that's not the way ancient plays are supposed to work! Baddies are supposed to die, not get away with everything, even when they are the main character. I guess I was predicting it though... Onto the next one, I guess...

Three days until the MSFC again. This is both good and bad, mainly bad I think though... it means school soon. ARGH, how will I cope with year 12!? ENTER of 70, here I come! That is, of course, assuming I perform at least as well in my subjects this year as I did in Revolutions last year.

Other things that occur to me about this year is that I turn eighteen... I can drink, drive and vote. Of course, I can't vote till the next election and I'm already enrolled so that last one doesn't make a difference. I've had the oppertunity to drink a number of times in the past and haven't taken them, so why will I suddenly—but I will be able to buy alcohol, and I haven't done much in the way of practising driving so I don't see how I could suddenly get my licence the very second I turned eighteen. But it's the thought that counts! Scared of things happening half a year and a year away...

Work today wasn't the best. I turned up, made a few mistakes, and wish I never went. Ah well, life's like that.

I've also added a link to this page in the homepage part of Whirlpool, so maybe people will start to read it. I could also post a post to slashdot so that people could see I'd done it I guess, but that could be asking too much...

And I did have another post to post yesterday but because of a bug in Opera 6.0 TP2 for Linux, I made a mistake. When will they finish this damn piece of software?? (One of the things in the post I didn't post was that Mozilla runs slow as a dog for me.)

That's all for now...

Tristan.

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Journal: And another day...

Journal by zsau

Well, I went to the dentist and read some of Euripedes' Media and now I'm compiling Mozilla 0.9.7 (finally worked up the guts to compile it...) and smelling dinner (smells like a barbie).

My teeth have improved, apparently. My upper wisdom teeth are up, but my lower ones are still thinking about it. I'll have them fischer sealed next time. I was also bombarded with radiation (two-yearly X-ray) and had an oldish (was there two or three appointments ago) hole filled.

I realised I had a few plays to read. The best way to read plays is out loud, even if you have no volume. That way, you can get more feeling in it. Euripedes isn't so bad, it was probably just the boring way everyone read The Women of Troy that put me off him last year. Just as well, I've got two of his plays to do this year ;). Still haven't read enough though, after dinner I'll get around to finishing it, I think.

I've got X talking to my Internet and Audio keys, they'll give a keysym now. I've even got WindowMaker to pop up its menus when I click on some of the keys! (I wanted to free up F11 and F12, but that meant Win-F1{1,2}, which wasn't that good. No idea how to fix up the rest. On the same front, I upgraded my version of WindowMaker, the new one has some cool features that I'm yet to need ;). I've also reconfigged it to make use of the clip more.

Well, that's all for now, more later perhaps. But then again, perhaps not.

User Journal

Journal: Oh, goody, a journal!

Journal by zsau

Okay, so this is my first journal post. What should I write here?

I'm rather disappointed: GNUstep doesn't want to work for me; when I buy my CD-RW+DVD, I'll download and install Simply GNUstep because I so prefer simplicity!

I'm going to start reading my books. I've only finished one; I'll read another this week. Tomorrow, in fact. I intend to finish at least half of another book by 11.59 p.m. on Monday, 14 January 2002 EST. Check my country if you need to know who's EST that is, though.

I'm going to buy a Ricoh 32x10x8 + DVD, I think. It'll set me back nearly $300.00, but then I'll have a burner and a CD reader and a DVD reader, none of which I have at the moment which is really quite depressing, don't you think? And here was me thinking I'd have three CD-type drives in my computer...

Edit: or maybe I'll buy a Mac. Probably second hand at this stage, and definately with enough grunt to run OSX, but a Mac nonetheless.

FORTRAN is for pipe stress freaks and crystallography weenies.

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