Archive for ‘apple’ category

Oops I Quit It Again

Here’s something that’s more than a just a bit annoying. Have you ever quickly shot the mouse up to the upper left-hand corner of the browser window in Safari to hit the back button, only to have clicked the “close window” button instead? I’ve been making a habit of this lately. And it’s awful.
Safari closeupThere’s just not enough space between the back/forward buttons, and the close/minimize/maximize buttons in the interface. You’ll notice that the back button (an oft used task) sits just a few pixels below the close button. Clicking the close button unintentionally when you have several tabs set up with whatever you’re working on will ensure certain anger, swearing and regret. Whenever I click it, for a split second I wish for an “undo” keystroke to cancel my missed mouse target. Sadly, all my current sites disappear and I’m back to square one.
Firefox closeupNaturally, you may suggest that I use a different browser — and indeed Firefox has a larger target for the back button, reinforced by a further separation of the browser’s controls from the window options. And I’ve also heard there are ways to strip Safari of it’s “chrome”, perhaps changing the spacing between the buttons. But I’m just here to complain about the initial design choice that Apple chose to make.

Sluggish Mail, Unsatisfying FTP

For awhile now, I’ve been using Apple’s own Mail app for all my electronic mail tasks. Overall, I’m happy with the features — but lately I’ve noticed an annoying sluggishness.

letterIt appears that the longer I keep the application open, the slower and more unresponsive it becomes. The problem is solved by quitting, then restarting. After a restart, it’s back to its peppy self. But aside from the annoyance of having to quit, it just seems like something must be wrong. I store a lot of mail in sub folders on my Mac. It’s a POP account, and not IMAP. So I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced the same performance?

I had been watching Jon Hicks’ comments regarding similar issues with Safari, which turned out to be a third-party plugin. No plugins involved here, but I’m guessing there’s a fix out there somewhere.

FTP on OS X

In other Apple application-related thoughts, I’ve been a long-time user of RBrowser for all of my FTP and SFTP needs. I love many features, but am continually frustrated with the performance and lackluster updates.

I’ve briefly given Transmit a spin and found it to be much snappier, but it (seemed to) lack the things I like about RBRowser the most:

  • OS X “column view” for navigating directories.
  • Double-click to open files in BBEdit.

So I’m asking you, the highly esteemed readership of SimpleBits, to prove me wrong: does Transmit make you smile — or are there better alternatives out there for FTP on a Mac?

Shuffle Theory

Way back in March of last year, I wrote a Notebook entry entitled My iPod Loves to Play Fugazi. And boy did it. I was convinced that the iPod (an original 5GB model) was playing me rather than the reverse. Fugazi (of which I have two albums in full on the iPod) would appear more often than any other artist–some of whom I have 5 or 6 albums worth of songs.

For instance, I have maybe 6 albums by the band Guided by Voices on there. A typical GBV album has approximately 3,267 songs on it. OK, maybe 20-30. They’re usually short, quick masterpieces. Anyhow, you’d think I’d hear GBV more often than Fugazi. But it was not so.

As a continuation of the theory, through the aforementioned Notebook entry, I was briefly quoted in today’s New York Times article, Tunes, a Hard Drive and (Just Maybe) a Brain (registration required). Turns out I’m not the only one who believes that shuffle mode may be possessed.

There are two corrections I’d like to point out from the article:

  • It’s Cederholm, not Cedarholm. (very common)
  • I still do like Fugazi. I believe I said I got tired of hearing them so often–but listen to anything in excess and it starts losing its charm.

I will say this, however. Just a few weeks ago, I purchased a new 4th generation click-wheel iPod–and I haven’t heard Fugazi once. Shuffling appears far more random, although maybe it just seems that way. And as the NYT article also points out, a “Shuffle Songs” option is now placed right in the main menu of the iPod’s interface, making it much easier to click once and go.

Unrelated to shuffling, sound quality seems to have been improved on the new models, and although I haven’t drained the battery yet, I’m sure hoping it’ll last as long as advertised.

Reality Checkout

Overheard near a display of iPods at the Apple Store, approximately two hours ago:

Well, Microsoft owns Apple… so I’m sure it has to work.

You learn something new every day.

Trigger Happy Tunes

One of the things I’ve noticed about listening to digital music, whether it be on iTunes or my iPod, is that my attention span is dwindling. Lately, I’ve been running iTunes in shuffle mode while working — it’s fantastic, like my own radio station playing along all day. But I find that even if I’m listening to a great song, I’ll click to the next track before it’s finished. I know the next song is going to be even better. Sometimes it is.
Digging through open windows to find the iTunes interface can be a pain though — even using Exposé, where I have a keystroke to show all windows, click the window, then click the forward button.
If you click and hold the iTunes icon in the dock, a pop-up menu will appear with a “Next Song” option. That worked for me for awhile.
Synergy in the menubarBut then I discovered Synergy, a little app that puts the iTunes controls up in the menubar. No more wading through windows to get the next song or pause. There is also a ridiculous amount of configuration options for such a small application, including 10 or so different button styles, transparent windows that pop-up telling you what song is playing, etc.
No I can fast forward through all of my favorite tunes.

Save As Replace Trick

While repeatedly saving a file to overwrite an already existing one, I found a cool little timesaver that’s built into OS X’s Finder. I’m sure this is old hat for most users out there, but for those like myself that didn’t know about it — it’s worth mentioning.
Save As dialog boxWhen saving a file, if you’d like to replace an existing file using the same fileneme, just click the file you’d like to replace from the dialog’s column view (they will be grayed out) — and the filename will auto-populate the “Save As:” field. No need to retype the name. It will even append the file extension, based on what file you click.
A small timesaver, but cool nonetheless. And yet another example of the subtle features that Apple builds into the OS. Too subtle though? It sure took me awhile to discover it — and that was by chance. Then again, I’m not putting much effort into seeking out tips and tricks on a regular basis.

Purchased Portability

PowerBook G4
I’ve just purchased a new 12″ PowerBook. And tomorrow, you all can laugh with me. You do know what’s going to happen tomorrow, don’t you?
Tomorrow Apple Computer will announce a sweeping upgrade to its entire PowerBook line. The 12″ model I chose will be $300 less, but will have dual 4GHZ G9 processors with 10GB RAM. A free, 100GB iPod will also be thrown in as a freebie.
Of course I’m exaggerating — but this is what happens when I buy a Mac. Every time.
This time around, I got tired of waiting. First waiting for MacWorld in January. Will Steve announce new PowerBooks? No. Oh, but they’ve updated PowerBooks like three weeks after MacWorld before. Oh, OK then. I’ll just wait a few more weeks. Nothing.
Then there was the constant refreshing of the rumor discussion boards (I’ve since deleted those bookmarks). Oh look! They’ve increased the font size on the PowerBook details page — that means new updates absolutely no later than February 2nd.
When all is said and done, I guess it doesn’t really matter when you buy. New models will keep coming out every six months or so. You just need to buy and forget about it. In my case, I had been needing this thing for a while. I had to buy it for a few reasons — but I still wanted to get the best deal. It’s a fantastic little machine. A work of art.
I’m curious. Who has the worst computer buyer’s remorse story? I’m confident it happens to everyone.

Sticky-less Hover

Safari version 1.2 has been released. In addition to all of the other new features, I’m happy to see that the “sticky hover” bug has been squashed.
Previously, some CSS hover states would stick on hovering. Oddly, if you moved the mouse away from the hover area up, the state would return to it’s normal appearance. But moving the mouse left, right or down would sometimes result in the hover getting stuck.
Anyhow, it seems to be fixed with the release of 1.2, which makes me smile. The navigation for this site works like a charm now in Safari 1.2 — as do the Accessible Image-Tab Rollovers I had whipped up for FC a while back.

MacWorld 2004

It was sort of a lackluster MacWorld Keynote today. While the iPod Mini looks cool, it’s only $50 less than the normal-sized iPod that’ll now hold 11 more gigabytes of tunes on it. Hmm. I think many of us were expecting an iPod for around $99 or even $149. Don’t get me wrong though, the size is spectacular. Heck, my old-school iPod only holds 5 gigabytes and was a heck of a lot more than $249 at the time.
I was most excited to see GarageBand, a new digital music recording app added to the iLife series. Maybe now I can get off my lazy ass and use my Mac to record some music again.
I realize there are plenty of professional recording applications out there, but the ease of use looks amazing — and I’ve been casually searching for a dead-simple recording program that does essentially what a four-track tape recorder would do. Something to plug into and record — without the bells and whistles. Looks like GarageBand might be fun to play around with.
Lastly, no new PowerBooks! As you may know, I was waiting to see if there would be any new models announced before purchasing a 12″ version. I guess it’s safe to buy — although in a few weeks time they could easily announce new models. I’ve come to the realization that there is no perfect time to buy. One could continue to wait… and wait. And there will always be a better deal on the horizon. Ah well.

PowerBook Predictions

So it’s time to buy a new PowerBook. Soon, I’ll be handing in the one I’ve been using on company time and I’ve gotten far too used to sitting on the couch to get work done, wirelessly, as well as a few upcoming trips.

And now I’m caught in that eternal dilemma: when to pull the trigger when buying a new system. I see that there’s a MacWorld conference coming up in early January, and my instincts tell me there’ll be an update to the PowerBook line.

I hate this game. Buy now, and then a week later there’s a whole new line — for less money. It happens to me every time. Every time. So what’s your strategy? Don’t look back? Wait and see?