review tech

Lion Preview

A preview of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion for me at the Apple Store today, before I go and upgrade:

  • Arrrrrrrrrgh, Apple, did you really have to implement rubber-band scrolling in Mac OS X too? It makes sense, kinda, on an iPhone to show “there is no more to scroll”, where you potentially might have your finger over the scrolling indicator. On Mac OS X, I want that to stop scrolling and stay.
  • “natural scrolling” (i.e. what the rest of the world calls “inverse scrolling”) is… surprisingly easy to get used to, actually. Though that said, I can only imagine the hoops the muscle memory will have to jump through when flicking between systems that follow that convention and those that don’t.
  • Thank you for setting scrollbars visible to be an option at least.
  • Thank you (finally!) for any-edge-of-the-window resize.
  • Not so much a fan of full-screen apps, unfortunately. The full-screen button is not a substitute for the Maximise icon in Windows.
  • While full-screen mode is nice, and I can see the point here, some (many) are apt to lose the damn window if you’re doing this quaint notion called multitasking. Alt-… err, Command-tabbing away to another app works when going from a full-screen app; to go back, you have to use Mission Control/Spaces.
  • Speaking of which, Mission Control is surprisingly good – better than Expose/Spaces by a long shot. I hate that spaces is now limited to a in-a-row configuration, but otherwise MC wins comprehensively.
  • In the same vein, Launchpad is pretty and decently usable too, for the right people. I tended to keep the Applications folder in the dock to show as a grid for my parents to launch apps on the Mac; Launchpad is a better/cleaner interface for the same thing, and easily ties into the iPad halo effect.
  • On the other hand… click-and-hold to get apps “wiggling”? It was for right-click that tap-and-hold was created to substitute, not the other way around.
  • I was that close to saying the system-wide autocorrect looked awesome… and then it mucked up a couple of corrections of mistypes. Needs training for sure.
  • Finder. Oh for the love of…
    • No, they didn’t FTFF. Not even in the slightest. It’s even more confusing than ever before.
    • For one, it’s grey. Grey-on-grey action. (yes I know that sounds really bad.) Gone are the at-a-glance hints of folder purpose – forget that, you better concentrate to read or comprehend the lil’ grey icon. It’s not enough that the main folders are all shaped the same, it’s the sidebar hints too now.
    • Even Quick Look has gone grey; gone is the nice looking transparent black pop-over, replaced by a leaden grey window. The buttons are grey, the sidebars are grey. Just about the only thing with a hint of colour in the interface is the Close/Minimise/Maximise buttons, and even they’re shrinking. Is Steve Jobs colour-blind and wanting to impose that on the rest of us, too? Does he want to make this the first Mac interface since the Mac II to be compatible with a monochrome display? Is the next MacBook going to be an e-Ink display?
    • Holy shit is the functionality of the Finder broken. Who the hell needs to see “All My Files” as the default Finder window? A little hierarchy might need a little explaining, but my god is it a power for good after that. Yick. (Ed: turns out, you can change that as a preference. Please.)
    • Ok, I see how I need to right-click to sort by name instead of type… but why can’t I pick the direction of my name sorting? why is the title showing field name now just a translucent label I can click right through? Who decided this would be a good feature? Why has no-one yet implemented cut-paste in Finder? (Ed: that, too, is now available with Cmd+Opt+V) Path Finder, here I come.
  • Resume looks to be a genuine winner. Close an app down, open it up again, poof, it’s back as quick as you could ask for.
  • Didn’t get a chance to play with Versions.
  • iCal & Address Book. Really? The cheesy looks-like-real-life skin? I thought we got rid of this with the 90s. I didn’t like it on the iPad, why would I like it here?
  • Though the integration with Google/Yahoo/Other accounts looks pretty sweet.
  • Mail looks pretty sweet.
  • Don’t think I got to play with anything else that was specifically Lion related.
Overall, I’m going to wait this out a little, I think. Not that I won’t go for it, just that it might be good to wait and see 10.7.1 come around, y’know what I’m sayin’?
(p.s. if you’re interested in a more comprehensive review of Lion and you haven’t already done so, check out Jon Siracusa’s 27,000 word review of it over at Ars Technica.)
opinion tech


If you know the FTFF acronym, you’ll know exactly why I’m posting this today.

If you don’t, I suspect this post will be largely irrelevant. Feel free to wander over to somewhere you get some damn posts, like Kottke or Dooce or something.


Apple, please, Fix The Fucking Finder for 10.7. And fixing the Finder doesn’t mean getting rid of it or obfuscating it or rendering it pointless by making everything in OSX work just like iOS.

I’m not saying that as a purist or a ranter. I love my iPad, despite my earlier reservations to the contrary. It’s perfect for those little things – you’ve just thought of a random website you want to check out, so you pick up your iPad, flick the slide-to-unlock, jump online, do your thing, put it down, you’re done. It’s light enough that you don’t even think about it as a fantastic computer as powerful as your desktop was just 10 years ago.

The problem occurs when I want to get anything… serious done. Well, not even serious, just something requiring more than one program to interact with a unit of data that goes beyond a couple of lines of text on the clipboard.  For that, I need to deal with files. Not just files on an arbitrary and abstracted system that may as well be a data-store for specific binary blobs actionable by a particular application, I need honest-to-goodness files I can throw around. Move, copy, rename, edit, export, upload, email, back up. I want to be able to do that without relying on APIs and frameworks and implementations of these to work coherently together.

These two models of interaction can coexist peacefully, even with overlap. But take away the higher-functioning mode, and you’re asking for trouble, or at least people to migrate away from your service.

So when I see things like the Mac OSX App Store and Launchpad, I get worried. One way to look at these things is that it’s just an evolution of things that have gone before, and not just in Apple’s world. The App Store is a package management system with a nice interface and a payment mechanism built in. Launchpad is really just an app launcher, recreating a now-familiar paradigm on the more powerful computers; or it’s just an extension of the stacks/folder pop-overs for the Applications folder (or it’s a graphical update to the App menu from the classic Mac OS days).

What I don’t like is where this might be going. I don’t want to fix the finder by replacing it with a simpler paradigm, or removing the “need” for it. I just want to be able to do things I can take for granted in other OSes, and have it done consistently. I don’t want to get Mac OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion and find that the majority of the interaction is through an abstract system where everything is “managed for you”.

I’m not stupid, and I’m not so distracted that every task must be performed one-app-at-a-time. I want to be editing a photo while music plays and a torrent downloads and a movie converts and a chat is open with my friends while my mail comes in and I see any twitter updates slide into view through Growl. Multi-tasking, it’s why you have OSX in the first place.

The reason we complain and yet still prefer you, Apple, is that you’re still the one for moving this industry. A plethora of MP3 players have died at the iPod scythe, where once Creative led; smartphones now inexorably follow the Apple lead of the iPhone, where once Palm blazed the trail. No-one has come close to matching the slickness of the MacBooks or iMacs.

Mac OSX showed you can have Unix with a usable graphical interface not beaten with the ugly stick. So we need a leader who is able to keep options open, operate with diversity, not just a single focus that a belies a company with a $50 billion balance sheet.

So, Apple: in the next 6 – 9 months leading up to the launch, don’t shy away from new features, like you did with Snow Leopard. This is the king of the savannah we’re talking about here: there better be some features worthy of the label “Lion”. And Fix the Goddammed Finder!


How to set the default language in Mac OSX or Pages to be Australian or British English

How hard is it to find this somewhere straight-forward on the net? Very hard evidently, because how many people come here.

Edit: now updated for Yosemite. Older version below.

Step 1: Open Language & Region:Screenshot 2014-10-25 11.47.13

Step 2: Go to the language list and click +:
Screenshot 2014-10-25 11.47.59Step 3: Select the language desired – in this case English (Australia) and click Add:Screenshot 2014-10-25 11.48.42

Step 4 – Mac OS X Yosemite prompts you to use the new one as your primary language – select this and you’re good to go:
Screenshot 2014-10-25 11.48.56This is what it should look like:
Screenshot 2014-10-25 11.49.10

Now for spelling dictionaries – Yosemite has system-wide spell-checking, so we need to order it there. Pages (and other apps) will pick this up automatically. This time, we go to the Keyboard pref pane:Screenshot 2014-10-25 12.05.10

Click over to the Text tab, and we’ll see the spelling drop-down over on the right – usually this is set to auto, but let’s go through setup to confirm what we need:Screenshot 2014-10-25 12.06.10In the setup window, you can pick which dictionaries apply – so if you’re not going to type in Russian or Polish, for instance, you can remove these: Screenshot 2014-10-25 12.08.10

You can drag to re-order, and click Done to save your preference: Screenshot 2014-10-25 12.09.41

And there you have it!


For Mac OS X Snow Lion and Pages 8 and earlier:

Step 1: Open International pref pane in System Preferences


Step 2: On the Languages tab, click on “Edit List”


Your list of languages already in the list might be longer – e.g., it’ll usually have most of the European languages.

Step 3: Select the language(s) you wish to add and click OK.


Here I’ve chosen both Australian English and British English – generally speaking though, these are virtually identical and you only need the one you prefer.

Step 3: The newly selected languages should now be in the list. Order the list to your preference by dragging list items around.


As it says under “Edit List”, the changes will take effect next time you start the application (in the case of Finder, that’s obviously when you restart). Generally speaking, I’d say leave English (i.e., the American one) in there somewhere.

Now you’re done for most of the system stuff. Pages will now create new documents with the top language as the default. However, for existing documents you’ll need to do the following:


Select all text, and then (1) click on Inspector, (2) click on the text tab, (3) select “More” tab, and (4) set the language.