Posted by: harrysachz | March 24, 2007

In the Front Row

Front RowSo there are a few things that are disappointing about owning a Mac Pro. I suppose with any system, there are going to be a number of limitations that one must put up with. OSX quirks aside (for now), the omission of Front Row is one that is inexcusable. You think since you pay far out the ass for a “do everything you throw at it” computer, it would at least come with all the standard applications every Mac computer gets…

Well… it turns out that the Front Row software is installed; but it’s not available by default – due to the lack of an IR remote control. However, this article explains how to ‘trick’ the computer into thinking that you have an Apple remote. (my screen shot to the right 😛 )

Oh, and on a side note… If anyone knows how to fix this problem, I’ll be a happier man… When I move a folder into another folder that already exists – Let’s say I have a folder called “Ham” inside a parent folder called “Food”; and let’s say I have a Ham folder inside “Breakfast”. If I move Food / Ham into Breakfast / Ham, the Food / Ham folder completely overwrites the Breaksfast / Ham folder…. I’ve lost many an album and television show due to this “feature”.

OSX Rants to date:

  • The Finder
    • No matter how you set it up, each view has major navigation issues.
    • The folder deletion problem aforementioned.
  • The Dock
    • Why?
    • Where the fuck is my taskbar? Linux and Windows have it…
    • Bigger windows hide smaller windows, and the dock gives you no way to select the hidden ones.
    • The trash needs to be on the desktop. Period. Too hard to throw shit away when it’s bobbling around in the dock.
  • iCal
    • Can’t see the current day well enough.
    • Doesn’t sync with Google Calendar.. but I guess that’s a Google rant.
    • Can’t hide “Calendars pane”.
    • Very limited preferences.
  • Quicktime
    • Limited functionality for the free version.
    • “No $$… no fullscreen.” – Apple Inc.
    • Bulky windows size for watching video. Needs customization for us minimalists.
  • Misc. Applications
    • Why don’t professional applications have a background? I’m talking to you Photoshop and Word.
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Responses

  1. I had a lot of these issues when first using a Mac too. Some are really annoying…but after a few years of it, I’ve realized that as bad as they are, PC issues are worse. But everyone is used to dealing with PC issues automatically, while Mac ones take conscious effort at first.

    Never noticed the folder overwriting problem, but that seems annoying. I agree that Finder needs work…I just wish it would save my damn folder settings. Like, I always have to expand the filename field to see the whole thing. Just remember how big I had it last time please.

    Mine doesn’t even have Front Row, but it’s dumb that there is no way to just download it for older Macs or Macs without a remote. Same with Photobooth. Shit should be forwards compatible when it’s easily done.

    For switching applications, I was pissed off by the lack of task bar at first too. But now I have it so Expose is in easy reach (e.g. middle mouse button, or tap the upper right corner of the track pad (use a program called Sidetrack)), which replaces the need for a task bar and actually adds functionality. There’s always Apple-Tab too, and the dock is OK for switching between applications (but not between windows within one).

    I sync iCal with Google using something called Spanning Sync. It was in Beta, but I think it recently left, which means a free trial then you have to pay. Boo. Probably worth it if you use both though. I like that iSync works with most cell phones though, over Bluetooth. Very handy.

    Anyway, hope this stuff helps a bit.

  2. I’m sure the expose tip that you mentioned is common knowledge amongst Mac owners; but I just wanted to extend out some ‘thank you very much’es. Man, being able to use that makes a world of difference! But since I typically use the middle mouse button for opening up new tabs in Firefox, that was not an effective option. However, I finally found some good use for this 4th mouse button.

    Shame on Spanning Sync for charging. I guess I’ll have to live without Google Calendar for the time being 😦

  3. Harry: I’m going to try to help you point-by-point here; most of these things have fairly simple workarounds.

    > * The Finder
    > No matter how you set it up, each view has major
    > navigation issues.
    Like what? I’ve found that most issues with navigation go away (esp. in Icons and List views) when you right-click the toolbar, choose “Customize Toolbar…”, and drag the Path button into the main bar. This button is like “Up” in Windows Explorer, except you can go as far as you like in just one action.

    > The folder deletion problem aforementioned.
    Workaround: Open Food / Ham and Breakfast / Ham in their own Finder windows. Select all in the former (drag-select or cmd-A), drag to the latter.

    > * The Dock
    > Why?
    Because NEXTStep had it, that’s why.
    > Where the fuck is my taskbar? Linux and Windows have it…
    I actually use my Dock as a taskbar. I keep nothing in it but Finder and Trash, so it contains only my running applications.
    > Bigger windows hide smaller windows, and the dock gives you
    > no way to select the hidden ones.
    In addition to Exposé, you can cycle through the open windows of an application with cmd-` (that’s the accent mark to the left of the “1”).
    > The trash needs to be on the desktop. Period. Too hard to
    > throw shit away when it’s bobbling around in the dock.
    Use TransparentDock (or any number of free utility programs, like TinkerTool) to anchor the Dock to the lower-right corner of the screen; Trash will always be in the same place. I also put the Dock on the right-hand side of the screen, but that’s just me.
    Also, I hardly ever throw things away by dragging them to the Trash, anyway. Cmd-delete does that (and cmd-shift-delete empties the trash, too). Can you tell I’m a keyboard junkie? I don’t use the mouse much, except for in layout and design programs.

    > * iCal
    > Can’t see the current day well enough.
    I agree; this sucks. (yay! you get a point!)
    > Doesn’t sync with Google Calendar.. but I guess that’s a
    > Google rant.
    You can subscribe to your Google Calendar’s iCalendar feed, though… and that’s what I do. I manage my GCal online, and iCal is just a middleman so I can get the calendar onto my iPod. I also use iCal to run some custom applescripts at pre-defined times; for instance, I have one that auto-syncs my iPod for me in the morning right before I get up, so I’ll automatically get any podcasts that downloaded during the night.
    > Can’t hide “Calendars pane”.
    I’m not sure why you’d want to; but here’s another thing I don’t know how to do.
    > Very limited preferences.
    Get used to it; this is how Apple works (but I agree it should be more customizable.) iCal is kind of the runt of the built-in Apple apps; I don’t like it very much except as a conduit between GCal and my iPod.

    > * Quicktime
    > Limited functionality for the free version.
    Yeah. That’s why they have “pro.”
    > “No $$… no fullscreen.” – Apple Inc.
    “Some ingenuity and Applescript knowledge… here you go!” – AugmentedFourth (I’ll send you my “Make QT go Fullscreen” script via email.)
    > Bulky windows size for watching video. Needs customization
    > for us minimalists.
    http://niceplayer.sourceforge.net/

    > * Misc. Applications
    > Why don’t professional applications have a background? I’m
    > talking to you Photoshop and Word.
    I’m not sure what you mean here. Mac does not have a “Multiple Document Interface” like Windows, where (e.g.) you can have Photoshop open and covering the screen with no document open and a blank workspace. That “blank workspace” in OSX is the Desktop. If you want to clear your desktop images and/or icons while you’re working, there are a host of applications for this; probably the most well-known is Backdrop: http://www.johnhaney.com/backdrop/

    Hope that helps!

    -Brad

  4. By the way, you do know that you can add thumbnail views of the next few months to the Calendars pane in iCal, right? Just click the center button below that pane, then use the handle to make the months section taller or shorter. This is a much better use of that space.

  5. Oh, and by the way… regardless of using the scripts I’ll send you to make QT Standard go full-screen (which won’t be until Gmail is back up), NicePlayer should be able to address all of your QT concerns. NP is a full-featured open-source app that uses whatever codecs are available to QT.

    BTW, make sure you get the Perian codec so QT/NP can view XviD/DivX/etc: http://perian.org/
    Also, the VLC player for OSX plays absolutely everything, but I don’t like the interface.

    Sorry for the triple-post, but I just keep thinking of things that are applicable to your issues!

  6. I really appreciate the assistance guys. The transition from Mac to Windows hasn’t been the smoothest due to all the issues, but I sure love how slick and user friendly everything is. Like Phronk mentioned, “I’ve realized that as bad as [Mac issues] are, PC issues are worse”.

    The minor things are slight annoyances; but with all the tips I’ve been receiving, my life has become alot more productive. [somewhat due to not having that warm feeling of “did that happen because of a virus” that Windows so kindly offers]

    Thanks for reminding me about VLC too btw. Was meaning to look into the Mac version of it.

  7. Hmmm… my really long point-by-point comment seems to have disappeared. It said it was awaiting moderation after I entered it earlier, but I don’t see it now. I gave a workaround for almost every one of your points.

    Anyway, it’s been long enough since I switched that I’ve adapted to the way Mac works now. No more “phantom pains” of not being able to do things exactly the way I used to; you’ll get there after a while as well.

  8. oh yeah.. sorry about that… i don’t know why it passes along some comments as no big deal; but with others, it wants me to “moderate” them. plus, it doesn’t let you know about it unless you dive deep into wordpress’ dashboard menu system.

    all good now though…

  9. Okay, I’m sitting here at work; and because of this, I’m able to read your reply… So here is my reply to your reply, the reply²…

    > * The Finder (Navigation Issues)

    [Like what? I’ve found that most issues with navigation go away…]

    NO! It’s different. Therefore bad! I don’t like change! j/k… I enjoy the 3 column view the most, but run into problems with folders that are more than 15 characters long. They just end up looking like “Folder that con…. ures”. What if I want to see the entire name? Oh, that’s easy… just click on each one, and it’ll put the folder name in the title bar. That’s too much effort when you have a million folders like me. The detailed view is also great, but when you have alot of folders within alot of folders – you have alot of scrolling to do when you want to find one specific item. Navigation sucks, but I’m willing to deal with the minor issues.

    Now, when it comes to the bigger issues like completely removing the entire contents of one folder because I want to add an item to it… That’s just rediculous. I understand your workaround, and that’s the way I’ve been forced to do it; but that’s a completely unnecessary “feature”. Boo on them…

    > * Quicktime

    [Yeah. That’s why they have “pro.”]

    So you and Apple expect people to pay even more to simply watch videos full screen? That’s completely against their “everything works right out the box experience” they’ve been working so hard to advertise. Simple features like that should not require my credit card. That’s 2 x Boo now!

    > * iCal

    [[…] I don’t like it very much except as a conduit between GCal and my iPod.]

    Yes, well that’s all well and good for you, but what about the rest of us that actually want to use iCal as our main organization app? My main gripe is that Google doesn’t allow seemless sync’ing with any calendar application. Once they open it up, I’ll have a better experience altogether. My other rants were directed towards not having the ability to make the calendar take up the full screen. (Yet another full screen issue with Apple. i wonder what their deal is with not wanting to do things full screen.) It’s just not necessary to have all these little additional things circling around your monthly view that do nothing more than take up space. I understand their purpose, but it should have better customizations.

    > * Misc. Applications

    Obviously missed the point on this one 😛 My fault, should have been more explanatory. It was just the last one on the list, however, and wanted to quickly finish up.

    What I mean is, when you have a Word or Photoshop document open and you accidentally click off a picture. OOPS, you’re back on the desktop! I don’t want to be back on the desktop… it was a slip of the finger! One of my habits is always clicking my mouse in a blank space on the screen constantly to sort of “clear all selections” and to focus my thoughts all at once. So this becomes an annoyance.

    > * The Dock

    It just sucks. Stop defending it… One of the main reasons I hated Apple so much in the “beginning” (before Intel :P) was that they were trying so hard to become “Not Microsoft” that they felt it necessary to change the UI around so much that it became a huge inconvenience for anyone wanting to switch. The close, minimize, maximize buttons, the dock, the drive icons on the right (instead of the left)… Come on Apple! Stop being afraid of getting sued and make your interface mimic the taskbar standard that has proven to work with OS’s from years past.

    They’re trying to be different, I get it… But why sacrifice the user experience for their independence?

    Thanks again for your input. Oh, and NicePlayer ROCKS!

  10. > * The Dock
    > It just sucks. Stop defending it…

    I wasn’t defending it; I was just showing how I’ve twisted it to make it work for me. I’m sure you can figure out how to use it yourself. In fact, for a while I didn’t use it at all… shrunk the size to the minimum and used to TinkerTool to put it on the top of the screen, so it hid behind the menubar. Command-Tab works just as well as the Dock for app switching.

    > One of the main reasons I hated Apple so much in the
    > “beginning” (before Intel :P) was that they were trying so
    > hard to become “Not Microsoft” that they felt it necessary to
    > change the UI around so much that it became a huge
    > inconvenience for anyone wanting to switch.
    Ummm… you’ve got your history turned around. Apple had a GUI first; it’s WINDOWS who changed the existing paradigm.

    > They’re trying to be different, I get it… But why sacrifice the
    > user experience for their independence?
    They’re not “trying,” and it’s not a reaction to anybody else’s way of doing things. They do it their way, and it’s directly descended from the original Mac GUI (which, as I point out above, came before Microsoft’s first pathetic attempt at a mouse-driven interface).

    > Thanks again for your input.
    No problem! Glad to share what I’ve discovered through my “switching” experience.

    > Oh, and NicePlayer ROCKS!
    It is pretty nice, eh? If you like that sort of thing… 😛

  11. Harry:

    One more thing about Column View in the Finder: you can change the width of individual columns with the handle beneath the scroll bar…

    Plus, some people like to use Path Finder as a replacement for the Finder (lots of cool features, including tabbed Finder windows), but it’s not free.

  12. yeah, a simple thing like that makes all the difference. now I can finally see the entire folder name. this is perfect. thank god I posted about OSX, or else I’d still be frustrated with many of it’s shortcomings 🙂

    oh, and I’ve done my duty by turning at least 10 people this week to buying an Apple computer. the customers / people that I deal with become so fed up with Microsoft’s crap, that they are more than willing to change platforms on a mere suggestion.

    [opinion] Microsoft didn’t come out with Vista at the right time. If they had waited a few more years, fulfilled the promises that the new OS would have had, and actually offered something worthwhile to upgrade to (other than “pretty”), they might have had a more welcome launch. With the current state of hardware in the midst of conversion – ddr2, sli, dual / quad core, pci-e, sata, etc.. adding a new OS on top of all the confusion doesn’t seem to me like the smartest move… however, this is the perfect opportunity for Apple to finally grab a piece of the mainstage. Offering stability, ease of use, lack of viruses, speed plus looks; what more of a reason do people need?[/opinion]

  13. well, if we’re doing that
    [opinion] I don’t think there would ever be a “right time” for Vista. XP SP2 is the most secure client operating system Windows has ever offered, and starting over on writing the network stack just screwed them over. They would have been much better off just continuing to release XP patches, but that won’t get them any more revenue… they needed to find something new they could sell. (And now, of course, it’ only a matter of time before XP won’t get non-critical patches, then it’ll be EOLed and everyone will be forced to upgrade. Granted, that’ll take years, but that’s what the new OS version ultimately signifies.)[/opinion]


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