The Glory of OS

By Jim Lynch  |  Posted 2005-01-26 Print this article Print

X...Sort Of..."> Before I get into my comments about OS X and my first time using it, you should realize that I hadnt read anything before diving in. Nothing, nada, zip. I didnt even open the manual. I just hopped right into it. So my thoughts are those of a total OS X newbie. The first thing I noticed was the Dock at the bottom of the screen. Its sort of like the Windows taskbar and similar menus in Linux UIs. But its also oddly different. You cant do the same things with it that you can in Windows or Linux. Im still adjusting to it. Part of me thinks it should be more like the taskbars in Linux and Windows and the other part of me wants to withhold judgment until Ive had more time to use it. One thing that perplexed me was the lack of a Start-type button. The Finder button is in the place where youd find that in Linux or Windows, but it doesnt pull up cascading menus that let you access your apps. Instead it pulls up a totally separate window with all of that stuff in it. Though I didnt have trouble adjusting to using the Finder, I think its potentially very confusing to people coming to Mac OS X from other operating systems (particularly Windows users).
Menu Madness
One thing that utterly baffled me at first was that the application menus are at the top of the screen. Why does Apple do this? In Linux or Windows, the application menus are part of the application window and thus easier and faster to access. But in Mac OS X they sit at the top on the Apple taskbar for no reason that I can figure out. Frankly, its kind of a stupid way of doing things. I cant even use the top part of the screen for the Dock if I wanted to!
Loyd: Here we have the old familiarity bugaboo. Were most comfortable with what were familiar with. Ive seen Mac users working with Windows, and hate the way each window has its own menu. Heck, I still use WordStar command codes in word processors. Id at least like the ability to put the damn things back into the application windows myself. Unfortunately, no such option exists in OS X that I know of. Im adjusting to this though but, at first, I couldnt figure out where to change settings in applications. For example, I was trying to figure out how to import my bookmarks into Firefox but didnt realize I had to choose the drop-down menu at the top of the screen. Weird... Loyd: Heres another difference between the Microsoft and Apple philosophies of UI design. Microsoft gives you about ten ways to do any one thing. The Mac generally gives you just one (two, if you count keyboard shortcuts). While that makes the Mac more consistent, I tend to prefer the more emergent behavior you can get with Window XP. But its more a matter of taste, and you can make a pretty good case that the "one way" approach trumps flexibility for non-tech users. Continued...

Jim manages the PC Magazine and ExtremeTech forums, and is responsible for building community in the forums on both sites. He started managing PC Mag's forum on ZiffNet on CompuServe many years ago. He then transferred the staff and expertise to the Web. He left ZDNet when it moved to San Francisco and came back to Ziff after the split from ZDNet, right before ExtremeTech launched. You can get more background at his personal site:

His favorite movies include Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Three Musketeers (1973 version), Dune (Sci Fi Channel version), and gobs of others. He can't live without his iPAQ Pocket PC—,he uses it at the gym and everywhere else—,and his DVD collection features more than 200 films. His favorite game is Tribes (PC), which is more than three years old but he still plays it all the time.

Jim likes interacting with the folks in the forum and the content. 'I Love both of 'em,' says Lynch. 'It's what makes the job fun and interesting.'

You're welcome to visit Jim's site for more information about him.


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