28 Oct 2006
I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time in each of Windows XP, Ubuntu and MacOS X for desktop computing, and I have all three available to me right now. But mostly, I find myself in the MacOS. Partly this is a machine issue — the Intel box that dual boots XP/Ubuntu I built years ago and sounds like… well like someone who wanted to put a lot of hardware in and so needed a lot of fans.
While I find myself settling back into Mac quite comfortably (and I’m looking forward to affording an Intel-based mac down the road), there are some things that have been getting under my skin with it. If anyone has suggestions on these, I’d love to hear ’em.
No focus-follows-mouse. When I was first learning to use Unix and X (on Sun 3/50’s), I used jove, twm and tcsh. I’ve graduated to emacs, Metacity(gnome) and bash, but I got quite accustomed to key events showing up in whatever window the mouse was over, not whatever window was in front — focus-follows-mouse. Frankly, it’s just a poor substitute for focus-follows-eyes, but is worlds better than click-for-focus, as far as I’m concerned. I did find one company that sells a product for the mac that will create that behavior, but I feel like it should be built-in as an OS option (like swapping Caps and Control finally was!)
Tab doesn’t include all interface elements. When presented with a modal dialog like, for example, “Do I want Firefox to remember this site’s password for me?” I want to be able to tab to button I want to press. But I can’t. I need to take my hand from the keyboard and select the button with the mouse. The same is true for forms in web pages. I’m used to being able to tab to the “State” field, and press the first few letters of the state I live in (If I can remember which one it is this week!). Firefox on the mac you’ll skip right over that. I realize that both of the examples I used are firefox, but I’m also pretty sure that this is a Mac interface issue, not a Firefox issue.
Not that windows has ever been a big part of my life, but it’s even less so now. I’ve got Ubuntu at work with the desktop stretched across two monitors, and they keyboard and mouse connecting over synergy to my powerbook as if it were a third screen. At home, I also run synergy connecting my desktop mack to the same powerbook. It’s a beautiful thing. But for these interface complaints.
OK, and if I had time for games, I might be spending more time in WindowsWorld, but those days have passed for now!