The place where I come from is a bit unusual. It’s a place in the Pacific Northwest where you can still go out and stake your claim. Literally, thanks to the General Mining Act of 1872. Yes, 1872. As in 141 years ago. Yes, just seven years after the Civil War. Outdated much?
Some miners will stay up in the hills year-round, utterly alone, and living in shacks with no electricity. Every few months they drive their pickup trucks into town and load up on supplies. Then it’s right back into them thar hills.
As you might imagine, that kind of lifestyle combined the total lack of human socialization can make them a bit eccentric. I hope to experience something similar on my one-way mission to Mars. (I’ll use the 1872 law to stake a claim in the cargo bay and shoot anyone who trespasses under interstellar law.)
Meanwhile, I have a person in my life who acts a lot like this. Allow me to introduce Emily, our former landlady. She’s elderly and lives alone in the hills outside of town with her cats. And, like her distant miner counterparts, she’s a bit eccentric.
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Graphic video: Mouse eaten by Lion
A new version of Apple’s operating system called OS X Lion is afoot. It will be out by the end of the month.
I’m no expert, but as far as I can tell, Apple is using Lion to make the desktop computer more like an iPhone. I think they want to confuse the user. “Am I sitting at a desk using my home computer or is this my iPod? I can’t tell the difference!”
One thing I noticed when I switched from Windows to OS X earlier this year was that my right arm was getting tired. I’m not wanting to say anything good about Windows, but it did do one thing right: There was very little that you couldn’t do with the keyboard. Almost everything you could do with the mouse could also be accomplished with a keyboard shortcut, if one was willing to learn.
I have a keyboard in front of me and my hands are already there. I find it convenient. Might as well make use of it, eh?
Sadly, it was not so with the Mac. To this day I still don’t know keyboard shortcuts that will allow me to access application menus. (Maybe they exist. If they do, I haven’t found them.) True, most things in the menu have their own shortcuts, but that can be a lot to remember. Accessing menus with the keyboard was very convenient. And some menu options don’t have options. In those cases you have no choice: time to take a ride on the mouse.
If there is one thing I hate, it is moving my hand from the keyboard over to the mouse (and back again) when I don’t have to. This particular gesture (if you’ll allow the term) is extremely annoying. Extremely.
I noticed right away on my brand new iMac that my right hand was traveling more than it ever had before. You’d be surprised, but in only a few short months the forearm girth of my right arm now doubles the left. I got lopsided guns! If I could be ambidextrous and use a left-handed mouse half of the time I would be totally ripped.
I’ll provide two telling examples of where I think Apple’s OS X is weak on the mouse.
First, try doing something like emptying the trash. You move the mouse down the the bottom of the screen and right-click and select “Empty Trash.” Viola! The dialog box opens up miles away, vertically centered, near the top of the screen. Hey, Apple! Why not have the dialog open near where the mouse pointer already lives, thus reducing the distance I have to move to get there? Any of you brainiacs ever have that bright idea?
My second example is the “Your Changes Will Be Lost” dialog. This is just one example of a problem that exists throughout the operating system. This particular dialog box gives you three choices: Don’t Save, Cancel, and Save. By default “Save” is already highlighted and you can hit the RETURN key if you wish. If you want either of the other choices, though, you’re screwed. You can’t do anything like type the first letter or use the LEFT ARROW and RIGHT ARROW keys to navigate to a new choice. You guessed it! Your right hand kisses the keyboard goodbye and heads for the mouse. You are simply given no other choice.
It’s the Apple Right-Handed Back and Forth game! Only in this game there are no winners. Apple just loves it some freakin’ mouse.
Well, it used to. Cue OS X Lion.
I just watched a four minute video about Lion on the Apple.com website and guess what? Apple is “gesture” freaks now. The mouse was almost entirely left out of that video.
Gesture is the new mouse!
The video primarily featured the Macbook Air for most of the happy shots of people using OS X Lion. Occasionally they did show a desktop. In those cases a touch pad was prominently featured, either sticking off the right side of the keyboard or as a separate shot. In only a single shot did they should a desktop computer with … gasp … a mouse.
The mouse’s days appear to be numbered. And here I was hoping that Lion would finally address the long-standing issues I’ve had with Mac OS X and my right-handed workout. I’m getting keyboard shortcuts aren’t going to be prominently featured, if there are any at all.