Mac followup

The last article that I wrote about using the Mac has created a lot of emails and discussions in my inbox. I received a lot of helpful hints too.

Here are a few things that I learned:

1,,,,) In the Keyboard control panel you can make Tab switch between all controls (this is on the Keyboard shortcuts tab). In Safari you can also change it so that Tab goes between all fields. A few people besides myself did miss the Alt-underlined letter method of getting into the menus on Windows.

2) If you hold the mouse button down or right click over an item in the Dock you can see all open windows. This is better, although I still prefer the Windows way of just showing me an icon in the taskbar per open window.

3) No one seems to like iPhoto very much, at least based on responses to my entry. A few people said that iPhoto 6 is better, but since this is a loaner machine I’m not going to purchase it to find out.

4) I can drag folders to the Dock if I want menus to get to less used Applications, making it more like the Windows Taskbar.

5) I played more with the fonts and got Terminal to look better, but it still isn’t very good. The font smoothing on Windows when you are using an LCD is much better (they use a technique called sub pixel rendering (marketted as ClearType) which makes a huge difference). At least I can tell a comma and a period apart now.Below is a comparison If you have a LCD display then clean on each one to see what they look like at normal resolution (these are closeups).

Microsoft Windows Cleartype

OS X Anti-aliasing

Look at what the Mac is doing to the t there, it is very smudgy. The difference is big enough to give me eyestrain after using the Mac for a while. If you want to see a related silly little OS X bug go into the terminal app and turn on both a blinking cursor and anti-aliasing. You’ll see the left most character on the row with the cursor moving back and forth by one pixel.

6) The Mac thing of keeping an application open even after closing all windows seems to confuse a lot of my other multiplatform friends too. Windows and Unix running X11 don’t behave this way. I think they really could fix this just by making the Dock and Finder tell an Application to open a default window if it is being brought back to the foreground and has no open Windows.

Our adventures with the Mac are over because I finally remembered to bring home a new keyboard for the desktop machine. I enjoyed playing with it, but I’m not sad that I’m done playing with it either (at least as our primary desktop machine). I hope this information was useful to others.

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