The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Thursday, 06 November 2003]

Jaguar usability

The school upgraded the computers in the lab where I corrupt young minds to Jaguar this semester, which is great, as I was getting really tired of OS 9 barfing all over itself. It’s also been very interesting, as most of my students fall in the “naive user” category. Nothing wrong with that, technology is not their field, and part of my task is to get them productive on the machines. That being said, it’s always an eye-opener to see how people interact with the machines, and how some things you take for granted are really not self-evident at all.

A few things I’ve noticed where Jaguar falls flat on its face usability-wise are:The open/save dialog boxes are incomprehensible to a surprising amount of my students. They all work off of Zip disks, and Jaguar wants to save everything into the “student” user’s Documents folder. So they must a) click the disclosure button to get a file structure view; and b) slide all the way over to the left to see the Zip disk. This has been alleviated a lot in the Panther open/save dialogs, and I can’t wait for the school to upgrade so I can observe how they work out.In the web design portion of the class, the students end up with a lot of documents on their screens: A few BBEdit Lite documents, a few browser windows, a few Finder windows, and it’s a cacophony. Minimizing and bringing back windows helps, but not enough. So I find myself missing Expose. Can’t wait to see how it flies with this sort of user.The default Dock behavior of exploding–ahem, magnifying–icons demos really well, and looks very cool for about five minutes, and after that it’s a huge pain in the rear end. Sure, it can be turned off, but I doubt most technologically innocent people know how to do that. It would be really nice if the default behavior was to ship with the exploding icons off, so that the three people in the world who like it can turn it on.People who are used to Windows get frustrated when they forget to eject their Zip disks before shutting the computer down. No manual eject button, so you have to boot the machine up to get it to spit the disk out. It would be really nice if there was a setting to make the machine eject removable media when it’s being powered down. Perhaps I’m growing senile, but I want to remember that some long-ago version of the Mac OS did eject media upon shutdown. If so, makes you wonder why they took the option out.These things apart, Jaguar is working out really well in the lab, and having the solidity is an extremely nice change of pace.

Music: Another World (Extended Mix) by DJ Shog

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