Category: "Mac stuff"

About Apple Design

"Apple's design is supposed to be the ultimate perfection in 21st century computing. We should all learn from them."

I get that a lot when discussing b2evolution's user interface (which, btw, I like to think has improved significantly in version 2.0...)

While I do like what Apple does; while I do think Jonathan Ive is one of the greatest designers of our time; I still need to rant a little before I dive into the present day :>

So here's the top 5 user interaction design "mistakes" I would never have made if I has the final word at Apple's:

  1. A mouse where you never really know when you're going to left or right click, unless you really pay attention;
  2. An iPod that requires up to ten keypresses to exit shuffle mode while listening to a playlist;
  3. A mouse that gives Windows switchers a hard time with no control over acceleration, not even in the most obscure hidden place of the control panel. (Not even from the command line actually);
  4. A wireless keyboard with no numpad (not even an option);
  5. A battery you cannot replace, not even by turning one single screw. (How comes they got that right on the iMacs?)

And I won't even start with the marketing decisions (leaving a lot of features out of the iPod touch, etc.)

Of course, I'd make a lot more other mistakes, but still... Besides what's the use of a personal blog if not for pointless rants... :P

How to improve the mouse speed on Mac OS X

Ok, I've been annoyed by this since the very first day I've been using my Mac Mini: the mouse feels weird, very weird. Broken actually!

Part of my problem was the Bluetooth operating range, which I could only fix by moving the mac nearer to where I usually use my mouse in my living room.

However, the core problem is still the acceleration curve. When you move the mouse on OSX, it first moves verrrry slowly, so you move it faster and when you reach a certain speed the mouse suddenly accelerates like crazy.

This is not controllable through the "tracking speed" slider in the control panel. The tracking speed is only the fastest the mouse will go. (And you can actually make it go even faster!) But my problem is not with how fast it would eventually get. My problem is with how freaking slow it initially starts (even at max traking speed).


Apple's been stubbornly unresponsive to this problem, as they always are, especially when the mouse is at stake (took them 10 years to aknowlege the need for a right button... good luck with acceleration!)

Fortunately, since the last time I checked (errr... 2005 :roll:), third party fixes now work well on intel Macs.

Check these out:

  • USB Overdrive (no bluetooth support, but you can try it as long as you need)
  • SteerMouse (15 days trial only but it can handle the bluetooth Mighty mouse)

Since I'm trying to do some desk work right now and have a wired mouse, I'm currently and happily using USB Overdrive with these settings:

  • Speed: 120 dpi (feels like Windows fast ;))
  • Acceleration: 50% (no longer feels like sticking to the mouse pad ;))

I'll try SteerMouse when I go back to "Media Player" configuration...

Mac OS vs Windows font rendering

I want to recommend this post by Joel Spolski about differences in font rendering philosophy between Mac OS & Windows.

I never really understood why Apple failed to render sharp fonts on screen. Now I understand the purpose. I'm still not sure which is best though... ;)

AC3 codec for Intel Mac (Universal)

WOW! All this time I've been running the wrong AC3 codec on my Mac Mini!

Last week, I found one that works soooo much better! To find it, I actually had to search for "a52 codec" and not "ac3 codec". Go figure!

It is GPL licenced and merely based on the "a52 library". But I really wonder were a52 comes from. Too late to investigate tonight though ;)

Update: a52 is now included in a codec pack called Perian and you can even get 5.1 surround sound out of it.

Update: the easiest solution now seems to just use the VLC media player and not worry about the codecs (VLC has everything it needs included).

Mac instead of PC for PHP/Web development?

I have recently put together a new Core 2 duo PC for doing my web development. And I have been asked why I didn't get a Core 2 duo Mac instead...

The question definitely makes sense. You can now get essentially the same components into a PC or a Mac. So the choice would boil down to:

  • Design
  • OS
  • Software


Well, the Macs look better, definitely.


If you choose your hardware carefully, you can get a pretty decent looking PC. Check out these Antec enclosures (they have a nice quality feeling by the way) or these Sony displays.

And also, if you actually want to connect 3 screens to a Mac, you'll definitely need one of those bigger Mac Pros where you can put in a PC video card. And those sort of lose their coolness factor over the iMacs. But to be fair, I guess you could get away with a 24" iMac ;)

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