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20061216,00


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Butch Finnie & the Mingis Kid.

Scott Finnie runs a newsletter. It's called Scot's Newsletter. It's about the important things like 'Windows, broadband, do it yourself networking, Microsoft, and the Internet'. It gives you 'insights, analysis, hardware and software reviews, explanations, tips, and straight shooting advice about desktop computing issues today and tomorrow. It's information about Windows and broadband you can really use.'

You can subscribe to Scot's Newsletter here. You can read the current issue of Scot's Newsletter here. But be sure you have JavaScript turned on when you click that link because Scot doesn't have a meta refresh in there. At time of writing the link actually redirects to here - giving you a pretty good idea of how long this monthly has been in existence.

The current issue of Scot's Newsletter deals with a wide range of important things like 'Living With (or Without) Internet Explorer 7', 'More Detail on Windows Vista', and 'The Microsoft Gods Must Be Angry'. It also has part two of an ongoing saga called 'Turning Over a (New) Apple Leaf'.

But maybe it's best to read part one first. Part one is located here. Scot begins cautiously.

'Windows Vista is in most aspects an excellent operating system. But I've found myself increasingly disturbed by the many ways Microsoft is willing to erode the overall user experience - in most cases in the name of increasing its bottom line.

He then launches into a discussion of 'User Account Control'.

'The repetitious frustration of User Account Control (UAC) a security feature that takes an extreme approach to protecting you from potential threats - which probably aren't even there 99.9% of the time. My assessment of UAC is that it's a good idea that is badly implemented, even after recent refinements.'

He then redirects focus on Microsoft themselves.

'The last time I looked, Microsoft rose to power two and a half decades ago precisely because they helped free users from onerous restrictions on access to computer power. The rise of the PC eventually killed off the minicomputer's dominance of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

'The software giant should be reading the history of the mistakes its competitors made back then, because it could be chasing down the same path.

'Scratch the surface of millions of forums and blogs on the Internet, even slightly, and you'll find them oozing with angst and disgust about Microsoft's approach to creating, selling, and protecting its products.

'If I could strip out aspects of Vista like Microsoft's aggressive anti-piracy measures, some of their onerous protective mechanisms, and the high cost of Vista Ultimate, I might continue as a more or less content Windows user. But the emergence of Vista has sparked something new inside me, a serious need to explore my alternatives.'

Ah! Now what might they be?

'So, about a month ago I decided it was high time to do my homework on other solutions in the only way I know that works: total immersion.

'Beginning this week, for a one to three month period to be determined, I'm making an Apple MacBook Pro my main work and personal computer. I'm slowly building up the software and systems I need to do this with the help of Computerworld's IT department - including Lotus Notes and the migration of my 13 year old Eudora for Windows installation. I may rely to some extent on Parallels to run some things in a virtual machine but the goal is to find Mac tools for everything I do in Windows.'

Ah THOSE alternatives. If Scot's Newsletter comes out every month and this is issue 86 then the newsletter is over seven years old. And it's high time that this computer authority started looking at what else is on the market.

Time for a cold shower.

'Let me say to you who've been reading me for years because of my Windows expertise and insights: I'm not letting go of Windows! I will be echoing my testing on my current Windows production machine - a dual core ThinkPad T60 - by upgrading to Windows Vista there. I have access to four Macintoshes, three of which are Intel based. The more than 15 other machines I use and test run Windows (and in a few cases Linux). It's a Windows world and I'm not dropping out.

'But I'm committed to giving the Mac a fair shake.'

Thanks, dude. Shake shake. The newsletter goes on to enumerate details that are not germane. But a month later Scot's Newsletter is back.

'I now have three MacBook Pros: two 15 inch Core Duos and a brand new 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro 17 with a 160 GB hard drive and the glossy screen.

'I love this new 17 inch MacBook Pro. The screen is glorious. The performance is top notch. It became my primary computer about ten seconds after it first booted. Going back to my ThinkPad T60 Core Duo may be a very difficult decision when this Mac trial is up. If OS X doesn't mesmerise me to the point that I lose all interest in Windows, this piece of hardware might just do that all on its own.'

Gee. Anyway: we now know about about Scot Finnie. Scot's got a writing partner called Ken Mingis.

'Not only do MacBook Pros scream, some of them whine. I started noticing a high pitched squeal emanating from somewhere around the keyboard. Then I started reading about other owners who had variations of the same high pitched noise, which they described as a whine.

'Regardless of how you describe the sound, it can be really annoying. It was for me.'

Ken is actually the opposite of his partner: he's a long time Mac user. Recently he 'took the plunge' as he put it and tried running Vista through Boot Camp.

'Earlier this month when I found I could install Windows Vista RC1 on my MacBook Pro, I quickly took the plunge, practically chortling at the thought that my dual core laptop could run Microsoft's next operating system. What better way to show that when you buy a Mac you get two computers in one?

'I've been using Vista off and on for a couple of weeks now, but I'm not chortling as much.

The MacBook Pro is fine. And with the exception of a few glitches along the way, RC1 has been generally stable: no blue screens of death, no untoward infections that I'm aware of.'

'Untoward infections'?

'But how is it to use? One of the first things a long time Mac user will notice about Windows is the look. This isn't your father's (or mother's) Windows. It's superficially Mac-like - as if Microsoft, rather than coming up with a more original look for its OS, decided to offer its take on OS X's interface.'

So now we know where we have Mingis too. It's time to look at a few of the columns Scot and Ken collaborate on. Let's start with their '20 Things You Won't Like About Windows Vista' from 1 June 2006. Actually this is credited to Scot alone - he's the 'Windows expert' - but Ken will be back in a moment.

'The same thing happened with Windows XP: when beta 2 arrived I found myself torn between what was new and good about the operating system and what was new and bad', he begins. But let's not get bogged down in his rhetoric - let's jump immediately to his twenty things we won't like.

20. Minimum video system requirements are more like maximum.
19. Aero stratification will cause businesses woe.
18. User Account Controls $#^%!~\!!!.
17. Two words: Secure Desktop.
16. No way to access the Administrator account in Vista Beta 2.
15. Some first-blush networking peeves.
14. Windows peer networking is still balky.
13. Network settings user experience went backwards.
12. Too many Network Control Panel applets, wizards and dialogs.
11. Display settings have changed for no apparently good reason.
10. Where are the file menus?
9. Windows Defender Beta 2 is buggy.
8. Problems without solutions.
7. Lack of Windows Sidebar Gadgets.
6. Media Center isn't all there and falls flat.
5. Faulty assumption on the Start menu.
4. Installation takes forever.
3. Version control.
2. Price.
1. Little originality, sometimes with a loss of elegance.

And he ends with these echoing words.

'I have no problem with Microsoft copying Apple's or any other company's best interface designs. We all win when that happens and I wish Apple would steal the best things Microsoft does right back.'

What are ideas are those? Anyway. Scot's not finished.

'What's really strange is when a company lifts good ideas and makes them worse, not better.

'After more than 15 years reviewing Windows operating systems, I didn't just suddenly begin hating Microsoft or Windows.'

Yeah, it's usually gradual like.

Six months later - after Scot's had a month or two to try out a Mac and run OS X - it's time to list the things about OS X that are no good. Ken comes in to help but it's difficult to discern his presence. This new article reads just about the way you'd expect - just about the way countless other articles have been written over the years: it takes time to get used to a new way of doing things and the worst, absolute worst you can do is start right off complaining things aren't like they used to be. [Just ask the Maccie fanboys.]

15. No Date Display.
14. Widgets Can't Be Placed on the Desktop.
13. Inconsistent Use of Context Menus.
12. Documents and App Instances on the Dock.
11. Managing Window Size.
10. Accessing Applications.
9. Backspace and Delete Keys.
8. Printer Setup.
7. Inconsistent User Interface.
6. Laptop Screen Dimming.
5. Managing Finder's Columns View Problem No 1.
4. Managing Finder's Columns View Problem No 2.
3. Managing Finder's Columns View Problem No 3.
2. Finder's Hobbled Cut Command.
1. Dynamic Finder Refresh.

OK, now some memorable quotes.

'When you think about it, is there really any more obvious piece of information that people tend to forget than today's date? Isn't this an obvious thing a computer should display? We think so. Add a basic six digit date area to the main menu bar clock. It might read Dec 07 or for outside the US 07 Dec. Considering all the other programs that append icons in that area Apple should feel no compunction about using this space.'

'The Dashboard is very nice, but its all or nothing approach is frustrating. We want to be able to drag and drop individual widgets to the desktop. Granted, we don't want many widgets on the desktop. We might like more if they weren't so large.'

'Apple should fully enable context menus in Finder and other Apple software. To each her own favorite way of working.'

'While it is possible to right-click a running program on the Dock to see and select among open windows associated with that program, that's the only way you can check this. We'll say it again: Context menus should never be the only UI for accessing something.'

'Window management is tough enough without giving the user only one corner that he can drag to change the window's size.'

'What if, for example, the Dock could expand to show a second row (or column) of application icons?'

'The rest of the world long since accepted that IBM make the best keyboards. Why can't Apple accept the standard in its notebooks?'

'It's almost as if Steve Jobs never actually tried this himself.'

'Three widely used apps from the same company with a different look?'

'Sometimes the column areas open up too narrow to read their folder and file contents. Apple puts grab points only at the bottom of each column. The entire column separator should be grabbable.'

'Columns should automatically attempt to open to a size that fully (or more fully) displays the names of the folders and files they contain.'

'You may find that the left side of the Finder window has been pushed off screen.'

'As far as we can tell, there's no way to cut a file in Finder. The common usage in Windows is to use Edit > Cut and Edit > Paste to move a file from one location to another.'

'If at all possible, Apple should make the Finder dynamically update 100% of the time.'

Without a doubt these comments and quotes were made to provoke. Although some of them may be well meant, almost all smack of a total ignorance when it comes to the new platform and a lack of experience with it. What Ken Mingis was doing when Scot Finnie wrote this piece is a mystery.

At the very least these comments are trivial in nature and not a one has to do with issues of security - as opposed to the other list of twenty strong for Windows Vista.

But there's more - for Scot and Ken got readers comments to their article.

'When I shut down, I want to shut down. If I actively go through the process of choosing Shut Down or Restart, whether it be by selecting the option from the Apple menu or depressing a key combination, I want the system to shut down or reboot, not ask me if I'm sure.'

The above comment by one 'Thom Reid' is immediately followed by an 'editors note' which reads as follows - and yes the editor didn't understand the Thom Reid comment at all.

'Technically, the Mac will shut down or reboot without user input, but it waits two minutes to give users time to cancel in case they chose that action by mistake. Perhaps Apple could let users reduce the interval until shutdown 10 seconds seems a more useful wait time than two minutes for power users.'

Of course people who know how to use OS X will be laughing at this point.

Another comment - this one might sound like fighting words.

'My number one pet peeve is that Macintosh notebook computers only have one mouse button. Yes I know that the Mighty Mouse has two invisible buttons and that the most recent releases of OS X Tiger have enabled an optional two finger tap on the trackpad as a secondary click. But for those of us used to a real second button on our mobile computers, this can be really annoying.'

The above comment is by one 'Joe McClellan' and again it's amazing how so many people can get so much wrong.

Perhaps they should click here or click here before they go writing any more articles on OS X.

Butch Finnie & the Mingis Kid II »

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