January 1, 2009

OS X wishlist of yore

a retrospective on 8 years of OSX nits

in running through some of my archives and scrubbing in prep for a new year, i ran across this list of OSX nits from my first days with OS X. i’m actually a bit surprised by how many of these have been admirably addressed over the years. where this warrants update and/or commentary, i’ve added them - prefixed with >>.

    $Id: osx-nits.txt,v 1.4 2001/05/03 11:50:52 sulrich Exp sulrich $

    os x nits
    general os and interface nits

     * when i hit the cmd key in a modal dialog box - i'm not presented with a
       list of keyboard short-cuts for the dialog box. it's a capital letter
       crap-shoot!  it would be nice to be able to hit the cmd key and have the
       corresponding keyboard shortcut displayed.

       >> it bears noting that this interface nit still stands.  however,
       >> i've come to terms with this to some extent.  changing the
       >> extension on a file from the finder is no where near as annoying
       >> as it used to be.``

     * it would be nice to have a real print manager that worked. the current
       printer controller is really lame and doesn't allow you to view the
       configuration of current devices.  it looks like the menu item is there
       but it's grayed out.

       * further to gripe about the printer support there appears to be a lack
         of real definitions for printer description files that you install.
         meaningful names for the printer definitions that are there would be
         really nice.

      >> this is an area where i have to say apple really stood up and did a
      >> good job. i admittedly have rather modest printing requirements,
      >> however, for a guy that has to add printers in foreign offices at
      >> work all the time, the support is wide and the hassle is minimal.

     * what i wouldn't give to be able to remap the apple key in terminal to
       behave like a meta key.

       >> this gripe stands. i've ameliorated this to a large extent through
       >> the use of the shipping X11 implementation and the use of
       >> xterm/rxvt. still, this leaves me with a nagging issue wrt cut and
       >> paste.

       just a follow up to this - you can kind of do this in emacs for mac os x
       with the option key but that is just a little too awkwardly placed for
       my tastes.  looks like i'll be an escape-key emacs user for a while

     * why must changing the desktop background color be such a chore? if i want a
       solid color why can't i just select one w/the color tool? i surmise that i'm
       missing out on something fundamental here but it's really annoying

       >> this gripe still stands. sure, there's a solid color option there,
       >> but you still don't get the color tool.

     * teeny hardware nit here.  why is the escape key so small?  the ~ is
       in the right place though and this is nice.

     * virtual desktops! - i'm running out of screen space and there is no
       virtual desktop functionality that i can find anywhere.

       >> spaces. need i say more? sure spaces isn't perfect, but it's
       >> pretty damn close and it's built-in with reasonable defaults.
       >> color me tickled.

     * make the PDF generation access a little more prominent on the print
       dialog.  while i love the ability to have PDF output i hate having to
       select that option repeatedly.  i'd like to make pdf output my default.

       >> well, you still can't make PDF generation the default, (to my
       >> knowledge.)  but it's featured much more prominently and there's
       >> slick integration that's taken place with the ability to direct
       >> output to applications.  which has my Yep! setup quite happy.

    ## terminal
     * terminal performance over the long haul is horrible.  this needs to be
       sped up considerably.

       >> fixed this, but i still don't use terminal - ref gripe re: cmd key
       >> utilization and emacs keybindings

     * more on terminal.app - this needs some real work on the termcap side of
       things.  there doesn't' seem to be a really consistent mechanism for
       making sure that you're dealing with the terminal on this.  what i
       wouldn't give for just really decent xterm support.

    ## airport / wireless
     * how about some meaningful stats regarding signal strength?

       >> still sucks if you ask me.

     * opening up the driver interface on the airport cards to support things
       like airsnort.

       >> improved considerably. there's a pretty wide range of support here
       >> and folks have filled in a lot of the gaps relative to tools for
       >> sniffing out additional wireless APs, etc.

    ## general networking
     * IPv6 support (addendum - looks like this will be in jaguar)

       >> pretty damn good support if you ask me.

     * multicast support (w/support for IGMPv3)

       >> grrr. still outstanding.

     * i would really like dummynet or some form of queueing for network
       traffic.  this would let me use my mac for testing some network
       configurations. altq would be heaven.

       >> no progress here.  understandably, this is a consumer OS after
       >> all.

     * pf would be preferred vs. ipfw (in all honesty i haven't had a chance
       to see if the necessary kernel hooks are there for pf)

       >> there's been a lot of forward progress on the firewall front. i've
       >> added to this with the use of little snitch which provides a lot
       >> more granularity in terms of the per-application visibility that
       >> you'd be interested in. still. pf is pretty much the bomb for this
       >> stuff.</pre>

overall, i really have to say a lot of my longstanding nits have been admirably addressed. if you look at this from the perspective that there are a fair number of nits that are purely networking dweeb oriented in nature, and you keep in mind that this really is a consumer oriented OS, you have to be impressed at how well they’ve addressed the spectrum of user requirements.

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