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Road to Mac OS X Leopard: Dock 1.6 - Page 4

post #121 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by TiAdiMundo View Post

Think of what would happen, if Apple would replace the Tabs in Safari with a Dock-like bar?! The Taskbar in Windows is like a Tabbar for the OS.

That is one of the most valid points that I've seen pointed by a PC user in a long time. You have an extremely unbiased, and obviously, opposed opinion regarding the dock and I respect it. If Safari had a dock instead of a tabbing system, it would be awkward and cluttered.

I hadn't thought of it previously, but Vista's tabbing system, the taskbar, seems to be thoroughly thought out, and the outcome is pleasant. I haven't used it, but by your description, it seems much more logical then the dock we know.

Honestly, the dock is definitely the eye candy of the two, the taskbar will never match up to the appearance of the dock.

Now, if only Apple would have a minimize feature (like tabs) come under the Apple Taskbar (top), that worked like Safari's tabs. That would be a feature you could use instead of having the live preview on your dock. I'd prefer using the dock, but people like you, who prefer having your information, preview and logo in one informational division, then that would be ideal.

I suppose somebody should do a mock up of the tabbing task bar for OS X. I'd be awfully interested to see the outcomes.
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post #122 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsenka View Post

You're right, it's not all of them, but it is a more useful selection than what the OS X Dock shows. Most "main processes" directly related to the apps I'm running show up in the task bar, so that I actually know that they are operating at a glance.

Here's an example of how OS X does not give me useful info in that regard: The other day I noticed while looking at the Activity Viewer that an app called "ffmpeg" was not only running in the background unbeknownst to me, but that it was actually the biggest system hog I had running, using more RAM and CPU capacity than everything else combined, including the OS. I had to do some investigating for find out that is was iSquint that was using ffmpeg for video conversion. When iSquint launched ffmpeg, it should have shown up in the dock. Processes this significant certainly show up in the task bar in Windows.

Don't get me wrong, I HATE Windows. I just hate the Dock even more than I hate the WindowsTask bar.

Significance on a user interface level has little to do with resource consumption. It would be no more difficult to have a frontend to a "hidden" command line tool on Windows. From the user perspective, a background process like ffmpeg is functionally similar to simply having the iSquint process perform those tasks (and consume those resources) through libraries. In such a case, neither OS is trying to hide resource hogs from you, it's just presenting the interface as the GUI developer designed it.
post #123 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by dfiler View Post

No more hierarchical folder access via a single click?
Guess it is time to redo my entire workflow.

I think I like the concept of stacks but honestly I'm not sure why. When accessed via the dock, it seems we've traded functional efficiency for a bit of glitz.

I agree with this sentiment, but i am finding in practice the grid works with the important caveat that more than 10 items and it breaks for me, I can't scan that much visually.

For the user longing for menu interface, a consolation might be to create a stack of your favorite folders, then have windows settings for each that let you see the info in a optimal way.

Surely, its not the same, but it might be nice it its own way too. Personally, I could never make use of the folder menu approach, the menus were too huge and difficult to manage.
post #124 of 150
Yeah, you know, at least for me focusing on the Dock was a bad idea. It reminded me of how much it sucks and how much nicer it was to have tabs, a working Apple menu and Applications menu. The old Finder interface is still much superior to the visually catchy OS X mess (although OS X is much prettier).

It's interesting because, until I read this article I thought I had finally made peace with the Dock but my hackles started rising as I read. Now I realize that I am merely resigned to bad HI; I'm becoming like a Windows user.

And for the record the applications menu would tell you at a glance what applications were running and if they needed any attention. Better yet, the about this Mac window could be left open: It would show you every application that was running with a nice realtime bar graph showing it's resource utilization (balloon help would show a detailed and exact breakdown on memory and processor usage); clicking on an app Icon in the window would bring that app to the foreground.
post #125 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katsudon View Post

Nope. They've completely removed this functionality including the ability to do hierarchical folder browsing. For users that used this often, stacks are a step backwards.

Wow. This sucks. My enthusiasm for Leopard is seriously deflated.

This appears to be a HUGE step backwards in functionality.

Hope this is corrected quickly.
post #126 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by bnsmmr View Post

Wow. This sucks. My enthusiasm for Leopard is seriously deflated.

This appears to be a HUGE step backwards in functionality.

Hope this is corrected quickly.

Some of this should go with a grain of salt given that, at least from my perception, these supposedly close to release builds don't seem quite fully cooked.

But its also the case that, well, Apple pushes stuff around. Some for good reason, other times it seems they are trying to take us in another direction. Like to me, the dock has improved, I think it is a much better launcher now. If you don't like it, there are usually a ton of freeware hacks that let you fix it.

Mixed in with a lot of great stuff, I see a few things that will annoy people, some that annoy me. Apple takes risks. Could they leave a lot of stuff in to make people happy, probably, but it also adds a lot of crud that never gets cleaned up.

But on the whole, I'd much rather have an active OS company that messes with stuff, pushes a lot of stuff forward at the same time, even if it means that I make adjustments. At least this OS is being worked on and progressing. Stagnation is much worse. But there are a lot of people who rather not see things change, and they might not be ready for the ride that Apple offers. Its going to be interesting to see how a mainstream audience responds to Apple's efforts to reinvent.
post #127 of 150
OSX is by far my favorite OS, and I really enjoy reading appleinsider features, but...

This Dock feature reads like one big over-enthusiastic advertisement for Apple. I don't think any OS have really solved the "dock" problem. Quite a lot of things frustrate me with Apple's Dock, but then when I use Linux or Windows, there are aspects of the Dock that I miss. Both the dock and taskbars make a LOT of compromises. You can always find many common tasks that one or the other is much better at. Saying that Apple's got it "right" and that everyone else is inferior doesn't really feel right when it comes to the Dock, sorry.

I do believe Apple frequently gets things surprisingly right. But no one would complain if they redesigned the Dock functionality from scratch.
post #128 of 150
No bias opinions here. Well ignore the fact that the previews provided by the dock are so damn small they border on the useless. You get a couple of docs that have similar styling and the preview becomes useless, unlike Windows Vista that at least opens up a preview that is less useless.
Well also ignore the fact that unless you hide the bar invariably some app is going to go behind the dock obscuring your view and then there is simply the amount of space involved. Unless you use the absolute smallest dock size it uses up a fair amount of space. For good or bad at least the rectangle view of the Windows Taskbar isnt square; as such it DOES take up less space.
Personally I consider the dock to be the most atrocious piece of junk ever to come out of Apple. Hopefully if Spotlight really is as fast as they say it is I can dump the dock altogether and use that, cmd-tab, and expose. I have the distinct impression the dock is one of Jobss pets that he refuses to change. (Sort of like going two buttoned on the mouse.) The man is either going to have to retire or well you know to have something radically happen to the dock with is too bad. Im certain there are some brilliant ideas buzzing around Apple when it comes to dock innovation. They just will never see the light of day under the current régime.


PS- I'm well aware that no one has gotten it right. Not Apple, not Microsoft, not Linux. No one. But god sake at least try something new once in a while. Its that whole innovation thing.
post #129 of 150
That was such the 2nd post Silicon Addict.
Valium helps, unless you prefer trolling.
post #130 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by dfiler View Post

That was such the 2nd post Silicon Addict.
Valium helps, unless you prefer trolling.

It's ok. We watch him on ARs.
post #131 of 150
Actually, if you open the application menu in MacOS 9 and drag downward, effectively "tearing off" the application menu, you do get an application switcher palette. It contains little buttons and icons, and if you click the zoom box once, and a second time with the option key down, you get an icon-only list *and* big icons, making it look like a vertical dock.

Did nobody ever notice this?
post #132 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by uliwitness View Post

Actually, if you open the application menu in MacOS 9 and drag downward, effectively "tearing off" the application menu, you do get an application switcher palette. It contains little buttons and icons, and if you click the zoom box once, and a second time with the option key down, you get an icon-only list *and* big icons, making it look like a vertical dock.

Did nobody ever notice this?

Forgot, is more like it.
post #133 of 150
I was really pleased and surprised to see the correct credit in the article to RISC OS for its original implementation of the basic Dock concept. However, it's a pity that the screenshot and the text didn't quite match up correctly.

The screenshot shown is actually of Acorn's "Arthur" OS, dating from 1987. This was a fairly low-quality stop-gap OS (the desktop environment was written in BASIC!) which was released while Acorn was finishing its 'proper' Archimedes OS, RISC OS, in 1988. That 1988 release was RISC OS 2, which made Arthur 'RISC OS 1' in effect, but it was never called that. Arthur did have the rudimentary icon bar seen in the screenshot, but it was never very capable or interesting. RISC OS, however, was an unbelievable leap forward at the time: for years it remained hugely more advanced than any of the competition. The RISC OS icon bar is still the nearest thing to the Mac OS Dock on any other platform (except perhaps NeXT), and it's still better than the Dock in a number of ways, even though it's not similarly graphically enhanced.

It's a shame that the article doesn't show a picture of an actual RISC OS desktop. Therefore, here's one that I produced to illustrate an article I wrote in 2002. It shows an image of RISC OS 5, which was new at the time.



I was actually responsible for the design of the RISC OS 5 icon set, and the screenshot was intended to illustrate a reasonable number of the new filetype icon designs, plus the Configure application (the RISC OS equivalent to System Preferences). Anyone who wants to know how the design task was approached can read about it in the enclosing article: http://www.richardhallas.freeuk.com/iyonix/.

Back to the Mac's Dock.

Personally I like it, but there are things about it that I think don't work as well as they could. Here's a few thoughts about it.

1. The Dock isn't sufficiently well integrated into the way the OS is designed.

It feels taked on, like an optional extra, and you can use nearly all aspects of the Mac (albeit in a less friendly way) without accessing the Dock at all.

On RISC OS, the icon bar is absolutely fundamental to the way the desktop works. Although it can be used as an application launcher (though in a rather cumbersome way), it isn't commonly used for that. Rather, it's a way of accessing running applications and system resources. There are many useful things that you can expect of any application icon on the icon bar, such as access to program version information, ability to quit an application, access to an application's global preferences, and other more subtle things.

The Mac Dock doesn't really have any of that. You can quit applications from their Dock menus (which is useful) and hide them, but those are the only Dock-menu functions that you can expect. It would be far more helpful to have a range of application-wide (rather than document-related) standard functions accessible from an app's Dock menu, such as access to preferences, window management, help information and so on. Apple's overlooked some really useful possibilities here that could have integrated the Dock more completely with the way the Mac works. Adding functions here would reduce the need to page between applications, too (something you don't need to do at all on RISC OS because it works in a fundamentally different way).

2. The Dock's organisation is poor.

Why are devices, system resources and applications all jumbled up together? If I put a volume or folder in my Dock, it appears in the 'system' area at the right, along with trash and minimised windows. But access to the Finder is over at the opposite end, within applications, for purely cosmetic reasons. And if my printer is printing something, its icon also appears as an application rather than as a system/hardware resource.

More importantly, why (on a horizontal Dock) do all the folders appear at the right? That's stupid. If I want to navigate the contents of a volume/folder in my Dock, I have to work 'backwards', starting at the right of the screen and opening menus to the left. If we want to do a Windows comparison here, then one may think of the Start menu, which works from left to right as one would expect. Not that I'm saying I like Windows (I don't), but it does get this right, and the Mac gets it wrong.

If Apple has really removed this folder-navigation facility in Leopard, then it's actually solved this problem in a sense. But removing useful functionality in favour of something inferior is no solution at all. I for one use this feature of the Dock a lot, and if it's gone in Leopard then I'll hate that aspect of it. Apple will have massively hampered the way I like to work if there's no way of getting that functionality back. Cue the shareware authors...

On RISC OS, system resources (such as drives, printers, shared discs, iconised windows etc.) appear in the 'system' half of the icon bar, at the left (and you can navigate folders from there). Applications go on the right. The distinction is very clear, and the resources grow inwards from the outer corners, not outwards from the centre (though the latter does make sense for the Mac's Dock). (Actually, there is some inconsistency in RISC OS too. The Task Manager, which governs both application and system resources, is over on the right with applications, and the display control, which ought to be a system resource, is next to it.)

3. The Dock doesn't know whether to be a control panel or a launcher.

Although it's handy to have quick one-click access to applications that aren't running in the Dock, I'm not convinced that it's a good idea. It's untidy and leads to sprawling, overcrowded Docks, and the minimal distinction made between running apps and simple docked icons makes it hard to tell which apps are running, and taking system resources, and which aren't. And even apps that are running but 'doing nothing' on the Mac take up processor time and memory; at least, on RISC OS, idle apps can sit there and not consume processor time. Even on my 2.5GHz G5, I find that I need to quit things (notably Safari) to keep my system from slowing down, so I'd like to be able to see more easily what's running and what isn't.

I think I'd like the Dock better if it showed (or could be configured to show) only apps that are acutally running. The new idea of stacks could actually make this work better, in that icons for non-running applications could be squirreled one level away in a stack, where they could still be accessed via just one extra click and (potentially) still have files dragged onto them. (I haven't had the opportunity to see Leopard yet, so I don't know if you can drag things onto icons in stacks - do stacks reveal themselves automatically if you drag something over them? - but this could be made to work if it doesn't already.)

4. The Dock can get far too overcrowded.

Once it has filled the width (or height, if configured vertically) of the screen, the Dock starts to shrink down its icons such that everything still fits on the screen. Especially on a smaller screen (e.g. on a laptop), this means that (a) the icons become very difficult to distinguish and (b) they become increasingly difficult to hit as the targets of clicks and drags. OK, you can enable magnification, but the overall effect is still cumbersome.

On RISC OS, if the icon bar overflows, it starts to scroll. Icons can therefore flow off the screen sideways, and reappear when the pointer approaches the edge of the screen where they're hiding. This behaviour was of course defined in the days before computers were powerful enough to scale icons smoothly and dynamically, and it does have its own set of drawbacks. Nevertheless, on balance I think it's preferable behaviour to having icons that are too small to see or use.

So I'd personally quite like to see a user-definable option in the Mac's Dock that allows a minimum size of icon to be set. If icons started to need to be compressed down below that size, then rather than shrinking them further, the Dock would start to scroll them off the screen. I think it could work well if implemented with thought (maybe tie the behaviour to the user's choice of standard Dock size, which can already be set).

-----

Anyway, that's it for my first, and extremely long, post. The above isn't intended to be read as a 'my OS is better than your OS' argument. I love both Mac OS X and RISC OS, and use them for different purposes. The Mac is far more technologically advanced, of course, as RISC OS is a couple of decades old. But it's interesting that the 'dock' of a 20-year-old OS still manages to do some things better, to my mind, than the latest upcoming version of Mac OS X. So I offer the above observations for interest only. I know I'm not alone in thinking that the Mac OS Dock has certain shortcomings, though overall I like it very much. I just think that it could still be made functionally and conceptually better. Apple's got the 'prettiness' aspect all sewn up, but the functionality and underlying design could still do with a bit more work.
post #134 of 150
Thanks for the good read. Though I'm a Mac user personally, I had to design on Windows machines for 8 years. While Windows XP Pro is certainly ugly as can be, it wasn't the confused, crippled mess you make it out to be. You missed a couple of key facts:

A user can pull up the taskbar, making it bi-leveled. This allows for keeping app icons on one level and document icons on the other (if you so choose). This leaves tons of room for application icons -- more than would ever be needed.

Though the rectangular document placeholders were far from obvious, I don't find the Mac OS X document icons to be any easier to use. The one thing Windows had going for it was that I could see document titles and select based on that -- which is how I tell my documents apart 90% of the time anyway. With OS X, a document in the Dock - unless it's a large simple graphic like a photo - is just a little indecipherable rectangle. You have to manually roll over it to get it's name before you can click -- an extra many steps if you have a lot of documents opened in the same program and haven't memorized their placement when minimized.

The Dock magnification gimmick is, I find, not useable in a professional situation. It's too easily triggered and, frankly, gives me a headache. Also - it still requires you to mouseover everything to see what it is.

To be clear - I am saying that neither solution is a good one, but outside of theory, in the real world, I found Windows to be faster and more obvious.

I find the Dock in Leopard to be a bad design choice -- though not because of the physics, shadows, etc. My biggest problem with it is that Apple chose to waste a large gap of space beneath the icons, not for any practical or useful purpose, but in order to show off their gimmicky reflections. I find myself visually wanting to move the icons down to get rid of that space whenever I see a screenshot. But, maybe it won't be so apparent in everyday use.

I also think the blue LEDs are an eyesore, a triangle is much easier to see. Better yet, since they are using the 3D motif, why not use that to advantage and move open applications into the foreground into that unused space? Anything is better than little glowing orbs at the bottom of my vision.

As Apple becomes more and more obsessed with appealing to it's large consumer iPod crowd with visual gimmicks and uglified "cool" design, I think they'd do well to offer a user preference for a Pro Finder -- for their many dog-loyal professional customers who stuck with them through the Apple Dark Ages. The Pro Finder could offer further customization of the Dock, Finder Windows, Menu Bar, etc. -- all of the things we rely on to get our jobs done that Apple's gooey GUI is increasingly getting in the way of.

Offering a Pro Finder option -- or OS X Pro options would be in keeping with the split software offerings and could allow for greater customer satisfaction while still keeping the OS very simple for basic users.

That's my 200 cents.

Thad
post #135 of 150
Execelent post Richard Hallas! But I also think that when the dock is viewed differently, many of your quibbles become less significant. Viewing the dock as a window summoner, for lack of a better term, does away with many of the supposed inconsistencies.

Users don't need the dock to impose distinction between different types of docked items. Because, when clicked, they all do the same thing, bring up a window. Sure, some of the windows are printers, some are folders, some are documents, some are currently running applications, and some are not-running applications, etc. But does this really matter? In my opinion, it doesn't. Communicating this distinction via the dock is of no real utility.
post #136 of 150
Richard -
I really enjoyed your post. Thanks for the depth of insight into RISC OS (of which I have no knowledge). I agree that the Dock leaves a lot to be desired in terms of sensible organization. I would love a Dock that automatically separated Apps / System apps / Documents / Folders into clean, readable sections. Barring that - I wish Apple would just throw in some user-defineable separators/dividing lines so I could do it myself.
post #137 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Hallas View Post

On RISC OS, if the icon bar overflows, it starts to scroll. Icons can therefore flow off the screen sideways, and reappear when the pointer approaches the edge of the screen where they're hiding. This behaviour was of course defined in the days before computers were powerful enough to scale icons smoothly and dynamically, and it does have its own set of drawbacks. Nevertheless, on balance I think it's preferable behaviour to having icons that are too small to see or use.

So I'd personally quite like to see a user-definable option in the Mac's Dock that allows a minimum size of icon to be set. If icons started to need to be compressed down below that size, then rather than shrinking them further, the Dock would start to scroll them off the screen. I think it could work well if implemented with thought (maybe tie the behaviour to the user's choice of standard Dock size, which can already be set).

-----

While I agree with a lot of what you have to say in your post, I feel as though there is also a bit of the "This is what I was involved in, so I like it better, still" mentality.

Quite frankly, I've found that most people simply don't care nearly as much about the functionality of the Dock as some of the people here. It seems as though some of the "techie" types give too much thought to all of this. While I'm also guilty of this at times, I believe that the Dock is one of those areas that is being over thought.

I have dozens of items in my vertical Dock. Yes my monitor runs a vertical rez of 1280, so it's not too much of a problem. But, that's just it. We run what is useful to us as individuals, and the Dock allows that.

I have no problem in moving my thumb on my trackball to pick an icon no more than two icons away from where I need to be, at worst. It takes no more than a second to hit the needed item from there, and perform the click to retrieve it.

I really don't like the idea of scrolling icons moving off the page. Apple tried that before, and it's always been clumsy. They do it now with Widgets, and it's very annoying. I much prefer the shrinking of the icons, and the magnify feature. Much faster than waiting for icons to scroll, and missing the one you need as it scrolls by, and you don't click fast enough, and hit the wrong thing.

I also like being able to start a program from the Dock, and to have them organized in folders (using DockExtender)

Nothing is perfect for everyone, but this seems better than the older systems which did their thing the way they did, out of necessity.
post #138 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

While I agree with a lot of what you have to say in your post, I feel as though there is also a bit of the "This is what I was involved in, so I like it better, still" mentality.

I can see why you say that, and it's probably fair comment in a sense. But I hoped to avoid being accused of that by justifying all my points. I just wanted to add a bit to what the original article said, and give a bit of info about one of the Dock's most important antecedents. I really don't want to start a 'my computer's better than your computer' argument, (a) because it's pointless and (b) because I'm a Mac fan and I'm not trying to bad-mouth the platform.

It's true that I had involvement in the graphical design (though not much of the functionality) of RISC OS 5, and in fact I had a small involvement with versions of RISC OS 4, too. But RISC OS predates my involvement by a long time (it came out in 1988; I started using it myself in late 1990), and I became a RISC OS user primarily because it was far and away the best available desktop operating system at the time. I'd been a Mac user prior to 1990, and I continued to use the Mac, but RISC OS was a heck of a lot better than Mac OS back then. Of course, Mac OS X was a vast step forward and has turned me back into more of a Mac user again. (Indeed, Mac OS X is now the most RISC OS-like mainstream OS for quite a number of reasons.) But having had the experience of RISC OS, I'm probably in a better position than most people to see shortcomings in the way the Mac OS X desktop has been designed, as I saw a wide variety of things being done better on RISC OS nearly two decades ago. Of course, it would be foolish to pretend that RISC OS can hope to compete with Mac OS X for features and advanced technology these days, and I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that it was incredibly well designed for its time, and there are still some things it does better than the Mac. (The icon bar, actually, is not one of the best examples.)

However, I now find myself spending a lot more time on the Mac these days, thanks to changed circumstances in my work. The forthcoming release of the Virtual Risc PC emulator software for the Mac will only reinforce the shift for me and allow me to spend more time on the Mac. (And the prospect of Time Machine as an automatic backup system that will in future work for both my Mac and RISC OS files is a very compelling reason for me to want to upgrade to Leopard.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Quite frankly, I've found that most people simply don't care nearly as much about the functionality of the Dock as some of the people here. It seems as though some of the "techie" types give too much thought to all of this. While I'm also guilty of this at times, I believe that the Dock is one of those areas that is being over thought.

Hm. On the one hand, I agree that the vast majority of users will never be concerned with the sorts of things under discussion here, and are unlikely even to use all the features of the Dock that are present already. But on the other hand, I'd argue that it would be a shame to compromise on some good new features just because they'll only appeal to 'techies' (for want of a better term).

Yes, you can probably overthink the Dock and spend too much time adding fiddly extra features that merely burden it with unwanted bloat rather than making it more naturally useful. In fact, if Apple has really removed folder-navigation from the Dock in favour of prettier but more limited stacks, then it may already be guilty of that. As you say, you can't please everyone.

Personally, I'd just like to see more options to tweak if I choose to tweak them; not necessarily a fundamental redesign. For example, one thing I'd love to have is the ability to make the Dock show itself if the Finder is the active task, but auto-hide when any other application runs. (I've actually got that functionality set up through my installation of ASM - which is the only thing I use ASM for. But unfortunately it doesn't work as well as it should, because the Dock sometimes gets 'stuck'.) I also do think it makes good sense to separate 'system things' from applications. If one wants to check the progress of one's printer job, for example, the printer icon ought to be in a standard, expected place along with other system items, not lost amongst an arbitrary jumble of applications.

Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

I really don't like the idea of scrolling icons moving off the page. Apple tried that before, and it's always been clumsy. They do it now with Widgets, and it's very annoying.

I agree that Apple's implementation of this for the Dashboard is clumsy and irritating. All I can say is that, on the RISC OS icon bar, it works better than you might expect. For one thing, it somehow rarely seems necessary to overflow the screen with RISC OS, because the icon bar isn't an application launcher so you rarely overpopulate it with icons. But if you do, then when the scrolling kicks in, it works helpfully. You don't need to click anything (as you do with Dashboard); you just move the pointer to the overflow side of the screen, and the bar starts to scroll, slowly at first and then accelerating.

My point is not that this should become new default behaviour for the Mac's Dock. I can just see that it might conceivably be able to extend the existing functionality in a way that works well. For instance, if the user were able to set a minimum size for Dock icons (to avoid having them become so small as to be unusable, as can happen now), the Dock would continue to work exactly as it does now, for the majority of the time. But if it did need to overflow, then it could scroll off the edges of the screen, such that either or both of its sides (depending on its positional configuration) flowed away off the screen. But it would travel back onto the screen as the pointer approached that edge. If done well, this could behave like an extension to the existing magnification feature. Apple could implement it as an extension of that feature, just as Spaces extends Expose with a new level of visualisation. The scrolling movement could, essentially, become just a part of the magnification process. I can visualise this working well in my mind's eye, though I may not have explained it very well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

I also like being able to start a program from the Dock, and to have them organized in folders (using DockExtender)

Nothing is perfect for everyone, but this seems better than the older systems which did their thing the way they did, out of necessity.

Interesting that you mention DockExtender. Although I haven't tried that myself, it does sound to be similar to the idea I suggested for stacks in my previous message.

I agree that nothing is perfect for everyone. I just think that it could be made slightly more that way, though, by giving the user the ability to determine more aspects of the behaviour.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thadgarrison View Post

Richard -
I really enjoyed your post. Thanks for the depth of insight into RISC OS (of which I have no knowledge). I agree that the Dock leaves a lot to be desired in terms of sensible organization. I would love a Dock that automatically separated Apps / System apps / Documents / Folders into clean, readable sections. Barring that - I wish Apple would just throw in some user-defineable separators/dividing lines so I could do it myself.

Quite so. I'm the sort of person who likes to organise things in a sensible manner, and the Dock is just a bit too much of a disorganised jumble for my liking.

Thanks for the positive feedback. I'm glad that people have found what I had to say interesting.
post #139 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Hallas View Post

I can see why you say that, and it's probably fair comment in a sense. But I hoped to avoid being accused of that by justifying all my points. I just wanted to add a bit to what the original article said, and give a bit of info about one of the Dock's most important antecedents. I really don't want to start a 'my computer's better than your computer' argument, (a) because it's pointless and (b) because I'm a Mac fan and I'm not trying to bad-mouth the platform.

I don't want you to think that I was accusing you of badmouthing the OS. I was making the point that what may be seen as good design to some, may be seen as bad design to others.

The Dock certainly isn't perfect. I'd like to see Apple perfect it in a way that doesn't change it by too much. One of the problems we've seen in recent years, is Apple fiddling with something in a way that goes back and forth between ideas that are no better than the ones before, just different. The consistency is lost. Sometimes consistency is more important that some changes, even if they may be better for a few.

Quote:
It's true that I had involvement in the graphical design (though not much of the functionality) of RISC OS 5, and in fact I had a small involvement with versions of RISC OS 4, too. But RISC OS predates my involvement by a long time (it came out in 1988; I started using it myself in late 1990), and I became a RISC OS user primarily because it was far and away the best available desktop operating system at the time. I'd been a Mac user prior to 1990, and I continued to use the Mac, but RISC OS was a heck of a lot better than Mac OS back then. Of course, Mac OS X was a vast step forward and has turned me back into more of a Mac user again. (Indeed, Mac OS X is now the most RISC OS-like mainstream OS for quite a number of reasons.) But having had the experience of RISC OS, I'm probably in a better position than most people to see shortcomings in the way the Mac OS X desktop has been designed, as I saw a wide variety of things being done better on RISC OS nearly two decades ago. Of course, it would be foolish to pretend that RISC OS can hope to compete with Mac OS X for features and advanced technology these days, and I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that it was incredibly well designed for its time, and there are still some things it does better than the Mac. (The icon bar, actually, is not one of the best examples.)

Do you remember XYwrite? I know people who learned that program through arduous study. Well after it was rendered obsolete, they continued using it. At the time, it was said that the word processor you learned the first, was the one you liked best.

This isn't quite that involved of course, but it applies to a certain extent. Once one latches onto something one likes, it's difficult to imagine anything else as being quite as good.

We all do that. I do it as well, even though I'm aware of it. Old habits are hard to break. I wasn't happy that OS X didn't work the way System 9 did. It took a while to get used to it. Indeed, OS X was going to be an even larger break with the past, but too many people complained.

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However, I now find myself spending a lot more time on the Mac these days, thanks to changed circumstances in my work. The forthcoming release of the Virtual Risc PC emulator software for the Mac will only reinforce the shift for me and allow me to spend more time on the Mac. (And the prospect of Time Machine as an automatic backup system that will in future work for both my Mac and RISC OS files is a very compelling reason for me to want to upgrade to Leopard.)

I hope you're not feeling the need to explain this because of what I said, as my remarks weren't intended to make you feel as though your remarks were directed towards the value of the OS. If so, I'm sorry.

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Hm. On the one hand, I agree that the vast majority of users will never be concerned with the sorts of things under discussion here, and are unlikely even to use all the features of the Dock that are present already. But on the other hand, I'd argue that it would be a shame to compromise on some good new features just because they'll only appeal to 'techies' (for want of a better term).

Well, I would prefer that Apple do what it has to do under the hood, to make things work more smoothly, and to perhaps give us a bit more in the way of customization in the prefs.

But, as I mentioned earlier, changing the interface by large amounts, which is what you are suggesting, confuses people who have learned to use it the way they have. If the Dock were really broken, that would be justified, but it's not.

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Yes, you can probably overthink the Dock and spend too much time adding fiddly extra features that merely burden it with unwanted bloat rather than making it more naturally useful. In fact, if Apple has really removed folder-navigation from the Dock in favour of prettier but more limited stacks, then it may already be guilty of that. As you say, you can't please everyone.

If they've done that, I would like to know why. Perhaps many of the users find it to be confusing? Apple is known for simplifying.

As long as third party software can add functionality for those who really insist upon it, it isn't too much of a problem.

But, I'll accuse Apple of making changes when they shouldn't, as well.

[quote]
Personally, I'd just like to see more options to tweak if I choose to tweak them; not necessarily a fundamental redesign. For example, one thing I'd love to have is the ability to make the Dock show itself if the Finder is the active task, but auto-hide when any other application runs. (I've actually got that functionality set up through my installation of ASM - which is the only thing I use ASM for. But unfortunately it doesn't work as well as it should, because the Dock sometimes gets 'stuck'.) I also do think it makes good sense to separate 'system things' from applications. If one wants to check the progress of one's printer job, for example, the printer icon ought to be in a standard, expected place along with other system items, not lost amongst an arbitrary jumble of applications.

Ok, that's closer to what I'm saying.

But, I don't see the problem with, for example, the printer icon. I don't really pay much attention to it, but I've never had a problem finding it on my "crowded" Dock when I need it. I simply have the icon for it at the right hand side, just before the folders for certain files, my public drop box, etc. It's always there.

You don't need to have a jumble of icons on the Dock. You put whatever you want there, and can re-order them in almost any imaginable order.

I have, starting from the right (top, in my case), Finder, Dashboard, icon for my folder of various browsers named "Browsers", iChat, Mail, Publishing icon for my folder of programs for that, TextEdit, icon for my photo programs folder, icon for my CAD/Arch/Drawing programs folder, icon for the folder with my newsreaders, etc. I have plenty more. It all works out well.

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I agree that Apple's implementation of this for the Dashboard is clumsy and irritating. All I can say is that, on the RISC OS icon bar, it works better than you might expect. For one thing, it somehow rarely seems necessary to overflow the screen with RISC OS, because the icon bar isn't an application launcher so you rarely overpopulate it with icons. But if you do, then when the scrolling kicks in, it works helpfully. You don't need to click anything (as you do with Dashboard); you just move the pointer to the overflow side of the screen, and the bar starts to scroll, slowly at first and then accelerating.

Things that bother me are the scrolling, no matter how it's done. Accellerated scrolling. I can never understand who came up with that one. It's got to be one of the MOST annoying ideas ever. Why is there an assumption that if we hold the button down a bit longer, what we're looking for is going to be much further away, rather than the very next item coming into view? That's something I would like to see an easy toggle on.

Quote:
My point is not that this should become new default behaviour for the Mac's Dock. I can just see that it might conceivably be able to extend the existing functionality in a way that works well. For instance, if the user were able to set a minimum size for Dock icons (to avoid having them become so small as to be unusable, as can happen now), the Dock would continue to work exactly as it does now, for the majority of the time. But if it did need to overflow, then it could scroll off the edges of the screen, such that either or both of its sides (depending on its positional configuration) flowed away off the screen. But it would travel back onto the screen as the pointer approached that edge. If done well, this could behave like an extension to the existing magnification feature. Apple could implement it as an extension of that feature, just as Spaces extends Expose with a new level of visualisation. The scrolling movement could, essentially, become just a part of the magnification process. I can visualise this working well in my mind's eye, though I may not have explained it very well.

If you could toggle scrolling off, for those of us who don't want it, that would be fine.

The problem is that I have always found scrolling, no matter how it is implemented, to be slower than just moving to where something is, even if one misses by a bit, because there are a lot of items there. You always have to wait for a scroll. Getting there directly is always faster.

I find magnify to be fine for me. Even on my monitor, the icons never get too small so that I don't know what they are, and the name that pops up does the rest. Including the several programs that I have open now, there are 63 icons on my Dock, but it doesn't seem to be a problem. Why is that? Perhaps because even if I somehow made the mistake of pointing to the wrong end of the Dock, it only takes 3 seconds to scroll up the entire Dock to the other end.

I think that only productivity fanatics are so concerned about this. That's not being pejorative, but I can't think of how to describe them otherwise.

Let's say that one finds it necessary to go to the Dock an unlikely 100 times during the day, and it takes an extra 2 seconds to "hit" something. That would be 3 minutes, 20 seconds taken from an 8 hour workday. Hardly a production stopper. It would take longer than that to find the item on a scrolling list. And when it accelerates, it's too easy to let the item go by before you stop it. Then you have to move your pointer anyway. I fail to see the advantage.

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Interesting that you mention DockExtender. Although I haven't tried that myself, it does sound to be similar to the idea I suggested for stacks in my previous message.

Somewhat, though it does more.

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I agree that nothing is perfect for everyone. I just think that it could be made slightly more that way, though, by giving the user the ability to determine more aspects of the behaviour.

Yes.

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Quite so. I'm the sort of person who likes to organise things in a sensible manner, and the Dock is just a bit too much of a disorganised jumble for my liking.

I don't know. I have the Dock organized pretty well. There are some restrictions, as you mention, but that would be true no matter what is done. I just don't find them to be too much of a problem as they are, though it could be better.

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I'm glad that people have found what I had to say interesting.

We would all agree with that.
post #140 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

I don't want you to think that I was accusing you of badmouthing the OS. I was making the point that what may be seen as good design to some, may be seen as bad design to others.
...
I hope you're not feeling the need to explain this because of what I said, as my remarks weren't intended to make you feel as though your remarks were directed towards the value of the OS. If so, I'm sorry.

Not at all, and there's certainly no need to apologise (though I thank you for your courtesy in doing so!).

I just wanted to make plain that I'm not being a platform bigot, in case I was coming across as one. It's easy to get carried away in evangelising about something you're keen on, and RISC OS users have (in years past) gained a reputation for being even more evangelistic than Mac users! If one is both a RISC OS and a Mac user, there may be no salvation!

As for your point about good design to some being bad design to others, you're preaching to the converted here; I'm all too familiar with the pains that can be endured when putting designs in front of the public. If you can be bothered, have a look at my article on designing the RISC OS 5 icon set, to which I linked in my first post, just below the screenshot. I'm not asking you to read it all; just scroll down to the "Postlude: user reactions" section and see what it says there. Those diametrically opposed viewpoints really were all put to me, and it was a very painful experience at the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Do you remember XYwrite? I know people who learned that program through arduous study. Well after it was rendered obsolete, they continued using it. At the time, it was said that the word processor you learned the first, was the one you liked best.

Can't say that I do remember XYwrite, though I agree with your basic point. As a classical music buff, I'm often surprised how often, when I have multiple different versions of the same work on CD, the one I like best is the one I got to know first. That's quite an embarrassing admission to have to make, given that I like to think I've got a discerning ear and an analytical mind. I try not to be ruled by subconscious prejudice, but I suppose that this just proves how difficult it is to avoid.

It's not always the case, of course. The first DTP package I used a lot (for RISC OS) was a very well-regarded package called Impression. It was great at the time; but it stagnated a bit, and when Ovation Pro came along to rival it, I liked it a great deal more. So I found myself very willing to switch from one to the other, which goes against your point.

On the other hand, I now have both InDesign CS3 and QuarkXPress 7 Passport on the Mac, and I still find that I generally use Ovation Pro as my first-choice DTP package. (Similarly, I tend to prefer ArtWorks on RISC OS to Illustrator CS3 on the Mac.) I suppose it's largely because I know those packages very well and like them a lot, and if they do what I want, why not use them? (Another factor is that I've got a whole load of really high quality outline fonts on RISC OS which would be impossibly expensive to buy again for the Mac.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

This isn't quite that involved of course, but it applies to a certain extent. Once one latches onto something one likes, it's difficult to imagine anything else as being quite as good.

I take your point, but I do think I'm being reasonably fair and objective about it. Of course, I'm talking from my own perspective, and way of working. What I'd prefer isn't necessarily what would be best for the public at large. But I do think that a bit more flexibility in terms of editable behaviours would be a good thing, in that it would allow more people to make the Dock work more as they'd like it to (if it doesn't already).

Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

But, I don't see the problem with, for example, the printer icon. I don't really pay much attention to it, but I've never had a problem finding it on my "crowded" Dock when I need it. I simply have the icon for it at the right hand side, just before the folders for certain files, my public drop box, etc. It's always there.

I suppose that's fair. I just feel that it's logically in the wrong place (and I like things to be logical), but it's certainly not a big issue.

Of course, having the printer icon in your Dock all the time, in a place where you know where to look for it, isn't quite the same as not having it in the Dock permanently. If it only appears in the Dock when you print something, and vanishes again when it quits as the job finishes, then it's significantly harder for the user to find, as it won't reappear in a 'standard' place. And most users, I'd suggest, don't need to have the printer in the Dock permanently because it isn't an icon that you generally need to click, so most of the time it's just a waste of space.

Anyway, I was only illustrating a point; it's not worth a big argument!

Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Things that bother me are the scrolling, no matter how it's done. Accellerated scrolling. I can never understand who came up with that one. It's got to be one of the MOST annoying ideas ever. Why is there an assumption that if we hold the button down a bit longer, what we're looking for is going to be much further away, rather than the very next item coming into view? That's something I would like to see an easy toggle on.

A few points in response to this.

1. You'll get no argument from me about the way scrolling works in the Dashboard. It's horrible.

2. If implemented well, it can work well. E.g. on RISC OS, the icon bar scrolls, and accelerates, as your pointer approaches the edge of the screen (you don't need to click anything), and if you withdraw, it slows/stops. I've never had a problem with this; it works perfectly well for me. I.e. your objection shouldn't be a concern, because the speed of scrolling should be goverened by the position to which you've moved the pointer, not some arbitrary choice made by the developer.

As an alternative example with a counter-argument, I'm reasonably happy with the way in which menus that are too tall for the screen accelerate on the Mac. But on RISC OS, if a menu is too tall for the screen, it gets a draggable scroll bar instead. That may look a little clunky, but it's actually far more useful than the less fine control offered by auto-scrolling. (But then, menus on RISC OS work quite differently from those of any other platform. Aside from the fact that they're 100% context-sensitive pop-ups, you can do fancy things like dragging them around the screen and opening dialogue windows off them, so they're quite different entities from menus on the Mac and Windows.)

3. Concerning the idea of allowing the Dock to scroll off the screen, I tried to explain the way in which this might work. One point that I didn't make clear, though, and which you seem to have missed in your reply, is that my suggestion is actually very little different from the way in which the Dock already works with its magnification feature. Assuming you've got magnification turned on (to a reasonable size), you'll notice that when you point at a Dock icon and make it magnify, the Dock does in fact flow off the edges of the screen. As you move the pointer to one side of the Dock, icons that are off the side of the screen come into view.

What I'm proposing is merely a minor extension to this existing behaviour. All I'm saying is that it should be possible to enforce a minimum icon size, and if there are too many icons to fit on the screen at that size, then the Dock should be able to flow off the edges of the screen in its normal, non-magnified state. As the pointer approaches the edge of the screen, the Dock would scroll in the opposite direction, such that the obscured end of it came fully into view as the pointer neared that edge of the screen. This is already exactly how it works during magnification.

In fact, thinking about it more clearly, what I'm really asking for is very simple: just a single new option, that can be toggled on/off, called "Constrain Dock to screen". Currently it's turned on, and I'd like the option to turn it off. Basically, the user can already drag the Dock to size its icons to the desired dimensions, but if there are too many icons to fit at that size, the Dock currently scales them down to squash them into the screen area. If my proposed option were turned off, it wouldn't do that; it would allow the Dock to flow off the screen edges instead. But the way in which the Dock operated, in terms of interaction with the pointer (as controlled by the user!), would be exactly as it works right now.

So I personally think that could be a useful new feature for Apple to put in. Some users may not like it (I may not like it once I've tried it!), but that'd be the beauty of having it as a simple option to toggle. Either use it or don't. It'd just be a good way of catering for some situations that currently aren't handled all that well. Personally, I doubt I'd use the feature on my desktop Mac, which is hooked up to a nice big 23" Cinema Display... but I would very probably use it on my MacBook, especially when using the trackpad rather than a mouse, because the combination of trackpad and fairly low screen resolution makes tiny Dock icons very difficult to work with.
post #141 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

My biggest pet peeve with the Applications folder is that Apple doesn't let me organize it. I have a lot of them, and I'm expected to keep them all in one big folder instead of in logical groupings.

That's just not right though. I have a folder inside my Applications named "3rd" that contains ALL my non-Apple software, even the non-Apple software that is installed on the machine with the system (the Big Bang's stuff, etc). Inside that folder I have folders like "Internet" which contain Firefox, Thunderbird, Camino, etc. In addition, I have an Applications folder that is in my Home directory which has all the apps that only I use (this is where Adobe CS3 is installed along with things like Last.fm, SpotDJ, Linkinus, Xchat Aqua,and MacTracker, to name a few). My "3rd" folder also contains an Apple folder for all the Apple software that is NOT part of the default system install (Aperture, Remote Desktop, iWork, etc).

All my games are installed elsewhere (in a "Games" folder on a external drive.

Practically everything works this way. The few games I've found that don't, I get rid of. I've not found anything that wasn't a game that forced me to install it in /Applications.
post #142 of 150
I don't have a problems with the current dock, I do, however, use an alternative, called Workstrip. This is a fairly unknown application that does a lot of really useful things. Think of it as a pro version of the dock, combined with popup folder we used to have in OS9. A summary of some of my favourite features here below. Pictures can be seen here: Workstrip

1] In Workstrip each icon has a drawer. When it's an application, I can drag folders into it, so those folders are 'attached' to that particular application'. When the icon is a regular folder, opening the drawer show its contents, all of which can be previewed in Workstrip. (image 2 - 4)
2] You can create and switch between workspaces, so the contents of the drawers vary per workspace.
3] Applications can track files used. For instance, when opening the Safari folder, it shows the pages I visited. (image 5)
4] It can show you a list of all open windows, with previews, even windows that are minimized. (image 5a)
5] With Workstrip installed I can select a file or a folder and get instant previews. Be it images, texts documents, Workstrip can handle a large amount of filetypes. (image 8 and 9)
6] It can show me a list of all open windows, sorted by application.

All in all a very useful piece of software, at least for me, and I would mind if Apple were to adopt some of these features

post #143 of 150
The problem with Stacks completely replacing hierarchical lists needs to be addressed, and it can be done very easily. Apple just needs to add an option when you click on a stack's preferences, "show hierarchical list" or "disable stack" or something.

I'm sure Stacks are great for most functions, but if someone has their application or documents folder on the dock, for the most part a list would be more useful.

I could imagine a hybrid Stack (not sure if it already does this) that shows a partial grid when there are too many items, but using Spotlight/Quicklook would narrow the icons as you start typing. For example click applications and get a huge truncated grid, start typing S A F, etc. and the grid reduces until you're left with just Safari, or just documents in the folder that contain the typed characters.

Stacks definitely has a ways to go...
post #144 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolfactor View Post

Apple is pushing "search" instead of "organization". You can see this trend everywhere.

Exactly. Organisation takes time. A good search functionality does not.
I both use Windows and MacOSX, and the time to launch an app on Mac is shorter.
(based around which method I use).

Windows:
1. I'm putting max 5 items in Quick Launch because it takes space from my start menu away
2. Start menu: requires 3 or 4 clicks to launch an app.

Mac:
1. Fastest: Spotlight search: first couple of letters, then ENTER
2. Mostly used apps are in my dock. Who launches 30 apps often? Nobody.
Probably you use 15 apps often, the rest less often (and don't need to be in the dock)
post #145 of 150
Quote:
I have a folder inside my Applications named "3rd" that contains ALL my non-Apple software,...

I remember organizing my Applications into subfolders, oh, 10 years ago when I was running OS 8 and earlier. But with OS X, I prefer the single-level Applications folder. If more developers would use the Package approach, it would keep the Applications folder very, very simple and easy to use. Spotlight to launch your less-frequent apps, or leave your more-frequent ones in the Dock. It just can't get easier.
post #146 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by dacloo View Post

2. Mostly used apps are in my dock. Who launches 30 apps often? Nobody.
Probably you use 15 apps often, the rest less often (and don't need to be in the dock)

I have 26 apps that stay in the Dock at all times., and I use about 15 frequently. Try that on Windows.

( * always running)

1. Finder *
2. Mail *
3. Safari *
4. Camino *
5. iTunes *
6. iChat *
7. Adium *
8. Address Book *
9. iCal *
10. Console *
11. Terminal *
12. Activity Viewer *
13. System Prefs
14. Calculator
15. Digital Color Meter
16. Free Ruler
17. Transmit
18. Coda *
19. Graphic Converter
20. NetNewsWire Lite *
21. BBEdit
22. Chicken of the VNC
23. Remote Desktop Connection
24. svnX
25. Preview *
26. Yojimbo
post #147 of 150
I have 8 applications in my dock, for all my other stuff I use Launchbar.
post #148 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by montrealer View Post

Now here's a place where Apple missed the boat with the Stacks feature. Why didn't they make an option in the Preferences to make the Minimize button send the Window in a Stack ?

I see two approaches: In addition to Applications, Documents, Home, Downloads:

1. your suggestion: define one standard stack in which all minimized windows wind up

2. my suggestion: have one stack per running application. A bit more wasteful, but quite efficient is you have many windows open in only a few apps.
post #149 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by fabsgwu View Post

The problem with Stacks completely replacing hierarchical lists needs to be addressed, and it can be done very easily. Apple just needs to add an option when you click on a stack's preferences, "show hierarchical list" or "disable stack" or something.

I'm sure Stacks are great for most functions, but if someone has their application or documents folder on the dock, for the most part a list would be more useful.

I could imagine a hybrid Stack (not sure if it already does this) that shows a partial grid when there are too many items, but using Spotlight/Quicklook would narrow the icons as you start typing. For example click applications and get a huge truncated grid, start typing S A F, etc. and the grid reduces until you're left with just Safari, or just documents in the folder that contain the typed characters.

Stacks definitely has a ways to go...

Hierarchical Menus

I just discovered Xmenu, and find it work perfectly as a replacement for putting folders in the dock with hierarchical menus. Check it out at: http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/22117

This works perfectly in Leopard. It's actually a return to the way we did it in system 9 and before, with the apple menu (although it's actually better, since it allows you to have various folders places in the status bar. I have one for my home folder, for my documents, and for my applications).

I still use stacks too. Well, I use the download stack. It beats putting a regular download folder in the dock as I did in Tiger, since in leopard the download stack shows the progress of a download, and bounces when done. Now if only I could stop the damn download window from appearing in Safari (I hate that thing).
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. Groucho Marx
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Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. Groucho Marx
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post #150 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by lundy View Post

Yes. **

I hasn't worked for me (Regarding uploading via FTP in the Finder). I still get the error message when I try to move or delete something.
-Shawn
2.4GHz 24" Intel iMac
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-Shawn
2.4GHz 24" Intel iMac
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