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Bug of the moment 2007-01-12

There are a couple of things that I wanted to mention. A while back, I wrote a rant about Mac OS X preferences windows and the major flaw in their design. I have updated that page to cover a program I discovered recently, David Remahl’s Snö which takes a very logical approach the problem:

As fun as it is laughing at the stupidies in software, there is nevertheless no pain in recognising when programmers make intelligent decisions and I am always glad to encounter software where good design decisions have indeed been made.

Last August, I wrote about save button icons and how they were all drawn backwards. lili raised the question of what icon such an button should really bear, since diskettes are rather passé now. I recently spotted that Office:mac v.X (©2001) on my iMac uses an icon of a Zip disc:

I have not kept track of the popularity of the Zip disc, but to me it feels as dated now as the floppy disc. Yet, there was a time when many Macs shipped with an internal Zip drive from the factory, and Zip drives were fitted internally to all computers at my university. I still have one – two now – an external SCSI model on Firetrack and a spare internal IDE model that I installed in Spire.

The point though is that one department at one company did finally reconsider the icon on that button. They’ve had their gems (Office 98 for the Macintosh was even more dreadful than its Windows counterpart) but the Microsoft Mac unit has demonstrated talent and independent thinking with other projects, such as the excellent Mac Outlook Express, still in my opinion the best graphical e-mail client ever made.

The rest of the world still thinks we save files to floppy disc, and thus we continue to need a new icon. Again, I think it should be Superman, saving all our work:

One final example. I have just installed a download manager extension for Mozilla Firefox – DownThemAll! – that lives directly in the browser itself. A friend posted me some files to his FTP server, which I thought I’d use as a test case for DownThemAll!. (“!.” indicates that I am not shouting! Curse programs whose names end in an exclamation mark ;) I entered the address of his server into the Firefox address bar and received simply this:

I see. Is it too much trouble for you to prompt me for the password? Oh, say, the way iCab does?

Until now, I’ve always been concerned about giving people user:pass@site logins to my own FTP server, because I thought that Internet Explorer rejected them. However (as someone who rarely uses it) I have just checked and realised that only Web addresses of such forms are rejected in the light of exploits like this:


FTP addresses are not affected, so it is still safe to use fully-qualified FTP addresses when referring people over instant messaging to my own server. And clearly the correct decision in the light of yet another missing feature in a Mozilla application.

Just don’t get me started on attempting to remove plugins from Adobe Reader to lighten its load…

Posted 12th January 2007 – Comments and questions?