Too Cool for Internet Explorer

Sunday, March 13, 2005

UI Confusion

I’m highly amused tonight. I have an acquaintance (who shall remain unidentified) who calls me once in a while with little questions about his Mac setup. He’s not terribly computer literate, but doing much better.

Several months ago, he picked up a laptop so that he could offload digital photos and burn CDs while out in the field. He’s a professional photographer. His former iMac remains his primary computer—the laptop is strictly for the field photo storage and showing clients the work.

So, he calls tonight and says that he just burned a CD, same as he’s always done, by inserting the blank disc in his laptop, dragging a folder containing 4-5 photos to the CD-R icon on his desktop, then dragging it to the Dock icon to burn and eject. After it finished and he put it back in to check it, he says that all his Home folder stuff is on the disc!

I couldn’t figure out how this would have happened unless it was maybe something screwy with the file caching on his system. I had him open Terminal, then I carefully guided him to get a file listing (the ls -la command) which confirmed that only the JPG images made it to the disc.

Allow me to shorten the half-hour phone call for you. Turns out, all his past computers ran (still run) OS X 10.2.x. He’s had almost no experience with OS X 10.3.x. Consequently, he was used to the toolbar of Home folder items such as Pictures, Music, Movies, etc. running across the top of the window. If you’ve used Panther, you know that Apple moved these items, as well as access to every mounted volume, to the left side of the window. This guy was mistaking that first column as being the contents of his freshly burned CD!

Ya know, even though I included the “Funny” category for this entry, there’s actually a very serious point to make here. Too bad it’s a near certainty that no one at Apple will see this post. (For heaven’s sake, please post a short comment if you are reading this and you do work for Apple corporate!) I simply have to wonder how many other fledgling OS X users have made this same mistake. The idea of it seems kind of silly to us who are very comfortable with Panther, but a newbie user simply may not get it. Would it be so bad if Apple did something to make this left-side toolbar a bit more recognizable as not being a listing of contents on a particular volume or folder?

» Posted by ALBj at 06:05 PM (ET)
Category: Funny, Journal, Mac


Ahh, the scourge of complexity versus functionality. As a programmer, I can identify with not seeing a problem when you’re too close to it.

» Posted by Queue
March 17, 2005 08:56 AM

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