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Jony Ive is Great but Not Perfect

Jony Ive flourished under Steve Jobs’ leadership. In those days, Jobs was focused on simplicity, and Ive was masterful at creating it.

Some achievements were clearly great. Others arguable. A few were hamhanded.

There’s a saying that art can be whatever it wants, but design has to work.

The Misses

The mouse puck, the original iPod shuffle, and the Apple TV remote are exercises in forcing art to design.

Beauty Meets Stink

The mouse was an ergonomic disaster. The third generation iPod shuffle lacked buttons (yes, really). The Apple TV remote is the manifestation of a palindrome: Which way is up? (I always, always grab the thing incorrectly.)

In the pursuit to achieve thinness, Ive drove the effort to re-engineer the key mechanism on MacBook laptop keyboards. Thus, the traditional scissor key mechanism was eschewed, and the butterfly key was developed. This new invention reduced vertical space requirements from 1mm to 0.5mm. The butterfly keyboard has gone down in infamy as a true liability for Apple. The widespread reliability issues has spawned a multi-year warranty program to quickly replace failed keyboards for customers. One new MacBook hardware update was introduced and added to this warranty program on the same day. All to shave a half millimeter of MacBook thickness.

The Mad Pursuit of Hardware Thinness

Amazing that Scott Forstall lost his job for not apologizing for Apple Maps, but Jony Ive stayed completely under the radar on this one.

Painful But Good

Anytime he could, Jobs tried to advance the computing industry in many ways, and Ive realized many of those goals.

The iMac lost its floppy disc drives and then its CD-ROM/DVD drives. Apple lost these features first, and the industry eventually followed. Now that these things are gone, no one misses them.

These days, the pinch in convenience is the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port. The evolution to this port is inevitable and comes closer to reality as each month goes by. Like before, Apple was the first mainstream hardware maker to unceremoniously dump all other ports for this new one. In a few years, no one will miss USB-A and the mini-USB, micro-USB, etc., ports and cables.

The Hits

Ive’s design skills were a vital part in Apple’s return to prominence. The industry-standard beige box was disrupted by colorful iMacs.

The iPod liberated our music from our immobile desktop computers with a revolutionary interface to access thousands of tunes in a device that literally fit in Jobs’ back pocket.

Inarguable Hits

And then there was iPhone.

A truly momentous device that revolutionized the awful mobile phone and personal info manager industry. It went on to conveniently bring communication technology to millions across the United States and billions around the world.

Now, that is a real legacy. So thank you, Jony!

Keyboard and Mouse Utilities For macOS That Windows Users Will Love

Finger at Keyboard

A year ago, I decided to move from Windows to Mac. As an iPhone user, this made sense. My mobile and desktop computing resources integrated very well and solved a lot of workarounds and incompatibilities that plagued me as a Windows user. And to be brutally honest, I got tired of fixing my Windows machine. Macs are not perfect (by a LONG shot), but they’re predictable which makes them more dependable.

Problem

Being a long-time Windows user, I brought a lot of muscle memory problems and habits with me as I started the Mac. Since I must use Windows for work, I have a KVM to share keyboard, mouse, and monitors. So I use a Windows keyboard and PC mouse with my Mac.

Here were my biggest problems:

  1. I like using the Forward and Back buttons on my mouse, especially for navigating websites. (On Macs, these mouse buttons are dead.)
  2. I prefer natural scrolling on the MacBook trackpad and directional scrolling on the mouse wheel. (On Macs, you are prevented from configuring these differently. It’s bewildering.)
  3. I like to press the Home and End keys to go to the beginning and end of a text line, respectively. (On Macs, these actions take the cursor to the top or bottom of the message body.)
  4. Closely related to the above, I like to press Shift+Home and Shift+End to select (aka, highlight) text to the beginning and end of a text string respectively. (On Macs, these actions take the text selection to the top or bottom of the message body.)

As any Windows user will tell you, Macs don’t work that way.

Solutions

I tried to get used to it. I really did. But in the end muscle memory won, and Mac lost. But not without some help.

Scroll Reverser

Scroll Reverser Preferences Panel

This utility is simple, and it’s free.

Scroll Reverser breaks the connection between the mouse scroll setting and the trackpad scroll setting. It allows me to have directional scrolling when I use mouse, and natural scrolling when I use the trackpad. Perfect!

Learn more about Scroll Reverser.

BetterTouchTool

BetterTouchTool Configuration Panel

This utility is a fairly simple power user’s tool, and it costs $4.99 (or more if you wish) with a 45-day trial period.

BetterTouchTool (BTT) allows you to override default actions on your keyboard, mouse (including Magic Mouse), trackpad, MacBook Pro TouchBar, and even the Siri Remote. I leverage the keyboard and mouse functionality. My mouse navigation buttons work in any application with a navigation history (web browsers, Finder, etc.). My keyboard brings familiar behavior to the Home and End keys. What a relief!

Quick Tip: Like any power user tool, the interface could be confusing to some. When adding a new shortcut or key sequence, click into the text fields and then press the keys. BTT will record the key or key combination. As you click into the text fields, you are also offered commands in a pop-up list. At first, I thought those listed commands were the only ones available.

Learn more about BetterTouchTool.

Freeware: Scroll Reverser

Scroll Reverser Logo

There’s a difference when you want to use your mouse scroll wheel and your MacBook’s trackpad. I use my MacBook Pro as my main computer, connected to dual monitors and external keyboard and mouse. When I disconnect from all that, I use its keyboard and trackpad. And I want to use the trackpad different(ly).

When I spin the mouse’s scroll wheel down, I prefer the window contents to go downward. When I use two fingertips and swipe upward, I prefer the window contents to also go downward. It’s just natural to me, and it keeps my muscle memory in line with my required usage of Windows.

Apple disagrees. If you set the trackpad for natural scrolling, it also sets it for your mouse. You know, for convenience… In other words, macOS prevents you from mixing these settings even though they are separate settings. Grrr.

Scroll Reverser Settings

Scroll Reverser is the solution. The settings are simple. Then use your mouse the way you want, and then use your trackpad the way you want.

And Scroll Reverser is free.

Add Outlook.com Email to macOS

Outlook and Settings Icons

The process to configure a connection to Outlook.com in macOS is not intuitive for whatever reason only Microsoft and Apple know. I found several outdated and unhelpful articles that had me going nowhere.

So here’s the magic solution: Use App-Specific Password. Create that first, then configure macOS.

To generate an app-specific password:

  1. Go to account.microsoft.com and log in
  2. On the Account bar (or tap Account on you mobile device), and click or tap Security & privacy.
  3. Find the link titled More security settings and click/tap it.
  4. Under App Passwords, find and click/tap Create new app password.
  5. An app password will be generated. Use this to log into Outlook.com email service from within macOS Mail.

How do you do that? This is how:

  1. In macOS Mail, click Mail in the task bar.
  2. Click Add Account…
  3. Click Other Mail Account and click Continue.
  4. Enter the Outlook.com email address and then enter the app-specific password you generated in the previous steps. Click Sign In.

After a few moments, you should be good to go.

PS: Why is it a breeze to set up an Outlook account in iOS but such a mystery in macOS?

Beware the Hidden Cost of Apple’s New MacBook

Hidden Cost of that new MacBook

The new MacBook was introduced at Apple’s March 2015 event (along with the much hyped Apple Watch), and it is undeniably beautiful. Cutting edge design and engineering make for an attractive new laptop. But cutting edge can go both ways, so be sure to consider the full impact of buying such a forward-thinking device.

Really, this warning only comes down to one issue, but it’s significant: The USB port.

Apple has implemented the new USB-C (or USB Type C) port on the new MacBook. Besides the headphone jack, there are no other ports on this laptop.

So what does this mean?

First, your full-size USB mouse, flash drive, and external hard drive will not directly connect to this laptop. You’re going to need an adapter. So the MacBook’s cost of ownership will go up just a bit.

Second, you will not be able to have any peripherals connected to the MacBook while it is charging. It’s a relatively small issue, but it will probably come up sooner or later for most owners.

So what’s the cost of those USB-C adapters?

Depending on that you need, the offerings from Apple start at $19 and go up to $79. The USB-C to USB adapter will probably be the most popular add-on item at $19. The USB-C audio visual multiport adapter is going to $79. But keep in mind that the MacBook can connect to an Apple TV via AirPlay. And at $69, the Apple TV is now less expensive than that AV adapter.

Go figure!