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Driver madness

345 words

When I got my Powerbook in 2001, I decided that I'll have a Wacom with it. I used to have one when at work during my civil service and really liked it back then. Particularly when 'mousing' a lot, I found using the pen much better for my wrists. Also, once you get used to the 'absolute positioning', it's a very efficient way to work. Tablets were still very expensive those days, though, so I didn't buy one. Now they are affordable and I got one - ace.

I still find the technology itself fascinating, using induction of some sort to manage to have a pressure sensitive pen without any cord or battery. It just makes sense. And it worked perfectly in the traditional MacOS. But that stopped in MacOS X. The drivers Wacom makes for OSX are just moronic. They seem to be running as a normal process without any priority - meaning that your pen or the cordless mouse they throw in with the tablet will stop or jump all over the screen (like in Windows, sort of...) if your computer is busy doing a lot of other things. Of course the normal mouse and trackpad work smoothly as ever in these situations.

When using the mouse in relative positioning mode, this phenomenon is particularly apparent - the mouse will move slower when the system is busy. Try moving a large window and you'll see that phenomenon. I guess that our Linux friends would actually appraise this as an extra feature and re-compile their kernel to have it: "Gosh, it's got mouse-pointer feedback of the system load! How cool." Personally I find it annoying, though - and yet another embarrassment for programmers by spoiling this fine hardware product.

How can this happen? Apple themselves seem to co-operate with Wacom, is it's said that Ink works with Wacom tablets only. Surely, people at Apple must know how to implement this properly. And if they really want the graphics people to switch over to OSX, they'd better make sure their favourite tools actually work there.

February 3, 2003, 22:46

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