Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

« SushiMainHow many computer books? »

Sushi software

1108 words

While I prepared the photo page for yesterday's sushi dinner, I ran into a couple of software features, observations and questions that I'd like share here. Answers to the questions will, of course, be appreciated.

Input menu
Input menu
Mac OS X.3 saw several changes to the input menu, i.e. the menu you can activate in the International system preference by acivating a couple of extra keyboard layouts. To begin with it now displays along with the other system-wide menu items at the right hand side of the menu bar. This is more logical, although I don't like that blob of colour the German flag gives me over there.

Secondly, they made it easier to access the various Japanese input methods by splitting the single 'Kotoeri' input method into a couple of keyboard methods (giving them nice grey icons, which means that all it takes to get rid of that excessive colour in the menu is to learn Japanese...). Once you're using one of the Japanese input methods, the menu items for their additional settings will be included in the input menu rather than adding yet another menu to the menu as it used to be. Those menu items lack German localisation, though... and the Kotoeri preference window even lacks English localisation, making it rather hard to use for people like me. On the other hand, if I really needed the Japanese input capabilities, I'd be able to read Japanese and wouldn't mind too much I guess.

Thirdly, the input menu now gives convenient access to the improved character palette and also includes the replacement for the traditional Key Caps application. I think it's quite neat – although I suppose that people who only use a single keyboard layout would prefer a working Apple menu with Key Caps in there.

Fourthly, Apple changed how the keyboard equivalents Command-Space and Command-Option-Space work. I have used them for almost ten years now and Command-Option-Space always switched to the next keyboard layout in the same script while Command-Space cycled scripts. This was quite useful. The new system cycles through all keyboard layouts across scripts using for Command-Option-Space and toggles between the current and the previously used keyboard layout then Command-Space is pressed. As most keyboard layout changes are simply toggling between two of them, this may actually make things easier once I get used to it.

Let me use this opportunity to point out yet again Apple's skills at creating up-to-date and sensible documentation for their products: The recently updated list of keyboard equivalents that I had a go a yesterday still lists the old behaviour and as an added bonus contains the two completely absurd additions of Command-Right Arrow for Change keyboard layout to current layout of Roman script and Command-Left Arrow for Change keyboard layout to current layout of system script. Luckily, those don't seem to work anywhere, leaving those key combination with their traditional navigational functions.

Desktop backgrounds
I considered one of the photos from we took of the sushi for use as a desktop background. I have a random desktop background chosen anew from a folder of selected pictures every day. This feature doesn't seem to support aliases.

In addition – wasn't there an 'automatic' option when choosing how a desktop background is scaled? It's not there in Panther, meaning I can't have both photos and little patterns that need to be repeated in my folder of random desktop backgrounds.

Now that Preview has become my favourite way of using PDF files and it has secured a safe place in my Dock, I started trying it for other uses.

When dragging a couple of image files on Preview it will open all of them in a single window, using the drawer as a small image browser. Neat – and nice for selecting the best photos of those you took. Having support for dragging folders onto the icon would be helpful here.

I also like Preview's crop feature. It's quick and has that useful 'dim' feature that they have in apps like Photoshop. Being able to constrain the selection to a square when holding the shift key and to rotate the selection would be really useful.

Exposé, drag and drop
No Mac writing without referring to Exposé these days. I am still a complete Exposé addict. When working with a lot of large images yesterday to compile the sushi photo page, I could fully enjoy using it with many large windows that are still recognisable when scaled down. No wonder Apple use those for their screenshots.

I find myself using Exposé for drag and drop operations frequently already. No more need for the target window to be visible before starting the drag operation. Improvements I could use for drag and drop are:

  1. The ability to access windows that are minimised into the dock or hidden with their application as well – like spring loaded folders perhaps.
  2. The ability to raise a window. Often a bit of the target window is visible but not the area I want to drag into. While in some cases, like iTunes' info window there is only one place to drag things to and you can make the whole window 'sensitive' to the drag, things can be more tricky – when dragging into a column view window, say. The Finder currently raises windows you drag things onto after a moment of hovering over them. I'd like to see that everywhere. The current way to do this would be invoking 'F9' Exposé, finding the window in question in its new position and then dis-invoking Exposé. Not too pracitcal.
  3. While I'm at it: Ever tried dragging text into a text field that doesn't have focus in its window? It doesn't work. Yet it should.

When looking at the sushi photo page in a wide browser window, the lines will be too long. I tried using max-width on some elements in there but that broke the centred alignment I chose. A blog entry by David Hyatt suggests that support for max-width isn't top notch. Any suggestions how to work around this gracefully?

New at the iTunes Music Tubes of Love: Ella Fitzgerald at the Montreux Jazz Festival '77 – up to a typo at least. A nice record, a boring-ish 'exclusive' Jet single – read a devastating yet not completely untrue review, The Rapture's Echoes, finally The Strokes' Room on Fire for real.

When I burned (audio) CDs in iTunes yesterday, the actual speed seemed to be 2x although it was set to 4x and the writer (external SmartDisk VST Teac drive connected via FireWire) is capable of 8x. Strange. Hope that goes away.

November 2, 2003, 18:57


Comment by d.w.: User icon

A funny thing about that Rapture CD — it’s one of UMG’s new low-price promo releases ($9.99 US list) and can be had for as little as $7.99 US at lots of (brick and mortar) shops. Hence, it’s significantly cheaper to buy the physical CD (which, of course, includes artwork, liner notes, higher audio quality and no DRM). Funny, that. Apple needs to look into doing something about that sort of thing as more and more labels roll out low-cost releases.

November 2, 2003, 21:21

Comment by Chris Adams: User icon

Silly question but were your CDs rated at higher than 2-4x? I made the mistake of dusting off an old spindle and discovered that the system CD burning facility doesn’t allow you to burn at higher than the rated speed, unlike Toast.

November 3, 2003, 2:15

Comment by ssp: User icon

The CDs say ‘48x’, so that should be enough. I have burned on CDs from the same pack at higher speeds before as well.

November 3, 2003, 8:26

Add your comment

« SushiMainHow many computer books? »

Comments on




This page

Out & About

pinboard Links


Received data seems to be invalid. The wanted file does probably not exist or the guys at last.fm changed something.