Tiger part 2 — Farewell oh wondrous uControl!

Well, they FINALLY did it in the OS. In Keyboard & Mouse System
Preferences, there’s a neat little button in the lower left of the
keyboard screen saying “Modifier Keys…” That little gem has the ability
to swap and/or remap Caps Lock, Control, Option and Command to any of the
others or to No Action. So I no longer have ANY caps lock key (Clouds
Open, Angels Sing praise) but the emacs hack that I am, I have a properly
positioned Control key. -)

uControl has a lot of other features, but really I never used them to any
great degree (horizontal trackpad scrolling occasionally, but I don’t miss
it). So while I so completely appreciated all the work the coders did on
that product in all the wonderful ways it did it, I’m glad that I don’t
rely on a third party kernel extension to ditch the stupidest idea in
keyboard design in history (promoting the caps lock key from it’s
typewriter-historic exile in the far lower left).

Minor nit, on this old iBook, the iTunes dashboard widget is useless
performance wise. I still much prefer the “hit the + button” on iTunes to
get the mini view and keep it on top but mostly out of the way. Plus I
keep trying to move my head to get rid of the “glare” on the glass of the
iTunes widget. DUH. Little too shiny that one.

Tiger Time

Ok, it’s been a long hiatus. And I know at least one reader hit the blog
thanks to the almighty Google (thanks for the email Darcy!) Motivation
visited me thanks to the wonders of FedEx yesterday. Tiger, pre-ordered at
first chance while I was overseas in Geneva, was delivered exactly when it
was promised, on the day of release.

So, after dutifully backing my faithful iBook up (really, I did) I did an
upgrade style of install, with no incident (well, one tiny one, which I’ll
note later) and was off and running with the latest of Apple wonders in
Operating Systems. The glitch? Well, I didn’t upgrade Saft before
upgrading to Tiger, so Safari borked a bit on startup until I disabled it
(it froze when presenting the “Saft doesn’t work with this version of
Safari” dialog). Since then, all is well. Impressions? Cool. Some of the
graphical candy (ripples in the dashboard, some of the smooth animations
in transitions) aren’t enabled on my 900 MHz iBook G3, which probably is
to keep things snappy on the older hardware. I’ll try later with the
Quartz Extreme enabling via the debug tools to see how that goes.

Big things? As advertised actually. Spotlight and Dashboard. I’ve been
very pleasantly surprised with Dashboard. Great built-in widgets, but
already over 50 third-party widgets available from the Apple download site
(UPS/FedEx tracker and a WiFi hotspot catalog are tops in that category
for me). Very quick, fast, beautiful and useful little tools. The stock
and weather work just fine in Canada (well, some obscure Canadian venture
stocks don’t report correctly, but the TSE stuff does). And Spotlight.
This thing is already changing the way I work on a computer. It’s so
completely integrated, it’s outstanding.

Pretty intelligent out of the box, and if you want a really good solid
overview of it and other Tiger features, the lad over at Ars Technica did
a great job. He notes that you can’t add to files in the metadata. I’d say
only partly correct. In the file info in Finder now, there’s a new bit
called “Spotlight Comments”. This data doesn’t go into the new inline or
fork metadata on the file, but actually adds new index terms directly into
the store.db file maintained by Spotlight. So for John Siracusa’s scenario
of putting files into a project for smart folder, you can do it, not
seamlessly, but reasonably conveniently. Open the file info in the finder
(Command-i) and add in a comment such as “Project: moogfoo”. Any spotlight
search for “moogfoo” will find this file now. Again, the data isn’t
associated with the file itself in the metadata fork, so there’s some
disconnect and possibility of it wandering away from the file, but even
that is very rare. I can move the file around in the Finder, rename it,
and it stays correctly associated (thanks to the kernel level
integration). This gets a long way towards John’s metadata vision, which I
think is pretty darned correct in the Right Thing™ sort of way. In the
mean time, this partial hack works pretty well for adding stuff in. That’s
it thus far. I’ve been digging into just how powerful Spotlight is so much
that I haven’t gotten to much deeper.

Mail IS different, but it took be about one blink to get into it. I’m just
not that much of a visual nitpicker (NOT a visual artist) so I think I
adapt easier than most. Feel free to email some comments or questions and
I’ll do my best to respond either in email or the blog. dallas (AT)
hockley dot ca