Chuckellania for October 17th, 2021

Published on Wednesday, October 20, 2021

There's a bunch of open-air desks for remote working in the forest.

Neat, but probably not that practical or good for the eyes. Maybe if we ever have laptop displays with 1,200 nits.

Google has been doing those infoboxes that try to summarize a web page, which saves a click. Copyright/ethics questions aside, their machine learning also sometimes gets it… problematically wrong.

The actual page, which provides health advice for how to deal with someone else having a seizure has a "Do not" section that includes bullet points. Google leaves out the "Do not" section header, but keeps the bullet points, so they suddenly appear to advise the opposite of what they were supposed to.

In the Apple/Mac community, a running phenomenon ever since Steve Jobs has died has been the chorus of "this would never have happened if Steve Jobs were alive", which is really a way of saying "I don't agree with this recent design decision Apple has made, and my personal idealized form of Steve Jobs wouldn't have either".

Who knows if that's true. We can't exactly ask him.

But I was listening to a Star Trek podcast the other day, and The Next Generation has an episode where Captain Picard is AWOL (and presumed dead), so Commander Riker becomes acting captain, and there's this exchange:1

Data (the second officer): as acting first officer, I must question your decision to accompany the away team! If Captain Picard were here, — Riker (the first officer): he's not.

I'm not sure the futility and arrogance of "if Steve Jobs were alive" can be expressed better than by how quickly Riker shuts the discussion down.

The PowerBook is 30.

Steven Sinofsky shares a reflection.

The Mac OS X Public Beta [had a few things])( that disappeared fairly quickly:

  • a Apple logo in the center of the menu bar, for no reason other than aesthetics. There was no Apple menu in this version of Mac OS X (even though Mac OS 9, of course, had it). It re-appeared in the final version. Incidentally, I think this is a great "this would have never happened under Steve Jobs" example: it did! Lots of weird decisions like that did!
  • Docklings, which were sort of widgets that lived in the Dock. I briefly used Mac OS X 10.0.4 at the time, and I particularly liked the battery dockling. Yeah, it wasted a lot of screen and was all eye candy with little function, but it was cool! In 10.1, instead, we got a fusion of two design features of Mac OS Classic: the top right, which already often featured a clock and some other icons, now gained several more, replacing the Control Strip (which can be seen in the bottom left). This new approach was known as "menu extras" or "status items", and lasts to this day.
  • the Public Beta also shipped with an an app called Music Player. Instead, the final shipped with iTunes. Was there a plan for a while to ship both?

Much later, drawers also started disappearing in favor of "source lists", which are more akin regular sidebars.

  1. Unfortunately, because dynamic ad insertion is stupid (ads ruin everything), the timestamps in that link are no longer accurate. Currently, try something more like 17:21.