Why you don't want to 'Enable Windows-Like Features on Your Mac'
By Stephen WITHERS
I know 'Enable Windows-Like Features on Your Mac' was written for people switching from Windows to OS X, but as someone that regularly uses both operating systems I'm convinced that in most of the cases presented by Harry Guinness the OS X way is better.
Make Return and Delete Open and Delete Files in Finder
I'm neutral on the Return/Command-O issue for opening files or applications, but when it comes to deleting files I think Command-Delete makes more sense than Delete, because it requires a more deliberate action. Microsoft is clearly aware of the problem, because when you press Delete to delete a file, Windows displays a confirmation dialog.
Make the Zoom Button Maximise Windows
How often do you want one window to take up the whole screen without using full-screen mode? For me, the answer is 'never.' I just wish more developers used the Zoom button to resize the window to whatever size is just sufficient to contain the content, or to toggle back to the size it was before you last pressed the button.
Make the Red X Quit Applications
Noooo! Just because you've closed a document, that doesn't mean you've finished with a program. Why would you want to quit and relaunch a program just to open a new document after closing the one you were working on? Actually, one of my gripes about recent versions of OS X is that it doesquit programs behind my back, so I've had to get used to leaving at least one window open in Preview to stop that happening.
Get Window Previews in the Dock
Yes, Hyperdock does this well. I tried this utility a while ago, but I decided against buying it as I found I hardly ever used it. I can see it might be useful if you keep a lot of windows open in any particular application, but the closest I come to that is lots of tabs in one or two browser windows.
Get Aero Snap on Your Mac
If you like Aero Snap, go ahead and take Guinness's recommendation to buy HyperDock. But I find Aero Snap one of the biggest Windows annoyances, as it stops me positioning windows just how I want them on the edges of the screen.
PS: Belated 30th birthday wishes, Mac.
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Brush up on your software
By David HAGUE
While we now all use software on a daily basis, I think it is still fair to say many of use only generally use a small part of what is possible. And learning something utterly new is put in the ‘too hard’ basket for many.
Over the Christmas / New Year period I had occasion to learn both Adobe InDesign and Microsoft Access. And found a brilliant way to do it, at my own pace and at minimal cost.
I’d venture that if you use Sony Vegas of any flavour, ditto Adobe Premiere, maybe Grass Valley Edius or Avid Media Composure, certainly After Effects or Boris RED, there are functions in there that you know exist, but haven’t the faintest idea how to use? Well the same system I used to learn InDesign and Access can help here too.
For a miserable USD$25 / month, that can be cancelled at any time. www.lynda.com is a semi-hidden gem. Sporting many thousands of online videos for all manner of software from Abelton to ZURB (whatever THAT is!), you can either just watch a video on a specific subject in an application, or start at the beginning and go through the lessons one by one.
My current program of choice to learn is Sonar X3.
Having written this stuff myself in a different life, I can appreciate just how good these videos and their presenters are. I recommend it; go and have a look using the trial system and I’ll bet within minutes you have learned something new that you can use in your editing package, motion graphics application, database, word processor or whatever.
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2014 - So how's it looking for you?
By Ian GRAYSON
Here at Hydrapinion we've tried to hang onto the post-festive glow for as long as we possibly could. But now the calendar says 'February', it's probably time we got back to work.
It's a tradition to use the first post of the year to make some bold predictions about what the next 12 months might have in store. When it comes to technology and work, I think we've got some very interesting times ahead.
During 2014, the biggest technology topics that will occupy our minds (and budgets) will be:
It was one of the hottest topics during 2013 ... and nothing's changed. While arguments about the virtues of BYOD may have faded, actually getting the plethora of devices in the workplace into some sort of order will remain the biggest challenge facing many organisations.
Hopefully we might start ditching the 'Big' tag whenever we talk about it, but the rivers of data flowing through all organisations will continue to reshape everything from marketing and sales to production and customer service. Data will remain king in 2014.
There's no point gathering it all if you don't do anything with it. Increasingly this year, attention will shift from the data itself to what it can deliver. Expect new and exciting insights to appear regularly.
After a string of high-profile security breaches during the festive season, expect renewed focus on this vital area throughout the year. As more business is conducted online, it's never been more important to keep the underlying systems safe and secure.
It's going to be a busy year - time to get on with it!
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NBN Lite - would you like Foxtel with that?
By Adam TURNER
Foxtel is the big winner as the latest NBN plan proposes to triple Australia's cable broadband subscribers.
There's been plenty of talk about how much of a threat the NBN poses to Foxtel. I've actually been impressed with how Foxtel has approached IPTV and non-traditional subscriptions over the last few years. Many large media players stuck their heads in the sand and hoped the internet would go away, usually to their detriment. Meanwhile Foxtel has seen the writing on the wall and worked to position itself well for the introduction of the National Broadband Network and greater IPTV competition.
Of course every time the new government scales back the NBN it takes more pressure off Foxtel. The latest NBN plan is the best news Foxtel has heard yet, as it will actually force millions of new customers onto the metro-centric HFC cable networks. Once the cable is hooked up it's much easier to sell people pay TV, especially if you can bundle it with other services.
Only two weeks ago Foxtel announced that it was going to become an Internet Service Provider, leaving people wondering if it might force Telstra to open up wholesale access to the HFC broadband network. I guess the government's plan solves Foxtel's problem – someone over the Foxtel obviously had a strong premonition that this new HFC deal was coming. A very strong premonition.
The current HFC broadband networks are already groaning under peak loads, because you need to share the bandwidth with everyone else in your street. The more people who use the cable, the slower it gets for everyone. Of course the pay TV segment of the cable is separate to the broadband internet segment, so even when your internet access grinds to a halt you can still watch pay TV.
No amount of network upgrades can change the fundamental way which HFC cable broadband works. Peak speeds are meaningless if you can't achieve them. So the new-look NBN basically makes it easier for Foxtel to get a foot into millions of new homes, while making it harder for those customers to achieve the broadband speeds required to access Foxtel's online competitors. Merry Christmas Foxtel.
Simon Hackett insists that HFC over NBN can work, but only if it's done right. Considering the government's near-enough-is-good-enough approach to the NBN, it's hard to have faith that they won't cut corners on the HFC upgrade and the strategic review is light on details when it comes to things like contention ratios.
With that I'll also wish you a Merry Christmas from the Hydrapinion team. We're taking a summer break but we'll see you again in January.
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Boomers and tech
By Stephen WITHERS
The Digital Life section of The Age's online edition ran a colourful piece this week. When the Lady in the Phone starts screaming originally appeared in The Washington Post, and purports to be an account of baby boomers' inability to deal with 21st century technology.
I call shenanigans, though I concede there is an element of truth to Alexandra Petri's yarn. (She might assert that I'm the sort of person she had in mind when writing "Boomers, of course, resist this characterisation.")
On the whole, the boomers I know are generally reasonably competent with consumer technology, though that might be a 'birds of a feather' argument. Some of them are genuinely expert, and a lot more knowledgable than the average twentysomething iPad or iPhone user. Others can do what they need to do, and that's about it.
Bear in mind that next month is the Macintosh's thirtieth anniversary, and Windows 3.1 was released in 1992. So if you worked in an office sometime in the last two decades, you've probably been exposed to something at least similar to today's computers.
My theory (no, not about the brontosaurus - sorry, there doesn't seem to be an 'official' version of that clip) is that it's not so much your actual age that matters, but how old you were when you started using computers. Sure, for Generations Y and Z it's pretty much the same thing as they, along with older Gen Xers, have been using computers since they were at school.
I reckon the line attributed to Henry Ford applies here: "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right."
It's not that there's some magical power in self belief, more that it's easy to sabotage ourselves with self-doubt.
What younger people have in common with their technically-adept seniors is the expectation that they can achieve the desired end, which means they are usually prepared to poke around until they get there.
Those who had their first close encounter with tech too late in life (and I'm still not sure where the dividing line falls) seem to start with the premise "I can't do this." As a result they rely on rote learning (eg, trying to take copious notes when you show them what to do) and remain reluctant to experiment. This means that their knowledge is very brittle - a minor change stops their 'recipe' from working, and they feel they have to call for help.
Conversely, those with the 'can do' attitude think "OK, it must still be here somewhere, I'll try a few things out until I find the answer." (Not that this is an excuse for interface designers hiding controls that used to be visible - yes, I'm looking at you, Apple!)
The good news is that older boomers and pre-boomers can become adept with appropriate training and perhaps most importantly practice (see, for example, Seniors clicking on to iPad revolution). But it has to be relevant. Perhaps you remember the old jokes about the flashing clock on a VCR, such as "What do you call people whose VCR clocks flash 12:00? - Parents." But you didn't need to set the clock if you didn't do timed recordings. (Just for the record, my VCR clocks always showed the right time!)
So there's no point in showing an older relative how to use Keynote on the iPad you give them for Christmas if what they really want to do is video chat with their grandkids once a week, and to swap photos with a distant sibling. (I'm not suggesting that's all older people want to do with tech, just that the more someone wants to do a task, the better motivated they are to learn how to do it.)
And getting back to Petri's anecdotes, if designers are producing devices that people are finding too hard to switch on or off, they should look to themselves rather than blaming customers. Let's face it, the symbols used to denote on/off switches - either the IEC5009 standby symbol that was reused for power by IEEE 1621, or the IEC 5010 on/off symbol) is often used on handheld and other devices at such a small size and with such poor contrast against the background that it might as well not be there as far as many people with less than perfect vision are concerned.
But to make it clear that I think users have some responsibility too, I'll close with another Fordism: "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young."
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