Dragging a file to applications to install on Mac is a great paradigm, but baffling the first time you do it

On a Mac, it’s common practice to install something by dragging a file to the applications folder. From my Windows background, I’ve always known installing things to be different. You click a downloaded executable, wait for the installer to run, choose a directory, and then it tells you it’s installed. Fine. Good. Done. Groovy.

But on Mac it’s different. You download a DMG file (no idea what that stands for, but I literally don’t care. I just want it to work), then double-click it, and fine, that’s all the same. And then, things get a bit different depending on the app, but I’ve noticed that mostly all apps will show you something like this:

drag to install on a mac

Which when you first see it, might be totally baffling. Nowhere tells you what to actually do, and I was confused the first time I had to do this. Luckily I had someone nearby who’s been using a Mac for long enough to tell me to drag the icon on the left onto the one on the right.

Sensible, really, because it’s symbolic of you dragging an individual app into your Applications folder. I like that, but I feel like some instructions are needed, in case this is the very first time you’re installing something! This one by PhoneGap is quite good because at least it’s instructive. install phonegap

Not all drag to install processes are the same either, here’s a few other examples:

install firefox

install google drive

The difference of design makes me assume that this isn’t a necessity, and is a convention perpetuated by app creators. I’m sure I’ve seen some where you have to drag vertically, and some where you just have to click.

I think Mac should abandon the menu bar at the top of the screen

I have a problem with the way the Mac menu is always at the top of the screen, detached from the app.

I can see the reasoning, it’s a good idea to make sure the menu is in a standard, predictable place for all apps. But, that all falls to pieces when you’ve got a massive screen (like an iMac, or a large monitor like I have), and you’re using floating windows.

In the screenshot below you can see I’ve got 2 PHPStorm project windows open. I’m using the VCS controls in the menu to update one of them. But which one?

2 projects open

See how this can be confusing? The top menu shows options for the project window in focus – but when you’re skipping between windows, are you definitely sure you’re editing the right menu? Continue reading I think Mac should abandon the menu bar at the top of the screen

The taskbar in Windows 7-10 is so much better than on Mac

Having a persistent taskbar where you can launch applications with a click of a mouse button is such a good idea, that all Desktop operating systems seem to have one, which is great!

On Windows it runs the full width of the bottom of the screen, and in Mac (on every version I’ve used at least) it does the same, but aligns to the center. Continue reading The taskbar in Windows 7-10 is so much better than on Mac

How I’d make English better


I saw today that there’s some proposed French spelling changes, and it made me think we should do the same for the English language too, which is riddled with inconsistencies and unnecessary letters that create bizarre exceptions that need to be learned.

Here’s what I’d change:

  • Remove that pointless first “d” from “wednesday”, and the first “r” in february.
  • C at the start of any word should be replace with a k (unless it’s followed like a h, like “church”). Making “kool”, “krafty”, “krust” the same as the “k” in “kangaroo”.
  • Remove all silent ks, as in “knight” because it’s pointless. If people wanted to differentiate “knight” from “night” written down, they shouldn’t have used the same word to begin with!
  • Remove pointless silent gs from “gnaw” and “gnat”, they’re not needed.
  • Any w before an “r” at the start of a word is unnecessary too. “Wrap”, “wrinkle” and “wrist” would still make sense without it.
  • Replace any “x” at the start of a word with “z” as in zebra. Because z is cool and doesn’t get used enough.
  • Actually we can make use of z more, for example the word “lose” doesn’t seem to follow normal rules (it’s nothing like the similarly spelled ‘dose’ for example). So maybe we should spell it ‘looze’.
  • We pronounce a z in “organise” and “normalise”, so we might as well spell it that way.
  • Remove the unnecessary “ue” from the end of “dialogue”, “monologue” and “analogue”. I actually agree with Americans on this. Also on simplifying “doughnut” to “donut”.

Just think of all those letters we’re omitting. If everyone adhered to this in every email and Facebook statuses, just think how many bytes we’d save on the internet! It’s like adding our own level of compression 😀

How long before we get cool curved desktop screens like this one from Black Mirror?

In the Black Mirror episode “Be right back” we see the protagonist painting on a large digital screen which was curved towards the bottom. At the time, this was science fiction, but I wonder how long it’ll be before this is real.

I don’t mean the technology, I know we have touchscreens now, and even curved touchscreens, like the Samsung Edge phone. But everyone right now seems to be obsessed by mobile devices, and tablets. Meanwhile, larger desktop computers for work, for the people actually doing stuff (not consuming content, like the iPad is 90% useful for) aren’t in fashion right now.

black mirror touch screen

If you see someone doing work on a computer on TV, it’s normally on a laptop. A portable, sized laptop.

But what about the artists, who want nice big displays?

This one from Black Mirror seemed perfect. She also got to use proper art tools like pencils and brushes.

Anyway, I’m mostly posting this so that in the near future I can link back to it and go “SEE!!!”.

black mirror touchscreen from "be right back"

It’s also nice to see a computer interface in a TV show that actually looks useful. Not stupid holographic displays or transparent screens which would be a pain to focus on!

“Previous” is the past, “Next” is what happened after

The Santander website seems to be confused what time is.

So, what is “time”? Oxford dictionary defines it as:

The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.

But we know that already. We also know that things that happened previous to now happened in the past, right? And things that happened next were things that happened closer to now.

Someone tell that to Santander!

If you don’t know, Santander is a bank where I have an online account. And it seems every time I log in I find new horrible usability problems that just frustrate me. It’s quite easy to pick on bank websites for poor usability of course because every site I’ve used are rife with terrible usability problems. But today I’ll just pick on one small problem!

I was navigating the previous transactions where I saw this at the bottom of the page:

previous next buttons on Santander website

Standard pagination controls, we’ve seen them on a million websites, right? But in this case, they don’t make any sense.

The first screen of transactions are the most current, and to navigate to the previous transactions you have to press “Next”.

Wait a minute, that’s not right!

So I’m seeing older transactions, transactions that happened previous to the ones I’m looking at, and the word I have to click is one that actually means the opposite?!

So now I’m looking at transactions that happened a while ago, they’re actually from last month, and to go back to see the ones that happened after those, the ones that happened next, I have to press “Previous”!

As if this wasn’t weird enough, if I press “Next” a few times, I get an option to press “First” which doesn’t show me the first transactions I ever made, it shows me the most recent. Technically the LAST transactions I ever made!

I’ve seen this done of a few websites, and it doesn’t make sense to confuse your users with poor wording.

Sort it out Santander!