Random Things: Mac OS X Scroll Bars, Mail Rules, iPod Hi-Fi, Otto the Robot

Thursday, 2006-03-30; 03:15:00

Just a few random things that I thought I'd mention here because I think they are interesting:

1. You know those lickable scroll bars that are present throughout Mac OS X? And you know how the scroll buttons themselves look like they're concave? -- the scroll bar area is rounded at the ends, and the scroll buttons seem to take up that extra space. Try clicking a scroll button, and you'll see that the scroll button highlights those "horns" on the scroll buttons. It looks really cool.

Well, it turns out the extra space is actually part of the button. If you manage to get the tip of your pointer in those horns of the scroll button, you can still activate the button in those areas. That's some pretty sweet attention to detail. There are some enlarged screenshots of the scroll buttons available at Quarter Life Crisis. I got interested in this because of that post on Sven's weblog, where he incorrectly said that the "horns" don't activate the scroll buttons.

It gets more interesting, though. Take a look at this movie. I'm moving my mouse purely horizontally between three specific pixels -- there is no vertical motion. Notice that the very left pixel always activates the scroll bar area, while the pixel on the very right always activates the scroll button. The pixel in the middle, however, is the odd one out -- its behavior changes! It seems to have the same action as the last pixel over which you hovered, but I think it's really interesting that the behavior of pixels on the border between the scroll bar area and the scroll button changes behavior. It could even be construed as a feature, because it would cause you to activate the wrong thing less frequently.

2. Another really time-saving feature that Apple's engineers have created is in Mac OS X Mail. Open Mail, and select a message in the mail viewer. Now, open the preferences dialog, go to the Rules pane, and add a new rule. Note that the first rule that is created automatically fills in the criterion based on whatever message you have selected in the mail viewer. This even holds true if you add more criteria -- as long as the message you've selected has some info associated with a criterion you add to the rule, that info will automatically be added to the value of that criterion. It's *so* incredibly time-saving. Does anyone know if any of the other Mac mail clients have this feature?

3. The iPod Hi-Fi. This was introduced by Apple some time ago, but I never got around to commenting on it. It looks cool, and it has Apple's minimalistic touch. I think it's funny that some people are lamenting the fact that the Hi-Fi doesn't have a video out port, but that would be a stupid feature to add -- the Hi-Fi doesn't have anything to do with video, so there's no reason to have video out. It's also powered by the same remote as any Front Row-enabled Mac, which is cool -- a standard remote for all of Apple's IR functions is definitely a plus.

The one thing that has me puzzled, though, is why Apple didn't build in an Airport Express device into the Hi-Fi. I mean, come ON, that's the most obvious thing you could do with the thing! It would seriously increase the value of the Hi-Fi, which is already kind of dubious at $349 (even though, supposedly, the audio is excellent for a device of that size -- according to Apple and many reviewers).

I mean, how cool would that be. You buy the Hi-Fi, you put batteries in it, and then you could place it outside. You wouldn't need an iPod on the top, but you could still stream music directly to the Hi-Fi. We have an Airport Express in our house, and it's really clumsy to route a wire from the express unit to our home stereo (not a Hi-Fi). A built-in AirPort Express would totally eliminate that problem -- you could stream directly to your stereo. It would be a completely wireless system, whether you want to listen to music on your iPod or on your Mac/PC.

Seriously. That's the biggest "WTF" for me about the Hi-Fi. I might seriously consider getting one if it had an AirPort Express built-in, but otherwise I wouldn't.

4. You know that cute little robot that serves as the icon for Automator in Tiger? Would you be surprised to know that he has a name? His name is... take a guess... waait for it... Otto! Yes, this incredibly pun-laden name is apparently the official name for the robot. But don't take my word for it, look at the "Automator Center" sidebar of Apple's Mac OS X page. Here's a screenshot for posterity.

Otto the Automator

5. Last but not least: I have successfully conquered my e-mail inbox! I am triumphant! Earlier today, I had about 1500 e-mails in my inbox. Now, I have only 35. Wooo! (No, I did not do a mass-delete -- I went through them all.) I typically keep my inbox pared down to 200 or so e-mails, but lately I had started letting it rack up. But I've won again, and beaten back the e-mail monster. For those who are interested, my rule is, if I can open a mail viewer window and I can see white space at the end of the list of messages in my inbox, then I've won. Currently, almost half of the window is white space. Yay!

Technological Supernova   Unfiled   Older   Newer   Post a Comment