Sunday, January 8, 2012

More Unnecessary Hurdles to Leap from Apple

I ran into my first really aggravating glitch with Safari yesterday.  When I view my monthly bank statement online, my bank tries to open it as PDF in a separate window.  Because Firefox did not have the necessary plug-in from Adobe, it just prompted me to ask if I wanted to save the file;  and I did.  Apparently Adobe has yet to provide a plug-in that works under Lion, perhaps as a result of the various ways in which administrative decisions have poisoned the relationship between these two companies.  In an effort to demonstrate that Apple can get along without Adobe, Safari has been provided with a “native” PDF plug-in.  This allows you to see the file.  However, when you are looking at it, you cannot save it (because that menu item is greyed out);  and Print only shows you the visible area of the window!

I found all of this really frustrating.  Even more frustrating, however, was that the Safari help facility had absolutely nothing to say about saving the whole PDF as a PDF.  Indeed, given the responsiveness of the help tool, I was beginning to wonder if Safari even knew what PDF was!  I probably wasted an hour before it occurred to me that I should follow my Windows instincts and right-click on that piece of the PDF I could see in the browser window.  Sure enough, that brought up a menu including the Save as PDF… operation!

I take all this as further evidence of what Ted Landau called “Lion’s ‘My Way or the Highway Approach.’”  I feel that Apple seems to have made up its own mind about how its customers should use its hardware and software.  This then gives them the right to try to shoehorn our own practices to fit their model of what they thing we should be doing, even if we have perfectly good reasons for doing them the way we want to do them.  Landau called this “iOS-ification,” implying that Apple wanted to get its Mac users to start thinking like iPad users, not realizing that there are plenty of things we do on a Mac that would be silly to do on an iPad.  Many of those habits stem from enterprise practices;  so perhaps Apple has a mission of weaning the whole world away from such habits, regardless of whether or not they make sense in certain settings.  Whatever the reason, Landau probably hit the nail on the head in characterizing Apple as a company that would prefer to dictate to its users, rather than listen to them, which means that it probably will not be long until the dispassionate observer will no longer be able to detect any differences between Apple and Microsoft!

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