Mac taunt

No hour glass? I was trying to type up a post for the Production Notes forum in Text Edit and suddenly my text stopped appearing as I typed. 5 seconds later, a spinner icon appeared… In Text Edit. PFFFT.

And what the heck, why doesn’t “Text Edit” have an option to save a text file as … text? OMG. It is Word Pad by Apple – EEEEW!

Seriously tho … I’ve started downloading free apps from Apple – like ImageWell and I see what Mac users have been saying about consistency – in the philosophy between applications, the presentation, terminology, and the look & feel. So many mundane operations just seem slicker, smoother and faster on the Mac – you seem to spend far less time waiting for things to load.

Windows isn’t slow, but various factors combine to make response times on many Windows’ actions the wrong side of the ~250ms human “reaction window” in which you action is still current in your brain, prior to being stored in your short term memory. On my XP box here, the right-click menu for a file takes around 300 milliseconds to finish “appearing”. It’s not a long time, and most of it is the result of my choosing to leave certain visual effects on. The Mac does it under 200ms, so not massively faster, but it crosses a reaction timing perception threshold in the brain.

Part of this, to be honest, is better use of threading and multi-tasking, part of it is just down to the way Mac apps are a bit more … spread out.

If I fire up Visual Studio, Microsoft’s development development environment, it pootles along – chronically worse on my work boxes because of the version control integration (note: Visual Studio 2008 has been getting some flak lately for running slowly, but it’s still my favorite IDE by light-years; earlier versions can get slow too but there are several fixes to speed it back up again).

When I fire up Apple’s XCode, however, it’s loaded in a split second. Open my project and a few seconds later I’m in code.

Visual Studio feels that much slower because it loads so much up-front. XCode probably takes about as long to actually load because more effort has been expended on loading things on-demand. I’m sure if you were to execute a complete set of tasks (start, open project, load file, edit, search, change, save, compile) the two would be about neck-and-neck.

Creating threads and making use of multi-tasking doesn’t make the application faster. Infact, it makes applications a little slower (less so as you add CPUs/cores to your system). And programmers thinking about performance and efficiency tend to try to write the most efficient code which – is usually – to concentrate on a single task and get it done fast and well.

The difference of an app that focuses on responding to the user over excellence in performance, though, is amazing. It’s the different between the service at a restaurant in England – where serving customers is a necessary evil to many waiters – and service at almost any place here in the US where the waiter’s know where their tips come from.

Vista’s kernel is much better at scheduling well-threaded tasks than previous versions of Windows, and C# makes threading so much easier, so hopefully we’ll begin to see more apps under Windows that think more like Mac-based apps: I wasn’t not enjoying Windows but I’m enjoying using my Mac far more than I would have imagined.  I was seriously tempted to bring it home this weekend to play with.


Where do elephants hide? Tell me that! Where do elephants hide, buddy?


Cmon, don’t use TextEdit. Get rat boss folk to pony up for a copy of the world’s best text editor, TextMate ( Another case of unix dude moving to Mac and loving it.

Also, don’t forget all the toys you can use from the BSD ports tree that have been ported to OSX.

textmate rocks – then again I do use vi too much too :p

have you tried: Format->Make Plain Text and then save it?

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