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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

May 09, 2005

But can I switch it off?

I remain underwhelmed by Dashboard under OS X Tiger. It strikes me as being similar in nature and purpose to Sherlock, once Apple had removed the useful hard drive search feature from it.

I just can't imagine being the kind of person who needs constant weather, stock, etc updates. On-line dictionairies are fairly humbucking useless anyway, and I can always type define: into the google window in Safari, which is quicker and easier. As for weather forecasts, I can get those from the BBC or Meteo.fr, if I happen to be interested. The time, believe it or not, is always in the menu bar, and Top Calculette, including all kinds of unit conversions, lives in my dock.

Dashboard, such as it is, is mere eye candy, one too many keystrokes away, and my experience is that a lot of the widgets have been programmed by 12-year olds as a means of showing off, and they're not properly thought through and not very useful.

So having got through almost a whole working day without even thinking of it once, I wondered... can it be switched off? Because I'm resenting the processor cycles it uses. Yet there is no Quit command, and it doesn't even appear in the Force Quit menu.

So now I'm really resenting those processor cycles. It feels like being forced to run something you don't want to, even though it sucks processor power away from more important things; plus it's putting calls onto the web, sucking unnecessary bandwidth, which means with several people running it in the office, that everybody suffers the consequences.

This is crap!

I feel the same way about the RSS features of Safari - sucking information off the web automatically smacks of stupidity and waste. So I've quit all widgets and chucked it out of the Dock, but it's still chundering away in the background, like the mad woman in the attic. Grrr!

The most over-used term in computer geekery is "cool." Features get implemented, software gets bloated, because people think it will be "cool." It is undeniably "cool" to see the eye candy of OS X at work. But is it useful? I'm not being hopelessly utilitarian here, but I do hold on to the reason I've always preferred a Mac: because the operating system doesn't get in the way of productivty. Except, increasingly, it does.

While I'm sure there are people in the world who do want news and stock prices constantly being updated in front of their eyes, I think those people are best off running an application. At least Konfabulator, from which Dashboard freely borrows, had a Quit command. I find it incredibly frustrating that developers at Apple spent time developing something that belongs in the 3rd party realm. And then to implement it without offering the option of switching it off - that smacks of being so far up their own backside they're tickling their own tonsils. It seems decadent, like using a great big pickup with a V8 engine to drive half a mile to drop the kids off at school.


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