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The Back Page
by Bryan Chaffin

The Trouble With Aqua Is That It Is Great
December 1st, 2000

Tee hee hee. Today I am giving myself the Tee Hee Hee Award. I am not sure why, but I do have that prerogative. Not related to that, I am also tickled pink at the ruckus I managed to raise when I branded all the anti-Mac OS X folks a bunch of reactionary Luddites. Dave Schultz wrote an awesome piece letting me know that such an appellation was inappropriate. Give it a read though.

Since I first wrote that piece, I have had a change of heart about Mac OS X; it seems I have gone from being excited about it to being in love with it. I have also made the full time jump to using Mac OS X as my main operating system.

A PC using friend of mine was looking over my shoulder and said "Hey man, what was that?" He gestured toward the bottom of the screen and I moved down to where the Dock was Auto Hiding. It popped up and he said "Yeah, that. Wow. That's pretty cool." We were both enjoying the CPU Monitor actually displaying data while Docked, and you know what? He is right, that is pretty cool.

Now we get to the real point of my column: Aqua is awesome. I love the way it looks. I simply can not wait to use my computer in sheer anticipation of being able to look at an Aqua window. Or an icon. I love looking at Aqua icons.

I spend of lot of my work day on my Mac. I have for a long time, and I was frankly getting a bit burned out on the concept of my Mac as a recreational tool. Now, however, I am totally stoked at the idea of working, and playing, on my Mac, and it is all because of OS X.

Certainly there are several general shortcomings with the first public beta of OS X that have grabbed at many people;: it is slow (this is almost entirely because it is not yet optimized), speed freaks will be annoyed with the "wasted processor cycles" on all the pretty doodads, there are some interface issues that even I don't like, and their are features still missing. These things are all very tolerable in a beta release in my not so humble opinion, and they are all more than made up for by Aqua.

Yesterday I was reading through some of the posts on OS X at MacInTouch, and most of what I read was people who are scared of this or that and just whining. And whining. And whining some more. A quick perusal of other Mac haunts led me to find the same thing elsewhere. I just don't get it. I recognize that people have different tastes of course, but I just don't see anything about Aqua that freaks me out. I love the way it looks!

When he introduced Aqua, Steve Jobs referred to it as "lickable." I have to take issue with that. Lickable makes Aqua sound like it is nothing more than eye candy. I think I prefer to label Aqua as covetable. I want to use it, I want to see it, and I want to have it be a part of my work environment. It is the ultimate in the windows-oriented UI paradigm.

I have no doubt that some subtle, and some not-so-subtle, improvements will be hammered into Aqua as Apple takes a few iterations to get it right. Third party developers have already started to put in their two cents worth too. Just look how long it took to get the old Mac OS just right. In comparison, I think we are off to a great start. I also don't think that anyone is going to top Aqua before we move on to the next big thing in UI. I wouldn't mind being wrong about that though, because anything that beat Aqua would probably blow my doors off.

In the meanwhile, I must get back to coveting those windows and planning more time to work on my Mac.

Your comments are welcomed.


began using Apple computers in 1983 in a high school BASIC programming class. He started using Macs in 1990 when the Kinko's guy taught him how to use Aldus PageMaker, finally buying a Power Computing Power 100 in 1995. Today, Bryan is the Editor of The Mac Observer, and has contributed to the print versions of MacAddict and MacFormat (UK).

You can send your comments directly to him, or you can also post your comments below.

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