I’m Sick, & It’s Apple’s Fault

| Editorial

Scientist at the University of Unix, Southern Campus, have just completed a study which points to the existence of an as yet undiscovered organ buried deep within our brains. This organ, Iill call it Organ X, generates boatloads of histamines whenever some people interact with certain stimuli. For instance, when I use Microsoft products, no matter how good they may be, after extended use I break out in big leaky hives, my hair falls out, and my wife says Iim not the imani I use to be. Even when I think about Microsoft products my spleen aches, and I get a nasty rash insides my eyelids in the shape of the Windows logo. After I called them to describe my symptoms, these scientists were quick to point out that problems such as mine may be entirely psychosomatic, that I should immediately seek the help a mental health professional, and that I should stay away from sharp objects. While getting help is not a bad idea, I believe my problems rest squarely, not with Microsoft, but with Apple.

Let me explain.

Iim typing this using the Test Drive version of Microsoftis new Word for OS X. I started out writing it on AppleWorks 6.2.1, but I couldnit finish, I had to stop. Why? Well, to put it as delicately as I possibly can, in OS X, AppleWorks reeks like dead sun-bloated skunk. AppleWorks is so bad in OS X that Iim forced, almost as if my kids were being held hostage, to use Microsoft Word X. How could I not? Word X sports an interface design that was lifted from Appleis own design playbook, it has on-the-fly spell checking, a palette of tools that is both pleasing and useful, and it works! Never mind that the download of Word X was 29 megabytes, compressed, or that it has an annoying habit of automatically correcting my spelling. (A feature I can turn off, but I havenit decided yet if the annoyance is worth the convenience.) Word X is a true OS X app, and I actually like using it. You want to see slick? While editing a document, put your mouse near the top of the document window, right up there under the window title bar. What you should see is the margin ruler descend, similar to how style sheets act. Cool, huh? Out of the way until you need it. Very cool.

Hence the leaky hives. My Organ X is over stimulated.

The reason this is all Appleis fault is because, well, AppleWorks should be better. It is Appleis office package, an app that should showcase OS X, yet the level of pain it gives me from using it is much greater than the embarrassment of my temporary impotence. For a red-blooded guy, thatis admitting to a lot of pain. For instance, when I try to spell check my document, only a sliver of the AppleWorks Spell Check window appears. Totally useless. To fix this I have to open another AppleWorks window (I use the Help windows), then close it before the Spell Check window fully appears. There are times when the document window will collapse to the Dock without warning. At first I thought it was something I was doing wrong. Anyone is allowed to makes mistakes after tipping back a few, but I see no such behavior in OS 9, sloshed or not. I canit right-button paste or use the scroll wheel on a three button mouse even though nearly every other OS X app happily obeys my right-click or scroll wheel commands. There are just a bunch of other little things that just makes using the program such a terrible bother, details that, when compared to Word X, actually makes me think, for a brief moment, that the four hundred dollars Microsoft will be asking for Office X is not too outrageous. I come to my senses, of course. Four hundred dollars is too much, even for something as excellent as Word X appears to be. (Excuse me while I scratch my gums.)

I suppose the real problem is the distinct lack of word processing alternatives in OS X. A quick browse of VersionTracker reveals no real candidates for the job. Iim sure that will improve over time, and if you know of a good X word processor, drop a note in the comments. For now thereis only AppleWorks 6.2.1 and Word X.

Iim really not asking a lot of AppleWorks. After all, it only cost eighty bucks and does a really nice job in OS 9, but Iim in OS X now, and I want to stay in OS X. I also want on-the-fly spell checking, and the ability to use my three-button mouse like it is supposed to be used. Iid also like to stop taking anti-histamines and make my wife happy. I believe Apple will release a fully OS X savvy version of AppleWorks at the next MacWorld, but by then my wife will have left me, and no woman will want a temporarily impotent middle aged man with a running nose and covered with oozing welts. Not a pretty sight, but then, neither is the current version of AppleWorks. Understand that I donit want AppleWorks to match Word X feature for feature, but it should play nice in OS X.

Apple, I beg you. Fix AppleWorks, please. Just make it work nicely in OS X. Youill make me eternally grateful, save me a bundle on ointments, and put a youthful gleam back into my wifeis eyes.

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