I don’t care how good the unix underpants are if the UI trousers aren’t up to snuff

August 11, 2005

Many years ago in days of yore and 9 inch monochrome screens, I used to use Sticky Keys. The deal was that you pressed the shift key five times, then you could hold down a modifier, then the key, and that key got modified. Shift-S, Command-Z, etc. etc.

I used to use it quite a lot, because often only one hand was available for the keyboard, or I wasn’t very good at typing (and there were many times when I was not very good at typing), or simply because it was fun.

Then OS X happened. And I sort of forgot about sticky keys, because I can work an iBook with one hand quite easily, and because I can type now.

So imagine my surprise when suddenly shift, command, option, etc. icons kept appearing over my last post when I was writing it. Turns out I’d turned on Sticky Keys by trying in vain to select multiple items in MarsEdit.

So that was quite fun. I have to question whether the superimposed graphics are any better than the old tiny icons in the menu bar, but I suppose the menu bar is full enough at the moment anyway with things that should probaby be in the dock.

But what really annoyed me was this. In the old days, you could “disengage” sticky keys simply by pressing the mod key and the other key as normal, at the same time.

This feature has vanished. This means it is now entirely possibly to engage shift lock and press delete repeatedly, losing bits of your post before you realise what is happening.

I guess this is another example of dumb UI design that’s dragging the Mac down to the level of teh shiney, rather than teh elegant.

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