Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Niggles and Annoyances

I thought about starting this entry with an apology, or at least a warning, to the Apple faithful who blissfully believe that the company can do no wrong. But then I thought about the people that I hope read these posts, and decided that most of them are simple users like myself who realise that no software or hardware from any manufacturer is every completely without fault. It's just that some folk try harder than others to make the user experience better.

As a user from a technical background I may be more unforgiving in my expectations, or it may be that my expectations are higher. It may simply be that my demands are more excessive, as I spend a very significant part of my day (my life) on the machines I use.

There is no doubt in my mind, however, that my experiences with the Mac are considerably more positive than with all the other operating systems and hardware that I've used and abused over the years. I've not yet tried Windows 7, but something inside tells me suggests that it wouldn't really change anything.

All these factors make the little problems I occasionally suffer from all the more irritating and irksome (of course, having just turned 48, grumpy old man syndrome is also now kicking in).

Spotlight Failure

My current bugbear is Spotlight (OS X 10.6.2). Since the failure of the internal drive on my iMac I've rigged up a 750Mb Seagate FreeAgent Pro Firewire drive as the bootable partition. It works well enough, and although there is a speed lag on some things compared to a proper internal drive, I can live with it until I have enough spare cash and time to get a new internal drive installed. That, of course, is the downside of the iMac; if something internal dies, you have to take the whole machine into the repair shop. I wish that Apple would let us access the internal drive in the same way that we can get to the memory banks. But that's not the point of this whinge.

I don't really use Spotlight very often so I don't know when my current problem started but I'm guessing that it is related to the drive configuration. I've installed a number of new utility and productivity applications recently and I sometimes forget to refresh my application launcher, TigerLaunch. So when I want to launch one of these new tools, for example MacUpdate Desktop, I'd sometimes use Spotlight as the launcher. Only it doesn't seem to be able to find many of my applications. If I type in "MacUpdate", it locates and displays various versions of the MacUpdate-Desktop .dmg install files, but there's no sign of the application. Similar things happen for other applications. "Launch" locates the Applet Launcher but fails to find LaunchBar. Selecting the Show All also fails to reveal the LaunchBar or the MacUpdate Desktop application in the previous instance.

Because I use TigerLaunch or QuickSilver as my normal application launchers this isn't the end of the world. But the problem is that I now have less confidence in Spotlight and that bothers me a lot.

I have tried just about everything to resolve the issue - I've re-indexed, deleted plist files, and even run Spotless (which I couldn't find in Spotlight either!) - but it never makes a difference. I'd love to hear from anyone experiencing a similar problem, especially if you have a solution!

MacUpdate Desktop Failure

Ironically, one of the applications mentioned above was the catalyst for finding the Spotlight problem. MacUpdate Desktop 5 is a piece of software available from MacUpdate Promo which enables users to track and install software updates automatically. I have it installed on both the MacBook Pro and the iMac, and it is great for checking on those seldom used applications, or on lesser used machines. I have no problems on the MBP with the software, but on the iMac it only finds 34 applications despite there being over 300 individual applications installed.

I can't help thinking there is a correlation between this problem and the Spotlight problem. Perhaps the only course of action is to get that internal drive installed once and for all. Who knows, my on-going networking problem may even vanish as well, although I think that's pure wishful thinking.

These two problems are not show stopping issues, but it is frustrating to have a system that doesn't do some of the simple things in life properly. Especially for a perfekshonist like me!

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