March 23, 2005

Odd keyboard mapping decisions

I've recently upgraded from Office v.X to Office 2004 (yes, I do use Microsoft products -- ones I've even used my own money to buy) and for reasons I don't quite understand they decided to do... odd things with some of the keyboard mappings.

Most folks who use OS X are familiar with using command-tab and command-shift-tab to cycle through the different running applications on your system. It even gets a spiffy GUI boost, along with some clever tricks you can play. (Like being able to send command-key sequences to apps, which is something of a mixed feature) You may be less familiar with a similar sequence -- command-backtick and command-tilde cycle through the windows in the current application. Works nicely, and since I usually have a wad of terminal and emacs windows open I tend to use it a lot, and I used it even more in Word. Because of the way I work with long documents I normally have a dozen or more Word files open at once. (I prefer to throw each section of a document into its own file, which makes working on the different pieces easier for me. Final assembly's a pain, but then I only do that once)

Doesn't work with Office 2004. Instead it uses command-F6 and command-shift-F6. Not only is this different, and thus a pain (needless consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, but that doesn't mean consistency in general's bad) but I'm on a laptop so getting to the function keys requires an extra keypress. (So it's command-function-F6 and command-shift-function-F6, at which point I feel like I'm in a bad emacs joke) The really stupid thing is that command-backtick and command-shift-backtick aren't used for anything in Word, so it's not like they're using the keystrokes for other things to maintain windows compatibility. Bleah.

Luckily Word's profoundly configurable (I get the feeling there aren't any hardcoded keyboard command sequences in the thing -- looks like everything's a macro. Heck, I could see the regular alpha keys being macros...) so this can be fixed. For those of you who might care, here it is.

Tools->customize->customize keyboard will pull up the customization dialog. In the "Windows and Help" category you'll find the NextWindow and PrevWindow functions (or wade through the whole wad in the all commands category) where you can add the standard keyboard mappings in. Not rocket science, you can figure it out.

And yeah, for the record Word for OS X pretty aggressively fails to suck. While I don't make use of even 1% of the stuff it does, I've banged out a couple hundred thousand words on it (most of which you'll never read, I'm sure) and all I can say about it is that it gets the heck out of my way, and the few things that it does do up-front (like catching and correcting my horribly common "teh" typo) actually work the way I like without me having to get used to it.

No, I don't know why it's so much more pleasant to use than Word for Windows (which I've also spent more time than I'd like with), since Word's damned annoying on Windows. Probably mostly an OS and aesthetics issue (I find windows either ugly or downright toy-looking (the default Fischer-Price theme for XP reminds me more of my kids Rescue Heroes toys than a real tool) and whoever came up with the clever idea of making little-used menu items get hidden should be locked in a room and be forced to watch the 3-day "Manos, Hands of Fate" marathon in penance) but I admit, I don't care, since you can't use a program on an OS without using the OS as well. It's the total experience, and the total experience of Word on Windows is crappy.

Posted by Dan at 10:20 AM | Comments (11)

March 21, 2005

Hey, buddy! Have a hat!

In a rare burst of common sense, I passed the Parrot design lead hat on. Chip Salzenburg, past perl pumpkin, has agreed to take on the hat, which I'm quite happy about. Chip's a sharp guy, and I have no worries that between Chip and Leo that Parrot's in good hands.

I expect the news'll not take too many people by surprise, as it was past due. I've been essentially missing the past few months, with Real Life (pesky thing that -- I think I disapprove) getting in the way.

Posted by Dan at 06:59 PM | Comments (4)