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On buttons

One of the primary bitches that many of my Windows–using friends have when they use my Mac is the one–button mouse. “How do you right click?” is a question I really can’t be bothered answering any more. I grew into keyboard–interfacing over a little while, gaining fluency in the multitude of keyboard commands and shortcuts; only sometimes wishing my Apple Pro Mouse had a scroll wheel.

Tonight, on a whim, I walked into Garth’s room and unplugged the two–button Logitech optical mouse (with scroll wheel!) from the PC. I proceeded to plug into my Mac to get down and dirty, which is cool, but after just a little time I began to appreciate my single–button mouse more than ever. Let me elaborate: using a single–button mouse encourages you, nay forces you, to learn keyboard shortcuts. Command–Click is just like right–click, but how about Command–Option–Click, or Command–Shift–Click? Your average mouse has no room for those kinds of functions. The simple truth of the matter (in my case at least, excuse me for generalizing) is that multi–button mice encourage the user to discount the keyboard as a valid interface mechanism.

Using the Logitech, I found myself falling back into old PC–mousing habits. I found myself clicking a window’s “Close” widget rather than pressing Command–W. I’d right–click on an application’s dock icon and select “Quit” instead of just hitting Command–Q. In the Finder, instead of pressing Command–Shift–N to create a new folder I’d right–click and select “New folder” from the contextual menu. Why? Because my left hand was nowhere near the keyboard! Removing the need for me to constantly interface with the computer via the keyboard removed my desire to do so altogether. The net result? Inefficiency.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with right–clicking an application’s dock icon, I’m just saying it’s incredibly inefficient. Sure, I could’ve kept my left hand on the keyboard where it belongs, but I didn’t. It was just a little observation.

If you’re typing, why take your hands off the keyboard to perform a menial task? If you want to “Select All” don’t grab the mouse and click–drag over everything, don’t click on the menu bar’s “Edit” menu just to click “Select All”, just hit Command–fucking–A! Take the time to familiarize yourself with your system’s many keyboard shortcuts (even under Windows) and you’ll be rewarded time and time again. Blissful efficiency: nectar of the nerds.

Text–find redux

Given Firebird 0.6’s recent launch, I was checking out the Why You Should Switch to the Mozilla Firebird browser page and spotted an explanation for the ‘text find’ feature I was puzzling over.

Mozilla Firebird also features sophisticated ‘Type-Ahead Find’ for links that make it easier for users with accessibility needs (such as those using screen readers, or even laptop users with inconvenient pointing devices) to select links. Simply start typing the name of the link that you want to select and Firebird will shift focus to it.

Though I’m disappointed to see that the feature is nowhere near what I presumed it to be, it’s good to see some innovation on the accessibility front.

Hint to developers: implement my idea for a ‘highlight all’ option in the browser’s standard ‘find’ box. Oftentimes the find dialog is a total hindrance. Improve.