Archive for the ‘Usability’ Category

How do I move the focus to a popup dialog in OS X – using the keyboard? [Updated!]

November 7, 2007

Just can’t get there with the keyboard!
Ahrg – just can’t get there!

Update 11/11/07:
Previously, I posted that I couldn’t get to all dialogs using the keyboard (read more for details). Thanks to Archie on the Apple Discussions forum, I have now learned a workaround.

The VoiceOver utility has a function called Window Chooser. By turning on VoiceOver (in Universal Access), you can get to Window Chooser by pressing Ctrl+Option and hitting F2 twice. Cumbersome – but it works. Another workaround is to enable Mouse Keys and navigate the mouse cursor using the keyboard.

Of course, both of these solutions are rather hopeless – this is one of those keyboard accessability things Apple should just fix, for instance by including all windows spawned by an application in the Command+> sequence.

This is the scenario: I am installing something on my Mac that requires administrator privilegies, and I am doing it with my keyboard only. After agreeing to terms and conditions, a popup window comes up, asking me to verify that I am an administrator.

Accidentally, I task-switch to a different application.

Now – how do I get back to the Authenticate dialog, using the keyboard?

The popup dialog can’t be reached via command+tab, is not visible via Expose, and is not a sub-window of the installer process that spawned it, so I cannot get there with command+>. Seems to me like a good example of poor usability in OS X.

I haven’t been able to figure this out – I would be very grateful for any ideas!

“Your CD key is not valid” – Battlefield 2 woes! [updated]

May 20, 2007

Right now I am seriously pissed off about EA, DICE and Battlefield 2. I installed the game under Windows Vista a few months back, but when trying to join a server, I was informed that “Your CD key is not valid”.

Update 24/05/07: Guess what? I installed Windows XP, went through the exact same troubleshooting as described below, and now the game works. It could be that the cause is something else, but it looks like a real possibility to me that there is a problem with Vista compatability and BF2. EAs techie did not mention Vista as a possible problem factor, so apparently, if Vista is the problem they are not aware of it. It would be great if you can post your experience below if you too have this problem.

Update 27/04/09: Guess what?! A friend of mine had this exact same problem – then managed to get around it by right-clicking Battlefield 2.exe and choosing “Run as administrator”. Haha!

Today I took the time to go and have a look at EA’s support site. It has two search functions on the front page, one of which does not work at all. The other one lead me to a page of frequent BF2 issues, and I found a few pages relevant to my problem.

The page told me to reinstall BF2 – so I uninstalled the game, and started the installation. At the end, Vista had a blue screen – I don’t know why. I thought it might be related to the DirectX 9.0c update program, but when I tried the installation again, it went fine.

I was instructed to install first BF2, then Special Forces, and then the patch. The not-so-helpful EA installer told me I did not have enough space for Special Forces on the first go, although I had 2,5 gb free. It did not specify how much I needed, but freed up more space, and the installation got going.

Having completed it, I started installing the patch. Of course, EAs patch installer requires you to have 2400 mb free on the drive (I figure that means the C drive – I was installing on the D drive, but that doesn’t make a difference). Although I had 2,7 gb free, the installer refused to do its work – so I had to free up more space.

All this took quite some time, as you can imagine. So I became angry when I completed the procedure, logged in to my BF2 account, tried to join a server, and… “Your CD key is not valid”.

EA / DICE: I am staying away from your games from now on. Bugs and these patching problems is a big part of the reason why I didn’t get BF 2142 or the “booster packs” for BF2, and you’ll have quite a challenge getting me back as a customer ever again. As a start, I hope you’ll do whatever it takes to “validate” my CD key, so I can play BF2.

And, finally, as a software developer, I have to say you should be ashamed of the amateurish installers/patchers you force upon your customers. When it would be a lot easier if you just released every patch as a zip file and let users fix things themselves… that’s when you know you have problems.

Mac OS X annoyances, part 3: The missing Finder keyboard shortcuts

October 20, 2006

This site has a great collection of OS X tips, but there are still a few things missing in the Finder.

OS X annoyances, part 3
Here be dragons

There is a contextual menu (the “action menu”) you can bring up for items by right-clicking on them. It is really handy – unfortunately there is no way to get to it without using the mouse, which makes it nearly worthless to me. Windows XP lets you use the right-click button on the keyboard (to the right of the spacebar, where the second Command key is located on the Mac) for this purpose.

Finder’s sidebar, called the Places sidebar in the previously mentioned site, lets you add shortcuts to directories or files you access often. Very neat, but again, there is no way to reach these shortcuts by using the keyboard.

There is also a nifty search feature in the Finder. Guess what – you click on the search box in the top left of your Finder window and enter your search string. If you want to modify where the search is looking, you also have to use the mouse. And when time comes to move the focus down to the search results… yep, the mouse.

On a related note, there is no way to make the search results include what directory the found item is in, so if you have several files with the same names, you have to click in the list, and key through them – the directory is listed at the bottom of the window. Why not include an option to customize the results list? This is a small detail which makes File & Folders search in Windows a lot more effective to use.

(Yes, I know about Spotlight, which by the way suffers from the same problem. Fortunately, Quicksilver is a lot more useful, but not quite stable on my machine at the moment – and not integrated with the Finder.)

These are just a few of my minor complaints with OS X. The sad part is that these are really, really easy to rectify, and I can’t understand why these (to me) obvious shortcuts are left out. On the whole, their absence make OS X a lot slower to use. Apple – please let me work faster with my Mac!